The Back Roads of Indiana

IMG_4868The tires couldn’t spin fast enough as I pulled out of Kentucky. Just after loading up on coffee and chocolate chip cookies at Please & Thank You, my favorite record-store-cum-bakery-and-café, I headed north on a course made of winding country roads, and headed for home. And then, a strange thing happened. Somewhere in Southern Indiana, where I spent four years of a college education mostly trying to outdrive my youth, I was stopped dead in my tracks, staring at a horse that — no kidding — I’d met before.

While in college, I’d ride a bicycle all over these backroads, sometimes with a buddy, but mostly alone, usually around 50 miles at a clip, but sometimes up to a century or more. When I could, I rode longer on a sunny Sunday not unlike the one I was experiencing. I’d pack a portable CD player with a fresh mix of tunes I’d compiled that week, and I’d stuff it in my jersey pocket, along with a few Powerbars and a carrot or two for sustenance. And every now and then, I’d stumble onto this horse.

Indiana (7 of 8)Magical. It was a mottled white horse with a big black birthmark and bit of gray at the tip of his snout. If I hadn’t already scarfed it down, I’d pull the carrot from my pocket and gently call for the horse. Well, on this road trip, I didn’t have a carrot, but I did have a camera. Felt wrong to steal so many photos of someone’s pride-and-joy. And yet, I marveled that I didn’t recall doing it before, while in college. After dealing with that, I called for the horse, and we spent about five minutes reconnecting as though not a day had passed.

Indiana (8 of 8)Finding that horse, more than a decade on, put me in an altogether contemplative mood, and so as I revved the car’s engine, I was transported back to a time when things were simpler, when life was ahead of me — rather than all around me. I remember those bike rides fondly, the inner dialogue I’d have with myself, thinking I had to figure everything out right then and there, on this county route. I was hell-bent on solving all life’s problems. And so it was, while driving a rental car from Louisville to Chicago, I had the wild notion to create the perfect playlist for a meandering drive through some Indiana backroads. What follows is the fruits of that labor. These are songs I’ve been listening to virtually nonstop since that fateful day last fall. They took me — quite literally — from Louisville to Chicago, with several stops to revisit old haunts, old memories, old loves. It’s my hope you’ll take these tunes and apply them to your own slow and introspective road trip. And maybe, as I’ve found, you won’t even need the road for the rumination.

Indiana Days
1) Harry Jackson – Morning Grub-Holler
2) Marion Summer – Lost Indian
3) Willie Nelson – Whiskey River (Live at the Texas Opry House)
4) Rory Block, Stefan Grossman – Crow Jane
5) Paul Simon – Rewrite
6) Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell – Bluebird Wine
7) Rodney Crowell – Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight
8) Emmylou Harris – New Cut Road (Live)
9) Guy Clark – Come From the Heart
10) Ryan Adams – Lucky Now (Live)
11) Lyle Lovett – Loretta
12) John Prine – That’s The Way The World Goes Round
13) Fleetwood Mac – Never Going Back Again
14) Levon Helm – Kingfish
15) Aretha Franklin – Good Times
16) Aretha Franklin – The House That Jack Built
17) Wilson Pickett – Toe Hold
18) Jerry Reed – Amos Moses
19) Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose – Treat Her Like a Lady
20) Jackson 5 – Doctor My Eyes
21) Lee Dorsey – Yes We Can
22) Jeff Lynee – Mercy, Mercy
23) Don Covay – I’ll Be Satisfied
24) The Meters – Here Comes The Meter Man
25) Eddie Harris – Get On Up And Dance
26) The Silvertones – True Confession
27) Clifton Chenier – One Step At A Time
28) Richard Berry – Louie, Louie
29) Ornette Coleman – Ramblin’
30) The Doc Watson Family – Down the Road
31) Lucinda Williams – Ramblin’ on My Mind
32) Dwight Yoakam – Nothing’s Changed Here (Acoustic)
33) Dwight Yoakam – Train In Vain
34) 7Horse – Meth Lab Zoso Sticker
35) Steve Earle – Hometown Blues
36) Bobby Horton – Dogue Creek
37) J.J. Cale – Golden Ring
38) John Martyn – May You Never
39) Marvin Gaye – Need Your Lovin’ (Want You Back)
40) Tim O’Brien, Darrell Scott, John Prine – Paradise
41) Eric Clapton – That’s No Way To Get Along
42) Lane Hardin – Hard Time Blues
43) Dave Van Ronk – St. Louis Tickle

Indiana Nights
1) Waylon Jennings – Gold Dust Woman
2) Little Feat – Roll Um Easy
3) The Band – Atlantic City
4) John Mayer – Call Me The Breeze
5) Heartless Bastards – Only For You
6) Allah-Las – Long Journey
7) Willie Nelson & Tom Petty – Goodnight Irene
8) Rodney Crowell – When the Blue Hour Comes
9) Linda Ronstadt – I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight
10) The Soul Searchers & Jake Wade – Searching For Soul – Pt. 1
11) Average White Band – Your Love Is A Miracle
12) Funkadelic – Can You Get To That
13) The Impressions – Fool For You
14) Tony Joe White – Hard to Handle
15) The Shouting Matches – Seven Sisters
16) Joe Cocker – Living in the Promiseland
17) Feist, Constantines – Islands in the Stream
18) David Byrne – I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Live on Austin City Limits)
19) The Be Good Tanyas – When Doves Cry
20) Dottie West – Last Time I Saw Him
21) Barbara Lynn – You’ll Lose A Good Thing
22) Irma Thomas – Ruler of My Heart
23) Jackie Moore – Precious, Precious
24) Freddie King – Going Down
25) Minutemen – Cohesion
26) Glen Hansard – Drive All Night (featuring Eddie Vedder & Jake Clemons)
27) Billy Bragg – Swallow My Pride
28) Willie Nelson – Night Life (Live)
29) Little Feat – On Your Way Down
30) Neil Young – Don’t Let It Bring You Down (Live at The Cellar Door)
31) Neil Young – See The Sky About To Rain (Live at The Cellar Door)
32) Dr. John – Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya Ya
33) The Coasters – Down in Mexico
34) Shovels & Rope – Hail Hail
35) John Mellencamp – Paper in Fire
36) Roscoe Holcomb – In the Pines
37) The Blind Boys of Alabama w. Justin Vernon – Every Grain of Sand
38) Bruce Springsteen – Pony Boy
39) Robert Parker – Barefootin’
40) Derek & The Dominos – Blues Power (Live for The Johnny Cash Show)
41) Eric Clapton – Double Trouble
42) Genuine Spares – Proper Stranger
43) Sophie Zelmani – Most of the Time
44) Neil Young – Pardon My Heart
45) Johnny Thunder – Teach Me Tonight
46) Otis Redding – It’s Too Late
47) Johnny Cash – Wayfaring Stranger
48) The Dominoes – Sixty Minute Man
49) Lester Young, Nat King Cole, Buddy Rich – I Cover The Waterfront – Take Two
50) Wayne Shorter – Deluge
51) Wayne Shorter – House of Jade
52) Ry Cooder – Dark End of the Street
53) Jeff Beck – Sleepwalk
54) Levon Helm – Anna Lee
55) John Martyn – Over the Hill
56) Willie Nelson – I’d Have to Be Crazy (featuring Steven Fromholz)
57) Richard Strauss – Four Songs, Op. 27: IV. Morgen
58) Fred McDowell – Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning

The Collective Quarterly: Issue Ø

Today marks the launch of The Collective Quarterly, a travel magazine told from the perspective of a group of creative individuals brought together to collaborate with one another. Each issue focuses on a single locale: its people, places, and things. For those who have traveled to the place in question, the hope is that fresh surroundings will stoke the creative fire, infusing their work with elements of their discoveries while on the trip. For the locals featured, the hope is chiefly to be inspired by them, and secondarily, humbly, in their meeting this motley crew of writers, artists, artisans, and photographers, it may trigger in them a desire to further explore the potentials within their own craft. Pouring together this unique combination, reading about how it has come together in the pages of the publication, we think readers will aspire to more deeply explore their own passions.

I’m proud to have been asked to help with the creation of this publication from some of its earliest stages by its founders — photographer Jay Gullion, illustrator Jesse Lenz, and writer Seth J. Putnam – prouder still to have been asked to participate and have my work featured in this, Issue Ø.

The beta run of The Collective Quarterly is focused on the city of Marfa, Texas and its surrounding area. While on the trip we slept in tipis and vintage trailers, crossed the border in a row boat, learned some life lessons from our mezcal-swigging barkeeps, and garnered an inside look at the work of a number of the town’s artists and artisans. You’ll have to buy a copy and read all about it.

You’ll notice The Collective Quarterly is more than just a magazine. There is also a retail component featuring a collection of products made by members of the collective and inspired by the trip. As future issues develop, they will dive deeper into the creation of those products, documenting the people responsible for them and the sui generis story that lead to their creation. For issue Ø, Faribault Woolen Mill’s John Mooty made a blanket inspired by the colors of the wide skies of West Texas. That blanket was then incorporated into the manufacture of a backpack and a quilted vest.

In wrapping up, I thought it best to share the story of how I came to become involved with this incredible group. At one of our regular bar stool elbow-rubbings, one of my closest friends Seth Putnam asked me what I knew about Marfa. When I explained that — coincidentally — I had been planning a trip there with Basil Hayden’s in tow, he recruited me to help launch this ship on its maiden voyage, and thus began the process of reaching out to other shipmates — some of our favorite people, local folks in Marfa, clothing brands, clothing stores, advertisers, and other participants. That was followed by a crazy week-long stay in one of the most inspiring places I’ve ever been, and followed again by months of work on the part of all involved. Now, nine months later, Seth’s baby is born… well, Seth’s, Jay’s, and Jesse’s: Three Men and a Baby. Ladies and Gentlemen, The Collective Quarterly.

Pertinent Information:

The issue is for sale here.

The Collective Quarterly
The Coveted Man
The Midwest Style

The Collective:

Chris Mantz of Drift Eyewear

John Mooty of Faribault Woolen Mill

Kevin Russ, Photographer

Duncan Wolfe, Photographer and Filmmaker

The Johnny Cash Christmas Show, 1977

My newest holiday tradition: watching The Johnny Cash Christmas Show, circa 1977.

Birth of a Hat: Making a Stetson

Thanks to the National Film Preservation Foundation, I discovered a 1935 reprint of the original 1920 film, “Birth of a Hat” an industrial short about, and sponsored by, the John B. Stetson Company.

From the press materials: “Within ten years of its founding, Stetson developed the widely popular ‘Boss of the Plains’ hat, the inaugural model of the now-traditional cowboy hat. By the early 1900s, Stetson hats were the most popular in the American Southwest, and the company operated the largest hat factory in the world, with 5,400 employees, in Philadelphia.”

Bowmaker, Jack English

Filmmaker Grace Jackson shares the story of Jack English, a 93-year-old man who lives in a cabin isolated deep in the Ventana Wilderness.

From Grace’s profile, “While on a hunting trip he learned that an old homestead in the Ventana Wilderness was being put up for auction by the estate of a childless heiress. He put a bid on the property and won. On the land he built a small cabin using materials from the land and milling trees by hand. When his wife passed away, Jack effectively left “society” and moved to the cabin full time.”

He continues to make repairs to the cabin, chop wood, hunt, and make violin bows, a simple life for a contented man.

I deeply appreciate a profile such as this. It is a solid reminder that it really can be a good life.

Secret Forts on Cycling

08raleigh-team-usaI am an athlete. I’m fairly tall, but you wouldn’t want me on your basketball team. I suck at offense and though I’m a fierce defender, I’d probably foul out in the first half. I’ve got a sweet swing, but I’ll hit one in one hundred pitches, which — for those of you keeping score at home, is the worst batting average humanly possible. I can show you how to throw a decent spiral, but throw a bigger dude on top of me, and I’m a complete wuss. And, yeah, I can kick and kind of dribble, and I can block a pass, and I’ve owned several pairs of shinguards, and I can skate and handle a puck just fine, but not well enough to matter much to you or your stinking team. It still burns when I think about getting picked last in the soccer games played at gym and recess, or in the cul de sac roller hockey game. My own best friend once betrayed me, choosing our sworn enemy before me in order to improve his chances. Turns out, my team won, and that friend and I were never as close again. I digress.

07raleigh-team-usaI play individual sports. I was recruited to swim in college. My friends will tell you, throw a pair of skis on me, and I’ll dance down the mountain. And I never feel as free as I do when I’m on my bicycle. Which leads me to James Wilson’s most recent post on Secret Forts.

“Writing a piece on my relationship to cycling. Feels like it’s something you’d write. Like I’m channeling you somehow.”

I got this text last night from James.

“Send it to me,” I wrote back.

He sent it.

“May I edit it?”

I didn’t do too much to it: fixed some late night spelling errors, removed several erroneous parenthetical remarks (dude loves him some parentheses). It’s precisely the kind of thing I would write. Obsessive. Meandering. It’s a road trip by bicycle. It’s something I think we can all relate to, and I’m happy to see that James is writing again. Hope you find it as inspiring as I did.

09raleigh-team-usa

 

Photos of my current bicycle come courtesy of Sheldon Brown’s Retro Raleighs page.

One Part Plant

Recently, my girlfriend, Jessica Herman, co-hosted a “For Reals Meals” party for Jessica Murnane’s One Part Plant, a blog devoted to clean eating.

Faced with a “change your diet or else” verdict from her doctor, Murnane went whole plant and her symptoms improved.  Since then, she’s completed training with the T. Colin Campbell Foundation in Plant-Based Nutrition.

As she explains on the site, “for some, it’s digestive problems or low energy. For others, cramps from hell or simply feeling ‘off.’” And now, in addition to the terrific content on her blog, she offers her services in real time. “From inspiring corporate group sessions and shopping trips to one-on-one lifestyle coaching,” she’s making herself available for “wellness coaching sessions.”

I can tell you firsthand, Jess is kind and approachable, harnessed with a diligent work ethic and downright funny. I’ve never met someone who is as quick to quote Dr. Alejandro Junger as she would  Jay-Z. With an approach that is kind and judgment-free, she works hard to ensure that you’re armed with the best information possible – so you can maintain your new plan in a way that feels most comfortable to you.

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If you’d like more information on her programs or would like to hear successful testimonials, please contact Jessica Murnane at hola@onepartplant.com.

The Richter Co.

THE RICHTER SPACE (1)I was heading to San Antonio. I’d asked for recommendations of things to check out from an old college friend who, until literally a week before I was to arrive, had been living there for the last several years. Knowing how much I appreciate a well-made shirt, her first suggestion was that I look into The Richter Co., an upstart clothing company begun by my new friend Mario Guajardo.

Richter CoWhat’s most remarkable about Mario’s shirts is that they are made entirely by him and one other person in a small storefront space in a quickly gentrifying neighborhood just North of the center of downtown.

Richter Co 2Take time to check out their newly launched website, and look for more on my visit to San Antonio, coming soon to Whiskey… Among Other Things.

Satchel Paige

107 years ago today, Leroy “Satchel” Paige was born. A baseball legend unlike any other, tales of his fastball, called “The Midnight Rider,” loom as large as the largest in the game’s history. Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, he began his career playing for the Mobile Tigers ”at a dollar a game if attendance was up and a keg of lemonade if it wasn’t.”
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Questlove’s Mo’ Meta Blues

Mo Meta Blues

The Roots’ drummer Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson has just released Mo’ Meta Blues, his memoir which serves several functions. Part historical retelling of his life, growing up the son of Lee Andrews of the doo-wop group, Lee Andrews & The Hearts, part autobiographical discography — in addition to his encyclopedic recounting of the music in his life, the guy is a massive Prince fan — and part self-effacing recounting of several, what he calls, “Forrest Gump moments” in his life. Through various opportunities, first as the drummer for “the last great hip hop band” and now as the house band for Jimmy Fallon’s Late Night program, Quest has found himself at several of history’s focal points. As he points out on Fresh Airwhen President Obama slow-jammed the news, a segment in which Fallon hypes the news being read — typically by NBC’s Brian Williams — that though the event was a big deal, he’s learned to curb his enthusiasm. “I don’t mourn the bad. I don’t celebrate the good. Just walk forward.”
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