January: The month that knows what it is

When I went off to college in another state I remember the happy ceremony of my arrival on campus. Friendly resident assistants helped move my mini fridge up the three flights of stairs. Despite the folly of it, I actually brought a wooden bookshelf and about 40 of my favorite books. The good samaritans cheerfully… Read More →

Beyond the swan song

  I remember in school when we read “The Trumpet of the Swan” by E.B. White. Like White’s other famous children’s novels, “Charlotte’s Web” and “Stuart Little,” this story centers on an animal with many human abilities.  In this case, we meet Louis, the trumpeter swan who has no voice. A boy, Sam, forms a… Read More →

MinnesotaBrown’s Top Posts of 2021

Happy New Year! If you’re reading this, you’re one of the hard cases. You didn’t find MinnesotaBrown.com by random happenstance. Rather, you’ve continued to check in on this site while I write “Power in the Wilderness” in my basement. I haven’t posted much here. I haven’t trended. Nor have I gone viral, except for a… Read More →

Oracle sees much to do in 2022

Tossing in bed on a dry winter night I wake to get a drink of water. After a sip I hear a strange gurgling from the toilet. Bubbles rise from the drain pipe.  Soon the water becomes more turbulent. A terrible groan emerges from the bowl. Like toothpaste from a tube, up comes an otter… Read More →

2021 top words not ‘cheugy’ yet, but will be soon

As another year draws to a close it’s time to look back at the words and phrases that marked 2021. The words we use often characterize the lives we lead, sometimes more accurately than a laundry list of news events. Changes in language tell us what we are talking about, what we are doing, and… Read More →

Christmas: The Teen Years

Yes, Virginia, Hibbing, and the broader Iron Range, I believe in Christmas magic. No, not of the Santa Claus variety or even the Hallmark hokum. And while I am open to the concept of religious miracles, I leave that to the theologians.  No, I believe in a very specific kind of Christmas magic. That is,… Read More →

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 →

You’ve got mail; not really, though

Every day, we check the mail. In fact, when my wife and I drive home from work she will always say, “I wonder if we got any good mail,” about 0.4 miles from our mailbox. She’s as reliable as Google Maps. Maybe more so. The answer is typically, “no.” The mail is usually boring. Credit… 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 →