a little bit of Oxford and the beginnings of the Trace at Tupelo

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apocalypse now

“…one look at you and i know it’s going to be hot”

while i appreciated the camp — a word i like about as much as the word “edgy” — of the Shack Up Inn specifically i already know it was not the highlight of this roadtrip. and the environs of Clarksdale, well i was pretty much sick as a dog and didn’t have the energy or enthusiasm to go delve into the museums and blues clubs like i should have and/or would have if i had been healthy. i have such a love affair for Mississippi at this point that i’m almost 100% certain i will be back, so i hope that i will be able to do a more thorough visit to these places at then.

Clarksdale is this somewhat large (comparatively) and sprawling metropolis in the middle of what i can only describe as a post-apocalyptic flatland hell. the arid cotton fields were some of the grimmest looking scenery of my trip thus far. and i forgot to mention that driving in from the south i saw at least three dead dogs on the side of the road (among other assorted roadkill). and to top that off, there were at least a handful of very skinny looking dogs wandering around the side of the road as i zoomed on by, thankfully only going 55 mph. at first i was like, “what the hell?!?” but then it seemed to make sense for where i was. this part of Mississippi has got to be a challenging place to survive in environmentally. living here seems difficult. it made me a little blue, no pun intended.

music for this leg: Elmore James, morphing into Centro-matic’s Candidate Waltz

very important t-shirt update™: Duquette Johnston‘s Club Duquette in olive with black type

Oxford!

so after more than a few cough-filled nights i am thrilled to be back on the road, albeit baby steps. not going to do a lot of long hauls but needed to get out of that temporary rut and mosey slowly north to see what awaits me in my messed up, molested by the storm, home of New York City.

Memphis was part of the original plan — and was not far from Clarksdale — but i’m pretty sure i’m still contagious / sick so a museum would knock me right back into bed so i’m going to conserve strength and cancel that leg. i’m sorry i won’t be able to meet up with a good family friend there but it sounds like the timing isn’t meant to be for either of us, so i’ll let the guilt go, as much as possible.

that’s one thing that i have noticed on this trip. i’ve had some real serendipitous happenings on this roadtrip from the start. not to jinx things or anything but i’m feeling truly blessed at some of the things i’ve seen and places i’ve been and people i’ve been able to spend time with. i’m very thankful. from Wigginstock 2012 on down to being where i am tonight it’s all feeling very connected and meant to be. don’t want to belabor this too much but it has been at the forefront of my mind when i’ve been making decisions about where to go and what to see. i find it comforting.

Oxford serendipity 1: Big Bad Breakfast food

Big Bad Breakfast — Oxford, MS

when reviews on Yelp say “trust me” and talk about the bacon being infused with yummy things they pretty much had me. if anything i think the reviews were a bit modest. some of the best breakfast i’ve had on this trip — and i’ve had a lot of breakfast.

BIG BAD BREAKFAST PLATE
Two eggs cooked to order and choice of bacon, patty sausage, chicken sausage, andouille, or country ham; grits or home fries; gravy (red eye, sausage, or tomato); and toast or biscuit.
Big Bad Breakfast — Oxford, MS

i got the red eye gravy (three types of gravy!!!), which the waitress said has a bunch of cool stuff, including Coke, in it. it was amazing.

since i knew i was just going to drive a little today and then crash / rest up for tomorrow, i got THE LAST GENTLEMAN (two piece plate of Coca‐cola brined fried chicken with potato salad and cole slaw) for dinner, plus a side of fruit salad. i’m very much looking forward to that later on.

wanted to mention that i’ve not heard so much laughter and what sounded like happiness (yeah, THAT) coming out of a kitchen before. i think that sinks into the food.

Oxford serendipity 2: The End of All Music record store

since this leg of the trip has been extended as i drag my feet up towards whatever havoc exists in New York City, i decided that it was okay to stock up on some supplies (i.e., music).

The End of All Music (sticker!)– Oxford, MS

supremely happy to have stumbled upon The End of All Music, a small but mighty record store in Oxford, MS. they sell mostly vinyl but their CD selection was robust enough to get me into a medium flop sweat.

my retail flop sweats — especially those reserved for record stores — are legendary (at least to me). while listening to the sweet sounds of Will Oldham‘s new EP, i tried to be surgical in my choices. this is what i picked up.

  • A.A. Bondy – American Hearts
  • A.A. Bondy – Believers
  • Al Green – Let’s Stay Together
  • Chris Knox – Seizure*
  • Dent May – Do Things*
  • Destroyer – Kaputt (dang it i have this already oh well)
  • Grizzly Bear – Shields
  • J Dilla – Jay Dee Donuts
  • Lee Baines III & The Glory Fires – There is a Bomb in Gilead (embarrassingly late on this one)
  • Phantom Limb – S/T*
  • Reigning Sound – Live at Goner Records 6.26.05
  • Smith Westerns – Dye it Blonde

the guy at the store helped me choose some of these, which i think are local*. which i’m always happy for, as i’ve discovered cool music via record store expert recommendations in the past. i have a good feeling about this stuff.

booty

in addition to the sticker i got this cool tote with my purchase. happiness!

cool tote from The End of All Music — Oxford, MS

as i look into the prospective job market, the fact that i fell for a town like Oxford, MS — home of the University of Mississippi — was super reassuring. it’s likely i will need to relocate for my first few library science jobs. if it’s a place like Oxford with great food, awesome record stores, and nice folks, well i’m happy to leave the bubble that is New York City. at least for a little while….

next steps

going to trip on up the Natchez Trace Parkway a bit, then dip into Alabama maybe, then head on up to Nashville, Louisville, and maybe Pittsburgh before hustling to vote in New York City next Tuesday. that’s my only deadline.

Natchez Trace Parkway

returning the car rental to LaGuardia looks like it’s going to be a challenge. plus i want to bring back groceries and supplies as it looks like those are not easy to find right now — and i left my cupboards pretty bare.

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