Friday, June 25, 2010

Selling Salvation

I have a few articles that I'll post next week. Until then, enjoy this new poem I wrote today...

Drug dealers
and preachers
they're not that different,
selling salvation
one dime at a time.
Holy water and heroin
communion wafers and cocaine
the road to heaven has never been higher...

Who do you call
when all you want
is sleep
but all you do is shiver,
and sweat?

It's too hot to think
all I can think to do is drink.
My shirt sticks to my skin
like cellophane on processed cheese.

You tell me to quit killing
myself one braincell at a time.
Well, honey, you can want
all you want
but not a damn thing is going to change...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


I decided to post a new poem as filler until I can crank out another article next week

"I Lied"
by Charles Wood

Spent shotgun shells
and empty ink ribbons
are the only proof
I've ever lived.

This was the summer of bad decisions
where cheap beer and thin blood
flowed into thirsty gutters
with reckless abandon.

We sat on the porch
drenched in our own sweat
and besieged by chubby mosquitoes.
You said you loved me
I said I didn't care...

Friday, June 4, 2010

Kodak Moments

1-A bunch of people and myself stayed at a house on top of mountain for a weekend to let off some steam. I took a bunch of E and danced like a mad man in the guest house which we deemed “the spook house”. I was wearing a camo vest, a woman's robe, and a gardening hat while dancing with reckless abandoned.

2-For my 26th birthday a bunch of friends and I went to the get strip club. I was on E (see a pattern here?) and I was forced to sit on a chair with my hands tied behined the stripper poll as the two strippers I picked danced on me. The later released me only to have one pin me down with her thighs as the other whipped me. It was a kodak moment

3-I tried rollerskating once, with disastorous results. That would of made for some funny pictures

4-I took karate lessions when I was five, for like a month or less. I was sparring with this kid one day and he suckered punch me. I went ballistic and they had to pull me off of him. No damage was done, we were both wearing padding. Still, it would of made a great photo...

5-When I was a sophmore I lived on campus in Grogan dorm. We had a fire alarm at 3am in the middle of December. It was snowing outside. I was so frazzled I didn't think to put on pants or a shirt so I was stuck out in the snow for a half an hour wearing my boxers. It would have been an embarassing photo but a good one none the less...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Lunch With Marty

I met with photographer Allen Martin of MartiniVision for lunch at McCoul’s a few weeks ago to talk about his work. As he enjoyed a delicious blackened chicken and gouda sandwich he told me, “I’ve always been in visual arts and I’ve always had a camera but I didn’t start shooting seriously until five years ago.” Martin does both fashion and art photography and believes, “At its best they [arts and fashion photography] blend together and become indistinguishable.”
Martin, originally from Greensboro, moved to New York because he needed more than Greensboro had to offer, a sentiment common among Greensboro natives. Martin’s father owned a type setting business and Martin ran the dark room. Once Martin left for New York he took his experience in the dark room with him to become an art director. As an art director in New York Martin had to, “separate fine art from commercial art. Commercial art became a way to make a living.” During his stint in New York Martin produced all the print tourism ads for Turkey tourism from 1994-1996.
Martin eventually left New York. Since his return to Greensboro Martin has been impressed with the state of the town, “With a city of its size I’m impressed with the talent and creativity of the people here. I feel now the [arts] scene is more crystallized and focus then it was before I left.”
A typical photo shoot begins with Martin discussing with his models every detail of the shoot, down to wardrobe or the lack there of, before they even meet. If it’s a fashion shoot a stylist may be involved but in most cases it’s just Martin and the model. The ideal model for Martin is someone who is capable of fashion photography but also open to artistic work as well as someone who has their own style. Beauty and intelligence are also necessary for a good model.
Film noir has been a major influence in Martin’s photography, “I really like the feel of classic film noir. The lighting and composition of those old black and white movies catches my attention. I also like the true Americana in it.” Noir can be seen in his fashion photography, which is very European in tone and feel, as well as his art photography, which can be dark but never delves into horror, sci-fi, or gore.
As for upcoming projects, “I'm currently shooting a series I'm calling Noirotica . It's Erotic more in subtext, than in blatant, obvious visuals. Think Sam Spade, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, James M Cain and Lew Archer. Think Maltese Falcon, Touch of Evil, Night and the City and Double Indemnity. My studio was formerly a group of insurance offices. And by "formerly", I mean the 1940s. It looks it too. It's not really a fetish series, but it's kind of leaning that way. It's black and white.”

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Funny Like a Funeral

Gavan Holden, vocalist and bassist for local punk act Funny Like a Funeral, met guitarist Jordan Holden at NYP. Jordan was sporting a Mohawk at the time so Gavan assumed he was a punk rocker and approached him about playing guitar. Jordan was a metal head and turned down Gavan’s offer. Years later they became friends and band mates though neither knows exactly when. “I’m a little too drunk to remember stuff like that” say’s Gavan.
Gavan and Jordan were both drawn to the “fast, loud, and sloppy” music of late 90’s Midwestern post-punk acts like Jawbreaker, Oscar, Get-Up Kids, and Hot Water Music. The influences of these bands can be seen in their music which, according to Jordan, “Juxtaposes happy, energetic music with dark lyrical content.” Gavan adds, “A lot of the lyrics are about past substance abuse.”
A typical Funny Like a Funeral Show consists of, “Seven or eight drunk kids standing around,” according to Gavan. There have, however, been a number of notable exceptions. They played a house show in Grand Rapids that drew in, “Hundreds of straight up college kids with jack shit else to do.”
The band also played at a Spanish poetry reading at a Christian coffee house in Indiana. The owners of the coffee house were especially nice, “They paid us and bought us food and asked to come back again sometime.”
While on tour with Social Life at Virginia Beach the band spent all their cash at the bar because everything was on sale for a dollar. Gavan and drummer John Robertson was lost and wandering around Virginia beach at 8am and was saved by Social Life’s drummer Caleb Gross who found them and picked them up.
Funny Like a Funeral has one album out entitled Evolved to Counter Act and it’s available at shows. The recording session was, “cheap and fast.” Local artist Sam King did the artwork for the album. “I want to make out with Sam,” says Gavan, “He did the artwork for free and deserves a kiss.” The band is currently working on releasing another album early next year. Gavan and Jordan expect the record to show more maturity. Jordan adds, “We’re going to pay more attention to detail on this record, use more layers, and concentrate on backup vocals and harmonies.”

You can check out Funny Like a Funeral online at

Monday, May 17, 2010

Evan Wade and The Mad Ones

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue center light pop and everybody goes "Awww!”-Jack Kerouac

The above quote is where Mad Ones Films, a local Greensboro independent film company, derived their name. Mad Ones Films currently consists of Evan Wade, Jaysen Buterin, and Jennie Prince. Evan Wade, UNCG alumni, was introduced to Jaysen by their mutual friend Jennie. According to Evan, “Jaysen was a film geek. He had the gumption to be a screen writer. I became a producer and Jennie did what was left. That was in 2006.”
As a producer, Wade’s job consists of, “arranging schedules, talking to directors, getting a crew together. More than anything, you primarily feed people, especially in indy films, when you’re not paying them.”
Wade and Jaysen were both English majors and their education has influenced their work, “I pride myself that Mad Ones Films have some sort of literary element. My co-founder and creative director for the team, Jaysen Buterin, has a Master's degree in English Literature. So, there is a certain respect for the canon that comes across in several of our films, especially "The Devil's Tramping Ground," which is another take on Faustian myth.”
Wade also adds that the films of Quentin Tarentino and Robert Rodriguez, with their gritty over the top approach to film making, have also been a major influence and would love to work with the two, “That would have been an awesome time to work with those two, as they were just establishing themselves in Hollywood, and probably weren't rich enough to be jackasses yet... “
As with most independent film companies, a budget, or lack thereof, can become a concern, “Mad Ones Films has been built on the premise of doing "more with less." Having focused largely on modern spoofs or the occasional ‘slasher’ flick, we've had to get creative and find ways to do things on a budget, while still aiming for the delivery of a ‘quality’ product. We've garnered some really talented friends in our 4 years of producing "indie" films and that has helped us, as their talents have upped the production value of our films.” Some of the talent includes special effects from some of the Spooky Woods team, a local haunted house, during the off season.
Wade insists that if Mad Ones Films ever did acquire a substantial budget that Mad Ones Films would still hold onto its indie cred, “If budget was not an issue, I think we would continue in a similar vein with our films, but they would definitely show more polish and craftsmanship. More money would give us the freedom to purchase nice venues for film sets, as we seem to spend most of our money on venues and craft services to feed the cast and crew.”
Mad Ones Films first project was a short for the 48 hour film festival called “Z Day”. Wade describes the short as, “A zombie movie with a smart eleck tone. We didn’t try to be scary, just funny.” Since “Z Day” Mad Ones Films have recorded 10 shorts, 1 45 minute film and have recently begun shooting a 30 minute film entitled "Booze, Bullets, and Hot Pink Jesus - Ch. 1” which is going to be the first installment of a trilogy. Wade will also make his directorial debut in June at this years 48 Hour Film Festival.

Here's a trailer for one of their films:

The Decapitator Teaser Trailer #2 from Jaysen Buterin on Vimeo.

If you want to learn more about Mad Ones Films you can check out their site at

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Summer in Greensboro

I am uploading this poem basically as filler until I can add some more interviews and articles next week:

Summer in Greensboro
by Charles Wood

These summer streets are filled with the smell of freshly cut
Grass and french fries.
Leather skinned hobos hustle college kids for loose change during the day
While shivering for salvation and cheap drugs at night.
The faces of friends blur together as the hours fall on each other
Like clumsy dominoes.
I don’t know where I am
But I know it’s not heaven.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Women of Grace

Homelessness is never easy even in the best of circumstances. Winter can be especially harsh, claiming dozens of lives every year due to exposure. Luckily, homeless shelters can be found scattered about Greensboro. A dozen women found shelter at Grace Community Church this past December. The women were mostly black and were in their late 40’s to early 70’s.
One of the people staying at the shelter is Tanya, a black woman in her mid 40’s, checked in at the shelter in November. Tanya has been a CAN for the past 30 years but lost her job at Hospice which caused a snowball effect which led her to becoming homeless. Tanya has also stayed at Urban Ministries and said, “They have great meals and plenty of love, love so thick you can cut it with a knife.” Tanya is planning on staying here so she can save some money to go back to school for nursing. The only complain Tanya had was that the women have to leave every morning after breakfast at 6:30 and go out in the cold to look for jobs until the shelter opens up again at night.
Denise Devine is originally from Mississippi. Her husband was incarcerated and got cancer when he was released. The financial strain eventually led her to becoming homeless last year. She stayed at Grace last year and is thankful that they now have showers.
Selma is from Baltimore and moved to Greensboro five years ago to take care of her elderly grandparents, both in their late 90’s. After her Grandparents passed away Selma moved in with her daughter who recently graduated from Guilford college and is raising three of her own children. Selma was forced to leave when her daughter’s husband returned from Iraq and round up in Grace Community Church which she describes as, “A nice shelter where they show us lots of love.” Selma is also grateful that Grace is strictly a woman’s shelter, “When men and women are in a shelter you lose your focus on why you’re there. When a man is in your face you can’t concentrate.” Selma’s plans for the future are simple, “I am just going to pray and keep on going. I am just glad I am not sleeping in alleys, dumpsters, or in trash to keep warm.”
Mary Anne is a disabled senior citizen in her late 70’s who has lived in Greensboro her whole life. During her years in Greensboro she has worked a variety of jobs ranging from working at laundry mat, Wendy’s, Shawnees, MCR, and Plastic Place. Her disability caused her to lose her jobs and she was unable to collect unemployment. Mary Anne’s family wouldn’t help her out so she was forced to brave the cold but was luckily approached by a volunteer from Grace asking her if she wanted to stay.

Monday, April 26, 2010

My Favorite Things Celebrate National Record Store Day

The slow death of BB’s Records marked the end of independent music stores in Greensboro. Gate City Noise suffered a similar fate a few short years earlier. Local entrepreneur Jackson Lee filled this void when he opened My Favorite Things on Grove Street.
Jackson was approached by Lee Counts, a local handyman, who informed Jackson that there was an empty space available on Grove Street. Jackson held an informal meeting with Counts as well as his friend Nate Hobbs to decide what they should do with the space. Originally, the trio was going to use the area as a practice space for local bands and artists but both Counts and Hobbs dropped out so Jackson opened My Favorite Things on April 2010.
My Favorite Things isn’t just a record store, it also serves as a bicycle repair shop. Jackson, who has worked on bikes for the past 15 years, believes combing cycling and music in one store makes perfect sense, “There’s a kind of image, a certain type of person who is interested in music, interested in art, and enjoys riding their bike.”
The record store also acts as a venue for local talent. Jackson is a member of Greensboro rock act Rough Hands and has connections within the communities’ music scene and uses the store to create opportunities for local bands. Jackson decided to have 10 bands play at My Favorite Things on April 17 to celebrate National Record Store Day with the intention to increase both sales and awareness for My Favorite Things.
I arrived at the show around four thirty. It was being held outside, behind the record store. The first band was setting up on the house-sized slab of concrete which served as the stage and was hooking their equipment to a drop cord which led into the window of an abandoned house on Grove Street.
Hidden Link Park started playing at 4:45 and by then a crowd of a dozen or so had gathered. A few people sat on a long, thick log that had recently been cut down while others sat on the grass or the concrete. I was feeling way to sober so I headed to the convenience store across the street and bought a six pack. Hidden Link Park’s set was over by the time I returned.
Rocket Science, a two piece from Greensboro, was the next band up and started playing at 5:30. Rocket Science is made up of guitarist Adam Thorne and drummer Andy Lamberr. The two met in high school and has been performing in Greensboro. According to Thorne, “Greensboro isn’t exactly a zenith of music culture.
Up next was The Old 1-2 who became performing around a quarter after six pm. They had dirty blues roots and were my favorite band thus far. The vocalist wore suspenders and sung into an old timey microphone. The Old 1-2 was formed in Hickory by brothers Nathan and Chad Meyers and their friend Hawke Kelley. The band decided to move to Greensboro because, “shows in Hickory are very hit and miss but we’ve always had a lot of support from people in Greensboro. The group is heavily influenced by Tom Waits, Carl Burnside, and the Black Keys.
The next band up was Mutant League who started playing at 7:45. A steady stream of people started to pour in with 40’s, tall boys, and 12 packs in tow. I was relieved to finally not be the only person drinking at the show. A slew of 20 something hipsters sporting oh-so-ironic trucker hats, v-neck t-shirts, bad facial hair, and worse tattoos were now sitting atop the fallen log. It may have just been the booze but the whole scene made me feel like I was in an American Apparel ad for a few moments. I left in the middle of their set to buy another six pack and a pack of cigarettes. It was starting to get dark and I wanted to be prepared…
Crystal Bright and the Silver Hands performed next. The adorned the concrete stage with cabinets, lamps, and other seemingly random assortments of appliances, toys, and farming equipment. The set looked like the inside of a gypsy’s wagon by the time they were through. I recognized their drummer, Taylor Bays, and approached him to ask if I could interview him and the band after the set. He said it was cool.
It was pitch black outside by the time Crystal Bright and the Silver Hands took the stage. . Charles played the up-right bass, Taylor played drums, and Diego played the guitar while Chrystal Bright sang and played the accordion and the saw. Their music had strong Spanish, Eastern European, and Gypsy tendencies and ended up being my favorite act of the evening.
The show moved locations to Legitimate Business, a practice space and venue a block or two away from My Favorite Things, after Crystal Bright finished their set. I decided to head on home since my ride was leaving and I didn’t feel like walking down Gleenwood drunk at night by myself. I ended up not being able to interview the band but will definitely try to interview them in the near future.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Save College Hill?

This is a post from John Sanford. If you like it you can check out some more of his work at

Who’s in charge of your own life and the future of your community? Some of the wealthy and well-connected in our city don't think you should be. Against a backdrop of school funding being slashed, crowding on campus and your tuition rising higher and higher every semester, as if the administration were trying to build a tower of Babylon out of student debt, in steps a dashing and attractive corporation from Ohio who will solve so many of your problems and do it so quickly. Just don’t ask too many questions. This corporation proposes to destroy the currently dying set of factories that lie between Spring Garden and Market Streets on the way to downtown. In their place, a series of towering and characterless ‘student housing’ apartments will be slapped together. Charging at least $500 per bedroom with some utilities is not exactly ‘affordable’ for those students who don’t have money pouring in from the folks. Many homeowners in College Hill, which fills the area between UNCG, Greensboro College and the edge of downtown, are worried that by suddenly housing over 700 students in the middle of a residential neighborhood you will drastically affect the quality of life for the entire patchwork of students and families that occupies the century-old houses nearby. They have successfully prevented the Zoning Board from approving the development and the issue now moves to City Hall.
Some of this concern is snooty and self-interested: the local homeowners want fewer students leaving beercans, vomit and broken dreams on sidewalks and lawns, fewer loud parties or anything else that resembles college life and also lowers property values, if not rent. The corporation deftly responded to the concerns of this segment of the community by suggesting that if they open this student-complex, then students will flock out of the old houses of College Hill like rats leaving a sinking ship. I’m not so sure that people who enjoy living in unique apartments carved from ancient houses will run to live in a cookie-cutter corporate environment with sturdy fences, even if they offer the advantage of not having mice in the attic. You can choose for yourself.
Choice. That’s really what this comes down to. The corporation must have been shocked and even offended when the College Hill residents began actively opposing the proposed development as soon as it was made public. I’m proud of us for that. The company expected to grease the wheels of a few local political types, throw up some buildings and soon rest on their heels, collecting over a quarter-million dollars per month in rent. Not so fast.
Dying factories do nothing for the community, I won’t argue that. I suppose nearly anything would be preferable and create more tax-revenue. But why isn’t the city, county and UNCG offering a vision for this place? I don’t see why we shouldn’t create a cultural complex, with outdoor theaters, parks and maybe a few wineshops and even some upscale apartments with a view of the downtown. Maybe you’d rather see an elementary school built for neighborhood kids or a monument to the veterans of the Iraq war or all of the above. This is our community. You or future-Spartans will have to live with the results for a long, long time. Our culture has a hard time turning down instant bucks for future rewards. These hastily built student towers will decay, and a less scrupulous company may take over management. They could become ‘ghetto’ and a bigger eyesore than the 1960’s era factories. Even the unimaginative may see the wisdom in placing dormitories there rather than profit-seeking and unaccountable builders. Dorms create revenue which goes back to the university and by extension the citizens of North Carolina. The university’s drug and alcohol policies would be quieter for the neighborhood. Women would be protected by campus regulations against sexual violence, which are in many ways superior to what is offered by city police.
Why should you have to passively accept whatever scheme a well-financed builder or corporation thrusts at you? We are Americans, and we should be free to determine the future of our own neighborhoods.

Monday, February 22, 2010


I've been too busy with school and work to update as much as I would like too. Hopefully this week I'll be able to post one or two more articles.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Come Hell or High Water Part 1

Come Hell or High Water is a local five piece with strong alt country tendencies. The band consists of Suzanne, Matty, Shane D., Gael, and Dylan. Suzanne started playing around Greensboro solo after an earlier project she was involved with, The Scarlet Harlot, disbanded.

According to Suzanne, “We (Come Hell or High Water) came together in October. Matty came up to me in NYP and asked, ‘do you need a guitar player?’ I did and we played a lot together. And then Shane D. asked, ‘do you want someone to play drums’. Then Gael saw us play at the Four Corners and asked if we needed a bass player. At that point, I was still learning how to play the guitar. Dylan, who was also in Scarlet Harlot, joined in June.”

“What holds the band together,” according to Gael, “are Suzanne’s lyrics”. Suzanne and Matty are the primary song writers for the band, “Matty and I have been writing a lot recently. He plays guitar and I’ve written some stuff down and we make a tune out of it. They’re (the lyrics) are very personal. Most of the lyrics come out of my personal life, except for the song about robbing a bank.”

Come Hell or High Water has a very open creative process. “The first time I played with Suzanne I was playing with the slide and I asked her what she wanted. She replied, ‘play what you feel.’” says Matty. The other band members do their own thing and see what works.

Suzanne’s vocals and lyrics capture the whiskey soaked heartache of country’s hay day while Matty describes his sound as, “Old timey blues meets sonic youth”. Other inspirations for the band include Wilco and Willie Nelson. If Come Hell or High Water could chose any band to open for it would be Zoe and the Lost High Rollers because, according to Suzanne, “They are fucking amazing.”

Note: Come Hell or High Water has just added Harrison Barrow to their lineup to play key board. I will interview the band once again as a result and try to post it relatively soon...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Post later this week, I promise..

I have just finished a draft for the piece I'm writing about local band Come Hell or High Water. I'll put the finishing touches on it tomorrow and post it for your viewing pleasure.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Coming Up

In the next week or two I'll be posting an article about a local homeless shelter, record store, and film maker. Stay tuned.