Feb 062013

Valley View to Paint Lick


Campsite at cave above Mary Baker Hollow. Photo by Danny Mayer.

By Wesley Houp

We slide in boats well after dark.  Snow flurries in our headlamp beams, and the rush of water over lock 9 gradually fades behind us as we settle in to the slight headwind, swirling upriver between Cedar Point Run to the south and the old YMCA Daniel Boone Camp to the north.  In no less than a mile, the wind dies, snow breaks, and stars peek-a-boo through widening cloud-faults.  Backlit by December twilight, the cleft of Mary Baker Hollow breaks the dark horizon of palisade downstream.  The current’s slight, and we ease along the dark water’s surface trying not to disrupt the reflected depth of universe gathered around us.

In less than an hour, we’re beaching at the small, rocky mouth of Mary Baker Hollow.  Danny flashes his headlamp up the steep bank.  “Devil’s Pulpit is somewhere up there.  We could camp in the cave if you’re willing to Billy Goat the gear.”  The thought of pitching the bedrolls in a more temperate cave has definitive gravity on a 20° and, as of yet, moonless night. Continue reading »

Feb 062013

Review of Bluegrass Funeral

The old Lexington public library makes an appearance in Joseph Anthony's Bluegrass Funeral.

The old Lexington public library makes an appearance in Joseph Anthony’s Bluegrass Funeral. Photo by Danny Mayer.

By Don Boes

As a native Kentuckian, I approached Bluegrass Funeral by Joseph G. Anthony with interest.  The book, a collection of short fiction, moves back and forth in time from the 1850’s to 2007.  The place is central Kentucky, though not the land of the aristocracy but rather the underclass: slaves and their owners, hitchhikers and farmers.  Some of the characters surface in more than one story, as their younger or older selves, as not yet wise or wiser.  In addition, Anthony’s stories appear out of chronological order to reinforce the Faulkner epigram that introduces us to the collection: “The past is never dead, it’s not even past.”  For example, the first story, “The Naming,” takes place in Lexington in 1871 in the aftermath of the Civil War while the next story, “Dancing Benny,” takes place in 1858 and is in the form of a monologue by an escaped slave.  Such a strategy challenges the linear and conventional (and convenient) view of the world that we often find so comfortable.  I’m reminded of a similar Russian proverb that goes something like this: “The future is easy to predict.  It’s the past that keeps changing.”  The past does indeed change but continues to live and to be lived in.  Bluegrass Funeral is an ambitious attempt to capture what it means to be alive in such a timeless place as Kentucky. Continue reading »

Feb 062013

By Marcus Flores

Wrapped ‘round the quarter acre plantation were 12-foot fences topped with razor wire. It was monitored by—although armed guards were preferable—24-hour infrared surveillance cameras. Along with a library of documentation, this fortress was required by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for the University of Hawaii’s 1999 permit to grow industrial hemp, a plant which has no psychoactive value.

The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classified hemp alongside marijuana (and heroin and cocaine) as a Class I substance. Yet hemp, a subtype of cannabis sativa, was bred specifically to minimize the THC content as well as to maximize the strength of its fibers. Probably due to the cost of federal compliance, Hawaii did not opt to renew its permit, and so far it has been the only state to submit to the regulations of a government in denial about the medical as well as industrial applications of certain flora.

Common sense was at one time more prevalent in United States agriculture. In fact, hemp once made Lexington the center of the textile universe before it became illegal. Now, the United States must import from Canada the crops its Founding Fathers grew.    Continue reading »

Feb 062013

Kentucky author Silas House to be featured speaker

The immediate need to end the devastating health impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining, as well as the great potential for clean energy jobs, will be highlighted at this year’s I Love Mountains Day.

The annual event, which draws more than a thousand Kentuckians to the steps of the state capitol, will take place on Valentine’s Day, Thursday, February 14. It’s organized by Kentuckians For The Commonwealth (KFTC) with dozens of churches and other civic organization participating. Continue reading »

Feb 042013
May 30 sketch of Ali/Davis statue location in state rotunda, as dictated to author by Don Pratt.

May 30 sketch of Ali/Davis statue location in state rotunda, as dictated to author by Don Pratt.

Field notes from a May 30 discussion with Don Pratt at the Capital Building.

“I argue for an Ali statue to sit in the state rotunda.” Pratt, visionary, suggests keeping Lincoln as-is, but placing  the Ali statue in the current corner featuring Jefferson Davis.

“You’ll get rid of Davis?” I ask increduously.

“No,” he replies. “We keep Davis but create a new statue for him, crouching, which can be placed at the base of the Ali. It’ll be a symbolic request for forgiveness, act of grace, and show of who has real power.”

“What about the other Cassius Clay?”

“The Lion of Whitehall? The abolitionist publisher muckraker? I say start with Ali. Get a petition going to put him in the state house. Then work on Clay.”

Feb 042013

The continuing struggle of garment workers

By Beth Connors-Manke 

If you view history as a discrete set of events, then the similarities are eerie. March 1911: 146 garment workers, many of them young women, die in a factory fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company. November 2012: 111 garment workers, many of them women, die in a factory fire at the Tazreen Fashions Company. Neither building had a sprinkler system, although the technology was available. Both factories had fabric stored in ways that led easily to raging fires; in both factories, escape routes were blocked and workers were hindered from speedy evacuations. In each case, workers had protested labor conditions before the disasters.

However, if you view history as a long struggle for progress and social justice, the similarities are depressingly tragic. One hundred years after the Triangle fire in New York City, the Tazreen blaze in Dhaka, Bangladesh, again finds Americans thoughtlessly complicit in deadly working conditions for garment workers. It may not have happened in one of our industrial cities, but the Tazreen fire still occurred in our supply chain—it is still a product of our economic structure and attitudes about labor. Continue reading »

Feb 032013
Tattoo this. Photo by Laura Webb.

Tattoo this. Photo by Laura Webb.

By Michael Dean Benton

Bianca Spriggs has entered my dreams. No Hendrick, not in that way. It is her art and words that I have been dreaming about intensely over the last week. Let me explain how this came about.

A few months ago I saw an announcement by Transylvania University professors Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorva for The Lexington Tattoo Project.  They had a dream of their own, a collective art project that would involve 250 participants tattooing onto their bodies parts of a Bianca Spriggs poem written to Lexington.

As an advocate of participatory and communal art, I was intrigued and read through the poem for tattoo options.  We were told that we could make multiple choices, with the understanding that we may not get our first choice, that the tattoo would be donated by the artist Robert Alleyne (Charmed Life), and that we could choose where to place it on our bodies. Continue reading »