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

Thursday, July 13, 1995

You might be a scenester if...

alt.music.chapel-hill, 7/13/95

From: ale@backporch.pdial.interpath.net (Alec Vance)
Newsgroups: alt.music.chapel-hill
Subject: you know you're a scenester if... (was RE: Territorial Pissings)
Date: 13 Jul 1995 21:54:40 -0000
Organization: Chapel Hill Music Lovers>

At 9.38am 7/13/95 -0400, Butman, Holly wrote:
>
>BTW, do you even know what a scenester is?

No, he probably doesn't, and please don't blame him for it. Most of us have heard the word "scenester" being bandied about here and there, sometimes as praise, sometimes as an insult, but very few would be able to answer Holly's question coherently. I myself was asked this question some months ago, and its complexity so challenged my lexicological functions that I decided I would tackle what Webster let slide by him and into the end-zone of elusive definitions. "What is a slacker?"--that was an easy one; we had Doug Coupland, Rick Linklater, and Ian Williams to write the book. But "what is a scenester?" is a question that may remain forever elusive. I for one, had never heard of one until I moved here, so I don't know if it's a local thing or a national thing. However, when it's used on alt.music.chapel-hill, it carries very specific, local connotations that an outsider might not catch at first. So here goes my attempt at narrowing the field, if not pinning down the underlying motivations and character of the beast. (This will be especially helpful if you yourself are not sure if you are a "scenester" or not, and it is causing you considerable mental anguish.)

YOU MIGHT BE A SCENESTER IF....

You are a waitress at the Flying Burrito.
You dated a waitress at the Flying Burrito.
You can identify members of Zen Frisbee by their first names.
You've ever smoked a spliff, argued to the point of complete exhaustion, or both (concurrently), with Dave Jiminez.
You cried when the Hardback closed.
You laughed maliciously when the Hardback closed.
You are a DJ at WXYC.
You keep track of who Mac McCaughan is going out with.
You've ever given local hero Mark Sloop a ride home from a party.
Two words: Camels & Olympia.
You can tell when someone is on heroin.
You know the last names of more than one person named "Ron."
You know the name of at least one owner of Local 506.
You know the difference between Cliff's Meat Market and Hank's Meat Market.
You can name three or more bands that Groves drums for.
More than one-third of your wardrobe comes from thrift shops, dumpsters, or your grandfather's attic.
You have been in Chapel Hill for at least 5 years
You have not left Chapel Hill/Durham in at least 2 years.
You are accompanied by a peculiar odor (males only).
You've ever had a crush on Frank Heath (females only).
You ignore and forget the names of people you've met 10 times until you're sure that they're cool enough to know.
You ignore and forget the names of people you've met 10 times until you're sure that you're sober enough to make a good guess.
You not only know local bartenders by name, but you can get a drink after closing hours.
You tell new acquaintances of the opposite sex that "you paint".
Most of your small talk involves local bands, cigarettes and beer.

THINGS THAT YOU MIGHT THINK MAKE YOU A SCENESTER (BUT DO NOT NECESSARILY)....

You have long hair or "beat" facial hair
You are in Pine State
You are a DJ at WXDU
You live in Durham
Refer to "the scene" incessantly, as if it were something tangible and organic.
You know the difference between the musical (as opposed to the graffiti) styles of Dada Veda and DSF Earth Corps
You know something about politics, philosophy or literature
You like Superchunk or the Archers of Loaf to the point of obsession

THINGS THAT EXCLUDE YOU FROM BEING A SCENESTER

You wear sandals.
You live in Raleigh.

Feel free to add to/correct this vital information in the public interest... maybe we could include it in the forever-forthcoming FAQ!

Self-deprecation is a poor substitute for humility.
And I'm a lousy, egotistical, self-righteous,
egg-sucking son-of-a-bitch.
-------------------------------------------------------------
alec vance ale@backporch.pdial.interpath.net carrboro, nc

Thursday, June 15, 1995

Mel and Martha's pleasant living

Mel left the Pink House in '95, right as she and Martha graduated from UNC-CH and the Plastic House was shutting down.

The two of them (plus Laverne) joined forces in a little brick apartment complex off Pleasant Drive in Carrboro, which was always a fun place to visit.

Mel and Martha kept a steady stream of yummy snacks on tap, cool movies available to watch, and interesting games to play. That apartment was full of laughter and good times.

While plotting her next career move, Mel served a stint delivering pizzas around Chapel Hill and Carrboro. It was around the same time that N'Gai returned to town, bounced from Cole Street to the Dungeon, and starting throwing an early morning paper route in addition to his work laying out the Chapel Hill News. So 1995 was a year that Pink House alums took it to the streets, except for Jay, whose giant white Beast of a truck died and began a permanent residency blocking the Pink House driveway. Taking up where the hippies left off.

Thursday, June 1, 1995

The Dungeon

The Cole Street crew changed residences in 1995. They went even deeper into the historic Pine Knolls neighborhood, down the street from Doug Clark's eye-catching house that the Hot Nuts built, ending up at a duplex apartment at 135-A Johnson Street. It was instantly dubbed the Dungeon.

Owned by recently-gone-bankrupt local slumlord (or "real estate baron," as he preferred to be called) George Tate, the Dungeon was an unforgettable spot. Not very big, but home to outsized egos, and a never-ending supply of plots and schemes. Roy Ayers' "Running Away" was the unofficial theme song. Plans and strategies to change the world were abundant. Grassroots business ventures were hatched, and you never knew if whatever you did (or with who) might end up on video. But times were tight, the heat didn't work very well, and the winter of '95 was a cold one.
The Dungeon phone has been long distance disabled to prevent the kind of outrageous unknown phone charges that were plaguing them, what with random motherfuckers rolling through at all times. - Letter to Dana, 4/10/95
Life in the Dungeon finally drove N'Gai to the ultimate act of desperation – moving back into the Pink House in mid-1996.

Sunday, April 9, 1995

N'Gai, the generous host

Spent way too much of my sunny, 80 degree afternoon with a pack of Dungeon-dwelling knuckleheads who go by the names of N'Gai, Lem, Dawad, and Charles. And look at N'Gai, newly paid, all ready to be the generous host, shelling out for two large pizzas with delicious toppings like barbecued chicken, broccoli and pepperoni. Accepting donations on credit from all the rest of us dollar-less fiends. Like I said, way too much of the day. But then again, it was Sunday, and it's always important to kick back with the fellas once in awhile.

- Letter to Dana, 4/10/95

Monday, March 27, 1995

An American Dream for the 90's

As I write this, it's the tail end of a sunny February afternoon in Chapel Hill. The mercury has been a constant 40 degrees, I've been driving around all day, and this town has been giving me a headache. Maybe it's that I can't wait for winter to end. Or maybe I'm pissed off that the most exciting thing I could think of to do today was going to a bowling alley to play some damn pinball.

Yeah, Chapel Hill in February. New York it's not.

Was that a postcard I got from you via Los Angeles? I thought I recognized your scrawl. Something about visiting Bela's grave. I still haven't seen Ed Wood, but I want to, regardless of the bad reviews it got from sources usually in the know. Best film of '94? No contest - Pulp Fiction. Best old film I've seen recently - On The Waterfront. Before that it was probably Love Story, with Ali McGraw and Ryan O'Neal. Of course, I've hardly seen any movies lately because I've been working crazy hours like the wage slave I am. But more about that soon. Oh, and you know what new film I'd love to go see right now? The Brady Bunch Movie. I bet that shit will be funny as hell.

So, what is up with you? Hope life in the city treated you well this past year. My only visits to NYC since last new year's have been very brief ones, for a night or a day at a time, just passing through. One memorable time last fall was when I was home for a few days and Jared and his girlfriend Heather Anne drove Tony, a friend of his, and myself down to see Deee-Lite play the Sound Factory. But overall, I've gone through Big Apple withdrawal. I spent this past New Year's in D.C. hanging with a Chapel Hill crew, and chilled most of the big evening at D.C.'s premier nightclub establishment, Tracks. Although now I hear this new club called Buzz is giving them some serious competition. Incidentally, it's now around the end of March. This note has been lying around half-written for awhile.

I've been working full time since September in a "entry-level" position in an advertising agency/market research firm called FGI, which used to stand for Four Guys, Inc. when the business was first founded. Now it's more like Fucking Getting Irritated. Let's make that a "basement-level" position, because I do work in a basement. It's actually a phone center, a.k.a. an electronic sweatshop, staffed by students, recent grads, college flunkouts, and middle-aged slackers with whom I work daily.

If my supervisors had their way, I would be on the phones eight hours a day, calling anybody, anywhere, for all types of stupid projects, mostly trying to reach the people who are the most difficult to reach over the telephone. I also do mass mailings and general clerical work, but my official job title is sort of a cross between "market research assistant" and "telemarketer." I'm kind of amazed I've lasted this long in the place, but I figured there would be some advancement opportunity upstairs into the actual ad agency portion of the business. Guess again. They did start me at $8 an hour, and it has been good to get something post-college down on my resume. It's also allowed me to get an up-close look at how a medium-to-large-size (200 employee) company functions, and also how this company treats its employees, the fucked up working conditions we're subjected to, low wages paid, etc., knowledge I can put to use in future labor organizing projects. But now I'm ready to be out.

It's bugged, too, because before I got this job I was making crazy money working for myself, and enjoying the hell out of it. This was during August and September, right around the beginning of the school year. Spurred on by my need to move all my stuff out of the Pink House, and get rid of half of it, I became a used furniture broker. Things mushroomed and I started selling absurd used furniture to kids moving into dorms and apartments, all kinds of crazy shit, and netted about four grand altogether. Not bad for six weeks' work. It was fun.

Working full time for six months has given me all the motivation I need to get me off my duff and tightly focused on my political fundraising plans, pronto. So for the last week or so, I've been trying to jump- start a job search that will hopefully extricate me from the fucked up wage slave work I'm doing now and give me more time to work on my own stuff. I've been applying for administrative assistant-type positions, mostly in Chapel Hill and Durham, to work 25-30 hours a week. I don't really want to have to drive to Raleigh, which is about 40 minutes away when traffic is light. And during the workweek, traffic is anything but light around here. That's one of the biggest drawbacks to living somewhere where the state government has been too shortsighted over the years to invest in public infrastructure. I'm not even talking about the lack of a any type of light rail system in all of North Carolina, I'm screaming about there not even being regularly scheduled fucking public buses that will take you between Chapel Hill and Raleigh. Do you want to know how many times the public buses run between here and Durham, which is 20 minutes away by car? Twice a day - once in the morning, again at night. No weekend service. Period.

So I'm trying to find some work that's less physically and mentally debilitating than what I'm doing, will let me work less hours, and pay more. Sort of like an American Dream for the 90's. I'm also trying to coordinate all kinds of schemes and projects with various individuals who are also tired of sitting around on their slacker butts and are starting to want to get paid. Speaking of dough, my personal business ventures may be bringing me through the Big Apple real soon. Like, it's now Sunday night, March 26, and I'm thinking of taking a road trip north this coming Friday, the 31st. I would be stopping in D.C. to drop something off and (maybe) pick something up from Erica Salmon. I haven't seen her in a long time, since probably back around Clinton's inauguration, more than two years ago! That's so wack. But the minute I tell Tony Fishel that I'm driving through D.C., he's on me. "Dude, you have to get my shirt from her! This red, long-sleeved shirt of mine that she has. I've been totally missing it!" So I may have to see her on the drive-by.

Yeah, so our initial destination for Friday night is Boston. Tony is now living with my brother, and they have a phat crib over in a section of town called Jamaica Plain. Three other roommates and them share the place, two floors, very big, very nice layout. And Tony claims to be throwing a rave on Friday night at the crib itself, "a small rave, only 50 people." Oh, did I mention that their house is on a residential street packed tight with baby strollers and old people? Maybe this is Tony's idea of a neighborhood outreach program. But regardless, I will be on hand to give witness.

And then, my tentative driving companion has expressed interest in stopping in New York on our way back, i.e. next Saturday night, April 1st. So if this all pans out, and I do end up in town, I'll give you a call. Hope you haven't moved or anything, since I'm sending this letter to your most recent address. And it would be cool to see you.

- Letter to Robb Teer, 3/27/95

Saturday, March 25, 1995

The Hippies Who Lived in the Driveway

Allen: Mel met these two hippies at a Grateful Dead show in Charlotte in the spring of '95 and told them they could park their van in the driveway overnight. Well, the van broke down there, and they lived in the driveway for the next two months.

Jay: They nearly drove Scott crazy. He was bitching about it every day.

Allen: They both slept in the van, but showered and shit in the downstairs bathroom.

Jay: And they weren't even very nice to us, seeing as how they were mooching off our facilities.

Allen: Their van was parked right between the side porch and the garage, so it was always in the way. You had to walk around it just to get into the back door. Finally, they painted the sign for the Gates of Beauty body shop in Carrboro. And it was the shittiest sign ever. On one side, there was a crashed car, and on the other, a rebuilt front end. It looked terrible. But that sign was perched on top of their building up until like, just five years ago. And the job got them just enough cash to fix their van and move out of the Pink House driveway for good.

- as told by Allen & Jay, 4/11/09


Mural depicting Gates of Beauty. This was not painted by the hippies.

Wednesday, February 1, 1995

Chew Toy session in the living room

Early in '95, Chris Palmatier had bought an 8-track, probably on credit, because bill collectors were constantly calling and looking for him. He had his studio set up in the dining room, on the kitchen counter, and every morning, when I would get up and stumble downstairs looking for some breakfast, I'd have to step over a drum set in the kitchen. By 10 am, Chris would have some band starting their practice session in the living room.

- Allen Sellars, 2009

(Editor's note from 2016: Glad some of the music recorded by Chris Palmatier in the winter of '95 is finally coming to light! The session linked to here was digitized last August, twenty years after it was originally recorded. With long-time Indy music writer Karen A. Mann on guitar, no less. From the band's bio: Chew Toy started in Greensboro, N.C., in August 1991, and finally called it quits in 1996. We released one single (Close the Window, Candy Corn and Lost in My Hometown) in 1993, and recorded many other songs that were never released until now. Chew Toy was: Amy Wilkinson, bass; Stacie Smith, drums; Christina Pelech, vocals; Karen A. Mann, guitar.)

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