The bombs we carry

The police officers donned dark blue overcoats. Their bright brass buttons and badges glowed in the morning light. They gathered at the corner of Howard Street and Fifth Avenue. A captain barked orders, steam pouring from his mouth. Men stationed themselves at each exit of the luxurious new Androy Hotel.  The town was Hibbing, Minnesota…. Read More →

The poison in our standing water

Today, you can read my latest column for the Minnesota Reformer. The essay is entitled, “The poison in our standing water.” My work continues to transform as I ingest untold quantities of historical research for my book “Power in the Wilderness,” which I hope to finish quite soon. This piece analyzes Range history, Facebook’s power… Read More →

Flirting with fads

  In our consumeristic society this weekend becomes a sort of proving ground for material desires. We mark “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday,” not as official holidays, but as shared celebration of enormous corporations achieving their Q4 revenue expectations.  The stuff we buy and sell, however, changes a little each year. I remember Tickle-Me-Elmo being… Read More →

Elegy for the pack-sacker

In 1922, Claude Atkinson, editor of the erstwhile Hibbing Daily News and Mesaba Ore opined about a local pageant celebrating the mining history of the Mesabi Iron Range. Iron Range towns at that time seemed curiously young for such nostalgia. It would be the modern equivalent of a pageant celebrating a 30 year high school… Read More →

The Hunt for Red October: Cherry Edition

When you’re from Cherry, Minnesota, you get used to certain conversations.  For instance, “Where is Cherry?” (Just east of Hibbing). “Lotta hayfields out there.” (Ya). And of course, “Isn’t Gus Hall from Cherry?” (Yes, of course). In fact, I know that fact better than most. I was the last journalist to interview Hall before he… Read More →

Free ideas for Iron Range future

People around local politics often like to “admire problems.” In short, people like to look at problems, complain about them, even lose sleep over them, but then take few steps to actually solve those issues. Sometimes I’m reminded that talking about economic diversification for the Iron Range or the broad concept of “change” isn’t enough…. Read More →

Naming a legacy one noun at a time

Humans didn’t create the world, but we do get to name the things we find here. We name our kids for our dads and our dogs for 19th Century burlesque performers. Someone called it “phlegm” and then invented the spelling. The ancients named “steel” and “stone” with nice sturdy words, but also called some tiny… Read More →

Power in the Wilderness podcast available on major platforms

Readers here have probably gotten used to the fact that I’m only posting my newspaper columns these days. I’ve been working on my book, “Power in the Wilderness.” This process grew complicated when I returned to campus for my full time teaching assignment. Months ago Karl Jacob and I promoted our podcast, also called “Power… Read More →

When giants walked upon the earth: Latest Reformer column gets personal

In 2008, I turned out 800 blog posts a year, an insane output devoted almost entirely to my hyperactive political opinions. If you’ve been reading my site these last few years you know that I’ve slowed way down. Part of that is just the normal sort of time commitments that turn many “bloggers” into “ex-bloggers.”… Read More →

Crime and entertainment

Lately I’ve been watching people walk by, wondering how many of them have bricks of cash strapped under their bellies. How many guns did they cram into those reusable tote bags? Oh, look, she’s buying a shovel. Must have thrown the last one in the lake after burying the guy who talked too much. Or… Read More →