The night Ali lit the torch in Gilbert

I spent most of the summer of 1996 nocturnal. Even though I couldn’t tell you much about those days, the nights seemed hotter and more humid than average. This was Northern Minnesota’s Iron Range, a place where winter cold gets more press than the deceptive heat of summer. I was 16. It was my first summer with a driver’s license,… Read More →

Daniel Berrigan, radical priest & Range native

On Saturday, April 30, peace activist and Jesuit Catholic priest Daniel Berrigan died at the age of 94. Berrigan was probably best known for his high profile protests of the Vietnam War, including multiple arrests for anti-war demonstrations. Most notably, Berrigan and fellow protesters seized draft records from an office in Maryland and burned them… Read More →

On Letters of Hope

“Plant a nut, get a nut,” someone once told me about my son Doug’s antics. Approaching 9 years old, he has somehow outpaced my childhood obsession with historical trivia and the macabre. Last year, he wandered down to my home office and extracted a ten-pound American history textbook left over from my college days. “Can… Read More →

Mud for our modern world

Thus ends the afternoon meeting. You can hear him now, the co-worker who’d rather be fishing. He slaps open the conference room door as though exiting an outhouse. Then comes the husky voiced lady from the department that has no name, the one who smokes reds on the loading dock without blinking. “Clear as mud,”… Read More →

‘If you want to predict the future, listen to the future’

Last week, students delivered informative speeches in my class at Hibbing Community College. One student spoke of the generational divide in how we communicate. He referred to Generation X, those of us born between 1965 and 1985, and said, “You know, like our parents.” Now, Gen Xers have been parents for some time. I’m 36…. Read More →

70-pound carp lashes back at Dayton over speech

When Gov. Mark Dayton delivered his State of the State address on Wednesday, many would rightly have focused on the policies or political nuance. I am unable to let go of one section of Dayton’s speech: Minnesota has a proud history of tackling environmental problems and finding effective solutions. When I was a boy in the… Read More →

Lost Mittens: A Love Story

It’s fitting that Valentine’s Day, a holiday celebrating romantic love, comes in the thick of Northern Minnesota’s sprawling winter. Just as many people have lost love over the years, so it goes for our gloves and hats after months of regular use. By now, gloves have been removed and placed in pockets more times than… Read More →

Talkin’ middle school parking lot blues

Let me be clear. I do not plan to murder anyone. But if I did the crime would almost certainly take place in the parking lot of my son’s middle school. Winter parking in Northern Minnesota is hard enough. Ice and snow cover the yellow lines. Every slight maneuver involves spinning tires and the risk… Read More →

Fit, just a bit

I recently went to the thrift store to buy “surrender pants.” This is the periodic occasion where I acknowledge that, yes, most of the pants in my house no longer fit. Nevertheless, I am not willing to pay normal prices for new pants. What a waste! Or rather, waist. Both, I guess. Why not? Because,… Read More →

A nod to Iron Range roots on every Greyhound Bus

A century ago, a pair of iron miners in Hibbing, Minnesota, began charging 15 cents for a ride on a seven-passenger Hupmobile from Hibbing to Alice Location. Alice, then a bedroom community for miners and their families, would later become the new townsite when Hibbing was moved to access the ore beneath the ground. From this inauspicious beginning, a… Read More →