Ten Great (and Two Interesting) Works with Triad Associations
Ten Great (and Two Interesting) Books, Blu-rays, Albums and Songs
by, about or starring People connected with the Triad
In no particular order, other than that the bad-but-fun one and the interesting one are at the end.
Kelly Link, Get in Trouble
Link, who introduced me to Green Hill Cemetery the same Christmas she gave me a dried llama fetus from the Witches Market in Bolivia, is not only the best fantasy writer to come out of the UNCG Writing Program, but its most distinguished living alumnus. Fred Chappell and Neil Gaiman have called her the greatest short fiction writer currently working in any genre. This collection was short-listed for the Pulitzer last year. Available from most national book retailers, but I recommend buying local via Scuppernong.
Pam Grier, Foxy Brown
Whether playing Foxy, Coffy or Friday, Winston-born Grier was the greatest American action movie hero of the 1970s (sorry, Clint and Charlie), and this is her at her most beautiful, blackitudinal, bad-assed and bodacious. The trick with the handgun in her ‘fro is awesome, and she serves her revenge not just cold but in a pickle jar (you’ll have to see what she does to the villain to get that). Wham, bam, thank you Pam! Available on Blu-ray, DVD and streaming from Amazon.com, and Best Buy usually has it in stock. That Netflix doesn’t currently offer it just shows that they’re jive turkeys.
Carolina Chocolate Drops, Genuine Negro Jig
Greensboro’s Rhiannon Giddens has hit big time as a solo star, but let’s not forget her wonderful work with the great Dom Flemmons and the rest of the Drops. This won a 2010 Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album. Available on iTunes and Amazon Music. Or as one of those old-timey CD things.
Emmylou Harris, Pieces of the Sky: Expanded and Remastered
2005 expansion of her classic 1975 album, first released ten years after she was a student at UNCG who regularly performed on Tate Street. You can’t listen to any of these beautiful songs just once, and “Boulder to Birmingham” will make you a better person. Available on iTunes and Amazon.
Frank Lucas (w. Aliya S. King), Original Gangster: The Real Life Story of One of America’s Most Notorious Drug Lords
Autobiography of the notorious crime boss who in the late 60s and early 70s seized control of Harlem’s drug trade by cutting out the middleman and smuggling heroin directly from Bangkok to Fort Bragg via the coffins of servicemen killed in Vietnam. Lucas was born in La Grange but grew up in Greensboro. In the 2007 film American Gangster, he was played by Denzel Washington.
Jim Amash and Eric Nolen-Weathington, Matt Baker: The Art of Glamour
Born in Forsyth County, Baker was a pioneering African-American comic book artist and cartoonist best known for the early (barely-)costumed heroine The Phantom Lady, and for his romance, crime, western and “jungle” comics. Co-edited by Greensboro’s Jim Amash, a veteran inker for Archie and Sonic the Hedgehog, and Eric Nolen-Weathington, this attractive hardcover contains articles on Baker, interviews with his survivors and peers, and beautiful samples of his work, including several complete stories. Acme Comics has ordered more copies of this, so try them before Amazon (there’s no particular savings with the latter).
Fred Chappell, Dagon
The renowned Professor Chappell is a former North Carolina Poet Laureate who taught at UNCG for 40 years and was on my thesis committee. This 1968 literary horror novel, named Best Foreign Language Book of the Year by the Académie française, combines H. P. Lovecraft with William Faulkner by way of the French Symbolists.
Pride and Prejudice
This 1995 six-part BBC adaptation of the classic Jane Austin novel stars Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. You may think of Ehle, who won BAFTA and Emmy awards for her work here, as British, but she’s the daughter of North Carolina novelist John Ehle and was born in Winston-Salem, raised in Asheville, and studied at the School of the Arts. Fun fact: she was the original Catelyn Stark in the unaired pilot episode of Game of Thrones. Available from Best Buy and on DVD (but not streaming) from Netflix, and the Blu-ray can be found new (and cheaper) from Amazon resellers.
Crystal Bright and the Silver Hands, Jockey Full of Bourbon
Formerly a Greensboro gal, gypsy-jazz-goth-folk-punk polymath power princess Crystal Bright now lives in Chapel Hill, but the multi-instrumentalist muse with the amazing voice and the formidable musical skills plays the Triad on a regular basis. Two albums and a fully-packed audiovisual light-up crystal USB drive are available from her website at the first link, but a quick, cheap and terrific introduction to her work is her cover of this classic Tom Waits song, available as a single from Amazon Music and from iTunes.
Eugene Chadbourne, I Hate the Man Who Owns this Bar: a Survival Guide for Musicians
Greensboro’s resident cult music god/unhinged psychobilly madman is also a damn funny and fine writer, and this 1998 “survival guide” is not only still relevant, but one of the best books ever written about the music business. Sadly, it’s out of print, and while it’s readily and quite cheaply available from Amazon resellers, Eugene doesn’t get any money from it. So please, also check out his music and his new book (which I’ve not read yet) on his own site.
Orson Scott Card, Songmaster
Greensboro’s most popular but also most controversial science fiction writer is best known for Ender’s Game, but this earlier novel is a fascinating (imagine that word with a Spockian intonation) read for those familiar with its author’s pronouncements on sexuality and gay marriage. It’s the far future tale of a beautiful young boy whose perfect singing voice amplifies human emotions, and of the man who romantically and sexually loves him.
Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth
I’m not saying this 1993 horror “threequel,” shot in Greensboro and Winston-Salem, is a good movie, but it’s fun to see the demonic Pinhead setting ablaze GPD cop cars with NYPD plates on Greene Street. You’ll also see the Jefferson Pilot building morphed into the New York City Skyline and the West Market Street United Methodist Church depicted as a Catholic one with a drunken Irish priest. Your best bet is the four-movie “Hellraiser Collection,” even though the other three films suck and none are the original or its first sequel. Best Buy has it on DVD and Blu-ray, but both are cheaper at Amazon.