Portrait of an outside agitator

© John Gellman

Everyone has been asking me if I have been taking pics of the anti-Trump protests that have become almost routine here in Asheville lately.   (I have not.) I pretty much got my fill of protests in the early seventies when I protested Nixon and the war in Vietnam. Though I’m certainly no Trump supporter, I can wait and lodge my official protest in 2018 and 2020, the next times I vote in national elections. Despite my lack of personal participation, a small group of orderly protesters were out again today as I walked around for a while. I was standing at one of the main intersections downtown and this nattily attired protester walked ahead of the group and stopped to ask me “What street is this?” No local person would never ask me that question, so I knew he must be an outside agitator. But I thought he sure doesn’t look like a street fighting man to me. Well, it is Sunday. Maybe he got out of church, went to the Asheville outlets to spiff up his wardrobe, and then came downtown to go to the demonstration and get his fair share of abuse. (My apologies to Mick Jagger for paraphrasing his lyrics.)

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Will you be my Valentine?

© Renda Writer

That’s right. I’m unattached. I live alone. My social calendar is… well, open. This is as close to Internet dating as I will ever come. So, stop me on the street. I’ll take you to dinner. Or not. Have your way with me.

I saw this artwork painted on the back of an abandoned trailer in the Foundation graffiti area of Asheville between the railroad tracks and the river. The trailer was parked across the street from the new location of 12 Bones BBQ, but it and the other trailers have just been moved away. I have no idea what happened to them. Such are the perils of gentrification. I generally don’t photograph the artwork of others but this was so cool, I knew last August that it would make a great Valentine Day post, so I shot it. The artist is Renda Writer, who graciously gave me permission to use and alter his artwork, and who can be found on his website www.rendawriter.com.  He is the founder of the World Peace Mural Tour, and has done murals all over America and in Mexico.

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Charlie Starr giving me a look

© John Gellman

This is why I love sound checks. Certainly couldn’t ask Charlie to turn around and face me during a show. I shot this last week at Asheville Brewing Company before Blackberry Smoke’s afternoon acoustic set benefiting Shepherd’s Men veterans group.

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Smoke ‘n phones

© John Gellman

This was the view from the back of the stage after Blackberry Smoke’s Charlie Starr asked the sold out Asheville crowd to light their phones. The band played a great set at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium in downtown Asheville Friday night.

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Random rock shots – Toy Caldwell

© John Gellman

I saw a shot that made me think of Toy Caldwell, and I remembered that I had prepared this image for inclusion in one of Michael Buffalo Smith’s books, but I had never posted it here. So now I am. This was in October 1975 in San Diego. The Marshall Tucker Band opened for the Allman Brothers Band on this day, and on the next day, Dickey Betts walked onto the MTB stage in Santa Monica and jammed with Toy.

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Noble Kava Bar open mic – I’m baack

© John Gellman

After two rounds of foot surgery, I am finally healthy enough to be out and around town again. It was great to see so many friends last night at Caleb Beissert’s Noble Kava Bar open mic in West Asheville. Teso McDonald and Daniel Noel are shown above doing their thing at the kava bar. This is the first new picture I have posted in over three months, which proves, when I was down, I was out of commission. That’s all behind me now, and I look forward to seeing everyone on the streets and in the nooks and crannies of Asheville. In case anyone is wondering, that’s the flag of the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu. I can only guess there is some significance to its display, but I am clueless what it might be.

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Glitch

© John Gellman

A local gallery recently asked for submissions and hung an exhibition of digital glitches; photographs where something went haywire in the digital capture or processing. (I think the show opened last week and is still up.) I thought that’s a cool idea, but nothing like that EVER happens to me. A couple days ago my friend Drayton Aldridge asked me to shoot his band, Drayton & the Dreamboats, performing at a local club, so I did. Everything went as expected until I looked at the pics. And there it was. A glitch on one image of their drummer, Mike Oliver. And I thought, “Damn, I missed it by that much.”

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Mei Li Trapasso is an amazing chef

© John Gellman

I was fortunate to be invited to dinner at Mei Li Trapasso’s home in Greenville, South Carolina last Saturday. Mei is friend of a friend, and we met to discuss her forthcoming cookbook. Turns out she may need some pictures. The Beijing native, who teaches Chinese cuisine at Furman University, prepared a totally awesome five course dinner and served it outside on her beautiful back deck. The double cooked pork belly with sweet peppers was just too beautiful not to photograph. I placed it carefully on top of a pot of yellow flowers that bordered the deck and got a few shots. It tasted every bit as good as it looked, and this was just one of five equally visually appealing and delicious dishes that Mei prepared. I should add that this food was not “styled” for photography in any way. It is exactly as Mei served it, just before we ate it. I have never shot food before, so I’m quite pleased with the result. (And I could get used to eating my subjects.) Gotta credit Sparrow Pants for design inspiration on this shot.

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