Holiday spirit can be overinflated

It’s time for the holidays. Christmas, yes, and all that comes with it. It’s not really a holiday anymore so much as an economic and cultural event. Like the Roaring 20s, but for our credit card bill. Or like the Great Depression, but in reference to our actual depression. It’s not like the good old… Read More →

Your turn Player Two

Right about now parents across Christendom receive handwritten notes from their children explaining what they’d like for Christmas. Ostensibly these lists are for Santa Claus, but everybody knows Santa has helpers. Most of them are clerks at a store within driving distance. I’m kidding, of course. Santa’s real helpers are faceless Amazon drones that document… Read More →

Architecture that holds up

Last night I hosted my radio show at the newly restored Hibbing High School auditorium. Workers spent months renovating this town’s “castle in the woods. Now it looks as resplendent as when it first opened nearly a century ago. I can assure you that words did the scene no justice. Some high school auditoriums are… Read More →

More smoke than fire: Election 2018 on the Iron Range

For much of 2018, we labored under the premise that Northern Minnesota’s 8th District might be the pivotal race in all of the nation. This would be the place that single-handedly decided whether Democrats or Republicans would control the U.S. House of Representatives. In visions of late night counting and recounting, the eyes of America… Read More →

Vote local; it matters most of all

Every day the children board the school bus. Begrudgingly, perhaps, but they go. We drive to work, quickly or slowly, depending on our enthusiasm and/or punctuality. People walk the streets, gathering in coffee shops and gas stations to jaw over the day’s news. At dusk, the parks and trails. By night we find the theaters,… Read More →

Unloading baggage aboard the Wienermobile

Thirty years ago I was in second grade at the old Forbes Elementary school on St. Louis County Highway 7. My family ran a junkyard out of a trailer house in Zim, Minnesota. That year I won the Weekly Reader National Invention contest. My winning invention was a set of seat belt covers. Colorful pictures… Read More →

Whirling West on a metal bird

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” ~ Mark Twain, “The Innocents Abroad” I live in the woods of Northern… Read More →

Trivia battle offers game show thrills

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with game shows. On one hand, I like believing that I’m smarter than people on TV. That’s really the only bar to clear to stay happy in modern society. You just have to stay off those brainiac channels like PBS or Animal Planet. On the other hand, game shows… Read More →

Reading coded language of Iron Range landscape

The youngest parts of the Mesabi Iron Range are the century-old towns spotted along its back like so many pimples. The geology, the nature and even human occupation go back millennia. Nevertheless, most people who live here see “local history” as a mysterious narrative that begins suddenly during the Grover Cleveland Administration. It’s not hard… Read More →

Mapping new world, new climate

We learn in history class about the search for the fabled Northwest Passage. This coveted sea route between the East Indies and Europe promised untold riches to explorers and traders of the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries. They searched the Great Lakes, cut inland through Lake Vermilion, forging West. Always these aquatic prospectors crashed headlong… Read More →