[ambient music] [birds chirping] [footsteps crunching on ground] - [Interviewer] Tell us about your hat.
- My hat?
Make America Great Again, in Russian [chuckles].
[Jim laughing] [light guitar music] Black Mountain, Kentucky's highest mountain, being strip-mined as we speak.
How on earth a state can let something like that happen is beyond me.
However, Black Mountain has coal and as long as there's coal we're gonna pay for that.
- [Reporter] This is strip-mining 24-hours a day some of the biggest machines ever built tear the mountain sides apart, half of America's coal is mined like this.
- [Reporter 2] Surface mining carries a huge cost, nothing less than the mountains themselves, the icons of this beautiful state.
- [laughing] They do piss me off.
Well, thank you and thank you very much.
As always we thank the Mountain Eagle for letting us share, speak your peaces with you, each week here on "Riding Around Listening To The Radio" with yours truly, unruly Wiley Quixote, of a Wednesday on WMMT, the very best radio station in the whole wide W-H-I-R-L-E-D, I would remind you I do not make this stuff up.
- He was a wonderful man and I think it was his hope that everybody would enjoy this mountain, that's what he always said, "It's for everybody, and no mining, no fracking, [Marlene laughing], and no mountaintop removal."
- He knew everybody, everybody knew him.
- He was interested in everybody and sometimes not only the straight and narrow people.
- His love for the culture, and the people, and these mountains, was just stronger, stronger than- [accordion music] Any Appalachian I that I can think of in history.
I mean there are a lot of great writers that have come out here, a lot of great musicians, and there are a lot of people who've been put on higher pedestals than Jim Webb, but I don't think anybody, when it comes to Appalachian culture, and being the cheerleader, and the proponent of what it means to be Appalachian, I don't think anybody needs to be put on a higher pedestal than Jim Webb, I think he needs to be at the top of the top of the top.
[light upbeat music] [light upbeat music continues] [vehicle engine humming] [vehicle door squeaking open] - All right, hello dogs.
This is my toolbox.
That rock looks like Kentucky.
[footsteps thumping on ground] [dog panting] I keep a trash can, but, I mean a recycling thing, I recycle everything I possibly can.
I had an uncle killed in the mines, I've had friends killed in the mines, killed in the mines.
It's the most dangerous job in the world and people talk about how much they get paid, that's ridiculous, they don't get paid enough.
It was one thing to deep mine and, you know, it has its problems too, it ruins people's water and undermines houses and things like that, but strip-mining was just the greatest sin that ever happened to the earth.
[light guitar music] In 1965, I worked for [indistinct] Sturgill Coal Company, the first big strippers here in Eastern Kentucky and I helped literally blow some tops off of some mountains.
[dynamite booming] We're out there cutting some trees and got our tools and this young guy comes up, about my age, maybe a little younger, and he says, "My grandmother doesn't want you cutting her trees."
I start to say something back, "Well, you know the company sent, I mean, they've sent us up here to do this, what do you mean?"
And that was The Widow Combs' property.
[light music] That year at Thanksgiving, she was arrested by the Kentucky State Police for stopping them from strip-mining her land and as I've always heard it was land that she was leaving to her grandson.
It's just mind boggling, but I was one of the first three people run off of The Widow Combs' land [chuckling].
- [Reporter] For 20 years mining has destroyed this country on the borders of Tennessee and Kentucky, but in the mountains the people have begun to fight.
- Every time I'd complain about the blasting, the superintendent said to me one day, he said, "Do you realize that you're bitin' the hand that feeds ya?"
And I said, "Yeah, but I also realize it's the hand that's killing me."
- There were a lot of people protesting, their farmland was being ruined their, everything, and that is when I feel like I found my voice, my writer's voice, my literary voice, I started writing about strip-mining.
[reel snapping] - In '77 there was this huge flood that just about wiped out Williamson.
I think this sense of large forces at work, mainly in surface mining, that were denuding the hillsides of their vegetation that was holding back the rain from all just rushing down into the streams.
So in other words, the strip-mining was behind, at least a part of the problems of that flood.
- You know, thousands of people, homeless, people staying in their cars, no food, no nothing- [pickup motor humming] And so a group of us got together and tried to figure it out.
At times like that people come together, and I mean all of us pitching in, and that's when we started getting real political.
- And he and Bob Baber, and some other poets and writers and activists in the area, got together and made some noise about the reason behind the flood, the strip-mining and all the runoff in the mines, and things like that.
- We finally started getting some response.
In amongst things we started a petition drive to abolish strip-mining.
[paper machine whirring] [light music] [water gushing] [machine motor humming] [water gushing] [machine motor humming] [newspaper stack clunking on ledge] [background talking] - My best parking job ever!
[door clunking shut] [customers laughing] - Jim began to write editorials in the newspaper and of course he was a professor at the local community college and he didn't want to risk his job as making these kind of challenges to the existing powers that be, right, it was mainly the coal industry.
He's writing these angry editorials and instead of putting his own name there, he uses a pen name, which he decided would be Wiley Quixote.
- And I started writing a column, a satirical political column, called "Riding Around Listening To The Radio With Wiley Quixote."
- He was also very interested in wordplay at that time as well.
The governor was named, Arch Moore, and he would change his name to some kind of bazaar, I can't remember exactly.
- And I called him Arch Enema.
- All of the people who read it knew exactly who he was talking about and you know like in all parody, it's all kind of in the know.
If you're in the know you get it, if you're not then you're like, what in the world is this guy writin' about?
We were at a bar somewhere and he had had two or three and he said, "Herbie, I wanna tell you something."
I said, "Yeah?"
He said, "I'm Wiley Quixote," [laughing].
I said, "I know, Jim."
He said, "You did," [laughing]?
He thought he was being so clever.
[light guitar music] [vehicle engine humming] - Well, if you wanna move your seat back, Nick, you can.
It's easy to do and it'll just cramp the people in the back seat, but who cares about them anyway?
- [Nick] When did you buy this place, Jim?
Over here is the Walled In Pond, and this is the Wegivea Dam.
[laughing] Welcome to the 17th annual Pine Mountain Tacky Lawn Ornament, Pink Flamingo Soiree at, Wiley's Last Resort, Welding Chapel and Health Spa.
- I think Jim was about making a few statements while he was on the planet.
That if he said, "Last resort," he meant, all right, let's go for it [laughing].
Wait, this is we got one last era to do some stuff up here that nobody's attempted before and let's try her out [laughing].
- The resort is like no place on earth [chuckling].
It is clever, and humorous, and artistic.
[water splashing] But it's also held together with coat hangers and duct tape, it's just this Walt Disney World kind of place for hillbilly artists.
[upbeat blue grass music] [upbeat blue grass music continues] - We're here to honor you as the bestest friend ever, and the bestest- - Yeah.
- Resort known to man.
This is the only place that we know us common people can come and act [indistinct].
- I'm a proud American, proud Appalachian, stop mountaintop removal kinda guy.
Yes, bye-bye, Black Mountain, bye-bye.
Bye-bye, Black Mountain, bye-bye.
You sorry, greed heads.
[crowd cheering] You sorry greed heads!
You sorry, sorry, greed heads, decapitate the space.
I have dear friends who work in the industry and I understand that, and that's why are we are friends of miners and mountains.
[crowd cheering] Friends of miners and mountains.
[crowd cheering] Friends of miners- [crowd cheering] And mountains!
[crowd cheering] [bagpipe music] ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ Religious leaders and friends of creation speak out.
Consider how many people deny global climate change and refuse to see our hand in harming earth.
Almighty God give us strength to use our voices and actively recruit others to save the earth.
[bagpipe music] [crickets] [TV news jingle] - [Reporter] Breaking news, an agreement was reached between the Commonwealth of Kentucky and several coal operators with interest in Black Mountain.
The state agreed to pay 4.2 million to exclude mining above 3,200 feet on Black Mountain, Kentucky's highest point.
- There's Black Mountain, highest mountain in the state.
It is not going to be decapitated apparently, but it sure is having the hell stripped out of it 'cause apparently the taxpayers are paying, we, are paying millions of dollars so that they don't get the top.
It's really crazy a state that would let its highest mountain be strip-mined.
That just tells you how the government's in the pocket of the coal industry and what a terrible thing.
[light guitar music] ♪ [water splashing] ♪ ♪ #*#*#* #*#*#*#* it!
Mountaintop removal, mountaintop bombing, mountaintop devastation, mountaintop destruction, mountaintop dynamite, mountaintop decapitation, mountaintop desecration, mountaintop wretch et cetera, mountaintops, as close to heaven as you can get on this East Kentucky earth, this West, by God, Virginia Earth, this wise Virginia Earth, we're abomination, so why don't God complain when he/she/its trying to sleep?
Why don't God send down a lightning bolt, call the cops, tell 'em to hold it down, down there, cut that crap out!
Let an old man, old woman, the kids sleep.
♪ [Jim chuckling] [Jim snorting] All right.
[light guitar music] ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪