Author: Bailey Reutzel

Tennessee

There’s a new breed of young person, the politically apathetic, self-ascribed libertarian who believes the government is something that can’t be saved. “I don’t vote. It’s pointless,” says David in Nashville, Tennessee. He’s one of these New Age Americans, fiscally conservative but socially liberal, or really he doesn’t give a fuck what you do in the comfort of your own home. “But if Trump got nominated, I’d vote Bernie Sanders,” he says, if he thought his vote counted that is. This sentiment is especially odd coming from a Libertarian, seeing as Ron Paul’s success raising money and securing votes on the party’s platform allowed the political philosophy to gain momentum. After all, it’s because of his votes and publicity they received,his ideals have continued to grow as states consider legalizing marijuana. His son Rand Paul was even a former Republican presidential candidate for the 2016 election, running in a large part on issues his father championed. In my opinion, as I wax on over pizza, you’ve got a 50-50 chance of your candidate winning, at least here in the two-party-dominated USA. So, it’s not so much about our favorite candidate winning but more about exactly this, shifting the conversation. “Although I also kind of support everyone voting for Donald Trump, just to burn this country down,” he says. In his eyes, America can’t be great again, and there’s nothing...

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Colorado

There’s this Utopia in my mind with a mountain range backdrop where idealists come together to talk about humanity’s existence while experimenting with drugs, doing art and snowboarding. Utopias have long been sought by philosophers and political science majors, the anarchists, the religious and hippies. “Nowhere has given rise to more local utopias than the U.S.,” says Nathan Schneider, an author and journalist who covers religion and political movements in the States and recently moved to Boulder, Colorado. Speaking of Colorado, it’s become the state many young people think of as paradise, and much of that stems from the state’s move to legalize marijuana, both medically and recreationally. Cannabis has a cult following. There aren’t many people like myself, sympathetic to the cause but yet, uninterested in smoking it (most the time). Most people either smoke the herb every damn day or abstain. Hordes of hippies and entrepreneurs have moved to the state in recent years to join the weed industry, from growing to distributing to dispensing. It’s industry is more mature than Oregon’s or Washington’s or Alaska’s, so if there’s a story about pot, it mentions Colorado, and if there’s a story about Colorado, it mentions pot. “Sounds like the easy way out,” a friend in Denver says when I pull him for references in the industry. “Reading another article about Colorado and marijuana is…. dead. It’s been...

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Nebraska

My friend has already warned me I’d be sleeping by the snake tank. But when I walk into her cousin’s house in Omaha, Nebraska, there’s a parrot, uncaged, perched on a tree stand on the other end of the couch. There’s also two dogs, a rescue opossum and three boys who each keep snakes, lizards and tarantulas in their respective rooms. Katy, the cousin, and I are getting to know each other in the kitchen when her career comes up. “I work with cadavers at the university,” she says. The answer catches me so off guard, I basically ask what a cadaver is. She...

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Iowa

There are three things everyone from Iowa does: detassel, attend the Iowa State Fair and go to the caucus. But Iowa is also a home for high-tech, with the success of its tech startup poster child Dwolla encouraging a budding startup scene. This just isn’t San Francisco’s idea of high-tech. “[In the midwest], agriculture becomes part of your DNA,” says Jordan Lampe, director of communications and policy at Dwolla. Dwolla builds software for faster payments and has seen success in signing up merchants, and several Des Moines government agencies. Now, they’re trying to get in the ring as the...

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Oklahoma

“How do you know when to stop?” I ask. “I usually don’t,” says the middle-aged man playing digital blackjack. We’re at the main bar of the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma, the biggest in the US. “Well, we all have our vices,” I say, holding up a Budweiser. “I’ve got plenty of vices,” he replies. ——— My plan was to venture back to the casino in the morning, to ask about its Chickasaw Nation owners and the plight of Native Americans in this country, or head to Oklahoma City. But I finally hit bad weather. It hadn’t stopped raining in days and there was a big ice storm headed my way. So instead, I sat and thought about the man with many vices. Isn’t that the American way? We seem to be a country of rebels, spurred by a story of our uprising against the British in the 18th century. We tend to slag off the rules or use them to condone extremism. And it’s great, in some ways, no doubt. But in others, it’s appalling. For instance, I’m chatting with a guy from the UK on a New York City subway one morning last year. There’s discarded newspapers hiding under seats and sticky spills nearly every step. I’m recalling seeing two women cracking pistachios on the train one night, dropping the shells right on the ground. “I feel...

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