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Raleigh | Durham | Chapel Hill September 30, 2020

Mysterious out-of-state money owns more of Durham than ever, and there’s little the city can do about it BY MATT HARTMAN, P. 16


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Raleigh W Durham W Chapel Hill

Art in Dix Park, p. 19

VOL. 37 NO. 36

PHOTO BY JADE WILSON

CONTENTS NEWS 10 12 13 14 15

Another summer of gun violence shakes Durham. BY THOMASI MCDONALD Host Homes are a safety net for LGBTQ youth. BY MARY KING A census worker counts his blessings on the road. BY FRED WASSER Who decides which protesters are good or bad? BY LEIGH TAUSS Gig workers risk being lost in the scramble for unemployment benefits. BY DEBBIE MATTHEWS

FEATURE 16 Lost in the hedge maze of out-of-state money that owns much of Durham. BY MATT HARTMAN

FOOD 20 K&W Cafeterias trades on decades of devotion to navigate the pandemic. BY SARAH EDWARDS

MUSIC 22 Hiss Golden Messenger gets emotional for Durham Public Schools. BY JORDAN LAWRENCE

23 Northside Rocky and the art of the perfect Instagram presence. BY KYESHA JENNINGS

CULTURE 24

Tales of terror in Monsterland and 12 Hour Shift.

BY ZACK SMITH, RYAN VU

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BACKTALK

Last week, we reported that a group of mostly white protesters damaged about 40 businesses in downtown Durham during a protest calling for justice for Breonna Taylor. Earlier in the week, news broke the police officers that killed Taylor would not be indicted in her death. Durham Mayor Steve Schewel accused the protesters of hijacking the social justice movement, which some activists rebuked—“The white person ‘co-opting the racial justice movement for their own purposes’ in Durham right now is Steve Schewel”—and which we also reported. “Usually agree with the INDY, but this piece is awful. What exactly are you trying to say?!” wrote Facebook user CHRISTOPHER BOYCE. “In this case I think the INDY’s and the city’s focus is just all wrong. We were seeing peaceful protests throughout most of the summer. Something has clearly changed and the focus now should simply be on protecting these downtown business owners from rioting and vandalism. The irony here is these very businesses have been supportive of the protests. Considering how they are already struggling through this pandemic, the last thing they need is this hair splitting around who did what instead of how what was done was wrong and how the city can stop it from playing out again.” “Gentrification is violence towards black and brown folks most often,” wrote user JEF GIL. “We can debate tactics all we want but part of this seems to be calling attention to that. The gentrification process often results in increased police violence and harassment to get those they don’t want out. In part, Breonna Taylor’s murder was the result of increased policing in a neighborhood they undergoing gentrification.” “‘Dear White People, Pretty please stay home so our goon squad can more easily arrest the folks they enjoy arresting. Thank you for your compliance The Boots’ is all I took away from that” added Facebook user SCHLOP E. JOES. On Saturday, Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin instituted a curfew in Raleigh ahead of planned protests. About a dozen protesters were arrested that night. “A better idea would be to not tear gas people,” wrote SCOTT ROOKER. “I fart on your curfew Mary Ann Baldwin.” “She will be making different decisions when they show up at her residence,” wrote CLAY CULPEPPER. “Then [she] would understand what it is like to have a business downtown. Oh that’s right if she hasn’t figured it out by now she probably [won’t]. Election time we will remember.”

voices

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Judgment Day When it comes to stocking the Supreme Court, it’s time to stop pretending that Democrats and Republicans are playing the same game BY JONATHAN WEILER @jonweiler

iberals have complained about Republican hypocrisy for decades. I’ve been one of them. It’s time to stop. The premise of such complaints is that two sides are playing a game by a common set of rules. But the GOP stopped playing that game a long time ago. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death two weeks ago has touched off the latest round of such handwringing. You all know the story. In 2016, when Justice Scalia died, the Republican-controlled Senate didn’t merely reject Obama’s proposed nominee to replace him. They refused even to consider him, holding no hearings, let alone a vote. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his allies argued then that, with less than nine months until election day, the people should decide who gets to appoint the next justice, determined by whomever wins the forthcoming presidential election. The premise that the president isn’t really president in his final year in office is as nonsensical as it sounds. McConnell’s decision to replace Ginsburg within weeks of a presidential election confirms that. Liberals have decried this latest bald-faced rejection of a precedent that McConnell claimed as sacrosanct four years ago. In the meantime, as McConnell has shown, the only rule that matters is that the composition of the Supreme Court is to be determined by whichever party has the power to do so. By that rule, if Joe Biden does win the presidency and Democrats retake the Senate, the question will be whether Democrats should pack the court. Those who are reticent about reshaping the court fear that to do so would turn it into a political football and undermine the stature and credibility of the judiciary, the branch of government typically deemed most immune to the crass realities of politics. Further, it’s what authoritarian leaders do, scholars of democratic backsliding warn. On the other hand, many legal scholars have noted that the extensive American practice of judicial review— whereby courts scrutinize and overturn duly enacted laws that are deemed in conflict with larger legal and constitutional principles—is a global outlier. According

to this line of thinking, perhaps our courts have too much status and authority to contravene small-d democratic will. To take one notable example, by a 5-4 vote, the Roberts court in 2013 gutted the Voting Rights Act on flimsy legal grounds. And that law had been most recently reaffirmed in the Senate by a 98-0 vote. Should courts have the authority to overturn such clear expressions of democratic will, especially on such questionable legal pretexts? Of course, liberals relied on courts for a long time to reject laws they deemed antithetical to their values and interests. And now they face the growing prospect that many of their priorities could meet a similar end. The nomination and certain confirmation of the ultra-conservative Amy Coney Barrett puts Roe v. Wade and the Affordable Care Act in serious jeopardy. That this is a predictable result of the appointment of a new justice belies the idea that justices are neutral arbiters who just call balls and strikes, as Chief Justice Roberts famously avowed during his confirmation hearings in 2005. Indeed, it would be hard to find a more nakedly partisan and political decision than the High Court’s 5-4 ruling in Bush v. Gore, in which five Republican justices effectively stopped a legal recount of the vote in Florida in 2000, which essentially handed the presidency to Republican George W. Bush. This is not to suggest that all court rulings equally reflect such nakedly political considerations. But the fact is that the judicial branch, up to and including the Supreme Court, is already “political,” and the least democratically accountable branch of government. A decision to expand the size of the Supreme Court would be a perilous one, not to be taken lightly. But it would also be an arguably long-overdue recognition of the nature of the game of judicial politics Republicans have long been playing. When Republican elites respond by decrying Democratic hypocrisy for “politicizing the court” and unfair “power grabs”—and of course they will—Democrats need not apologize for having finally caught on. 2 Voices is made possible by contributions to the INDY Press Club. Join today at KeepItINDY.com.

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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.


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15 MINUTES Jim Bille, 58 Pumpkin sculptor on The Food Network’s Halloween Wars BY SUZANNAH CLAIRE PERRY backtalk@indyweek.com

How did you get into pumpkin sculpting? I’m a computer animator here in Raleigh, so I spend all day inside on the computer. I like to work with my hands, so I pick up various other hobbies. Pumpkin sculpting started out as a hobby. I’m a big fan of Halloween; it’s my second favorite holiday, and the whole jack-o’-lantern thing was always interesting. I found out about five years back that people were actually sculpting pumpkins, and I picked it up from there. It’s addictive. I started taking it more seriously after about a year or so. I learned as much as I could as fast as I could.

How did you hear about this Food Network opportunity? I saw a couple of images online, and that’s what got me interested, seeing pumpkins fashioned in a different way. As I started to explore that, and seeing people like Deane Arnold and Sue Beatrice—all of these people had been on Halloween Wars. After a couple of years, I actually found the show on The Food Network channel and binged all the seasons. I told my wife, “I’m going on that show.” If you want to get better, you have to challenge yourself. That’s where the best pumpkin carvers were. So I wanted to go be with them and learn from them.

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE FOOD NETWORK

What makes your pumpkin sculpting style unique, and how did you develop it? I learned just like every artist learns: by copying. If you’re a painter, initially, you learn by copying all the artists over in Europe, by sketching “David” and the “Mona Lisa,” and eventually, you develop your own style. So you see other pumpkin sculptors’ styles, and you sort of play with them. I do a number of different art techniques, character cartooning, that sort of thing. I pull that into my sculptures and make them 3D, instead of just linework, by adding form to them. Lately I’ve been playing lately with going off photo references and getting more of the subtleties of the facial expressions and the folds of the skin, trying to find references online of people making extreme faces and getting the flavor of that. The team [on the show] is so very supportive. If I have a question about any technique, I can hop online, get in touch with them, and they’re happy to share. We’ve had Zoom carving sessions with butternut squashes because pumpkins are seasonal, and we like to keep it moving and fresh. Everybody there—not only the pumpkin carvers, but the cake makers and the sugar artists, too—is so talented. You can’t come off that show without learning something. The stories they tell with these displays are pretty incredible, too. It’s fun to be a part of, and it’s fun to watch. W

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Your week. Every Wednesday. 6

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A WE E K IN THE L IFE

9/22

JOE BIDEN visits Charlotte, his first trip to North Carolina since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Roy Cooper says that OUTDOOR VENUES with a capacity greater than 10,000 can open at 7 percent capacity, clearing the way for a partial reopening of live sports and entertainment.

9/23

A Kentucky grand jury indicts one of the police officers who shot and killed BREONNA TAYLOR with wanton endangerment. Protesters in Durham take to the streets to condemn the decision. Two Republican members of the N.C. STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS resign to protest a proposed settlement that would likely increase the total number of counted ballots statewide. The proposed settlement would allow voters to correct deficient information on absentee ballots without requesting a new ballot. NC STATE announces a plan for in-person, hybrid, and online learning for the spring semester. The new semester would start on January 11 and end on April 29, with residence halls opened at reduced capacity.

9/24

The N.C. State Board of Election reports that North Carolinians have requested 1,002,874 ABSENTEE BALLOTS, an unprecedented surge. The Board reports that just fewer than half of the ballot requests were from Democratic-affiliated voters, while around 18 percent came from registered Republicans.

9/25

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reports 1,693 COVID-19 CASES. The state has reported 208,248 cases as of press time.

9/26

AMY CONEY BARRETT is nominated to the Supreme Court by President Donald Trump. Senate Republicans, including those who have voted against Trump in the past, like Mitt Romney, have indicated that they will confirm Barrett to the Court using a simple majority. Barrett, a 48-year-old conservative, would tip the Supreme Court to the right after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death earlier this month. Read Jonathan Weiler’s Voices column for more on how Democrats might respond to Barrett’s nomination. Protesters in DOWNTOWN RALEIGH rally against corruption following the Kentucky grand jury’s decision not to charge the officers who shot Breonna Taylor with murder. Raleigh mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin had issued a curfew in anticipation of the protests, calling the decision “among the most difficult I have had to make as Mayor.”

9/27

The New York Times publishes a report on DONALD TRUMP’S TAXES indicating that the president paid no income taxes in 10 of the past 15 years and only $750 in his first year in the White House. A federal judge postpones a Trump ban on TIKTOK, the popular video-sharing app which he’s branded a national security threat.

9/28

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

Democratic vice presidential hopeful KAMALA HARRIS visits Raleigh to campaign ahead of Tuesday’s presidential debate.

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OP - E D

Beacon of Freedom The North Carolina Freedom Park will bring greenspace and moral authority to downtown Raleigh BY REGINALD F. HILDEBRAND

backtalk@indyweek.com

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uring the noon hour on October 7, ceremonial shovels of earth will be turned, indicating that the actual construction of the long-anticipated North Carolina Freedom Park will be beginning soon. The park will be located at the corner of Wilmington and Lane Streets in Raleigh, just across the street from the state legislature. Regrettably, because of the pandemic the groundbreaking ceremony cannot be open to the public. Most of the places in the Western hemisphere that have a history of slavery have chosen to celebrate emancipation with bold, positive, inclusive works of public art that affirm the value of freedom and are located in prominent public spaces. With the construction of Freedom Park, North Carolina will proudly become one of those places. Early supporters of the idea for Freedom Park included founding project board members John Hope Franklin, the distinguished historian, and William Friday, the greatly respected president emeritus of the University of North Carolina system, both now deceased. The design for the park was the vision of the late Phil Freelon, who was the chief architect of the acclaimed National Museum of African American History and Culture in the nation’s capital. That structure cost more than $500 million and was dedicated in 2016 by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Freelon invested a great deal of his time and talent supervising the design for Freedom Park until his death last year due to ALS. If he had chosen to, he could have put all his time into projects that had higher profiles and much higher price tags. For him, the park clearly was a labor of love.

North Carolina Freedom Park rendering

PHOTO COURTESY OF NC FREEDOM PARK

Freedom Park will be a beautiful one-acre green space It is crucial that we embrace and honor this history in the heart of the busy capital city. The words of peo- of Black North Carolinians and affirm that it speaks to ple who were slaves in North Caroall of us. The pursuit of freedom and lina, and of their descendants, will dignity is at the core of the human be artfully inscribed on walls along condition. There has never been a its walkways. Those people have time when there was a greater need something to say to the world about to establish common ground and freedom, struggle, and perseverance acknowledge shared values and ideals. through adversity. In June, the members of the state The park will include the words of Senate cast a historic unanimous vote enslaved women like Harriet Jacobs, in support of Freedom Park. The state poets like George Moses Horton, eduHouse supported the project by an overcators like Charlotte Hawkins Brown, whelming majority of 101 to 4. The park ministers and priests like James Walkalso has the full support of the governor. er Hood and Pauli Murray, civil rights Freedom Park needs and deserves leaders like Golden A. Frinks, and the support of all North Carolinians. business people like John H. Wheeler, Although generous support for the who said that “the battle for freedom project was included in the state budbegins every morning.” get, more than half of the funding for The power of their words will construction comes from private donamake clear that the people who tions. When Freedom Park is complettend to express the value of free- Reginald F. Hildebrand ed, it will be a gift to the people of dom with the greatest clarity and North Carolina and will be owned by moral authority are the people who were denied it the state. Visit NCFreedomPark.org to learn how you can most completely. At the very center of the park will be a part of this important project. W be a towering, inspiring, iconic illuminated sculpture called the “Beacon of Freedom” that will shine up into Reginald F. Hildebrand is a member of the board of the the night sky. North Carolina Freedom Park. INDYweek.com

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Durham

Summer of Sorrow For Black men and boys in Durham, another, even deadlier season of gun violence BY THOMASI MCDONALD tmcdonald@indyweek.com

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ach morning, Lavern Lucier lights small white candles in her son’s memorial, just around the corner from her South Durham home. “I light the candles each morning because right now, that’s my safety net,” Lucier says. “I feel that’s where his spirit lives.” It was just after 4:00 p.m. on Monday, August 10, when police found Lucier’s 18-year-old son, Syncere Burrell, mortally wounded by gunfire in his girlfriend’s car. The faded burgundy sedan was parked on Lincoln Street beside the First Chronicles daycare center, just around the corner from Burrell’s home on Linwood Avenue. Paramedics rushed Burrell to a local hospital, where he died. The wiry teen’s death was the city’s third gun murder in Durham that day. It was part of a wave of gang-related gun violence that swept Durham in the summer of 2019 and intensified in the summer of 2020. Last year, one of Burrell’s best friends, 17-year-old Zaeveon Hershel Tucker, was found dead in a churchyard, where he was targeted during a drive-by shooting spree that killed one other person and wounded eight more. Now, Lucier says, “I don’t know if I’m coming or going sometimes, with this happening so close to home.” The memorial Lucier has created for her son is just a few steps from her front door. It’s bounded by a small, white picket fence. A fellow church member made a small wooden cross. There’s a Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal in red-striped pajamas, glass-encased candles, a potted plant with a lone white flower, a blue bandanna affixed to a fence post, and solar lights to brighten the newly sacred patch of ground at night. “He didn’t like the dark,” Lucier says. Burrell graduated from Bull City YouthBuild in January and hadn’t decided how he wanted to spend his life. He celebrated a birthday on July 9. “He got to be eighteen for one month,” his mother says. She last saw her son alive the morning before he was killed. “I was on my way to Roxboro to see my mom, and he was laying across the futon. I hadn’t seen him in a couple of days because he had been with his little girlfriend. I said to him, ‘Hey buddy, you look like you need some sleep. Look like you got bags under your eyes.’ He said, ‘I know mom.’” 10

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A vigil for Tyvien McLean in July

PHOTO BY JADE WILSON

As she walked out the front door, Lucier’s last image of her son was of him “tussling around with his six-year-old nephew, like they always do.” Lucier was still in Roxboro at 3:15 p.m. when Burrell sent her a Cash App request for $10. “The next thing I knew, my daughter called and was telling me, ‘Mom, I heard gunshots, and they sounded close.’ I told her to call 911. She called back and told me, ‘Mom, it’s Syncere.’”

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he first of the three gun murders that took place that day happened just after 1:00 a.m. in West Durham, where police found the body of 21-year-old Joshua Lindsey lying in the street next to a wrecked SUV pockmarked with bullet holes.

Hours later, just after 6:00 a.m. in East Durham, police found the body of 48-year-old Reginald Bowling near the intersection of Liberty and Elm streets. The next month, on Monday, September 14, police reported a drive-by shooting spree over a 24-hour period in East and West Durham that wounded eight people. The victims included two teens, ages 15 and 17, along with a 26-year-old man who was critically injured with a gunshot wound in the head. The shooting spree mirrored a similar rampage roughly the same time last year when a series of drive-by shootings left two people dead and eight more wounded. On August 18, the shooting death of nine-year-old Z’Yon Person shocked the conscience of a city where the murder of Black men and boys by their peers is all too common.


“Durham’s perennial late-summer question: Why are young Black men and boys in Durham shooting and killing one another?” As the INDY reported, Person’s death was an avatar of all that has gone wrong in Durham’s growth and prosperity. Amid the pandemic, economic uncertainty, and racial protests proclaiming Black Lives Matter, it’s been another deadly season in the Bull City, bringing back a perennial late-summer question: Why are young Black men and boys in Durham shooting and killing one another? Some observers assert that given the systemic oppression they endure, it’s inevitable that they would internalize self-hate and turn on themselves. Children have certainly not been immune. “Some of the most recent victims have been innocent children, who are our most vulnerable,” Lt. Jackie Werner with the Durham Police Department told the INDY. Police say 11 of the people shot in the city this year were 15 or younger. They include an 11-year-old girl who was riding in the back seat of her mother’s car on Guess Road last week when the occupants of two cars were firing gunshots at one another. Police say the child was caught in the crossfire and received a non-life-threatening head wound. Michael Harris, 15, and Tyvien McLean, 12, were less fortunate. On August 23, just after 2:45 a.m., police found Harris mortally wounded at an apartment complex in the 200 block of Seven Oaks Road. The teen died a short while later at a local hospital. The month before, on July 15, it was just after 2:30 a.m., when officers responded to reports of gunfire at the Cornwallis Road housing complex in the 3000 block of Weaver Street. The investigators found McLean and an unnamed adult wounded by gunfire after someone shot into a housing unit where a party was taking place. The adult survived. McLean died five days later. “Black Lives Matter, but what about Ty’s life?” asked his grandmother, Coretta Saunders, during a July 22 vigil. “We need to be yelling, ‘Kids’ Lives Matter!’” Hours before the shooting that took McLean’s life, police raced to reports of a shooting in the 200 block of South Benjamin Street. Eight people had been shot, including two children ages four and eight. Police say there have been 689 shootings reported in the Bull City this year, compared with 495 during the same period last year, an increase of almost 40 percent. A total of 226 people have been

struck by gunfire, compared to 132 last year, an increase of more than 70 percent. This year, through September 19, 25 people in the city have died from gun violence, up from 22 over the same period last year. Werner says that cities across the nation have been plagued by an increase in violent crime that many link to the issues surrounding a global pandemic. The police spokesperson says the department will beef up its presence in areas that have been most affected by gunfire for a faster response to shootings. Also, the department’s violent-crimes taskforce will realign its resources for a more intense focus on shootings. Werner and Mayor Steve Schewel say the city continues to struggle with gang violence. They say that part of the challenge is getting witnesses, including the shooting victims, to come forward and help the police apprehend the people who shot them. Folks don’t talk because they are afraid of retaliation. Schewel says that the issue of gun violence is not solely a policing solution. He thinks the increase in gun crime this summer is related to the reduced presence of Bull City United, a Durham County public health initiative that deploys trained violence interrupters and outreach workers. They try to prevent shootings in the moment by mediating potentially deadly conflicts in neighborhoods and following up to ensure that the beef is quashed and does not reignite. “They had to be pulled back from their work during COVID-19,” Schewel says. “I am convinced that has been part of the problem this summer as well.” Schewel pointed to the “root causes” of crime as inevitable when people feel as if they don’t have real investment in their communities. “Someone with a good job, affordable and excellent medical care, and a safe, warm, affordable home to lay their head every night is not going to be committing gun violence,” he says. “We have to work towards that every day.” Meanwhile, Lucier continues in the quest to give her son’s brief life meaning, spending her days trying to establish a scholarship in her son’s name at Bull City YouthBuild. “He didn’t have no wife or no kids,” she says. “But I have eighteen years’ worth of memories.” W INDYweek.com

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Durham

Safe as Houses The LGBTQ Center of Durham’s Host Home Program is needed more than ever in the pandemic BY MARY KING backtalk@indyweek.com

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ith many young adults struggling to pay rent during the pandemic, a Durham nonprofit is adapting to provide the housing support and mental health resources needed now more than ever. Since June 2019, the LGBTQ Center of Durham’s Host Home Program has screened and trained community volunteers to host 18-to-24-year-olds, particularly those who are LGBTQ and people of color. As the volunteers provide them with shelter for up to six months, the program offers them case-management services and connects them with resources like therapy and job counseling in order to help them achieve longterm stability. When the pandemic hit, social worker and Host Home Program Director KC Buchanan said program staff felt they could not in good conscience ask the community to assume the health risks of opening up their homes, especially to young adults who are trying to go out

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and search for employment. So, the program stopped formally seeking out host home pairings. “But what we are doing is: We will support folks if they come to those matches organically in the community,” Buchanan says. “We had someone recently who came to us and said, ‘I’ve met this person who’s going to take me in,’ and we decided to jump in and support that match, much like we would any other host home.” The program has always prioritized mental health support, contracting therapeutic providers from marginalized groups in order to match the identities and experiences of the participants, Buchanan says. One silver lining of the pandemic is that these providers are now working virtually, so they can see more clients. And with fewer formal host pairings, case managers can take on clients in need of less comprehensive assistance and more individual support, like emotional check-

ins or help finding a place to live. This has allowed the addition of nine young adults to the usual five-client maximum. The program is receiving many requests for help from young adults facing evictions and aggravated housing instability, particularly from those who are people of color and LGBTQ. “They’re focused on surviving right now, and that has been a trend since the beginning of this program,” Buchanan said. Tiz Giordano, a community organizer in Chapel Hill and an essential worker at Weaver Street Market, and their spouse were independently hosting a Latinx trans person when the Host Home Program started up. They were able to transition this young adult into the program so they could obtain the professional support they needed. “Having that available meant so much to me as a community member,” Giordano says. Giordano, who has experienced homelessness, said factors that play into LGBTQ housing insecurity include high barriers to support services, racism, transphobia within the LGBTQ community, and families who don’t affirm their children’s identities. “I didn’t know how to write a check until I was at least 27 years old,” they say. “These things that affirming families teach their children, teach them how to survive

in the world. I didn’t get those things.” Anti-violence advocate Christy Croft said homeless people and LGBTQ people both face an increased risk of sexual violence and trafficking. “So, when you put those two together, there’s just a lot of vulnerability,” they say. “And the vulnerability is not because of anything about the individual. The vulnerability is because of our systems not being set up to support people properly.”

“They’re focused on surviving right now, and that has been a trend since the beginning of this program.” In homeless shelters, LGBTQ people might face homophobic and transphobic bullying from fellow residents, Croft says. Plus, some faith-based shelters don’t have an anti-discrimination policy and will only take in LGBTQ residents if they hide who they are. “We need better options,” Croft says. Buchanan says the Host Home Program is intentionally tailored to the needs of young adults who are queer, trans, and people of color. “I’m very proud of the way that we have stepped in to fill this need,” Buchanan says. “And I just want folks to know that we are here to support every need that we can in the community.” W


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North Carolina ILLUSTRATION BY JON FULLER

My Census Days In a risky summer spent counting humans, human connection was what counted BY FRED WASSER backtalk@indyweek.com

I

t was an odd summer. In the hot and humid days of mid-August, I started driving from house to house, counting people. I was an enumerator for the U.S. Census Bureau, and this was the big census that happens every ten years. The decennial census. The things I carried on my rounds: my government-issued iPhone, my census I.D., my census briefcase, various bits of paperwork, and my white cotton mask. Water, too (not government-issued). A daily case list told me the addresses to attempt. At the beginning of one shift, a man came out of his house as I got out of my car. I identified myself as a census worker. “I don’t want anything to do with you,” he said. “Get off my property right now.” An hour later, I drove up to a house at the end of a long gravel-and-dirt road. The owner, a retired state employee, told me

his name. He put on a mask and invited me inside where it was air-conditioned. We sat at his kitchen table, close but not too close, and filled out his household’s census survey. The first U.S. census was in 1790, led by Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson. The population of the United States was 3,929,625. There’s something comforting about a number so precise. A more recent estimated total population is 330,359,887, according to the U.S. Census Bureau as of September 27. Fun fact: The U.S. population has a net gain of one person about every 16 seconds. Census data are used to allocate federal dollars and determine the number of seats for each state in the U.S. House of Representatives. Census enumerators work in the field trying to find out where you were living on “Census Day,” April 1. Because of the late start due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been a race

against time. By early September, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 80 percent of North Carolinians had completed their census questionnaire via the phone, internet, postal mail, or in-person visit by an enumerator. As of September 21, the N.C. response rate overall was almost 93 percent. That’s good, and it’s higher now. But to achieve a fuller count, it could be better in parts of N.C. and in other states. And in fact, a federal court, on September 25, ordered the Trump administration to extend the count until the end of October. However, the Census Bureau, seemingly in opposition to the court order, has announced that the counting will end on October 5. Stay tuned. Every day, as I made my visits to private homes, apartment complexes, and mobile home parks, I weighed the risk. Mostly I remembered to put on my mask. Most people answering the door didn’t wear a mask, and it felt awkward asking them to do so. Social distancing wasn’t easy. But this strange job was also a way for me to make a bit of money in difficult times at an uncertain career moment. There were moments of frustration but also sweet moments. People often gave me more information than I needed. A college student told me that she and her housemate were boyfriend and girlfriend on April 1 but now are just friends. I’m still wondering what happened. Down a long dirt road, David and his wife live together in a cozy rustic house. They are hidden in plain sight not far from downtown Chapel Hill. After the survey was complete, David and I talked about this and that. I told him I returned to North Carolina a few months ago from a radio job in Nevada and had noticed that the two states share a “don’t tell me what to do” spirit. We both laughed. David told me a little bit about his life journey: jobs in hardware stores and a failed business he started and abandoned. Now he has a new business that’s doing well and is more of a passion for him. Every so often I discovered an abandoned home in a wooded area. At one place the porch was filled with garbage. I smelled smells I’d never smelled before. My mask didn’t help.

A short time later, I parked next to a large house you might find on the Maine coast on a rise looking over the ocean. Except there was no ocean. I forgot that it was 95 degrees and I needed to pee as I was surrounded by several chickens and a rabbit. I was greeted by a woman who smiled and told me the rabbit is named Luna. “She thinks you’re going to feed her,” the woman said. If someone told me E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web was a true story that took place here, I wouldn’t question it. I went with the flow. It took tenacity to complete most cases, to nail down a census interview. Many people were not home or didn’t have the time to do the survey. Or they were angry. Sometimes I couldn’t find an address, or the address didn’t exist. Uncertainty was part of the deal. I surrendered to it. Or tried to.

“ Uncertainty was part of the deal. I surrendered to it. Or tried to.” It didn’t help that I’m a worrier. Sometimes as I drove on a rutted dirt road I wondered if my 2003 Toyota Corolla would survive. On my rounds, I pondered our lives right now in light of a contentious presidential election, the pandemic, the economy, and the apparent breakdown of civility. I feel the anxiety that a lot of people are feeling. But then, an old, comfortable feeling: It’s suddenly sweater weather. And I find I’m hopeful about the world and myself once again. But is it okay to feel lucky or hopeful about my place in the world given the misfortunes of others? One woman, after answering her census questions, told me that she and her little girl entered the United States illegally a year ago. A U.S. immigration attorney wants $12,000 to take her complex case. She has no money, no job, no working papers, no computer, no internet. This woman said she trusts in the Lord that there will be answers. I hope so. W Names and identifying details in this essay have been altered to protect the confidentiality of census data. INDYweek.com

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N E WS

North Carolina

Downtown Raleigh protests in May

PHOTO BY JADE WILSON

There Are No “Good” Protesters Who decides which protesters are serving justice and which are serving chaos? It shouldn’t be the state. BY LEIGH TAUSS ltauss@indyweek.com

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n Durham, a small group of protesters gathered on Wednesday night calling for justice for Breonna Taylor—a Black woman shot to death in Louisville, Kentucky, in a no-knock, late-night police raid—after learning that the police officers who killed her would not be indicted in her death. Protests over yet another failure to hold police accountable erupted nationwide, as they had after George Floyd’s death and the shooting of Jacob Blake. The Durham demonstrators, mostly white, were clad in black as they marched through the streets of downtown. At some point, the protest turned violent—by the night’s end, about 40 businesses had windows broken, and the words “revenge” and “burn it down” 14

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were spray-painted on the Durham Police Department headquarters. The next morning, Mayor Steve Schewel and Police Chief C.J. Davis held a press conference condemning the destruction. “The folks who inflicted this damage were white,” Schewel said that morning. “This is an attempt to co-opt a racial justice movement.” Four days later, protesters gathered in Raleigh Friday afternoon for an anti-corruption rally. Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin had already issued an 11:00 p.m. curfew ahead of the protest, and the windows of businesses downtown had already been boarded back up.  Unlike other protests, the crowd appeared closer to dozens than hundreds and stood

socially distant before the courthouse. A series of speakers, mostly Black, discussed systemic corruption and called upon city leaders to hold police accountable and make meaningful changes. By sundown, the first group had peacefully dispersed, and an eerie calm had set in downtown. Diners sat down for dinner as police in riot gear stood on guard behind barracks set up outside the courthouse and sheriff’s office. By 8:00 p.m., another group of protesters had gathered in Nash Square. Numbering in the hundreds, many white, clad in black, they held Black Lives Matter signs and called for justice. They told everyone with a camera to leave, warning journalists, “Tonight’s going to be really bad for you.”  As curfew neared, the vandalism began, as it has numerous times since May. Windows were broken, fires were set, and 12 people were arrested. Like clockwork, Baldwin and Police Chief Cassandra DeckBrown held a press conference the next morning, praising those who left peacefully and condemning those who did not. “We do not have the ability nor would we want to stop people from assembling peacefully and speaking, but there were those, mostly white, who used this as an excuse to incite violence and cause destruction of our downtown business community,” Baldwin said. “Any message of support for Breonna Taylor was usurped by protesters who do not care about peace. They came here with a goal of destruction.” The subtext is clear: These are the bad protesters. Their intentions were bad. Good protesters don’t damage property. Good protesters go home when they are told.  But these mayors seem to have lost sight of what protesting is. A protest is not meant to be convenient. If it is, it’s more like a parade, with the police there only to control traffic. Protests are not meant to be comfortable. Dawn Blagrove, executive director of Emancipate NC, said it best last week: “There is no right way to protest,” Blagrove said. “As an entity, as a state, you do not get to condone state-sanctioned violence, and with the very same tongue denounce violence in response to that state-sanctioned violence.” “Any damage that happens in the street is a result of a failure of city actors, state actors, and federal actors to respect Black lives and for their failure to create equity in systems,” she continued. “When that damage happens, don’t look to the people

in the street. Look to the people that have the power to keep them out of the street, because those are the people you should be angry with.” Broken glass is annoying, sure. Businesses, already crippled by the pandemic, are dealt a blow that feels like an insult to injury. But these are mere nuisances. Attempting to divide a movement into good and bad protesters loses sight of the fact that the majority of protesters share the same goal: the protection of human life and the end of policing above the law. The protesters themselves bucked Schewel’s claims that they were co-opting the movement.This week, Schewel told the INDY he did not mean to “distinguish between good and bad people,” but “between constructive and destructive action.” “I believe in the power of civil disobedience and the way it can awaken consciousness, but I think that the destruction that people were making in downtown Durham last week was damaging to our businesses, which are struggling to come back, and also damaging to the cause for which the people who were demonstrating purport to support,” Schewel says. Who gets to say which actions are productive to a social justice movement and which are not?  Should it be the state itself, inconvenienced by the actions of so-called bad protesters? Should it be those good protesters? There are no good protesters: not from the vantage of a corrupt system either unaware of or undisturbed by its own corruption, set on shielding itself from change. A  protester deemed “good” by the system they are challenging is a contradiction. The Black Panthers were condemned as a violent terrorist organization. In retrospect, whether we disagree or not with their actions, we acknowledge that the Black Panthers were part of the movement. Martin Luther King Jr. believed in peaceful protests. He condemned the violence, too, but he also said that the conditions that lead to the violence must be as vigorously condemned. “A riot is the language of the unheard,” King said. “What is it that America has failed to hear?”  Let’s not forget why the protesters were out there in the first place: because in the months since Taylor’s death nothing has changed, and her killers walk free.  W


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North Carolina

Good Help Is Hard to Find A gig worker goes through the looking glass in search of PUA relief BY DEBBIE MATTHEWS backtalk@indyweek.com

PHOTO BY J. KELLY BRITO ON UNSPLASH

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ood may be necessary to life, but food writers are unequivocally non-essential. I discovered this in late March when the world closed down due to the coronavirus. Food producers and procurers, medical staff, first responders, and especially the guy who drives the toilet paper truck—all are essential. But the writer of an immersive feature about what it’s like to spend the day as a candymaker? During a pandemic, not so much. If I’d been furloughed or laid off from a legit full-time job, I could apply for the unemployment insurance that my employer had been regularly investing on my behalf. But the excitement and danger of being a freelance writer comes with no safety net—no sick leave, no profit sharing, and no unemployment insurance. But on March 27, the national CARES Act was signed into law. Not only did it add a supplement to traditional unemployment payments, but it also created a fund to offer payments to workers who work independently on a gig-by-gig basis. This includes entertainers, rideshare drivers, and freelance writers like me, but the path to assistance is byzantine and shrouded in a clerical fog. There was a phenomenon in old Soviet bloc nations, a kind of bureaucratic shared pretense. In the U.S., we have a term for it, catch-22, coined by Joseph Heller in his novel of the same name. It describes a situation where there is no logical route to the desired destination, so both the government and the individual agree to break the rules but pretend that they’re not. If applying for traditional unemployment benefits is rife with this, applying for gig-worker Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is a minuet of charades and artifice. The feds have mandated that before one can apply for the gig-worker benefits, one must apply for and be denied regular unemployment payments. The state Divi-

sion of Employment Security’s relationship to the unemployed is complicated at best and adversarial at worst. John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a Chapel Hill-based research consultancy specializing in economic and social policy, has written about the politics behind the challenges of the system. In 2013 the Thom-Tillis-led state legislature completely restructured the system with one overt goal: to pay back the state’s rainy-day fund, which had been drained during the 2008 recession. They did this through draconian cuts to benefit eligibility, amounts, and durations. While these cuts did position North Carolina’s unemployment-support systems among the least meaningful in the nation, they had achieved three classic Republican talking points. Restricting benefits saved the state $4 billion and repaid the emergency fund. It funded massive cuts to business taxes, and the labyrinthine applications process for extremely limited returns strongly discouraged the newly unemployed to persevere through the process. Once I was turned down for the traditional UI (which, with the restrictions implemented by Tillis’s legislature, was not hard to do), I was permitted to apply for PUA. The earliest date applications for PUA participants were accepted was April 24. I applied for state UI that day and was denied within 48 hours, before applying for PUA April 27. The application uses the template from the state unemployment application. Because of this, most of it is not compatible with the situation of a nontraditional worker. A PUA applicant, by definition self-employed, must present as both worker and employer, which doubles the process. Because this is a new program, there is very little cogent direction on the website. There is a chat function and a phone number for a help desk. But they both come with coronavirus-related issues.

Before the pandemic, DES had a staff of 500. The department has increased the number by 2,500, which “includes permanent DES staff, temporary employees, employees from other state agencies, and contracted call center agents.” While there is now a staff of 3,000, hold time to speak with a rep can sometimes be as long as five hours. There are also multiple levels of reps, and calls can sometimes be rerouted three, four, or even five times. The numerous transfers often mean dropped calls. One then has to decide whether or not to restart this hellish marathon from the beginning. Utilizing the phone and online chat for help is eerily, frustratingly similar to calling the cable company during an outage. Each rep has a different explanation of a problem and a different solution, especially for PUA assistance. The DES says the average wait for PUA decisions to be made and funds to arrive is seven to 14 days, and that 520,000 individuals have applied for federal PUA funds. As of August 24, 200,000 have had their applications approved. After 15 weeks of waiting and letters to both my senators, my congressman, and all of my state reps, I still had no decision. I finally wrote to Pryor Gibson, the assistant secretary for the Division of Employment Security. Within a week, I had a decision. On August 2, my original application was denied. That adjudicator turned me down because, inexplicably, they declared my work stoppage was not the result of COVID19—despite my sending notes on three stories I’d been working on and emails putting those pieces on indefinite hold due to the pandemic. After going through another multi-layered process, I was given a date for a phone hearing on September 21. After 40 minutes, I was denied with no further right of appeal. Despite there being no federal or state guidelines as to income for qualifying for PUA, my referee (and that’s what they’re actually called) stated my work doesn’t bring in enough to count. W INDYweek.com

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Mysterious out-of-state money owns more of Durham than ever, and there’s little the city can do about it BY MATT HARTMAN backtalk@indyweek.com

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ou only have to glance at the 27-story One City Center and dozens of new condo complexes to see that Durham has entered a new phase of development that few would have predicted at the turn of the millennium. But the powers behind those changes—the developers that fund and profit from gentrification—are much harder to see, despite the immense control they wield over the city’s future. Their influence is only likely to grow. An analysis of property ownership records from the past 20 years shows that the new powerbrokers are increasingly large investment firms based outside of North Carolina, and the city has little power to regulate their influence.

In 2000, 65 percent of the land in Durham that is used for commercial purposes—including offices, restaurants, and other businesses, as well as apartment buildings—had an owner that lived in North Carolina, according to the contact address listed on the deed. More than a third lived in Durham itself. But today, more than half of those commercial properties have an out-of-state owner. Less than a quarter have an owner in Durham. The trend is particularly stark with apartment buildings: Around 75 percent of the city’s apartment units have an owner based outside of North Carolina. Though the trend isn’t visible in residential properties like condominiums and single-family homes—only 3 percent of residential land has an out-of-state owner in 2020—that doesn’t account for the role developers have played in which homes are built. Individual out-of-state developers like Virginia’s McCann Realty Partners and Ohio’s Epcon Communities own hundreds of units at a time, so their influence remains long after ownership has changed hands. And corporate companies renting single-family homes are a growing force in the market: California’s American Homes 4 Rent owns over 200 houses in Durham. “It influences our ability to create our own future as a city,” Durham Mayor Steve Schewel says. “Every dollar that goes to an outside corporation is a dollar that leaves Durham.” For the new investors, that’s by design. Many of them, especially for apartment buildings and other residential complexes, are large national or international hedge funds and property-management firms, with dozens of holdings, in search of attractive new markets. In turning to Durham, they’re changing the makeup of the city.

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he new decision-makers are companies like Miami’s Rialto Capital Management. Launched as part of one of the largest homebuilding companies in the nation, Lennar Corporation, Rialto is now part-owned by Connecticut’s Stone Point Capital. It claims to control over $100 billion in assets, specializing in “dislocated real estate markets expected to develop in the coming years.” The investment firm began buying property in Durham in 2016 and currently owns 444 parcels of land in the city. Because these investors tend to be a maze of hedge funds and holding companies, ownership records almost certainly undercount the influence of out-of-state


Apartment Ownership in Durham (1999-2020) out of state ownership

NC ownership (not Durham)

Durham ownership

2750 2500 2250 2000 Acreage used for apartments

firms. The company leading the redevelopment of Northgate Mall, for instance, is a North Carolina-based property-management firm called Northwood Ravin, which also owns four apartment buildings in the city. But one of the companies that founded Northwood Ravin, the “vertically integrated real estate company” Northwood Investors, has offices across the U.S., UK, and Luxembourg, and claims Northwood Ravin’s properties as part of its own portfolio. The fact that Charlotte is a national banking headquarters further complicates the situation. Many companies that are technically based in North Carolina are better thought of as regional or national development firms. Take the other founder of Northwood Ravin, Ravin Partners LLC. Headed by David Ravin, the former head of Charlotte-based Crosland’s residential division, the company consists “of Crosland’s former residential development and construction teams,” which had built “more than 20,000 multi-family units across the southeast,” according to a 2011 press release. However, local ownership alone isn’t enough to ensure that Durham residents have a place to live in the city. “Local developers weren’t building any affordable housing,” Schewel says. “That hasn’t changed with the advent of out-of-state developers. They were building market-rate housing, and unless we’ve had some leverage, that’s what we’ve seen no matter who’s been developing.” Rather, the problem is that the little leverage the city and its residents have is disappearing with changes in ownership trends, especially for the 46 percent of Durham residents who rent their homes. “Multifamily properties are real cash cows,” says Mel Norton, a housing activist, Durham for All board member, and operations director of The Carolina Federation. (Disclosure: The author is also a Durham for All member.) Using their immense capital, these investors are seeking dependable revenue streams and participating in what Norton calls “new forms of accumulation,” turning Durham’s growing popularity into various kinds of financial implements that build wealth for the global 1 percent, thanks to increasing rents, noxious fees, and strict policies. The very fact that out-of-state owners are based elsewhere creates formidable obstacles for tenants trying to resist that process. “A local firm is going to be much less likely to do something that makes a lot of people in Durham angry, because that directly affects their standing in their community and therefore their bottom line,” explains Durham City Council member Jillian Johnson. An out-of-state landlord, though, is insulated from community ire. “If you don’t pay the rent, there’s nobody to appeal to, nobody to protest,” Johnson says. Research by Ekim Buyuk for Dataworks NC backs Johnson’s point. Buyuk found that there have been increases in eviction rates in large, corporate apartment buildings in the past few years, even as the overall eviction rate in the city has decreased. Buyuk also notes that those corporations were increasingly based elsewhere. Norton adds that we need more research to better understand the impact. “What we’re still trying to figure out is what is the relationship between the increase in out-of-town and corporate ownership in property and things like maintenance of properties,” she says. “What’s the human impact of this shift?”

1750 1500 1250 100 750 500 250 0

’99 ’00 ’01 ’02 ’03 ’04 ’05 ’06 ’07 ’08 ’09 ’10 ’11 ’12 ’13 ’14 ’15 ’16 ’17 ’18 ’19 ’20 Year

What’s already clear from Dataworks NC’s other research is that it’s the scale of corporate investors that sets them apart from local landlords, even if they are equally profit-driven. “They are trying—and really explicitly so—to achieve the maximum increase in rent with the minimum increase in maintenance,” says Tim Stallmann, a worker-owner at Research Action Design, which works with Dataworks. With so much capital and property to manage, that means prioritizing quick, efficient turnover to reach maximum occupancy at the maximum rent. To do so, Stallmann says they use new practices that squeeze tenants to the breaking point, like setting rent by algorithm and using large databases to blacklist tenants who have previously been evicted. Affordable housing advocates are trying to push back by increasing awareness of these practices and tenants’ legal rights. Dataworks, for instance, is gathering evictions data in real time for outreach to tenants who are at risk, as well as building public data sets for the Durham Neighborhood Compass so that information is more readily available. But that only goes so far, as tenant protections are slim.

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orth Carolina laws mean there’s little the city or county can do, policy-wise, to directly address the trend toward conglomerate, out-of-state owners. “We have very little control generally over any kind of private land transaction,” Johnson says. “The state of North Carolina has very strict restrictions on what local governments are able to do to regulate their housing markets.” The obvious policies other cities around the country use to protect affordable housing are illegal at the local level. A 1987 state law prohibits North Carolina cities from passing rent control. The city lawyer has advised that inclusionary zoning policies requiring developers to build affordable housing are illegal (and attempts to skirt the legal issues proved completely ineffective in Chapel Hill). And the state constitution’s uniformity clause prevents local governments from taxing certain kinds of property, like buildings over a certain size, at a higher rate. The one power local government does have is its zoning authority, which it recently used to stop a new unaffordable development in Braggtown. In theory, it could INDYweek.com

September 30, 2020

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BILL BURTON ATTORNEY AT LAW Un c o n t e s t e d Di vo rc e Bu s i n e s s L a w UNCONTESTED In c o r p o r a t i o n / L LC / DIVORCE Pa r t n e r s h i p MUSIC BUSINESS LAW Wi l l s INCORPORATION/LLC WILLS C o l l e c t i o n s SEPARATION AGREEMENTS Mu s i c

967-6159

(919) 967-6159

bill.burton.lawyer@gmail.com

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place strict restrictions on what kinds of buildings can be built, then negotiate for affordable housing concessions in return for granting developers the right to build something in excess of those limitations. But that approach makes development slow and expensive, increasing the cost of building everything. “We have an affordable housing shortage that’s most intense, but we have an overall housing shortage, too,” Johnson says. “If we were to do that, I worry that the market would get out of whack.” Instead, the city’s predominant approach has been to facilitate affordable housing projects itself. But Durham’s new landlords have shifted the market in ways that make those solutions increasingly difficult, too. In the past, the city relied on funding from the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program, which provides a credit of either 4 or 9 percent of the construction cost in return for guarantees on affordability. Increased costs mean those credits aren’t enough anymore. “The land is much more expensive, and it’s really hard to do a 4 percent tax credit deal, which used to drive a lot of these mandatorily affordable units,” Schewel says. To fill the gap, the City of Durham has created two of its own funding sources: the first dedicated housing fund in the state, which raises about $6 million a year from a 2 cent tax, and the $95 million affordable housing bond passed last year, which is the largest in North Carolina history. Those funds support a variety of programs for low-income housing, including emergency rental assistance, tax abatement programs, and eviction diversion efforts. They also go to other affordable housing developers. The city helps pay for repair and upkeep on Durham Housing Authority properties—something especially important after carbon monoxide leaks at McDougald Terrace, the largest of DHA’s facilities. Johnson adds that few cities offer that kind of support: Most housing authorities are entirely funded by the federal Department of Housing & Urban Development (whose requested budget was slashed by $8.6 billion for fiscal year 2021). The city also created a loan program to support nonprofit affordable housing developers, who can’t match the speed with which investment firms can buy up property, given their deep pockets. But it’s not enough. While the city’s housing funds, combined with the fact that DHA owns a substantial amount of land around downtown, means the city can build “thousands of units” of affordable housing, Schewel says, “that’s not going to nearly

stem the tide.” Rialto and Northwood Investors alone claim to have raised $16 billion in funds—over 168 times more than Durham’s affordable housing bond, and over 31 times more than the city’s entire budget. “We could put our entire city budget into housing and it wouldn’t get us where we need to be,” Johnson says. The problem will exist as long as we depend on for-profit developers. “This is just the natural result of a consumer market for housing,” Johnson says. As rising prices elsewhere in the country make Durham a more attractive place to live, the increased demand will continue to attract out-of-state investors who see Durham as a profit-maker. This problem can’t be solved without significant shifts in power at the state and federal levels. “Legislative change will be important,” Schewel says. “And that won’t change until we have a different legislature.” Norton agrees, arguing that the city needs increased authority to be able to make a real dent. “I think having a legal and enforcement framework that allowed more agency and discretion at the local level and the state level would be really valuable,” she says. “But we just don’t have the political power right now.” Even worse, while breaking the right-wing stronghold on the legislature in November is essential, it may not be enough in the long run, given the influx of national and international capital. So far, Durham’s new class of investors hasn’t thrown its full weight into local and state politics, but that may be because they don’t need to. “Given North Carolina’s political situation, there’s not really anything we can do to stop them,” Johnson says. If the balance of political power changes and those interests do get involved, they’ll prove another large roadblock for affordable housing. “The real estate lobbies tend to be very powerful,” Norton says. “The property-rights lobbies tend to be very powerful.” None of this is good news for Durham residents. The city already had the highest eviction rate in the state, and now that COVID-19 is decimating incomes, especially for low-wage service workers, there is a catastrophic evictions crisis on the horizon. Getting through the short-term will be hard enough. But the long-term changes in property ownership mean a further erosion of local control, which places any lasting solution even further out of reach without substantial, long-term, state-wide organizing efforts that can build a new base of progressive power. W


PHOTOVOICE

Art in the Park PHOTOGRAPHY + WORDS BY JADE WILSON

If you take a stroll through Dix Park, you’ll notice new murals by local artists. At the Big Field, where Dreamville was held, Candy Carver painted two picnic tables in her signature style that are filled with vibrancy, and Sarahlaine Calva painted a koi pond on the pavement surrounding the tables. You can find their murals all over Raleigh and Durham. Newly formed art duo Okirah Harris and Grayson Howell painted the picnic tables at Flowers Field with sisterhood in mind. Their collective, OG Designs & Creations, emerged after teaming up to create a mural on the wood panels that boarded up Mofu after the George Floyd uprising in Raleigh. Calva painted the pavement at this location as well to serve as a tribute to the beauty of nature. All four artists had the same end goal in mind—to make people feel good and encourage them to spend more time outdoors. W

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FO O D & D R I N K

Holy Rolls Affordable fare makes K&W Cafeterias a Southern institution for everyone. Can 83 years of devotion outlast the pandemic?

“Patronage is one word for the support shown by K&W diners over the years. Obsession is another.”

BY SARAH EDWARDS sedwards@indyweek.com

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n early August, a taped note appeared on the door of the K&W Cafeteria at Cameron Village in Raleigh: “To our valued customers,” it began, “we have greatly appreciated your patronage over the years and apologize for the inconvenience.” The note spelled trouble for the cafeteria chain: All told, six out of seven Triangle locations ended up shuttering, followed shortly thereafter by a bankruptcy filing. For many years, though, K&W has been an operation sustained by devotion. It is hard not to wonder if that devotion might keep its doors open. Patronage, anyways, is just one word for the support shown by K&W diners, over the years. Obsession is another. Since 1937, the modest, family-run restaurant chain from Winston-Salem has attracted an ardent retiree fan base by approximating the Southern food experience. It offers the Groundhog Day of Thanksgivings, with an affordable made-from-scratch spread that resets each morning; it also, according to some devotees, captures the spirit of a Thanksgiving dinner with communal arrangements that bring everyone together. In a 2019 profile, the folk musician Rhiannon Giddens described the food as “unpretentious” and the Greensboro K&W as an egalitarian space where elders and young folks alike could gather. “When you walk into that place, everybody’s there,” Giddens told The New Yorker. “You’ve got your folks off work, you have all of the working class there, white and Black, country folk who are in the city, city folk who have been there all the time. It’s my family.” With its elderly clientele and communal serving style, it’s also a business uniquely unfit to survive a pandemic, though ownership insists that K&W has weathered storms before this one; there are years ahead yet. Diners like Vivian McMillan hope that’s true. “My family likes to tease me because whenever I’m in a new place and I see a sign that says there’s a K&W, I’m absolutely impressed,” McMillan says. “There can be all kinds of other things to go and see, but if they have a K&W, I love the place.” 20

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Archival photos of North Carolina K&W Cafeterias PHOTOS COURTESY OF K&W CAFETERIA

McMillan, who lives in Charlotte, told the INDY that she was first introduced to the restaurant while living in Winston-Salem, a single parent in the 1990s. She was drawn by its affordability and the choose-your-own-adventure spread of homestyle food. “Their deserts were always homemade, it seemed,” McMillan says. “There’s a Southern dish called Chess Pie, and they had someone there who could make that pie, oh honey, to die for, like your grandmother used to make. And believe it or not, I just loved their turnip greens and vegetables.” In 2012, on the chain’s 75th anniversary, K&W had 35 outposts across North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. But the pandemic brought operations to halt, and during the height of restaurant restrictions in North Carolina, business dropped by 80 percent. The company fought to keep workers on: It received one of the

largest PPP loans in the state, listed by the U.S. Treasury Department as between $5 million and $10 million. In the application, K&W sought to protect 500 jobs. In an interview with the News & Observer, K&W president Dax Allred said that without that loan, the restaurant would have closed restaurants during Phase One. By the end of August, though, only one location remained open locally—at 3620 Bastion Lane in Raleigh— out of 18 remaining restaurants. On September 2, in an 80-page petition, the chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a protection sought by businesses that plan to restructure and remain in operation. According to the filing, K&W has around $30 million in assets, debts of $22 million, and between 100 and 199 creditors. “The impact of COVID-19 and related operating restrictions had a disproportionately negative impact on our loyal guests and cafeteria-style dining,” Dax Allred said in a press release. “We are hopeful this restructuring will allow our cafeterias to weather the storm and continue serving guests for years to come.” Recently, I called K&W headquarters to learn more. After asking to speak to the media spokesperson, I was transferred to a young-ish sounding man with an eager, attentive drawl; a few moments into the conversation, I realized that the person on the other end of the line was Dax Allred, who, since 2008, has been president of the franchise. He agreed to an interview under the understanding that any consideration of the restaurant’s legacy would not double as a eulogy: K&W, he says, is hanging in there.

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hain restaurants are created with omnipresence in mind. Growing up and going to K&W with my grandparents, I’d always assumed I could just point a direction and eventually find one. In reality, it’s still a small homegrown operation. When I asked Allred for his email address, he gave me Gmail.


The company’s creation story begins in 1937, during the height of the Great Depression, when Allred’s grandfather, Grady T. Allred, founded the restaurant alongside a family of brothers with the surnames Knight and Wilson—the “K” and the “W.” In 1941, Allred acquired the restaurant and began to expand operations; at the time, a hamburger steak with onions cost just 40 cents. It was a boom time when comfort and convenience were beginning to merge, and regional chains like Krispy Kreme— also founded in Winston-Salem—were beginning to appear throughout the South, representing a new kind of fast-casual dining. When Grady T. Allred Sr. passed in 1983, K&W hadn’t quite achieved the success of a chain like Waffle House or Krispy Kreme, but it had become a North Carolina institution about as ubiquitous as kudzu. His children took up the family trade. Allred’s son, Grady Jr., even created a competing cafeteria dynasty, J&S Cafeterias. Dax Allred is the third generation at the helm of the restaurant; a feat that only 13 percent of family-run businesses in the United States achieve, according to research from the Family Firm Institute. He never set out, though, to be in the family business. When he graduated from Davidson College in 2001, he started working as a lab technician with a mind toward a career in medicine. But tragedy struck: During the summer of 2004, in the span of just three months, both his 18-year-old brother, Bailey Allred, and his uncle, K&W CEO Gary Allred, suddenly died. With no one else ready to take on the job, Dax stepped into his uncle’s shoes. He began management training by working in the kitchen, where he was trained by a man named Charlie Brown—K&W’s longest-serving employee, who had also trained Dax’s father. “There’s certainly no substitute for working side-byside with those who have worked for the company for decades,” Allred says. “It’s a tough spot. Kitchens are hot, days are long. During those two years I developed a deep appreciation for what our co-workers do for the company on a daily basis.” Since that handoff, every Allred is required to work for five years outside the company before joining K&W management. All told, 9 descendants of Grady Allred now hold company shares. Numerous chains have folded since the onset of COVID19. Data from a July Yelp study shows that of the 26,160 total restaurant closures reported on the app, 15,770 are permanent. Many were independent restaurants, but chains and corporations have also suffered blows: Dean & Deluca filed for bankruptcy as early as March 31, followed by the French-inspired bakery chain Le Pain Quotidien. Garden Fresh, the parent company of buffet restaurants Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes, declared bankruptcy in May and announced the permanent closure of all 97 of its locations, putting an estimated 4,400 employees out of work. K&W, for its part, employed around 1,400 employees at the timing of the bankruptcy filing. Allred says the six shuttered Triangle locations were unprofitable before the pandemic, and that the business has modernized and been much more adaptable than people know. Take-out, for instance—which previously brought in about 25 percent of company revenue—has risen to about 35 percent. “I don’t want to bleed to you over the phone, but the corporate downsizing, as well as losing some of our unprofitable locations, has been the most difficult days of my term

as president,” Allred says. “In addition to working alongside everyone for the last fourteen years, prior to that I grew up with many of the people we’ve had to furlough or terminate in recent months. In any business, it’s a challenge when you go through downsizing. But because of our extended family corporate culture, it’s impossible for it not to be personal.”

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hile trends come and go,” the K&W company motto goes, “good food at a reasonable price is never out of style.” No one would accuse K&W of being trendy. If anything, its distinguishing quality is its changelessness. Inside the unassuming exteriors—sometimes in a strip mall, always signified by blocky maroon letters—a wealth of food awaits. Every dish is prepared daily from recipes developed in the K&W kitchens. There are steaming vats of green beans and hearty dishes of macaroni and cheese. There are rolls and cornbread and, in the salad section, gelatinous peaches and trembling dishes of jello that change colors like a mood ring under the lights. The baked spaghetti is a crowd favorite, according to diners, as is the fried chicken and Salisbury steak. The menu has slight alterations from week to week but overwhelmingly provides meat-and-three stability. If the Waffle House’s bright lights are resilient enough to serve as a FEMA hurricane index, then maybe K&W Cafeterias is an index of a certain way of life, unchanging and invariably unfazed.

“They had someone there who could make that pie, oh honey, to die for, like your grandmother used to make.” “Once, we were sitting there eating,” Katherine Phillips says of a meal at the Greensboro K&W. “And we looked over at a family of six people, and the grandpa was in a hospital bed—the kind where he’s propped up—and he was just minding his own business and eating his meal. I hope I can do that one day! Nobody cared.” Phillips, who now lives in Washington, D.C., says that she celebrated every birthday at K&W until her 21st (it’s a dry cafeteria), often competing with her guests to see who could get a full meal for under $5. Her middle name is Winberry, and she felt a connection with the initials. Due to her strategy of passing up meat and doubling up on mac and cheese, she usually won the challenge, too.

“I always remember being so happy there, and everyone’s friendly,” Phillips says. “And there was just so much food.” Special occasions have been one constant; the afterchurch crowd is another. Allred says that while Thanksgiving and Mother’s Day invariably bring in a crowd, Sundays are the weekly banner day, the line stretching long with Presbyterians, Methodists, and holy rollers alike. “A typical experience would be that parents and extended family after church on Sundays, which is problematic because everyone had to go home and change clothes,” Stephen Conrad, a librarian at Duke University, remembers of his family’s weekly pilgrimage, following a Southern Baptist service in Kernersville. “And then drive thirty minutes to Winston, and then stand in the cafeteria line for up to an hour.” Inconveniences aside, many of the diners the INDY spoke with found comfort in K&W even after they’d grown up and left the days of birthday parties and afterchurch gatherings behind them. Breniecia Reuben, aka Raleigh DJ Luxe Posh, remembers not being tall enough to see the cafeteria dishes when she first visited the restaurant. But once she grew up, she kept coming back, often to the Cameron Village location the morning after gigs. If she was hungover, she says, the Saturday/Monday special was a steal: a multicourse meal for two for $19.99. Julia Kaminer—who is, disclaimer, a college friend—moved to Chapel Hill in 2007. Away from home, she recalls initially feeling lost and “bad at college” but found salvation in Friday-night dates with her younger sister at the Chapel Hill K&W. On one such Friday night, she remembers walking into the restaurant and spotting a dorm hallmate—blonde, coiffed, and the picture of college perfection—sitting by herself with a tray of food, peacefully eating alone. “It was of those moments [that] just reframed my whole idea about how everyone was spending their time in college,” Kaminer said in an Instagram story. “And it just gave me permission to spend Friday nights at K&W instead of trying to have outrageous college fun every single moment, when I was in the middle of my heart breaking and my family falling apart.” K&W, she says, was a “soft place to land.” UNC librarian Aaron Smith, meanwhile, sought the cafeteria out for comfort after moving from Texas. He worries about the loss of accessible community spaces like the cafeterias. “Sometimes I would go alone and get a plate to-go on a Friday or Saturday night when I was worn down cooking and tired,” Smith wrote in a Twitter message. “And if I was there in dirty coveralls instead of library clothes, the people serving were so nice and gave me awesome portions. I really worry about all the folks that worked there and all the folks for whom it was one of the few affordable places in town to eat. It was a place for folks to come together for comfort food and comfort in each other.” It is clear that the restaurant industry will never look quite the same again. It’s also hard not to fear that certain ways of dining—especially communal ones like cafeterias and buffets—might become an extinct species of the South. Dax Allred doesn’t have all the answers, but he hopes to carry the K&W spirit into a new decade of business. “I remember one time when I was probably seven years old,” Allred recalls. “I was complaining to my grandmother about how long it was going to be to wait in the line, and how I was hungry. She turned around and sort of popped my hand and said, ‘You better be grateful for this line.’” W INDYweek.com

September 30, 2020

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M U SIC

HISS GOLDEN MESSENGER: SCHOOL DAZE: A FUNDRAISER FOR DURHAM PUBLIC SCHOOLS STUDENTS

[Merge Records; Oct. 2]

Learning by Heart Hiss Golden Messenger gets emotional for public schools on a second live-album benefit BY JORDAN LAWRENCE music@indyweek.com

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s COVID-19 began, M.C. Taylor’s wife, a public schoolteacher in Durham, told him she was worried. She didn’t know where some of the kids would get food when the virus sent them home. Public education has long been personal for the leader of Hiss Golden Messenger. Both of his parents were public schoolteachers, and his sister followed them into the calling. His kids go to school in Durham. Taylor needed to do something. Having already donated a portion of his fall tour ticket sales to the Durham Public Schools Foundation, in March Taylor released a live record, Forward, Children, which captured Hiss Golden Messenger’s spiritually probing folk-rock in a two-night stand at Cat’s Cradle earlier this year. All the proceeds—more than $25,000 thus far—went to the nonprofit, which seeks to strengthen the student experience. Magan Gonzales-Smith, the foundation’s executive director, told the INDY that the money has helped fund more than 627,000 meals for students and families since schools shut down. Today Merge Records announced School Daze, another live benefit for DPSF, which comes out October 2 on Bandcamp and October 9 on other digital services. The album features road recordings from Asheville, Toronto, Denver, and Seattle. It’s a vital complement to its predecessor, with more tenacious, rawer performances—the solos spiral a little more recklessly, the crescendos peak a little more aggressively, the rhythms groove a little more fiercely. We recently spoke with Taylor about why public education stirs his emotions, the difference between political opinions and facts, and the freedom of playing on the road. 22

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INDYweek.com

INDY: Why are issues of educational equity so important to you? M.C. TAYLOR: Growing up, the discussion

around the dinner table was always about school and how school worked, what was exciting about school, what was frustrating about school. From a really young age, I started hearing my parents talk about the way that public education was often scapegoated for stuff that they had no control over. You don’t become a schoolteacher if you’re looking to make money. You become a schoolteacher because you’re called to it. That particular part of it really is affecting to me, even to this day. It makes me very emotional, actually, because I’m very thankful that they dedicate their lives to kids and do it for very little pay, and I’m very frustrated that people don’t understand how much public schoolteachers do. I enjoy the contrast of hearing Hiss a little more polished in front of a hometown crowd on Forward, Children and a little rowdier out on the road on School Daze. How much were you trying to showcase those different experiences?

The stakes become different, maybe a little higher, playing at home, just because there’s a certain expectation that comes with playing your hometown venue. There’s a certain looseness to the performances on School Daze that really appeals to me. Those were very crowded shows, too, but we didn’t have any hometown obligations. That record kind of shows us as journeymen and journeywomen musicians—just a crew of people rolling through a town.

M.C. Taylor of Hiss Golden Messenger

PHOTO BY ANTHONY MULCAHY

What has it meant to you to put out these live records when you can’t go out and play?

If it’s what we have, I’ll take it. I’ve realized over the past six months that there is no substitute for a live performance. Even the most high-quality stream really pales in comparison to being there and seeing music. And I think a live record, it can get you closer to that space, and so if people are engaging with these live records in that way, then that’s great. We have been making high-quality recordings of Hiss shows for many years. The archives are so vast that it’s actually a little bit intimidating for me to even think about trying to pull out recordings from them, but it seemed like now was a great time. And I wouldn’t put these records out if I didn’t think there was something powerful about them. You’ve been outspoken about the issues you see the Durham Public Schools Foundation helping to correct. You also frequently express yourself politically through your public platforms these days. Do you think about how that might change the way listeners hear these songs? Are you hoping it teases out meaning that was already there?

I think people’s relationships to any art is just going to evolve naturally without my even saying anything about anything.

But at this particular time, it seems to me so clear what’s right and what’s wrong that I don’t feel like I’m expressing my opinion so much as stating fact. The fact is that something like public education is a civil rights issue. The fact is Black lives matter. The fact is that Latinx lives matter. The fact is that “Blue Lives Matter” is not a thing. There are lots of facts. I think people are a little bit confused between what’s fact and what’s opinion. In the statement you wrote to accompany School Daze, you describe Hiss as “doing what we do best: grooving deep through a selection of some of our favorites and taking the songs, and fans, to whole new places.” How important is it that you continue to reinvent your songs through time?

It’s really important. I feel like part of my musical life is to have the freedom to recast the songs in ways that feel interesting or fresh. My music is not so well known that huge groups of people are showing up demanding that the songs sound exactly like they know it on the record. I love jazz music. I love The Grateful Dead. I love musicians that take a musical theme or a melody and something familiar and twist it into shapes that I wasn’t expecting. To me, that’s one of the most beautiful things that I could possibly think of about music, is sending the music into new places. I think that is such an incredible thing. W


M U SIC

Her Take: On Carolina Hip Hop

exciting honeymoon phase, the struggles and conflicts that arise, sex, or traditional hood-love anthems. Although it may be easy to compare Northside Rocky to August Alsina, A Boogie with da Hoodie, or even Roddy Rich, there is something crisp and fresh about his music. Without a doubt, he has the potential to join the ranks of Carolina MCs such as Rapsody, J. Cole, King Mez, Lute, and DaBaby. I got a chance to speak with him about his style of music, motivations, and his flawless Instagram curation. INDY: Let’s start with you fleshing out who is Northside Rocky. NORTHSIDE ROCKY: Northside is an

acronym for Now Only Reaching The Highest So I Dream Eternal. It’s a mindset, not a location. My whole brand is about inspiring people to reach their higher selves—to reach that northside of them. I love music and started playing piano when I was five years old, started rapping when I was like 11. ILLUSTRATION BY JON FULLER

Picture Perfect

When we think about hip-hop as a genre, it has morphed and changed sonically. There are many subgenres of the culture. What does it mean for you to be a genrebending artist?

Northside Rocky’s melodic versatility and polished social media presence tip him for the top tier of North Carolina rappers BY KYESHA JENNINGS @kyeshajennings

It’s been a crazy process altogether, because trying to figure out what genre is, I feel like it’s the number-one question for artists. Like, what genre am I even in? It’s kind of like when Bryson Tiller dropped, he had to create “trap soul.” I can rap bars. I have a really nice singing voice. I’m kind of like in that neo-R&B/ hip-hop vibe. It’s been an adjustment, just learning myself as an artist, you know what I mean?

L

Are you intentional with how much you rap on a song or how much you sing?

ike today’s mainstream melodic trap rappers, Durham native Northside Rocky’s unique multi-genre sound allows him to master both singing and rapping. His radio-friendly sing-rap songs all include catchy hooks and immaculate production. When it comes to North Carolina’s independent hip-hop scene, even when he’s been on a bit of a musical hiatus, Northside Rocky has his marketing ducks in a row. His artistic professionalism and perfectly packaged industry-friendly image has helped him to build a following of 11,000 on Instagram and receive anywhere up to 330,000 views on his YouTube videos. Northside Rocky’s music can easily be described as tunes you catch a vibe to, as the 808 drums, hi-hats, and synths create an infectious feel-good mood. His newest album, Northside, is a concise seven songs—brief, but long enough to demonstrate his versatility. Most of his lyrical content centers relationships, whether it’s the

It’s just more of a creative vibe. I’m an artist that vibes, really, off of the energy of the beat. I feel like because I play the piano and I have a foundation in music, beats speak to me in a way that they might not speak to other artists. Like the intro on my album, for instance, I co-produced that track and played the piano. The chords evoked an emotion in me that made me want to talk about my mom

“ There was just so many different vulnerabilities inspired by those chords.” having cancer. There was just so many different vulnerabilities inspired by those chords. It really is just based upon the music. When I hear the beat, or I hear an instrumental, or I hear some kind of composition, my vibe and what I create is going to be based off of that, whether it be rap or melodic. Now, there are times where I may say, “OK, I can give my fans a little bit more rap.” ‘Cause that’s what they are wanting right now. But I never try and force it. Let’s talk about the almost perfect curation of your Instagram. It’s a very polished look. What has been the inspiration behind your overall creative direction, and who has assisted you along the way?

The biggest inspiration is just not having capital to pay for music, videos, so going and buying a camera to do it myself. I shoot and-or direct pretty much all of my content that you see on my page. I never even told my manager this story, but I went to LA to meet with a label. They flew me out there, so I came prepared and ready to network. All I had was my drone camera and my homie. We ended up shooting three videos ‘cause the A&R stood me up. Those three videos are my most successful videos ‘til this day. From that, I learned to just keep going, keep pushing and never settling. The curation and what you see on my page, it mainly just comes from trial and error. Also, I got a great manager. I got a great team. I now have the necessary resources behind me that allows me to be up to do what I need to do. W INDYweek.com

September 30, 2020

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SC R E E N

Review 12 HOUR SHIFT

H | Opening Friday, Oct. 2

It’s Only Supernatural

12 Hour Shift Is a Dark Farce Without Force

An Asheville author lends his dark stories about human nature to Hulu’s Monsterland BY ZACK SMITH screen@indyweek.com

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athan Ballingrud doesn’t know yet what Monsterland, the new Hulu horror anthology based on his short story collection North American Lake Monsters, will be like. “I haven’t seen it yet,” Ballingrud says by phone from his home in Asheville. “I saw a lot of the dailies while they were making it, but I’ll get to see the finished product when everyone else does.” Monsterland, whose eight-episode first season drops on Friday, October 2, adapts several of Ballingrud’s short stories alongside original tales by other writers that hew closely to the themes of Ballingrud’s work. Each episode, named for the city and state where it takes place, combines supernatural elements with the everyday horrors of human nature. The pilot, “Port Fourchon, LA,” based on Ballingrud’s story “You Go Where It Takes You,” focuses on an impoverished single mother (Booksmart’s Kaitlyn Dever) who encounters a seeming serial killer (Jonathan Tucker of Kingdom). But the real horror is less about whether she’ll wind up dead than the frustrations of her limited options and her conflicted feelings about her unruly child. Other episodes cover similar morally ambiguous, supernaturally tinged situations, with a diverse cast that includes Taylor Schilling (Orange Is the New Black), Kelly Marie Tran (Star Wars), Mike Colter (Luke Cage), and many others. Ballingrud says that when he was writing the original stories, the idea that “we’re all compromised people” was in his head. “Sometimes people who come from a decent place can be led or stumble into kind of desperate and dark actions, and it doesn’t always mean that the person is evil,” he says. “It just means that maybe they’ve made some bad choices; maybe the circumstances of their life are such that the choice that they make, which seems evil, makes sense to them, even if it’s a kind of deranged sense. It’s based in the notion that the potential for evil is in everybody.” Ballingrud is credited as a consulting producer on the series, which comes from Annapurna Pictures, which previ24

September 30, 2020

INDYweek.com

Monsterland

PHOTO COURTESY OF HULU

ously adapted another of Ballingrud’s stories for the 2019 film Wounds with Armie Hammer, Dakota Johnson, and Zazie Beetz. (That film’s director, Babak Anvari, serves as an executive producer on Monsterland, with the series itself overseen by screenwriter Mary Laws of The Neon Demon and TV’s Succession.) “It was an eye-opening experience working in the writers’ room, listening to them talk about the stories and take them apart and reconfigure them for a visual medium—like learning a whole new set of tools,” Ballingrud says. “It’s opened up new ways of thinking about stories, in terms of how I might approach a scene, whether I’d want to do something with less dialogue or ways to express action that might be more visual than going inside the characters’ heads.” Though Ballingrud, who’s just finished his next novel, says he’s not sure if what he learned during his undergraduate days at UNC-Chapel Hill affected his writing (“I was a very confused an unfinished person”), he praises the N.C. literary scene and says the Asheville area “deeply affects my imagination.” “Just the fact that you can still get in your car and drive for about an hour and find places that seem almost primeval, I find that really invigorating and reassuring,” he says. “That idea that the dark wood is real, and it’s not far away from my window, is just so cool.” W

“Black comedy about the illicit organ trade” is the kind of extreme premise that has to either come from an authentic place—experience, maybe, or the mind of a true eccentric—or commit to full-on camp. But Brea Grant’s 12 Hour Shift doesn’t quite manage either, and its flat, bargain-basement style isn’t enough to compensate. Left to their own devices, the clichéd characters, self-conscious dialogue, and slapdash plotting reveal the film as the product of a zany high concept that was cynically gamed out in a screenwriting workshop. The opening scene, a cigarette break separating two nurses’ shifts at a hospital in Arkansas, introduces Mandy (Angela Bettis) as a world-weary avatar of the modern shift worker. She’s jaded and exhausted, kept awake by stimulants, sane by narcotics, and solvent with side hustles. Bettis supplies what little conviction there is here, and if the rest of the film took her character as seriously, her role as a procurer of kidneys for sale on the black market might feel less arbitrary than it does. We learn about Mandy’s crimes when her cousinin-law, Regina (Chloe Farnworth), shows up with cash and a mini-cooler to collect the latest kidney at the start of Mandy’s overnight shift. A bottle blonde in a halter top and bellbottoms, Regina is moonlighting as the delivery girl for the gang Mandy sells to. Grant lets Farnworth (a British actress with an unconvincing drawl) chew as much scenery as she wants, which is immediately grating. Regina’s function as a ditzy foil for the cool and collected Mandy (not to mention the entire plot) is undermined just as quickly. In full view of Mandy and shot in a tight close-up, Regina sets the bagged-up kidney on the floor. Then both walk away without it, the fateful mistake that sets the chaos of the night in motion. Nothing against farce, but if character differences don’t matter, why establish them? As the gang descends on the hospital, a convicted murderer (David Arquette) escapes his guard, and incompetent police try to respond. We’re introduced to wacky new characters, each more colorful than the last. But their distinctions are rendered into Dixiesploitation slurry by sloppy directing and an overstuffed script that never takes the time to develop. We learn Mandy has a brother in the hospital and a history of sexual abuse, both only mentioned in passing, and by the time we’re shown a completely incongruous magical-realist vignette in which a security guard launches into song, there’s nothing left except a tedious procession of atrocities. —Ryan Vu


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September 30, 2020

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P U Z Z L ES

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Curbside Pick Up: Monday–Saturday 12–4PM

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If you just can’t wait, check out the current week’s answer key at www.indyweek.com, and click “puzzle pages” at the bottom of our webpage.

Renewed website!

www.regulatorbookshop.com

this week’s puzzle level:

© Puzzles by Pappocom

There is really only one rule to Sudoku: Fill in the game board so that the numbers 1 through 9 occur exactly once in each row, column, and 3x3 box. The numbers can appear in any order and diagonals are not considered. Your initial game board will consist of several numbers that are already placed. Those numbers cannot be changed. Your goal is to fill in the empty squares following the simple rule above.

If you just can’t wait, check out the current week’s answer key at www.indyweek.com, and click “puzzle pages.” Best of luck, and have fun! www.sudoku.com 9.30.20

solution to last week’s puzzle

26

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C L AS S I F I E D S

ur webpage.

NOTICES 2020 ADDITIONAL ABSENTEE MEETINGS NOTICE At its September 10, 2020 and September 29, 2020 meetings, the Durham County Board of Elections authorized additional meetings to review absentee-bymail ballots due to increased volume. The additional Board meetings will be held at the Board of Elections warehouse located at 2445 S. Alston Avenue, Durham. Four of the additional meetings will occur on Oct. 9th, 16th, 23rd, and 30th at 5:00 p.m. The final additional meeting will occur on Nov. 2nd at 1:00 p.m. All additional meetings will be open to the public. In-person meeting attendance by the public will be limited due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Board of Elections will provide for a telephonic and/ or online platform for the public to participate in the additional meetings. NOTICE OF DURHAM COUNTY GENERAL ELECTION Tuesday, November 3, 2020 PHOTO ID IS NOT REQUIRED TO VOTE The General Election for Durham County will be held in Durham County, NC on Tuesday November 3rd. All Durham County precincts will be open from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. The following contests will be on Durham County ballots*: •President of the United States •State and Federal Offices •U.S. House of Representatives •N.C. Senate •N.C. House of Representatives •N.C. District Court •N.C. Superior Court •Durham County Board of Commissioners •Durham County Register of Deeds •Durham County Soil and Water *Offices will only appear on your ballot if you are eligible to vote for the respective contests.

ABSENTEE ONE-STOP (EARLY VOTING) LOCATIONS • South Regional Library – 4505 S Alston Avenue, Durham • North Regional Library221 Milton Road, Durham • Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship4907 Garrett Road, Durham • Hope Valley Baptist Church- 6900 Garrett Road, Durham • Greater Emmanuel Template of Grace – 2722 E Main Street, Durham • Mt. Sylvan United Methodist Church – 5731 N Roxboro Road, Durham • East Regional Library – 211 Lick Creek Lane, Durham • The River Church – 4900 Prospectus Drive, Durham • Criminal Justice Resource Center – 326 E Main Street, Durham • Durham Tech – Newton Building – 1616 Cooper Street, Durham • NCCU Turner Law Building – 640 Nelson Street, Durham • Duke University Karsh Alumni Center – 2080 Duke University Road, Durham • Southern High School – 800 Clayton Road, Durham • Main Library – 300 N Roxboro Street, Durham Early voting schedule: Thursday, Oct. 15th through Saturday, Oct. 31st, 2020 Hours are consistent at all fourteen early voting sites. • Weekdays: 8:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. • First Two Saturdays (Oct. 17th and 24th): 8:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. • Final Saturday (Oct. 31st): 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. • Sundays: 2:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. ELECTION DAY POLLING PLACE LOCATION CHANGES • Precinct 15, previously located at Shepherds House United Methodist Church has moved to Holton Career and Resource Center, located at 401 N. Driver Street, Durham, NC 27703. • Precinct 17, previously located at First Presbyterian Church

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HEALTH & WELL BEING has moved to Durham County Main Library, located at 300 N Roxboro Street, Durham, NC 27701. • Precinct 35.3, previously located at City of Durham Fire Station #18 has moved to Triangle Bridge Club, located at 5110 Revere Road, Durham, NC 27713. • Precinct 48, previously located at Woodcroft Clubhouse has moved to the Boys and Girls Club of Durham and Orange Counties, located at 1010 Martin Luther King, Jr. Parkway, Durham, NC 27713. VOTER REGISTRATION DEADLINE: The voter registration deadline for the November 3, 2020 General Election is Friday, October 9, 2020 (25 days prior). Voters that miss the registration deadline may register and vote during the Absentee OneStop Voting Period (Early Voting). Voters who are currently registered need not re-register. Registered voters who have moved or changed other information since the last election should notify the Board of Elections of that change by October 9, 2020. SAME DAY REGISTRATION: Voters are allowed to register and vote during early voting. It is quicker and easier to register in advance, but if you have not registered you can do so during One Stop voting with proper identification. This same day registration is not allowed at polling places on Election Day. Information regarding registration, polling locations, absentee voting, or other election matters may be obtained by contacting the Board of Elections. PHOTO ID IS NOT REQUIRED TO VOTE Website: www.dcovotes.com Email: elections@dconc.gov Phone: 919-560-0700

M I S C.

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EMPLOYMENT SENIOR ENGINEER, NETWORK ARCHITECTURE Senior Engineer, Network Architecture wanted by a wireless & broadcast communications system provider in Cary, NC. Research, dvlp, & implmt the latest wireless solutions at a variety of indoor & outdoor venues; test & assess the latest equipment, protocols, & methodologies in ATC lab environment & then, following proof-of-concept, provide support by introducing new solutions for commercialization; present the n/work dsgn to external & internal customers; architect endto-end wireless solutions, using new & upcoming wireless technology standards & protocols & perform related job duties. Reqs: Bach’s deg in Comp Sci, Electronic & Communication Engg, Electronic Engg, or a closely related field plus a min. 7 yrs of relevant w/ architecting & Engg Wireless technology exp (5 yrs of which must be progressive, post-baccalaureate exp) in job offered or as Sr. N/work Engineer/Wi-Fi Metropolitan Coordinator. Reqs 7 yrs of exp using the following tools which may have been gained concurrently): Using various n/work’g & routing protocols, incl 802.11a/b/g/n, OSI, Multipath TCP (MPTCP), RADIUS, AAA, TCP/IP, BGP, OSPF, & MPLS; W/ infrastructure-related projects w/ 802.11a/b/g/n/ac based wireless architecture, & REST APIs; Dsgn’g, implmt’g & troubleshooting in complex n/works; & Dvlp’g & analyzing RFI, RFP & RFQ for sales proposals. Forward resume to: HR Dept., American Tower Corporation, 116 Huntington Ave, 11th Flr, Boston, MA 02116.

LAST WEEK’S PUZZLE

Fax: 919-560-0688 PAID FOR BY DURHAM COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTIONS

INDYweek.com

September 30, 2020

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Your business photo here! GATHER GREEN info@wegathergreen.com 919-666-6650 www.WeGatherGreen.com

The average individual produces four pounds of waste daily; businesses and events generate much more. For event planners, disposing of waste can be time and labor-intensive. Enter Gather Green. Bryce takes care of all their waste recovery needs, providing consultations and waste management before, during, and after the event. With a bit of ingenuity, Bryce recovers, transforms, and diverts plastics and other nonrecyclable waste. For example, when Gather Green contracted with Moogfest, they saw an 83% reduction in waste from the previous year. Event planners simply feel better when they know they aren’t contributing to overflowing landfills.

OBE T C O T: TLIGH

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S SPO S E s of Gather N I ceadopter B U SFillaree soap company wasvaniearly

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Green’s Waste Recovery Station, a solution for local businesses. Fillaree’s owner, Alyssa Cherry, was determined to create a zero-waste business, but sorting and transporting each individual material proved to be too much. By partnering with Gather Green in 2019, the company produced only eight pounds of trash, a 99% diversion rate.

Where does it all go? Gather Green works to ensure that materials are properly sorted, then re-envisioned for another purpose. For instance, artists and businesses can turn items like unique plastic packaging into clay molds, or redirect bubble wrap from one business to another. Bryce’s “no trash left behind” mindset encourages everyone to connect and become more engaged and more committed to exploring a new way of dealing with their trash.

200-250 words about your business!

If you are interested in consulting with Gather Green for your business or next event, contact Bryce at www.WeGatherGreen.com.

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hen Bryce Northington learned that Durham doesn’t have a landfill - our trash is shipped miles away - she started thinking about the trash generated in the Triangle and wondered—is there a way for businesses and events to dispose of trash while avoiding landfills altogether? This question prompted her to found Gather Green.

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