Within hours of Rolling Stone's less-than-complimentary article about the city of Duluth went live, Mayor Emily Larson hit back.
Her post on Facebook responding to the national magazine's post-President Trump rally write-up has proved a viral hit, as of Saturday morning getting more than 2,500 shares.
But rather than a flat-out repudiation of the claims made in writer Ana Marie Cox's article (parts of which she's since walked back on), Larson instead owns the issues raised in her piece.
Example, regarding Cox's poorly received comment that Duluth is covered in a
"thin layer of grime," Larson writes: "What you call grime, we call reconstruction dust and progress."
"Just blocks from the arena where you spent your time, we are embarking on a bright future for our main street, replacing 100-year-old pipes, improving our infrastructure to advance our city’s energy system and building towards a more efficient Duluth. There’s a reason we call it Superior Street."
The write-up by Minneapolis-based Cox followed the president's appearance in the city on Wednesday, and in it she raises some of the challenges that face a city she referred to as "Trump Country," – though has since changed it to "potential Trump Country."
Among these is the city's 21 percent poverty level and exceedingly high rate of opioid overdoses, which Larson addresses in her response, saying Cox's comments "lack context."
Regarding opioid overdoses, Larson writes: "Our commitment has been to work with our county, the Center for Alcohol and Drug Treatment, courts, local hospitals and other partners to create an Opioid Withdrawal Unit: a safe place for those who overdose and want help to medically withdraw and be connected seamlessly to other support and resources.
"This is the first such program in the state."
Larson also makes time to laud the city's outdoor pursuits and natural wonders, as well as taking the opportunity to include a well-placed barb about Rolling Stone's name.
"Isn’t your magazine named after a song by some guy? Yeah. He was born here."
It's at this point, for the sake of accuracy, we note that Larson's claim about Rolling Stone's name isn't entirely accurate – here's how it came about:
You're probably wondering what we are trying to do. It's hard to say: sort of a magazine and sort of a newspaper. The name of it is Rolling Stone, which comes from an old saying: "A Rolling Stone gathers no moss." Muddy Waters used the name for a song he wrote; The Rolling Stones took their name from Muddy's song and "Like A Rolling Stone," was the title of Bob Dylan's first rock and roll record." – Rolling Stone, 1967.
Also, it's probably worth mentioning that Duluth-born, Hibbing-raised Bob Dylan isn't exactly the biggest cheerleader for northern Minnesota, not that we want to ruin what is a pretty sick burn.
Larson ends by extending an olive branch to Cox, saying: "Nothing brings a community together more than being dismissed by others. We are proud of who we are. We’d like you to see and experience why. So come on back for another visit. We’ll leave the Enger Tower light on for you. Who knows? You might find that you like it here in Duluth."
Here's Larson's full open letter.