INDY 8.26.20

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Raleigh | Durham | Chapel Hill August 26, 2020

The incredible journey of activist and socialist vice presidential candidate Lamont Lilly, in our words and his poems P.14

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August 26, 2020

Raleigh W Durham W Chapel Hill VOL. 37 NO. 31


The Raleigh Police Department wants to send social workers on police calls. BY LEIGH TAUSS Employees say racism pervades the culture of a local museum-hotel. BY SARA PEQUEÑO


Lamont Lilly has always been on the frontlines of the fight against systemic inequality. BY THOMASI MCDONALD

FOOD 19 Back on the Bull wants to help you dine out more safely.


MUSIC 20 Super Body Games is the world’s first video galbum. BY WILL ATKINSON 22 How Brian Kidd became the Triangle's hip-hop engineer extraordinaire. BY KYESHA JENNINGS 23 On the healing power of movement in Sylvan Esso’s music videos. BY AMANDA WICKS CULTURE 24 Truth to Power 8 is a perfect artistic venture for this imperfect moment in history. BY GEORGE JENNE

25 Camilla, Keep Your Word provides a deeply personal lens on Hurricane Katrina.


THE REGULARS 4 Voices 5 15 Minutes

6 Quickbait

The Black Farmers' HUB opened Saturday in Raleigh, p. 10

9 Op-ed

7 A Week in the Life



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August 26, 2020



Last week, we reported that UNC System President Peter Hans pinned the blame for recent campus outbreaks on students “behaving irresponsibly,” rather than, uh, his decision to hold in-person classes and not shut down Greek life activities.

After we published the article, the UNC System’s ASSOCIATE VP FOR MEDIA RELATIONS JOSH ELLIS called our headline “extremely misleading” in an email, saying it made it sound like Hans blamed all the students. (We respectfully disagree: We didn’t say how many students he blamed, only that he blamed students). On Facebook, user PATRICK MURPHY came to Hans’s defense. “That’s an awful lot of snark to make the point that universities should have known better than to expect students to behave responsibly,” Murphy wrote. “I don’t think it was unreasonable to expect students would rise to the occasion or to be disappointed for the many that did to now suffer the consequences because of those who behaved irresponsibly. “I was in a high rise dorm at UNC many years ago,” responded ANDREW SNEE. “The rooms are arranged four around a bathroom. That’s seven people each person is unavoidably exposed to. Most residents have to take the elevator. The only place to eat within walking distance is the dining hall. You can’t expect people to lock themselves into a single room with one other person every time they aren’t in class. The university attempted in person classes knowing this would happen because they feared students would take a year off if they were told all classes would be online.” In other highly predictable pandemic news: NC State abruptly went remote after placing about 500 students in quarantine or isolation due to exposure to COVID. “It’s almost..... as if we all knew...... this was going to happen!!!” JESÚS GUTIÉRREZ wrote on Facebook. “Lol,” KOREY SULLIVAN responded. “but who really ever believed a couple hundred 18 year olds who have been waiting their whole lives to be on their own and just got done living with their parents in lockdown were going to live in the same building and not pass this around....?”


You Can Do Hard Things Finding the pandemic’s silver lining BY CHIKA GUJARATHI


ike any normal human being, my first instinct is to complain about things that aren’t going my way. Given this unprecedented year we are having, I feel like I have complained so much about so many things that I am now complaining to you about being tired of complaining too much. Exhausting, I know. In the beginning, I felt that venting about my fears and frustrations was quite therapeutic in dealing with coronavirus and our dismal political situation. It was good to know that I wasn’t alone in how I felt. It provided a sense of solidarity with others who were also suffering because of lost jobs, needy children, loneliness, or all of the above. And then, one morning, when I was still in bed, awake but not yet ready to get up, I heard my five-year-old son whisper to his three-year-old brother to let mama rest, and after hearing them dragging stools and making a lot of noise in the kitchen, I discovered them laughing and conversing about dinosaurs over bowls of cereal and milk. Not to say this scenario needed a global pandemic to take place, but there was something about it that made me realize that many good things have come of us being locked down and left to our own devices. We have all become more resourceful. We have all managed to squeeze in countless responsibilities in our already-full schedules. We have all put our best foot forward (whether you believe it yet or not) and marched on. Later the same day, I sat down with a pen and paper and made a list of all the good things that were a direct result of my family’s new normal and/or would have never happened otherwise because there was never enough time. This is what I wrote down:

1. Countless visits to beautiful parks and nature preserves 2. Bike rides on the greenways

3. Walking to the grocery store and the farmer’s market 4. Children cooking, cleaning, and helping in a much bigger capacity 5. Playing card games and board games daily 6. Family reading hour while listening to mellow music on Alexa 7. Making home videos 8. Driving way, way less 9. Trusting kids with harder and more complicated things 10. Writing letters and sending cards (for which I think we must have set some kind of record if I was actually keeping track) Nothing on this list is too ambitious or crazy. But I am surprised that they were all wishes and desires until now. Ms. Kelci, the best preschool teacher that ever existed, in my opinion, often used the phrase “you can do hard things” when my five-year-old whined and complained in her class about whatever it is that he was trying to do. Funny how the advice rings so true even outside a preschool classroom. I find myself repeating those words quietly several times a day. It’s my pep talk to myself, to acknowledge that these are indeed hard times and that I am strong enough to deal with them. I leave you with yet another quote, this one from a 17th-century English historian named Thomas Fuller, who said, “all things are difficult before they are easy.” Think of all those things that seemed so impossible to accomplish in March of this year, but look how well you are doing them now. Might I even add that you are enjoying some of these non-normal times? However long we have to deal with this proverbial tunnel, let’s remind ourselves that it isn’t always dark. Voices is made possible by contributions to the INDY Press Club. Join today at

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August 26, 2020

CHIKA GUJARATHI is a Raleigh-based writer and author of the Hello Namaste! children’s books. Her work can be found on her blog The Antibland Chronicles.

Upcoming Virtual Events 8.26

Kevin O’Leary Madison’s Sorrow 7pm


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Laura Morelli The Night Portrait 7pm Jenna Bush Hager Everything Beautiful In It’s Time 8pm

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Chapel Hill

15 MINUTES Nathan Toben, 35 Distance runner BY SUZANNAH CLAIRE PERRY

Toben is running 77 miles along the Eno River for Triangle Bikeworks, a Carrboro-based organization that provides educational bike trails to youth of color.


How did you get the idea for a charity run? My partner and I live right outside of Chapel Hill, and as protests mounted, we were feeling disconnected. We have family members who are at high risk of having serious illnesses related to getting COVID, so we have to obey pretty stringent distance protocols and can’t attend protests. That inability to be involved got me thinking creatively about how to contribute at a distance. I typically train really hard for these long endurance running events and realized that when I’m out on the trail, I don’t see many people. At certain times of day, some trails aren’t populated, so I’ll choose those to run on, and I’ll bring a mask. Whenever someone runs past, I’ll put my mask up, and I have hand sanitizer that I always bring with me.

in some parts of Hillsborough. It really feels like you’re in a different place—a very historic, old place.

To advertise or feature a pet for adoption, please contact

The Eno River used to be a source of water for Durham, a

To advertise historically or feature a pet forLakeadoption, Black town, and Falls and the Eno River are some of the historic waterways in our state. That lines up please contact with the work of Triangle Bikeworks because the educational

How did you settle upon this particular 77-mile stretch? It happened organically while trying to find places where there aren’t a lot of people running. One day, I was looking at an aerial map of trails around the area, and I saw this little squiggly line along the Eno River. I ended up just parking at a road crossing and started running down the Eno. Twenty miles later, I realized that, even in central North Carolina, you can get this feeling of being up in the mountains. It’s cool by the Eno because the air is cooled by the water, and there’s actually mountain laurel

bike tours for youth of color that they lead, oftentimes, are designed around North Carolina’s historic waterways. So there’s a bit of a parallel.

Do you have any recommendations for others hoping to participate in the movement for racial justice without putting their health at risk? Start listening first and act second. I asked a certain organization if they would like me to raise money for them, and they respectfully declined, kindly. They have a lot on their plate, and this is one thing they can’t put their energy towards. Being very receptive initially instead of actionoriented is a subtle way to let the project that you’re embarking on develop in its own way, and you often bring in more educated community organizers into your project. It gives you a stronger foundation. W

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August 26, 2020



Blue Box Surge in Democrat, Unaffiliated Vote-by-Mail Requests Could Spell Trouble for Republicans on the Ballot BY LEIGH TAUSS

Party Registration Percentage Comparisons of 2016 to 2020 Year to Date


Aug. 24, 2020 NC Absentee by Mail Ballot Requests for 98 out of 100 Counties


orth Carolina is poised to cast a record-setting number of absentee by mail ballots this fall, with registered Democrat and unaffiliated voters driving the uptick in requests. As outlined by Catawba College Professor Dr. Michael Bitzer on his website, Old North State Politics, the number of requests has almost doubled 2016’s mail-in ballot figures, with nearly 380,000 requests as of this week. We’re on pace to cast about 12 times the number ballots by mail than we did during the last general election. The requests are being driven by voters over the age of 66, which is typical. What’s more: more than half of those requests are from registered Democats and another third from unaffiliated voters. That leaves just 15 percent of requests from Republicans. No wonder President Donald Trump is trying so hard to undermine the postal service: If the blue box were the ballot box, he’d be screwed. However, take that with a grain of salt: Mailin ballots accounted for just 4 percent of total votes cast in the state in 2016. Bitzer thinks the number of mail-in ballots this year could wind up anywhere between 15 and 40 percent of total votes cast. “We don’t know how this dynamic is going to play out,” Bitzer said. “We’ve never seen anything like this in North Carolina. So there is a pattern of vote methods tilted to one party over the other. When you combine them all together, it makes for a very competitive state. But if registered Democrats are fifty-three percent of these ballots so far in terms of requests and that holds, it is a very different dynamic than what we have seen in any North Carolina election.” W

15% 37%


31% 27%

Registered Democrats Registered Unaffiliated Registered Republicans



North Carolina 2020 Absentee by Mail Ballot Request: Weekly Cumulative Percentages by Party Registration

How to request an absentee ballot


Through the Board of Elections website:


Deadline to make request 5 p.m. October 27, 2020

Registered Democrats Registered Unaffiliated Registered Republicans


When you should mail in by? ASAP!


Deliver in person locations? 5 pm on election day, in person




Votes will be counted up to the third day after the election if post marked on or before election day. 1








North Carolina 2020 Absentee by Mail Ballot Request: Weekly Numbers by Party Registration (past 10 weeks) 80,000

Total mail-in ballot requests


Registered Democrats Registered Unaffiliated Registered Republicans


231,000 2016 total

379,204 As of August 24, 2020

50,000 40,000 30,000 20,000 10,000 0 6/22


August 26, 2020











8/18 8/19 8/20

North Carolina surpasses 150,000 COVID-19 CASES reported. The state ranks 26th nationwide in COVID-19 cases per capita. The Federal Emergency Management Agency approves North Carolina’s application to use FEMA FUNDING to boost unemployment benefits by $300 per week.


Brightleaf Square icon MORGAN IMPORTS announces that it will hold a “huge BYE BYE SALE” before it closes permanently. NC STATE announces that it will switch to fully remote learning. At the time of the announcement, over 500 NC State students were in quarantine after COVID-19 exposure. State Rep. DAVID LEWIS, a powerful Republican who chaired the House Rules Committee, resigns after being charged with financial crimes in federal court. According to court documents, Lewis transferred donor funds meant for the state Republican Party into a personal bank account he opened under the name of a fictional company called “NC GOP, Inc.” Lewis took a plea deal, so prosecutors recommended he serve no more than six months in prison. JOE BIDEN officially accepts the Democratic Party nomination for president at a virtual Democratic National Convention.

The U.S. House passes a $25 billion EMERGENCY FUNDING BILL for the U.S. Postal Service. North Carolina surpasses 2,500 COVID-19 DEATHS reported. The state ranks 30th nationwide in COVID-19 deaths per capita.


UNC-CHAPEL HILL shifts to fully remote learning for the fall semester following COVID-19 clusters on campus. The CAROLINA HURRICANES are eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Boston Bruins. Governor Roy Cooper signs an executive order to provide a $12 million fund that will expand INTERNET ACCESS for education in rural counties.

EAST CAROLINA UNIVERSITY moves classes online after two COVID-19 clusters are reported on campus. UNC-CHARLOTTE delays the return of students to its campus until October 1.


More than 100 U.S. House Democrats—including the Triangle’s David Price—send a letter to a party leadership urging them to extend $600 per week UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS until the coronavirus pandemic ends. The City of Raleigh CANCELS all festivals, road races, and parades through 2020.


(Here’s what’s happened since the INDY went to press last week)

NC STATE temporarily suspends athletics in response to a reported COVID-19 cluster.



August 26, 2020



August 26, 2020

OP - E D

Keeping House To avoid a homelessness crisis, Governor Cooper must reinstate the eviction moratorium immediately BY BOB GEOLAS AND PHILLIP KASH


ight now, hundreds of thousands of our neighbors in Raleigh and throughout the state are facing eviction and homelessness during a pandemic. This crisis is not an inevitable consequence of COVID-19. It was created by a dual policy failure: unemployment and renter protections that perpetuate systemic racism and make moderate-income households vulnerable. North Carolina residents who have done nothing wrong, including families with children, will lose their homes and have to search for shelter if action is not taken. The state’s unemployment system is built on the premise that minimal support for unemployed workers will provide an incentive to get them back to work. This approach fundamentally does not work if it is unsafe to work or if jobs are not available. On every measure, our state ranks behind national trends: Denial rates are high, payments are small, and benefits often expire after 12 weeks, which means workers laid off in April have already run out of benefits. Federal CARES Act funds provided supplemental income but expired at the end of July. This means that by this month, the majority of the 500,000 workers who lost their jobs this spring will have no income. The state’s reopening has replaced some jobs, but limited reopening, caregiving needs, and a resurgent virus mean many are unable to return to work. Like many Southern states, North Carolina has weak protections and limited access to legal services for tenants. Weak tenants’ rights make it quick and inexpensive for landlords to evict. Prior to COVID19, eviction rates in three of the state’s cities were among the highest in the country,

“No one will be better off as a result of mass evictions.” and the statewide eviction rate was almost double the national average. The governor’s moratorium on evictions, put in place at the beginning of the COVID19 crisis, kept families in their homes, but it expired on June 21, which means households began to be evicted by late July. Between unemployment and exploitative eviction laws, hundreds of thousands of households and families will be forced from their homes, while the state’s infection rates are at their highest level since the beginning of the pandemic. The pain this will inflict will be severe yet not borne equally. Renters with an eviction record may face difficulty finding housing for years. Black and Hispanic households are both more likely to be renters and to have lost their jobs as a result of COVID19. These groups will represent a disproportionate share of the households who will be forced from their homes. In the near term, rising homelessness will be a barrier to reaching stabilization for the state’s health crisis and employment rates. It will overburden social services, stretch thin local budgets, and further challenge school districts. Landlords throughout the state will also lose as they face vacancy and must cut

rent to attract households that are still employed. No one will be better off as a result of mass evictions. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. There are many ways the state of North Carolina could solve this problem, but only one that does not depend on the state legislature. North Carolina could reform and improve its unemployment insurance system and provide households with months of additional assistance through this crisis. It could dedicate state funding to emergency rental assistance to helping households make rent and mortgage payments as federal moratoriums expire. The obstacle is that each of these actions would require the legislature to act to protect working households. To avoid mass evictions and a widespread homelessness crisis, Governor Cooper must reinstate the eviction moratorium immediately. While the moratorium is in place, the governor and the legislature can work together to appropriate funding and address the impending homelessness crisis. Eventually, COVID-19 and the economic crisis it has sparked will pass. It will be important not to forget the lessons it teaches us—unemployment is rarely a choice, and tenants rarely fail to pay their rent by choice. We all need programs that provide us with support if we fall upon hard times. Now we need to find a will to make these programs a reality. W Bob Geolas is a partner at HR&A Advisors and is the head of the firm’s Raleigh office. Phillip Kash is a partner at HR&A Advisors and is a nationally recognized practitioner and thought leader on housing affordability and resilience and recovery.

Your Week. Every Wednesday.

August 26, 2020



August 26, 2020


Black Farmers’ HUB celebrated its grand opening Sunday. Located in Southeast Raleigh at 1409 Cross Street, this brick and mortar grocery store is Demetrius Hunter’s latest venture. In 2018 he launched Black Farmers’ HUB to promote products online and at farmers’ markets. Hunter also has his own line of natural fruit juices and ciders, Nature’s 360. He and his family have been helping sustain farmers and feed underserved communities for over 80 years. W



One Misstep Forward The Raleigh Police Department’s new mental health and homelessness unit will send social workers to calls involving mental health crises. Activists say it’s the wrong move. BY LEIGH TAUSS


ust after sundown on April 20, 2019, a security guard stationed at a Sheetz off New Bern Avenue called police to report a man trespassing who had already been asked to leave. The dispatcher on the call asked if the man had any weapons. The guard said no. At the same time, Officer William Brett Edwards just happened to pull into the plaza to refuel his patrol car. Minutes later, eight bullets would rip through the body of Soheil Antonio Mojarrad, a 30-year-old with a traumatic brain injury and a history of mental illness, killing him. Edwards claimed Mojarrad had threatened him with a knife (a lawsuit from Mojarrad’s family alleges the knife was planted). He was never charged. Mojarrad’s death catalyzed calls for police accountability and reform, which in the wake of nationwide Black Lives Matter protests has morphed into calls to defund the agency and reallocate resources to community organizations that directly support those suffering from mental illness, homelessness, or addiction. The Raleigh Police Department, of course, wants to go in the exact opposite direction. Last week, Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown unveiled a new program that ostensibly tries to rethink and reform policing the city’s most vulnerable by throwing some social workers into the mix. Utilizing funds in the department’s existing budget, the new Homelessness and Mental Health Unit would be comprised of three social workers, a detective, three officers, and a supervisor. When a call comes for a person suffering a mental health crisis, a social worker would tag along to aid with outreach and referrals. The unit would take a “care and safety first, enforcement last approach,” Deck-Brown told the Raleigh City Council last week. But activists aren’t buying it. “Law enforcement has become the de facto mental health system, and that is, in itself, the problem,” says Dawn Blagrove, executive director of Emancipate NC. “The way we fix that problem is not to give law enforcement more money to do a job they are ill-equipped to handle.” According to data provided by RPD, officers responded to more than 6,500 calls dealing with mental health issues, substance abuse, and begging from July 2019 to June 2020. That breaks down to about three calls a day on average for someone suffering a

Raleigh police form a wall at the May 30 Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Raleigh. Police brutality at these protests have been a catalyst for conversations about police department funding. PHOTO BY JADE WILSON

mental health crisis. Another three calls on average each day deal with potential overdoses, and three more involve suicide threats. There’s also the average of four calls a day where officers simply transfer paperwork from the magistrate to a hospital, a job an unarmed civilian could easily do. Just four percent of calls dealing with mental health crises were flagged as violent. Yet 100 percent of the time, an armed officer responds. Other cities have taken a different approach, including CAHOOTS in Eugene, Oregon, which for three decades has been sending a team of unarmed civilian medics and social workers as first responders to incidents involving mental health crises, substance abuse, or homeless individuals. In Denver, the newly created STAR program diverts certain low-level 911 calls to a similar unarmed team of social workers and paramedics. Council member David Cox wondered if Raleigh could consider such an approach. City Manager Ruffin Hall said it’s not so simple.

“What we’re trying here with the chief’s approach is to leverage the resources we have to maximize the relationship with existing service providers,” Hall said. “If we want to go with an independent or different unit, the first thing is it’s going to cost a lot more money just in terms of a separate agency.” We’ll never know if having a social worker present could have made a difference in Mojarrad’s situation (the officer’s body-worn camera was shut off, and nearby security cameras failed to capture what led up to the shooting). Kerwin Pittman, a local advocate, doesn’t trust the new unit will actually prioritize care. It will always be “enforcement first,” he says, because the department’s training involves first securing a scene before handing things over to adjacent agencies. “We know law enforcement presence, with their military-style training and history, only exacerbates the problem these individuals are having once they see law enforcement,” Pittman says. “We’re going to still see the same results when it comes to police brutality regarding those who are having crisis situations.” W

August 26, 2020




This Is Not OK Employees claim a local museum-hotel idolizes Black women artists without actually protecting its own staff. BY SARA PEQUEÑO


1c’s Instagram account is full of Black art. The museum-hotel chain, made up of eight locations and three on the way, boasts rotating art exhibits. On Instagram, there are posts upon posts of Black artists’ work, especially the work of Black women. The captions mention Black history, Black childhood, and Black culture. The first photo you see from the 21c Durham hotel is from the reopening in July. Non-Black faces greet the photographer at the front desk. A week later, they shared a simple graphic: a black background with white letters, saying “THIS IS NOT OK.” “This week, we received reports of experiences which are not in keeping with our culture and are frankly difficult to hear,” the post caption reads. “We immediately conducted an inquiry into the issues raised, and have taken swift action to address our findings.” The caption doesn’t mention the hotel where an incident occurred, or even what the incident was. But commenters were quick to make the connection to a recent testimony out of Durham. On July 18, former banquet captain Shakerah Obery posted about her experiences with racism and misogyny at 21c Durham on Medium. The post, titled “Ain’t I Diversity? Inside Durhams’ Most ‘Progressive’ Museum Hotel from a Black Woman,” led other employees to speak of their experience at the downtown Durham location. We reached out to 21c on Friday afternoon to clarify any incidents Obery and others have publicly posted about. We also asked about steps they were taking to change issues in the workplace. 12

August 26, 2020

“Though privacy issues limit our ability to discuss the details, we can share that we have received reports of experiences which are not in keeping with our culture, and which are frankly difficult to hear,” Sarah Robbins, chief operations officer at 21c Durham, said in a statement mirroring the Instagram post. “We immediately conducted an inquiry into the issues raised and have implemented corrective actions.” The company also plans to have 30 percent minority lead leadership by 2023, according to a Diversity and Inclusion statement that was shared Friday. Obery detailed experiences ranging from day-to-day microaggressions in the hotel kitchen to sexual harassment and racist comments from customers that were not handled by management. “White people think that racism is blatant, in your face,” Obery told the INDY. “Calling people the N-word. So if it doesn’t look like that, it’s really hard for them to pick up on those cues.” She says she could sense annoyance from head chef Thomas Card and the kitchen staff whenever a Black group would hold an event at the hotel. They made jokes about cooking up fried chicken or complaining that they’d have to cook the food longer because of the stereotype that Black people like their food well done. They would use “Blaccents” and mimic African American vernacular when trying to speak with Black employees. Obery also says the chefs, all white, would refer to Black busboys or line cooks as “boy.” Another former high-ranking employee, who asked that we not use her name, said she also heard microaggressions from the kitchen staff, particularly from chef

Shakerah Obery


Matt Bishop. When Bishop would make any Asian cuisine, she says he would call it “ching chong sauce” or “ping pong soup.” He also made comments whenever she would crunch numbers, saying “I thought Asians were supposed to be good at math.” The hotel would not confirm whether Card or Bishop still work at 21c, although Obery said Card and one other chef were let go. But these weren’t singular occurrences. The former employee says they happened constantly. Obery also detailed a few instances of sexual harassment in her post. Since sharing, other women have sent messages to the company about their experiences with sexual harassment. Black women had not received replies from human resources, Obery told the INDY, while non-Black women had, although she says this may be because the Black women she spoke with were not current employees. She says other women received cookie-cutter apologies. “One thing I learned growing up as a Black woman is that when there’s racism, sexism is not too far behind,” Obery wrote in her post.

She described comments and gestures from the kitchen staff that made her uncomfortable: people touching her hair without permission, non-consensual touching, and staring at her breasts while she was speaking to them. One employee asked her how big her nipples were. Another commented on a different server not wearing a bra. And in some instances, racism and sexual harassment overlapped. Obery detailed an incident that occurred when a company was holding multiple events at 21c over a week. She says a customer who was the point-of-contact for several events that week sexually harassed Black male servers, excusing her behavior by mentioning that she was married to a Black man. She kept trying to get them to dance with her. Linea Johnson, Obery’s former supervisor, went into further detail about the event with the INDY. She says that during the incident, the woman put her arms around the waist of a server, asking him to dance with her because “all Black people know how to dance.” Johnson said that later on, the woman told her that she didn’t want to tip the Black women working the event,

but would tip the others. An anonymous former employee confirmed that the event happened but said the company didn’t address it at the request of the waiter. He also says that at the end of the night, the woman left a tip that was then handed out equitably by management. When the entire incident was brought up to upper management, Johnson says she was told that the banquet staff just needed to deal with it. Then, the customer said she no longer wanted to work with Johnson, instead opting for her white assistant. Johnson, when speaking with the INDY, says Obery’s experiences were similar to

hers. As Event Manager, one of her first experiences in the position was helping a Black bride and groom plan their wedding. The couple had been through several managers, who told Johnson that the clients were hard to work with. When Johnson met them, she says she realized they had been promised concessions for the inconvenience of being passed around. These concessions were not being given to them. When Johnson spoke with them on the phone, the marketing manager at the time grabbed it and yelled at them. One former male staff member, who asked not to be named, verified the inci-

dent to the INDY, but also said the manager would likely do the same to other couples too. When she was let go in 2019, Johnson posted on her Instagram account, detailing her experiences of racism within the company. She says human resources reached out to her once and asked for names, saying they would investigate. She says she’s never had a follow-up to this day. 21c is headquartered in Louisville, the hometown of Breonna Taylor whose death at the hands of city police sparked Black Lives Matter protests in the area. In July,

Change Today, Change Tomorrow, a Louisville nonprofit, said they would no longer be doing events at Garage Bar, the 21c Louisville restaurant. They shared on Facebook that the hotel’s corporate managers refused to provide shelter for protesters, and turned them away. A month before, the hotel posted a virtual memorial for Breonna Taylor and the “Say Her Name” movement, called “SHE ASCENDS.” “Suddenly, it appears, floating in space as a way to interact with and visit the memory of this moment,” the caption reads. “The fight for Breonna Taylor, Black women, and community justice.” W

August 26, 2020


Lamont Lilly


The incredible journey of activist and socialist vice presidential candidate Lamont Lilly, in our words and his poems BY THOMASI MCDONALD, WITH POEMS BY LAMONT LILLY

efore running for vice president on the Workers World Party ticket in 2016, Durham resident Lamont Lilly was a foot soldier in the thick of nearly every high-profile racially charged protest in America. In 2011, the journalist, poet, and community organizer was in the middle of the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York. He joined the Workers World Party that year. In 2014, he was marching, chanting, and taking to the highways during protests in Ferguson, Missouri, after Michael Brown Jr. was gunned down by the police. Lilly was one of the protesters who later encountered the heavily militarized police officers in riot gear, who teargassed the future vice presidential candidate and his fellow demonstrators. The world watched and repeated new phrases that have since entered the American protest lexicon: “Hands up, don’t shoot!” and “Whose streets? Our streets!” 14

August 26, 2020

Lilly was angered, too, by the police murder of Eric Garner in New York, where protesters gave voice to another cry, “I can’t breathe.” And in 2015, he was in Baltimore for three months organizing community forums after Freddie Gray was found dead in the back of a police paddy wagon. “I may have been a member of the communist party, but I was moving like any other Black organizer,” Lilly says. “I didn’t walk into meetings as a communist. I was just a Black man trying to help get my people free.” Lilly was at the CVS pharmacy in Baltimore that went up in flames after Gray’s death, which he says marked a low point in how authorities confronted the protesters. Law officers took to the streets with tear gas, tanks, and militarized Humvees, along with drones and surveillance planes. “We were standing in front of five tanks, dozens of assault rifles, and fifty police officers on horseback,” Lilly says. “We had tennis shoes, cardboard signs, bullhorns, and

placards. Now who came to riot, and who came for peace?” He was also in Charleston in 2015 after white supremacist Dylann Roof shot and killed Black worshippers at a historic church. One year later, Lilly was reporting on the Dakota Access Pipeline protests by Sioux tribe members at the Standing Rock Indian reservation in North Dakota. When George Floyd was murdered on Memorial Day, Lilly was with Bree Newsome, the Charlotte antiracist who scaled a Confederate flagpole outside the South Carolina state house grounds. Lilly, a native of Fayetteville, is slim, with piercing liquid-brown eyes. His is a purposeful gaze framed by a long deadlocked goatee that wisps at the end like the fine bristles of an artist’s paint brush. He grew up in a working-class home. His father was in the U.S. Army, and his mother was a certified nursing assistant who worked her way up to becoming a registered nurse. “My brother and I never missed a meal, but we also knew to take care of what we had, because that was all we were going to get,” he says. Lilly moved to Durham in 1998 to study criminal justice at North Carolina Central University. He graduated in 2003 and never left a city he describes as “beautiful.” “Fayetteville gave me, but Durham made me,” he says. As an undergraduate, revolution and social change weren’t even a part of his thinking as far as what to do at the end of his studies. “I wanted to be a lawyer. I was going to be one of those good little token Negroes for the system,” says Lilly, who was also enlisted with the U.S. Army Reserve at the time. “That was a different me back then. Much different! The only kind of lawyer I would like to be now is Chokwe Lumumba,” the attorney and former mayor of Jackson, Mississippi. Lilly was a college sophomore and working at a department store at Northgate Mall when he made a mistake that would affect him for the rest of his life. He caught a felony charge and conviction when he let a friend use his employee discount at the store. He was 19, alone in a room at the mall with a security guard, who was questioning him. “I was scared shitless,” Lilly says. His upbringing and his parent’s admonition to always admit wrongdoing led him to confess his crime to the Black security guard, who reported felony embezzlement charges for the $240 mistake. “I didn’t know that felony would follow me for the rest of my life,” Lilly says, musing over the “good-paying jobs” he’s lost because of a criminal conviction now two decades old. Lilly recalled at least three jobs in youth-oriented programs where, less than a week after showing up for work dressed in a suit, a tie, and hard-bottom shoes, he was summarily fired. At one point, Lilly, who now shares a two-bedroom apartment near N.C. Central with his partner and their daughter, was homeless. Now he’s thankful for the experience. “Had I never been homeless and struggling to eat, I wouldn’t be able to properly relate to the homeless,” he says. “I can demystify myself and use those struggles to inspire others to do what I did. I need poor people and the formerly incarcerated to know it’s possible to come out.” Lilly readily identifies with the victims of America’s “massive prison-industrial complex” and the mass incarceration of Black and Brown people, the “mockery loophole” that informed filmmaker Ava DuVernay’s documentary 13th. “I’m still incarcerated here on the outside,” he says. “It’s

forty-one times

assata: general shakur

at least we ate

shot in the head shot in the back shot forty-one times while laying on the ground

they would like us to forget the likes of her sacrifices one dark woman well-dressed in plaid shadows called afro-freedom

we ate the week-old bread plain and were thankful for that

there were thirteen officers who shot that man down thirteen officers who turned around and accused him of shooting himself dead of shooting himself in the head with handcuffs on forty-one times that’s the fourth black man they’ve shot in the head that’s the fourth black man dead this month

a third-class citizenship. The walls kept getting taller even after a college degree. It was my first introduction to the criminal justice system.” Two years after graduating from NCCU, Lilly was hired as director of the university’s now-defunct African American Male Leadership Academy, where he worked for three years with 80 families and young men considered at-risk. After leaving the job in 2008, he waited tables part-time at Dame’s Chicken and Waffles and at Cuban Revolution to make ends meet. He also worked seasonally at Measurement Incorporated. While a college student, Lilly, like many of his student peers, often visited the nowclosed The Know Bookstore several blocks away from the university. He was deeply influenced by the pan-Africanist teachings of history, culture, politics, and Black pride by Bruce Bridges, the store owner. In 2015, Lilly became a paid organizer with the Marxist-Leninist World Workers Party. The party had been around since 1959, and Lilly was impressed that the tenets of socialism were at the core of the Black Panther Party. He was paid $800 a month, with benefits that included one meal a day. “The Party leadership asked me, would I like to organize full-time?” Lilly says. It was

fighting yelling teaching staying alive on the frontline imprisoned exiled wounded still living loving her people from the outer edges etched within our hearts tucked safely within our minds one dark woman well-dressed in plaid shadows called afro-freedom clawing scratching scraping staying alive on the frontline wow what a warrior wow what a woman what a wonderful general she’s been

no-brainer. “You gonna pay me to be in the revolution? I’ll take it. I was already doing this work for free for several years.” Lilly was a committed foot soldier. He was present at some of the nation’s most volatile anti-racism protests, but he had also joined dozens of demonstrators here in Durham against the police-involved deaths of Jesus Huerta, Derek Walker, and Jesse Ocampo, along with Stephanie Nickerson, who was the victim of police excessive force, and Carlos Riley Jr., who was charged with shooting a police officer and later acquitted. In late 2015, party leaders asked Lilly to be their vice presidential candidate. Lilly never intended to run for political office and was hesitant. “They told me, ‘Just keep being yourself,’” he said. And so, he quietly made history with Monica Moorehead, his teacher and mentor— who is also Black—at the top of the ticket. The candidates offered a 10-point platform

no peanut butter and strawberry jam no mayonnaise and fried “baloney” no honey no syrup no grandma’s country molasses we ate the week-old bread plain and were thankful for that remembering how just last month there was nothing at all no bread no spreads no nothing nothing at all

that called for an “end of the war on Black people,” reparations, an end to racism, the abolishment of capitalism, and an end to the mass incarceration of Black and Latinx youths. The Moorehead-Lilly ticket made four state ballots. “We knew we weren’t going to win,” Lilly says. “We used the campaign as a launching pad around antiracism work, reparations, and colonialism.” Lilly is still a committed socialist, but he left the Workers World Party in early 2018, soon after Durham activists (including fellow party members) pulled down the Confederate statue in front of the old courthouse on Main Street. Lilly was not with the activists who knocked over the statue, but he led the support for them after their arrests and more demonstrations. “A lot of people are not aware of who brought it down,” Lilly says. “Five out of the eight arrestees were Workers World Party members. We were not just activists. We were professional organizers.” For decades, right-wing critics have tried to discredit protests and agitation for equality—including the civil rights movement—as attempts by the Communist Party to destabilize the government. (That point is espe-

cially rich with the current White House resident’s ongoing bromance with Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-Un.) Lilly brushes aside that criticism. “Terms like ‘communist’ and ‘left’ or ‘right’ lose focus of the issues,” he says. “The real question should be, ‘Is it just or not? Does it preserve lives and save the Earth, or does it look to profit from it?’” Durham sheriff’s deputies ransacking the West Durham home he shared with two other party members while looking for the ladder used to tear down the statue was one thing, but Lilly says the local party branch started fielding calls from all over the country from people who wanted to join their branch. Membership increased. Lilly felt like the group was being targeted. The local party grew from a small, tightknit cohesive unit into a large organization where nerves were frayed because those who were arrested for the statue faced felony charges. “Mix in a little ego, mix in pride, the bickering and infighting; it tears away at the cohesion,” he says. Three months after the statue came down, Lilly says, he was sitting in a party meeting wondering, “Who are these people?” “Knowing who is beside you is a matter of safety,” he says. “The same [infiltration strategies] happened to the Black Panther Party.” The Black Lives Matter movement has recently come under attack by some members of the Republican Party, along with some Black and white evangelicals, who criticize it as “godless” and socialist. Lilly says labels can be distractions from the truth. “The real question is, are these laws just or unjust?” he says. “Do they serve all people or just rich white men?” It’s a new season of activism for Lilly. In addition to working at an Indian restaurant in Chapel Hill, he writes for Truthout, a nonprofit news organization. He mentors young people who visit his home and has increasingly turned to writing poetry to reach diverse audiences, particularly young people. Lilly is pretty sure the FBI has compiled a file on his activist activities and that he’s “no longer under the radar.” He chooses his words carefully. “At this point, what’s most important is sharing this history and these experiences with the next generation,” he says. “If we don’t teach them the truth they’ll think that the police kneeling at protests or painting big block letters in the street equals progress. The revolutionaries of today have to teach the revolutionaries of tomorrow. If we don’t, there won’t be any more revolutionaries.” W

August 26, 2020


Back Alley Bikes Best Bike Shop in Orange / Chatham County

Best CD / reCorD store in the triAngle Schoolkids Records

Best Bike shop in WAke County

The Scrap Exchange

Oak City Cycling

Best ComiC Book store in the triAngle

Best erotiC gifts in the triAngle

Atomic Empire

Cherry Pie

FINALISTS Adam & Eve Stores; Frisky Business Boutique; Priscilla McCall’s

Best Consignment/thrift shop in DurhAm County

Best fABriC store in the triAngle

TROSA Thrift Store and Donation Center

Cary Quilting Company

FINALISTS Fifi’s Fine Resale Apparel; Rumors Durham; Scrap Thrift

Best Bike shop in DurhAm County

Best Bookstore in the triAngle

Best Consignment/ thrift shop in orAnge / ChAthAm County

Bullseye Bicycle

Quail Ridge Books

Rumors Chapel Hill

FINALISTS Bicycle Chain—Durham; Durham Cycles; Seven Stars Cycles

FINALISTS Flyleaf Books; Page 158 Books; The Regulator Bookshop

FINALISTS Chatham PTA Thrift Shop; Clothes Mentor Chapel Hill; My Secret Closet

Best Bike shop in orAnge / ChAthAm County

Best ButCher shop in the triAngle

Best Consignment/thrift shop in WAke County

Back Alley Bikes

Cliff’s Meat Market

Father & Son Antiques

FINALISTS The Butcher’s Market; Carolina Butcher Shop; Steve’s Garden Market & Butchery

FINALISTS Cause for Paws Thrift Shop; Dorcas Thrift Shop; Next Consignment Boutique

FINALISTS Bicycle Chain—Chapel Hill; The Clean Machine; Recyclery NC 16

August 26, 2020

FINALISTS Play4Life Comics; Ultimate Comics Durham/ Chapel Hill; Ultimate Comics Raleigh

FINALISTS All-Star Bike Shops; Cycle Logic; Giant Wake Forest

FINALISTS CompostNow; Fillaree Storefront; Lend A Box Raleigh

FINALISTS Freeman’s Creative; Jerry’s Artarama of Raleigh; Wish Upon A Quilt

The Scrap Exchange

FINALISTS Chaz’s Bull City Records; Hunky Dory; Nice Price Books & Records; Volume Records & Beer

Best Art / CrAft supply store in the triAngle

Best environmentAlly frienDly Business in the triAngle

FINALISTS Freeman’s Creative; Mill Outlet Village; Mulberry Silks & Fine Fabrics

Best florist in the triAngle

Pine State Flowers

FINALISTS Fallon’s Flowers; Flowers on Broad Street; Preston Flowers

Best furniture store in the triAngle TROSA Thrift Store and Donation Center

FINALISTS Capital Discount Furniture; Duvall & Co.; Father & Son Antiques

Best loCal Brand in the trianGle Be Like Missy

FINALISTS 4th Tree—Handmade Women’s Apparel; Munjo Munjo; The Soaperie

Best neW Business in durham County Jeddah’s Tea FINALISTS Crafts & Drafts NC; Triangle Rock Club—Durham

Best neW Business in oranGe / Chatham County Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews

FINALISTS Carolina Hemp Hut—Hillsborough; Deli Edison; Twin House Music

DECO Raleigh Best Gift Shop in Wake County

Best neW Business in Wake County Triangle Pop-Up

FINALISTS Adventures in Bloom; Pace Yourself Run Company; Raleigh Cheesy

Best Garden store in the trianGle

Best Gift shop in Wake County

Best JeWelry store in durham County

Logan’s Garden Shop

DECO Raleigh


Best pet speCialty store in the trianGle

FINALISTS Hamilton Hill Jewelry; Light Years; Zola Craft Gallery


FINALISTS Fifth Season Gardening; Garden Supply Company; Homewood Nursery & Garden Center; Stone Brothers & Byrd

Best Gift shop in durham County Morgan Imports

FINALISTS Hometown Apparel; Parker and Otis; Vaguely Reminiscent

Best Gift shop in oranGe / Chatham County Womancraft Gifts

FINALISTS A Little Something; Hillsborough Gallery of Arts; This & That Gift Gallery

FINALISTS The Green Monkey; LILYMAES; Our Moments In Time

Best hardWare store in the trianGle

Best JeWelry store in oranGe / Chatham County

Fitch Lumber & Hardware

Light Years

FINALISTS B & W Hardware; Holly Springs Ace Hardware; Triangle Ace Hardware FINALISTS Carlisle & Linny Vintage Jewelry; Melissa Designer Jewelry; Womancraft Gifts FINALISTS Oliver’s Collar Dog Treat Bakery & Boutique; Other End of the Leash Pet Boutique & Bakery; Unleashed, the Dog & Cat Store at Lake Boone Shopping Center

Best plaCe to Buy loCally made art in durham County The Mothership (closed)

Best international market in the trianGle

Best JeWelry store in Wake County

Li Ming’s Global Market

Bailey’s Fine Jewelry

FINALISTS Grand Asia Market; Spice Bazaar; Ten Thousand Villages

FINALISTS Durham Craft Market; Durham Night Market; Zola Craft Gallery

FINALISTS Diamonds Direct Raleigh; LILYMAES; Little Details

August 26, 2020


Best plaCe to Buy loCally maDe art in orange / Chatham County

Best salvage / re-use Business in the triangle

Womancraft Gifts

FINALISTS Hillsborough Arts Council; Hillsborough Gallery of Arts; Sweet Bee Caffe

The Scrap Exchange FINALISTS Habitat Wake ReStore—Cary; Habitat Wake ReStore—Raleigh; TROSA Thrift Store and Donation Center

Best plaCe to Buy loCally Best store to Buy maDe art in Wake County eyeglasses in the triangle Raleigh Night Market

FINALISTS Adventures in Bloom; Our Moments In Time; Triangle Pop-Up

Warby Parker FINALISTS Carolina Family Vision; SPECS Eye Care; Upchurch Optical Center

Best retail Beer seleCtion in Durham County

Best toy/kiDs store in the triangle

Sam’s Bottle Shop

Ali Cat Toys

FINALISTS Beer Study; The Glass Jug Beer Lab; Ramblers

FINALISTS Crowemag Toys; Learning Express Toys; Tiny

Best retail Beer seleCtion in orange / Chatham County

Best vintage / antique store in the triangle

Beer Study

FINALISTS Carrboro Beverage Company; House of Hops; Weaver Street Market

Father & Son Antiques FINALISTS Cheshire Cat Antique Gallery; Gibson Girl Vintage; Pigfish Lane Antiques & Interiors; SuzAnna’s Antiques

Best Wine shop in Best retail Beer seleCtion in Wake County Durham County Black Dog Bottle Shop

FINALISTS Greenway Beer and Wine—Raleigh; The Green Monkey; Peace Street Market

Best running store in the triangle Fleet Feet Carrboro

FINALISTS Bull City Running Co.; Fleet Feet Raleigh; Pace Yourself Run Company

Wine Authorities

Best Wine shop in Wake County FINALISTS The Raleigh Wine Shop; Unwined on White; Wine Authorities

FINALISTS Hope Valley Wine & Beverage; LouElla Wine Beer & Beverage; Ramblers

Best Women’s Boutique in Durham County

Best Wine shop in orange / Chatham County

Vaguely Reminiscent

FINALISTS Fifis Fine Resale Apparal; Smitten Boutique; Vert & Vogue

FINALISTS db sutton & co wine shop; Hillsborough Wine Company; Vino!! Wine Shop

Best Women’s Boutique in orange / Chatham County Sofia’s Boutique

FINALISTS Night Gallery—Branching Out; Women’s Birth and Wellness Center Boutique; Womancraft Gifts 18

August 26, 2020

Best Local Brand in the Triangle

Cellar 55

Chapel Hill Wine Company

Be Like Missy

Best Women’s Boutique in Wake County LILYMAES

FINALISTS Autumn & Avery; Little Details; Monroe 26

Best yarn store in the triangle Hillsborough Yarn Shop

FINALISTS Downtown Knits; Freeman’s Creative; Great Yarns


Comfort Zone Back on the Bull gives Durham restaurateurs and diners behavioral-science-backed safety guidelines for dining out during a pandemic BY LAYLA KHOURY-HANOLD


here should we go out to eat?” Remember when the hardest part of answering that question was choosing a restaurant that would satisfy everyone? Now, amid a global pandemic in which fear, anxiety, and uncertainty rule, the guiding principle is safety. The new question is, “Where do we feel comfortable going out to eat?” With a city- and county-supported initiative called Back on the Bull, Durham businesses, including restaurants, can complete a free and voluntary online certification that provides industry-specific health and safety checklists. Diners can search the online database of participating restaurants and see which measures they’re implementing, then make an informed decision about where they’ll feel safest. “[The goal is to] make it as safe as possible for staff and visitors, to increase the understanding of the value businesses are bringing to the community, and to inspire additional support,” says Mariel Beasley, a principal at the Center for Advanced Hindsight at Duke University (CAH), which was tapped by the Durham Recovery & Renewal Task Force to incorporate behavioral-science research into the planning tools. The task force is a group of 15 community members, including public health experts, business leaders, and community and faith leaders, who were appointed to advise Mayor Steve Schewel and Commissioner Chair Wendy Jacobs as Durham reopens. Beasley praises existing programs such as Count on Me NC, a voluntary certification created by the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association

that offers hospitality businesses public health-backed guidelines for protecting consumers. But Back on the Bull’s behavioral-science lens adds another dimension to engendering consumer confidence. “We wanted to peel back the layer a bit and make visible the invisible,” Beasley says. “That transparency is such an important piece to that confidence.” Transparency is key because it helps address risk and probability, concepts that Beasley says human beings don’t understand well, especially with unknown factors such as COVID-19. “People understand that there are risky things going on, but they don’t understand the risk levels,” she explains. “But providing some sort of transparent view into looking at all the things people are doing can help people who are extra cautious to make better judgments and feel safer.” Beasley also says humans have limited attention spans and tend to be egocentric. Thus, we only think of and value what we can easily see in front of us. To that end, Back on the Bull tapped McKinney, a Durham-based creative agency, to develop branding, posters, and social media assets in English and Spanish to visually convey the procedures businesses are implementing. McKinney also designed Back on the Bull’s website (, which includes the planning and certification tool and printable PDFs for each business’ checklist. Before venturing out, consumers can search an online database of all participating businesses, which can be filtered by parameters such as Black-, female-, Hispanic/Latinx-, LGBTQ+-, or other minority-owned businesses. Clicking on a busi-

Luna Rotisserie, one of the businesses participating in Back on the Bull

ness shows the top five health and safety measures it has committed to, as well as an option to view the complete list. The top five for Durham Food Hall, an early adopter of Back on the Bull, includes requiring employees to wear a clean mask each day; removing tables and chairs and arranging them at least six feet apart; screening staff daily, in their native language, for common COVID-19 symptoms; disinfecting the surfaces of frequently touched objects at least once per hour; and posting the CDC guidelines for staff. Back on the Bull checklists and campaign posters are also prominently displayed on the food hall’s entryway windows and inside the space. The transparency in making this information public not only helps to inspire trust among consumers, but also serves as an added commitment device for business owners. “Devices are helpful to follow through on intentions. They give us accountability,” Beasley says. “When restaurants are publicly posting commitments, they’re outsourcing that additional accountability, and they’re more likely to follow through on their intentions.” Posting checklists that clearly outline a business’s health-and-safety measures can also help employees feel safer coming to work. It also helps to convey the added value that participating businesses are bringing to the community.


“Through joining the Back on the Bull campaign and making our dedication to COVID safety front and center, our staff feels a sense of encouragement from the positive reactions we receive from guests,” says Adair Mueller, Durham Food Hall’s founder. “[This] is extremely rewarding right now, when we’re putting so much time and effort into it.” Restaurant owners have also had to redefine hospitality with public health and staff safety in mind. Some of Back on the Bull’s recommendations for dinein service include minimizing table visits by having servers clear the table once everyone has finished. To reduce time spent tableside, servers are encouraged to place all food at the front of the table for guests to distribute themselves. To reduce contaminated surfaces, disposable plates and utensils are recommended, and single-use condiments replace condiment caddies. Implementing and communicating these additional safety measures comes at an added monetary and mental health cost for restaurateurs, something that the average diner probably wouldn’t have thought about pre-pandemic. Hopefully, this transparency will help illuminate what it takes to operate a restaurant and the value of its workforce. Perhaps in the future, diners will ask, “Where should we eat where we know the staff will feel as comfortable as us?” W

August 26, 2020




[Self-released; Aug. 27]

A screenshot from Super Body Games RPG we swear we didn’t know about when we reported this story. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ARTISTS

Coming four years after Body Games’ full-length debut, Damager, three of the four tracks on the new EP have long been staples of their live set. In contrast with the suitably bite-sized demos and remixes of the game’s soundtrack, the songs on Super Body Games EP are big, all shimmering nostalgia and widescreen emotion. The record will eventually be released on its own, but in the meantime, it is a satisfying reward for those persistent enough to finish the quest.


Boss Music Body Games crafts a love letter to Carrboro in the form of a retro video game BY WILL ATKINSON


he concept of a “video galbum”—as electro-pop trio Body Games cheekily describes its newest release—is an obvious attention-grabber. But absurd side-quests and copious references to marijuana aside, Super Body Games RPG is more than a fun gimmick. The game, which will be available to download on the band’s website August 27, is an impressively detailed passion project and a love letter to the town that made Body Games and so many bands like it. The downtown Carrboro featured in Super Body Games RPG will be recognizable to anyone who has spent time on the Main Street corridor. The game’s main character, a genderless alien sent to Earth on a mission to defend the planet from a vaguely defined evil, arrives on the railroad crossing next to Cat’s Cradle. Down the street are recreations of the Orange County Social Club, Jade Palace, and Wendy’s; one block over you’ll find the tables and benches outside Weaver Street Market. 20

August 26, 2020

Along with these local landmarks, the gameplay is stuffed with in-jokes and homages to the Triangle music scene: a radio tuned to 88.1 FM, a remix of al Riggs as the town’s soundtrack, and an abandoned screenplay at All Day Records. (Even the INDY makes a cameo.) As the game progresses, though, it becomes clear that something more sinister lurks behind those familiar storefronts. A concert at the Cradle by Eurodance one-hit wonders Eiffel 65, underway as the game starts, seems to have the town in a weird mood. Something important may be hidden underneath Jade Palace, too, and the Carrboro Century Center contains a few dark secrets. Between the web of absurd adventures—one particularly bizarre sidequest revolves around the actor Jonah Hill—the game’s full soundtrack and the Super Body Games EP become available through download codes, unlocked as a player works through the game.

t’s become a cliché to read our collective quarantine into all the art released during the coronavirus pandemic. Certainly, it’s tempting to feel that way about a six-hour, single-player experience that seems almost tailor-made for being home alone. But anyone who has followed Body Games knows the long-rumored video galbum goes back much further. As the band tells it, in 2014, they were near a point of creative exhaustion. Deep into the production of what would become Damager in 2016, and fresh off of an electrifying Hopscotch set, producer Dax Beaton, vocalist and keyboardist Kate Thompson, and visual artist Adam Graetz longed for a break from the taxing process of writing and recording a full-length album. An idea arose. “What if we could just write music for video games or something?” Beaton recalls thinking. “We kind of talked about it as a joke.” Yet the idea of making a retro game wasn’t that farfetched for Body Games, whose electro-pop is contemporary but whose sensibility is drenched with nineties nostalgia. Graetz, who also makes video art as THEFACESBLUR, drenches their live shows in vaporwave projections; their cover of “Colors of the Wind,” from Disney’s Pocahontas, is a staple. Super Body Games RPG looks like it could have appeared on the Super Nintendo 30 years ago and was specifically inspired by computer adventure games like King’s Quest and Commander Keen. “People said that we made songs that sound like video game music,” Thompson says, noting that their previous releases frequently sampled video games. The Super Body Games EP includes a different video game sample on each of its four tracks, such as 1997 PlayStation hit PaRappa the Rapper on “Night Magic.” Thompson, Beaton, and Graetz batted the idea around, debating which friends they would cast as heroes and which awful sound guy would be the archnemesis, and after the release of Damager, what began as a joke soon became the group’s next big project. With the help of a friend, Derek Gude (formerly of Carrboro’s The Wyrms), Beaton conceived of the basic

th debut, have long e suitably undtrack, shimmercord will meantime, nough to

ntine into Body Games PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ARTISTS andemic. six-hour, storyline and reconstructed Carrboro lor-made using a software called RPG Maker MV, wed Body visiting the local businesses featured oes back in the game to make sure that interior details—like the number of booths or r a point the position of tables in a restaurant— n of what matched closely with reality. Although off of an Beaton had designed small RPGs before, , vocalist neither he nor Gude had formal expeist Adam rience developing a game of this scale, ocess of which would normally involve an entire ea arose. team of collaborators. games or “Pretty quickly, it was obvious that it of talked was going to be way harder to flesh out and not make it a big mess,” Gude says. that far- “We both were in way over our heads.” ontempo- Still, progress on the game kept movties nos- ing. In July 2018, the band announced EFACES- that Super Body Games RPG would arrive ojections; later that year. But by then, Gude had y’s Poca- moved to Wilmington, and Beaton was ks like it singlehandedly writing, developing, and 30 years refining the game. dventure “I just thought, I’ve got to get this out, I’ve got to do it,” Beaton says. “I felt like I ike video wouldn’t allow myself to do anything creprevious atively until this game was done.” uper Body Paralyzed by perfectionism, overe on each whelmed by the amount of feedback the PaRappa beta tests received, Beaton hit a wall. For a while, Super Body Games got stuck a around, at almost-done. And then, of course, roes and 2020 happened, as the band was gearesis, and ing up for a string of never-to-be live sets oke soon in the spring. “We had just started playing again and merly of reacquainting ourselves with our live show he basic and what we really wanted to do,” Thomp-

son says. “Like, yeah, we’ve really got something big going now!” But with the loss of shows also came more time for Super Body Games RPG. They knew that if the game was ever going to be finished, this was the time. With so many people facing financial hardship, the band ultimately decided to release the game free of charge. They’re coordinating with some of the businesses in the game—including OCSC, Cat’s Cradle, and All Day Records—to allow players to make a suggested donation to the fundraiser of their choice when they download. The members of Body Games are now scattered throughout the Triangle: Beaton is still in Carrboro, Thompson is in Raleigh, and Graetz is in Durham. But Super Body Games is very much a Carrboro game, paying tribute to the place where the band put down its roots. “All of the stops in the game are places where we hung out and grew up together in terms of Body Games, the life of a band,” Beaton says. “So it very much fits to try to give back in some way to this goofyass, wonderful town we live in.” Playing the game, it’s oddly comforting to roam through the streets of Carrboro, even if only virtually. With so many of its doors closed in the real world—or, at the very least, limited to the public—the game is an ode to the town’s enduring character and a reminder of better times. There may not be shows at the Cradle for the time being, but in Super Body Games RPG, Carrboro is still open for business. W

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August 26, 2020



Her Take: On Carolina Hip Hop


Sound Pro We visit the studio of Brian Kidd, local hip hop engineer extraordinaire BY KYESHA JENNINGS @kyeshajennings


rian!!! Thank you so much for making this sound so good! You are a legend! Be safe out there!” This note, written on a Post-it, was penned by SaxKixAve, a New Orleans duo made up of Alfred Banks and Albert Allenback (of Tank and the Bangas). It was attached to a vinyl copy of their debut EP, I Don’t Wear Suits, and placed neatly on the futon in Brian Kidd’s home studio. Kidd, a Raleigh-based music engineer, has established himself as the go-to person for mixing-and-mastering needs in the Triangle over the past four years. He has worked on projects Pat Junior, theDeeepEnd, Nance, Defacto Thezpian, LesTheGenius, SkyBlew, Millie Vaughn, Kelly Kale, and Tab-One, just to name a few. He’s also mixed and mastered more than 10 albums that have reached the iTunes charts. Five of them were in the Top 5 Hip Hop charts, and three projects charted on Billboard: Eshon Burgundy’s For the Love of Money, Call Me Ace’s Airplane Mode, and Alfred Banks’s The Beautiful. 22

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I recently visited Kidd’s home studio, which he says was inspired by Common and the late J Dilla’s basement studio when the two were roommates. On walking in, I was immediately impressed by the professional setup. I was curious about how each machine operated, which switches controlled what. Most of the gear is for engineering, but there’s also a Maschine Studio DAW, or digital audio workstation, that’s more for producing original music than for perfecting existing music. “Probably about to get back into production,” Kidd says. “I haven’t produced in like ten years.” Originally from Hampton, Virginia, Kidd grew up as the son of a pastor and a choir director. His interest in music was first sparked by his upbringing in the church. “Because of my parents, music was all throughout the house, so definitely that’s what sparked the bug in me,” he says. “What evolved into me thinking where I wanted to go with it was when I heard Little Brother’s first album, The Listening. I was like, ‘I got to do something in music.’” His affinity for Little Brother led him to major in audio recording technology— and to get out of Virginia. “I was looking at North Carolina Central, Elizabeth City, Barton College, and ODU [Old Dominion University],” he says. “I crossed out ODU because I didn’t want to be home … It’s right down the street.” After comparing the three North Carolina colleges, he landed on Barton. From the start, he had his parents’ full support. They took him to tour the college and were impressed by the professors and the school’s recording studio. While Kidd was in school, his dad, a schoolteacher who knew a lot of people on the scene and at the school, connected him with a local musician who offered a summer internship. “There was a guy named Martin Blockson,” Kidd says. “He was a saxophonist, a jazz player, a recording engineer—just an all-around dope musician from Hampton. He went to Berklee College of Music, and he also worked with Lena Hathaway and other prominent jazz folks. He showed me the ins and outs of recording. I would just sit and watch for hours.”

After graduating, Kidd put together a plan that, in retrospect, was genius. Upon realizing that most artists included their emails on their Twitter bios, he emailed all of his favorite artists requesting to work with them. “I always tell people, thank God for K-Hill,” Kidd says. “I didn’t know him at all. I just knew of his music, and he was one of my favorite rappers. He hit me back and took me under his wing. He was like, ‘Hey man, anything I got, you got.’” K-Hill’s mentorship afforded Kidd the experience he needed as an emerging audio engineer. K-Hill had a production deal with a label, Neblina Records, and passed on Kidd’s name. “At the time, I was doing stuff for free to get my name out. And K-Hill was like ‘I’ma see if I can get you paid by the label,’” Kidd says. “I always thanked K-Hill for that.” That connection led to many others, and now, Kidd has worked with artists all over the world—from North Carolina to New Orleans, Los Angeles, Texas, South Africa, and Australia. Over the past few years, Kidd’s ability to network and seek out opportunities has proven to be his biggest strength. An email he sent to Nashville emcee Dee Goodz paid off years after he sent it when the rapper finally reached out. “I had hit them up prior, but in 2015, he was like, ‘Yo, B Kidd, I got this project. It’s about done. You down to mix it?’’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, of course,’” Kidd says. Grammy-winning producer Chase N. Cashe—whose prior credits include Drake, Beyoncé, The Pussycat Dolls, and J. Cole— produced Dee Goodz’s project. Kidd’s work and work ethic impressed Cashe, and the two began to build their own relationship, which has now gone on for five years. In 2016, Kidd relocated from Wilson to the Triangle. Prior to moving, he would rent a car for one day, knowing his unreliable car could not make the hourlong drive, just to network at local music shows and events. Now, during the day, Kidd works as a service specialist for the City of Raleigh, but with his increased success, music has become his primary source of income. His knowledge of music and sound, coupled with his ability to build and sustain relationships, has led him to become North Carolina’s engineer extraordinaire. W


Dancing on Air The power of movement in Sylvan Esso’s videos is more precious than ever in the pandemic BY AMANDA WICKS


ovement is a staple of Sylvan Esso videos. Think of the community dance in “Coffee,” the lone male dancer in “Kick Jump Twist,” and the choreographed exuberance of “PARAD(w/m)E.” In part, it’s just a natural extension of the Durham duo’s potent, rippling rhythms. What better way to materialize their sound than to show bodies moving in tandem with it? Movement again features prominently in Sylvan Esso’s newest videos, “Ferris Wheel” and “Rooftop Dancing,” as their third album, Free Love, approaches on September 25. The visuals do more than demonstrate movement for movement’s sake: They celebrate the way physicality connects us to our bodies and our bodies connect us to our communities at a time when that feels more precious than ever. Finding our unique rhythms in the beat of a song— what those with grace to spare call “dancing”—helps us to inhabit not just ourselves but the world at large. But the coronavirus pandemic has changed the nature of movement, confining us to our homes and deterring us from gathering together. Being “out and about” now feels less like sharing space and more like maneuvering through it as quickly and distantly as we can, which is what makes Sylvan Esso’s latest videos so gratifying.

Amelia Meath


In “Ferris Wheel,” singer Amelia Meath dances by herself in an empty amusement park, winding and wending as if her body were water. It’s evident and empowering how much she lives in and loves her body. Meath has regularly appeared—and danced—in Sylvan Esso’s previous visuals, but here, she commands the empty space, asserting her body and its might. The focus on Meath’s solitary form against the park’s saturated backdrop came out of necessity. Sylvan Esso explained on Instagram that the video was shot safely, which meant limiting who appeared in front of the camera. But “Rooftop Dancing” is different, broadening the number of people while relying heavily on video shot using digital camcorders and smartphones. There’s nothing official about the production’s crew and set, and it captures a reverential glimpse of the way people still move, still dance, despite everything.

“Rooftop Dancing” shows a mishmash of New Yorkers dancing in parks, streets, and on rooftops, as the title promises. Indoors or outdoors, they move quietly, their twirls and sashays restrained, as though they can still hear the echoing cautions from earlier this spring, when the city morphed into an epicenter. But nevertheless, they move. “Ferris Wheel” and “Rooftop Dancing” elevate the power of movement in Sylvan Esso’s music higher than ever before, not despite but because of the circumstances in which they were created. I, for one, feel moved to move—not for exercise or errands, but as a means to reconnect to the present moment and the space I require for it. As Meath sings on “Rooftop Dancing,” “We’re all running, outrunning death/Summertime breaking, but we’re chasing it/Forever rooftop dancing.”W

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Through Aug. 30 | Pleiades Arts at Power Plant Gallery | Clarence Heyward, “Covered” PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ARTIST

Moment of Truth Pleaides Arts’ annual social-justice exhibit valiantly grapples with the digital divide BY GEORGE JENNE


peak Truth to Power is the title of a 1955 Quaker pamphlet that pushed against America’s commitment to violence as international doctrine. It continued to reflect America’s struggles in 2013, when Durham’s Pleiades Arts—then a physical gallery, now a community arts organization—adopted the pamphlet’s spirit and title for its first-annual group exhibit addressing matters of social justice. This month, in its eighth incarnation, Truth to Power launched into a perfect storm, when structural racism dominated the conversation and a relentless pandemic forced us to experience art without ever setting foot in a gallery. This is to say that, culturally, it couldn’t be a better time for an activist exhibit meant to bring people together in dialogue with the art and one another. But practically, it couldn’t be worse. The show is housed at Power Plant Gallery, an arm of Duke’s Experimental and Documentary Arts MFA program. It’s bound to Duke’s COVID-19 response guidelines, which require the space to remain closed for the foreseeable future. In lieu of wandering the gallery, you can walk through an online catalog of the show. 24

August 26, 2020

Pleiades does its level best to translate An oil painting by Bethany Bash titled the power of each work from the gallery “Self portrait as Amy Cooper” spins us into into the digital realm. Each artist gets a two- an entirely different perspective on racism. page spread that displays their work along It conjures a phrase from the Quaker pamwith text and a supplementary video link. For phlet that says, in bold, “The Necessity of anyone immersed in contemporary art, it’s Self Examination.” Bash depicts herself as a given that a JPEG on a computer screen the notorious white woman who called the pales in comparison to the real thing. So the cops on a Black birdwatcher in Central online format is apt, in that it feeds a frus- Park after he asked her to leash her dog. tration that is inherent to this sudden, nec- The woman falsely claimed that he was essary withholding of cultural experiences. threatening her. Keep in mind that we are witnessing a Bash’s assertive brush work and vivid pioneering moment when galleries and art colors translate well into luminescent institutions are inventing new exhibition pixels. A sullen, suspicious character strategies as they wade through the pan- looms over her nervous pup, frowning. demic. They are probing new digital territo- Her expression provides a subtle dose of ry so that they will remain financially sound humor that mocks the real Amy Cooper, and continue to provide for their artists and who was arrested, lost her job, and tempatrons, regardless of physical space. porarily had to forfeit her dog. No one would claim that this is the In the aftermath, Bash was struck by ideal medium for, say, large-scale paint- the reaction of white women who found ings, but if you take your time explor- one way or another to separate theming the catalog, the effort pays dividends. selves from Cooper, writing, “We need to Jurors Angel Dozier and Cornelio Cam- make the difficult dive into our own racpos selected 30 artists who represent a ism so that we can uncover what is lurking buoying swath of personalities and expe- below our consciousness.” riences. The texture of the show is satiating in its breadth, while each “We are witnessing a selection is steadfastly anchored to the com- pioneering moment when mon cause. galleries and art institutions The pieces that stand out transcend the dig- are inventing new exhibition ital format by playing directly to its strengths. strategies as they wade Rox Campbell’s “Color Bar: American South” through the pandemic.” is at home on the computer screen. The short video is structured It’s entirely possible that there are even around a color bar of progressively darker better works in the show that shine best gradients of brown. Campbell pairs each on the walls of Power Plant’s physical tone with a personal tale told by a young space. But only when we walk through Black man in intimate close up. The stories the gallery, stand inches from the art, are touching and disturbing at once. rest our heads to one side and soak it all The understated quality of the video is in, will we know. striking, and the correlation of each subFor now, for the sake of the artists and ject’s skin tone to a bluntly graphic color for the sake of the cause that Truth to swatch carries the piece on an abstract Power represents, we can embrace one of level. Campbell describes the color bar as the early attempts at bringing an overtly “a frame in which the racialization and gen- political exhibition to view when a multidering of Black males in our society can be tude of forces—natural, social, and politiviewed and denounced.” cal—seem deadset on repression. W



Saturday, Aug. 29, 7:00 p.m. | free | Virtual premiere at The Carolina Theatre | Camilla, Keep Your Word PHOTO COURTESY OF BLUE CUP PRODUCTIONS

Eye of the Storm Hurricane Katrina shaped Durham filmmaker Holland Gallagher’s life. Now, it shapes his new short, Camilla, Keep Your Word. BY MATT GOAD


n 2005, Holland R. Gallagher, 11 years old and living happily in New Orleans, was unaware that his world was about to be turned upside down. That, of course, is when Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts, leaving millions homeless. Gallagher and his parents fled to North Carolina, ending up in Durham after a brief stay in Charlotte. They had originally planned to head to Texas, but when they saw how many others from New Orleans were going that way, they drove a little farther to North Carolina, instead, where they had some relatives to stay with for a while. Gallagher was able to take his iPod and the clothes on his back, but not much else. “In retrospect, it kind of changed my whole life,” Gallagher said. Once here, though, Gallagher thrived. He ended up at UNC, where he studied arts entrepreneurship and statistics. He also met Taylor Sharp, a fellow UNC student with an interest in film. They would go on to form a

Durham-based partnership, Blue Cup Productions, a couple of years after both graduated. Their latest production is a short film, a romantic drama set in Louisiana during Katrina called Camilla, Keep Your Word. It is also a further step into narrative filmmaking for Blue Cup, which until now has mostly produced documentaries. Holland and Sharp plan to keep making documentaries but also get deeper into the world of fictional storytelling in the future. Gallagher has been writing screenplays since he was a student and has plenty of ideas yet to be realized on film. He originally wrote Camilla as a full-length feature, but he and Sharp decided to shorten it to make it cheaper and easier to make. After Gallagher and Sharp graduated and had been working on films independently for a couple years, they had a meeting to compare their experiences and ideas. Gallagher told Sharp about his idea for Camilla at that first meeting. Blue Cup and The Carolina Theatre will host the virtual premiere at 7:00 p.m. Saturday, August 29, on the the-

ater’s Facebook page. Carolina Theatre members, sponsors, and supporters will have an opportunity to screen Camilla in advance and ask questions of the filmmakers in a post-film Q&A that will be recorded. Though the film has been seen at local festivals such as River Run, Full Bloom, the Carrboro Film Festival, and the Charlotte Film Festival, this is the first time it’s available to the public. The screening also marks the 15th anniversary of Katrina hitting New Orleans. “It feels full circle now to be putting out this film in Durham,” Sharp says. Although Gallagher was still a child when he and his family fled the hurricane abruptly, the lead characters in the 15-minute film look to be in their early twenties. The film focuses on a couple that has presumably been together for years but that is going through a major fight over moving in together when they check into a hotel to shelter from the storm. Gallagher says that a devastating fact of life during Katrina was that phones were out long after the storm passed. In the world of the film, the main character, Remy, can’t reach his family back in New Orleans, even though he and his girlfriend, Natalie, are safely out of the storm’s path. Gallagher wrote and directed the film, and Sharp produced it. Gallagher got into the world of film through his interest in hip-hop. He used to make DIY rap tracks and has served as producer for North Carolina rappers like Well$ and Ace Henderson. “Making rap music with my friends kind of got me into the arts scene in Durham,” he says. Working on music led to making documentaries about hip-hop. In 2018, Gallagher released a web series called Hype about the music scene in Durham and the influx of tech money into the city—a sort of fictionalized documentary. It also premiered at Carolina Theatre. He followed it with two short documentaries on Durham rap stars Little Brother, one about the group’s debut album and one about its reunion at the 2018 Art of Cool festival. Gallagher plans to make a full-length documentary about Little Brother in the near future, and he says Blue Cup’s next project will be a full-length version of Hype. Before Blue Cup, Sharp started out by making a fulllength documentary called Hoops Africa: Ubuntu Matters, a collection of stories that celebrates the past, present, and future of basketball in Africa. It features NBA stars Dikembe Mutombo, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Chris Paul, and the NBA was a partner in making the film. Sharp says they each bring something unique to the Blue Cup table. While Sharp has more experience in the world of film than Gallagher, Gallagher has the ideas. The storytelling and production values of Camilla, Keep Your Word indicate that the duo, as it were, is going to live up to the Hype. W

August 26, 2020




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ROOMMATES—ORANGE COUNTY 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; and permission for a connection to broadband Internet service, preferably in the Hillsborough area (but anywhere in Orange County is fine), beginning anytime between September 1, 2020 and December 1, 2020. I am now renting a room in a home in Hillsborough. Our rental agreement ends on August 31, 2020 but can be extended through November 30, 2020. I am a 72 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 or (919) 245-0972.


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Your business JYOTISHMATI YOGA photo here!SHALA CARRBORO 309 W. Weaver St. Suite 300 - Second Floor Carrboro, NC 27510 (919) 704-5365 •


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evout yogi and veteran yoga instructor Lyndsay Bahn opened Jyotishmati Yoga Shala in Carrboro in June of 2016 to offer intelligent, intuitive and experientially-based yoga teachings to the surrounding community. Jyotishmati is translated as “illuminated,” and Lyndsay’s focus is to aid in bringing the light out of everyone she encounters.

Weekly deadline 4pm Friday

Lyndsay has been practicing yoga as a way of life for over 12 years with an emphasis on physical, mental, emotional and spiritual therapy. Few know the anatomy of movement and alignment like Lyndsay does through her own difficult personal journey, and she offers her compassion and expertise every day to a vibrant community of yogis at The Shala.


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E TEMB P The Shala offers classes that bring students toEnew S : a deeper heights in their practices and lives simply HbyTfinding I Gconnecting Lworks, se understanding of how the body the mind i T c O r P S e and body together for healing, as well as deeper focus and x NESS S Iawareness. r ts/E


Many yoga teachers and advanced practitioners find their way to Lyndsay’s classes to deepen their knowledge, but classes are available to all levels of practice, from brandnew beginner to advanced practitioner. Often, students find themselves feeling as if they are experiencing a private lesson in the midst of a group of other students doing the same.

200-250 words about your Lyndsay has done trainings and taught classes nationally and abroad for over 8 years, and is thrilled to be stationed in business! Carrboro. Classes regularly include sun salutations followed We emphasize supportive relationships, so there is a regular offering of individual instruction to anyone who is interested in receiving it. Students will feel challenged, yet supported and empowered.

by a mix of standing poses, seated poses, forward bends, backward bends, twists, arm balances, inversions, hip openers, breath work, chanting and meditation, all based upon a call to share her own path to joy.

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