Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Drinking Liberally: Wedgie Politics

What do you call a sharply divisive political issue, especially one that is raised by a candidate or party in hopes of attracting or disaffecting a portion of an opponent's customary supporters? The pundit class, drunk as they are on cocktail weenies and spritzers, call it a Wedge Issue. Drinking Liberally - that weekly amalgamation of gay liberals, immigrant progressives, abortionist greens, and hot button hotties - call them wedgies because they're a pain in our collective asses.

When politicians are unprepared to have policy debates or an examination of the record, they turn to the wedgies. You might recognize some of these recurring flashes in the wedgie pan:

One Nation UNDER GOD!
Constitutional Amendment against flag burning
Indecency on television
Gay teletubbies

And the Republicans continue to trot out the tried and true wedgies, summed up by blogger Brainshrub: "The only way to protect the sanctity of the American flag, and the freedoms for which it stands, is to pass a constitutional amendment against gay married illegal Mexican immigrant flag-burners."

Wedgies have been an effective tool for conservatives for decades now, and liberals have been unable or unwilling to counter with effective wedgies of our own. Should liberals utilize wedgies in our campaigns? What issues would effectively divide conservatives? Or should we leave the smoke and mirrors of emotion politics to Karl Rove and the can't-shoot-straight gang?

It's time to pull the wedgie from the beautiful round buttocks of American politics, and Drinking Liberally is the best way to do it. We'll rip the floss from our hindquarters and hold it up to the light of scrutiny. If you're the victim of a wedgie, pushed or pulled up onto your toes by political puppetmasters, or if you've managed to navigate American citizenship without ever offering your waistband to the locker room politics of D.C. frat boys, come on down to Drinking Liberally, Jack of the Wood, Thursday night, 7-10pm. Everyone's welcome, and, just for this week, you may want to go commando.

NOTICE ALERT ANNOUNCEMENT OF LARGE CHANGE: Due to circumstances beyond our control, this will be Drinking Liberally's last week at Jack of the Wood. We will begin meeting at our fantastic new location next Thursday and for every Thursday ever after. Drinking Liberally is proud to convene at the Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company's Coxe Avenue Brewpub. At 77 Coxe Avenue, it's a block south of Jack of the Wood. There's oodles of outdoor seating and a giant movie screen that may come in handy. The APBC on Coxe Avenue serves pizza by the slice and pitchers of the most excellent craft beers around. Next week, June 8, we'll start meeting there. June 1 will be our last night at Jack of the Wood.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Biltmore Insider

Are you obsessed with the Biltmore Estate, that giant Vanderbilt mansion that sits right here in your backyard? Dying to know about the tulips and picnic opportunities on the grounds. Want to hear about the history of dairy farming at Biltmore? How about the remembrances of George Vanderbilt's great-granddaughter, who talks about playing hide-and-seek in the more than 100 rooms of the opulent house?

If the answer is yes, there's a podcast for you. It's called the Biltmore Insider. It's posted on the Biltmore Estate's website, and there are currently four episodes up. We listened to one episode and can tell you that it is well-produced and mildly interesting, if you don't mind listening to what amounts to an extended ad for the Biltmore Estate.

BlogAsheville's Extravablogiversapaloozathon

It's official, BlogAsheville will raise the roof and lower the boom at the mighty, mighty celebration to recognize our first year of Asheville group Blogadelica. Edgy Mama is taking the risk of having the congegration at her pnav. She's covering the place in plastic, though the children and cats will have only a thin coat of Scotchguard.

Everyone who's coming can contact Egdy Mama for directions. Bring your family and fans if you like. If everyone could choose an unmet blogger from the blogroll and contact them about the extravablogiversapaloozathon, that'd be great. There are too many of you who haven't come out of the cybershadows into our BlogAsheville extravirtual gatherings, and I'm as curious as can be.

Date: Saturday, June 17

Time: 6:30 ish until the beer runs out, or someone starts dancing nekkid in the treehouse, whichever comes first

Place: Pnavistan, home of just a few high-minded North Asheville liberals and two cats (if you've never been here, e-mail me for directions at janusatannefittenglenndotcom)

Who's invited: You. BA bloggers, Asheville bloggers, NC bloggers, their family members, blogger groupies, male strippers.

Dress: The less, the better.

Bring: Food to share. Alcohol, if you don't want beer. Prizes (wrapped). A sleeping bag if you plan on being overserved.

The Extravablogiversapaloozathon is a chance to celebrate our achievements, our friendships, our creativity, and our future. I can't wait to see everybody there.

Vote Today

Van Duncan and Walt Robertson square off today in a race wholly unlikely to excite the masses. It's the Democratic Party's runoff to choose a candidate for Sheriff.


Whoever wins todays vote will be up against the meanest, shortest, nastiest Buncombe County good ol' boy, Bobby Medford. If you haven't ever seen Sheriff Medford, it's probably because the half-dozen goons he keeps around him as bodyguards are all a foot taller than the Sheriff.

If you ask this handicapper, this race comes down to race. Both candidates appear qualified and have similar agenda, but one candidate is white and one is black. If the stereotypes hold true, then the city of Asheville will go with Walt Robertson while everywhere outside the city limits will go with Van Duncan.

This election is unique in that you may never have your vote mean so much in a countywide race. With voter turnout expected in the triple digits, your vote will carry a lot more weight than usual.

Ashvegas wrote a commentary on the race here.

Go vote! I know you don't really give a damn, but it's your right, responsibility, duty, and honor to vote. You celebrated Memorial Day yesterday, and just what do you think all those soldiers were dying for?

Monday, May 29, 2006

Tourist time

So I was over at Edgy Mama, where she was rambling on about her influences or some such high-mindedness, when I saw that someone calling themselves "Asheville pubcrawler" had commented.

I followed the guy's link to his blog, an Urban Trail blog designed to be a meeting place for trail guides. Here's what pubcrawler says:

"I was thinking that we could use this blog to record the goings-on of our tours. It would be interesting to have a written account from each guide: the number of people on the tours, what the weather was like, any zany details, like maybe the guy that mooned you on the corner, any problems you ran into. They can be as detailed or succinct as you like; just keep us all up to date!"

And guess what - I just happened to take a pic of some of the seething tourist mass on the trail.

What a long, strange trip it's been

A group calling themselves the Merrymakers Caravan stopped in Ashvegas on Monday, parking their big buses next to the Vance Monument and inviting people aboard.

The group's members, who were also promoting something called the Twelve Tribes, seemed to be espousing a certain religous belief system and lifestyle. There was a tent sent up, with a big banner stating "Open Forum," and people were standing around debating Scripture.

But the group also seems to owe something to the famous psychedelic followers of Ken Kesey, who penned "One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest," freely experimented with LSD through "acid tests" and inspired the hippie aesthetic of 1960s San Francisco. The Merry Pranksters took their brightly colored bus across the country, a bus similar to the one that stopped in Ashvegas this weekend. Kesey and his group met up with everyone from Hunter S. Thompson to Jack Kerouac to Timothy Leary.

Tom Wolfe immortalized the Merry Pranksters in "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test." Here's what one web site says about that period:

"Tom Wolfe did not catch up with Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters until their long, strange journey was almost at an end. He met the elusive leader of the Merry Pranksters at the San Mateo county jail where Kesey ended up following his faked suicide and subsequent exile to Mexico. The psychedelic movement was just about to explode onto the world stage, and it was Kesey and his Pranksters who originated nearly every aspect of the new 'hippie' aesthetic bizarre dress, communal lifestyle, psychedelic drugs, light shows, and self-expressive rock and roll music. Tom Wolfe's breakneck, frenetic style captured the wild and turbulent years when the Merry Pranksters rambled across the country and back, hiding out in Mexico, and staging some of the most outrageous public events ever conceived."

Funky and Fun Reading Tuesday Night

Of Being Numerous:A Reading of Numerous Writings
Organized By Chall Gray (aka Theseus)


Selah Saterstrom
Devin Walsh
Shad Marsh
Jaye Bartell

Four of Asheville’s best writers reading from prose, poetry, fiction & drama in one night!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006
9:00 p.m.
@ BoBo Gallery, 22 Lexington Ave

(I'll be there with my house bottle of wine. Come join me! EM).

Litterers Deserve Whatever We Can Cook Up

Browsing around Flickr today, I came across a photo snapped by Zen, vigilante. I was immediately reminded of Korean Dog Poop Girl and other successful incidences of internet vigilantism. I think we can all get behind Zen's outrage - I really, genuinely, loathe people who toss trash out their car windows, myself - and so, since we have this jerk's license plate number, where can we go from here? Spread it around. Let's find this guy & make him clean up his mess.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Chalked up

One member of Skintback City Public Radio

Skintback City Public Radio jammed at the Westville Pub on Sunday evening.

One big bubble

Go nuts!

That's what people do for the White Squirrel Festival in Brevard - they go nuts. Like this guy, with a white rat on his head.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Stubbornly Curious with Luke Tan

Luke Tan, wandering man, has put together a Podcast with a number of songs and prose, called Stubbornly Curiously NO 3. Seems Tan will be heading out, and this will be his last Podcast hoorah for Asheville for sometime.

Give it a listen! I really like Place in Time, myself.

via email

"Hello, My name is Luke Tan, and I've been hanging around Asheville for about a month, making a new podcast. All songs recorded at AMR studios in Asheville, and other than myself it is all Asheville musicians on it. Of course, seeing as I live on the road I guess I could call Asheville my home as much as anywhere else. It's four songs, about 20 minutes long. Two of the songs are directly related to Asheville. Rosetta's is, of course, about everyone's favorite vegetarian late night restaurant. And Place In Time is about someone who has left the area ,and a love, behind and longs to return."

via website:

"I’m here for my last night in Asheville releasing the latest episode of Stubbornly Curious. It’s got great music and great musicians, and I’m sure you will enjoy it! Recorded at AMR Studios, it has local musicians Will Little and Robin Cape and the following songs..."

Give it a listen
Listen Now:


If you are an Asheville Podcaster and would like us to feature your latest Podcast on on BlogAsheville, send it to us at blogasheville(at)

Friday, May 26, 2006

Bele Chere Lineup

Today I precognitively caught the scent of sun-baked, Budweiser soaked Newport smokers when Phidoux, whose blog looks fantastic, showed me the Bele Chere 2006 lineup. Love it or hate it, it's the biggest thing that happens in this town, and it's fantastically weird. Those with eyes, let them see.

I'm glad they're using a couple of pay stages to fund the festival. I'm glad the Bele Chere organizers never fail to raise the expected attendance. It's 350,000 this time. Can you fit that many sweaty South Carolinians into downtown Asheville?

It looks like the annual cries of "Where's the local acts?" have finally been heard, though there are dozens of excellent local bands that didn't make the effort or didn't make the cut.

Ash covered this event so thoroughly last year that he still smells of funnel cakes. Will he do it again? Will you?

Click Here For the Music Lineup

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Blog Asheville Blogaversary Celebration

Okay, my pretties, you can come up with a better name for this event I'm sure, so do it.

According to political blog king, Screwy, Blog Asheville's one year anniversary is fast approaching.

So we're going to party.

The gory details:

Date: Saturday, June 17

Time: 6:30 ish until the beer runs out or someone starts dancing nekkid in the treehouse, whichever comes first

Place: Pnavistan, home of just a few high-minded North Asheville liberals and two cats (if you've never been here, e-mail me for directions at janusatannefittenglenndotcom)

Who's invited: You. BA bloggers, Asheville bloggers, NC bloggers, their family members, blogger groupies, male strippers.

Dress: The less, the better.

Bring: Food to share. Alcohol, if you don't want beer. Prizes. A sleeping bag if you plan on being overserved.

This is a special occasion celebrating a year of organic group blogging: friendships forged, tears cried, beers quaffed, lives changed. Please join us.

Meadows Dry Goods


A little Jah love Wednesday night at Asheville Pizza and Brewing on Coxe Ave, with Dancing Buddha Soundsystems, DJ Livingearth and "roots guests."

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Drinking Liberally: Heath Shuler?

If you've been watching Scrutiny Hooligans, you know that it's become a hub for the Heath Shuler/Charles Taylor race in North Carolina's eleventh district. You've seen the details of Charles 'Delaybramoff' Taylor's duplicitous character from the forest selloff to the Signatures Dinner to Flight 93. But you haven't seen much about his challenger, Waynesville's Heath Shuler.

This Thursday it's time for another episode of Drinking Liberally, that weekly conglomeration of liberal booze hounds, progressive winos, and democratic guzzlers, We will gather again at downtown Asheville's Jack of the Wood from 7-10p.m. for a open session on the policies, philosophy, and politics of Heath Shuler.

He's for health care for all Americans, and he's against gay marriage. He's for a fully funded public education system, and he's against a woman's right to choose. He's for strong worker protections, and he's against gun control. He's for environmental protection, and he's against a liberal immigration policy.

He's a real puzzle and problem for many Asheville liberals and single-issue voters. He's a damned pot of gold when compared to the putrescent Taylor, but he's no progressive. How will you square your liberal values with this social conservative? How can you support the policy areas you agree with, fight against the policy areas you disagree with, and still vigorously support the campaign for Democratic majority in the U.S. Congress?

Shuler's raising a lot of money, leading in the most recent poll, and attracting the interest of national political watchers. The NC-11 was recently declared the 16th hottest race in the nation. Heath Shuler is exciting many moderate Democrats and Republicans across the district and the nation. But will he win the support of the liberal community?

It's been said, not least often by me, that Democrats want to fall in love with their candidates while the Republicans just fall in line.

So come out to Jack of the Wood where Drinking Liberally will scrutinize the Democratic candidate for Congress in NC-11, Heath Shuler. Everyone's welcome to this uber-casual political klatsch, where you can have the conversations you're not having anywhere else.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Blue Sky With A Hint of Rain

Photograph by Tom Williams of Asheville, NC

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Waving flags for Jesus, or something

Zipping past Pritchard Park in downtown Ashvegas, I was drawn in by some dreamy keyboard synth music and a bunch of suburban-looking white folk waving brilliant flags like mad. I listened to a couple of tunes, snapped some shots. I didn't stick around for the preachin', but from what I could pick up, these folks were singing about prohets and peace. Several folks sported marooon shirts with "Soteria" stitched on the left front over their hearts. Never heard of 'em, but they spiced up a Sunday afternoon downtown.

Mama's on Haywood Road, West Ashvegas, circa 2006

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Jobangles and the Asheville Hoofers Club

That's the Firecracker Jazz Band providing the tunes for Jobangles, left, and company on Saturday at the Montford Arts & Music Festival.

We'll call it the 'Xylobuggy'

Montford Arts & Music Festival

It was a beautiful morning for the start of the third annual Montford Arts & Music Festival. Music rolled down the leafy Montford Avenue Saturday morning. Folks were just waking up to it at 11 a.m., but things will surely heat up.

Come on to my house!

Pssst, BlogAshevillians! Jaybird's having a housewarming party this Sunday (tomorrow), 4pm til who knows. Bring finger food and exciting bevvies to share, if you like. For directions, email me via my website (and it'd be nice if I actually know who you are) or call. This move finally brings me to Asheville proper, after nine rugged years in Woodfin. It's drop in, drop out,and completely casual. Hope to see you all in this swingin' neck-o-the-woods!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Just in case you have nothing to do tonight...

The 2006 US Air Guitar Championships are holding their regional elimination round at the Westville Pub tonight. The winner of tonight's event will go on to compete in the national finals in New York City next month.

This might be too good to pass up.

Buy mountain food

The 2006 edition of the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project's popular Local Food Guide has been published. But you don't have to pick up one of the 80,000 printed copies - you can search on the Web, too, if you're looking for a mountain tailgate market, restaurant or farm that produces fresh produce.
The 85-page guide lists nearly 200 farms and all kinds of roadside stands, festivals and events on top of the local tailgate markets, farms and restaurants. It's a great little book, and it's being distributed all over the place.
Here's what the guide says about the importance of buying local:
"This guide will facilitate your connection with healthy fresh food, your neighbor farmers who grow it and those markets, grocers and restaurants that are committed to using locally grown food in their enterprises.

"By buying directly from local farmers and shopping and dining at those businesses that support local farmers, you are getting the freshest , best tasting food, contributing to a strong local economy and helping preserve our rural mountain landscape."

Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center Poetry Reading Tonight

Black Mountain College
Museum + Arts Center

May 19, 2006
7:00 PM
Admission is $7
Featured poets include Emoke B'Racz,
Laura Hope Gill, Glenis Redmond, Chall Gray,
Rose McLarney, Ingrid Carson,
Will Hubbard and Thomas Rain Crowe
[more info here]

Thursday, May 18, 2006

A History of Asheville, Part IV of X

Part One and explanation here
Parts Two and Three here

Asheville - 1900-1920

"As the 1900s approached, Asheville's economic growth exploded. Religious assemblies, an opera house and a convention auditorium drew urban culture to the area. The "Asheville Board of Trade," developed by the Chamber of Commerce in 1900, devised national advertising campaigns labeling Asheville one of "the leading convention cities in the country."

The best-selling short story writer, O. Henry, came to Asheville and Hot Springs in 1908 seeking a cure for his neurasthenia. Rejecting medicines, he yielded to the counsel of mountain doctors who prescribed nature walks, another tradition. Before colonization of this area, William Bartram, world-famous botanist, had walked these wilds and discovered their unrivaled variety of plant life. His "Travels" serves as a bible for today's herb-seekers and conservationists.

The church community, at the heart of Asheville history and architecture, reveals powerful stories of sanctuaries and the architects who constructed them. Spanish designer Rafael Guastavino incorporated distinctive stylistic techniques to construct the St. Lawrence Catholic Church in 1909, recently awarded the distinction of minor basilica. Sheathed in pink, green, brown and white tiles, two Spanish Baroque towers distinguish the church as a true architectural masterpiece. Using a method he devised called "cohesive construction," Guastavino built a dome measuring 52 feet by 82 feet�the largest unsupported tile dome in the United States.

Architects Richard Sharpe Smith, Douglas Ellington, and Ronald Greene designed buildings that would, one day, augment Asheville's diverse city center. Today, structures such as City Hall, the Jackson Building, First Baptist Church and the S & W Building help downtown Asheville retain a southeastern Art Deco collection second only to that of Miami Beach. The Langren Hotel in 1912, Grove Park Inn in 1913, and the Kenilworth Inn in 1918 served to expand further the luxury resort industry in Asheville. The most enduring of these, the Grove Park Inn, was founded in part because of a case of bronchitis.

In his travels, Edwin Wiley Grove visited and became enamored with a rustic, yet grand mountain lodge at Yellowstone Park.

Grove searched in vain for an architect who could design a luxurious inn suitable for a mountain setting. Angry and frustrated by the fruitless endeavor, Grove turned to his son-in-law and Atlanta journalist Fred Seely, a young man with no architectural experience. The novice builder specified granite boulders from Sunset Mountain on which the inn was built, and red clay tiles from Tennessee to accentuate the extravagant hotel.

The Grove Park Inn Resort endures today as an historical site in Asheville, welcoming guests with a celebrity hall of famous visitors including: Mikhail Baryshnikov, Burt Reynolds and George Bush. The Rogues Gallery features photographs of famous visitors from the early 1900s including Calvin Coolidge, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Will Rogers and dozens of others.

The Asheville Tourists hit the scene in 1915 and moved to newly constructed McCormick Field in 1924."

Thursday Morning, Asheville

Photograph by Tom Williams of Asheville, NC

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Drinking Liberally: Fitzmas Is Coming Again... Or Is It?

Photo shamelessly borrowed from Scrutiny HooligansLast weekend, while some of us were still trying to thaw out after the Tourists game last Thursday (which was a better turnout than many of us had expected), reported that Deputy White House Chief of Staff "Hot" Karl Rove, a favorite dartboard target among the left leaning set (as well as a growing handful of right-wing luminaries), has been indicted on charges of perjury and lying to investigators related to his role in the CIA leak case. According to the report, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald spent the better part of a day meeting with Rove's attorneys, one of whom was instructed to tell Rove that he had 24 hours to "get his affairs in order,' at Patton Boggs last Friday, where the indictment was reportedly served.

Whether that report was accurate or not (Truthout is sticking to it), that was all it took to send the blogosphere careening off of itself like particles in a supercollider. Even those who aren't bloggers are waiting somewhat impatiently for that news to officially break.

Six days later, we're still waiting.

There has been a load of interesting news coming down the pike this week - the coming Senate confirmation hearings of former NSA chief Gen. Michael Hayden (which should be made more interesting if NSA whistleblower Russel Tice is allowed to testify); giant telcos like BellSouth and Verizon issuing denial statements regarding their reported handing over of phone records to the NSA; Bush's Oval Office address regarding what many armchair pundits and strategists (including myself) successfully predicted would be the wedge issue du jour during this election cycle, immigration... yet here we are, waiting patiently for Fitzgerald to appear before the gaggle of news cameras and reporters that have been in a holding pattern since last Friday outside the Federal Courthouse where the Grand Jury is meeting and make the announcement.

All of this waiting can be enough to drive you to drink!

That's where we come in.

As of press time that much-anticipated announcement hasn't happened yet, but don't let that stop you from joining the Asheville chapter of Drinking Liberally @ Jack of the Wood (95 Patton Ave., Downtown) this Thursday night at 7:00 pm! We'll either celebrate Rove taking the "perp walk", scream about what's taking so long for the Feds to "frog-march" his butt out of the White House, wonder out loud about any secret West Wing machinations that will allow ol' "Turd Blossom" to get off with a slap on the wrist, or discuss anything else that might be eating at us. No matter what happens, you'll be in good company, with good food and good beer to boot! Plus, I have it on good authority from an anonymous source that someone will be leaving us a pile of cool bumper stickers to hand out...

We hope to see you there!

syntax (co-host pro tempore, Drinking Liberally Asheville)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Brainshrub Radio Show

Paul V has posted the inaugural episode of the Brainshrub Radio Show. He interviews BlogAsheville's own Edgy Mama. The sound is great, and the interview is fun and compelling. Go check it out.

Monday, May 15, 2006

going green in asheville

Task Force manual push mower
Two weeks ago, I settled on the idea of purchasing a manual push mower. I say it was a tough decision because I do not live on property with level lawn. It is considered a "sloped" property by the City of Asheville. And I would be the one manually marching up and down and around the various slopes.

It will be good exercise, I told myself. It will be good for the environment, I told myself. It won't cost $6 to mow the land, I told myself. The leader of the financial class I took a few months ago will be proud of me because I am staying within the budget. My chiropractor will love seeing me more often. It only requires minimal cost to maintain (a squirt or two of lubricant to keep the wheels and gears in motion).

I have very little regrets about purchasing the 20 inch Task Force manual push mower. It is quite a work out. It doesn't cut as cleanly as a motored mower--long grass tends to be pushed under the mower rather than cut my it. Several green mohawks sprout from those areas. Where a motored mower whould chew and spit twigs and barks, the manual mower simply stops and refuses to proceed. After removing the twip from the rotor blades, I continue. Instead of plowing through the chore of lawn care, I'm able to carefully examine the land I call home.

In some respects, going green is quite chic in Asheville. As for myself, going green is a lot of hard work, but I think it was a good decision in the long run.

[abridged and cross-posted from 1000 Black Lines]

Buncombe County Asks For Input

The Buncombe County Commissioners are asking for input from residents on updating the Land Use Plan. There's a meeting scheduled for May 16th to address the Armory on Brevard Road, and there's an online survey soliciting comments.

Click Here to Take the Survey.

From the County website: "Does the County Need Zoning?

"Ask ten citizens and you are likely to get five that say yes and five that say no. The Revised Land Use Plan will not implement zoning but will include recommendations on land management. This proposal will take into consideration the views and opinions of the citizens. Learn more about the process being used to create the plan. County Planning staff & Land Design staff (the company hired to compile the plan) will be available on:

Tuesday, May 16, 2006 between 5 and 7pm at the National Guard Armory on Brevard Road."

Land Use Plan Information web page

Land Use Plan Public Service Announcement

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Last Cows in Asheville

These cows live out on Hendersonville Road, wedged in between Applebys and Panera Breads, Walgreens, the Racquet Club and Deerfield Retirement Community. I heard today that they will soon be moving on and out of Asheville; their little farm has been sold; the land will be developed. Perhaps there will be another big drugstore, or another supermarket, or a chain restaurant, or a strip mall, like the one on Airport Road, where you have to drive from huge store to huge store; it's worth your life to walk across the acres and acres of parking lot concrete - there are no sidewalks; people don't walk here. Behind the cows and the racquet club is the latest Cecil extravaganza, the latest Biltmore development, multi million dollar homes back in what was woods. It's about 100 yards from the Parkway, if that, and the Mountains to the Sea trail has been quietly, quietly rerouted, because it wouldn't do to have it go too close to the homes of the wealthy.

So bid the cows good bye. They're moving on. They can't afford to live here anymore. Sure, people move here and visit here and think about basing their lives here, because of things like cows on Hendersonville Road, but they'll be gone. Another drugstore (there are only three or four in that half mile stretch) will be much more useful, and much more profitable, and there isn't any money in cows, or woods, or the Mountains to the Sea Trail. So look at them now, because soon they'll be gone, and we'll have concrete and McMansions everywhere.

Friday, May 12, 2006

How soon should I start wearing an aluminum hat?

In the on-going competition for our business, the North Asheville Ingles now has high-speed, broadband internet service. You can sit at one of the tiny Starbucks tables, your back to the cereal aisle, imbibe over-priced caffeine, blog, and watch the parade of MILFs herding raucous kids and high-minded liberals buying organic produce. Viva la Internet age!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Mountain laurel Flame Azalea

I've been told this type of mountain laurel is a rare variety that only grows at a certain elevation along the Blue Ridge Mountains. I would appreciate help in identifying the variety of mountain laurel represented in this photo.

More photos here.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Drinking Liberally: ¡Viva el bĂ©isbol!

Baseball is more than a sport; it's an icon, very closely associated with all things "American". To that end it is often used by politicos as simple and effective base-strengthening jingoism. Many of these same lawmakers, quick to wrap themselves in any kind of American iconography they can get their hands on
in order to maintain their popularity, are responsible for the passage of H.R. 4437. This bill, also known as "The Sensenbrenner Bill", is one of the most draconian, xenophobic, and borderline racist legislative acts in this country's history. (For the record, our own Rep. Charles Taylor, who has served as a very reliable anti-immigration voice on Capitol Hill during his eight Congressional terms, voted "YEA" on this bill.)

Keeping that in mind, the fact that some of the game's greatest players have come from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Venezuela, and Panama is even more ironic than rain on your wedding day. Don't you think?

One of my fondest childhood memories was the first time my parents took me to Anaheim Stadium to see an Angels game in 1979. Rod Carew, Hall of Famer and inarguably a living legend here in the US as well as his native Panama, was the lead-off batter at the bottom of the first inning, and I still remember how excited I was when he knocked the first pitch over the left-center field wall! I don't think I slept that night.

Baseball is not only our national pasttime, but it is also an important part of Latin America's cultural ties to the United States, ties that should be celebrated and not hidden behind a wall or locked away in a Halliburton prison. And what better way to celebrate those ties than by spending an evening at the ballpark?

That's right! It's Spring again, and this coming "Thirsty" Thursday the Asheville chapter of Drinking Liberally will be temporarily abandoning the dark, cozy confines of Jack of the Wood and meeting instead at McCormick Field to watch our very own Asheville Tourists take on the West Virginia Power! Cheap beer! Fresh air! Ballpark food! And, among many other things, we will be discussing several of the possibly negative effects of the Sensenbrenner Bill, which could very well include a chilling effect against teams who regularly scout players in Latin America.

Remember, everyone is welcome, so come on out to the Ol' Ball Game and join us!

Thursday, May 11
McCormick Field (for directions and other info visit the Asheville Tourists' web site)
Game starts @ 7:05 pm
General admission seats - $7 adults, $6 kids/seniors/military
We'll be in the concrete bleachers along the first base line. Look for the signs!

NOTE - there are showers and thunderstorms in the forecast over the next couple of days, so in case of a rainout we'll be meeting at Jack of the Wood instead.

syntax (Co-host pro tempore, Drinking Liberally, Asheville chapter)

(For an excellent website about the history of Hispanic players in Major League Baseball, visit

Monday, May 08, 2006

National Guard Changing the Deal

Richmond Hill park is one of my favorite places in the world, and I've been no fan of the proposed development there. It looks like the development is going ahead, but not the way the city had planned:

From City eNews:
A proposed ball field development in Richmond Hill Park will be delayed because of a scheduling conflict with the North Carolina National Guard. Due to the timing of a potential deployment and related training, the National Guard battalion assigned to the grading work for the ball field complex will not have enough time to complete the entire project.

Instead, the battalion will complete grading for the proposed access road, parking area and future restrooms, facilities that are expected to require about eight of the 172 acres in the park. The National Guard will complete the additional grading work for the ball fields at a later date. The original proposal for the park calls for about 25 acres of development including the ball fields."

When a government entity tells you that they'll get back to you "at a later date", there's a good chance you won't hear from them for a long, long time. My bet is that either the city ends up picking up the tab for the remainder of the development, or it sits out there, nothing but an Armory and a parking lot where the turkeys and broad-shouldered hawks used to live because our resources are busy in Iraq.

A Weekend of Progressive Politics

Hola Blogophiles, I've been away from the 'sphere this weekend, instead meeting up with Progressive leaders first at the Crashing the Gate book signing then at the Democracy for America Grassroots Training. You can read my coverage of Markos Moulitsas (DailyKos) and Jerome Armstrong (MyDD) at BlogAsheville.

The DFA Training was a nuts-and-bolts, number-crunching training, teaching party activists how to best utilize their limited resources. The presenters were excellent, and each training session was concise and information packed. Plenty of local Ashevillains attended, but activists and candidates from Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia were also there. Panel discussions Asheville Progressive leaders like Brownie Newman, Robin Cape, and Bryan Freeborn dovetailed nicely into the various training sessions, and the weekend-long training ended with a large panel discussion. Jerry Meek, Chair of the NC Democratic Party, Mark Hufford, Democratic Pary Political Director for the western districts, Patsy Keever, former County Commissioner and candidate for Congress in 2004, Isaac (forgotlastname), leader of African-American caucus for the Buncombe County Democratic Party, and (forgotwholename), precinct organizer for Watauga County engaged the crowd in a lively debate about "How to turn Red states Blue". Here are a couple pictures from the weekend:

The panelists listed above.

Markos and Screwy

Jerry Meek and Patsy Keever

Thanks to all the great people who presented and who took their entire weekend in an effort to reclaim their democracy. It was inspirational and energizing.

Brainshrub has a much wittier, much more comprehensive post on the DFA training. Go read it.