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Tag: purple America

Feb212024

Kevin’s Travels Through Purple America: Louisville, KY

Lou
Friends, Louisville is friggin’ awesome.
Birthplace of Muhammed Ali, Diane Sawyer, Gus Van Sant and Jennifer Lawrence. Home of the Kentucky Derby, Bourbon, the t, and the Louisville slugger baseball bat. The town on the Ohio River that gave us the Happy Birthday song, disco balls, the Mint Julep and the Sealbach Hotel as featured in The Great Gatsby.
A place I have visited for business and pleasure for 14 years.
Yeah, it’s got Mitch McConnell and his desperate hold on meaningless power but he ain’t what Louisville is all about. LV has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to with open-minded, creative, diverse, forward thinking people and institutions like the Speed Art Museum and movie theater, Carmichael’s Bookstore, one of the great neighborhood bookshops in America, Please and Thank You coffee (creators of the nation’s finest chocolate chip cookie) the 21c Hotel chain, which has a free art museum in each hotel for guests and non guests alike, a killer public library system, a sublime public radio station in WUOL and Headliners, a live music venue everyone in the world should visit when we can.
Oh and its the home of Erin Keane, Melissa Ryan Chipman, Tara Anderson, Daniel Gilliam, Paul Blakeley, and so many other first rate people that make its greatness apparent.
I miss it.
Fellow blue staters, as I spoke of Tulsa previously, do not clutch your pearls when you hear “Kentucky” and think everywhere in the Bluegrass State lives in a dirt shack out of a Walker Evans photo. Louisville is one of America’s great cities. You are really missing out on something if you do not drop by.
Tell them I sent you, order a lot of beer cheese.
Jun212020

In Praise of “Red” Cities and Purple America: Tulsa, OK

Tulsa Skyline

Dear blue state friends,

Allow me to tell you something about Tulsa, particularly if you have never visited.

Tulsa is friggin awesome.

Birthplace of SE Hinton, John Hope Frankin, Bill Hader and Current Poet Laureate Joy Harjo. The cultural capital of the state. Home to the Bob Dylan archive and the Philbrook Museum of Art. Cain’s Ballroom (i.e. Johnny Cash’s favorite venue outside of Nashville) and the BOK Tower (i.e. the building Minoru Yamasaki honed his skyscraper chops on right before sketching the World Trade Center). A blue dot in a sea of red.

Yeah, it’s got some silly shit like Oral Roberts University. And its progressive power is usually blotted out by blood red Oaklahoma City in electoral politics. But before we go giving all the credit to teenagers on Tik Tok for the sorry-ass turnout at this weekend’s Trump Rally, consider this: Tulsa was a boneheaded, tone-deaf place to hold that rally anyway.

Tulsa is NOT the Trumpy base. Tulsa is filled with open-minded, creative, diverse, forward thinking people like my dear friend Jeff Martin, owner of Magic City Books downtown, who has brought basically every interesting cultural figure you can think of to Tulsa, who sold and gave away a truckload of books by Black authors this weekend, who has been giving out gave out water and supplies to protestors since protesting began this month.

Jeff is a singular presence and a miracle worker. He is far from the only person doing amazing progressive cultural work and organizing in Tulsa.

Jeff brought me to Tulsa a few years ago while I was on book tour. It was one of the highlights of almost a year on the road, a town filled with friendly interesting people, great food, beautiful sites and plenty to do. I would recommend anyone visit as soon as it is safe to do so. And see Tulsa as a reminder that we blue state dwellers all too often think the red-leaning parts of America are an endless sea of small minded bigots.

We are wrong.

Tulsa is one of my favorite cities in America. It’s purple America. And purple America are our allies and friends in this fight too.

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