On whitetails, nimrods and a northern Minnesota tradition

If you walk into a deer shack and call the biggest guy there a “nimrod,” you might be in trouble. But that’s just because you’re in the wrong century. In another time you’d be paying him a compliment. How “nimrod” became an insult is an elaborate story worthy of any late night deer camp conversation…. Read More →

All politics is national

We now understand that 2016 was no fluke. Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range, a post-WWII bastion of the Democratic Farmer-Labor Party, now leans toward the Republican Party. And the DFL shows no sign of regaining lost ground anytime soon. The old days are truly gone. The numbers from Tuesday’s election weren’t overwhelming. President Trump won most… Read More →

Vote for local leadership, not furniture

Over 120 years, Iron Range mayors have come in all types. They are Republicans and Democrats (with a few socialists for flavor). They are wealthy elites and blue collar laborers. Some are educated savants who elevate the human species to new heights. Others are raving buffoons elected solely because of they know how to drive… Read More →

Water, land and climate

An epic conflict shapes the future of northern Minnesota. But it doesn’t feel like a conflict. Rather, it feels like selling out and settling for less. And it might take 40 years before we know what hit us. This battle gently boils in the rooms where estates are settled, where families decide how to pay… Read More →

Old book teaches perils of power

Used paperback book stores smell like cigarettes and coffee, the boiled essence of a schoolhouse cloakroom and the back alley behind a restaurant. If you lick one of the books — and you shouldn’t — I suspect it would taste salty. This is merely a hypothesis. It was at just such a store in the… Read More →

Empty theatrics dictate 2020 politics on the Iron Range

For one remarkable fall afternoon the President of the United States and his Democratic challenger converged on the political battlefield of northern Minnesota. The Sept. 18 appearances of President Donald Trump at the Bemidji airport and former Vice President Joe Biden at a union training center near Duluth fed the hungry narrative that Minnesota may… Read More →

Cleveland Cliffs resets the Mesabi Iron Range

Before March 2, 1901 northern Minnesota served as a battleground for two immutable titans of industry, Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller. At stake was control of the world’s richest untapped source of iron ore and the nation-building steel it could produce. The scene grew chaotic with new mines opening, closing, and changing hands all… Read More →

The comfort of seasons

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: (Ecclesiastes 3.1) A bear bumbled through Keewatin a while back. It knocked over some garbage cans and left on the bike trail. I heard about some bears in Hibbing, too. This is the season when yearling cubs strike out… Read More →

Don’t let the music die

If I missed anything this summer it was live music. I’m not one to pile into a crowded club or concert venue, but I do enjoy the sound of local musicians performing in parks and restaurants. The list of people affected by COVID-19 is long, with many legitimate claims for our collective sympathies and support…. Read More →

Tyrannosaurus Rex, are we next?

If you were a lucky dinosaur you were vaporized when the meteor hit. Most of the others died very painfully minutes later, torn to shreds by bullet-like debris falling back to earth. Within an hour, many others cooked to medium well within a super heated atmosphere. A smaller group lived long enough to starve. An… Read More →