Friday, November 6, 2009

To The Women In My Life

Today's photo is from my last trip to Duluth, just this past June.

It's relevant, because I found out after the trip, that I hadn't really been welcome on that particular journey, and in fact, those that I traveled with had expressed the opinion to others beforehand that they wished that Misplaced would not take the journey with them.

Duluth is a place that I had formulated some pretty strong opinions about before I relocated here. Someone had suggested that I travel to that area, and I was dumbfounded that they would actually do so. I asked them if they were aware of an infamous incident that had taken place in Duluth on the night of June 15, 1920.

They were not.

I explained to them that one of the most horrific lynchings in American history had taken place in Duluth, and that this particular incident had made it quite clear that African-American men were not safe from mobs... even as far north as Duluth, Minnesota.

You can read more about it in the link I have provided above, but the abridged version is that a young woman in Duluth accused several African-American members of a travelling circus of rape. It was determined after the fact that no rape had occurred, and that the young woman had fabricated the entire story, but not before three young African-American men, Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson, and Issac McGhie were dragged from the Duluth jail by a mob, beaten severely, put on "trial" by the mob, and hung from a light pole at the intersection of First Street and Second Avenue East.

Obviously, Duluth was NOT someplace high on my list of places I wanted to visit during my travels to Minnesota, but the person who was telling me I should visit there was rather convincing, and I did some more independent research on the area myself.

What I found was a unique area of Minnesota, on the edge of the Iron Range, which is where you will find the most ignorant, inbred people Minnesota has to offer. It makes perfect sense that the people in this area would be capable of mob mentality and lynching.

However, over the years there were many people in Duluth, both black and white who became quite vocal, and were determined that Minnesota's "dirty little secret" would not be glossed over and subjected to the "Minnesota Nice" way of dealing with issues. The incident was brought back to light, discussed openly, and a descendant of the man who had incited the crowd to riot joined with members of Duluth's African-American community and began a process of healing, which culminated in the construction of a memorial dedicated to the three young men killed on that evening so many years ago.

In a manner of speaking, Duluth, Minnesota is sort of like the Austin, Texas of the north. It's an anomaly of progressive thinking and openness in a place that would rather hide what's not comfortable to deal with. It also has a burgeoning music scene, and a vibrant, active arts community, not unlike Austin.

When I realized this about Duluth, it became my favorite place to visit in Minnesota and I look forward to every trip I take up north as a result. The first actual friends I made in Minnesota on my own are all residents of Duluth, and not coincidentally fellow photographers. Knowing that I would travel to Duluth whenever possible, I asked for and was granted membership in the Duluth Photographer's Guild... no small feat for someone who is not even a resident of that city.

What does all of that have to do with the women in my life?

Patience Grasshopper.

Misplaced may follow a meandering path, but it always leads somewhere.

It was a woman - the one responsible for setting the events of June 15, 1920 in motion who clouded my perceptions of Duluth.

It was another woman who initially suggested that I travel there, which in turn led to my further researching that city, agreeing to travel there, finding a piece of Minnesota that I truly love, and where I have found a small group of friends that would not be out of place on Allen Street in Buffalo.

One of the things that people often comment on is the sheer number of platonic female friends that I have back home in New York... I find it rather amusing myself, as it takes the old adage that men and women cannot be "just friends" and throws it out of a high window.

The number of e-mails and phone calls I received after my rants of the last couple of days was a reminder of the fact that the women in my life are the ones who somehow always manage to keep me centered. I heard from quite a few of you, and the message was generally the same:

1. "Are you alright?"

2. "What can I do to help?"

3. "Who needs their ass kicked? Don't make me take off my shoe!"

To answer those questions:

1. I am doing just fine.

2. You helped by reminding me that you're out there and give a shit about me.

3. No one needs their ass kicked, put your shoe back on.

But I do need to say thank you for the various parts you've all played in my life these past few years... I'm going to try to mention you all, but if I leave someone out please don't take it personally... there are a LOT of you after all and I can't name EVERYONE!

Here goes...

Margot Glick, thank you for being the best friend I could possibly ask for, and thank you for being my biggest supporter in this adventure. I owe all of my patience in dealing with life's bumpy road to you.

Jenn Martino, Tami Kennedy, Lynn DiPirro, Susan Walz, and Lisa Carter, thank you for being sisters to me... more so than my blood sister ever was.

Tara Rowe, Christina Sharples, Jodylyn Whipple, Lynn Timblin, Trish Alvarez, Julie Fritz, Lisa Bores, Tricia Spurck, Sharon Rokunohe, Jessica King, Laura Patterson, Karen Anderhalt, Ivy Johnson, Debbie Taylor, Gwen Tessman, Jennifer Gabrysiak, Lisa Gebbia, Meg Hlushak, Rebecca Flanders, Michelle Beishline, Nicole Selchert, Kato and Rocky thank you for being a: drinking buddy, concert goer, attendee of plays I have been in, photographic subject, hockey buddy, music fest attendee, dance partner, dinner companion, participant in weekend (or weekday) bar shenanigans, mosh pit backup, coffee shop patron, 4AM breakfast at Towne or Pano's companion, 1AM phone call participant, online advice giver, and generally being one of Jonathan's Angels.

Thank you to all of the above who over the last fifteen years have not hesitated to grab my ass and kiss me when I needed it, and more importantly smacked me in the back of the head when I needed that MORE.

You're my bitches and hoes, and Misplaced loves all of you.

Thank you for being my friends.

All of you do a shot for me this weekend.

See you back here Monday.


  1. Jonathan, I have to admit when I first met you all those years ago, I used to wonder...What is wrong with that man? Why is he so sngry? and you WERE angry, I just didn't know why. After following your writing first on Myspace, which is where I finally found out WHY... now here...There are so many layers and facets to you as a man I can't wait to see what you're going to do or say next. Next time you're home for a visit, you better let me know you're coming, and the PIZZA and BEER will be on me :) THANK YOU for writing such creative stories that I readily latch onto, and also for writing about your daily journey. It's something that I look forward to reading.

  2. Jonathan, I want to say thank you to you.. You call me and everyone else friends and being there for you in one way or another. And I dont want to speak for everyone, but I am sure most will agree, it is easy because you are and have always been there for each and everyone one of us, in one way or another. You are a very special person and a great guy.. The best guy to know and have as a true friend. You always give it straight whether we want to hear it or not, but we do, just sometimes don't want to always admit it(opps we are human after all)
    Thank you again for always being a great friend and coming into my life. And always keep your head up, and remember when things get tough, you are always tougher.. =)
    Thanks my friend.. Hope you have a great weekend..

  3. Thank you for mentioning me as a woman in your life... I am honored! Please come in and visit soon... and we must plan a day together soon! love and miss you!

    Jen Gabrysiak (anonymous.. today) :-)

  4. Strange senstation....this pleasure in being considered your bitch AND Hoe (by the way, I thought it was "ho", but I'm evidently not at street as you). And after a relatively short time, as well (it usually takes a while longer for my hoe'ness to show...bitch is always just under the surface). I am indeed honored to be included in your harem. Here's to whatever tomorrow brings, to all the unexpected pathways we may travel. And please raise a glass for stupid women that don't cross the street. Muah. Muah.


  5. It IS ho... Hoe is a gardening tool...

    Cool story anyway...

  6. Ooops... writer is correct... "Hoes" is actually plural of Ho AND Hoe...

    As Emily from SNL used to say... "Never mind."