Monday, July 31, 2006

Montreal Part Deux



Montreal: Part 2
July 18th

The next day we got up and had our continental breakfast: only the croissants and chocolate pastries were good, but I had to beat back the fruit flies. The eggs, pancakes, and bacon were all cold. We got our car out a tight squeeze in the gravel lot and drove down to Vieux Montreal (Old Montreal). We parked in China Town and tooled around the peer and ventured up to the Notre Dame Basilica and ran into a Swiss band warming up. Having nothing better to do, we followed them down the street till they disappeared, but they later turned up in a parade on the Main Square: Rue St. Jacques by the Hotel Ville. I don't know if everyone knows this (probably not) but one of my heroes is Lord Nelson, the fellow who whipped Napoleon's ass and died at Trafalgar aboard the Victory. Who knows why there's an old statue of him in this square, since he's British and Montreal is a French city, but maybe he did a good deed for the city. The inscription said he helped in a Copenhagen campaign. Looks like I need to do more research on this one.

Border Crossing

I sighed with relief after leaving Montreal without any car damage -- those bikes were a little close for me and Keith ran a red light ("Oh I did?). As we waited in the Customs line at the border and munched our day-old Dunkin' Donuts chocolate chip muffin, we mused that we couldn't get any tax money at the Tax Exchange. Turns out you have to spend at least $20 and have $200 in receipts. Oh, well. Then as Keith was trying to merge into the lane, a maroon mini-van nudged our side mirror with his mirror! Keith got out of our car and said, "You're doing everything in your power not to let me in!" I was impressed he didn't say something stronger, but there were lots of border guards with guns and knee pads around. Luckily, there weren't any scratches on our car. I couldn't wait to leave Canada.

Next time -- to Jay and Lake Placid!

Alice

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Montreal -- the City of Sin! (and lost hotels)


Montreal, Monday 7/17
The Auberge Loft fiasco

The next day we rode on to Montreal via Northern Vermont. The roads were full of potholes and made me think of driving on Hwy 17 from Myrtle Beach to Charleston. I always had to avoid the right lane because it was too bumpy. Once in Montreal (at Customs, we presented our passports with no problem) we saw lots of "Witness"-looking scenery outside. Think granaries and silos and little gas stations announcing that they have beer and wine. It was close to 100 degrees outside and my back was soaked despite the A/C.

On the bridge to get to Montreal we saw a bilingual sign, "Road Rage Won't Make You A Winner". I need to tell Keith this periodically.

The Fiasco:
My mother-in-law, Bonnie, had booked us a month ago at the Auberge Loft & Suites on the Rue Ontario. When she booked it, I tried pulling its picture up on Expedia/Travelocity, but I just got a bare-boned listing. I remember having a funny feeling about this, but soon forgot about it. However, I had a hell of a time trying to locate it on MapQuest so we could get there from VT without getting supremely lost. Using Keith's North American atlas, I located a major road off of the bridge and drove towards Rue Ontario. No problem, I thought. We'll be in our hotel room by 6pm and we'll have our showers and then go out to eat. AHHH.

Alas, it wasn't to be.

We went up one street (Rue St Denis) and I saw a lot of European fellows with long hair, bicycles and construction boots and a fireman washing his truck with leather loafers on. I cringed everytime I saw the cyclists edging towards our vehicle. They were everywhere. Then we went down Rue Denis again in the other direction, found our street and parked. Couldn't find the hotel, though, but we did find the correct street address: 335, which was a gray apartment building with a bicycle up front! First, we called the hotel's number on the intinerary, and all we got was, "The party at this extension is not available. Please leave a message." That's not good. So, we went inside the coffee shop on the corner and I asked the barrista in French if she spoke English so we could find this hotel. She hadn't heard of it. We did some more driving, it was getting hotter. Then Rue Ontario merged into another street as it got closer to the downtown. ARGGGH. So, we called Bonnie and told her the situation and she called the number, got the same lax response and said she'd try to book us at another place. Meanwhile, I ran to the Hyatt at the Place des Arts, while avoiding dirty, loud homeless men to find out if this hotel was for real. I check on a map, checked in the Yellow Pages, and asked a very nice Hyatt front desk person. She said, "I've never heard of this place."

So, we bagged the Auberge and stayed at the Best Western, which was a great deal -- although we did have to pay for parking across the street. The place was almost across the Bell Center, where the Hurricanes beat the Canadiens last month.

Looks like we ran into a scam with this hotel. Luckily, Keith's card was never charged because he lost his wallet in a car wash (it was later recovered) and he subsequently canceled all of those cards, including the one he made the reservations with. Talk about luck!!! When we got home, I checked the Auberge on the Internet, and it turns out they did a good job of faking themselves with phony pics from another hotel with almost the same name. So, when booking your trip to Montreal, please avoid this place: The Auberge Loft and Suites!

Now it's 9pm and we're hungry. We changed our clothes and headed out towards St. Catherine St. a main drag filled with chain stores, coffee shops, restaurants -- looking very much like Greenwich Village. Unlike NYC though, every 5th store was a Dance Club featuring full-contact lap dances (they've been legal here since 2001). One place was even called "the Chateau of Sex" (the House of Sex).

The Dinner and the mean waitress

I pick a place called Reubens and order a beer, hamburger and Keith orders a spaghetti/meat sauce plate (looked kinda gross) and a beer. Three seconds after he twirls his noodle, a big flea-like bug squirms into his fork! Keith kills the crawling insect and speaks to the manager, ("Hope it's not a problem in your kitchen) who apologizes profusely and gives him the SAME DINNER! Keith did manage to eat it though, but it was painful to watch. My dinner, however, was yummy.

Our waitress was named Lisa with tight yellow curls, and she never smiled. Her eyes were cold and heartless and when Keith suggested we have coffee, I said quickly we needed to leave this place. Well, since Keith's dinner and beer were free, rude girl decided to look at what Keith left her in the bill wallet to make sure she wasn't shorted because of the bug. Unbelievable!!!

Coffee shop

We walked on, avoided more homeless men -- the urine-soaked ones didn't move, while the more active ones were soliciting on the crosswalks when people were crossing. Montreal's poverty is 27.3%, which is the highest percentage of any Canadian city.

We decided on the Second Cup coffee shop and what was cool about this place was that the bay window opened into the street (with no window), so you could drink your coffee while looking at the passersby, like being on a little stage. I ordered 2 caffe lattes in French, feeling very proud of myself and we got the wrong size and the wrong drink. Apparently, the barrista didn't know French. Although I kind of liked my green tea coffee, it was too sweet on the 4th sip. When I asked another barrista where the restroom were, she had to buzz an iron door behind me and I had to go downstairs. Guess they're serious about only wanting customers!

And soon after we called it a night.

Alice



Writers' Market

Jane Andrews
July 30,2006




At the NC Writer’s conference, guest speaker Bridget Lacy said that before doing anything she always asks herself, ‘Will this help Bridget.com?” Writing is a business, she insisted, and writers must consider themselves business people. My friend Jenny and I talk about this often over coffee.

“chante’ is not that brilliant a poet,” I tell Jenny. “But people love her and buy her books.”

Jenny takes a sip of her iced Americano. “It’s because she has a costume.”

I recall the last time I saw chante’ (no last name, just chante’ in all lower case) when she was reading at a poetry and spoken performance evening in Charlotte. She is a tall, slim, African American woman who wears beaded hair extensions that clank like battery cables. Her long flowy garments seem to fill with air and waft around her even inside crowded, smokey coffee houses. chante’ smells like patchouli and Vicks.

Jenny leans over her stapled pages of poetry. “I have more range. I have a bigger vocabulary.” She leans back again crossing her arms over her chest. “But,” she adds, “I don’t have a costume.”

I nod at her. She is right. Writing is about marketing. It’s about Jenny.com. Jenny needs a uniform. A costume. Poor Jenny. She is not African American. She looks exactly like what she is: a Scots-Irish-German descendent of people who came to the US on their own in the 1830s to farm tobacco. She could go to open mic nights dressed like the St. Pauli girl or Braveheart but I don’t think it would send the message “Poet” to the house. “Poser” maybe. “Pathetic” possibly. I have the same problem. If I brought my ethnic heritage to the Emerging Writers Potluck it would be Velveeta on Wonder Bread with Duke’s Mayonaise. Not even cut on the diagonal.

Jenny breaks off a corner of a chocolate hazelnut cookie the size of a Frisbee. “Caroline has a costume.”

I smile. Caroline’s costume is shreds. Silk shreds, suede shreds, nylon shreds. A walking weeping willow is Caroline. In pink ballet flats. She could read poetry, dance, and wash your SUV at the same time. She probably has. She probably got paid an honorarium for it.

I chug my triple espresso iced mocha, then say, “I don’t think that’s your style.”

Jenny flaps her hands in the air. “I know. But I need a style.”

“Maybe,” I suggest looking at her shell and seed necklace, “You could show up to readings in natural stuff. Burlap. Shells. Feathers. Driftwood.”

She shakes her head at me. “Gabriel has that one.”

She’s right again. Gabriel the gay poet has more fiber than Kashi cereal. He makes a crunchy sound when he walks past the wine and cheese table. Jenny can’t be gay either although it has a certain marketing cache’.

“Tattoos are taken,” I say. Jenny has one, but you’d have to be her doctor or her husband to see it. I’ve never seen it. “Animal skins? Pelts? Fur?”

“Ewwwwww. Anyway I don’t want people throwing blood on me, I want them to buy my chapbooks.”

I lick my finger and pat it into the crumbs on Jenny’s napkin. I don’t eat cookies but crumbs are calorie-free.

I consider other costumes Jenny and I could adopt to promote ourselves and our writing, to make us memorable after the page is turned, our voices fade, and the podium is turned over to the next poet whose eyebrows are linked together with bicycle chain.

I remember poet James Seay wears an eyepatch. For legitimate reasons that I would never want to deal with. But it raises the idea of prosthetics as artistic props. I like the Flannery O’Connorness of it, but if I’m found out it would be worse than faking a drug addiction memoir. Neither Jenny nor I have police records. She has allergies and has had a bout with pneumonia this summer, but it would take someone more sleazy than either of us to turn allergies into a marketing tool. I am unwilling to contract a disease to sell my writing. At the Festival of the Book at Duke this year, Barbara Kingsolver talked about the Bellwether Prize. Pretty much an award given to writing with a social conscience. Writing to make the world better. I listen to Jenny chew her cookie while she marks revisions on a poem about her lawnmower. I wonder if we each took on a cause----pet neutering, spider preservation, crop circle defending---we could parlay it into grants and interviews and readings. I ask myself what I believe in. What I want to promote. What cause am I passionate about? I sit at the vintage red Formica table open to the Universe like my friend Mickey told me to do, a spiritual slice of white bread ready to be filled with inspiration.

And it comes. Same as always. I am filled with ham. I am a ham. Deviled ham. Invented in 1868 and still selling. What I believe in is me. What I am passionate about is writing. What I want to promote is people reading my writing. I sigh and see myself reflected in the aluminum ductwork behind Jenny. White woman, brown hair, glasses, kind of starchy, unremarkable.

But, and my crooked toothed smile shines back at me---a classic. Since 1959. Forty-seven years. Maybe all I need to do is wear red.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

It's a hot one in Saratoga Springs





Saratoga Springs and Fort Ticonderoga

We left Merrick, Long Island NY at 9:30 after kisses and hugs to our son, Daniel, and to Bonnie, Keith's mom. This was the latest that we had left for a vacation: usually we have to catch a plane at 7 or 8 am on the Sunday of our trip. It was a hot drive up I-87 and we gave out a lot of money for tolls -- something we don't have in NC, but maybe it would help get our roads done faster, or contribute to the highway cleanup. The interstate was clean and I didn't see anyone toss cigarette butts out of the driver's window. We drove a new Chevy Equinox (rental) that looked a lot like a Ford Escape and it only had a CD player, no tape deck (we did bring enough CDs for the trip). I learned that "Radar Love" by Golden Earring is one of Keith's favorite songs.

We crossed the Throgs Neck Bridge or "Frogs" Neck bridge after lots of pitching and sharp turns on the Cross Island Expressway (Long Island) where I thought I would lose my life. We then stopped at this HUGE rest stop with a food court and Roy Rogers before passing more granite rocks on the side of the highway. Then we made it to Saratoga Springs in 3.5 hours and I saw two cyclists with oat sacks slung across their bodies trying to cross a road.

It was about 92 degrees that afternoon and we ate our sandwiches in our hotel room -- the Saratoga Inn, which had seen better days, but it was smack-dab in town and had a very courteous staff and a great continental breakfast, complete with eggs, sausage and danishes. Saratoga Springs is a well-planned town and every street light had a basket of purple flowers in it. There's also a lot of horse statues since this is racing country (the annual races start July 26th). Local CD shops, restaurants, bars, bookstores, and clothing stores line both sides of the main street.

We stopped at the Saratoga Automobile Museum and saw a bunch of British cars, along with a 1969 Boss 429 (hemi-head V8 engine) Mustang with original cream-white paint and Charles Lindbergh's 1928 Franklin, which he drove non-stop from Englewood, NJ to Detroit in 1940. He donated this "air-cooled" car to Ford Museum. There was a 1971 Pinto -- built for racing?! and a racing car called "Poison Lil". Keith said, "Are they talking about my grandmother?"

Then we walked up and down Broadway, the main street, taking in an art fair at Congress Park, sampling kettle corn (it's both sweet and salty) and the Franklin District, which is being rebuilt. One of the houses we saw had a crumpled roof that housed three pigeons and an old man who sat on the front stoop staring across the street with blank eyes. After this walk, I observed an interesting historical marker:

Solomon Northup -- a free black man who was born in Minerva, NY in 1808, but
then he was sold into slavery in 1841, and later rescued in 1853.

We missed his celebration day, which is July 24th where his descendants gather in Saratoga to celebrate his life and accomplishments. He wrote the book,Twelve Years as a Slave, about his slavery experiences in New Orleans and how he was tricked into slavery when he took a job for the circus in Washington, D.C . Go to http://www.americaslibrary.gov/cgi-bin/page.cgi/es/ny/slave_1 for more information on Northup.

That night we had an Italian dinner at the Ripe Tomato, where our waiter gave us generous portions and kept saying "You guys ready to order?", "Everything OK, you guys?" and so on. We get that a lot in NC, too. Afterwards, we tried to check up Cafe Lena, the oldest operating coffee shop in the nation, but they were charging $14 for the jazz band. Instead, we strolled the very lively streets (for a Sunday) and stopped at the downtown Borders which had a good selection of literary magazines and poetry books (not like the Six Forks Borders which has nothing of this sort!). When we walked back to our car, we passed a boy of about 10 singing and playing "Lola" on his guitar in front of a karaoke bar. He was pretty good! His voice carried for about 5 blocks, "Oh, oh Lola..."

Next day, we got up at a reasonable hour and drove north to Fort Ticonderoga which is a pretty big fort in the shape of a star. They had live renactors playing in the fife/drum band (see above photo) and later they gave a canon demonstration. The museum was housed on multi-levels and has been opened to the public since 1908 -- so it's been a tourist attraction for almost 100 years. We saw Benedict Arnold's trundle bed and George Washington's razor. The Americans took over the fort in 1775 through the efforts Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold, but and it later lost its military presence in 1778 when the British controlled Lake Champlain. The fort information was both in English and French and I found that I could read the French, which was to be good practice for our Montreal visit.

Next stop: Montreal -- the City of Sin!!

Alice

Keith in front of a glittered horse in Saratoga Springs

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Back from vacation/25th Reunion


Well, we're back in Raleigh after a week up in the Adirondacks where the weather wouldn't cool off until mid-week. We had a great time despite driving 1100 miles, looking for a non-existant hotel in Montreal and dealing with no A/C in our bed & breakfasts. I'm going to attempt to transcribe my travel journals for this blog. Here goes:

(left to right) Keith, Steve, Martha, Macy and Ann
Saturday, July 15th -- The Reunion

We got out of Raleigh OK and our son was fantastic on the plane. We had a celebrity sighting: Mark Jacobson of Toyota of Durham was checking in his baggage for San Francisco. We took naps when we got to Bonnie's house (my MIL) to rest up for Keith's 1981 reunion.

Keith was a bit nervous. It was held at a very large Hyatt in the middle of Long Island that was very far away from the water. He hadn't seen any of his former classmates since 1981, although he and his best friend from East Meadow High School still keep in touch. It cost $85/person and I thought that would include a wine/beer bar -- Nope! All cash bar with hotel prices. We drank Coors Light ($5) all night, but the food was great, but not $50 worth. Reunions Unlimited organized this shindig and they overcharged. They published this shitty 10-page directory that only included 20 alumni names without e-mail addresses. AND they mispelled our street address and called Keith a "she". Not a good start, but the evening got better as about 60 people trickled in through the doors. Keith ran into his old elementary school pal, Frank, who drove down from the Syracuse area (Baldwinsville, NY), he also ran into this guy who almost beat him up, and we met three of Keith's female classmates who remembered Keith and were nice to chat with: Ann, Macy and Martha. Martha flew all the way from Seattle. One classmate, Steve Stein, remembered everyone's class ranking and he told Martha she ranked 3rd out of 529! Sadly, Steve was hit in a car accident and spent 10 weeks in a coma two years after graduation. He has some trouble speaking/walking, but that didn't slow him down at the reunion! He made time to chat with everyone and cut a rug to Blondie and other early 80s tunes. It was cool that he remembered so many people, because Keith sure didn't (we had name tags and that helped).

I thought everyone looked pretty good, although a lot of the women had too much dark hair, dark lips, dark eyebrows and wore stockings with dress sandles/high heels. ACKKK!. It was pretty funny when the DJ announced, "The Buffet is Now Open" and "The Buffet is Now Closed". We kept to the back of the room because Mr. DJ was blasting the music, not considering a crowd of 40-somethings might like a lower volume.

We walked to our car and who should be parked right next to us? Macy and Martha! They were flipping through the yearbook and we laughed at bad, big hair. Macy said to me, "You remember the feather style, right?" And I wanted to say, "No, I was only 8." (I guess I look good for 43).

Next post: It's a Hot One in Saratoga Springs!

Alice

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Let's Get Writing!


Last night, I had a fantastic turnout at my free creative writing workshop held at the Royal Bean Coffee Shop acrosss the street from Meredith College -- 14 people came and although I ran out of handouts and evaluation forms, the workshop was successful! We did a 10-min prompt, then did introductions and had two writers share their fiction with the group (Next time, we may have another writing exercise in place of a critique) and then I talked briefly about writing resources, magazines to get started, writing groups, blogs, websites and showed the group my notebooks and submission journal. I left the group with this final thought: READ!! Especially what you want to write. I'm going to call my next free workshop "Prompt Writing" and it'll also be held at the Royal Bean (kudos to Amanda, the owner for having her shop open till 10pm). Check it out Wed. Sept. 27th 7-9:30pm. And before this workshop, I'm holding my Write From the Inside Out Workshops starting Wed. 8/30 at the Edible Arts Bakery, which is in the same building as the Royal Bean.

Next week, my husband and I will be on vacation in the Adirondacks, while our son will stay in Long Island with my in-laws (he'll have a vacation, too!) I don't have a laptop, so I'll write out my journal longhand, and then do a series of post-trip posting accompanied by photos (but not with my 5-year-old Advantix camera, the sucker died when I was trying to take some shots last night, but Michael Graziano had his camera ready and took this lovely shot on this page).

Also next week, my Mustang will be at the mechanic's in Fuquay Varina (a very long car trip from downtown Raleigh) and we think maybe a door hit it and caused that hideous dent -- I know they'll do a good job (it's already been hit in that area before and the paint is too shiny for the rest of the car). I hope Mustang will have a good time at the "Car Spa" -- So everyone in my family is going to be on vacation!

Till next time,

Alice

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Shubuta, Mississippi poem


This is my Shubuta poem and this photo of the Hanging Bridge was taken by J.D. Mason in the mid-1990s.

Ghostcards
(Dedicated to Charlie Lang and Ernest Green who were lynched in Shubuta, Mississippi in 1942)


The white girl's eyes are gray,
The boys scared her
So they wouldn't be invisible anymore.
She told and now
Their prison cell is gray,
The new paint slow to cover chipped walls.

Gray Zeros bombed
The Arizona last December.
Gray is the ash from Auschwitz
Seeking the sky for final release.
Gray is the dove's breast,
As she bleats: You die! You die! You die!

Gray in their grandmothers' shawls,
Gray hair sliding from thin buns.
The white girl's father spits gray tobacco juice
After he knocks down the fat sheriff,
And throws a gray blanket over his swollen head,
He couldn't stop the twenty men.
The mob wanted the boys right there and then.

Gray is the pavement outside
Manny's garage where they stole the tires.
As a joke! Rubber's such a war treasure.
Gray is Charlie's house sitting
Up the muddy banks of the flooded creek.
Gray is Ernest's uncle's suit,
He'll wear to the hasty burial.
Gray as Robert Johnson,
Singing "Rambling On My Mind".

Gray is the Hanging Bridge,
Whose camelback through truss span,
Works gray bile to the boys' mouths.
Gray is the coiled rope,
Cutting their fourteen-year-old necks,
Two pendulums swing over
The gray Chicksawhay River,
That gushes and churns in the moonlight —
A gray tornado of memory and spite.

My web site is operational !

Yes, after 3 days of heavy work and only 1 call to technical support -- my website is operational!
Check out www.aliceosborn.com. I have my workshops, editing services, favorite links, an extended bio, and writing prompts. I tried to make it as complete as possible. I feel great, like I've finally entered the 21st century :) Now I have to get to work and let everyone know it exists!

Alice

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy July 4th!

Well, Ghostcards, my chapbook (a chapbook is a small book of poetry) is out in print and I've already sold quite a few -- I'll be at the Raleigh Jaycees meeting tomorrow promoting my free writing workshop next Wed. the 12th and will be on hand selling copies. A portion of my proceeds will go to charity.

This week I attended Meredith College's Women's Only Focusing on Form workshop for the third straight year. I took poetry with Betty Adcock and she was wonderful, helpful and taught a great class. We didn't chit chat among ourselves and worked our butts off. Everyone in my class of 6 people produced strong work and we were at all levels. Way to go, guys! I wrote 3 new poems and revised 3 more. Here's my "Mosquito" poem:

Fresh wings scatter waves from the gutter water —
Little vampire, she flies over the juniper,
And he swats her away this July night.

She comes around for another pass at the boy,
This time, she hits her favorite spot —
Behind the knees where the hot moist air
Triggers her spit so the slender proboscis
Can suck up the blood, soda in a straw.
So much tastier than flower and fruit juice!
Her belly swells as she dwells in her spot.
Intending to mother 400 more eggs
In the still, brown water.

The boy smacks his leg,
Rubbing insect and blood in a swirl
Of winged gossamer.

Her sister swoops from behind —
Boy, your ankle is mine.


Of course the same week that I'm attending my writing workshop, I have to turn in my Independent Study 20-page paper on Shubuta, bridges and lynching. Thank goodness, JD Mason gave me some additional information on the 1942 lynching which gave my paper more punch. But I rushed it at the last minute and had Keith look over typos/run-ons/repetitions (there was a lot here). Stayed up late almost every night, but it got done. My final conclusion: we need to use literature to inform others about lynching trauma. In fact, I used a poem I entitled "Ghostcards" to illustrate the boys' lynching and to give them a face. I'll post this poem, along with a photo of the Hanging Bridge either later today or tomorrow.

OK, great news! Got a poem published! In the Mom Writers Literary Online Magazine -- originally titled "He Runs Away" , which I changed it to ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). http://www.momwriterslitmag.com/ will be in the Winter 2006 issue. My son was diagnosed with ASD last summer, but he's doing great now, but at the time I wrote this poem, things were VERY stressful. Also have developed a system of sending poetry out, which I was meaning to do for quite some time.

Local star spotting! I met author Tim Tyson since his mom, Martha, was in the Meredith workshop and I'll send him my thesis curriculum when I'm done on Blood Done Sign My Name. And I'm calling my curriculum a cultural studies/rhetoric program w/the theme of race in America.

And then the bad news
My car (my beloved 1996 Mustang) got hit either at Meredith or Quail Ridge on Wed in the middle of the day --- BIG dent in front of the front tire, passenger side. No note, no witnesses. ARGHHHH! Stupid turkey. So I'm driving around with this big dent and it's not the first time I've been hit. My passenger side has been hit/run 3 times since I moved to Raleigh 6 years ago -- What's up with this? And the rudeness of not leaving a note. OK, just writing this is making me MAD!!

And the sad news...
The fellow who developed my film at Eckard at 540 and Falls of Neuse, Sean Johnson, died in a car accident June 20th on Atlantic Ave going to work at 11am (I found out later from the N&O's "What's Up" section on Friday). I was so sad since he was such a great guy - African American, same age as me, wore a cowrie-shell necklace-- felt a connection w/him, even though we exchanged but a few words. He was someone who cared about customer service! Always gave me free Advantix film as part of my order, cut coupons out for me and we talked about the retail life and what he really loves to do -- DJ, but he still needed a day job. So I went to a benefit night at Aries Lounge (across the street from Flying Saucer, where he DJed part-time). His friends were auctioning off his record collection and getting donations so that his parents can pay for his funeral. I got one of his mix CDs (very fun stuff), a silver lighter from his collection, and an old Blues tape of his -- Howlin Wolf. I felt much better after I went and after talking to a few friends of his. An older folk song couple was singing Amazing Grace, Woman No Cry and a couple other traditional songs. He'll be missed.


This Sunday, my husband, son and I went to the Festival For the Eno in Durham, which featured great food, music, crafts/clothing (couldn't stop at all with Daniel in tow) and toe-dipping in the Eno River. Keith liked Katryna Nields's music, so he got her latest CD, but didn't realize until I told him that it was all children's music! Song titles like "Hop up Ladies," "Going to the Zoo," and "Farewell, My Pants," didn't clue him in. Daniel liked it at least. It was very hot, but not buggy at all. Daniel had a bit of a trantrum when we had to get off of the shuttle bus, since he wanted to keep riding, but we managed to leave OK.

Hope you're having a happy and safe 4th of July and I'll chat with you soon!

Alice