white noise

by Brian Clarey

News and views from inside the media bubble

I don’t generally read N+1 magazine, the hifalutin literary journal published thrice yearly out of Brooklyn, NY, not because it isn’t an excellent periodical — it is. But the Brooklyn I remember from my youth is more about garbage blowing across the Belt Parkway and Coney Island whitefish than hipsters with MFAs wrangling poetry from their memoirs. My problem, not theirs. So I found out about the piece, “White Oak Denim, Greensboro,” by Aaron Lake Smith, via Ed Cone’s blog, Word Up. The piece, a memoir of sorts casting Smith’s time as a security guard at the White Oak plant in a dystopian glow, bears as much resemblance to the city in which I live — and which Smith claims as his “home” — as the old Starrett City does to the new Spring Creek Towers. The discrepancies are duly noted in the comment thread at Cone’s: the plant is placed by NC A&T University, which is actually a couple miles away, and surrounded by farmland which is simply not the case. Benjamin Parkway and Cone Boulevard are mischaracterized. And, contrary to the piece’s assertion, there is no Cone YMCA in downtown Greensboro — though Smith gets a laugh when he notes that, “[P]eople still whisper when Cone heirs arrive at parties.” I found it odd that he recounted the Greensboro Massacre without once mentioning Nelson Johnson’s name, and the fact that he still lives and works in town. And after a little research, I was unable to verify that anyone by the name of Sam Whitey — the man with the “syrupy North Carolina drawl” who interviewed Smith for the job and ultimately hired him — lives in North Carolina.