A WestVirginiaVille.com Reader | aug3.2020

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

From Marshes to Asylums & Ice Cream Trucks to Climate Change

IF YOU HAVE NOT YET SUBSCRIBED to WestVirginiaVille’s free e-mail newsletter, please do so at this link: westvirginiaville.substack.com. WE ONLY SEND IT OUT 2 to 3 times a month, so your email-box will not be deluged. Below is our most recent newsletter. We welcome feedback. Write us at heythere@westvirginiaville.com or leave a comment below. Read onward. | Douglas John Imbrogno, editor


Here are Summer 2020 highlights from WestVirginiaVille.com, from prose to poetry, video to breaking news. Plus, a short story that channels growing up as a West Virginia girl, with fears of committing an uppity or out-of-control offense that might land you in Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. The place no doubt helped many. But what was its impact on those who saw it from the outside? I texted my former Charleston Gazette boss, who grew up in Weston WV. It was an omnipresent place, she responded: “It was a fear of mine I would end up there. I always said chain me in the attic please before putting me there. The hospital was smack in town. I could see the tower from my bedroom window.”

1. Sheltering in Nature

A Stroll Deep into a West Virginia Marsh: If it’s true we are mother and father, sister and brother, to all things, maybe that is one way to comprehend and befriend the 10,000 things. Take a photographic stroll to absorb the hundreds of voices, cries, and songs, rising from a multifarious marsh near the Ohio River.

2. Fear of Asylum

“Madness” by Marie Manilla: “Bev screamed: “It’s Joey!” The sweet boy so many girls loved. Did he even drive a white car? I think we all knew it wasn’t Joey asphyxiated inside that vehicle, but it could have been him. It could have, and it felt good to whip ourselves into a frenzy—yet another asylum-able offense.”

3. Jacob’s Cool Dream

VIDEO: Not Your Average Ice Cream Truck Story: The tinkling sounds of a new ice cream truck cruising the streets of Cabell County have quite the remarkable story behind them—driven by a quite remarkable mother and son.

4. The Art of Quarantine

When Life Hands You Quarantine, Make a Web Series: Curren Sheldon and Tijah Bumgarner are the wizards behind the laugh-out-loud web series,”Quarantine Life.” The series—which recently concluded its 12-episode arc—asks and answers the question: What do two mondo-talented West Virginia filmmakers do during a pandemic, which has shut off the work into which they’d been pouring their life force?

5. “Ohio Rover”: A 1-Minute Video

Click the player to view a 1-minute homage to West Virginia’s most beautiful bridge, which connects Huntington WV and Proctorville OH. Sometimes, you just need to get out of quarantine. SOUNDTRACK: “Wake Up,” by Lucas the Flow.

6. In the Pipeline

DEAR DOUG REYNOLDS: An Open Letter: At the other end of the Covid-19 pandemic, with masks off and safely vaccinated, we’ll have reason to cheer. But the far deadlier threat of climate change remains. Post-vaccination, we can’t afford to party like its 1999 for too terribly long. Climate catastrophe looms and we’re decades behind the eight ball in taking the massive, concerted action needed. There was good and bad news on the West Virginia climate front this Summer.

THE GOOD NEWS: Cancellation of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline stopped an $8 billion natural gas line, set to zig-zag 600 miles across West Virginia and Virginia. Nat-gas cheerleaders tout it as a “cleaner” alternative to coal. Yet it is fossil-fuel-ish, too. It poisons the atmosphere and oceans with the same carbon that warms the waters, traps atmospheric heat, and distorts weather and life cycles, from ticks to Mount Everest.

THE BAD NEWS: The only way to pivot from fossil fuels is through interlocking global action by governments and multinational corporations. Yet even in West Virginia, see how entrenched the fossil fuel powers-that-be are in daily life. That’s why the recent column ‘No one wins in scrapped pipeline project’ by Charleston Gazette-Mail publisher Doug Reynolds was so galling. One would think Reynolds might note somewhere from the bully pulpit of a formerly legendary, truth-seeking newspaper that he was chief executive officer of a company that makes natural-gas pipelines.

One would think.

7. Inch by Inch, Row by Row ….

Help WestVirginiaVille (and Mountain State Spotlight and Dragline) and any other media startups in West Virginia and Appalachia grow up strong. | WestVirginiaVille.com photo, Putnam County stand of pine. | july 2020

We like to think of WestVirginiaVille as part of a crop of new media, sprouting in the rich soil of West Virginia and Appalachia. Whether we survive remains to be seen. (When we get around to busking online to support our costs, please toss some simoleans in our—metaphoric—guitar case). Meanwhile, spread the word and cheerlead as we grow. Other sprouts to support and fertilize include:

Mountain State Spotlight: A project of former colleagues at the Charleston Gazette-Mail. The investigative non-profit “tells stories of importance to West Virginians.” Staff includes MacArthur “genius” winner and former Gazette investigative bulldog Ken Ward Jr.; former Gazette-Mail Pulitzer winner Eric Eyre; and former Gazette-Mail editor Greg Moore, who brought that 2017 Pulitzer in for a landing.

Dragline: A new newsletter by Kyle Vass of Huntington. Or as he puts it in a pleasing phrase: “Hillbilly Accountability.” His ‘About’ page goes on to say: “Powerful organizations have a history of doing whatever they want in this region and getting away with it. Dragline is a non-profit media organization that takes a hard look at the practices of these organizations …”

Vass is an audio adviser to WestVirginiaVille and occasional columnist. We also reprint Dragline pieces. Such as his follow-up with Doug Reynolds on his pipeline column: The Pro-Pipeline Editorial by the Pipeline Industry CEO/Publisher. And this one: Charleston, W.Va. officials dancing around police reform one year after beating of unarmed woman.


If this newsletter was forwarded you or you’re reading the website, subscribe for free at: westvirginiaville.substack.com | Be well, stay safe, wear a mask in public like a superhero or superheroine. | Douglas John Imbrogno, editor, WestVirginiaVille.com


READINGS | “Please Take Care of My Friend: Heart Advice from a Stranger”: “Don’t eat any crap food. Eat clean. It’s one reason you’re sad and drink more water. I can tell you don’t just like I can see you blaming yourself and feeling guilt too often about things that don’t even belong to you. Stop thinking so much and be present in your body and the moment …”

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