‘F’ is for Fake

In 1973, Orson Welles produced a strange movie called “F is for Fake.” Loosely structured as a documentary about art forgery, the film attempts to explore the notion of what is real and what isn’t. The whole time Orson hovers through the shots, a corpulent, enigmatic shadow of his Citizen Kane days. He even satirizes… Read More →

The true story of Minnesota Nice

Sometimes you hear a certain phrase in reference to Minnesotans. It’s particularly popular among visitors to our great state, but even locals use it once in a while. I’m talking about “Minnesota Nice.” On the surface, this sounds like a good thing. If you come to Minnesota you will meet nice people. Isn’t everyone nice?… Read More →

This Land is Our Land

Every Fourth of July Americans mark our Independence Day. It’s a day for us to set aside our many difference for several nonconsecutive minutes. We celebrate what unites us.  Red, white and blue. We learn as young children that these are America’s colors. It’s a funny thing about colors. They exist in nature. But we… Read More →

Northern Minnesota’s own vampires

I’d like to start with a frank conversation about vampires. Vampires come from ancient folklore, but they’ve been a staple of pop culture for almost two centuries. You know the trope. Tall, Transylvanian type. Fangs. Allergic to sunlight. They used to be stuck-up and creepy; now they’re moody and hot. But whether you’re dealing with… Read More →

Census, redistricting will reshape Minnesota’s balance of power

I’ve seen a map that spells the end of the political balance most of us grew up knowing. Trends of the past 30 years will soon accelerate. A new future is nigh. The map details a recent state estimate of population trends within Minnesota’s legislative districts. Next year’s census will show little to no population… Read More →

When a ditch is more than a ditch

One-hundred and four years ago, the iron mines around North Hibbing ran hot with thawing hematite while the early June weather proved every bit as unpredictable as today’s. The gates to the city seasonal parks swung open in torrential rain, but people still walked through them to sit on the benches. Because, after a long… Read More →

Employment outlook improves for Minnesota teens

My first job interview took place on a barstool in Eveleth. I was 16, in fresh possession of a drivers license and itching to make some money. The classified ad read “Pizza Delivery Driver.” I called the number and within hours was sitting next to the owner at his bar watching him taste-test the beer… Read More →

Great Northern Radio Show returns to Reif Center in Grand Rapids June 22

You might have noticed it’s been quiet at the blog these days. Regular readers can probably guess why. I’m busy with the book (more on that to come) and the radio show. Today I announce the next Great Northern Radio Show. I produce this live variety program for Northern Community Radio. The show will happen… Read More →

After gaining permits, PolyMet leaves some investors in the cold

It looked good on paper. A small Canadian company would mine copper, nickel and other valuable minerals in northern Minnesota. They vowed an innovative process to meet some of the most rigorous mining regulations in the world. Moreover, this company promised jobs for a rural region that needed them, a place that boasted a workforce… Read More →

Northern Minnesota can take a hike

I don’t go “hiking.” I have, however, been lost in the woods for several hours. You tell me the difference. In both cases, the goal is to not die. By the end, your feet ache with every step. The feeling when you finish? Accomplishment! And a good excuse to eat something imprudent. Maybe hiking’s not… Read More →