Recommended diversions


I’m sorry, I am an unabashed sports fan. Not one of those people who paints themselves in their team’s colors, or whose happiness or existence depends on the outcome of a particular game.


No, I just love to watch athletes in peak condition striving on the playing field. Football, baseball, volleyball, track and field, soccer, even golf. To watch extremely gifted physical specimens of my species test themselves against each other and the record books brings me contentment and hope.

When I was younger and less ... cautious, I played sports. I’m all behind the team concept and what it feels like when you have done your best. It’s a great feeling and a fulfilling lesson that helps you in all other aspects of your life.

During the Olympics, I watched the curling competition. The CURLING competition. These men and women were the best in the world at it. That was worth watching.

So this time of year, with college and NFL football, the pennant races coming down to the wire, and basketball a mere two months away, you won’t have to search for me too hard. I’ll be at the drawing table with a game or two flashing across the TV screen off to the side.

And when I hear the commentator’s voice rise in pitch and excitement, I know that I can turn around and watch a slow-motion replay of a human doing the improbably beautiful.

Go team!

People on the Street

By the time that read this, the phenomenon might be over with, but I have had the pleasure of witnessing it on my way to work every morning for a couple of weeks now.

I drive into Asheville from Leicester, down Newfound Road to New Leicester Highway, and then Patton to downtown. A 25-minute drive, along side all of the usual suspects — NASCAR wannabes, elders with their blinkers on for miles, pokey drivers in the hokey lane.

By the time I get to Patton, my blood pressure is usually up a few points, and I’m ready to get off the road. The line at the light is long, so I can watch for a couple of minutes at a time. There is an elderly black man with an umbrella, rain or shine or darkness, walking around that intersection. Besides the umbrella, he is carrying a megaphone with a remote mic attachment. He is also carrying a ventriloquist dummy, a white dummy.

I have yet to roll down the window to hear what they are saying. It might almost ruin the effect if it’s just another religious rant. I LOVE watching the pair of them, both mouths working. Did I mention that they are wearing cowboy hats?

Keep your eyes open in the Asheville area. They might be in other parts of town at different times, and they might be gone tomorrow. If the Chamber needs some new ideas for brochures, something to convince Joe and Jane Tourist that we’ve got it all here ... hmmm?

All the Roadrunning

Some musicians have a sound so singular that all you need is a couple of notes, a phrase on a guitar or the shape of a vowel, and you know instantly who made it. Carlos Santana comes to mind; John Coltrane or Aretha Franklin.

(Tiny Tim .... I guess.)

Mark Knopfler and EmmyLou Harris have released a CD titled All the Roadrunning, and both of those very singular players have meshed with an ease that makes you think that they must have been separated at birth. What a magnificent recording! I liked both of them a lot before this, but they have created something much larger than the two of them.

Knopfler’s guitar tones and country-rock leanings were made for EmmyLou’s plaintive and world-weary voice. And when they sing together ... man!

They should continue to collaborate. I hope there are plans for at least one more CD, if not a couple more. And maybe a tour.

— By David Cohen

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