Deviate

Deviate

Rolf Potts veers off-topic in this unique series of conversations with experts, public figures, and intriguing people.

Episodes

May 14, 2024 79 mins

“Look at any photo from a moment of supposed zeitgeist in American history, and it will be clear that not everyone in that moment represented the cutting-edge of culture.” –Rolf Potts

In this essay episode of Deviate, Rolf talks about why he enjoys listening to Rob Harvilla’s podcast 60 Songs That Explain the ’90s at double-speed, but that he’s disappointed Rob has never alluded to Rolf’s own 1990s grunge ba...

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    “Something about the motion of walking is conducive to generating both ideas and conversation. You can empty your mind and open your mind at the same time.” —Kevin Kelly

    In this episode of Deviate, Rolf reports from a “Walk and Talk” across northern Thailand. Interviewees and conversation topics are listed by time-code below. Participant write-ups about (or alluding to) the 2023 Thailand Walk and Talk include:

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    “We ‘massage’ the truth to make it fit the narrative we need it to fit in our lives.”  –Andrew McCarthy

    In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and Andrew talk about how Andrew got started in travel writing, and how writing himself on the page helped him see himself in the world (2:30); when he does and doesn’t conflate certain details in the interest of a good story, and how he balances the “micro” and the &...

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    “Unless we explore our neighborhood, we can’t imagine what might be right under our noses, nor be able to celebrate it, mourn its demise, or take action.” –Alastair Humphreys

    In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and Alastair Humphreys discuss the concept of his new book Local: A Search for Nearby Nature and Wilderness (1:30); what Alastair found on his close-to-home adventures in England (7:00); the surprises he found in industrial and...

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    “I hate the Kansas City Chiefs with a passion reserved only for things that I love.” —Tod Goldberg

    In this episode of Deviate, Rolf shares his 2002 NPR “Savvy Traveler” dispatch about trying to watch the Super Bowl in Thailand (3:00); then he and Tod Goldberg discuss how they became NFL football fans as kids in the 1970s, and how this affected their fandom later in life (8:00); how it could be difficult in the days before the Inter...

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    “Billionaires can’t take a week off? What’s the point of having a billion dollars if they have fewer options than I do?”  –Tim Ferriss

    In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and Tim discuss common travel fantasies, and the fears that keep people from traveling (5:00); how we can redefine what “wealth” is and live fuller lives (18:00); why keeping a healthy perspective on information intake, technology, and “...

  • “Sometimes it’s good to sit still and let a place move through you instead of you moving through a place.”  –Rolf Potts

    In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and The Vagabond’s Way book club participants discuss how one can be vulnerable to new experiences on the road instead of micromanaging an itinerary (2:00); how monuments to mortality help us think of travel moments in an existential way (11:30); how we can take the mindset o...

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    “When asked to give advice to young people looking to become travel writers, I invariably tell them to go – alone – and live in a country where they don’t speak the language.”  –Thomas Swick

    In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and Tom talk about the thematic limitations of memoir writing, and the early stages of Tom’s career as a journalist (2:00); his decision to move to Poland for love, and his experiences living in Warsaw aro...

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    “One way of making famous landmarks more comprehensible is to look for surprises, good and bad, that go beyond what you are expected to encounter there, details that open you up to the raw imperfections of the encounter itself.”  –Rolf Potts

    In this episode of Deviate – which is a redo of episode 229, which didn’t air properly due to technical problems – Rolf and The Vagabond’s Way book club participants discuss how to break ...

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    “Not everyone who’s lucky is talented and not everyone who’s talented is lucky.”  –Tom Bissell

    In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and Tom talk about Tom’s lack of travel experience when he joined the Peace Corps, and how he dealt with his early failures (2:30); the role that luck (as well as craft and obsessive reading) has played in his writing career (8:00); how, as a writer, to turn real-life people, including yo...

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    “One way of making famous landmarks more comprehensible is to look for surprises, good and bad, that go beyond what you are expected to encounter there, details that open you up to the raw imperfections of the encounter itself.”  –Rolf Potts

    In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and The Vagabond’s Way book club participants discuss how to break out of standard tourist routines and see places in unexpected way (1:30); how to get beyond t...

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    “One ironic anxiety of travel is that suddenly you’re living in ‘organic time’ and you’re not used to it.”  –Rolf Potts

    In this “vagabonding audio companion” episode of Deviate, remixed from Aaron Millar’s Armchair Explorer podcast, Rolf talks about his earliest travel dreams, and what compelled him to finally take a vagabonding dream trip around North America by van in his early twenties (...

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    “A wonderful aspect of traveling by train is the transactional relationship between passengers who feed off one another, picking up tips, offering advice, guarding each other’s belongings, and generating a trust that is unique to railway travel.”  –Monisha Rajesh

    In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and Monisha discuss how her interest in train-travel dates back to a series of journeys she took around India (1:30); her more recent expe...

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    “We live in an age where you can take a series short flights inside a country to speed things up. You end up going to more places, but you experience less, because you’re not really committed to that chicken bus full of really interesting people who want nothing more than to interact with you.”  –Rolf Potts

    In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and The Vagabond’s Way book club participants discuss the idiosyncrasies of crossing la...

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    “Domestic travel to rural places can be as important as international travel that is more obviously cross-cultural.”  –Rolf Potts

    In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and Marci talk about how the best trips are guided by curiosity about eight key things, rather than checklists (2:00); what Marci has learned from several decades of writing guidebooks to rural and small-town Kansas, and how these places are worth fighting for (10:30); ho...

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    “A souvenir can be anything from a travel experience that honors a certain moment in your life, certifies the journey that took you there, and celebrates the confluence of people and places and actions that made it possible.”  – Rolf Potts

    In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and Suzanne talk about the ways souvenirs help narrate our travel experiences (2:00); the five different historical categories of travel souvenirs (7:30); the old...

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    “In alien parts, we speak more simply, unencumbered by the histories that we carry around at home, and look more excitedly, with eyes of wonder.” —Pico Iyer

    In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and The Vagabond’s Way book club participants discuss how he prepares for the book-club sessions (1:30); how the first days of one’s journeys have an optimistic energy and excitement, and how “culture shock” is a real thing (4:...

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    “We do not just keep and collect things. We trouble ourselves to repurpose, create, and invent things just to carry, a little easier, those stories we cannot live without.” —Kendra Greene

    In this episode of Deviate, Rolf speaks to the directors of two very different museums — Dawn Hammat of the Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum & Boyhood Home in Abilene, Kansas, and Greg Long of Long’s Collectible ...

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    “Quietly use travel to deepen your life, and to build stronger relationships – not only with other cultures, but with your home. Figure out ways to give back.”  –Rolf Potts

    In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and David talk about how travel allows you to “waste your twenties” in a good way, and how Rolf has come to define “adventure” (2:00); how to plan travels in such a way as to leave room for spontaneity, an...

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    “Not every fearful decision I’ve made has been bad, but most of my bad decisions have been based in fear.”  –Andrew McCarthy

    In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and Andrew talk about the two halves of Andrew’s professional life – acting and travel writing – and his transformative first journey on the Camino de Santiago in 1994 (2:00); Andrew’s decision to return to the Camino after the pandemic with his 1...

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