Weird as she wants to be

We’re tucked in the back of some cafe — one of those oh-so-hip places in the part of L.A. where she used to live, before it became seedy and she had to move away. Now it’s trendy again, but she’s over it. She’s beyond cool. We’re wearing berets tipped over our eyes. We’re smoking thin […]

Vital signs

“I was never a gym girl,” insists Nicole Bookman, one of the four partners who own Namaste Yoga & Healing Center. Like many of us, Bookman was raised on the intimidating “feel the burn” philosophy of fitness. “The first time I went to a yoga class, they talked about nonviolence,” she recalls. “About going into […]

Sure shot

“I’m the only person in my town other hustlers would come to beat, except that it doesn’t happen anymore. There are so few of us left.” “And do they, would they beat you?” “No,” Cassie said. “No, they wouldn’t.” So explains Cassie Claiborne, the unforgettable force of Haven Kimmel’s latest novel, Something Rising (Light and […]

Can’t stop this

Among the offerings they’ll present at the upcoming Asheville Fringe Festival, The Future of Tradition Center for Folkloric Arts will give audiences a modern gypsy cabaret and the piece “Panty Raid Burlesque” — which is just what it sounds like. “What would be really fringy would be to combine them,” muses Susan Collard, artistic director […]

Playing war

David DelGrosso, actor/stage manager with Aquila Theatre Company, knows that some audiences will be drawn to The Man Who Would be King because of the popular movie version of Rudyard Kipling’s short story. The film, which starred Michael Caine and Sean Connery in what were arguably the best performances of their careers to date, inspired […]

Long, blithe trip

“We played in the Western section,” remembers Larry Keel. “We had cowboy boots and hats. “We played ‘Red River Valley’ and ‘Wildwood Flower’ — songs they thought people would recognize,” reveals the Larry Keel Experience’s flat-picking front man of his first job as a professional musician — a seven-month contract at Tokyo Disneyland. “My brother […]

Boys’ night out

“One of my favorite dancers was my grandfather, and I only ever saw him dance once,” Giles Collard recalls. “He was waiting for his wife to cook his breakfast,” continues Collard, a dancer, choreographer and instructor at Asheville Contemporary Dance Theatre and the New Studio of Dance. “This wonderful, old-timey music was playing, and he […]

Gifts that keep on giving

“People realize that if they don’t help the organizations they believe in, no one else will.” — Pat Smith, executive director, Community Foundation of WNC “Mostly I did this because I’m incompetent,” jokes local philanthropist Rob Pulleyn. “Really, they keep better records than I do.” He’s talking about the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina. […]

All in the family

Cynthia West’s play Jar the Floor has been likened to an African-American take on TV’s The Golden Girls — a misconception local actor Janet Oliver is quick to correct. “People don’t know how to characterize a play that’s all women,” she observes. “You’d be closer to compare it to [the stage version of] Steel Magnolias,” […]

A tale of two Nutcracker­s

You probably know the story by heart: There’s a Christmas party, a mysterious uncle appears with a bag of gifts, and Clara gets a toy Nutcracker that her bratty brother promptly breaks. Then, in a through-the-looking-glass twist, the Christmas tree grows — as do the resident rodents — and the Nutcracker doll comes to life […]

Readin’ South

Autumn brings with it brightly colored leaves, a chill in the air, and longer evenings offering plenty of time to curl up with a good book. But before falling back on an all-too-familiar name or taking potluck with some total unknown, why not check out instead one of the many local and regional authors whose […]

Rabid ambition

Charles F. Price writes excellent imagery — gruesome enough, in the local author’s latest novel, to rival his characters’ own increasingly cruel lives. Blatant racism, mistreatment of animals, harsh living conditions — each section of Where the Water-Dogs Laughed: The Story of the Great Bear (High Country Publishers, 2003) festers with the ugliness of disharmony. […]

Chain reaction

Downtown Asheville is at a crossroads. The city’s thriving central business district is enjoying a full-blown renaissance driven by an eclectic, ever-shifting mix of boutiques, restaurants, galleries and clubs. It wasn’t always so. A mere two decades ago, downtown Asheville was home mainly to boarded-up buildings. Scarcely anyone who had other options lived downtown, and […]

Is it or isn’t it?

Here’s the lowdown on a few recently opened downtown Asheville businesses: • Anntony’s Caribbean Cafe (1 Page Ave., 255-9620) is one of two restaurants of that name. The original Anntony’s, developed in tandem with a company that makes Caribbean-style sauces, is located in Charlotte. The local owners are Asheville residents Douglas Gall and Byron Greiner. […]

Redefining normal

Joann Kelley didn’t give birth to a baby. Instead, her partner conceived a child through alternative fertilization — but that doesn’t make Kelley a mother, either. “What makes me a mother,” Kelley says in Gigi Kaeser and Peggy Gillespie’s book Love Makes a Family (University of Massachusetts Press, 1999), “is baking muffins at 11 p.m. […]

Bigger than the Gold Rush

“It’s not a street festival with art, but an art festival that happens beyond the streets,” muses Dana Davis, director of operations for the Asheville Area Arts Council. She’s trying to explain the raison d’etre of the Urban Trail Arts Festival, a newly expanded event that aims to honor both Asheville’s history and its love […]

Hurts so good

If you believe their bios, singer/songwriters Evan Dando and Vic Chesnutt were born in different years to different mothers on opposite ends of the East Coast. One tasted stardom in his 20s, in the 1990s, fronting a successful post-punk alt-pop group, only to crash and burn — or burn out — by the end of […]

Crossing party lines

There are nearly as many listings for Martinez in the Asheville phonebook as there are for my own gringo surname, Marshall. Western North Carolina has experienced a nearly 400-percent increase in its Latino population since the 2000 census, confirms YMI Cultural Center Executive Director Rita Martin. And yet our local Fiesta Latina reports only marginal […]

They’ll be there

A dozen years ago, I was hanging out in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park at a Ben and Jerry’s Fest — one of those hippie wet dreams with free ice cream and a day’s worth of live music. At one point, the smoke cleared enough to reveal a rowdy group of New Orleans horn players […]

Tastes great, less filling

Playwright, actor and Eastern North Carolina native Andy Corren opens his latest work — a patchwork of short stories and character sketches — with an a-cappella version of the traditional tune “Dixie” merged with Loverboy’s manic ’80s hit “Turn Me Loose.” Sounds disconcerting — but the bizarre medley accurately forecasts the mood of Corren’s semi-autobiographical […]

High-tech in two languages

After leaving a message containing all my pertinent contact info, I get a call back from Mountain Area Information Network Director Wally Bowen. He has one question: “Why do you use AOL?” I fumble through my lame explanation — it came with my computer, and I’ve been too lazy to switch Internet service providers. But […]