Look for influences, not adoration, in Dylan’s hometown

Can’t Bob Dylan just answer a straight question? Why must his rare public utterances be so cryptic? Why can’t he sing the way they they teach at Hibbing High School? Gosh darn it, why did he say he was from New Mexico when he went on Ed Sullivan? And why can’t Dylan’s hometown of Hibbing,… Read More →

Zebra mussels in Range mine pit raise questions

Northern Minnesota has been standing sentinel against zebra mussels for a number of years. We worry our freshwater lakes could be overrun by this invasive species. Typically, however, we imagine the pests arriving on the hulls of traveling boats and trailers. That doesn’t seem to explain why they showed up in an Iron Range mine… Read More →

Festival of Sail enters Duluth harbor

Tens of thousands of people pile along the lakeshore as the 2019 Duluth Festival of Sail returns with vintage ships and an enormous rubber duck. Here’s some video from today’s parade of sails as vintage replica ships like the U.S.S. Niagara enter the Duluth-Superior Harbor: The family and I took in the Tall Ships festival… Read More →

Emblematic of his era, Iron Range lawmaker Joe Begich dies

I met Joe Begich in the late 1990s, five years after he had retired from the state legislature. He was a senior statesman of sorts, an uncle at the Iron Range DFL reunion who could offer either useful context or long-winded tangents. Begich was, of course, a dedicated laborite and fierce Iron Range advocate. He… Read More →

Then and now: lessons from the forgotten past

Please excuse me. I’m suffering from the adverse effects of time travel. Disoriented and distracted, I wonder what small action 100 years ago might have created our present condition. For the past couple years, more intensely of late, I’ve researched the Hibbing of a century ago for a book. Methodically reading the newspapers of another… Read More →

Confessions of an assistant coach

The movie, “The Bad News Bears,” really set unreasonable expectations for under-qualified little league baseball coaches. For one thing, letting the children smoke and drink beer is even more taboo now than it was in 1976. For another, teaching children how to do anything requires extraordinary patience. Teaching them to lean into a pitch that,… Read More →

Lumpy and Me: a medical friendship

I don’t go to the doctor often. When I do it’s usually for checkups, strep throat or depression. Never anything cool. But this summer I suffered an honest-to-god sports injury. A manly-man wound that caused me to scowl and whine a lot, just like an old jock. Our little leaguer Doug really came on strong… Read More →

Explaining the hot idle

If you’re a regular reader of MinnesotaBrown.com you’ve probably noticed far fewer posts that usual this summer. This is what I sometimes call a “hot idle.” The term refers to what the mines do when they halt production of iron ore but keep their equipment “hot” and ready for a quick restart. It’s usually something… Read More →

‘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 →