A Decadent and Depraved Derby Present

So, I've been thinking. I believe Derby Presents should become a thing.

Why not? The Kentucky Derby is the greatest day of the year. It's a (usually) beautiful day in May, when people wear their prettiest clothes, drink bourbon, and watch a horse race. It's the day when every major English-speaking news outlet turns a collective eye toward Louisville. And, it comes ready-made with plenty of accoutrements. There are souvenirs to purchase, and keepsakes to treasure. There's a new logo every year. There's... well, a lot of stuff. Why not give a gift on The First Saturday in May?

Now, the Holy Grail of Derby Presents for 2013 (the inaugural year of the Derby Present) is going to be this "Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved" poster, designed by Rachel Sinclair for the brilliant guys over at Kentucky for Kentucky. (Yep, the kick-ass guys.)
It's a visual representation of Hunter S. Thompson's 1970 essay "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved", reimagined as silks. It's a visual reminder of the greatest sports essay ever written. You can hang it in your office or den, and constantly be reminded “that almost everybody you talk to from now on will be drunk. People who seem very pleasant at first might suddenly swing at you for no reason at all.”

The references are all there, if you've read closely enough. But, whether you back Colonel Sanders or Chemical Billy, you should act fast. The limited-edition poster has been featured on Buzzfeed and Deadspin. It's already sold out online; follow Kentucky for Kentucky's Facebook page for info on pop-up shop availability.

Kentucky in One Word

A single word can be a powerful thing.

This week, some of the HerKentucky team members have written about their commitment to the One Little Word project in the New Year. Lydia's mantra for 2013 is "commitment." Sarah's word is "simplify." Both are great words that have the power to transform a year.

As I read Lydia and Sarah's respective mission statements for 2013, I thought about the One Little Word that I plan to use personally and professionally in 2013, which is "Do." I have so many ideas, plans and dreams that have seemed just over the horizon lately; it seems time to bring them to fruition. I also started thinking about the power of One Little Word to characterize our unique Commonwealth.

In recent weeks, it seems that the use of One Little Word has polarized Kentucky. As y'all have probably seen by now, the guys behind the Kentucky for Kentucky project are once again spreading the message of a Kick-Ass Kentucky.  This time, they're suggesting a re-branded state.

Image via Kentucky for Kentucky
While advertising experts and social media users have overwhelmingly embraced the Kick-Ass Message, the Kentucky Department of Tourism was less than amused. Now, I personally find the idea of re-branding Kentucky as "Kick-Ass" kind of hilarious and edgy and irreverent, even if that opinion places me in the Department of Tourism's "constituency of no one."  The word "Kick-Ass" makes people take notice -- they high-five, giggle, or squirm, but they don't readily forget it. It doesn't have much gravitas, and I would imagine that there are a lot of people who don't want to see a mild expletive on billboards and license plates. I sure do like the idea of an upgrade to a hipper, more modern view of Kentucky, though. 

We first started HerKentucky was to provide an outlet for Kentucky women's voices. We wanted to share our unique experiences of life in the Bluegrass State. Along the way,  we found that there were few absolutes. Our respective backgrounds are rural or urban, equine or agrarian. We identify with different colleges, cities and sports teams. We sit on different sides of the partisan aisle.  Some of us fall into the "Kick-Ass" camp, while others identify with an "Unbridled Spirit." Kentucky life is a little different for each of us. In a way, we each have "One Little Word" that sums up our Kentucky experience.

And so, as we begin 2013, I'd love to hear from our writers, readers and friends. What One Little Word describes Kentucky for you?

Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon

Eight months ago, I would have laughed in your face if you said that I would ever run more than a half mile at one time.

On Saturday, I’ll be toeing the line to run 13.1 miles – well, attempt to run it all! I’m sure there will be some walking. (I’ll also be starting somewhere in the back of the pack, but I’m fine with that!)

I started the Couch to 5K program in August of 2011 at 90 pounds over my healthy weight. I learned how to run using an app on my smartphone and buoyed up by the encouragement of my Twitter friends. I ran my first 5K at the end of October. A month later, I was signing up for the Run the Bluegrass half marathon. Needless to say, I was hooked.

Run the Bluegrass bills itself as “one of the prettiest half marathons in America.” I can verify the truth of that claim.
Another view from today's run.
Starting near the main entrance of Keeneland, the race course flows out the back gate – near all the horse barns – and through the rolling bluegrass hills of Central Kentucky. Horse farms feature prominently along the course. There is even one pasture full of miniature horses who will run up to the fence and cheer you along. The final mile of the course runs alongside the famed white fences of Calumet Farm. The most beautiful thoroughbreds you’ll ever see will race you down the length of that fence. Undoubtedly, they will win!

The course is challenging. There are LOTS of hills! One portion of the course runs on Old Frankfort Pike past the Headley-Whitney museum. It’s one of my favorite backcountry drives in the world – both for the beauty and the roller-coaster feel of those hills. I’m not so sure my feet will feel the same joy on Saturday!
jesus H. I'm about to run up this hill.
The race, hosted by Lexenomics, has a decidedly Bluegrass and thoroughbred feel. Mrs. Penny Chenery, the owner of the legendary Secretariat, is this year’s honorary starter. The race expo offers the option for participants to buy a bottle of Maker’s Mark and have their caricature drawn on the label. Kentucky companies like Swim Bike Run of Kentucky, WellFed Meals, Ale8One, Flav-O-Rich and more are all well represented. The organizers are as local as you can get and have worked hard to follow through on their mission of “invest[ing] energies & resources into the capabilities Lexington already has.”

With over 2000 racers in only its second year, the event is growing by leaps and bounds. You’ve got plenty of time to train for next year! If I survive Saturday, I’ll see you in 2013!

Kick-Ass Kentucky

I'm sure y'all have seen the Kentucky for Kentucky project by now.

If you haven't, it's a couple of guys with deep Kentucky roots (and even deeper Central Kentucky accents) who've set out to make a Super Bowl commercial about our beautiful Commonwealth.  They only need to raise $3.5 million dollars by November 7th.   Their mission is to spread the word of what they call our Kick-Ass Kentucky: the home of beautiful people like Diane Sawyer and George Clooney as well as icons like Dr. Thompson and the Colonel, and the birthplace of bluegrass music and bourbon.  Now, I think this is brilliant.  It's the perfect blend: it's funny, a bit ironic, and infused with a deep love of our homeland.  It makes me want to support the project, and to dine at Griffin Van Meter's fabulous Stella's Kentucky Deli even more than I already do. (Seriously, y'all.  Go there. Now. You'll thank me.)

Since I first saw this video a few weeks ago, I've thought a lot about a "Kick-Ass Kentucky." Now, I think it's both hilarious and commendable that these guys are spreading the word about our awesome state in a country boy-meets-hipster fashion. Sometimes, I'm forced to acknowledge that the whole world doesn't always think Kentucky is quite as Kick-Ass as I (and the dudes behind the commercial efforts) do.

Over the years, I've worked for a international, Midwestern-based corporation and lived in a large Southern city.  I've encountered a lot of stereotypes, half-baked ideas, and general misconceptions about the Commonwealth.   I've explained, time and again, that my family is neither toothless and illiterate nor the owners of champion racehorses.  It's the oddest thing to me, it seems that  I always encounter Kentucky stereotypes that place us in the extreme ends of the socioeconomic spectrum. Somewhere between explaining that I'd never once dated a cousin and that I'd never sat beside Jessica Simpson on Millionaire's Row, I realized that, like most stereotypes, these arise more from ignorance than malice. The truth is, most of the Kentuckians I know are educated and hard-working.  My friends drive Volvos, carry Kate Spade bags,  nurse a Starbucks addiction and watch Jon Stewart.  The Kentucky of my adult life isn't all that different from anyplace else I could live.

Well, except for the fact that Kentucky is a little more Kick-Ass.