copyright Bill Widener 2000

Ready for our Closeup

I would like to clarify my statements regarding the "Zombie Planet" production of George Bonilla and Dave Workman [Cover Story, Nov 9].Regardless of whether t he movie generates box office revenues, their project is a wonderful gain for Lexington. I want to encourage them and applaud them for putting their shoulders to the wheel, and I would like to urge other potential moviemakers to do the same. Now is the time. Kentucky offers a list of significant advantages for filmmaking:

- Any kind of weather you want. If you don't like it, wait around a month.

- Beautiful and diverse landscape.

- Incredible talent.

- Lowest cost of living. Everything's dirt cheap compared to Hollywood.

- Charitable cause: Help to erase the Kentucky stereotype.

- Local / national spotlight.

- Burgeoning film infrastructure.

- Louisville Film and Video Festival. Getting bigger every year.

- Lexington Film and Video Festival. On the way up.

- Appalshop in Whitesburg. International acclaim.

- Creative Film Society. Network of college students, faculty, and local moviemaking enthusiasts.

- Sudden outgrowth of small production companies throughout Lexington-Louisville.

- Interest and support from the Kentucky Theatre.

Thanks to people like Bonilla and Workman, this list keeps growing.


Tony Smith

Creative Film Society

Weekly meetings, Monday 8pm, Student Center Room 203

A Raider Speaks

The Nader bashing coming from ACE head (hind?) quarters is both ill-informed and short-sighted. The only misspent Nader votes, as we can now clearly see, were in the states that were "too close to call." Faced with that prospect, I surely would have voted for Gore. Conversely, what was achieved by voiting for Gore in Ky., a blowoiut state for Bush?

Allow me to revisit why Nader was the only real choice where circumstances permitted. Editor seems to have forgotten that Clinton-Gore stonewalled on global warming for 8 years, refusing to sign the Kyoto treaty. Gore's proposed tax on fossil fuels is like a speeding ticket, it's not going to chage anything! Energy will get more expensive for you and me, that's it! No mention of much greater fuel economy or doubling gas prices for SUVs form the two corporate candidates.

Likewise, no mention of national health insurance, real campaign finance reform to end the current legalized bribery, military cutbacks (let's start with that undeclared war in Iraq), genetically modified organisms, industrial hemp, stopping money for the failed war on drugs WTO reform, etc., etc. Only nader talked seriouly about these issues. Remember the battle in Seattle? Nader was there, dealing with issues that a lot of people are pissed off about, the can't get their voices heard due to corporate control of politics, the economy, and media.

Teach, save the flaccid/puerile/blatant fiction stuff for English Lit. class.

John Scott

Your horses mouth election article [editorial, Nov 2] was much too nice in stopping short of calling Nader and the Greens "crazy." They're worse than crazy.

I hope you saw the recent article in the Lexington Herald Leader by a Midway College professor that pointed out how Nader was the one who was no different than Gore and Bush. It was only ever about the money for any of them (for him five percent government money, and for them corporate donations). He wrote about how the green party could have gone for grassroots elections and built change on the local level, as opposed to sacrificing the presidency to oil magnates.

I hope they're happy.

Cole Henderson

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Mail: 486 West Second St , Lexington, Ky 40507


Kentucky Straight

Where is there a place for you to be?

- Haze Motes in Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood

It seems like only yesterday I was over in Morehead, tramping through the woods with Chris Offutt. It was actually fall of 98, and it was the first time I met him.

The weather was about like it is right now. Cold and smoky, with a thick layer of leaves under our feet, ranging from fiery orange to crimson to a dead dusty rust along the very bottom. After meeting at the local Shoney's, and gassing up the Boyd-mobile (a 68 Malibu) at the BP, we ended up sitting in folding chairs on the ridge behind his house, until our ears began to ache from the cold, and we hiked a short way to where he lived.

There I met his wife Rita and his two boys. Their living room overlooked a pretty little pond, and was stocked floor to ceiling with an endless supply of books and CDs.

On the way downstairs, I was startled by a mounted jackalope head, before being treated to the Tower of Life, an elaborate cardboard construction with a working drawbridge and escape route (the moat was still a theory) built by Chris and his sons. The boys showed me their authentic stuffed "Kentucky wildcat." One of them enthusiastically waved a mummified bullfrog in my face with the command, "Here, smell this." (It smelled kinda like vanilla, if you're interested.)

In Chris's office, I was (as promised) introduced to Joe Tiller's possum (from his novel, The Good Brother). It graces our cover.

Later on, he read to me some of the day's notes from a story he was working on - improvising suddenly by grabbing a bear's skull and working the jaws up and down while he read aloud in a high voice.

He seemed so at home in those woods, I thought he'd never leave them again. And I was shocked when he called a few months later to tell me they were packing up and moving to Iowa, where he'd landed a prestigious fellowship - and where young writers come from all over the country (including Kentucky) just to be taught by him.

In the intervening years, whenever we've talked, he never fails to mention his ultimate plan to make it back - though he's not one to romanticize how hard it is to make a living back here as a writer.

All of that comes through in this week's cover story, which is an essay he wrote about the origins of Kentucky Straight.

Thanks to him, we also have an essay from his pal, punk legend, Richard Hell, in this issue's Southern Voices. A fellow expatriate, Hell lives in New York, but grew up in Lexington.

The other day, I asked Chris how he manages to leave - and stay gone so long (lots of people leave and come right back) - and he said by writing about it every day. A story he just contributed to Fence Magazine, for example, "Booth 13" is set in Lexington ("...and she says, you heard me, this is Lexington, not out in the county. I look at the waitress with hairy legs and the menu made out of hemp paper and I say, you don't have to tell me that.")

So I think about Chris, and my many friends who've moved off to big cities and faraway places. And I think about how hard most of them are struggling to get back. Sure, they talk about the museums, and the nightlife, and the millions of restaurants - but they seem to mostly do what we do here. Invite people over... eat, drink, talk. It's all relative, of course. In Chris's story, Lexington is the big city: "It's amazing there's so many people with some place to go at the same time. Folks in the hills stay at the house mostly. The way I see it, Lexington just has more things not to do."

I think about the last line of that new story, which includes the phrase, "I'm from the hills, not the blacktop."

I look around me and it feels pretty good - sometimes - not to have left. n