AMERICAN GUIDE WEEK - NOVEMBER 18-24, 2013

We’re just a little over one week away from #AmericanGuideWeek! The Valley News from New Hampshire/Vermont says you should join in, so what are you waiting for? 

BE A GUIDE. SHOW AMERICA TO AMERICANS. 

Between Monday, Nov. 18, and Sunday, Nov. 24, tag your Tumblr photos, illustrations and writing that describe the America you live in and the America you travel through — people, places and things. This is a collaboration, folks: a living, Tumblifying documentary about the USA. You’ll be reblogged or featured on The American Guide.

YOUR ASSIGNMENT, TRUSTED GUIDE: 

Your A/G editors unearthed the actual mimeographed manual that the WPA sent out to each state research office in charge of producing the original guidebooks.

So, stay tuned all next week as we release the top 10 “how to be a WPA Guide” instructions — to use as your guide for #AmericanGuideWeek. 

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Illustration by Guide to the West, James Orndorf - www.roughshelter.com

AMERICAN GUIDE WEEK - NOVEMBER 18-24, 2013

We’re celebrating 500 posts(!!) with the announcement of American Guide Week 2013.

Get ready to BE A GUIDE and SHOW US YOUR STATE

Between Monday, Nov. 18, and Sunday, Nov. 24, tag your Tumblr photos, illustrations and writing that describe the America you live in and the America you travel through — people, places and things. This is a collaboration, folks: a living, Tumblifying documentary about the USA. You’ll be reblogged or featured on The American Guide.

Last year’s event was a blast and this time around we’ve got some special assignments in store. Start getting excited now.

Stay tuned for more info… and spread the word AMERICAN GUIDE WEEK is coming!

#americanguideweek

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Illustration by Guide to the West, James Orndorf - www.roughshelter.com

AMERICAN GUIDE WEEK - NOVEMBER 18-24, 2013

We’re just a little over one week away from #AmericanGuideWeek! The Valley News from New Hampshire/Vermont says you should join in, so what are you waiting for? 

BE A GUIDE. SHOW AMERICA TO AMERICANS. 

Between Monday, Nov. 18, and Sunday, Nov. 24, tag your Tumblr photos, illustrations and writing that describe the America you live in and the America you travel through — people, places and things. This is a collaboration, folks: a living, Tumblifying documentary about the USA. You’ll be reblogged or featured on The American Guide.

YOUR ASSIGNMENT, TRUSTED GUIDE: 

Your A/G editors unearthed the actual mimeographed manual that the WPA sent out to each state research office in charge of producing the original guidebooks.

So, stay tuned all next week as we release the top 10 “how to be a WPA Guide” instructions — to use as your guide for #AmericanGuideWeek. 

* * *

Illustration by Guide to the West, James Orndorf - www.roughshelter.com

THE SHORE PROJECT - STATION TO STATION

I am hoping to find all of the locations that Stephen Shore photographed during the 1970s for his book Uncommon Places. I am doing this because it is fun and exciting to follow in the footsteps of someone I admire. I started this project, as many before me probably have, expecting that each location would look absolutely different than it did 30 (+) years ago in the photograph… After my first two road trips I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were still some remnants from the 1970s (the light fixtures, a rusty chain link fence, etc.). While I am searching for these sites, I am also searching for the change in our American landscape.

Editor’s note: Find more at The Shore Project and at Station To Station.

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Brittany Marcoux is a Guide to Rhode Island and an At-Large Guide to New England for The American Guide. She’s a photographer and a native New Englander. Follow her work on Tumblr or via her website.

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THE AMERICAN GUIDE is joining STATION TO STATION for a cross-country train ride. Artists: Stephen Shore & Brittany Marcoux. 

Follow your guide along the rails and see America. [Track A/G’s trip here]  

WORLD’S LARGEST MACHINE GUN SHOOT - WEST POINT, KENTUCKY

Twice a year the hills of West Point, Kentucky, light up with pyrotechnics and machine gun fire. The Knob Creek Gun Range is located about 30 minutes out of Louisville past strip clubs and taxidermy shops.

I have been going to the shoot at least once a year since 2008. Often, the event is covered by the media, generally with the point of view that the grounds are filled with crazy gun-toting NRA members. I go for the amazing smoke and sounds, but what keeps me coming back is the community.

The first year, I befriended a gun lane holder. There are two ranges—one giant one and one small one on lower ground—each with several gun dealers who run lanes. Visitors to the event can pay for ammunition and fire exotic guns. He said it was fine for me to photograph people in his lane, but first, I had to fire a gun myself—he would comp me a round. I had shot rifles growing up at my grandparents’ farm, but had never fired a high powered weapon. The lane holder explained how the M16 worked and helped me get situated. Then he had me aim at the old junk cars and barrels down range. I pulled the trigger and saw dirt fly up 30 yards down range. I was feeling pretty cocky until five minutes later: talking to an ex-military woman who had come to shoot, she explained to me that the M16s are considered lame (she used a more graphic word) and if I wanted to shoot a real gun I needed to find an M14.

People are chatty and friendships are made. People sit and talk along the beautiful wooded path that connects the two ranges. People exchange tips and tricks. My favorite part is several times a day they clear the top range to check guns and swap out the targets. They let everyone go down field and look at the smoldering debris. Some people love to see the carnage and stand near the fiery cars and appliances, some collect spent ammo.

The real show is the night shoot. (Look it up on YouTube.) It’s an impressive scene: tracers paint the sky and every 10 minutes the ground rumbles and your chest tightens as the Miniguns power up. Occasionally someone hits the jackpot and nails one of the targets filled with gasoline, and all the while there is an overwhelming noise and vision that puts you in the moment like nothing else.

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Tammy Mercure is a State Guide to Tennessee. She was recently named one of the “100 under 100: The New Superstars of Southern Art” by Oxford American magazine.

Follow on Tumblr at tammymercure or on her website, TammyMercure.com. Support her work at TCB Press.

THE GROUNDHOG and EGG SHOOT - LAWNDALE, NORTH CAROLINA

The Groundhog and Egg Shoot has been taking place annually in Lawndale, North Carolina for over 30 years. Situated on the edges of Cleveland County in the Carolina foothills, Lawndale is a remote part of the county that sees an influx of several hundred people on the first Saturday come each April.

I’d never been to anything like this and I wanted to see what a tactical shooting contest looked like. I started out the morning running a fever and I forgot earplugs. It reminded me of going to the Hickory Motor Speedway a few years ago. Very loud places somehow make it a great opportunity for me to step outside my comfort zone. Here, my natural shyness was drowned out by gunshots.  

I found a woman named Maggie who, at 90, still comes out to the Shoot, selling baked goods and lunch items to the competitors. You see children helping their parents gather paper targets. You test equipment. You watch the leader boards updated after every round: 100 yards… 300 yards… until the final 500-yard-target challenge.

As the distances got longer, it was hard to know how competitors fared until the targets were taken up on a four wheeler and counted and added on the whiteboard outside the shooting area. By then, you could see results by the looks on the shooters’ faces. 

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Aaron Canipe is a State Guide to North Carolina. He was born and raised in Hickory, North Carolina and received his BFA in photography from the Corcoran College of Art + Design in Washington, D.C. Aaron also helps operate Empty Stretch, a DIY-publisher and blog. He’s exhibited work throughout the South and has been published in the Washington Post and the Oxford American’s “Eye on the South” blog. Follow him on Tumblr at mysteriesmanners and see more work on his website, aaroncanipe.com.

CAT SQUARE PARADE - VALE, NORTH CAROLINA

Whenever people had asked me if I’d ever been to the Cat Square parade it’d always be followed by a chuckle and knowing look in their eye. They’d tell me about that one time they went and there were elaborate homemade floats on old cars, parade-goers tossing out cans of beer and cigarettes, and lines of horses as far as the eye could see, five for each person there. For the past several years and since I graduated from college, I’ve been wanting to attend this much talked about and surely rowdy time.

The Cat Square Christmas parade has taken in place in Vale, North Carolina for the past few decades. Each December, this little census-designated community of Cat Square sees an influx of a couple thousand people turn out to line up along the side of Zur Leonard and Cat Square Road to watch the parade trot by. Each year I’ve been told the number of spectators and participants grow larger. A few high school bands join in, almost every female in Lincoln County it seems is a beauty queen of some sort and is escorted in a convertible. North Carolina is not short at all of celebrations of its culture, but the Cat Square parade seems a little bit more special to me. I know because almost everyone I know in my hometown has been at least one time and they always have a story about it along with a slight shake of the head, smile, and quick look at the ground.

The parade is a big part of this area around Christmas and a tradition that’s been going strong for years with few people outside of the area taking notice. It’s uniquely ours. It’s the people of the community that keep all this afloat. The parade’s participants and its visitors are the subject of these pictures. A street preacher with a lazy eye handing out tracts, a man selling new and used knives, teenagers watching from their vehicles and younger volunteers in costume or in floats. Just a few people out of the thousands that caught my eye that day and sometimes let me talk to them a little. I’m anxious for next December to come around or the next time I’ll be able to tell my own story about the parade to someone who has never been. 

* * *

Aaron Canipe is a State Guide to North Carolina. He was born and raised in Hickory, North Carolina and received his BFA in photography from the Corcoran College of Art + Design in Washington, D.C. Aaron also helps operate Empty Stretch, a DIY-publisher and blog. He’s exhibited work throughout the South and has been published in the Washington Post and the Oxford American’s “Eye on the South” blog. Follow him on Tumblr at mysteriesmanners and see more work on his website, aaroncanipe.com.

LAWLESS: LOVING IT AND NOT IN SOUTH FLORIDA
For the traveler—and the local, too—there’s a sort of lawlessness—a coast-to-coast sensation—when you’re in South Florida, below the Lake Okeechobee shoreline.
Our guide—Florida: A Guide to the Southernmost State, published by the WPA in 1939—says it in plain words: “Florida is at once a continuation of the Deep South and the beginning of a new realm.”
And in that new realm, you do whatever the hell it is you want to do. You see it in the faces of those just passing through to the faces of the snowbird, the country cracker, the Miccosukee, the Cuban, the black American—anyone and everyone.
But, it’s not that you’re up to no good if you’re in these parts. No, because down here you’ve either been left to yourself or abandoned outright—something you either fought for and won or fought against and lost. That’s the prettiness and the ugliness of the place.
Just ask our guide: “Throughout more than four centuries, from Ponce de Leon in his caravels to the latest Pennsylvanian in his Buick”—You can throw in Walt Disney, HMO-barons, spring-break bros and hoes, and sub-prime mortgage lenders—”Florida has been invaded by seekers of gold or of sunshine. The result of all of this is a material and immaterial pattern of infinite variety, replete with contrasts, paradoxes, confusions, and inconsistencies.”
"Seekers of gold or of sunshine"—that’s a damn fine line to walk: between the Freedom—with a capital F—that we all seek and the temptations and trappings of its pursuit.
It’s all the “seekers of gold or of sunshine” where that lawless feeling comes from.
* * *
Tom McNamara is the co-editor of THE AMERICAN GUIDE. 
Zoom Info
LAWLESS: LOVING IT AND NOT IN SOUTH FLORIDA
For the traveler—and the local, too—there’s a sort of lawlessness—a coast-to-coast sensation—when you’re in South Florida, below the Lake Okeechobee shoreline.
Our guide—Florida: A Guide to the Southernmost State, published by the WPA in 1939—says it in plain words: “Florida is at once a continuation of the Deep South and the beginning of a new realm.”
And in that new realm, you do whatever the hell it is you want to do. You see it in the faces of those just passing through to the faces of the snowbird, the country cracker, the Miccosukee, the Cuban, the black American—anyone and everyone.
But, it’s not that you’re up to no good if you’re in these parts. No, because down here you’ve either been left to yourself or abandoned outright—something you either fought for and won or fought against and lost. That’s the prettiness and the ugliness of the place.
Just ask our guide: “Throughout more than four centuries, from Ponce de Leon in his caravels to the latest Pennsylvanian in his Buick”—You can throw in Walt Disney, HMO-barons, spring-break bros and hoes, and sub-prime mortgage lenders—”Florida has been invaded by seekers of gold or of sunshine. The result of all of this is a material and immaterial pattern of infinite variety, replete with contrasts, paradoxes, confusions, and inconsistencies.”
"Seekers of gold or of sunshine"—that’s a damn fine line to walk: between the Freedom—with a capital F—that we all seek and the temptations and trappings of its pursuit.
It’s all the “seekers of gold or of sunshine” where that lawless feeling comes from.
* * *
Tom McNamara is the co-editor of THE AMERICAN GUIDE. 
Zoom Info
LAWLESS: LOVING IT AND NOT IN SOUTH FLORIDA
For the traveler—and the local, too—there’s a sort of lawlessness—a coast-to-coast sensation—when you’re in South Florida, below the Lake Okeechobee shoreline.
Our guide—Florida: A Guide to the Southernmost State, published by the WPA in 1939—says it in plain words: “Florida is at once a continuation of the Deep South and the beginning of a new realm.”
And in that new realm, you do whatever the hell it is you want to do. You see it in the faces of those just passing through to the faces of the snowbird, the country cracker, the Miccosukee, the Cuban, the black American—anyone and everyone.
But, it’s not that you’re up to no good if you’re in these parts. No, because down here you’ve either been left to yourself or abandoned outright—something you either fought for and won or fought against and lost. That’s the prettiness and the ugliness of the place.
Just ask our guide: “Throughout more than four centuries, from Ponce de Leon in his caravels to the latest Pennsylvanian in his Buick”—You can throw in Walt Disney, HMO-barons, spring-break bros and hoes, and sub-prime mortgage lenders—”Florida has been invaded by seekers of gold or of sunshine. The result of all of this is a material and immaterial pattern of infinite variety, replete with contrasts, paradoxes, confusions, and inconsistencies.”
"Seekers of gold or of sunshine"—that’s a damn fine line to walk: between the Freedom—with a capital F—that we all seek and the temptations and trappings of its pursuit.
It’s all the “seekers of gold or of sunshine” where that lawless feeling comes from.
* * *
Tom McNamara is the co-editor of THE AMERICAN GUIDE. 
Zoom Info

LAWLESS: LOVING IT AND NOT IN SOUTH FLORIDA

For the traveler—and the local, too—there’s a sort of lawlessness—a coast-to-coast sensation—when you’re in South Florida, below the Lake Okeechobee shoreline.

Our guide—Florida: A Guide to the Southernmost State, published by the WPA in 1939—says it in plain words: “Florida is at once a continuation of the Deep South and the beginning of a new realm.”

And in that new realm, you do whatever the hell it is you want to do. You see it in the faces of those just passing through to the faces of the snowbird, the country cracker, the Miccosukee, the Cuban, the black American—anyone and everyone.

But, it’s not that you’re up to no good if you’re in these parts. No, because down here you’ve either been left to yourself or abandoned outright—something you either fought for and won or fought against and lost. That’s the prettiness and the ugliness of the place.

Just ask our guide: “Throughout more than four centuries, from Ponce de Leon in his caravels to the latest Pennsylvanian in his Buick”—You can throw in Walt Disney, HMO-barons, spring-break bros and hoes, and sub-prime mortgage lenders—”Florida has been invaded by seekers of gold or of sunshine. The result of all of this is a material and immaterial pattern of infinite variety, replete with contrasts, paradoxes, confusions, and inconsistencies.”

"Seekers of gold or of sunshine"—that’s a damn fine line to walk: between the Freedom—with a capital F—that we all seek and the temptations and trappings of its pursuit.

It’s all the “seekers of gold or of sunshine” where that lawless feeling comes from.

* * *

Tom McNamara is the co-editor of THE AMERICAN GUIDE

OURAY, COLORADO - SLUSHY SEASON or THE LONG, SLOW BREAK-UP

OURAY, 37 m. (7,800 alt., 707 pop.), seat of Ouray County, named for the great Ute chief, lies pocketed in a pear-shaped valley, with WHITE HOUSE MOUNTAIN (13,493 alt.) on the west, HAYDEN MOUNTAIN (13,100 alt.) on the south, and CASCADE MOUNTAIN (12,100 alt.) to the northwest. To the east, extending upward to the crest of the range, is a great natural amphitheater, part of the Ouray State Game Refuge. Densely wooded, but with many small parks, it is easily accessible on foot. Years ago the area was stocked with elk. Many are now so tame that they often wander along the streets of the town and through back yards, occasionally getting their antlers entangled in the family wash.

Colorado, A Guide To the Highest State (WPA, 1941)

Spring in the Rockies can be like a good relationship going through a long break up. At first the snow piles high and everything is transformed and clean white. It’s all beautiful, new, exciting and fresh. Eventually the romance begins to fade, new fallen snow is more of a hassle to shovel and plow than a joy to see. Then it melts off, leaving things uglier, slushier, muddier than they were to begin with. Then it snows again, like a desperate one nighter, trying to reclaim a bit of winter’s passion. But it quickly flees again, it wasn’t meant to be and it leaves another dirty, slushy mess behind. And it will happen again, another quickie snowstorm before summer officially arrives — final break-up sex if you will.

If you’ve ever lived through a Western winter and spring — or a really long and tedious break up — you know what I mean.

***

KC O’Connor is a Guide to Wyoming for The American Guide. He’s a writer and photographer based in Lander, Wyoming. Follow him on Tumblr and Twitter.

THE PINTO BEAN CAPITAL OF THE WORLD

In his younger days Zane Grey, writer of western fiction, lived for a time in Dove Creek, and much of his novel Riders of the Purple Sage is said to have been written here. There are several elderly townsfolk who identify themselves with characters in the book.
- Colorado, A Guide To the Highest State (WPA, 1941)





Dove Creek, Colorado is the Pinto Bean Capital of the World.  The biggest landmark near the town is an enormous bean elevator that can be seen from miles around.
* * *
Amadee Ricketts is an At-Large Guide to the West. She’s worked as a cemetary groundskeeper, a shoeshine valet, and a bill collector. More recently, she’s been a children’s librarian in five states. She takes a lot of pictures and lives near Durango, CO. You can see her photos at textless.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
THE PINTO BEAN CAPITAL OF THE WORLD

In his younger days Zane Grey, writer of western fiction, lived for a time in Dove Creek, and much of his novel Riders of the Purple Sage is said to have been written here. There are several elderly townsfolk who identify themselves with characters in the book.
- Colorado, A Guide To the Highest State (WPA, 1941)





Dove Creek, Colorado is the Pinto Bean Capital of the World.  The biggest landmark near the town is an enormous bean elevator that can be seen from miles around.
* * *
Amadee Ricketts is an At-Large Guide to the West. She’s worked as a cemetary groundskeeper, a shoeshine valet, and a bill collector. More recently, she’s been a children’s librarian in five states. She takes a lot of pictures and lives near Durango, CO. You can see her photos at textless.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
THE PINTO BEAN CAPITAL OF THE WORLD

In his younger days Zane Grey, writer of western fiction, lived for a time in Dove Creek, and much of his novel Riders of the Purple Sage is said to have been written here. There are several elderly townsfolk who identify themselves with characters in the book.
- Colorado, A Guide To the Highest State (WPA, 1941)





Dove Creek, Colorado is the Pinto Bean Capital of the World.  The biggest landmark near the town is an enormous bean elevator that can be seen from miles around.
* * *
Amadee Ricketts is an At-Large Guide to the West. She’s worked as a cemetary groundskeeper, a shoeshine valet, and a bill collector. More recently, she’s been a children’s librarian in five states. She takes a lot of pictures and lives near Durango, CO. You can see her photos at textless.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
THE PINTO BEAN CAPITAL OF THE WORLD

In his younger days Zane Grey, writer of western fiction, lived for a time in Dove Creek, and much of his novel Riders of the Purple Sage is said to have been written here. There are several elderly townsfolk who identify themselves with characters in the book.
- Colorado, A Guide To the Highest State (WPA, 1941)





Dove Creek, Colorado is the Pinto Bean Capital of the World.  The biggest landmark near the town is an enormous bean elevator that can be seen from miles around.
* * *
Amadee Ricketts is an At-Large Guide to the West. She’s worked as a cemetary groundskeeper, a shoeshine valet, and a bill collector. More recently, she’s been a children’s librarian in five states. She takes a lot of pictures and lives near Durango, CO. You can see her photos at textless.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
THE PINTO BEAN CAPITAL OF THE WORLD

In his younger days Zane Grey, writer of western fiction, lived for a time in Dove Creek, and much of his novel Riders of the Purple Sage is said to have been written here. There are several elderly townsfolk who identify themselves with characters in the book.
- Colorado, A Guide To the Highest State (WPA, 1941)





Dove Creek, Colorado is the Pinto Bean Capital of the World.  The biggest landmark near the town is an enormous bean elevator that can be seen from miles around.
* * *
Amadee Ricketts is an At-Large Guide to the West. She’s worked as a cemetary groundskeeper, a shoeshine valet, and a bill collector. More recently, she’s been a children’s librarian in five states. She takes a lot of pictures and lives near Durango, CO. You can see her photos at textless.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
THE PINTO BEAN CAPITAL OF THE WORLD

In his younger days Zane Grey, writer of western fiction, lived for a time in Dove Creek, and much of his novel Riders of the Purple Sage is said to have been written here. There are several elderly townsfolk who identify themselves with characters in the book.
- Colorado, A Guide To the Highest State (WPA, 1941)





Dove Creek, Colorado is the Pinto Bean Capital of the World.  The biggest landmark near the town is an enormous bean elevator that can be seen from miles around.
* * *
Amadee Ricketts is an At-Large Guide to the West. She’s worked as a cemetary groundskeeper, a shoeshine valet, and a bill collector. More recently, she’s been a children’s librarian in five states. She takes a lot of pictures and lives near Durango, CO. You can see her photos at textless.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info

THE PINTO BEAN CAPITAL OF THE WORLD

In his younger days Zane Grey, writer of western fiction, lived for a time in Dove Creek, and much of his novel Riders of the Purple Sage is said to have been written here. There are several elderly townsfolk who identify themselves with characters in the book.

Colorado, A Guide To the Highest State (WPA, 1941)

Dove Creek, Colorado is the Pinto Bean Capital of the World.  The biggest landmark near the town is an enormous bean elevator that can be seen from miles around.

* * *

Amadee Ricketts is an At-Large Guide to the West. She’s worked as a cemetary groundskeeper, a shoeshine valet, and a bill collector. More recently, she’s been a children’s librarian in five states. She takes a lot of pictures and lives near Durango, CO. You can see her photos at textless.tumblr.com.