One of the last conversations I have at the March 2014 Lexington Comic & Toy Convention is with a miner from Eastern Kentucky. He comes to my table with his teenage daughter, a pretty cosplayer all decked out in pink, heels a tad too high for her rail-thin legs. A rugged, handsome man, he says proudly he’s a fracker who has coal-mined all his life — except during the years when he had an unhappy experience out West working in oil and gas. “It was crazy out there,” he says. He’s glad to be back in Kentucky, in coal.
“Which Side Are You On?” is a protest song from the late 1930s famously covered by Pete Seeger. The legendary folksinger/activist left us this winter at the age of 94. As one who began his entertainment career in the early Sixties as a Greenwich Village-inspired folkie, I regard Seeger, along with Woody Guthrie and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, as one of my pre-Bob Dylan Yodas. The song is about a 1931 miners’ strike in Harlan, Kentucky. It was in fact written by a coal miner’s daughter, Florence Reece, who was also the wife of one of the strike organizers. The Eastern Kentucky Coalfield also spawned another folkie, Jean Ritchie — and well-known country music artists like coal miner-daughter Loretta Lynn, Crystal Gayle, The Judds, Ricky Skaggs, Keith Whitley, Patty Loveless, Dwight Yoaka, and Billy Ray Cyrus, Miley’s dad.
So, which side are you on? Well, Dak’s a Rebel. Those of you familiar with his backstory know he was raised in captivity in the Kalist VI labor colony. As a teenager, he worked in a mine as a laser drill operator blasting away one of the ores that is a constituent of transparisteel.
Recently I have been asking fans at conventions that very question. In February, Peter Mayhew, Daniel Logan, and I were in Pensacola, Florida, at Pensacon. The first day, we three were on a Star Wars panel before a packed house of fans, and I put it to them. The show of hands indicated: 30 percent Imperials, 30 percent Rebels and 30 percent Underground, consistent with what I have found in my previous surveys.