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Out and About

Sometimes it is good to break up the monotony of our workaday lives, as I did yesterday. I had business at Pisgah High School in Canton, NC from 8:00 to 11:00, and the Issue had her last basketball game in Hendersonville at 4:00, so I decided to make a day of it. I had to get up at the crack of dawn. Believe me, I'm more inclined to get up at the crack of noon, so making it to Canton by 8:00 a.m. was no mean feat.

I must mention the visual effect that the paper mill has on you as you roll into town from the west, especially when the air is cold and the water vapor produces enormous clouds. The plant is huge, like something out of a science fiction movie. I wish I had taken a camera. This photo, found on the internet, doesn't do justice to the impression it makes on you.

After finishing my business at the high school, I drove through downtown Canton (which I had never done before) and then on to I-40 east via the old route 23. It seems to me that there are often old highways that run parallel to the interstate. The interstate freeways were built later, meaning that the parallel roads are no longer the arteries for through traffic, but they continue to support local traffic. I was surprised, for example, to see a Jamaican restaurant on my right as I cruised down the highway. Who would have thunk it? A Jamaican restaurant in the middle of nowhere, Appalachia, NC. And the ruins of a piano dealership on the left ... or perhaps a place where once upon a time they built pianos?

By 11:30 or so, I was on I-40 East, Asheville bound. I headed right downtown, and parked the car in a garage. It's been awhile since I've been there. I found that the lot where I always used to park has been replaced by an enormous construction project; perhaps an apartment building.

The first thing I did was go to a café. I got my latte and my croissant, and sat down to correct exams and observe the local hipsters out of the corner of my eye. Or just look at them without shame.

I corrected a whole set of exams, and decided it wasn't right to bogart the table any longer so I set off to walk the streets of Asheville.

I hit a used bookstore where I often used to shop. The truth is that I no longer buy books. I used to be a hardcore book collector, but now I'm looking more to rid myself of so many volumes rather than accumulate more heavy wallpaper. The one tome that piqued my interest was Ian Frazier's On the Rez but I decided that I could check it out of the library once I find the time to read it rather than buy it. I was also surprised to find out that jazz magazines are running more than ten bucks a pop. Ouch! I was also tempted to buy a copy of Le monde diplomatique, a temptation resisted.

Leaving the bookstore, I decided to wander around for awhile. Only one panhandler hit me up ... I gave her a dollar. I read the menus at the upscale restaurants, partly out of curiosity, and partly to steal ideas. I admired the art deco architecture. I saw freaks, the homeless, a dude standing on a street corner with a guitar decorated with flame decals, a dude running shirtless in shorts (in 38º weather), a folk singer making it up as he went along (he was horrible). Monied Yuppies... The usual!

Enough walking around. I'm off to Barley's for some good draft beer and a couple slices of pizza. It was mid afternoon, the place was empty. I drank beer from the tap (Bell's Lager, from Kalamazoo, MI), ate pizza, and continued with my exam correction. I almost finished the task!

Afterwards I returned to the parking garage. I noticed that the man at the booth, an elderly African American chap, had lots of UNC basketball paraphernalia up. On the way out when paying, I asked him who won the game the previous night between UNC and Duke. I had watched much of the first half, but since I had to get up so early, I had gone to bed at half-time. He just laughed at me... And continued laughing at me. I told him that seriously I didn't know. "You're not gonna tell me, are you," I said. He eventually admitted that Duke won the game... It was my turn to laugh! I think he knew all along that I was a Dukie!.

Time to head down to Hendersonville to watch the Issue's last basketball game of the year. I pull into the school, and the door of the gymnasium is locked. so I head to the principal's office to ask ... No, no basketball game scheduled for today ... Oh, no... I was misled! After a few seconds we figured out that I had turned into the elementary school rather than the high school, which was next door.

Right after getting into the gym, the coach put the issue into the game, so I got to watch her play. Her team blew out the home team, so she got quite a bit of playing time!

On the way home we decided to check out a Thai joint ... Get this, in a gas station! I don't think anybody eats there (other than the Issue and I), but the take-out business is brisk. So brisk, in fact, that I heard that they run out of food every night. The food is cooked by a Thai woman who learned to cook on the streets of Bangkok, and later honed her skills in LA. The Gringo who runs the business side was quite gregarious and told us all about it. I had a soup ("tom yum shrimp") and the Issue opted for "pad see ew" ... noodles, broccoli and pork.

By 8:45 we were home. I like getting out and about ... but only every once in awhile. I like driving .. it's the traffic I could do without.



May 2019



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