I hate Asheville (kickoff: Truth Week 2007)

There are things I don't write about on my blog. I've never written about any job I've had - even when I worked in very close proximity with a 70-year-old southern woman who used the term "coloreds" on a regular basis and sometimes expressed pity for everyone who hadn't been Saved, because them there people, they were going to Hell - because I've never wanted to be unprofessional and get fired, even if the material is really, really good. I also try to avoid writing anything that would hurt anyone's feelings - things I'm told in privacy, railing against anyone's beliefs or passions, or just generally being ignorant and mean. I practice these manners in life, too. Being nice is important. And civilized.

Then there are things I don't write about because for one reason or another, I'm just a little scared to put it out there.

But this week I decided to let down my guard and spill it.

And I'll start with this: I hate Asheville, North Carolina. I know, I know, it's not that shocking if you haven't been there or have no idea what I'm talking about, but believe me, people love Asheville, North Carolina, and to boldly proclaim that I hate it there, well, could get me banned from the state. Or worse.

The crazy thing is every time I go to Asheville - a town nestled among mountain chains in the western part of the state, I think I love it. At first.

First of all, it's gorgeous out there. You drive and drive and the air becomes cleaner and the views are spectacular and the town is adorable, complete with organic restaurants and boutiques and quaint inns. There are always a good number of people out in the streets walking dogs, holding hands, and you look out your car window and think, "Damnit, I am happy to be ALIVE!"

There are worthwhile historic landmarks in Asheville, too, like the Biltmore Estate and author Thomas Wolfe's childhood home.

Asheville is surrounded by smaller mountain towns (some of which I do love) and you can take a drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway in the autumn and just about die from the beauty of it all.

Almost everyone I know is crazy about this place. If you happen to mention you're taking a trip out there they exclaim, "Asheville?! OH MY GOD I LOVE ASHEVILLE!" and that's how you know.

But I've finally come to grips with the fact that I can't stand that place, and I'll tell you why - it's awful. Sure, it looks great at first, for all the reasons I described above, but spend a little time there and you start to notice some pretty annoying stuff. Like all the hippies. Don't get me wrong, I've got nothing wrong with most hippies. Hippies that, you know, are concerned about shit. These hippies, however, are mostly concerned with running around barefoot and gathering in the center of town to, Jesus, I don't know, share and eat bean sprouts and not take care of their children.

A little of that goes a long way, and believe me, the "we're so carefree we don't even mind that we're wearing dirty clothes" attitude permeates the entire town, and then add to that the fact that Asheville, for whatever reason, seems to be the place where "creative" types go to just be free and live, man, so there are cars painted all the colors of the rainbow and, like, ten street fairs going on at once and one time I saw this impromptu parade materialize out of thin air. Just individuals marching around being individuals I guess. It kind of made me want to throw myself off a cliff.

It's up to you to judge for yourself, of course, and there really are a lot of great things to do and see there and a lot of great places to eat and drink, but unfortunately I haven't yet been able to get past the other stuff in order to settle down and enjoy it.

What really summed Asheville up for me was this one night I was walking around with my brother, Vinnie, and his friend Bryan. This was over the summer when Vinnie's band was down here in North Carolina playing a few shows, and I'd driven to Asheville for the night to see the them. Afterwards, the three of us were just walking around, talking about the town, and I remember Bryan made the excellent point that, "hippies - they're all into simplicity and just living on the basics - but then they sell things like beads, which are totally, totally unecessary," and all of a sudden we noticed we were being followed by a drunk, shirtless midget, who stopped us and asked us for a dime. A dime. So we gave him one and he went on his way. I don't know why, but it would have been a lot better if he'd asked us for a couple bucks or something. Honestly, what in the name of God is going on when a drunk midget actually asks if you "can spare a dime" like you're in some crazy surrealistic film? That's Asheville for you. I don't think I'm going back.