So I had this dream where DreamWorks approached me to work as a storyboard artist for the new Shrek, except like this time it was gonna be a TV sitcom and the events of Shrek 3 and 4 were retconned. So like, Fiona is human again and has this human baby and is like “Shrek should probably stay away for a while so I can raise this kid” and Shrek is kind of pissed about it while he’s expanding the real estate in his swamp so there’s like this watchtower he’s got now in addition to like, a log mansion. The execs stressed the importance of showing off “Shrek’s new ability” in the story boards where he could now slide up trees with no propulsion of any kind; he kind of just grabs on and goes up.
The veritable castle of the Northwoods, Granot Loma stands on the coast of Lake Superior. The property lays north of Marquette, along County Road 550. It was built in 1919 as a summer residence and hunting lodge by Louis Graveraet Kaufman. The 26,000-square-foot log mansion itself has a small harbor, 50 rooms, a 60ft great room, 26 bedrooms, and 32 fireplaces. In addition to the lodge, the Granot Loma property, which spans roughly 8-square-miles/~5,000 acres, has a number of out-buildings, such as a guest house and a farming complex of 13 buildings that was meant to sustain the Kaufman family and the 250 workers they employed.
After the death of Louis Kaufman and his wife, the family scaled back the Granot Loma and didn’t much use the property. In 1987 the property was sold to Thomas Baldwin, who repaired and renovated the decaying complex. It is possible to stay as a guest at Granot Loma, but as of last year it is too now possible to be the owner. This mighty estate is listed at $40,000,000. A small price to pay for a piece of history and a home unlike any other in the region.
Content warnings: blood, gore, candy-related body horror, violence, murder
Summary: Or wakes up to find a couple of intruders roaming their mansion, and realizes they’re either about to be kidnapped or murdered. They text Reuben for backup, and the two make short work of the would-be kidnappers, Reuben killing one and Or interrogating the other before losing their temper and maiming him badly. The kidnapper tries to attack Or and Reuben in a moment of desperation, and Or kills him. Reuben, having overtaxed his powers, spends the night in the mansion.
Nathaniel Northwest Was Not What He Seemed...he was actually worse
So a lot of stuff happened in Northwest Mansion Noir: Vengeance, Justice, Character Development, the Final Countdown, and Bill looking damn fine on an antique tapestry. But for all the love it gets, there’s one particular (and nasty) element that seems to slip by the attentions of most. Namely the revelations pertaining to this guy.
I know that it isn’t the Stan Twin Theory being true, but what was revealed about the fallacious founder of Gravity Falls this episode was both stunning and subversive. Now I could go all meta and let it (and Nathaniel) continue to fester beneath the surface unnoticed and unpunished, but as it has a lot of resonance with what happens in the episode and some of the broader themes of the show, I thought: Why not? Nathaniel Northwest was a fraud. That much remains the same as established in Irrational Treasure. But the events of Northwest Mansion Noir also reveal that he wasn’t just a fraud. He was also an outright villain.
The Lumberjack Ghost’s story makes this seem obvious. Of course he’s a villain. Look at how he betrayed the trust of the lumberjacks in his employ by not letting them into the party! But it’s the extent of that villainy that a lot of people overlook.
You see, way back in season 1, we found out that in spite of Pacifica’s pride in being descended from him, Nathaniel Northwest was not the founder of the titular town of Gravity Falls, but a “local nobody” and “waste-shoveling village idiot” who was chosen to become the town’s “patsy mayor” and supposed creator. It was a hilarious revelation and something that the Pines Twins could hold over Pacifica’s head whenever she got to snippy as they gave her the documents to prove it. All in good fun, nice gag, what a nutty loser this Nathaniel Northwest was! Hahaha! Then we reach the midpoint of season 2.
So here we have Mayor Northwest, self-proclaimed wizard known for his frequent acts of theatrical stupidity, convincing the hardworking townspeople of Gravity Falls to construct Northwest Manor. He claims that the structure will be a service to the town and the lavish feasts he will host therein will be open to all from the rich to the less fortunate. Lot of charisma for an infamous twit. But why wouldn’t the lumberjacks and laborers take him at his word (and only his word)? That Nathaniel Northwest, such a character; bludgeoning himself into unconsciousness with a large boating oar and always trying to eat oak trees. Someone as brain defective and zany as that pulling one over on anybody? Perish the thought. The man can barely speak outside of grunts and screams. Except now though, but it’s probably just a passing moment of lucidity.
With that in mind and the promise of future festivities dangled in front of them, the construction crew get to work. Lives are lost, bodies are taxed, and seasons march on, but they complete Nathaniel’s formidable log mansion all the same. However, when they come to collect on their commission during one of their informal employer’s decadent celebrations, what does the guileless and soft-headed buffoon do? He laughs at them and shuts the door in their faces.
One might argue that this doesn’t disprove the government and the town’s belief that Nathaniel Northwest was a moron. Dumb Folk are just as prone to cruelty as Smart Folk and his sudden increase in wealth and status might’ve just gone to his empty head. But when the sole lumberjack that stayed behind and demanded entry is swept up by a mudslide, pinned to a tree, and has his skull cracked open by an ax, Nathaniel WATCHES him die - he’s the only one that does if the silhouette is to be believed - and doesn’t lift a finger to help.
Again, you could attribute it to doltishness, Murphy’s Law. Nathaniel might have just looked out the window as he wondered what lightning tasted like and marveled at the funny man covered in dirt, rain, and red stuff writhing outside his house. And yet, when the lumberjack declares his intentions and curses the Northwest family, Nathaniel not only listens to what this peon has to say, but takes him serioulsy. He even writes a note to his descendants, warning them of the curse in full. This in itself is a gigantic red flag.
Yes, literacy among American Caucasian Adults during this decade was somewhere between 75-90% thanks to the printing press and railroad. Fair dinkum for the 1860s man on the street, but this isn’t any normal citizen of 19th Century USA. This man is supposed be the VILLAGE IDIOT. A vapid simpleton of such ill repute shouldn’t be able to speak, read, write, and scheme as well as this, but Nathaniel breaks the mold. Or does he?
Let me be clear, I think Quentin Trembley’s a fine and entertaining character, but he was an absolute nightmare for the United States Government. Rather than merely being corrupt or inept, Quentin was an utter lunatic albeit an occasionally brilliant one. To “replace” such an individual in the annals of history, they might have been inclined to select individuals who were much easier to deal with. Despite frequent cultural gags about his semi-untimely demise, Harrison - being a national hero and experienced statesman who would assumedly not try anything foolish in his old age - would have made for a reasonable presidential choice and that’s what they were going for, weren’t they? Reasonable.
Ironically, the mayoral position of Gravity Falls would prove a tougher sell as Quentin had unambiguously founded the place by accident. This newly minted Oregon town would require a local of a specifically unspecific make. An honest man would be no good; he’d never be party to such a gross act of revision. Scoundrels were out of the question; they might jump at the chance to reap undeserved riches and station, but you simply can’t trust this sort. No, for this, you’d need a stooge. Someone inoffensive and easy to understand and control. A guy of little ambition and presence that wouldn’t cause a stir in the populace when he took Trembley’s office and accomplishments for his own. And what could possibly be more harmless and shallow than a dung-spading rube with an eating disorder? An imbecile, but an intelligible imbecile who was more a danger to himself than anyone else.
They were right to an extent. Wood-munching Nathaniel didn’t rock the boat. He minded his own business. And that was because business was good. Good and rotten.
At this point, the core implication of this little write-up should be crystal clear. Though you might be asking yourself if it’s a valid one. The show is full of people that desperately want to be taken seriously and crave respect. The Author desired to put the “doubters” in their place and garner the amorous attentions from the fairer sex with his findings. Dipper puts a hefty premium on his designation as “the smart guy”. As laid-back as he seems, Soos simultaneously covets Stan’s trust and thinks very highly of himself; hearing that his cousin Reggie - who he insultingly labels as a “poor man’s Soos” - is on the cusp of getting ahead of him vis-a-vis marriage sends the handyman stumbling towards a personal (and almost mortal) crisis. Robbie attempts to compensate for his many, many frailties with emo fashion and vandalism. Nathaniel’s fellow patsy politician, William Henry Harrison, jeopardized his health to create an image of strength and vitality with his two hour inauguration speech in the rain.
Which makes one wonder if anybody in their right mind would purposefully subject themselves to heavy abuse and humiliation for the sake of money. Would someone be that unfettered and greedy for wealth and status that he’d willingly turn himself into a gaudy, clownish caricature to deflect suspicion? Could a man be so dedicated to such a long-running performance that he would do everything in his power to maintain the facade that feeds him? Are there really people out there who would play the fool to make off like a bandit?
What? It almost worked for Odysseus.
It’s difficult to say what’s more unnerving. That Nathaniel was so determined to be the perfect imperfect candidate for Quentin’s position that he gravely injured himself and spent the last minutes of his life choking on tree bark to stay in-character for Uncle Sam or that he got away with it. The man even found a way to weaponize his fraudulent stupidity when he shortchanged the lumberjacks, knowing that these proud and serious blue collar folk would never admit that they had been bamboozled by the “dumbest” man in town.
Had Nathaniel’s story ended with him languishing in his mansion and squandering all of his funds, then the Northwest fortune might’ve dried up then and there. It’s what an elevated village idiot would’ve done, which is why he didn’t do that. Instead, he did what his descendant Preston would do decades later, he hosted elaborate parties so that he could rub elbows with and sweet talk the elite of the nation (the people he did let in just had to be individuals of import); Building power, influence, and capital to grease the wheels of his more illicit activities and the ambitions of Northwests yet to come.
Speaking of which, there’s an old, justified fear among those living on the upper crust that the pampered lifestyles they supply them with will rob their children of the drive and hunger needed to perpetuate and expand the riches of which they’ve become accustomed to. Fortunately for Nathaniel’s legacy, the apple never fell very far from the tree. Each scion took to ruthlessness and skulduggery as well as he did, this time hiding their vile natures behind a veil of respectability rather than idiocy. Town darlings loved/envied by all during the day and foul sheisters whenever no one was looking. Best illustrated in how Preston Northwest hides his cunning behind the guise of a frivolous, snobbish dandy. The result was a dastardly dynasty that spanned well over a century.
Thus, Pacifica’s despair over her ancestry’s true nature is twofold. She was initially content to suffer her strict upbringing and use intimidation, bribery, and underhandedness to triumph in contests she could not overcome with sheer skill. This was because she thought her pedigree was rooted in something laudable and true; failing in any way would bring dishonor to that noble heritage. Dipper outing her great-great grandfather as a sham and a (based on the incorrect government documents) dunce shook that faith though further lies or tacit threats from her parents helped her cope to a degree. Stumbling across a secret room loaded with evidence that her whole family weren’t just frauds, but maliciously fiendish conmen who were so proud of how they cheated the weak and gullible that they had paintings made to commemorate their misdeeds was just a bit too much for her to take. Without Dipper’s words of encouragement, she may have accepted defeat, pledged fealty to her bleak heritage, and inevitably transform into the callous, deceitful, and heartless heiress her parents were grooming her to become. After all, it’s hard to be good when it appears that only the bad guys win. She might not be the first Northwest who knew that they didn’t have to be defined by what their forefathers did, but she’s the first that chose to act on that knowledge.
So spread the word! Nathaniel Northwest was an abominable cross between King Saul and Jefferson Smith the whole time! His every folly manufactured and insincere! He fooled the lumberjacks. He fooled the town. He fooled the United States Government TWICE. He even fooled Pacifica for most of her life. Are you going to let him fool you too? Don’t let him get away with it! Don’t let him pull one over on you! Have him join the ranks of all the brigands who played dumb and got caught. Season 2 is set to expose everything and this so-called “village idiot” shouldn’t be able to escape that.
The first chapter of The Valiard Mansion has just had its first birthday, and to celebrate, Valiard will now be published on Tumblr in addition to its usual deviantART updates.
To anyone who’s new to the series, The ValiardMansion is an ongoing illustrated novel about a young Victorian woman who gets trapped in a haunted Mansion as a ghost.
If you’re into magic, ghost stories and Disney-looking characters, then Valiard might just interest you. Chapters are downloadable as PDFs and you can read them on your tablet or phone. Plus it only gets updated monthly, so you won’t get bogged down with notifications.