I’m in the Marriott lobby surrounded by hundreds of puppets. They’re peeking from behind the fake motel plants, eating dinner with folded napkins in the River City Grille & Lounge, slipping into elevators. A group of puppets sings in the corner. A fountain bubbles in the lobby’s center, surrounded by fold-out tables, all of them filled with puppets.
I love potatoes in all their forms—even raw—but especially hash browns, latkes, French fries, baked potatoes, soufflés, puffs, pastries, and homefries. And vodka. Don’t get me started on vodka. Please don’t! The last time I imbibed potato liquor I wound up hiring a bicycle taxi to pedal five people to my mother’s house for a nightcap. Mom was delighted; the taxi-cyclist quite a bit less so.
A poem from our spring 2015 issue.It’s Derby Day. And it’s been 30 years since 1984 when I stood in the grandstand at Churchill Downs after betting my last $20 on Swale that horse I groomed and watched as he pulled away from Wayne Lukas’s great filly Althea to win the 110th running of the race. Thirty years and a lot of souls have risen to the upper register of life and my own life has been made more reachable by what their love did to me.
When Prince sang “Soft and Wet” from a 45 on my record player, the lyrics were hidden beneath the funky beat. My grandparents never knew what I was listening to. Prince and his doe eyes and big Afro and glistening lean body stared back at me from the pages of Right On! magazine. We lived far out into the woods, on a gravel road. My grandparents were farmers. Books and magazines and television told me that normal black girls did not live like this. But I did. Prince was the sex I knew nothing about. Prince sealed my fantasies about a larger world.
Thirty years ago, after traveling all night across the desert, I reached the West Coast and promptly jumped into the Pacific Ocean. My plan was to meet a slew of fabled California girls, who’d be deeply impressed with my country-boy resourcefulness and reward me with sexual favors. Instead, the cold undertow pulled me out to sea, and began pushing me far from my pile of clothes.
A Kentucky Music Issue web-exclusive liner note.
Raised in Sandy Hook, Kentucky, Whitley grew up admiring country greats Lefty Frizzell and George Jones, whose vocal styles he imitated as a young musician. Whitley’s uncanny talent for mimicry is something of a legend around Nashville—he could, upon request, conjure with eerie precision the voices of Lester Flatt, Carter Stanley, and numerous others. He was, apparently, a man inhabited by an indwelling of spirits.
The films and young filmmakers of the Summer Documentary Institute at Appalshop’s Appalachian Media Institute.
Generations of eastern Kentucky youth have had to contend with the question of whether to leave, alongside the demeaning narrative of the rural “brain drain.” This reductive theory posits that the best and brightest minds leave rural communities for urban communities. This simplification of data ignores the stories of those who choose to stay or are not able to leave. For many young people here, it is an act of resistance to stay in the community they love.