The W.Va. Teachers’ Strike On Wikipedia
Posted on 03.05.18 by Danny Glover @ 9:44 pm

The teachers’ strike dominating headlines in West Virginia for the past week has been a relatively peaceful affair by historical standards in the Mountain State. Teachers and their allies are making a lot of noise inside and around the state Capitol, and so far they haven’t faced any crackdowns for it. The clashes have been verbal in nature rather than physical, and the rhetoric has been pointed without getting ugly.

It was a different story on Wikipedia over the weekend. Anyone can edit content at the online encyclopedia, and a few mischievous users decided to abuse that editing privilege by vandalizing the entries of at least two key West Virginia senators. Wikipedia restricted access to those pages because of the troublemakers.

Senate President Mitch Carmichael, who also holds the title of lieutenant governor, was the primary target. His Wikipedia page was altered repeatedly on Saturday.

Several of the edits were so childishly ornery that you had to chuckle at them. The editors accused Blair of hating pepperoni rolls, the official state food, and being either a “closet” or “verified” fan of Pitt, the much-maligned rival of West Virginia University. He also was dubbed the “Son of Voldemort,” a reference to the evil villain in the “Harry Potter” books and movies.

But other revisions to Blair’s Wikipedia page, such as changing the office he holds to “Smug Ignoramus” and his college degree to “Bachelor of Being a Big Ahole” and “Bachelor of Being a Jerk,” were downright nasty. Here are some of the other edits that were quickly stricken:

  • “He is known to hate all teachers and public employees.”
  • “He can only laugh when children cry.”
  • “Hobbies include kicking puppies and making babies cry.”
  • “His life goal is to stop all celebrations of holidays.”
  • “He is perhaps best known for his theme song, ‘Move Mitch, Get Out Da Way,’” an allusion to a vulgar song by the rapper Ludacris.

The ad hominem vandalism aimed at Sen. Ryan Ferns, on both his Wikipedia page and Carmichael’s page, was even worse. The edits mocked Ferns as being a “favorite puppet” and “in a relationship with” Carmichael and the rest of the Republican-controlled Senate.

Other changes called out Ferns for his drunken-driving arrest in 2012 and his party switch from Democrat to Republican in 2013. Here are two of the more extensive changes that were deleted:

  • “After realizing he made a horrible mistake, both by driving drunk and being elected as a Democrat, he quickly decided to mend his ways and become an ego-maniacal yes man to Mitch Carmichael. Little did he know his biggest accomplishment would be to hold the entire state of WV hostage while stroking his bosses ‘ego’ and breaking every rule of parliamentary law that WV has to offer because of a dumb bunny mistake they made.”
  • “Ryan Ferns not only looks like Sam Hunt but also has a ‘Body like a Back Road.’ He enjoys doing Cross Fit at his gym (that his rich family bought him). Ryan also is the first senator in the history of West Virginia to have two DUIs!” (I couldn’t find any news of a second DUI.)

The editing history of both pages shows that a more responsible editor protected them in reaction to “persistent disruptive editing.” If this is a sign of labor strikes to come, Wikipedia may become the picket line of the digital age.


Filed under: Education and Government and Media and Music and News & Politics and People and West Virginia
Comments: None

West Virginia’s Staple Food Rolls Into D.C.
Posted on 03.01.18 by Danny Glover @ 8:16 pm

This is the kind of news that could get me excited about D.C. again!

If you catch yourself in conversation with a West Virginian on the topic of food, there’s no doubt you’ll hear about the pepperoni roll. The handheld snack is as inherent to the Mountain State’s culinary identity as bagels are to New York and as deep dish is to Chicago.

… Now, the West Virginia staple is available in the nation’s capital at Pepperoni Chic, the city’s first restaurant concept dedicated to the regional roll.

When I hear “11 different kinds of pepperoni rolls,” though, I get a little wary. I hope this new shop isn’t pushing another perversion of a classic hillbilly snack like Katie Lee did on the Today Show a couple of years ago.


Filed under: Food and West Virginia
Comments: None

The Story Behind ‘The Jug’
Posted on 02.17.18 by Danny Glover @ 9:30 pm

The Jug,” which is just a short drive from my hometown, is one of the many fascinating geographic landmarks that God carved into the great Mountain State. It has seen better days.

Near Middlebourne, nearly halfway along its course, Middle Island Creek meanders almost four miles southward through a jug-shaped bend before returning to meet itself, or nearly so. The meander has time-out-of-mind been known as The Jug and has been a curiosity since its discovery by European explorers in the 1700s and had certainly been so before.

The narrow neck of land that separates the winding stream is now perhaps no more than 100 feet across, depending on the amount of water being carried downstream, and in recent years the water in the Jug has dwindled into a series of long pools, which can be canoed with some portage, as much of the water has been allowed to breach the neck.

Officials with the W.Va. Division of Natural Resources have been eager to engage the W.Va. Division of Highways to replace and raise the low-water bridge that follows the neck, thereby returning water to the meander. As a result of flooding and erosion, the bridge is now impassable, and the Division of Natural Resources is no longer able to maintain the 400-and-some acres of field and forest within the Jug, and the meander, which was once a favorite destination for anglers, is largely devoid of fish.

The Jug is also the name of a bar and grill located in a bend in the road at the point where the stream meanders. I don’t drink. But I love The Jug. It’s an iconic piece of Tyler County history.

I took some aerial photos of it last fall. The owner, Gladys Fletcher, was there visiting with friends when I stopped. It turns out her daughter, Janie Spencer, was good friends with my Mom in high school. Mrs. Fletcher jumped at the chance to get some aerial photos of The Jug and asked all kinds of questions about my drone. She is in this photo.

You can learn more about The Jug from the Tyler Star News.


Filed under: Aerial Photography and History and West Virginia
Comments: None

Barbecue Brilliance
Posted on 01.19.18 by Danny Glover @ 6:32 pm

This enlightened redneck and I have a lot in common. We’re both from West Virginia; we’re both West Virginia University grads (he for English, me for journalism); and we both live in the other Virginia now.

One thing we don’t have in common: He’s a barbecue champion with Old Virginia Smoke who’s making news for his culinary skills.

I spend most weekends cooking and though it’s hard work, we have a lot of fun out there. It’s me, my wife (whom he calls the “Lil’ General”) and our friend Leigh Anne. We do about 30 competitions a year all over the country. Meeting people and making friends has been the best part. And winning isn’t bad, either.

The main thing is not to overpower the meat. Let the meat speak for itself. It should be kissed with spice, salt, sweet and smoke. Not too much of one thing. But just enough of everything.

Now how do I finagle an invitation to one of his backyard meat fests just down the road from us?!


Filed under: Food and People and West Virginia
Comments: None

The Hunt For Disabled Hillbillies
Posted on 10.07.17 by Danny Glover @ 6:34 pm

Every now and then, journalists in the big city get the urge to head for the hills of West Virginia and hunt stereotypes. They always find their prey. Then they tell stories that misrepresent the reality of life for most West Virginians.

You can call it Hatfields-and-McCoys journalism because the tradition is at least that old. The latest installment comes courtesy of The Washington Post, which sent a reporter hunting for hillbillies as part of the paper’s series on Social Security Disability Insurance.

I have no gripe with the topic. It’s worthwhile to shine a light on the Supplemental Security Income system because of its cost and susceptibility to fraud and abuse. I also have no problem with West Virginia being part of the story because 4 percent of West Virginians get SSI benefits — more than any other state, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. One in five working-age residents in Logan County, which the Post visited, are among them.

What galls me are the predictably cliched portrayals of country folk, and they start with the opening anecdote about digging roots from the hills for money: “For the people of the hollow, opportunity begins where the road ends.”

The implication is that the anecdote represents the norm — not just in that hollow but in all of Logan County and the entire state. Poverty reporter Terence McCoy made that point clear a few paragraphs later when he added, “In West Virginia, getting by means digging roots in the mountains.”

No, it doesn’t! Maybe it’s OK to spout that kind of nonsense when writing the script for a reality television show like “Appalachian Outlaws,” but it’s bad journalism.

I spent most of my first 24 years in the Mountain State and still visit regularly, and the only person I ever knew who dug roots was my paternal grandfather. And he did it as much for the thrill of hunting ginseng, a rare find in his part of the state, as for the money.

Most West Virginians who fall on hard times don’t dig roots to “get by”; they turn to family for support. That’s a bit harder to do when multiple family members are on the government dole and/or are estranged from each other. The Post found a family like that not because it’s the norm but because it fit the false image that urban elites have of the state.

That’s also why the Post repeatedly called attention to the fact that Donna Jean Dempsey, the main character in its tale, lives in a rundown shack without running water. It’s mentioned twice in the story and in two separate photo captions.

The photos further reinforce the ridiculous perceptions that prim-and-proper journalists tend to have of West Virginians. The portraits include: a woman who wears the same filthy flannel and blue jeans for a week; a shirtless, bushy-bearded Bubba sitting on a porch; and a gaunt mountain man who relies on oxygen after five heart attacks and two strokes.

Then there is the closing anecdote. Having survived to another SSI payday, Dempsey treated herself to three six-packs of beer at the local dollar stores. McCoy milked that development for all it was worth, characterizing it as “the best moment of the month” for Dempsey.

“She lit a cigarette, stretched out her legs and opened a beer,” he wrote. And then a few sentences later: “She looked down at her beer and thumbed its lid. She took a sip. The moment could last a while longer, she decided.”

Save for a trip to the still and Dempsey sipping from a moonshine jug, he couldn’t have asked for a better redneck ending to this chapter of yellow journalism about West Virginia.


Filed under: Government and History and Human Interest and Media and People and Photography and Rednecks and West Virginia
Comments: None

John E. Kenna Was No Robert E. Lee
Posted on 08.27.17 by Danny Glover @ 2:57 pm

West Virginia doesn’t have a “Confederate statue” inside the U.S. Capitol, but you wouldn’t know it by reading the reports of historically ignorant journalists in Washington.

In their rush to pile onto the growing pile of maligned Confederate statues, the media recently set their sights on the National Statuary Hall Collection. What better place to prop up more straw men for knocking down than in a building with 100 famous statues?

This particular angle to the debate over the Confederacy piqued my interest when I first saw it in The Washington Post because the disparity appeared egregiously unjust at face value. “The U.S. Capitol has at least three times as many statues of Confederate figures as it does of black people,” blared the ridiculously long but seemingly fact-based headline.

The problem is that readers can’t take anything the media report these days at face value, especially when it involves an explosive topic like race. Many journalists are hard-wired to assume that racism exists whenever outrage about it grows loud enough. And they have no interest in digging deep into a story line if their research might undermine their assumptions.

So it is with the attack on “Confederate statues.”

The contempt implied in the loaded phrase may make sense when the focus is on prominent rebels like Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Vice President Alexander Stephens and Gen. Robert E. Lee. But as a native of West Virginia, I grew suspicious of the coverage when I saw in the Post a map of states with supposedly Confederate statues.


A state riven by war
Anyone who actually knows history knows that West Virginia became a state when the North illegally ripped 50 counties from Virginia’s boundaries during the Civil War. West Virginia created five more counties after the war, naming two of them after President Abraham Lincoln and Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, heroes of the Union.

I didn’t immediately reject the idea that elected leaders in West Virginia could have chosen to memorialize a Confederate with one of its two monuments at the Capitol. After all, 18,000 West Virginians fought for the Confederacy.

West Virginia’s Capitol also is home to a statue of Confederate Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. At the statue’s dedication in 1910, the United Daughters of the Confederacy called Jackson “the greatest and most illustrious man ever born on the soil of West Virginia, a typical soldier, patriot and Christian.”

Union troops, on the other hand, weren’t recognized with the Mountaineer Soldier statue for two more years, and a prominent memorial to Lincoln didn’t appear until 1974.

But it still seemed odd that a state formed in the Civil War would have recognized a Confederate leader in the U.S. Capitol. With that history in mind, I turned to a remarkable storehouse of information called the Internet for answers.
(more…)


Filed under: Government and History and Media and News & Politics and People and West Virginia
Comments: 1 Comment

Paden City Summer
Posted on 07.22.17 by Danny Glover @ 1:17 pm

I’m back home in the summer for the first time since I bought my drone, so I took to the air this morning to capture aerial images of Paden City, W.Va., in a new season.

These scenes, taken from the park that runs along the Ohio River, include photos of the town docks, the small campground adjacent to it, the pool, one of the baseball fields, and the south end of town. Marble King, the town’s most famous manufacturer in the modern era, is visible behind the tree line in the photo of the south end of town.

(more…)


Filed under: Business and West Virginia
Comments: None

Tracking The Trout Truck
Posted on 05.03.17 by Danny Glover @ 8:57 pm

I had no idea that some of my fellow West Virginians track trout trucks to game the fish-stocking process, let alone that the problem is severe enough to warrant regulation for safety reasons:

It is not uncommon for [hatchery] personnel to arrive at a stream to deposit fish and have 15 to 20 people sitting there and waiting on the stock truck. The advancement of the smart phone and rapid communication along with social media is also fueling what has been a longtime problem. … It has been so bad, they’ve been struck in the face by flying lures and treble hooks.

These “fishermen” are like “hunters” who bait game. They’re lazy, and they give enlightened rednecks a bad name.


Filed under: Fishing and Government and News & Politics and Redneck Hall Of Shame and Rednecks and West Virginia
Comments: 1 Comment

‘Hillbilly Heroin’ On ‘Law & Order’
Posted on 02.04.17 by Danny Glover @ 1:28 pm

I often start my Saturdays by watching a few episodes of “Law & Order,” and right now I’m watching one from 2002 that I must not have seen before. I would have remembered it if only for the “hillbilly” slam against West Virginia.

The episode, titled “Oxymoron,” is about a murder related to a drug dealer who specializes in the highly addictive narcotic oxycodone. About 15 minutes into the show, the main police characters in the show — Lennie Briscoe, Ed Green and Lt. Anita Van Buren — have a conversation about the drug in question. Here’s an excerpt from the transcript:

Van Buren: Oxycodone?
Green: Yup, they call it “Hillbilly Heroin.” Some genius in West Virginia figured it was easier to get than moonshine.
Briscoe: Yeah. Yuppies and housewives who don’t want to see themselves as users get it from their doctors.
Van Buren: And the insurance companies foot the bill?
Green: Mm-hmm. Until they stop paying. Then they got to go to the guy on the corner.
Briscoe: Pills go for about a dollar a milligram on the street. Eighty-milligram pills, 100 pills to a bottle– that’s 8,000 bucks a bottle.
Van Buren: That’s not a bad profit margin.

I get that opioids are a huge problem in West Virginia, even more now than when “Oxymoron” aired 15 years ago. The epidemic of abuse is so well-known that it appears to have motivated drug manufacturers to flood the state with hundreds of millions of pills, amounting to 433 pain pills for every state resident, regardless of age.

“Hillbilly heroin” also is an actual slang term for describing this scourge in rural America, where people looking to get high can’t afford the drugs of choice for the rich and famous like cocaine. So I have no problem with the writers of “Law & Order” incorporating it into the script.

But the wisecrack suggest that West Virginia is the home of rednecks who either drink moonshine or get their fix from oxycodon was a predictable typecast straight out of Hollywood. Odds are good that whoever wrote that line has never been to the great Mountain State.


Filed under: Culture and Entertainment and Health and News & Politics and Rednecks and West Virginia
Comments: None

Airscape Photography Is Ready For Takeoff!
Posted on 01.21.17 by Danny Glover @ 12:28 pm

The image to the right doesn’t look like much, but what it means is that I passed my remote pilot’s test. I’ll soon be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (where I also happen to work as a contract editor and writer) to fly small unmanned aircraft for clients.

I’m in the process of creating a new brand within my communications company, Tabula Rasa Media, which I organized as a limited liability corporation four years ago. This entails registering the offshoot as a DBA, which is short for “doing business as.”

Under the name Airscape Photography, I will offer drone photography and video services to clients who want to capture aerial images of their homes, businesses or properties. I’ll also shoot photos and videos of scenic landscapes and architectural landmarks to sell individual prints.

I plan to take regular road trips to shoot footage, just like I did with my first professional camera three decades ago. My home state of West Virginia will be a regular destination because the scenery doesn’t get any better than in “Almost Heaven.”

Below are recent pictures from my hometown of Paden City and of New Martinsville, including one of the Wetzel County Courthouse:


Filed under: Aviation and Business and Photography and Technology and Video and West Virginia
Comments: 1 Comment

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