Thursday, March 15, 2007

Steven Ross - Day 9

Belatedly, I am writing about the final stop, Asheville, NC.

Frankly, I feel like I have hit the wall. How do touring music acts and stand-up comics do it? Hours on the road, a new town every day, a new motel, restaurant food.

Sadly, I will not have real time to explore Asheville and its environs. Not far away is Black Mountain, former home to the legendary Black Mountain College, one of the most fabled experimental institutions in art education and practice. It was here that Buckminster Fuller created the first geodesic dome, Merce Cunningham started his dance company, and John Cage staged his first happening.

As I walk the streets of Asheville, I am reminded of Haley Joel Osmont's character in the movie, Sixth Sense ("I see dead people.")
For me, it is "I see hippies." I feel like I am in a time warp or a Grateful Dead convention. Looking at the local news weeklies, I decide that this must be the spiritual center of the universe. There are a full two pages of options if you want to seek enlightenment or inner peace. Additionally, a thriving arts community advertises a full plate of options.

Oddly, in scouring the movie pages of three arts weeklies, I see no mention of my films. Passing the movie theater, the marquee advertises Venus and Notes of a Scandal. With very low expectations for a good crowd, I arrive and am elated to see a hardy group in the theater. It is a great crowd and the Q&A sessions are very lively.

Of note, I meet a couple who were Peace Corps volunteers in Liberia in the late 60s. Watching the film and seeing the destruction actually brings them to tears. They speak of going to dances at the 4-star Ducor Hotel - today home to hundreds of squatters seeking basic shelter.

After the show, I choose sushi for my evening's fare. A gent walks up and compliments me on the films. He is one Jack Sholder. Director of feature films (A Nighmare on Elm Street 2, The Hidden) and television (Tales from the Crypt, Mortal Kombat: Conquest), he is a lively conversationalist. Fed up with the Hollywood scene, he describes selling his Malibu home and relocating with his family in the hills outside of Asheville. Currently, he is the Director of the Motion Picture & Television Program, and a Professor in the Department of Communications at Western Carolina University.

I trudge back to the Best Western and pack for a final time. Tomorrow, I will arise early, drive the 120 miles back to the Charlotte Airport, and head home to Ohio.

What a great experience it has been - showing the films, meeting a diversified group of great people, and seeing the South.
I will carry these memories for a long, long time.