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The Few. The Proud. The Awkward.

By V. Paul Virtucio
April 12, 2002 | Duluth News Tribune


Wearing rubber Spock ears could earn you that label.

Being too smart or technically adept for your own good could do the job, too.

Social ineptitude, over-excitability and poor fashion sense all could qualify you for geek status.

Just ask Paul Lundgren, who said his role as an obsessive-compulsive writer earns him a free pass into geekdom.

"There are different kinds of geek. Some geeks are very shy and awkward and kind of don't interact that much with others," Lundgren explained. "Other geeks are what you would call a spaz. They would run and jump around like an idiot."

Lundgren, who writes for the RipSaw News, and Scott Lunt, organizer of the Twin Ports' biggest local music bash, Homegrown Music Festival, have teamed up to host the Geek Prom, what they've dubbed the best nerdfest in the Midwest.

The Geek Prom begins at 8 p.m. Saturday in the NorShor Theatre, 211 E. Superior St.

"We're taking back the word," Lunt said. "I thought it would be a great name for anything."

Of course, Geek Prom will be a strictly regimented event - another tell-tale sign of geekiness is over-organization. From 7-9 p.m., three restaurants will offer pre-prom dinner specials: Pizza Luce, 11 E. Superior St.; Fitger's Brewhouse, 600 E. Superior St.; and Lake Avenue Cafe, 394 S. Lake Ave.

Limousines will shuttle diners to the NorShor Theatre from 8-10 p.m.
Each new arrival will be greeted at the door and given a grand entrance down a red carpet, where a panel of judges will determine geek factor. Scores will determine the Geek Prom king and queen, who will be crowned at 11 p.m.

At 10 p.m., Duluth's own geeky, country and rockabilly band, Super D and the Double Chucks, will take the stage. They'll be followed by Vinnie and the Stardusters, a Twin Cities geek group.

"I guess mostly we're kind of creating an atmosphere where people can geek out," Lundgren said. "The slogan of our show is, 'We're Through With Being Cool.'"

Lundgren came up with the idea of a prom for adults three years ago but realized it would be really boring if the event turned out exactly like a high school prom. He eventually settled on a geek fest, but kept hoping someone else would lead the geek prom committee.

Lundgren said last fall's economic summit organized by Duluth Mayor Gary Doty made the prom more urgent. The summit identified the need for a "cool factor," a way to create a hip local culture to attract and retain young workers.

"That was when we realized the importance of establishing a geek factor in Duluth's downtown," Lundgren said.

About the same time, Lunt challenged Lundgren to quit talking about his beloved Geek Prom and make it real. Lundgren hopes to draw 300 to 700 people to cover the $4,000 in expenses.

"I think everybody has an inner geek that they're dying to let out," Lunt said. "The very few people who refuse to let their geek out, they'll find themselves alone that night. Pretty soon, they'll be the geeks."