On Raymond Thompson’s “Appalachian Ghost”

2024-06-27T13:59:35-04:00June 20, 2024|

Thompson captured photos of the place — the hills of WVA folding into each other like origami, holding mist and dew in the hollows. And he staged new photos which conjure these working men, bearing up under hours of physical labor, covered in white dust, looking otherworldly but also fully human and integral to the achievement.

Garbage Boy

2024-06-24T10:20:44-04:00June 17, 2024|

John was unbelievable with a trash bag. He threw the lighter ones from his hip, like an uppercut. The heavier bags were more like a hammer throw. You could tell he was accustomed to using, and needing to use, all the muscle he had left.

The Pittsburgh School

2024-06-20T08:25:48-04:00May 13, 2024|

Yet part of what defines the Pittsburgh School, from Brackenridge onward, is the mystical kernel of something beyond mere matter that animates any consideration of this place: the transcendent in the prosaic, the sacred in the profane. An intimation of beauty amid a kingdom of ugliness.

No Son of Mine

2024-05-21T15:16:03-04:00May 6, 2024|

I didn’t say, as they told me how they owned a boat and spent much of their summer cruising Maine’s coastline, that my mother’s biggest dream was to get out of West Virginia, that her biggest love was the ocean, that she hoped to die listening to the sounds of the waves.

May Day is a Rust Belt Holiday

2024-05-06T11:00:54-04:00April 29, 2024|

May Day isn’t just an estimably American holiday, it’s a particularly Rust Belt holiday, forged in the cauldron of Chicago’s streets and factories, born from the experience of workers in the mills and plants of Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland.

Pittsburgh Was Better Than NYC

2024-05-02T10:41:33-04:00April 25, 2024|

Would a return to my hometown after 20 years in and around New York prove the perfect move for a mom determined to say “yes” and kindle community? Here’s how it went for me.

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