Heart du coeur del corazón

Years ago, my wife and I experienced magical moments when we heard our babies’ heartbeats for the first time in the ultrasound room. Even though a flickering pulse sounds like an old dishwasher through a walkie-talkie, we were moved by the hopeful cadence of new life. However, when I sat in the same room almost… Read More →

An ode to Pops

If you’re in your 40s and still have grandparents, you’re pretty lucky. I certainly am. In a couple days my grandfather turns 90, one of those big, round impossible numbers you hear about sometimes.  Nonagenarians sometimes dole out advice, such as following a strict regimen of diet and exercise, avoiding all vices. But that certainly… Read More →

Racing for solutions in rural EMS crisis

A financial crisis threatens rural emergency medical services across the country, especially right here in our own back yard. Increased attention to the issue in recent months has yet to improve the situation. But, at last, more leaders at every level of government are beginning to act. Their efforts will determine whether regions like ours… Read More →

Chalamet lights up Dylan’s old stage

Northern Minnesota is cool. Literally. We’re known for our cold weather. But in terms of social cachet, we are not cool. We handle attention and celebrities about as well as we do hugs. Which is to say, rarely and awkwardly. But drama students in Hibbing recently helped our region take a bold step forward in… Read More →

Talking Biden, bridges, Duluth, flags and fame

I was on WCCO Radio early Monday morning talking about a host of northern Minnesota issues. President Biden was in town last Thursday touting more than $1 billion in funding to replace the Blatnik Bridge connecting Duluth and Superior. So was actor Timothée Chalamet, who visited Duluth and Hibbing to research Bob Dylan for an… Read More →

A world that grew from stumps and slash

This weekend, I’m giving another lecture stemming from an unexpected twist in my book research. “A World That Grew From Stumps and Slash,” will be Saturday, Jan. 20, from 1-3 p.m. at the Forest History Center in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. The cost is regular park admission, but that means you can check out the museum… Read More →

The end of U.S. Steel and the triumph of the corporation

This morning we learned that Nippon Steel of Japan will purchase U.S. Steel for $14.9 billion as part of a deal approved by both companies’ boards over the weekend. My latest for the Minnesota Reformer explores the deal and its historic implications. U.S. Steel owns or has a stake in three mines on the Mesabi… Read More →

Range housing woes hit home

My kids aren’t kids anymore. In just a few years they’ll move out on their own. I remember the excitement of that time of life, but as a parent I’m struck by the enormous financial burdens they’ll face. In 1999, our first apartment rent in Hibbing was a little over $300 a month. You can’t… Read More →

In da club, ya

Some might remember the night my friend and podcasting partner Karl Jacob and I co-hosted a Roaring ’20s 100th birthday party for the Hibbing High School auditorium last month. It was a lovely evening of storytelling, sketch comedy, jazz and old time music in one of the great cathedrals of Iron Range education. What you… Read More →

Canned squid and the damage done

The little yellow box on the clearance shelf caught my eye. Its vibrant art deco motif suggested the product might have been packaged anytime between 1929 and present day. But this was no antique shop. This was the Hibbing Walmart. A chorus of computerized beeps sang from the registers while this strange box marked “Vigo”… Read More →