November 9, 1992 |
Appalachian mountain communities are struggling for survival. For the past 12 years it has been easy for the rest of the country not to care. In the American imagination Appalachia always has been distinctly other. Mountain people are, it is assumed, a special case. We are simple throwbacks to the past, inhabitants of a land time forgot, lazy and shiftless, quick-tempered and ready to grab a gun to settle differences. The gray images of mountain poverty that dominated TV newscasts in the mid- 1960s still live today.
August 15, 2004 |
Kentucky's Cumberland Gap and the national historical park that surrounds it form a breathtakingly beautiful slice of America. Few scenes have left me as breathless as the seemingly countless stars poking holes in the dark blanket of night, impossibly high above the treetops. I spent four weeks in that park during August 2002. It wasn't a vacation in the typical sense; I was one of six teenage volunteers with the Student Conservation Association, a nonprofit organization that works with the National Park Service and runs volunteer trail restoration crews every summer, across the country.
November 9, 2012
Flight Behavior By Barbara Kingsolver HarperCollins. 448 pp. $28.99 Reviewed by Judith Musser For fans of Barbara Kingsolver's fiction, Flight Behavior will be a pleasant return to a familiar setting with recognizable characters, memorable dialogue, common themes, and well-written prose that has become associated with a Kingsolver novel. As in Prodigal Summer , Kingsolver revisits Appalachia and re-creates a plot imbued with ecological and biological importance.
July 8, 1996 |
Appalachia has never had much political muscle, and Congress' plans to eliminate funding for Legal Services has the poor here fearful that their strongest weapon to fight cuts in welfare benefits will be blunted when they need it most. "It really is an attack," said John Rosenberg, who 25 years ago started a Legal Services agency in mountains where 30 percent of people live in poverty. "You cut people's benefits off, and you put them in the street, and then you leave them with no legal representation.
November 29, 1999 |
In a prosperous age of bull markets, billion-dollar mergers, and record-low unemployment, Rory Kennedy's American Hollow is a poignant reminder that there are those who continue to live on the economic edge. The award-winning documentary film, which will be shown tonight at 8 on premium cable channel HBO, chronicles a year in the lives of the 50-strong Bowling clan in Mudlick Hollow, a patch of rural Eastern Kentucky tucked between two mountains in one of Appalachia's poorest regions.
December 7, 2010
SO, THE millionaire senators band together to deny extended unemployment benefits for the working poor if the rich don't continue to get their tax cuts. No surprise, but theirs is a conflict of interests, writ large. If they were honest, a lot of them would recuse themselves from voting on bills that line their own pockets. But, they aren't. If they were Christians, as a lot of them profess to be, they'd show some charity to those less fortunate. They must not be Christians. If they were patriots, they'd act in the best interests of the country as a whole and not just those who enable their predations.
July 22, 1988 |
Three years ago this Sunday, the life of Francis Bible Schulte, a Philadelphia priest, took on a dramatic change. It was on that day that Father Schulte, urban-bred and Jesuit-educated, was named bishop of the sprawling Diocese of Wheeling, W.Va., there to serve the Lord amid the breathless beauty and tragic poverty of Appalachia. The elevation and assignment were something that Father Schulte, the only child of a North Philadelphia druggist, never imagined. When Frankie Schulte was a boy in North Philadelphia, he spent many a happy hour in his dad's drugstore on Lehigh Avenue, just down the street from old Shibe Park.
April 29, 1996 |
The felled poplars and oaks resembled piles of brittle whisk brooms as Damon Morgan stuffed his hands into bib overalls and simmered in mountain anger over what bulldozers and chain saws have wrought on the knobs and steep slopes of his childhood. "What hurts me is the size they're cutting," said Morgan, who brews tea from the bark of cherry birch and watches over these mountains from the zip-down plastic windows of his Jeep. "A lot of these trees aren't much thicker than your leg. The forest cannot last.
December 28, 1995 |
The Rev. Mike Chowning is a New Age circuit rider: a clergyman who brought the Bible and the Internet to these gnarled mountains where mention of cyberspace draws squint-eyed puzzlement from Appalachia's miners and loggers. "When I arrived here two years ago, I set up a computer bulletin board. It was the only one in a 50-mile radius," said Father Chowning, a Franciscan with a data bank of 28 CD-ROMs. "Most people here have limited knowledge of computers. The phone lines are bad, and there's no local access to the Internet.
February 15, 2010 |
Mum Puppettheatre artistic director Robert Smythe is back on Philadelphia's theatrical radar. This time around, he's a Temple University MFA student premiering an adaptation of Ram?n del Valle-Incl?n's Divine Words. As one expects, there are some puppets. Less expected - to those unfamiliar with Valle-Incl?n's style of grotesquerie - one of them is a well-endowed dwarf whose face is eaten by wild pigs. Consider yourself warned. A contemporary of Lorca and devotee of Goya, Valle-Incl?n (1866-1936)