Oct 012013
"Earth/Text/Wood/News, study 4," a multi-media collage by Danny Mayer.

“Earth/Text/Wood/News, study 4,” a multi-media collage by Danny Mayer.

A story of the late Holocene

By Danny Mayer

“This is the only story of mine whose moral I know. I don’t think it’s a marvelous moral; I simply happen to know what it is: We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

Kurt Vonnegut


July 8, 2012, the day the story broke, it was hotter than shit.  103 degrees in Lexington, 15 above the historical average, the last of an 11 day stretch of day-time highs exceeding the norm by over 10 degrees. Continue reading »

Sep 132013

Editor’s note: This is part three of an intermittently serialized memoir by Ed McClanahan that takes as its working title “Hatchling of the Chickasaw: A Kentucky waterways story.” Parts one and two can be found here and here.

By Ed McClanahan

1890s-vintage formal studio photograph of the Johnsville McClanahans, featuring Claude with his identical twin Clifford--two dashing young blades as alike as department store mannequins. Photo courtesy Ed McClanahan collection.

1890s-vintage formal studio photograph of the Johnsville McClanahans, featuring Claude with his identical twin Clifford–two dashing young blades as alike as department store mannequins. Photo courtesy Ed McClanahan collection.

My father’s mother, Stella Yelton McClanahan, lived to be 92, and I came to know her very well, and to love her very much; my father’s father, Claude McClanahan, died before I was two years old. Both the Yeltons and the McClanahans had been landowners and tobacco farmers in Bracken County, near the tiny community of Johnsville, for generations, and both families, I believe, eventually went into local commerce. “In 1884,” according to a local history, “Johnsville had a hotel, a tobacco warehouse, two wagon and blacksmith shops, a dry goods store, a general merchandise store, a doctor, a justice of the peace, and a constable.” My great grandfather Jonce Yelton and his business partner John Jackson (hence “Johnsville”) were proprietors of the general store and post office, and I have reason to suppose (see below) that the McClanahans had gone into the dry goods line, just down (or up, or across) the road from the two “Johns’” General Merchandise & US Post Office.

I don’t know much about my grandfather Claude, but I do have an 1890s-vintage formal studio photograph of the Johnsville McClanahans, featuring Claude with his identical twin Clifford—two dashing young blades as alike as department store mannequins, in matching cutaway coats and waistcoats and high, starched collars, handsome fellows with duplicate dark, upturned mustachios and longish sideburns and black hair parted precisely in the middle. Continue reading »

Sep 132013

Luke Lajoie Connors Manke steps to the plate

A family portrait. Dad, Luke Lajoie, Mom.

A family portrait. Dad, Luke Lajoie, Mom.

NoC News

Saturday, August 31

UK Hospital

He came in like a dream. A little small-ball, some hit and run for eight hours until mom said enough, and then a mad push to the plate amid the screams and cheers of players and spectators alike—as fine a debut performance as any in recent memory.

Luke Lajoie Connors Manke, a 6 pound, 15 ounce, rookie out of Fayette County measuring 21 inches tall, registered his first official plate appearance Saturday morning at 8:01 am.

Within hours of hearing about his arrival, young fans began to gather out in the hallway reserved for under-fourteen-year olds, there to cheer on their newest hometown favorite. Continue reading »

Sep 122013

By David Swanson

Some smart people thought, and perhaps some still think, that the 2003-2011 war on Iraq was unique in that it was promoted with the use of blatant lies. When I’d researched dozens of other wars and failed to find one that wasn’t based on a foundation of similar lies, I wrote a book about the most common war lie varieties. I called it War Is A Lie.

That book has sold more than any of my others, and I like to think it’s contributed some teeny bit to the remarkable and very welcome skepticism that is greeting the U.S. government’s current claims about Syria. The fact is that, were the White House telling the truth about the need for an attack on Syria, it would be a first in history. Every other case for war has always been dishonest. Continue reading »

Aug 122013

Orphan, high school dropout, soldier, union man, artist, great-grandfather turns 95

NoC World News

Portrait of the artist as an old man. Photo by Julie Mayer.

Portrait of the artist as an old man. Photo by Julie Mayer.

This August, Thomas Joseph Tom Lazare will celebrate his 95th birthday. Born unto the town of Darby, Pennsylvania, a poor suburb of South Philly, Tom was orphaned at the age of eleven after his neer do well father, a French Jew, skipped town when he was two and, nearly a decade later, his mother, Agnes, a sickly Catholic woman who had raised Tom by helping run a boarding house in an undesirable Delaware County neighbourhood, died of tuberculosis.

He was adopted by the O’Donnell family, a sprawling Irish Catholic clan of marginally employed elevator-lift operators who, even at the heights of the Roaring Twenties, were experiencing hard times. After struggling his way through a rigid Catholic school education, Tom dropped out of school after the eighth grade to take a full-time job. What had begun as a way to support his budding interest in tobacco had grown by age fifteen into full-time work, the salary at times supporting, along with his tobacco habit, the entire unemployed ODonnell family. Continue reading »

Aug 112013

The leek: a satirical take

By Horace Heller Hedley, IV

The evolving story of widespread NSA surveillance on ordinary Americans has taken a surprising turn. Dozens of citizens are reporting mysterious, helpful messages from an unidentified sender, popularly dubbed “the NSAngel.” In each case, the messages have appeared without warning on the screens of users, with no earmarks of a known program, and no trace of a sender’s address. They invariably pertain to events in the recipient’s recent life, and are polite and helpful in tone. Often the mysterious sender shows knowledge that indicates extraordinary access to information. All these factors point to a rogue, do-gooder element of the NSA that has so far escaped supervisory sanction. Continue reading »

Aug 112013

 The Cleveland case, part 2

By Beth Connors-Manke

Editor’s note: in part one of her essay, Beth began examining the ways Ariel Castro, the Cleveland man who recently pleaded guilty to imprisoning and raping Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight, represents structures of thought that are shocking yet familiar in our culture. Here, she looks more closely at the ways privatization threatens individuals and the public sphere.

Unless something very unexpected happens, we’ll probably see relatively little of any of them again. The picture will fade; whatever pattern was momentarily illuminated for us will fall back into disparate pieces; we won’t be able to see how any of this works.

Ariel Castro, by agreeing to a plea deal of life in prison without parole, seems to be avoiding both the death penalty and the probing glare that would come with a trial. Whether it is his intention or not, he may also be granting Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight the privacy they have asked for—the privacy that they recently affirmed via video is necessary for their recovery. The women’s strong desire to be shielded from public interest was asserted again when family members of Berry and DeJesus presented victim’s statements in court.

Sylvia Colon, DeJesus’s cousin, said, “Today is the last day we want to think or talk about this. These events will not hold a place in our hearts.”

Beth Serrano, Berry’s sister, explained Berry’s wish to shield her daughter: “She [Berry] does not want to talk about these things, she has not talked about them even to me. She does not want others to talk about these things. The main reason she does not want anyone to talk about the things or be forced to talk about these things is because she has a young daughter. She would love to be the person who decides to tell her daughter, when to tell her daughter, how to tell her daughter, certain things.” Serrano’s statement goes on to say that Berry does not want other people to talk or write about what happened.

For the time being, what happened in that house at 2207 Seymour Avenue in Cleveland will remain veiled, cordoned off from public view. What Castro was once keeping from the world, the young women are now asking to be the gatekeepers of. Continue reading »

Aug 112013

Kenn Minter’s newest comic landscape

By Evan Barker

The Emerald Yeti is an arresting character. Massive in build and dashing in his Army dress uniform, he dominates the frames of his story with gravity. And yet he’s graceful—bold green fur blurring his humanoid features, meshing strangely with twentieth-century surroundings. The Emerald Yeti is a superhero, or he isn’t. Actually, he is, but this aspect of his life isn’t prominently on display in the first two issues of Tales of the Emerald Yeti, the comic which details the background of an oddly named and compelling character.

The Yeti, Incredo-Lad, Incredo-Lass, Professor Hundscheiße, Super-Ego, and Little Miss Fantastic form the phantasmagoric core lineup of creator Kenn Minter and penciler Clarence Pruitt’s comic universe, slyly twisted and irony-laden—a throwback-cum-update to what the authors term “the Bronze Age comics of the rocking, exploitative days of the 1970s.”


Continue reading »

Jun 062013

Hatchling of the Chickasaw

By Ed McClanahan

This is part two of an intermittently serialized memoir by Ed McClanahan that takes as its working title “Hatchling of the Chickasaw: A Kentucky waterways story.”

Illustration by Christopher Epling.

Illustration by Christopher Epling.

My father, Eddie (Edward Leroy, officially), was born and raised—or, as they liked to say around there, “reared”—on a rocky little hillside tobacco farm in a rural community called Johnsville in Bracken County, Kentucky, about 50 miles east of Cincinnati, within a couple of miles of the Ohio River. As a boy, he swam and fished in the Ohio in the summertime, and even crossed it on the ice a few times, in bad winters. My mother, Jessie Poage, grew up in Brooksville, the county seat. During their courtship, she was a schoolteacher in Neville, Ohio, to which she commuted via the mailman’s rowboat. My own earliest clear memory is of moving out of our house in Augusta, a Bracken County town on the Ohio, in the flood of 1937 … in a rowboat. I was five years old, and I had the chickenpox. We three wretched refugees—Eddie and Jessie and this meager, itchy little fellow they called “Sonny”—disembarked at the soonest opportunity and immediately skeedaddled to Brooksville, the highest point in Bracken County, where we stayed for the next ten years, high and dry.

But the Ohio was never far away. Sometime around 1940, my dad and his brother Don and their cousin Charlie McCarty had partnered up with a jackleg carpenter named Punch Vermillion and built a little fishing camp (maybe the world’s first timeshare) on the riverbank at Bradford, near Augusta, fifteen miles or so from Brooksville, and my folks and I and the other partners and their families spent great chunks of our summers there during most of the 1940s. It was my favorite place under heaven: a broad river bottom, a sandy riverbank overhung with great, grieving willow trees, a serene river flowing before them like a benediction. Continue reading »

Jun 062013

The legal haze over the war on drugs

By Marcus Flores 

Ginny Saville had been waiting. Several months passed before Lexington police realized they should probably obey a court order—not the first—requiring them to return tens of thousands of dollars of purloined bongs and rolling papers to The Botany Bay, Saville’s eclectic little store. By May 15, according to the store’s Facebook page, some of the goods had been returned.

It was a minor victory in a local battle in the national war on drugs. However, Saville cannot breathe a sigh of relief just yet: since this is not her first entanglement with the law, she runs the real risk of felony charges this time around. Understandably, both she and Chris Miller, one of the attorneys representing her, were hesitant to go on the record when I requested an interview. Continue reading »