I appreciate how open-ended the essay format is, particularly in an online era. A headline establishes what you’re setting out to do, and if people click on it, you’ve got buy-in to make your case. While the format of my Front Row Seat column in the Duluth News Tribune varies, I often use that space to write essays about different aspects of local life. In other publications — including The Tangential and The Current — I’ve written essays on a wide range of topics.
In July 2023, I was pleased to have my column honored with a first place Page One Award from the Minnesota Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
Duluth News Tribune
- What I learned on my first cruise vacation (March 30, 2023). “After a few days, the sheer indolence got downright awkward.”
- Why are book bans back? (July 26, 2023). “If there was a way to see the rise in book censorship coming, I might have missed it because I wasn’t looking in the right places. That’s always a risk with sociology, or any science. You only get the answers to the questions you think to ask.”
- Will the real Duluth please stand up? (Aug. 24, 2023). “Maybe [Gore] Vidal took offense at the encyclopedia’s glib description of our ‘popular vacation playground,’ or maybe he just liked the sound of the city’s name, but his book made Duluth into the ever-mutable, all-encompassing nexus of America’s failings.”
- The Social Network, the Harvard of dreams, and the dreams of Harvard (originally published in the Twin Cities Daily Planet, October 6, 2010). “The Social Network tells a great story about Harvard, one that’s mostly true.”
- Atari’s E.T.: Why it deserves its strangely legendary status (April 28, 2014). “The E.T. game had a distinctly melancholy feel about it, with its dark, cool palette, its mysterious forest, and its ominous intruders.”
- We all live on Main Street: Why Sinclair Lewis still matters (August 30, 2015). “Civic pride fuels circular arguments: since this is by definition the greatest place on Earth, the way we do things must be definition be the best way to do things.”
- Chess, cheerleading, Chopin: What gets you into college? (with Jason Kaufman, Contexts, May 2006). “Students whose parents visited art museums regularly were much more likely to attend an elite college than students whose parents did not. It does not evenseem to matter whether students themselves visit museums — so long as their parents do.”
- I’m turning 40, and I still owe $40K in student loans (The Financial Diet, March 27, 2015) “The final payment is scheduled to be taken from my bank account a few months before my 57th birthday.”
- What to make of Isaac Asimov, sci-fi giant and dirty old man? (Lit Hub, May 14, 2020). “If you’re inclined to spend a lot of time with Asimov’s work, you’ll come to an appreciation of his many gifts: his wide-ranging intellect, his amiable writing style, his optimistic spirit, and the breadth of his imagination. You’ll also, however, notice a frequently lascivious attention to his female characters.”