I am sure we can all agree that twenty-fours is not enough time to get to know a town, and that an extensive experience of a folklore archive and two beer bars is really not ample evidence on which to base a judgment of a metropolitan area.
However, we can also agree, I hope, that good beer bars and accessible folklore archives are essential to the good life. And I have lived a very good life in Asheville for the past twenty-four hours or so.
I remembered my password for my long-neglected Flickr site, so I'll try to do most of the good life in this cool town in one item here, with links to the Asheville set in my photostream.
My friend Brian sized me up Sunday night and decided Jack of the Woods was the right brewpub for me, and indeed our barmaid Karen supplied hearty ales that were very much for me. She also talked up their house mustard, Lusty Monk, which I photographed because I have a thing for monks these days.
The people struck me right away. It gets tedious to do the race thing all the time, but whenever I spend time in the South I start to feel like the white people in the South are more like black people - or rather, tend to have more of the positive traits I associate with black folks: more warmth, style, flavor; a greater ease of improvisation and more developed gifts for graceful social interplay.
Something like that.
Anyway, I have felt that in Nashville, and now I have felt it in Asheville. It's important that both towns are a mix of local blood and transplants. A lot of transplants to a cool Southern town lilke Asheville quickly start to take on these highly attractive traits of the South, by a kind of temperamental osmosis.
That was the case with barmaid two at beer bar two, Kristin at The Thirsty Monk, who trotted out to my new brother Ed Herron and myself a series of delicious regional beers just before I left town. Kristin had moved to Asheville from Washington, D.C. just a few months before, and she was already blending in with her copacetic townswomen and men.
The quietly blooming downtown Asheville is also home to lots of public art. Waiting outside a noodle shop, I amused myself by framing one detail and then another of a wall mural. The art house movie theater across the street is a gem, and Ed Herron later added the useful perspective that the venue had been a porn house when the downtown was in decline.
And no eyeballing of Asheville would be complete without adoring the art deco City Hall.
Easy for me to love Asheville, at this point. I don't know its politics. I used to love St. Louis. Until I learned its politics. If you know how the sausage is made, it's hard to stomach the hot dogs. I think I'll stay out of the Asheville slaughterhouse as long as I can. Maybe I'll try sticking to the beer bars and folklore archives! Oh yeah, and the retired British double-decker bus that's an Asheville coffee shop now ...