29 November 2006

Mancrush (updatedx3)

Vote me to the top!

I was recently directed to Mancrush, a website which defines itself as "an ambitious - yet necessary - attempt to classify and rank every man of stature in the history of the universe. Find your heroes and role models, and vote them to the top!"

Who would have thought? I've been put on the list. Well, let's just say that I'm on the list. I don't know who put me there.

Anyway, that aside, I would love your help in voting me up on the list. So go to the website and vote me up, and tell your friends to do the same. When I rule the World of Crush, you will be favored.

*mancrush update (I'm at number 4)


It appears that someone has created a wikipedia entry dedicated to Pancho Romero. They seem to have entered a slightly inaccurate biography for Pancho, however, so I would like to enlist anyone's help in editing the "wiki". All you have to do is create an account with wikipedia, which allows anyone to edit any entry in the collection.

GO TO: WIKIPEDIA and let the world know all that you do about Pancho.

*Looks like they caught me pretty quickly. There is no more page. I had my moments in the limelight, and now they are gone.

The Ivory Tower

It would seem that no matter how far or fast I run, the ivory tower of academia continues to bear down on me relentlessly.

I have received about 6 calls in the past few days from the University of North Carolina at Asheville. Apparently I sent them a resume at some point (probably about a year ago) and they are just now very strongly feeling the need for a full-time lecturer.

Happily, the break that I have had from teaching seems to have rejuvenated me, and I once again feel up to leading a classroom of apathetic undergraduates in a discussion of the subjunctive, the imperfect, or the preterit. And while I seem to have found a momentary calling in the restaurant industry, it will be nice to have this as a supplement to a full-time job, and not as a full-time job in and of itself.

I will be meeting with some people from the University on Friday afternoon, so we'll see how that goes.

28 November 2006


One of the crude and unfortunate ironies of living in Asheville (or any similar, semi-rural outpost) is the saddeningly sedentary lifestyle that one generally maintains in such a place. New York City, my former home, was a place of concrete and electricity. Cars spouted fumes in vicious quantities, and subways linked all corners of the city.

And yet, I have never before walked so much in my life as when I lived in New York. Even on those days when I broke down and took the subway (I preferred to walk whenever possible), I still needed to walk to the subway (ten minutes or so), and walk to my destination from the subway from which I exited. Walking was an important part of my daily life.

Here in Asheville, my car has replaced my legs, and I am no longer proudly cruising the streets on the "Number 11" (my legs), exercising mind and body. Things are really just too spread out (or so I had thought), and public transportation requires way too much forethought and organization for my needs.

Yesterday, I decided to make a bold move: I would begin to walk to and from work each day, at least until the weather became too severe to allow it. I would, in this way, walk over an hour a day. The exercise would awaken me, and the fresh air would cleanse me. And so, leaving much time to spare before work yesterday, I did just this, and walked to work.

It was a great walk, and I once again was reminded of the joys of walking--the sights that one sees along the way, the signs and buildings that one never notices when driving, the personal contact with other people (mostly homeless) walking the streets. I arrived at work feeling great, and happy with my newly formed tradition.

This is exactly what I was telling a co-worker last night, explaining the joys of simple exercise and movement. She looked at me, a concerned look darkening her countenance as I described my route.

"Oh, honey," she said, "you better get someone to come pick you up tonight."
"Why is that?" I asked innocently.

And then she explained to me the dangers of the zone through which I am forced to walk. She told me of the number of people she knew that had been mugged (especially around the perfectly named convenience store--The Hot Spot--, which I knew to be somewhat shady) or attacked. One of the chefs chimed in, reminding her of the prostitute that had been chopped to pieces and thrown in the French Broad River.

"I'll drive you home tonight," she offered.

In other posts, I have already discussed, albeit briefly, the strange social dynamics of Asheville. This is a town of young, generally educated, somewhat "crunchy" characters. It is a growing social urb, filling quickly with homes and stores and restaurants (as well as with mixed opinions on the worth of this "yuppification" of Asheville).

It is, however, also a Southern town pulling itself out of a fifty year depression that began in the 1930s and has only in recent years begun to improve. Apparently, in the 1930s the city ran out of money after having sunk huge quantities of funds into building the town's infrastructure. And just like that, after years of hard work and development, the city went bankrupt and stopped spending. The town slowly fell apart, crumbling and moldering. Ironically, it was this economic disaster that has helped to maintain the historic buildings, etc. in the town, as nobody had the means to knock them down and build something new.

So, even as this town grows and "yuppifies" and fills with trendy restaurants and trendy characters, it also betrays a seedier side, an impoverished class of people that have not yet (will they ever?) felt the benefits of the city's growth. Certain sections of town (specifically a few convenience stores, as mentioned in another post) seem to be always filled with drug dealers and addicts, and the main town square is an important locus for homeless people.

Point is--I can't walk to work. Or, better said, I can't walk home from work.

So I bought a bike.

I found this great place near the river, quite close to my home, called the ReCYCLEry, and bought a mountain bike for forty dollars. The place is basically a greasy hole in an old building. The room is jammed with bike parts, and old bike tires lie against the front of the building. Inisde, a strange cast of characters work on the bikes around them. A tall man with dreadlocks, piercings, and a scarred face attends to me. A young girl, maybe 12, blonde, works on a bike. Two punk-looking girls talk next to a tool bench.

The ReCYCLEry seems to be an example of a anarcho-punk establishment that really works. Their mission is to help people learn to fix bikes and to help people without bikes get bikes. They are non-profit, and the place is staffed by volunteers. Anyone can walk in, and with the help of one of the volunteer mechanics, build a bike. The parts around the shop are fair game, and one can build a bike with any non-claimed part in the shop.

Bikes like the one that I bought are sold cheaply to help pay for the rent, upkeep, etc of the building. So I am now the proud owner of a mountain bike, though I plan to return soon and begin building my very own, self-built dream bike. And now I can ride quickly past any menacing crackheads or drug dealers or panhandlers that I come across on the way home from work.

More soon from Asheville.

25 November 2006


It just doesn't get much more Southern than deep-fried turkey and moonshine.

Thanksgiving was a blast, a brilliant party and a truly memorable occasion. Everyone pitched in on the cooking, and in the final hours before we ate, the kitchen was a maelstrom of drinks pouring, cakes baking, vegetables sizzling, and turkey slicing.

The food was truly incredible--the fried turkey was juicy and flavorful, and only took 45 minutes to cook--and the company even better. Best of all, nobody suffered any terrible burns and no property was damaged during the frying. There was one brief moment of tension when two roommates began to argue over a tight game of foozball, but once the foozball table had been thrown by one friend at the chest of the other, things miraculously seemed to calm down.

After eating, we all sat around, sipping wine and cherry-infused moonshine, playing music and singing. All the while, the fireplace roared cheerfully before us.

For dessert we cooked up some deep fried twinkies (bit of a failure), some fried apple fritters (bit of a success) and a number of pies of differing varieties, shapes and sizes.

It really was inspiring to see this whole group together, as many of us had only just met. In the true spirit of giving thanks, we all sat around the table during dinner, enumerating the things that we were happy for. As we moved around the table, each person was obliged the mention those "thanks" of the people before. Things got a bit confusing at times, although nobody forgot the Cuban man's thanks for "the little sprouts that appear to be growing on [his] bald head."

All in all, the fete was a true success, as all seemed to agree. And now I get to check "eating deep-fried turkey" and "drinking moonshine" off of my "Deep South To-Do List".

22 November 2006

Giving Thanks

The restaurant is closed tomorrow for Thanksgiving, and I give thanks for that.

I'll be getting together with a group of friends for a day of food and football (playing and watching), drinks and hi-jinks. The most exciting part of the whole day is the presence of an experienced deep-fryer of turkeys.

I've always loved the idea of deep-frying turkeys, having dreamed of deep-south adventures and strange culinary delights. I have likewise always feared the activity, having been privy to so many post-Thanksgiving news reports of terrible burns and destroyed houses.

And so, today I journeyed into the World Wide Web for a bit of a tutorial, considering it worthwhile to acquaint myself with the dangers and necessary proper procedures. Now, fully acquainted with the manner in which turkeys are fried, I'm truly scared.

There are so many things to watch out for when frying a turkey. If the oil is too hot, or if the turkey is wet or still somewhat frozen, or if the oil overflows at all, the whole damn thing can catch fire. I've seen videos of it happen, and it is quite crazy. From the top of the cooker flies a cloud of smoke and steam, quickly followed by flames spreading rapidly.

Dangerous stuff.

So I head into my Thanksgiving celebration both anxious and afraid, and hoping that this year's holiday is good enough to compete with last year's holiday (scroll down to read it).

May all have a great day. And be careful of any deep frying. Do it outside, and watch this video first.

19 November 2006

Going out of Town

Sorry for the lack of posts lately.

I've been busy with work and a few side projects and I have not had much time to write in this space. I'm headed out of town right now to celebrate Xavi's birthday (last week) with some friends.

More soon.

14 November 2006


It was Xavi's birthday the other night, and we headed out to a local hookah bar, Hookah Joe's, to celebrate. (Note: I prefer to call the bar "Hookah Joseph's", for unknown reasons).

Every Sunday night, Hookah Joseph's features belly-dancing and Middle-Eastern music (played, it would seem, by mostly very talented white guys). The band was incredible-- the sounds of spooky vocals rising above an eclectic mix of instruments--and the dancer was amazing as well.

When the show was over, we all stood around chatting, as Xavi and Avani are friendly with the members of the band. It being Xavi's birthday, we all decided to head home (to my place) and continue the festivities.

And in waltzed the musicians and their friends, brandishing accordians and frame drums and tablas. We pulled out the guitars, I cleared my throat, and we began to play. It was truly incredible, hearing songs that Xavi and always play, now filled out with the sounds of so many musicians of such high caliber.

Unfortunately, it would appear that Xavi's tenant, who lives downstairs from us, was somewhat less excited by the whole thing. Emails subsequent to the event revealed that she was worried that she "was hallucinating" as one might tend to believe if being woken up at 2:30 am by the sounds of accordian and footstomping.

Hopefully these sessions will continue--it seems that everyone is looking forward to the next event of this sort.

Check out some of the musicians on MySpace at:




Have a great day.

12 November 2006

Overheard in Asheville

White male, about thirty-five, sits at a table in a restaurant, talking to a similarly aged woman. They converse animatedly, and seem to be reminiscing about their "salad days". As the time passes, and their bottle of wine becomes emptier, their conversation drifts back to the present day. Most of what they say is hard to hear, but a quick exchange stands out.

Male: Yeah! Like yesterday: I was sitting in my favorite chair, eating fried chicken, and you know how it is with fried chicken...I ended up with crumbs all over the chair.

Female: You should never eat fried chicken on good furniture! You could ruin the upholstery!

10 November 2006

Settling In

Strange...I may have to change the name of this blog.

"Peripatekitos" (a name unfortunately and oddly shared by other blogs) refers to the ancient Greek roots of the word "peripatetic", meaning itinerant, migrant, or nomadic. The antonym of the word, according to the website "Allwords.com" is "settled".

And right now, I'm feeling quite settled.

This is a wonderful place, one of the nicest places in which I have lived for a long time. The setting is beautiful--Asheville is set amidst the Blue Ridge Mountains--and the weather is gorgeous. While it is a bit colder than much of the Southeastern United States, due to its placement in the mountains, it is much warmer than my native Northern climes. The people are friendly and open, and while I would not call the city particularly well "desegregated", it is quite diverse.

And so I quickly am settling in to a rhythm here. I have my favorite coffee shop, where a single espresso costs 80 cents (I am quite sure that in New York City, no coffee shop will even consider making an espresso for less than one dollar) and the Internet is free. As a matter of fact, I am there right now.

My job is exciting and entertaining, and while occasionally stressful, really quite pleasant. My house (and my housemate) are great, and when it is cold I light a fire and sit on the couch before it.

The only strange part about this city is that certain quadrants of the city seem to be incredibly populated with drug addicts and homeless people. Take, for example, my experience of the other night. I had stopped at a small market of the "Quik Mart" variety. I was starving and had not had time to eat anything substantial, and so I had decided to pick up an unhealthy snack.

As I entered the store a man approached me, requesting some change. I denied his request and continued into the store. After a brief search, and the realization that I had entered the wrong place for a delicious snack, I settled upon the hot dogs rotating on the counter. I dressed my frankfurter with a variety of toppings. As I finished doing so, I felt a presence to my side, and turned my head.

"Yo, can I get half that hot dog?" the man to my side asked me.

"Uh...no," I replied, and continued to the counter to pay the girl working in the shop.

Another man approached me. "Yo, you got a cigarette?" he asked.

"Sorry, no," I again denied.

Another man approached me. "Yo, can I get a piece of that hot dog?" he too asked.

"Nah dude," I told him, and hurried from the store, feeling bad for the girl working there, having to put up with this strange trio of hungry drug addicts.

I got in the car and pulled out of the parking lot. Reaching the red light on the corner, I noticed the original beggar (the first guy to have asked for a piece of my hot dog) running toward the car, gesturing in a way that revealed his desire for money or food.

The light turned green just then, and I pulled away.

Very strange indeed, and perhaps a bit disconcerting, but oddly, never frightening. Perhaps these are southern-bred drug addicts, different from their New York bretheren--calmer, more polite, more friendly .

Regardless, I continue to hold the opinion that this city (hard to call it a city really, with its population of 70,000) is a great place. And besides the crackheads that seem only to come out at night, and then only to frequent mini-marts, the people are a wonderful, friendly, and open group.

OK. Enough. Time to work.

07 November 2006


Reading Craigslist, I feel like a harmless peeping Tom, peering into the intimate details of the lives of weird people. I catch myself searching through every section of the website, acting not unlike a virtual anthropologist, trying to understand the lives of people in Asheville (and elsewhere) through their advertisements.

What do these people lose? What do they sell? What kind of small jobs are they offering or looking for? Unfortunately, Craigslist is so filled with Spam that the study loses a bit of its true force, but it really is interesting stuff. And it truly feels a bit naughty.

Still, how can you not laugh at the idea of someone losing one "very European" shoe?


From Asheville Craigslist.com

From "Lost and Found" Section:

"Found, one right ocean shoe...white sole, blue netting, VERY European."

From the "Artists" Section:

"If you like unique art with an orientation toward the sacred feminine of nature, goddess themes, and Jungian in thought, then you might be interested in my original work. . . Thanks! Save the starving artists of the world!"

From the "Free Stuff" Section

Retro-shitty toaster oven
Reply to: sale-226701381@craigslist.org
Date: 2006-10-27, 8:00PM EDT

This toaster oven has much more oven than it does toaster. It's big, chrome plated and utterly incapable of making toast. Good broil and bake settings though

Audio Books

Give me enough books-on-tape and I will rule the world!

At least, that's how I feel when I'm listening to them. Buoyed by the delightful narratorial voice of some guy reading a book on George Washington, I powered through yesterday's trip. I was unstoppable, and along with Anette Breeze (my loyal steed), I crushed the road before me. Reaching Rt. 64, my turnoff for Charlottesville, where I planned to stop the night, I drove on haughtily, laughing at the restful night's sleep that awaited me.

Nearly all the way down, I listened to tales of George Washington, complementing knowledge built upon a listening of McCollough's 1776 on my previous ride down here. I learnt of battles and politics and Washington's imposing physique (and bad teeth). I learnt of the families throughout the United States, black families, that claim to be related to Washington.

It would seem, unsuprisingly, that even Washington (The Almighty!) may have have told a lie. Not only did he chop down that cherry tree for sure, but he also may have been a rapist and was an avid (though often conflicted) slaveholder. Although, to give him some credit, he did release all of his slaves upon his death, a decision not supported by Martha or anyone else in his family.

Washington also deserves credit, in my mind, for the following:

1. Escaping from Brooklyn to Manhattan under cover of night in 1776. With the help of Glover's sailors, he was able to evacuate nearly his entire army while the British sat nearby, unaware anything was going on. Amazing.

2. Not becoming King when everyone seemed ready to place a crown upon his head.

3. His letter writing skills (evidenced by excerpts read in the book). They are amazing letters, although it would seem that all were able to write letters of extraordinary quality at the time, filled with things like "I am unsure that I am fit to receive such glorious panegyric but I dare say that I am honored and greatly content to receive your most recent correspondence." I made that sentence up, and the truth is that it pales in comparison to ole' GW's writing, but you get the point.

After finishing with old Georgie boy, I sucked down the rest of my sixth Mountain Dew soda (or whatever caffeinated beverage I was enjoying at the time) and continued on my way. I popped in another Audio-book, this time "Against All Enemies" by Richard Clarke.

Dick wrote the book, and reads it too, and he's got a great voice for the task--very natural and very real, and very suited to reading lines like "What the F#@K is going on here?". Through him, I'm learning all about Reagan, the Bushes, Bin Laden, and the variety of acronymic American agencies responsible for national security and safety in case of foreign attack.

It is all also quite interesting.

And so, with the help of Mr. Clark and Mr. Wiencek, the trip went well and went quickly. It of course, as usual, progressed as a series of stops and starts caused by my oft-seen inability to plan road trip stops.

(Oh...maybe I should have relieved my full bladder and filled my empty gas tank at the same time that I bought that Chex Mix?)

But, here I am. Tomorrow, back to work.

05 November 2006

In Jerzey

I'm in Jersey this weekend, having returned to attend the wedding of my cousin Sarah.

The wedding was a great time, and fully worth the many hours of driving that it took me to come up here. I head back down tomorrow. I'll be taking the trip in two parts (stopping in Charlottesville), so it shouldn't be too bad.

That's all for now. More soon on the trip down.