Dear Moogfest…

This is in response to Moogfest’s dam­age con­trol spin-zone press release pub­lished today. I rec­om­mend you read it before con­tin­u­ing on.

Dear Moogfest,

Thanks for the $14 mil­lion in eco­nom­ic activ­i­ty. But, maybe Asheville would be even more thank­ful if Moog would have planned for the future and cre­at­ed an Asheville-appro­pri­ate event that could have been suc­cess­ful year after year. That could have brought in a lot more than $14 mil­lion over the years. Maybe Moog could have brought in some prof­it to be shared with their new employ­ee own­ers too. That would have been pro-Asheville for sure. Now before I con­tin­ue, remem­ber that this is what Moog pitched as the rai­son de vivre of the fes­ti­val:

Beyond a tra­di­tion­al music fes­ti­val, Moogfest aims to be an engine for dri­ving eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment in West­ern North Car­oli­na … the long-term goal say Moogfest orga­niz­ers, ‘is to inspire big think­ing start-ups, entre­pre­neurs, and inno­va­tors to con­sid­er Asheville as a com­mu­ni­ty to relo­cate their for­ward think­ing busi­ness­es, just as Bob Moog did in 1978’…”

Moog Music Pres­i­dent Mike Adams took the risk on financ­ing this spec­u­la­tive ven­ture because of the poten­tial pay­off for the community’s future – help­ing to attract new busi­ness­es and cre­ate jobs in West­ern North Car­oli­na.”

(News­flash: Durham is evi­dent­ly now in West­ern North Car­oli­na)

Con­tin­ue read­ing →

Ben Lovett’s Black Curtain

Last May I was in part of a music video for Asheville/L.A./Atlanta musi­cian Ben Lovett. I’ve known him for a cou­ple years, and he caught me play­ing my mobile piano rig in town a cou­ple times and asked me if I would play piano in his music video. Play­ing music in a video is sort of like play­ing cha­rades for the blind — there’s not a sin­gle micro­phone at the entire shoot. You sit and lis­ten to the same song, at dif­fer­ent speeds, for about 10 hours in a row and you’re cov­ered in make­up applied like peanut but­ter. It’s mis­er­able and it’s not even musi­cal. What counts though is the results and the peo­ple you get to work with. And Ben Lovett con­sis­tent­ly pro­duces stuff with more pol­ish than almost any­body in Asheville. He’s a great guy to work with and a great guy to work for.

I’m very hap­py with how it turned out. I have a very small part in it. Look for me at the piano, duh. Here’s the video.

The still pho­tog­ra­phy on set was done by Dorn­Broth­ers Pho­tog­ra­phy. You should like them.

My Thoughts on Lexington Avenue

Photo by Derek Olson.
Lex­ing­ton Ave. and Col­lege St. Pho­to by Derek Olson, via

This is a Let­ter to the Edi­tor style post in response to two arti­cles in the Moun­tain Xpress. The first was pub­lished in the print edi­tion Decem­ber 5: No easy answers: Lex­ing­ton Avenue’s uncer­tain future by David Forbes. The sec­ond was pub­lished online Decem­ber 12: Mer­chants protest Dec. 5 Lex­ing­ton Avenue sto­ry by Caitlin Byrd.

I used to work in the pro­duc­tion depart­ment for a dai­ly, inde­pen­dent­ly owned and pub­lished news­pa­per. We fre­quent­ly heard the kinds of con­cerns expressed in Ms. Byard’s arti­cle and we had to tread care­ful­ly. I lis­tened care­ful­ly to the in-house edi­to­r­i­al dis­cus­sions about what to do when adver­tis­ers expressed con­cerns about pub­lic­i­ty they per­ceived as neg­a­tive.

First and fore­most, a news­pa­per has to be hon­est to its read­ers, oth­er­wise read­ers will feel cheat­ed and look else­where, which ulti­mate­ly hurts the newspaper’s bot­tom line and dimin­ish­es the sense of com­mu­ni­ty that a qual­i­ty news­pa­per pro­vides. A read­er who is less like­ly to trust the edi­to­r­i­al con­tent is also less like­ly to trust the adver­tise­ments in such a news­pa­per. For an extreme exam­ple: Ask your­self how much you trust the adver­tise­ments in the tabloids in the check­out line. About as much as their exposé sto­ry of ‘Bat Boy’? A news­pa­per with integri­ty is a bet­ter place for con­sumers to make choic­es about where to spend their dol­lars. Pulling adver­tis­ing because of a ‘neg­a­tive’ sto­ry hurts the adver­tis­er and the con­sumer more than than the news­pa­per.

Can an arti­cle on increased crime lead to less crime in the future? Because of the respect that the XPress has in our com­mu­ni­ty and it’s con­tin­ued abil­i­ty to start con­struc­tive dia­log (such as this one), I think so. A neg­a­tive sto­ry can increase and main­tain the integri­ty of a news­pa­per, lead­ing to pos­i­tive change for the entire com­mu­ni­ty. The Xpress has that legit­i­ma­cy because it doesn’t look the oth­er way when con­front­ed with an ugli­er face of real­i­ty than we would all like to see. I put a high val­ue on that.

Con­tin­ue read­ing →