Montani Semper Liberi….

Or, “One Commie Waffle, hold the Parfait…”

In the Morning News from the Mountain State:

KFC employee accused of stealing 16 ice creams

By SHERREE GREBENSTEIN / Journal Staff Writer MARTINSBURG — West Virginia State Police arrested an Inwood man Sunday after he allegedly took about 16 parfaits from the freezer of a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant where he was working, records show.

As of press time, Kevin Lee Morris remained in Eastern Regional Jail in lieu of $2,500 bond, said a spokesperson at the Martinsburg facility.

According to a criminal complaint filed by Senior Trooper Z.L. Nine of the West Virginia State Police, Martinsburg Detachment, Morris is charged with a second offense felony petit larceny and might face one year in the penitentiary

Nine responded to a call Sunday regarding a larceny at the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant on Hovatter Drive in Inwood. The manager advised him that Morris had taken about 16 parfaits from the restaurant’s freezer and put them in a compartment on his red mo-ped and then came back into the restaurant.

The 16 parfaits were valued at about $32.

Morris reportedly admitted to taking the sweet treats and placing him in the mo-ped, but advised the trooper that he wanted to pay for them later

No firearms, no business

By Jacob “Ross” Palmer
Gerrardstown:

For many years, Waffle House has used the slogan “America’s favorite place to eat. America’s favorite place to work.” Since their recent ban of guns on their Inwood premises, I think that a slogan such as “America’s unsafe, communist place to eat and work” would be more fitting.

Waffle House’s no firearm policy makes the Inwood restaurant, (which) is already notorious for petty crime and trouble-makers, even more unsafe and invites criminals to take advantage of the defenseless establishment.

In the fantasy world of Waffle House, innocent, helpless and unarmed patrons and employees denied of their rights are kept safe and protected from the criminal, robber and insane gunman that lurks outside by a small sign on a glass door that reads “NO FIREARMS.” If signs stopped crime, we wouldn’t need police.

If you would like to blindly feel safe, I urge you to dine at this local place and perhaps enjoy a communist waffle with hash browns.Mon

ASCAP & BMI – Mining the WV Mountains for Royalties


So there I was minding my own business in an afternoon session of the Create WV conference, listening attentively at a panel called “Creating Places to Hang Out.” The premise is simple enough: How to create so-called “third places:”

“The places we spend our time away from work and home are important, especially to creative, New Economy workers. Whether it is for food, entertainment, or just a pleasant place to hang out, people are attracted to public and semi-public spaces to be around others, share ideas and dream up new opportunities.”

The panel boasted the proprietors of some of the very coolest places in WV, including the Cathedral Cafe in Fayetteville, WV (by the New River Gorge), the near-legendary folk/acoustic venue (and RoeDeo-RoadTested) Purple Fiddle in Thomas, WV, and the much-buzzed-about Cafe Cimino in Sutton, WV, population 993.

The discussion naturally turned to questions about what makes a “Third Place” cool and attractive, and what visitors/tourists/customers are looking for. Places that are dog-friendly. Places with books. Coffee available all the time. Comfortable places, nooks, and crannies. Oh, and people are looking for more live music.

And that’s when the entire conversation took a sudden left turn.

The answer from the panel: Chances are that you’re going to be hearing LESS music – both live and pre-recorded, rather than more.

Tim Urbanic of the Cafe Cimino then proceeded to tell a harrowing tale of harrassment from ASCAP and BMI….demanding copyright payments (both for piped-in music from radio stations as well as cover bands playing Eagles tunes) running into several thousands of dollars. Threatening lawsuits. And getting 10 calls in a row from BMI on a Friday night, the caller trying to overhear the live music being performed in the background to determine if it’s a song in copyright.

Astonishing. Unbelievable. And the facts – and tactics – confirmed by all of the other live music providers in the room.

So maybe all of the other doomsayers are right. If the PROs are trying to dig copyright coin out of the hardscrabble West Virginia soil, they must either be really desperate, or have built a scarily efficient enforcement machine.

Or both. So, my question: If enforcing the copyright rules for clubs, cafes, and stores is happening on this scale in lil’ ol’ West VA, how’s this playing in Austin, Nashville, and New York? Or Branson, Missouri, for that matter?

It should be noted, by the way, that ASCAP posted record revenues last year: $785 million, of which they paid out $680 million to their members. So I guess it’s working.

West Virginia – Wired and Wonderful?


AT THE STONEWALL RESORT IN ROANOKE, WV — Yr hmbl correspondent took the bait and is sitting in for a couple of days at the Create WV conference, (as posted about in this space before). Of course, due to the peculiar geography of the Mountain State, any East-West travel invariably means as much time out of the state as in it. Interesting day, so far. Among the tidbits gleaned on the fly:

*Interesting comparison by Charleston WV land-use attorney and Historic Preservation specialist Mark Sadd between the Republic of Ireland and West Virginia. His point: The both have about the same geographic area, homogeneous population, attractive natural resources, Only….Ireland in the last twenty years has transformed itself from economic laughingstock to high-tech hub. Can WV do the same? Thought-provoking.

*On the other hand…WV ranks 52nd (behind Puerto Rico and D.C.) in the percentage of population aged 25-34 with an Associate’s Degree or higher (e.g., two years of college). A measly 29 per cent. The US average is ten points higher (39%), and in Canada it’s 53%. Sobering. This courtesy of an address by Southern Technology Council chief Scott Doron.

*New Euphemism: It’s no longer called “coal mining;” West Virginia specializes in “extraction industries.”

*More on the conference in the next post. The Create WV blogspot is here.

Cleveland Rocks!

Disclaimer: This is posted by a card-carrying member of Red Sox Nation, now smarting over a 3-1 deficit in the ALCS…

Monday was a good night for Cleveland at the Jake and at the Ken Cen, where yours truly got the chance to see the fabled Cleveland Orchestra up close and personal. Not that they’ve been strangers here…their press dept. helpfully pointed out that the orchestra has played 57 times in DC, including 43 times in the Kennedy Center’s 36-year history.

And they are still as good as advertised: In his excellent NPR Listener’s Encyclopedia of Classical Music my old friend Ted Libbey writes: “The Cleveland Orchestra is very nearly in a league of its own, a crack ensemble with an esprit de corps matched by only a handful of orchestras in the world. Its recordings are the discographic gold standard. ” Hard to argue with that assessment, on disc or in person. Monday night the orchestra had plenty of virtuosity on display, to go with usual crack ensemble playing and spot-on intonation. And, unusually, pride of place to the viola section, who were seated opposite the first violins, with the cellos and second violins filling in the middle around conductor Franz Welser-Most.

On the program: Mozart’s Symphony No. 28. Not a symphony you hear all that much, but with some absolutely propulsive outer movements with some feverish fiddling. You want a “discographic gold standard?” The October ’65 recording made by George Szell and the Clevelanders (reissued on CD in 2006) is still amazing. Clarity, balance, and speed – with no sacrifice in precision. When critics talk about Szell’s ability with Mozart as “chamber music for symphony orchestra,” they’re talking about recordings like this.


But the Mozart was merely a warm-up for what came next: The Guide to Strange Places by John Adams. I’ve blogged about Adams before and doubtless will again, and while I didn’t love everything about the piece (at 24 mins I think it’s about five minutes too long), it’s pretty damn cool, with cascading blocks of sound moving through, over, and around the orchestra. Or, in the words of the New York Times: “a jarringly turbulent piece, channeling its energy into shifts of clashing colors, both visual and emotive.” And a visual treat to watch the internal ballet of the stand-sharers in the violin section turning the pages for their stand partners as carefully-
and quickly- as they would for any virtuoso pianist.

But what really grabbed me was not so much a “Strange Place” but a location thoroughly familiar to us hardy Harpers Ferry residents. Adams’ inventive scoring includes a Doppler-effect freight-train rumbling through the brass and percussion sections….a sound I hear routinely as long freighters go rumbling into the night through the Harpers Ferry Gap.


Adams absolutely nailed the sound. Despite the fact that nearly everything Adams has written is available on CD, you can only hear this snippet of the Guide on Adam’s extremely well-done website.

Strange but true footnote: This piece represents a connection between the Pulitzer Prize- winning composer and the 2nd president of the US beside the fact that both were born in Massachusetts: The “Guide to Strange Places” was commissioned and first performed by the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic at the Concertgebouw. And before he succeeded George Washington, the “other” John Adams was the first US ambassador to the Netherlands, where his efforts at diplomacy are seen as so significant that he recently merited a three-part series on Radio Netherlands called Adams in Amsterdam. And then I found out there’s a John Adams Institute in Amsterdam…an independent, nonprofit foundation dedicated to furthering a longstanding tradition: cultural exchange between the USA and the Netherlands. Founded in 1987, the John Adams Institute continues to expose the best and brightest American writers and thinkers to audiences in The Netherlands.

Back to the concert…the Clevelanders closed out with a performance of Tchaikovsky’s “Pathetique” Symphony (No. 6) that was everything as advertised. Ted Libbey again:

It is still fashionable for critics to dismiss Tchaikovsky as one of two things: a superficial manipulator or a self-absorbed boderline hysteric wallowing in his own emotions. He was neither…He managed to create worlds of feeling in his symphonies. Tchaikovsky biographer David Brown calls the Pathetique “The most truly original symphony to be composed in the 70 years since Beethoven’s 9th.”

As the first truly tragic symphony, concerned with loss, isolation, and despair, it projects a negative image of Beethoven’s triumphant aspiration, in place of spiritual transcendence, it seeks annihilation. This marks a fundamental turning point in the history of the symphony. Psychologically, the Pathetique symphony marks the beginning of modernism.
The Clevelanders did not disappoint. And the Kennedy Center audience behaved…no applause at the end of the third movement, to my surprise.

Lots of applause at the end, and no encore either. Now they’re off to Carnegie Hall and the Musikverein. And I’ll have more on Adams in a bit.

Postscript: The Washington Post review of this concert can be found here. Don’t know how the reviewer got the impression was a U.S. Premiere, however, since DC’s own National Symphony Orchestra played it on their East Coast Tour three years ago.


Create WV


My local daily is a pretty dreadful excuse for a newspaper, but as the offspring of ink-stained wretches I am still compelled to read it – or at least skim it – every day. When I first moved to WV Dr. Wizard and I took to calling it the “Jumpsuit Journal,” as the paper’s front page invariably featured a mug shot – in standard WV prison orange – of some local miscreant or n’er-do-well.

But occasionally I find something interesting, and ever more rarely genuinely noteworthy….such as a provocative op-ed by someone named Rebecca Kimmons, lamenting the defeatist attitude in her home state:

We’re defensive if an outsider makes a disparaging remark. But often, if no one has anything bad to say right off, we volunteer, trotting out hillbilly clichés of who we are, what we do and how we do it. The question a recent transplant from Seattle says she is most often asked is, “When are you leaving?” Bright young people who have returned to the state say they are accustomed to being asked, “Why did you come back?”

For some of us, we’re entrenched in our cultural habits. And all that seems just fine until we ask for something different. “Why can’t we …?” is often met with
“Folks around here wouldn’t go for that,” or “That will never happen here.”
Maybe our greatest obstacle to creating a general aura of success is our own mindset. Why doesn’t our air breed confidence like the air of California?

Why do our people think they have to leave to achieve?

Turns out the Kimmons is part of an effort called “Create WV” – a Richard Florida-inspired effort to jump-start a “creative class” in the Mountain State:

If you’re not satisfied with the status quo in West Virginia, if you’re impatient and want smarter services and amenities, design aesthetics that enhance our truly spectacular landscape rather than diminishing it; if you want cutting edge educational programs that prepare our people for contemporary realities, if you want a future that becomes a history of something besides disaster, loss, duplicity, and despair, you need to be at the table for the first Create West Virginia Conference, Nov. 12-14, at the Stonewall Resort, near Weston.

Gotta hand to them…the Create WV site, though not yet “sticky,” has compiled a lot of resources and shows a lot of promise. I especially like the Community Map they’re building – a nice Web 2.0 application to build a statewide map of art galleries, restaurants, museums, etc. Needs a lot more user input, but hey, I’ve done my part: I signed up to join. But I can’t seem to find a category (or demand, for that matter) for “Smartaleck Cultural Knowitall Bloviators.

The Create WV folks have a blog, too, which I’ve added to the blogroll. This entry pretty much sums up what I’ve found to be my WV experience:

The truth is, much of what we have in West Virginia, the rest of the world is longing for. If we could just add a few more wi-fi hotspots, some innovative education reform, growth-friendly tax structure and decent coffee shops, we may be on the cusp of something great.

I’ll be following their progress with a lot of interest.

P.S. If you haven’t heard of Richard Florida or some of the social implications of the “Creative Class,” check out this hilarious interview on the Colbert Report.

Gobsmacked by Goodstock


Okay, enough about Russian classical musicians and snarky critics for a while. This morning my friends at West Virginia Public Broadcasting breathlessly announced a big ’60s-revival festival called Goodstock 2007 — coming this July to the burg of Summersville, West Virginia. Turns out that ’60s psychedelic and proto-Christian band the Mind Garage originated in my adopted home state, and now they’ve re-formed and hooked up with original Woodstock impresario Artie Kornfeld:

“Over the years since 1969 there have been attempts to re-create Woodstock. They had the acts and had the stage but they did not have the Goodstock2007 feeling of reliving a moment when all good came together through music as one. They never got back to the Garden at those events. I believe Goodstock 2007 to be the first real attempt to have another 3 days of peace and music. I feel magic AGAIN.

So sayeth Artie. Sayeth the Goodstock website:
The Mind Garage returns with all the original members and dozens of 60’s and 70’s bands from New York to California. Experience the music, rock culture, peace and brotherhood of the era with the bands and fans from Boston to Berkeley who were there the first time. Goodstock 2007 is for families and all ages. The event will begin with the opening of Goodstock Village, as a festival of the sixties with vendors of 60`s memorabilia, exhibits of the era clothing and band attire, a 60’s museum style exhibit, bands performing continually, plus the re-creation of a famous 60’s San Francisco Ballroom with a light show at the Summersville Arena. A great time for all ages. Camp in the Village or stay in nearby hotels. The Village will accommodate bands and fans from nearly every state in the USA, and from any other country, that has declared an interest in a casual celebration. Meet contemporaries and recapture the spirit of the times past.

They’re not kidding about “times past.” Booked to appear: Jefferson Starship, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Iron Butterfly, David LaFlamme (founder of It’s A Beautiful Day), and Nick Gravenites, one of the original members of the Electric Flag. (Hey, where’s Moby Grape and Country Joe McDonald? Or Circus Maximus?) Haven’t thought about these bands in years, though I still have their LPs. (The whole Goodstock lineup is listed here.) I’m trying to wrap my brain around what this is going to look/sound/be like. Curious, and somewhat frightened, and reminded why my loving family tells me I’m a “living relic of a bygone era…”

Just out of curiosity, I Mapquested the distance from RoeDeo Worldwide Headquarters to Summersville. Yes, we may be in the same state, but it turns out that its a greater distance to get to the Goodevening Ranch in Summersville (site of Goodstock 2007) than to Max Yasgur’s old farm in Bethel, NY. And that distance may be greater than mere miles…