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Raleigh | Durham | Chapel Hill November 25, 2020

INSIDE

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Raleigh W Durham W Chapel Hill VOL. 37 NO. 44

Trans Voices, p. 20 PHOTO BY JADE WILSON

CONTENTS NEWS 6

How cities were designed to segregate.

BY THOMASI MCDONALD

8

An NC State employee is exposed as a Proud Boy.

11

The nursing homes that succeed in keeping COVID-19 out.

BY JORDAN GREEN

BY THOMAS GOLDSMITH

FEATURE 22 A digital potluck for an nontraditional Thanksgiving.

BY DEBBIE MATTHEWS

ARTS & CULTURE 25 What does the end of The State of Things signal?

BY SARAH EDWARDS

28 Clyde and Catherine Edgerton on keeping in touch creatively. BY SARAH EDWARDS

29 Community members help keep restaurant workers afloat. BY MADDY SWEITZER-LAMME

THE REGULARS 3 Voices 4 15 Minutes

5 Quickbait

20 PHOTOVOICE

13 Op-ed

COVER Design by Annie Maynard

WE M A DE THIS PUBLIS H ER Susan Harper

Digital Content Manager Sara Pequeño

EDITOR I AL

Theater+Dance Critic Byron Woods

Interim Editor in Chief Leigh Tauss Interim A+C Editor Sarah Edwards Interim News Editor Eric Ginsburg

Voices Columnists T. Greg Doucette, Chika Gujarathi, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Courtney Napier, Barry Saunders, Jonathan Weiler

Staff Writer Thomasi McDonald

2

November 25, 2020

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Contributors Will Atkinson, Paul Blest, Jameela F. Dallis, Michaela Dwyer, Spencer Griffith, Laura Jaramillo, Kyesha Jennings, Drew Millard, Glenn McDonald, Josephine McRobbie, Neil Morris, James Michael Nichols, Marta Nuñez Pouzols, Bryan C. Reed, Dan Ruccia, David Ford Smith, Michael Venutolo-Mantovani, Chris Vitiello, Ryan Vu Interns Ann Gehan, Anna Mudd, Suzannah Claire Perry

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Contents © 2020 INDY Week All rights reserved. Material may not be reproduced without permission.


BACKTALK

Last

week,

Thomasi

McDonald wrote about the Durham public school system’s plan to partially reopen

despite

voices

rising

Whither Liberalism? Even with a Biden presidency in store, America’s future is an ugly, muddy slog. BY JONATHAN WEILER @jonweiler

COVID-19 cases in the state. The plan would see “a select group of students” returning to

the

classroom

starting

in January. Some readers had thoughts.

“This remote ish is NOT working!” wrote Facebook user VERONICA JAMES. “Not academically, emotionally, or mentally.” “Well, now that the pandemic is the worst it has ever been and getting worse by the day, I guess it makes sense for the ProCOVID crowd,” wrote BROCK SAYRE. “We have schools open here—cases in the schools are very low,” replied JEFF VANWILLIGEN. “Classes are isolated from each other and many precautions [have been] put into place. As far as I know, there has been very, very low transmission with the schools. Most are linked to transmission out of the school.” “I’d be fine with opening schools if the overall community rate was lower and everything else was being kept clamped down as much as possible,” SAYRE responded. “If schools being open was the riskiest thing going on, instead of leaving everything but schools open for months and letting the numbers explode.” “I guess it also helps that we have a government that acknowledged there was a problem right away instead of insisting it was hoax,” VANWILLIGEN wrote.

O

n January 20, 2021, at high noon, Joe Biden will take the oath of office as President of the United States. This is of enormous import, marking the end of a deeply destructive presidency. It is a moment to celebrate. Otherwise, the 2020 elections were mostly bitterly disappointing for Democrats. While it’s true that a Democrat won a plurality of the vote for the seventh time in the past eight presidential elections, and with all due caveats about how American political structures give Republicans a minoritarian advantage, America is deadlocked. This is especially bad news for liberals. Yes, progressive legislation will continue to pass in places like California. And the Biden administration will certainly use aggressive executive action to advance some progressive goals. But hopes for a major overhaul of our national health care system, sustainable action on climate change, D.C. statehood, and even a new infusion of liberal federal judges are, for the foreseeable future, DOA. For years now, many liberals, including myself, have believed/hoped that demography is destiny—that, as America becomes more non-white and as liberal Gen-Zers and late millennials account for a bigger share of the electorate, Republicans are doomed. And that may still be true— eventually! But life, as they say, is complicated. Republicans are becoming ever more extreme and overtly intolerant in a country that is only becoming more diverse. It’s also the case that a majority of Americans never liked Trump; they recoil, for example, at the disgraceful and baseless efforts of the Trumpian GOP to overturn Biden’s victory. But a Golden Age of liberal ascendancy does not automatically follow from that reality. Why not? For one thing, many more Americans consider themselves “conservative” than they do “liberal.” And about as many Americans call themselves moderate as they do conservative. Political scientists talk about operational and symbolic ideology. The former refers to specific policy goals and preferences people might have, while the latter captures people’s larger sense of worldview. Ballot measures like a $15 minimum wage, Medicaid expansion, and drug decriminalization and legalization continue to enjoy

consistent success at the polls. In Florida, for example, such a measure won overwhelmingly on election night, even as Trump was carrying the state. What explains that seeming contradiction? Many Americans are operationally liberal but symbolically conservative. The result is often good news on referenda, but bad news in the corridors of power. What about those demographic changes? There’s been much discussion of how Hispanic/Latinx voters tilted slightly more toward Trump than was the case in 2016, though two-thirds still voted against him, according to exit polls. Likewise, there was an uptick in support for Trump among Black men, though Biden still won that group by more than 60 points. All of which contributed to the widely reported and somewhat shocking fact that Trump won a larger (if still abysmal) share of the non-white vote than any Republican presidential candidate since Richard Nixon in 1960. In other words, while the electorate is becoming less white, which is good for Democrats, it’s also changing in complex ways, with non-white voters perhaps a tad more up for grabs than Democrats wished. But the nub of the problem, frankly, remains white voters. They still make up two-thirds of the electorate. Though college-educated white people have shifted toward the Democrats, many are not necessarily progressive and may dislike Trump more than they like Democrats. White people without a college education, meanwhile, have become even more reliably conservative. So, though Biden did slightly better among white voters than Hillary Clinton did in 2016, he still lost that group by 20 points. What about voters aged 18-29, considered the most liberal cohort in American history? It turns out that a key explanation for that cohort’s liberalism is that it’s the least white in American history. Among white voters in that age range, according to one exit poll, Trump still prevailed by nearly ten points. In sum, at least in the near term, demography is not destiny for Democrats—and nor is it for the progressive agenda, since the Democratic Party remains the only viable conduit for that agenda. Instead, America’s future is an ugly, muddy slog. Which means it will require an ongoing struggle to achieve even some of the goals we believe in. 2

WANT TO SEE YOUR NAME IN BOLD?

indyweek.com backtalk@indyweek.com @IndependentWeekly @indyweek

JONATHAN WEILER is a teaching professor in global studies at UNC-Chapel Hill and co-author of Prius or Pickup? How the Answers to Four Simple Questions Explain America’s Great Divide and Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics. INDYweek.com

November 25, 2020

3


Durham

PHOTO BY JADE WILSON

15 MINUTES Lindsey Andrews, 41 Night School Bar Instructor

MANY SCHOOLS HAVE BECOME PLACES WITH NO TIME OR SPACE FOR THOSE WHO MARCH TO THE BEAT OF THEIR OWN DRUM...

WE LIKE THE music better OVER HERE.

BY ANNA MUDD backtalk@indyweek.com

What is the Night School Bar?

How do you choose class topics?

It’s night classes, reading groups, and seminars for adults where you learn about the arts and humanities in various ways. They are designed for people who work everyday jobs, who are curious about these topics and want to engage with them. It’s a place for people to think about, write about, and learn about art and literature in ways that they might not get to on a regular basis.

I have a lot of experience teaching. I’ve been teaching for 10 years, and I teach at N.C. State right now. I think part of it is just trying to be aware of what might be interesting to other people, but also what is timely. What are the things we need to deal with and make sense of right now, or what are ways we can think about the future in the world we are living in?

How did the idea for Night School Bar come about?

JORDAN LAKE SCHOOL OF THE ARTS jordanlakesa.com 4

November 25, 2020

INDYweek.com

I co-own a bar called Arcana, and I was trying to open another bar that was going to have this kind of programming. About a year and a half ago, The Carrack, a zerocommission gallery in Durham, closed, and that had been a really important community art space. When they closed, they wrote this letter about the financial difficulty of arts and cultural programming, and so I started thinking about how to make that work. I came up with this idea of doing it through a bar to keep it financially afloat ... Then the pandemic hit, and the bar plans had to be put on hold, so I offered a class completely for free, as I already had this model set up.

Are there other teachers? Yeah. Annu Dahiya is doing a class right now on “Race, Pain, and Media.” I love teaching, but I also really want to learn, so I was trying to solicit more teachers to create a community of people who want to study together. I made that public, and Annu reached out to me. She had some really great ideas for classes that I wanted to take and be involved with.

What classes will you be offering this Spring? Annu is going to be doing one on “Reproduction and Reproductive Justice.” I’m doing one on “Science Fiction and the Feminist Imagination,” and those will be in January 2021. We are going to continue trying to create new programming and bring on new instructors as the year progresses. W Visit nightschoolbar.com for more information.


QUICKBAIT

ADE WILSON

Going Viral

6.6%

BY LEIGH TAUSS ltauss@indyweek.com

daily positive, or nearly 7 in 100 people

T

he stability North Carolina achieved this summer in its fight against coronavirus is slipping away. The state reached the grim milestone of 5,000 fatalities this weekend and experts worry things could get much worse if families throw caution to the wind and choose to travel and gather for Thanksgiving. The virus can take up to two weeks before symptoms appear, meaning we could be in for a brutal mid-December spike just in time for Christmas. The third wave is here and it’s going to be a bumpy ride. W

5,039 deaths

1,601

339,194

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North Carolina Daily COVID-19 Cases daily cases

7 day rolling average

daily cases

November 22

5,000

North Carolina Daily COVID-19 Cases 7 day rolling average

1,600

4515

cases reported

3,750

1,200

2,500

800

1,250

400

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one on Justice.” and the will be in nue trying ng on new W

ormation.

10/30

11/5

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11/17

11/23

10/30

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11/17

11/22

Day

Source: NCDHHS COVID-19 North Carolina Dashboard. All data as of 12:00 p.m. Monday, November 23, 2020.

INDYweek.com

November 25, 2020

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Separate, Unequal Panel explores the Triangle’s deep history of housing segregation BY THOMASI MCDONALD tmcdonald@indyweek.com

I

n his brilliant, exhaustively researched best seller, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, Richard Rothstein argues that until the last quarter of the 20th century, racially explicit housing policies of the federal, state, and local governments defined where white and Black Americans should live. “Without our government’s purposeful imposition of racial segregation, the other causes—private prejudice, white flight, real estate steering, bank redlining, income differences, and self-segregation—still would have existed but with far less opportunity for expression,” Rothstein writes. “Segregation by intentional government action is not de facto. Rather, it is what the courts call de jure: segregation by law and public policy.” And that’s exactly what happened in the Triangle, experts say. Rothstein’s work was at the center of a webinar presentation last week called “History of Segregation in the Triangle,” hosted by the Urban Land Institute. It featured Mel Norton, an urban planner and former project director with Durham’s Bull City 150; Kofi Boone, a professor of landscape architecture and environmental planning with North Carolina State University’s College of Design; and Howard Lee, a former state senator who also served as Chapel Hill’s first Black mayor. In the talk, the trio outlined how systemic racial disparities and racist housing policies played out in the Triangle’s three main cities. Norton kicked off the discussion with a presentation about the history of housing inequities in Durham. Noting that “inequality is a franchise model, and every city has some version of the same story,” she explained that during the 1930s, Durham was a working-class factory town, anchored by tobacco factories in the city center and textile mills in the east and west. Textile mills were only open to white workers, but tobacco—the city’s primary industry—“was open to both 6

November 25, 2020

INDYweek.com

Durham’s Hayti neighborhood, 1963 PHOTO BY COURTESY OF BULL CITY 150

white and Black people, although the jobs were segregated, with the hardest, dirtiest, and most physically intense jobs relegated to Black folks,” she said. The 1930s also marked the height of Black Wall Street, which was praised as a model of Black capitalism and the Black middle class. “I’ve heard statistics that Durham had more Blackowned businesses than any other city in the South outside of Atlanta,” she said. There were five Black neighborhoods—West End, Hickstown, Walltown, the East End, and most significantly, Hayti, the city’s largest Black community. “What we saw was that in the Jim Crow era in Durham, all the political power was in the hands of white folks,” Norton explained. “This is reflected in many ways, including the distribution of public amenities and what we call ‘public nuisances,’ or ‘public harms.’” Among the public harms were the trash incinerators that were placed solely in Black neighborhoods, and the negative impact they had on residents’ quality of life. In contrast, Norton said, virtually all of the public parks during that period were in white neighborhoods. Black communities were also forced to go without sewer lines, drainage pipes, paved roads, or sidewalks. Norton noted that redlining emerged during the Great Depression, when the federal government decided it wanted to become involved in the housing market as a strategy to build and stabilize the middle class. Feder-

al agents were sent to more than 200 cities, including Durham. Those federal agents worked with local real estate agents to assess the risks for home lending and created color-coded maps of city neighborhoods. The green areas were deemed most safe for home loans, followed by blue and yellow areas. The “‘no-go’ areas,” the parts of town without quality of life-improving amenities, Norton explained, were red, hence the term “redlining.” “The areas correspond in Durham, and in city after city across the country, exactly to the parts of town where Black folks live and the poorest white neighborhoods,” thereby creating “blatant racial discrimination in a federal program.” In the subsequent decades, federal agencies like the housing and veterans administrations, along with the private industry as a whole, adopted the discriminatory home lending guidelines. The practice would severely curtail home ownership based on race for generations to come. There were other tools, such as restrictive covenants that prohibited Black families from purchasing homes in new Durham subdivisions in Hope Valley, Forest Hills, and Watts-Hillandale, among other neighborhoods. A similar pattern unfolded in Raleigh. Boone said that since the city’s founding, Raleigh has been divided along race, class, and income lines. He pointed to the city’s “racialized topography,” where low-lying areas that were difficult to develop were the


“Black communities were often forced to go without sewer lines, drainage pipes, paved roads, or sidewalks.” site of early Black communities, a phenomenon that persists today. “There is a strong correlation between race and elevation,” he said, referring to the high ground claimed by whites during slavery and maintained during Jim Crow. The college professor said elements of that racial tradition persist. He pointed to the city’s Rochester Heights community, the first post-World War II subdivision built by Black Americans in southeast Raleigh, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Boone said the low-lying community was hit hard by Hurricanes Fran and Floyd during the 1990s. Predominantly white neighborhoods in North Raleigh received more help dealing with the fallout, Boone said. “The city of Raleigh assisted those northern communities by retrofitting their infrastructure to protect from future flooding,” he said, adding that the city originally tried to charge Rochester Heights and Southeast Raleigh residents a special fee to cover the cost of similar improvements in their neighborhoods. Residents balked at the racially disparate approach and successfully squashed the idea, he said. Boone said residential inequities have had other real-world impacts. He pointed to research that measured life expectancy based on zip codes and determined that residents in the historically Black South Park neighborhood in Raleigh live five to ten years less in comparison to the rest of the county and state. Howard Lee moved to Chapel Hill in 1964 to earn his master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of North Carolina. Five years after his arrival, he was elected as the first African American mayor of a majority-white town; starting in the 1990s, he served two tenures in the state senate. Lee, who knew little about the town when he first arrived there, said the place had a “checkered history.” It was known as a liberal and progressive stronghold, but at the same time, it was very conservative. “Change never came easy, but it pretended it wanted to change,” Lee said. Lee said because Chapel Hill was perceived as liberal, he and his wife thought

they would not have any problems moving into a subdivision that was being built in east Chapel Hill. Nonetheless, they found only one realtor who would even talk to them about purchasing a home there. The Lees ended up purchasing a home in Colony Woods. “For the next year, we lived under threat of death,” he said. “And our kids were threatened when they went to school.” The family survived, and Lee went to the city council and asked its members to consider passing an ordinance that would force realtors to sell to everyone, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. When the town council members refused to pass an open housing ordinance, Lee says he started “to look around and recognize that the Black section of town had been totally neglected for years.” “There were unpaved streets, no sidewalks, and no houses being built in that section,” he said. Several years later, after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, Lee went back to the town council and again petitioned its members to pass an open housing ordinance to attract a broad array of people. When the council again refused, Lee decided to run for mayor. Lee said he did not realize the enormity of the challenges Black residents were facing. “Sewage lines and water lines had not been extended into the Black community,” he said. “There was very little interest in accommodating students. There were very few apartments, but there were a lot of mobile home parks in the area.” After Lee was elected mayor in 1969, he made history again when council members passed the first open housing ordinance in the town’s history. To create a level of fairness and accessibility, Lee said, the Town paved the streets, extended water and sewer services, and provided recreational opportunities to the Black community. These days, Lee is concerned for working-class residents who may be forced out of the community. “Chapel Hill is not very accommodating, not very inviting, I should say, to people of color,” he said. “We still don’t have very many people of color choosing to live in Chapel Hill.” W

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Raleigh

Keyboard Warrior N.C. State employee named in lawsuit as Proud Boy who doxed thousands of activists BY JORDAN GREEN backtalk@indyweek.com

D

ressed in a burgundy dress shirt, with a full beard and shoulder-length brown hair, and wearing a black felt hat, Chadwick Seagraves cut a striking figure as he stood on the steps of the Chapel Hill Courthouse in North Carolina in June 2017 and gave a hearty introduction to Augustus Sol Invictus. Seagraves’ guest was a failed Florida U.S. Senate candidate who was a rising star of the altright in the run-up to the violent Unite the Right rally. The Chapel Hill gathering, billed as a free speech rally, was in reality a recruitment event for the Proud Boys and the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights, a shortlived street-fighting formation that bridged the Proud Boys to the more ideologically extreme components of Unite the Right coalition. Seagraves, as allegedly revealed through his “Elias McMahone; A Heathen” Twitter account, was an active member of the Proud Boys since the early days of the group’s activity in North Carolina. What wasn’t known then was that he was also a team manager in the Technology Support Services office at North Carolina State University, where he is accused of digitally harassing at least one student activist through his anonymous Twitter account. Earlier this week, the Anonymous Comrade Collective—a left-wing Twitter account that is, as its name indicates, anonymous— identified Seagraves as the instigator of a much more ambitious, if clumsy project. Files containing names and personal information for thousands of left-wing activists—primarily in Portland, Oregon, and Asheville—were published on social 8

November 25, 2020

INDYweek.com

media and then circulated on far-right platforms earlier this month. The metadata for 1,446 out of 2,141 files pointed back to Seagraves, according to the Anonymous Comrade Collective. After some of the data was dribbled out on the /pol/—the “Politically Incorrect” channel on 4chan, a notorious forum for white supremacists—the boards lit up with messages from anonymous users fantasizing about violence. “Good. Give us the list,” one user wrote. “We will assemble a squad and start eliminating antifa one by one.” “Just dump the fucking list of names and addresses,” another wrote. “It’s time to go to war.” Another user issued a challenge: “Anons, hypothetically, if you lived in or around Portland, what would you do to help deal with the degenerate scum posted in this thread?” And another bragged that an operation was already underway: “Active measures are being taken in both civic nationalist and national socialist and white nationalist groups. Buckle up.” Among those targeted by the data dump of personal information—commonly known as “doxing”—is Olivia Katbi Smith, co-chair of the Portland chapter of Democratic Socialists of America. Smith filed a lawsuit against Seagraves in Multnomah County, Oregon for invasion of privacy on November 19. Smith said in an email that Seagraves intentionally shared information that he had methodically collected on herself, friends, family, and other Portland activists “in a way to incite emotional and physical harm.”

Chadwick Seagraves

SCREENSHOT FROM YOUTUBE

“He also used my social media connections to fabricate a ‘chart of antifa’ that paints me as a high-value target,” she added. “I have always been public about my involvement in the Democratic Socialists of America, and this person sensationalized that to make me a target. Since this information was posted, it has spread like wildfire across the most dangerous far-right corners of the internet, where anonymous cowards are saying unspeakable things and making horrific threats.” A separate tranche of personal information compiled in two PDFs entitled “Asheville NC Auntie Fa” includes social media screenshots and crude commentary on individuals in the city. “It’s kind of a dragnet,” said Libertie Valance, a member of the Firestorm Books & Coffee cooperative and one of the primary targets. “It’s pretty clear that Chadwick got obsessed with a handful of people in Asheville and mapped their social networks. It seems like he was looking for people who might be ‘antifa’ or anarchists. It seems like that means anyone who looks queer, trans, or punk. It’s clear

there was particular vitriol for queer and trans people.” Valance said the leftist activist community in Asheville has been dealing with doxing since at least 2018. “The way Chadwick’s peers utilize these doxes and zero in on things like gender identity to try to emotionally destroy their tar-


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gets in a way that some of us can brush off,” they said, “but for others, those are difficult issues. It’s been pretty devastating.” Seagraves could not be reached for comment on this story. N.C. State’s non-discrimination policy prohibits harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, actual or perceived gender, and other protected categories. Seagraves earns a salary of $92,820, according to public information available through the University of North Carolina System. Mick Kulikowski, a spokesperson for N.C. State University, briefly replied to the allegations, saying: “We’ve received multiple reports about his online behavior, and we’re reviewing it.” It’s unclear if Seagraves is still an active member of the Proud Boys. Designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and often involved in street fights, the Proud Boys celebrated in September after the first presidential debate, when Donald Trump failed to condemn white supremacy and infamously told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.” The personal data allegedly assembled by Seagraves was shared on Twitter by a user named @Oto666Yamaguchi that is believed to be a different person. The bio for the @Oto666Yamaguchi account, which is now suspended, identified them as “pro NSDAP,” an acronym for the former German Nazi Party. The tweet sent by @Oto666Yamaguchi on November 10 suggested the activists’ personal information was gleaned through a sophisticated interception. “For the last two months,” the tweet says, “we’ve been wardriving antifa rioters, letting them associate with mobile honeypots to access the internet.” Contradicting that claim, a document entitled “Research Disclaimer” that is tucked into a zip file that includes the personal data states that the information was “gained from my mad OSINT skills”—a reference to open-source intelligence—“and their inept use of social media.” A 2017 video obtained by antifascists in the Triangle area shows Seagraves introducing Invictus, a lawyer who espouses thinly veiled white supremacy and legally changed his name to the Latin phrase for “majestic unconquered son.” “If you’ve followed conservative politics at all, you’ve heard something about Augustus Sol Invictus,” Seagraves said. He went on to say he hadn’t “planned on having someone like him come today because I didn’t expect all these folks to come in from all over.” Taking the podium, Invictus said, “What’s up, Chapel Hill? They call me

‘the commie slayer,’ and for good fucking reason.” Invictus ended his short speech by encouraging the small group of right-wingers in attendance to network with each other. “So, meet people here, shake hands with each other, exchange names and numbers,” Invictus said. “Join each other’s organizations. Join the Alt-Knights of the Proud Boys, who are here with us today…. I’m one of the national organizers. So, if you want to sign up with us, please come on down.”

“They call me ‘the commie slayer,’ and for good fucking reason.” The Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights was founded in 2017 by Kyle Chapman, who became a folk hero of the far-right after he armed himself with a stick and homemade shield and attacked leftists during a melee in Berkeley, California. The Proud Boys publicly distanced themselves from Unite the Right, but the notorious gathering of white nationalists was organized by a former Proud Boy, Jason Kessler, and Invictus—a marquee name at the event—received a security escort by a Proud Boy named Shane Reeves. Invictus currently faces criminal charges of domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature and possessing a weapon during a violent crime in York County, South Carolina. Although Seagraves appears to have kept his far-right activism a secret to his N.C. State colleagues, some of whom expressed shock on Twitter when his doxing activities came to light, he attended a Second Amendment rally with other North Carolina Proud Boys in Raleigh in April 2018. Under the cloak of anonymity of his “Elias McMahone” Twitter account, he was more forthcoming, writing in October 2018: “My

mother knows I’m a Proud Boy. She thanks me for standing up for America. She’s old school and appreciates masculinity.” In November 2019, using the “Elias McMahone” Twitter account, Seagraves allegedly called out an N.C. State student on Twitter. He wrote, “This young man supports #jihadists & affiliates with #Antifa. He is a student at #NCState. Here you will see him posting an intimidating message insinuating violence to a conservative student while also claiming to be a victim.” The post that attracted Seagraves’ attention said, “These posts are dedicated to the brave Mujahideen fighters of Afghanistan.” The student, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the statement was a reference to Rambo III, adding that he assumed everyone would get the joke. He said the tweet was in reference to an incident in which a conservative student named Jack Bishop accused a friend of assault during an altercation in the Free Expression Tunnel. Bishop, who is the son of Republican U.S. Representative Dan Bishop, and other members of Turning Point USA were spray-painting advertisements for an upcoming “Culture Wars” event with founder Charlie Kirk and Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law. “I was pissed off at the conservatives,” the student said. “So of course I was going to fight TPUSA coming to campus.” After seeing the “Elias McMahone” account tweet about him, the student direct-messaged him to try to figure out who he was. The message in response gave him pause. “Good,” “McMahone” wrote, “because the pic you posted from the window in East Village above the roundabout gave away a location. That’s why I’m trying to help you see that getting involved in direct action isn’t good for a smart guy like you. Just be careful what online stuff you get into when everyone’s all excited about a protest and wearing black. It’s a serious thing. I’m just trying to look out for you.” The student also noticed that the “McMahone” account had added him to a list of Twitter accounts entitled “Proud AuntieFah Commies,” and saw that the user self-identified as a member of the Proud Boys. “Did I realize he had tweeted that and painted a target on my back? Oh yeah,” the student said. “I just didn’t realize I was dealing with the president of the Proud Boys until I DM-ed him a couple days later.” W This article is published in partnership with Raw Story.


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Taking Care More than 200 North Carolina nursing homes have succeeded in totally excluding COVID-19 infections. What did they do right? BY THOMAS GOLDSMITH backtalk@indyweek.com

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ven as more than 1,800 of North Carolina’s nursing home residents have died from COVID since March, thousands more of these most vulnerable residents have escaped the horrific grip of COVID-related related infection or death during the pandemic. That positive outcome stems from countless hours of planning and execution by caregivers, facilities, administrators and public health leaders, business and government officials say. Attention from aging-sensitive quarters in the state has tended to focus on the more than 16,508 cases and 1,906 COVID-related deaths of nursing-home residents. The more encouraging news is that more than 200 skilled facilities in North Carolina have experienced no COVID deaths. (The state’s 593 assisted living facilities typically have less critically ill residents; 99 centers have seen cases or deaths and 86 residents have died.) Bob Willson, 77, a retired engineer, visits the nursing home at Moneta Springs Memory Care in Alamance County every day to see his wife Susan, 78, a retired nurse who had a stroke seven years ago. He tends to her daily needs and meets the requirements for such “compassionate care” visits, knowing that the nursing home has tight disease controls. The facility has had five COVID cases and no deaths, according to federal regulators. (Three people have died of COVID-19 at the related Twin Lakes Community senior living locations, not the center where Susan Willson lives, according to CMS.) “They are very proactive in infection control,” Willson said of Moneta Springs.

“So when I go visit my wife, for instance, I obviously wear a mask, I wear a disposable gown, and wear disposable gloves. “In compassionate care visits, we don’t have to be six feet apart and touching is allowed, but I still wear the mask the whole time.” Like employees in health care settings across North Carolina, Twin Lakes staff check visitors’ temperatures and quiz them on any possible contact with people who are positive for the coronavirus, he said. Two aspects of the coronavirus have caused particular problems, said Adam Sholar, president of the North Carolina Health Care Facilities Association. These are the level of infection in the areas around the nursing home and the virus’s ability to survive in an infected person’s body without transmitting it. “Our biggest factor in whether a facility has a case of COVID is community transmission in the area,” Sholar said in a phone interview. “The asymptomatic transmission and asymptomatic positives is another huge factor.” Infection control is a given as a regulatory requirement in long-term care, but the number of cases and deaths makes clear that the wall built against the coronavirus is sometimes too low. NC Health News has found some themes and techniques among skilled nursing facilities, here and across the country, that have completely or almost entirely kept the disease at bay. These approaches emerged in interviews with caregivers, administrators, state officials and public health experts. We also looked at recent academic

research, which has arrived steadily since the days in which the pandemic gained widespread attention. Some experts and administrators were reluctant to speak too definitively about solutions that have allowed no cases or deaths or didn’t respond to queries. They also may have been unwilling to sound too proud of their efforts at a time when others in the industry were working hard on infection prevention and control. Among the mostly COVID-free facilities unwilling or too busy to respond were the western N.C. facilities Smoky Ridge Health & Rehabilitation in Burnsville, and Elderberry Health Care in Marshall, as well as the high-end Forest at Duke in Durham, which has had five cases since the initial reporting of this story. Many more facilities across the state had one or fewer COVID cases and no related deaths. Of course, given the continuing level of outbreaks across North Carolina, new cases and deaths could occur in days and months ahead at virtually any nursing home. (This occurred in some of the facilities in which we first found no COVID cases.)

As did Sholar, North Carolina’s public health-care professionals cite the surrounding community’s level of infection prevention and control as a prime factor in keeping longterm care facilities free from COVID-19. That was the emphasis of Dr. Susan Kansagra, chief of the state Division of Public Health’s Chronic Disease and Injury Section. Like Governor Roy Cooper and public health officials, Kansagra has insistently placed importance on mask-wearing and social distancing. “In preventing COVID-19 from entering into a facility in the first place, we see a pretty close tie to community transmission,” Kansagra said. “The reason for that is that, obviously, staff are also members of the community and they may inadvertently bring it into a facility. So what the transmission rates are in a community and prevention from that standpoint is really important and makes it less likely for an outbreak to happen within a facility.” A broad range of actions by the state must support a nursing home once COVID-19 has intruded, but it’s perhaps more important to keep it from entering the door, Kansagra said. INDYweek.com

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“Obviously we don’t want that outbreak to happen in the first place, so we’re really working to strengthen that infection prevention,” she said. “We know, for example, that there continues to be a turnover in facilities. And we really want to make sure all staff are comfortable with all the different infection and prevention control procedures.” Keeping infection out of nursing homes quickly led to North Carolina’s decision in March to bar all visitors. That applied to spouses even when they were essential caregivers, a move opposed by Willson and others across North Carolina. “When the clampdown came, they clamped down hard,” Willson said. “Right there in the middle of March, I’d taken her out for one doctor’s appointment. And when we got back, they said, ‘Okay. This is it. She’s in here now and you can’t come back.’” Under pressure from politicians, advocates, and residents’ relatives, the state Department of Health and Human Services and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have revised policies to allow compassionate caregivers to visit once a day. The drive to keep infection out and to control it if it enters a nursing home got reinforcement in June from the early release of a COVID-themed edition of the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, or JAMDA. Triangle longterm care experts Dr. Philip Sloane and Sheryl Zimmerman planned and edited the JAMDA articles, which urged facilities to use specific means to keep everyone on the same page while fighting infection: • Devise easy-to-read I.D. cards so that residents can match staff members with their names and titles, even when they are wearing masks and other protective equipment. • Use video devices or windows to let residents meet with families without risk of contamination. • Use posters with clear directions to remind residents and others of necessary infection-control measures. • Mark doors with different colors that show staff which PPE should be worn within. • Understand that a higher rate of impaired hearing comes along with old age. That means many will have trouble understanding or lip-reading from medical staff or others who are trying to speak through a mask. • Supply writable communications boards in residents’ rooms to allow for questions in writing.

“Our biggest factor in whether a facility has a case of COVID is community transmission in the area.” Another thought-provoking article in the same Triangle-led issue of JAMDA suggested solutions from the 30,000foot level, including some pointed ideas for national policymakers. The paper notes that many nursing homes were designed years ago, when residents were on the whole younger and not as sick as they are today. “Staffing levels have stayed fixed, while residents’ needs and medical complexity have increased well beyond this minimal capacity,” the authors write. “Buildings themselves are older, with smaller rooms, often 2 to 4 individuals to a room, narrow hallways, and old heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.” First, the paper recommends that policymakers draw on people with expertise in post-acute and long-term care—clinical specialists, health care operators, and families affected by the disease. “We are discussing state-level policy here because another thing we have learned is that, in the absence of clear leadership at the Federal level, states, counties, and localities have stepped into the vacuum,” the authors write. In North Carolina, for example, state DHHS planners used a panoply of sources in devising a telehealth strategy announced July 28. Keeping in mind the need for distance communications with long-term care residents, the plan included partners such as N.C. Medicaid, the

state’s Area Health Education Centers and Community Care of North Carolina, as well as consumers, patients, and academic papers on telehealth’s merit. “The new NC DHHS telehealth section gives technical assistance, education and resources to providers to help them implement and expand telehealth,” said Dr. Shannon Dowler, DHHS’s chief medical officer for N.C. Medicaid. “It also allows consumers and patients to find resources that answer their questions, making telehealth easy to use.” The paper further recommended that health care providers continue to work closely across lines that might divide clinicians, public health and emergency management agencies, operators of longterm care centers and chains, long-term care residents, hospitals, and researchers. Perhaps more controversially, authors Christopher E. Laxton, David A. Nace, and Arif Nazir recommend that regulators adopt a framework that recognizes ongoing changes in long-term care—low staffing and flagging physician reimbursement. Dealing successfully with the pandemic and other pressure points means that long-term care policies built by legislators, government leaders, and private administrations must offer support as well as potentially devastating penalties from federal regulators. “In light of the extraordinary exigencies nursing homes have faced in this public health emergency, it is difficult to justify measures that are tantamount to setting our homes up to fail and which implicitly suggest that they themselves may be the cause of COVID-19 in the home,” the authors say. But they don’t leave it there, advancing the idea that the harrowing pressures of the pandemic should lead in time to overall improvement of the continuum of services for older citizens. The authors give a summation with an inspirational tone: “It is now up to us to turn this deadly crisis into something that makes these deaths, this misery, and this heroism contribute to a greater value beyond the immediate: namely, the reinvention of how we provide care and support to our parents and grandparents; how we honor their sacred needs and wishes; how we celebrate and lift up those who have chosen the aging professions as a career; and how we build a just culture of true accountability.” W This article is published in partnership with North Carolina Health News and originally appeared on northcarolinahealthnews.org on November 19.


OP - E D

Solidarity Will Keep Us Safe N.C. Congressman Madison Cawthorn and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are stoking the fires of antisemitism BY EMERSON GOLDSTEIN, SANDRA KORN, AND CAROL PRINCE

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ast week, newly elected North Carolina congressman Madison Cawthorn detailed his past attempts to convert Jews to Christianity. For those who haven’t followed Cawthorn’s bumpy rise to prominence, he previously posted photos of himself visiting Adolf Hitler’s former vacation home, where he referred in the caption to “the Fuhrer” and “supreme evil.” Meanwhile, as COVID19 cases surged across the country, Mike Pompeo flew to Israel and became the first-ever United States Secretary of State to visit the Golan Heights or a settlement in the West Bank—both of which are illegally occupied by Israel according to international law. There, Pompeo issued a statement declaring the Palestinian-led movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israeli occupation, also known as BDS, to be antisemitic. The State Department later tweeted a photo that read “Anti-Zionism is Anti-Semitism”—a statement that mischaracterizes both BDS and antisemitism. Together, Cawthorn and Pompeo’s actions are emblematic of a growing contradictory threat: The right is emboldening antisemitism while hurling bad-faith accusations of antisemitism at liberation movements. We have spent years learning from and with Palestinians and Israelis. As members of an organization grounded in anti-Zionist politics and Jewish community, we combat both antisemitism and those who seek to suppress criticism of Israel through false accusations of antisemitism. We refuse to let the Jewish community be used as a right-wing talking point at the expense of Palestinian freedom. Boycott is a time-honored tactic used by marginalized people in the U.S. and across the globe. The American South has a long tradition of Black-led boycotts against Jim Crow laws, and a rich history of Black-Palestinian solidarity against apartheid. The South African Anti-Apartheid Movement, first established as the Boycott Movement, inspired the Palestinian call for international boycott, divestment, and sanctions. BDS is a tactic to fight an undemocratic occupying power that refuses to comply with international law, giving people of conscience around the world a way to act collectively to defend human rights and reject complicity with injustice. For those who would characterize BDS as antisemitic for

“Our tax dollars should not fund a fascist and profit-driven military occupation of Palestinian land.” “singling out” Israel, Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. Foreign Aid since World War II. To date, the U.S. has provided Israel $146 billion in bilateral assistance and missile defense funding. Much of this money has been used to fund Israel as an international hub of military technology development. These technologies are used to surveil, cage, and suppress people in Palestine—and they have been exported to the U.S. as well. This exchange of military aid and weaponry is antithetical to justice and human life. Meanwhile, as the State Department seeks to weaken the Palestine solidarity movement, the president is emboldening white nationalism and antisemitism, its “theoretical core.” In the U.S., we have witnessed Nazis, Klan members, and their sympathizers assemble on the streets of our cities and gain seats in Congress. Yet the right is able to effectively use antisemitism as a wedge issue—not only because they’ve diluted the true meaning of antisemitism with false attacks, but also because true antisemitism eludes easy explanation. To be clear, like all oppressions, antisemitism surfaces across the political spectrum. According to journalist Talia Lavin, author of Culture Warlords: My Journey into the Dark Web of White Supremacy, antisemitism, which originated in Europe, is essentially “the oldest conspiracy.” At its core rests a centuries-old myth that a global cabal of Jews has plotted to control institutions such as the banks, the media, and Hollywood. This enduring and false idea fueled regimes that then diverted blame onto Jews, leading to pogroms and mass murder. While

antisemitism has no political allegiance, it is most dangerous when it is weaponized by those in power, in part because it distracts people from recognizing that it is actually capitalism that creates scarcity. That is why the rise of QAnon as a mainstream conspiracy theory (with new congressional adherents) should worry anyone who claims to care about antisemitism. By fostering antisemitic conspiracy while hurling badfaith accusations of antisemitism at liberation movements, the right presents a dangerous contradiction for freedom fighters. Accusing pro-Palestinian activists of being antisemitic creates a chilling effect, just as red-baiting did in the 1950s and criminalizing anti-fascism does today. Furthermore, defining BDS as antisemitic positions Jewish people as arbiters on whether fighting for Palestinian freedom is antisemitic—an inherently racist premise. This tactic silences Palestinians in the occupied territories and in the diaspora who are fighting for their own freedom and dignity; it endangers Palestinian, Black, Indigenous, and Muslim organizers, leaders, and elected officials in the U.S. who speak out against injustice, only to face racist death threats. Yet Madison Cawthorn’s antisemitic statements and actions have hardly threatened his nascent political career. If we seek to fight antisemitism, we need true solidarity. Antisemitism is most dangerous when fascists weaponize it to fracture multiracial working-class movements and divert blame for society’s problems—capitalism’s problems—to Jews. We know that Cawthorn, Pompeo, and their ilk threaten our community’s survival, and we envision a future beyond the conditions of scarcity and extraction produced by capitalism and white Christian supremacy, both of which provide fertile ground for antisemitism to flourish. Our tax dollars should not fund a racist and profit-driven military occupation of Palestinian land. As Jewish people, we refuse to be divided from other people seeking freedom and will continue to support Palestinians in their fight for liberation.W Emerson Goldstein, Sandra Korn, and Carol Prince are members of the leadership team of Jewish Voice for Peace – Triangle NC. INDYweek.com

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PHOTOVOICE

Trans Awareness Week PHOTOS BY JADE WILSON

Kori Hennessey Pronouns: She/Her/Hers How do you identify: Indigenous trans Black femme

Alexandria Webb

“Having your body policed happens to all of us; we all go through the same things. The policing of women’s bodies is unilateral. It’s an experience that every woman has. And I think that cis woman should have a little bit more empathy.”

Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs How do you identify: Transmasculine nonbinary “It’s a journey. Just give yourself patience. Give yourself grace. And, you know, really just talk it out with people and find your community.”

Tori Grace Nichols Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs How do you identify: Genderqueer and nonbinary “I certainly have always been genderqueer, but never had the language for it. I didn’t really start identifying that way until I was like 27, and I just turned 34 yesterday.”

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Audria Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs and She/Her/Hers How do you identify: Transfeminine “Gender is a weird and wonderful ethereal thing. I find trans people to be divine. We deserve love, we deserve care, we deserve resources. And I find a lot of freedom in my gender.”


Sterling Bentley Pronouns: He/Him/His How do you identify: Queer transgender man Pronouns: He/Him/His and They/Them/Theirs How do you identify: Masculine-of-center, genderqueer, trans man

AJ Williams

“I have learned to see the sacredness in holding both masculine and feminine energy. The way I want to navigate the world is being the full expression of that and who I am.”

“A lot of cisgender folks think that [transness or gender nonconformity] is new. Even folks who are questioning their own gender identities think it's new, when in fact, we go back millennia—and in a lot of cultures prior to colonization, gender nonconformity was actually celebrated.”

Hawthorne Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs How do you identify: Trans nonbinary

Dolores Chandler

“There’s this core humanness that I think trans people especially are connected to because we’ve had to grapple with gender in a way that cis folks might not have. I think there’s just a really deep capacity for love, and trans folks deserve to be seen in that.”

Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs How do you identify: Mixed race, Black, transmasculine and gender nonconforming person “Identifying as trans or [with] a trans experience is by no means a monolith. And I think that when we force people into choosing certain categories, ultimately, it limits who a person can be in the world.”

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Thanksgiving may not be as exciting this year. But with this collaborative feast, your recipes can be. BY DEBBIE MATTHEWS food@indyweek.com

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n 2018, when the INDY came up with the idea of a virtual holiday potluck, we thought it would be a peek into the private family traditions of well-known North Carolinians from different cultures, religions, and stages in life. And it was. We learned that no holiday at the North Carolina Executive Mansion is complete without First Lady Kristin Cooper’s ridiculously delicious pineapple fluff pie. We found that Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin likes her shrimp spicy, Duke football coach David Cutcliffe likes his deviled eggs dyed blue, and WRAL’s Ken Smith is always good for a Caribbean recipe from his Virgin Island home. We also discovered that the most fashionable man on the guest list, designer Alexander Julian, loves pig in its humblest iterations—country ham and pit-cooked Eastern-style barbecue. We also thought the virtual nature of the potluck was a cute little gimmick that wasn’t just one more scheduled event during the holidays for busy people. Instead of a multi-part, many-houred obligation, our invitees were given weeks to come up with a recipe and a little bit of its history. Then, one day, we all awoke to 2020. Life became a surreal daze of masks, hand sanitizer, and Zoom. We learned terms like “disease mitigation” and “PPE,” and how to tell the difference between N95s and surgical masks. The concepts of social distancing and aloneness were the most ubiquitous—and, social animals that we are, the most difficult to adapt to. For many of us, social media became our lives, and the virtual our reality. But after three years of probing North Carolina’s good and great, we’ve learned one immutable fact: Holiday foods are about indulgence, tradition, and comfort. And no matter how well-known or powerful the person sitting at the table is, the ultimate indulgence and maximum comfort come from the foods we ate during those celebrations when we were children. 2020 is the harshest of mistresses, a 100year year when every day brings fresh, unexpected hell. This year, this annus horribilis, we need all the comfort we can lay our frequently washed hands on. 22

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So share with us, Gentle Reader, a virtual feast full of good food, fellowship, memories of happier times, and hopes for a brighter future. In addition to the potluck dish, we asked our attendees two questions this year: 1) Is COVID-19 changing your holiday traditions, and if so, how are they changing? 2) Use a crystal ball, consult the stars, or read some tea leaves and give us your very best prediction for 2021.

DRINKS AND APPS In October, after a six-month COVID-19-created delay, Durham Distillery, makers of Conniption Gin and Damn Fine Liqueurs, opened its in-house cocktail bar, Corpse Reviver. To lubricate the festivities, Corpse Reviver and its bartender, MJ Weber, invented two cocktails: the Boreas, a concoction made with their new Conniption Barrel Aged Gin, and the Nosferatu Flip, made with Damn Fine Coffee Liqueur. Cherie Berry, North Carolina’s retiring Commissioner of Labor, is bringing her favorite libation, a bottle of Tito’s Handmade Vodka. She says she is refusing to set her clocks back this year, because, as she says, “I am not giving 2020 one more hour of my life!” Ken Smith of WRAL is contributing his mother’s salmon balls, served as a starter before holiday dinners. “I have very fond memories of competing with my cousins to see whom among us would score the most salmon balls before dinner,” he says. He also enjoys them throughout the year as a main, served with rice and salad. Steve Schewel, Mayor of Durham, will be bringing chopped chicken livers, which he calls “the ultimate Jewish food.” The recipe comes from the Grossingers, but he says that “[My] mom, the world’s best cook, cheated and added some mayo—definitely not kosher! And I do it, too.” Triangle acting legend Ira David Wood III was our first guest to weigh in this year. “Lots of people bring heavy dishes or casseroles to potluck gatherings,” he says. “I like to bring soup. ONION SOUP. People love it! I make it in a crockpot, and it takes a bit of time (two days, actually)—but it is delicious and well worth the time!”

SIDES Chef Gray Brooks, owner of Littler, Jack Tar, and Pizzeria Toro, is one of Durham’s best chefs and restaurateurs. This year, Lit-

tler is offering take-home Thanksgiving dinner kits for four. In it, and on our potluck table, is his homemade green bean casserole, made from scratch, with nary a can of soup or pre-made onion ring in sight. Sweet potatoes have a big fan in Josh Stein, North Carolina’s recently re-elected Attorney General. Last year, he brought Dooky Chase’s sweet potato rolls. This year, his contribution is sweet potato casserole, made according to Martha Stewart. N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler also has sweet potato casserole in hand. The recipe is from his wife, Sharon, and originated from Aunt Delores Sockwell. Unlike Stein’s, this version comes sans marshmallows, with a brown sugar topping in its place. Troxler also contributed the happiest prognostication for 2021. As Agricultural Commissioner, he’s the man in charge of the N.C. State Fair. “It will be a slow process,” he says, “but as the year goes on, things will return to a more normal state of mind, and we WILL have a State Fair in 2021.”

BREADS Lisa Prince, Executive Director of the NC Egg Association and co-host of WRAL’s Local Dish treats us to her pumpkin bread and a little advice for celebrating during the time of COVID-19. “Most people have avoided any and all celebrations and occasions this year as if they didn’t even happen,” she says. “We need to make that effort for one another, especially now. We can still give gifts and show love for one another—even if we can’t celebrate in person.” Newly appointed Durham City Councilperson Pierce Freelon brings his family’s chocolate chip banana bread—gluten-free and, if you swap the honey out for maple syrup, vegan—as well as the rosiest prediction yet. “2021 will be a year of change, transformation, elevation, and manifestation,” he says. “In the words of Octavia Butler: It’s time for us to shape change!”

MAIN DISH Alexander Julian is a Chapel Hill boy made good. In 1969, he dropped out of UNC and opened his first menswear store, Alexander’s Ambition. The rest is fashion history, with numerous awards and successful clothing lines. He’s also the designer of University of North Carolina’s current graduation robes—and the mind behind the argyle-clad athletic uniforms. He’s now living mainly in Connecticut, but North Carolina is always on his holiday

GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE CONTRIBUTED BY GRAY BROOKS

Ingredients 2.5 pounds green beans, trimmed 2 sweet onions, sliced about ¼ inch thick 1 cup all-purpose flour 2 cups canola oil 4 tbsp. butter 1 large shallot, minced 3-4 cloves garlic, minced 6-8 sprigs thyme 12 oz. mixed mushrooms, sliced ¼ cup dry sherry 2 cups heavy cream 1 ½ tsp. salt 1 tbsp. black pepper

Instructions 1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil; blanch green beans for 2–2.5 minutes, until tender but still crisp. Drain and submerge beans in ice water to cool; drain again, and move to a drying rack or paper towels. Dry completely. 2. In a deep pot, heat the oil over medium high until it reaches between 300–325°F, or until a pinch of flour dropped into it begins to sizzle. In 5-6 small batches, toss the onions in the flour, and, one batch at a time, drop into the oil, stirring gently to keep separate, and for +/-3 minutes, until light golden. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove to a paper towel and season with salt. Repeat until all onions are done. Set aside. 3. Over medium heat, melt butter in a large saucepan and add mushrooms; sauté for about 6 minutes. 4. Add shallots, garlic, and thyme sprigs; turn the heat to high and sauté for an additional 2 minutes. 5. Add sherry to pan; lower heat to medium-low and stir. Reduce for 1 minute. 6. Add heavy cream; stir and bring to a simmer, then reduce for about 8 minutes. 7. Remove from heat, mix in salt and pepper, and let cool until just warm. Taste and adjust seasoning. 8. In a large mixing bowl, toss the green beans, mushroom/cream mixture, and between ¼ and 1⁄3 of the onions. Add to a 9x13 inch casserole, pressing down firmly into the dish by hand. 9. Top with remaining onions. 10. Bake at 400°F for 20 to 25 minutes, until the casserole looks nice and bubbly and the onions are a deep brown. This is really easy to make, and probably a world apart from the one your mom used to make with Campbell’s cream of mushroom and Bird’s Eye green beans. (Please don’t tell her I said that.) The beans will retain their snap and taste nice and fresh and—dare I say?— healthy. A nice, guilt-free foil to the lush mushroom-and-cream base.

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PUMPKIN BREAD

FRANCESCA'S RASPBERRY-PECAN BARS

CONTRIBUTED BY LISA PRINCE

CONTRIBUTED BY FIRST LADY KRISTIN COOPER

Ingredients 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1 tsp. baking soda 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice 1/4 tsp. baking powder 1/2 tsp. salt 1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted

1/3 cup raisins or currants 1/4 cup butter, softened 1 cup sugar 3 eggs 1 cup canned pumpkin 1/4 cup orange juice 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Instructions 1. Heat oven to 350°F. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan with cooking spray. 2. Combine flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Toss pecans and raisins (or currant) with 1 tablespoon flour. 3. Beat butter and sugar in a mixing bowl on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, pumpkin, orange juice, and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add dry ingredients, and beat until blended. Stir in pecan and raisin (or currant) mixture. 4. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 350°F until the bread begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 60 to 70 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Loosen the bread from the sides of the pan with a thin knife, and gently shake the bread out onto a rack.

table—this year in the form of a Lady Edison ham, airmailed from Chapel Hill barbecue joint The Pig. Plutarch said, “When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer.” After Chef Ricky Moore, a Culinary Institute of America-trained chef, had mastered a fair number of the most prestigious kitchens around the world, the native North Carolinian went a different way. He moved back to the Tar Heel State and opened a small walk-up restaurant that resembles a snack shack at a softball field. It in no way looks like what it is: the atelier of an artist who takes seafood and simple Southern ingredients, elevates them, and turns them into world-class cuisine. Moore’s Saltbox Seafood Joint now has two locations in Durham and has been recognized by the James Beard Society. 2020 is his first appearance at our table, and his freshman contribution is full of fresh NC coastal ingredients, reminiscent of his childhood in New Bern. The contribution: Coastal Carolina Gold Crab Rice, Sweet Potatoes, Brus24

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sels Sprouts, and Cornbread Crumbs. It’s a main dish disguised as a side dish, and perfect for guests (like myself) who could take but would rather leave that traditional gobbler on its harvestthemed platter. Singer-songwriter Rissi Palmer is the INDY’s other first-timer at this table. She is adept at many genres, but made country music history in 2007, when she became the first Black woman to land a song on Billboard’s Hot Country chart since 1987. Ten years ago, as newlyweds, Rissi and her husband decided to celebrate Thanksgiving à deux. They opted for dishes that were unique to them both, to begin their own holiday traditions. After plenty of research and shopping, a menu was created. From this dinner came Palmer’s contribution to our potluck table: cranberry chutney, a dish that has its roots in India, with plenty of ginger, spices, citrus, golden raisins, and sugar. “The centerpiece was the turkey, but also the chutney,” she remembers. “My husband loves it and requests it every year, and if I don’t make it, he is very frustrated.”

Ingredients 2 cups flour 1 tsp. baking powder ¼ tsp. baking soda ¼ tsp. salt 12 tbsp. (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened ¼ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup light brown sugar, packed 2 egg yolks 1 tsp. vanilla extract 1 cup chopped pecans 2⁄3 cup seedless raspberry jam 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Instructions 1. Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 325 degrees. Butter an 11¾ x7½ inch baking pan (see Notes). 2. In a medium-size bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 3. In a large mixing bowl, with an electric mixer, beat butter until creamy, about 1 minute. Gradually add sugars and continue to beat, until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla extract. 4. With a spoon, stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Reserve 3 tbsp. of pecans and stir in the rest. 5. In a small bowl, stir together jam and lemon juice. 6. Press about half the dough evenly into the bottom of the pan. Spread with jam mixture. Flour hands and crumble remaining dough evenly over the top. Sprinkle with reserved pecans. 7. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until golden brown and firm. Cool in a pan on the rack. When cool, cut lengthwise down the center and then crosswise to make 20 bars. Notes A 9x11 inch glass baking dish will work. Use 2⁄3 of dough to cover the bottom of the dish and reduce the baking time to 40 minutes. Bars will be thinner.

Celebrations will be different this year. Instead of cooking a big meal for guests, Palmer, who has two daughters, says that it will be “just the four of us”—hanging out on the couch, watching movies, and eating popcorn (and maybe some candy). “That means mommy doesn’t have to cook!” she says. “I don’t want to make a prediction,” she says. “I don’t like to make predictions, because sometimes I’m cynical. I’m gonna err on the hopeful side, and instead tell you what I hope. I hope that we— as a country, as a human race—start to realize that our fates are tied together. I hope that we become a more empathetic society, that we are more careful with our words, that we are more careful with our votes. I hope that you’re safe and that you’re treating each other well. And I hope that you’re treating yourself well.”

DESSERT Since our first virtual potluck, North Carolina First Lady Kristin Cooper has been an enthusiastic participant. And we’ve learned a secret about her: She has real cooking chops, and she loves to take a recipe and make it her own. She’s added a few changes to each dish she’s brought that only make it better. This year’s dessert is a raspberry pecan bar recipe from the now-closed Durham bakery, Francesca’s Dessert Caffe. She ups the flavor by increasing the jam and lemon and toasting her pecans. Cooper also has a new tradition that frankly is the best idea of 2020: “We have started serving tacos as our Christmas dinner, to mix things up.” W For more virtual potluck fare, visit indyweek.com


E TC.

Radio Silence For decades, The State of Things has anchored North Carolina public radio. What does its sudden end signal for WUNC? BY SARAH EDWARDS sedwards@indyweek.com

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ou’d expect Frank Stasio, beloved longtime host of WUNC’s daily live program, The State of Things, to have a laundry list of pre-show rituals. After all, for 14 years, he’s been a midday habit for thousands of radio listeners across North Carolina who are familiar with his genial weekday preamble. The clock strikes noon, and without any throat-clearing, he begins: “This is The State of Things, broadcasting from the historic American Tobacco District. I’m Frank Stasio.” “Wake up, have a fifth of scotch, and wear the same shirt for 15 years,” Stasio quips dryly when asked about pre-show magic on a day in Mid-November. Quickly, he clarifies that this is a joke: “Wait, no. No, I don’t.” No: Frank Stasio does not have a lucky shirt or drink coffee out of a certain mug or do special vocal exercises before he goes live every weekday at noon. He also doesn’t have Facebook or Twitter or other social media feedback loops. He just likes to listen to the people sitting across from him. The State of Things, an idiosyncratic talk show devoted to the “issues, personalities, and places of North Carolina,” has been on the air since 1996; this month, just shy of its quarter-of-a-century birthday, WUNC announced that the show will air no more. Stasio joined the program in 2006. By his telling, his was a meandering journey to public radio: He got his start in college radio, then, when he was 19, got a job as a newscaster in Buffalo, New York, before moving to Iowa to work as a station director. He then took on a role as an associate producer at All Things Considered. For awhile, his show was right before Diane Rehm’s, and hearing her theme song, he jokes, threw his stomach into anticipatory “knots” for years. Eventually, he left the post, and public radio, to help start an alternative school in Washington D.C. Then he freelanced and meandered some more. Maybe that’s exactly what you want in a talk radio host: someone

Frank Stasio at the WUNC studio

PHOTO BY BEN MCKEOWN / COURTESY OF THE STATE OF THINGS

who has bounced around, someone who can carry on a conversation in any gas station in America. Now in his late sixties, Stasio is a bespeckled, bearded figure—physical details you could almost discern just by listening to his radio voice. He has a slight flannel tenor, like the instructor of a high school woodworking class: wise, patient, compassionate, maybe a little droll. He sounds like someone you trust with the news, in other words, and, during his tenure, the show has become a statewide institution, leavening the airwaves with North Carolina firsts: emerging artists, emerging voices, emerging narratives. Producers at the show say that they have worked hard to make sure that it reflects the diversity of the state, and this has long been clear in this broad-ranging buffet of topics and people. It would be impossible to switch on 91.5 for 10 minutes and not learn something. The filmmaker Natalie Bullock Brown co-hosts #BackChannel, a State of Things segment, alongside Frank Stasio and Mark Anthony Neal. She lists a Juneteenth episode, taped during the heat of this June’s Black Lives Matter protests, as pivotal in her understanding of Stasio’s empathetic acumen as a host. He was, she says, aghast at fellow white people’s response to the protests. “He named it square on its head,” Bullock Brown says. “He did not mince words. But one of the things that struck me and touched me was that he just seemed so sorry. There was something in his eyes that made me understand. It’s rare to see someone really reckon with the truth of the matter.”

Today, November 25, 2020, is the last day that Frank Stasio will host a live The State of Things show before retiring. Through the end of the year, Anita Rao—managing editor, part-time host, and a familiar presence that many assumed would take on the show upon Stasio’s retirement—will steer the program toward an end that, for listeners and contributors alike, is a bit of a shock. “The cancellation of The State of Things leaves a serious gap that no other radio, print or digital media, or television program fills,” says Marsha Gordon, who has been doing the monthly “Movies on the Radio” segment of the show, alongside Stasio and Laura Boyes, for seven years. “Where else can we hear about the issues taking place in cities all over the state? Learn about artists, musicians, and writers who call North Carolina their home? Get information about statewide environmental or political issues, or what’s happening in our schools and universities?”

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he noon hour is typically broken into three segments, meaning that, over the years, Stasio and his predecessors have interviewed upwards of 800 people each year: scientists, politicians, educators, filmmakers, musicians, writers, and everyone in between. One longtime listener, Margareta Claesson, has been listening to WUNC and public radio since the late 1970s, when she moved from Europe to North Carolina. “I have a much better grasp of what North Carolina is thanks to The State of Things,” Claesson says. “I so INDYweek.com

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appreciate that. They bring in people that most of us would never come in contact with.” Over the past decade, Claesson has also begun to lose her eyesight; in its absence, public radio has become a constant companion. “I wake up with Eric Hodge in the morning and go to bed with whoever is on at 9:30,” she says. “I know their voices and understand their integrity and the way they figure things out.” Devoted listeners like Claesson are the “bread and butter” of the station, according to WUNC president and general manager Connie Walker, who says that the station is the number one non-profit in the country for recurring donors. In the past few years, as many as 46,000 listeners have donated each year during the annual pledge drive; in the 2019-2020 fiscal year, 91 percent of the stations’ revenue came from contributors. Walker says that WUNC—which reaches more than half of the state’s 100 counties with its seven radio stations, though it does not receive state funding—is faring better than most other public radio stations in the country. “It is not the best time for us, but we have healthy reserves,” Walker says. “Listeners are coming through for us. Our underwriting is at 81 percent. Admittedly, it’s a lower fiscal year, but we had to be reasonable about what business is like and what listeners can do. But we’re tracking pretty good for this fiscal year.” At large, though, public radio—both financially and as a social phenomenon—has been treading water for some time. The podcast revolution is here, and niche, on-demand streaming has begun to edge out terrestrial radio. Local news is also in a crisis, as the short-circuited appetites of consumers turn distrustful of the media and wary of long-form programming. NPR, after all, was founded in 1971 (WUNC, founded in 1976, has been around almost as long). A generation of Baby Boomers came of age with NPR, enjoying several decades of prosperity and pledge drives before they began to retire and be replaced by millennials—a workforce saddled with student loan debt, 10 times less wealthy than the Boomers before them. COVID-19 has accelerated these difficulties. Half of AM/FM listening takes place in a car, according to research from the Nieman Foundation for Journalism. During the pandemic, as the magic commuting hour has collapsed into work-fromcouch life, NPR has suffered a decline in 26

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Anita Rao

PHOTO BY LAURA PELLICER

listeners: A quarter of its listenership disappeared between the second quarter of 2019 and the same months in 2020. It is hard not to wonder if the cancellation of The State of Things signals not just the end of a program, but the beginning of the end of an era for local public radio. I would be lying if I didn’t admit to dialing into a Zoom call with Frank Stasio hoping for reassurance as to the future of public radio—or maybe even the future writ large. I am a WUNC listener and also interned, almost a decade ago, at The State of Things. I was not a particularly standout intern and barely interacted with Frank; still, he has played an omnipresent moral role in my understanding of public discourse. I wanted some indication that it was still possible to listen to each other, and to have the funding to make that public listening possible. I wanted to know, basically, that everything would be okay. Frank Stasio did not give me this assurance. Not exactly. “We have shut down and our central nervous systems have closed us off to each other as protection from the pain,” Stasio said, in reference to public discourse. “If that’s been our response, there is no radio station in the world, no newspaper in the world, that is going to crack that. We’re gonna be talking to our own constituencies. And those constituencies are going to get small.”

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n November 10, WUNC abruptly announced the show’s end. “This was not an easy call,” Walker said in a station statement. “The State of Things is deeply held in our hearts, and the hearts of many WUNC listeners. Frank’s wit and intellectual astuteness will certainly be missed. His retirement has opened a door for WUNC to re-think and re-imagine the station’s efforts, particularly when it comes to our coverage of North Carolina issues.” In the statement, Walker cited Stasio’s retirement alongside shifting audience analytics as reasons for the decision, and stated that the national WNYC program The Takeaway would replace the show in the weekday noon slot. The program’s staff—four full-time producers, and one temp—would find new roles within WUNC. Over the phone with the INDY, the day of the announcement, Walker stated that local content would continue on in some form, though it was unclear what form that content might take. National shows—All Things Considered, Planet Money, Here & Now, and several hours of Celtic music—now round out the WUNC schedule, but aside from the Back Porch local music show and consumer-health informational program The People’s Pharmacy, there will no longer be any local public affairs programming. When the station posted the statement on Twitter, the news was met with pushback from listeners. Many said they might curb their station donations.

“At a time when we really need a deeper understanding of the diversity of our state, I find this to be a shocking decision,” listener Heidi Walker wrote, while Michael McCullough argued that “abandoning local programming is abandoning their mission.” WUNC’s institutional proceedings have seemed muddy before. As State of Things founding host Linda Belans tells it, the show was her idea when she was a contract employee in the 1990s. When it began airing as a once-a-week program in 1996, she says, it was the first “locally produced talk radio public affairs program that the station offered.” On it, during her weekday hour, she interviewed the likes of Bill Friday, Joan Baez, Seamus Heaney, and Mister Rogers, though you won’t find much of that archive online. Belans—who is now a leadership coach (and occasional culture writer for the INDY)—says that she was summarily fired in 1999 for what she describes, in her own words, as “having too much power.” That chapter of the program’s history is patchwork online; multiple outlets, including the INDY, have mistakenly reported that the show began in 1999. Belans herself went onto the show’s Wikipedia page and edited it to reflect her work on the show. (When asked about Belans’ account of her departure, Walker says that she believes Belans was the original host, but that it was before her time at WUNC.) “This is the story of women,” Belans says. “You get erased.” Between 1999 and 2006, several different hosts shuffled through WUNC’s doors, including Melinda Penkava and Mary Hartnett. None lasted as long as Stasio. In the wake of the announcement about the show’s end, many listeners expressed surprise that Anita Rao—who has been with the station since 2014, and who has come to embody the fresh, progressive next generation of public radio—had not been given a chance to take the program in a new direction. “I wish that The State of Things was going to continue,” Bullock Brown says. “I do understand that Frank is so much the voice of The State of Things, and it might be difficult for listeners to accept a new voice, but I was really confident in and looking forward to Anita Rao taking over the reins, because that’s what I was expecting to happen. To see the whole thing end is disappointing.” Rao, 31, was born in a small coal-mining town in England and was raised for much of her life in Iowa. A streak of poised, clear-eyed Midwestern pragmatism comes through when she talks about the job.


“I grew up listening to public radio,” Rao says. “What drew me into it was that at the time that I was getting really into storytelling in journalism, it felt like radio was the place where longer-form conversations were still really happening and thriving.” Over the year, outside of producing the State of Things—a complicated balancing act of research, intuition, and alacrity— she’s carved out a role as a host with She & Her, a podcast about Southern feminism that she’s made with a friend since 2015. This interest in pursuing intimate, transgressive subjects led Rao to start Embodied, a NPR radio-show-turned-podcast, in the summer of 2019. Embodied centers topics you don’t often hear discussed on public radio: The science of orgasms and female pleasure get a close look in one episode; fertility and aging on others. Rao has garnered a loyal following (on Facebook, listener Matthew Haskett wrote of Stasio’s retirement news, “I love Frank but I’m not upset because Anita is just as—if not more—hardcore”), but says that breaking into public radio—and breaking the mold of public radio—has had its challenges. “They were never going to like my voice,” Rao wrote in a recent Huffington Post article about her experience producing Embodied. “I knew that from the moment I agreed to fill-in host a live, midday talk show on North Carolina Public Radio in 2017. While I do have a college degree, I am neither white nor over the age of 55—the main defining characteristics of our station’s core audience.” Still, not being white and over the age of 55 may win over a new generation of listeners. Challenging the norms of public radio may be the only thing to save it. And when asked about WUNC’s decision, Rao expressed careful, candid surprise. “The decision-making process about ending the show was not very transparent,” Rao says. “The team and I were not involved in the decision-making process, which was hard and made the decision even more difficult. There’s a lot I don’t totally understand and haven’t yet been able to make sense of. I’ve really loved growing as a host and growing with the show, and I was open to talking about what it would be like to host the show moving forward, though I never thought it would be a given.” All skepticism about the future of public radio aside, Frank Stasio expresses similar surprise at WUNC’s decision to pull the plug on the show, adding that he had expected a “softer landing” for staff and listeners.

He had also expected the program to continue on after his retirement. “I thought, Well, yeah, let’s just keep this thing rolling,” Stasio says. “You got Anita and a great staff. It surprised me— when they first made noise like that was not the obvious thing.” Connie Walker says that staff are not typically included in decisions about programming, but acknowledges that employees—who have asked for a written statement assuring them that they will be included in future programming conversations like this—have felt left behind. Walker says that she hopes WUNC will be able to “get to the place” where they can provide that. Meanwhile, while she can’t offer any guarantees about future local programming, she says that another show like The State of Things is not out of the question. “Movies on the Radio” co-host Gordon adds that she hopes the station will rethink the decision entirely. “I have relied on the show since moving to North Carolina 20 years ago, and I know my knowledge about the state will be impoverished without it,” Gordon says. “I still have a glimmer of hope that WUNC might rethink the decision at some point—or that some other savvy media outlet with a statewide reach will recognize the gap and try to fill it.” After 14 years behind the mic, Stasio, for his part, says that he is looking forward to spending more time with his grandchildren and exploring new ways of community building outside of hosting. The future of terrestrial public radio, as he has it, isn’t long—at least not with the way things have been going. But then again, The State of Things— this broad marriage of journalism, public affairs, and North Carolina—has always been bigger than one person. “It’s irrefutable that radio as a platform, broadcast radio as a platform, does not have a long future,” Stasio says. “I can’t imagine any scenario that could change that. But public radio, as an institution, does.” Claesson, the listener who wakes up and goes to bed with public radio, says that she’s sad to see The State of Things go. But she expressed faith in the future of the station. “I think that when one door closes, there are other doors,” Claesson says. “And I think that the people who are in charge at WUNC will figure this out. They are very brave and insightful and intelligent young people. I’m not worried about them. We are so many listeners who are so adamant about the station.” W

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CROSS CURRENTS

Virtual Reception: Saturday, November 28, 7 p.m. | artspacenc.org/exhibitions

Double Exposure A new exhibit by Clyde and Catherine Edgerton explores the nuances of familiar perspectives BY SARAH EDWARDS sedwards@indyweek.com

S

everal years ago, the musician Catherine Edgerton was working on a boat off the coast of Florida when she took a snapshot of the ocean. She sent the photograph to her father, the writer Clyde Edgerton; each painted their interpretation of it. Thus began a collaborative parent-child exchange rooted in visuals—of animals, landscapes, and people—that also gave them the chance to stay in touch and glimpse how the other person saw the world. Cross Currents, a joint exhibit by the duo, opened on November 6 at Art Space in Raleigh and runs through January 2. The exhibition features side-by-side pairings of their paintings, as well as individual works. Both father and daughter are omnivorous artists: Clyde, a renowned novelist with a keen ear for Southern vernacular, is known for darkly comic works like Walking Across Egypt; he also plays music. Catherine has played music with the Durham folk ensemble Midtown Dickens and is the co-founder of the Durham Art Asylum. (According to Clyde, Catherine has also always written; When she was seven, she penned a 52-page novel called The Adventures of Blaze and The Black Stallion.) Both paint. As the holidays draw near and families navigate the difficult decision to stay apart, the project is a reminder that there are innumerable ways to stay in touch or say “I love you.” The Edgertons are experts at this. They made it through nine months of the pandemic without catching up over a Zoom call, however (“I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing,” Catherine says). Ahead of the November 28 virtual reception for the show, Catherine and Clyde logged onto Zoom for the very first time to talk about whiteness, perspective, and how to stay connected. 28

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INDY: How did this idea come together? CATHERINE: There wasn’t any kind of plan or strategic or cerebral concept—we just started painting each other’s pictures, and then thought, This is kind of cool. And as it so happened, I was working on a boat where we also didn’t have cell reception while I was out. It was a fun way to think about reimagining how to connect and how to connect over space and time. I think it’s also relevant now that it’s getting cold and we’re all in little Zoom boxes and thinking about how to maintain these webs of connection and community, regardless of our circumstances. CLYDE: There was a house, a single house complex in the desert, I remember—that’s the first [painting] that I became conscious of, “Okay, we’re, we’re on a journey, we’re probably going to do some more of these.” And then once it started, there was always an image—usually a photograph, I think. And I would say, “Let’s do this one.” Or Catherine would say, “Let’s do this one.”

really analytically. And I notice a difference between that and the way that my dad just kind of paints what feels interesting. I don’t think there’s anything good or bad about either one of those things, but I hope it creates a dialogue. CLYDE: That was also a learning experience for me. I remember being jealous— although of course we’re never jealous of each other—of seeing the painting of that dog, Harvey Sue, and thinking, Wow, I wish I could do that. But back to the race stuff: It is fascinating. I was 38 when Catherine was born, and I was a child of the fifties. She was a child in the eighties. Our experiences are very different and I’ve learned a lot from listening to her and talking about where she’s coming from, in terms of the role of an artist.

Have you learned anything about how you each see the world? CATHERINE: The first thing that pops into

Do you have advice for folks looking to find creative ways to keep in touch?

my head is race and the conversations about race that have come up. As we’ve decided which topics to pick, I think that I’ve learned less stylistically about the way that Clyde paints versus the way that I paint, but I have learned a lot about how we choose subjects. Who do we choose to paint? What do we choose to paint? Do we bring people of color into this group of subjects that we’re painting, and what lens are we seeing people through? These are things that I think about

CATHERINE: I think the thing with it is, we can sit here and try to figure out how to stay connected, or make the space and time to look for that inner voice of intuition—even if those points aren’t uplifted as forms of connection in our society, like deciding to do art at the same time as someone you love, but separately, without Zoom. There are all these quantum ways of connecting

From top: Harvey Sue Too by Clyde Edgerton, Harvey Sue by Catherine Edgerton IMAGES COURTESY OF THE ARTISTS

through nature or art, things which we don’t typically look at as shortcuts for connection. That’s all kind of rambling. CLYDE: If you listened to me earlier, you know where she got that from. I think if a parent and a child have a relationship where the parent wants the child to do something in a certain way—that’s fine when they’re two, three, four, five, six. But as a parent, if you continue that, the relationship will break down. Finding overlap is key, and we have overlaps in music, art, and writing. W

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


FOOD & DR I NK

Better Together As winter draws near, restaurants still lack sustained federal relief. But some community members are making sure food industry workers get the support they need. BY MADDY SWEITZER-LAMME food@indyweek.com

W

hen Bill Smith started a GoFundMe on March 21, 2017, he was reacting to the draconian immigration policies being put forth by the newly inaugurated president. Smith, who was the chef at Crook’s Corner in Carrboro for decades before retiring in 2019, hoped to raise a little money that he could use to support local immigrant families. Three years to the day after he sent out the first update on his fundraising page, Smith, who has long been a vocal advocate for immigrant communities, shared another update: The remaining money in the fund, which he had been treating as a contingency plan, would be distributed among newly jobless restaurant workers to help everyone make rent. As the pandemic dragged on, he scraped together more money each month to keep people in the community housed and their utilities paid. Every month brought another matterof-fact update on Smith’s Twitter. “October 1st. We cast a wide net this month. Some rents and utilities, renewed 3 kids’ passports and a flu shot for a guy with bad asthma. $57 and change left over. Thank you, everybody. Bring on November.” “I ran through all the money we had immediately,” Smith says. “Every month since then, it’s been a little bit of a scramble, but there have been all sorts of little miracles. People have literally come up to me on the street and shoved money into my hands.” Some of the newly unemployed people in Smith’s circle were employees at Crook’s Corner, which has since reopened. Very few restaurant workers in Chapel Hill , though, have returned to their full-time jobs, and many are ineligible for unemployment. In the absence of credible govern-

“We always thought we were planning for a fire or a flood— never a pandemic, but here we are.” ment leadership, and with no guarantee of financial support from state or federal officials, restaurants across the country have been forced to fall back on their own resources to protect themselves and their employees. More than 1.3 million North Carolinians have filed unemployment claims since March, according to the North Carolina Department of Commerce—a number that doesn’t include undocumented workers ineligible for government assistance. National estimates from Yelp suggest that 60 percent of the restaurants that have closed will not reopen, and while it’s difficult to know definitively how many Triangle-area spots have shuttered, the damage is clear: From fine dining restaurants like Royale to homegrown Carrboro staple Elmo’s Diner, restaurants of every kind of have been wiped out. In March, the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association launched the N.C. Restaurant Workers Relief Fund in a coordinated effort to support hospitality workers across the state. Keeping up with need has been an uphill battle. “Sadly, it’s going to be a dark winter for many hospitality businesses due to the prolonged pandemic,” says Lynn Minges, president and CEO of the association. “That means many workers will struggle to make ends meet. That’s why it’s

so important that we keep the momentum going for the relief fund, which has already provided nearly $1.3 million as $500 grants to thousands of North Carolinians in dire need—and the need is still great.” Grassroots efforts like Smith’s, meanwhile, have become backstops—ways for communities to pool resources. For Lindsay Moriarty and Rob Gillespie, owners of Durham’s beloved Monuts, ensuring worker protection meant reaching into an emergency fund they had built along with their business. On March 26, Moriarty and Gillespie shared a message on their website, announcing that they would be shutting down the restaurant for five weeks, starting on March 30. “Every day we were changing what we were doing drastically,” Gillespie says. “Every decision we made in those first two weeks was focused on what we could do to keep our staff safe, and it kind of just got overwhelming. We realized we needed to take a pause if we were going to have time to actually figure it out, big picture-wise.” When Gillespie and Moriarty first opened Monuts, they resolved that their primary focus would be on being good employers. To that end, they built an emergency fund that allowed them to continue paying their entire staff their

regular salaries for the duration of the five-week closure. In the letter they shared, Moriarty explained the thinking. “Monuts’ strength is not accidental; it’s the result of nine years of trying our hardest to make the right decisions,” she wrote. “We always thought we were planning for a fire or a flood—never a pandemic, but here we are.” “We’re both just really cautious people,” Gillespie says. “The building we’re in already had a fire once before we moved in, so the thought of something happening that would keep us from making a living is definitely a real thing, even before the pandemic.” The decision to close was made to give staff a chance to breathe after the first few weeks of the pandemic, with the hope that things would be more stable when they reopened. Since reopening, Gillespie says, they’ve seen a huge amount of support from the community, even as COVID19 cases have spiked in recent weeks. “We have no intention of opening our dining room, because we don’t feel like it’s safe and our staff certainly doesn’t want to open the dining room,” he says. “I understand some people don’t have that choice, but we do. We’re grateful for the flexibility.” On November 16, Smith shared another fundraising update. “November’s election was a relief, although less of one than we would have liked,” he wrote. “We’ve been able to pay people’s rent and utility bills, by the skin of our teeth sometimes, so far ... I’m optimistic that if we can get people to Inauguration Day, things will turn out ok for them. Only donate if you can really afford to, and a million thanks to those who already have. These last four years have been quite something, haven’t they?” W INDYweek.com

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HEALTH & WELL BEING

Bolinwood Condominiums Affordability without compromise

Convenient to UNC on N bus line 2 & 3 bedroom condominiums for lease

www.bolinwoodcondos.com • 919-942-7806

SEEKING ORANGE COUNTY RENTAL

EMPLOYMENT Senior Internal Auditor Senior Internal Auditor sought by Parexel International in Durham, NC to plan & execute finance & compliance audits, business process improvements, & other types of internal audit, review, or consulting. Reqs Bachelor’s deg in Accounting, Finance, or a related field plus 5 yrs of public acctg or internal auditing exp, including acctg & auditing standards (GAAP, IFRS, SOX, COSO, GAAS); internal auditing of public or private companies; aggregation, modelling, & analysis of population-level data using Python/R to identify trends & assess risks; planning & leading a range of audits, including operational audits, control process audits, & revenue audits. May req domestic or int’l travel to other Parexel offices once every 6 mos. Interested candidates must send resumes to openings@parexel.com & cite code 00850.

LAST WEEK’S PUZZLE

I am seeking either a furnished bedroom or a furnished studio apartment to rent in a single-family home, along with an adjoining bathroom; use of a kitchen and laundry facilities, anywhere in Orange County, preferably in the Hillsborough area, beginning sometime between December 1, 2020 and March 1, 2021. I am now renting a room in a home in Hillsborough. Our rental agreement ended on September 30, 2020, but has been extended through February 28, 2021. I am a 73 yr old male in excellent physical health, except for moderate hearing loss, which has been corrected by hearing aids. Current homeowner is willing to give written reference. If you are interested in renting a bedroom or a studio apartment in your home to me or would like to communicate further, please contact me, Lee Titus Elliott, at leetituselliott@gmail.com or (919) 245-0972. I am able to pay up to $750/month (negotiable), which would include utilities. I am willing to sign a six-month to one-year lease.

919-416-0675

www.harmonygate.com

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INDYweek.com

November 25, 2020

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