Left alone for too long

For the past couple months I’ve been writing a book. Writing a book is something you do alone. Nobody really wants to talk to you about your book. They just want to break the awkward silence that comes from sitting next to an author. People want to hear that you’re almost done. They want to… Read More →

Cleveland Cliffs acquires AK Steel

Iron ore producer Cleveland Cliffs acquired AK Steel in a deal announced today. It’s a seismic transaction that could have long-term implications for the Mesabi Iron Range. Cliffs will use its stock to buy $1.1 billion worth of AK Steel stock, assuming about 68 percent ownership of the Ohio-based company. Cliffs CEO Lourenco Goncalves will… Read More →

Who’s a Ranger?

Hi, my name is Aaron. I’m an Iron Ranger. I say that with some confidence. I was born here in Hibbing, the largest city on the Mesabi Iron Range. My parents took me home from the hospital to Keewatin. That’s on the Iron Range. We moved to Nashwauk, same deal. Then we moved to a… Read More →

The ubiquitous modern automobile

When I was a kid I had a metal toolbox full of toy cars. All kinds of cars. Sports cars. Pickup trucks. The General Lee from “Dukes of Hazzard.” The Batmobile. And even though all of these cars had four wheels you could tell them apart, just like you can tell people apart even though… Read More →

Wrapping up this run of the Great Northern Radio Show

Last Saturday I hosted the last edition of my Great Northern Radio Show before putting the show on an indefinite hiatus. I talked about my reasons for doing so in a recent column. You can hear the show here. It was a delightful evening of music, comedy and stories about Northern Minnesota. It proved an… Read More →

Change in the air; evidence on the highway

Most days you can sit by the window of the Subway restaurant in Grand Rapids, Minn., and watch pieces of wind turbines inch their way through the intersection of Highways 2 and 169. It’s quite an operation. State Patrol officers block the road. The driver must time the turn perfectly or run the risk of… Read More →

The more we know

One of the best sight gags in the 1978 comedy “Animal House” comes from the image of John Belushi in a shirt that simply reads “COLLEGE.” No specific school. Just “COLLEGE.” We learn in the movie’s closing credits that Belushi’s barely literate character goes on to become a U.S. Senator. I think of that image… Read More →

Mayor Larson wins in Duluth while council sees changes

Mayor Emily Larson cruised to re-election over challenger David Nolle in Tuesday’s municipal elections. Larson won by more than 5,000 votes, about 63 percent to Nolle’s 36 percent. Larson heads an administration that has largely continued the progressive policies begun under former mayor Don Ness. She also inherited the challenges that have bedeviled Duluth for… Read More →

Eight years on the road

In W.P. Kinsella’s novel, “Shoeless Joe,” later made into the movie “Field of Dreams,” the farmer Ray Kinsella builds a baseball field in the middle of his corn. People think he’s crazy. I suppose he is. But the experience heals him. Even though this story is fiction you can still visit the actual baseball field… Read More →

Northland safe from Halloween horrors … or is it?

“I can’t even imagine.” I never cared for that phrase. Because it’s almost never true. What makes something horrible is not that you can’t imagine it happening, but that you can. Horror is based less on fear of the totally unknown but on fear of the imagined unknown. When you get lost in the woods… Read More →