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Salt • June 2013

The Art & Soul of Wilmington


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June 2013 Features

40

The Sacred Journey of Alonzo Wilson

48

Once Upon a Gypsy Moon

52 62

By Ashley Wahl From Hoggard High to HBO, Nature’s son Alonzo Wilson’s journey is the stuff of dreams

Book Excerpt by Michael Hurley A man in search of open water — and his own true North

Rooms with a View

By Ashley Wahl For Rita and Wade Howle, the seasons unfold majestically from the former lawn of Airlie Mansion

The Caretakers

By Jim Dodson For half a century, the Smith garden of Forest Hills has delighted and inspired generations of Wilmington gardeners

6 Homeplace By Jim Dodson

with a Friend 26 Lunch By Dana Sachs

Street Spy 13 Front By Ashley Wahl

33 Birdwatch By Susan Campbell

Departments

Notes From the Porch 31 8 SaltWorks By Bill Thompson The best of Wilmington

15 Stagelife By Gwenyfar Rohler City journal 16 Port By Susan Taylor Block Reader 20 Omnivorous By Stephen E. Smith Talks Funny 22 She By Ann Ipock

25 Spirits By Frank Daniels III 4

Salt • June 2013

35 Excursions By Virginia Holman 68 Calendar June Happenings City People 73 Port Out and about Astrologer 79 Accidental By Astrid Stellanova Mindfield 80 Papadaddy’s By Clyde Edgerton

Cover Photograph by Ned Leary The Art & Soul of Wilmington


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H O M E P L A C E

A Taste of Salt And coming home a second time

by JIM dodSoN

One still, warm

afternoon last September, two colleagues and I decided to split up and go exploring on foot in downtown Wilmington. The plan was that we would meet back at the Port City Java near our new Salt magazine offices on North Front Street in ninety minutes or so to relate what interesting things we found in the city that day.

All three of us, I should pause and explain, are old Wilmington hands with personal histories and strong ties to The Belle of the Cape Fear, as an old college professor of mine always referred to his hometown. Not surprisingly, each of us went off in distinctly different directions. David Woronoff, our youthful publisher who owns a house at Wrightsville Beach and hails from a prominent newspaper family, was curious to drop into Old Books on Front Street and wander through Wilmington’s popular riverfront district at the height of the summer tourist occupation, hoping to get a fresh sense of the city’s timeless appeal to travelers and newcomers. Andie Rose, Salt’s award-winning art director whose artistic connection to the city is impressive on several fronts — including the fact that she once jumped off the end of Johnnie Mercer’s pier on a teenage dare — ambled north on Front Street to check out several galleries en route to an exhibit of local artists. Finally, architecture and history being my thing, I set off for stately St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church on 6th Street where long ago I attended kindergarten classes and sang in the cherub choir and learned to read. Wilmington, you see, was a place of refuge and recovery — a brief but splendid new homeplace, if you will — for my family in 1957 when my father found a job in the advertising department at the Wilmington Star and we moved into a modest bungalow across the street from Greenfield Lake. His dream of owning his own newspaper had just gone up in flames down in Mississippi when his silent partner in a weekly newspaper called the Gulfport Breeze, a promising enterprise that was preparing to publish five days a week, went belly up. It took me years to learn the whole story, which still sounds like something out of a film starring Burl Ives and Gregory Peck. The day my father drove to Memphis to purchase a new printing 6

Salt • June 2013

press for his paper’s expansion, his not-so-silent partner — a Scripturequoting, linen-suited gent who owned a local shrimp-processing factory and boasted he would someday be governor — cleaned out the company bank accounts and struck off with a local hotel cigarette girl for parts unknown, hotly pursued by his wife and the state police. That same week my father lost his younger sister to a car wreck up in Washington, D.C., and my mother, seven months pregnant, suffered a miscarriage. I’ve never heard of anyone having a harder week. He literally picked up the phone and called a friend in Wilmington who offered him a job with the Star. The night we said goodbye to Gulfport, my dad gave his eight employees a final paycheck from his personal savings and we simply headed off through the autumn darkness toward North Carolina in our Pontiac Star Chief. “You boys are going to love Wilmington,” my everupbeat father assured my older brother and me. “It will be like going home.” My brother was installed at Lake Forest Academy (in those days Elementary School) and I was enrolled in the kindergarten class at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, where a teacher whom I only recall as “Miss Becky” was especially kind and got me reading “word books” right off the bat. Books quickly became my world and I found two best friends in Brad Wall and Brian Tilden, both of whom you can see in the class photograph taken that next spring on the rear steps of the church annex. If you must know, I’m the imp in the horizontal stripes making the manic grin fifth from the left along the back row, principally because my buddies and I had wolfed down three Easter cupcakes each and I was in acute danger of regurgitating the pink pastries all over the sweet dark-haired girl standing in front of me. That year, on a happier note, my dad played Balthazar in the church’s annual Christmas pageant and my brother and I sang in the cherub choir. I remember sitting in the loft enthralled by the huge swag lamps that illuminated the historic church, pleased by the smell of candles and old wood. I sometimes think my fascination with church architecture and historic buildings began right there, as did my love of old hymns. We also joined the Hanover Seaside Club and spent many summer days out at Wrightsville Beach, often stopping to eat fried oysters at Faircloth’s seafood restaurant as we crossed over the bridge for home, sunburned and beach-weary. Not unimportantly, I learned to swim in the “Little Lagoon” across the street from Newell’s Department Store and ride my first bike on the burning pavement that stretched from the club’s front steps to Lumina Pavilion, where I loved to hang out and watch fishermen on the pier and watch the courting roller-skaters. The Art & Soul of Wilmington


homeplace Fittingly, many years further on — when I was 14 — I kissed my first summer crush, a girl named Cindy from Xenia, Ohio, in the cool sand beneath the skating rink. That same week I was allowed to take Cindy in our modest outboard on an afternoon expedition to Bald Head Island, long before it became a haven for exclusive homeowners, where I speared a flounder in the shallows near the spot where her family and mine later had a goodbye picnic and an evening fire. Cindy and I vowed like young star-crossed lovers to stay in touch and exchanged letters for months thereafter. That next spring, however, her hometown was leveled by a massive tornado and the letters abruptly ceased. I’ve never stopped wondering what happened to her. Though it shaped our family life in so many fine and subtle ways, we resided just two and a half years in Wilmington until my father took a job as the advertising director of a paper in South Carolina, and we moved there briefly before returning to Greensboro, his hometown, where our family roots went back generations. In a sense, though, I never left Wilmington. Or maybe more accurately, it never left me. To begin with, it will always be the place where I learned to read and swim and ride a bike and love fried oysters and eventually court a pretty girl by the magic of motorboat and flounder gig, no small milestones in a young man’s emerging life. Not surprisingly, owing to the enduring friendships we made here, we continued to visit Wilmington and the Hanover Seaside Club on a regular basis for years. Two years before I graduated from high school and headed off to East Carolina University, we began renting a larger house to accommodate family and visiting friends on the north end of Wrightsville Beach and returned every year for at least a decade, allowing me to learn the Port City anew through more mature eyes. Airlie Gardens became a frequent spot for reading and writing in personal notebooks, and my dad and I played golf at the wonderful Wilmington Municipal Golf Course too many times to count, deepening a love of the game that would set me on the course, I remain convinced, to become the author Arnold Palmer chose to write his best-selling memoir, A Golfer’s Life. Years later, those Airlie notebooks on nature would send me off to Africa in quest of exotic plants in the tradition of another wandering son of Wilmington, Robert Ruark, whose famous book, The Old Man and the Boy, was my first grown-up book, a signed copy no less. The magazine in your hands, we believe you will soon agree, is not just another pretty lifestyle magazine aimed at advising you on how to buy marble countertops or pad your 401(k) retirement fund. Old-fashioned as it may sound, we prize great storytelling and view Salt as a true labor of love by several of us who regard Wilmington as a homeplace of the heart and soul, an old and beautiful city shaped by history and tides, once made wealthy by the salt trade of the Carolina coast and now home to a booming university and community college that help keep the Port City forever young and growing in fresh and innovative ways. Our chosen subjects are the deeper passions of Wilmington life, things that make your homeplace such a rewarding place to be — the art of good food and enduring friendships, intriguing homes and gardens, the thrill of exploring this saltwater Eden by land and water, a stunningly diverse sporting life, and intriguing people who are busy writing new chapters in the old city’s emerging history. We’ll also offer the best of short fiction, award-winning poetry and personal essays that will stir the soul and open the mind. The Ar t & Soul of Wilmington

In this debut issue, for example, senior editor Ashley Wahl introduces you to a remarkable native son named Alonzo Wilson, a local kid who grew up in the backcountry and public schools of Wilmington to become a celebrated costume designer for the hottest programs on HBO — and a spiritual voice for his African and Native American forebears as well as the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Ashley’s nimble profile of Alonzo coincides with a stunning exhibit of the artist’s life and work that opened at the Cameron Art Museum on May 17. You’ll also read a hauntingly beautiful excerpt from a new book called Once Upon a Gypsy Moon, a meditation on sailing and human redemption by a Raleigh attorney who knows and loves and writes about the waters of Masonboro Inlet and Southport with uncommon grace. Among other pleasures awaiting, acclaimed memoirist (and UNCW writing professor extraordinaire) Virginia Holman will lead you by kayak on an unexpected excursion into the wildlife of the Cape Fear while her creative writing department colleague Dana Sachs — straight from her own national book tour for her wonderful new novel The Secret of the Nightingale Palace will take you along to lunch at Indochine with her longtime pal, funnywoman Celia Rivenbark. We’ll also make you laugh with Ann Ipock (who really does talk funny) and smile with front porch philosopher Bill Thompson. Wade and Rita Howle will invite you inside their stunning family home whose progeny enjoyed Airlie Gardens as a backyard playground, and Forest Hill’s botanic flamekeepers Lillian and Percy Smith will show you a family garden where the annual Easter egg hunt is the stuff of Port City legend. Want to drop in on a famous social maven’s unconventional party where the “life of the party” is, well, already departed? Check out historian Susan Block’s delightful account of Miss Emma Bellamy’s undaunted party prowess. As if that weren’t enough, every month acclaimed novelist and chicken fancier Clyde Edgerton — a lynchpin of UNCW’s nationally recognized Department of Creative Writing — will offer a few parting wisdoms from his monthly roost on the final page of the magazine, a graceful summing up, we think, and fitting adieu until next month’s edition. In truth, I couldn’t be prouder to be part of a homecoming like Salt magazine, for I was already pondering these possibilities way back on that overwarm afternoon in September when I stepped inside the cool, fragrant shades of St. Paul’s Church and found it rewardingly just like I remembered it. I also bumped into longtime music director Bill Remele, who was kind enough to let me take a look at the choir loft where I had my singing debut 55 years ago in the cherub choir. “We had a cherub choir for years and then it stopped. We sort of ran out of young singers,” he explained. “The good news is, the children are returning and we’re bringing it back.” “Will it still be called the cherub choir?” I asked. “Oh, yes. Some things never change.” Bill left me to sit for a spell in the half-darkened church, beneath those same amazing swag lamps, enjoying the cool air and scent of old wood and candles, remembering faces and names and trying not to think about those Easter cupcakes. Fifty years ago my father predicted I would love Wilmington, and think of it as coming home. How nice to feel that way a second time. b June 2013 •

Salt

7


SaltWorks

Drama Free Outside the Fringe

It’s hot out. But if there’s cool music, who cares? On Friday, June 7, the Summer Concert Series at Airlie Gardens presents 40 East Band, whose bombshell lead vocalist, Danica Fletcher, grew up on a horse farm. They’ll cover artists such as Carrie Underwood, Lady Gaga and Kelly Clarkson, and slip a few original tunes into the mix. Two weeks later, on Friday, June 21, Shine returns to the Oak Lawn of Airlie serving up what the band likes to call “home-brewed sounds, elixirs and other familiar remedies.” All concerts are from 6 to 8 p.m. General admission parking is off-site. Free parking and shuttles are provided from the Old Cinema 6 property at 5335 Oleander Drive, Wilmington. Tickets: $8/adults; $2/children; free for Airlie members. Listen: www.40eastband.com; www.shinejarmusic.com. Info: (910) 798-7700 or www.airliegardens.org.

Groundlings forked over a single English penny — which was sometimes their entire day’s wage — to see a Willie Shakespeare original production. Hitch a ride to Greenfield Lake Amphitheater this month and you can experience the best of the Bard for nothing. Cape Fear Shakespeare on the Green, the largest free Shakespeare festival in the Southeast, presents “Shadows of Shakespeare” (May 24–26; May 31– June 2; June 10–13) and “Measure for Measure” (June 7–9; 14–16; 20– 23; 27–30) amid shadowy cypress trees and general midsummer night’s dreaminess. Come early and snag a good seat. Gates open at 6:30 p.m.; performances begin at 8 p.m. Greenfield Lake Amphitheater, 1941 Amphitheater Drive, Wilmington. Info: capefearshakespeare.org.

Parasols Optional

Ah, bikini season. So not what it used to be. On Wednesday, June 5, at 11 a.m., Elaine Henson will present “The Bathing Suit in Vintage Ads,” a lecture that examines the decidedly more modest bathing suits from 1910 to the 1960s. Tickets: $15 (includes lunch). Latimer House Tea Room, 126 South 3rd Street, Wilmington. Reservations: (910) 762-0492. Info: www.hslcf.org.

8

Salt • June 2013

Down by the River

What’s better than sunset at Riverfront? When you add live music, of course. The Downtown Sundown Concert Series, coordinated by Wilmington Downtown, Inc., brings local and regional bands to 5 North Water Street every Friday, May 24 through August 30, from 6 to 10 p.m. — even if it’s raining. Better yet? The shows are free. Beer, wine and food are available for purchase. This month, experience the next-best-thing to seeing the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Zac Brown and Dave Matthews in concert, plus an ’80s tribute band that will knock your retro socks off. For a complete 2013 lineup, visit www.wilmingtondowntown.com/downtownsundown/schedule. The Art & Soul of Wilmington


All That Jazz-A-Ma-Tazz

Fancy a little jazz on the lawn of the Bellamy Mansion? On Thursday, June 6, at 6:30 p.m., Cindy Hospedales will dazzle as she croons alongside saxophonist Daryll Donnell Murrill and his group, A Step Above. Tickets: $12; $10/members; $5/students. The Bellamy Mansion, 503 Market Street, Wilmington. Info: (910) 2513700 or www.bellamymansion.org.

Old Books, New Books

Meet Salt editor James Dodson — we call him Jim — at Old Books on Front Street on Sunday, June 9, 3:30 p.m. Maybe we’re partial. OK, we’re real partial. But we’d like to point out that Dodson recently won the U.S. Golf Association’s Herbert Warren Wind Book Award, a prize given every year for the most outstanding contribution to golf literature. Not only did he take the top prize for his latest book, American Triumvirate, he also won it for Ben Hogan: An American Life, published in 2004. With his second Wind, Dodson is as bright-eyed as ever. Hear him tell stories and read from his book — and get a copy signed for Dad. Old Books on Front Street, 249 North Front Street. Info: (910) 762-6657 or www.oldbooksonfrontst.com.

Hear the People Sing

Inside Jokes

It’s possible that a lamp by any other shape would be as funny, but we doubt it. The Pineapple-Shaped Lamps, an award-winning local comedy troupe that got its start performing shadow casts of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, dishes out new, perhaps slightly off-color sketch comedy every first Thursday of the month. Don’t miss PSL Presents on June 6 at 8 p.m. You’ll laugh so hard you might just shed a pineapple-shaped tear. Admission: $5. TheatreNOW, 19 South 10th Street (corner of 10th and Dock), Wilmington. Info: www.pineappleshapedlamps.org.

Although the film received mixed reviews, musical theater aficionados seemed to dig the fact that Hugh Jackman and the cast of Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables sang live on the set. Experience Les Mis, the musical, as it was intended — pulsing with raw, trembling emotion — at Thalian Hall on Wednesday, June 5 through Sunday, June 23. Showtimes: 8 p.m.; 3 p.m. (Sundays). Tickets: $25. Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts, 310 Chestnut Street, Wilmington. Box Office: (910) 632-2285. Info: www.thalianhall.org; www.operahousetheatrecompany.net.

The Ar t & Soul of Wilmington

Got an Itch?

Summer nears, but it’s not here before the Spring Flea at BAC happens. Dozens of regional vendors will sell their vintage, retro and upcycled treasures at the Brooklyn Arts Center on Friday, May 31, from 3 to 9 p.m.; Saturday, June 1, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, June 2, from 12 to 5 p.m. Admission: $5 (good for all three days and includes a raffle ticket). Brooklyn Arts Center at St. Andrews, 516 North 4th Street, Wilmington. Info: (910) 616-9882 or www.brooklynartsnc.com.

June 2013 •

Salt

9


Stirrin’ Up Trouble

Cure the Monday blues with a special edition of Prologue on June 17 at 7 p.m. when Ann B. Ross joins Ben Steelman of StarNews to discuss the author’s popular Miss Julia series. Ross’ first book in the series, Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind, was published in 1999. She has published twelve other Miss Julia books since. Ross will discuss her latest novel, Miss Julia Stirs Up Trouble, and, if we’re lucky, stir up a little trouble of her own. The MC Erny Gallery at WHQR, 254 North Front Street, Suite 300, Wilmington. Info: (910) 343-1640 or www.whqr.org.

Total Basket Case

Every Fourth Friday Gallery Night, Port City Pottery & Fine Crafts features the works of a different artist. Beginning Friday, May 24, Brenda Quashne’s woven baskets will be on display in the gallery. Born in Asheville, North Carolina, Quashne grew up surrounded by mountain folk and their porch art, and was drawn to the crafts and culture of the native Cherokee Indians. See the tangled wood she weaves at Port City Pottery & Fine Crafts, 307 North Front Street, Wilmington. Info: (910) 763-7111 or www.portcitypottery.com.

The Ar t & Soul of Wilmington

SaltWorks Film Snobs Welcome

Did somebody say sci-fi symphony? Yup. June 10–12, Cinematique of Wilmington presents Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey at Thalian Hall Main Stage. Equally unconventional, film festival mega-hit, Starbuck, plays June 17–19, same place. This series of independent, classic, foreign and notable films, co-sponsored by WHQR 91.3 FM Public Radio and Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts, Inc., is even better with Thalian Hall’s new digital projection and sound system. Admission: $8. Showtime: 7:30 p.m. Thalian Hall, 310 Chestnut Street, Wilmington. Box office: (910) 632-2285. Info: www.whqr.org or www.thalianhall.org.

June 2013 •

Salt

11


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F r o n t

s t r e e t

s P y

Tales of Wilmywood

Smartphones, skinny jeans, and the way to the Ministry of Magic

rehearses fancy footwork. He floats through the venue snapping and clapping, hip-hopping with the grace of a ballet dancer.

BY ASHLEY WAHL

F. Scott and Zelda have stories.

Inside the storefront window of Old Books on Front Street, the darlings sit, looking out. If those dolls could talk, they might make their own podcast — an episodic audio series inspired by sidewalk life. Sometimes cheeky, often thoughtful, infinitely entertaining. Think Hipster Runoff meets This American Life. Locals: stream or download weekly. Episode 1: Is That Chick Wearing a Cape? Episode 2: Name That Coffee House Regular — Port City Java versus Java Dog Episode 3: Random Acts of Kindness Et cetera, et cetera. And don’t forget about the characters Scott and Zelda meet inside Wilmywood’s most bohemian bookstore. Perhaps they would talk about the day that Papa Jim Avett, having paid for an armful of used books, started fishing baby photos from his wallet and talking about music. “I dabble,” Jim said, or something to that effect, “but my boys are amazing.” Then, with calloused fingers, he sifted through images of little Scott and Seth — The Avett Brothers — and their sister, Bonnie.

******

PHOTOGRAPH BY JILL MCILWAIN

Long before the Avetts shared the Grammy stage with living folk legend Bob Dylan, the 2013 Azalea Festival headliners shredded banjos and screamed their little bluegrass hearts out — in impeccable brotherly harmony, of course — downtown at The Soapbox Laundro-Lounge. Scott once did a stage dive there.

******

Wednesday is Open Mic Night at Soapbox, where smartphones and skinny jeans rule. Play free pool to pass the time while your socks and skivvies tumble round, assuming you found one of the laundry’s functioning dryers. Heather, a raven-haired bartender with black-framed glasses, hangs here even when she isn’t working. Unless she’s at Blue Post Billiards, she says. Lonerider’s Sweet Josie Brown Ale is on tap for three bucks, but Pabst Blue Ribbon saves more quarters. As musicians sign up to take the stage, a 20-something rocking goggles

The Ar t & Soul of Wilmington

******

A girl named Christina plays the keyboard, stomping phantom pedals while she sings about “old cigars” and “blue yonder dreams.” “This next one will be a cappella,” she says to the crowd, admitting that the piano chords to the Florence and the Machine song are just “too hard.” The crowd is kind. Goggle boy begins snapping his fingers to offer a steady rhythm; others clap. Christina builds momentum with her voice, belting out the chorus before transitioning to a sultry whisper: I said, hey, girl with one eye Get your filthy fingers out of my pie . . . All eyes are onstage. If someone dropped a coin while feeding a washing machine in the back room, you could hear it.

******

“Everybody was listening,” Christina gushes to a friend after her set. “I think my eyeliner sweated off.” A young man from the crowd approaches the booth to shake her hand. She confesses that her first song was written by Hanson — the three-brother pop band responsible for “MMMBop,” the over-played tweenage anthem of 1997.

******

On a wall inside a bathroom stall, someone has scribbled a message: This way to the Ministry of Magic. In case you were looking for it, an arrow points to the tank of the toilet.

******

As a guitarist warms up on stage, the boy with goggles swings round a structural beam as if he were Gene Kelly, singin’ in the rain to a song in his own head. b Front Street may be home base, but senior editor Ashley Wahl is prone to wander. June 2013 •

Salt

13


s t a G e l i F e

In Search of the Muse

For playwright Anthony Lawson, writing is more akin to acting — and allowing the performer to find the right way to the audience quickly. His coping strategy at each new school was to show up as the showman. He recalls organizing productions in the fourth liked to grade. “It was like ‘The Little Rascals,’” he say that playwrights were frustrated recalls, eyes twinkling. In junior high, his mother took him to see actors. For Anthony Lawson, that’s Educating Rita — his first real show “that wasn’t the story of his career. The Christmas Carol!” “One of the things that drove me headlong The budding performer was enthralled, but into writing was not being able to perform there were no outlets available to him. “It wasn’t a show the way we were going to do it,” says like here,” says Lawson, pointing out the multiLawson, wheeling into a story about the time tude of opportunities for performers of all ages he was slated to play M’Lynn Eatenton in and abilities in the Wilmington area. When he an all-male production of Steel Magnolias. moved to Virginia Beach for his last two years of Visionary director Steve Vernon thought that high school, he took his first drama class. a cast dressed in drag would give the actors Nothing has been the same since. an opportunity to honor the strong women Fast forward through sixteen years of improv who had helped shape their lives. It was never work, singing gigs, community theater producintended to be a mockery of Southern womantions and voracious script reading. Now, Lawson hood. Still, the show never opened. puts his carefully acquired skills to use. “The playwright shut us down,” says Lawson. He idolizes the works of Neil LaBute, His jaw tightens at the memory. “I became Stephen King and Mark Twain “for the way they adamant about writing things that people could all use language. They like using dialect and I make fit their own needs.” like shows where people talk how people talk A statuesque man with a larger-than-life — only not so fragmented as [David] Mamet,” personality, Lawson holds sway over any gatherhe says, punctuating each word with his finger. ing, shaping his points with hand gestures like a “You can’t help but imitate people if you’ve seen sculptor molding clay. Anthony David Lawson • Age: 34 • Sign: Virgo as much and read as much as I have.” “You have to be open to adapt when dealing Like many writers, early on in his career Favorite Book: Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut with plays. If you want to write something no one Lawson produced a semi-autobiographical piece Currently Reading: Virtual Unrealities by can change, write a book,” the playwright says. called The Title of the Play. A drama with comeArthur Bester Lawson admits that he writes more like an dic moments, it is an exceptionally well-crafted actor or director than a traditional playwright. Favorite Play: Cyrano de Bergerac — “I own thirscript that takes the audience on a revealing psyThose who know him understand why: He is teen different translations of it.” chological journey into the mind of young man a constant performer and entertainer. Even his struggling to answer life’s deepest questions. Like Advice to Aspiring Playwrights: “Keep writing. day jobs — hosting karaoke at Fibber’s Public LaBute, Lawson refuses to give his characters Don’t try to write anything perfect. Just write and House and taking tourists on haunted pub happy endings, and like King, he explores the then edit.” crawls and the Ghost Walk of Old Wilmington horrific side of human psychology as if it were Favorite Local Playwright: Marlow Moore — reflect such. Besides allowing him to connormal dinner table conversation. Regarding the tinually hone his craft as a performer and stofrustrated motivations of the protagonist in The Favorite NC Author: Orson Scott Card. ryteller, the tours provide him with a rich and Title of the Play, Lawson lifts his eyes heavenunlimited fodder of writing material. “It’s easy ward. “My first play was all about muses and the for me to come up with characters because I just get to steal people’s lives,” says lack of them. When I wrote The Title of the Play it was for two separate women Lawson, chuckling with impish glee. who were not the ones who wound up playing the parts, but when they took It all ties together, but it always has. over, it became about them . . .” Lawson grew up in a military family, which as any military brat will tell you He stops and drops his head to his chest, “And it’s weird.” b means lots of moving around. For Lawson, it meant adapting. Gwenyfar Rohler fell in love with theater at Thalian Hall on her sixth birthday. Bouncing around the globe — from the Philippines, to Kansas, Ireland, She spends her days managing her family’s bookstore on Front Street. and Jacksonville’s Camp Lejeune — Lawson learned to make friends BY GWENYFAR ROHLER

PHOTOGRAPH BY JAMES STEFIUK

Arthur Miller

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The Life of the Party Why Miss Emma did it best

BY SUSAN TAYLOR BLOCK

There’s an art to hosting a perfect party.

Sparkling crystal and shining woodwork require elbow grease. Don’t sit so-and-so next to what’s-his-name. When in doubt, ask Mrs. Emily Post. But people almost never forget a faux pas. In fact, sometimes the solution overshadows the problem. Historically, the most famous example might be the wedding feast in Cana, when the mediocre wine ran out awfully early, and Jesus turned about 150 gallons of water into a seriously upgraded vintage. “Everyone serves good wine first,” said the headwaiter to the bridegroom, “but you have kept the good wine until now.” Mere humans do what we can. In 1992, despite guarantees that it would never ever happen, the decorative ceiling mirror came crashing down onto the dining room table exactly half an hour before our Thanksgiving guests were scheduled to arrive. We scrambled to clean up the wreckage before the doorbell started ringing. A chink in the thick glass-top table was all that bore testimony to what

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could have been an outright disaster. Tiny particles of mirror still shimmer in the rugs. But that day became a very special day of thanks, especially for the pregnant mother whose seat would have been ground zero. Even more dramatic was an evening I spent at Yaupon Beach during my teenage years, listening through my open bedroom window to the pleasant sounds of a large party across the street. Eventually, most of the adults wandered upstairs to a grand porch where voices, laughter and clinking glasses created blissful cacophony — that is, until the flooring collapsed from all the weight. Ambulances bore away guests with broken limbs, but the party somehow managed to reorganize, continuing at ground level for some time. On a different and much more elegant scale, Wilmington artist and diarist Claude Howell (1915-1997) documented a number of imperfect parties in his journals. On some occasions, it was the artist himself who added the hiccup. Once, when the invitation dictated “Tails,” Howell showed up wearing such, but with the addition of a full face mask. On another evening, he arrived barefooted for a “Black Tie” event. Those appearances created almost as much stir as the time he dressed as a slinky green bean for a fine costume party. Though Howell recorded his impressions of many gatherings, it was those given by the inimitable Emma Bellamy Williamson Hendren for which he used the most typewriter ribbon. Miss Emma was a great-grandThe Art & Soul of Wilmington

PHOTOGRAPH THIS PAGE COURTESY OF CAPE FEAR MUSEUM

Wright-Harris Bellamy House (c. 1850)


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Emma Hendren in her dining room

sure that nothing will be ready.” daughter of Dr. John D. Bellamy, who built the Bellamy Mansion at Fifth Miss Emma was too busy relishing the company of her dearest friends and Market streets. She and cousin Lillian Bellamy Boney shared ownerand relatives to bother with thoughts of dinner. So was her Africanship of the mansion for decades. American maid. Rather than attending to the kitchen, George Anna Brown Miss Emma lived most of her life nearby, at the Wright-Harris-Bellamy sat chatting with the guests, an unusual situation at the time in the South. House (c. 1850), located at 602 Market Street. In 1899, her grandfather, At one of Emma’s famous New Year’s Eve parties, Congressman John D. Bellamy, hired architect Charles the meat seemed to have inexplicably vanished. The McMillen to alter the house radically. New York blame for eating some and dirtying the rest went to decorators Duryea and Potter adorned the interior. her tiny dog, Pico, a pampered chihuahua who “sang” Co-owners of the house during Miss Emma’s prime when prompted. party-throwing years were fellow descendants of Pico got a start the year Wilmington resident Congressman Bellamy. John C. Drewry brought one of his pet burros to The house featured elaborate carvings. The newel the Hog Jowl Party. The small donkey, who sat like post, for instance, was a Persian-style griffin holda person in the front seat of John’s car, kept his ing a bowl of electrified lights. Two large mermen composure throughout the party. This prompted appeared to be supporting the massive dining room one of Miss Emma’s most famous bon mots. When mantel. Though men from the waist up, they were bidding him adieu, she said, “You were the bestnaked as fish. behaved ass at my party.” “Tonight, I went to Emma Hendren’s open house Finally, sometimes as late as 11 p.m., Miss Emma with William Whitehead,” wrote Howell, “for a rather made her way to the elongated dining room where lengthy New Year’s night. Emma manages somehow she banged a heavy sterling ladle against an oversized, to create an elegant affair even though things are never ornate silver punchbowl, and the eating began. Often, quite right. There is a great effort to see that the magshe served a suckling pig, although her fine old carving nificent silver is shiny and that there is plenty of food tools rarely graced the table. Sometimes the black-eyed and that the punch is pure straight bourbon with only peas were scorched, or the rice was dry, or the hog jowl a block of ice to dilute it.” Emma Bellamy, 1929 was overcooked, but it didn’t matter. There was an elOne thing that was not quite right was that the food egant chaos about Miss Emma’s parties. Everyone who could make it would was not served at any usual hour. Howell said the same thing about Miss attend the next year, and the next. Emma’s other annual fete, a birthday party she gave herself at Wrightsville Claude Howell said attending one of Miss Emma’s parties was like being Beach on the last day of August. in a stage play. “Somehow Emma manages to give a good party in spite of your being The Ar t & Soul of Wilmington

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Downtown Wilmington, NC Join local art galleries and studios in an after -hours celebration of art and culture on the fourth Friday of each month from 6pm to 9pm.

2013

JUNE 28 OCTOBER 25 JULY 26 NOVEMBER 22 AUGUST 23 DECEMBER 27 SEPTEMBER 27

For more information on Fourth Friday Gallery Nights, call the Arts Council of Wilmington at 910-343-0998.

Marguerite Bellamy MacRae, Emmett Bellamy and Eliza Walter Williamson (mother of Emma), circa 1950, at 602 Market Street, the house they inherited from their father, Congressman John D. Bellamy. “The same old people are there. The attractive ones are still attractive and the bores remain bores,” Howell wrote. “Sometimes I think it is wonderful that the world never changes. There is a constancy about it which is very reassuring.” Of course, the world has changed, but those parties stayed the same until the Wright-Harris-Bellamy House went up in flames in August 1972. Certainly, Miss Emma’s most dramatic “reception” followed the death of her husband, Admiral Paul Hendren, in 1957. Miss Emma decided his body would lay in state in the parlor of the Bellamy Mansion. In those days, Bellamy Mansion tours were scheduled by request, and it so happened a group was shown through while Admiral Hendren lay there in full regalia — a novel twist to the life of the party. Oh, what a shock they received when they entered the parlor. Miss Emma meant no disrespect. She just saw entertaining of any sort as something for which you do not suspend natural life, and she saw death as part of the picture. In that way, Miss Emma and those of her ilk remind us of what it truly means to be human — flaws happen; celebration warms; and perfection is stomached best with a dash or two of salt. b Susan Taylor Block is a Wilmington native who enjoys researching and writing about her hometown.

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The Art & Soul of Wilmington

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War as it Was

A fine oral history of the war in the Pacific, grizzled vets finally have their say

BY STEPHEN E. SMITH

As the Greatest

Generation has aged out, the megabuck purveyors of pop culture have worked overtime producing nonfiction books, documentaries and movies honoring the service of our World War II vets. Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan earned $485 million at the box office. Stephen Ambrose’s best-selling Band of Brothers became the basis for a 2001 blockbuster HBO miniseries, and after Ambrose’s death, his son Hugh wrote The Pacific as an accompaniment to an HBO miniseries set in the Pacific theater. In 2007, Ken Burns’ slightly less commercial documentary The War dominated PBS from May through July. And lord knows how many books have been published on the subject during the last decade.

The latest entry in this commercial stampede is Adam Makos and Marcus Brotherton’s Voices of the Pacific, a distillation of the recollections of fifteen Marines who experienced some of the bitterest fighting in the Pacific. No doubt many readers will be attracted to Voices after having read Makos’ A Higher Call, the moving story of an encounter between a German fighter ace and the crew of an American B-17 in the skies over Germany. But Voices shares little in common with A Higher Call, and stands apart from most commercially published WWII histories in that it’s almost purely an oral account of the fighting in the Pacific during the early 1940s. The veterans speak for themselves, and the editors intrude with a brief paragraph or footnote when necessary, which isn’t often. Oddly enough, readers accustomed to superbly crafted prose and meticulously structured narratives will likely find this oral approach refreshing. A

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description, however anecdotal, offered by a participant in a battle or military campaign is as primary as a source can get. Moreover, these veterans have earned the right to tell their stories in their own words, and there’s a cynical folksiness and raw energy implicit in what they have to say. It’s reasonable to conclude that oral histories are easily compiled — sit down with a vet and switch on the tape recorder — but such compilations present their own set of challenges. The editors of Voices had to figure out how to structure the narrative. Informants recount fragments of stories and often talk in circles, relating events out of sequence and occasionally wandering off the subject altogether. Makos and Brotherton have overcome these difficulties by carefully editing out material that doesn’t move the narrative forward. As Makos writes in his much-too-brief introduction, “Together we did countless hours of interviews, editing, and shuffling the parts of the book together like a jigsaw puzzle.” And they’ve done a credible job. Even so, their efforts don’t always result in a coherent storyline. Since interviews lack detailed description and character development, readers may occasionally find themselves confused as to who was where and when. And, too, many passages are only a few sentences in length — “They brought up bread to us. We thought it was seeded rye bread. It wasn’t rye bread — it was goddamn fleas.” These frequent shifts in point of view, however colorful, interrupt the narrative flow. And the written word can’t project inflection, depriving the reader of the information needed to fully appreciate many of the passages. Of course there’s always the question of veracity. It’s human to tell what should have been rather than what was, and after spinning a yarn enough times, storytellers emphasize the elements that made the previous tellings compelling. Makos attempts to assuage these minor misgivings by stating in his introduction: “. . . in this book, the gloves are off — for Sid Phillips and all our contributors. They agreed to participate because we made them a promise: In this book, you can tell it as it was.” And that’s what these grizzled vets do. They grouse about the difficulties of surviving in a tropical climate where the temperature is 100 degrees at night and fresh water is scarce. They recall in vivid detail the festering monsoon islands where disease and scant rations encouraged dysentery and jungle rot. “Cape Gloucester was like going to sleep and having a nightmare that wasn’t even real . . . You felt like you were sent there to die and that was The Art & Soul of Wilmington


O m n i v o r o u s r e a d e r about the size of it.” In some cases they refute old rumors or correct long-held misconceptions, as with the much-repeated stories regarding the Marines’ sexual prowess and the virtue of the Australian women who befriended them: “People let their imaginations run wild when they think of us. Marines romancing the Australian girls. I’d say most of the relationships were old-fashioned and nonsexual. They were good girls and we respected that.” Or they disagree on the effectiveness of the .30 caliber carbine and the relative merits of the 1911 colt .45. The more startling passages reveal the horrors of war. “There was a blown-up Japanese tank there, next to us. It had taken a direct hit from some kind of shell. I looked inside, and what I saw couldn’t be put on paper. Severed heads. Two on the floor. One guy’s arm is off. All blood, everywhere. Everybody dead.” From Pearl Harbor and boot camp through the battles with the Japanese on Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester, Peleliu and Okinawa, to their return home and their lives after V-J Day, these vets bring to life the horrors of war and joys of an earned peace. Voices of the Pacific also offers a couple of North Carolina connections. Mobile, Alabama native Sid Phillips, a veteran of Guadalcanal and Cape Gloucester, was enrolled at UNC-Chapel Hill on V-J Day when students poured out of the dorms and started a fire in the middle of Franklin Street. “They kept adding to the bonfire until it became gigantic,” he says. “It must have been thirty feet across. It burned up the traffic light in the middle of the street. Everyone was jumping up and down and cheering.” And longtime North Carolina resident Richard Greer, also a veteran of Guadalcanal and Cape Gloucester, never shies away from the truth. “About 1 a.m. it was like the hordes of hell were turned loose. The Japanese were all over the damn place. They were hopped on some kind of damn drug, throwing dynamite, throwing hand grenades, wielding swords and rifles. They were screaming and yelling ‘Banzai!’ ‘Kikiboo!’ ‘Marines you die!’ ‘Blood for the emperor!’ and derogatory things about Eleanor Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, and all that kind of crap. We would yell back. ‘Eat shit, Jap!’ It was a little low, but some Jap screamed at us, ‘Screw Eleanor!’ and some Marine yelled back, ‘You screw her! I don’t want it!’” Makos assures us that these are men who “give us one last tale, one last time.” That’s exactly what we get. b Stephen E. Smith’s most recent book of poems is A Short Report on the Fire at Woolworths. He can be reached at travisses@hotmail.com. The Ar t & Soul of Wilmington

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s h ex xt xaxl xK xs x fx ux n x n Y

Hair Today,Xxxxxxx Gone XXxxx Tomorrow A Steel Magnolia comes clean

By ann ipoCk

Dolly Parton once said, “I’m not of-

fended by all the dumb-blonde jokes because I know that I’m not dumb. I also know I’m not blonde.” No wonder the woman is a national treasure.

What is it about a woman’s hair that’s so fascinating it’s endlessly talked about in both public and private conversation? Though women are more likely inclined toward the “So who DOES your hair, honey?” phenomenon, even men these days aren’t entirely exempt from the scrutiny. When someone mentioned that my husband, Russell’s, hair was turning gray, he calmly replied: “It turned gray a long time ago; now it’s turning loose!” I think I’ve trained him about right. Being a child of the ’50s and ’60s, I was admittedly an early joiner of the big-can hair rollers club, the big-shower-cap portable hair dryers and general giant-hair movement. If I had to sleep on those horrid, painful brush rollers today, however, someone might as well throw me a fright wig and call it a day. Read my sweet lips, sugar: Could. Not. Ever. Do. That. Again. Seriously, beer rinses? What was up with that? Lemon rinses, I could possibly abide. After all, haven’t we all secretly yearned for a little blonde courtesy of Mother Nature after we laid out in the sun, slathered in baby oil and iodine? Didn’t blondes reportedly have more fun back then, with or without the baby oil? Fast forward to this modern age of aging hair. My latest “natural” beauty tip from my hairdresser is to rinse my hair in baking soda mixed with a small amount of water. It supposedly makes the hair super-shiny, by removing all of the hairspray, gel, environmental toxins and — in case you’ve been to a swanky four-star hotel lately (according to news reports) — bedbugs. Bring on the Arm and Hammer, I say. Also popular in the good old days of ambitious hair were sculpted beehives, Swedish (and French) braids, and coveted do’s aptly called “rats” and “falls.” Believe me, I tried them all. One of my favorite girlhood memories was riding on the annual Bootery float (my family owned a shoe store, see) at Christmastime, with my up-do, teased and lacquered just so, sprayed with enough Aqua Net to stand up to anything this side of a nuclear missile, with a lovely French (or maybe Swedish) braid attached just behind my girlish bangs. Dressed in my elegant long gown and peau de soie heels, doing the classic beauty queen wave, I thought I was all that and then some, child. But the crowning glory — oh, that immovable hair! 22

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Then there was the Frost and Tip technique, which I renamed Frost and Rip because that’s exactly what happened to your scalp if you unwisely attempted to perfect it. Mine looked as if it got ripped from the roots by a dang crochet hook! What in the name of Helene Curtis was I thinking? Of course, modern day highlights/foils really aren’t all that much better, or easier. You squirm in a chair for a solid hour while your hairdresser sections off six microscopic hairs out of a million and places those six hairs on one sheet of foil, then paints them with a gunky mixture you wouldn’t put on a hill of fire ants. OK, maybe this first step isn’t so terrible (especially if you’ve got a trashy magazine you wouldn’t be caught dead reading in the grocery store line), but multiply the process by a factor of 900 and, sugar, you can suddenly remember a dozen errands you desperately need to get done this very minute. Talk about torture with a capital T! And don’t you boys bust a gut laughing at us, either. You’ve had your follicle follies, too. A friend in our dinner club painfully recalled the night he was playing Matchbox cars with his 3-year-old son. They were both pretending to race, making car noises — vrooom, vrooom! — with the tiny wheels spinning. At one point, without thinking, David tried to pull a silly daddy stunt by spinning the wheels madly then placing the car on his head, dangerously near his hairline. You can guess what happened. Those spinning Matchbox wheels basically super-glued that car to his head. Only years of friendship prevent me from describing the scary looking haircut that followed. A similar thing happened to me on the stage when I played Dolly Parton’s “Truvy Jones” role in a community theater production of Steel Magnolias. A family friend, Geneva, played the role of Shelby. Obviously, we didn’t roll her hair during every rehearsal, but one night during a performance a single evil pink brush roller got so thoroughly tangled up in her long auburn hair we couldn’t get it out to save our lives. As I recall the moment, we did a little quick ad-libbing with that pink-thing dangling on stage — proving, I guess, whatever is hair today is probably gone tomorrow. Fortunately Shelby was so fully into her colorful Southern character by that point — in other words a pure emotional wreck — she was ready to play her upcoming meltdown scene to sweet big-hair perfection. b Ann Ipock is an award-winning Southern author, humorist and speaker whose books include the Life is Short series. She may be reached at amipock@ec.rr.com. The Art & Soul of Wilmington


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s p i r i t s

Carol’s Cocktail Canton Ginger and Elderflower liqueurs create a new summer classic

By Frank Daniels III

As the weather moves from cool to

comfortable to “come-on-inside,” many of us migrate from whiskey and martinis (although there is always a place for a martini regardless of the temperature) to “lighter” cocktails.

Traditionally, rum, tequila, vodka and gin cocktails call to mind hot weather, and with the infusions and new liqueurs available you can update and revive some of the classic cocktails. And you can take those classic recipes, or inspirations from your local bar, and spin up your own versions tailored to your favorite flavors. Two excellent newer liqueurs to enhance your cocktail hour are St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur and Canton Ginger Liqueur; they can change a run of the mill cocktail into a memorable, and oft requested, one. I use Canton Ginger in several cocktails throughout the seasons to add a little spice and surprise flavor, but St. Germain has a flavor and nose that assumes command of cocktails. Increasingly you will find the elderflower liqueur in special martinis to give them a floral nose and smooth softness. You’ll know you’ve had a cocktail with elderflower when you cock your head and ask, “What is that?” Then you’ll grab the cocktail menu to review the ingredients. A couple of summers ago, we were enamored with these two liqueurs and were determined to concoct a drink that combined and showed them off. This cocktail has turned into one of our most popular, and can be mixed in a pitcher for a larger party very easily. I love the crisp nature and taste of Plymouth Gin and use it as the base for most of my gin cocktails, but dry London gin works, as do some of the new American dry gins like Small’s or Corsair. Canton Ginger and ginger ale give this cocktail a spicy edge, and the St. Germain turns our cocktail from a simple gin and ginger into a memorable drink. We love the summer flavor that the cilantro adds to the cocktail, but some people have a gene that makes cilantro taste like soap, and your special cocktail will seem like parental punishment to them. You can substitute with basil or lemon basil to maintain the summer motif, but the cocktail will still shine if you have to refrain from the garnish. With the floral nose and refreshing ginger, this cocktail has become an afternoon favorite around the pool or in the garden. Enjoy. b

Frank Daniels is an editor and writer living Nashville, Tennessee. Read his cocktail book, Frank’s Little Black Bar Book, Wakestone Press, or contact him via email at fdanielsiii@mac.com. The Ar t & Soul of Wilmington

Carol’s Cocktail

This light, refreshing gin-based cocktail is perfect for watching sunsets, sitting on the deck, or sipping before going out for an evening with friends. The tartness of ginger is soothed by the floral lightness of elderflower. Add the kick of a dry gin and you have a summertime winner. 1 1/2 oz Plymouth Gin ¾3/4 oz Canton Ginger Liqueur ¾3/4 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur Diet ginger ale Fresh sliced ginger, long pieces Fresh cilantro Mince fresh ginger root slices, leaving one slice per glass for garnish. Mince fresh cilantro, leaving several sprigs for garnish. In a cocktail shaker add two parts gin, one part Canton, one part St. Germain, minced ginger and minced cilantro. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain mixture into highball glasses with several ice cubes, filling glass about two-thirds. Top off with diet ginger ale. Stir slowly, rub the ginger slice around the rim and drop into the glass along with a sprig of cilantro. Video instructions for making this cocktail can be found here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNmOVgSe7Ic June 2013 •

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Celia Rivenbark Strong mussels and Thai that binds

By Dana saCHs

Celia Rivenbark and I have been

photographs by JamEs stEFiUK

friends ever since our children — my older son and her daughter — first started throwing grapes at each other as toddlers on the Empie Park playground. These days, our kids are great friends at New Hanover High School. They even performed in a play together at the Community Arts Center. Perhaps you’ve heard of William Shakespeare’s classic tale of star-crossed lovers. Celia’s daughter played Juliet and my son played the other lead, Mercutio. I think the play is called Mercutio and Juliet. It’s sweet that they both had title roles.

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I always try to use my best manners, but when Celia met me at Indochine for lunch one day this spring, she raised the stakes. As it happened, she brought me an advance copy of her new book. (Just in case there’s anyone in Wilmington who doesn’t know Celia’s work, the titles of her books always make you blink. A few examples: You Don’t Sweat Much for a Fat Girl and Stop Dressing Your Six-YearOld Like a Skank. The new one is an an etiquette book called Rude Bitches Make Me Tired.) I looked down at the cover — a poodle and a prissy lady, each under a hair dryer — and my heart started pounding. Would I measure up? Celia, who was wearing a T-shirt that said “Crazy Cat Lady,” tried to play down her expertise. “It’s odd that I wrote an etiquette book because I basically eat with my feet,” she said as we scooted into a booth overlooking the restaurant’s garden. “I do have to know how to eat with the right fork and all that crap,” she admitted, proceeding to use great delicacy as she placed her napkin in her lap. June 2013 •

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Indochine, as Celia and I have found over many meals there, has delicious food, but it does challenge your standard American table manners. The restaurant specializes in Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. Thais eat with a fork and spoon. Vietnamese eat with chopsticks. What would Emily Post say when confronted with a dish called Vietnamese Wraps, a platter that included skewers of grilled chicken, shrimp and beef, lightly pickled carrots and daikon, rice noodles, fresh herbs, and three different types of sauces? Luckily, Celia Rivenbark said, “Use your fingers. Dig in.” We did. The wraps are almost a meal in themselves, like their own little table-top buffet. Ideally, you pull the meat off the skewers, arrange it with herbs, noodles and vegetables on a rice paper pancake, then roll it up like a tortilla and dip it in sauce. Celia compared the rice pancakes, which need the moisture of the sauces to soften them, to “the roof covering my convertible when I had a convertible.” I was more patient than she was. After a few seconds, my wrap softened, making a perfect vehicle to transport this spicysweet-salty combination to my mouth. Celia watched me, but she still wasn’t convinced. “Too much work,” she said, preferring to concentrate on just the grilled meat. “But the flavor of this chicken is wonderful.” Indochine, with its effusion of Asian art and antiques, lush garden views, and attention to aesthetic detail that extends even to whimsical murals in the bathrooms, is probably the most beautiful restaurant in Wilmington. For new diners, the décor is a conversation piece itself, but Celia and I have had that conversation already and, frankly, we had come for the food. In front of us sat a clay pot of mussels in a coconut curry sauce. Here’s something I never knew about Celia Rivenbark: She loves mussels and she’s adept with them. Eating a mussel out of its shell, as you probably know, can make you feel like Gollum eating fish in Lord of the Rings, but Celia managed with finesse. After one bite, her eyes closed. “Oh my God. Holy Lord.” She sighed, savoring the flavor. “I know I sound like one of those Iron Chef judges but there’s a party in my mouth right now. This has heat without being totally obnoxious.” In between bites, we talked about the things that women talk about when they finally have a moment alone — a friend’s recent breakup with her boyfriend, our work, our husbands, teaching our kids to drive. And is there a polite way to find out the name of the person (or persons) with whom your

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child is so compulsively texting? Not according to my son or Celia’s daughter, who finally said to Celia, “Mom! Would you please stop asking me that question? That’s the most irritating thing that you do,” to which Celia (reasonably) responded, “Oh, Hon, I got a lot more irritating stuff to show you, then.” I didn’t know Celia when her daughter was a newborn, but I got a glimpse of her philosophy when the people at a table behind me got up to leave the restaurant. Celia stopped eating. “I’ve never seen a child that young in public,” she sputtered. I turned around to look. A woman held against her chest an infant that was so tiny the mother could secure it with the palm of her hand. People with good etiquette do not stare, so I turned back around, relying on Celia’s extended narration: “They are just back from the hospital, I can tell. I know you’re thinking I’m a nut job, but that child still has amniotic fluid on it.” She seemed to be eyeing one particular member of the party now. “I’m sure that’s the MeeMaw there and she’s old enough to know better. That child is so young they must have done the episiotomy out by the cash register.” I thought of suggesting that the newborn’s mom was just getting the etiquette lessons in early, but I knew that Celia would not be appeased. Eventually, the offending family pulled their diaper bag out from under their table and left, allowing me and Celia to return to our meal. We went through so much food, not just the wraps and the mussels but a Vietnamese crêpe filled with sautéed vegetables and tofu (“My lord, that’s as big as Texas”), crispy dumplings called Gold Bags (“I love anything that’s fried”), and a spicy Thai salad of herbs, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes and chunks of tender beef. Even Celia’s sweet tea met her exacting standard. “This is K&W level,” she said. The good thing about meeting for lunch is that it gives you a break from the chaos of the day. The bad thing is that you have to rush back to it. Eventually, our kind waitress, Tam, started boxing up what was left of our food so that we could take it home, but Celia, announcing that mussels don’t keep, decided that we should finish them off immediately. “I am so glad I got off Weight Watchers,” she told me, savoring the last one. “It was totally pissing me off.” b Dana Sachs’ latest novel, The Secret of the Nightingale Palace, is available at bookstores throughout Wilmington.

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Carolina In My Mind

Disappearing down a country road is always a cure for what ails me

By Bill THompson

Not too long ago I was

exiled to Philadelphia for a four-day business trip. I was reminded of that visit this past Sunday when the preacher at my church said we were all going to hell without God’s intervention. I thought that would certainly be a short drive from Philly.

The main thing I remember about the big city was feeling homesick — something that hardly ever happens to me after all the years of traveling. It didn’t take long for me to figure out why I was so homesick, either. Just down the street from my hotel was a fast food joint with a big sign in the window advertising sweetened iced tea. I should have known there was a difference between “sweetened” and “sweet” tea. I tried it. It wasn’t North Carolina sweet tea, which just started a whole bunch of yearnings. On the last night of my visit I lay awake in the hotel room awash in homesickness. I was thinking about everything I was missing when a James Taylor song came to me. So I started going to Carolina in my mind . . . In my mind I drive down a two-lane road, grey with the passage of time, where pickup trucks and tobacco trailers have worn shallow ruts where the summer sun softened the asphalt. The broken white line down the middle of the road is intercepted periodically by fresh strips of tar. Sunlight shimmering on the black patches makes them look like snakes crossing the road. I pass by tobacco barns, pieces of the rusted tin roof flapping in the wind. Barn sheds lean precariously over, weeds grow in patches underneath. A produce stand is selling local corn and tomatoes, and there’s a big plywood sign propped against two sticks embedded in the shoulder of the road. It says, in big red, hand-painted letters, “HOT BOIL (sic) PEANUTS.” The Ar t & Soul of Wilmington

I slow the car almost to a stop to go across a railroad track. The railroad bed is so much higher than the road I feel the back bumper hit the rails. On the right side of the road I see a big chainlink fence section with a sign at the top that says “Welcome to Your Hometown” and there are civic club emblems attached to the wire. Kudzu forms a frame around the fence and spreads like a carpet on the ground below. Just on the other side of the railroad is an old depot converted to a meeting facility where colorful flowers seem to dance beside the loading dock and herringbone brick walkways lead up to the freight doors. Diagonal parking spaces line both sides of the track. On down the road the aroma of real barbecue cooking over oak coals mingles with the smell of pine trees as I pass a small café tucked back in the woods. The distant lights of a high school athletic field lend a glow to the night sky. As evening falls I hear church bells ringing. I pass a small chapel, cars parked outside under old trees. “Rock of Ages” drifts across fields of corn and soybeans and comes to rest on wide porches where people sit actually talking to each other. I turn on the car radio and a voice with an accent as familiar as the beating of my heart says, “A big hello to all y’all out there shaggin’ to the sound of your favorite beach station. Let’s keep it goin’ now with the great Drifters, ‘You’re More Than a Number in My Little Red Book’. Shaggin’ on the strand sand!!” More than a number in my little red book, more than a one night date. All I had to take me was just one look . . . For just a little while I was transported from that dismal Philadelphia hotel room back to North Carolina. All that reminiscing, sparked by a simple craving for a good glass of sweet iced tea, had grown into a real desire to get back home. As soon as I could the day after my reverie, I headed south, hoping the dream was real. It was. b Bill Thompson is a speaker and author who lives just down the road, in nearby Hallsboro. June 2013 •

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Pick up your copy of

at these distribution points Compass Pointe Lou’s FlowerWorld Pomegranate Books Antiques of Old Wilmington Doggie By Nature Java Dog Cape Fear Museum Thalian Hall Center for Performing Arts The Children’s Museum Chamber Crabby Chic First Bank Branches Cameron Museum Chops Deli Polka Dot Fabric Solutions Armstrong’s Amish Furniture Atlantic Spas & Billards Howard RV Cent Best Western Hilton Riverside Homewood Suites Hilton Garden Inn Julia’s Wilmington’s Premier

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Blockade Runner Holiday Inn Hampton Inn Shell Island Florist Thrill of the Hunt The Transplanted Garden The Ivy Cottage Figure Eigth Realty Bryant Real Estate Cool Sweats Monkees Gentlemen’s Corner Causeway Cafe Cameron Art Museum Carolina Farmin Whole Foods FoodLion Stores Harris Teeter Stores CVS Pharmacies Port City Java Cafes Brunswick Forrest Waterford Magnolia Greens

The Art & Soul of Wilmington


b i r d w a t c h

Painted Bunting

Uncommon plumage and a sweet survivor’s song

By Susan Campbell

The male painted bunting is, without a

doubt, one of the most colorful birds in North America. Its bright blue head and neck, fiery red eye ring, chest and belly, and yellow, green and purple back make for quite a spectacle. The female is lime green with a narrow white eye ring. Her relatively drab feathering offers far better camouflage, especially during breeding season. Still, in spite of their bright colors, it is amazing how well the males blend in with the lush vegetation.

Unfortunately, these colorful songbirds are a target in the pet trade because of their vivid plumage. Furthermore, male painted buntings are all too easy to trap using decoys. In the 1800s, it was purported that thousands were trapped and sold in Europe as cage birds. Even today they are caught and sold on the wintering grounds in Mexico, Central America and throughout the Caribbean, where they are not protected by law like they are in the United States. Although most painted buntings fly south in the fall, some remain in coastal North Carolina. For reasons unknown to science, there are individuals that exhibit “reverse migration” and have been spotted along the Outer Banks in the winter. These medium-sized finches are found in thick, scrub-shrub habitats that offer a variety of seeds and insects. During the breeding season painted bunThe Ar t & Soul of Wilmington

tings feed primarily on insects. Adults will forage on the ground but also in tree canopies and marshy areas. These birds are also known to take insects from spider webs, and sometimes snatch up the spiders themselves. Painted buntings are attracted to seed feeders in yards with dense vegetation, especially those that offer millet. Plants that produce small seeds such as bristle grass, panic grass and a variety of sedges are common food plants. The summer range of the painted buntings includes the Wilmington area. Some individuals stay here all winter, but since we are close to the northern edge of the species’ breeding range, they are an uncommon sight. Places that may produce a few pairs include the feeders at the Fort Fisher Aquarium or those at Carolina Beach State Park, in Airlie Gardens, or on Bald Head Island. Be aware that males sing vigorously to advertise their territory, so it is helpful to be familiar with their short musical phrases. Countersinging of neighboring males is quite common as they duel over boundary lines. Disputes may result in opposing males pecking, beating with wings and grappling one another. Such a physical fight can, upon occasion, result in death. Both adults will search through thick foliage looking for the nest location. In quick order (as little as two days), the female will weave a cup nest from pieces of nearby vegetation. She will use cobwebs as an adhesive and often lines the nest with animal hair. Incubation of the three to four eggs will take about twelve days. Painted bunting nestlings for about nine days before fledging. Adults may produce as many as three broods in one season. Since this is a species of such great public interest, citizens hosting painted buntings are encouraged to become part of the Painted Bunting Observer Team (PBOT), a project that is under way at UNC Wilmington. For more information about PBOT, visit www.paintedbuntings.org. b Susan would love to hear from you. Send wildlife sightings and photos to susan@ncaves.com or call (910) 949-3207. June 2013 •

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MERIDITH MARTENS, artist Large Scale Paintings Custom Residential & Corporate Design

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Eagles Island

A wild and ghostly beauty in the heart of Wilmington’s historic working waterways

By Virginia Holman

photographs by virginia holman

Historic Eagles Island is situated

between the Cape Fear and Brunswick rivers, yet many residents of New Hanover and Brunswick counties have never ventured beyond the shoreline to explore this magical area, just beyond the downtown riverfront. Eagles Island is Wilmington’s watery version of Central Park, a wild place in the heart of a historically industrial area.

Eagles Island isn’t a single entity; it comprises of several small, swampy islands that cover 2,100 acres between the Cape Fear and Brunswick rivers. The area has a rich maritime history — some of which is still visible, if you know where to look — and an abundance of wildlife. The island is best explored from the water, so my husband and I, and several experienced kayaker friends, have arranged a day trip through the area. We will be led by one of my kayaking mentors, Mike Snyder. Mike is a fit, silver-maned, gentle-spoken man, who has worked the water for much of his life. Years ago, when I was first learning to kayak in tidal rivers, inlets and the ocean, he’d patiently explain local tidal complexities that no printed chart reveals, and point out areas of historic significance.

The Ar t & Soul of Wilmington

He’s the sort of man who, when he collects trash along the riverbank, is careful to look for and remove any small periwinkle snails, so they aren’t inadvertently removed from their habitat. Anyone who paddles with Mike is the better for it, and those of us heading to Eagles Island consider ourselves especially lucky to be paddling with him today. Dram Tree Park, our launch site, is located at the foot of Castle Street in Wilmington. It has a newly refurbished boat ramp and a dedicated kayak launch. The park is named for an ancient cypress tree that was a long-time landmark for mariners. Local lore has it that sailors would toast with a dram of rum when they reached the Dram Tree, to ensure a safe journey or to celebrate a safe return. It’s 9:30 a.m., so I take a swig of Gatorade instead of dram of rum, and then we all head southward, toward the Port of Wilmington. As we paddle toward the port, we see the river at work. At the port, a ship’s freight is loaded by cranes and a towboat guides a barge upriver. Yet within a half hour, along the tip of Eagles Island, we see a pod of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in the river. It’s strange to see these ocean creatures in this industrial landscape. Some venture so close to our kayaks that we can see the spray from their blowholes. Dolphins are not strangers to the river. They follow the fish, venturing far above the river’s mouth by Bald Head Island or through Snow’s Cut, which links the Intracoastal Waterway to the river about ten miles south. As our pod of kayakers leaves the Cape Fear and follows Eagles Island up the Brunswick River, the landscape changes abruptly from industrial to June 2013 •

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wild. There’s an eerie quality to Eagles Island along the Brunswick River. The trees are sparse; many have died over the years due to saltwater intrusion. The resulting landscape is haunting. Today the sky is scuttled with clouds, the pewter water reflects the overcast sky, and gray tree branches are hung with silvered Spanish moss. Walt, a fellow paddler, points out a turkey vulture hulking on a lone cypress. This area along the Brunswick once held the Ghost Fleet, over 400 Liberty and Victory ships that were demobilized after the Second World War. From 1946–1970, the Brunswick River sheltered over 600 of these vessels. A few ships were ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice, but most were mothballed and stored if the need arose. Mike points out some visible remnants of that age. Canals are clearly cut perpendicular from the river and then run parallel to it, and numerous old wooden power poles list along both shorelines. It’s hard to imagine 400 large ships moored along both sides of this relatively narrow river, but Mike has brought along an aerial photo that shows the ships lined up like bullets in a bandolier. Six miles into our trip, we stop for lunch at Brunswick River Park and decide we want to explore the marsh areas. It’s a brisk spring day, which means the gators that frequent the twisty marsh creeks are still deep in torpor. They’ll awaken in the next six weeks, when water temperatures hit sixtyfive degrees. There’s relatively little to fear, even in the warm months. Most alligators are shy creatures and wary of humans. Even so, my tendency is to steer clear of the apex predators when they are in mating season, especially ones that can grow to well over 1,000 pounds. There’s nothing quite as disconcerting as heading down a narrow creek and having a scared alligator launch from the bank directly in front of your kayak. Fortunately, I know that won’t happen today, so I can relax and enjoy the trip.

The marshes of Eagles Island are otherworldly, a true no man’s land. We’re not far from the Sutton Steam Plant on U.S. Highway 74, yet the area feels utterly wild and remote. The tea-colored creeks widen and then narrow and twist. The only trees that appear to be alive are the cypress trees, scattered along the banks. The group falls silent along this stretch, as if we’ve entered a hallowed place. We count five spectacular osprey nests, enormous, craggy structures, perched atop some of the tallest trees. Soon, we spy our first osprey of the season, a branch clutched in its talons, and a welcome harbinger of spring. Back in late 19th and early 20th centuries, much of this creeky area was devoted to rice harvesting. Bleak House and Osawatomie both had rice plantations on Eagles Island. Bleak House was leased to the state penitentiary and the harvest was made by the convicts. As we paddle through the creeks, it’s easy for me to imagine the hellish labor of harvesting rice in the area: the sun, the mud, the snakes, flies and mosquitoes in the summer months. Yellow fever. Malaria. It’s a beautiful area to pass through nowadays in a small boat or kayak, but not a place many humans would choose to toil. About midway through the marsh, we come to our first of two obstacles: the bridges of U.S. Highway 74. If you’re touring the marsh area by kayak or small boat, you must time this passage with the tides. At high tide it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to pass under the bridges. We timed our passage with the first couple of hours of the falling tide. Even so, everyone in our group must lean far back in our kayaks, limbo-style, our faces tilted toward the bridge girders, so we can scoot beneath the bridges, and continue our journey. Once past this area, we wind our way through the marshes along Alligator Creek. Soon the drone of civilization fades away. We can see the

The group falls silent along this stretch, as if we’ve entered a hallowed place.

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red-and-white striped stacks of the Sutton Steam Plant in the distance, but we also see more osprey nests and osprey, tern, blue heron, tricolor heron and great egret. We explore the area for over an hour, marveling at the quiet to be found so close to the city. At last, we exit the marsh and return to the Brunswick River. Now we’re heading east. We’re only a mile or two from downtown Wilmington, yet the river still feels remote. The smell of coal from the Sutton Plant reminds us that we’re not as far from civilization as we imagined. We stop for a short break at an old dredge spoil just down from Dropstich Bass’s old camp. Mike tells us that Dropstitch was likely a truer hermit than the famed hermit of Fort Fisher. James “Dropstitch” Bass was a subsistence fisherman. He never married, and lived in a small cabin he’d inherited on Eagles Island near Point Peter. For many years he lived off the river, making trawls and nets, and was rumored to have lost several dogs to Charlie, the Battleship’s alligator. After Hurricane Diana, Dropstitch’s cabin was so damaged he was forced to relocate downtown, where he lived at the Cape Fear Hotel Apartments and Mariner Health Care before passing away in 2005. Once we pass Dropstitch’s camp, we stop by the remains of the Harry W. Adams, an old Nova Scotia schooner that was towed from Chandler’s Wharf when it sank in 1984. She’s covered in weeds, so it would be easy to pass by her and not know she was anything more than a bit of land. However, if you look closely, you can still see the shape of her hull, and bits of the structure through the growth. Then, we round the turn out of the Brunswick and return to the Cape Fear. All at once, we’re back in the city, cruising down the riverfront, past the Federal Courthouse and the Henrietta on a strong tidal current. This shift from the Brunswick to the Cape Fear is a bit like turning off a backwoods dirt road onto the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Motor boaters, john boats, sloops and barges all share the road. Yet it is here that the Port City is at her best vantage. If you’ve never cruised the Cape Fear downtown and seen our lovely city, you’re missing out on one of the area’s finest sights. Before we head back to our take out at Dram Tree, we take a spin around the Battleship USS North Carolina in our kayaks. It’s a bit of a thrill to be a small little boat next to such a massive vessel. The families on board seem to get a kick out of us, too. They hoot and wave from high on deck as the river’s ebb carries us back to where we began. b

Things to know: Wilmington Water Cruises runs regular motor boat trips in the Eagles Island Area, www.wilmingtonwatertours.net or (910) 3383134. Local kayak companies that run tours of the area include: Hook, Line, and Paddle, www. hooklineandpaddle.com; Watersmith Kayaking, www.watersmithkayaking.com; Manahaim Adventures, www.manahaimadventures.com. A word of caution for kayakers: The river currents in the Cape Fear are swift and can be dangerous, and big ships move along the port area. If you are not experienced in these conditions, please consider a reputable guide/outfitter, always wear your lifejacket, and paddle with others. If you’re interested in helping to protect Eagles Island, visit www.eaglesisland.org.

Virginia Holman teaches creative writing at UNC Wilmington, and kayaks the ocean, rivers, and flatwater year round. The Ar t & Soul of Wilmington

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June

An Hour Spent Wandering the Museum of Natural History This week, a shark exhibit featuring the ancient Megalodon the size of a schooner, its jaws open like a circus tent.

sand sloshing down the drain, the final rivulet of water. In a life that passes too fast, how much time with you

In one display case, vertebrae the width of my palm, each ringed like a tree. In another, rows of teeth, many

have I squandered? I have to admit that I’m prone to treating my life like a stopover in a shabby airport

as heavy as arrowheads. I remember an old jewelry box that twenty-five summers ago, as a small boy, you filled

where worn seats are bolted to the floor. But don’t we all believe that the future is

with sharks’ teeth, as if they could be traded for anything. You spent hours scouring the sand, winnowing mounds

little more than a dog pawing at the back door, begging to be let in?

of fractured shells for detritus from what was trolling the waves. Later, the heat of your sunburned back in the bath,

— laVoNNe J. aDaMs

Lavonne J. Adams is the author of Through the Glorieta Pass (Pearl Editions, 2009), and two poetry chapbooks, Everyday Still Life and In the Shadow of the Mountain. She teaches in the Department of Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where she is the MFA Coordinator. The Ar t & Soul of Wilmington

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PhotograPh By NeD leary

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The Art & Soul of Wilmington


The Sacred Journey of

Alonzo Wilson

From the halls of Hoggard High to the design studios of HBO, a life shaped by love of ancestors and a kindly universe

“T

By ashley Wahl

here’s something to be said about destiny,” says costume designer Alonzo Wilson, who sits outside of Cameron Art Museum staring off into the middle distance, awed by the mystical forces of the universe.

“I never chose this.” Wilson, 48, grew up just a short drive from here, in a house built by his Dutch father near Myrtle Grove. After graduating from John T. Hoggard High School in 1983, he landed a job at Dino De Laurentiis’ Wilmington-based film studio as a chauffeur for costume designer Clifford Capone. Subsequently, he stumbled down a career path he didn’t see coming. “I wanted to be a writer,” says Wilson. Perhaps you’ve seen his work unknowingly, which is often the case in the realm of contemporary film and television. A designer’s job, after all, is to create costumes so authentic to the character and context of the story that he or she goes virtually unnoticed. Adrienne Munich, author of Fashion in Film, calls it “the perfect aesthetic illusion of reality.” Every now and then, though, a costume is supposed to demand attention. Such is the case with Wilson’s latest behind-the-scenes work with the award-winning HBO television series Treme, which has twice been nominated for the annual Costume Designers Guild Awards — once earlier this year. Regardless of whether or not the viewer is familiar with the show’s hauntingly realistic plot — an exploration of the city and citizens of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina — the Mardi Gras Indian suits Wilson created for the show are museum-worthy works of art. Mixed-media masterpieces that showcase hundreds of assorted plumes and countless hours of tedious beadwork, the costumes have been on display at the Los Angeles Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. They recently arrived in Wilmington at Cameron Art Museum (CAM) and are part of an exhibition that was organized by the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. Well Suited, as the exhibit is titled, will remain on display through November 3, in tandem with the premier of the show’s fourth and final season. Traditionally, New Orleans Mardi Gras Indians, who present themselves as bands of warriors, spend all year preparing the elaborate homemade garbs they debut on Fat Tuesday, the day that allows them to celebrate their African-American and Afro-Creole heritage, establish tribal boundaries, and prove their place in the community. Wilson has designed over twenty of these suits. A closer look at the intricate patches and detail reveals that there is more to these decorative costumes than their aesthetic grandeur. Each one tells a narrative. Through symbols, color, and The Ar t & Soul of Wilmington

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Photograph copyright of HBO®. HBO and Treme are the service marks of Home Box Office, Inc.


Photograph copyright of HBO®. HBO and Treme are the service marks of Home Box Office, Inc.

his own human experiences, Wilson has woven deeper meaning into every garb. “The story is about the heartache and the devastation of what Hurricane Katrina did to the people of New Orleans,” says Wilson, explaining the premise of Treme. “My job would have been the same no matter what the show was about. I was hired to make the characters look believable.” Wilson speaks with a sense of wonder as he reflects on the path that guided him into the secret world of Mardi Gras Indians and, ultimately, here to this very moment. “I was a disruptive child with a flair for dramatics,” he notes, recalling detention time served in the hallways at Carolina Beach Elementary School. He recounts the time he attempted to blow up an abandoned Chevrolet on the family property, and how he managed to break his brother’s leg on what should have been a simple shopping excursion. Call it an attempt to stand out among his ten siblings. When Wilson told his mother that he wanted to grow up to be a veterinarian, she bought him a book about how to nurse injured wild animals back to health. “Shortly after that I decided that maybe I wanted to be a journalist,” he adds. So his mother bought him a used typewriter and encouraged him to follow his dream. Wilson was a proficient typist by seventh grade. At Hoggard, he became literary editor of the school paper and spent summers attending journalism workshops at UNC-Chapel Hill. Despite his passion for writing, though, school barely held his interest. He preferred The Ar t & Soul of Wilmington

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a hands-on method of learning, which is inevitably what drew him to theater. Although he had never acted, Wilson auditioned for a play at UNCW during his senior year of high school. “I got a chorus part,” he says. His younger brother raised his eyebrows when he saw Alonzo wearing tights. Post high school, Wilson became a stage manager and lighting assistant for summer stock and UNCW’s Straw-Hat Theatre productions. He longed to be in the spotlight, but instead won an award for lighting at the Southeastern Drama Festival. To make ends meet, he woke up before sunrise and delivered the Star News on a paper route. Somewhere in the midst of everything, a colleague told Wilson about a job opening at DEG, a production company founded by Italian film producer Dino De Laurentiis. One of the costume designers, Clifford Capone, did not drive and needed a personal assistant. Although the thought of shuttling around some bigwig costumer hardly excited Wilson, he got the job. Capone saw potential in Wilson, whose driving gig evolved into a full-blown apprenticeship. Little by little Wilson learned the tricks of the trade: how to distress fabric so that it looked old; how to mix and match patterns; and how to thread, operate and repair a sewing machine. “The part I loved most was the idea of getting a script and finding costumes to create the character,” says Wilson. After working on several films with Capone, including Maximum Overdrive, Wilson worked with two time Emmy award-winning designer Peggy Farrell. Incredibly, he supervised the costume design for his first feature film at age 24. Seamlessly, he transitioned from project to project — small budget television shows to major motion pictures — and over the years has dressed the likes of Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins. Eventually he joined the crew of Dawson’s Creek, which put Wilson on the map as a designer. After wrapping up the fifth and final season of HBO’s The Wire in 2008, Wilson was ready to transition into the career he’d always dreamed about. That’s when executive producer Nina Noble called to tell him about Treme. When Wilson politely declined the offer to design costumes for the pilot 44

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PhotograPh aBove coPyright of hBo®. hBo and treme are the service marks of home Box office, inc.

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episode, Nina asked again. She must have known he would eventually say yes. Long before the preliminary sketches, Wilson listened to the natives of New Orleans, hoping for insight into what it means to be a Mardi Gras Indian. “I had a responsibility to learn and to do justice to their culture and the art form,” he says. Mardi Gras Indians are Carnival revelers with a shady history. Uptown tribes wear sculptural, African-inspired suits. Downtown tribes wear suits inspirited by Native American culture. One simply cannot ask to borrow the suit of a Mardi Gras Indian. Aside from being expensive, each suit generally takes an entire year to make. It is believed that once the tribe member has walked in his suit that it carries a part of his soul. The challenge that Wilson faced was developing a style for Albert “Big Chief” Lambreaux, one of Treme’s lead characters, that honors the Mardi Gras Indian culture, yet is somehow notably different. Texture, says Wilson, became the characteristic feature. Similar to the way he absorbed lessons from Clifford Capone, Wilson learned techniques from a group of Mardi Gras Indians who recognized his genuine spirit and welcomed him into their homes. In turn, Wilson showed them a few pointers — like using buckhorn rather than cardboard to create a more archival structure. “It is a secret world that I try very hard not to divulge,” says Wilson of the culture. Of course there are notable differences in Wilson’s process. For one, the beaded patches on the suits of Treme were assembled in parts. It took an entire crew four-and-a-half months to create seven suits for the third season, but the narratives were never sacrificed for the sake of saving time. “The stories in the suits coincide with the theme of the season,” explains the artist. Notice the suits from season one include, among various Katrina memorials, X-codes such as the ones search and rescue marked on houses. Beige reigns in season two. “We felt that was the time that people really tried to start over with their lives. The suits were blank canvases,” says Wilson, who continues to explain the meaning behind the river scene on the Big Chief’s apron. “What divides also brings together.” Wilson’s mother, Lydia, was born into the Waccamaw Siouan Indian tribe, but lost her identity when she married Wilson’s father — a “colored” man. Still, her son has always been drawn to the quiet spirituality of Native American culture. He regularly meditates with animal medicine cards, and admits that he sneaked elements from his own spirituality into his work. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the crow, one of Wilson’s animal totems, is the keeper of Sacred Law. Those who lived through Katrina know that tragedy often gives way to hope. Four years ago, Wilson’s mother suffered a stroke that has since left her unable to speak. His father, Eddie, went blind several years ago. But both of his parents will be able to attend Wilson’s exhibit. Lydia won’t be able to tell her son how the costumes move her, but Wilson will be able to understand her. His father will experience the texture by feeling with his hands. For reasons perhaps unknown, the universe has led him home. “For me it’s still very surreal,” says Wilson. “I don’t even consider myself an artist.” b Well Suited: The Costumes of Alonzo Wilson for HBO’s Treme will be on display May 18–November 3 at Cameron Art Museum, 3201 South 17th Street, Wilmington. For more information, call (910) 295-5999 or visit cameronartmuseum.com.

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B o o k

E x c e r p t

Once Upon A Gypsy Moon Alone at sea in an aging sailboat, one man’s quest for redemption and his own true north brings him to the waters of Masonboro Inlet By Michael Hurley 48

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B o o k

E x c E r p t

To Sail In this day and age, which is to say a time well removed from the Age of Exploration, an era when there is less urgent need for travel

and more efficient means to do so when one must, it would seem at the very least a mistake of judgment to point the bow of a small sailing vessel seaward and let slip her lines. One could offer clinical evidence that it is indeed an act of insanity, but that would risk missing the poetry of such a thing. Poetry or not, it is an odd habit, peering over the rail of a seagoing ship in a fifteen-knot breeze. Alone. And late in the day. I know this pathology and have wrestled with this same impulse many times, usually regaining my heading and my senses and returning to port. Sailing alone or in company offshore, all night in a small boat, is a thing that passes for mere eccentricity or even dashing adventure in polite company. But however benign, it remains nonetheless a disorder, a departure from the mean and median of human life, and a path that many regard with admiration or envy but that few decide to follow. There are, I am told, more men alive today who have flown in outer space than who have sailed alone around the world by no power save what wind and water might supply. I am not surprised by this, nor would you be if you sailed with me. What appeals to me about voyaging in a small boat under sail is what first appealed to me as a young boy about camping in the wilderness. Both are simple systems — or, more accurately, systems for achieving simplicity. Aboard a boat, life is reduced to its essential elements. Life as we live it in the modern world, by contrast, has become a very complicated thing. We take the first steps toward school, career and marriage, and before we know it, we are swept up into a self-perpetuating cyclone of consumption and production, to be carried aloft on those busy winds until we are thrown back to Earth some seventy-five years later, wondering where all the time and money have gone. We consume, and so we produce; we produce, and so we consume. In a boat at sea, the processes of consumption and production are conjoined. That’s the beauty of it. The wind and water are at once both spectacle and vehicle, means and medium. The steady breeze on our face enthralls us as it propels us. The sea bears us up and feeds us dinner. There is no Walmart there. There is nothing to buy. There is only to be. In the city of Miami, the sky burns with electric light and the streets boil with the perpetual motion of cars and trucks and people, but just three miles off that coast, there is no traffic, no noise, and no light at night save the moon and the stars. The open ocean is the only place on Earth where the hand of man has taken no lasting hold. I don’t know what compelled me to follow the seaward path again, that August day in Annapolis. Perhaps it was a desire to retake the helm of my own destiny, however briefly. I must say I felt in that moment no small affinity with the author of the autobiography Papillon, played by Steve McQueen in the film, who upon leaping into the sea and climbing onto a floating raft of coconuts — finally escaping Devil’s Island in his old age — yells to unseen listeners, “I’m still here, you bastards.” I wish to take a moment to reassure any readers who, perhaps not familiar with me and my station in life, may be laboring under the mistaken impression that sailing is nothing but an idle pastime of the very rich. It is that in some circles, to be sure, but in general that sort of sailor loves racing, not cruising. He goes screaming about the bay with a gang of like-minded friends, ties up his expensive boat at the yacht club pier at the end of the day, savors his victory or plots his revenge in the yacht club bar, and drives back to his expensive home to await the next contest. For this man, sailing is a The Ar t & Soul of Wilmington

sport, not a frame of mind or a philosophy of life. It is, to him, very much like a game of golf played on the water. In stark contrast to this fellow, there is an entirely different breed of peasant sailors who are not more than sea gypsies, and while I cannot claim truly to be one of them, I have admired them from afar. In fact, the rich and powerful make up the decided minority of the sailors I meet at sea. Many manage to stay just a boat length or two ahead of their bankers’ worst fears, and all their fragile dreams depend heavily on the continued beneficence of a favorable wind, a half inch of duct tape, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average — hardly bulwarks of constancy. Whereas it has been famously written that the rich are different from you and me, real sailors are very different from the rich. They are an addicted bunch (insufferable cheapskates, the lot of them), and not for nothing are they regarded contemptuously in posh marinas the world around as “ragbaggers.” You are likely to find more impressive balance sheets at the tailgate party of any college football game — that seemingly most egalitarian of pastimes — than among the skinned-knuckled old men in well-stained khakis and sockless Top-Siders, eyeing pots of varnish at your local ship chandlery. June 2013 •

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B o o k

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I am not speaking of “yachtsmen” here — those well-fed denizens of resort marinas, marking time from one gin and tonic to the next along the inland waterways, who dream mostly of time-shares in Miami, not of Magellan, and whose dreams are born aloft by diesel fumes, not wind and imagination. Nor am I speaking of those who rent sailboats on Caribbean vacations and (mostly) motor them nervously from one anchorage to the next. To me, sailing is a way of looking at life, or it is nothing. It is a philosophy, not a space on one’s calendar between the Friday board meeting and Sunday brunch. The kind of adventure of which I speak cannot be rented any more than true love can be rented, nor is it merely an “experience” to be had, like a game of bowling or a good cigar. Voyaging under sail is a marriage of man and vessel, and as in any healthy marriage, the bond grows stronger even as the excitement of new love mellows. The things that strengthen that bond are the patience to endure and the commitment to overcome hardship. Patience and commitment are the heart of a sailor. In life, in love, and in boats, you’re either all in or you’re out. This book is partly an effort to work out the navigational problems of the heart — to find true north; to account for set, drift, variation, and deviation and measure the time and distance run, that I might better know my position within what Tolkien called “some larger way,” and that others might better find the lights to guide their own voyages. Every ocean voyage forges both inward and seaward. The challenges of the seaward course that can be met are met easily enough by simple implements and routines of planning and preparation. The inward journey is not so well charted, and “there be dragons” along that way. So, with these thoughts in mind, let us cast off.

A Voice in the Darkness I arrived off

Masonboro Inlet on the morning of Thanksgiving Day, happy to be alive and marveling again at how the slow accretion of wind and time can move an 11,700-pound vessel such a distance so easily. I was anxious to make the docks at Southport, some twentyfive miles away, because of the difficulty in navigating the shallows of Snow’s Cut in the Intracoastal Waterway at night. One has to go through the waterway on the route from Masonboro Inlet to Southport to avoid Frying Pan Shoals off Bald Head Island. Bald Head is the thorn-shaped southeastern tip of North Carolina that juts out into the Atlantic. The seas heap up here where the ocean rises from deep water onto the shoals. The shoals extend far out to sea, near the western edge of the Gulf Stream. To sail south, offshore, and get safely around them, you would have to enter the Gulf Stream and fight your way against a current pushing north at three knots. It is easier and safer to motor the shorter distance down the Intracoastal Waterway and come out at Southport, where the offshore route all the way to Florida is deep water well west of the stream. I had made the inland passage through Snow’s Cut a half dozen times at night by necessity. Each one was as nerve-wracking as the last, but one in particular stood out in my memory. It was January 2007, and three men had sailed with me to take the Gypsy Moon from New Bern to Bald Head Island. After a windless night on the offshore run from Beaufort, a brisk southwest breeze arrived at midmornThe Ar t & Soul of Wilmington

ing off Masonboro Inlet, and we could not resist riding it well offshore, just to let the boat stretch her legs. That worthwhile diversion cost us daylight, however, and we found ourselves crawling through Snow’s Cut after dark. The cut is wide and deep where it passes under the highway bridge, but farther south, in the Cape Fear River, the distances between markers in the channel grow longer, and the water outside the channel shoals to inches thin. To avoid running aground, I had one man on the bow using a spotlight to find the next channel marker, one man on the helm, and one man below, calling out depths from the chart. I was watching the depth sounder and the three of them. The helmsman was following a compass course based on the chart when depth soundings that had been steadily above twenty-two feet started to fall. The boat needed close to five feet of water to float. The channel depth was not uniform, though, and there were some places within the channel proper that had shoaled. It was not immediately clear that we were off course. As the number on the depth sounder continued to drop and passed sixteen, I asked the chart man what our depth should be at that part of the channel. “Twenty-two,” he shouted back. Fearing we were only a few seconds away from knee-deep mud, I grabbed the wheel from the helmsman and whirled the boat around 180 degrees to retrace the course over which we had just come, back to safe water. At that moment, a calm voice clearly spoke over channel 16 on the ship’s radio. The voice was addressing the crew of a boat heading through Snow’s Cut between markers that he numbered correctly, for our location, and he called for us to answer. He did not identify himself or ask us, as the Coast Guard would certainly do, to switch to a working channel. He simply instructed us what compass course to steer from our present location to return to the channel, and where to steer from there. His instructions were dead-on. When he signed off without further ado, I looked around the water, expecting to spot a shrimper or a workboat at anchor within visual range whose skipper had observed our error and called us on the radio to put us back on our way. The hair on the back of my neck stood up when I realized there was no one on the water that night but us. I called for the man on the radio to thank him for his assistance, but no one answered. I looked again, far out into the river that leads into Wilmington, and, again, saw not a soul. The Coast Guard trains all its radiomen in the same seamanlike elocution. They will hail only — never talk — on channel 16 before insisting that you switch to a working channel, 22 Alpha. This fellow was not Coast Guard, nor was he anywhere to be seen. We never heard from him again. Chapter 1 and 14 excerpted from Once Upon A Gypsy Moon: A Memoir by Raleigh attorney Michael Hurley, published in April by Center Street. b Michael Hurley began sailing as a boy growing up around Chesapeake Bay. At 34, he obtained his captain’s license and took six months off from the practice of law to run sailboat charters on the Carolina coast. At 37, he began writing and publishing a quarterly journal on wilderness canoeing, eventually collecting more than 10,000 subscribers in 48 states. His first book, Letters from the Woods, contains essays from his canoe journal. June 2013 •

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s t o r y

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h o u s e

Rooms With a View The perfect waterside dwelling built on the former front lawn of the Airlie mansion affords Rita and Wade Howle a glorious view of the seasons By Ashley Wahl • Photographs by Rick Ricozzi

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s the late afternoon sun shimmies across the surface of Bradley Creek, Rita Corbett Howle watches an osprey hover above the inlet, plunge, and emerge with supper. “He likes to perch right there,” she says, gesturing to one of the shadowy oak trees in the backyard. From her own sunny perch, a breezy breakfast nook overlooking the glittering water, Rita marvels at a landscape she has known since childhood. Of course, this house wasn’t here then. Here used to be the front lawn of the old Airlie mansion. But long before she and husband, Wade, built their tidewater cottage — a pale yellow maiden with crisp white trim and a wide Southern porch that simply beckons — this verdant tract of land between the water’s edge and Airlie Gardens was home sweet home. “My grandparents owned Airlie,” says Rita, referring to what was previously a 155-acre estate with natural and formal gardens that showcased, at their peak, say, a half a million azaleas. The story goes that Rita’s paternal grandparents, Walter Albert Corbett and his wife, Bertha, purchased Airlie in 1948 so their youngest son, who had been injured in battle during the Second World War, could retreat to the tranquil bosom of the countryside to recover. When Walter died — Christmas Day, 1953, exactly one year and one month before Rita was born — Bertha decided that the rambling 38-room manor was too large and daunting for an aging widow. She moved in with one of her three daughters and left her oldest son, Waddell, in charge of the property. The mansion was torn down. “It just wasn’t livable,” says Rita, who was 5 years old when her family moved into the home her parents built, the modern 10,000-square-foot house with the gray-green Vermont slate roof, situated on the knoll where the mansion once stood. Mostly, Rita recalls being outdoors. She grew up riding a stubborn Shetland pony called Bunny, climbing the property’s gnarled oak trees and exploring the lush gardens with her four older siblings. “We didn’t know how lucky we were,” says Rita. “The gardens were our backyard.”

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Something about all those rooms — filled with memories, yet hauntingly empty — affected Bitsy in the same way that it had gotten to Grandma Bertha. 54

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addell adored his wife, Bitsy. “She always put on her lipstick when she knew he was coming home,” remembers Rita, whose father was so punctual that you could set a watch by him. Waddell had been left in charge of Corbett Package Company, the family business. He absolutely loved his work. “The floorboard of his backseat was always filled with dirt and sweet potatoes,” says Rita. “He would come back from the blueberry fields with a blue mouth.” A brain tumor eventually took his life. Something about all those rooms — filled with memories, yet hauntingly empty — affected Bitsy in the same way that it had gotten to Grandma Bertha. “Take my house,” said Bitsy to Rita, who by then was living in Aiken, South Carolina, with Wade and their three children. Bitsy planned to build The Ar t & Soul of Wilmington

something smaller. And wouldn’t it be great if her kids lived closer? “The price is right,” quipped Wade. But Rita thought the house was much too big. “What if we build beside you?” Rita asked her mother. Worked for Bitsy. They put the old Corbett house on the market, subdivided the property, and planned to build on the waterfront, across the drive from the house where Rita grew up. Eventually, her sisters built homes of their own along the private road. Her brother would move into Bitsy’s home after she died. The Howles — pronounced “Owls” — knew exactly what they wanted. When they met as college students in Spartanburg, South Carolina, somewhere on common ground between Converse and Wofford, Wade was drawn to more than Rita’s good looks. She was a beach girl. Better yet, she’d grown up not far from where his mother had lived. “I’d never met anybody else from Wilmington,” says Wade, originally from land-locked Darlington, South Carolina. Surely Rita was drawn to Wade’s Southern drawl, the way he smiled when June 2013 •

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he talked, and how life seemed to slow down in his presence. He, too, was a beach person. They needed a house on the water.

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ager to break ground, the Howles found house plans similar to one they’d seen in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina. Dennis Moeller Custom Homes and Sullivan Design Company, which specializes in rooms with a view, modified the interior to fit the Howles’ needs, and added signature architectural touches such as arched entryways, interior pillars and transom windows. Their 5,000-square-foot house borrows features from various seaside dwellings they have seen and loved — the two-tiered back deck, for instance,

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was inspired by a trip to Sullivan’s Island. But as far as the Howles are concerned, there’s no other place on Earth like their Lowcountry home. From the front entrance, land and seascape take center stage. An open floor plan draws eyes to the back wall of the living room, where French doors and picture windows look out to the water. Inside, wicker furniture and bird motifs reign. The formal dining room — indeed the only thing formal here — is filled with heirloom furniture. A mahogany corner hutch showcases a collection of antique tea cups. On the walls: an oil portrait of Bitsy, of whom Rita is a spitting image, dressed in pale yellow amid the famous gardens; a framed section of hand-painted heron wallpaper, salvaged from the Airlie mansion; and two original drawings by Airlie’s legendary African-American folk artist and gatekeeper, Minnie Evans. “I knew her my whole life,” says Rita, who remembers the sound of Minnie’s laugh and how she used to talk about the radiant colors of the garden. The Art & Soul of Wilmington


Their 5,000-square-foot house borrows features from various seaside dwellings they have seen and loved — the two-tiered back deck, for instance, was inspired by a trip to Sullivan’s Island. But as far as the Howles are concerned, there’s no other place on Earth like their Lowcountry home. The Ar t & Soul of Wilmington

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As Minnie was inspired by the gardens, Rita sought inspiration from the sea, and chose calm blues and pale yellow paints for the walls. Although the kitchen is used daily — “my wife is an excellent cook,” boasts Wade — counter and floor space were sacrificed for his and her master bathrooms in the mainlevel master suite. “Hollywood stars say it’s the secret to a good marriage,” says Rita. “My mother certainly thought so.” Indeed, the best thing about the blue-and-white kitchen isn’t the warm granite countertops or the Roman shades. It’s the view. From the bay window above the kitchen sink, you can see the creek, the Williamsburg-inspired house that Bitsy built, and the wooden plank swing on which a young Katie Holmes once spent a happy afternoon while on a break from a scene in Dawson’s Creek. Rita recalls her own children swinging on it. Victoria and Emory, young girls then, slept upstairs. Since Hampton, their firstborn, was a sophomore at Cape Fear Academy when they moved here, he took the bedroom in the finished basement, which includes bar, pool table and what later evolved into “the boyfriend room.” “I tried not to make that room too nice for fear they’d want to stay,” says Rita. Outside, though, is where the Howles roost. Wade and Weesy — the Boston terrier pup his kids gave him for his 60th birthday at Dewees Island — spend their time on the covered lower deck. Hampton, now married and living just a short drive away, brings his little ones for boat rides, although they’re equally drawn to the joggling board and swing. Three years ago, Victoria’s wedding reception was held on the back lawn by the old Airlie fountain. Oyster shells are piled high beside the outdoor fireplace. Says Wade, “This house is the only thing I’ve ever owned that the ‘new’ hasn’t worn off of.” His bride agrees. “The marsh changes with every season,” Rita says, looking to see if the osprey has returned to his tree. And while the threat of hurricanes is always looming, it’s a risk they don’t mind taking. “No doubt in our minds,” says Wade, “we’re willing to take the bitter with the sweet.” b 60

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The Caretakers BY JIM DODSON • PHOTOGRAPHS BY TOM CONWAY

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For over half a century, the Smith family have been stewards of a Forest Hills garden that continues to influence the gardeners — and children — of Wilmington

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ou wouldn’t believe the things this garden has survived,” says Percy Smith with a laugh, settling on the sun porch of the beautiful house at the intersection of Forest Hills and Colonial Drives, overlooking a garden that has more than a little passing interest to the gardeners of Wilmington. “Care to elaborate?” asks his visitor. “Oh, just about everything. Floods, hurricanes, windstorms, ice storms. Probably half the original trees are gone, as are seventy-five percent of the azaleas my father planted. A whole acre across the creek used to be all azaleas. All gone now.” And yet, every spring when Percy and Lillian Smith put out their famous sign that reads “Welcome. Please Come In”, the crowds happily come back year after year — old friends, neighbors, garden fanciers of every stripe, scores of children from across the street at Forest Hills Elementary, and hundreds more for the annual Easter egg hunts the Smiths have hosted for more than half a century. Regardless of the change — and possibly because of it — Lillian and Percy Smith and their family remain devoted caretakers of the four-acre suburban garden Percy’s father and mother began creating not long after they built the house where Percy and his brother, Billy, grew up. That was 1940, and Percy’s father, P.R. Smith, who owned Cape Fear Ford on Market Street, was also a man who loved flowers. Not long after the house was finished he engaged renowned Richmond landscape architect Charles Freeman Gillette to design the gardens of his newly built home. Gillette was perhaps the premier garden designer of his day and a man associated with the restoration movement of estate gardens across the upper South in the early 20th century, best known for his understated attention to detail and classical naturalism, specializing in park-like landscapes. As a result, most of the property’s sweeping oaks and cypress trees were left and became focal points for a woodland garden bunkered with lots of azaleas and camellias. “Daddy was very fond of forests, so as many of the trees as possible were left. But azaleas were really his love,” says Percy. P.R. took a personal hand in raising hundreds of azalea shrubs from seedlings in special “slat houses” he erected across the two creeks that bisected the property. He also became adept at grafting

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Bess Smith, center, with her garden club

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and growing a variety of camellias that soon added extra seasonal color to the park-like glory of the garden. At its peak in the early 1950s, the Smith garden was already regarded as a source of pride by many Port City gardeners, considered a true rite of spring when its thousands of azalea emerged with the season. Though she didn’t share her husband’s hands-on passion for the garden out back, Bess Smith, P.R.’s wife, did have a strong knowledge and aesthetic love of gardens that manifested itself in flower arranging and the foresight to use her evolving showplace as a launch pad to benefit all of Wilmington’s gardens. As early as 1944 she helped organize various garden groups into a cohesive organization that launched the city’s first Azalea Garden Tour, with her own garden featured as a prominent stop. Within a decade, however, anticipating the growing complications of running such a major annual event, she also orchestrated a takeover of the tour by the Cape Fear Garden Club from a meeting in her own garage and spent the next two decades of her life tweaking and refining the Tour, transforming it into a fundraising dynamo that today reportedly generates over six figures annually for underwriting everything from city beautification projects to youth scholarships. P.R. Smith passed on in 1952, leaving Cape Fear Ford to his sons, Percy and William, and the garden to Bess, who continued to add azaleas and camellias sporadically until the mid 1960s, about the time Bess Smith threw an Easter egg hunt for William’s children and a few family friends. That launched an annual Wilmington rite of spring that grew every year, eventually attracting upward of 350 children and parents who now descend on the Smith garden like clockwork for the Smith’s annual Easter Saturday egg hunt. By the time Percy Smith and his bride, Lillian, moved into the family home in 1980, Bess Smith — who relocated to a retirement community — had decided the family garden was simply too much to keep up with and began the slow process of reducing its workload by giving hundreds of mature plantings to various civic groups and organizations, especially benefiting the grounds at UNCW and St. Andrews University in Laurinburg, where Bess served on the board. This opening up of the garden created meadows where Lillian planted daffodils and scattered narcissus and other spring wildflowers. The couple eventually added dogwoods and flowering shrubs to give the garden new color, texture and interest. As Percy Smith notes, nature also took a hand in opening up the Smith garden and allowing a different kind of garden to emerge — sunny areas where spring bulbs and flowering annuals and perennials flourished. During the double-punch of hurricanes Bertha and Fran in 1996, the Smiths lost more than 40 hardwoods, including most of the beautiful original cypress trees on the property. A pair of gorgeous oaks that presided over the outdoor terrace where the couple annually hosted a popular oyster roast toppled through the kitchen window. Fortunately the Smiths and their daughters, Lillian and Eliza, were sheltered in the basement at the time. “Those trees looked like toothpicks scattered across our lawn. And because the garden was so wet, we were unable to remove them until Thanksgiving,” remembers Lillian. Hurricane Floyd, which struck in September 1999, filled that same basement with three feet of water, washed away the garden’s bridges out back and all but put the entire four-acre garden under water. Despite these changes and the passage of time, the Smith garden retains its park-like serenity that speaks to family and friends across the seasons. A year ago, eldest Smith daughter, Lillian, and her husband, Michael Teer, had their wedding reception in the family garden and — as the famous sign out front indicates — the Smiths are always happy for visitors to stop by and have a look, step in and enjoy one of the city’s botanical treasures, especially at Eastertime. “Some people never know this garden is here. When they see it, it’s always a nice surprise,” says Lillian. “This year we had more than 200 people come out in the cold and rain — and the azaleas weren’t even really out yet,” notes Lillian, who recently added thirty rose bushes to an area beside the house, restoring a delightful small garden that dwindled over time. “Our daughters, Billy and his wife, Jean, and Percy and I now welcome grandchildren of people who first hunted Easter eggs in this garden fifty years ago. “We’re really caretakers of this place,” she adds, leading a visitor on a brief walking tour amid the early blossoms of a late Cape Fear spring. “That’s why Percy and I and our children feel so strongly about keeping it — for those who come back every year to see how the garden has changed, or because the garden holds such nice family memories for all of us.” b

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Arts Calendar

June 2013

Spring Flea At BAC

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Comedian Andy Henrickson

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6/1

Penguin Music Festival

6/1

Comedy

6/1 — 2 Shakespeare On the Green

8 p.m. Shadows of Shakespeare. A collection of Shakespeare’s characters exhibiting the myriad tones of the human spirit. Presented by Shakespeare Youth Company; directed by Cherri McKay and Gina Gambony. Free. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Greenfield Lake Amphitheater, 1941 Amphitheater Drive, Wilmington. Info: capefearshakespeare.org.

6/1 — 2

Live Theater

7 p.m. New York City-based comedian and writer Andy Hendrickson. Tickets: $12/advance; $15/day of show. Nutt Street Comedy Room, 255 North Front Street, Wilmington. Info: www.soapboxlaundrolounge.com.

8 p.m. (Saturday); 3 p.m. (Sunday). Imaginary Theater Company presents David Ives’ daring comic drama, Venus in Fur. Tickets: $23–25. Cape Fear Playhouse, 613 Castle Street, Wilmington. Info: (910) 367-5237 or www.bigdawgproductions.org.

6/1 — 2

6/2

Spring Flea At BAC

10 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Saturday); 12–5 p.m. (Sunday). The ultimate vintage flea market featuring dozens of regional vendors. Admission: $5. Brooklyn Arts Center, 516 North 4th Street, Wilmington. Info: (910) 616-9882 or www.brooklynartsnc.com.

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2–10 p.m. Two stages, six bands: Railroad Earth, Todd Snider, Acoustic Syndicate, Randall Bramblett Band, L Shape Lot, and Lipbone Redding. Bring beach chairs and blankets. Tickets: $35/advance; $40/day of show; free for kids age 10 and under. A portion of the proceeds benefit Step Up For Soldiers. Castle Street, Wilmington. Info: (910) 772-6300 or www.983thepenguin.com.

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Soapbox Concert

9 p.m. Progressive Music Group presents Andrew W.K. Human Party Machine Solo Tour with special guests Thunderclap and Colossus. Tickets: $15/advance; $20/day of show. Doors open at 8 p.m. The Soapbox Laundro-Lounge, 255 North Front Street, Wilmington. Info: (910) 251-8500 or www.soapboxlaundrolounge.com.

6/5

Nature Cruise

6/5

Cape Fear Lecture Series

10 a.m. — 2 p.m. Experience miles of scenic wilderness during Wilmington’s original Black River Nature Cruise. Narrated by coastal ecologist and author Andy Woods. Refreshments provided. Tickets: $59. Board at Battleship North Carolina dock. Info: (910) 343-1611 or www.cfrboats.com. 11 a.m. Elaine Henson presents The Bathing Suit in Vintage Ads. Tickets: $15 (includes lunch). Latimer House, Tea Room, 126 South 3rd Street, Wilmington. Reservations: (910) 762-0492. Info: www.hslcf.org.

6/5

Soapbox Concert

9 p.m. Progressive Music Group presents the infamous Mobb Deep with special guests Mindstone, Stranger Day and Lord Walrus. Tickets: $22/advance; $25/day of show. Doors open at 8 p.m. The Soapbox Laundro-Lounge, 255 North Front Street, Wilmington. Info: (910) 251-8500 or www.soapboxlaundrolounge.com.

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Opera House Production

8 p.m. (Wednesday–Saturday); 3 p.m. (Sunday). Les Miserables. The story of French peasant Jean Valjean and his quest for redemption. Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts, 310 Chestnut Street, Wilmington. Tickets: $25. Box Office: (910) 632-2285. Info: (910) 762-4234 or www.operahousetheatrecompany.net.

6/6

Shop Hop

6/6

Jazz At the Mansion

5–9 p.m. Nine boutiques offer fashion forward ladies’ exclusive deals and first dibs on new styles every first Thursday. Participating boutiques: Edge of Urge, Island Passage, Aqua Fedora, The Wonder Shop, aMuse, Lure, Return Passage, Glam and Momentum Surf and Stake Shop. Downtown Wilmington. Info: www.wilmingtondowntown.com. 6:30 p.m. Cindy Hospedales with Daryll Donnell Murrill and A Step Above. Tickets: $12; $10/members; $5/students. The Bellamy Mansion, 503 Market Street, Wilmington. Info: (910) 251-3700 or www.bellamymansion.org. The Art & Soul of Wilmington


c a l e n d a r

Donovan Frankenreiter

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Music In the Courtyard

7 p.m. Live music from Elijah’s Best. An imaginative mix — soul, R&B, rock, beach, jazz, blues and country — that will make you want to get up and dance. Tickets: $5/CAM members and students; $10/nonmembers. Cameron Art Museum Courtyard, 3201 South 17th Street, Wilmington. Info: (910) 395-5999 or www.cameronartmuseum.com.

6/6

PSL Presents

6/7 Downtown Sundown Concert

6 p.m. Featuring live music from Funky Monks, the Ultimate Red Hot Chili Peppers Experience. Opening act: On Time (sponsored by Firebelly). Free; beer and wine available for purchase. Wristband Nonprofit Partner: Phoenix Employment Agency. Riverfront Park, 5 North Water Street, Wilmington. Info: www.wilmingtondowntown.com/downtownsundown.

8 p.m. Pineapple-Shaped Lamps presents new, original sketch comedy on the first Thursday of every month. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Admission: $5. TheatreNOW, 19 South 10th Street, Wilmington. Info: www.pineappleshapedlamps.org.

6/7

6/7

6/7

Airlie Summer Concert

6 p.m. 40 East performs on the Oak Lawn at Airlie Gardens. Tickets: $8/adults; $2/children. General admission parking is offsite. Free parking and shuttles are provided from the Old Cinema 6 property at 5335 Oleander Drive, Wilmington. Info: (910) 798-7700.

The Ar t & Soul of Wilmington

Tween Art Class at CAM

10 10-12 24-28

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6/

6/6

Cinematique Series

Book Tour

Music On the Town

6 p.m. Live music from 360 Degrees (soul, R&B). Free admission. Mayfaire Town Center, Town Center Drive and Conservation Way, Wilmington. Info: www.mayfairetown.com/blog/events.

Comedy

7 & 9:30 p.m. Matt Devlin has three things going for him: a great beard, phenomenal jokes and total fearlessness. Tickets: $10/advance; $13/day of show. Nutt Street Comedy Room, 255 North Front Street, Wilmington. Info: www.soapboxlaundrolounge.com.

6/

6/

6/ 7 – 9 Shakespeare On the Green

Battleship North Carolina, Visitor Center, 1 Battleship Road, Wilmington. Info: (910) 251-5797 or www.battleshipnc.com.

8 p.m. Measure for Measure. A dark comedy directed by Nicole Farmer. Free. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Greenfield Lake Amphitheater, 1941 Amphitheater Drive, Wilmington. Info: capefearshakespeare.org.

6/ 7 – 9

Children’s Theater

6 p.m. (Friday); 7 p.m. (Saturday); 3 p.m. (Sunday). Les Miserables, the beloved, heartfelt Broadway musical based on Victor Hugo’s novel adapted for young performers. Opening Friday night performance includes a gala before the show. Tickets: $15/opening night; $12. Hannah Block Historic USO/ Community Arts Center, 120 South Second Street, Wilmington. Info: (910) 262-0470 or www.thalian.org.

6/8

Battleship Legacy Series

9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Amored Cruiser North Carolina and the Great War. The ship made six transport voyages and brought nearly 9,000 soldiers home. Engage with uniformed interpreters and ask about their elaborate displays of WWI uniforms, guns and equipment. Free with Battleship admission.

6/8

Battleship 101

6/9

Meet the Author

10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Volunteers stationed throughout the ship engage visitors in specific subjects and areas including: gunnery, radar, sickbay, galley, engineering, and daily shipboard life. Free with Battleship admission. Battleship North Carolina, 1 Battleship Road, Wilmington. Info: (910) 251-5797 or www.battleshipnc.com. 3:30 p.m. Salt editor and New York Times best-selling author, James Dodson, whose latest book is American Triumvirate: Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, and the Modern Age of Golf. Books available for sale. Get an autographed copy for the golfer in your life. Old Books on Front Street, 249 North Front Street. Info: (910) 762-6657 or www.oldbooksonfrontst.com.

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c a l e n d a r 6/9

The Soapbox Presents

6/9

Big Boi In Concert

4 p.m. Hawaii-based singer/songwriter Donovan Frankenreiter with special guests. Doors open at 3 p.m. Admission: $25; children under age 12 get in free. Battleship Park, 1 Battleship Road, Northeast, Wilmington. Info: www.soapboxlaundrolounge.com.

most scenic areas of downtown Wilmington. Post-race celebration will be held inside the CFCC Schwartz Center. Funds raised will support student scholarships at CFCC. Register for 4-mile run or 1-mile fun run/walk. Cape Fear Community College, 601 North Front Street, Wilmington. Info: (910) 362-7000 or www.wilmingtondowntown/events.

6/14 – 16 Shakespeare On the Green 8 p.m. Measure for Measure. A dark comedy directed by Nicole Farmer. Free. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Greenfield Lake Amphitheater, 1941 Amphitheater Drive, Wilmington. Info: capefearshakespeare.org.

6/14 – 16

Live Theater

9 p.m. Big Boi Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors Tour with special guest Killer Mike and Fishhawk. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets: $30/floor; $40/balcony; $45/balcony, day of show. Brooklyn Arts Center, 516 North 4th Street, Wilmington. Info: www.brooklynartsnc.com.

8 p.m. (Thursday – Saturday); 3 p.m. (Sunday). Imaginary Theater Company presents David Ives’ daring comic drama, Venus in Fur. Tickets: $23–25. Cape Fear Playhouse, 613 Castle Street, Wilmington. Info: (910) 367-5237 or www.bigdawgproductions.org.

8 p.m. (Friday–Saturday); 3 p.m. (Sunday). Les Miserables. The story of French peasant Jean Valjean and his quest for redemption. Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts, 310 Chestnut Street, Wilmington. Tickets: $25. Box Office: (910) 632-2285. Info: (910) 762-4234 or www.operahousetheatrecompany.net.

6/10

6/14 Downtown Sundown Concert

6/15

Prologue

7 p.m. Two good friends, semi-famous writers, each have a new novel coming out. Their main characters are women going loony. Join Ben Steelman of StarNews and guests Peggy Payne and Carrie Knowles for light refreshments and a discussion of their books, Cobalt Blue and Lillian’s Garden. Free. MC Erny Gallery at WHQR, 254 North Front Street, Suite 300, Wilmington. Info: (910) 343-1640 or www.whqr.org.

6/10 – 12

Cinematique

7:30 p.m. 2001: A Space Odyssey. Rated G. Admission: $8. Thalian Hall Main Stage, 310 Chestnut Street, Wilmington. Box Office: (910) 632-2285. Info: www.whqr.org; www.thalianhall.org.

6/10 – 13 Shakespeare On the Green 8 p.m. Shadows of Shakespeare. A collection of Shakespeare’s characters exhibiting the myriad tones of the human spirit. Presented by Shakespeare Youth Company; directed by Cherri McKay and Gina Gambony. Free. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Greenfield Lake Amphitheater, 1941 Amphitheater Drive, Wilmington. Info: capefearshakespeare.org.

6/13 Bridge To Bridge Run/Walk 6:30 p.m. Four-mile course takes participants from the Isabel Holmes Bridge to the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge through some of t h e

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Live Theater

6 p.m. Featuring live music from 20 Ride, America’s No. 1 Zac Brown Band Tribute Band. Opening act: The Clams (sponsored by Firebelly). Free; beer and wine available for purchase. Wristband Nonprofit Partner: Bellamy Mansion. Riverfront Park, 5 North Water Street, Wilmington. Info: www.wilmingtondowntown.com/downtownsundown.

6/14

Music On the Town

6 p.m. Live music from The Steady Eddies (classic rock). Free admission. Mayfaire Town Center, Town Center Drive and Conservation Way, Wilmington. Info: www.mayfairetown.com/blog/events.

6/14

Soapbox Concert

9 p.m. Ponchos, Once and Future Kings, and Photoclub. Admission: $5. Doors open at 8 p.m. The Soapbox LaundroLounge, 255 North Front Street, Wilmington. Info: (910) 251-8500 or www.soapboxlaundrolounge.com.

Oakdale Cemetery Walking Tour

10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Chris Nelson will give details of the men who served as firefighters in Wilmington and the events that may have led them to their final resting place. Admission: $10/nonmembers. Oakdale Cemetary, 520 North 15th Street, Wilmington. Info: (910) 762-5682 or www.oakdalecemetary.org.

6/17

Prologue

7 p.m. Join Ben Steelman of StarNews and guest Ann B. Ross for light refreshments and a “special edition” of Prologue to discuss the author’s Miss Julia series. Free. MC Erny Gallery at WHQR, 254 North Front Street, Suite 300, Wilmington. Info: (910) 343-1640 or www.whqr.org.

6/17 – 19

Cinematique

6/17 – 21

Tweens Clay Class

7:30 p.m. Starbuck. Rated R. Admission: $8. Thalian Hall Main Stage, 310 Chestnut Street, Wilmington. Box Office: (910) 632-2285. Info: www.whqr.org; www.thalianhall.org. 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. Grades 3–5 will hand-build and sculpt face mugs, animals, pots and more. Members: $90. Non-members: $125. Cameron Art Museum Courtyard, 3201 South 17th Street, Wilmington. Info: (910) 395-5999 or www.cameronartmuseum.com.

6/17 – 21

Teens Painting Class

2–5 p.m. Ages 9–12 will explore painting techniques and fundamentals. Opportunity for experimentation and personal expression. Members: $90. Non-members: $125. Cameron Art Museum Courtyard, 3201 South 17th Street, Wilmington. Info: (910) 395-5999 or w w w. c a m er on a r t mu seum.com.

6/19

Nature Cruise

10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Experience miles of scenic wilderness during Wilmington’s original Black River Nature Cruise. Narrated by Coastal Ecologist and author Andy Woods. Refreshments provided. Tickets: $59. Board at Battleship North Carolina Dock. Info: (910) 343-1611 or www.cfrboats.com.

6/20 – 23 Shakespeare On the Green 8 p.m. Measure for Measure. A dark comedy directed by Nicole Farmer. Free. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Greenfield Lake Amphitheater, 1941 Amphitheater Drive, Wilmington. Info: capefearshakespeare.org.

6/20 – 23

Live Theater

8 p.m. (Thursday – Saturday); 3 p.m. (Sunday). Imaginary Theater Company presents David Ives’ daring comic drama, Venus in Fur. Tickets: $23–25. Cape Fear Playhouse, 613 Castle Street, Wilmington. Info: (910) 367-5237 or www.bigdawgproductions.org.

6/21

Airlie Summer Concert

6 p.m. ‘Shine performs on the Oak Lawn at Airlie Gardens. Tickets: $8/adults; $2/children. General admission parking is offsite. Free parking and shuttles are provided from the Old Cinema 6 property at 5335 Oleander Drive, Wilmington. Info: (910) 798-7700.

6/21 Downtown Sundown Concert

6 p.m. Featuring live music from The Dave Matthews Tribute Band. Opening act: American Patchwork (sponsored by Firebelly). Free; beer and wine available for purchase. Wristband Nonprofit Partner: Food Bank of ECNC. Riverfront Park, 5 North Water Street, Wilmington. Info: www.wilmingtondowntown.com/downtownsundown.

6/21

Soapbox Concert

9 p.m. Pinhole, Monkeyknifefight, and No Labels Fit. Tickets: $10/advance; $12/ day of show. Doors open at 8 p.m. The Soapbox Laundro-Lounge, 255 North Front Street, Wilmington. Info: (910) 251-8500 or www.soapboxlaundrolounge.com.

6/21 – 23

Music On the Town

6/21 – 23

Live Theater

6 p.m. Live music from Selah Dubb (reggae). Free admission. Mayfaire Town Center, Town Center Drive and Conservation Way, Wilmington. Info: www.mayfairetown.com/blog/events. 8 p.m. (Friday–Saturday); 3 p.m. (Sunday). Les Miserables. The story of French peasant Jean Valjean and his quest for redemption. Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts, 310 Chestnut Street, Wilmington. Tickets: $25. Box Office: (910) 632-2285. Info: (910) 762-4234 or www.operahousetheatrecompany.net. The Art & Soul of Wilmington


c a l e n d a r 6/22

Soapbox Concert

8 p.m. Owen (Mike Kinsella of American Football, Cap’n Jazz and Owls), and Slingshot Dakota. Tickets: $13/advance; $15/day of show. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. The Soapbox Laundro-Lounge, 255 North Front Street, Wilmington. Info: (910) 251-8500 or www.soapboxlaundrolounge.com.

6/23

Comedy

9:30 p.m. Kyle Kinnane and Friends at City Stage. Admission: $18. Nutt Street Comedy Room, 225 North Front Street, Wilmington. Info: (910) 251-7881.

6/24 – 28

Tween Art Class

9 a.m. - 12 p.m. Tweens draw, paint, experiment with clay and play outdoors. Members: $90. Non-members: $125. Cameron Art Museum Courtyard, 3201 South 17th Street, Wilmington. Info: (910) 395-5999 or www.cameronartmuseum.com.

6/27 – 30 Shakespeare on the Green 8 p.m. Measure for Measure. A dark comedy directed by Nicole Farmer. Free. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Greenfield Lake Amphitheater, 1941 Amphitheater Drive, Wilmington. Info: capefearshakespeare.org.

6/28 Downtown Sundown Concert

6 p.m. Featuring live music from The Breakfast Club, America’s Favorite ‘80s Tribute Band. Opening act: Gypsy Fire (sponsored by Firebelly). Free; beer and wine available for purchase. Wristband Nonprofit Partner: CFCC Alumni. Riverfront Park, 5 North Water Street, Wilmington. Info: www.wilmingtondowntown.com/downtownsundown.

6/28

Fourth Friday

6–9 p.m. Join 15 local galleries and studios in an after-hour celebration of art and culture on the fourth Friday of each month. Downtown Wilmington. Info: www.wilmingtonfourthfridays.com.

6/28

Opening Exhibit

6–9 p.m. Every Fourth Friday Gallery Night, the works of a new artist are featured. This month: Mary Beth Cook, mixed-media sculptor. Wine, refreshments and entertainment provided. Artwork on display through July 25. Port City Pottery & Fine Crafts, 307 North Front Street, Wilmington. Info: (910) 763-7111 or www.portcitypottery.com.

6/28

Music On the Town

6 p.m. Live music from Seneca Guns (eclectic rock). Free admission. Mayfaire Town Center, Town Center Drive and Conservation Way, Wilmington. Info: www.mayfairetown.com/blog/events.

6/28

Soapbox Concert

9 p.m. The Mountain Goats with the Baptist Generals. Admission: $18. Doors open at 8 p.m. The Soapbox LaundroLounge, 255 North Front Street, Wilmington. Info: (910) 251-8500 or www.soapboxlaundrolounge.com.

6/29

Hippie Ball 2

6:30 p.m. A fundraiser for Kids Making It. Dust off your best flower-power clothes and let your freak flag fly. Live ’60s music by the Steady Eddies; dinner catered by Bon Appétit. Tickets: $45. Brooklyn Arts Center at St. Andrews, 516 North 4th Street, Wilmington. Info: (910) 616-9882 or www.brooklynartsnc. com; www.kidsmakingit.org.

6/29

Soapbox Concert

10 p.m. Gross Ghost and White Laces. Doors open at 9:30 p.m. Tickets: $6/advance; $8/day of show. The Soapbox Laundro-Lounge, 255 North Front Street, Wilmington. Info: (910) 251-8500 or www.soapboxlaundrolounge.com.

WEEKLY HAPPENINGS Wednesdays

T’ai Chi At Cam.

12–1 p.m. Qigong (Practicing the Breath of Life) with Martha Gregory. Open to beginner and experienced participants. Members: $5. Non-members: $8. Cameron Art Museum, 3201 South 17th Street, Wilmington. Info: (910) 395-5999 or www.cameronartmuseum.com.

Thursdays

Yoga At CAM

12–1 p.m. Join in a soothing retreat sure to charge you up while you relax in a beautiful, comfortable setting. These sessions are ongoing and are open to beginner and experienced participants. Members: $5. Non-members: $8. Cameron Art Museum, 3201 South 17th Street, Wilmington. Info: (910) 395-5999 or www.cameronartmuseum.com.

Thursdays

T’ai Chi At CAM

5:30–6:30 p.m. Qigong (Practicing the Breath of Life) with Martha Gregory. Open to beginner and experienced participants. Members: $5. Non-members: $8. Cameron Art Museum, 3201 South 17th Street, Wilmington. Info: (910) 395-5999 or www.cameronartmuseum.com.

Thursdays

CAM Public Tours

7:30 p.m. Explore the newest exhibits at Cameron Art Museum, 3201 South 17th Street, Wilmington. Info: (910) 395-5999 or www.cameronartmuseum.com.

Fridays

Yoga At CAM

5:30–6:30 p.m. Join in a soothing retreat sure to charge you up while you relax in a beautiful, comfortable setting. These sessions are ongoing and are open to beginner and experienced participants. Members: $5. Nonmembers: $8. Cameron Art Museum, 3201 South 17th Street, Wilmington. Info: (910) 395-5999 or www.cameronartmuseum.com.

Fridays

Dinner Theater

Saturdays

Farmers Market

Saturdays

Yoga At CAM

Saturdays

Walking Tour

6:30 p.m. An interactive murder mystery dinner show written by Hank Toler. Tickets: $42; $30/children under age 12. TheatreNOW, 19 South 10th Street, Wilmington. Info: (910) 399-3669 or www.theatrewilmington.com. 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. Curbside market featuring local farmers, producers, artists and crafters. Riverfront Park, Historic Downtown Wilmington. Info: www.wilmingtonfarmers.com. 10–11 a.m. Join in a soothing retreat sure to charge you up while you relax in a beautiful, comfortable setting. These sessions are ongoing and are open to beginner and experienced participants. Members: $5. Non-members: $8. Cameron Art Museum, 3201 South 17th Street, Wilmington. Info: (910) 395-5999 or www.cameronartmuseum.com. 10 a.m. Historic Wilmington Foundation offers two ongoing tours through October 12. The Streetcar Suburbs Tour will focus on Wilmington’s first two suburbs, Carolina Place and Carolina Heights and the development of these historic neighborhoods. The Forest Hills Tour will showcase the architectural and cultural history of the neighborhood. The Streetcar Suburbs Tour will meet at the Coastal Shopping Center at 17th St. and Market St. and the Forest Hills Tour will meet at the Forest Hills Elementary School at 602 Colonial Dr. See website for a list of selected Wednesday tours. Admission: $10. Info: (910) 762-2511 or www.historicwilmington.org.

b

6/29

6/7–9 Shakespeare on the Green The Ar t & Soul of Wilmington

6/17

6/21–23

Prologue, Ann B. Ross

Selah Dubb at Mayfaire Gross Ghost, Soapbox Concert

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Leith & Lorann Hellens, Patrick Fitzgerald

Contrast art exhibit at WHQR Friday, April 26, 2013 Photographs by Jill McIlwain

Pianist Julia Walker Jewell, Contemporary Artist E. Francisca Dekker

Artwork by E. Francisca Dekker Top “Rest in blue”, Bottom Left: “Twist” & Right: “Curtains” Kinsa Baransky, Willem Klokman

Natalie & Chris McCarty

Artwork by E. Francisca Dekker Acrylic on canvas both “untitled”

Sofia Molestina, Pete Puckett

Members of the Graduate Student LIfe at UNCW Left to right: Brittany Osborne, Jason Mott, Emma Goodman, Amanda Smith, Holly Harris, Toni Whiteman.

Natalie Roush, Shirley Mazzeo, Contemporary Artist E. Francisca Dekker

The Ar t & Soul of Wilmington

Beth Martin, Judy Patterson

Artwork by Benjamin Billingsley

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Port City People

Rhinanna Sloan, Michael Thomas

Fourth Friday Art Crawl at New Elements Gallery Friday, April 26, 2013 Photographs by Jill McIlwain

Lucy, Chip & Beebe James

Artist Fritzi Huber

Caitlin Lashbrook, Jessie Morgan

Stephen Catulak, Christopher & Danielle Alexander

Dickson & Dot Bridger

Artists Charles Robinson and Jonathan Summit

Merrimon & Tom Kennedy

(Artist) Scott & Mary Beth James

Artist Saben Kane, Jessica Lewis

Savanna Mitchell, Molly Love, Sydney Grobowsky

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The Art & Soul of Wilmington


Port City People

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Arts & Crafts Fair at the Brooklyn Arts Center Sunday, April 28, 2013 Photographs by Jill McIlwain

Debb Chiappisi

Pam Valente Artist Joanna Frye

Susan Seabury Lauren McConville

Eunkyung Kim Cazier

Leone Sutton Jolene & Jackie Hull

The Ar t & Soul of Wilmington

Heather Baldwin

Jen Mangiacapre

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Comedian Tyler Jackson

Port City People

Nicholas Zimmer, Calvin, Jeremy Bertarioni

4th Annual Cape Fear Comedy Festival Wednesday, May 1, 2013 Photographs by Jill McIlwain

Jay Whitecotten Elizabeth Canon, Deanne Carroll

Nutt St. Improv Team

Kevina & Greg Casaletto

Comedian Natalie Stone

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Port City People 2nd Annual Battleship Splash Sunday, May 5, 2013 Photographs by Jill McIlwain

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The Art & Soul of Wilmington


T H E

A C C I D E N T A L

A S T R O L O G E R

Juicy June

Some good. Some bad. It’s all in the stars Gemini (May 22-June 21) It’s a what-the-fudge kind of a month, Sweet Thang. You got the sun and Mars traipsing through your sign, giving you astrological whiplash. Just when you think you got a handle on things, everything reverses. Do-si-do, like you’re in some nightmare hoedown. So, make them dance moves, swing your partner and get on down. By June 19, things switch it up for the good. If you are smart, you’ll sock away a little for a rainy day. That investment tip this month calls it right on the money, Honey. Cancer (June 22-July 23) This is a beyooteeful time in your sign, and some of this means you gotta lotta Grade A, prime-rib choices. Like between good, better and best. It’s also a good month to put your sleepy pants on and order in — life is good on the home front. Especially if you take your chill pill. My Aunt Pearl used to say when the sun aligns, things mighty fine. ’Specially at home. Butta that biscuit, Sweet Thing, and enjoy yourself. Come the 19th you got some money coming your way and also a mysterious stranger. Better hope it ain’t the tax man. Leo (July 23-Aug. 23) Uh-huh, you done got yourself in a situation, June Bug. I’m gonna go Tammy Faye on this one and strongly urge you to call the prayer line: 1-800-I-Seen-That! You gotta take your own inventory, just like the AA Big Book says. Look within. By the 11th you can whip this situation around. But you got more knots to detangle than a wet Shih-Tzu. Funny, but when you do, life will be sweeter than a Little Debbie cake by the 26th. Virgo (August 24-Sept. 23) When Mercury opposes Pluto early this month, you are going to feel just like a one-legged man in a butt kickin’ contest: excited and confused. Here’s what you do: Pack a bag. You got lots of friends, and this would be a good time to go visit. You got a much better mid-month and you’ll leave June feeling knee-deep in clover. You got more personality than a bowl of Lucky Charms, and you are smoother than Irish Spring soap on a rope. Spread it around, Child. Libra (Sept. 24-Oct. 23) Stay closer to your wallet than a couple roaches on a bacon bit around June 7. Life gets sticky, and when it does, use your marbles and stay cool, Baby. You feel all Elvis-style shook up until the 16th, and when the planets shift, you will be in a good — at least better — situation by the 20th. At the end of the month, use that Arthur Murray coupon and try some new moves. You will have the confidence to dance your way outta any situation. Scorpio (October 23-November 21) My cousin Buford has a mule that is more flexible than a Scorpio once they get their back up. You got some compromising to do, Honey. Manage that, and you will find things easy-peasy. But around the 11th, watch out for a jive-talker in your circle with a big hat but no cattle, Pardner. Big Hat may seem exciting, but just be aware you got a fifty/fifty chance of a boondoggle this month. Or, if the stars shift, something marvelous. Can go either way. The Ar t & Soul of Wilmington

Sagittarius (Nov. 23-Dec. 21) Don’t interfere with something that ain’t bothering you none. And don’t corner it if it’s meaner than you. I got that crossstitched on a pillow. This is a month where you got lots of struggle. If you hear a knock, it’s opportunity, not your car engine. Relationships and fun make it all worthwhile, Sugar. By the 17th you learn something new — and it ain’t just how to French braid. You could have a break through bigger than George Foreman’s Grill! Infomercial time! Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) The first of the month is all about that messy flux between Pluto and Uranus. Listen to your friends at the water cooler. By the 19th, you’ll be in another spot, where it looks like you don’t know the difference between come here and sic ’em. Child, you got a month with more highlights than Jessica Simpson’s hair. The 25th brings a little breathing room, and the drama dies down. Somebody say, “Amen!” Aquarius (Jan. 21-Feb. 19) The month is a little rocky at the starting line. You’re like the rooster who thinks the sun comes up just to hear him crow. You’re a natural leader, Child, but sometimes you might check that you got anybody that wants to follow. Keep things loose on the 12th. By the 27th you are back in the spotlight, strutting like a rooster right to the top of the hen house. Pace yourself, Darling. Pisces (Feb. 20-March 20) It would be fun being you this month. You got some June days that are going to leave you plenty to smile about Darling, but just remember to use that tooth whitener. You are feeling your oats by the second week, and also feeling for your wallet. Hold on, Kit Kat. You want to splurge, but be sure you see the bonus check first. That scheme might be the best thing ever — but get your glasses and read the fine print. Aries (March 21-April 20) You are restless, Child. But going from where you are to where thinking about going to is like trading daylight for dark. Yes, you are bustin’ with ideas but you might want to just hold onto your pantyhose until the 19th. There’s change coming on the 27th that will offer you the stage you crave, Honey. Meantime, be sure you take care of them roots . . . part lines don’t lie. Taurus (April 21-May 21) Flying all over like a June bug, ain’t you? That’s the Gemini sun mixing it up with Pluto and Uranus in the beginning of the month. Making you antsy. By the second half of the month, you got to work on things in the love department. Show the love, Baby. Show them a little money, too, ’cause it can’t hurt a bit. Like Uncle Lester used to say, it’s just as easy to love a rich man as a poor one. b For years, Astrid Stellanova owned and operated Curl Up and Dye Beauty Salon in the boondocks of North Carolina until arthritic fingers and her popular astrological readings provoked a new career path. June 2013 •

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P A P A D A D D Y ’ S

M I N D F I E L D

The Bug Hole

Life and death, boy and man, and the umbilical cord that connects us

BY CLYDE EDGERTON

An hour ago, at four o’clock

in the afternoon, my 7-year-old son and I were out back splashing around in our hot tub (a device I feel funny about owning; more on that in a later piece). He pulled up and sat on the side with his feet in the water. Just the two of us were at home.

I’m not alone often with one of my four kids. When it happens it seems almost surreal because of the calm and peace, the opportunity to talk. I decided to ask something that I don’t remember asking him directly. “Do you ever think about what you want to do when you grow up?” “A job?” “Yes.” “God has planned a job for everybody,” he said. Before I could say, “Who told you that?” he was stretching the skin around his bellybutton, looking at it, and asking, “What is that tube called?” “Do you mean the umbilical cord?” I said. “Yes — where does the other end go?” I realized I’d never thought about this — specifically. “It goes to the placenta. Do you —” “What’s that?” “Well . . . it’s like a . . . like a big heart with blood, except it’s not beating, and it provides blood for the baby through the umbilical cord.” Earlier this afternoon, before my son and I visited the hot tub, the phone rang and I could see that the call was from Jackson, Mississippi — my old friends, John and Connie Schimmel, friends I’d not seen in several years. As soon as Connie spoke I knew something was wrong. She said John died last night at 11 p.m. She told me the story. He’d had a massive stroke. They’d discovered six weeks ago that he had a rare disease, but John had downplayed it. Of course, as she talked, I could see John, his face, see him talking, laughing, hear his voice, his Mississippi Delta accent. It’s hard to know what to say at these times, as many of you know. I asked Connie if I could do anything.

I’d told my son about my friend John after the call, before our visit to the hot tub, but he didn’t know John and had no questions. And now, walking into the house from the hot tub, the conversation was still about belly buttons. I asked him as we walked up the back steps, “Did I tell you the name my mama called a belly button?” “Let’s see,” he said. “You told me. A something hole.” “A bug hole.” “Why?” “I guess because it’s kind of funny. You know, a home for a little bug. Or a big one, maybe. One time I heard a man named William Styron say in a speech that his grandma asked him when he was a little boy did he know where his belly button came from and he said no, and she said, ‘It’s where the Yankees shot you when you were a baby.’” “What’s a Yankee?” “Well. It’s what . . . it’s just a name for somebody from up north.” “Up north?” “We’re down south and other people live up north, and out west, and so on. And it’s —” “What do they call us?” “Let’s see. I can, ah, think of any number of names.” Just inside the back door of our house, I grabbed a towel and threw it to him. He caught it. I said, “It’s good when a parent and just one kid can spend time together, isn’t it?” “Yes, it is,” he said. When I had asked Connie if there was something I could do, she wondered if I would proofread John’s obituary — she was having some trouble getting it like she wanted it. I said I’d be glad to. It’s now almost 6 p.m. and I’m about to check my email to see if it’s there. John and Connie gave me a tour of parts of the Mississippi Delta about fifteen years ago. John was born in the Delta, a great storyteller, always reading books — about many subjects. A devoted husband and father of two children. A physician. He loved to laugh. If we’d had another chance to talk and the subject came up, I’ll bet both of us would have fretted about not spending more time with just one kid at a time. Talking. And listening. b Clyde Edgerton is the author of ten novels, a memoir, and a new work, Papadaddy’s Book for New Fathers. He teaches in the Creative Writing Department at UNCW. Illustration by Harry Blair

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Salt • June 2013

The Art & Soul of Wilmington


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June 2013 Salt