As in many other Western countries the ‘elite’ has become suspicious, but in Danish even ‘ambition’ has a negative connotation. When I look it up in my English dictionary, it’s associated with words like ‘achievement’ and ‘performance,’ ‘will power’ and ‘hard work;’ the examples suggest that ambition is an acceptable, or even admirable, way to achieve your goals (ambitious students; an ambitious attempt to break the record; an ambitious program to eliminate all slums). Definitions in my Danish dictionary, on the other hand, are notably different: ‘1) Which is full of ambition = desirous, pushy: an ambitious career-hunter. 2) Which requires great effort, perhaps too great: a very ambitious project, an ambitious goal.’
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, or maybe he didn’t, but either way vast ribbons of peat came to rest under what became the foothills of Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau, and in time the peat became coal, and later the railroads arrived, along with mines and coke ovens, and near one lazy arc of the Tennessee River workers built homes to return to after their long days of burrowing and burning, and the homes became a town, and the town was called Dayton.
"The same basic human drama at work when Oklahomans went into California during the Dust Bowl is going on today, with the migration of Latinos into the United States.”
"Places and lives contain all sorts of self-defeating contradictions, and in New Orleans one of the most potent was that many of the people who had come to help the city were also hurting it.”
Places and lives contain all sorts of self-defeating contradictions, and in New Orleans one of the most potent was that many of the people who had come to help the city were also hurting it.
Appalachia’s a green speck in the eye
of God, a speck man’s been working to remove
for the past century or two,
but for now it’s dust in our teeth
One Saturday Mr. Purifoy appeared there, to my surprise. He was AA, or as he liked to call it, ND. The letters stood for Nameless Drunks, his jocular cacophemism for Alcoholics Anonymous. Saying the words always made him laugh.
Now to the more recent past and a place in southern New Mexico, bright land of bargain motels and fair dealing, where I was doing some research on Pancho Villa’s 1916 raid across the border. My room was in a motel I will call the Ominato Inn, not quite a dump, with a weekly rate of $130 flat, no surcharges. The price quoted was what you paid, with no tourist penalties, bed taxes, bathroom duties, or other shakedown fees piled on, such as to make a joke of the nominal price. There should have been a pair of signs out front, flashing back and forth:
NOT QUITE A DUMP AT DUMP PRICES