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The Blue Banner
The Blue Banner
There are numerous snide jokes about there being a
Starbucks Coffee shop on every corner. Almost like
kudzu on a warm wet day, the notorious coffee chain
creeps in and strangles small businesses with commer
It is almost impossible now to walk down a street in a
major city without coming across the purveyors of such
drinks as a "skinny half caf double mocha latte."
They have now taken their coffee empire to the next
level, opening a new store in the Forbidden City in
The corporation now squats in the same area where
emperors used to throw extravagant Chinese New Year
Many people worry that the ever-increasing commer
cialism in the Forbidden City is beginning to ruin the
integrity of the great city.
Gift shops now line the squares, cleverly hidden behind
empirical-era architecture, with Mastercard logos, maps
for tourists and other consumer enticements.
Threats have been made to revoke the coffee giant's
year lease, not an uncommon practice for the Forbidden
City. Recently, Kentucky Fried Chicken was kicked out of
Although most feel that the commercial businesses are
out of place in the historic city, some merchants feel that
the establishment is a good draw for tourists who might
prefer coffee over the Chinese tea served in most venues.
It is a shame that this argument should even be taking
place. Societies, even those seeped in cultural heritage,' ’
seem unable to resist the all-powerful force of money.
Some places on this earth, places of great historical
significance like the Forbidden City, should be allowed
to keep their heritage intact without the Siren cries of a
chain made cappucino. Is nothing sacred anymore?
Vincente Fox, Mexico's new president starting Dec. 1,
wants America to relax trade borders and allow 250,000
Mexicans to cross the border with temporary work
permits every year, according to CNN.
While this sounds like a partial solution to a large
illegal immigration problem, it takes jobs away from
Americans. Many U.S. corporations have already moved
their factories to third world countries because the labor
and materials are cheaper. If we continue to give away
jobs, where will we be when a recession occurs?
Sure, Mexico is an extremely poor country, and America
is very wealthy. However, we already buy 80 percent of
Mexico's exports, according to CNN. There needs to be a
limit to the amount of aid and back-bending to which we
We already have a substantial export deficit since many
countries do not buy our goods, but we buy a large
percentage of theirs. Logically, this makes sense because
we are the wealthiest nation in the world.
However, this loss eats away at our finances. Inflation is
increasing, and history shows that inflation is often
followed by recession. Before making a pledge to con
tinue helping less fortunate economies, consider the
Also, Fox promises to halt illegal drug trafficking and
immigration. However, he also bitterly opposes our
practice of having border patrol agents keep Mexican
workers out of America, and wants people and goods to
flow freely across the border, according to CNN.
How can he expect to decrease the high exportation of
illegal drugs into the U.S. if anyone can cross the border?
American leaders were correct to meet his ideas with
While it is excellent that Fox won democratically by a
wide margin in a clean election, the possible loss of
Americans' jobs and the de-regulation of border laws
could be detrimental in the future.
Extreme caution is necessary if Congress decides to re
evaluate these concerns seriously.
Web site for struggling musicians
One of the first things I discov
ered about Asheville when 1 moved
here a year and a half ago is that it
is a veritable haven for musicians.
There are all types of musicians
here, with people into native Appa
lachian music all the way to the
jazzmen and women to the people
into hardcore and thrash metal.
Although my musical tastes run
mostly in between these, I have
been participating in a project that
will give local musicians a forum
for selling their music, getting gigs,
finding production companies and
even advertising for new band mem
The Web site. Musician’s Gate,
obviously, needs musical submis
sions by local musicians. Without
these. Musician’s Gate cannot truly
function as the forum for which it
This column is to serve as good
public relations for this project, both
for musicians looking to get out of
the vicious cycle of recording com
panies ripping them off, and for the
general public interested in some
thing new and different in the way
Ashevillians rarely come out with
cliche music, and that’s one of the
things that attracted me to the city:
its originality. I am one of those
When I went to a lecture by
Fritjhoff Bergmann earlier this year
and heard him mention a Web site
being created in the Asheville area
as a place for local musicians to sell
their music and retain a much larger
percentage of the profits, I was im
I was obviously interested for self
ish reasons, since I wanted a place
to share the music I made with a
new, worldwide audience. Since I
don’t have the budget to be making
weekend hops over to Paris and
Venice, I figured a Web site like
this one would be a good way to go.
However, I wanted to do a service
to musicians who don’t get the
publicity and credit they deserve
for writing some great stuff that’s
not just sap-pop mainstream mu
sic. This way, I thought, the fans
can decide what’s good and what
sucks, instead of having the record
ing industry and a gaggle of 13-
year-old girls decide.
The site will work like this: if
you’re searching for a particular
band or solo artist, you can enter
that name, and you will be taken to
their body of work as posted on the
site. You can also search by genre, if
you are interested in finding some
new tunes to groove to by someone
you haven’t heard of before.
Once you get to the page where
the artist is, you can listen to about
a 30 second sample of the song, and
then decide if you want to buy the
song to have on your computer to
do with what you will (besides steal
The songs will generally cost about
a dollar a download, and will be
paid for with an
since I don’t un
derstand it too
well either, it ba
with your credit
card number or
it subtracts the
The best part of
the deal is that
who posts the
songs gets 60 percent of the money
that is spent on their songs, instead
of the 5 percent whole bands take
home after production costs, agent
costs and other necessities.
After shows, bands can sell com
pact discs or direct the audience to
the site to get their music. The
audience can also search for other
music, look up the band’s upcom
ing schedule, find biographies on
the band or find a bassist for their
Which,, by the way, I’m looking
for. So, if any of you know any
uncommitted bass players or gui
tarists that are willing to change
over, or if you are one yourself,
write a letter to The Blue Banner,
“I wanted to do a
service to musi'
cians who don’t get
the publicity and
credit they deserve
for writing some
great stuff that’s
not just sap'pop
and the kindly editor-in-chief will
forward it to me.
Or, you can e-mail me yourself at
Also on the site will be a “gig help”
function, where musicians can post
a message like, “We play this kind
of music, and anyone interested in
booking us can call this phone num
In the same
place, club own
ers can advertise,
looking for a
band that plays
this kind of mu
sic,” or, “We
to play on this
The site is not
open for busi
ness as of yet. It
is expected to open around the first
of January, 2001. It needs, how
ever, musicians to post their music
on the site for the whole thing to
work. If you have recordings you
would like to put up for sale, either
e-mail me at the above address or
call Fred or Charles at (828) 253-
Ifyou’re a musician, get in contact
with someone I mentioned. Ifyou’re
a music fan, check the site out now
to get a feel for it, and then consume
mightily when it opens for business.
Happy “Listening, and, since I
don’t get another column before
then, have a rocking month off.
The Musician’s Gate Web site is
located at www.musiciansgate.net.
Tragedy in strange coincidences
0\er Thanksgiving brp;il. I
learnt I! 'hat my friend and cousm
had !'■ J' clocked out of this life. I
write about them not to venerate
their memories or alleviate my own
sorrow, but to share with you the
remarkable circumstances under
which both of them died.
Normally I would never waste my
column space with stories or trivi
alities of such a personal, indulgent
nature, but I must share this one
with you, just so you can marvel at
how strange this universe really is.
My friend and cousin are dead for
the same reason: they had a hanker
ing for pornography at what turned
out to be a very bad time for both of
them. My friend was shot in the
chest at 4:48 p.m. in a convenience
store robbery for the $40 he carried
in his wallet.
He died three hours later at a New
Orleans hospita’i. I believe the Play
boy magazine :ind bag of Tostitos
he was in line to purchase were
returned to the store shelves.
My cousin, in no way related to
my friend, died later that same
evening. According to his mother,
who was reading at the time, he was
in the living room channel surfing
when he came to something he
liked so much that he apparently
ran up to his bedroom to watch it in
The show was one of those strip
per documentaries that HBO runs
from time to time. Oddly enough,
I was watching the same thing at
Unfortunately, my cousin never
made it to his bedroom; he tripped
on one of the hardwood stairs that
led up to his room, and broke his
neck on the way down. Apparently,
he was in quite a hurry.
Although my cousin’s death is
partly due to carelessness on his
part, both my friend and cousin
would be alive now if dirty thoughts
hadn’t been on their minds at those
two crucial points in time.
My friend was a big World Wres
tling Federation fan — I had only
introduced him to the mayhem of
sports entertainment a month be
fore his death, but he took to it like
a natural. He had a thing for the
sexy, red-haired Lita, the most tal
ented female wrestler in the WWF.
After my friend’s death, his brother
informed me that he had heard Lita
was on the cover of Playboy, he had
just turned 18 two weeks ago and
was excited about the prospect of
finally attaining an adult magazine
by way of a legal purchase.
My friend had his information all
wrong. It wasn’t Lita on the cover
of Playboy but Chyna, another tal
ented WWF wrestler. I guess he
realized this when he saw the cover.
but he made the decision to pur
chase the magazine anyway.
I find this the most tragic part - he
died to see the wrong naked woman,
whom he never even got to see (the
minor-repellent shrink wrap was
intact when an Emergency Medi
cal Team pulled the magazine from
his tightly clamped hands).
Although this wild coincidence
would seem more appropriate in a
Kurt Vonnegut novel or a Kevin
Smith movie, it only goes to show
that unbelievable, almost impos
sible things do happen every day.
My cousin’s dead because he got
too excited seeing a stripper on TV;
my friend’s dead because he thought
the wrong wrestler was in Playboy.
Stanley Kubrick did a masterful
job of linking sex and death in
“Eyes Wide Shut,” but I doubt he
could have ever directed anything
like what happened to my cousin
Playboy has a new meaning for
me. For the rest of my life, I don’t
think I’ll ever look at one without
remembering this strange Thanks
giving, and the ill-timed deaths of
my two friends.
The Blue Banner welcomes your comments, letters and other submissions
The Blue Banner welcomes letters and comments regarding the content or
quality of this publication. Letters should not exceed 300 words. Letters for
publication must also include the author’s signature, class standing and ma
jor or other relationship to UNCA.
All submissions are subject to editing for length and content. The deadline
for Letters to the Editor is noon on Tuesday. Please send letters to: The
Blue Banner, Karpen Hall 244, One University Heights, Asheville, N.C.
28804, submit a letter via the Blue Banner Online, or e-mail