AN UNAUTHORIZEDGET CRAZY ON THE DANCE FLOOR PARTY FOR THE DISPLACED WORKERS OF EARTH FARE WESTGATE
NEW VENUE!! New jam: 13th floor ROOF GARDEN, BATTERY PARK APARTMENTS Does your vision or outlook need an upgrade? Come early and feast your senses with the gorgeous historic room and the 13-floor views from the east and west balconies! 1 Battle Square, downtown Asheville – right across from the north entrance to the Grove Arcade (parking suggestions) The beautiful and historic 13-floor Roof Garden penthouse party room.
7-8 p.m.: family friendly, community networking and displaced workers marketplace – goods and services, give them some business. Classic Westgate buskers and community musicians.
8-11 Storytelling Dance Party: adult language and some steamy music
Featuring the Asheville dance party debut of DJ Majo WOW! (“weird old whiteguy”) Billboard says, “DJ Majo WOW! rocks the mic like no other fat, 73-year-old middle-class white man outside of New York City!” Rolling Stone says, “Majo WOW! is actually kind of cool and funky – in his own little 73-year-old fat middle class white guy way.” White Hip Hop Music Magazine: “This cat has got moves! He’s like a little fat old white Michael Jackson!”
There is no charge for this party, but free-will love offerings for the people of Earth Fare Westgate (many of whom are starting to wonder how they will pay the rent) can be mailed to Elizabeth Keel, CPA, H&R Tax Advisors, 204 Executive Park, Asheville, NC 28801. Write the check to Dusty Brown.
Don’t think of yourself as a dancer? Not a problem. DJ Majo (a lifetime passionate dancer and – in another life – a clinical psychologist and personal growth facilitator) is going to be teaching everyone some tricks for accessing your own unique authentic way of spontaneously moving your body – AKA “dancing”.
Help build the playlist for the dance party: leave a Comment with your favorite revolutionary dance song – or personal empowerment song, or song that makes you feel happy and optimistic about life, or just a song you have always wanted to dance to with your friends.
Can’t make it to the party Thursday night? It will be live-streamed. And you can order your gorgeous professionally-shot video of this amazing evening (and support all displaced workers getting a free video memory of this night-to-remember) by sending a check for $20, written to Dusty Brown and sent to Elizabeth Keel, CPA, H&R Tax Advisors, 204 Executive Park, Asheville, NC 28801. Include your email address – video will come to your email inbox.
Service dogs only allowed in the Roof Garden. Hang out with Panchita at the after-party in Apt. 503. Password is “I gotta Imperial Stout fer ya, DJ Majo WOW!'” (Social Security checks don’t come until the 3rd.)
Words can hurt and words can heal. Anyone can develop powerful tools for “Healing validations” – affirmative words that make a difference in another person’s life. This blog is devoted to developing that skill.
So now I’m an “underdog”, too. Brilliant! I shall pay attention – and take good notes.
Eric Freeman is an Asheville “underdog”.
A genuinely brilliant acoustic guitarist (blues, country, ragtime), he has tremendous integrity and a really sweet, shining presence – and he’s gorgeous to boot. He’s got “star” written all over him.
But it doesn’t always work out that way, right? Things sometimes just plain fail to come together somehow for all kinds of talented people, but being black and poor and unconnected in a new town…who knows what lies ahead for Eric?
Eric arrived here about a month ago. with a suitcase and his guitar and I think no money.
(15 years earlier, I got off the Greyhound bus with a great new rolling duffel bag – my moving van – and $100, both from my men’s group back in Chicago. The guy from the bus who took an interest in me dropped me off, by God – it just hit me – in the exact spot where we are staging Eric’s flash mob tomorrow, because my friend Tom said the Co-op “has the best bulletin board.”)
Eric has been playing at a coffeehouse – the Straightaway Cafe in Black Mountain – but my GPS made it look way south of Black Mountain, and the one night I tried to round up people to go, when I got no bites I just went to bed early.
At 7:30 on Sunday March 8, Eric opens for Abby the Spoon Lady – with the Tater Boys – at the White Horse Black Mountain. How totally funky is that show, huh? That could start to open things up for him, especially if we pour a lot of excited fans into his set that night.
But let’s ground ourselves back in the here-and-now. Eric is broke. He’s $35 shy on his rent. I very sadly told him today that I couldn’t help.
I am happy all the time these days – 24/7 – and have amazing excitement about what my friend Kerstin calls my “enormous entrepreneurial dreams” (which happen to center around “storytelling dance parties” and “storytelling dance coaching” – the Thursday party is my big pilot).
But today I have $.40 and my checking account is overdrawn. Having chosen to leave Earth Fare three months ago for this dream business, it hasn’t yet yielded a dime. I’m two months behind on my rent and have been served eviction papers. I went to Eblen Charities today, where I have been told they will help you if you have the eviction papers in hand. But Panchita and I had been chasing reporters all day to get stories about the Thursday benefit – and by the time we got to Eblen it was 4:53. There were young, poor families lined up on both sides of the hall. The lovely, sweet young woman with a clipboard said, “We close at 5 – and we have many people waiting. Come back tomorrow – early if you can.”
“I can’t come early – Susan Campbell’s 9:30 ecstatic dance class is like family for me and Pancho – she’s the little mascot of the class, they all love on her. And then we have a flash mob.” She gave me an odd little look. This story may have been a first for her.
“OK, in the afternoon you’re going to be dealing with a long wait.’
It all kind of took my breath away. Janet in our building office had told me I could head off trouble if I got $100 in last Thursday – this is Monday. I feel absolutely certain that I will not be evicted (I bet Eblen will save the day). By a month from now, my new little business will be bringing in a little money – and by a year later will actually be a big business bringing in a lot of money, for me and others. (I really, really want to be a rainmaker for other talented people I believe in – like Eric.)
But for about two minutes – outside again by my car – I felt genuinely lost, vulnerable and alone. I smoked my last half-cigarette – and it was very good.
Something in me said, “Pay attention! Pay attention! This state will soon pass for you, but for way too many people this is just life. This is an extraordinary experience of being an underdog – let it shape you, so you never forget it.”
A few days ago, there was a guy with a sign asking for money when I pulled off US 240 , going west, at Montford Ave. I was way over in the right lane, making a right turn to go to the Visitor Center – to see how they could help me bait the hook for the New York Times to come here to cover a magical grocery store within a magical town. These guys with signs at the side of the road sometimes annoy me: they’re in the way, someone might hit them – and there never is time to fish money out before the light changes. It’s stressful and I sometimes resent them.
Even though I was way over in the right lane, when the guy made kind of pleading eye contact with me, I so heartfully yelled, “I really wish I could help you buddy, but I don’t have any money either.” He saw me smoking. “Do you have cigarettes?” “I have ten to last me ten days until my Social Security check comes – I’ll give you two. Come! Come!” When he came over to the car to get the cigarettes, I felt great to have something I could give him. We both smiled really big. We were both happy. It was a kind of little cigarette party. I cried. I’m crying now.
Whew! I guess I needed to get that off my chest. Every time someone asks about the Westgate Earth Fare contingency fund – to which the checks that people send the accountant will go – I say, “It’s so that no Earth Fare worker lives out of their car.” Without this fund, I feel sure that someone will. Not once, when I have said this, have I consciously realized that this person could be me.
I’m so blessed to have a few friends who would never let me live out of my car, if I told them the truth about what was going on. Each time I think about living out of your car, I think about my buddy who lived in his car for a week last winter (in the fucking winter), before he came to stay with me for a few weeks. He was so tricky that it took me a few days to realize that’s where he was staying. He always said it was “fine”. We are survivors, aren’t we?
I want our “Underdog storytelling dance party” on Thursday to nail down my love for my underdog brothers and sisters to where I never, ever lose it again. As much as possible, I want my heart to stay permanently open to “my people”. I do believe that all of us dancing together will help. When I have gotten mentally tight, stressed, tense – dancing almost always takes me right back to my heart.
So back to the dance. At 12 sharp, Eric is playing his guitar at one of those little tables in front of the French Broad Food Co-op on Biltmore across from the Orange Peel. Beforehand, I will get with the really very cool and funky store manager (Tom Kilby tells me they worked together at Earth Fare – cool, this may mean something extra to him) – to make sure Eric doesn’t get accosted for playing music, and having a tip jar, out in front of the store.
After Eric just plays by himself for a minute or so, this 73 year old white guy is once again typecast as some uptight, preoccupied guy who pays precious little attention to this brilliant young starving artist. Having walked by, I perfunctorily back up a step or two to drop a buck (if someone gives me one) in Eric’s jar – or whatever, guitar case. Then I pick up my step again to leave. But something hooks me before I get away. I slowly come back – and, little by little, start to move. Then somebody else stops their forward momentum and gradually starts to move, while I continue to get freer and freer. We are all in by the end of the first song. Then we really have a blast during the second song with Eric. Not only self-expression, but lots of connection and love – love of ourselves, of each other, of Eric. No need for play-acting – breathe, relax your body, feel your feet on the ground, let your body get loose – let your heart do what it so naturally does.
And people, people, people – this guy has got to pay his rent! Everybody – maybe exquisitely built into your dance itself – drops in a buck or five. Unless, like me, you don’t have a dollar until March 3. We without a buck will give Eric an extra wink.
It’s supposed to be sunny and warm tomorrow. I’m gonna wear a killer orange t-shirt (bought from Goodwill for a gun-control rally) – under a dreary sweatshirt. At some point in my dance, I will get feeling free, strip it off and reveal my true colors – maybe throw the clunky old sweat shirt in the air somewhere in happy exuberance. I promise to stop the clothing removal at that point. (Little Panchita is saying, “Good luck. That’s not where he stops when he’s dancing in the living room.”)
At the end of the second song, we abruptly just go back to what we had been doing – and head off in different directions. I dunno, I don’t think I’m really a purist about these things. I don’t dig the idea of just disappearing back into greater Asheville. After hanging out and breathing for a minute or so, I’m gonna go back by Eric and party with my peeps!
And then two days later – Thursday at 7 p.m., just as the Dance Party Benefit is getting started, in the beautiful Battery Park Apartments lobby (1 Battle Square, across from the north end of the Grove Arcade) we do it all over again!
When the cares of this ugly, cruel world get me down, this is currently my go-to innocent happy song! Debrissa McKinney, you are my antidote for Trump! Not bad for a 25-year-old or whatever the hell you are.
Any chance you would come sing it for us Thursday night at our benefit dance party? Check out the current version of the party announcement – complete with new venue at Battery Park Apartments. Healingvalidations.com
Dr. Steve Woodsmall, leading contender to be the Democratic nominee for the 10th District U.S. House of Representatives, will come to the Westgate Earth Fare store tomorrow (Friday) to answer our questions, hear our concerns – and find out how we would like him to represent us when he gets to the Congress.
The old Republican-state-legislature gerrymandered congressional districts had Asheville split right down the middle of the 10th and 11th districts, so that the conservatives out in the county and beyond could always prevent Asheville from having a progressive representative who could accurately represent the political bent of the city.
But the Supreme Court recently ruled that the those gerrymandered districts were drawn “with almost surgical precision to disadvantage black voters” – and threw them out, required the legislature to redraw them. The new 10th District represents all of Asheville, so that means we have a real good chance to elect a Democrat this year.
Steve is a retired Air Force guy, a physician and a dog-lover. At one of his campaign events two years ago, I went to shake his hand and missed it – because he was already down on the floor saying hello to my little Toni. This picture of him with Toni was on his website for a long time. I think you will like him and find him responsive to your concerns.
Please “Share” this post, so we can get Steve a good turn-out today. If you are so inspired, you could call the media and encourage them to cover our ongoing efforts to help all the workers of Earth Fare come out whole from this blood-letting.
Help get out the true story of why Earth Fare closed.
It was not that the chain expanded too fast.
It was not too much competition.
It was not that they went bankrupt or ran out of money. The hedge fund that just, in one day, chose to get rid of thousands of American jobs, still has lots of money.
Earth Fare was started by two visionary entrepreneurial guys – Roger Derrough and Randy Talley – who genuinely cared about Asheville and about the grocery store. My understanding is that the first group to buy the chain was still local and still had a feel for the Asheville community. Several purchases later, they are now in the hands of a greedy capitalist (the worst of capitalism) hedge fund that cares not one thing about health or groceries or Asheville – or, obviously, the lives of all these thousands of employees.
We employees have been surmising for months that they must be getting ready to sell the company – based on the heartless way that they were trying to reduce expenses by reducing everybody’s hours. That has made it hard for people (including, definitely, me – until I left several weeks ago) to pay their bills – and very hard to get their jobs done, with fewer person-hours to do the job. Tremendous job stress for so many workers in the store – and for our management, who kept fighting for more hours.
And more and more upset from our customers, when they couldn’t find their favorite products or anyone on the floor to help them. Or long lines to check out because of fewer cashiers. Cashiers trying so hard to still be sweet to customers when the press of long lines never lets up, when impatient customers are mean to them, when their hearts are broken by hearing customers – who always have loved this store – complaining, “What’s going on with this store? It used to be such a great store – and now it has gone way downhill.” What do you do? tell them the truth? that feels unprofessional. You just try harder, maybe chat with people less, put your head down and try to show that you are moving the line as fast as you can. (This behavior doesn’t really make things go much faster, but is good optics.) The fun goes totally out of the work.
The story I hear is that about ten days ago, the big high-profit sale suddenly fell through. Maybe the new investor caught wind that the impressively profitable bottom-line did not tell the real story of a grocery store going rapidly downhill.
I’ve been told that, when the deal fell suddenly through, the robber barons decided in about a day that there best financial option was just to write off the loss. “Shut it down! Close the stores.” Just like that. Do you think that the lives of these thousands of employees factored at all into their decision? Or the precious place that this store has had in the lifeblood of Asheville? That people have always said, “Asheville is such a sweet, special, funky place – and Earth Gate is so Asheville.”
We need to take a stand about this. We need to get the story told. Our president is telling the whole country that what is good for corporations is good for the country. We are sitting on the evidence to the contrary.
What am I missing, folks? What do I have wrong? Where can pieces of this story be found on-line? We need to help the media and the politicians (City of Asheville, the City Council, Steve Woodsmall – our wonderful new congressional candidate) run down the whole story, so they can tell the Asheville community and the American public what is going on.
This story needs to be covered by the New York Times, by the Washington Post, NPR, Rev. William Barber’s Poor People’s Campaign, MoveOn, – and by Bernie and Elizabeth’s campaign. I picture Elizabeth and Bernie, at their rallies and TV appearances, saying “Our president says the state of American capitalism has never been better – so we should re-elect him. I’d like to introduce __ from Asheville, NC, to describe what Trump-style capitalism just did to innocent citizens in that town.” Picture both Elizabeth and Bernie coming to the Friday noon Westgate Plaza rallies that will continue to grow over the next few months – “until every displaced Westgate worker gets a job.”
Our flashmobs in the store (come to #2, if the store is still open then, this Friday) are very fun and exciting and feature the “Power to the little people” music of Michael Franti. Michael loves this town and we love him. Let’s get him here.
On Friday, we danced to Alicia Keys’ wonderful new song about the little people, “The Underdog” – and it will be the cornerstone of our workers’ benefit “storytelling dance party” on February 27 (7-11 at THE BLOCK off biltmore). She seems to have some real heart for this issue. Let’s invite her to come.
Keep the faith, people! This story is exploding – and is just going to keep getting bigger.
Last Friday at our dance Flashmob at the Westgate store, the photographer from the Citizen Times asked me “yeah so if it’s a protest, why are you dancing?” I said “it’s actually not a protest – it’s a dance. it’s a celebration of who we are. it’s a statement that we are young and sexy and alive and we will survive just fine. “
Pretty much everything I know about hip-hop, I learned from my son Terry – when he was a teenager and spending his summers with his dad. (“If he’s into rap music again this summer, I’m gonna have to learn to like it – or I will go fucking crazy.” He was – and I did, like it. Going crazy was later. At one point, I claimed to know more about rap music than almost any other white middle-aged, middle-class man on the planet. That may have been an exaggeration, but not totally.)
I think this very old Kool Moe Dee video is maybe the cutest rap music video ever. (Like I know them all:).) I love the tough black cowboys in their long black leather slickers – doing cute little hip-hop dance steps in unison.