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Greensboro / Winston-Salem / High Point Feb. 25-March 3, 2021 triad-city-beat.com

Sheriff’s office disputes Tasharra Thomas claims PAGE 6

GSO’s Judas the Black Messiah cameo PAGE 12

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7 years, 350+ issues, 1,000+ stories, millions of pageviews Thanks for sticking with us.

CPAC is for clowns PAGE 10

We consider ourselves pretty damn lucky.

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Feb. 25-March 3, 2021

EDITOR’S NOTEBOOK

Seven years a publisher

H

ere’s something I say every time the Triad City Beat anniversary rolls around: We didn’t know we were going to make it

here.” Perhaps I’ll add: “Motherfuckers.” I’ve never been one to job-hop, not since 1995, when I worked at three different bars within a six-month span because I got fired a couple times. I kept that third job for about two years, until the graveyard-shift bartender at Igor’s made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I worked at Igor’s by Brian Clarey for five years, the longest I had ever been this long. employed anywhere until I became editor Some years it’s been more accurate than of YES! Weekly in 2004, where I labored others. for nine solid years before I got fired on Truth: We almost didn’t make it through Election Day in 2013. our first year. Also, our second. And our That’s when we started Triad City Beat. third. By the fourth year I had enough of That’s when I became a publisher. a handle on things that I I used to think publishthought we could do this ers didn’t do anything. So forever — or, at least, for a certain was I of this convicNot only was I few more years. tion that in our founduncertain that The pandemic dropped ing documents, the job right before our sixth andescription held no official the paper could niversary. And not only was duties. We gave the largely make it through I uncertain that the paper ceremonious title to our could make it through the most distinguished foundthe calamity, I calamity, I was also pretty ing partner, Allen Broach. was also pretty sure, in those early, panicky I took on the responsibility days, that we were all going sure, in those earof getting the paper out to die by Christmas. every week myself. ly, panicky days, My opinion has since How hard could it be? changed, about all of it. I wouldn’t call myself that we were all TCB emerges from the the publisher for another going to die by pandemic even stronger couple years, after I truly than we were going in. learned what producing Christmas. We’ve quadrupled our a weekly newspaper and readership, and passed an website would entail. Later important milestone: We now have more still, I understood that I claimed my posireaders online than we do in print, a tiption for one simple reason: Nobody else ping point from which there is no return. wanted to do it. More than that, after seven years at this, Trust when I say it is an enormous pain I’m still here. One of these days, I’m going in the ass to put out a weekly newspaper to get that printed on a T-shirt: “I’m still (and website!) for any length of time. I

BUSINESS PUBLISHER/EXECUTIVE EDITOR Brian Clarey brian@triad-city-beat.com

PUBLISHER EMERITUS Allen Broach allen@triad-city-beat.com

ART ART DIRECTOR Robert Paquette robert@triad-city-beat.com

EDITORIAL SENIOR EDITOR Jordan Green

SALES

ASSOCIATE EDITOR Sayaka Matsuoka

CONTRIBUTORS

jordan@triad-city-beat.com

sayaka@triad-city-beat.com

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1451 S. Elm-Eugene St. Box 24, Greensboro, NC 27406 Office: 336.256.9320 COVER: SPECIAL SECTION EDITOR Nikki Miller-Ka Lucky Seven. niksnacksblog@gmail.com [Illustration by Robert Paquette]

KEY ACCOUNTS Drew Dix

drew@triad-city-beat.com Michaela Ratliff, Carolyn de Berry, Matt Jones

TCB IN A FLASH @ triad-city-beat.com First copy is free, all additional copies are $1. ©2018 Beat Media Inc.


Coronavirus in the Triad:

Feb. 25-March 3, 2021

would say it gets easier over the years, but that doesn’t quite ring true. I think we get better, that we more fully inhabit our roles, adapt to them like a really good pair of raw-denim jeans that you wear every day. I know I’ve gotten better. I have new skills, new workflow, an ever-growing network and all the bonuses that come with more time on the road. Here’s what never changes: How proud I am of the stories we’ve been able to publish these last seven years; the privilege of working with the best reporters I’ve been able to convince to write here; the honor I feel as a contributing member of the Triad media, which I suppose is something I’ve been for more than 20 years now. Here’s something you might not know: Twenty years is not as long as it sounds, not when it’s spent on a career you love, in an industry you believe in, with people you respect. Seven years… well that’s nothing at all, an eyeblink for an old newsroom lifer like me. Seven years is when you start to get lucky. And after seven years, I’m no longer going to say that I didn’t know we were going to make it this far. Because on some level, I did.

(As of Wednesday, Feb. 24, compared to last week) Documented COVID-19 diagnoses NC 849,630 (+20,123) Forsyth 31,417 (+673) Guilford County

38,462 (+744)

COVID-19 deaths

NC

11,074 (+404)

Forsyth

340 (+17)

Guilford

513 (+25)

Documented recoveries NC Forsyth

795,521 (+30,065)

26,599 (as of 2/13, no new data)

Guilford

35,726 (+2,455)

Current cases

C E L E B R AT E S 7 YEARS THANKS FOR READING!

Est. Feb. 2014

NC

43,035 (-10,346)

Forsyth

*no data*

Guilford

2,222 (-1,736)

Hospitalizations (right now) NC

1,530 (-424)

Forsyth

*no data*

Guilford

79 (-47)

Vaccinations NC First Dose

1,252,422 (+84,086)

Fully vaccinated

730,843 (7%) (+185,364)

Forsyth First Dose

46,946 (+2,826)

Fully vaccinated

29,233 (+5,108)

Guilford First dose

58,381 (+6,917)

Fully vaccinated

29,777 (+3,066)

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Feb. 25-March 3, 2021

CITY LIFE Feb. 25-March 3 by Michaela Ratliff

Up Front

THURSDAY Feb. 25

Mama Crockett’s Cider Donuts @ Brown Truck Brewery (HP) 8 a.m. Donut lovers, stop by Brown Truck Brewery to catch your donuts from Mama Crockett’s chute. Click “going” on the event page for your chance to win a free dozen.

Live Wax Museum @ Deep River Rec Center (HP) 6 p.m.

News

Magnolia’s Shoebox Lunch on Wheels @ Historic Magnolia House (GSO) 11 a.m.

Opinion

Celebrate Black History Month during this live wax museum event where attendees will compete for prizes by guessing the identities of the wax figures. For more information, call 336.883.3407. Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday in February, HMH is bringing a Black history lesson and a good meal right to your door. Order with Doordash, Grubhub or call 336.617.3382 to place pick up orders.

Shelter Elsewhere Happening @ Elsewhere (GSO) 7 p.m.

FRIDAY Feb. 26

Puzzles

Shot in the Triad

Culture

Village Fabric Shop Opening Weekend @ Village Fabric Shop (W-S) 10 a.m.

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Village Fabric Shop’s new owners are excited to announce the reopening of the store and to introduce its large collection of apparel fabrics, dyes and more. Until Sunday, VFS’ opening celebration will include coffee all weekend and a free Dough Joe’s donut with any purchase. Visit the event page on Facebook for more info.

Elsewhere invites you to witness what happens when seven people live in a museum for six months during a pandemic. View projects created and changes made to the museum while conversing with the artists. For more info and to purchase tickets, visit Elsewhere’s website.


Feb. 25-March 3, 2021

SATURDAY Feb. 27

SUNDAY Feb. 28

Chakra Yoga Series @ High Point Yoga School (HP) 3 p.m.

Up Front

No Ordinary Chocolates pop-up @ Cork and Grind (HP) 3 p.m.

News Opinion

Find the perfect wine and chocolate pairing at Cork and Grind. No Ordinary Chocolates uses Belgian chocolates to create a decadent treat. Steel Magnolias @ Sweet Charity Productions (Online) 7:30 p.m.

High Point Yoga School is hosting a series of yoga sessions, each balancing a new chakra. In this session, the focus is the heart chakra, associated with balance, calmness and serenity.

WEDNESDAY March 3

Culture

Virtual Q&A with Carolina Corona @ Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts (W-S) 6 p.m. W-S artist Carolina Corona is hosting a Q&A related to her exhibition currently in the Arboreal Gallery, Reflections: A collection of works by Carolina Corona and her passion for nature. It is free of charge and can be registered for on Eventbrite.

Shot in the Triad Puzzles

Sweet Charity Productions is bringing the southern classic Steel Magnolias to the stage for a live reading. The event is free, but SCP encourages donations to the Kellin Foundation for mental health in Guilford County. See the production at tinyurl.com/SMSweetCharity.

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Feb. 25-March 3, 2021 Up Front News Opinion Culture Shot in the Triad Puzzles

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NEWS

Recordings capture meeting between sheriff, Tasha Thomas’ mother by Jordan Green

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anny Rogers met with a woman whose daughter had recently died in Greensboro Jail Central during his 2018 campaign for Guilford County sheriff. Then a candidate seeking to unseat incumbent Sheriff BJ Barnes, Rogers passed along information during that meeting from a one-time detention officer indicating that the woman’s daughter had been caught with drugs in her housing unit and had overdosed. The impression that Tasharra Thomas overdosed — and also that she was physically abused in jail — in the days leading up to her May 2, 2018 death have persisted. Now, Rogers is the sitting sheriff and a defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Thomas’ estate. As a defendant, alongside former sheriff Barnes, the agency’s insurer and a private company that provides medical services to the jail, Rogers is arguing, contrary to his previous statement, that Thomas did not overdose. The sheriff’s office has also insisted that Thomas was not physically abused. The position taken by the sheriff’s office is backed up by the autopsy. The autopsy states that “no injuries were found that contributed to death.” And while the autopsy notes the presence of fentanyl and a trace amounts of methamphetamine in Thomas’ body, the report concludes: “Based on autopsy findings, toxicology results, and circumstances surrounding the death, as currently understood, the cause of death is sepsis due to infective endocarditis due to chronic injection drug use.” During his meeting with Rochelle Thomas-Boyd, who is Tasharra Thomas’ mother, in the spring of 2018, then-candidate Rogers contacted an unidentified detention officer to try to glean more information about the circumstances surrounding Tasharra’s death. The lawsuit filed by Thomas’ family alleges that while Rogers was in Boyd’s presence, the officer read from an official record and told Rogers that Tasharra had died in jail from a drug overdose. In a recording of the meeting that Thomas-Boyd provided to media outlets, Rogers can be heard speaking, with Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” playing loudly in the background. “He said she came in on a Sunday night and was caught with pills in a

Before being elected Guilford County sheriff in 2018, Danny Rogers consulted with the family of Tasharra Thomas, who died in the Guilford County Jail. Now he is on the other side of the lawsuit.

shakedown on Monday,” Rogers says. followed through by sending a report or “She must have OD-ed on more pills any other document to substantiate the last night. She had just saw a nurse and claims. took meds, and vitals checked an hour Through the legal staff at the Guilford before she was found County Sheriff’s Office, unconscious. After [inRogers said he had not audible] EMS couldn’t been reading from a get her pulse, they report during his meet‘She had just saw a put her on a bed and ing with Thomas-Boyd, nurse and took meds, covered her up with a but rather, “as best sheet. Officers had to and vitals checked an he can recall, he was do two rounds for two reading from an email hour before she was hours until the coroner or text message sent to came….” him by a former detenfound unconscious.’ It’s at that point tion officer who was – Danny Rogers that Rogers interrupts no longer employed by himself and asks Boyd: the sheriff’s office at the “Have you heard that?” time Ms. Thomas died Hearing that she in May 2018.” hadn’t, and Rogers offers: “I’m gonna A statement provided to TCB by the send you this, okay?” sheriff’s office goes on to say that “the As noted in the lawsuit, Rogers never former officer incorrectly claimed to

SCREENSHOT

have knowledge concerning pills being found in Ms. Thomas’ cell” two days prior to Thomas’ death, and that he “speculated (without any facts) that Ms. Thomas ‘must have overdosed on more pills’ on the day of her death.” The statement bluntly concludes: “That officer is wrong.” Explaining a second recording obtained by TCB, the sheriff’s office said Rogers made a phone call to the former employee and asked him “to provide further information so that these claims could be verified. Not surprising, the former employee never did.” The sheriff’s office provided a report to TCB on Tuesday that indicates, contrary to the information Rogers shared with Boyd in the spring of 2018, that no drugs were found during a search of the housing unit where Thomas was housed.

Cont. on pg. 9


Feb. 25-March 3, 2021

Vaccines for teachers, childcare workers roll out this week by Sayaka Matsuoka

T

Up Front News

Currently, Groups 1, 2 and part of 3 are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Puzzles

Cont. on pg. 9

Shot in the Triad

employees and 100 contractors; so far, 800 school employees have already been vaccinated under Groups 1 and 2. “We are eager to vaccinate school system employees and childcare workers,” Dr. Pam Oliver, the executive vice president and president of Novant Health’s physician network, said in a public statement. “Protecting caregivers, educators and school employees is a crucial step in our COVID-19 recovery efforts. Although we continue to face supply challenges, our coordinated vaccination efforts will help ensure that all eligible groups have access to appointments.” Forsyth County officials did not respond to email requests asking how many doses will be allocated to educational and childcare staff. In a press release, the public health department said that the total number of available appointments remains dependent on vaccine allocation and that appointments will be made on a weekly basis. Shana Richards said that she’s scheduled for Thursday afternoon at the Greensboro Coliseum. “My whole family is really excited that I’m getting the vaccine,” Richards said. “We have all been working from home during the pandemic and I’m the only one that has to leave the house and be put at risk at work.” Todd Warren, president of the Guilford County Association of Educators, said that he’s been hearing from members that they are excited that they are able to get the vaccine soon. “They are thrilled that they can have

Culture

said. “I can definitely say that the work schools isn’t up to the federal governhas been constant. It has been very busy. ment. Instead, that power lies at the local In a virtual world, we have students who level with county school boards, many need some structure but are also learnof which continue to collaborate closely ing from home and many of them feel with their county health departments to isolated. We have the challenge of how make those decisions. to meet our students’ social and emoIn Guilford County, Vann said that tional needs.” during the next two weeks all of the vacRichards, who is a member of the cines that the county health department Guilford County Association of Educareceives will be reserved for educators. tors, said that the rift between teachers Members of the general public who are and parents on how currently eligible and when to reopen to get the vaccine ‘There’s been a schools is misleadas part of Groups ing. 1 or 2 — health misconception that “There’s been a care workers and misconception that those aged 65 and teachers don’t want teachers don’t want up — may still do schools to open. That’s schools to be open,” so through area hosshe said. “That’s topitals such as Cone totally untrue. Teachers tally untrue. TeachHealth. want to be back in the ers want to be back “We, the county, in the classroom are going to focus classroom safely with safely with their our efforts for the their students.’ students. Vaccines next two weeks on – Shana Richards, counselor at will make them feel educators,” Vann comfortable to resaid. Based on the Grades 6-8 Virtual School ceive their kids back projected doses, and educate them.” Vann said that they In the first few should be able to weeks since taking office, President Joe vaccinate 12,000 educators in about twoBiden announced his plan to reopen and-a-half weeks. schools by his 100th day in office. The Educators and childcare-center staff move came at a time when conversations should be receiving direct links to set around the country were taking place up appointments this week; employees on how and when to bring students back should be able to pick a location and to the classroom. Since his declaration, time that works for them. Biden has narrowed his calls for reopenForsyth County announced they will ing, causing some confusion amongst start vaccinating teachers on Wednesstate officials. Still, the decision to reopen day. Currently, the county has 9,336

SCREENSHOT

Opinion

eachers and others who work with children will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccination starting this week in both Guilford and Forsyth counties. On Feb. 10, Gov. Roy Cooper announced that the state would be opening up vaccines to the next eligible group — Group 3 — which is comprised of frontline essential workers. Teachers and other childcare workers including bus drivers, custodial staff, therapists, medical staff and foodservice employees will be first in the group, while remaining essential workers will be eligible starting March 10. In Guilford, about 3,000 Guilford County Schools employees will be vaccinated Thursday evening through Saturday evening. The process, according to the district’s press release, will be repeated the following week. Prioritization for school and childcare employees in Guilford County is as follows: those who work with exceptional children, many of whom can’t mask properly; workers aged 51-64, then workers aged 36 to 50; and finally, those aged 18-35. The county currently has more than 4,500 teachers and nearly 10,000 employees. Guilford County Public Health Director Dr. Iulia Vann said during a recent county commission meeting that there are an estimated 15,000 individuals within the target population for both private and public schools, as well as childcare workers. The county’s goal is to vaccinate 80 percent of those individuals, Vann said. “I’m excited to be able to get the vaccine,” said Shana Richards, a school counselor at Guilford eLearning University Prep, a 6-8 grades virtual school. “I signed up to receive it on Thursday.” Richards, who has mostly been working from home, said that she’s still eager to get the vaccine because it will give her peace of mind for when she conducts home visits to check on students. “Because we want to make sure that our students are engaging with us and if they’re not, and we can’t get in touch with their parents, we do go on home visits,” Richards said. “We go to make sure everything is okay and see if they need anything to connect with our teachers.” As the sole counselor at the middle grades virtual school, which serves 1,600 students across the district, Richard is likely the busiest counselor in the county. “I believe we are the largest middle school in Guilford County,” Richards

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Feb. 25-March 3, 2021 Up Front News Opinion Culture Shot in the Triad Puzzles

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‘Thomas’ cont. from pg. 6 Entitled “Housing Pod 7A Shakedown,” the report indicates that a search was conducted on Monday, April 30, which turned up “no extra items.” “There was no excess county issued items found during the shakedown,” the report also states. “All trash was removed from the housing unit. All inmates were strip searched in their cells. The recreation yard, staff bathroom, visitation room, janitor closets, multipurpose room, inmate attorney room and dayroom were also searched with no problems noted in these areas. The shakedown went rather smoothly with the diverse individuals currently housed in the unit.” The report is dated April 30, the same day as the search and two days prior to Thomas’ death. The names of staff, including the master corporal who completed the report, are redacted from the copy provided to TCB. In a written response to questions from TCB, the sheriff’s office said Rogers agreed to meet Thomas-Boyd shortly after her daughter’s death “to give her the opportunity to express her concerns to him and to determine, as part of his campaign for sheriff, whether those concerns could be substantiated.” The sheriff’s office declined to provide the name of the former detention officer to TCB, but said he “will be identified during the course of the pending lawsuit and Ms. Thomas-Boyd’s attorney will have the opportunity to depose that person under oath.” The sheriff’s office did not respond to a questions from TCB about whether then-candidate Rogers followed up with Thomas-Boyd to explain that he was unable to verify the claims about her daughter getting caught with drugs and experiencing an overdose, or whether he followed up with her to inform her that no report ever surfaced to back the claims. The statement provided by the sheriff’s office asserts that the autopsy, jail surveillance video and written search report “show that Ms. Thomas did not get access to illegal drugs in the jail and that she did not overdose on drugs while in jail.” Thomas-Boyd also provided media outlets with a five-second video that scans across a photograph showing what appears to be bruises on Tasharra’s upper body and trauma around her left breast. The video also shows a V-shaped sutures across her chest to close up an incision. TCB is not publishing the video out of respect for the deceased.

Thomas-Boyd declined to comment on the record to TCB, but the lawsuit mentions that she “was able to secure video and pictures of Tasharra’s body while it was in the morgue.” The suit provides a graphic itemization of apparent injuries: “Tasharra’s nipple had been ripped off; she had what appeared to be unexplained bite marks on her body; some of her hair had been ripped out; her wrists appeared to be bruised as if she had been handcuffed; she had other bruises and contusions; and some of her bones appeared to be broken.” In a statement to TCB, the sheriff’s office disputed the assertion in the lawsuit that the image was taken at the morgue, noting that the sutures suggest it was taken after the autopsy, which was performed at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Raleigh “It is not unusual for a body to show post-mortem signs of bruising,” the sheriff’s office said. “This can occur due to the pooling of blood (which is no longer circulating) or the post-mortem handling of the corpse.” The autopsy was performed in May 2018 by Dr. Michelle Aurelius. Since then, Dr. Aurelius has been promoted to the position of chief medical examiner for the state of North Carolina. In response to a request for an interview with Dr. Aurelius, a spokesperson for the state Department of Health and Human Services said no staff was available for comment. The sheriff’s office said in a statement to TCB that a crime scene investigator took photos of Thomas’ body on May 2 while it was still in the jail and before it was taken to the morgue at Moses Cone Hospital. The photos show long-term scarring from chronic injection drug use, but none of the bruising seen in the post-autopsy photo, according to the sheriff’s office. The statement also said a multi-colored braid was still in place. The agency said it was making an exception to its typical practice of not commenting in detail on pending litigation in this case “because the estate’s claims that Ms. Thomas was physically abused by our officers and that she overdosed on illegal drugs while in jail are all untrue. “While factual disputes are not uncommon during a lawsuit,” the statement concludes, “particularly the allegations that Ms. Thomas was physically abused and/or overdosed in jail, are not only untrue, but unnecessarily put our deputies and officers at risk.”

‘Teachers’ cont. from pg. 7

A new CDC study found that vaccinating teachers is critical to preventing in-school transmissions.

another added layer of safety,” Warren said. “There’s lots of things that they already do, like masking and distancing in schools, but this just helps give people a peace of mind that they have an extra layer of protection.” The opening up of vaccines to teachers is timely given that the CDC published a new study on Monday that found that teachers, not students, were the probable source of school-related COVID-19 outbreaks in a Georgia district during the months of December and January. The report stated that “educators might play a central role in in-school transmission networks” and that “preventing SARSCoV-2 infections through multifaceted school mitigation measures and COVID-19 vaccination of educators is a critical component of preventing in-school transmission.” The study went on to state that while the COVID-19 vaccine is not currently a CDC requirement for reopening schools, vaccinating teachers can “protect educators at risk for severe COVID-19-associ-

COURTESY PHOTO

ated illness, potentially reduce in-school SARS-CoV-2 transmission, and minimize interruptions to in-person learning, all of which have important implications for educational equity and community health.” In Guilford County, there are currently 36 active employee COVID-19 cases and 29 active student cases according to the school district’s online dashboard. In Forsyth County, there are currently 22 employee cases and 61 student cases. “Getting the vaccine is the right thing to do at this time so we can return to some semblance of normalcy for students who are at home by themselves,” Richards said. “I’m excited to be able to use my platform to encourage other people to get the vaccine too.” To learn more about COVID-19 vaccine rollout in North Carolina, visit covid19.ncdhhs. gov/vaccines.


EDITORIAL

CPAC and the NC Republicans

Opinion

Three days of rightwing dogma, fake journalism, conspiracy bait and outright bullshit. CPAC is like ComicCon for assholes.

News Culture Shot in the Triad

dropped out of UNCG), buttressed by Rep. Madison Cawthorn (dropped out of Patrick Henry College after one semester), Rep. Virginia Foxx (two master’s degrees) and Rep. Ted Budd (App State undergrad, Wake Forest University MBA). Most troubling, though is a sevenpart “Protecting Elections” presentation that perpetuates the Big Lie: that Trump won the 2020 election and it was stolen by a coterie of players including the media, the courts and “the left.” It is openly seditious, but that’s the heart of the conservative message these days: It’s not America if we don’t get our way. It’s an idea that speaks only to the true believers, which is all they’ve got left. This is what the GOP fails to understand: Their base is shrinking, because everything changed after Jan. 6, when Trump’s Big Lie made traitors of thousands of former Americans by inciting them to storm the US Capitol Building in an attempt to disrupt the execution of a free and fair election. Anyone with any decency or honor has left the GOP tent, including the dwindling list of sponsors who once supported CPAC, companies who used to donate to Republican candidates and grown-up Americans who can no longer abide by this party of crybabies, grifters and liars. All who remain do so because they have nowhere else to go.

Up Front

T

he Conservative Political Action Conference — known colloquially as CPAC — is like ComicCon for assholes: Three days of right-wing dogma, fake journalism, insincere soliloquies, conspiracy bait and outright bullshit. Last year’s affair, held Feb. 26-29 in Maryland, is noteworthy for being the first documented super-spreader event of the coronavirus pandemic when a New Jersey doctor and convention VIP tested positive a couple days after returning home. This year’s CPAC begins Thursday in Orlando, the first time it’s ever been held outside the Washington DC area — one of many homages to Florida’s most famous new resident, Donald Trump, who will be speaking on Sunday afternoon. Also on the agenda: Sen. Ted Cruz lecturing about cancel culture, a few right-wing media types presenting “The Left’s Assault on a Free People” along with diatribes against China, defunding police, “disrupting the nuclear family” and this one, “Who’s the Boss Where’s My Applesauce? Who’s Really Running the Biden Administration.” Tony Danza? Big Applesauce? Only CPAC attendees know for sure. Naturally, North Carolina’s rightwingiest Republicans have a big role to play this weekend, highlighted by a Friday anti-education lecture called “The Real Cost of Tuition” presented by Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (who

Feb. 25-March 3, 2021

OPINION

Puzzles

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Feb. 25-March 3, 2021 Up Front News Opinion Culture Shot in the Triad Puzzles

10

CULTURE W-S actor Taylor August on the prowl as demon-slayer in web series by Michaela Ratliff

S

omehow, the train survived 9/11. Car 143 of the PATH system between New Jersey and New York City dodged falling debris, flooding and fire that day, and now it’s frozen in time. Posters from the early 2000s still cover its walls. Despite water damage, some of the car’s lights are still functional, creating dimness, uneven shade. The car’s eerie history and its dented, rusty exterior made it an ideal place as a filming location for the new sci-fi thriller “The Hunter’s Anthology.” The show, which premiered on Amazon Prime on Feb. 12, is written and directed by Robert Smithline and stars Winston-Salem native and UNCG graduate Taylor August as Mac, a mysterious demon hunter who traps six unsuspecting passengers on a train, convinced one of them is evil. For five episodes, Mac peers into each passenger’s soul, hoping to spot and slay the evil presence. “His purpose is to drive out the evil in the world and eliminate it,” August says about his character. “And he will do it at all costs.” The series was inspired by multiple television shows, including “The Twilight Zone” and “Lost.” August believes the series does a great job at character development, something he says he doesn’t see too often in other shows. “This series really dives deep into the backstories of characters involved,” he says. Filming began in summer 2018; August joined the project just three months prior, when the original actor realized he was double-booked. Although he related somewhat to Mac’s cryptic, reclusive nature, August says he had to really take time to get into character. “To this day, I’m trying to figure that out,” he says. August aims to play characters that make him think, That’s me! or relate to someone he knows. He approached Mac, a misunderstood individual judged for his appearance, as if he experienced that himself. The project was filmed in multiple places around New York state, including the Trolley Museum in Kingston where car 143 is located. With the haunting spirit of 9/11 looming in the air, the tone was set for filming the scenes. Knowing that the people who once rode this train either narrowly escaped death or faced it was a feeling the actors couldn’t shake.

UNCG grad and Winston-Salem native Taylor August applied the Meisner Technique to his role as Mac in the Amazon series “The Hunter’s Anthology,” which premiered on Feb. 12.

COURTESY PHOTO

“You feel like you’re in that moment,” August says. “There August is originally from Orlando, and his love for acting was a heaviness in the air.” and writing started as a child with his vast VHS collection of That day became the most memorable filming day but for Mickey Mouse cartoons. Michael J. Fox, known for his role as different reasons. curious teen Marty McFly in the Back to the Future film trilogy, For starters, the air conditioning went out. was a huge inspiration for the budding actor. “It’s like you’re in a tin can in the middle of August,” August “I wore that tape out,” August says while laughing. “He’s says. one of the reasons I wanted to become an actor.” Sara Mari Lopez, who was dressed in Around 2005, August enrolled at the a hoodie for her role of Jennifer, says the William Esper Studio in NYC, a studio from crew purchased water fans so the actors which notable talents Tracee Ellis Ross, Ian Visit “The Hunter’s could mist themselves. Kristy Cloetingh, Somerhalder and Amy Schumer emerged. Anthology” website to who plays Madison in the series, believes He spent two years studying the Meisner view exclusive content, August was the hottest of the cast due technique which encourages the actor to reto his wardrobe: a trench coat, jeans and spond directly to their environment instead to watch trailers and to cowboy boots. of thinking of their next move, resulting in meet the cast. Watch the “He was gesturing with his hands, and more authentic acting. He implemented this series on Amazon Prime. because he had so much sweat on his by feeding off the disturbing energy of the body, he was just flicking droplets of sweat train and his castmates’ fear of being outed throughout the subway car,” Cloetingh as the demon to become Mac. says. August acts because he wants people to relate to the charIt didn’t stop there. A hornet’s nest had to be smoked out of acters he plays, he says. the car, taking one day away from the filming process. This left “The connection to the audience is the number one driver for the cast and crew on a time crunch. me,” he says. “Giving people something to be entertained by.” “When you look at the subway scenes,” August says. “All those had to be shot in one or two takes.”


CULTURE

Feb. 25-March 3, 2021

GSO native Afika Nxumalo talks Judas and the creative process by Sayaka Matsuoka

A

Up Front News Opinion

Musician and creative Afika Nxumalo was born and raised in Greensboro.

COURTESY PHOTO

Shot in the Triad Puzzles

about his artistry. culture,” he says. “Culture is a huge portion of social justice. What’s my greatest value to this world? Culture is a shield for oppressed people…. It’s because I didn’t What is my greatest value to the music scene? see it growing up. I didn’t see examples of unapologetically By this time, Nxumalo was living in Harlem, chasing his Black and African music that wasn’t devolving people to our dreams of making it big, sleeping on a leaky air mattress while basic instincts.” working restaurant jobs. Listening to “Chosen,” it’s evident that the song is anything “I knew the story wasn’t done yet,” he but a devolution of his people. says. “I hadn’t tried everything yet.” The strong chanting vocals lead to In 2017, Nxumalo made a simple change Afika’s tenor repeating the mantra of the Listen to “Chosen” and in his actions that put him on a path to song which blends into a second verse: all of the songs from create “Chosen.” “Show me what a man, what a king, Afika’s “Chosen the EP” on “I made one commitment, that whenwhat a god, what I’m here for.” Then the ever there is a gathering, I was going to musician’s voice changes, a sharper, more streaming services. Learn perform for people,” he says. urgent tone taking space. more about Afika at afika. A few weeks later, Nxumlao found him“Show up at the door with a stamp on life and keep a lookout for self at a friend’s birthday party where he my hand/ Tell ‘em get up out the way, y’all his album He Has Arrived picked up a guitar and started playing for are letting me in/ I’m chosen/ Chosen/ the crowd. Later that evening, a guy with Chosen.” set to release in the next Rolling Stone magazine approached and “It enters you into a high-stakes menfew months. gave him his business card. From there, tality,” Nxumalo says. “The songs that are Nxumalo was chosen to host “The Scene,” going to win are the ones that are going to a web series by the magazine, and got a speak to people’s hearts.” gig teaching social-justice songwriting at Columbia University. As a musician who grew up in Greensboro and has tasted a All of these experiences, Nxumalo says, informed his approach bit of success in a notoriously difficult industry, Nxumalo says to music. he wants to inspire others in the city to strive for their dreams “The space I’ve always wanted to carve out in the music too. He wants to see Greensboro, the third-largest city in the industry is to bring more music with African influence in pop state, cultivate, care for and catalyze artists.

Culture

fika Nxumalo bit the inside of his cheek to ground himself in reality. “I’ll never forget reading that email,” says the Greensboro native. “My heart skipped a beat. I don’t know if you’ve ever had news so good that you had to check that you were in reality, but I looked out the window, and I’m checking hard surfaces and I’m like, If this is a dream, this is a dope dream.” On Jan. 28, Nxumalo, who now lives in Brooklyn, received an email from Warner Bros. Studio expressing interest in using his song, “Chosen,” for a new trailer promoting the film Judas and the Black Messiah. On Feb. 8, the Monday before the movie was released, the 15-second trailer debuted on Instagram, with Nxumalo’s track in the background. “Show me what to love, what to hunt, what to fight, what to kill for,” plays as scenes with Lakeith Stanfield as FBI informant William O’Neal and Daniel Kaluuya as Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, skirt across the screen. The stacked vocals draw from Nxumalo’s South African and Swazi background and are what the artist calls, “culture on display.” “I was born and raised in Greensboro,” Nxumalo says. “I was the only Black kid in all-white classrooms. And amongst the Black kids, I was the only African immigrant. When I learned how to play guitar, I was the only Black kid doing that. Then I was the only Black kid who could play guitar and freestyle and rap.” Prior to pursuing his solo career, Nxumalo made waves in his hometown performing as part of The Urban Sophisticates, a hip-hop group and later, with Phive, a cover band turned hip-hop quartet. But in the decade since moving away from Greensboro, Nxumalo has striven to stay true to his personal artistic mission. He spent three years in London making music that sounded good but was shallow, in the artist’s opinion. “Music has a lot of power,” he says. “We underutilize the power of music…. People in the music industry understand how music is a larger governing structure, how it guides people toward concepts of self. I didn’t want to be shoved into a camp that makes me money but contributes to harming young people like me.” In the years following, Nxumalo looked inward for answers to questions

11


Feb. 25-March 3, 2021 Up Front News Opinion Culture Shot in the Triad Puzzles

Nxumalo draws on his South African and Swazi background to infuse African influences into his music.

12

“It’s really important for me to tap into Greensboro because it was so instrumental in my development as an artist,” he says. “There’s this massive creative class there built from all of these colleges and universities. It’s a city of diamonds in the rough, all we’re asking for is for someone with the means to get a diamond polisher.” Drawing from his experience teaching songwriting and creating spaces for music, Nxumalo says he’s working on opening an artist retreat in North Carolina called Beacon House where artists will be invited to stay and create music. He’s also hoping to launch a digital songwriting school called Pop College which he says would be the only Ivy League songwriting school on earth. With a full-length album on the way, Nxum-

COURTESY PHOTO

alo says he’s clear on what his life’s mission is now and plans to keep working towards those goals. It’s written into his identity through his name, Afika, which means “he has arrived” in the Xhosa language. “We’re just getting started,” he says. “This is just the beginning of the next level of things for me and I’m taking Greensboro with me through all of it.”


Feb. 25-March 3, 2021

SHOT IN THE TRIAD

Up Front

South Elm Street, Greensboro

News Opinion Culture Shot in the Triad

Union Cemetery is Greensboro’s oldest known African-American cemetery. Some of Greensboro’s most prominent Black residents from the late 19th and early 20th centuries are buried here. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.

CAROLYN DE BERRY

Puzzles

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Feb. 25-March 3, 2021 Up Front News Opinion Culture Shot in the Triad Puzzles

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CROSSWORD ‘Re:Re:Re:’—better than a long email thread. SUDOKU by Matt Jones

Across

1 Harry’s partner in crime in “Home Alone” 5 Draw forth 10 Fledgling’s home 14 “Scratch a lover and find ___”: Dorothy Parker 15 Ephron and Dunn, for two 16 Italian city known for sparkling wines 17 “The Avengers” star Diana 18 Bed covering 19 Sandcastle shaper 20 Late-night monster movie, maybe 23 Existential boredom 24 Institute in “Contact” and “The X-Files” 25 Throw out 28 Deadly snakes © 2021 Jonesin’ Crosswords (editor@jonesincrosswords.com) 32 Dollar divs. 35 Paparazzi subject 37 Lake source of the Niagara River 38 Reason for a dashboard warning light 42 Idaho’s neighbor 43 “Okay, so I was wrong” 44 Cartoonist Rall 45 Nursery rhyme loser of sheep 48 Poopdeck ___ (Popeye’s dad) 50 Tournament exemptions Answers from last issue 52 Fish wrap spread 55 Places designated for biking, camping, etc. 27 Energize 61 Cooking acronym 29 Aftershave brand 62 Barbera’s animation partner 30 Ending for million or billion 63 “The Joy of Cooking” author Rombauer 31 Bit of bird food 64 “Oh, drat” 32 Multi-level sandwich 65 Prodded, with “on” 33 Group that got the geography of 66 Barbecue leftovers? Africa wrong 67 Dark gemstone 34 Trade 68 “___ lift?” 36 California’s La ___ Tar Pits 69 Prince hit of 1986 39 Where hip-hop originated 40 Savory turnover Down 41 Antique photo tone 1 Soft Cell lead singer Almond 46 Pupil’s place 2 Glowing 47 Female fowl that doesn’t have that 3 Seth of “Future Man” ornate tail 4 Aquafaba users, e.g. 49 His skull is held in “Hamlet” 5 Controversial “National” tabloid that had 51 Play place? a TV show in 1999 53 Poet Jones (aka Amiri Baraka) 6 Gloomy 54 Feet for poets 7 Michael of “Ugly Betty” or Brendon of 55 Overhaul Panic! at the Disco 56 Longtime Indiana senator Bayh 8 ___ liver (butcher shop option) 57 Booker in the Senate 9 Appreciation 58 “Natural Affection” playwright William 10 Afternoon breaks of a sort 59 Linear, for short 11 Genesis twin 60 Insolence 12 Recipe directive 13 Do some floor work 21 “Stanley ___: Searching for Italy” 22 ___ standstill 26 Hoppy drinks

C E L E B R AT E S 7 YEARS ©2021 Jonesin’ Crosswords

(editor@jonesincrosswords.com)

Answers from previous publication.

THANKS FOR READING!

Est. Feb. 2014


Profile for Triad City Beat

TCB Feb. 25, 2021 — Lucky Seven  

Triad City Beat makes seven years! Plus CPAC nonsense, hometown heroes and the sheriff shoots himself in the foot (figuratively)

TCB Feb. 25, 2021 — Lucky Seven  

Triad City Beat makes seven years! Plus CPAC nonsense, hometown heroes and the sheriff shoots himself in the foot (figuratively)

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