Literally and figuratively, the idea of “listening” is somewhat of a lost art in our digital world. When a voice begins to share a point-of-view, usually a louder voice interrupts with a “more important” counterpoint or immediate distain for the sentiment before the initial thought can place a period at the end of a full sentence. 

That, and many-a-time folks simply have forgotten what it means to listen with intent and purpose. It’s that fleeting moment where you’re soaking in the words, emotions and mannerisms of another human being, in a sincere effort to make sense of the world within your head and outside your front door.

Sitting in a chair on a front lawn late Sunday afternoon, the sun had already disappeared behind the mountains, a crisp air settling into the impending night. Just about a block down the hill from Main Street in Waynesville, a handful of folks gathered in front of the Twin Maples Farmhouse for an impromptu live performance. 

The further you meander down the road of life, the more you come to realize just how haphazardly bumpy and ever-rolling the trek actually is — and remains so — when push comes to shove.

For the last 35 years, the Flaming Lips have gone from a fringe rock act in Oklahoma to a highly-sought-after entity in mainstream musical circles. The live performances are utterly mesmerizing, encompassing a euphoric sense of vaudeville theatre and a rekindling of one’s childlike wonder.

When you’re young — full of confusion about the ways and means of a “stable adulthood,” amid a hazy sense of what and who you are (or hope to become) — the idea of clarity is something you desperately want to find and obtain. 

Cape Cod.

Well, to be more specific, the small seaside town of Chatham, Massachusetts, on the southeastern coast of Cape Cod. April 20, 1999. My family and I emerged from our old Nissan Quest minivan to check into our bed and breakfast for spring break. 

The solidarity was evident.

Sitting onstage this past Monday at Nantahala Brewing in Bryson City, I conducted another episode of “Smoky Mountain Voices,” where local characters and officials are interviewed during an extended face-to-face conversation. It’s in an effort to learn more about the people and places that make Western North Carolina such a unique and cherished region.

It’s like pulling teeth.

As your arts and entertainment editor for Western North Carolina, I find it difficult sometimes to not only “rally the troops” to attend local art events, but also get folks to support and share these ongoing gatherings and vital interactions in our mountain communities.

They said it happens.

When I was younger, and very much so in conversation nowadays, it was always said that as you get older, you tend to circle back to the music of your youth.

He is a welcomed voice of reason in a planet seemingly gone mad.

For the last four decades, Henry Rollins has remained a thorn in the side of pop culture and world politics. Though he remains elusive in definition, he’s accessible to those in need of some truth in an era where the battle of appearance versus reality is hitting a crucial tipping point.

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