A DREAMLAND PODCAST – John Russell is 26 and an organic farmer, raising melons in rural Ohio, not far from Columbus. This year he ran for the Ohio state legislature as a Democrat – and lost badly.
I had the chance to talk with Russell today.
We had a wide-ranging conversation, about his decision to go into farming, about his campaign, about Donald Trump, as well as job loss and opiate addiction in America’s Heartland, PC culture, the challenges Democrats face in rural areas.
He’s one of the few, it seems, to go away to college then return to a rural community. So many towns have lost young people to the cities where the jobs are.
We talked about that as well, and about what happened to guys on his high school football team.
This is the first interview I did like this, via Skype, so I’m still working out the kinks, and there are a few buzzes and etc. So please bear with me.
Among them, Portsmouth was ground zero in the opiate epidemic that is now sweeping the country. I’ve been there four times for the book: twice to hear about the degradation that took place with economic decline and the rise of prescription pill use; twice to hear the stories of how Portsmouth is emerging from that hell and a recovery community is forming.
I hope to return a fifth time.
What I found electric about the RWR video was that it was not a celebration of thuggery. Instead it was journalism — a description of what these guys had grown up in, using Portsmouth as the video backdrop — and a call to rebirth for their hometown.
I suspect Bruce Springsteen and Merle Haggard would find a lot to value in the RWR and their song.
Plus it was DIY all the way, and, as a fan of early punk rock that pioneered DIY attitudes, I thought it looked great.
Anyway, five of the nine members of RWR took some time to talk to me about the group, the song, the reaction and more. Portsmouth born and raised, they are: Clint “Random” Askew, Nick “Big Mung” Mungle, Donricko “D’Gree” Greene, Barry “B.E.Z.” Munyon, Justin “JLew” Lewis. (Others in the group include Lexxy “Riide R Diie” Jackson, David Packard, Arrick “Lil Mont” Montgomery and Angelo “Anjo” Jackson)
You can listen to them at the link above or download it.
Check out their story. Tell me yours. Leave it in Comments.
Meanwhile, you can read the fantastic comments so many left on earlier posts I did last week.
A Norwegian by birth, Baadsvik, 46, now spends 200 days a year traveling, preaching tuba creativity and the limitlessness of an instrument born more than a century ago into accompanist captivity.
I met Baadsvik before a master class he was to give one night at the University of Southern California — itself a center of tuba effervescence. (It’s where the late Tommy Johnson taught and turned out dozens of professional tuba players; and it’s where Jim Self now teaches and continues to educate the tubists of tomorrow.)
Close to a hundred students filled the class later that evening — most of them tuba players.
During our interview, we spoke about Baadsvik’s life as a tuba soloist, the limitations other non-players have imposed on the tuba, how tuba players have subconsciously accepted these limitations, and whether a tuba civil rights movement has formed to lead the instrument out from the back of the band.
“Playing a tuba is always crossing borders, doing stuff that hasn’t been done before,” he said.
Anyway, hope you enjoy an interview with a creative spirit.
The pieces on the podcast are:
First, “Dancing with a Blue Ribbon” from his new CD, Ferry Tales.
“Winter” from Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” from his first CD, Tuba Carnival.
The conversation is about his arrival here, working at Shakey’s, and opening his bakery — a piece of oral history of a people’s move north.
These last few years a mini-boom in Oaxacan owned businesses has been underway in L.A., spurred by several factors: the idea many have now that they’re not going to be returning home; the size of the Oaxacan immigrant consumer market in L.A.; and a general dispelling of the fear and intimidation with which many Oaxacans, formerly campesinos, viewed business.
The interview is in Spanish and runs about 24 minutes.
I’m hoping to talk to more folks like Mr. Gutierrez, pioneers, people with interesting stories — as well as authors of books that are relevant to the themes of this blog.