‘We Don’t Even Make Baseballs’ Anymore — New Political Opera ‘The Last American Hammer’ Nails Working-Class America’s Pain

What to do in America when the America you know vanishes? That’s the question posed by Moundsville (still available here), and by The Last American Hammer, a 2018 opera that made its Pittsburgh debut Saturday night. I checked out the show and chatted afterwards with librettist Matt Boresi about its origins. Boresi, who describes himselfContinue reading “‘We Don’t Even Make Baseballs’ Anymore — New Political Opera ‘The Last American Hammer’ Nails Working-Class America’s Pain”

‘American Factory’ Wins Oscar for Best Documentary – The Rust Belt Doc’s Essential Lessons About America, China, Unions, and Global Capitalism – Why We Need To Keep Telling These Stories

‘America Factory’, the 2019 documentary about a glassmaking plant in Dayton, Ohio, won the best feature documentary award at last night’s Oscars. The film by Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, produced by the Obamas’ Higher Ground company and available on Netflix, is a masterpiece in observational journalism. It’s the second year in a row thatContinue reading “‘American Factory’ Wins Oscar for Best Documentary – The Rust Belt Doc’s Essential Lessons About America, China, Unions, and Global Capitalism – Why We Need To Keep Telling These Stories”

Moundsville 2020: “We’re Doing Great, Thanks to Trump” — Former Mayor Remke Loves the President, Fox News, and Supports “Ivanka, Don Jr. or one of the Fox boys, Hannity or Carlson” in 2024

As “Moundsville” heads to PBS stations around the country, we’re starting a new series of features on this blog around the election. We don’t talk about politics in the film, but it is an election year, and Moundsville is a good place to check in on Trump country, with, hopefully, as much accuracy and nuanceContinue reading “Moundsville 2020: “We’re Doing Great, Thanks to Trump” — Former Mayor Remke Loves the President, Fox News, and Supports “Ivanka, Don Jr. or one of the Fox boys, Hannity or Carlson” in 2024″

‘Moundsville’ Acquired by PBS Distributor Ahead of 2020 Election — Will Screen On Up to 338 PBS Stations Serving 100 Million Viewers

Moundsville was a dream that Dave Bernabo and I had to tell an inclusive story about America after the 2016 election. We got a small grant from Pittsburgh Arts Council and spent 2018 traveling to Moundsville, shooting and editing. From start to finish, it was a two-man job. The film got great reviews, and weContinue reading “‘Moundsville’ Acquired by PBS Distributor Ahead of 2020 Election — Will Screen On Up to 338 PBS Stations Serving 100 Million Viewers”

World Series Special: George Brett’s West Virginia Birth and the American Dream — Moundsville and Glen Dale Claim “Throwback” Hall of Fame Third Baseman

It’s day one of the World Series, one of this country’s superior inventions, a good time to remind you that one of baseball’s greatest ever players was born in Glen Dale, West Virginia, the hamlet that forms a twin town with Moundsville. (Movie still available here.) George Brett is the most accomplished of the 120Continue reading “World Series Special: George Brett’s West Virginia Birth and the American Dream — Moundsville and Glen Dale Claim “Throwback” Hall of Fame Third Baseman”

Burning Under: Why You Should Read Tom Bennitt’s Grisham-Style Coal Mining Thriller to Understand Rust Belt Geography

Last month, I was driving by White Whale, Pittsburgh’s best independent bookstore, noticed a sign for an author reading, parked and walked in to listen to Tom Bennitt, a young Western Pennsylvania novelist reading from his first book. (Bonus: Stewart O’Nan, Pittsburgh’s great living novelist and a mentor to Bennitt, was moderating.) Burning Under (whichContinue reading “Burning Under: Why You Should Read Tom Bennitt’s Grisham-Style Coal Mining Thriller to Understand Rust Belt Geography”

‘Taj Mahal of Appalachia’ — West Virginia’s Hare Krishna Temple Named To National Register of Historic Places Has Crazy, Fascinating History– Known for Drugs and Murder in 1980s

A Hare Krishna temple in the hills of West Virginia? When people see Moundsville (which you can here), the Palace of Gold at New Vrindaban always surprises. Last week it was named to the National Register of Historic Places. The Hare Krishna site, a few miles from downtown Moundsville, is one of the more extraordinary you’llContinue reading “‘Taj Mahal of Appalachia’ — West Virginia’s Hare Krishna Temple Named To National Register of Historic Places Has Crazy, Fascinating History– Known for Drugs and Murder in 1980s”

Why Lady Gaga in ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ Musical Would Be Perfect Homage to West Virginia/Appalachia Roots

The news that Lady Gaga is being considered for the role of Audrey in a new Hollywood remake of Little Shop of Horrors should delight her fans in West Virginia. (A quick reminder: Gaga’s mom Cynthia Bissett grew up in Glen Dale, Moundsville’s adjacent twin town. You can still watch our film Moundsville here.) Little Shop isContinue reading “Why Lady Gaga in ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ Musical Would Be Perfect Homage to West Virginia/Appalachia Roots”

Review: Ancient America: 50 U.S. Sites To Discover American Antiquity — Rock Art, Cliff Dwellings, Mounds, Campsites, From Ice Age to Spice Age

The United States is 241 years old, resting on ancient land. We argue about who gets to live here now, but it’s a fact that the first settlers walked from Asia into America, across a land bridge, at least 13,000 years ago. After that: thousands of years of rise-fall civilizations, trade, tribes, travel. And us.Continue reading “Review: Ancient America: 50 U.S. Sites To Discover American Antiquity — Rock Art, Cliff Dwellings, Mounds, Campsites, From Ice Age to Spice Age”

American Shakespeare: Historical Memory and the Genius of August Wilson

Making Moundsville (available here for $3.99) got me thinking about place and people, and how their relationship makes this thing we call history. Last night, on a blustery September evening in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, I saw a masterful piece of theatre that weaves these themes together. August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean by the Pittsburgh Playwrights TheatreContinue reading “American Shakespeare: Historical Memory and the Genius of August Wilson”