How Strom Thurmond met Wavy Gravy

I’m procrastinating writing about Six Degrees of Separation by searching for now-obscure ’80s film stars online. I look up Anthony Michael Hall, only to find out that, after beefing up, the former nerd played — see where this is going? — one of Will Smith’s conquests in Six Degrees.

It’s like everything’s connected, man.

Actually, Hungarian writer Frigyes Karinthy introduced the idea in 1929, in his story “Chains.” Later, in the ’60s, Stanley Milgram (an American sociologist) tested the theory by randomly picking people in the Midwest to deliver packages to a stranger on the East Coast. They had to do this by passing the parcel off to someone they thought would most likely know the East Coast recipient. Without the aid of an address, the packages made it to the destination in an average of five transactions.

And so I could probably link my own government-connected mother — her father was Secretary of the Department of the Interior — to no less a dictator than Saddam Hussein.

Then there’s Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, a game that can be played online using film actors. According to the Oracle of Bacon (an online database housed at the University of Virginia), Asheville ghost-buster Joshua P. Warren has a Bacon rate of 3: Warren appeared in the local indie flick Inbred Rednecks (2001) with Brent Ponder. Ponder was in the 2000 film 28 Days — filmed in Black Mountain — with Joanne Pankow. And Pankow was in Digging to China (1998) with Bacon.

Need more proof? Here’s an Xpress experiment: Can we connect ’60s counterculture icon Wavy Gravy of Hog Farm fame to the ultraconservative, fossilized Republican senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina?

Just so: The late Senator Thurmond once courted Mary Nuessner of Greenville, who wisely chose to marry Charleston trumpeter Harold “Buster” Loring instead. Mrs. Loring is the maternal grandmother of Scott Loring Bianchi of Union County, N.C. Scott is engaged to Xpress A&E Editor Melanie McGee, who shares an office with me, A&E Reporter Alli Marshall, who, as a kid, attended Camp Winnarainbow in Massachusetts, founded and presided over by Wavy Gravy!

You’ve got chills now, don’t you?

— Alli Marshall

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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