Road Rookie: A Dilettante’s Journey from New York to Dallas – Pt. IV: Cleveland to Nashville

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In the fall of 2011, against my better judgment and with no prior experience, I attempted to ride a motorcycle from a dairy farm in Upstate New York back to my home in Dallas, Texas. This is the long-winded account of that trip in easy-to-digest line segments. For earlier portions, go here: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

For all of the previous day, I enjoyed the company of Lakes Erie and Ontario, whose oceanic scale is breathtaking in a way that almost restores integrity to the word. I have seen lakes and those are not lakes. They are planets. Like so many American utilities, their usefulness has dwindled over time. Before they were replaced by the rails that would be replaced by trucks, they were the ventricles to arterial canals, bearing up the materials of American livelihood. They still support commercial transport, if at a fraction of their former glory.

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Electing Trump: The Rural Vote

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I have lived through 10 presidential elections, five as an eligible voter, but this year is the first I sat before a TV on that night. Like a lot of people, I watched islands of blue floating in seas of red in Michigan and Wisconsin. I went to bed in resignation. I woke up to a battlefront I had not heard articulated so pointedly since I was a minor: the country versus the city. Rural America had voted for an aberrant candidate. That angle dominated the Wednesday morning news coverage and knocked my thoughts back to my home town. It is just one of millions of rural American voices, but its story has something to contribute to the thousands of explanations for the election of Donald Trump.

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Road Rookie: A Dilettante’s Journey from New York to Dallas – Pt. III: Cleveland

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In the fall of 2011, against my better judgment and with no prior experience, I attempted to ride a motorcycle from a dairy farm in Upstate New York back to my home in Dallas, Texas. This is the long-winded account of that trip in easy-to-digest line segments. For earlier portions, go here: Part 1 Part 2

The morning air was cold and dewy, just as all camp mornings should be. I dressed, dropped my feet into untied boots and wandered to the shore for one look at Lake Ontario up close. The sun just peaked over the morning fog to my right. Not too far in front of me, though miles out of site, someone was having the inverse experience in Toronto.

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Album Review: It’s About Time by Hank Williams, Jr.

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Hank Williams, Jr. has been drawing lines in the sand for a long time. His more recent history of political cable TV ad hominem has gained him the wrong kind of visibility, but the fact is Bocephus (his lifelong nickname) has been going down swinging for the last 25 years. His latest effort, It’s About Time,  is just one more cantankerous tirade from a man standing bewildered in a rapidly shifting America.

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Album Review: Fjord by Jacob Metcalf

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For the better part of a decade, Jacob Metcalf has been hovering below the Dallas radar. You probably know him as one of the members of the very likable folk act The Fox and the Bird, for whom he has sung and played banjo, guitar, spoons, really anything that can make a noise. You may have also seen him busking the streets with that augmented crew under the name of the Dallas Family Band, bolstering a clodhopper chorus of heartfelt voices. To most, that is what Jacob is: one of the hirsute faces in a crowd of howlers and musicians.

Yet for a select few close friends and watchful fans, Metcalf’s larger ambitions have always been apparent. Those who have seen Metcalf play solo, perhaps during his lengthy residency at the Kessler Theater, understand that premonition. His songs had reach and he had a clear vision of what he ultimately wanted from them. Expectations for his debut album, if one should materialize, were lofty. Continue reading