You might know me as a writer, judge, and lifelong Duluthian. You also may know that over the past two decades I've researched, written, and published two historical novels about the Finns. As I type this piece, I'm presently at work on another novel concerning Finnish history and immigration. When all is said and done, I'll have devoted more than 12 years to my Finnish-themed novels. Folks often ask, "If you're not Finnish, why do you write about the Finns?" Given that Finland celebrated 100 years of nationhood on Dec. 6, maybe now's a good time to answer.
I read with some interest a recent letter in the News Tribune concerning my alma mater, Duluth Denfeld High School. The writer seemed to advocate returning Denfeld to its "roots" as a training ground for the trades, back to a Smith-Hughes-style curriculum to re-emphasize blue-collar trades and de-emphasize careers in education, the law, engineering, medicine, or other professions.
I grew up in Piedmont Heights. My dad was an undersized kid and not particularly athletic, a boy who never participated in organized high school sports. He was book smart and blessed with flawless memory, traits that allowed him to become the first person in his family to earn a college degree. My mom was pretty and petite. Raised by parents who valued books and music and art, Mom wasn’t an athlete in any sense of the word, and even if she had been so inclined, there were no opportunities for her to participate in school sports in the 1940s.
Mark Twain. Will Rogers. Garrison Keillor. Each generation seems blessed with a humorist who, instead of standing off in the distance and pointing out the incongruities in American life, stands shoulder to shoulder with ordinary men and women. Our homegrown satirists have descended into the muck and mire of race and politics and religion to identify the best and the worst of America. Using words as sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, our beloved social commentators have made us understand how far we as a nation have come and how far we have yet to go.
Someday I’m gonna sit down, open my old files and figure out how many book signings, library talks, book festivals, craft fairs and book clubs I’ve attended over the 25...
“When you think yours is the only true path, you forever chain yourself to judging others and narrow the vision of God. The road to righteousness and arrogance is a parallel road that can intersect … several times throughout a person’s life. It’s often hard to recognize one road from another. What makes them different is the road to righteousness is paved with the love of humanity. The road to arrogance is paved with the love of self.” Shannon Adler I first met John DeSanto when I was a young lawyer working as the Proctor city attorney and John was chief prosecutor for St. Louis County.
It’s 4:58 on a Friday morning. I’m sitting in my writing studio, a three-season porch that, given it’s 17 below outside, requires me to wear wool socks and a thick bathrobe as I type this. The porch I’m working in wasn’t designed for writing in the dead of winter, but here I am, just like I am virtually every morning, trying to craft truth from memories, thoughts, inklings and visions that dance inside my 60-year-old head. It’s a curious thing, this compulsion, this obsession to write.
I read with interest the News Tribune’s three-part series this month profiling former Hibbing tennis star, California prosecutor and renowned author Vincent Bugliosi. My first reaction was, “Wow, journalism once again is alive and well in Northeastern Minnesota.” My second was, “Maybe I can add a little something to the story.” Understand: I am not a personal friend of Mr. Bugliosi’s. I have only met the man once, back in the mid-1990s, when he appeared as a guest speaker at a lawyers’ gathering I was attending.
The first time I read John Myers’ article about the restoration of the St. Louis River (“St. Louis River touted as a better place to be,” July 5), I was a bit miffed. Throughout all the discussion and information in the article, there was nary a word as to how the St. Louis River was restored from an open sewer and industrial waste sluice to a productive fishery and recreational draw. I faulted Myers, one of the last News Tribune veterans who covered the career of State Rep.
I am now the longest-serving judge in Duluth. Folks who went to Denfeld High School or the University of Minnesota Duluth with me back in the early 1970s probably remain puzzled how the kid they knew made it through law school. But I did make it through. Then I practiced law for nearly 20 years before being elected judge. I’ve served in that office now for 16 years, which, on some days, seems like a very long time. But this piece isn’t my farewell: I’m sticking around.