Rough and Rowdy is a form of amateur boxing native to West Virginia. It appears to me to be the grandson of the 18th-19th century Southern backwoods fighting style known as Rough and Tumble, or Gouging. It was so-called because the ultimate goal was to gouge out your opponent’s eye. There were very few rules involved in Rough and Tumble and, while it wasn’t exactly prize fighting, winning was a source of pride in the local community. The men who fought in Gouging were backwoods farmers, it was common in swamps and mountain communities. In other words, the men who fought were what the élite of Southern society called (and still call) ‘white trash.’ As an aside, if you would like to know more about the plight of poor white people historically in the US, I cannot recommend Nancy Isenberg’s White Trash: The 400-Year Untold Story of Class in America enough. Nevermind the fact that the story is not untold, historians have studied and published on poor people for a long time, but that’s what publishers do to your book, they create silly subtitles to sell more copies. I digress. The West Virginia Rough and Rowdy is a continuation. The Guardian produced a quick 7 minute documentary of a championship tournament in West Virginia, you can watch it here. I have some serious problems after watching this. The first is...Read More
Author: Matthew Barlow
I’ve been binge-watching The Man in the High Castle. It is truly a TV show for our cynical times. There are no heroes in this show. Everyone is deeply compromised. Some are even horrible people. For those who don’t know, the show is set in a dystopic 1960s in the United States. The Allies lost World War II, and the United States is split in three. The eastern seaboard is the American Reich. The West Coast is occupied by the Japanese, and there is a dodgy, moral vacuum in the middle, the neutral zone, a lawless respite from both. The main character is Juliana Crain, who is a spoiled, horrible, selfish young woman. She betrays nearly everyone she meets, and leaves a body count behind her. Ostensibly, she’s trying to figure out what happened to her half-sister, Trudy, a Resistance fighter killed by the Japanese security forces. Her boyfriend, Frank, is the closest thing to a hero in this show, as he is drawn closer and closer to the Resistance in the wake of Juliana’s multiple betrayals. But otherwise, the show gets intimate and personal with Obergruppenfürher Joe Smith, a former American soldier, and his family, creepy as they are. Smith, not surprisingly, is a murderous, horrible human being. And he’s a Nazi. We do get a sense of honour from Japanese Trade Minister Nobosuke Tagami, whose loyalties are never...Read More
Last week I wrote a post about the conundrum we face in dealing with President Trump, hockey rumours, and global warming. The basic problem is the response of us as individuals, and our feelings of powerlessness, vs. the fact that we can band together to form interest groups in response. In the case of the latter, I always think of the original boycott. The original boycott occurred in 1880 in County Mayo, Ireland. Captain Charles Boycott lent his name to a campaign against him by the Irish Land League. The Land League was a political organization in late 19th century Ireland with the goal of alleviating the plight of poor Irish tenant famers. The League’s ultimate goal was to abolish the great landowners of Ireland to allow these poor tenant farmers to own the land they worked. The Irish Land League was a central component in the radicalization of Catholic/Nationalist Ireland in the second half of the 19th century, following its mobilization by Daniel O’Connell in the first half of the century. And this radicalization, of course, led ultimately to the Irish Revolution and Irish independence in the early 20th century. In 1880, Boycott was the land agent for Lord Erne in Lough Mask, Co. Mayo. He became the object of ire of the Land League due to his enthusiasm for evicting the poor tenant farmers of Erne’s land....Read More
This is the second part of my completely subjective list of the best music of 2017. Part I was published on Tuesday. As I noted in Part I, 2017 was a dumpster fire of a year in many ways, but there was also some brilliant music. I don’t know about all y’all, but, for me, music is an essential component of the good life. It is almost always playing in our house. Right now I’m listening to Kelly Lee Owens’ most excellent eponymous debut (more on that below). Then there’s the guitars in the house. I told a friend of mine this week that I generally do my serious music listening in the car, though. And in 2017, I drove a lot. I drove from our (now former home) in Southeastern Tennessee to Vancouver via New Mexico and the Southwest. Then I drove home from Vancouver along the northern route, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska. It was epic. Then we moved from Southeastern Tennessee back to Western Massachusetts. I drove that as well. So there was a lot of time to listen to good music. So, without further ado: Rainer Maria, S/T (Polyvinyl) I don’t know how I never listened to Rainer Maria in their first go-round in the 00s. But my buddy Karl got all excited about this new one on Facebook, so generally respecting his opinion (and his taste in hockey...Read More
Last week I posted this to Facebook, thinking it made a good point about corporate behaviour as opposed to individual behaviour. I immediately got lambasted by several friends who argued that it is we as individuals who make change and that corporations and the media respond to us. As far as I’m concerned this is hogwash and the height of American liberalism. No. We don’t control corporations. We don’t control the media. We are conditioned not to. We are conditioned to purchase new things, to listen to our media. And, sure, we can boycott. One friend lives in rural Tennessee and is doing her best to live a life of simplicity with minimal consumption. I salute that. I personally do not shop at Walmart due to its odious corporate behaviour vis-à-vis downtown cores around this country. But Lydia’s actions and mine are small, a drop in the ocean. And, yes, certainly, if we are joined in our attempts to make the world better in this sense, it would make a difference. But, until we are numerous enough to make Walmart stop gutting the downtowns of small-town America, for example, I think we need to both carry on keeping on keeping on, but also holding the nose of corporations to the stink they create. Today, I looked briefly on Twitter and got depressed. Trump, Trump, and more Trump. Some of...Read More
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