Posts from Pumpjack Press authors and contributors about culture, books, economic and social justice topics, history and more, with the occasional poem and short story.

Playlist: The soundtrack to horror is classic country

The soundtrack to true terror is classic country. Only classic country from the 1950s and 1960s has the raw, heartbroken emotion of bone-deep despair that makes the blood run cold. The people of LonePine, Wyoming, like in most small towns in the slowly dying American West, know about heartbreak and economic despair. And ever since the undead showed up, they know about terror too. That’s probably why every pickup truck radio, every jukebox in every saloon, and every portable radio is belting out classic country while the rest of the world has moved on.

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Hanford: Reflections on a visit to history’s graveyard

Hanford is located just a few hundred miles from our home in Portland, and they offer public tours throughout the summer. The tours book up quickly. Interest is high. This summer, Kathleen and I finally made it onto the list and we had the opportunity spend a day on a bus touring the Hanford Nuclear Complex. No one is allowed to take photos. Apparently, the disposal of nuclear waste is just as sensitive as the process of nuclear enrichment.

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The Highwaymen—Glamorizing police violence?

A good bit of the commentary about The Highwaymen has focused on the idea that this new film sets the story straight, transferring the hero’s mantle to the deserving law enforcement men who brought the bandits to justice.

But what really happened was far from justice. 

A little literary license to juice up a storyline isn’t particularly egregious but The Highwaymen badly misleads on three points in order to build the case that the lawmen were heroic. They weren’t. 

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Behind the headlines: Clyde Barrow’s first crime was chicken theft

Bonnie and Clyde seized the imagination of 1930s America with their daring criminal exploits, narrow escapes and doomed romance. But the misdeeds that turned Clyde from a hardscrabble farm boy into a notorious outlaw legend seem pretty tame in retrospect. The first brush the he had with the law was for stealing chickens. It was 1926 and, not surprisingly — given the long shadow of the Great Depression — he and his family were broke and hungry. He only got a warning though. 

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Matters of duration: A short story

Edward Ruckley seemed to be having a pretty good day. 

He was drinking an iced coffee in the park, a woman beside him on the bench. It was sunny, but not hot, and they were laughing about something. Or least smiling while they talked. Basically laughing.

Huron was watching them through a tiny pair of powerful binoculars from the safety of his car. He reached for his tablet and flipped through the files.

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