(photograph of Sids Surplus on Main Street in Carrboro)
(photograph taken near the corner of Rosemary and Main streets in Carrboro)
"We're just laying in the sun while it's still sunny, before it gets cold," says Jay (in blue plaid) of Carrboro. For several hours, he along with friends Cole and Keenan (pictured above) have been inching down the sidewalk basking in the sunny spots, chasing the Carrboro sun.
(photographs taken off of Main Street on Hillsborough Road in Carrboro)
(photograph taken off of Main Street in Carrboro)
"It was totally meant to happen. It's what I was meant to do. Now I look at a 29-year-old and they look pretty young but at the time I was chomping at the bit to do it. Also I was a business major. I didn't just throw my guitar away and open a bar," says Tricia (photographed below), owner of Orange County Social Club, who opened the Carrboro bar 13 years ago. OCSC has a throwback vibe with a stocked jukebox and vinyl mod sofas. The beguiling art installation that spans the wall nudges patrons for attention. It was created by Tricia's husband, artist Charles Chace, and is loosely redolent of the SMPTE color bars that appeared on television screens when networks went "off air." Towards the back, a flashing pinball machine is tucked in a corridor that leads to an outdoor space. Step outside to a lounge shrouded in vines, illuminated by lanterns and the reflection of a mirrored disco ball. An iron monogramed backdoor swings open (or serves as a an exit) inviting locals -- faithfuls who show up day in and day out, week by week, year over year.
"I worked at Merge Records, a local record label. I just found that my instincts for work were more in the hospitality department than other things. At the time, I was filling a niche. Everyone whose first names I knew wanted a bar to open. At the time there wasn't happy hour type for the 20ish or 30ish people...A lot of people have met their partners here and that makes me very proud. Our motto is consistency. We keep the place going even keel and vibrant. It's not trendy. You know what you're going to get when you come in. There's a good vibe....sit and talk with your friends and not be bothered."
(photographs taken at Orange County Social Club located at 108 East Main Street in Carrboro. It's open seven days a week.)
(photograph taken on Main Street in Carrboro)
"I think raising my daughters on my own was the most challenging and the most rewarding. It was fun. I also learned how resilient children are. We get together every Sunday when they're here. I think it is a very rewarding experience.... I got in touch with my feminine side. The first thing I learned was the necessity to multitask, and secondly being able to express my feelings openly," Jim, 55, says. He also inherited his German shepherd "V" from one of his three daughters. "They named him Vegas. I shortened it to V. It's much simpler. I never cared for Vegas either," he admits.
Each day Jim walks "V" three miles through downtown Carrboro. What he relishes most is connecting with people along his route. "It gives you a sense of humanity. The diversity of people here economically, socially, educationally, everything....It's pretty cool."
(photograph taken near Main and Greensboro streets in Carrboro)
"I started here right after 9-11. There was a guy who ended up working here who transplanted from [New York City] because he just couldn't be there. He didn't go to work that day because he had a hangover. That was the day everyone in his company was killed. If you are drinking and missing work, it's not good. He became a waiter here. He came here to kind of chill. One thing that Linda does -- she's an owner, she's a good person, cool -- she hires people with the way they approach the job. Most people only hire the ones with the most experience." - Seaja is a waitress at The Spotted Dog Restaurant & Bar, located in the "flat-iron" building shimmed between Main and Weaver streets in Carrboro. She lived in Carrboro for many years but has recently moved to the most western side of Saxapahaw.
(photographs taken at the Spotted Dog Restaurant & Bar, 111 E Main Street in Carrboro)
"Create safe spaces for our people to share their stories. I needed that myself. I needed it my whole life. I'm a black man and in the world people look at me and there is an assumption. And it doesn't acknowledge I can be anybody. It's not a curiosity, it's a fear. It's important for me to tell my story just like young people who get typecast."
CJ is the co-founder of Sacrificial Poets, a spoken word poetry arts education organization that uses the power of poetry to empower youth and transform lives. Sacrificial Poets serves as a conduit for those who might not be heard in their everyday lives. Founded in 2005 (formerly the Chapel Hill Slam Team), the organization serves elementary, middle, high-school and college-aged youth across the state via performances, poetry workshops and innovative arts education curriculum. Each year Sacrificial Poets selects six youth to participate in the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival where young poets and spoken word artists convene among peers to learn and perform. The festival has been featured on HBO, MTV an NPR.
(photographs taken at Johnny's Gone Fishing, on Main Street in Carrboro)
"It was a bait and tackle. It's had a lot of little lives. It was a smoking-cigars-having-a-package-of-crackers place ... just sitting around," shares Susan (in glasses below). She runs Johnny's Gone Fishing, a coffee shop in a 1930s building that once housed a grocery store, then a bait & tackle shop, and finally a quirky community center. It's located off Main Street in Carrboro and has a warm community vibe that encourages folks to stay longer than perhaps otherwise anticipated. Open seven days a week, the shop offers baked goods, homemade ice cream, beer/wine, and a kaleidoscope of happenings: music jams, puppet shows, live performances, farmers markets, cook outs, kids story time, songwriter circles, food trucks. One think you'll no longer find are hooks and poles.
"People come in and have a flashback from their childhood: 'Ah, that's where the crickets were ...' They have these memory connections. I often hear people tell stories when they were a child. It was a good ol' boys place. Some still come in and are looking for worms," she says, then pauses remembering. "I have a worm guy, I need to remember to keep worms in the fall."
As she is talking, a shop regular is filling his coffee at the counter. The postman marches in á la Cliff from Cheers greeting folks with a hearty laugh. A woman is buried in a book in the sun room. Susan explains she recently moved here from Europe and lives across the street.
"We have all the coolest people come in here...There's something special about this place."
(photographs taken at Johnny's Gone Fishing, 901 West Main Street in Carrboro)
More than 20 years later, faded traces of Scott Stewart's Fishing Village (1993) chinoiserie-like mural remain in the alley alongside the building that houses Jade Palace restaurant in Carrboro. Stewart also painted the wall on the east corner of the building, abutting the restaurant. That mural no longer exists. It was painted over twice. Once with a controversial artwork in 2002 that featured a patchwork of art squares by local businesses. The other, still stands rich in color. It's called The Strowd Roses Community Mural designed in 2009 by Emily Weinstein and showcases the Chinese zodiac.
(photograph taken on Main Street in Carrboro)
A "Patton" American flag -- reminiscent of the iconic opening scene in the oft-quoted film -- backdrops Tyler's Restaurant & Taproom outdoor stage in Carrboro. The stage is tucked in the lot behind the restaurant and is one of two dozen indoor/outdoor venues for the Carrboro Music Festival. This year's 17th annual event takes over downtown on Sunday, September 28, with about 180 performing acts showcasing a spectrum of musical styles. A kick-off is scheduled for Saturday, September 27, at the Cat's Cradle Back Room.
(photograph taken behind Tyler's Restaurant & Taproom located on Main/Greensboro streets in Carrboro)
From Burlington via Durham, Kelly is in town for a doctor's appointment and decides to stick around. "It's eclectic here. More of the open-minded cities in North Carolina," she says of Carrboro. "This is more progressive than anywhere else other than Asheville. There's actually culture here as well."
Kelly is a music junkie who swings from the Grateful Dead to her latest hook, electronic music. "I dig it and I love to dance. I can dance right now. I'm going to see Beck on Friday and I'm about to lose my shit over it!"
Her signature move? "I wiggle and hop. I call it the hippie jam dance. It's like becoming a tree. It's repetitive and I like it."
(photographs taken on Lloyd and Main streets Carrboro)
One man. Two string instruments. And a slew of strumming ditties.
Willie Watson hypnotized a standing room of folks with a crisp tenor voice and dancing fingers -- armed only with a worn banjo and rhythm guitar. The former member of Old Crow Medicine Show rocked a sold-out show with an encore performance at the Cat's Cradle last night (July 16). Watson, who at one point called the outskirts of Boone home, is on tour supporting his solo album Folk Singer Vol.1.
The photo above was taken as Watson finished his cigarette and walked by the queue of people to get on stage.
(photograph taken at Cat's Cradle on Main Street in Carrboro)
Someone on Main Street catcalls from a car. Allison (left), 20, looks over her shoulder and simpers. She and Preetha (right), 21, seem to have shared many of these goofy moments. They were suite-mates at UNC-CH freshman year, and have remained close friends. "I couldn't get rid of her," Allison quips.
Preetha, who is from Connecticut, studies environmental health science and volunteers at the Carrboro Farmers' Market. Allison, who is from Charlotte, is studying communications-English-history. But that was not her original choice.
P: "Alison wanted to be a director. She knows a lot about tv shows. A lot of recommendations. Told me new shows I should try. She got me watching Fringe and I love it."
A: "I forgot! TV and movies are essentially all I talked about...Preetha volunteers an impressive amount as you can see by her shirt (reads Carrboro Farmer's Market). Very involved in the community and I admire her immensely.... Preetha is sweet. The base of sweetness."
P: "Allison is funny and a REALLY good storyteller."
When they first met they were more reserved than they are today, Allison remarks. What made them less reserved? "College. You widen your horizons," she says, then adds, deadpan: "Plus we're both really cool in general."
(photograph taken on Main Street between Lloyd & Rosemary streets in Carrboro)
Michael calls himself a drifter.
He's from Hillsborough and says he was dropped off in Carrboro by a parent. The 18-year-old spends much of his time "floating around" and hanging out with friends. Today he's in town to meet a couple of buddies for a concert: Distort the Fluff. "It's distorted psychedelic music. People think it's off beat, but it's kind of the point of it. It's pretty good. A lot of people don't like it because it's really grimy music. A lot of people think it's really shitty. But my friend plays in the band so I'm going to support him."
He is walking down Main Street in Carrboro puffing on a cigarette when I meet up with him. Michael is friendly in a soft-spoken way and quick to oblige. Says most folks are swift to pass judgement when they see him.
"I get a lot of sour faces. I guess I look sketchy. It's just my style. But I'm really friendly. I'm about peace and love."
(photographs taken on Main Street between Lloyd & Rosemary streets in Carrboro)
"Say cheese and condoms!" Gary says through his mischievous grin as I snap his photo. "See, by the time you say condoms they're already smiling."
Worked on me. Except I was the one behind the camera. "Is that your line or did you get that from someone?" I ask.
"That's mine. You know every once in a while a little freezer opens up in the brain and something leaks out. Sometimes it leaks onto the floor. This one I was able to catch and it stuck."
Gary, 66, is a jovial man with a kooky sense of humor. He is missing his right eye from a golfing accident (ball shot through his eyeglass lens into his eye). The accident seems to have left him with an uncanny Popeye expression when provoked. As he straightens the bric-a-brac at Surplus Sids where he works, he pauses to pose in a portfolio of positions: the cool guy, "The Thinker" by Rodin, the "I told you so" look.
"When you become my age you can get away with a lot of shit. The only reason I decided to get older was to be an eccentric curmudgeon," he says, matter-of-factly.
(photographs taken outside Sids Surplus on Main Street in Carrboro)
Sunbathing on the the front lawn of artist Mike Roig's home is perhaps one of Carrboro's most recognized modern landmarks. The 9-foot high gleaming metal sculpture with an oversized head guards the corner of Poplar and Main streets. The sculpture, which Roig calls "Looking Up" (2009), was originally intended to be a contemporary interpretation of the monolithic statues of Easter Island (Polynesia) dating back to the 1500s and characterized by large heads. However locals began to dub it "Obamahead," for its resemblance to the current president. This appealed to Roig who opted not to discourage interpretation.
(photograph taken on the corner of Poplar & Main streets in Carrboro)
(photograph taken on Lloyd & Main outside Leo Gaev Metalworks in Carrboro)