Saturday, February 20, 2021

Duluth lags behind on Proud Boys, conspiracies...

Written By Jim Heffernan for the Duluth News Tribune on Saturday, February20

 One of the problems we have here in Duluth is that it seems like we’re always behind the times — not in step with what’s going on in the rest of the country.


Right when such issues as “conspiracy theories” are a really a hot thing in other parts of the (not very) United States of America, we don’t even have any. We’ll take care of that later in this important column.


But first, you also hear a lot about this boisterous jingoistic camo clad group known as the “Proud Boys,” and what do we have here? A bunch of timid fellows who call themselves the “Shamed Boys.” They meet on alternating Wednesdays in the basement — of course, the basement — of the former YWCA (Young Women’s Chastity Alliance) headquarters, abandoned in the 1960s.


I was introduced to a Shamed Boy recently at a COVID-19 mask wearing fashion show sponsored by a local philanthropy under proper social distancing conditions. Besides a paisley mask, he was wearing faded jeans and a sweatshirt bearing the inscription: “Go Ahead and Tread on Me.” I was wearing my buffalo plaid mask.


“How’s it happen that you call your group Shamed Boys?” I asked the neatly turned out fellow whose mask bore the inscription “Leave Me Alone if Possible.” My mask is inscribed “Bigfoot Lives.”


“Well, we’re ashamed of the way things are going in this country, all the riots and stuff like that,” he said. “We’re ashamed that the politicians can’t get along and nothing gets done in this country. We’re perturbed as heck and hope we don’t have to take it anymore.”


I could see his point. I’d been feeling a little ashamed myself, and thought maybe I should join the group, although Wednesdays are choir practice in normal times when there’s no global pandemic threatening, among other things, choral singing. We’ll see when it’s over.


Meanwhile, we have to address our conspiracy theory — elsewhere labeled QAnon — shortage problem. While they’re gaining currency in Congress and elsewhere, we don’t have any here in Duluth at all. Other parts of the country are swimming in them and we’re frozen out up here in the north. I think it’s time we came up with a few to get in step with current trends.


And, of course, we have to keep in mind that our conspiracy theories will be accepted as gospel truth by some readers of this, a number of whom could use them as a basis for mounting political campaigns or rising up against the government, or else they aren’t really conspiracy theories, right? Good.


So let’s get started. We’ll call them DAnon (D for Duluth, get it?) conspiracy theories.


DAnon No. 1 — Everyone thinks our Enger Tower, atop the Duluth hill, is an innocuous tourist attraction and a good place from which to view the city from above. That’s what it appears to be, but it’s not really just a tourist trap.


People believe it is named for a dead Norwegian furniture dealer, but ENGER really stands for Electronic Notification Gyroscope for Emergency Reconnaissance. The tower is wired to communicate messages to a subversive naval alt-right nationalist group known as the Proud Buoys (naval branch of the landlubber Proud Boys) out on Lake Superior plotting to attack Duluth beneath the winter ice. (See DAnon No. 2.)


DAnon No. 2 — During World War II agents from Hitler’s Germany smuggled parts for a submarine (U Boat) through rural Canada for assembly in a remote cove of Lake Superior. The purpose of the submarine was to attack iron ore shipping on the big lake but the war came to an end before the submarine was ever used. The German agents were captured and sent to Remer, Minn., to cut timber, and several married local women. But that’s another story.


The assembled submarine remained in the remote cove until recent years when the seafaring Proud Buoys commandeered it and are conspiring to attack the massive installations of the Salvation Navy on the Duluth waterfront after sneaking through the Duluth ship canal beneath the Aerial Lift Bridge under water and ice in the dark of night. (See DAnon No. 3.) 


DAnon No. 3 — The Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge figures strongly in our final DAnon. Duluthians and tourists love our bridge. It is an iconic symbol of everything Duluth, with all of its ups and downs, like the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It is the most photographed single object in Minnesota. But what people don’t notice is a pipe running up one end of the bridge, across the top, and down the other end. The pipe is a conduit for all of the raw sewage from Park Point, making it the most photographed sewage pipe in the western hemisphere. Put that in your sewage pipe and smell it.


Hold it! That’s no conspiracy theory; it’s true.


Never mind.


Jim Heffernan is a former Duluth News Tribune news and opinion writer and columnist. He can be reached at and maintains a blog at 

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