Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

06 Jan 2011, 13:51 p.m.

After-Action Report

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2011 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

Asheville, North Carolina, is a radiant place to visit. The gorgeous downtown is the most walkable I've ever seen, even a vegetarian can't help but eat very well, and the beer is tremendous. (My tasting notes on the Gouden Carolus: "SO AWESOME".) Havoc Pennington's recent blog post details Asheville's niceness and disadvantages just fine so I won't blubber on. Oh yeah, except that it is fricking weird to so often be the only nonwhite person in the restaurant, and unpleasant to see monuments put up by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

I stayed with my friend David Forbes, whom I met at Foo Camp. When Southern hospitality meets an Indian-trained guest, you get amusingly recursive apologies. David's big flaws are that he does not like olives or The Dispossessed. Also he is orally and literarily verbose with an appetite for conflict, but those qualities he has turned to his advantage as the lead investigative reporter for the local alt-weekly. A relentless realist, a kind host, a thoughtful writer, and a good friend.

David, here is an incomplete list of the songs you could hear me singing, usually in the shower:

  • several US Presidential campaign songs from Oscar Brand's CD, especially "Little Know Ye Who's Coming," "Rock-A-Bye Baby (Daddy's A Whig)," "Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too!," "The Union Wagon," "Grant, Grant, Grant," "Get on a Raft with Taft," "If He's Good Enough For Lindy," "Marching Down to Washington," "Buckle Down With Nixon," "I'm Feeling Good About America," and "Why Not The Best?"
  • "Down by the Riverside," traditional
  • "Union Maid," Pete Seeger version
  • "Banks of Marble," Pete Seeger version
  • "Tom Cruise Crazy," Jonathan Coulton
  • "Skullcrusher Mountain," Jonathan Coulton
  • "Ol' College Try," The Mountain Goats (this is the one you asked me to stop singing as we were walking to dinner because it was too depressing)

Incomplete list of songs I quoted at you at dinners: "Heatseeker Boy," Moxy Früvous; "Everything You Know Is Wrong," Weird Al Yankovic; "Genesis 3:23," The Mountain Goats. That last one is off "The Life Of The World To Come," the Bible-related album I mentioned, but in general Darnielle lurves Bible allusions. That and ultra-vivid psychological and physical descriptions, and melancholy. I also was about to quote at you from Neutral Milk Hotel's "In The Aeroplane Over The Sea."

Writers I remember mentioning to you: Thomas Lynch (The Undertaking), Hugo Schwyzer, figleaf, Robin Einhorn. And David Foster Wallace's commencement address with the line "This is water. This is water."

In technology, I mentioned Dreamwidth (the LiveJournal alternative), DonorsChoose, and Firesheep and HTTPS Everywhere.

And thanks again for hosting me. Come up to New York sometime.


06 Jan 2011, 16:24 p.m.

Hey, disliking olives is a merit, not a flaw! I'm glad you had a good time. I enjoyed my visit to North Carolina this August, too, and also found the food and beer very good. I wasn't in Asheville, though.

Selena Deckelmann
06 Jan 2011, 17:18 p.m.

OMG I was just talking about the Dispossessed the other day while staying on a boat in St. Croix. :)

06 Jan 2011, 18:40 p.m.

I love both olives and The Dispossessed. Does this mean David and I would have to fight if we met?

Alexandra Duncan
08 Jan 2011, 0:14 a.m.

Hey, you were in my home town! I sincerely hope your visit included a trip to Sunnypoint Cafe. :)