Destination: Missouri

Missou-rah or Missou-ree? Trillin Weighs In.

NPR’s Weekend Edition tapped writer (and Missourian) Calvin Trillin to tackle the longstanding pronunciation debate. According to Trillin, the confusion results from a geographical divide:

I think Missou-rah(ph) is particularly prevalent—I’ve read this, I didn’t know this of my own accord—in the northwest part of the state and a majority in Kansas City. And Missou-ree(ph) I’ve always thought of as a St. Louis and therefore eastern pronunciation.

There you go, travelers. Problem solved. (Via The Book Bench)


Tracking Twain and the Mississippi

Laura Barton followed the river through 10 states to better know Twain. Her story about the journey also touches on the music and other literature of the river. It’s a lovely piece.

I kept in mind a line from “Old Glory”, Jonathan Raban’s account of his own journey down the river: “It is called the Mississippi, but it is more an imaginary river than a real one.”

It had been shaped in my own imagination by a confederacy of literature and song lyrics. I pictured it as described by Twain, or Eudora Welty, or William Faulkner, who saw “alluvial swamps threaded by black, almost motionless bayous and impenetrable with cane and buckvine and cypress and ash and oak and gum.” I imagined it as it was conjured up by Paul Robeson in “Ol’ Man River”, or in the songs of Johnny Cash or Charlie Patton, a mighty force capable of carrying away the one you loved, of breaking levees and washing the lowlands of Greenville and Leland and Rosedale, and I saw the delta through Paul Simon’s eyes, “shining like the national guitar”.

Side note: The more time goes by, the more I appreciate Paul Simon’s “Graceland” for its power to evoke the river and the region.


Arthur Frommer Rediscovers Small-Town America

Arthur Frommer Rediscovers Small-Town America Photo by jennlynndesign via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by jennlynndesign via Flickr (Creative Commons)

The guidebook publisher who made his name in Europe has just returned to his boyhood home of Jefferson City for the first time in decades—and the result is an infectiously enthusiastic blog post on the joys of small-town America. Frommer writes: “Now I won’t claim that a visit to Jeff City is a big touristic opportunity. But to me at the time it was Athens, London, and Paris all rolled into one—and would you believe?—it lived up to every memory I had of it.”

Missouri road trip, anyone?


Paul McCartney Does Route 66

The legendary Beatle and his girlfriend Nancy Shevell are apparently motoring west, driving a green ‘89 Ford Bronco with New York plates, and they’re leaving a wake of amazed fellow travelers as they head from Joplin, Missouri to Oklahoma City to Amarillo and so forth. What have we learned about Paul’s road tripping skills?

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