Tim Kaine Plays ‘Wagon Wheel’ in Asheville

Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine played Wagon Wheel on harmonica at an Asheville brewery on Monday night.

Kaine visited a few popular spots in Asheville after delivering a speech in the North Carolina mountain town.  That included a stop at Catawba Brewing Company’s Asheville location.  Local musicians Nikki Talley and Jason Sharp were there entertaining patrons.  So, Kaine pulled out his harmonica and joined in with the band on Wagon Wheel.

Wagon Wheel was featured on the 2004 self-titled debut of Old Crow Medicine Show.  The song developed from a Bob Dylan outtake called Rock Me, Mama.  Old Crow Medicine Show’s Ketch Secor added verses.  Dylan and Secor share the songwriting credit.

The song has become an anthem for many in North Carolina.  There are few things a politician could do to connect to Asheville more than to play Wagon Wheel and drink local beer.

But, Kaine did not stop with Wagon Wheel.  He also sang along to the Carter Family’s My Home’s Across the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Kaine’s wife, Annie Holton, clogged to the tune.

According to the New York Times’ Thomas Kaplan, Kaine sampled two beers from Catawba Brewing and one from Wicked Weed Brewing.


Two Iron Ladies Showed the Way

What about North Carolina’s “iron lady”?The recent death of Margaret Thatcher, the steely, hard-working, and effective British prime minister, led to much discussion of her career, and we heard different opinions about her impact on the opening of opportunities for women in government and politics.

What an unusual lady! Charming when she needed to be, but tough as nails and mean as a snake. She showed women around the world that they could take the lead in a country that had never had a female prime minister and make it work well.

But, we have learned that she was not a vigorous advocate for the advancement of other women. She did not want to be viewed as a token at any stage of her career. Other women, she believed, should work to advance on their own merit and not be given special opportunities because of their gender.

North Carolina’s own iron lady had similar views, as explained by Anna Hayes in “Without Precedent,” her 2008 biography of North Carolina Chief Justice Susie Sharp.

When Sharp entered law school at Chapel Hill in 1926, she was the only woman in her class. When she began practicing law in 1929, women could not be judges or serve on juries. Nor was there much encouragement for her from the judge who administered her oath for admission to the bar. He lectured her, “Well, young lady, I congratulate you and all like that, but I’d be derelict in my duty if I didn’t tell you that you will never make a lawyer. If you persist, you will just be wasting your time, playing in the sand. I advise you to start right now trying to find something more appropriate to do.”

However, by 1949 her talent as a lawyer and her political connections led to appointment as a superior court judge, which required her to hold court in different parts of the state. At one courthouse she found that access to the judge’s chambers was only through the men’s restroom.

As a trial court judge, according to Hayes, Sharp offered a “sterling example of how a court should be run—knowledgeably, fairly, and efficiently—earning the respect of lawyers and litigants alike. She was a tireless crusader in her courtroom remarks and public speeches for the rule of law as the foundation of democracy, and for active, informed citizenship.”

Her service led to appointment to the state’s supreme court and election as its chief justice where Hayes said in an interview for the book’s publisher, UNC Press, “She was known as a legal scholar whose opinions were models of lucidity, and who undertook on occasion to bring about needed changes in the law…As a woman, of course, through her example she expanded opportunities for women in the legal profession and public life.”

Ironically, Hayes said, Sharp was an “obdurate opponent” of the Equal Rights Amendment in the battle for ratification in North Carolina that raged from 1970 to 1982 and “she exerted every effort she could to defeat the amendment. She based her opposition largely on the arguable idea that women were already protected under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and believed that the ERA would cause women to lose existing protections they had under the law. … North Carolina was considered a critical state whose approval could break the logjam and create momentum toward ratification. … Justice Sharp was undeniably influential in the ERA’s defeat in North Carolina, and to that extent, can be said to bear some credit or blame for its ultimate failure in the nation.”

Even those who disagree with Thatcher’s and Sharp’s positions on women’s issues or other important matters must be grateful for these iron ladies’ tenacious and successful battles that demonstrated powerfully how women can perform exceptionally well and lead at the very highest levels.

D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs Sundays at noon and Thursdays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. For more information or to view prior programs visit the webpage at www.unctv.org/ncbookwatch.

Next week’s (April 21, 25) guest is Vicki Lane author of “Under the Skin.”

Vicki Lane sets her popular novels on the farms and small towns in mountainous Madison County north of Asheville, where she and her husband have lived since moving there from Tampa, Florida, in 1975. In “Under the Skin,” she turns her mountain surroundings into compelling fiction.

The program will also air at Wednesday April 24 at 11 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on UNC-MX, a digital cable system channel (Time Warner #172 or #4.4). In addition, airing at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday on UNC-MX will be a classic Bookwatch program featuring Isabel Zuber author of “Salt.”

A grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council provides crucial support for North Carolina Bookwatch.



North Carolina Writers Serve Up Spring Reading Options

Ready or not, spring is here and it is time for a seasonal update on new books important to North Carolinians.

This month’s most important literary news is the release of “Life After Life,” popular author Jill McCorkle’s first novel in 17 years. McCorkle fills a southeastern North Carolina retirement facility with quirky residents, staff, and visitors whose encounters with each other make readers wonder whether to laugh or cry. She will be the guest on North Carolina Bookwatch at noon on Sunday, March 31 and Thursday, April 4, at 5 p.m.

Understanding the actions and attitudes of our parents and grandparents in dealing with the system of oppressive racial segregation that confronted them is one of our great challenges. Some of the best Southern writers deal with our past in ways that make for compelling storytelling. UNC-Chapel Hill creative writing professor Pam Durban steps up to that challenge in her new novel, “The Tree of Forgetfulness.” (April 7, 11)

The recent temporary closings of the Hatteras Ferry and coastal Highway 12 remind us that our coast is fragile and unstable. How do we protect it? In “The Battle for North Carolina’s Coast: Evolutionary History, Present Crisis, and Vision for the Future,” retired East Carolina professor Stanley Riggs and his coauthors give the background we need to make good decisions. (April 14, 18)

Vicki Lane sets her popular novels on the farms and small towns in mountainous Madison County north of Asheville, where she and her husband have lived since moving there from Tampa, Florida, in 1975.  In “Under the Skin,” she turns her mountain surroundings into compelling fiction. (April 21, 25)

The third and final volume of the “Literary Trails of North Carolina” series establishes Georgann Eubanks as the master guide to our state’s literary history. She has already taken us to Murphy and now in “Literary Trails of Eastern North Carolina: A Guidebook,” she takes us from Raleigh through the Coastal Plain all the way to Manteo.  (April 28, May 2)

Everyone knows our health care system is in trouble, but UNC Medical School Professor Nortin Hadler is more specific and troubling when he says that conflicts of interest, misrepresentation of clinical trials, hospital price fixing, and massive expenditures for procedures of dubious efficacy point to the need for an overhaul. Who is responsible? Every citizen, says Hadler, has a duty to understand the existing system and to visualize what the outcome of successful reform might look like. Hadler provides a primer and guide to action in “The Citizen Patient: Reforming Health Care for the Sake of the Patient, Not the System.”  (May 5, 9)

Do you remember “Big Fish,” the wonderful novel by Daniel Wallace and the movie it inspired? They made us suspend disbelief and go into a magical world of stories and characters. Wallace has done it again in his latest novel, “The Kings and Queens of Roam,” which is full of the magic he uses to draw us into his worlds of imagination. (May 12, 16)

How could one of North Carolina’s most important political leaders be both a progressive champion for education and economic development and, at the same time, the leader of the white supremacy movement in our state? N.C. State Professor Lee Craig wrestles with this challenging question in his new book, “Josephus Daniels: His Life and Times.” (May 19, 23)

In reviewing Duke Professor William Chafe’s  “Bill and Hillary,” Jonathan Yardley wrote, about the Clintons, “No personalities in recent history speak more compellingly to the importance of understanding that the personal and the political are inseparable.” Chafe’s detailed study of the relationship between the power couple of all power couples shows how their relationship shaped our history.  (May 26, 29)



D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch.” During UNC-TV’s Festival, the program  airs Sundays at noon and Thursdays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. For more information or to view prior programs visit the webpage at www.unctv.org/ncbookwatch.
Next week’s (Thursday, March 28 at 5 p.m.) guest is Sheri Castle, author of “The New Southern Garden Cookbook: Enjoying the Best from Homegrown Gardens, Farmers’ Markets, Roadside Stands, and CSA Farm Boxes.” (Note the Sunday airing will be preempted by UNC-TV’s Festival programming). The program will also air at Wednesday March 27 at 11 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on UNC-MX, a digital cable system channel (Time Warner #172 or #4.4). In addition, airing at 11:30 Wednesday on UNC-MX will be a classic Bookwatch program featuring the late Reynolds Price author of “A Serious Way of Thinking.”



Watauga County native Sheri Castle’s “The New Southern Garden Cookbook: Enjoying the Best from Homegrown Gardens, Farmers’ Markets, Roadside Stands, and CSA Farm Boxes” is a guide to finding the best seasonal foods in our region. She organizes her recipes into about 40 chapters, each featuring a different vegetables or fruit.
More about Sheri Castle:
Castle is a popular food writer and cooking teacher who celebrates delicious and healthy home cooked meals made possible by fresh, local, seasonal food. She has packaged that enthusiasm into “The New Southern Garden Cookbook: Enjoying the Best from Homegrown Gardens, Farmers’ Markets, Roadside Stands, and CSA Farm Boxes.”
Castle’s book has about 40 chapters, each one devoted to one particular fruit or vegetable from apples to zucchini. She suggests that you go to the market without a shopping list, buy what is the most freshly available and tasty, bring it home, consult her book, and find all kinds of ways to prepare your purchase.
Castle entertains her readers with stories about her mountain family and even a song or two. Because I love tomatoes, here are lines she shares from a song by Guy Clark: “Only two things that money can’t buy/That’s true love and homegrown tomatoes.”
But tomatoes are not the only stars in Castle’s catalogue of fresh foods. For instance, she gives great advice to overcome two different contradictory ideas about how long to cook snap beans. “At one time, most snap beans were sturdy pole beans with thick, tough pods that required extensive cooking to become edible. However, subjecting the newer stringless varieties to long cooking would dissolve them into a tasteless mess. … If a bean pod is delicate and tender enough to eat raw, it needs quick, gentle cooking. If a bean pod is thick and has strings…, it needs long slow cooking. When you know your bean, you know your cooking method.”


Lottery and Drones Bring Bipartisan Divisiveness

Are you tired of the partisan divisiveness that is poisoning the political environment of our state and nation?

Do you wish that the politicians from the two parties would work together more often on issues of common concern?

Me too.

Maybe we are getting what we wished for, thanks to the North Carolina lottery and our country’s use of unmanned drone aircraft to target and kill our enemies throughout the world.

Welcome to the world of bipartisan divisiveness?

You might get tired of this form of divisiveness, too.

The legislature, then controlled by Democrats, established the state lottery at the urging of Democratic Governor Mike Easley, whose pro-lottery positions were major campaign planks.

It was a popular issue for the governor, too. Schools needed the money. People wanted to play the games and were going across state lines to buy lottery tickets. A lottery would be a voluntary tax. Free money. 

Most Republicans opposed the lottery’s establishment. So did lots of Democrats. Liberal Democrats agreed with libertarian Republicans that running a gambling business is not a proper function of government.

Government, they said, should encourage its citizens to work and save for their future, not on fostering dreams of getting rich by winning the lottery. Certainly, they continued, government should not stoop to the low level of a carnival barker selling chances on games in which the odds of winning are stacked against the player.

Some lottery opponents argued that having state officials deal with the gaming industry would have special pitfalls. Don’t expect to lie down with dogs and not come up with fleas, they warned.

Today, the lottery is an established part of state government, and there have been fewer fleabites than expected.

But, with Republicans now in charge of state government, they could ditch the lottery.

Will they?

Governor Pat McCrory recommends only a first step, suggesting that the state “reallocate a portion of money away from the bloated and frankly annoying advertising and the large administration costs of the lottery commission.”

Senate Republican Leader Phil Berger and one-time vigorous lottery opponent Representative Paul Stam are not pushing for lottery repeal, only reducing advertising and administrative expenses and fees.

Even these modest proposals have put the lottery back in play. Some Democrats will join Republicans to cut the lottery’s wings. And some Republicans will vote with Democrats to maintain or enhance the lottery’s profits.

More lottery divisiveness, but it is bipartisan divisiveness.

Similarly the bitter partisan divisions in Washington collapsed for a moment last week after Senator Rand Paul filibustered the nomination of John Brennan to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Paul used his speaking time to call for accountability and clear policy for the use of drone aircraft for targeted killings. Specifically, Paul demanded to know whether the U.S. president has the authority to direct the killing of some presumed enemy within the United States.

Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham denounced Paul for trying to tie the president’s hands in the fight against worldwide terrorism. Meanwhile, liberals like Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson supported Paul. Robinson wrote, “The way we use drones as killing machines has to be consistent with our freedoms and our values. For grabbing us by the lapels, Rand Paul deserves praise.”

How much authority should the president have to call for drone strikes against suspected enemies of the country?

The question is divisive.

Bipartisan divisive.

Enjoy it while you can.

D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch.” During UNC-TV’s Festival, the program airs Thursdays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. For more information or to view prior programs visit the webpage at www.unctv.org/ncbookwatch
Next week’s (Thursday, March 21 at 5 p.m.) guest is Terry Roberts, author of “A Short Time to Stay Here.” (Note the Sunday airing will be preempted by UNC-TV’s Festival programming). The program will also air at Wednesday March 20 at 11 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on UNC-MX, a digital cable system channel (Time Warner #172 or #4.4). In addition, airing at 11:30 Wednesday on UNC-MX will be a classic Bookwatch program featuring Haven Kimmel author of The Solace of Leaving Early.
A grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council provides crucial support for North Carolina Bookwatch.
More about Terry Roberts:
Madison County, north of Asheville and up along the Tennessee border, has been the location of two novels featured recently on Bookwatch: Ron Rash’s “The Cove” and Wiley Cash’s “A Land More Kind than Home.” Now there is a third fine Madison County novel. Terry Roberts’ “A Short Time to Stay Here” is a story of World War I and more than 2,000 Germans interned in a resort hotel in Hot Springs. It is a story of love, killing and conflict of different cultures that come together in explosive and surprising fashion.


Innovation. What do you mean?

“Innovation is the key.”

We are hearing these words of wisdom all the time, aren’t we?

And we nod our heads in agreement, remembering our pocket computers and communication devices that we still call phones. Or how the 3D technology and programs of North Carolina-based Geomagic make possible the on-demand manufacture one-of-a kind products based on the special 3D design plans from Geomagic’s software.

But does the word have meaning to us ordinary humans who are not geniuses like Apple’s Steve Jobs or Geomagic’s Ping Fu?

At a recent discussion on innovation at the AdvantageWest Economic Summit in Asheville, I asked panelists to explain what innovation means and to illustrate with an example.

Their varied answers helped me understand that there is a place for innovation in almost every workplace.

Mike Adams, president of Moog Music Inc.— the high tech manufacturer of the Moog music synthesizers, noted the innovations that had swept by in his lifetime in rapid long distance communication: Telephone and telegraph replaced mail, which was replaced by telex, which was replaced by fax, which is being replaced by emails, which are being replaced by a variety of innovations. “I try to think like a 12-year-old. They are thinking, what’s next?”

For Anita Brown-Graham, director of North Carolina’s Institute for Emerging Issues in Raleigh, innovation is not so much about mere good ideas. An innovation to her is an idea that can be applied to meet an unmet need.

Brown-Graham described a teacher in Chapel Hill who found it hard to get her students’ attention after lunch. But if she let them first go to the playground, they came back refreshed and alert. The teacher wanted to give her students stimulating exercise. She also wanted to preserve serious class time. By innovating, she did both. She recorded her lectures for the post-lunch class, gave each kid a listening device, and took them for a 35-minute walk while they heard her recording. Her innovation met her need. It is also meeting the needs of other teachers through The Walking Classroom program that makes available a WalkKit listening product preloaded with a year’s worth of lectures.

Brown-Graham is optimistic about the innovation capabilities of the generation just entering college. They are risk takers and programmed to be innovators. However, they don’t have the support networks, experience in small business, or the financing to make their innovations a business success. 

Dan Gerlach, president of the Golden Leaf Foundation, agreed and emphasized the need for sources of funding for the effective use of innovations in a commercial context.

Gerlach described an unusual innovation in the location and construction of a wave-making machine in the Nantahala River in Swain County. That innovative idea, when brought to reality, drew thousands of people to the region for this year’s Freestyle Kayaking World Cup Championship.

Charlotte’s Mark Erwin, former U.S. ambassador to Mauritius, an island off the coast of Africa, used that country as an example of innovation. In 1976, when the island gained its independence, it was one of the poorest countries in the world, almost totally dependent on a sugar plantation economy. When the new leader took an economic inventory of his country, he found there was almost nothing, only 1.3 million mostly uneducated people. Since the populace was the country’s only resource, the leader declared that education would be free for everyone.  

“That was innovation,” said Erwin. “Today it is the most prosperous country in Africa, with the highest literacy rate, a huge Information Technology center, much tourism, and a thriving textile industry.”

These different examples of innovation suggest that, since there are an untold number of unmet needs, there are an equal number of opportunities for innovation. Just waiting for some of us to develop.

For more information: Walking Classroom and AdvantageWest.


TerraVITA: A Chapel Hill Sustainable Food Event

Sigh. I know what’s bringing you down. Forget the clingy heat, forget the fact the worst of the summer sun is still to come and that is making this Monday drag on just a little longer than you like. You’re bummed that you didn’t score tickets to Farm to Fork this coming weekend. That sad song is sooo 2009. 

I’m hear to share the good news, pal. TerraVITA Food & Wine Event is right around the corner, and tickets are still available for Chapel Hill’s premier sustainable food and beverage celebration taking place on Saturday, September 24th, 2011. In 2010, TerraVITA founder Colleen Minton and her crew brought together more than 30 of North Carolina’s best restaurants, producers and shops including Herons at the Umstead Hotel (Cary), French Broad Chocolate Lounge (Asheville), Chef & the Farmer (Kinston) and 3Cups (Chapel Hill). The chef/owners and proprietors offered samples and quick explanations of their food and sustainability practices at what had to be the finest buffet of sustainable food and beverages in the state. 

This year promises to be even better. Based on audience feedback, Ms. Minton found a creative response to attendees’ interest in more programming and more education at the event. Her solution? The Sustainable Classroom. In addition to the Grand Tasting on the Green that will be held at Southern Village from 1:00pm – 4:00pm, this year attendees have the option to buy tickets to a series of educational sessions lasting approximately 35 minutes per class. Four sessions are included in the ticket price, and tickets for The Sustainable Classroom just went on sale today. Currently the Classroom series is planning to cover topics ranging from the reasons behind why you should spend that extra $ on natural wines to the reasons why your locally sourced, grass fed steak costs $30 (topics subject to change).

Furthermore, leading experts from across the state and around the country are in the pipeline, so be sure to check the official event website, www.terravitaevent.com for updates. The class descriptions are still in progress and should be posted by the end of this week, but early buyers to The Sustainable Classroom will be rewarded with their first choice in the session selections. Click here for additional event details. 

But what does all this good news mean if you can’t afford to go? Pish posh, wipe off that frown. Chapelboro.com insiders and Orange Zest fans like you deserve a little reward, and you definitely need to add this event to your fall calendar. So. I’m here to do what any good friend would do: give you a discount code. 

To receive $5 off the purchase of The Sustainable Classroom tickets only, use the code TVECLASS1. 
To receive 15% off the purchase of any of the other tickets (Grand Tasting on the Green, Designated Driver, or Combined Tasting and Classroom tickets), use the code TVEFOOD. NOTE: The 15% off discount code expires at midnight on June 21st, so share that with your friends and family today! 

FULL DISCLOSURE: Last year I had such a blast as a volunteer at TerraVITA that this year I was able to land a spot assisting with programming for the event. Score for Chapelboro.com insiders! I’ll be sure to keep you posted on the latest news for TerraVITA as we get closer to Saturday, September 24th. 

Take a moment to leave a comment about your experience at TerraVITA Food & Wine Event in 2010. What’s bringing you back to the event this year? 


Summer Travel Tips

Memorial Day is days away, and with it comes the unofficial start of summer. Ah, the possibilities of where the road can take me just make this bird giddy. Weekend trips to the beach, treks to visit friends in Charlotte, respite from the heat in the cool of lush, rolly-hilled Asheville – so much fun to be had within a few hours of my little perch in the Piedmont. 

No need to compromise good taste or judgement somewhere between a Stuckey’s and that road trip hunger pang that screams “Feed me salty fatty goodness…with ranch or nacho flavoring”. I’d hate to hear that you succumbed to the lure of the vending machines at a rest stop on I-40. With a little planning, you can make informed dining choices when you hit the black top. Here are some of my favorite online resources to consult in advance. 

1. Roadfood.com –  The team behind Roadfood.com includes Jane and Michael Stern, winners of three James Beard awards and weekly contributors to the “The Splendid Table” on NPR. This is an essential resource when looking for the best eats in unexpected places while traveling the backroads of the American highway system. The site favors dives and places best described as joints rather than restaurants. Use this tool to research in advance while mapping your travel route if you can. That said, I’ve found the mobile version extremely helpful on my iPhone in some pretty remote areas of Virginia. Click here for more information about the site. 
2. Chowhound.com – People who are interested in the vox populi often use this as a go-to resource for restaurant reviews. Keep in mind the whole credibility issue when you read this site. Who knows if the people with time to comment on chowhound.com (or any crowdsourcing site like yelp, etc.)  consider the unlimited breadsticks at Olive Garden the highest step in the evolution of doughy products. Note: Chowhound is part of a lesser known but more awesome site called chow.com, a refreshingly hilarious food site that features articles that cover everything from cool DIY food projects like How to Make Goat Milk Caramel to Graduation Gifts by College Major.   
3. Animal Welfare Approved – I am the truest of omnivores, but I favor a vegetarian diet. No political or economic reasons, no soap box. I eat plenty of animal products that offend sub-cultures the world around. When dining out, it’s really important to me to choose restaurants that serve animals that lived a happy life. Animal Welfare Approved offers a thorough search engine that allows you to identify products, restaurants, farms and stores that serve Animal Welfare Approved stuff. Headed to Manhattan this summer? Click here for my test search results for Animal Welfare Approved purveyors and restaurants. Better yet, try a search yourself by clicking here
And what about you. Do you chance it at random spots or rely on your buddies for recommendations? Leave a comment below about how you avoid dining disasters on your way from point A to point B.