Talking a good fight

It’s January, and a brand-new year hovers before us, brimming with all manner of possibilities. But before we catapult into the frenzy of 2006, it’s time to take a breather and reflect on the one that just got away.

What do you remember about 2005? In Asheville, civic preoccupations included the continuing tug of war over development, a hotly contested City Council election, and the latest round of fretting over the deteriorating Civic Center. But it wasn’t all heavy lifting: 2005 was also the first year Asheville hosted the Southeast’s Regional Air Guitar Competition. Who says we don’t know how to have a good time?

And to help you frame your memories, here’s a review of the most quotable quotes from the last 52 issues of Xpress:


“When I first came here, I opened the door and said: ‘Anybody who wants to protest or anyone that wants to express themselves, please come and see me. Please sit down with me, and sit down with the department, and let’s work it out and educate one another.'”

— Asheville Police Chief Bill Hogan, quoted in “In His Own Words,” Jan. 12


“After all is said and done, Vincent’s Ear lost the battle, and its demise has left many displaced, myself included. Since its closing, I have found myself wandering up and down Lexington Avenue, hungry for something I used to take for granted — not simply a smiling face, but a friend or acquaintance greeting me by name.”

— Erin Socha, Letters, Jan. 19


“It’s such a complex plan — it has five prongs. How many prongs does it have to have?”

— Asheville City Council member Joe Dunn contemplating a plan to get homeless people off the streets, quoted in “Homeward Bound,” Jan. 19


“Two men, a truck and a chain saw.”

— Asheville City Council member Jan Davis on what it would take to meet most of the Asheville watershed’s maintenance needs, quoted in “A Tree of Another Color,” Jan. 26


“I think anybody who’s in the public light deserves to be made a parody of at one time or another.”

— Jason Williams, director of Matt & Ben (skewering A-listers Damon and Affleck), quoted in “Good Will … As If,” Feb. 2


“Many of the gentry who move here have grown children or are childless, yet we pay our full share of taxes: county property tax, city property tax and school tax. In fact, having already scrimped and saved and paid off one house in our lifetimes, we tend to buy a more expensive one this time around — thus ensuring that we’ll pay higher taxes.”

— “The Two Faces of Gentrification” by George Keller, Feb. 2


“There are things worth fighting valorously for. Fondant frosting may not be one of them.”

— “Advice on Handling Family Problems (From Brides Who’ve Been There)” by Carrie Frye, Guerrilla Wedding Guide, Feb. 9


“I’ve always been a scrapper. I was never the most graceful or the fastest, but I scrapped my way into the NHL — and I scrapped to stay there.”

— Asheville Aces coach Jeff Brubaker, quoted in “Ice Dream,” Feb. 23


“It is bad, ugly and illegal. And it’s not a landscape to be very proud of.”

— Renate Rikkers talking about illegal roadside signs, quoted in “Revisiting Hours,” Feb. 23


“But today, [poet and former bandleader] Keith Flynn fronts a very different kind of group — one that rocks out not with drums and guitars but with fountain pens and iMacs. His band plays all the hits — from Alexie to Yevtushenko — and they’ve got an ego-stomping mosh pit you wouldn’t believe. And for 10 years now, they’ve been on their own kind of nonstop world tour.”

— “In Like Flynn” by Steve Shanafelt, Feb. 23


“Pop is like *NSYNC — synchronized dance moves first, hooks second. Pop-savvy rock, on the other hand, is like the Wall Flowers. There’s more artistic integrity, more memorable hooks and … um, Jakob Dylan.”

— “Between Pop and a Hard Place” by Alli Marshall, March 2


“At least 2,000 pounds of hard-working man was spread out along the counter, with key rings the size of toy poodles dangling from belt loops over the equally hard-working barstools.”

— “Five Points Restaurant: The Heart (and Belly) of WNC” by Mackensy Lunsford, March 2


“The state made a decision when it passed the Clean Smokestacks Act to work for cleaner air, and we shouldn’t be going backwards at this point in time on any air-quality standards.”

— Canary Coalition Director Avram Friedman, quoted in “Blowin’ in the Wind,” March 9


“We hope to have some three-on-two meetings, so they won’t be public and [we] can have some frank discussions.”

— Buncombe County Board of Commissioners Chairman Nathan Ramsey on water negotiations with Asheville, March 9


“An alarming amount of public information is being kept secret from citizens, and the problem is increasing by the month. Not only do citizens have a right to know — they have a need to know.”

— Andy Alexander, chairman of the American Society of Newspaper Editors’ Freedom of Information Committee, quoted in “Let the Sun Shine In,” March 9


“We are a business who happens to be in the entertainment business — we entertain by skating the game of hockey.”

— Richard Hoodenpyle, principal owner of the now-defunct Asheville Aces, quoted in “Ace in the Hole?” Mar. 9


“They’re fighting for a lot of the same things. They’re fighting to be a part of the larger community.”

— Bob Smith, director of the Asheville-Buncombe Community Relations Council, quoted in “Bringing African-Americans and Latinos Together,” March 16


“Under the current agreement, the poorest customers have been forced to pay some of the highest water rates in the state and to bear the system’s largest financial burden.”

— letter from Asheville Mayor Charles Worley to the Buncombe County commissioners, quoted in “Water Torture,” March 23


“A system where the City exercises complete control over who outside the City may receive water and in which the city can charge whatever rate for water to non-City residents it chooses, is not fair and is not something we will accept.”

— letter from the Buncombe County commissioners to City Council, quoted in “Water Torture,” March 23


“I think the days of the big feature films coming to North Carolina because it’s a right-to-work state or because it has great locations may be past. In fact, they may never return. What I think we need to be focused on … is to [grow] the independent-film industry from the ground up.”

— Kurt Mann, owner of Ironwood Media Group, quoted in “Lights, Camera … Not So Much Action,” April 6


“Interesting Factoid: The amount of nitrogen in the urine the average human produces annually is roughly equal to the amount of nitrogen needed annually to grow food for the average human.”

— “Creating the Future — One Garden at a Time,” by Patricia Allison, April 6


“Any kind of briefing like that I was in — if I was in one at all — was classified, and I can’t talk to anybody about it.”

— Asheville City Manager Jim Westbrook, asked about a meeting to coordinate a secret Army training exercise downtown, quoted in “Who’s in Charge Here?” April 20


“If it weren’t for critics, how would businesses and artists improve? I criticize not for the sake of criticism, but for the hopeful improvement of the service or business.”

— Hendersonville food writer Terry Ruscin, quoted in “Gastro-snob Manifesto,” April 20


“It has pretty much been the redheaded stepchild of the city.”

— Kevin Green, whose family owns Green’s Mini-Mart in the River District, quoted in “Take Me to the River,” April 20


“Every time I start thinking our City Council actually represents the majority of our citizens, they surprise me! Now we are going to build free housing for the chronically homeless. With the exception of two conservative Council members, they actually voted for this fuzzy-wuzzy, feel-good liberal idea, as did our generous (with your money) Buncombe County commissioners.”

— Craig Young, Letters, April 27


“Admit it, you’ve gotten all Risky Business in your skivvies and sung into your hairbrush/polished off an amazing drum solo on the dashboard/strummed an imaginary set of strings in the vicinity of your groin. You probably used to rock out when ‘Paradise City’ came on MTV. Or hid in your room performing the solo to ‘Layla’ — electric version, of course — in front of your mirror.

“And all of the above without the encumbrance of an actual instrument.

“If you answered yes to any of this (and even if you’d only really admit it under duress or to your priest), you’re probably an air guitarist.”

— “Strumming Like the Wind” by Alli Marshall, May 4


“Westerberg — who has admitted to picking up drinking and smoking again around the time of his father’s passing — is nonetheless showing us that alcohol wasn’t the main ingredient in that old Replacements magic. He’s also proving that punk’s not dead. It’s simply being subverted by the craftier of its original proponents — people like Westerberg who have grown too smart to simply repeat themselves.”

— “Can’t Hardly Wait” by Saby Reyes-Kulkarni, May 4


“So by all means, find ways to boost the film industry. But keep in mind that without similar consideration, an existing industry that has been a cash cow for the area — and a major draw for cultural tourism — will fade and die.”

— “Artists Play Key Role in Local Economy,” by Charlie Flynn-McIver, May 4


“After I came back from the hospital, I had three weeks left in my sentence. They kept me in the holding cell or in solitary for the whole time, and I slept on the concrete.”

— former Buncombe County Detention Center inmate Carlos Payne, quoted in “High Pressure Zone,” May 18


“That which stays the same is of our name.”

— inscription by an unknown Cherokee teenager carved into “The Cave” at Lift Gallery. From “The Past is Real and Other Signs of the Times” by Connie Bostic, May 18


“It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that continued advocacy for an eight-lane freeway will further delay the project, waste millions in taxpayer dollars and harm West Asheville. And for what? Eight seconds of drive time? It’s time to move on.”

— Asheville City Council member Brownie Newman, quoted in “Seconds Fat,” May 18


“The sidewalk in front of Gold Hill was packed on Thursday morning with flowers, candles and regular customers who stopped by to share their grief and disbelief. A sampling of the crowd was a testament to Alvy’s ability to connect with everyone — young hipsters, city employees, moms with kids, and senior citizens were all there to express their sorrow over losing, too soon, a man who contributed so much to our city.”

— Kim MacQueen, Leslie Groetsch and Michelle Denyes, Letters, May 18


“If you’re a fan, by all means see it. If you’re not, well, you might find yourself reduced to Yoda-speak, as I did: ‘Impressed I was not.'”

— Ken Hanke’s review of the movie Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith, May 25


“These modern disciples provide inroads to [Bob] Moog’s world — but the most engaging aspect of [the documentary Moog] is the spiritual journeyman himself. The film closes on Moog playing theremin in his Asheville garden, the ever-curious, gleeful inventor perhaps conducting far-away energies yet unknown.”

— “Portrait of the Inventor as a Humanist” by Chris Toenes, June 1


“If it wasn’t for the fact that the Citizen-Times was such a lousy paper, none of the rest of us would be in publishing.”

— David Morgan, editor at large of The Asheville Tribune, quoted in “Reading From Left to Right,” June 8


“That’s just David. … His business strategy has always been to demonize the competition.”

Asheville Citizen-Times Executive Editor Bob Gabordi, responding to David Morgan in “Reading From Left to Right,” June 8


“There are three types of weeding: early, middle and machete.”

— “Be All You Can Be: Weed!” by Cecil Bothwell, June 8


“An old lady used to live in the house up on the hill from here, and she had this big old loud obnoxious banjo. … I thought that was the prettiest thing I ever heard.”

— Roger Howell of the Bailey Mountain Trio, quoted in “Preservation Before Breakfast,” June 8


“I think there are two kinds of industry — the war industry and the peace industry. Anything to do with the peace industry, we have to let it grow.”

— Yoko Ono, quoted in “Illustrating His Point,” June 15


“I know your political beliefs don’t go as deep as your skin.”

— County resident Jerry Rice addressing the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners, quoted in “Hot Water Battle,” June 15


“In an age when Western North Carolina’s mayors and sheriffs often ruled their little fiefdoms like backwater feudal barons, [the late Asheville City Manager Weldon] Weir operated a political-patronage machine that would have done Chicago Mayor Richard Daley proud.”

— “The Boss” by Steve Rasmussen, June 22


“Wisdom is a wonderful thing, but you need some new blood.”

— Cherokee Historical Association Vice Chair James Bradley on the revamping of Unto These Hills, quoted in “New Tale to Tell,” June 22


“Instrument players had a sexual style unique to their instrument. … French horn players, their instruments the testiest of all, could rarely get it up, but percussionists could make beautiful music out of anything at all.”

— Author Blair Tindall, quoted in “The Secret Lives of Band Geeks,” June 29


“Why are we paying $1 million per year to Animal Control but don’t get service? If you call them, you have to catch the cat first.”

— Montreat resident Anna Cannon, quoted in “Roads to Match Our Mountains,” June 29


“I proved to myself that I can get the laugh. That’s fine — but then I said to myself, ‘See if you can live without it.'”

— Humorist David Sedaris, quoted in “New Material,” June 29


“And for four years, turkeys have been stopping traffic in North Asheville. I’ve seen tourists wide-eyed and speechless upon sighting them at the Grove Park Inn. I’ve seen lines of early morning commuters halted by turkeys parading across the road.”

— “A Message From the North Asheville Turkeys,” by Mary Miller Stair, July 6


“Because until some kind of tangible plan is finally and fully put together, things will just keep limping along. We’ll keep waiting for the roof to fall in at Thomas Wolfe; we’ll wait for the electrical or the sound system to totally go out — or for an answer to magically appear. That, at least, has been the strategy for several years now, and it clearly isn’t working.”

— “We Need a Common Vision to Solve Civic Center Woes” by Max Alexander, July 13


“One piece of bleached paper uses 12 ounces of water. … Remember that when you wad up your next essay.”

— Tynan Devries, Letters, July 20


“It has a B-movie-monster’s name and a reputation to match. Hydrilla, a fast-growing aquatic weed native to Asia, has been rampant in many North Carolina waterways since its discovery, near Raleigh, in 1983.”

— “How Much Grass Could a Grass Carp Eat?” by Kent Priestley, July 27


“Drugs are a pervasive problem, but I don’t think we leave our civil liberties at the schoolhouse door.”

— Buncombe County Board of Education member Jim Edmonds, quoted in “The Positives and Negatives,” July 27


“I’m in no hurry to sell it, let’s put it like that. It would be nice to pay off a mortgage, or pay off colleges, to not have anything to worry about, but then,” he says, taking a long pause, “I don’t have the guitar.”

— Mike Harris, the fan entrusted with Elvis’ prized Gibson, quoted in “Diamonds and Drugs, Guitars and Guns,” July 27


“After the Grove Park debacle, I’m happy not to have this on the radar.”

— Development representative Gerald Green, addressing City Council about a 10-story office building planned for the corner of Woodfin and College streets downtown, quoted in “Moving Ahead?” Aug. 3


“We wanted to build this house to address things like global warming, forest issues and even some social issues. We feel that there are things that are more important than money.”

— Stan Jones, Madison County Earthship builder, quoted in “Earthship Space,” Aug. 3


“What this [deal] proves is that it can be done. You don’t have to turn it into condos, you don’t have to just make the biggest buck.”

— Real-estate agent Kenny Jackson commenting on Elwood Miles’ sale of the historic downtown Miles Building, quoted in “The Long Goodbye,” Aug. 10


“If you have $300, you can go to Wal-Mart and get into the methamphetamine business.”

— Capt. Lee Farnsworth, Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department, quoted in “Cheap Drugs,” Aug. 10


“I know people who’ve come off two-week benders with less brain damage than I feel I suffered from 105 minutes of this movie.”

— Ken Hanke’s review of The Dukes of Hazzard, Aug. 10


“I’m just throwing stuff out into cyberspace. Somehow, some of it stuck.”

— Local blogger “AshVegas,” quoted in “Into the Blogosphere,” Aug. 17


“Few gardeners would turn down an invitation to curl up on a carpet of luminescent moss or refuse an opportunity to run their fingers over a miniature forest of soldierlike spores on a moss-covered log.”

— “Meeting Moss on its Own Turf” by Alison Arnold, Aug. 17


“‘This is your baby — you can rock it.'”

— What Loretta Lynn says she told Jack White during the production of Van Lear Rose, quoted in “In Like Lynn,” Aug. 17


“I confess I took the Titanic approach to [local Afrobeat band] Toubab Krewe. As with the movie, I was told by every outlet (mouth, print, subliminal) to go see this band. So I didn’t.

“But, unlike with Titanic, the wait was worth it.”

— Hunter Pope in “Earful,” Aug. 24


“When huge, monolithic cubic yards of concrete condos pop up like out-of-proportion mushrooms in a small, rich bog, and when we fill up all open space with ugly, gratuitous parking structures — Asheville will no longer be a city of light.”

— Barbara Gravelle, Letters, Aug. 24


“June 23, 1974, was supposed to be a day of civic pride and an auspicious beginning for the just-completed Asheville Civic Center. After years of rancorous debate and political foot-dragging, the last brick was finally in place, the paint was dry — and the house was packed for the much-anticipated first show. The headliner was none other than legendary entertainer Bob Hope, who, as some remember it, greeted his audience with this: ‘Congratulations — you’ve built yourself a nice garage.’ Dissing the Civic Center, it seems, is nothing new.”

— “From Hope to Headache” by Brian Sarzynski, Aug. 31


“It gives the opportunity for the rest of Asheville to hear about this big, secret, ugly block on Beaucatcher Mountain.”

— Kenilworth resident Miller Graves, quoted in “The Giant on the Ridge,” Aug. 31


“The First Amendment is not a suggestion. We must institutionalize open and honest government in a way that not only obeys the letter of our Constitution and open-meetings laws but their spirit as well. How can you argue against openness? You can’t articulate an argument about that.”

— Haywood County Board of Commissioners Chairman Mark Swanger, quoted in “The First Amendment is Not a Suggestion,” Sept. 14


“Forty-six of our apartments will be without direct sunlight. We must stop this monstrous parking deck!”

— Battery Park Apartments resident Wilma Martineau, quoted in “The View From Battle Square,” Sept. 14


“Anyone who sees [Son Volt’s Jay] Farrar perform ‘Medication’ … will have difficulty finding any blemishes in his playing. The subdued stare that Farrar wears like a tattoo is offset by an onstage intensity that suggests a musician with a lot to say.”

— “This Band is His Band,” by Hunter Pope, Sept. 21


“As a teacher in our county schools, I enter my classroom each day ready to teach and glad to have a great job with bright children. However, each day I also face dilapidated walkways, cracked cement floors, ancient plumbing, a classroom with holes in the floor, creatures living in the walls, no Internet connection and an old blackboard, and severe overcrowding throughout the school. I look from my classroom window directly across the field at the construction crew laying the rubber and artificial grass for one of this county’s three new football stadiums. It would be impossible to overlook the irony.”

— Name withheld by request, Letters, Sept. 21


“Comedians aren’t known for their honesty, of course. No one would be shocked to learn a priest and a rabbi never actually shared a rowboat. But most audiences would be surprised to discover Jerry Seinfeld isn’t Jewish, Roseanne Barr isn’t fat or Bill Cosby isn’t black. [Brenda] Ferrari’s embrace of the [Southern] Etta May identity — no matter how funny — raises some interesting questions about authenticity and ethnicity in comedy.

— “Comedic Carpet Bagging,” by Hanna Miller, Sept. 21


“The mayor sets the tone for the city. It’s where the buck stops — or where it should stop.”

— former Mayor Leni Sitnick, quoted in “Follow the Leader?” Sept. 28


“We should not stereotype or make fun of any group of people. Even us ‘white,’ middle-class suburban men have feelings.”

— J. Bowers, Letters, Oct. 5


Question: “What political figure from the past or present do you most wish to emulate?” Answer: “I feel it is best if I can be the best Terry Bellamy that I can be.”

— mayoral candidate Terry Bellamy, quoted in Xpress election coverage, Oct. 5


“Contrary to your belief, son, we aren’t a bunch of idiots.”

— Buncombe County Commissioner Bill Stanley, quoted in “As Seen on TV?” Oct. 5


“If I was a tourist and planning to move, and I came to downtown Asheville and saw all of the gays, hippies and funny-dressed people, street (homeless) people and big dogs — and a dirty, smelly person comes up to me and says give me change and a cigarette — I would get in my car to go to another town.”

— Edna R. Metcalf, Letters, Oct. 12


“We were accepted and treated like family, because we were interested. That’s unheard of where I’m from.”

— Boston-born filmmaker Rod Murphy, quoted in “Strangers No More,” Oct. 19


Molton, Oct. 19


“Arriving home from a stress-relieving yoga class, I’m met with a darkly unwelcoming envelope from the IRS. Am I, perhaps, developing a skill at reading auras, or a sensitivity to negative energy? Or are all sentient beings wary of the tax department?

“Anyway, bad news: Seems I owe on a miscalculated back tax form. My abundance spell either hasn’t had time to take root or was undone by my own mistrust.”

— “Practical Magic” by Alli Marshall, Oct. 26


“You were breaking the norm, and also the people were pretty mean. … They said some pretty nasty things to you.”

— Viola Jones Spells, former member of the Asheville Student Committee on Racial Equality, quoted in “Peaceful Warriors,” Oct. 26. Above, fellow former ASCORE member Al Whitesides Jr. speaks at a re-enactment of a sit-in.


“I felt empowered … that we could go about solving our problems in an orderly way by standing up for what we believed in.”

— Asheville Student Committee on Racial Equality member Cheryl Hunley, quoted in “Peaceful Warriors,” Oct. 26


“Nothing’s sexier than a guy who knows how to handle a cape. If he also wears a black hat and high boots with silver spurs and rides a maniac black stallion that thinks it’s a gazelle — well, viva El Zorro!”

— Marcianne Miller’s review of The Legend of Zorro, Nov. 2


“There are some hard lessons for the City Council to learn from the demise of this project.”

— Asheville City Council member Holly Jones talking about the proposed Battery Park parking deck, quoted in “Bluff Called,” Nov. 9

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