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Tipper posted a blog post

When You Get in the Habit of Saying the Same Thing

Have you ever been around someone who used the same word or words in every sentence? Years ago, I was introduced to a man who at the end of every sentence said and what not. I remember being obsessed with listening to him. I wanted to see if just once he wouldn't say and what not. It never happened. He said the phrase at the end of every sentence just like clock work.A few other habitual sayings I've…See More
Thursday
Bil Stahl updated their profile
Feb 17
Ann Miller Woodford posted an event
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Ann Miller Woodford at Gospel Singing program: Liberty Baptist Church, Sylva, NC & Exhibit; WCU Mountain Heritage Center

February 19, 2017 from 3pm to 5pm
WCU's Mountain Heritage Center and curator, Ann Miller Woodford, will present an exhibit on African-American far western NC community, music, and history, based on Ann’s book, When All God's Children Get Together: A Celebration of the Lives and Music of African American People in Far Western North Carolina.The exhibit is based upon Woodford’s book of the same name, which examines musical traditions of the African-Americans as practiced at home, work, churches and schools.The exhibit examines…See More
Feb 16
Rob Neufeld posted discussions
Feb 15
Rob Neufeld posted blog posts
Feb 15
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The Blood of Emmett Till by Timothy Rytson

Tyson’s Emmett Till book probes darknessby Rob NeufeldEVENT: Timothy Tyson discusses his book, “The Blood of Emmett Till,” at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café, 55 Haywood St., Asheville, 6 p.m., Wed., Feb. 15.  828-254-6734.             The headline about the publication of Timothy Tyson’s new book, “The Blood of Emmett…See More
Feb 13
Tipper posted a video

Kudzu Kickers - Waltz Clog

In case you didn't know-we dance too! Our clogging team is called the Kudzu Kickers. In this video we were practicing for an upcoming festival. The Pressley ...
Feb 11
Tipper posted a blog post

Memories and Food

Each of us have memories that are connected to food. Typically those remembrances are directly related to our childhood, you know the things we ate around the family table like the chocolate gravy I told you about earlier this week.A few years ago I…See More
Feb 11
City Lights Bookstore posted events
Feb 8
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

Jewish Studies special events March 23-26

Center for Jewish Studies 35th Anniversary Events from press releaseUNC Asheville’s Center for Jewish Studies (CJS) will celebrate its 35th anniversary with a series of special events on and off campus March 23-26. Rick Chess talk and readingUNC Asheville Professor of English Richard Chess has been director of the CJS for the past 25 years and will deliver the 2017 Phyllis Freed Sollod Memorial Lecture on the celebration’s opening night. A poet and essayist, Chess will offer a vision of Jewish…See More
Feb 7
Julia Nunnally Duncan updated their profile
Feb 7
David E. Whisnant updated their profile
Feb 6
Rob Neufeld posted blog posts
Feb 4
City Lights Bookstore posted an event
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David Joy Presents His Second Novel at Jackson County Public Library

March 3, 2017 from 6:30pm to 8pm
The Jackson County Public Library and City Lights Bookstore are co-hosting an event with David Joy on Friday, March 3rd at 6:30 p.m. He will present his second novel, The Weight of This World, in the Community Room of the Jackson County Public Library. Set in the Little Canada community of Jackson County, The Weight of This World is a story of three people haunted by their past. A combat veteran returned from war, Thad Broom can’t leave the hardened world of Afghanistan behind, nor can he…See More
Feb 4
Tipper posted a blog post

Hiccup Cures

Do you ever get the hiccups? Every once in a while I do. If I have them once during a day-I always have them again before the day is over. My record is 5 different times in one day.We've all heard drinking water or holding your breath is the remedy to stop hiccups. According to John Parris saying this tongue twister will cure them:Hickup, snicup, rise up, right up! Three drops in the cup are good for…See More
Feb 4
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The German experience settling WNC

The German migration to Western North Carolinaby Rob Neufeld PICTURE CAPTION: An immigrant family comes down the Philadelphia Wagon Road in the mid-18th century, as had the George Schuck family done, and as this Scots-Irish family is doing in an 1872 “Harper’s Weekly” illustration, titled, “The…See More
Feb 3

Portrait of a local bookstore: Firestorm

by Rob Neufeld

 

PHOTO CAPTION: Joey Kasanke, Libertie Valance, and Jaime Theophilos (l to r), collective members of Firestorm Books, stand at the entrance to their co-op bookstore.

            Seven months ago, Firestorm Books and Coffee moved from downtown Asheville to 610 Haywood Road in West Asheville, inaugurating a new era in the evolving cooperative’s history.

            Now, it is a general bookstore—West Asheville’s only—as well as a one-of-a-kind, go-to place for exploring millennial views of alternative history.

            By “alternative history,” I don’t mean science fiction about what our future would look like if some key event in the past had gone differently—though Firestorm is rich in such titles.  I mean what our present time looks like as a new generation of idealists and activists turn away from what they see as failed policies.

            I love independent bookstores.  Each store’s entire inventory, and not just its staff picks, reflects independent choices; and the shop expresses a personality that makes it a destination location.

            Let’s go on a tour of Firestorm.

 

First insight

 

            “Staff Picks” is on the right as you come in the door.  I see that Joey has featured Jamaica Kincaid’s travel essay, “A Small Place,” about Antigua, and I’m glad for that.  I want to read it now.

            And Mary Beth, who oversees the café, has on her shelf, “The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America.”  She got a degree in Environmental Studies at UNC Asheville; and carries a beat-up bird book (a Peterson guide) in her back pocket.  “I love guide books that encourage people to interact with the natural world,” she says.

            The café is vegan; I had a latte with almond milk.

            The thing that really grabbed my attention on the Staff Picks shelves was the collection of books on anarchism—a term that demands a better understanding than what the media generally allows us, if understanding what’s going on today matters to us.

            “There isn’t one anarchism,” store co-founder Libertie Valance says.  Anarchism “is an umbrella term for a family of philosophies that take as their root...the desirability of a society free of coercion.”

 

Not granddad’s rad

 

            I am ready to be educated because I still hear the echoes of fear coming from the anarchist scare of the 1910s, when one branch of anti-capitalist, anti-government dissidents had set off bombs to make their points.

            That was also the time of horrific workplace abuses, such as the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire, so our view may be skewed by the news-making violence of the era.

            By World War II, Andrew Cornell writes in his brand new book, “Unruly Equality,” “a new generation of anarchists looked to radical pacifism,” and developed a philosophy “that advocated (that) individuals focus on living their own lives in a fashion that resembled their ideals as closely as possible.”

            Today, Cindy Milstein writes in her pocket-sized primer, “Anarchism and Its Aspirations,” “the world is increasingly messy.”  That’s a gentle way of putting it.  “Rather than retreating,” she says, “it’s imperative that we advance toward an egalitarian community of communities.”

            So, what we have in today’s anarchist movement is something that’s remarkably utopian—no hierarchies!—and also willing to be pragmatic, acknowledging that achieving a world society that operates as a federation of small, democratic, trusting councils is going to take time and trials.

            Demonstrating this self-awareness, there’s a bookstore favorite, “Come Hell or High Water: A Handbook of Collective Process Gone Awry” by Delfina Vannucci and Richard Singer.  It includes stick-figure cartoons, such as the one in which a youth points at a devil figure and says, “Look out!  It’s the process tyrant!”  And the tyrant roars, “Obey every radical norm!”

            Firestorm follows its principles in its business practices: decision by consensus; shared profits; politically-themed events, but no electoral ones; and ecological policies.  It has also adapted to situations by, for instance, creating a division of labor when it decided to manage its café separately from its bookstore.       

 

More of the tour

 

            The minds behind the philosophical practice section of Firestorm, now also showcasing fiction, have provided an exciting selection.

            On the “New Arrivals” table and among the 3,000 fiction and non-fiction titles shelved along four long aisles behind it, some special books emerge from my buyer’s blind spot.

            Among prominent novels such as Salman Rushdie’s latest, “Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights” (he’s at UNC Asheville, Feb. 18), and classics, such as a strong collection of English Romantic poets, there are the following works that get a boost from the new Zeitgeist.

            “The Automobile Club of Egypt” by Alaa Al Aswany reveals a family caught up in the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, giving us a workers’ perspective with many suspenseful cliff-hangers.

            “Welcome to Night Vale” turns a popular podcast into a novel that combines the spirit and style of two previous eras’ cult favorites, “The Twilight Zone” TV show and Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”

            “The Gap of Time” by Jeanette Winterson modernizes Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” by portraying the banishment of a baby daughter by a London hedge fund manager; and by enlarging upon the personal and redemptive elements.

            Along the right-hand wall, a how-to section includes valuable guides to home-building, forest-harvesting, food preparation, and the like, thanks to a crew of consultants drawn from local patrons.

            On the left, on the way to the café, the zine collection thrives with publications so homemade, I got stabbed by a staple binding “It’s Down to This,” reflections and critiques about community and sexual violence.  The great discovery was the Doris series, in which the author keeps a narrative journal that exhibits a wonderfully wry, innocent, contemporary, non-mainstream voice.

            In back is a decent children’s section, which includes, “3 Sleeps,” gorgeously illustrated by West Asheville resident, Shannon Capezzali. 

            I should also note that, as I was sampling Firestorm’s offerings, and commenting on various things, staff members sometimes came over to recommend titles in a non-intrusive, informed way.  This wasn’t the disinterested hipster mode you sometimes experience in cool commissaries.  These people mean business in the best customer-service sense.

FIRESTORM EVENTS

 

History professor David Gilbert conducts a discussion of his book, “The Product of Our Souls: Ragtime, Race, and the Birth of the Manhattan Musical Marketplace,” today, 5 to 7 p.m., at Firestorm Cafe & Books, 610 Haywood Rd., West Asheville (255-8115).

 

Matissa Kent-White, author, and Shannon Capezzali, illustrator, present their new children’s book, “3 Sleeps,” and give a bilingual reading, 11 a.m., Feb. 27.

 

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