The Basement Files: Making a mountain out of a Log Jam


Hey, did you catch the State of the Union earlier this week? I didn’t either. Can’t stand that speech. Every year, it’s the same thing, full on rhetoric, lacking in honesty, and just an elongated stereotypical Democratic/Republic political stump speech. With the advent of the “internet,” news travels instantly, and if anybody, at any time, wanted to check on the current state of our union, they could… and do it without interrupting prime time programming, and without having to listen to someone talk around themselves so they don’t inadvertently offend anyone. Which brings me too…

The Stillwater Log Jam. When I first heard the news that the replacement summer festival would be called “The Stillwater Log Jam,” the first thing that ran through my head was, “Ugh, that is just awful.” I know, it’s easy to criticize, and I know it’s hard to come up with a decent, relevant, and not-to-punny title (I know, I do it every week,) but Log Jam? Sheesh. Still not as bad as “Huff and Puff days,” Colorado’s “Slugburger Festival,” or Spain’s “Goat Tossing Festival.” They didn’t even try with that one; they just chuck a goat out of a window 50 feet up!

I can’t exactly fault them for trying. I know they tried to get the rights to “Lumberjack Days,” which to be honest, everyone is going to call the festival anyway, regardless of the “official” name. I just didn’t think it captured the “feel” of the tradition that was the Stillwater Mid-Summer classic. While it did have rides, the festival tended to, towards dusk, devolve into a large frat-party of sorts, where the only goal was to eat a ton of fried food, and get as hammered as humanly possible. And while a name like “The Soused Woodsman Festival” might fit what’s actually going to happen during the event, it probably isn’t the most family friendly.

I wasn’t a fan of the name… Until last Saturday when I heard a blurb on the TV news. It appears that some are concerned that it may be construed in a “vulgar” manner, and some Stillwater City Officials, in typical political knee-jerk reaction, have asked that the name be changed. The horror! There hasn’t been this much controversy since the “Blue-Footed Booby Days” debacle of ’74… that name was just (water) fowl. Ok, I made that last one up but after hearing this asinine reason that the festivals name has to be changed, I’m all in! The Log Jam is the perfect name!

Here is why it has to stay. First and foremost, logging was a big industry along the St. Croix River, we know this as a historical fact. Also a historical fact, when they moved logs down the river, sometimes they would get all clogged in there and cause a “Log Jam.” Again, historically relevant. It contains a pun while keeping with the lumberjack theme. It is a euphemism for constipation, and it’s a euphemism for… well, I’m not printing that one. I actually had to look it up (and you probably shouldn’t, as most “definitions” are rather… adult) and I’m usually pretty good on “innuendo lingo,” so I’m assuming if I didn’t even know it, a good 99-percent of the rest of the populace won’t either. But most importantly of all, it has garnered the ire and worry of Stillwater City Officials who have once again insisted upon a solution where there is no problem. They tend to do that a lot. Don’t believe me? Go to the historic courthouse and drive north on Pine Street until you hit Greeley. As the winter progresses it’s getting harder and harder to travel, traversing the cross-streets is now pretty much impossible, and the entire project reeks of “we have to spend this money right away otherwise we won’t get this money again next year.” Again, it’s easy to criticize, but seriously folks, you could have just patched the road, the “bumpouts” were completely unnecessary. You tried it as a traffic diversion on Deerpath, and I still use that shortcut every, single, time. But I’m getting “off track,” as it were, back to the Log Jam. I’m glad they finally saw the light on this one, because the “controversy” itself has made us the laughing-stock of the state, the exact problem that the “officials” wished to avoid in the first place!

So, I guess I owe “The Locals,” the non-profit running this whole shebang, an apology. I jumped on the “awful name” bandwagon pretty dang quick, and that was a mistake. You came up with a semi-punny name that not only was relevant, but thought provoking as well! What better, and might I add “free,” advertising could you get than having someone’s feathers rustled at a “perceived but in actuality non-issue?” You made the evening news for crying out loud, now everyone knows about it, not just us local hooligans! Sure, the phrase may have a plethora of meanings that are just horrible (and many more that are full on disgusting, putrid and vile) but let’s be honest, anyone taking it any of those horrendous, hideous, and heinous, ways may need a little professional help, or a sense of humor. Either way, you’ve got my support “Locals,” and the more I think about it, the more I actually like the name.

Chris Hamble is a freelance writer and humor columnist serving newspapers in Minnesota and Wisconsin and is a lifelong Stillwater resident.