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Yesterday I drove from Bemidji to Hibbing.  On the way, I unintentionally passed through the birthplace of Judy Garland, Grand Rapids.  Like most people, I often forget that she wasn't born in Kansas.

Then on my way to Hibbing, birthplace of Bob Dylan.  I knew a little bit about the area from the Scorsese documentary "No Direction Home."  I knew that Hibbing was a small mining in Northern Minnesota that he fled as soon as he graduated from high school.  As my father is from a small mining town in Upper Michigan that he fled at 14 to go to seminary...I thought I knew about what to expect.  I was dead wrong.

Turns out in Hibbing, they don't believe in Zimmerman.  (10 points to anyone other than Michael and Cisco who get that joke.)  There is hardly any evidence that Bob Dylan ever lived there.  No mention on the town sign that it was the birthplace of Bob Dylan.  No signs for any attractions related to him.  Although plenty of signs for the Greyhound Bus museum.  Even in the gift shops, no evidence of him anywhere.    Downtown speakers attached to the light poles were blaring muzak, which I thought was sacrilege.

While the landscape was similar to the U.P. and that rusty scent of iron ore that permeated the air, the people were quite different.  In the U.P., the people are relatively friendly in a hard-drinking, edge of the wilderness sort of way.  I may have little to nothing in common with my relatives up there, but they are hospitable.  In Hibbing, they were very cold, not helpful, and drove like maniacs.

Finally I went to the library, one of the few places in town that acknowledges Dylan's existance. They have a Dylan exhibit in their conference room in the basement.  What I found most interesting in the exhibit where the articles from the Hibbing newspaper.  One article mentioned the reason you don't hear about Dylan much around town is they very much followed the Midwest philosophy "If you stick your head above the crowd it will get chopped off" and Dylan stuck his head above the crowd.  Sheboygan has an element of that too, but will also be the first to make a fuss when a local boy makes good.

The library also have a statue of him in the lobby, and a map of where to see Bob Dylan related sites in town like where he went to high school, and where his house was.  So I took part of that walk until the weather got too stormy.  Oddly, his childhood home is a lively smurf blue. 

The other redeeming feature of the town is Zimmy's, the only place in town where you can get Bob Dylan souvenirs.  Apparently they also sponsor Bob Dylan days every May around his birthday.  That was the only place in town where I found friendly helpful people who were excited to talk about Bob Dylan.  When I mentioned that his song "Forever Young" was played at my baptism, they were delighted and had me write about that in their guest book. 

So two bright spots in an otherwise gloomy mining town.  But for the most part, I can more than understand why he got out of there was fast as he could, and developed that fake Okie accent.

I'm currently staying with friends in the town of Hinckley, which is about half way between Duluth and the Twin Cities....but more on that in my next entry.



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