Wagging tongues

As a new year emerges from the melted puddle of the old, it can be instructive to glance backward, surveying the landscape we’ve just traversed, and make some course adjustments ere we roll on. In this year’s edition of our annual tradition, Xpress has gathered fruit and pits from our 51 weekly editions in 2003 — including both tales that were hard to swallow the first time around and those that remind us of the sweetness of life in these mountains.

And from all of us at Mountain Xpress, Happy New Year!

— The editors

Sweet seduction

“See that guy right there?” Thomas gestures toward a man on the dance floor. “He’s a nuclear inspector for the government. He needs to tango.”

— Gail Thomas, quoted in “Vital Signs: Tango Asheville,” Dec. 10

“You could say it’s symbolic: The radios used by the Asheville Police Department and the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department are incompatible. Neither can receive the other’s signal.”

— “Mixed Signals” by Brian Postelle, Jan. 15

“Something like this frees the imagination. People are sick of nude, vulgar [images]. They want to be teased.”

— Christine DiBenedetto, leader of The Rebelles burlesque troupe, quoted in “Undressed to Kill,” July 2

“Regionalism is great [but] it’s only great if it serves everybody equally.”

— former Asheville Mayor Leni Sitnick on the Regional Water Authority of Asheville, Buncombe and Henderson, quoted in “Hope (or Leaks, Anyway) Spring Eternal” by Jonathan Barnard, July 30

“In the winter of ’68, in a drafty motel room in Port Huron, Mich., Anne Murray and I had a brief, doomed affair to the soundtrack of border-bound freight trucks rattling through the frigid dark beyond our desperate door.

“And I am a better man for it — though Anne, soon to become a world-famous singer of gooey love songs, refuses now to acknowledge that I even exist.”

— “Tainted Love” by Frank Rabey, Nov. 26

“[George Glass’] reckless mixture of downtrodden lyrics, spiteful guitar and drunken self-loathing didn’t exactly make for easy listening. The quality of his live shows was highly erratic, the quality of his recordings plain terrible. … Yet I kept coming back for more.”

— Steve Shanafelt, Random Acts, Sept. 24

“If this movie were a tree in Vermont, it’d have a tap driven into it and be sporting a bucket to catch the sap.”

— Ken Hanke’s review of Radio, Short Takes, Oct. 29

“‘Heroic haunches’ — or the equally enigmatic ‘heroic hips’ — is used at least four times to describe the anatomy of Grace, the primary love interest among the many lady friends of our protagonist, Dan Langerton. One can’t help but wonder what would alert a person to, say, cowardice in a set of haunches.”

— “Sex and the City” by Marsha Barber, Nov. 12

“While many of us would be loath to give our parents anything saying ‘good vibrations’ that wasn’t an old Beach Boys record, [Amy] Bloom’s comment typifies the refreshing attitude of the new breed of sex manual: enthusiastic, open-minded and unblushing.”

— “Is That a Bookmark in Your Pocket?” by Carrie A.A. Frye, Dec. 10

Party on

“Alexander Sokurov’s Russian Ark accomplishes the not inconsiderable feat of being both fascinating and tedious at the same time. Conceptually, the film is brilliant. Technically, it’s a marvel. Dramatically, it’s about as much fun as an evening with an insurance salesman.”

— Ken Hanke’s review of The Russian Ark, Short Takes, June 18

“Anger is not cynicism. Anger is a healthy emotion when you have a Nazi president.”

— Patch Adams, quoted in “Dr. Angry Clown,” April 30

“Basically, we’ve found that the amounts of lead discharged into people’s drinking water from these … parts are sufficient, although they’re relatively small … to cause measurable neurological damage, IQ damage and learning deficits in young children.”

— Richard Maas, quoted in “Lead in Our Veins” by Lisa Watters, Oct. 15

“Beer and wine lubricate democracy. Our official slogan is, ‘Let’s put the party back in politics.”

— Jim Hightower on The Rolling Thunder Festival, quoted in “Putting the Party Back in Politics” by Alli Marshall, April 30

“If we’re just here to rubber-stamp [the city manager’s budget], then why do we have elected officials?”

— Asheville City Council member Brian Peterson, quoted in “Council Coup Hijacks Budget Session,” July 2

“In fact, according to his publicist, the former Lemonheads front man is being ‘a little difficult.’ Of course, this is the same guy who, when asked a decade ago by an interviewer why he was unable to answer questions, could only scrawl ‘too much crack’ in response.”

— “Hurts So Good” by Alli Marshall, Oct. 8

“A couple of his Georgia co-workers at the Lumpkin County sheriff’s office, upon viewing a few of [his paintings], asked Cornbread if he’d been ‘getting into the evidence bag.'”

— “Ain’t Nothing to Figure Out” by Marsha Barber, Oct. 22

“Reading about drinking can be like shouting about silence.”

— “Hit Me Again, Santa” by Frank Rabey, Dec. 17

Selling out (or refusing to)

“Publicists in search of a usable breakout quote for this film are welcome to this: My Boss’s Daughter doesn’t suck nearly as much as I thought it would.”

— Ken Hanke’s review of My Boss’s Daughter, Short Takes, Aug. 27

“People say we’re accurately re-enacting the Renaissance. I say we re-enact the romantic idea of the Renaissance — there’s no plague and no real bloodshed.”

— Society for Creative Anachronism member Duncan MacGregor, quoted in “All Fun, No Plague,” Aug. 13

“It amazes me that every day as I drive by looking for a parking spot in fear that I will be hauled away (or ticketed, at the very least), the hookers do their business illegally, in clear view of all. Perhaps we should employ one of those cute little electric meter cars to ticket them. I’m sure the city could increase its revenue significantly.”

— J. Peters, Letters, Aug. 27

“Thanks to the Jazz Composers Forum, local jazz may have finally escaped the repressive lethargy of martini-lounge commercialism.”

— “Shaken Not Stirred,” by Tom Kerr, June 18

“The peddlers of Wolfe-iana clearly set great literary store by him, though I suspect few enough read his wearying works once they leap clear of high-school English.”

— “There and Back Again” by Cecil Bothwell, March 5

Land of the lost

“At $7 a ticket — roughly 14 musicians to the dollar — I figured a 100-musician jam couldn’t be anything but a good deal. Turned out it was merely too good to be true. … It was a grand experiment along the lines of Communism, with much the same result.”

— Steve Shanafelt, Random Acts, Sept. 3

“Democracy tends to be long-winded.”

— Citizen’s Planning Advisory Board member Mike Lewis on the complexity of the city’s 2025 Plan, quoted in “The Future is Now,” April 30

Amazing grace

“A guitar.”

— Leo Kottke’s take on what God looks like, quoted in “The Guitar Speaks Braille,” March 12

“When [Ulali’s] three unalloyed voices entwine, it’s as if some dizzy fool with a paintbrush has swashed shades of ocean-sunset orange, red and purple; hues of fall-maple gold; hints of the heartbreak-blue preceding a heartland storm; smears of eddying, salt-wash aqua; and tints of mountain evergreen, all through your ears: You become drunk on some mysterious, living tonic. For days afterward, Q-tip cleanings will raise bits of trees and wind. Drops of cool water. Sky.”

— “In the Thrall of the Wood Thrush” by Frank Rabey, Nov. 12

“It’s almost impossible to overstate [director] Peter Jackson’s achievement with this series and with this entry in particular, since it manages to be not just the most spectacular film imaginable, but a work of depth that never loses sight of its humanity.”

— Ken Hanke’s review of “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” Short Takes, Dec. 17

“When I grow up, I want to be unborn; to vomit rose petals and revel in stained-glass dreams; to raise cement wings under a crumbling mortar moon that pulls no tide; to break new ground with scapula backhoes and cackle as eyes roll out of pious heads.”

— Valorie Miller, Letters, May 14

The Real Cancun is, I believe, the sixth sign of the Apocalypse. … I hear that Cancun was shot a scant five weeks ago, meaning that the filmmakers should have been shot six weeks ago.”

— Ken Hanke’s review of The Real Cancun, Short Takes, April 30

“I run for my mother and all mothers of war.”

— Iranian Reza Baluchi, who stopped in Asheville during his cross-country run to promote peace, quoted in “Running Reza,” Aug. 13

“If you didn’t see the ponytails hanging out, you wouldn’t know the difference.”

— Die-hard Asheville Assault fan Kelly Gorason on the National Women’s Football Association, quoted in “Assault and Memory,” July 9

“Once you’re into defying gravity, you’re learning physics


— Biowheels owner Matt Johnson on BMX riding, quoted in “Gateway to Adventure,” April 30

“And The Primitive Quartet — by turns serene and fervent — brings the crowd to its feet as they clap to the beat, soak up the rich, rounded tones, and nod to the lyrics of salvation.

“‘I can guarantee we’re having a better time tonight than those folks at the football game,’ the bass player proclaims.”

— “Hidden Angels” by Tracy Rose, Dec. 10

“When Dracula does show up, he’s a creature of poise and majesty. He is dark purpose personified.”

— Steve Shanafelt’s review of Highland Repertory Theatre’s Dracula, “Giving Blood,” Oct. 15

“Painter and Black Mountain College alumna Dorthea Rockburne once declared that the only two ways for a woman to get attention in the art world were to be young and f**kable or to live to be very, very old.”

— “Nagging Voices” by Connie Bostic, May 7

“On paper, Beck’s breakthrough tune looks like an ideal cover choice for [Danny] Barnes — both musicians are decorated graduates of the genius/doofus school of aesthetics, and each has survived more artistic incarnations than the sneaker.”

— “Long-Awaited Angel Finally Descends” by Melanie McGee, Sept. 10

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