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 →

Thanks for everything

It’s Thanksgiving week, but you can hardly tell. Everyone’s so angry. Prices are up and there aren’t enough teenagers to work the lobby at our favorite fast food joint. The news provides near constant disappointment. Things don’t work, all because of the current president or the last one, according to our favorite talking internet person. … Read More →

A plot to kill at deer camp

As I pack for the hunting shack, I wonder if I have enough crossword puzzles. The stack I’ve been saving since last May has grown substantially. These are Star Tribune puzzles, too, so really there are two puzzles per folded page and a Sudoku puzzle thrown in for good measure. Yes, I probably have enough…. Read More →

The 21st Century is a salvage operation

Junk is all over the news. Steel companies are buying scrap at big prices. And yet, recycling loses money for local governments across the country. The climate crisis is running headlong into our desire for more and more stuff. Worse, our economy currently depends upon us making and buying that stuff. My latest column for… Read More →

Elegy for the pack-sacker

In 1922, Claude Atkinson, editor of the erstwhile Hibbing Daily News and Mesaba Ore opined about a local pageant celebrating the mining history of the Mesabi Iron Range. Iron Range towns at that time seemed curiously young for such nostalgia. It would be the modern equivalent of a pageant celebrating a 30 year high school… Read More →

The unholy terrors of a peanut-free Halloween

Late autumn brings All Hallow’s Eve. The ancient Celts called it Samhain, the awakening of a new year when the worlds of the living and dead briefly overlapped.  Today, our modern holiday of Halloween has come to represent a cultural celebration of the taboo topics of death and the occult. It is a frightful night… Read More →

Ready, set, revitalize

They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. That’s true, but the success of that journey also depends upon packing a bag with snacks, supplies, and anti-chaffing creams. So it goes for diversifying the economy and winning the future of the Mesabi Iron Range. Success won’t appear all at once…. Read More →

The Hunt for Red October: Cherry Edition

When you’re from Cherry, Minnesota, you get used to certain conversations.  For instance, “Where is Cherry?” (Just east of Hibbing). “Lotta hayfields out there.” (Ya). And of course, “Isn’t Gus Hall from Cherry?” (Yes, of course). In fact, I know that fact better than most. I was the last journalist to interview Hall before he… Read More →

Free ideas for Iron Range future

People around local politics often like to “admire problems.” In short, people like to look at problems, complain about them, even lose sleep over them, but then take few steps to actually solve those issues. Sometimes I’m reminded that talking about economic diversification for the Iron Range or the broad concept of “change” isn’t enough…. Read More →

Naming a legacy one noun at a time

Humans didn’t create the world, but we do get to name the things we find here. We name our kids for our dads and our dogs for 19th Century burlesque performers. Someone called it “phlegm” and then invented the spelling. The ancients named “steel” and “stone” with nice sturdy words, but also called some tiny… Read More →