West Palm Beach: 1, Hurricane Matthew: 0

Man, it sure is hard to publish things on this website when there’s all this dust and so many cobwebs back here.

That’s right! I’ve broken my six-month writing hiatus to bring you long-suffering subscribers a dispatch from THE BATTERED RUINS OF SOUTH FLORIDA.

Alright, it’s not that bad. But we did get some kinda gnarly weather, and I ended up being contacted by both my former employers in Australia and Maine to give some on-the-ground perspective on how Hurricane Matthew went down.

The five on-air interviews I gave to ABC Local Radio in Brisbane, Perth and Canberra are surely lost to the ravages of time, but here’s the column I wrote for the Kennebec Journal.

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I found my calling

it me, the junk food expert
it me, the junk food expert

A couple of weeks ago, I hit something of a career milestone, reaching the nine-year mark since my career in the news business first started.

I was a wide-eyed 21-year-old who’d just landed the luckiest gig of his life, working in his hometown for a major media organization just one year out of college and with no real experience to speak of.

Granted, I was moderating comments on stories (which is basically wading through the internet’s knee-deep cesspool), but it was a start. It’s taken me a lot of places, including sunny South Florida, as you already know.

But this week’s assignment was something I never expected I’d be doing. There’s video after the jump…

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The 2016 presidential campaign, through an ex-pat’s eyes

Pictured: Something I’m not allowed to do

So my former colleagues at the ABC had me write a thing about the ongoing presidential election circus, from the perspective of one of us goddamn immigrants who steal all the good jobs.

Less than 10 minutes after it was published, I received a 500-word email comparing Trump and Hitler ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Anyway, I’m posting it here because this piece ended up really emphasizing the “free” in “freelancing,” and since it got no promotion, I may as well bank on some clicks for my own site. Enjoy!

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A guy’s gotta eat, right?

It me, the Taco Man
It me, the Taco Man

A common theme in these pages over the past couple of years and almost 150 posts (!) is food.

Obviously, the United States has a worldwide reputation – somewhat fairly, somewhat not – for oversized, over-caloric foodstuffs, but it’s also got an incredibly diverse food culture that differs from region to region and state to state.

Some of my best Maine memories revolve around eating: visiting a sugar shack and tasting maple syrup fresh out of the tree, to consuming lobster in various forms, to all of the snacky shit that I took a quick liking to early on in my immigration.

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An ex-pat’s guide to Super Bowl 50

dab on em

No matter where you’re from in the world, it’s impossible to not have at least heard of the Super Bowl. Named after one of George Washington’s favorite pieces of crockery[citation needed], Sunday’s contest will be the 50th iteration of the NFL’s deciding game.

Even for folks who aren’t football fans, Super Bowl Sunday is as much a part of the American calendar as the Fourth of July or Thanksgiving. It permeates every part of the culture, from advertising to zoology, and everything in between.

Sure, maybe you’ve watched it at 8 o’clock on a Monday morning in Australia, or caught the highlights at the end of the news, but that ain’t the same. Perhaps you’re new to the whole shebang, at least in terms of experiencing it as a newly minted permanent resident, without an idea of where to even begin planning for such an event.

But fear not, hypothetical reader! I’ve come back from the blogging grave to give you the inside look (most of which is based on fact, with a healthy serving of “being a smartass.”) I barely know the first thing about football, which everyone is okay with because I’m a foreigner, but I know a thing or two about eating and drinking to excess while there’s sports on TV. Read on!

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Sunshine State of Mind

Little change of scenery, eh?
Little change of scenery, eh?

There’s nothing like a little bit of writer’s block to make you take in your surroundings for inspiration.

For context, I’m sitting at a bar at Palm Beach International Airport – one only marginally bigger than the one in Portland, Maine – waiting to return to Vacationland for a long weekend.

Not knowing the best way to kick this piece of all-the-more-infrequent bloggin’ off, I consulted everyone’s trusty sidekick Google for a snappy quote that adequately summed up Florida.

Unfortunately, everyone’s favorite search engine came up short, and I was left looking around in something resembling desperation for a jump-off point. And then it hit me. 

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America: Please Be Better

I know this is uncharacteristic of me (being in any way political, or controversial), but I decided I wanted to say something about yesterday’s senseless murders in California.

When tragic incidents of mass gun violence occur in the U.S., I frequently come across a level of smugness on social media from Australians – some I know, others I don’t – who seem to enjoy pulling the moral superiority card when it comes to gun control.

This country has its flaws, but so does Australia, and England, and every other nation in the world. If there was one that was flawless, we’d all be refugees lining up for entry.

I know that this country has a long and complicated history of firearm ownership. Even though I don’t profess to understand the nuances of it the Constitutional amendments and policy-making, what I do know is pretty clear.

I love the United States. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have spent weeks upon weeks, and countless dollars, traveling throughout the U.S. over six years, or actively sought to migrate here and start a new chapter of my life.

That’s what it comes down to for me. I love this country, and I want it to be better. As far as I can tell, so does everyone on either side of the gun control and immigration battles. So if stemming the flow of senseless killing every year makes the U.S. a better place, why the hell not take some sort of action? Maybe Australia’s version of gun control isn’t the perfect answer here, but something has to be done.

I love you, America, and a lot of other folks do. We need you to be better.

The Top Ten Things I Love About Maine

There sure is. TOo much to list, try as you may.
There sure is. Too much to list, try as you may.

So, this is it. The very last Maine Walkabout.

I haven’t done the numbers, but at two columns a month (and three per month twice, I think), that’s a nice round 46 pieces.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Despite the odd gripe or Thursday-night panic about what the hell I’m going to write about for that weekend, I’ve always felt humbled that a real live newspaper would give me the inches to wax lyrical about things I see and places I go. I’m proud of this here body of work.

Most of the archives can be found here, too.

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Column ideas that never made it

Still can't believe this ended up being an actual thing.
Still can’t believe this ended up being an actual thing.

When the powers that be first offered me a chance to write a newspaper column, I was thrilled. My primary concern, though, was that I’d run out of material and be stuck without anything to say.

So to alleviate this worry, I initially agreed to write Walkabout on a monthly basis. That seemed pretty achievable to me.

That lasted until the very first one came out, back in January 2013. As soon as I saw my name on the page, I had a rush of inspiration and realized that I’d have plenty of stories with which to bore central Maine readers back to bed on a Sunday morning.

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Returning to the Sunshine State. Kinda.

On the road again.
On the road again.

One Friday night, not long after I arrived in central Maine, my dad sent me a text containing a photo of the first page of a book he was reading.

The line he was pointing out, and I’m paraphrasing here, read: “Traveling north on I-95, somewhere between Augusta and Bangor …”. He was thrilled to now know roughly where both of those cities were, not to mention someone who’d been to them. Continue reading