December 31, 2015


I have a friend and former co-worker I haven't seen in years. Back in the day when we'd get together for work gatherings, we'd bust out a guitar or two and wail far into the night. My friend was a veritable jukebox capable of playing anything from revolutionary anthems to "Hang on, Sloopy."

He'd spent several years as a political prisoner in the Philippines and I think that's where he expanded his playlist.

I loved it when sometimes after playing a song, he'd get this faraway look in his eyes and make some brief oracular statement about the inner meaning of the song. If memory serves, after "Space Oddity," he paused and said "It's about alienation."

Once, after tearing through "The Man Who Sold the World," he mused "It's about the triumph of evil." I remember almost getting a chill when he said that.

For some reason, his oracles are on my mind going into 2016. I have a feeling 2016 is going to have more than it's share of alienation and the triumph of evil, in West Virginia and around the world.

I wish I'm wrong about that.

December 30, 2015

The end of an era

There was some sad news today for WV, although rumors about it have been swirling for a while. The old days when the state capitol was the people's house and citizens could just walk through any number of doors to participate in their government, gossip or just watch the show are over. Starting in early January, visitors will have to pass through a security screening,

During the legislative session, there will only be two entrances to the capitol. I think the last the the current crew running the place wants is for ordinary people to participate.

I used to love taking visitors to the capitol and bragging about how open and accessible government was here, even if it was ****** **. The checkpoint is symbolic of a political sea change in WV, and an ugly one at that.

December 29, 2015

Curiouser and curiouser

Holy chaos theory, Batman! WV politics just got even weirder. It goes something like this:

1. WV state senator Daniel Hall once ran for the WV House as a Republican. He lost.

2. He then ran as a Democrat and won. Twice.

3. Then he was elected as a Democrat to the WV Senate.

4. After the 2014 elections, when the WV senate was tied 17-17, he switched back to being a Republican.

5. As of today, he announced his resignation from the senate in early 2016.

Y'all getting this so far?

So the question is, who gets to name his replacement? He was an R after the election but was elected as a D. State law seems to be a bit ambiguous, but it seems to me the fairest way is to honor the results of the last election.

This could potentially rewrite the landscape of the 2016 legislature. Or not.

This is yet another reason why I think the WV state motto should be changed from "Mountaineers are always free" to "You can't make this **** up."

Read more here.

This will be one to watch.

December 28, 2015

Best book ending ever

This time of year, with darkness and the winding down of December, makes for reflections. Around here anyway. 

Today, in lieu of any social commentary, I have something better to offer...the ending of The Great Gatsby. It happens after (spoiler alert) Gatsby's death and after the cruel and arrogant rich folks leave. Nick Carraway, the narrator who has lost innocence and illusions, is getting ready to leave the city. On his last night he sits and looks at the island across from the Sound.

Most of the big shore places were closed now and there were hardly any lights except the shadowy, moving glow of a ferryboat across the Sound. And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes — a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.
And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning ——
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
Dude could write.