Tag: Americana

Thoughts From the Amerika Section of a German Grocery Store

Cheese Zip By Terry Ward

Amid the Cheese Zip and the Marshmallow Fluff, Terry Ward remembers what it means to be American

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76-Second Travel Show: The Monopoly Travel Guide to Atlantic City

With help from the world-famous game, Robert Reid gets beyond the boardwalk

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Six Spots to Relive ‘Travels With Charley’

travels with Charley map Robert Reid

Fifty years ago John Steinbeck began the road trip that begat a travel classic. Robert Reid unearths the spots where you can still make like the author -- minus the poodle.

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R.I.P. Liberace Museum

R.I.P. Liberace Museum Photo by Ethan Prater via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by Ethan Prater via Flickr (Creative Commons)

The Vegas classic is closing its doors after more than 30 years—apparently, due to shrinking revenue, from both the museum itself and the Liberace music royalties that help support it. Over at Flyover America, Sophia Dembling laments:

What is the world coming to?

I’ve been to the Liberace Museum more times than I should probably admit. Three? Four? I’m not sure, but I’ve been dazzled every time. What’s more, even though I lived through the Liberace era, I didn’t know until I visited the museum how really huge Liberace was—he sold out the Hollywood Bowl, for Pete’s sake! (Or George’s sake. And if you don’t know what I mean, then you don’t know Liberace.)

The Liberace Foundation is hoping to reopen the museum someday. In the meantime, some traveling exhibits are in the works.

Nine Great Stories About New Orleans

new orleans Photo by Wayne Curtis

To mark the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we've collected stories from our archives that explore the city's heartbreak, passion and rebirth

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Paste Picks 50 State Songs for the 21st Century

The magazine thought most states could use an update, so they picked a fresh 50, drawing only from songs written since the turn of the century. It’s a diverse list; Paste’s Josh Jackson notes that “[s]ome are marked improvements, while others might not have quite the boosterism state tourism boards long for.” Indeed. (Via @JennaSchnuer)

An Ode to the 50 States, Gawker-Style

Gawker’s writers are celebrating America in their own snarky way, with an “attempt to defame each of America’s fifty states.” The latest target? Florida, “America’s jungle rotted phallus,” home of Teences the Driving Dog and the Bong-Smoking Baby.

Photos: 10 All-American Must Sees for All Americans

yellowstone Photo by Sophia Dembling

Flyover America's Sophia Dembling shares the sights that will make you swoon

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What’s Your Favorite B-List City?

Over at Flyover America, Sophia Dembling praises those lesser-known towns “that are on nobody’s bucket list” but pull out all the stops for potential visitors nonetheless. Her picks? Abilene, Texas, and Cheyenne, Wyoming. I’d add Vicksburg, Mississippi, to the list that’s growing in the comments.

Ohio: The Burger State?

Ohio: The Burger State? Photo by pokpok313 via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by pokpok313 via Flickr (Creative Commons)

The Cincinnati Enquirer points out that six of the top ten burgers listed in George Motz’s “Hamburger America: A State-by-State Guide to 100 Great Burger Joints” hail from Ohio. Perhaps it’s time for an update to the state nickname? (Via The Book Bench)

Dining on Americana

American City Diner, Washington D.C. Photo by dchousegrooves via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Diners are beacons for road trippers and havens for locals in small towns and big cities alike. Here's a tour of 11 beautiful ones.

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‘The Era of the Small Town has Passed’

In The Smart Set, Jessa Crispin reflects on the dual pop culture mythologies of small town America—the nostalgic’s warm, sleepy hamlet and the horror movie’s lurking nightmare—and the ways in which both miss the point. Her conclusion is stark: “[T]he era of the small town has passed, and if all we ever remember are these false versions, we’ll never understand what we’re losing.”

For my part, I think there are more nuanced portrayals of small-town American life out there than those she mentions—see, for instance, John Updike’s earlier short stories. But I take her point about the dominant portrayals being cartoon-ish more often than not. My proposed remedy: some real-life exposure. Trans-American road trips for all?

Tripping Out

So, as you’ve heard, Flyover America and the rest of our blog brethren are outta here (well, at least on the blogs—we’ll all swirl around the place on various other topics). We’ve taken a shine to all y’all so we’re taking this act out on its own on the information superhighway. (Leave it to me to revive a tired old phrase for the sake of a bad joke, eh?) Look for the launch of Flyover America as an indie act in the very near future. And, yes, the good folks of World Hum said they’ll pass the word along when that happens. If you want to keep up on FA activity, just drop us a line at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and we’ll let you know when we’re up and running. Oh—we’re also turning from a duo into a trio. Our good buddy Matt Villano is coming along for the ride. We hope to see you there (and, of course, here).

Happy trails,

p.s. You’re all the bees knees. This has been some kind of good fun. Big time.

The Road Goes on Forever (And the Party Never Ends)

The Road Goes on Forever (And the Party Never Ends) Photo by Sophia Dembling
Photo by Sophia Dembling

The best thing about this too-short gig with World Hum is that it revived and refreshed my passionate love affair with our glorious fifty. Traveling the U.S. is what gave me the travel bug in the first place and now I’m buggier than ever. Give up this blog? Never! I have so much more to see and do and discuss with you.

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Finding Frederic Remington (in Upstate New York)

Finding Frederic Remington (in Upstate New York) Author and her grandfather, Sidney Friedfertig (35-plus years ago)
Author and her grandfather, Sidney Friedfertig (35-plus years ago)

The statues always felt out of place. I never really understood why my grandfather, Sidney Friedfertig, loved Frederic Remington’s work so much. While my grandfather was fond of all things Western, Remington’s pieces just struck me as harsh and ugly. I didn’t like them. What were they doing in my grandparents’ Westchester, NY, apartment, alongside my artist grandmother’s brightly colored oil paintings?

Though my grandfather passed away nearly 15 years ago, until recently I still hadn’t taken a shine to Remington. It was odd because, really, I thought he would have grown on me for sentimental reasons.

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Meet Two Roadside A-Kitschianados

Meet Two Roadside A-Kitschianados Photo courtesy of Vintage Roadside

OK, all my kitsch-lovin’ friends, here’s a site for you.

Vintage Roadside sells T-shirts and advertising images of just the kind of kooky roadside kitsch we love so much. Not only is the stuff super fun, but a portion of all Vintage Roadside sales are donated to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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Nashville: You’ve Still Got It

Nashville: You’ve Still Got It Photo by exothermic via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by exothermic via Flickr (Creative Commons)


Just after I plucked my bag from the baggage carousel and walked out the airport doors to meet my ride, you wrapped me up in your humidity. Though that kind of welcome would, normally, put me off, I found it comforting. You were just making it clear that I was back in Nashville, that my two year for-no-good-reason exile from your borders had come to a close.

Before my visit, I told you I was nervous. One of my favorite cities, you had gone magical in my mind. When I thought about you, it was always fun fun fun, big food, history, music, blah blah blah. You were far removed from daily life. But from the minute that humidity grabbed me, I knew all would be OK. While my past visits have been anchored with purpose (reporting stories, the Tin Pan South festival, and so on), this trip was about, simply, hanging out and letting the week unfold as it might. I wanted to see what it was like just to be in Nashville, no run-around keep-yourself-busy necessary. My only requirements: eat at least one ice pop at Las Paletas and get a better understanding of the way your neighborhoods relate to each other.

You delivered.

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America: One Quote, One Photo

America: One Quote, One Photo Photo by Sophia Dembling
Oklahoma prairie. Photo by Sophia Dembling

“Truly the American countryside is the most beautiful I have ever seen, the only one in which one forgets the existence of man.” -Luigi Barzini, 1953

I was going through my bookshelves, trying to thin the herd, and came across a book I didn’t remember owning but that stopped all work for a while. It’s called “America the Quotable” and it’s a collection of quotes about our beloved 50, individually and collectively.

I came across the above Barzini quote—which brought to mind this photo—and thought I’d share. I’m sure many of you also have images that come to mind. Put ‘em on Flickr, post a link in the comments, let’s have a look!

Garrison Keillor on the Joys of the State Fair

Just in time for summer, Mr. Lake Woebegon—have you seen all the words he’s trademarked?—writes about the ten chief joys of the state fair in National Geographic. I like No. 3:

To mingle, merge, mill, jostle gently, and flock together with throngs, swarms, mobs, and multitudes of persons slight or hefty, punky or preppy, young or ancient, wandering through the hubbub and amplified razzmatazz and raw neon and clouds of wiener steam in search of some elusive thing, nobody is sure exactly what.

If you’re a Harper’s subscriber and you haven’t already read it, the archive has more great state fair writing from David Foster Wallace. (via @Marilyn_Res)

For Sale: Fabulous Hotel, Needs Work

For Sale: Fabulous Hotel, Needs Work Photo by Sophia Dembling
A round swimming pool is one of the features of the Hotel Valley Ho. Photo by Sophia Dembling

While we’re on the subject of kitsch, here’s a story about lottery winnings well-spent: After winning $49 million in the Texas state lottery, Byron and Barbara Woods bought the decrepit Tee Pee Motel in Wharton, Texas, about 50 miles from Houston, and made it crepit with a $1.6 million buff-‘n’-puff.

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