Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Sunday Away From The Fray: Kentucky

Even with a whole day to myself, I couldn't bring myself to visit the infamous Harlan County. Despite what you gather from the TV show Justified, it isn't right next door to Lexington, it's a good 2+ hours away.

But I did my homework anyway on the central player of my favorite current TV drama. Harlan County is only home to just over 29,000 souls (96% white), and it has at least that many firearms. I met a Harlan native now based in Lexington, and he was actually wearing a cowboy hat just like Raylan's.

ME:   So what is there to do in Harlan on a day off?

HARLAN:   They do ATV tours that are pretty cool.

ME:   What about stockpiling guns and explosives? Is there like a Boyd Crowder fantasy camp?

HARLAN:   There's still moonshine.

ME:   So ATVs, explosives, and moonshine? Or as they call it in Kentucky...Sunday?

HARLAN:   Sounds about right.

ME:   What about Ellie Mae's trailer out in some Holler?

He laughed and said the show makes life look far more interesting than it really is. But some of the stuff is too real. Like last episode, there are plenty of families that'll blow your head off if you try to take away their government "draw."

The "draw" is the government disability/workers comp check for almost every human that has ever worked in the mines. It's ironic that people so dependent on the government are so against it.

Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers has a chapter called "Bloody Harlan" which examines the Culture of Honor that takes place in the American South. The quote that prefaces the chapter is "Die like a man, like your brother did." Generations have killed off each other in Harlan because of an insult directed at one's family.

If I spent the day in Harlan, chances are I would have insulted someone before the day was through. Which would have meant my chances of getting killed would be greater than zero. Especially if I was on the moonshine, setting of explosives while I was ATVing.

So I decided to stay in my Lexington hotel suite and catch up on expense reports. That never killed anyone.

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