[Videolib]

Steve Fesenmaier (fesenms@wvlc.lib.wv.us)
Tue, 20 May 2003 09:43:05 -0400

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Charleston Daily Mail

Review: Special gives biased look at state's coal mining

Documentary skips details regarding modern practices

Chris Stirewalt <cstire@dailymail.com>
Daily Mail Staff

Monday May 19, 2003; 09:04 AM

National public television is airing a documentary on West Virginia coal
mining Tuesday night that has to rank as one of the most
depressing movies ever made.Director and narrator Sasha Waters no doubt
meant for "Razing Appalachia" to be a sobering
commentary on the ecological devastation of our benighted Mountain
State, but there was something even sadder in the movie.

As long as the discussion about mountaintop removal stays stuck in this
kind of mud, we're a long way from reaching consensus
or compromise on the fate of the state's mining industry.

Clearly inspired by the 1976 classic "Harlan County, U.S.A.," the movie
is devoted to the fight over whether to mine Logan
County's Blair Mountain.Instead of the murderous union thugs in cahoots
with immoral coal operators that the women of Harlan
County fought, the villains in "Razing Appalachia" are Arch Coal and its
Dal-Tex Mine.

To Waters and most of her subjects, there's little difference between
the killers and racketeers exposed in the earlier movie and
the surface miners of the late 1990s. If anything, Arch is worse.

Mining opponent Freda Williams goes the farthest. She proclaims that the
coal companies of the 1920s and 1930s -- the same
companies that hired enforcers to kill union organizers and resisted
safety measures -- were better than Arch and its ilk.

"They're not only greedy, they're ruthless," Williams says.What a
concept.

A modern corporation that pays its miners three times the average wage
in the state, spends millions on safety and negotiates in
good faith is worse than the old outfits that kept enforcers on the
payrolls and left their employees too indebted to fight back.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I should say that I grew up in a
household supported by Arch Coal. To my knowledge, the company
is a modern operation that follows the best practices in the industry.

In this movie, though, Arch is the enemy of the helpless.

Arch gets a couple of moments on camera, with spokesmen talking about
being good stewards of the land. These statements are
followed by images of the earth ravaged by draglines and explosions.

The movie mostly follows the story of the dispute over a new permit for
Dal-Tex, the lawsuit that followed, the Haden decision
and its ultimate reversal."Razing Appalachia" closes with more sinister
behavior from Arch. The brutes already are reapplying for
permits when the credits roll.

For most public television viewers, the movie will be of little impact.
It will reassure them in their views that corporations are evil
entities that grind down the poor people, that the earth is in immediate
jeopardy and that somewhere out there is a poor little state
called West Virginia.

Those folks whose experience with the state may have been reading a
tearjerker about the state in the New York Times or
seeing "October Sky" will be able to flip over to CNN with only a sigh
for the poor mountain rustics.

For in-state environmentalists, though, the movie will no doubt be a
triumph.There they are, the little guy standing up to the bully
on the block -- heroes on the front lines in the struggle to protect
defenseless nature. Not only that, but the world is watching.

We know that while coal production moves out to Wyoming, where people
presumably are less inclined to cry on camera or sing
folk songs, mines close here.

We know that while Persian Gulf oil pours into power plants in New
England and California, West Virginia faces economic
collapse.

But to the people depicted in this movie and the rest of the anti-coal
lobby here at home, there is no room for compromise. It's
either the companies or the people, and who wants to be on the side of
the monster?

Writer Chris Stirewalt can be reached at 348-4824 or by e-mail at
cstire@dailymail.com.
Copyright 2003 Charleston Daily Mail -- Privacy
policy -- Send Web site feedback or a Letter to the Editor

Subject:
from Steve Fesenmaier, Graffiti film critic
Date:
Tue, 20 May 2003 09:33:50 -0400
From:
Steve Fesenmaier <fesenms@wvlc.lib.wv.us>
Organization:
West Virginia Library Commission Library Development
To:
cstire@dailymail.com

Thanks for publishing your review of Razing Appalachia. I hope more
people watch the film.
Originally we were going to show it at the Flooded Out Film Festival but
when Bob Gates, Ray Schmitt,
and other WV filmmakes came thru with their new films on WV, we had to
drop something. The film
had its premiere in Marlington at the public library along with new
films by local filmmaker B.J.
Gudmundsson. My friends at Bullfrog Films will be distributing the film
to the schools and libraries of
the US.

I just have one thing to say - I wish that you and the leaders of Arch
Coal would buy houses near their
mountaintop removal sites, and see how YOU like the effects of living
near such war zones. Bob
Gates' first film on MTR, All Shaken Up, really hit even the garden club
ladies hard because it does
show how nice homes near such sites are destroyed by the dynamite,
flooding, etc.

Last sumer the Library of Congress created a new subject heading in
record time - "mountaintop
removal mining" - as a result of information Sandy Berman, myself, and
othes sent them. In about 30
days they created the new subject heading. Before that there was just
strip-mining and mountains to
place books, films, etc. on MTR under.

I know that Bill Raney doesn't live near a MTR site because he lives
down the street from me in back
of South Hills. His neighbors were very impressed by seeing Gates' All
Shaken Up... I think that they
will be even more shook up after they see Razing Appalachia. - Steve
Fesenmaier, Graffiti film
critic

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Charleston Daily Mail
 
 

Review: Special gives biased look at state's coal mining

Documentary skips details regarding modern practices

Chris Stirewalt <cstire@dailymail.com>
Daily Mail Staff
 
 

Monday May 19, 2003; 09:04 AM

National public television is airing a documentary on West Virginia coal mining Tuesday night that has to rank as one of the most
depressing movies ever made.Director and narrator Sasha Waters no doubt meant for "Razing Appalachia" to be a sobering
commentary on the ecological devastation of our benighted Mountain State, but there was something even sadder in the movie.

As long as the discussion about mountaintop removal stays stuck in this kind of mud, we're a long way from reaching consensus
or compromise on the fate of the state's mining industry.

Clearly inspired by the 1976 classic "Harlan County, U.S.A.," the movie is devoted to the fight over whether to mine Logan
County's Blair Mountain.Instead of the murderous union thugs in cahoots with immoral coal operators that the women of Harlan
County fought, the villains in "Razing Appalachia" are Arch Coal and its Dal-Tex Mine.

To Waters and most of her subjects, there's little difference between the killers and racketeers exposed in the earlier movie and
the surface miners of the late 1990s. If anything, Arch is worse.

Mining opponent Freda Williams goes the farthest. She proclaims that the coal companies of the 1920s and 1930s -- the same
companies that hired enforcers to kill union organizers and resisted safety measures -- were better than Arch and its ilk.

"They're not only greedy, they're ruthless," Williams says.What a concept.

A modern corporation that pays its miners three times the average wage in the state, spends millions on safety and negotiates in
good faith is worse than the old outfits that kept enforcers on the payrolls and left their employees too indebted to fight back.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I should say that I grew up in a household supported by Arch Coal. To my knowledge, the company
is a modern operation that follows the best practices in the industry.

In this movie, though, Arch is the enemy of the helpless.

Arch gets a couple of moments on camera, with spokesmen talking about being good stewards of the land. These statements are
followed by images of the earth ravaged by draglines and explosions.

The movie mostly follows the story of the dispute over a new permit for Dal-Tex, the lawsuit that followed, the Haden decision
and its ultimate reversal."Razing Appalachia" closes with more sinister behavior from Arch. The brutes already are reapplying for
permits when the credits roll.

For most public television viewers, the movie will be of little impact. It will reassure them in their views that corporations are evil
entities that grind down the poor people, that the earth is in immediate jeopardy and that somewhere out there is a poor little state
called West Virginia.

Those folks whose experience with the state may have been reading a tearjerker about the state in the New York Times or
seeing "October Sky" will be able to flip over to CNN with only a sigh for the poor mountain rustics.

For in-state environmentalists, though, the movie will no doubt be a triumph.There they are, the little guy standing up to the bully
on the block -- heroes on the front lines in the struggle to protect defenseless nature. Not only that, but the world is watching.

We know that while coal production moves out to Wyoming, where people presumably are less inclined to cry on camera or sing
folk songs, mines close here.

We know that while Persian Gulf oil pours into power plants in New England and California, West Virginia faces economic
collapse.

But to the people depicted in this movie and the rest of the anti-coal lobby here at home, there is no room for compromise. It's
either the companies or the people, and who wants to be on the side of the monster?

Writer Chris Stirewalt can be reached at 348-4824 or by e-mail at cstire@dailymail.com.
                     © Copyright 2003 Charleston Daily Mail -- Privacy policy -- Send Web site feedback or a Letter to the Editor

Subject:
             from Steve Fesenmaier, Graffiti film critic
        Date:
             Tue, 20 May 2003 09:33:50 -0400
       From:
             Steve Fesenmaier <fesenms@wvlc.lib.wv.us>
 Organization:
             West Virginia Library Commission Library Development
         To:
             cstire@dailymail.com
 
 
 

Thanks for publishing your review of Razing Appalachia. I hope more people watch the film.
Originally we were going to show it at the Flooded Out Film Festival but when Bob Gates, Ray Schmitt,
and other WV filmmakes came thru with their new films on WV, we had to drop something. The film
had its premiere in Marlington at the public library along with new films by local filmmaker B.J.
Gudmundsson. My friends at Bullfrog Films will be distributing the film to the schools and libraries of
the US.

I just have one thing to say - I wish that you and the leaders of Arch Coal would buy houses near their
mountaintop removal sites, and see how YOU like the effects of living near such war zones. Bob
Gates' first film on MTR, All Shaken Up, really hit even the garden club ladies hard because it does
show how nice homes near such sites are destroyed by the dynamite, flooding, etc.

Last sumer the Library of Congress created a new subject heading in record time - "mountaintop
removal mining" - as a result of information Sandy Berman, myself, and othes sent them. In about 30
days they created the new subject heading. Before that there was just strip-mining and mountains to
place books, films, etc. on MTR under.

I know that Bill Raney doesn't live near a MTR site because he lives down the street from me in back
of South Hills. His neighbors were very impressed by seeing Gates' All Shaken Up... I think that they
will be even more shook up after they see Razing Appalachia. - Steve Fesenmaier, Graffiti film
critic
 
 

 
 
 
 
  --------------C610547076437FADB83987C6-- --------------030CC672CF717C56DDEBA5DB Content-Type: text/x-vcard; charset=us-ascii; name="fesenms.vcf" Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit Content-Description: Card for Steve Fesenmaier Content-Disposition: attachment; filename="fesenms.vcf" begin:vcard n:Fesenmaier;Stephen L. tel;home:Outside WV - 304-558-3978 X2015 tel;work:1-800-642-9021 ext. 2015 inside WV x-mozilla-html:FALSE url:www.wvlc.lib.wv.us org:Library Development;West Virginia Library Commission adr:;;1900 Kanawha Blvd. East;Charleston;West Virginia;25305;USA version:2.1 email;internet:fesenms@wvlc.lib.wv.us title:State Data Coordinator fn:State Data Coordinator end:vcard --------------030CC672CF717C56DDEBA5DB Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii" MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit _______________________________________________ Videolib mailing list Videolib@library.berkeley.edu http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/mailman/listinfo/videolib --------------030CC672CF717C56DDEBA5DB--