The alleged Chinese saying and curse, “May you live in interesting times” — suggesting that it is better to live in uninteresting and, thus, untroubled times — has no source in Chinese culture, according to this link. The article notes that the nearest cousin of an actual Chinese saying along these lines is: “Better to be a dog in times of tranquility than a human in times of chaos.”
The thought of being a well-fed Golden Retriever napping in a sunlit house in the Hamptons does seem more attractive some days as America’s 24/7 news cycle churns with endless, chaotic developments. This, it might be said, sums up the entire, exhausting four-year administration of the Former Guy and its seemingly never-ending aftermath.
The chaos continued this week with the spicy news of the search probe of Mar-a-Lago’s underbelly. This, though, should be added to the Good News side of getting to the meat of the matter, even if the Cargo Cult of Trump Misfits tries to work itself up into a civil war-worthy froth in the raid’s aftermath.
There was more good news in recent days with the return from the dead of some extremely substantive and important climate, health, and tax features of the Biden Administration’s late, lamented Build Back Better bill. This website has been pretty unrelenting in recent months tracking WV Sen. Joe Manchin’s defensive blocking of Joe Biden’s progressive legislative aims. So, this is what we now have to say about the nice bit of senatorial jujitsu just executed by Chuck Schumer and Joe Manchin.
The rest of this issue neatly summarizes the aims of this monthly web feature magazine, whose current draft mission statement is: “A monthly feature magazine of culture, cranky commentary, and creative multimedia about life and times in the free state of West Virginia.”
That includes original video content such as this brief, soothing (and ultimately fishy) music-video visit to Hoeft Marsh in Cabell County. And a ‘West Virginia Walkabout’ video that traverses from a musical Elkins to a serene Lost River.
We also keep WestVirginiaVille’s media radar screens sweeping, so they ping on worthy work crafted by in-state creators or those with some Mountain State connection. For this issue, that means a lovely First/Person essay on beauty and self-worth by Angelica Gilleran, reprinted from BLACK BY GOD: The West Virginian. And a single, resonant photo and companion text from the sagacious, Nature-centric Instagram of Water Light.
Plus, we’re happy to share another excerpt from the storytelling ways of Joseph “Billy” Corduroy, on why, curiously, he has four legal first names.
And if you missed the frenzy when the state’s Republican supermajority tried and failed recently to jam a complete abortion ban into law, check out our Mountain Stage Spotlight reprint of Ian Karbal’s hour-by-hour account of just how dysfunctional — and rabid — that supermajority can be. And how an outraged citizenry delivered a cantankerous, clamorous, and volumetric response.
Another aim of this site is to hoist back into view narratives worth a second look, which might otherwise disappear down the Internet’s deep, black memory hole. One of the joys of decades of my criss-crossing West Virginia for the Charleston Gazette as a feature writer was encountering wild and crazy characters — the good kind of crazy — such as Gary Mays, the One-Armed Bandit of No. 1 Holler, West Virginia.
Meanwhile, fellow poet Bob Henry Baber recalls in memoriam, the influential West Virginia native poet, teacher, and guide PJ Laska, whom we send off with a poem.
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~ Douglas John Imbrogno | Editor, WestVirginiaVille.com
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STORY INDEX FOR AUGUST, 2022
1 | EDITORS/NOTE: From Legislators to Lost River, thistles to abortion bans: In the midst of all the normal chaos of American and West Virginian political life, some good news breaks out. Plus, some worthy tales from worthy lives around the state. An overview of WestVirginiaVille’s August 2022 edition.
2 | EDITOR/IAL: Score one — a big one — for Manchin: The Earth wins one (with some important caveats) as Joe Manchin finally steps up and does right by the Biden administration’s grand climate hopes. It’s not everything, but it is a serious something.
3 | FIRST/PERSON: Why I Have Four Names: “They were both the most cussed, stubborn people you’d ever meet, my Dad and Mom, when they come together over something that stood them apart. “Both would not give up their position on the proper naming of you,” said K. “So, they agreed to disagree. And gave you all four names.” | By Joseph “Billy” Corduroy, reprinted from joebillyjohnbob.com
4 | ‘KEEP THE DOOR CLOSED’: Inside the chaotic week when West Virginia Republicans’ efforts to ban abortion stalled: “I can’t hear,” Senate President Craig Blair repeated from his dais. The body had just passed a bill that would ban nearly all abortions in West Virginia. The remaining pro-abortion rights protesters had packed themselves into the hallway beside the chamber in their 10th straight hour of demonstrations. “No justice! No peace!” | By Ian Karbal, reprinted from Mountain State Spotlight
5 | FIRST/PERSON: ‘A Wild Woman Love Story’: Once upon a time, a round-faced girl with curly hair and identity issues was told by someone (that genuinely loved her) that she was not “model pretty” like her sister but that she could be “mother pretty” … | By Angelica Gilleran, reprinted from BLACK BY GOD: The West Virginian
6 | PICTURE/SHOW: A West Virginia Walkabout from Elkins to Lost River: If you could use a West Virginia roadtrip, here’s a vicarious one, traversing from Elkins to Lost River. You’ll cover lots of ground. From August Heritage Center jamming at Davis & Elkins College, to the soothing solitude of Kimsey Run Lake in Lost River. | A WestVirginiaVille.com original video
7 | ONE/PHOTO: What the thistle tells: ‘the ants quickly took to the milk thistle this year. her bloom doesn’t last long. maybe two days. they seem to be in sync with this knowing, almost as if there is a pulse they can feel when she begins her bloom.’ | By Water Light
8 | CHARACTERS | The One-Armed Bandit of No. 1 Holler, West Virginia: The story of the “The One-Armed Bandit” is the stuff of heroes and legends. You may not know Gary Mays’ tale, however, as the major league career the West Virginia native might have had may have been blocked by racism. Yet nothing ever kept Gary down for long. | By Douglas John Imbrogno, reprint of 2016 Charleston Gazette story
9 | VIDEO: “WATER/CLOUD/WIND/LEAF: A Hoeft Marsh Melody”: Hoeft Marsh in Greenbottom WV is where I go off to when I want to get off the timeline of the world’s news. Here’s a short, lyrical recent visit there. It’s a little fishy, too. | A WestVirginiaVille.com original video
10 | PASSINGS: Recalling the ironic, sardonic, compassionate writings of PJ Laska: “It would be impossible for me to do justice either to his writing or to his intellectual prowess. But I will say, as a man, he always sought to share what he knew and never once came across as anything other than a person who could learn from any and everyone …”
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INDEX: For ‘Memoirs of Daily Life” Issue, July 1, 2022: July 1, 2022: Here is the lineup of stories, articles, imagery and more in the July 2022 special edition of WestVirginiaVille on the theme of “Memoirs of Daily Life”