Pink House. 130 North Street. Back In The Day.

Fellow residents from the 1991-94 years were Clint Curtis, Shyam Patel, Raj Krishnasami, Lydia Craft, Jess Deltac, Kyle York Spencer, Caroline Rivers Hall, Mel Lanham, Michelle Sinnott, Jay Murray, N'Gai Wright, Scott Bullock (who crashed on the couch for a year before finally moving in), Bryan Ellerson, Karen Hurka, Sally Stryker, Ryan Mathias, Charlie Speight, Chris Palmatier, Trent McDevitt, and Steve William.

Besides holdovers and returnees Jay, Scott, Mel (& Laverne!), Chris, and N'Gai, residents during 1995-97 included Allen Sellars (who, like Jay, lived at both the Pink House and 401 Pritchard), Ian Williams, Zak Bisacky, James Dasher, Linden Elstran, Jiffer Bourguignon, Grant Tennille (who first made the scene as a fixture in N'Gai's room circa summer '93), Zia Zareem, Ben Folds, Tom Holden, and Chris "Chip" Chapman.

- Erik Ose

Tuesday, December 21, 1993

The New England Tour '93

It was late December, right before Christmas, and we all needed to get north. Our friend Mel Benner was headed home to Philadelphia. I was going up to Rhode Island. For whatever reason, Derek Elliott was bypassing his parents' place in New Jersey on the drive up, instead heading for Boston to hang with Lem who was visiting his aunt in Jamaica Plain.

Lem's cousin, Derek, Lem & his aunt at her house in Boston

Mel's mom very graciously greeted us with open arms when we showed up around 8 am in the morning. Then she cooked us breakfast, I think it was pancakes. Clearly, we had gotten a late start, and drove through the night from Chapel Hill.

This was actually the second time in a space of a few months that Derek and I had breakfast at someone named Mel's house in Pennsylvania – the first being our Fall Break '93 trip to NYC when we crashed at Pink Housemate Mel Lanham's place (just south of Valley Forge) along the way. But dropping Mel Benner off meant a trip to the heart of downtown Philadelphia. Before we got back on the road, Derek, Lem and I made some new friends on the mean streets and with our tour guides along for the ride, took a driving tour of South Philly that shocked all of us. The blocks we drove through looked like war zones. It was the most rundown urban landscape in America I've seen before or since.

After Xmas, in the aftermath of a blizzard-strength Northeast snowstorm, all of us (minus Mel) would connect in Boston with Tony Fishel, who was at that point living in an apartment on Mass Ave.

It was right before Tony moved to a huge three-story house in Jamaica Plain with my brother Jared and several other roommates, including his then-girlfriend Shelly and possibly Pete Moss, who would later relocate to Baltimore and become a fairly well-known DJ on the rave circuit. Jared and Tony lived in two attic rooms on opposite ends of the third floor, and it was a swank pad. Their house was within blocks of Lem's aunt's place.

Then the three of us drove down to NYC to spend New Year's Eve with Dana in the city. To be exact, we were crashing at his place, although on our own for entertainment, because he was probably spending the night with Erika. I think that's how everything went down.

Details are hazy, but among other places we stopped by a party at Rashmi's apartment in midtown Manhattan after running for like, twenty blocks through the cold streets to try and make it there by the time the ball dropped. We could hear the Times Square crowd in the distance.

And then likely ended up over at Sapphire, our favorite little out-of-the-way NYC club, which was around the corner from a spot where my RI buddy Robb Teer was working as a bouncer for a hot minute.

Altogether, we hit three major cities, which was about par for the course on a Pink House road trip.

"This is dedicated to all those who will contribute to the New England Tour '93, whether in the city or on the road..." – Lem, 12/21/93, 2:32 am

Friday, December 3, 1993

Fat cocktail mixtape on call

Erik: Fat tape on call – tonight I'm making the second mix for our cocktail. 5 CD's – new Tribe, new De La, Digable, Pharcyde and this release by Justin Warfield. Plus one or two essential Hendrix cuts. Do you (or Hasan) have any studio Hendrix on disc?

Chris: My ex-roommate from last year has a lot of Hendrix discs and I can ask him for them. It wouldn't be any problem! Is the Justin Warfield disc good?

Erik: I only need Axis: Bold As Love and Electric Ladyland. I'll stop by your crib early tonight like 7 or 8 pm if you'll be around. If you can find either CD by then, cool!

- (handwritten back-and-forth notes to Chris Lyn in class)

Wednesday, December 1, 1993

Local Restroom Reviews

Stay Free! #5, December 1993


Review by the Clampettes

Some bathroom reviews may focus on cleanliness, some on decor, but we at Superclamp are primarily concerned with one issue and one issue only - privacy. No matter how much we try to present ourselves as pro-fecal-matter trailblazers, there's just no getting around the fact that I (Trixie) not only dislike pooping in the presence of others, but, frankly, would never be able to. I don't know what percentage of people are like me on this, or what it means about my potty training or personality, but I have noticed that some people shit freely in the bathroom at work. When I'm sitting in the stall beside one of these (to my mind) exceptional people, I tense up like a deer caught in the headlights of a vehicle. My urethra closes. I look at her feet with fear, wondering, "Isn't she embarrassed?" I wonder if she recognizes my shoes. I wonder if she's noticed my urine flow has stopped abruptly. I wonder if she's one of my bosses. After this revelation, you may understand why, when I think of positive bathroom experiences, I think, "Eddie's Cheese Steaks in University Mall."

I, Gerta, had never visited the restroom in Eddie's Cheese Steaks (although I have driven Trixie there to purchase food), but Trixie obviously, until tonight at least, considered this mall bathroom a must visit. Giggling, we entered the bathroom together, hoping the mean woman at the counter would think the worst. You see, this bathroom offers the utmost in privacy - a single room, replete with odor leeching/noise masking fan, to be used by one (or two, if you're like us) patron at a time. The door locked securely and had no cracks or holes, sheltering us from the kind of people who like to see Clampettes engage in business. Although the bathroom was not very clean, we could hardly enter due to the cornucopia of cleaning supplies blocking the doorway. The decor? Minimalist and young London - in other words, stark white. On the luxury scale, Trixie gives it a 10, availability of toilet paper and mirror being the main factors here. A final test, and some might say unconventional, was whether or not we felt comfortable eating in the bathroom. Since one must be a paying customer to use the facilities at Eddie's, this issue is indeed pertinent. Our answer? A resounding yes. The bathroom exudes an atmosphere conducive to fine dining. Upon exiting this pleasuredome, we found the number of cleaning supplies had increased, as had their effectiveness in blocking the doorway. We barely made it out alive!

The official open-to-the-public mall bathroom was next on our list. What a change of pace! Both seedy and decadent, this restroom is a painful assault on the senses, bombarding us with buttloads of fragrance and walls painted in egregious pink. This in no way compensated for the filth, three different kinds of tile, or the fact that only two out of three stall doors locked! Last but not least, this bathroom is located next to mall security, a plus or minus, depending on your world view.

Across the mall lies the bathrooms of Chic-Fil-A. Color and odor fused to create one overriding impression - chicken! More specifically, the color was chicken, the smell was chicken basted in Comet. We didn't buy a thing at Chic-Fil-A yet we walked by the kitchen staff without so much as a peep! Privacy was perfect, though not enough for Gerta's anal father, Jim Stern, who finds no public bathroom is ever private enough. Onward!

Tony's Pizza was our last restaurant stop. This restroom excelled in that sickly sweet smell public facility users know so well. Tony's confirmed what previous research led us to believe: level of smell is positively related to level of filth. This fact was underlined by the disgusting roll of cloth towels (environmentalists, start pouting) and greasy door knob. Even worse, a piece of green yarn underneath the sink could easily be mistaken by the psychotic for a garden snake! Trixie was excited to hear Canned Heat's "On the Road Again" playing as we exited the bathroom. How appropriate!

On the recommendation of a mall employee, we ventured next to Dillard's where we were pleasantly surprised. Indeed, though this restroom was not private, it was the only mall bathroom with both potted plant and feminine protection dispenser. Trixie fell in love with the shelf over the toilet, convenient for purses and packages. At the same time, she realized this must surely be a capitalist ploy. The paper towels, abundant and brown, also get a thumbs up.

We Clampettes had to hustle to our final stop (at the opposite end of the mall no less!), Belk's. Shockingly, the bathroom here was located not next to the customer service desk, but adjacent to the salon. The decor was quite hideous, consisting of outdated harvest tones. The fragrance here was distinctly different and downright awful. In fact, the source of the scent was on full display - how shameless! The breakdown? Three out of four stalls had functioning locks and three of four stalls had holes in the doors, exposing you to the thundering herd. Our task complete, we bid Belk's goodbye and good riddance.

Finished with our reviews, we next sought the input of mall employees - specifically those who work in the booths placed along the walkways. The first interviewee, a young woman who seemed pleased by the idea of a bathroom review, confessed that she is not able to use the restroom unless her mother guards the booth for her.

Demir, interviewee #2, has a much more cushy, yet reasonable, set- up. The employees at Eddie's Cheese Steaks watch his booth. Surprisingly, the charming Demir does not like the bathroom at Eddie's, nor does he like the bathroom at Chic-Fil-A, both of which are very close. In Demir's hierarchy of needs, the presence of a mirror (lacking in Eddie's) supersedes the opportunity for privacy and the smell of chicken (in abundance at Chic-Fil-A) is a definite turn off. Demir's bathroom of choice is the official mall bathroom, forcing us to wonder if the decor in any way reflects his seasonal palette.

"Why University Mall?" the faithful reader might ask. The guys reviewed club bathrooms, a topic much closer to my music-lovin' heart. Never fear, we present one last subject for review - the bathroom in Zen Frisbee's house. Privacy is lacking: their door hangs off its hinges, and you've really got to manhandle it to lock it at all. Even when securely locked, there's a crack at the top of the door that may provoke phantasmagoric visions of prying King of Fragrance eyes ‡ la Salvador Dali's portion of Spellbound. Filth was surprisingly low, as was the level of fragrance, in keeping with the correlation established by public facilities. In fact, since their door is often open, their house may be considered a public facility. The only tell-tale sign of low personal hygiene in evidence was the fact that they kept their toothpaste on the floor of the tub, suggesting that neither toothpaste nor tub see much action.


by Pat Anders

If there's any truth left to the old saw about a man's home being his castle, who can deny that the real seat of power in our fortresses is to be found in the throne room - the hole, the whizzatorium, the crapper - the bathroom? The same holds true in the office, on the road, in restaurants and bars, even in rock 'n' roll. Though it's only the bravest or least commercial of bands that will tackle this most private of subjects, no visit to a rock show of any consequence is complete without at least one visit to the facilities.

Duke Coffeehouse - The only Triangle rock club with a first- rate men's room. Layout and graffiti are nothing to shout about. One toilet (with decent protective walls and a door that really locks), one sink, no soap. Graffiti is appallingly unimaginative, the usual "stop the madness" anti/pro-violence/gay bashing jargon, along with some abstruse jive about cheese. What makes the Coffeehouse stand out is its acoustic perfection - bands actually sound better in the john than on the floor. Trust me.

Hardback Cafe - Not a favorite. They've only got one toilet, which means you have to lock off the whole room while using it. On the rare nights Hardback is packed, they have the added "mystery factor." The lines for the women's room get so long that you never know whether the guy taking so long in there is in fact a gal who couldn't take the wait. Second bonus: it's usually clean and has soap.

Local 506 - Chapel Hill's premiere club has a ways to go in the plumbing department. One toilet (with good walls), one urinal, sink and soap. It's very clean, with that white-washed look for extra sparkle. What disturbs me most is that a club that books s o many shows has such a paucity of graffiti. It should be covered by now, guys. What writing there is is dominated by a huge gold ink scrawl in the stall saying "Chet Atkins (or maybe Barry Goldwater) was here." I was really drunk the night I checked.

Smokin Joe's - Where to start? This joint is laid out in early Gulag style, with one toilet and three sink-like piss troughs in close proximity. There are no walls, and the toilet is very close to the door, which the staff like to keep open, so any passin g cutie can see your legs while you do your business (if you can). Dim lighting's the only plus. The graffiti betrays Smokin' Joe's origins as an undergraduate frat bar (formerly Fred's, formerly Troll's). If you're a private bathroom guy, you may feel more comfortable in one of the many nearby bars or in the bushes behind the parking lot. (Ed. note: it is a misdemeanor to urinate or defecate publicly in Chapel Hill).

The Brewery - The Triangle's oldest surviving rock club show its age in its men's room. Peeling paint brick walls, black trim, walled toilet (no urinal), sink and soap. No different from a thousand gas station men's rooms, except that you don't have to as k for a key. Middle of the road.

Third Floor, UNC Student Union Annex - This is offered solely as an example of entertaining graffiti. Around the left-most stall, a battle has been raging for at least two months between some racist pinhead (he started it off with, "Why do we need a black cultural center? We've already got one - it's called prison.") and about 20 people who have counterattacked. Some of the rejoinders to Mr. Goebbels are quite funny, and he stops in to reply to all of them on at least a weekly basis. Next time you're on UNC's campus, stop by and add your 2¢ to this stimulating debate. Clean, three walled-off toilets, three urinals, sinks, soap and a condom dispenser.

Sunday, November 21, 1993

Christmas Cocktail guest list

Guest list

1-2.      Lydia Craft / Mary Anne

3.         Mike Thomas

4-5.      Firas Amad (+1 Jason)

6.         Derek Shadid

7-10.    Jyoti Argade (+3 Amy J. / Hadley / Matt Frish)

11-13.  Swati Argade (+2 Mary / Dana / etc.)

14.       Trent McDevitt

15-16.  Chris Lee / Scott

17-18.  Chris Pedigo / Brandon

19.       Lem Butler

20.       Sophia Sacks

21.       Chris Lyn

22.       Clint Curtis

23.       Zak Bisacky

24.       Derek Elliott

25-28.  Ramah / Dina (+2 Leigh / Tamar etc.)

29-31.  Sue Busby / Jenny Shippen / Cristina Perez

32.       Michelle Sinott

33-36.  Lindsay Bowen / Dana Terebelski (+2 Shea / Kate Smith)

37.       Mel Benner

38-39.  Penny Bakatsias / Tina Bakatsias

40-43.  Clay Boyer / Matt McMichaels (+2 Ian Williams / etc.)

44-45.  Bryan Ellerson / Allen Copeland

46.       Yvonne

47.       Kevin Harris

48-49.  Evan / Renee

50.       Heather Reilly

(Note from 2014 - A few days before Thanksgiving '93, and I must have already been in the holiday spirit, because I drew up my invite list for our upcoming Christmas Cocktail party. I'm sure there would have been substantial overlap between my list and whoever Jay planned to invite, but this was my preliminary assessment of the roughly fifty heads I thought had Pink House VIP status at the time. Obviously, it would have included all former housemates, but only Lydia, Clint, Bryan Ellerson, and Michelle Sinott were still in town.)

Wednesday, November 3, 1993

Tribe and De La Soul at Memorial Hall

On Wednesday, I went with my friends Derek, Lem, Lydia (she was my former housemate) and Dana (who was in town for two days as an official law school recruiter for Columbia Law School, where he's in his second year) to see A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul. It was a phat double bill, right on campus, all for just $13. I was psyched. They each played about an hour, amazing vocal interplay, the crowd jumping around off the tops of seats, rushing the stage, that sort of shit.

- Letter to Jared, 11/7/93

Saturday, October 30, 1993

Heaven and Hell at the Purple House

Last weekend was Halloween. The night before, my housemates and I went to a party at the Purple House, which is where Tony was supposed to DJ that time y'all were going to come down. The party had a swinging theme - Heaven or Hell. See, the Purple House is a very big house. Every room was open to the crazed, costumed hordes who came swarming through. The rooms were all decorated in different ways, colored lights everywhere, black lights, strobes, debris on the stairs, floors, all over. And everyone, it seemed, was wearing these really elaborate costumes. One guy was William Shakespeare. Then there were some zombie tourists. Another miscreant had an Ernest mask that covered his face, and made him look like a ghoul. He was up in people's faces all night long, fucking with them.

One of the guys who lives in the Purple House is a friend of mine named Ian Williams, who worked on a book project with my housemate N'Gai this summer. Ian also was a contributor to this book 13th Gen, which you may remember me showing you at some point, a book all about kids in our generation. Anyway, Ian was dressed as a blue angel. He was the party host in charge of Heaven, this room where he was mixing up clear blue drinks all night long. Also in this room was something thoroughly bugged, which you have to try and find up north.

It was this christmas tree light device called "Magic Christmas" - a specially designed string of christmas lights. They were arranged in a spiral, all strung up on the ceiling. Using this little hand-held device that you squeeze in and out, sort of like a little joke water-squirting device, you can control the speed and frequency of the patterns that these "Magic Christmas" lights flash in. It was too much. Oh, and at the very center of the house was this little scroungy bathroom, lit up with the only red light in the place. So you could say this bathroom was the epicenter of hell as it existed that night at the Purple House.

- Letter to Jared, 11/7/93

Sunday, October 24, 1993

Lichtenstein at the Guggenheim, Miro at MOMA

During our NYC trip, we went to all these museums, chilled in the Village nearly every day, went out to clubs, hung out with Dana and N'Gai, checked out Harlem, went to a church service for New York's jazz community, saw famous people, got to see a completely phat jazz performance, and were almost constantly driving all over the city, owing to the fact that our crew was staying in three different places around Manhattan.

We saw retrospectives of Paul Klee and Roy Lichtenstein at the Guggenheim galleries, and a Joan Miro exhibit at MOMA, which was incredible. We went to the Museum of Broadcasting, which is on West 52nd street, between 5th and 6th avenues, I think, right around the corner from MOMA, and is totally the shit. They have a computerized card catalog system with all these TV and radio programs from the past, donated by the networks.

Anyone can go in, reserve space on one of the ninety-six VCR consoles they have, and select programs to watch. I saw the premiere episode of this animated show "Wait 'Til Your Father Gets Home" that you and I used to watch when we were little and that I've been wanting to see again for years.

It was produced by Hanna Barbera, Tom Bosley from Happy Days did the father's voice, and it was like an animated All in the Family, very socially relevant, a hippie son, sexually liberated daughter, and a crazy right-wing next-door neighbor who belonged to the John Birch Society.

- Letter to Jared, 11/7/93

Saturday, October 23, 1993

Ray Combs almost caused a riot at the $5 Psychic

The jazz show was in a little restaurant in SoHo called Sweet Basil, an infamous spot in the pages of New York jazz history. My housemate Mel and I went there on the Saturday night of our visit, a night when everybody had split up to pursue their own agendas. We saw Mal Waldron, a pianist who used to play with Eric Dolphy, and who now has his own quintet. On bass was Reggie Workman, who used to play with John Coltrane. It was essentially the best jazz going on in the city that whole weekend.

Recorded in 1987
You know what else I recall about Sweet Basil? We were seated in the very front, and you had to duck and swerve whenever the trombone player had a solo lest you get banged in the head with that brassy curve. That was a great concert! - Mel, 2009
We each had to pay a $15 cover and get $10 minimum worth of drinks, so Mel and I split a big bottle of wine. Later, after the show, we went out walking around the Village for a while, both of us slightly drunk. There were all these psychic stores around, and one of them had glaring neon signs everywhere that said "$5 palm reading special." Mel decided she wanted to have hers read.

We sat down and were chilling, waiting on another guy and his girlfriend who were inside to finish their reading and get out. Then, up came these other four kids, two guys and their girlfriends, about our age. They were all from different boroughs outside the city, mostly Queens and Long Island, I think. We started talking with them, and they were cool. None of them were in college, but they were all very aware, and we were talking with them about NYC politics, and the media, and all sorts of bullshit.

Meanwhile we're all getting kind of impatient waiting on the people inside, and I'm thinking to myself, and saying out loud, yo, we should chill out before this palm reading woman puts a voodoo hex on us. And then, we're all looking inside the window, thinking all of a sudden that the guy in there with his girlfriend looks awfully familiar, that we've seen him somewhere before, and then it hits us - he's the guy from the new Family Feud! The motherfucking host!

So everyone flips out, and we're yelling "Survey says!," and tapping on the window, and waving to him, and then the girlfriend comes out, and she starts yelling at us, telling us that she's trying to have her reading done, and then the psychic woman comes out and starts yelling at as too.

Now I'm like, oh my fucking god, she's definitely going to put a hex on us. All of a sudden, from out of the shadows come these mafia type guys, three of them, real shady looking. They start telling us, alright you kids, get out of here, this is our store, we don't want you here, and I'm like, oh shit, whatever, and I start trying to get up and leave. But one of these kids that we were talking to starts arguing with one of the mafia types, and the shit looks like it's escalating fast.

Not one of these kids could have been more than twenty-one or twenty-two, and these guys were like in their late forties, early fifties. Out of a door comes another shady character, this one a skinny kid about our age, and he gets into the thick of things shouting, "yo, that's my father you're talking to!" Mel is right up in there herself, trying to be a peacemaker, and I'm thinking, great, so we're about to get shot by some mafia family. I don't know how the shit cooled down, but it did, and there was no fight. Luckily. In the commotion, the Family Feud guy vanished, and we never saw him again.

Later that night, however, when we went to meet Steve at a gay club called The Roxy, I ran into that Norman guy from the first Real World. He hosts a cable access show now, and since it was Disco Diva night, they were filming some of the transvestites at this club. So those were our brush-ins with celebrity while in New York.

- Letter to Jared, 11/7/93

Did we meet Michael Alig clubbing at Tunnel?

Friday. Our road trip to NYC continued. This was the night that Mel, Steve and I tripped down to the gala opening of Puzzled, a new weekly event at a nightclub called the Tunnel. Located on the corner of West 27th Street and 12th Avenue, on Manhattan's extreme west side, overlooking the West Side Highway. As we pulled onto the block of 27th between 11th and 12th avenues, hookers scattered in all directions. Various unsavory characters who resembled pimps lurked in doorways, keeping watch over a steady flow of club kids who were teeming everywhere.

The crowd flow seemed to be headed away from the club, which immediately made me fear that we might have a hard time getting in. It was precisely two a.m. when we finally walked up to the main entrance. Five or six doormen were keeping things in line. It took us a half hour to get in, and we still had to pay $20 apiece, but it was worth it.

The shit had three levels, inside it stretched for like half a city block, and there were a good 2000-2500 people there. At least. Every second person was wearing some elaborate, fucked up costume, people in cages were dressed as animals, mirrored lounges lined with silver-upholstered couches everywhere, with holes in the middle, filled with little yellow plastic balls. One big room where all the balls came from, just like at Chuck-E-Cheese.

Nude dancers downstairs in the basement, upstairs a whole network of different rooms, each with their own DJ, each hosting a separate private party for all the New York club cliques. Huge silver tendrils hanging from the ceiling, only slightly lighter than punching bags, swinging back and forth amidst the crowds. The former lead singer from Devo (Mark Mothersbaugh) had some paintings on display in an art exhibit in one section of the club. Right near the coatroom was some guy wearing a business suit, chilling behind a desk in a picture perfect office space, behind a plexiglass window, who was being paid to sit pretending to do type, and file stuff, and do office work all night long, just to fuck with people, because it was the last thing you would expect to see at a place like the Tunnel!

The whole scene was like a rave, only for the older, New York club set glitterati.

- Letter to Jared, 11/7/93

(Note from 2009 – we met a lot of crazed club kids that night in the VIP areas. I wouldn't be surprised if one of them was the infamous Michael Alig (Party Monster), who had to have been there hyping up the next Puzzled. On the puzzle-shaped, die-cut flyers from this night, plus the ones we took home for the next Friday's party, Alig was listed as a co-promoter.)

Wednesday, October 20, 1993

NYC road trip detour through Pennsylvania ghost country

I went up to NYC with four other friends - my housemates Mel and Steve, a guy named Zak, who's a friend of my other housemate Jay, and Derek, who I first met through N'Gai this summer.

Our journey began on a Wednesday afternoon, right after classes let out. We drove straight from Chapel Hill to Pennsylvania that evening, which is where Mel is from. She lives right near where this Revolutionary War battle called the battle of Brandywine took place, just south of Valley Forge. Her town looks like a little village that time forgot - I could totally envision ghostly horses and carriages winding around the curves of the roads as we got closer and closer to her crib.

- Letter to Jared, 11/7/93

Wednesday, October 13, 1993

Chapel Hill Eyesores by Jay Murray

Was The Matrix conceived at the Pink House?

(Hitlists, Stay Free! #3, Oct. 13 - Nov. 9, 1993)

Here's the scenario - Carrie McLaren asked me to contribute a hitlist to Stay Free!, her kick-ass local 'zine. This is what I came up with. Written in my upstairs room, probably late at night, and printed out on a...wait for printer. Coincidence? I think not. Hand-delivered to the editors (or at least given to Jay the next time I made it to the bottom of the stairs, so he could deliver it), because in the fall of '93, I was still six months away from getting an e-mail account (although our future housemate Chris Palmatier already had one through UNC, and Stay Free! was using it to receive online submissions - see below).

The Oct. 13 - Nov. 9 (aka November) issue's cover story was a Beginner's Guide to JFK Conspiracy Theories, written by Stay Free! co-conspirator Pat Anders, who had graduated from UNC Law in May (An unemployed attorney, Anders lives with his parents in Burlington). Around this time, Carrie was getting ready to leave Chapel Thrill behind for the Big Apple, where she would produce Stay Free! as a respected, full-fledged magazine for nearly ten years.

MY conspiracy theory on the subject is that Carrie brought copies of this particular issue up to NYC (out of a 6,000 print run) to help get Stay Free!'s name out there, and it became a hot item on the strength of Pat's cover story, running as it did exactly 30 years after JFK's assassination. Eventually, a copy found its way into the hands of...the Wachowski brothers! Who read my hitlist, threw in some shit from Jean Baudrillard, William Gibson, and Philip K. Dick, and voila! The result was an hugely profitable franchise called The Matrix. Where's my f-ing royalties, that's what I'd like to know. Although there's also a school of thought claiming they ripped it all off an episode of Doctor Who.

The Pink House was well represented in this issue. In addition to contributions from myself and Jay (his take on Chapel Hill Eyesores plus assorted record reviews including My Trip To Planet 9 by Justin Warfield - "This is the best rap record I've heard since Gang Starr's Daily Operation"), Chris Palmatier interviewed one of the guitarists from Pittsburgh-area rockers Don Cabellero, future resident and newly-minted veteran of the couch scene in N'Gai's room Grant Tennille reviewed Black Sunday by Cypress Hill ("What looks like death metal, sells like Garth Brooks, and makes you want to light another?"), and frequent houseguest Zak Bisacky did a review of Chapel Hill band June's debut 7", "I Am Beautiful."

Saturday, October 2, 1993

Dazed and Confused at the Varsity

M: I remember going to see...what was the movie that the Slacker guy made?
E: Did you come with us to see Dazed and Confused?
M: Yes. Dazed and Confused, absolutely. Like a huge line of us went to see it.
E: That was a legendary voyage. Because we rolled deep. There were like, a dozen or fifteen heads.
M: I remember there was a line to get tickets to the movie, and we were the line.
E: We brought booze into the Varsity. We were passing around big bottles of rum. And boxes of cereal. For snacks. We had our own snacks. Either Froot Loops or Fruity Pebbles. Whatever it was, it was good.
M: Yeah.
E: So you were there!
M: I was there.
E: That was awesome, man.
M: Having seen Dazed and Confused since then, it was much better the first time.

- Mike & Erik on the back stoop, 2009

Sunday, August 22, 1993

Kyle hops a plane back to Paris

Kylie, what's up. How you doing, hon. Hope this letter reaches you before you've hopped a plane to Paris to be with that Frog boy.

Olivier and Kyle, Spring '93

I am writing to you because I didn't want you to miss out on your chance to win ten million dollars. Don't forget to return the winning entry before September 3rd.

Kyle got one like this, too.

Jay and Lydia tell me that tricks with you are good, that you've had a good summer and all of that. I am so disappointed that we all didn't get to go to Block Island together, but hey, it'll happen someday. That Monday, Jenny and I got up around noon and both felt really sick. We decided to stay home and rest all day instead of coming to Watch Hill, because we were driving back South the next day. So hope everybody didn't worry about us being buried somewhere.

It was a fun visit in Rhode Island, though. Jenny got to know my family much better, and we did things together like going to a Native American musuem in Bristol, visiting friends in Boston, clubbing at Club Babyhead in Providence, going out to the Cape, and attending this fundraiser for Save The Bay at Senator Pell's summer house in Newport.

Jenny at Pink House, Spring '93.

That was fun. Totally catered, free drinks and food, hobnobbing with the politically active high society crowd and having power chats with all four of my congressional representatives before the night was through. We even sneaked into a cocktail party thrown for donors who had given $10,000 or more. Mike Wallace and his wife were the guests of honor. He looked like an old motherfucker.

So, anyway, hope that you drop the Pink House a line from Paris every once in awhile. N'Gai will be in New York next year, as will Dana, and Rashmi, and this friend of mine John Hamilton Palmer, who is up there working for Hearst magazines again. We met him when he was on an internship for Vogue in Paris, right after you had left town. Thus, I will have many reasons to visit the city, and perhaps our schedules will coincide at some point when you fly back in for the weekend to buy bagels. That ten million you've got coming will probably lead to many life changes for you, I have a feeling.

Jay and Olivier, Spring '93

Say hello to Olivier for me, and take care of yourself, hon. Be especially careful of old men who sit muttering to themselves wearing long, dark coats. These men are chronic masturbators and are probably lying in wait for you.

- Letter to Kyle

Saturday, August 21, 1993

We had such a fun year

How are you doing, this is your devoted pal Erik. Somebody just had a roll of film developed, and there are beautiful pictures of you and me and Penny and Jay and Lydia all over our refrigerator. So how could I help but think about you every time I reach for some bodily nourishment. Besides, I was coming around the corner of North Street today and out of the corner of my eye, who did I spy but Michael. He appeared to be moving into his new house.

Caroline, Erik, Lydia and Jay at 210 Ransom Street, early summer '93

So you see, I really had no choice but to write you this letter today, sitting at my one a.m. desk with John Coltrane in the background, songs from 1962. I just returned to Chapel Hill from Rhode Island. I was there with Jenny for ten days or so, hanging with the folks, visiting my grandma, sharing Northern romantic experiences with my sweetheart.

I heard you were busy with an audition on the day that we were all planning to go to Block Island. Hope it went well, as I hope everything else in your new Boston life is cool, but I really have no doubts that things are going extremely well and positive for my friend the next Shelly Long. When do your classes start? You know, I heard that at Harvard, the best way to gain a professor's respect is to spit in class every once in a while, on the floor or atop a desk or somewhere. It shows you're not intimidated by their Ivy League teaching styles. You should try this sometime.

Anyway, enclosed is some of your mail. By the way, people are constantly stopping me on the street these days, ashen faced because they've realized that you've graduated and are forever gone. I just tell them that you're attending classes at some drunken driving school up in Cambridge.

Caroline, I miss you and hope you'll be in Boston and our schedules will magically coincide sometime this year whenever I get up that way. We had such a fun year. N'Gai is leaving for New York in a few days, and it's got me kind of nostalgic about the last couple years, and everything - and I'm not even done with college yet myself.

One other thing just came full circle, too. Last Wednesday, I got my hair cut. Really short. The last time I did that was two and a half years ago, right before our road trip up North for Spring Break, you, me, Kyle, Dana, and Clint.

Hey, I gotta go. Time to wash the dishes and do battle with ants. Take care of yourself and have a great year, o.k.?

- letter to Caroline Hall

Sunday, August 1, 1993

From the Hip

XTCian, 8/4/02

by IAN WILLIAMS ('95-'97)

(During) my vegetarian years, roughly 1991-93...I was besotted with the resurgence of community service amongst us Generation Xers, and got fat eating nothing but french fries. Part of that time I was dating Susan Comfort, and with that came no meat, relentless recycling, and repeated, horrified re-readings of Diet for a New America. I even wrote a couple of environmentally-themed songs at that time that were terrible. I mean, what the hell was I thinking???

One of the good things to come from those dioxin-free days was my involvement in a project called From the Hip, which was our little way of trying to convince the world that the members of Generation X weren't all Frito-munchin' scalawags with brainfuls of "Gilligan's Island" trivia. The project, of course, was doomed from the beginning.

We were never sure what kind of project it would be (a book? a video?) and though 280 young photographers scoured the country looking for "at-risk youths making a difference," only about three of them could take decent pictures. Most of our schemes in the summer of 1993 ended in humiliation at the hands of book agents and corporate sponsors, but none of that mattered to me: I was having too good a time.

It was then I got to know some fabulous people: Stasia Droze, who has since been like family; Lawrence Lucier, who became my confidante at CitySearch in 1996 and then my East Village roommate in 2000; even N'Gai Wright, who later became the character N'Wal in a little movie I'm working on called The Pink House. Our leader Tony Deifell, was an old Chi Psi buddy who always had a plan I learned a lot from his dogged determination, especially when we went to Washington D.C. to crack a few skulls.

Our project was a failure, as were most public service anthems dedicated to our generation (does anybody reading this remember Lead or Leave? At least those Third Millennium cats are still around). But like any project full of bright, intense young thinkers, we all have tons to say to each other even a decade later. That, and I really miss the "let's get together and put on a show" way of looking at one's career; we really did just rent an office in downtown Durham and hope for the best. These days, there's so much formality and structure that accompanies all our decisions - back then, if you had gas in the car, a paid phone bill and a place to get bourbon & cokes after work, anything seemed cool enough to try for a summer.

Monday, July 26, 1993

Prior to an alleged mugging across the street

Stay Free! #3, September 1993

Tsunami: Band Interview

To speak of Washington, DC-based indie rockers Tsunami is to speak of Simple Machines, the record label founded in by Jenny Toomey and Kristin Thomson. With an appreciation of pop aesthetics, Dischord ethics and fun packaging, Simple Machines has helped the D.C. music scene broaden its definition of punk. Spreading the DIY (do-it-yourself) doctrine, Simple Machines has also pioneered a how-to-release-your-own-record booklet to encourage others to do it their way.

After loads of noteworthy singles, the label recently released CD#2, which, happily enough, belongs to Tsunami. Deep End, the band's first full-length, came out early this summer and they've been on the road ever since. In July (7/26), the tour bus (actually a van) stopped at Local 506 to indulge for a criminally sparse audience.

Tsunami = Kristin Thomson (guit/vox); Jenny Toomey (guit/vox); John Pamer (drums); and Andrew Webster (bass/vox). Stay Free!'s chat with the band, which took place after the show but prior to an alleged mugging across the street, was conducted by Chris Palmatier, Carrie McLaren and Jay Murray.

SF!: How did each of you get involved with music? Like how'd you all get interested in playing and the indie-rock thing?

AW: Fun roommates and a wet-behind-the-ears tour.

SF!: So it was post-high school?

AW: Yeah. I didn't care about rock in high school.

JP: I did. I had a Moving Targets sticker on my car.

Kris: I was really interested in setting up shows in college. I totally fell into it like that, instead of playing, although I played instruments all the time.

SF!: Were you listening to music outside mainstream channels?

Kris: Yeah totally. I used to go to punk rock shows all the time. Then I just got more involved in setting them up. Once you get involved not just as a spectator but as a participant, it's much easier to participate in other ways. Whether it's playing or putting out records or whatever.

Jen: I was always into music, before I knew about punk at all. I was in choir s and stuff, and really into Simon and Garfunkel and the Dead. When I found out there were kids in my high school who were putting out their own records, that was the coolest thing. Incredible. That's how I started being involved with punk in the first place. And then I did similar things like Kristen, put shows on, stuff like that, and eventually decided to play.

SF!: So playing followed the other stuff?

Jen: Well there was punk and then feminism in college, and then I thought about why, since I'd been really into music, I hadn't stepped up to be in a band. And I had other friends who asked me that question. So the next thing was the band.

SF!: I recently had this meeting at my house with local women rockers and there was one woman who was visiting from Washington. She was surprised to hear that the number of women involved in our music scene hasn't increased much proportionately because she said there were a lot more women in the D.C. scene. I was wondering if you guys noticed anything like that yourselves and if you would attribute it to anything. Or traveling around if you've noticed differences in the number of women in your audiences.

JP: I've definitely noticed a difference since we've been traveling, but in D.C. I don't know. I've only been listening to music there since like '86. Everywhere else there seems to be more women in bands.

Jen: On the last tour, there were definitely more women in the audience, probably because we were identified with riot grrrls. We had mainly all-women or mostly women bands opening for us, which was really unusual. The same thing happened in D.C. When Fire Party, a Dischord band that was all women, first started playing, a bunch of women who had been part of the scene suddenly got in bands because all of a sudden there was someone else doing it. I think you always need someone to step up front and do it first and make it formal.

AW: So you don't feel like the first freak.

Jen: There were other girls in bands, but Fire Party were the first that were enough a part of the scene that people thought they were cool to be in a band. Then it became sort of a role model thing. My whole theory is that in small scenes, there's a lot more place for women in the bands because the people who are alternative, or weird, or freaks, are so few that they need as many people as they can get. So, if there's girls...(everybody laughs)

AW: It doesn't pay to cut the girls out.

Jen: Exactly. So in weird cities, like those in Louisiana, there are punk rock bands with girls because there's not enough punks to divide themselves into traditional lines.

SF!: So you might have gotten involved more quickly if you hadn't been in D.C.?

Jen: Maybe. I needed someone I respected to ask me why I wasn't in a band before I joined one.

AW: I came from a really small, non-musical, non-punk scene in Connecticut, and there are no girls in bands there still. They could do to include the other half of the population, but there hasn't been anyone bold enough to step up and do it first. So they're still all-boy bands, and they're punk or they're indie rock.

SF!: Is there a reason to make a conscious effort to play with girl bands? A lot of women in bands don't like being tagged as women bands, or riot grrrls...

Kris: To some extent it's silly being categorized; all this stuff is so short term anyway.

Jen: I think we're all really interested in girl bands. When we know there's a girl in the opening band, we'll probably watch them longer.

AW: [Laughing] Yeah, it's much more exciting. Tomorrow night, Columbia, South Carolina: all I know is that the band that's opening for us has a girl singer and a girl guitar player. And I'm already more interested. Just by being a girl bold enough to step into a boy rock world, you're probably more interesting than Joe Normal Guy who just got in because all his friends were in. Any boy can be in a band, but it's sort of a sassy, spunky girl to jump into the scene.

SF!: Logistical questions: which came first, band or record label?

Jen: Record label, a year before the band.

SF!: Was that just an outgrowth of putting together shows?

Jen: Well, I was in other bands, besides Tsunami, and we had stuff that we'd recorded, and no one else was going to put it out, so we started the record label.

SF!: So you were in Geek (a pre-Tsunami band) before Simple Machines existed?

Jen: Yup, definitely.

SF!: Does Simple Machines have a goal?

Kris: We're just trying to put out records that we like, that are mostly our friends' bands, and sell 'em for a fair price. Up until now we've done mostly compilations, so we've worked with about a hundred bands now. We try to think of interesting projects and tie them up with themes or community awareness. We're into giving people information and ways to get more information.

SF!: When you made the jump from putting out 7-inches to CDs with the Mommyheads CD, was that a huge jump?

Jen: Not really. Kris and I have a lot more work...think our main goals are to set it up as a label that doesn't make the mistakes that a lot of labels do in this weird period where you end up overextending yourself, getting into debt, and then taking advantage of people. It's very hard because there's not a very high profit margin on 7 inches or even little CDs. The Mommyheads CD never recouped its costs. It's very hard to keep things in print; the amount of work is so big, we have friends who help us, but we pay them a pittance. The question is how to raise their salaries and keep the label going, to set it up so it's really a business that actually pays people a living, while being creative.

SF!: Are your goals for the band and the label at all on different scales? I mean, it seems like everyone in the band is sort of involved in the label. Is there any time that there's a conflict between those two priorities?

Kris: No. We plan both things together. If Tsunami has to go on tour, we figure out what's best for Simple Machines releases when we start. We rely a lot on friends who keep things going...

SF!: I know earlier you said you were trying not to make the mistakes other labels made. Has it helped to learn from Superchunk and the Merge folks? Having somebody kind of one step ahead?

Jen: We're totally the luckiest label for that kind of stuff. We watched Dischord and Sub Pop, and Slumberland to try to avoid problems they ran into. And we all help each other, if there's somebody who's not trustworthy, we let everybody know not to deal with them.

SF!: Do you guys hear a lot about people who used your how-to-release-a-record thing?

Kris: Totally. We get tapes and records every day. There's been over 800 booklets sold.

Jen: I think the whole packaging thing has totally blossomed in the last few years. People take a real interest in making releases look beautiful.

SF!: Have you guys gotten big offers?

Jen: Never. I don't think a major has talked to us directly, ever. Some major independents...

AW: We got a form letter from MCA.

Jen: They heard about the show tonight. They heard how bad it was gonna be.

SF!: Does the lack of hype make your life easier?

Jen: We have hype...I don't know. Mudhoney never got approached by a major label until they went looking, because they made it really clear that they weren't interested. So maybe that's it. Or maybe we're just really pathetic.

SF!: Well, you guys are kind of successful with your own thing.

AW: When there's a major guy, he comes up to you, "I know you do it all great yourself, but we could do better."

Jen: Well, it's funny to listen to those people go into dumb bandspeak, like "We could give you some tour support."

AW: "There's a lot of exposure on the national level for your act."

Jen: I think everybody should put out their own records first, so they know what all that stuff means.

SF!: Do you guys use contracts?

Jen: Yeah, we do.

SF!: For 7 inches?

Jen: Not for the 7 inches but for Scrawl, and Tsunami is on contract to Simple Machines.

SF!: Do you guys all pay yourselves through your band thing? Or do you have day jobs?

Jen: We used to have jobs, but we just quit them recently to tour.

AW: Six weeks on, six weeks off...

SF!: How do you get the Working Holiday series organized? (Working Holiday is a 12-part series of 7" split singles, one for every month in 1993. Each single is thematically related to a holiday within the month of its release.)

Jen: We just sat down and did a wish list and almost every one came through. We figured it out all ahead of time and got 24 bands up front. Then one alternate band wrote a song that we could stick in when the first fuck-up band didn't get us stuff on time, which happened with the third single.

SF!: My favorite is the Cocktails song...soooo hot!!

Jen: That's the one!

Kris: That was the alternate we used. (Liz Phair was the fuck-up).

Monday, July 19, 1993

Life is hedonistic and lazy in Chapel Hill

Whassup wit you, homegirl? How's small town Rhode Island treating you? I am writing to you from Chez Pink, upstairs at my desk on a hot, hazy mid-summer Monday afternoon.

Or should I say I'm currently perched in the Tree House, since that's what the Pink House has become this summer. Passengers and fellow travelers heading in and out the doors, coming from all directions, at all times. Two-legged animals everywhere, new and different ones every day.

Jenny and I will be coming up north to Rhode Island for the first ten or so days of August. Jay has mentioned coming up there with Lydia around the same time. It would be fun if we could all get to do two things while we're there – hang out with you and go out to Block Island for a day, and visit Caroline in Boston.

And have you heard about the MTV Beach House that's in Hyannis, on the Cape? It's this big beach house that MTV has rented, and they're filming in it all summer long. Sometimes it's like an outdoor version of The Grind dance show, the one hosted by that obnoxious kid Eric from the first Real World. We want to show up there and crash the scene. As long as you look like a funky beach clubber, they'll let you on the show.

Life is hedonistic and lazy in Chapel Hill. Last night I went to the Power Company in Durham. On Saturdays this summer it has become the mecca for fun loving straight people who are down with the dance scene. I was hanging with friends who are working for ADF this season, and dancers from one of their visiting companies were there at the club with us, mostly beautiful gay men in half-drag. Cute women friends of my friends thought I was just the sexiest straight dance god they'd seen all night.

N'Gai has set about to fill the Tree House with mysterious music at all hours. He's bought a flute, cello, keyboards, and now congas and drums. Other miscreants drop in for sessions with trumpets, guitars, microphones and amps.

Speaking of N'Gai, he may or may not be headed for New York in August. The project he's working on with Tony Deifell (and Ian Williams, who signed on to do some editing) keeps generating job leads in different places. I hope that you'll still be working in Westerly by the time we get up there to Rhode Island, so I can find out where you'll be in the fall.

I've enclosed all your mail that's come to the house so far. In fact, it was the postcard you got about this tropical vacation cruise you've "won" that finally motivated me to sit down and write. Please send us a postcard from Tahiti.

- Letter to Kyle

Saturday, July 3, 1993

Positive Energy: North Carolina's First Outdoor Rave

I'm going to go visit Jenny this weekend for the Fourth of July, sit on her roof and watch fireworks Sunday night, go with her to this huge outdoor rave in High Point on Saturday. They've been running kinda primitive but funky looking commercials for this rave on local TV. So that should be fun.

- Letter to Firas

STATE'S FIRST OUTDOOR RAVE THIS WEEKEND (Greensboro News & Record, Wednesday June 30, 1993)
What promoters say is North Carolina's first outdoor rave begins at 10 p.m. Saturday at Castle McCulloch's Tiltyard on Business 85 in High Point.
The Positive Energy Rave, an all-night dance party, boasts 60,000 watts of surround sound, strobe cannons, a giant video screen and a 7,000-square-foot tent. Performers include Young American Primitive of San Francisco, D.J. Tarentella from Los Angeles, and three top rave disc jockeys, Ed LeBrun, Drew Detweiler and Jason Ross. Tickets, $12 in advance, can be purchased at all TicketMaster outlets or by calling 852-1100.

It's PartyTime, Kids!

Host with the most, Matthew Dan Stewart

Instinctive travels up and down the East Coast

This is your main man Erik the revolutionary guru, coolin' in Chapel Hill at the Pink House. What's up! I got your eminently digable letter that youse sent me from Jerusalem. It sounded like you were up to positive tricks as usual, causing trouble, skeezing on bodacious cuties, fighting the IMO powers that be in occupied Palestine.

It's now Friday. You know what I'm going to do tonight? I think Derek Shadid just got back in town from his internship in New York. Maybe I'll give him a call. You wouldn't believe what a treehouse the Pink House has been this summer. Numerous random passengers are along for the ride at all times. People breeze in, slide out. This shit happens constantly.

I myself only got back to town about a week ago. In fact, I read your letter my first night back, up real late with Lem. It was a trip. We were listening to some very psychedelic Hendrix at the time, a song called "1983...A Merman I Should Hope To Be," from Electric Ladyland. At one point the song talks about giving a shout to all the friends who aren't around, and I had dragged out a picture of you, just to enhance the letter reading experience, so it was cool. Remind me to show and give you copies of the pictures I took at the Inauguration when you get back in the fall. They turned out very satisfactory.

Before returning to Chapel Hill, I had spent nearly the entire month of June traveling instinctively, all up and down the East Coast. My journey began when out of the blue, I heard from a friend of mine named John Hamilton Palmer. This is a cat I met in Paris last summer. He was working for Vogue magazine at the time on an editorial assistant's internship, hanging out with supermodels and DJ's at cool clubs all over the city. He traveled with my brother Jared on to Amsterdam and then to Milan, Italy, where his Dad lives and works in the fashion industry.

Anyway, this friend of mine John returned to the States at the end of last summer, and has been living with the rest of his family in Savannah, Georgia, ever since. So then he calls me up, and tells me that he's headed to New York, where he's going to be working for Conde Nast again, the publishing company that owns Vogue. He says he's leaving in a few weeks, so on the spur of the moment, I decide to take a little road trip down to visit him.

I convince Chris Pedigo to come with me. At this point, Chris was getting ready to leave for Middlebury, Vermont in a little while, where he's taking summer Russian classes.

We roll out of Chapel Hill on a Wednesday afternoon, and make it to our first destination, Myrtle Beach, S.C., before 10 pm that night. See, the Digable Planets were playing there.

(We met) this woman (who) knew Myrtle Beach really well and after chilling with me and Chris for awhile decided she'd take us out and show us around town, meaning all the remaining after hours bars and clubs. Cool! Her name was Jean, and we went with her all over town. Everywhere we went, the scene was the same. Young, horny kids, lots of women wearing sexy summer beach clothes, everybody essentially looking to get laid.

The next day, we get on the road by late afternoon and drive southward, towards Savannah, Georgia.

That night, we hang out with my friend John. Chris also knew him from last summer in Paris, so it was like a mini-reunion. Anyway, he took us out clubbing. We got into two clubs for a couple of dollars, free drinks because he knew the bartenders, and split our time between both all night since they were totally within walking distance. A fun night.

The next day was Friday. We got up, chilled, and got on the road, bound for Atlanta. Blew into town late afternoon, and headed directly for Little Five Points, which is sort of the Greenwich Village of Atlanta. Very funky. Here we collected club flyers, local magazines, and other information about the nightlife that evening.

Then, we sped all around the city, scouting out all the nightclubs where we had free passes to get in for the night. Some people in Little Five Points stopped us on the street and thought my friend John was so beautiful (he used to be a male model) that they put us all onto the guest list at one joint. We hit four clubs that night and had many adventures.


Damn, man, I'm not even half done telling you about my instinctive travels of the last month. Maybe in a future letter I'll pick up the narrative. Just to give you a taste of stories to come, from Atlanta, we took John back home to Chapel Hill with us, chilled for a week, then I drove him back down to Savannah. During that week at home we threw a mad party at the Pink House, attendance levels approaching six hundred or so. Then I headed north, stopping in D.C. to hang with my friend Dana for half a week before continuing on to Rhode Island. There, I saw friends and family, and spent a particularly adventure-filled long weekend in Boston before coming back to Chapel Hill. Swung through D.C. again on the way down to chill further with Dana. I had planned to head further south to Miami for that weekend (this was this past weekend), and hang with this woman Rashmi Airan, but at the last minute decided that the journey had to end.

So here I am, back in Chapel Hill.

I think that in early August, Jenny and I are going to travel up north to Rhode Island for one or two weeks. Lydia and Jay may come with us, and we'll chill with Kyle at some point, who's working at a community newspaper in a small town on the Connecticut-Rhode Island border. When I was going through D.C., I found out that Erica Salmon (the one we stayed with) is living on campus at GWU this summer, trying to do some painting. I'm glad you had time to write, and please write back. I'd love to know what's up with my boy Firas and his many adventures in Jerusalem and the surrounding environs, dealing with Israeli security forces, hooking up with chicks from Duke. N'Gai just received your letter, too. He says hello. You know what? We were just watching Yo! MTV Raps and a video came on by Pete Nice and Daddy Rich. Pete Nice used to be with 3rd Bass, and everybody in the room was like, yo, check this motherfucker out! He looks totally like Firas!

- Letter to Firas, 7/3/93

Thursday, June 3, 1993

Pink House Jam: Back by Popular Demand

Party flyer designed by Lem Butler.

You really would have enjoyed this party. It was truly a monster jam, with Lem and Reggie splayed across our kitchen counters surrounded by stacks of equipment, speakers, turntables and discs. N'Gai's room was at all times like the eye of the hurricane, populated by a panoply of characters looking for some peace.

Approximately 500-600 revelers turned out, booties were shook, 40's were consumed in mass quantities. Most people couldn't believe there was a keg. The number of fine women was astounding. Malcolm Aaron was there, and Lee Richardson and Chris Miller showed up, but the number of other Alphas was bereft. The only true buzzkill was my having to deal with repeated visits by the police. But the party trickled out around 2 am, before they could come down heavy on us with noise fines, and thus all was fine.

J: Donald Williams was apparently at that party. I didn't see him, though.
E: He was on the basketball team, right?
J: You must be kidding. He was MVP of the championship in '93, the one who hit all the clutch 3-pointers that put the game away!

- Erik & Jay, 2009
As per usual with all Pink House parties, there were no outstanding incidents of violence. Somebody punched a hole in one of our walls, but it was one of N'Gai's friends and he later owned up to it. Curiously enough, a similar thing happened when we threw another party the weekend before last. Remember that window that you kicked in once, on the side porch door? Well, another knucklehead busted in the very same pane! Preston Harrison Dunlop, in fact. He came clean amidst profuse apologizing. Obviously, this window has earned its place as a holy knucklectics shrine.

- Letter to Dana

Wednesday, May 26, 1993

Digable Planets at Purple Gator

We rolled out of Chapel Hill on a Wednesday afternoon, and made it to our first destination, Myrtle Beach, S.C., before 10 pm that night. See, the Digable Planets were playing there, at this bizarre little club called the Purple Gator. They were on a mini-tour of the Carolinas, playing Wilmington the following night and Winston Salem the night after that.

But our paths crossed with theirs in Myrtle, and they were the shit. The crowd was totally biracial, white people and black people, partying together in harmony.

- Letter to Firas, 7/3/93

Wednesday, May 19, 1993

End of a Franklin Street Era for Cat's Cradle



As someone wrote in last week's issue, the Cat's Cradle is indeed closing down on May 19th. Frank Heath, the owner of the Cradle will be trying to relocate somewhere in town, and there are several rumors floating around about possible locations, but as it looks now, Chapel Hill will be Cradle-less through most of the rest of the year. The situation is this, four years ago, the Cradle moved into its current location from a smaller location two blocks down the street. The Cradle, in its twenty four (or five?) year history has occupied five different locations. Its current incarnation has done much to spawn the (Chapel Hill music scene’s) current media attention.

The Cradle was graciously allowed to temporarily locate in the building on West Franklin Street (an old bank building) while the building's owners looked for a buyer. Well, four years later, and a buyer/developer has emerged. One rumor is that the space will be used as a parking lot. Well, in most towns, the closing of a local club would be cause for celebration among local politicos and life-long residents. Not so in Chapel Hill. The Town Council is actually helping Frank scout new locations for the Cradle. It will be very interesting to see what this does to the local music scene, and to see how the whole situation resolves itself.

Well, with the cradle closed, the only place in town left to see indie/alternative music (as opposed to blues cover bands and frat-rock crap) is Local 506. I'll reserve my opinion of the new club because I work there, although there are some good shows coming up (Steel Pole Bathtub, Railroad Jerk). Local 506, however, is much smaller than the Cradle (250 capacity vs. 750/800 at the Cradle) and won't be able to accommodate a lot of the larger nationally touring acts that came through town. The Cave also books some of the cooler local bands on Sunday nights, but is also way too small to book some of the larger drawing acts in town.

Sunday, May 16, 1993

Note to Clint Curtis

Dear Mr. Clint Curtis,

What's up, g. How's life in the chill woods.

What could your pal Erik possibly be writing to you about? Might it have something to do with a certain $75 in parking money (three months) that you owe him and his housemates?

No, probably not. Au contraire, this letter is mostly about wanting to give you a shout and say "what's up" and "how's life," since it's been a long time since we've talked.

I actually don't even know whether or not you're going to be in town for the summer. But I'll be here, cooling at Chez Pink, living the life. So if you are around, we'll have to hang out at least occasionally. Maybe you can come over some evening and hang with N'Gai and myself, cooking some food, you know the score.

N'Gai will be here until August. He's working with Dave's brother Tony Deifell in Durham on the overall design of a photo-essay book documenting young people doing community service. There are over one hundred teams of writers and photographers all around the country also working on this project.

Dana will be in D.C. starting June 1, working as an intern with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. It should be a cool summer to be doing it, with Ben Chavis the new NAACP director and Clinton chilling in the White House.

So give me a call, bitch, and let me know your business.


Your Friend Erik, Knucklelectics Grand Wizard responsible for diligent recruitment of Nipple Knotting Finger-Licking Boot Sucking Crack Smoking Undercooked Bunny Fucking Wooly Blanket Up the Ass Ramming "Pay Us Our Money Goddamned Motherfucker" Shouting Syncophants and Miscreants.

Thursday, May 13, 1993

A minor scene report from "the next Seattle"


"Forward In All Directions - Playable At All Volumes"
Serving the International Pop Underground since 1992

From: (Paul R. Cardillo)

Well, a quick hola and quesadilla from Chapel Hill, N.C. and on to a minor "scene report." It's been several months since I last posted and the winter winds have given way to eighty degree days and the olfactory pleasures of wisteria and honeysuckle. Being a Yankee, I have never really experienced the true grandeur of springtime in the south, but I do so enjoy it... so far. Well, this is my second post from "the next Seattle" and the national media's favorite subject for the next wave of new music.

I'll try to give a small overview of what's happening in town lately in terms of the record-label jackals and our favorite bands.

Today (May 8th) is TRASH day in Chapel Hill - a fund raiser for a new local 'zine that's chock-a-block with musical and cultural info. TRASH day consists of sixteen bands split between two clubs all for $5 and - food is included in the ticket price. Pretty cool. I'll try to review what I can of it (I'll be bartending at LOCAL 506 one of the clubs involved) and will try to shuttle down to the cradle a couple of times to catch some of the bands there.

Well, I'm back, It's now Thursday (5/13), and this didn't make it in time for last Saturday's issue, but this strikes me as a good time to try to explain things in this town from my point of view. As a newcomer to C.H., I feel somewhat unqualified to comment on the scene as a whole. But, no one else from here is writing in Indie-List so, I'll try to do my best.

Trash day on Saturday kind of epitomized the spirit of this town's music scene. For one thing, there is no discernible Chapel Hill sound, and, Chapel Hill isn't the only town around here with a thriving music scene. What Chapel Hill has (had) that Raleigh and Durham are lacking is the Cat's Cradle. I also don't know if either town could have pulled of a day like "Trash Day" with sixteen bands at two clubs for $5 and food which was donated by local restaurants and merchants. Burritos, pizza, chili, veggie sandwiches, and sixteen damn bands! But, without the Cradle (yeah Local 506 was involved too) none of this would have happened.

I'll try to explain a little bit about the diversity of bands in town. It's important to know that Chapel Hill has a thriving folk-rock scene as well as the more alternative scene which is getting national attention. With a slew of cafĂ©’s and coffee shops which book live music, there is usually someone somewhere with a guitar performing in this town. But, I'll stick to what y'all are most likely interested in -- Who is the Next Superchunk? This question may not be as absurd as it sounds. Due to the nature of the scene, there is a lot of cross-pollination and in-breeding amongst the local bands.

Let's start with Chuck Garrison, former drummer for the chunk-meisters. Chuck is currently playing with Pipe and Small, as is Mike Kenlan. Both bands sound very different despite having Chuck on Drums and Mike on Guitar. Groves Willer is currently playing in Family Dollar Pharaohs (along with the Bassist from Zen Frisbee whose drummer Clint is also in Kung Fu Fighting and the Anubis Leisure Society), Bobo the Amazing Rubber Faced Boy, and Evil Weiner (whose guitarist Bill McCormick also plays in Hymen). Matt Goecke of 81 Mulberry is also playing in Spatula. Got it?

You see, it's this screwed up in-breeding that will keep Chapel Hill a local phenomenon in my opinion. Sure, Small and Archers of Loaf have signed with Alias, and Superchunk (as far as I still know) are free agents now, and Jennyanykind somehow managed to sign a deal with Shimmy-Disc, but the music will continue to go on at people's parties and more or less as a diversion from the mundane in this town (as it will just about everywhere, I guess). So let the media believe what they like, I'll believe it when I see Zen Frisbee or Family Dollar Pharaohs signed to a major label. I will try to review material in the future from all the bands mentioned up above. Most of the bands above performed at "Trash Day." All of them were good in their own way. No one emerges as "the next S-Chunk" or even as the best band in town. The styles, attitudes and people are so different in each and everyone of the bands, that it's hard to believe that people are expecting another Seattle of this place. I don't think we'll see anything nearly as big and I'm glad for it. There seems to be a reluctance to let any of this get out of hand it's kind of nice having a cozy but diverse scene. There certainly will be no "Stone Temple of the Pearl" or whatever.

Well' I must be going now. Time to sleep and to let all you nice people get on with your lives.

So long for now Indie-friends.

Lurid Crapolla (Paul R. Cardillo)

Monday, May 10, 1993

The Jum, or, A Tud Story

Erik: "You see, Jared, I think we've been having a tud."

Jared: "What?"

Erik: "A tud. You know, a tud."

Firas: "A tud...what's that?"

Erik: "You know, a totally unproductive day. And we've definitely been having one."

Firas: "If motherfuckers like us keep having tuds, somebody like the jum is going to rule the world."

Jared: "The jum...don't house the jum. These are my boys."

Erik: "What's up with this jum?"

Firas: "The jum is in the house."

Jared: "Somebody pass me a pen. Firas, you see that pen over there?"

Firas: "Of the jazz, of the jum, of the rhythm of the funk."

Jay (walking in, on the phone): "Does someone have the remote? What? No, the phone. Hey."

Firas: "Wake my ass up for court tomorrow.

Erik: "Yo man, what's up."

Jay: "Yeah. Uh huh. What's that? O.k. I don't care. You know, if you want to come over here, you can come over any time you want. So just come by whenever you feel like it."

Firas: "Yo, Jay, what's this party you're checking out?

Jay: "In Carrboro. On North Greensboro Street."

Erik: "Jay, tell us about the seventh grade aspect of it!"

Jay: "Spin the Bottle, Seven Minutes In Heaven, Suck and Blow."

Jared: "What does all this mean? What does it all mean, Firas?

Firas: "I don't know, dude."

Wednesday, May 5, 1993

Black and white social segregation at UNC-CH

(Editor's note - "The Theoretical Framework Behind Pink House Jams" would have been an appropriate subtitle. This could have been a direct rebuttal to a senior thesis being written around the same time somewhere across town, when its author wasn't hard at work administering the bass-ackwards policies of SBP John Moody, a document later known as How Not To Improve Race Relations on College Campuses.)

Living together and being able to party together - these two things allow people to chill with one another in relaxed, spontaneous, unstructured social situations. After these two developments are facilitated, all other aspects of social integration between people will flow - from eating dinner together at Lenoir, going out in public in interracial groups, studying together, sitting together in class, whatever.

Living together

The South Campus high rises had just been constructed when black students began arriving at UNC-CH in large numbers, during the late 1960's and early 1970's. At this point, many North Campus dorms had not been renovated in decades. The high rises were brand new, and therefore the most appealing dorms for incoming black students to choose to live in. Over the years, the center of Carolina's on-campus black student community has thus been maintained on South Campus.

If unaware of this racially segregated housing dynamic before coming to campus, white and black students quickly find out about it upon arriving as freshmen. New black students face peer pressure from other black students to remain on South Campus. Most white students who choose to live on-campus as upperclassmen gravitate North, whether to be closer to classroom and library facilities or for more race conscious reasons, i.e., to be closer to the center of on-campus "white" student life.

The only official student/administration response to this dynamic in recent years has been the RHA-conceived Residence Hall Diversity Program, in which one hundred eighty or so spaces in the North Campus residence halls are specifically set aside for black students. To date, this program has been a failure. Almost no black students have applied to make the move North.

RHA and the Department of Housing have been so backwards and uncreative about publicizing the program that people hardly know it exists. Those that do resent the program's paternalistic, top-down, imposed from above approach.

What needs to happen at this point in time is for activist black students to take advantage of the program's existence, and organize to make sure every black spot is filled. A void exists that committed leaders could fill, helping lead a movement of black students en masse to North Campus.

Ideally, there should be two established on-campus black communities, on both South and North Campus. To think that there can only be one is short sighted and ultimately, hurts the black student community by making it difficult for black students to enjoy a sense of community anywhere but in the dorms which are the farthest away from classrooms, libraries, the main cafeteria, and the student union.

Besides, the rooms in North Campus residence halls are nicer than ones in the South Campus high rises, they're bigger, and the buildings themselves are surrounded by trees, grassy quads, and the arboretum, instead of parking lots, roads, and traffic.

I lived on South Campus myself my freshman year. The one thing I liked about it was living surrounded by friends of all colors. But Hinton James was a huge, ugly, prison-like building, and it was damn too far to walk.

Partying together

There are few opportunities for black/white social interaction at Carolina. Particularly, it is almost impossible for black and white students to party together.

When black and white students started going to the same nightclub on Franklin Street, Club Zen, on the same nights, the management closed it down.

White frats have fraternity houses, which allow them to throw off-campus parties that white students attend. Black frats have no such fraternity houses. Black frats are only able to throw great hall parties in the student union. Even if black frats had their own houses, however, they would most likely throw jams that would be attended primarily by black students.

Why don't more white students have a love for and appreciation of black music? Why don't more white students attend great hall jams?

The answer has to be seen in terms of why more black students don't attend frat parties. Unless you set social situations up as consciously non-threatening to all participants, and ensure that no unequal power dynamics exist, you can't realistically expect people from different cultures to voluntarily come together. The problem with having social events centered around historically white or black fraternities is that it creates situations where one group is forced to venture onto another group's "turf" in order to participate socially.

It is only normal for both blacks and whites to feel uncomfortable going to a places where members of one group will be indeliably marked as "outsiders." Where discomfort exists, it is not possible for people to chill with one another.

White students also have an advantage in that their social lives include going to off-campus private parties, thrown by white students who live in off-campus houses. Some landlords in town won't rent to black students. But even excluding the racism exhibited by these landlords, vacancies in most off-campus housing is not publicly advertised. Rather, spaces in houses are passed down among friends, year by year. There is nothing deliberately discriminatory about this. However, black students have only been a large scale presence at Carolina since the early seventies, so going back through the years, these patterns of off-campus housing sucession tend to inadvertently benefit white students as a group.

Black students living off-campus are thus largely restricted in their housing choices to apartment complexes. And you can't throw a major jam in a two-bedroom apartment.

Sunday, April 25, 1993

R.I.P. Ericka Kurz (1968-1993)

I think I'm past my initial shock at the news of Ericka's death and my profound grief that followed. I was definitely grieving for a while there this week, walking around campus all out of focus and lost in worlds of thought about her, and all the times I could remember spending with her. I kept turning the details of how she died over in my head, and lost a lot of sleep the first couple of nights after you called me, just feeling miserable and agitated, all fucked up in general.

Ericka and Raj at Pink House, Spring '92.

Now I'm at a stage where everything's receding a little bit, which is both good and bad. Until my exams finish, I absolutely have to focus on studying. But at the same time, I feel like my mind unleashed this torrent of memories about Ericka this week that now, already somehow, I don't remember as well any more. It's funny how memory works like that. I want to think about Ericka, and write everything down about her that I can recall, but again, I feel like I can't sit down, start, and not finish. It's got to be the whole nine or else I'm going to further mess with my memory circuits and not be able to conjure up intense mental images of her again for a long time.

- Letter to Dana, 5/2/93

(Note from 10/28/10 - Impossibly hard to believe it's been 17 1/2 years since Ericka was murdered. That seems like such an eternity, and yet I still think about her and miss her like crazy. From the time I met Ericka at the first SEAC organizing meeting of the fall '89 semester in Hamilton Hall, I had a mad crush on her. (In Caroline Philson's words, me and probably every other guy - and girl - in SEAC). Only I was a freshman, and she was a junior, so there was little chance that was going to happen. But we became friends.

Pink House, Spring '92. Photo courtesy of Raj Krishnasami.

I wish I had written down my memories of Ericka like I'd planned to back then, because I'd love to remember every detail of all the times I spent hanging out with her late nights around her kitchen table on Short Street, passing through the familiar beaded curtains to find her (and often her housemate Banu, or other pals) eating ice cream or occasionally cooking up something more nutritious. Dropping by the SEAC HQ's, both office #1 on Franklin Street, then #2 on Rosemary, and watching her work day and night to make sure SEAC would continue taking things to the next level. Plotting with her on an ultimately unsuccessful plan to secure an off-campus house on Mallette Street that would double as an office space and crash pad for national staffers. Driving her to Raleigh one afternoon at breakneck speed through rush hour traffic because she had to file some important paperwork by 5 pm for SEAC's national incorporation. Going out to her Mom (Jennie Knoop)'s Granville County farm for a retreat and sitting under the stars together with all our fellow SEAC'ers in front of bonfires late into the night, feeling young and idealistic and full of life.

"UNC-CH students protest Exxon recruiting & policies," N&O, 10/20/90. From right: Lisa Abbott, Ericka Kurz, Jimmy Langman, Alec Guettal, David Biggs, Erik Ose. Dan Coleman and Greg Gangi are near the far left.

Last year I re-connected with former SEAC National Office staffer and Threshold editor Eric Odell. He wrote an eloquent tribute to Ericka that was read at her memorial service (also at her Mom's farm), and promised me he'd look for a copy to re-post here at some point. As time continues to pass, it bothers me more and more that Ericka's story remains largely untold. Although I did recently stumble across a long blog post that her Mom wrote in 2006, which is the most detailed account of her life and death available online. Ericka helped change the world in her not-quite-25 years (Dec. 5, 1968 - April 25, 1993), and had the potential to do so much more if she had lived longer. Her death was a heartbreaking tragedy and outrage.)

For more info about Ericka's organizing work with SEAC, visit The Ericka Kurz Archive.


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