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Contrarian Alert: The Keeweenaw Peninsula, PLUS: New Feature, The Hamptons Watch

Saturday, August 11th, 2007

For months the CT has been grappling with a soul-searching question:

Should we hire a new editor to cover the Upper Peninsula of Michigan?

Few places interest the Alpha Contrarian more than this region, which has been described as the Missisippi of the North. It’s inaccessible, it’s rarely visited, it’s brutally cold, it’s got the right population trends. The UP, an area the size of Maryland, has less than 100,000 people, and, more important, that’s only half - yes, half - of its population in 1900. That’s right. A century ago, at the peak of the strip mining frenzy, the UP had twice as many people. (We love this depopulation trend.)

We also love the fact that it has assloads of snow. It is in one of the world’s great lake effect snow belts. Think Buffalo or Syracuse gets a lot of snow? UP cities like Marquette, Houghton, and Sault Ste Marie, get nearly double the Buffalo numbers. (200 plus inches a year - not uncommon in the UP)
We also love the UP because they’re “Da Yoopers.” You think Minnesotans or people in Green Bay or Wasau talk funny. The UP is the ultimate manifestation of the elongated OHHHHHH, Canadian-like, vaguely sing songy accent characteristic of the Upper Midwest. (We love traveling to linguistically isolated spots.)
Anyways, the point is the CT is hot for the UP and you’ll hear a lot about this peninsula — which should be part of Wisconsin, shouldn’t it — in the coming weeks. (Coincidentally, The Alpha Contrarian has long been plotting a trip to Houghton. Also, coincidentally, just last week the Alpha was fantasizing about the possibility of working as a sports reporter at Houghton’s daily newspaper) Also, a note of personal disclosure: the AC incidentally, had long hoped to buy a small plot of property on the south shore of Lake Superior, near Pictured Rocks National Seashore. There, he had hoped, to build a Hamptons-style redoubt for under $20,000. In this fantasy, he envisioned four bedrooms, a hot-tub, a coal-burning oven (for pizza), a well (for spring water, which he would sell to Chicagoans at a high mark-up), and a cedar-shake roof. He would revel in the cheapness and Contrarian Nature of his UP coastal home. He would also gloat about his prescience — global warming will serve to his advantage, warming the Lake Superior beaches.
That’s why we were absolutely, positively distraught to learn that the New York Times Escapes section had discovered Michigan’s Keewenaw Peninsula.

Here it is, a very nicely done piece, by some fellow named, Stephen Regenold, “Industrial Echoes in Michigan’s Copper Country.”
This coming Friday, at 3:00 p.m., visit the CT for a special online chat, with Schonwald, Powell-Rushing, Lacewell, “Crisis in Copper Harbor: Can the UP survive the Escapes piece.”

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