Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Sunday is for Gloating

I don't like rubbing this in peoples faces but I live in Kentucky. I couldn't imagine living in a better spot, if the truth be told, and I have seen other places. Plenty of them. There is an honesty about this region that wraps around you like a wool sweater. That the sweater might have the occasional hole only speaks to the authenticity beneath that honesty. This past Sunday I read a letter to the editor penned by Wendell Berry that simultaneously spanked the Courier Journal for not asking critical questions that should be the bedrock of good journalism and placed the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) program championed by University of Kentucky's president Lee Todd under a much needed critical eye. Berry's primary point being that complex public policy invariably has both merit and debit and that we should give no career politician a free pass at the creation of policy without fair and considered public debate. No offense to Todd, but if he can not reasonably answer the questions put to him by Berry in his letter then we should not embrace the policies Todd champions. It was good to see good writing in the newspaper even if it was "Special to the Courier Journal."

So there I was, sitting at home thinking about my Kentucky roots and the talented people that live here when I remembered that a LAVA House benefit was about to begin at Lisa's Oak Street Lounge. I moseyed over to listen to some tunes and was treated to another dose of honesty and guts. John Haywood, from Eastern Kentucky, started off the evening playing banjo and singing songs about good ole hobos and ballads of love ending in blood. You might see something like this in another state but it wouldn't be the same. I do not claim to know exactly what it is about steep terrain and coal dust and poverty that breeds haunting lyric but I am sure it exists. You can not fake some things and Haywood was happy not to try. The banjo came to us from Africa where it was originally mostly drum and only secondarily melody. John's banjo work is the clack of train wheels and his singing is whistle through fog. I could have stood more of it. Then Joe Manning took the stage and added another sip of whiskey to the evening.

It all got me to thinking. Could I stand to live out my days in a lesser place? I am sure I could not.

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