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DECEMBER 2-8, 2020 VOLUME 16, NUMBER 49

11 5500 Adams Farm Lane Suite 204 Greensboro, NC 27407 Office 336-316-1231 Fax 336-316-1930 Publisher CHARLES A. WOMACK III publisher@yesweekly.com EDITORIAL Editor KATIE MURAWSKI katie@yesweekly.com Contributors IAN MCDOWELL KATEI CRANFORD MARK BURGER JIM LONGWORTH

JOE & THE SHAWL “Sweet Jesus, that’s different,” said Joe Potay (Travis Lincoln Cox), the title character of Nicole Ballivian’s AWARD-WINNING SHORT FILM Joe & the Shawl, after Kelli Rashid (Jill Galbraith) hands him her driver’s license. Joe, a tow-truck driver, has been flirting with the redheaded woman with a North Carolinian accent who needs a new battery in her stranded car. Kelli seems more amused than annoyed, at least until Joe, who is preparing to run her credit card, asks to see an I.D. In her North Carolina driver’s license photo, Kelli wears a hijab.

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PRODUCTION Graphic Designers ALEX FARMER designer@yesweekly.com AUSTIN KINDLEY artdirector@yesweekly.com ADVERTISING Marketing TRAVIS WAGEMAN travis@yesweekly.com KAILEY GREESON kailey@yesweekly.com Promotion NATALIE GARCIA

DISTRIBUTION JANICE GANTT KYLE MUNRO SHANE MERRIMAN ANDREW WOMACK We at YES! Weekly realize that the interest of our readers goes well beyond the boundaries of the Piedmont Triad. Therefore we are dedicated to informing and entertaining with thought-provoking, debate-spurring, in-depth investigative news stories and features of local, national and international scope, and opinion grounded in reason, as well as providing the most comprehensive entertainment and arts coverage in the Triad. YES! Weekly welcomes submissions of all kinds. Efforts will be made to return those with a self-addressed stamped envelope; however YES! Weekly assumes no responsibility for unsolicited submissions. YES! Weekly is published every Wednesday by Womack Newspapers, Inc. No portion may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher. First copy is free, all additional copies are $1.00. Copyright 2020 Womack Newspapers, Inc.

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A restaurant has to be doing something right, consistently, in order to survive in the Triad market this long. CAFÉ PASTA opened in 1984, under the helm of Joe Essa and partners. Joe later transitioned into top leadership roles in some of the nation’s best restaurant groups, including those of Wolfgang Puck and (now) Thomas Keller. Younger brother Ray Essa was involved from the beginning, then took over full time around 1986. 5 I applaud President-Elect Biden for moving quickly to create his own task force, and for stacking it with people who actually know about and RECOGNIZE SCIENCE. Among other things, the task force is assessing the development of effective vaccines, and making plans for distribution and administration of the same. That’s all well and good, but keep in mind that a vaccine is a preventative, not a cure, and that brings me to the here and now. 6 THE TRIAD FILM COLLABORATIVE will offer a special screening of short films Thursday, Dec. 10 with its “2020 TFC Showcase of Films,” a collection of films made by filmmakers right here in the Piedmont Triad.

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JOSH KING, the former leader of House of Fools has moved-on to his latest release, The Shed. Both a metaphor, and a literal space, The Shed is the product of King’s effort to build a refuge for recording and from the world outside— it’s a record about “working together, one shed at a time.” 12 After everything that has happened in 2020 what once was considered “chaotic” now seems to be “normal.” This Friday, Greensboro-based hip-hop artist ED E. RUGER is teaming up with Virginia-based hip-hop artist ADOTSTAR to drop a seven songs that sum up the obstacles everyone has collectively faced this year in an “up-front, honest and uncensored way” with their new EP, which is appropriately titled, The New Normal. 14 YES! Weekly has obtained correspondence between representatives of Greensboro’s Guilford County COURTHOUSE and the North Carolina Department of Labor concerning OSHA complaints made by courthouse employees in July and August.

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Chow down with John Batchelor at Café Pasta BY JOHN BATCHELOR Most recent visit: Nov. 13

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restaurant has to be doing something right, consistently, in order to survive in the Triad market this long. Café Pasta opened in 1984, under the helm of Joe Essa and partners. Joe later transitioned into top leadership roles in some of the nation’s best restaurant groups, including those of Wolfgang Puck and (now) Thomas Keller. Younger brother Ray Essa was involved from the beginning, then took over full time around 1986. The interior is open and spacious, with tables well separated. A few tables outdoors are available as well. Curbside pickup is provided for takeout, with no contact payment over the phone. My wife and I eat here more often than any other area restaurant. Above all, we like the food, characterized by forward flavors from fresh ingredients, strongly influenced by Italian traditions, but not constrained by them, either. Value ranks really high. We also like Ray, a constant and entertaining presence on the floor for all guests. This restaurant also has established a wide following for catering large groups, on premises in two large, separate rooms, or on location for area businesses. I have eaten all the starters and entrees on the dinner menu. I would repeat any. I often start with homemade Italian Sausage, laced with fennel, combined with roasted red peppers and onion strips, resting in veal demiglace. That sausage is also available in the Salsiccia entrée (another favorite), bathed in a Parmesan cream sauce with a touch of marinara. When I hosted a wine dinner here last year, I chose Spinach and Artichoke Dip for the first course. Artichokes have a pronounced flavor that often overpowers other ingredients, but this recipe is balanced, undergirded by Parmesan and cream cheeses. Toasted pita chips are tasty in their own right. Breaded Three Cheese Ravioli bear a crisp exterior, giving way to a lush blend of mozzarella, ricotta, and Romano cheeses. Marinara sauce lends bite on the finish. Fried Zucchini also benefits from crisp texture, sprinkled with grated Parmesan and Reggiano cheeses. Marinara sauce is standard; you might also consider asking for ranch dressing. Crusty Firecracker Shrimp are tender, their natural flavor enhanced with sweet

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Chicken Piccata and Firecracker Shrimp chili sauce and bang-bang sauce of mayonnaise, white wine, Italian and Cajun herbs, paprika, garlic, salt and pepper. Crab Cakes use lump crabmeat in just enough breading to hold them intact, enhanced with tangy remoulade sauce. This kitchen serves Calamari two ways- fried with Pomodoro sauce or sautéed in olive oil and presented over salad with lemon-garlic aglio e olio. This kitchen uses fresh squid- unusual in the Triad. The House Salad is based on mixed lettuces plus tomato and sliced red onion. Dressings are homemade. Ranch is my wife’s favorite; I like it, too, but they are all good. The pasta section of the menu leads off with Lasagne. If you have not had this perennially popular dish here, you should. It’s a fairly heavy, family Italian style preparation, based on ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, blended with beef Bolognese sauce. My favorite! Bolognese sauce also appears in Spaghetti Bolognese, which adds mushrooms and roasted peppers in a fairly spicy Roma tomato sauce. I think the “wild” part of Wild Mushroom Ravioli is more a function of personality than origin, but the flavor of the primary ingredient in tomato-vodkacream sauce is indeed woodsy. In South Beach, angel hair pasta hosts scallops, artichoke hearts, and roasted red peppers in Parmesan cream sauce. Again, the key to this dish’s success is balance, tilting toward the lighter side. Cajun Penne sidesteps from Italian, while still maintaining the traditional influences. Andouille sausage joins chunks of chicken and large shrimp in marinara sauce over penne pasta.

Ray added “and Grille” to the name of the restaurant to reflect that the menu offers more than “just” pasta. The entrée I order most often is Salmon, either blackened or crusted with almonds. The spices in the former are more intense, but not overpowering, whereas the nuts provide a more easygoing flavor profile. This is a good place to mention vegetables. Here, the watchword is variety and complexity. “Mixed vegetables” is one standard side. It’s not just one or two, it’s a medley of broccoli, zucchini, yellow squash, red and green peppers, and onions. Potatoes- roasted or mashed- are another. I like to customize by substituting spinach “Ray’s way” (wilted in hot olive oil with lemon, garlic, and feta cheese) for the starch. There are prettier, fancier vegetable preparations among a handful of area restaurants, but none better. Three chicken dishes here are classics- Chicken Marsala (in a brown sauce simmered with mushrooms and sweetish Marsala wine), Chicken Parmesan (lightly browned, coated with melted Parmesan cheese, served over spaghetti), and Chicken Piccatta (with a sauce of lemon, butter, and white wine studded with green peppercorns). All winners. Off menu specials serve either or both of two purposes- lower price (usually between $10 and $12- click the “Like” Facebook link on the restaurant website to be notified) or fresh seafoods that are not always on the menu. In the latter case, I was particularly enamored with Grouper Risotto. Pan seared to a light crust, the fresh flavor of the thick fish blended beautifully with the creamy

flavor and texture of the risotto. When the plague struck and restaurants were subsequently allowed to reopen in one configuration or another, Café Pasta began opening on Sunday and Monday evenings. Although dine in continues as usual, these nights are especially popular for featured family meals- large portions configured to provide a complete dinner for up to eight people- for takeout. (Again, subscribe to the Facebook feed to see what’s available.) These can be provided oven-ready, to finalize at home. No matter what other dishes you order, Cheesecake is essential for a close. This is my favorite preparation, a light, ricottabased family recipe from Ray’s mother. Quality, value, flavor, personality- reasons shared by many that explain why Café Pasta has been around so long! ! JOHN BATCHELOR has been writing about eating and drinking since 1981. Over a thousand of his articles have been published. He is also author of two travel/cookbooks: Chefs of the Coast: Restaurants and Recipes from the North Carolina Coast, and Chefs of the Mountains: Restaurants and Recipes from Western North Carolina. Contact him at john.e.batchelor@gmail.com or see his blog, johnbatchelordiningandtravel.blogspot.com.

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Café Pasta and Grille is located at 305 State St. in Greensboro, (336)272-1308, cafepasta.com. Hours: Lunch- 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, Dinner- 4-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 4-10 p.m. Friday & Saturday, 4-7:30 p.m. Sunday & Monday Appetizers: $5.50-$10.50, Salads: $6.50-$10, Soups: $4/cup-$5/bowl, Entrees: $12-$24, Desserts: $5-$6

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Mask mandate is long overdue

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applaud PresidentElect Biden for moving quickly to create his own COVID Task Force, and for stacking it with people who actually know about and recognize science. Jim Longworth Among other things, the task force is assessing the developLongworth ment of effective at Large vaccines, and making plans for distribution and administration of the same. That’s all well and good, but keep in mind that a vaccine is a preventative, not a cure, and that brings me to the here and now. Last month, less than a week after the CDC first reported 100,000 new cases of COVID in one day, that number jumped to 185,000, and by the time this column goes to press, we’ll probably be well over 200,000 cases per day. Experts predict that unless we take steps to curtail the virus, we’ll see half a million cases per day by March. And guess what? Young adults are contracting COVID at a higher rate than the elderly, and they’re taking longer to recover than when the Pandemic began. Meanwhile America’s death toll continues to rise, with over 2,000 people dying each day. The reason for these spikes is simple: as more and more States relaxed their guidelines for closures and public gatherings, people began to congregate in larger numbers, AND doing so without wearing face masks. That means until such time as a vaccine is readily available, only three things will stop the spread: social distancing, keeping everyone at home, or mandating the wearing of facemasks. The problem with social distancing is that there is no medical consensus on how far apart we should be. At first we were told to stay six feet apart from other people, then that was upgraded to ten feet, then back to six. Now, some reports indicate that COVID droplets hang in the air much longer than originally believed. Translation? Maybe even ten feet apart isn’t enough. So what about a lock down option? Thus far, Biden hasn’t embraced the idea of shutting down the country, and I hope he never will. First of all, it would throw us into a major Depression. Second, it would only delay the spread of COVID, not wipe it out. In the early days of the Pandemic, a number of WWW.YESWEEKLY.COM

States, including North Carolina, operated under Stay at Home orders, primarily to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed, and to that extent, the strategy was effective. However, the various shut-downs and limits on crowd size proved devastating to businesses, and to millions of people who depended upon those businesses for a living. By process of elimination, then, our only hope to save lives over the next six months is a national mask mandate, and that’s something Trump will never call for. Therefore, cities and States are stepping up to the plate in the interim. Over the past week, an increasing number of Governors and Mayors have issued mandatory mask orders, which carry with them stiff penalties for anyone who doesn’t comply. For example, North Dakota’s Doug Burgum, a Republican, was one of the first Governors to enact a $1,000 fine for anyone not wearing a mask in public, and last week, Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines went one better. He added jail time to the fine. Given that our unmasked breath could kill someone, I think these penalties are reasonable. So do researchers at the University of Washington, who just released a report in which they concluded that if 95% of Americans would wear masks consistently, over 68,000 lives would be saved by March 1. Of course, there are those who say mask mandates would violate their individual freedoms, but the fact is, we already live under a set of laws that do just that. We do not have the freedom to run a red light or drive drunk, or at high speeds. We do not have the freedom to smoke in most buildings, or carry a loaded gun into most stores. We do not have the freedom to take whatever we want without paying, or hold a parade without a permit. In truth, we would be a much freer society under a mask mandate. If everyone wore a mask, we’d be free to once again attend indoor concerts. We could go to bars, hotels, restaurants, gyms, tourist attractions and sports arenas. And we’d be able to attend large family gatherings, fill up a church pew, and be better able to visit immediate family members who are hospitalized or home-bound. Our economy would rebound faster, and so would our mental state. Best of all, under a strictly enforced mask mandate, the American people would eventually kill off COVID, instead of the other way around. ! JIM LONGWORTH is the host of Triad Today, airing on Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. on ABC45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 11 a.m. on WMYV (cable channel 15).

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Triad Film Collaborative celebrates its ‘2020 Showcase of Films’

BY MARK BURGER

he Triad Film Collaborative (TFC) will offer a special screening of short films Thursday, Dec. 10 with its “2020 TFC Showcase of Films,” a collec-

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DECEMBER 2-8, 2020

tion of films made by filmmakers right here in the Piedmont Triad. Given the current COVID-19 pandemic, the showcase will be available in a virtual format. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at https://watch.eventive.org/tfc2020. The event begins at 7 p.m. and will be

followed by a Q&A session with several of the filmmakers whose work will be shown. “The quality of films gets better every year we hold the showcase,” said Ken Comito, the leader/ president of the TFC from 2017-2018 and the director of 66 Days, one of the films being shown. “Since this isn’t a competition, we show films from our aspiring newer and/or younger filmmakers as well as those from the more seasoned members.” This year’s line-up boasts a variety of genres, and some films were actually inspired by the COVID-19 crisis. This year’s showcase is not only testament to the creativity and quality of work of the independent filmmakers in the region, but also their resilience and resourcefulness during these trying times. Some films contain violence, and parental guidance is suggested. “For our 2020 TFC Showcase of Films, we want to highlight films made during this year,” explained Iris Carter, the TFC’s current leader/president. “Fewer submissions were made, so we have included a few favorites from previous years. While live screenings provide the opportunity for filmmakers to actually hear audience reactions, limited seating in smaller theater complexes are impractical for this type of event. Fortunately, we have access to the Eventive platform for streaming and are offering a live question-and-answer seasion following the premiere thanks to Saturnscape Pictures’ sponsorship.” The films being screened include: 66 Days (docu-drama), Bird (thriller), Blood Hunt (horror), Date Bot: The Ricky (science-fiction), End of the Path (drama), For the Dog (comedy), In the Dark (docu-drama), Nest (horror), One Shot (thriller), Stabbed (thriller), Survive Together (science-fiction), The 3rd Nightmare (horror), TFC Informational Video (TFC promotional film), The Things We Do for the Kingdom (horror comedy), Upload (science-fiction), Friend Request (horror comedy), The Sandwitch (horror comedy), The Squawking Dead (hor-

ror comedy), Escaping Demons (horror comedy), and Isolatorium (horror). “Despite the adversities that 2020 has presented to all of us, the members of TFC have managed to create 20 short films for the showcase,” Comito said. “We had hoped to exhibit these films at either Red Cinemas (in Greensboro) or Marketplace Cinemas (in WinstonSalem) as we had in recent years. Due to restrictions with cinema seating, we opted for a virtual event this year. The 2020 showcase will mark the premiere for several films.” The TFC was founded to provide resources, outlets, and encouragement for filmmakers regardless of skill level and area of interest. Monthly organizational meetings are held to discuss and plan filmmaking projects for members are held 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. the first Thursday of each month, the Triad Audio/Video User Group, the TFC’s educational arm, offers presentations 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. the third Thursday of every month, the Screenwriters Group meets every Wednesday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Wednesday to read and provide feedback on two original works in progress, and the TFC Stunt Team meets regularly to learn and practice stunts as well as offering opportunities for filmmakers to learn about blocking and filming action. Although the TFC Stunt Team meetings are currently postponed, the other meetings are currently being held virtually. The official website for the Triad Film Collaborative is https://triadfilm.org/. The TFC Facebook page is www.facebook.com/groups/triadfilm. ! See MARK BURGER’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. © 2020, Mark Burger.

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[KING CROSSWORD]

[WEEKLY SUDOKU]

PUZZLING-LY

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Like many announcers’ private side comments Glistening Give a cue to Sounded like a frog Durbin of old Hollywood Worrier’s cry Deeper level of longing? Walk like a little ‘un Coll. website suffix Slandered really badly “Uh-uh” Legal claim White water whereabouts Give it a go Place to bathe on the grass outside a house? “Marvy!” They cause actions Really boring chairs, desks and tables? Two-grid vacuum tube Cry to a matador Manning of the Giants Far-off Of charged particles Extreme type Lysol target What 1066 is famous as? Territory split in 1889 Pertaining to Bad, to Jules Viral malady “Allow me to provide a leavening agent, if nothing else”? Blvds. and aves. China’s Long March

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leader Aquatic bird — Leone “Pray that I find some cool gross stuff!”? Isle of Man man, e.g. Scout unit — pittance (hardly any) Garage job Atop, to bards Short snooze Bit of voice mail Hankerings to take pictures of small and distant objects? Places for milk products Bored feeling Measure of how much a ship swerves off course? 2000-15 TV series Facet Horror film lab aide With 108-Down, deteriorate Pre-entree dishes Lanai wreath Join the club Chatter that’s engaging? Entertainer Uggams Give kudos Arms depot Abides Breadwinner What vets provide

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[NEWS OF THE WEIRD] INEXPLICABLE

Officers from Utah’s Department of Public Safety were helping the Division of Wildlife Resources count bighorn sheep from a helicopter on Nov. 18 when a shiny Chuck Shepherd object in the desert landscape caught their eye. “Whoa, whoa, whoa, turn around, turn around,” one of the biologists shouted, according to pilot Bret Hutchings. KSL reported the crew landed and found a 10- to-12-foot-high silver monolith planted in the ground and tucked into a red-rock cove. After joking

about extraterrestrials, the crew decided it looked manmade and took pictures, chalking it up to “some new wave artist ... a big ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ fan,” Hutchings mused.

CREME DE LA WEIRD

The Design Museum in London has included a “DIY meal kit” featuring steaks that could be grown from a diner’s own human cells among the nominees in its Beazley Designs of the Year exhibit. Developers of the Ouroboros Steak envision that an individual will be able to harvest cells from their own cheek and feed them with serum derived from donated blood that has expired, Dezeen reported. After about three months, the steaks would be fully grown. “People think that eating

oneself is cannibalism, which technically this is not,” said Grace Knight, one of the designers. Researcher Orkan Telhan added, “Our design is scientifically and economically feasible but also ironic in many ways,” he added.

COLLATERAL DAMAGE

Police in Corvallis, Oregon, said Dylan Milota was high on marijuana when he crashed the 2019 Tesla S he was driving at more than 100 mph into a utility pole on Nov. 17, breaking the pole and spraying hundreds of small batteries through the windows of two nearby residences. One landed on a bed, starting a fire in the bedsheets, KMTR reported. A tire from the car struck the second story of a nearby apartment building so forcefully it broke water pipes inside the wall, destroying the bathroom on the other side and causing flooding in the lower level, police said. Citizens were warned not to pick up any stray batteries, which can stay hot for up to 24 hours and release toxic fumes. Milota fled on foot but was quickly apprehended and charged with various offenses.

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— College student Benjamin LaRose of Millis, Massachusetts, is recovering from third-degree burns he suffered at an outdoor party with friends this fall when someone used hand sanitizer as an accelerant in the fire pit they were gathered around, Boston25 reported. “It was rather sudden how quick it reacted,” LaRose said, “very much like napalm,” catching his leg and shorts on fire and requiring skin grafts to treat the burns. LaRose’s pediatrician, Dr. Lester Hartman, warned of the dangers of using hand sanitizer and then being exposed to open flames: “Alcohol is very volatile and explosive ... and people that are doing a barbecue or even lighting a cigarette or lighting a candle” need to let the alcohol evaporate first. Or, experts say, use soap and water. — “Do not let moose lick your car,” say the flashing electronic signs along roads in Jasper (Alberta) National Park, where park spokesman Steve Young told CNN: “(Moose are) obsessed with salt. ... They usually get it from salt lakes in the park, but now they realized they can also get road salt that splashes onto cars.” Officials say if moose become accustomed to licking cars, they’ll lose their fear of vehicles, putting the animals in danger. In Jasper, where drivers often stop to get photos of the moose, officials recommend driving away if the animals start to approach.

AWESOME!

Josua Hutagalung, 33, was working outside his home in Sumatra in August when he got a surprise delivery: A meteorite crashed through his roof and landed outside. “When I lifted it, the stone was still warm, and I brought it into the house,” the coffin-maker told local media. United Press International reported the 4.5-pound meteorite was a rare variety, valued by experts at almost $1.9 million, which attracted American expert Jared Collins, who paid more than $1 million for the rock. “I have also always wanted a daughter,” Hutagalung said, “and I hope this is a sign that I will be lucky enough now to have one.” He also plans to donate some of the funds to his local church’s new building project.

BRIGHT IDEA

Matthew Piercey, 44, has been indicted on 31 federal felony counts related to a suspected Ponzi scheme, but when FBI agents tried to arrest him in Redding, California, on Nov. 16, he took off, authorities said. NBC News reported agents followed him to Lake Shasta, where Piercey pulled a $1,200 Yamaha 350LI Seascooter out of his vehicle, then disappeared into the frigid water, spending about 25 minutes “out of sight underwater where law enforcement could only see bubbles,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Hales wrote in court papers. The agents waited him out and arrested him when he resurfaced. Piercey faces up to 20 year in prison if convicted.

THE WAY THE WORLD WORKS

Evidence of election rigging in New Zealand’s Bird of the Year competition has set organizers all atwitter, NPR reported. Officials at Forest & Bird, a conservation organization, noticed that more than 1,500 votes in the annual event had come from one email address on Nov. 9, all in favor of the spotted kiwi. “That is an amazing bird,” spokeswoman Laura Keown said, “but ... these votes had to be disallowed, and they’ve been taken out of the competition.” The disqualification cleared the way for the competition’s eventual winner: the kakapo, or moss chicken, a rare nocturnal bird and the world’s only flightless parrot. !

© 2020 Chuck Shepherd. Universal Press Syndicate. Send your weird news items with subject line WEIRD NEWS to WeirdNewsTips@amuniversal.com.

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tunes

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HEAR IT!

J

osh King, the former leader of House of Fools has moved-on to his latest release, The Shed. Both a metaphor, and a literal space, The Shed is the prodKatei Cranford uct of King’s effort to build a refuge for recording and from Contributor the world outside— it’s a record about “working together, one shed at a time.” “Things just kind of fell into place and I went with it,” King said of his impetus, an attempt to redirect energy from the dark sides of too much downtime. “I never intended to release an album this year, even as we recorded it,” added the blonde-Southern-rocker who prefers inspiration over strategy; and holds an unyielding affinity for Tom Petty. Channeling his own Wilbury, King’s second solo album is far from a solo effort, which features friends, former bandmates from across the country, and cohorts from his appearance on “Artists United to End Poverty” compilation— the recording environments serve as testament to the difference a year can make. “It made staying at home not so lonely,” King said about casting a wide net for the remote-recording process. “None of these tracks would exist if it wasn’t for all of the amazing artists that so graciously contributed their time and talent.” Those relationships shine brightest in the single “Man on T.V.,” a lush, resounding, apocalyptic anthem, which “We are the World” with Dawes’ “We’re All Gonna Die.” Written a few weeks into the stayat-home order, it was the first song he recorded in the shed. Rehabbing the structure itself began early in the year, and while construction didn’t upturn any surprises, King thinks enclosing the space above the ceiling attracted a few guests. “I could hear something sliding around up there while recording,” he said. “I don’t smell anything, yet, so I’m hoping it found its way out.” By tinkering on The Shed, King seems to have found his own way in the shed, too. Toiling through the metaphorical long winter of the shutdown, he looks forward to the fruits of his labor. “It took a pandemic to get me to learn YES! WEEKLY

DECEMBER 2-8, 2020

The Shed fits for Josh King

how to record myself,” he said. ”I’m excited about future projects because of the knowledge gained while sitting around, with nowhere to go for the last several months.” From critters in the crawlspace to the coronavirus, King rolls through the punches in song. “While everything in my life, and the world, changes, songwriting has always remained consistent,” he said, “I can disappear for a while and write a song, even during the darkest days, things feel at least kind of OK.” Even still, change finds its way, as King’s songwriting now comes mostly during his daughter’s naptime, contrasting the sunrise cigarettes and back porch breakfasts that prefaced his process on his first solo-album, Into the Blue. “My morning rituals never had anything to do with changing a diaper back then,” he added, “and I quit smoking.” It’s growing up, or something like it. “Musicians never really grow up,” King quipped, discussing the jump from playing house-shows to having home studios, revealing he’s neither into growing up too

much, nor growing too distant from his fellows in House of Fools. Most of the House make appearances on The Shed; and had the pandemic not hit, fans might have expected a new House of Fools record in its place. “I can’t wait to create more music with them one way or another,” King said, noting patience for the right conditions. ”We’re considering it to be more of a passion project, and figured it’d be best to work when everyone feels comfortable being in the same room together again.” While King’s music family continues to work from a distance, his family at home serve as inspiration and support. “Family means everything to me,” he said, reflecting on tracks like “Side by Side,” written for his wife while awaiting the birth of their daughter. “They both inspire, challenge, and best of all, love me,” he added of the pair, “they keep me going and I’m excited to grow with them.” Family resonates throughout the album, bookended by an intro and outro of King’s grandfather singing and playing piano, taken from a cassette found in his grand-

mother’s house— though the song, and time it was recorded, remain a mystery. Moving forward to 2021, King looks to release “Into the B-sides,” an EP of songs that didn’t make the cut for Into the Blue. And he’s already started tracking for his next full-length album he hopes to release by the fall. “That’s the dream for me,” he noted, ”to love and grow with my family, make enough money to get by, and continue to write and make music that people enjoy.” As for the holidays, he’s looking forward to relaxing Christmas with his wife and daughter, “instead of going all over the place like we normally would pre-pandemic,” King said, expressing interest in discovering their own holiday traditions. Perhaps, he’ll share his love of the McRib with his daughter, once she’s old enough. But for now, a new year approaches and the old shed awaits. Josh King’s latest release, The Shed is out now via streaming platforms. ! KATEI CRANFORD is a Triad music nerd who hosts “Katei’s Thursday Triad Report,” 5:30-7p.m. on WUAG 103.1FM.

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feature

Filmmaker talks about Joe & the Shawl,a short film inspired by Triad writer/podcaster Deonna Kelli Sayed

Sweet Jesus, that’s different,” said Joe Potay (Travis Lincoln Cox), the title character of Nicole Ballivian’s awardwinning short film Joe & the Shawl, Ian McDowell after Kelli Rashid (Jill Galbraith) hands him her driver’s license. Contributor Joe, a tow-truck driver, has been flirting with the redheaded woman with a North Carolinian accent who needs a new battery in her stranded car. Kelli seems more amused than annoyed, at least until Joe, who is preparing to run her credit card, asks to see an I.D. In her North Carolina driver’s license photo, Kelli wears a hijab. The expression on her face when she hands her I.D. to Joe suggests she anticipates his consternation, but probably not his next question. (YES! Weekly won’t spoil the line, which is hilariously clueless.) It’s also something that the real “Joe” said to internationally published Triad author and award-winning podcaster Deonna Kelli Sayed when Sayed’s car broke down in Greensboro in 2015. Sayed told the real story in her essay, “Contested Whiteness: True Tales of a White Muslim Woman.” “I believe I came across Deonna’s piece on social media,” writer/director Ballivian told YES! Weekly in a recent email. “I didn’t know her then, and reached out to her almost immediately after I read it. I laughed so hard when I read Deonna’s piece because it rang true to my own experiences with being a post-hijabi white-passing Muslim.” In a June 22 post at Islamicity.org, Ballivian wrote about how she drawn to Sayed’s essay because it spoke of shared experience. Deonna and I are the same age. I am an “unidentifiable Muslim,” considered ‘‘white” on face value, living post-hijab and having walked through different levels of life, love, marriage, divorce, children and the spirituality tied to these and independently. According to Ballivian, both her film WWW.YESWEEKLY.COM

and Sayed’s essay implicitly ask the same question: Who is identified as ‘American’ by Americans? “One example is when you are hijabless,” Ballivian wrote. “You can hear the conversations without filters that people have about Muslims. Many of us have had to stop people from embarrassing themselves further as they share their xenophobic thoughts out loud. I once heard a conversation that involved talking ill about Muslims and they spoke in Spanish so that I couldn’t understand, which makes me laugh from the absurdity of it all. My Spanish is pretty fluent since I’m Latina.” Where Sayed’s essay ends with an“I knew other clueless obsomething servation from Joe, was shifting Ballivian’s film goes in America at past that point in that moment, the encounter to but I couldn’t close on a note of define it. During broader comedy, that moment in with the fictional the cab of the Kelli seizing the truck, I realized power in the situthat I was ation and literally directly in the sending Joe fleeing. face of whatBut Ballivian told ever was about YES! Weekly that to emerge in any Muslim will Filmmaker Nicole Ballivian America. I recognize the didn’t know unease that Sayed how to respond to it (at that time), as it acknowledged in the following sentence: was so counter to what to that I thought I realize that I am in an enclosed truck to be the American experience.” with the kind of man who is excited about Ballivian said the film has been wellTexas being its own independent territory, received by audiences. and he has a Muslim sitting next to him, “It’s been tough interacting with them and that Muslims probably won’t be welbecause the film festival circuit this year comed in the kind of Texas that no longer has been all online. So, when we have desires to be part of America. Q&As they’re usually with fest program“Yes, that’s a very important sentimers via Zoom, if at all. We were supment,” Ballivian wrote in an email. “I posed to screen theatrically at a festival actually have a shot of ‘Kelli’ looking at in Spain this month but they went into the door after Joe’s Texas speech. I think lockdown, so it’s pushed indefinitely. The that although this thought is very strong response is mostly people who appreciate and carries a distinct and legitimate fear. diving into such taboo topics as religion, Kelli, both in real life and in character, religious identity and nationalists, espehave better street smarts than most to cially right now. Many say they want to get themselves out of this situation.” see more of this film expanded into other In a Facebook message, Sayed told YES! episodes to hear more of this dialogue.” Weekly that the incident happened about Ballivian also noted that practicing a month and a half after Donald Trump Muslims laugh with recognition at the announced he would be a candidate in moment when Kelli’s phone plays the the 2016 election.

athan, the Islamic call to prayer, and Joe reacts in confusion. “It’s happened to almost everyone in different quiet settings with non-Muslims, I could probably make a comedic short just about this.” Joe & the Shawl, which won the Audience Award at the Vox Feminae Film Festival in May, can be viewed on Vimeo and YouTube. Ballivian also wrote and directed Driving to Zigzigland, a Palestinian-American comedy feature that had over 100 festival screenings and won international awards. She has two feature-length projects in development. “Hijrah Baby is a feature screenplay about a Bosnian-American Muslim student who falls in love with a SyrianAmerican ISIS fighter online and travels to Syria to marry him, only to be trapped in a hell she can’t escape from until the day ISIS falls. Sleeping on Stones, which was selected for the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, is a story about Jacob, a 10-year-old Jewish boy from Brooklyn, who moves to the Palestinian town of Hebron with his parents as settlers. To his parents’ dismay, Jacob’s best friends and first love are Palestinian and he comes of age in the beauty and brutal occupation of Hebron until he turns 18, when he becomes a conscientious objector, refusing mandatory enlistment in the Israeli military.” ! IAN MCDOWELL is the author of two published novels, numerous anthologized short stories, and a whole lot of nonfiction and journalism, some of which he’s proud of and none of which he’s ashamed of. DECEMBER 2-8, 2020 YES! WEEKLY

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PHOTOS BY TOMMY MURRY

Hip-hop artists Ed E. Ruger and AdotStar breakdown The New Normal After everything that has happened in 2020—from the COVID-19 pandemic’s reign of terror to the nation’s civil unrest to the presidential election that made history— what once was considered Katie Murawski “chaotic” now seems to be “normal.” This Friday, Editor Greensboro-based hip-hop artist Ed E. Ruger is teaming up with Virginia-based hip-hop artist AdotStar to drop seven songs that sum up the obstacles everyone has collectively faced this year in an “up-front, honest and uncensored way” with their new EP, which is appropriately titled, The New Normal. “We planned on this coming out in the summertime,” Ruger wrote in an email. “Once we got backed up and the election was around the corner, we knew the time was gonna be perfect. We waited a month after Election Day and a month before Inauguration Day, so we could try our best to make sure this album didn’t get lost in the madness of all of it.” Ruger and AdotStar wrote in an email that they have been planning this EP way before the COVID-19 pandemic changed the course of this year back in March. AdotStar noted that he and Ruger YES! WEEKLY

December 2-8, 2020

discussed the idea for The New Normal in person after he produced two tracks on Ruger’s previous album, Guerilla Grind Pt. III. “The message though has been always clear: Let the music speak,” AdotStar wrote. “Everything has changed; I think we all are in search of what the new normal is in the world that has changed so much in such little time. Our country is changing the recipe of what normal is— maybe it’s time to change the recipe to add love, unity, and acceptance.” “We always knew the message we wanted to get out was unity, kindness, and abrasive honesty about the situations around us,” Ruger wrote. “A lot of it came to a head right when we were in the process of creating a direction for the project, and that’s when we knew exactly how we wanted to approach The New Normal.” Ruger stressed the importance of The New Normal being brutally honest and not holding back— and the first track, “Never Happen,” does just that with the opening bars: We live in times they say would never happen But they still killing people for they Blackness Using diseases for reasons to track us But they gone blame it on the hackers Because it all started from somebody coughing Now the cemetery is running out of coffins

“I have no filter, as my mom would say,” Ruger wrote. “I’m not ever going to sugarcoat anything, and I tell my story from where a lot of people can’t go: the front lines. These are all from personal experiences I’ve had, not just stories.” AdotStar wrote that the most meaningful track of The New Normal for him was “Blood On Our Names.” “I made the music at 3 a.m., and the music behind the record is something outside of my normal mixing— which is soft pianos with a French horn,” AdotStar noted. “I sent it to Ruger with a simple message: ‘I don’t know if we can use this, but this just feels so uplifting.’ A week later, he sent me back the hook with the extremely talented Vo-Kal. When I heard it, that’s the moment I knew this was bigger than me.” Ruger wrote that his favorite track is “Stay Up” because that song matched his “vibe.” “That’s me in my zone— the bass-heavy, trap beat and me just talking that talk,” Ruger noted. “The meaningful would be ‘The Facts’ feat. Ty Bru, ‘Never Happen’ or ‘Blood On Our Names’ feat Vo-Kal—I can’t choose. Those are so powerful in different ways, but all have a lot of meaning. Those songs define this EP.” Ruger noted that The New Normal was intended to address and start-up conversations about systemic, societal problems such as racism, sexism, homophobia, police brutality, and the ever-growing political divide in the United States that

are “running rampant” and have “no place in the world.” He hopes his music can help unify people and bridge the gap on these issues. “We wrote and came up with all of the concepts, artwork (by C.J. Monet), and finished the songs from the first week of March ‘til mid-October,” Ruger wrote. “So, it was all written during the pandemic. We did change a few things as certain events unfolded. Like the Charlotte police ambushing citizens, Asheville police slashing water bottles, drones being used for surveillance on protestors, white supremacists being caught for inciting riots at protests, the election causing racists to show themselves— like [they did at] the Graham protests, the police scanner calls— it just kept going and going.” As a Black man writing these songs during the nation’s largest Civil Rights movement against police brutality disproportionately affecting Black men, AdotStar wrote that the experience became all too real for him. “At one point, I was hospitalized for a week during the creative process,” he noted. “In a hospital bed showing the fall out from George Floyd on CNN, the civil unrest with the backdrop of COVID announcements on the loudspeaker made The New Normal a living experience for me.” “I’ve had to have a lot of uncomfortable conversations with my daughters, my family members, and close friends about all of it,” Ruger wrote when asked how the

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Black Lives Matter movement affected the creation of The New Normal. “I lost quite a few acquaintances along the way. I’m sure this album will cause me to lose more, and I’m fine with that. The more it happens (in public, on film) and people still try to make excuses for the murder of innocent human beings because of their skin, sex, or gender acceptable— the more we knew that our message was exactly what we needed to use our platforms for. It was what we needed to let the fans know about how we felt. It became very apparent that the fight we were fighting and the causes we were fighting were the right things to stand up for. I’ve never been the type of artist to hold my feelings in or play both sides of the fence. I say what I feel, and it ruffles some feathers. A lot needs to be said, though— from people like me, people like you, people like every one of y’all reading this. It needs to be said a lot more and louder. Everyone is equal, regardless of how you feel about it. We all deserve the same rights, not just the illusion of having them.” As a white man participating in a predominately Black art form, Ruger wrote that he’s been “extremely lucky to be welcomed into this culture from the beginning with open arms and open minds.” “From the time in eighth grade when I bought a mixtape from Dana Lucci, which led to my close friend Celinski teaching me to count bars in English class, to all of the legends I’ve been able to work with and learn from,” Ruger wrote. “I have had some great convos with hip-hop legends like Bun B, Sadat X, KRS 1, Killer Mike, Cee Lo Green, and a few more about the importance of my role as a white MC in hip-hop culture. I always keep those convos to myself because some of it was business also, but I use that advice every day in my life. I’m grateful to have people like my cousin, Rico, MtheBadGuy, Mr. Rozzi, 1st Up, and AdotStar to always keep me educated on things from their experiences when I don’t quite understand because I’m not in their shoes. I honestly can’t speak on a Black artist’s experience in hip-hop because, again, I haven’t walked even a day in their shoes. I just know that I’m very lucky to be a part of the culture that I love and blessed to make a living making the music that raised me.” Being white, Ruger noted that he is able to reach people that Black hip-hop artists can’t, which is important to the mission of The New Normal. “I can get this message to them from someone they know and relate to and let them know that these things aren’t just wrong, but immoral, hateful, and completely unacceptable,” Ruger added. “Even if it’s just a handful that I can get through to in a way that makes them realize that some of the things they say or do that WWW.YESWEEKLY.COM

seem harmless are hurtful and irresponsible. Or hopefully the exact opposite, like telling them sticking up for a classmate, coworker, or family member helps out a lot more than they may know, too. This album is an honest conversation that we all need to have with ourselves and others.” Ruger wrote that The New Normal was not only inspired by the life-changing events this year but by the general unpredictability of life and how humans have or haven’t adapted when change happens in the blink of an eye. He’s had to adapt to two cancellations this year due to COVID, one being his annual performance at the Greensboro Pride festival. “Man, it sucked! I love the Pride festival and everything it’s about: love is love, and people are people no matter how they live, how they dress, or who they love. Shout out to Kay T, Liz, Fuscia Rage, and anyone else responsible for having me there,” Ruger wrote. “I have gotten to bridge a lot of gaps by being a straight, white, male, hip-hop performer, and being a very close ally to the LGBTQ community, mainly because it wasn’t expected, but was needed. At first, people didn’t know what to think; then they showed up at the festival. They realized you didn’t have to be gay, bi, or trans to be there and have a good time. It’s a judgment-free zone where people of all kinds can be themselves without being bullied or harassed. It’s an awesome place to be.” Additionally, Ruger wrote that he had to also reschedule a huge show, Goodie Mob’s 25th anniversary of Soul Food Tour at the Blind Tiger. “I’m hearing it will be in April, a full year later,” Ruger noted. “That, plus all of my shows in the last year. We sold out the last three shows before the pandemic, including my last album release at Flat Iron. So it sucks! I can’t wait to get back, but I’m not gonna rush it. We have to keep our fans and ourselves safe.” When asked about how the quarantine had affected their writing process, Ruger wrote that for him, writing these songs was a much more in-depth process than usual because of all the extra time he had on his hands. “I always try to perfect every song as much as I can, but being in the house for so long, it gave me even more time to reflect on it and change small things here and there,” he wrote. Though the EP is titled The New Normal, AdotStar noted that the most “normal” part of the process had been recording. “Ruger and I live in different states and have built a solid relationship over the years that often involves long-distance communication, like Zoom studio sessions and FaceTime calls. I believe music has always spoken to the times that we live in—

it’s the undocumented CNN of the world.” Ruger added that recording was a breeze with his go-to music engineer, 1st Up, at Livewire Studio. “We had a few scares to where we had to cancel sessions out of caution and quarantine, but we got it done,” he wrote. “The mixing process was a little different but turned out awesome. We couldn’t get together and mix it because Adot lives in Roanoke, and I’m here in the ‘Boro. The guidelines, the ‘Rona, and time wouldn’t allow it to happen. So, we got Virginian heavyweight and a good friend of ours, Poe Mack, to mix the project for us after I recorded it at Livewire.” The biggest lesson that both AdotStar and Ed E. Ruger want folks to take away from this EP is that COVID-19, the civil unrest, the election, and everything else chaotic that has happened this year has unearthed toxicity that needs to be addressed and dealt with accordingly. They both agree that society’s “new normal” should have unity, kindness, empathy, individuality, and acceptance as its foundation. “In a time where we have been so divided, it seems we have a chance to reset,” AdotStar wrote. “We have a chance to unite. Hate and division have been our normal— be it homophobia, racism, classism, sexism. This is ‘One Nation Under All’— no asterisk. Let that be our new normal.” “I still don’t know what the new normal is, but I think that is what it is, though,” Ruger added. “I think the new normal is to expect the unexpected and be prepared for anything. I think it’s going to be a lot more fighting for the change we need, a lot of working toward common goals, and trying to unify people. I do, however, think masks, robot employees, drone surveillance, social media manipulation, working from home,

and remote learning are gonna be the new normal.” As far as what the future holds for Ruger and AdotStar, they are “shooting for the stars.” “This is just the tip of the iceberg,” AdotStar wrote. “Look forward to other collabs and new beat tape coming soon.” Ruger wrote that he would be releasing two full-length albums called DuBBoro and Lifted, produced by DJ Phillie Phr3sh. He would also be releasing “Brown Bag 2” with Ty Bru and Phillie Phr3sh, two more EPs with Hawkface and Vo-Kal, and “a few more entrance songs for some of your favorite indie wrestlers, too.” “Shout out to Adot, Ty Bru, Stitchy C, Vo-Kal, 1st Up, and Poe Mack for helping us make this a masterpiece,” Ruger wrote. “Thank you to Katie, Charles, and YES! for always supporting us! Support your kids’ dreams and follow yours! Support your local businesses, venues, artists, and vendors!” ! KATIE MURAWSKI is the editor-in-chief of YES! Weekly. Her alter egos include The Grimberlyn Reaper, skater/public relations board chair for Greensboro Roller Derby, and Roy Fahrenheit, drag entertainer and self-proclaimed King of Glamp.

WANNA

go?

Ed E. Ruger and AdotStar’s EP The New Normal drops this Friday, Dec. 4 on Bandcamp, ederuger. bandcamp.com. The EP costs $7 to stream or is free with the purchase of a “New Normal” T-shirt or hoodie from Ruger’s Guerilla Grind Clothing Line, which also features over 25 designs including the “336 Tally Mark” hoodies, “Hip Hop Dads” shirts, 15 albums and more, at ederuger. bandcamp.com/merch. Keep up with AdotStar by following him on Instagram (@therealadotstar).

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NCDOL letter alleges Guilford Courthouse COVID hazards YES! Weekly has obtained correspondence between representatives of Greensboro’s Guilford County Courthouse and the North Carolina Department of Labor concerning COVID-19-related Ian McDowell OSHA complaints made by courthouse employees in July Contributor and August. The correspondence begins with a letter that Nancy Hall, District Supervisor for the North Carolina Department of Labor, sent to Trial Court Administrator Amanda Leazer on Aug. 14. The letter described a complaint received by the North Carolina Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Division which made the following nine allegations about the Guilford County Courthouse. (Italics indicate direct quotations from the letter.) 1. Covid-19 outbreaks are not disclosed to employees. 2. Proper deep cleaning is not being done by properly trained individuals, especially after positive cases of Covid-19 have been identified. 3. The public and employee bathrooms are not socially distanced and there is no signage. All public and employee bathrooms, 4 stalls and 4 sinks, are too close, as the middle two should be closed. 4. Employee work spaces are not properly spaced apart particularly in departments with known outbreaks. 5. Masks are still not being worn by even law enforcement. 6. Personal protective equipment and temperature checks, which were said to be a part of safety preparedness and mandatory routine, is not happening at all entrances. 7. Employees who have expressed fear and concern and have reached out in good faith have been told not to do so. 8. Due to new guidelines, ADA issues have also come up. Communications with hearing impaired persons Who require clear view masks and handicapped entrances are not being temperature checked. 9. Criminal and Civil Departments work spaces are too close and there are shared desks in other departments. Hall’s letter to Leazer stated it was “not a citation nor is it a notification of proposed penalty, which according to the Occupational Safety and Health Act, YES! WEEKLY

DECEMBER 2-8, 2020

may be issued only after an inspection or investigation of the workplace.” However, it stated that the Department of Labor would conduct such an investigation if the Courthouse administration did not. Leazer forwarded Hall’s letter to Senior Resident Superior Court Judge John O. Craig. On Aug. 20, Craig sent Hall a detailed five-page response, which included the following statement: I first want to note at the outset that we previously received a letter from you dated July 15, 2020, Complaint # 209676592, which stated that the allegations of failure to enforce social distancing and inadequate cleaning and sanitation are not covered by any OSHA standard, nor did the allegations fall under the “General Duty” clause. In response to the allegations of lack of deep cleaning and socially-distanced spacing in restrooms and work areas, Craig wrote that the complaints “are closely related to the previous allegations” and “I presume that NCDOL’s conclusions in your previous letter still apply,” implying that the NCDOL had dismissed allegedly similar complaints made in July. In regards to the allegation that COVID-19 outbreaks were not being reported to employees, Craig wrote: Under AOC [Administrative Office of the Courts] directives, disclosures to employees are the responsibility of the “hiring authority.” Five different hiring authorities are collectively responsible for several hundred employees at our two courthouse locations: Superior Court judges and staff; District Court judges and staff; the District Attorney’s office; the Clerk of Court’s office; and the Public Defender’s office.

Furthermore, Craig wrote, the Administrative Office of the Courts requires “that any information to be disclosed will be extremely limited to protect the privacy rights of the infected employees.” To the claim that masks “are still not being worn by even law enforcement,” Craig responded: While the Guilford court system has no direct control over law enforcement officials, we have been insisting that bailiffs, who are the Guilford County sheriffs’ employees, wear masks at all times. Based on my observations, the bailiffs have been compliant. To the allegation that PPE and temperature checks are “not happening at all entrances,” Craig wrote: After a slow start in providing PPEs due to nationwide shortages, the county has procured several thousand masks to be distributed to those persons who come to the courthouses without masks. In recent weeks, I have not seen any persons without masks. To the allegation that “employees who have expressed fear and concern and have reached out in good faith have been told not to do so,” Craig responded: I am unaware of any departments within the court system who have issued any such directives. I will reiterate to all department heads that it would be improper to suppress any employee’s desire to express concerns. However, I feel compelled to point out that the various divisions in our courthouse family, along with the AOC, are not the unconditional guarantors of employee safety when it comes to the pandemic. As I have demonstrated in my

response to previous paragraphs in the complaint, some things are simply beyond our control when it comes to the county complying with our safety requests and the complainant should file an OSHA complaint against the county if he or she feels it is warranted. Craig’s concluding paragraphs included the following passage: . . . elected leaders within the Guilford County court system are dedicated to providing as safe a working environment as we possibly can and everyone is working diligently to put many safeguards in place, but there will always be isolated lapses in our planned vigilance. There are so many factors that are beyond our immediate control that I scarcely know where to begin. I believe that most of the positive cases in our courthouse facilities, with the possible exception of a few, were contracted outside the courthouse. I sincerely believe that we are striving to provide the safest work environment possible, within the constraints imposed upon us due to our unique relationship with the county, which owns the physical premises. Last Monday, YES! Weekly queried Judge Craig as to the outcome of this correspondence. He responded with the following statement: “In mid-September, NCDOL wrote me and said they were dismissing the complaint and closing their file.” ! IAN MCDOWELL is the author of two published novels, numerous anthologized short stories, and a whole lot of nonfiction and journalism, some of which he’s proud of and none of which he’s ashamed of.

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[THE ADVICE GODDESS] love • sex • dating • marriage • questions

APT. 201B OR NOT TO BE

Amy Alkon

Advice Goddess —Housing Crisis

My boyfriend and I have been together for two years, and my lease is up in a few months. I was thinking about asking him if he wants to live together. When is the right time to move in with someone, and how do you know whether that’s even a good idea?

There are people you can share a home with who do not do a slew of annoying things, and they’re those who are continuing their tenure on our planet in an urn. As a failed romantic (aka human-nature realist), I think there’s a right time to move in with another person, such as my boyfriend of 18 years, and it’s never. That said, in my financial dream world, I’d be into our buying houses next door to each other. Of course, this sort of thing is less practical for a couple with kids because a substantial part of parenting involves finding your children so annoying in the moment that you take steps to civilize them. And let’s be honest, all children are irritating (loud, sticky, and often unbelievably tedious), save for those frozen in mute adorableness in photographs, my favorite kind. There’s often financial pressure to live together, especially in urban elitevilles where a grim little closet pretending to

be an apartment rents for the price of a gleaming penthouse in any city in the Midwest. Unfortunately, though sharing an apartment saves big on rent, it can cost a couple their relationship if they end up going at each other like rats in an undersized cage. As for what makes a relationship work, cohabitational or otherwise, there’s this notion that couples who have happy, lasting partnerships love each other more than those who break up. Sorry, romantics! Sure, when a relationship is brandnew, affection and lust make for a big heart-shaped airbag against annoyance and resentment. However, in “The Power of Bad,” science journalist John Tierney and social psychologist Roy Baumeister explain that, over time, the sweet, tender things each partner says and does matter far less than how a couple deals with “the negative stuff — their doubts, their frustrations, their problems.” Their book centers on what researchers call the “negativity bias”: how we pay far more attention to negative information, emotions, and experiences than positive and give the negative stuff far more weight. The negativity bias is especially toxic in heterosexual relationships, due to some general sex differences in personality and emotional orientation, summed up by researchers as “female demand/ male withdrawal.” “Female demand” is driven by how women tend to be higher in the personality trait of “neuroticism,” which involves a tendency to react with negative emotions. People high in neuroticism see the world through mud-covered glasses: They’re anxious, moody, easily irritated, and

perceive intentional slights in incidents others shrug off as the small frustrations of life. Basically, high neuroticism is the personality trait of picky complainers: “You loaded the dishwasher all wrong!” “You’re feeding the baby all wrong!” And then the inevitable, “You’re climbing out the window and running down the street screaming all wrong!” Regarding “male withdrawal” (lest you dudes start feeling all smugly superior), men tend to respond to relationship conflicts by going emotionally comatose, experiencing an emotional systems overload that clinical psychologist Robert Levenson and other researchers call “flooding.” In short, men are more likely to get overwhelmed by emotion and simply shut down. Not surprisingly, same-sex couples are less predisposed to plunge into a negativity spiral. Tierney and Baumeister explain, “If it’s two men, they’re less likely to initiate a complaint; if it’s two women, they’re less likely to withdraw after being criticized.” That said, simply being human — in a job, a friendship, or a relationship — makes us prone to go negative. That’s important to understand in light of research

by psychologist John Gottman surveying couples who’d just gotten married and looking at which couples were divorced six years later. What mattered were not the positive, loving sentiments couples expressed but how they responded to conflict. Citing this research, Tierney and Baumeister explain: “Being able to hold your tongue rather than say something nasty or spiteful will do much more for your relationship than a good word or deed.” (Love is not blind, but love can choose to throw on a blindfold.) When I got together with my boyfriend, I made a pact with myself to never speak to him like I’ve forgotten I love him. This has helped me avoid going ugly over the years, but I have to give living apart a good bit of the credit. Psychologist Erich Fromm wrote, “Mature love says: ‘I need you because I love you.’” Cohabiting love says: “I need you to take out the trash because I’ll get 20-to-life for electrocuting you in the bathtub.” ! GOT A problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com (www.advicegoddess.com) © 2020 Amy Alkon Distributed by Creators.Com.

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