From the Vault: The World’s Longest Outdoor Sale

warhorsesign1 The first three long features I ever wrote for the Cincinnati CityBeat weekly paper were:

  • the story of the American Federation of Riders, a motorcycle club my Uncle helped found (1995);
  • the story of Cincinnati’s attempt to arrest the graffiti artists who were tagging the city (although most of that occurred in the storm sewers) (1995); and
  • the story of the world’s longest outdoor sale, which happens in Appalachia ever year (2001).

The first two were stories I wrote after leaving the newspaper to pursue my freelance writing career. The third story – which I started in 1997 – didn’t see publication until 2001 when I resurrected it from the scrap heap.

It’s important to note: this was reported 2 years into my career, which had mostly been as a freelance writer; it was 2 years after I’d met Hunter S. Thompson in Louisville, Kentucky and decided that I needed to write about the American Dream; which set me off on a quest to read every American Dream author (Hawthorne, the New Journalists, Fitzgerald, ect) and tailor everything I did around that; all of which led me to Berkeley just a year later.

Originally commissioned in 1997 by Axcess magazine out of San Diego, the story never got published as the magazine went out of business. (That happened when I traveled there to meet them. I actually helped them move equipment out of their second story offices.)

You can read the story I wrote in 2001 here: The Lost Highway: A pulp tale of pop culture,an unknown highway, Death Week and the future of Americana, by Brad King. Photos by Monte McCarter.

I’ll publish the notes from my trip later. They need to be cleaned up. But you can enjoy a few of the pictures from our time in Gadsden, Alabama.

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Scenes from TedXCincy

A huge thanks to the photographers roaming the grounds during the TedXCincy event. You can check out the entire group here. Here are a few shots of my stalking the stage:

My opening discussion about how story 3.0: Telling Stories


The beginning of my discussion about the ideas of Vannevar Bush and JCR Licklider, which give us the outline for how modern stories can – and will – be told.

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TedxCincy (Addendum)

It’s always weird to do the vanity search after giving a talk.

It’s also particularly hard for me because that moment before feedback comes is awful. I have a creative mind convinced that I’m quite bad at what I do. Which means I’m always – always – expecting the worst. My head is like a Stephen King short story.

Per my usual, I wait a day after my talks to go check out what people said about me in the social sphere. This morning as I sit here in my hotel, I’m feeling very humbled by the kind words you’ve all posted about my talk “Telling Stories on the World.”

If I’ve missed any Tweets or blogs, please post them in the comments. And thank you all so much for the kind words. Really…wow:

Brad King recommends checking out Sean Stewart’s Cathy’s Book. #TEDxCincy — @andreamccorkle

Brad King’s talk atTEDx was fantastic. — @beckcomm

#TEDxCincy brad king, opportunity to have books interact with social media. Require going to web to fully understand the book — @GeoffZoeckler

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The Appalachian Trail Project

There’s a website called Kickstarter that enables people who have an idea to solicit help in working on a project. If the project doesn’t “make” – that is, if there aren’t enough funds generated – nobody pays and the project goes away.

I’m a big believer in the micro-loan way, giving individuals the opportunity to do what they want to by developing a network willing to fund their work. It seems rational to me.

So when I came across this particular project, a young man who wants to hike the Appalachian Trail and write a book about his experiences in order to dispel the stereotypes of the region, I was hooked.

I’m definitely going to pony up cash for this project and I hope you do too.

Now, I don’t know Forrest and I haven’t talked to him about the project. I know nothing about him (although I’m going to send him a note for sure). So let the buyer beware.

For me, though, this seems like an amazing project. One I’m happy to support.

On My Father Missing My Posts

I spoke with my dad today. He lamented that he’s already missing my daily posts.

My family has (begrudgingly) accepted that I live in the meta-verse. I exist online in a far more real way that I do in the real world. This has it’s ups and downs. I’ll leave you to debate the merits of those things. For my father, I suspect it allows him a window into my world, one that is hard enough to get when you’re around somebody every day. And we are not.

The daily posts won’t be coming back. Not any time soon. It’s time to get on with my actual writing. School will be finished on Saturday (grades are due) and I’ve dedicated this summer to my writing.

That means less time online. Less time blogging. Less time Twittering.

This summer, it’s all about the words. And the stories.

But I promise to call more, pop.

On Showing Up, Language, Being Offensive + Contrarian (90 in 90)

This long path has come to an end for me.

91 days ago, I challenged some of my students to write 90 posts in 90 days. To get up every day and write. Write when they didn’t have anything to say. Write when they did. Write when they were sick and couldn’t think. Write when they were excited to sit in front of the keyboard.

Showing up is 90 percent of the battle in life. When you don’t want to. When you think you can’t. When everything inside you is telling you to run away. If you can find a way to show up, you’ve oftentimes won already.


Too often we don’t show up. We keep our mouths shut. We allow the common, collective knowledge and wisdom to go un-challenged. We say nothing when we know we should. When we are un-comfortable.

It’s part of the Social Contract, after all.

For the most part, I try to avoid such thinking. Because of that, I have been described with many adjectives – contrarian, argumentative, just to name a few of the more polite ones.

I’m okay with that. Mostly. Although I certainly wish people saw it for what I mean it to be instead of what they perceive it to be.

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Out There (79 of 90)

The dream was always a little cabin, in the middle of nowhere, away from humanity, where I couldn’t cause anymore damage.

I can see the cabin, a small 2 room place. The bedroom and living area separated by a door. One story. I have never much cared for two. It’s too difficult to escape. Too easily trapped. A kitchen with enough elbow room to really get down to it. A fireplace in the living room. And woods.

I have known this place in my head for years, a place far removed from the people I know, the live I have lived and the world around me.

I have known it because in this place, with nothing around me and no people to harm, I can write and drink and exist until it’s time to not anymore.


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What I’ve Been Thinking About…(61 of 90)

Maybe it’s April in Academia. Maybe there is something else within me trying to parse this answer.

I can’t shake the fact that my writing is suffering of late. Because I haven’t been doing the thing that I am supposed to be doing. Which is, of course, writing.

There is only one way into this world. Consistent. Persistent.

No way around it. I know this, and yet I am consistently pushed away from it. Obligations that are not of my making but are of my choosing.

And I think about this.


And what I am not doing.

“I’m never sure which one people expect me to be.” (56 of 90)

“I have no idea if you think your making a film about Duke or Thompson. And I’m filling with hate and rage just thinking about it.”

I’ve been devoid of words the last few days.

Not for the normal reasons, I suspect. I’m not over-whelmed with work although there is work to do. I’m not emotionally exhausted although I’ve probably been thinking too much.

There is just not much around me. Although I know this is simply the post-SXSW depression that comes (which is different than the SXSars the befalls all my partying friends). You can’t be immersed within the chaos of 12,000 people for 10 days and not come back changed.

This particularly tired mental diatribe bores even me so I can only imagine what you’d do if you had a jackhammer and mallet, and a promise for the police that there would be no thorough investigation. These are not kind thoughts that I have about you, but I think we can all understand they are more about me.

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