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Old Posted Jun 13, 2020, 7:04 PM
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Asheville, NC: Living through history sucks

My husband and I went out this past Tuesday to take a look at the murals that have been painted downtown on the plywood that stores and restaurants were using to protect their businesses from damage. Protests in Asheville got out of hand quickly last week, with the police firing tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters a few nights in a row, businesses having their windows smashed or shot out, and someone driving around downtown shooting at protesters.

I didn't have fun taking these. We went out on Tuesday evening around 5:30 to take these, the start of the supper rush in a tourist town... Where what few places were accepting dine-in customers required a reservation, and where the pandemic and protests have ensured there aren't any tourists. Downtown was a boarded up ghost town, just like it used to be in the 80's. You can tell a lot of places are waiting for things to settle down before they spring up again... but a lot of places aren't coming back at all. Truth be told, I cried a lot when I was editing these to put up on here. This year has really sucked.

(I'll apologize in advance for the half-hour informercial that YouTube will attempt to force you to watch before you can access this thread's theme music.)

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Old Posted Jun 15, 2020, 2:52 AM
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It is sad. It's the same way here.
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Old Posted Jun 15, 2020, 2:40 PM
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It is sad. It's the same way here.
For me, growing up, Asheville was the big city because I grew up in a rotting trailer in a pasture. On the rare occasions I went to Asheville it seemed like a metropolis, and I suppose that made me sheltered when I was little. As an adult I know that Asheville may have seemed big but it wasn't and still isn't, although it offers more than many cities double or triple its size.

That being said, it's a city that makes a huge portion of its money from being a haven. Rich people and outdoorsy people, neither of which are a demographic you immediately associate with chaos and rampage, come here to play and spend money. Our reputation, no matter what's boiling under the surface -- and I have a job that shows me all manner of things boiling under the surface -- is as a place of peace.

That's why it so unnerved me to see clouds of tear gas rolling down the street in front of places where I've shopped and eaten, and taken pictures. That ad for Biltmore, with the tulips, showed up in the background of several pictures of protesters running from tear gas. People were sheltering in the art museum. The Asheville Police Department made nationwide headlines for attacking and demolishing a medical tent in the alley between Farm Burger and Salsa's Restaurant, both of which are places I've eaten. The windows of the Union clothing store and Urban Outfitters were shot out, while the windows of Horse and Hero and Hazel Twenty, all pictured here, were bashed out. I guess in big cities -- really big cities -- it's something you've seen before so it doesn't affect you as much, but to see it happen here for the first time in living memory... This is the second time this year that the world suddenly flipped on its axis and everything familiar suddenly turned alien. I didn't like it when all the gaps started suddenly showing up on the shelves at the grocery store, and when you saw aisles of Easter candy and decorations next to plundered aisles where the toilet paper used to be, and I didn't like it seeing clouds of tear gas sending their tendrils under the belly of that bronze pig in Pack Square.

This has been a very psychologically challenging year.
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Old Posted Jun 16, 2020, 5:37 AM
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Beautiful place. All of the boarded-up windows just highlight that there is something valuable to protect, and writings and drawings upon them suggest there is still some life, so don't feel too bad about it. These pictures are an important document. Living in Canada, or maybe because I haven't paid enough attention, these pictures help me to see what is going on.
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Old Posted Jun 16, 2020, 1:01 PM
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Beautiful place. All of the boarded-up windows just highlight that there is something valuable to protect, and writings and drawings upon them suggest there is still some life, so don't feel too bad about it. These pictures are an important document. Living in Canada, or maybe because I haven't paid enough attention, these pictures help me to see what is going on.
Last I heard, there's someone interested in buying all the plywood murals so they can be conserved and displayed permanently.
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Old Posted Jun 16, 2020, 1:36 PM
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Here's a link to a local news story about the murals, featuring some we missed:

Murals in downtown Asheville document the demand for change and this chapter in history
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Old Posted Jun 16, 2020, 5:45 PM
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I like contemporary street art, but I find it strange how it would somehow victimize Black people.

Here in my region, I've known some Blacks who are supposedly strong, kind of established and even harsh and dominant people, huh.

I've always known people like those. When I was a kid, one of my best friends who was also a pretty good student was "brown". His mom was white and very gentle, sweet.
But his dad was an educated Black man from Martinique. He had a pretty good job, making some decent money, which is cool.
But damn, he was severe. Some sort of Catholic bigot. He always found me too dirty, easy going to girls and didn't really like his son to be my friend.
I liked him a lot, though... He was my friend.

So I find these racial stereotypes to be completely inept. They are inaccurate. I don't believe in races in the human species anyway.
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Old Posted Jul 26, 2020, 9:46 PM
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Is everything cleaned up now?
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Old Posted Jul 30, 2020, 12:44 PM
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Is everything cleaned up now?
For the most part, yes. Almost all of the plywood murals are down. We went down there with a friend for supper yesterday evening and saw that most places that are going to reopen have, and there were a fair number of tourists walking around spending money. As for us, we had dim sum and dessert, then went to check out an art installation:



















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Old Posted Jul 30, 2020, 3:42 PM
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Wonderful pics and commentary, thanks for sharing!
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Old Posted Jul 31, 2020, 12:13 AM
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Thank you for sharing these photos.

While sad to see, they demonstrate a reckoning. I've been living partly in Santa Fe recently, which is basically the closest thing to Asheville's sister city in the southwest. But while the movement exists in Santa Fe like it does everywhere to a degree, things mostly went on as normal downtown, just with very few tourists.

But the reckoning happened in Albuquerque, which has always been the New Mexico city with a foot planted in the real, in justice. There, just as in Asheville, everywhere is boarded up downtown, with murals and messages of hope.

I like that Asheville, while largely a tourist town ala Santa Fe, is allowing the ugly to bubble up to the surface. It's a community conversation that needs to happen.
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