Oracle breaks winds of change in 2016

The gas burner spews a flame of blue, red, orange and yellow into the ghostly white sphere above. I’m trying to type on an old manual typewriter, no easy task on a hot flying monstrosity operated by a muskrat. “Gnnaaaaagh!” shouts the muskrat. Steamy breath in cold air, his jaunty captain’s hat adding authority to… Read More →

A tale of two junkyards

I was raised in the 1980s and early ’90s on a family-owned junkyard along the storied Iron Range Highway 7 on the edge of the Sax-Zim Bog. Two trailer homes rested upon these swampy grounds: one filled to the ceiling with hubcaps and the other which housed my family. The steam cloud from Eveleth Taconite filled… Read More →

Rare moose sighting near Cherry

My social media feed has been abuzz with pictures and tales of moose patrolling Highway 37 near my ancestral lands of Cherry, Minnesota. The Mesabi Daily News reports this morning that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has issued a warning to motorists to be on alert for two young female moose in the area just… Read More →

Journey to the Center of the Sax-Zim Bog

Like a gnarled oak, the world below the Iron Range is as complicated as the one above. This becomes clear riding underground in the DrillRover 5000X, boring a bullet’s highway from the long forgotten I. Tripplarbee underground mine south of Eveleth into the moist morass of the Sax-Zim bog. The DrillRover 5000X is a curious… Read More →

In a small Iron Range town, the ‘Eye of the Tiger’ blinks shut

I can still hear the tinny speakers perched above Tommy Koskela Memorial Field at my alma mater of Cherry High School. A cassette tape pulsates the floppy, weather-worn woofers, creating the approximate sound of Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger.” This was the sound of Friday nights in the fall through my teen years, both as a… Read More →

Mesaba Park arts camp is June 16-19

The Mesaba Co-op Park, one of the unique vestiges of Iron Range labor history, will be holding its 20th Annual Northstar Arts Camp, “Poetry in the Park” this summer from June 16-19. If you’re interested in a cool arts and outdoor activity for 8-14 year old kids, check this out: Registrations are being accepted for the 20th Annual… Read More →

Bird, Bird, Bird (Bird is the Word) in Sax-Zim Bog

Starting today, Friday, Feb. 14, and running through Sunday, Feb. 16, the Friends of the Sax-Zim Bog will be holding their 7th annual Sax-Zim Birding Festival, based out of Meadowlands, Minnesota. The Sax-Zim Bog is a mighty marshland found just south of the Mesabi Iron Range and north of Duluth. It was once the basin… Read More →

Down in the Boondocks: Author Kate Ingrid Paul

Kate Ingrid Paul is a fellow Sax-Zim Bog spawn who, like me, found the experience worth writing about. She’s got a new book out entitled “Memoirs from Down in the Boondocks: A Spiritual Journey through Poem and Short Story.” Paul was featured in last Sunday’s Hibbing Daily Tribune. Here’s an excerpt from her talk with Tony… Read More →

The Bobby Aro Story airs tonight on PBS North

UPDATE: I watched The Bobby Aro story on WDSE last night and it was well worth it. If you were a Bobby Aro fan in the day you’ll be amazed at the memories, but even if you’re younger, like me, you’ll hear a story about a radio star with a compelling personal story who did… Read More →

When it comes to recycling, yes we ‘can’

I’ve always had an intimate relationship with scrap metal, having been raised on a salvage yard out in Zim, a swampy lowland scrub-brush township just off northern Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range. My family indexed junk into piles of refuse so large as to function as my childhood landscape. Some people remember seeing the mountains as… Read More →