Skip to content

no room for hipsters

the occupation of Ashley and Levon

(from Levon)

After posting the video yesterday, I realized that we have never really fully quenched the power of YouTube by letting you know that we have a channel. Generally we upload them there and link to it here, but that means you’d have to scroll through pages and pages of blog to find each video.  (Not that we wouldn’t encourage such an activity).   There’s about 20 videos there, mostly “little art videos” as we call them.

Yesterday’s post was our “Tired Language” music video and I wanted to explain a bit about the significance of draglines (coal shovels) that appear in it.

It’s kind of a coincidence how we got that footage to start with.  During Thanksgiving, Ashley and I were at her mom’s farm, Grace Acres near D.C. and looking at old holiday photos.  Her mom mentioned a box of 8mm film she had recently been given by her dad.  It  just so happened that I was transporting my usual 1/2 ton Corolla load, trying to get it in the general direction of Knoxville.  In there somewhere was my grandfather’s Super 8 movie projector.  Furthermore, you may know that Ashley paints projector screens and we keep our eye out for them at thrift shops.  We have three of them.

Ashley's "I miss my electric skin" acrylic on projector screen

We took my projector to a camera store and replaced some 30 year old parts.  Frankie, coincidently had been “projector monitor” in grade school- the person responsible for the school’s supply of projectors being lent out to classrooms.  He became the projectionist.  We set up a movie theater with an 8ft screen and watched the whole box as a family after Thanksgiving dinner.  I have to say, that was pretty cool.

We refilmed most of the process on our digital camera as we watched.  Ashley’s grandfather was a mine inspector and the dragline used in our video is his 1978 footage from Western Virginia.

When I was a rebellious youngster we would sneak into old mines and sink our trucks in mud or jump them off piles of who knows what.  We started breaking into abandoned draglines which I would compare to crawling through iron submarine passageways with 20 years of rust and dirt on top of 20 years of coal dust.  The coal company welded beams across doors and bolted others shut.  They would fill passageways with unwound cable and hoses.  They cut steps out of  ladders and covered crawl space floors with grease.  We had to be determined, and prepared not go straight home.  Eventually we could navigate our way to the top where the only thing left to do was shimmy up the end beam, out over the bucket. Those were YAWP! moments.

Why not just tear it down or move it?  Because they come in on river barges and take years to assemble.  Usually they are buried, or left for the water rise.  Thats why one should be careful when cliff jumping in strip pits.

Ashley considers a jump off Riverqueen's best rock

So one night a couple of years later I brought Ashley back to Western Kentucky and we snuck out to the machinery sitting like a dark deserted downtown in the middle of a few square miles of reclamation.  I hadn’t told her anything about it.  She fearlessly followed me to the top, and this time I was terrified.  We hid ourselves from the wind between two of the iron cable wheels and spread our weight across the arm span of platform.  Those bronze wheels were solid as the clocks of time but the platform was tacked on like toothpicks.

I gently put my knee down on the metal and clutched my fingers through the diamond holes.  I reached in my pocket and found the ring.  Her great grandfather had given her great grandmother this ring, purchased at the company store by scrip paper in a coal mining camp in West Virginia. Ashley said yes.  The moment was as intense as it was brief, because to get married we would first have to get down.

We are actually going out today and see if the thing is still there.  Just for pictures.  Come back.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: