When the Hillbilly Shot the Filmmaker: The Genius of ‘Stranger with a Camera’

We’ve been fighting over hillbilly elegies for a long time. This week, amid the buzz and furor over the Ron Howard movie, I watched Stranger with a Camera, a 2000 doc by Kentucky filmmaker Elizabeth Barret. The Appodlachia podcast team, John Isner and Chuck Corra, published an anthology of books, movies and podcasts about Appalachia,Continue reading “When the Hillbilly Shot the Filmmaker: The Genius of ‘Stranger with a Camera’”

‘America Lost’ Finds Humanity and Redemption in Youngstown, Memphis, Stockton

Church or state: How do we rebuild America’s left-behind communities? NOTE: America Lost is currently available for free here. The 2016 and 2020 elections had different outcomes, but this in common: neither magically reboots America’s diseased neighborhoods. The work of rebuilding, and surviving in, communities crippled by globalization, white flight, crime, drugs, income stagnation andContinue reading “‘America Lost’ Finds Humanity and Redemption in Youngstown, Memphis, Stockton”

Lady Gaga, Star with Roots in Appalachia, Campaigns in Pittsburgh — Mom from West Virginia Town Left for NYC, Part of Rural America Brain Drain

A divided Moundsville watches: “She should wear a Steelers jersey.” On one level, Lady Gaga’s appearance in Pittsburgh tonight with Joe Biden, on the last night of the 2020 election, is a classic celebrity endorsement. Gaga is a globally famous pop star. Politicians seek out props like Lady Gaga all the time. On another, Gaga’sContinue reading “Lady Gaga, Star with Roots in Appalachia, Campaigns in Pittsburgh — Mom from West Virginia Town Left for NYC, Part of Rural America Brain Drain”

Moundsville Craves Stories in a News Desert — Local News Helps Citizens ‘Intercept the Same Reality’

Review of Ghosting the News, by Margaret Sullivan When 37-year-old CVS cashier David Seum decided to run for Moundsville, WV town council in next week’s election, he hired a Wheeling-based public relations firm called Folkore. Its director, Nathan Daniel Blake, the son of a coal miner, worked for a local paper but left for PRContinue reading “Moundsville Craves Stories in a News Desert — Local News Helps Citizens ‘Intercept the Same Reality’”

Lighting Up West Virginia’s Native American Past After Suppression

11,000 people in WV claim Native American ancestry — Couldn’t own property until 1960s In Moundsville, Native Americans are present through the stories of the Adena people and the mound they built over two thousand years ago. We couldn’t find anybody in town with Native American ancestry to interview, but in West Virginia, there areContinue reading “Lighting Up West Virginia’s Native American Past After Suppression”

Candidate for Council Dreams of Rebuilding Town While Making $19,000 a Year Working as CVS Cashier

David Seum Wants to Reboot Moundsville With Events, Family Park — Imagines Life on $37,000 A Year Way up this fall’s U.S. election ballot is the presidential choice of Donald J. Trump or Joe Biden, and, in Moundsville (pop. 8,000), way down the list is 37-year-old David Seum, who’s standing for town council. You canContinue reading “Candidate for Council Dreams of Rebuilding Town While Making $19,000 a Year Working as CVS Cashier”

Moundsville Blog Passes 100K Views — Lady Gaga West Virginia Roots Post is Most Read All-Time

David Bernabo and I made “Moundsville” (now on PBS) to tell a new kind of story about America. But in our dozen trips to the town and all our research, we collected way more material than we had room for in a 74-minute movie. So I started throwing stuff on this blog. And, to myContinue reading “Moundsville Blog Passes 100K Views — Lady Gaga West Virginia Roots Post is Most Read All-Time”

How to Win Friends and Talk Politics in 2020 (Without Losing Your Mind)

James Fallows: Start with Schools and Children’s Future — “I Am Your Friend” Phil Remke and I talk politics– even though we usually disagree. Phil, the former mayor of Moundsville, WV, and star of the movie Moundsville, is a boisterous small-town supporter of President Trump. I’m a journalist from Brussels whose main political conviction isContinue reading “How to Win Friends and Talk Politics in 2020 (Without Losing Your Mind)”

How a Bad Dog Did Good — Jack Russell Terrier Terrorized Moundsville While Heart of Gold Kept His Human Happy — Canines Help West Virginians ‘Roll With the Punches’

When you live in a gritty Ohio River town, sometimes it takes a cranky dog to keep you happy. For 17 years, Toby, a spunky brown and white Jack Russell Terrier, was a life companion to Steve Hummel, star of Moundsville (now playing on PBS) and owner of the Archives of the Afterlife, a museumContinue reading “How a Bad Dog Did Good — Jack Russell Terrier Terrorized Moundsville While Heart of Gold Kept His Human Happy — Canines Help West Virginians ‘Roll With the Punches’”

Local Launch Angle: Moundsville Man Inspired by Moon Missions Helps Rover Get to Mars

NASA’s seven-month rover mission to Mars, the Perseverance, launched last week, included fuel systems designed by Glenn Romanoski, a 64-year-old metallurgical engineer from Moundsville, WV. The Mars rover, equipped with cameras, microphones, drills and lasers, aims to return samples of rock and dirt to Earth, so they can be analyzed for possible signs of life.Continue reading “Local Launch Angle: Moundsville Man Inspired by Moon Missions Helps Rover Get to Mars”