Jun 282012

A Kentucky waterways story

By Ed McClanahan

A few months ago, Danny Mayer, the editor of the highly respectable rag you hold in your hand at this moment, told me he’d heard that back in the late 1950s, my friend Wendell Berry and I took a little three-day canoe trip down the Kentucky River, and asked if I’d be interested in writing a piece recollecting the experience for North of Center’s ongoing series about Kentucky waterways.

Wendell and Ed. Photo courtesy of Ed McClanahan.

Yeah, sure, sez I, and blithely promised him I’d produce 1500 words for the July issue.

So the deadline is coming down, and I’ve got the 1500 words, all right, but somehow I haven’t even got around to mentioning my trip with Wendell yet. (Our canoe itself does make a cameo appearance, although Wendell is nowhere in sight.) What I’ve found myself writing instead is a far more ambitious undertaking, a meditation about my father and me, the surface of which is barely scratched by my measly 1500-word opening salvo. Clearly, this story wants to become a much more expansive piece of writing, and therefore I’m obliged to do my best to make that happen.

My and Wendell’s canoe trip will still be in it, though, and because my dad eventually became a sort of mini-mogul in the river transportation business, it’s still a Kentucky waterways story too—just not exactly the one I intended to tell.

Anyhow, here’s what I’ve got so far: Continue reading »

Jun 062012

By Andrew Battista

The 2011-12 academic cycle is over, and many at the University of Kentucky will remember the year primarily as the “season of the unibrow,” a long odyssey that culminated when the Wildcats won their eighth NCAA men’s basketball championship.

Of course, the bygone academic calendar also doubles as the “year of the protestor,” a period in which activists gathered en masse to beat drums, camp out in tents, and occupy the chasm between the fantasy of justice and the reality of global economic imperialism.  Time Magazine did actually name “the protestor” as the Person of the Year in 2011, an honor, Kurt Anderson explains, meant to recognize citizens who “share a belief that their countries’ political systems and economies have grown dysfunctional and corrupt—sham democracies rigged to favor the rich and powerful and prevent significant change.”  Continue reading »

Jul 142010

Wendell Berry and Top 20

By Danny Mayer

“We did not expect and we did not invite these challenges. But even in the presence of such obstacles, our commitment to mission and mandate remains the same. Our shared ambitions are still before us, fixed on our collective horizon, unmoved by time or fate or by short-term challenges we cannot control.”

Lee Todd, President’s Budget Message, June 17, 2008

“Rather than trying to be nationally or globally prominent as a great research institution,if the University of Kentucky would meet its local responsibilities and really meet the needs of the land and the people of this state, it would be a city on a hill.”

Wendell Berry

On June 23, the Lexington Herald-Leader informed area readers that Kentucky author Wendell Berry was in the process of removing his papers from the University of Kentucky special collections archives. Berry, a UK alumni and former faculty member in the UK English Department, sent a letter to the university dated December 20, 2009 in which, according to the Herald-Leader, he “excoriated his alma matter” for voting to accept last October a $7 million dollar gift-bribe from Alliance Coal to construct an unneeded dormitory for male basketball players, to be unsubtly named the Wildcat Coal Lodge. Continue reading »