Asundry thoughts by Stephanie Morgan, the singer for Stephaniesĭd, pop-noir band from Asheville, NC.
in handcuffs, i was taken to the jail. it was a gray and silver place that teemed with jail-clad women with bleach-blonde hair and dark roots. the women, having been there, or in and out of there, for a long time, seemed to know the drill, and be friends, or at least allies. they seemed friendly enough at first, and i to them, as i had less anxiety than curiosity and mild amusement about the whole experience; i thought the law that put me there (and its enforcement) was ludicrous, and that i was simply acting out my required 2-week stint in the slammer and as a bonus would take in an interesting social study.
i ate in the cafeteria with the rest. i remember the food being an amalgam of orange, amorphous stuff. don't remember how it tasted. on day 3 or 4, i began a series of required exams, including one with the jail dentist, which i considered a bonus because it was free, and it would only cost me 2 weeks of jail time. they repaired a cavity and gave me some sort of flouride treatment, which i didn't really agree with, but again, part of the social study, and not to be messed with. i continued to keep to myself mostly, observing, writing from time to time, and generally not associating with the other inmates except to be politely and minimally supportive.
many of the inmates had lesbian tendencies. i surmised that only a few were actual practicing lesbians outside the jailhouse, and the rest were experimenting due to the culture and general boredom. i didn't imbibe (that i recall), but maintained a mystery such that most women couldn't tell what my persuasion was. i probably thought it was best that way; pander to everybody, don't get hurt, write a good book after release.
as two weeks neared completion, i began talking to some of the staff about my crime, and about the strange and little-known law that could land a person in prison for their dog's misbehavior. i spoke flippantly, assuming their sympathy and general agreement about the circuslike nature of the situation ("and me, of all people... you know?"). the topic also came up in a prison group therapy session, where all the women began trying to figure out what made me tick, and why i was there in the first place. the leaders among them were incredulous. the therapy focus was upon owning one's issues and taking responsibility. i began to realize that the general sentiment was not in my favor: staff and inmates alike thought that i thought that i was too good for the place.
it was on.
asking staff members for access to the phone was met with increasingly less success. my easy relationship with even the cafeteria ladies turned cold and sour. i was taunted. pushed around. i fought back physically, and was surprisingly successful, but my naivete was overwhelming. upon the day of my supposed release, no one came to unlock the bars and no one applauded my inevitable return to "real life." instead, on my way to lunch with the other prisoners, i asked a guard to whom i should speak about my impending release, and she said, "i'll check your file," and when i tracked her down later, she said, "oh, i talked to the boss, and he won't be back until saturday, and he'll talk to you then." and on saturday, after i again pursued the guard, she said, "since you were peeking at the other women in the showers, your sentence is extended." she had the slightest grin of victory.
picky and/or ungrounded reasons were found to continue extending my stay. i began getting real with people. mad. i began looking for allies. none save one weak girl who couldn't save me in a fight. but she was somebody. she and i sat on some sort of stoop one day in the main office, waiting for the jail chaplain that i had manipulated into coming to talk to us. i had assumed correctly that most of the guards were of a protestant religious background and that god talk would be their weak spot. i ranted in an authoritative voice that i had rights and lawyers and that my relationship with jesus was suffering because i could not have fellowship in my congregation; that i could find my way if only i could speak with a man of the cloth. i assumed incorrectly that this man of the cloth would be unbiased regarding the jailhouse, the law, and my dog (i thought silently, "god/dog is my copilot"), and thus strongly sympathetic to my situation. he was tall, thin, wore glasses, looked the part of a philosophical, forward-thinking, pious man. but he said,
"well, stayfanie. i don't see the chraaast in ewe. i thank he's up and left you."
there was always an open door when we cleaned a certain area of the jailyard. a guard was pretty nonchalant about her duties there. i had never thought to walk out of it before, as i didn't want to suffer the consequences, and had initially more or less welcomed the jailtime (martyrdom has social benefits). but this time i just up and walked out. then started running. i heard yells and alarms behind me.
i can never run in dreams. i'm always very slow. i can speed up somewhat if i take to using my hands as well, like an animal. i try to gallop like a horse or dog, to get more traction on the ground. the chaser never seems to catch up, but it's an agonizing part of any dream for me. this chase went on for hours. the chaser kept changing shape, from a namibian athlete-looking person to a fat guard to a small child to a dog to a vehicle. i jumped over fences, climbed and leaped over buildings, scaled ivy, all in super slo-mo. nothing ever hurt, but i bled. it should have hurt. i tried to find a crowd to get lost in, but there seemed to be no one out. it was getting dark, and i considered stopping into a friend's house for a beer (i don't drink beer in real life). then i thought that would just make that old friend an accomplice, and i was already a bad friend for being lame about correspondence, so i kept "running", and came to an old apartment building with lots of brush and vines, and steep, white painted wooden external stairs. i was jumpy and terrified. the chaser and me did a hide-and-seek dance many times around those stairs. by this time, s/he was a small african child, turning into a small african baby in a blanket.
at the very top of those steep stairs, i threw that baby away from me. s/he landed on a sharp post, fell to the ground, and did not come to.
Paul Clark, Asheville Citizen-Times, published July 18, 2008 12:15 am
ASHEVILLE – Local artist John Payne, a pioneer of the River Arts District, died Thursday morning at Mission Hospitals after suffering a massive stroke earlier this week. He was 58. Payne died about 11:30 a.m. after his family took him off life support, family friend Lisa Sturz said from the hospital. “It was one of the most profoundly beautiful things I’ve experienced,” she said of the parting his family and friends gave him by his bed. Payne underwent heart surgery earlier this summer and had suffered a stroke earlier this year. The owner of the Wedge building on Roberts Street, Payne was as warmly regarded for his personality as he was held in high esteem for his sculptures. He built steel skeletons of birds and dinosaurs that move in lifelike ways via pulleys and computer controls. He had leased several of his pieces to museums in the United States. Payne’s partner, Gwenn Roberts, a professional vocal soloist, said Payne went into the hospital Tuesday after suffering a massive stroke. Roberts had been taking care of him at her home in Weaverville following his quadruple bypass heart surgery. Payne’s purchase and renovation of the Wedge building, a large white building visible from the Smoky Park Bridge, helped establish the River Arts District as Asheville’s second major arts area, after downtown. Payne has leased several studios to artists in his building, which also now houses the Wedge Brewing Co. “John was a white knight to the River District artists and the River Arts District,” said Eileen and Marty Black, who work in the Cotton Mill Studios on the river. “John’s mission was to save the River Arts District from gentrification that would drive the artists elsewhere. He helped many struggling artists by providing studios with reasonable rent. Our many discussions with John assured us that he would not sell out to developers.” With his big smile and shock of white hair, Payne was often spotted at Clingman Avenue Coffee and Catering Co., where he and other artists often started their day with coffee and conversation. Payne was successful in establishing the Wedge as part of the River Arts District, Roberts said, “because he was passionate about giving artists and the arts a place to be part of our community and culture. The Wedge was his absolute dream. To the very end, he was talking about how that has to continue.” When the doctors detached the respirator Thursday, “We were all in our own way helping him move on,” Roberts said. “And he just flew with it. … He went very quickly and very peacefully.” Roberts said there would be a memorial celebration at the Wedge in the next few weeks. Payne’s work can be seen at www.paynestudios.com/home.php. “John Payne was an icon,” said Karen Cragnolin, executive director of RiverLink, an Asheville organization devoted to revitalizing the French Broad River. The river cuts right through the River Arts District. Last year, RiverLink gave Payne its RiverBusiness Award, presented each year to businesses on the river that make the river a better place to live, work and play. “I suspect he is soaring with his wonderful dinosaurs and birds right now,” Cragnolin said.
Champion of the River Arts District
Payne died about 11:30 a.m. after his family took him off life support, family friend Lisa Sturz said from the hospital. “It was one of the most profoundly beautiful things I’ve experienced,” she said of the parting his family and friends gave him by his bed.
Payne underwent heart surgery earlier this summer and had suffered a stroke earlier this year. The owner of the Wedge building on Roberts Street, Payne was as warmly regarded for his personality as he was held in high esteem for his sculptures. He built steel skeletons of birds and dinosaurs that move in lifelike ways via pulleys and computer controls. He had leased several of his pieces to museums in the United States.
Payne’s partner, Gwenn Roberts, a professional vocal soloist, said Payne went into the hospital Tuesday after suffering a massive stroke. Roberts had been taking care of him at her home in Weaverville following his quadruple bypass heart surgery.
Payne’s purchase and renovation of the Wedge building, a large white building visible from the Smoky Park Bridge, helped establish the River Arts District as Asheville’s second major arts area, after downtown. Payne has leased several studios to artists in his building, which also now houses the Wedge Brewing Co.
“John was a white knight to the River District artists and the River Arts District,” said Eileen and Marty Black, who work in the Cotton Mill Studios on the river.
“John’s mission was to save the River Arts District from gentrification that would drive the artists elsewhere. He helped many struggling artists by providing studios with reasonable rent. Our many discussions with John assured us that he would not sell out to developers.”
With his big smile and shock of white hair, Payne was often spotted at Clingman Avenue Coffee and Catering Co., where he and other artists often started their day with coffee and conversation.
Payne was successful in establishing the Wedge as part of the River Arts District, Roberts said, “because he was passionate about giving artists and the arts a place to be part of our community and culture. The Wedge was his absolute dream. To the very end, he was talking about how that has to continue.”
When the doctors detached the respirator Thursday, “We were all in our own way helping him move on,” Roberts said. “And he just flew with it. … He went very quickly and very peacefully.”
Roberts said there would be a memorial celebration at the Wedge in the next few weeks. Payne’s work can be seen at www.paynestudios.com/home.php.
“John Payne was an icon,” said Karen Cragnolin, executive director of RiverLink, an Asheville organization devoted to revitalizing the French Broad River. The river cuts right through the River Arts District. Last year, RiverLink gave Payne its RiverBusiness Award, presented each year to businesses on the river that make the river a better place to live, work and play.
“I suspect he is soaring with his wonderful dinosaurs and birds right now,” Cragnolin said.
stephaniesid (comprised of the core: chuck, steph, michael, krum; and members who complete dream squad: matthew, jon) attempt to leave home base. michael brings bag of wet laundry to be dried by someone who owns a dryer, along the road. ascertains that person will be ginny (booker, tripmate from knoxville, host for night). steph has brought delectable cookies. arrive outside krum's apartment. steph and matthew shoot breeze outside van with attached previously sid-owned trailer on loan specifically for trip. one of them notices unacceptable separation in wee right side tire. yikes. brainstorming in van. barbecue in knoxville is goal for dinner. steph, chuck, matthew dial free 411 for numbers to appropriate service stations that could possibly be open. free 411 automated system proves inefficient as ever (411: "residence or business?" matthew: "business." 411: "say the name." matthew: "wal-mart." 411: "that's dr. jim macalpine's orthodontic practice, right?" matthew: "uh..... no." 411: "sorry, i didn't get that..... please say just the name of the business...."). jon spots serendipitous unattached trailer tire on side of road. knock on doors around to see about purchasing. no luck. ponder taking tire and leaving envelope of cash. realize wheel has wrong number of lugnut holes. back to 411. find wal-mart's number at last. store has only tire, not wheel. band must summon skills to take tire off wheel, replace, refill with air. advised by store personnel to use dawn dish soap and crowbar. dream squad progresses to nearby citgo with built-in pizza hut and air machine. matthew is de facto expert. band's cunning creativity eventually pries old tire from wheel, new tire onto wheel. tire fails to create seal, however. its insides was a open place where no air could find purchase. band determined. now 9:30pm. word from knoxville: no dinner left at barbecue. hopes shattered. jon orders pineapple-mushroom pizza (steph has persuaded more than one of the squad to covet this combination). he knows people there. steph hears that one pizza-hutter is married to icelandic woman. must talk. figure appears from the dark mist near the highway. "y'all got a tar problem?" "yeah, won't seal." "i g'n fixit. just need startin' fluid's all." matthew and steph skeptical. involves lighting tire on fire. chuck runs inside convenience store to purchase said miracle fluid. mist man picks up tire and finds secluded spot behind dumpster. pours starting fluid inside. lights tire on fire, kicks several times. audible popping noise. seal achieved. pizza arrives. heavens smile. "y'uns thought i's crazy prolly, huh?" bearded mist man asks rhetorically. band is in awe. mist man disappears again. moment is later nominated for best moment on whole bonnaroo trip. arrive knoxville late. meet up with steph's bff marcella, in from dc for trip. ginny and (musician beau) jason's house has new paint job and furniture, same uber-cute persian cats. looks lovely. watch some youtube. sleep.
day one. thursday
crew of 9 up early. out to gather bamboo for campsite. proves pretty easy. hit the road for manchester with secret directions. manchester is town with small population and lots of farmland. obvious that townspeople are mostly enthusiastic regarding the annual intrusion of 90,000 music fans. some sell water along road. some give out religious pamphlets. manchester is hot. at fork in road, dream squad sees long line of cars which turn out to be fest attendees waiting to get into fest. line goes on for miles. many near-nude youngsters in cowboy hats outside cars, "woo"-ing, scoping, putting on sunscreen. sid flies past in opposite direction, as band registration is elsewhere. registration: band giddy with new shiny lanyard badges. drive to campsite. ginny and jason are pros, stake out area with marcella and abundance of tarps; three are left to make camp while sid is golf-carted to radiobonnaroo studio for first recording session of fest. recording camper is air-conditioned. yowza. sid meets very friendly and pro engineers, and folks from asheville-based music allies, who host the radio thing. radiobonnaroo commandeers a local radio station and broadcasts within 20-mile radius of the fest for duration of fest; is available to an impressive smattering of independent / college radio stations (incl. band's beloved wncw) across the country for airplay. new respect for music allies. company knows their shizz. the operation is killer. sid records "drinking at a party," "warm people," and "bullet train." sounds amazing. (see pics.... "drinking at a party" can be heard at sid's reverbnation site.) band very excited about first show at bonnaroo. michael and steph do short interview. due in to same studio over weekend is jack white, rilo kiley, lots of others. awwwwwwesome. (thanks incredibly to zac, josh, molly, sean, and the engineers and interviewer from radiobonnaroo). sid is golf-carted over to solar stage to drop off equipment. golf-carting is the way to go. back at ranch, home is looking divine. covered, staked, tented, scattered and smothered. complete with outdoor living room. thank you ginny, jason, marcella. at this point story begins to be even more incomplete without input from all members of dream squad and crew. steph's account will have to do for now. campsite is situated just behind "which" stage, convenient to cinema tent (air-conditioned, yo), comedy tent (likewise), and really everything, including artists' hangout area, which could possibly be more rockstar if each artist were given feather boas and sparkly sunglasses to wear. but not otherwise! becomes band and crew's oasis for weekend. team sid splits up and surveys larger festival scene. good food, tons of vendors, energetic fans checking their schedules, very friendly vibe. obviously well put-together. festival is a wonderland for musically-minded people. each attendee has paid around 250 dollars to camp out, not shower, and walk in at least a mile in the hot sun each day. to see bands performing live and in person. these are true music fans. musician utopia. ginny and steph run into aaron fenner, soundman extraordinaire, from knoxville. aaron offers to run sound for sid show later. steph drops to ground in "we're not worthy" stance. aaron is kind, talented, thanked. band takes to solar stage after dark. band is playing at freaking bonnaroo! MGMT (electro-pop) has just finished across the way; playing now are battles (math rock), the sword (metal), the felice brothers (soul), K'NAAN (hip-hop), comedian Zach Galifianakis, and stephaniesid. show begins. people begin to gather. krum has t-shirt on head tied as turban of sorts; falls into face during frenetic drumming spell; k throws it off without missing beat. jon jumps around, sings with passionate fury, sweats, plays trombone, trumpet, melodica. chuck performs characteristic lean-forward-lean-back-with-mouth-agape motion; drives ladies wild. matthew tames angels on vibraphone... michael plays with relaxed fervor and happy wince. steph spins in hawaiian dress, alternates between vocals-keys and vocals-only. glow-things begin to twirl in audience. maybe 400 dancers, listeners, revelers. bonna-freeeeeeking-roo!!!! nine mile records' new interns jeremy and nick capture some of show on video (one day to be posted). show ends with "the weakling"; marcella ("merchella") is swarmed at the cd table. sound system for whole show ran on day's sunshine, gathered in solar panels. sweet. band packs up and heads to see other bands (lez zeppelin ("all girls. all zeppelin." great musicians. most of dream squad agrees that vocals didn't work too well, as robert plant's charm was always about having to reach for them high notes. plus, why is a cover band playing on our stage??), extra golden (great Kenyan Benga / American rock music), and vampire weekend (prepsters playing afro-beat... none in our party resonates with them, truth be told... though methinks that to admit that aloud at this fest would be tantamount to declaration of hipster war). many times throughout nite dream squadsters retreated to artist oasis. drank beer and stiff purple drinks served by flirtatious bartenders. retire to tents. michael ("i don't like nature") sleeps on seat in van. everyone else in tent or in living room. day one. check.
stay tuned for more.... :) s
9 june 2008
drive down to greenville. only a little over an hour away. road-savvy van thinks this trip is cake. see ray & the crew; ed has hung posters for us; erica from spartanburg brings her very sweet peeps. spies among us opens (chuck and matthew's classical project). piano and vibraphone. very beautiful and original. music to fall asleep and dream by. matthew sticks around to play with sid. michael has another gig and cannot join; krum plays pared-down version of kit. marianne (krum's lady) is in town. the heat has lifted steph's verbal filter and she says a few things she ought not, from the stage, into the microphone. one references marianne. marianne is a champ. she fires back. says "steph goes to the tanning bed." touche. marianne is a champ.
the show is very sweet. sid loves use of silence in the musical palette. though every sid show is different, small intimate listening room provides most extreme ability to tell secrets. audience is loving and generous. thank you, ray.
10 june 2008
what to wear for mountain sports festival? no mountain sports clothes and steph feels playful. chuck has procured basketball uniforms for the boys. buys sweatbands for heads and wrists.
steph decides on roller skating! chuck rents skates from tarwheels rink. business even lets him rent for free w/ deposit because of nature of performance. steph dons shimmery blue tights and skating dress. predicts at least one fall.
stephaniesid has new intern! stephanie day of charlotte comes to town to learn some ropes. proves to be fast learner. comes to mountain sports fest for show and merchandise-selling.
mountain sports fest is inside west asheville racetrack in quaint village with food, spirits, vendors, lots of life. very well done. seepeoples playing when the stephs arrive. initially band's costumes are not revealed.... steph in jeans sings with seepeoples on radiohead's "national anthem" and seepeoples' "the way the world will fall." sid boys on their way in van. officials stop festival race while van drives over quarter of racetrack circle to back of stage for load-in.
big stage. still light out, but stage lights overhead for later. soundcheck is good. bonnaroo lineup is in effect! sid is six: chuck, steph, michael, krum, jon of jar-e, matthew of spies among us and eroteme, formerly of stephaniesid.
steph puts on skates. tan leather with orange wheels and stoppers. boys bring flair with differing shorts (jon floral, chuck and matthew athletic, krum multi-purpose, michael slinky sweatpants). show begins! new songs and big sound come out of speakers. steph spins on skates. chips tooth slightly on microphone. matthew summons angels. krum brings pain. michael kicks out groove and soul. chuck sculpts scrumptious key chords. jon croons harmonies and kills-me-softly with trombone. crowd dances. this is a band.
first set ends. eric usher of crispy cat, clad in coordinating basketball uniform, hands out band's favorite organic rockstar candy bar to crowd. is almost mauled. runs out of delectable treats more quickly than expected. mob is momentarily dejected. band plays "aeroplanes" as sky gets dark, stage lights flicker on. crowd dancing, or on blankets, spread out over festival village, looking for stars. music turns oceanic. band feels at home and buoyant. steph skates.
"the weakling" is second-to-last song. steph (battling allergies) asks chuck & jon to help sing high parts. all voices hold out. continues to feel damaged tooth with tongue, between verses. should be ok. need to google.
"bounce" is last song. magical. sweaty band sways in night breeze. crowd looks at stars, dances. gorgeous night.
packing up. marianne hoola-hoops. she's really really good. steph d gives report on cd sales. quite good. steph d also reports advances from male fest attendees. could be future problem. nice food vendor brings pad thai and a few forks. michael shuns germy forks (his m.o.) and leaves feast to ravenous remainder of band. steph skates victory lap. boys give rebel yell. krum, marianne, & steph d return home. rest of band to chuck and stephs for spirited game of cranium. team matthew/chuck wins.