The ‘Casual Hum’ of West Virginia
I have given up trying to change the minds of folks who post predictable, contemptuous unpleasantry about West Virginia on social media. These usually involve some variation of inbred hillbillies, sharing meth smoothies while the sun goes down on Daisy Dog, scratching her mange in the back of a skeletal ’57 Chevy on cinderblocks in East Godforsaken County, up in the Hopeless Hills of Appalachia.
I’ve not given up on editing a multimedia magazine called WestVirginiaVille, brimming with words and images which confound and complicate this knee-jerk riffing on West Virginia as epicenter of America’s riff-raff. But as to why there is this not-always-heralded, heartful vibe to daily life in the Mountain State, well …
We need fresh words and new phrases.
One candidate showed up in the May 2022 Vanity Fair profile “Mr. Dylan’s Dream House,” on the upcoming opening of the Bob Dylan Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The museum will house a huge archive of recordings and artifacts of the singular singer, now 80, “who spent 60 years changing minds and changing the culture.” Yet why Tulsa, when Dylan could have placed it in some Great City Destination like NYC or LA? Here’s his response to interviewer Douglas Brinkley:
“There’s more vibrations on the coasts , for sure. But I’m from Minnesota and I like the casual hum of the heartland.”
You could do worse in describing why some of have chosen to live, work, and likely die in West Virginia, and why we love it so. Most certainly, it is “the casual hum” of a so-often captivating heartland.
~ WestVirginiaVille.com founder/editor Douglas John Imbrogno
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WHAT’S UP IN THE MAY 2022 ISSUE
ESSAY: On the streets in “the capital of pain”: There are mayapples unfurling on the banks of the Kanawha River in the darkness in West Virginia’s capital city. There are humans sleeping there, too, on this cold and rainy April night, and we are among them.
5 QUESTIONS: Spencer Elliott on the Art of the Guitar: Spencer Elliott’s instrumental guitar persona is two-fold: as a genre-defying solo player and in the burning-down-the-house trio SE3. Based in Charleston WV, he’s kept his day job as an attorney, while growing a fanbase spread across hemispheres.
CHARACTERS: ‘The Hobo Girl: She had many names and left many stories. The night ‘The Hobo Girl’ wandered into St. Albans, WV, like a footloose traveler from another time.
Artists & Podcasters worth noting via BLACK BY GOD: From hip-hop innovator Shelem, based in Charleston WV, to a lineup of podcasts worth checking out, a heads up from Black By God on performers and podcasts to watch and hear.
FIRST/PERSON: On Ukraine, Putin, Navalny & Zelensky: Michael Willard worked for Sen. Robert C. Byrd and Jay Rockefeller and went on to an international career that settled him for years in Ukraine, where he raised a family. Excerpts from his thoughts on Putin’s brutal invasion of the country.
5 PHOTOS: Mountains, Bubbles, Lightshows, Forests, Faces: West Virginia photographs worth lingering over. By Water Light, Douglas John Imbrogno, Al Peery, and Rafael Barker.
POETICS: Two by Colleen Anderson: Clean music. The notes fall one upon the other, / transparent. Closing my eyes on this city concert,/ I hear water, the song of melting snow on a hill / in Braxton County, in spring …
MAN/MADE: A brief meditation on ‘Reflected Glory’: I may be obsessed with the way a glass-wall skyscraper in Charleston WV tries to re-define the sky. Each square of the imposing building’s many-eyed frontage is like a channel-surfing TV screen, displaying constant motion.
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EDITORS/NOTE: March 30, 2022: march30.2022: The new issue of WestVirginiaVille.com is jam full of good writing, significant subjects, and photos and images worth a second glance. Free subscribe to hear of our ongoing work.
EDITORS/NOTE: December2021: dec10.2021: Here’s what’s up in the December 2021 issue, last one for awhile as we go on hiatus with this edition until March 1, 2022.