Former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick has launched a new podcast that centers around the notion of what it means to be an American in 2020 and beyond. “I’m still involved in politics on the side,” said the two-term Democratic governor, who made a brief entrance into the 2020 presidential primary race, but withdrew in February. “But I’m excited about doing this podcast. It’s about a conversation that keeps coming up in politics but we never really seem to quite have, about what is the common set of values that we share that can serve as both a foundation for policy choices and frankly as a bridge back to each other across so many of the divisions we are living with today.” The podcast, “Being American,” airs on Tuesdays and Fridays and features guests ranging from Ice Cube to James Taylor to Adair Ford Boroughs, a Democrat who is running against Republican US Representative Joe Wilson of South Carolina (who famously shouted out “you lie” at President Obama during a 2009 congressional hearing on health care) for Congress. “You’ll see in this podcast people you know and people you ought to know — the famous and the not-yet famous,” said Patrick, 64, a Chicago native who lives in Richmond, in the Berkshires, with his wife, Diane, and their black lab, Toby. When asked what, in addition to his political and professional experience (which includes being a partner at two Boston law firms and a senior executive at two Fortune 500 companies), he brings to his role as a podcast host, Patrick said he’s a “good listener” and that people feel comfortable talking to him about what are oftentimes personal and/or sensitive topics. “That was one of the most beautiful things about being governor — especially the way we did, because we were out a lot and with people,” he said. We caught up with Patrick, who has two adult daughters and two grandchildren, to talk about all things travel.
Favorite vacation destination?
Well, this may sound corny, but I would say the Berkshires because it is the perfect combination of rural tranquility and sophistication. … We love Tanglewood — we’re 10 minutes from it; we love Jacob’s Pillow, the dance festival, and Barrington Stage [Company] … it’s all so close. The Berkshires has terrific restaurants, too. There’s a real farm-to-table scene here and, as a foodie, I love that.
Favorite food or drink while vacationing?
Whatever is local. I love sampling local food, especially the type of local food that once was called peasant food … what families eat. And I love to try local wine — less so in the Berkshires. We actually have a winery at the end of the town line called Balderdash Cellars, which is pretty good.
Where would you like to travel to but haven’t?
Patagonia. We were almost there. It was a trip that we planned and planned and planned for the day after I left office [in January 2015]. We flew to Buenos Aires with some of our best friends, then out to Mendoza, and after a couple of days, when we were on our way to Patagonia, we got word that Diane’s father had passed away, so we came back and we haven’t had a chance to make that trip yet.
One item you can’t leave home without when traveling?
A good book. [He’s reading Jill Lepore’s “These Truths: A History of the United States” right now.]
Aisle or window?
It depends. If it’s a short flight, I prefer the aisle. If it’s a long flight, I prefer the window. The aisle is just easier if you have to go to the bathroom or what have you [and] you don’t have to reach over someone if they ever start passing out things like drinks and food in the aisle again. But I like the window because it feels like you can kind of settle in. If it’s a long trip, you can unpack, you can look out … it doesn’t feel quite as confined.
Favorite childhood travel memory?
We would go one weekend a month with my grandparents, with whom I grew up, back to their home, where they grew up, in Louisville, Ky. This is before there were interstates and we always packed food in a shoebox and brought, I will say indelicately, a ‘slop jar,’ because it wasn’t always comfortable to stop and there were not always bathrooms you could use. My great-grandfather was there and his second wife and various cousins. We went to the [Kentucky] Derby every year — always in the infield, because in those days, they didn’t let Black people in the stands. It was mostly the trip, the going, that was fun. My sister and I would ride in the back of my grandfather’s sedan — I’m sure it was in the days before seat belt requirements — and we’d roll all over the place and giggle and then argue … we still laugh about that.
Guilty pleasure when traveling?
One — maybe two — Cuban cigars. For a long time you could only get them outside the United States. … It just feels like a little indulgence.
Best travel tip?
Well, there’s the practical things like stay hydrated [and] make sure you get enough sleep — not always easy, but I think it is important. Then when you’re traveling, find a way to have a conversation with somebody who is of that place while you are there. I just think you get all kinds of insights about the place, about our own home — the United States — especially if you’re traveling overseas. And even traveling here, you find out that people are so much more interesting than the cartoon version that gets peddled at people from other regions. It shouldn’t surprise us, because every one of us knows we’re more interesting than our cartoon version … that there’s more to us than that. But I find that it enriches your appreciation of the place.