A middle-age rite of passage is to ponder your life’s Roads Not Taken. One of mine involves the University of Missouri. Thirty years ago, I was bumbling my way through college and pondering what to do, because pretty much everything about my life was a hopeless mess at that point. Two wretched years of trying to hack it as a pre-med major had left my grades in smoking ruins; but after I finally figured out I should be an English major, I pulled up my grade-point average just enough to make graduate school a possibility. Having no clear idea what to do next, I opted for the “gradual school” route and set my sights on the journalism schools at Texas and Missouri — at that time, both well-regarded top-10 programs.
Texas won out, mostly because I just felt more comfortable in Austin. I got a Masters in journalism, which has not been the most useful degree. Still, those grad-school years in mid-’80s Austin were when I finally figured out the career path I’m still on to this day. And while I’ve never regretted going to UT, over the years I’ve wondered where I’d be now if I’d gone to the University of Missouri instead.
One thing I can tell you is I probably would not be in the Daily Tribune today, ironically enough. It’s the daily paper in the University of Missouri’s hometown of Columbia, and staffer Aarik Danielsen was kind enough to interview me (and ask really good, thoughtful questions) about “Losering” and Ryan Adams as well as music, writing and criticism. Check that out here.