Tag Archives: kentucky

il Kentucky

We’re often curious as to how others see us. To that end, today’s offering is composed of translations from an Italian guidebook to the USA on my home state and city. Factually, it’s largely accurate, with a couple of exceptions (the Louisville Falls Fountain was scrapped 13 years ago), but the amusement for Louisvillians and Kentuckians should come from the nuance. Largely, the Italians give the Commonwealth high marks for natural beauty and traditional culture. Coming from Italy, that’s a high compliment.


Upon closer inspection, the book is actually the Italian translation of a UK-published volume, DK Publishing’s USA Eyewitness Travel Guide. Well, although not Italian, it is still foreign, so the basic premise remains, but it’s less fun.

Civil War Cannons


With its passages through the Appalachians and hilly pastures where horses run through acres of bluegrass, Kentucky is one of the most picturesque states in the country. The land in the west is mountainous, and was at one time inhabited by Indians who forcefully resisted settlements of the white colonists. Today Kentucky is known all over the world for its horses and in the area around Lexington you can find many thoroughbred farms. One of racing’s most prestigious events, the Kentucky Derby, takes place in Louisville. The state is also famous for its traditional style of country music. Highway 23 along the eastern border of the state is nicknamed Country Music Highway.

Louisville Sluggers



Founded near the falls of the Ohio River in 1788, in Louisville (pronounced “Luuavol”) you’ll find one of the most famous horse races in the world, the Kentucky Derby. The Derby is to Louisville what Mardi Gras is to New Orleans or what the Masters is forAugusta: the event around which the whole calendar turns. Since the first Derby in 1975, countless three-year-old horses have run down the track at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May. Kentucky’s high society turns out in spring dress for the event, with hats and striped cotton suits. The unofficial drink of the day is the mint julep, a mix of bourbon ice, sugar and fresh mint typical of the south. The song “My Old Kentucky Home” is sung as the horses are led to the track for a race that lasts less than two minutes. The winner brings home the coveted trophy, adorned with a silver horseshoe in the form of a “U” — “so that the good luck can’t escape.”

La mia vecchia casa del Kentucky

The nearby Kentucky Derby Museum shows off the history of horse racing and offers a tour of the racetrack Churchill Downs. A couple of blocks from the old downtown by the riverfront, the Louisville Slugger Museum produces the noted baseball bat in a factory marked by a 36-meter-high bat.

The J.B. Speed Art Museum on South 3rd Street offers a grand collection of paintings and Renaissance sculpture. At Riverfront Plaza on the banks of the Ohio River, between Main and Fourth Streets, there are many paddlewheel boats that offer a tour of the area, and a fountain that sprays water 115 meters in the air. The old warehouses that surround the old downtown have been changed into cafes, galleries and stores.

Three kilometers to the northeast of downtown is Cave Hill Cemetery, one of the biggest cemeteries in the United States. Many Louisvillians come just to feed the ducks or to wander on the well-kept lawns. Fifty kilometers southwest of Louisville you can see the federal gold deposit at Fort Knox.

Country Music and Bluegrass

Poa pratensis, field fodder

Like the Mississippi Delta is for the blues, the strip of eastern Kentucky(along with West Virginia) has one of the biggest concentrations of country music artists in America. English, Irish and Scottish immigrants brought with them their ballads, rhythms and Elizabethan instruments, which they used to create a typically American style now called “country,” characterized by rapidly-played violins, an occasional yodel and lyrics about the hard life in the southeastern United States. Highway 23, which goes from Ashland to Pikeville along the eastern border of the state, is nicknamed the “Country Music Highway” to commemorate the number of musicians born along it. The road passes though the birthplaces of Billy Ray Cyrus, Loretta Lynn, Patty Loveless and Dwight Yoakam. The great fields of Kentucky bluegrass inspired a particular kind of country music that bears the same name, which comes from a kind of music played at the end of the ’40s by Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys. The name bluegrass stuck and this style of acoustic folk music is quite popular in the region. The traditional bluegrass instruments are the guitar, mandolin, five-string banjo, bass and Dobro.

If you outlaw whiskey, then only outlaws...

Use and Consumption of Alcohol

Compared to the rest of the country, inhabitants of the south are predominantly teetotalers. Many are Baptists, a religion that disapproves of the consumption of alcohol. In some rural regions, one can find counties, mainly in the mountains, where alcohol cannot be sold or served to the public legally. But the exceptions to this tradition are legendary: producers of “moonshine”, a homemade whisky made from corn, earned their fame as outlaws in the days of Prohibition by hiding from federal agents in the depths of the woods and using their stills only at night – thus the name “moonshine.” Drinking a mint julep on Derby Day in Louisville is local tradition so beloved that local girls begin collecting the traditional silver cups starting at age 12.


A picture of future as imagined by Rand Paul

“Always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face— forever.”

And so we have… the Tea Party in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

I do find MoveOn imminently annoying. But there’s no excuse for such thuggery. Not even Conway’s fairly low-blow striking ad. It doesn’t exactly bode well for free expression, especially when coupled with Rand Paul’s extremist beliefs in virtually every other area. Let’s help this will help ruin him. If he wins after this and the Maddow debacle, it will say something about Kentucky. A very negative something, along the lines of “what a bunch of hicks.”

Rand Paul in the Corriere

This time I’m not writing to encourage you to vote for an artist. This is for real.  Or as real as it gets with opposing the Civil RightsrejectingAmero-believing regressive lunacy that will become our state’s cross to bear.  Yes.  A man only an alien could love…

Kentuckians, get out there and vote. I realize that outside of Louisville and Lexington things don’t look too good, but we have to defeat this fool Rand Paul.  Or at least try. The race is not only being closely watched outside of KY, but outside of the US. Here’s an observation from the Corriere — an aside in an article about Joe Miller that caught a bit interest in the country of Berlusconismo.

The headline reads, “Fights, insults, handcuffs, threats.  The U.S. and the ‘politics of rage.'”

It is the latest in a series of examples of the “politics of rage”as it’s called by the influential U.S. website Politico.com: the anger of the electorate (or more correctly the extreme frustration according to some polls) that is finding more expression than ever in a bad attitude and is ready to be used in the struggles of both Republican and Democrat politicians, as is clearly visible from the red faces and eyes bulging in clashes performed on television and in relationships with journalists.

Other examples: last Sunday in Kentucky, Republican Rand Paul was so offended when his Democratic opponent accused him of being “a member of a group that insulted Christianity and Christ” that he declared: “Have you lost your sense of decency?” He may refuse to appear at the next televised debate.

Do your part to crash the tea party/teabag the teabaggers/piss in the teapot/your insult of choice here.  I for one am filling out my absentee ballot tonight.