Charleston City Paper: Digs - January 2022

Page 1

January 2022



At Home with


JONATHAN SANCHEZ a Charleston City Paper publication

Andy Brack



ithout news from trusted publications, America’s democracy dims. News from the Charleston City Paper and South Carolina’s weekly newspapers provide independent, local insights that are vital to keeping democracy alive. Newspapers are watchdogs that hold public officials accountable, provide transparency, highlight tom-foolery, promote common sense

and showcase injustices. The South Carolina Institute for Independent Journalism is dedicated to helping weekly newspapers like the Charleston City Paper to publish news from special projects that shine spotlights on our communities. Help us shine more light on what’s happening every day to protect American democracy.

Volume 2, Number 6

Jan. 12, 2022

Digs, our monthly home-focused publication, connects the people who make the Lowcountry special with content they’ve been missing. Digs gets up close and personal with stories on local personalities, home design and remodeling, plants and gardening, home repair and real estate. To learn more about advertising opportunities offered through Digs, contact our advertising team at (843) 577-5304 or send an email to: Dig it!




Andy Brack

Sam Spence

Toni Reale

Published by City Paper Publishing, LLC Members: J. Edward Bell | Andrew C. Brack

Views expressed in Charleston City Paper cover the spectrum and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. Charleston City Paper takes no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts. © 2022. All content is copyrighted and the property of City Paper Publishing, LLC. Material may not be reproduced without permission. Proud member of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia and the South Carolina Press Association. ADVERTISING INQUIRIES: For staff email addresses, visit us online. SALES Advertising Director: Cris Temples Account team: Hollie Anderson, Kristin Byars, Ashley Frantz, Gregg Van Leuven, Melissa Veal National ad sales: VMG Advertising

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Visit our Spring St. Store for bouquets, local gifts and home decor CHECK O WORK UT OUR S HOPS OUR J AT AM

Digs 01.12.2022




FLORAL STUDIO AND WEDDINGS 1614 Camp Road | James Island

843-723-2808 | @TigerLilyFloristCHS




4 positive changes you can make in 2022 Before you completely overhaul the way you live in the new year, keep in mind that making positive changes may just be a few simple steps away. Starting small with attainable goals can help keep you on the right track throughout the year. Here are four suggestions to keep you fit: Drink more water. Preventing dehydration, keeping a normal body temperature and lubricating joints are benefits of drinking enough water daily. Try carrying a reusable bottle as a reminder. When out for a meal or on the road, choose water over sugary drinks. Learn to cook. If you’re not comfortable in the kitchen, start with simple recipes that don’t force you to sacrifice flavor. After all, an eating plan is easier to stick to when you enjoy the foods you’re making. For example, Baja fish taco bowls (below) take just 20 minutes for a spicy, fresh-flavored family dinner.

And Mediterranean rice bowls offer satisfying, meatless and healthful alternatives. Eat more whole grains. Skip refined grains by opting for whole grains like brown rice and quinoa, which offer a more complete package of health benefits. Some options are ready in just 10 minutes to help remove the guesswork in cooking while giving home cooks more time to focus on elevating dishes for loved ones. Make an eating plan. Creating weekly menus can help you avoid the drive-through by scripting meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Plus, an eating plan makes grocery shopping easier and less frequent by allowing you to buy all the ingredients you’ll need for the coming week at one time. Encourage family members to provide suggestions so the planning process doesn’t become overwhelming. Family Features contributed to this story.


Mediterranean Rice Bowls with Zucchini Fritters Prep time: 20 minutes | Cook time: 20 minutes | Servings: 4 1 bag brown rice 2 medium zucchinis, grated 1 teaspoon salt 2 eggs 3 green onions, thinly sliced 1 tablespoon fresh dill, finely chopped 1 clove garlic, minced ½ cup all-purpose flour ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese ½ teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 1/2 cup canola oil 2 cups diced cucumber 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved 1/2 cup feta, crumbled 1/2 cup garlic hummus

Prepare rice. In medium bowl, toss zucchinis with salt; let sit at least 10 minutes. Transfer to colander and squeeze out excess moisture. Return to bowl and stir in eggs, green onions, dill and garlic. In another bowl, stir flour, Parmesan, baking powder, cumin and pepper. Stir dry mixture into zucchini mixture and combine to form thick batter. In large skillet over medium heat, heat 1/4 cup oil. Working in batches, drop 2 tablespoons batter into pan for each fritter. Cook 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown. Drain on paper towel-lined tray. Divide rice between four bowls. Top each with cucumbers, tomatoes, feta and fritters. Garnish each bowl with scoop of hummus.





From Staff Reports



Jonathan Sanchez:

All in for books and reading By Andy Brack

For a guy who owns a bookshop, you’d think his home would be crammed with books. Not for Jonathan Sanchez, owner of Blue Bicycle Books on King Street. Rather, his family’s 105-year-old, two-story Hampton Park home is sleek and bright, upfitted in a comfortable, minimalist decor where light bounces on white walls to highlight a huge kitchen island and tall ceilings to die for. Of course, there are books in the 3,000-square-foot house. A couple of hundred line two small bookshelves — one narrow and tall, one wide and squat — on the first floor of the home outfitted by wife and interior designer Lauren Sanchez. And then there are some book knick-knacks, such as a neat birdhouse made from an old book. But the home is more about family than books. If Sanchez needs a book, he’s got more than 30,000 of them at the narrow King Street storefront that’s been around for a generation. “I love my job,” he said one January morning. “I get to be around books. … I love my staff. I get to meet interesting people every day. And people like coming in there.”

Digs 01.12.2022

Stumbled into the profession


Sanchez says he stumbled into being a bookseller, although the path got a good start thanks to a bachelor’s degree in English in 1995 from Yale University. (So if you want to know what someone does with an English degree, perhaps they own an independent bookshop?) After college, the Florida native who went to high school in Charlotte got some advice from an editor at The Charlotte Observer: Start pitching his resume to some newspapers. Soon, he landed a job in 1996 as an obituary clerk at The Post and Courier. It didn’t take long before he moved to being a local reporter covering interesting stuff downtown. But after a two-week trip to Italy in late 1997, he decided to move on. Within a year, he landed at Boomer’s Books and supplemented his income by teaching creative writing to kids. Ten years later, he bought the bookstore from the owners and renamed it. About that time, he launched YALLFest, a young adult bookfest every November that’s become a smash regional hit. In 2021, for example, it attracted more than five dozen authors and thousands of customers in the three-state area who were eager to meet writers and buy their thoughts in print.

Schnauzer Toby sits with Sanchez on their new screened-in patio.

“My whole life — the (writing) camps, the teaching, the store, the aesthetic of it — is very local to Charleston,” he said. “For me, it is very personal. I’m also interested in what makes a place unique.” What he loves about Charleston is how the old is respected amidst the new. There are the old houses and buildings, as well as the old influences of Gullah on the local language that he has to explain to people who are new to the store. There is Charleston’s maritime and military history, both of which have a tremendous impact on what the Holy City is today. But Charleston is changing. “The city isn’t as weird as it used to be,” Sanchez noted, pointing to the institutional loss of the Read Brothers’ store up King Street. (For newbies, one side of the store featured fabrics, buttons and just about anything to do with cloth. The other side was a polar opposite containing high-end electronic audio components, some of which were extremely hard to find anywhere in the South.) Among the unique things in the area he recommends to people are to walk the streets south of Broad, including lower Legare Street, to see the homes and gardens. “Magnolia Cemetery is pretty awesome,” he said. “Folly Beach is still pretty cool. The people of Folly pride themselves on idiosyncrasies.”

While working and managing the bookstore is challenging and fun, Sanchez generally puts it aside when at home. It’s where he and his wife spend time with their children, a daughter who is 13 and a son who is 10. In summers, they enjoy their new screened-in porch, added during the pandemic, while winters bring watching TV and eating in a huge, remodeled kitchenden at the back of the home. Sanchez is quick to steer credit for the way the house looks and lives to his wife, who designs spaces professionally at Lauren Sanchez Designs Ltd.

The space inside the 105-year-old Sanchez home is bright, airy and modern.

Age: 48. Birthplace: Gainesville, Fla. Education: Yale University (B.A., English). Current profession: Owner, Blue Bicycle Books; executive director, YALLFest Charleston; creative writing teacher for kids. Family: Wife, Lauren; daughter, Evelyn; son, Xander. Pets: Toby (schnauzer); Elia (cat); Clarabell (rabbit). Something people would be surprised to learn about you: “Usually listen to country radio in the car.” Your passion: “Whenever people compliment the bookstore, I explain that all it takes is total obsession.”

Photos by Andy Brack

Books are tucked into a small, vertical cabinet in the den. “I’m very lucky to have someone who knows how to do this stuff — all of the construction, the decoration,” he said. “I’m almost just along for the ride. (But) I do the finances.” On weekends, the family comes together to do several activities from a big breakfast followed by a bike ride to Magnolia Cemetery or across the Ravenel Bridge or along the West Ashley Greenway. Or they might take a quick trip out of town for a hike or other exploration. But when night falls, there’s always a little time for reading. It’s probably not the latest book being touted in the store, but something that’s been around for awhile, something that piqued Sanchez’s interest awhile back but needed to marinate. For example, he’s now reading Wolf Hall, an award-winning historical novel from 2009 by English author Hilary Mantel that won all kinds of awards. But with 30,000 books at the store, there’s always something to recommend. For 2022, he recommends two books: “Why We Drive, by Matthew B. Crawford, a polemic against self-driving cars by the philosopher-mechanic; and Where Men Win Glory, by Jon Krakauer, which is about Pat Tillman, the NFL player who enlisted after 9/11 and was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan. I just reread it after the pullout last summer. Krakauer does a great job of summing up the last few decades of Afghan history, although he’s a little too hagiographic* — could be more critical of the milieu of violence Tillman lived and played in. Nonetheless I really recommend it. “I recommend a lot of flawed books. There’s a lot of pressure on people and art to be perfect now, but I think you might get more out of a book with some flaws than one that manages not to make any mistakes.” *EDITOR’S NOTE: (This is the word we learned from talking with Sanchez. “Hagiographic” is obviously either a word taught at Yale or in magazines for booksellers. It essentially means an account that’s a little too saintly.)

Books on bedside table: Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel; A Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin; War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy; Raising Arizona screenplay, by Joel and Ethan Coen; Seculosity. by David Zahl; All the Colors Came Out, by Kate Fagan. Favorite novel: Chronicle of a Death Foretold, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Favorite book as a child: The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury. Something that you have too much of at home: Pilot G2 Pens. “I put them in my pocket at work and bring them home by accident.” Hobbies: The New York Times crossword puzzle. Favorite musicians: R.E.M., Steely Dan, Renee Fleming, Miles Davis, Indigo Girls. Favorite food: Gazpacho. Three people (alive or dead) you’d like to dine with: Larry David, Gary Gulman, Jerry Garcia. Describe your best day in 50 words or less: “Open water swim at Folly, preferably in the fall when it’s smooth and flat. A bike ride with my family around downtown. Some used book shopping. Hello, Dolly! at the Gaillard. I guess I have to fit some writing time in there?” Charitable causes: Reading Partners S.C., Lowcountry Local First, One80 Place, Friends of James Simons School. Pet peeves: “1. The ‘Education’ Lottery. 2. Restaurants that make you peel your own shrimp. (Although I respect the Tom Sawyer hustle).” Your advice for someone new to Charleston: “I think in general complaining about how things aren’t like they are up North is a bad policy, but there’s nothing new about that notion. On a more positive note — for our transplants from Ohio — I’d just like to apologize for the rude folks with the inhospitable bumper stickers. They don’t speak for me!” Your advice for better living: “Drink a lot of water.”

Home is for family





Celebrating Charleston Families Since 1996

Why you might want to give flowers to a guy By Toni Reale, Special to Digs

Charlie Smith, Broker

843.813.0352 •


Digs 01.12.2022

Proudly uses


brand paints.

Call us today! 843-906-2272 • • We proudly use Sherwin-Williams Brand Paints

Famous European and Japanese male painters, such as Monet, van Gogh, Hiroshige and Renoir, are revered for their interpretations of flower gardens and composed arrangements. According to My Modern Met, the French painter Edouard Manet loved to be gifted floral bouquets and, for the last six months of his life, the only things he painted were still lifes of the flowers he received. If art imitates life, then why in American culture is the first time most men receive flowers at their funerals? Shouldn’t Earth’s natural gifts be enjoyed by all, regardless of their gender identity? Overwhelmingly, flower deliveries are sent to female recipients to express a variety of emotions such as love, friendship and appreciation or to celebrate an achievement. How do we express these same emotions to the men in our lives? Typically, men are gifted things that our culture deems useful to a stereotypical man, such as tools, a new razor, a desk plaque or ties. However, a poll from the Society of American Florists found that more than 60 percent of men polled would “love” to receive the gift of flowers. So where is the disconnect between what men want and what we give? After interviewing Brenton Rueger, the community leader coordinator for the Mankind Project’s Charleston Community, the answer seems to go Reale much deeper than the material gift itself. It’s not about the thing. Rather, it’s about the ability for men to receive love and the pressures in how they give it. According to Rueger, men typically demonstrate their love and appreciation

All people deserve the opportunity to enjoy receiving gifts of flowers and the intentions behind them.”

through acts of service — by “being big” to be seen. Historically in our culture, men are pressured to be the “providers,’’ to base their worth on what they can bring to the table. Unconsciously, to do for others or to attempt to be ‘useful,’ can be an internal way for men to prove their worthiness and that they are loveable, no matter the personal cost. As a consequence, this imbalanced societal pressure has left most men with the inability to truly receive. Rueger explains that fully allowing yourself to receive from another requires being “small” and vulnerable, and allowing the giver to express their love or appreciation in the way that they would like to show it. Because of our accepted societal structure, it can be uncomfortable for most men to allow themselves to be served, let another do something for them or be given something the gifter deems valuable, Rueger said. I’ve personally given flowers to a man who had helped me greatly and while I could see that he thought it was a kind gesture, he immediately replied, “Thank you. I’ll put it by my secretary’s desk.” In the seconds leading up to his comment, I can only guess the discomfort he felt was because his judgment was that flowers weren’t traditionally for men or that he was undeserving of my thanks. While the true reasons are unknown, he immediately decided to re-gift the gesture. The radical acceptance of love, respect and appreciation is like a muscle that needs to be flexed. Rueger suggests if a man



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receives flowers (or any gift) that makes them feel uncomfortable to consider the intent of the gift and hold it for a moment in their hearts and minds, accepting that they are worthy of the notion. It’s time to shift the dynamic of gifting flowers. Gone are the days of rigid gender stereotypes that pigeonhole people’s identities and link their worthiness to an outdated hierarchy that serves no one. All people deserve the opportunity to enjoy receiving gifts of flowers and the intentions behind them. Studies show men who receive flowers are more communicative and more open. Their partners feel safer, more seen and more loved when they show this side of themselves. Perhaps the gift of flowers can truly change a man’s notion of himself because

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the power is in the practice of allowing oneself to be seen and loved, and to feel worthy. If men can change their internal narrative, perhaps it could change the world. For men interested in becoming the “truest versions of themselves,” Rueger can be reached at the Mankind Project’s Charleston Community or through his new human development consulting business at Toni Reale is the owner of Roadside Blooms, a unique flower and plant shop in Park Circle in North Charleston. It specializes in weddings, events and everyday deliveries using nearly 100 percent American- and locally grown blooms. Online at 4610 Spruill Ave., Suite 102, North Charleston.

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Guys, it’s OK to receive flowers.