Having written many letters to the editor, and being rather vocal on some comment threads on the Mountain Xpress website, I am ready to admit a first: I was wrong.
As a landscaper, I scoffed at the idea of dressing like a statue and standing still being considered “work.” After shoveling gravel in 90-plus-degree weather, standing still sounded like a break to me. I also majored in acting and directing at UNCA, so considering standing silent as a performance was also a stretch.
However, Saturday of Bele Chere my worldview was turned upside down. There stood the "Silver Drummer Girl,” positioned in front of the street preachers, drumming non-stop in 95-degree weather, as admirers poured money into her vase. It was hilarious, beautiful and, I imagine, physically taxing. The preachers tried to shout over her snare drum, blasting messages of hate through a speaker system, but to no avail. She simply played louder, muting the predictable rhetoric to a murmur. I thought, "She must be a genius to pick this spot.”
Then a stranger next to me informed me the organizers of the festival tell performers where to set up. This seems foolish and possibly incendiary on their part, as a few of the preachers were visibly upset. I informed the stranger of my hatred of the statue, to which he replied, "Yeah, that's my girlfriend. We have the same argument all the time. She makes more than me sometimes and I work in a kitchen."
After removing my sandal from my mouth, I had an epiphany. Not only is it work, but it is an invaluable service she provides to the city. I would say my hate has turned to a full-on crush, but her boyfriend seemed pretty cool.
— Joe Dawson