The First Part of the September 24th entry
September 27th entry
Tuesday, September 24In North Carolina, where I have no inherent sense of the order and arrangement of the towns, cities and highways, I was forced to ask directions as to the whereabouts of Asheville. The friendly girl in the gas station in Greensboro said Asheville was to the west. I'd somehow simultaneously forgotten that I was both in the South and wearing Jessika's blue wig.
I-40 races a long lonely track westward through the defiantly complacent Jesse Helms-electing core of God's own North Carolina. Tradition here is a beautiful thing. And what with the states rights fervour issuing copiously forth from the present reactionary Federal Congress, states are now free to raise speed limits to whatever tradition says they once were. Thus somewhere where that asphalt ribbon wends amongst fetid industrial pig farms and rattle shacks set on abandoned and reforesting tobacco fields Jessika and I, speeding along in my 1975 Dodge Dart, came across our first 70 mph speed limit sign. It was as though we were in some foreign land or experiencing a time warp. 65 mph had, after all, become for us some sort of unsurpassable legal speed, as 186 thousand miles per second is for light. I sought to take full advantage of such loosened legal limits and pushed my Dart along at 75 mph up the subtle ramp that is the Carolina Piedmont. But then Jessika smelled anti-freeze, saying "I'd know that smell anywhere." And just then I saw my temperature gauge, already at the uncharacteristically hot midway point, suddenly swing sharply upward. I pulled over immediately and let my hot rod cool down. When next we hit the road, I was careful not to push my steed with such abandon. The next time my car got anything close to this hot was as we climbed the incredibly endless scarp that the Blue Ridge represents as it walled off our approach to Asheville from the West.
We saw our first Warren Wilson College hippies as we neared the college on the narrow Warren Wilson Road through a great rolling agricultural field. It was by now quite late and very dark, but there the hippies were, resplendent in their tie-dyes, picking up trash as part of the adopt-a-highway program. They probably tell their friends that they are environmentalists and cite this as one of things they are actually doing for the world.
I parked my Dart at the top of a hill in the ground-zero center of the campus outside a great brick dorm called "Sunderland." Fifty feet from my car was Deya's silver mountain bike holding captive council with its brethren in a bike rack. We had come all this way and, without any more information than what college Deya attends, were already almost in the presence of the person we had come to visit!
Not too fast. Typical of our mutual ethic, Jessika and I had intentions of stalking Deya for a time before revealing our presence to her. So off we set like ninjas through the bushes around Sunderland. Our covert actions seemed to be drawing notice from others in a way that they never would have at Oberlin, but I was emboldened by vino and as such had delegated all my paranoia to Jessika. She has a way of setting me into unstoppable motion, like riling a bull in a china shop, only to become anxious at my excesses.
Aquarius symbols which mysteriously appeared on trash cans in front of Sunderland during our visit.
We thought we saw Deya on the fire escape, studying alone. It turns out we were mistaken. But we decided that if Deya was going to be so easy to stumble into we should go off and raise havoc in other parts of campus. So we settled on a grassy knoll to talk and do other things. For all the world it looked as though I was composing love sonnets to her. We saw a large man drive by slowly in a small car. Jessika thought he was looking at us, but I thought she was being overly paranoid. I thought we hardly constituted a strange sight on a college campus at night...a boy and a girl on a grassy knoll under the stars, perhaps much too much in love to say goodnight.
By various means we found our way back to Sunderland. The people we ran into were distracted by us in a way that seemed, from my experience, to be unnatural. We slowly came to the realization that we were on a very small campus and that everyone knew everyone else or else everyone knew what outsiders would look like. Still, we were not so suspicious that we weren't let into the dorm by the first crunchy girl who happened along as we pondered Sunderland's push-button door combination locking scheme. Our easy access surprised Jessika for some reason, and I had to curtail her urge to express this this surprise to the crunchy girl...you don't want crunchy girls to experience second thoughts about such things; there's no telling how paranoid they are from the santa clause they last smoked.
We went to the basement of Sunderland to collect our thoughts as well as to explore a room full of nice things like blankets, pillows and candles. Then we went up and down the elevator a few times to "stalk" the floors where Deya might live, hoping to see her unmistakable impression in some lonely door's decoration. We knew from her correspondence that she lives alone in a room built for two. As we left the building at one point, a suspicious house mother type asked us, "...And who are ya'all?" and we said we were friends of a Deya who lives somewhere in the dorm.
Wondering what else to do, we sat in the Dart drinking vino. Along came a hippie couple who somehow became involved in a conversation with us. They knew of Deya, mostly because she is known to hang out with someone who is relatively famous on campus, an idealistic punk rocker named Sp@m, a fellow Aquarius. They invited us to come sit in a formal-garden-cultivated Arborvitae grove and smoke of the infamous marijuana, that evil plant that degenerate hippies are so inexplicably fond of. We naturally declined, choosing instead to swing around like apes in the Arborvitae.
We were eventually led to Deya's room, which featured a name plaque stolen from an office at the University of Virginia. Jessika and I had grown weary of our stalking, so we chose to knock.
The Dart, Attacked!Deya was naturally rather surprised by our sudden appearance. Of course, she'd never even noticed that she'd been stalked for that hour or so. She'd been asleep. Not that our visit was a complete surprise; I'd been warning her of an impending surprise via e-mail for some time.
She showed us her tiny little room, which, as I have already mentioned, she shares with no one. On her extra bed was a collection of dry foods obtained as an perk (if you will) of her job in the dining hall. She'd been telling Jessika that she was hoping to spawn a roommate spontaneously from such food. We toured the building a little and then I went out to my car.
There were some hippies standing around it. One asked if it was my car, and I said yeah and he said that it smelled funny, like something was wrong with the engine. So I smelled it and it was the smell of spray paint. That's when I noticed the yellow spray paint on my headlights, hub caps, rearview mirror, and Dart logo. My "fashion girl" alterna-chick had been ripped loose from her noose. I could feel a rage building, but what could I do? The hippies then told me how much it sucked that sometimes people come from off campus to fuck up their campus with graffiti and thefts. They implied that I too had been a victim of such things. But I knew that this was just retaliation for the perception that I had been in some way responsible for the stenciled-on "big fun" logo in the Sunderland elevator. The hippies left, and I watched them go. I felt weak, since I could do nothing to them without causing more problems for my self than I was bound to solve.
I didn't know what to tell Jessika and Deya when they came out to the Dart. Deya had never even seen my car yet. Jessika first noted the alterna-chick's liberation. Then I explained the spray paint. She wanted to do something horrible to the hippies who'd attacked us, and I said we could probably find them tomorrow. But by now I was just depressed. I felt powerless and vulnerable. There's something very creepy about a hippie who has school pride and is willing to resort to such means to make a point. All the hippies I have known, after all, were content to bitch from their futons over a packed bong about the injustices of the world.
The Discovery of Asheville
Wednesday, September 25I woke up before Jessika and set out to find some sort of computer lab in which to read my e-mail. But my searches were in vain. I was amazed by all the activity with which the whole of the campus was abuzz. Everywhere fresh young intelligent faces could be seen bent towards boring tasks normally assigned to semi-retarded middle aged people. Some pleasant girls were on their hands and knees pulling weeds near an academic facility while hippie bongmeisters puzzled at the masonry task of constructing a stone entrance gate. Back at Sunderland, an excessively manned crew spent all day painting the entrance doors. This was a routine task; no one had defaced it with graffiti as had happened to the inside of the elevator.
This active scene of hippie industry was indescribably creepy, in almost a David Lynch sort of way.
When I got back to the Dart, Jessika was awake and as creeped out as me. She wanted to just get the hell out of there. Some friendly hippie approached us and we just assumed he was going to accuse us of mayhem. But no, he was super friendly. He asked if we were "on the road" and offered us showers and a place to stay. But his even his friendliness was unnerving. It was like the excessive green-ness of the grass and the crystalline blue of the sky. It was too perfect, too well...orchestrated. So off we went.
I didn't really know where I was going. It was a little like my flight from the Jehu End of the World Party, only I intended to return at some point. At a gas station I filled the Dart's thirsty stomach and used some extra gasoline to dissolve away the majority of the yellow spray paint with which my car had been vandalized last night. Truth be known, Jessika and I came to the conclusion that the halo of yellow remaining around each of my hub caps was actually kind of cool looking. The lady running the gas station, fat and friendly, claimed she knew I was from Virginia because of my accent. To her, I imagine, all accents with origins farther than fifty miles away sound the same, much like the guy in Harlem who in August of 1989 told me I sounded like I was from England.
Jessika and I ended up at a Revco. The fact that Jessika had forgotten her camera was remedied by a budget $6 disposable camera that I purchased, along with 24 ounces of generic Revco Tussin DM for the evening's entertainment. We ran across a couple of hesitantly friendly hippies in the store and when we saw their car in the parking lot out front, we discovered them to be members of an odd breed: Christian Deadheads. They actually had a combination Christian/Deadhead bumpersticker on their car. Here Jessika poses beside it:
The Christian theme kept cropping up over and over again, here a bumpersticker, there a lighted sign in front of a business. I'd thought the Shenandoah Valley was a center of tacky religious activity, but by comparison to this place it is Gomorrah. As we motored around the eastern suburbs of Asheville without really knowing where we were, we sought out a Waffle House with which to satisfy our hungry stomachs.
The one we found was like all such places in general design; it had a long counter, including booths and a bar, behind which the waitresses and cooks toiled. As we, odd as we were in appearance (you saw how Jessika looked and you'll soon see me), made our entrance, the head waitress shouted out a generic hello. We found our booth quickly so my bare feet would go unnoticed.
The waitress, a nearly toothless woman named Felicia, was friendly in that uniquely southern way as she accepted Jessika's order, which was long and various. "Do you want those hash browns all the way?" she asked. Then, to Jessika's puzzled expression, she rattled off a long and incoherent list of what all would be added to her hash browns should she in fact get them "all the way." Jessika is not one to argue with the culture she has waded into, so sure, she wanted her hash browns "all the way." I was more conservative with my order, getting some hot cakes and ham.
We were both amazed when we finally got a chance to see the hash browns "all the way." Somewhere under that chili, ham, gravy, corn, beans, peas, pig tails, carrots, collard greens, tomatoes, frog eyelids and chicken gizzards was surely some bits of fried potato. But they weren't immediately evident. Jessika had a few bites, her stomach spun, and she could eat no more. Me of the cast iron constitution ended up finishing it all off while she focused on some eggy slime.
We couldn't help noticing the customers who trickled into and out of the Waffle House. The older men all looked like televangelists; they wore formal, fastidiously pressed immaculate clothes in garish clashing colours. The women all looked to varying degrees like Tammy Faye Bakker; they applied much overly dark foundation upon which they smeared blush that slightly wrong place that says only, like some sort of wound, "I am a complacent member of bible believing southern culture."
There were some alternative elements there as well. But they weren't alternative as I know alternative. The alternative that the alternative guys we saw chose to follow involved long greasy hair, millions of tattoos (many with a strongly Christian theme) and tight tight blue jeans. How about that ass?
There was a strange friendliness to the staff of the Waffle House that reminded us of the surreal friendliness of the Warren Wilson kids. The old man who served as the cook sang along badly off-tempo to Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville and other pop songs of the 70s that played on the radio, just like David Lynch would have had him do had this been a colour remake of Eraser Head.
Out in the parking lot, we made more fun of all the Christian bumperstickers, and wondered what pictures to take. The pictures above are me, barefoot, seated on the hood of my wonderful Dodge Dart.
We drove into Asheville on US route 70. There's a nice little tunnel you get to drive through if you go that way, but if you go in on Interstate 40, you have to go through a great artless artificial canyon in the very same mountain. One of the many criticisms I have of contemporary highway construction is its absolute lack of aesthetic sensibilities. To destroy a mountain for a highway is like wiping your ass on an illuminated manuscript. There's something magical about entering a city through a tunnel, and that's what should have been done with I-40. But the aesthetic here is along the lines of Tammy Faye Bakker's...
We parked smack in the downtown of Asheville and soon found ourselves walking around. It took no time at all for us to run across aspects of alternative culture: a young dread-lock bedecked man, a young woman and a reddish brown dog. They were chatting outside a hippie theme store. As is usual for ice breaking in such a situation, it was the dog that gave us the opportunity. Said I, "It takes a lot of courage to wear brown."
Jessika and the young man then became involved in a long conversation that I paid almost no attention to. The conversation did reveal, however, that the young man in fact did know a member of the Nomadic Festival, proving yet again that in alternative circles at least, it's a small world out there. I took one art-shot photograph of Jessika, the dog and the hippies. It later proved to be the best photo of the batch.
We wandered around the town awhile longer, and rather liked the place actually. It was a much bigger city than I had expected. I had heard of Asheville, you know. But I figured it would be on the order of the size of Charlottesville or maybe a little bigger. Never did I expect the big buildings. There were no sky scrapers, mind you. But lots of nice big town buildings in excess of two stories in height.
Back to the Computer Cave Man DaysWe eventually returned to Warren Wilson to track down Deya and perhaps -I don't know- socialize with her or something cool like that. We came across her and Sp@m hanging out in the pleasant sunshine, that, some half hour later, was punctuated by a torrential if brief downpour. Sp@m seemed like a nice enough guy with punk rock tendencies. What's more, he apparently has a proclivity to find himself in altercations with nazi skinheads whenever he goes to punk rock concerts. Nazis and right wing fascists are even more numerous in Jesse Helm's state than they are in the land of Oliver North.
I went off to find a computer lab in which to check my e-mail. This time, however, I had Deya to point me in the right direction, to the Spidel Physics building, at the bottom of a hill. I was, however, not at all impressed with either the equipment or software with which the computer lab was equipped. Of course, I'm spoiled by the University of Virginia and Comet, where Power PCs and Pentiums are the norm, where 16 Megs of RAM is considered paltry, where "thousands of colours" is considered grainy, where anything less than a T1 connection is considered intolerably slow. The kids here at Warren Wilson probably consider their computer equipment cutting edge but, really, the machines appeared to be either 386 or slow 486 machines with crappy graphics boards. The web client software was Netscape...1.1! I couldn't even use it to check my e-mail! I started instantly downloading Netscape 3.X, but that proved in the end to be a hopeless cause. It took well over an hour to download that particular bloated application over the slow internet dirt road connection by which Warren Wilson is attached to the Information Superhighway, and then, once obtained, the software couldn't even be decompressed (let alone executed) within the memory limits of the computer it found itself in. While waiting for the hopeless downloading, I worked on my musings, which I was quite able to download and upload using an FTP client. I had been joined by Jessika and Deya by this time and they amused themselves by reading my Musings. Every now and then Jessika would be heard having a bad reaction to something I had written, for example, about her and Jason Huffman, with whom she had a torrid affair that she apparently now wishes was not a part of written history.
I tried various schemes to check my email, eventually using the technique used by Deya: a primitive text-based UNIX program called PINE. I used Telnet to run a version of PINE on Boxy back at my version of "Houston" (Comet.net in Charlottesville). But just as I was finished configuring PINE (having Telnetted to Boxy from Deya's Telnet session), the fussy Telnet shell quit abruptly at an inadvertent keypress. I didn't feel like reliving that Hell, so I never did manage to check my mail. I did note one more person had signed the Big Fun Glossary Guest Book, the first in awhile. Some of the Glossary's pages looked pretty crappy through Netscape 1.1, and this pissed me off. Who knows how many people are still using that particular client.
Meanwhile, a class happened in the computer lab around us. It was apparently no big deal that we kept quietly surfing and typing during the class. I thus attended my the first college class since 1989! Later, the instructor, a woman, asked me how to spell a word and I was quick with an answer. If you've found this page, Ms. Professor (using an Altavista Search perhaps, which places this page very high on a search for "Warren Wilson"), I'd like to extend a big howdy-doo. I was the guy with the striped brown shirt and the poke berry juice around my eyes.
About that poke berry juice. Waiting for the interminable and doomed Netscape download proved very frustrating, so we three went outside and acted goofy under the gathering clouds. Jessika and I jumped up and down in the manner of Don Mueller. Then I spied a pokeberry bush, laden heavy with plump purple poke berries. I couldn't resist, and so soon had it applied around my eyes to make me look like a ghoul. Jessika helped out with this, of course. And Deya warned of the toxicity of poke berries, but I knew better than to fear the juice of the berries coming into contact with my skin.
Soon after a cloud burst Jessika took a picture of me and Deya, which didn't turn out too well, but here it is anyway. We wandered back to Sunderland and found that someone had posted an irate note in the elevator next to the "big fun" stencil design, saying that they were very offended that someone was doing such horrible things to the glorious campus. Someone else scrawled an additional note to the effect that [the name of another building] had been gotten too. I added my own sentiments, "More power to the evil ones!" This elicited a comment later from another anonymous pro-graffiti individual, "I like graffiti." As I know well from my experiences in Harkness, there are always two well-staffed sides to a debate about graffiti.
Deya had to go off to work as everyone eventually has to do at Warren Wilson, and when she departed Jessika and I hatched a little plan. We decided to print up a flyer expressing our outrage at the graffiti in Sunderland, on my car and elsewhere. The flyer, to be placed all over campus, would call for a nice hippie touchy-feely meeting so we could "share" our thoughts and "feelings" on the issue. But upon entering the library to do the necessary word processing, we were greeted with the news that the library was just then closing "for dinner." We thus made plans to return later to carry through on our flyer plan, but of course we never did.
Incident along the TracksSo Jessika and I decided to go get some malt liquors to drink and while away the time spent waiting for Deya. But that was not as easy as such an idea is in Charlottesville. The nearest place to buy alcohol is the Shell station out on US route 70, a mile and a half away. So we elected to hitch hike instead of firing up the Dodge Dart (which was by now parked directly beside the College President's car).
Presently, we were picked up by a family driving a big van. And once at the Shell we purchased 22 oz Blue Bull Malt Liquors...four of them as I recall. Jessika wanted them because she'd had a pleasant experience the last time she'd drunk of the Bull.
Finding a convenient place to actually drink the Bulls was intuitively obvious; along the south side of US 70 runs a railroad track, secluded from the road by a strip of woods. We went down this track a short distance and set about to drinking. We had a jovial yet unsuperficial conversation that went on for some time; this was indicated by the fact that we each had to take breaks to urinate and that we were into our second beers by the time the cops showed up.
The local rednecks who live beyond the tracks had a clear view of us even though we sat somewhat beyond the horizon of the railroad grade from their angle. One redneck had driven down to the end of his driveway to get a better look, but he'd moved on and I'd just assumed nothing much was to come. But no, someone had become very concerned and called the cops. The cruiser parked in a driveway near where it crossed the track and the plump little cop started ambling uncomfortably towards us. I just assumed that this was going to be a fix out of which we could sweet talk our way.
"How you doin'?" I asked in a friendly voice.The banter continued in this friendly way, with Jessika assuming gradual dominance in as much as, as Jessika put it later, "[the cop] was having none of you." Recall, I had that poke berry juice smeared around my eyes.
"Oh alright, how you all doin'?" he offered. This was going to be easy.
"You all doin' some drinkin'?" he continued.
"Yeah...look, I'm sorry, but we came into town to visit a friend at Warren Wilson, but she's working now and we went to get some beers, and this is the only place we could find to drink 'em. We hitch hiked down here." I explained.
"Yeah, his car isn't working so well..." Jessika lied.
"Well, you all can't be drinking here on the tracks..." he apologized.
"Yeah, I know," I agreed.
Naturally, our IDs were checked. But since Jessika has no ID, she said she was born in 1974, (though in fact she was born in 1975). This would place her within legal drinking age, which was going to save us the only real headache (me contributing to the delinquency of a "minor" or her "drinking without having obtained the proper age"). She gave correct data on all her other information, however. None of that Pearl Swain business. When asked about it later she claimed she'd been intimidated into honesty. Something about that uniform. He gave us a little test to determine our drunkenness. It involved following a pencil with our eyes. Upon completion of my test, he said I was "borderline." He made no comments about Jessika's performance, though she turned her head back and forth the first time.
The cop asked what he thought should be done about the circumstances and I suggested that we should be made to dump our beers out and be set on our way. I figured this was the best we could expect given the circumstances. But remarkably, the cop told us we could keep any unopened beers (there were none) and told us to throw away the opened beers at the Shell. So off we went.
Jessika wanted more beers, so after gently setting our two remaining mostly-full Bulls in the trash, I went into the Shell and called out, "Is anyone going to Warren Wilson?" And right away I secured a ride with a young man in a small car. I bought two more Bulls, harvested the open Bulls out of the trash, hopped in with Jessika in the young man's car, and off we went, me breathlessly describing our situation. Meanwhile two cop cars were on the railroad tracks, their drivers having a sleepy southern conversation.
Interrogations and GarlicWe sat in the 2nd floor teevee room with some Warren Wilson kids, drinking our Bulls and telling them our railroad tracks tale. We killed some time in Deya's room as well, until she got off work and came by. She told us that she'd had a meeting with the Warren Wilson Security guy about us, and that he wanted to talk to us about the spray paint "big fun" logos that appeared on campus last night. I was of the opinion that we shouldn't meet with the guy, but Deya said we should, and she went further to state that she'd given him our real names, that she'd had no real choice. She said that that she'd been led to believe that if we'd been responsible for the graffiti and admitted to it, we could get off the hook by simply cleaning it up. So we pondered the situation, drank more beers, became increasingly intoxicated, and decided, damn it all, sure, we'd go talk to the Security asshole.
We'd been drinking all evening though, and things needed to be done about all the alcohol that was surely evident on our breaths. We'd been nibbling of Deya's various care-package food items: crackers mostly. For masking our breath and for its inherent pleasures, we also broke into a jar of shredded semi-pickled garlic and ate this on crackers until our mouths and throats burned with its flavour. Then off we went to talk to the Security guy.
We were ushered into the Security office by the King of Security himself, along with his principle henchman, a bearded man who had driven slowly by observing Jessika and myself the night of our arrival at Warren Wilson when we'd been on the grassy knoll appearing for all the world to be two shy lovers.
The King of Security took our names and explained that a mysterious student had witnessed us spray painting on the campus of Warren Wilson, and that he was surprised the student hadn't shown up yet (which would have been coincidence since this was an impromptu meeting) to positively identify us. He said the best thing we could do was to fess up, and if we did all that all that would happen to us is that we would be billed for clean up. But...if we didn't fess up and the mysterious student witness stuck by his story, then he'd call the Sheriff. Of course, we didn't admit to anything. I pointed out that we weren't going to admit to something we hadn't done. We accounted for the existence of a possible witness with the fact that the night of our arrival we might well have appeared to be suspicious to onlookers because we were "stalking" Deya and intended to surprise her. We went on to mention that we too had been victims, that my Dart had been vandalized with yellow spray paint the very same night.
The King of Security gave us this schpiel about how the campus is immaculate (something I had independently noted and been unnerved by) because it is maintained by and even "owned by" the students, who love the place. He suggested that if we'd had no involvement with the graffiti spree, then we'd probably be okay with his searching my Dart. Sure, I didn't see anything wrong with that. So we went out to the Dart. I rooted around in my car and showed the Security guy my two cans of spray paint, one silver and one yellow (though the yellow had never been used). Neither colour had been used in the graffiti spree, which had all been in dark blue (on campus) and pastel yellow (my car). The King of Security had originally been gracious in allowing me to do all the rooting around, but as it appeared obvious that there was no direct evidence in my car linking me to the spree, he did a little rooting around himself...to no avail. So he didn't know what to do. He proclaimed that we were Deya's guests and that we could go anywhere Deya went but that we weren't to go anywhere without Deya, or else we'd get in some sort of trouble. He also arranged to have us check in at with him at 11am, by which time, he supposed, the mysterious witness would have resurfaced.
Back at Sunderland, we were amazed by how badly Deya's room reeked of Garlic. This gave us cause for much laughter as we wondered about the smell we'd left in the office of the King of Security.
Tussin' Warren Wilson FashionWe were joined by Sp@m as we contemplated maybe drinking the tussin I'd bought at the Revco earlier today. It was pretty late by this time, but Jessika was strongly advocating the drinking of the sticky red cough syrup. So...down the hatch went six ounces for me, followed by the usual water and mouth rinsing. Jessika had a little less than I, though I think Sp@m and Deya each had about six ounces too.
We went wandering through an agricultural field to the west as the tussin started to kick in. On the way we passed through a Wizard of Oz style dark and scary woods. That's when the vomiting began. First it was Deya. Then, in the agricultural field as we all lay around in a tussin-enhanced state of complacency upon an enormous flat rock, Jessika would periodically role over and puke over the edge into the cold clammy ocean of grazed grass. Every time she did that, the air would fill with the pungent and somewhat nauseating chemical odour of Dextromethorphan, somehow amplified by the chemistry of the garlic and malt liquor it was mixed with. I kept thinking about how cold I was, though Deya would rub my back occasionally in an effort to keep me warm.
Things were weird, intensely so. But I cannot say I was having a good time at all. There seemed to be walls placed between all of us individuals up there. And then, to add to the weirdness, an unknown girl, a little Warren Wilson student I suppose, appeared out of nowhere and sat with us. Sp@m knew her, I guess. I kept feeling like everything I said was being perceived as extremely strange by her. But someone suggested to me later that she was probably on LSD at the time.
On the way back, Jessika periodically got down on her hands and knees to puke, and at other times complained of a near-inability to walk. She was having a miserable time, resentful of all the garlic she had been forced to taste a second time. By now, though, her vomit was strictly malt liquor and she was amazed at how her stomach contents had somehow remained segregated into layers. All Jessika wanted at this point was the security and relief that the Dodge Dart represented.
While waiting for Deya to get through saying goodnight to Sp@m, I asked Jessika if she thought Deya and Sp@m were lovers, and she guessed through the fog of Dextromethorphan that they probably were, but she was more interested in what I thought about it. I thought it was a beautiful thing and said so. Tussin made it seem like a wonderfully beautiful thing indeed.
Jessika and I climbed into the Dart (which was now again in front of Sunderland) and found our respective ways under the covers to the incomparable comfort of knowing we wouldn't have to be moving for the rest of the night. Deya came by and more or less tucked us in and went off to sleep in her own room.
Read some more tales of tussin.
Never to Return
Thursday, September 26Though she would vehemently deny this assertion, Jessika is real cute when she's asleep in the back of my Dart, thus I couldn't resist the photographic opportunity provided by her slumber this morning. Remember, you're looking at someone whose last conscious moment was encapsulated in a garlic-flavoured Dextromethorphan nightscape.
We were unaware of the time as we slowly revved up our motivations for another day in Western North Carolina. But then here comes this truck, and out of it steps these two burly men, one of whom looked unhappily familiar. But I asked Jessika anyway, "who are they?" "That's them," she replied. By "them" of course she meant Warren Wilson's security apparatus, as represented by the King of Security himself and one of his henchmen, in this case an unfamiliar big heavy guy. The King of Security had the air of a nerd who'd been stood up for a date with the hottest babe in the eleventh grade as he asked us why we hadn't come by at the appointed time of eleven o'clock. That was easy. "We don't have a clock," I explained. He asked to see our spray paint, the spray paint he'd seen last night, the paint that unquestionably had no role in the graffiti spree that had been perpetrated some 36 hours before. he claimed he needed to see it to know how best to clean up the graffiti from the spray paint spree. I asked him why looking at our paint would help him given the fact that it quite clearly had no role in the spray paint spree (was he trying to trick us into showing him the paint without questioning his connection of our paint to the spray-paint-spree-paint, thus implying out guilt?...or was he hoping to find we had the paint after all, having reclaimed it from a temporary cache?). Well, he really wanted to see our paint, so, after a little difficulty getting my trunk open, I showed him the very same paint he'd seen the night before. He had a hurt sound to his voice as he asked us if we were still contending that we had nothing to do with the spray paint spree. I insisted that we had nothing whatever to do with it. So then he asked something odd, "Why were you telling people you'd done it, then?" Hmmm... Spies... I felt kind of bad for the guy at this point, and just wanted to go. He pleaded that the students were going to have to pay to clean up the paint and that that wasn't fair. I would not be moved. So then he said "This is a private college and I'm ordering you to start your car and leave this campus right now and never come back." My car needs a long time to get warm, of course, and this time was occupied by Jessika going into Sunderland to get some things out of Deya's room. I was feeling weird, but she was obviously pissed off, glaring and bitching at the King of Security, especially when he suggested that Deya was going to be made to pay for the spray paint spree.
I cranked up the tunes on my stereo, which was Slayer's Seasons in the Abyss (one of my few all-time favourites) as I handed Jessika the little disposable camera and told her to get a picture of the security guy. She cranked up the Slayer even louder just prior to snapping this picture. The King of Security, perhaps fearing a fatal gunshot wound to the head, raised his hand defensively while his henchman looked on in retardation-enhanced wonder.
Exile in Asheville
not an album by Liz PhairWe felt a perverse elation as we drove on into Asheville. We thought happily of how I would document the events we'd just been through. And to have taken pictures and to have have played Slayer at all the right moments...who could hope for more in a normal healthy life such as we strive to live?
We parked on the street at a parking meter with a two hour limit. Since we ended up spending all of the day in Asheville, we were forced to make periodic forays back to the car to feed the meter.
First off we went into a nearby record store, "Almost Blue" that was either named after its violet-blue paint job or was painted this colour for its name. Judging from the hip alternative attire of its white staff, Almost Blue catered to a somewhat non-mainstream audience. Indeed, they had a pretty interesting if spotty selection of CDs. They had a whole isolated "surf" section, which was of interest to me since I find the "surf guitar" sound to be very compatible with the look and feel of my Dodge Dart. Following some lobbying I bought Savy Show Stoppers by the surf band Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet. She says that they do the Kids in the Hall theme song. I'd never seen Kids in the Hall until watching videotapes of it at Jessika's place back in June. It's a subversively funny series of skits by some Toronto guys. One thing that had struck me was the very retro-60s sound of its soundtrack...which ironically had made it seem very cutting edge-90s! Then there was that period when we were walking around having to stop in the two wig shops we found, only one of which was open. Jessika likes wigs even more than she likes mannequin heads. When you put the two together in a wig shop, the result is sticky fly paper for the blue bottle Jessika (yow...that was clever). I was rather surprised at all the outrageous manic panicesque colours in which wigs came, especially given that the wig shops seemed to cater to a mostly African-American clientele. There were plenty of conventionally coloured wigs as well.
We found a natural food store in the south central part of downtown, and in there we sampled some Buckwheat products that a lady was trying to promote. Jessika attempted to restore her health from last night's excesses with a little Echinacea-containing juice which natural foods stores can always be counted upon to stock.
Boundless time was spent in a couple thrift shops, naturally. Jessika can always be counted upon to sniff such places out. In one of these I obtained a car stereo booster/equalizer.
To an extent we were on a casual search for Asheville's "alternative district," which Jessika says exists in every city of this size. We'd seen a few alternative types mind you, some skaters and some hippies. But most of the people looked like Joe Six Pack; they weren't even fashionably dressed. It was strange to be in a city and see so few fashionably dressed society types.
We did filter into a somewhat more fashionable part of Asheville in the north-central sector of downtown. This was at the point where we were craving coffee. So we stopped into "Gold Hill" which is like most white-and-black coloured coffee houses I guess. Such places have a trendy alternative feel, a varied menu chalked onto a big chalkboard in a wacky writing style, and they are always staffed by intelligent if unattractive overweight girls with pleasant smiles on their rotund faces. I always try to give such girls eye contact, but they lack self confidence.
Jessika and I both had coffee. Jessika may have also had something to eat. As often happens to Jessika, no one bothered to ask her to pay for her food. They just smiled at her and moved on to the next customer. So her coffee was free. We looked a little bedraggled and out of place in the Gold Hill, which catered to mostly stylish society ladies, at least in the early afternoon.
We discovered big shoe store near the center of town. Unfortunately, the place kept being closed with a sign on the door promising "back in an hour." Through the window we could see all manner of generic combat boots at cut rate prices. And just then I was in serious need of new combat boots; my current pair had been bought used for $8 at a Scottsville yard sale during the winter and were now rotting and cracking badly. I really don't feel dressed unless I'm either barefoot or wearing combat boots.
We ate cheeseburgers at a very small, quaint greasy spoon called Tom's Grill. It was a place that catered largely to Black clientele, and for this reason it struck us as like a slightly greasier version of Charlottesville's White Spot, though it was longer, narrower, and staffed entirely by White people. The woman working there, a plain woman in her late twenties, had a very relaxed attitude...she was pervaded by an unnatural calm that almost convinced me that she was extremely wise of the ways of the world. I had never before been in the presence of someone with so much eerie psychic power. But when I heard her speaking with her co-worker, an ancient little old man, I was amazed by the raucous undecipherable heights of volume her twangy voice could climb to. I snapped a picture of them silhouetted against the light of the front window. When we finally were able to get into the shoe store, I tried on various gnarly black boots, finally settling on black Paratrooper boots with no steel toe, size 12, for about $40. I put them on immediately and in no time at all they'd worn holes into my shins. Jessika's blue boots had been the same make and she recommended them highly. Meanwhile Jessika pored over the ample stock of clothes relict from the 70s and 80s in the back of the store. They were "new" but, owing to humidity, light, varmints, and chemical breakdown they'd aged in whatever warehouse where they'd been stored all these years. After much Taurus-rising-spawned second guessing, Jessika eventually purchased a pair of pin striped blue pants for $9. It had the same colour as the blue of her eyes in those funny yellowy photographs from the late 70s she has in photo albums. The odd thing about the store was how cheap the prices were for stuff that's now retro and trendy. Had the store been in New York City, well...
But this was Asheville, which only looks like a city. And unlike most cities, Asheville is apparently populated by the demographics of the surrounding countryside. There is almost no ethnic component, just black people and white people (and a few Hispanics). This means there is no real "worldly" influence present. Asheville is simply a bloated version of an sleepy inbred Appalachian village.
But you still have to take a few basic urban precautions. Like this nice little black and white cat I found in one of the shops, reclined playfully on matching black and white tiles and restrained by a leash. There's no telling when some psycho cosmetic scientist will appear and lead your precious pussy off to an agonizing death drowning, eyes pinned open, in cauldrons of shampoo.
We did at last find the "alternative district" in the far north central part of downtown, along a single street. There was an alternative coffee shop fronted by a magical ivy-covered courtyard. The patrons were all skater kids and bohemian poets. But we weren't going to allow our starvation for such things lead us into such an obvious place. Instead we went next door to a trendy clothing store that, in addition to items like vinyl pants, also sold things like post cards, such as one of Pip and Flip, the famed microencephalatic sisters featured in the movie that Jessika is always talking about, Freaks. I managed to snap a picture of Jessika relishing the post card after purchasing it.
We went on a long a ultimately fruitless walk around downtown Asheville in search of a supermarket in which to buy inexpensive beer. This walk led us through the edge of the Black neighborhoods in the south east sector of downtown, past the police station and back. We used the sight of a big ragged phallic obelisk to keep as sense of where the center of the town was.
Jessika had informed Deya of the particulars of our hurried evacuation this morning, and Deya told us she'd wait for us if we came by Warren Wilson's front gate at 8pm. But, after getting some beers at a gas station, we got lost in Asheville trying to find US 70. So, with great frustration, I gave up on North Carolina, climbed up on I-40, and headed west en route to Charlottesville.
Tennessee and other Exotic PlacesI-40, as it rips west across the most mountainous country anywhere in eastern North America, defeats each challenge in ways that leave the motorist continually on edge. All manner of compromises seem to have been required to lead an interstate from off the high plateau of the Smokies down to the low plain of Tennessee. The lanes are narrower, it seems, and the curves are edge-of-the-seat-ifyingly tight. To add to the unpleasantness, as I drove, there was an abundance of trucks on the Interstate, and all of the complaints I have mentioned would of course have a much greater impact on them.
Almost all of the driving was steeply downhill, and occasionally as would act to save my brakes by using the lower-gear settings of my automatic-transmission Dart (D1 and D2). But one time I threw the thing into reverse! The engine stalled immediately, the power steering went dead and the oil light came on. This was an incredible shock...I assumed of course that I'd destroyed my car as I wrestled it between orange cones onto the shoulder. Jessika feared the same. What if we were now stuck in the Smokies? But no, we were fine. The car started back up easily and we continued on, down ultimately to the southmost origin of I-81.
We stopped at a rest area and I managed to be forced into buying an over priced soft drink by a vending machine I thought I could make function as a change machine. The moral: don't try that. Jessika commented about my shiny new black boots: first she thought I looked sort of like a skinhead. Then she thought I looked like someone she knows from Malvern, a certain "Morgan the Unstoppable Goth Rocker" who apparently has the exact same face as me as well.
I grew tired somewhere along the endless track of I-81 on its sleepy way north (but mostly east). So I pulled onto a dirt back road and parked. Jessika complained that she wanted to make it as far as Johnson City to maybe have some -I don't know- nightlife there. But I had the ultimate say.
The next day, before Jessika was even awake, I had the Dart rolling north on I-81, consuming ridiculous quantities of gasoline. On a whim, I decided to roll through Bristol, which straddles the Virginia/Tennessee line. There's a street, State Street, along which, on one side is one state and on the other is the other. I parked at a parking lot and contemplated how cool a mystery that was, in a daylight savings time gain-an-hour-just-like-magic kind of way. Manmade borders shouldn't be profound, but somehow they are anyway. I wandered across the street barefoot, standing in the middle even, astride the frontier.
Jessika was awake by this time. Trying to find my way back to I-81 proved to be a big mistake. I relied on intuition in a place where north is really east and where the roads are numbered by two entirely different states. By the time I actually found I-81, Jessika was hungry. So we ate breakfast stuff purchased at the McDonalds drive-through in the parking lot.
The rest of the trip was uneventful. We went up to Roanoke, then over to Lynchburg on 460 and then north on 29 to Charlottesville. All the way, Jessika was fascinated by old model American cars. She saw one well-taken-care of Ford Fairlane and photographed it with its youthful-if-50s-style driver in all their compounded anachronistic splendour.
Welcome to Warren Wilson College-tongue in cheek, but the humourless stuff shirts in the administration didn't pick up on this.
Warren Wilson College is Full: Go Away-reasons not to attend Warren Wilson College compiled by a man who knows.
Warren Wilson College's Homepage-the most ugly site I've ever seen with a Magellan Award. Now you know why no one ever talks about Magellan anymore.
Warren Wilson College's Disclaimer-perpetually concerned with their image, Warren Wilson College requires that individuals with web pages link to this page from obvious hypertext near the top of each page they create!