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08/25/2014 11:56 AM

End Times and the Class Divide

Fitzgerald observed that the “rich are very different”, apparently so are the poor. Of course, one person’s different is another’s normal depending on where you sit on the socio-economic ladder. A recent Upshot Article in the New York Times examined how Google searches vary geographic location and by extension socio-economic status. The study suggests that the well-off want to know about digital cameras while the poor obsess about the Antichrist.


Specifically, the study looked at what searches correlated with what the researchers deemed the hardest places to live in the country and the easiest. The study employed a six-factor index (education, household income, unemployment, disability, life expectancy, and obesity) to determine the difficulty of life in each county in the country.


The top ten highest correlated searches to the hardest places to live include “antichrist”, “the antichrist”, “rapture”, and “about hell”. Apparently, where life is hard, people like their religion hard as well. Admittedly, a search for “rapture” may indicate an escapist fantasy but it also has a dark side. Those left behind will go through the “tribulation”—an ironic analogy to the divide between rich and poor.


At its heart, tales of the endtimes are ghost stories, albeit “Holy Ghost” stories. Fearing something that is not real, or cannot be proved to be real can be a diversion from a very real life of grinding poverty. It also suggests that fate or “God’s will” plays a part in one’s station in life. In some ways, accepting the “God’s will” argument parallels the final stage of grief, acceptance. But what happens when the hopeless suddenly have hope?


Revelation 11-First in the Revelation Trilogy is set in a small Central Pennsylvania mining town where the coal and iron veins have been exhausted. The people who remain eke out a living by commuting long distances or running marginal small businesses. When a mega-church set up in an old high school broadcasting fire and brimstone to the world via satellite starts pumping money into the local economy, the residents are all too willing to believe their long-awaited salvation is at hand. Whether it is or not is the story’s essential mystery.

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Albert Davenport is the author of In the Shadow of Midnight: Daedalus, A Tale of Savannah and the upcoming novel Revelation 11

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08/10/2014 09:00 PM

Whose Struggle?

I remember my introduction to conceptual art.  We were in the tenth grade, and our art class had a student teacher, a feminist raver (this was 1997 or so) from Penn State named Ms. Ziggler or something similar.  One day she showed us a slide of Duchamp’s readymade, In Advance of the Broken Arm: The […]

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John Pistelli was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He now lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he teaches literature and writing. His reviews and essays have appeared in Rain Taxi, Powells.com, Dissident Voice, and New Walk. His fiction has appeared in The Three Rivers Review, The Legendary, and Whole Beast Rag.

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02/08/2014 12:45 AM

ONLY "MB"


"White people are taking over the city," Marion Barry said tonight during a radio interview with yours truly and Lyndia Grant on her WYCB-AM 1340 program, which she billed as a Black History tribute to "MB's" civil rights work. So, under those ground rules, we all just had a blast shootin' the breeze with him about his health and his legacy. Contrary to rumor, the "Mayor-for-Life" sounded much stronger than we'd expected. However, he acknowledged that he is receiving therapy ...in an undisclosed physical rehabilitation center and says he's walking better and his muscles are better and his spirits are high, and he's looking forward to celebrating his 78th birthday on March 6. He does, after all, he said "have a 77-year-old body" and "it's a miracle that he is alive." No kidding. He alluded to diabetes as the main culprit and said the city is not doing anything about the disease that affects so many blacks. Asked, of course, about his legacy, he said, "I've helped a lot of people." Asked what the "Mayor-for-Life's" public policy priorities would be if he was actually the mayor now, he answered, "helping people stay in the city," because "the white people are taking over the city." And, he'd try to get more "jobs, jobs, jobs" which was actually the priority of his first term.
On a lighter note, MB "loves" the show "Scandal." He pointed out that Judy Smith was working in the US Attorneys Office when he was on trial, and "she's the one trying to clean up that bullshit they were puttin' out there." Only MB; we let him slide on a few of the legal details -- this time. Graciously, he thanked me for being nice! As Mary Layton said, it was a "lovefest."

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Adrienne Terrell Washington is an award-winning journalist, commentator and professor. She has covered local and national news in the nation's capital for over three decades. Her "A Washington Note" blog provides throught provoking insight into current events. When not blogging, Ms. Washington writes memoir and historical pieces.

06/26/2013 01:00 AM

Barbecue Runs Through It

I love Southern food. Barbecue especially. Smoky, salty tender bits of pork slathered in spicy sweet tomatoey goodness with a side of slaw washed down with a Coca-Cola (sugarcane edition,) It’s the sandwich the family in A Good Man is Hard to Find eat at the Tower, brought to them by the pale faced wife of the owner, all five plates balanced in her hands and on her forearm. Their last meal.
In O’Connor’s time, the Tower no doubt was a segregated establishment much like Ollie’s Barbecue, the restaurant in one of the original Civil Rights Act challenge cases the Supreme Court heard in1964. Ollie’s Barbecue was a small, family owned restaurant that seated 220 white customers and provided black customers with a take-out counter. Ollie argued that he wasn’t required to integrate his dining room because he had the contractual right to serve whom he pleased and was not engaged in so-called interstate commerce. The Civil Rights Act was premised on the Commerce Clause, which gave the federal government the power to regulate interstate - as opposed to intrastate - commerce.
The Supreme Court shot down Ollie’s argument. It reasoned that because African-Americans travelled the highways just like everybody else, they needed to stop to eat just like O’Connor’s traveling family. To deprive any travelers of any race of the joys of barbecue was unconstitutional and impeded their movement across state lines.
One of the ironies of Ollie’s Barbecue is that the cuisine has its origins not in the Northern European lands of Southern whites, but in the cooking of the Caribbean and from there to the United States with the slave trade. Soon, Southerners were enjoying their pig roasted and smoked at barbecues. In fact, in the opening scene in Gone with the Wind has Scarlett O’Hara, the daughter of an Irish plantation and slave owner, attends a barbecue at neighboring plantation Twelve Oaks - all of it prepared by slaves.
Food and race are inextricably linked in the South. One need only look to recent revelations that Paula Deen harbored a nostalgia for times long gone with the wind when she told lawyers during a deposition that she had wanted a proper plantation wedding for her brother complete with servers dressed like those who had served Scarlett her barbecue. Those servers, by implication, would have pretended to be slaves. That this fantasy might have been misinterpreted was Paula’s stated reason for rejecting the idea.
So here we are, on the day the same Supreme Court that declared Ollie’s Barbecue open to all gutted a major piece of civil right legislation we are supposed to believe that the post-racial age has arrived. I beg to differ.

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Anniken Davenport is the author of the upcoming nonfiction book Sins of the Fathers: How a Miscarriage of Justice Brought Down a Capital City detailing the very human story behind Harrisburg, Pennsylvania's massive fiscal crisis.

She holds an MA in both fiction and non-fiction writing from Johns Hopkins University. Ms. Davenport, an attorney with vast experience in criminal, labor and employment law, has authored college textbooks, and numerous professional articles.