Two days as a citizen of the Triad

by Jeff Sykes

A lot of people talk about being a “citizen of the Triad,” but this past weekend I spent a good deal of time actually doing it.

The weekend got off to an early start when I found myself on the second floor of Elsewhere Museum talking to co-founder George Scheer about the culmination of the South Elm Projects. It’s hard to classify listening to interesting people talk and then writing down what they say as “work” but it’s what the boss man pays me to do. Scheer has accomplished a lot with getting Elsewhere off the ground and guiding it to institutional status. The South Elm Projects and the successful $650,000 fundraiser to help remodel the museum likely cement Elsewhere as just that.

Scheer seems to live by the notion of “speak softly and carry a big stick,” his stick being powerful ideas about placemaking and preservation of a neighborhood’s existing cultural memory in the face of transitional development. That’s the gist behind the South Elm Projects, which YES! Weekly has written about several major articles about to date.

With murals and plaques, iconic sculptures and a transformed garden space, the South Elm Projects have added a hint of zest and flavor to the neighborhood south of the train tracks on South Elm Street.

The projects concluded this past weekend, and in addition to the items mentioned above, a team of socially engaged artists has left a series of guide maps around town in certain locations. You’ll see them, as I did, in dispensers like the one at Gibb’s Hundred brewery, where I retired after my interviews at Elsewhere and met a crew from DH Griffin who are transforming one of Andy Zimmerman’s Lewis Street buildings.

With my thirst quenched and with my camera still strapped to my back I made my way back toward the car, which I’d left at Hamburger Square. I dipped into M’Coul’s for a Zorba the Greek wrap before meeting some friends across the street at the Beer Co., where a small brewery from Nelson County, Virginia was having a tap takeover. I tried one of their beers, and received a free glass and slap huggie, not to mention a great writing pen, before I recalled that the Meat Puppets were playing a show at Ziggy’s in Winston-Salem.

Meat Puppets at Ziggy’s.

I asked about and found two friends present at the Beer Co. willing to trek over to Winston to catch the show. We arrived just in time to check out the gear on stage before the Meat Puppets came on and laid a devastating rock cacophony on my ears for the next hour. They hit all the right notes, paying homage to Kurt Cobain with “Plateau” before ending the set with a raucous extended version of “Lake of Fire”.

Oh the humanity! Not yet surfeited on this night of rock glory, we sauntered down Trade Street back toward The Garage, where I met owner Tucker Tharpe, was given one of his iconic portrait buttons, and was able to catch the last two songs of a gritty set by the Luxuriant Sedans. The riffs and phrases, not to mention the loudspeakers, were much more controlled and nuanced than the frenzy back at Ziggy’s, which we left to the legions of Soul Asylum fans.

The Luxuriant Sedans.

Outside, I chatted with Luxuriant Sedans guitarist Rob Slater, who thanked me again for the article I wrote about the band’s album, Born Certified.

We set off back down Trade Street, but not before I ran into my old friend Michael Hewlett from the Winston-Salem Journal. I cut my teeth in a newsroom where Hewlett was a leader back in Lynchburg, Virginia and it’s always great to bump in to him in Winston, which I seem to do on a regular basis.

We got the car from the parking deck and headed back to Greensboro where we ended up at LaRue for their late-night menu. I opted for the stir-fry over the Pho and was pleasantly surprised with the ginger-notes.

I slept in Saturday, before heading back to Elsewhere to interview the artist who created the Lunch Tables project that anchors the intersection of Arlington and Bragg streets now. I had a break before I was to read a short story from a recently published anthology, so I parked it at Gibb’s Hundred for an hour and tinkered with my new I-Pad and tried to look hip.

Nervously, I set out up Elm Street in a light drizzle to Scuppernong Books, where I wondered if more than two people would show up to our reading event. Imagine my delight when an even dozen spread out among the couches and chairs in the back. !