Papadaddy’s Mindfield

How to Clean a Rug

(And go slightly mad)

By Clyde Edgerton

While I was visiting Hillsborough a while back, my wife, Kristina, called me from our home in Wilmington and asked me to stop by her sister’s house in Pittsboro and pick up a rug cleaning machine. Kristina had moved our couch and rolled up our big rug that needed cleaning.

I’d never seen a rug cleaning machine that I knew of.

I thought things through for about a second and asked, “How much does it cost to just get a rug cleaned?”

I was thinking to myself: I’ll have to drive to get the cleaning machine, take it home, figure out how to use it, maybe get one of the kids to help me, take that big rug out on the back deck, clean it, let it dry, put it back, take the cleaner back to Pittsboro.

Kristina answered my question — told me how much it costs to get a rug cleaned.

Holy Moley. I picked up the cleaning machine — it looks like a very large vacuum cleaner — and brought it home. A YouTube video would explain how to operate it.

My job the next day was to write the first draft of a Salt magazine essay about the Frontier Cultures Museum in Staunton, Virginia. I was hoping to have a first draft done by noon but my new job — before starting the essay — was to clean two rugs (was one, now two) with the help of my 9-year-old daughter, Truma. Rug No. 1 — very large, maybe 8-by-12 — had been peed on several times by dog No. 1. Rug No. 2 — about 4-by-8 — had been thrown up on at least several times by dog No. 2. I picture this conversation happening very early on several mornings within the last month:

Dog No. 1 says: “Are they up yet?”

Dog No. 2 says: “Nope.”

No. 1: “I have to pee.”

No. 2: “Pee in the corner of the living room. In the corner by the table. It’ll be days before they figure it out.”

No. 1: “OK. Would you throw up on that other rug in the play room — kind of keep them distracted?”

No. 2: “Sure.”

Truma and I find the YouTube video telling us how to use the machine. The video is 15 minutes long. The person giving instructions seems to be used to talking in a foreign language and I have problems understanding him, but we finally get through the explanation, including how to clean the machine after cleaning the rug. Some assembly and disassembly are involved. Truma takes notes.

Our first task is to go buy some liquid cleaner. About 6 ounces is to be combined with 2 gallons of warm water in a soft plastic container inside a hard plastic container that will keep dirty water separate from the cleaning solution.

We go to Lowe’s and they don’t have our brand — I’d yet to learn that most any concentrated rug cleaner would work. Duh.

Sitting in the parking lot, I call Home Depot. They don’t have our brand, either. I call a rug cleaning service. They are rude. I call another rug cleaning service, explain that I’m sitting in a hot parking lot in a bit of a jam and this person patiently tells me to go to Food Lion.

At Food Lion, the manager walks with me to the rug cleaning stand and finds a substitute concentrate for me. Truma and I buy it and we start home.

At home, we take the machine apart, load it with warm water and cleaner, then put the machine back together. We spread the smaller of the two rugs on our back deck and Truma starts cleaning. Generally speaking, you go over a portion of the rug while holding a trigger beneath the hand grip. The trigger sprays the rug with cleaning solution and then you go over the same portion of the rug and the machine sucks up dirty liquid.

Truma gets tired. I take over and she goes inside, out of the sun.

I finish the cleaning about time it stops being fun. I hang the rugs over the deck railings, disassemble the machine and, in the driveway beside my automobile, start spraying the plastic parts with water from a hose.

The problem with cleaning the plastic parts is that there is a great amount of dog lint inside one of the see-through plastic parts and — though I don’t remember the video telling me to unscrew anything — I notice that if I unscrew four screws, I can pull that section apart. Seeing that lint is like feeling a little popcorn shell-like thing between your teeth when you can’t free it.

I unscrew the screws and nothing happens — nothing comes apart. Oh. I see four more screws. I unscrew them and the thing falls apart, but the lint is still not exposed in any way.

The screws are lined up on the hood of our car. I start putting the screws back in. A screw rolls off the hood of the car and I hear it plink dully onto the cement driveway. I look. It’s nowhere to be seen. I get down on my hands and knees. One of the dogs comes up and sniffs me. It’s dog No. 1. She will go back inside the house and say, “Clyde is out in the driveway. He thinks he’s a dog. It won’t be long before he’s peeing on the rug.”

I didn’t get started on that essay and I cleaned two more rugs the morning after that.

This could go on a long time.

I now better understand the cost of cleaning a rug.  OH

Clyde Edgerton is the author of 10 novels, a memoir and a new work, Papadaddy’s Book for New Fathers. He is the Thomas S. Kenan III Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at UNCW.

Life of Jane

Purple Prose

A sister tells all

By Jane Borden

ìYou copied me,î Tucker said. My accuser was about 10 at the time, which would make me, her younger sister, 6. “Did not!” I shouted defiantly.

“Did too!” she said, holding her stuffed polar bear in the air as evidence. The bear’s name, Pola, was short for the word polar. I had also given my stuffed toy the name Pola. Tucker was mad.

“Did not!” I persisted. But, yeah, I’d definitely stolen her creative I.P. Because I wanted to be like her. I couldn’t reveal this motivation, though. My desire to hangdog by her side would have disincentivized her from allowing me to.

So I replied, “I thought of it because it’s short for polar, like polar bear.” A solid effort, this excuse. Surely, two people could independently have lighted upon the same abbreviation as a name. The only problem: My stuffed animal was a panda.

I did not succeed in pulling the bear hide over her eyes. And our play date ended, if you could call it play date, which I did, because even a cross-examination felt good if it was administered by her. I wanted everything Tucker had and did, usually without knowing why. Mostly, I wanted to spend time with her, and eventually I figured out how.

Tucker was a talker. Still is. She can spin anything into yarn. While your walk around the block may have just been “fine,” Tucker’s was Gulliver’s Travels. Recaps of books, movies and TV shows are her specialty. She combines an attention to detail with a strong memory and a desire to share what she’s witnessed. She’s the war reporter of cable dramas.

As a child, the tendency was especially pronounced. It’s like she aimed to record all she witnessed for the Library of Congress, and she thought I was its librarian. This worked well for me, however, because as long as I let her talk, I could spend all afternoon by her sparkling, big-kid side.

My mother, though tolerant, was not as delighted by Tucker’s tendency. She recalls driving to the beach with her once, when she was about 10 or 11. “Out of the driveway we went and Tucker said, ‘Mom, I saw this great movie.’ And my mistake was saying, ‘Oh really? What was it?’ She told the whole movie. It took the entire trip. It’s four hours to Figure Eight.”

Mom was most astonished, and still is, by her endurance. “She even did the dialogue, Jane. And then she’d say, ‘Wait I forgot something. Remember when I said such and such? Actually you need to know such and such.’ Then she’d reinsert that part into a place we’d already visited, and tell it to me again. That’s why it took four hours.” My sister Tucker, the original book-on-tape.

My mother doesn’t exaggerate. In 1985, Tucker saw The Color Purple at the Janus Theatre. It’s about a young girl named Celie, who’s married off to a much older man named Mister. The two children she’d had, by her father, are taken away from her. Celie also has a sister, and a friend who’s a singer. It’s a heartbreaking story, but the ending is happy. I remember it very well. I’ve never seen it.

It was PG-13 and I wasn’t allowed. But no matter, I got the extended, director’s-cut version from my sister. Tucker’s retelling was cinematic, longer than the original and probably longer than the book. She took me to the attic for the recap, a location, in our home on Carlisle Road, that was presumably chosen for the diminished chance of interruptions. It is also where Tucker taught me pre-algebra. Every day, she’d teach me what she’d learned that day at Aycock Middle School. So desperate was I to be with my sister that, at the age of 9, rather than jumping rope or playing clapping games, I sat in a hot attic taking pre-algebra.

You know who did play clapping games? Celie and her sister in The Color Purple. Tucker not only set the scene for me, but reenacted the pattern of the claps. She also pointed out that the flowers in the field where they played were purple — and added, “You know, like the title.” The film may have been subtle with imagery and metaphor, but Tucker was not.

The film has an oft-repeated line, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Every time Tucker quoted it anew, she pointed out the repetition, lest I miss the significance. Usually, I had already recognized it, but I didn’t dare interrupt. At the end, she told me about Celie’s reunion with her children, and especially that Celie wore a purple dress, “Like the title.” She told me that Mister watched from across the field, and that orchestrating the reunion was the one nice thing he ever did, and how this proved that people can change. I wept.

This was the power of Tucker’s storytelling on an 8-year-old: sobbing tears. She also told me Flowers for Algernon, when she read it, and I cried at the end of that marathon recap too. If we’d lived a thousand years ago, she’d have been in charge of the tribe’s oral traditions, telling them about the Sun God, and then turning to the sky to say, “You know, like the sun.”

Tucker’s version of The Color Purple ended as the film did, with the final scene of Celie and her sister playing the clapping game again, but as adults. Then, of course, she pointed out that it was the same game they’d played as children. But this time, Tucker was wise to hammer home the significance, considering it had now been several hours since the beginning of the film.

Before writing this article, I pulled up the movie on Netflix, to help me recall some of the details and to fact-check my blurry memory. I only watched a few scenes, most of which were unfamiliar. But I need you to know that the shot of Mister at the end — in his wide-brimmed hat, standing next to his horse, witnessing Celie’s reunion with her children — is exactly as I’d remembered it, in spite of the image never before meeting my eyes. This means that Tucker even described the shape of his hat. I’m surprised she didn’t also recount the rolling credits: “The Boom Operator was Marvin Lewis. Ooh, and the Foley Artist . . .”

“I ruined it for you!” she shouted in apology when I called her this week. “I’m so sorry.”

“You didn’t ruin it. I loved it,” I said. “You told me good stories!”

This is true. However, today, when I talk to Tucker, I choose when to say, “Tell me more,” and when to quickly change the subject. Because the more things change, the more they stay the same. That’s the same adage from the film. Just making sure you didn’t miss it.  OH

Jane Borden lives in Los Angeles with her husband, daughter and her daughter’s stuffed rabbit named Pola.


Greensboro’s Got Style

Put aside your polos and your Bermudas: It’s time to dress to
impress at Greensboro Fashion Week

By Waynette Goodson

What do New York, Berlin, Shanghai and Greensboro have in common? They all have their own fashion week.

Whether you’re involved in fashion or you’re just looking for something fun to do, the third annual Greensboro Fashion Week, September 22–25, will feature everything from live bands to professional runway shows — all in high style, of course.

“Every night has its own special theme,” says director Giovanni Ramadani. “And every night has a different shaped runway and different seating. There’s a two-hour vendor reception before the show, so you can shop the trendiest stores in the area and enjoy wine-tasting at the same time.”

Back by popular demand, pop/ R&B trio Citizen Shade will play during intermission as well as other local performers serving up a variety of genres, including jazz. “You’re going to come away with an experience,” Ramadani says. “Whether it’s a date night or a family night, there’s entertainment from start to finish. Shop, eat, drink and see all the collections.”

The four-night event at the swank Elm Street Center calls for cocktail attire, of course, which you’ll need for your grand entrance on the red carpet. Ramadani observes a misperception of Southern style, noting that those beyond the Mason-Dixon line “think we wear polos and Levi’s and flip-flops all the time. We want to dispel this perception.”

Both he and his partner Witneigh Davis stress that the Greensboro show is modeled after fashion weeks in larger cities, with industry standard models, rehearsals, contracts — requiring up to a year to organize. The two want to create a bridge to New York Fashion Week, and their goal is to become the premier show in the Southeast.

Another goal: To elevate Greensboro and call attention to the high-end
nature of the area, which they easily achieve via the title sponsor Jaguar and Land Rover Greensboro, and the elegant venue, Elm Street Center. 

The two style visionaries say they have “pulled out all the stops” for the junior year of their fashion extravaganza, complete with blocking off a portion of North Elm Street, red carpet galore and special VIP areas. Based on attendance during previous years, they’re expecting 5,000 guests, about 1,000 each night.

“We want to make sure that everyone comes to the shows and participates,” Ramadani says. “It’s once a year, and we want to make sure we celebrate it.”

The event has grown from three to four days, and, for the first time, the week will have special themed nights. The following is a guide to each night. (Fashionistas take note: If you like a look that comes down the runway, you can buy it right then — you don’t have to wait!).

Special Feature Night

The kick-off evening, Thursday, September. 22, will feature Kriegsman’s Luxury Outerwares. As of press time in July, this show was still under wraps. 

Emerging Designers Night

In February, Greensboro Fashion Week organizers selected eleven local designers, who had seven months to create a ten-piece collection, à la Project Runway. Those looks will hit the catwalk, Friday, September 23.

The prize? The title of Designer of the Year.

“This show means so much,” says Emily Costlow, 25, a self-taught seamstress. “For a young designer, Greensboro is a great place to launch a business. I want to get my name out there and get started.”

The Apex resident was inspired by coworkers to craft a collection focused on the journey from childhood to adulthood. “You grow up and you gain more self-confidence,” Costlow says. “You become more of a strong, powerful woman.”

Thus, her collection demonstrates both rebelliousness (black mesh dresses) and structure (light blue, triangular skirts paired with white tops in a bralette style).

“It’s very different from what I’ve done before,” Costlow says. “I’m really excited about it.”

Fellow emerging designer Jasmine Rhodes, 25, of Greensboro, also plans for powerful, structured looks, inspired by First Lady Michelle Obama. She’s using a neutral palette (tan, white, black and pink) in sheer fabrics, satin and some blends.

A 2013 graduate of N.C. State with a degree in fashion textile management and product development, Rhodes plans for a career in fashion and hopes the Greensboro platform will help prepare her for New York.

“If I won, I would be ecstatic,” Rhodes says. “It’s been such a journey becoming a designer and gaining confidence. Sometimes I doubt myself a lot. So it would be so great to win! I want to create an amazing collection, and if I won, that would be the icing on the cake.”

Other emerging designers to look for? Dani Oliva, Brian Atkins, Kerri Murray, Liamcy Hogan, Jokenya Brown, Lindsay Broughton, Moniquea Renee, Raven Ledbetter, Elva Vieyra and Palmira Carrera Jarquin.

High-End Retailers Night

The Saturday evening show (September 24) is the most-attended event and sells out the fastest. It features local high-end boutiques that send their trendiest looks down the runway. Past shows have included BCBG Max Azria, Rebecca & Co., Simply Meg’s and Palm Avenue.

Everything Bridal Night

Weddings are a $1.2 billion industry, so Greensboro Fashion Week will celebrate that success with an “I Do Runway,” September 25, the final day of the show. The event will feature tuxedos, flower girl dresses, bridesmaid dresses and much more.

“It’s everything bridal and wedding!” exclaims Witneigh Davis, event director. “It’s going to feel like you’re walking into a wedding ceremony; everything will be white,” Davis says. “We’ll have a fountain, and the runway will be sprinkled with rose petals.”

The best part for brides: Ten area stores will send ten of their newest looks for 2017 down the runway. That’s one-hundred dresses! Better bring a pad and pencil to take good notes, so you can say “yes to the dress.” Info:

Waynette Goodson is the Editor in Chief of Casual Living magazine. A high point of her life was attending a Betsey Johnson fashion show at New York Fashion Week in which the 70-year-old designer turned a cartwheel on the catwalk — and landed in a sweet-pea split.

A Passion for Fashion

Why does Greensboro need a fashion week?

Organizers Giovanni Ramadani and Witneigh Davis love to hear that question because it gives them an opportunity to explain their cause.

“We’ve created a movement,” Ramadani says. “We like setting the stage for fashion. But we didn’t have to build a foundation — it was here long before us, with this being the first textile industry.”

“Some of the first overalls were created here,” Witneigh chimes in, citing C.C. Hudson, who launched his Hudson Overalls Company on the second floor of a grocery store in 1904. “Then there’s Wrangler with the VF Corporation,” she continues. “This is an international textile hub. Fifty years ago, all of the denim was from here. If you went to China, the denim came from here. The True Religion brand still buys denim from Cone Mills. It’s quality; it’s American-made.”

The two entrepreneurs view Greensboro Fashion Week as a natural extension of the city’s history, as well as a showcase for downtown development, to lure young professionals, and especially, to provide higher education opportunities. Students from seven area colleges, including N.C. A&T, UNCG and Elon University, have important roles, from budding fashion designers to make-up artists.

How did the two millennials get the idea? Let’s call it a “fashion moment.” Ramadani was looking for a tie and Davis was trying on shoes when the two met. “We became friends, and we started thinking of ways to create a strategy to help Greensboro grow,” Ramadani recalls. “We wanted to attract more young professionals here. There are good fashion programs at local colleges, but there was no platform for fashion. This is something we love doing, and we do it well. ”

Clad in a vintage, three-piece suit custom tailored by Pierre Cardin, Ramadani stands well over 6 feet. A native of Albania, he moved to Greensboro in 1999 at the age of 12 to escape the war in Kosovo. He worked as a runway model for six years and walked in New York Fashion Week in 2012.

Sporting Prada shades and wrapped in a delicate white blouse and a silk, emerald green skirt by BCBG Max Azria, Davis exudes personal style — in fact, she has worked as a personal stylist since college. In addition, she graduated with honors, with a B.A. in communications and a minor in marketing, and put her skills to work representing local car dealerships. Davis has also managed major store brands such as BCBG and Aldo.

The two fashionistas share the same philosophy: You can never be overdressed.

“People often ask us why we’re so dressed up,” Davis says. “Why not wear your heels?” she counters.

“Just because you’re going to the grocery store or getting off work for drinks, that doesn’t mean you have to go home and put on jeans,” Ramadani says. “You can get dressed up. People are going to look at you whether you look good or bad, so you might as well look your best.”

Fashion For Good

Ten percent of all Greensboro Fashion Week proceeds go to Emily’s Plea, a local charity focused on educating the community about the dangers of drunk and distracted driving. Named after Emily May, a Jamestown youth killed by a drunk driver in 2007, a group goal is to put breathalyzer tests on keychains. “Emily was my friend,” says Witneigh Davis, event director. “She was super-trendy, and she would have loved fashion week.”  OH

True South

A Little Bacon Grease, please

In praise of the olive oil of the south

By Susan Kelly

I miss bacon grease.

My grandmother and my mother — and I, as well, for a while — had a round, silvery metal container on the top of the stove for bacon grease where everyone now has their sea and/or kosher salt bowl. The container held a clever, fitted strainer neatly built in, where crispy bits of brown were trapped. These are the bits, my mother says, that make your eggs unlovely if you scramble them up in the same cast iron pan that you cook your bacon in. I have no use for these aesthetics, but it’s easier to answer, “Fine.”

Even less appealing to the eye, beneath the sieve was stuff that resembled pus, but grainier. A semi-solid that wasn’t quite white, but wasn’t quite yellow.

Nowadays, we don’t even cook bacon anymore, or rarely, the
big-breakfast must-have that smells so good. We buy it already cooked at Costco and just nuke that baby for your BLT or spinach salad or squash casserole. But at one time bacon grease was king. It reigned over butter, margarine, Crisco, the works. Bacon grease went into cornbread and was an understood ingredient for the pot likker in crowder peas and butterbeans and green beans. You put a dollop in a pan and fried up a hot dog or slice of bologna. Or okra. Heck, you used a cup of the stuff in red beans.

Bacon grease went into the dog food, too. Lab to dachshund, it made their coats shine, or so it was believed. With our dogs drooling over those dry chunks coated with bacon grease, their supper looked so good I nearly wanted to eat it myself.

Bacon grease was the olive oil of yesteryear, though it didn’t come in pretty containers, and you actually had to cook to get it. You couldn’t buy bacon grease at T.J. Maxx, or upscale foodie stores, or the everyday Teeter, for that matter. Still, like olive oil that comes from certain regions or specific orchards, bacon grease had a provenance too: your own kitchen. It wasn’t cold-pressed or extra virgin or truffle-flavored. It was, however, labeled, though not in a foreign language or with pretty, Italianate fonts. The container said GREASE right there in raised, silver, block, all cap letters.

Even purists could throw a little sausage grease in there, too. Neese’s patties are preferred over links, though links are an admittedly more convenient vehicle to dredge, swipe and swish through the syrup left behind by the pancakes and waffles. To this day, I’m still unsure what made me feel more that I’d become a bona fide grownup in the kitchen of my first apartment: potholders, or that store-bought GREASE can.

When it comes to stove-sitting-stuff, salt bowls may be trendier, even healthier, but nothing — including spoon rests and olive oil spritzers — has the personality and presence of a metal grease container. Empty frozen O.J. cans need not apply.  OH

In a former life, Susan Kelly published five novels, won some awards, did some teaching, and made a lot of speeches. These days, she’s freelancing and making up for all that time she spent indoors writing those five novels.

Gate City Journal

The Guitar That Greensboro Built

How Terry Fritz is literally pulling strings and uniting a community

By Grant Britt

Terry Fritz is a dream weaver. But you won’t find him in the graveyard at midnight waving a black cat bone around or diggin’ up a mojo hand to create some spiritual hoodoo havoc. Fritz’s work is more down-to-earth, building dreams with his hands — and yours. From his shop in Summerfield, Fritz builds custom handcrafted acoustic and electric guitars. But what sets him apart from other luthiers is his willingness to let his customers in on the process, not just in design but construction. It would seem a giant leap of faith to let untrained, untried hordes of heathens have hands-on
access to delicate expensive equipment. But Fritz has been doing just that since his shop opened in ’06.

The very first guitar Fritz made was with the help of a former Martin guitar factory worker who had set out on his own, teaching novices to build a guitar from scratch in one week. “You started with a pile of really nice, high-end oak wood and you go through the steps of bending the side, joining the top and the back and creating a guitar of your own,” Fritz says. “With the proper instruments and the proper instruction, people with absolutely no experience can come up with a beautiful guitar.”

 Providing that opportunity for the general public is a special enough achievement, but Fritz is taking his guitar building to a higher level with his latest enterprise. The Guitar that Greensboro Built is a unique project involving the hands-on building of a high-quality instrument by local and national musicians. Having participated in the construction of the guitar, the artists will perform on it around town. “There are a number of nationally recognized folks that play the Greensboro area I would love to get involved in this,” Fritz says. “ I’m thinking of (having) Rhiannon Giddens, David Holt, Chris Daughtry come in and add a piece of themselves to it.” But Fritz also wants venue owners whom he says pump up the arts — Mack and Mack, Natty Greene’s and Triad Acoustic Stage — to participate as well. “I’d like for several folks from any of those groups involved in making this guitar, just dip your hand in there and do one tiny step of it and say, all right, I had a hand in making this guitar.”

The instrument will not only represent Greensboro, it will be created from material from the site of one of Greensboro’s most revered landmarks, Blandwood Mansion.

Through a woodworker friend, Fritz learned of a 100-year-old willow oak on the property that had to be cut down before it fell on someone. Fritz was apportioned only a limb, but that was plenty for his communal guitar. “Some of those limbs are the size of normal tree trunks,” Fritz says, adding that white oak bends very well. “It was something unique. Guitars used to be made out of oak. They rarely are today.”

To amp up the Greensboro heritage, Fritz will build the instrument  at the Forge located in the Flying Anvil building at the foot of Lewis Street. The Forge is being touted as a makerspace, a place that provides tools, training and a workplace for young entrepreneurs to learn and hone their skills in a hands-on environment.

Fritz gives credit to his fiancée Rita Parham for the idea. “She was telling me, ‘We could do this, be a gift to the community, a gift to you.’ And I added, ‘Boy, if we could get a piece of wood that had some connection to Greensboro, that would take it up another notch,’” Fritz says.

To further tie the project to Greensboro, each participant will have the opportunity to sign the inside of the guitar. Additionally, the building process will be recorded and posted on social media. Upon completion, the guitar will serve the people of Greensboro in venues throughout the city as well as paying homage to its roots with a concert at the Blandwood Mansion.

 Fritz has applied for a Spark Grant through Action Greensboro to help fund the project, but he vows to bring the project to fruition no matter what. “I’m gonna build this thing, I’m gonna do this,” Fritz insists. “I would love to have the support of the Spark fund, but if I don’t get it, I’m still gonna do this project. It’s too important to let go.”  OH

Grant Britt frequently weaves stories about music for O.Henry.


Subtle Notes

And the myriad of flavors from Winston-Salem’s Sutler’s Gin

By Tony Cross

“When are you coming up to Winston-Salem? How does your schedule look for the next two weeks? Any chance you are coming to the Triad area? Either way I need to get Sutler’s Gin into your market very soon.” All are questions from Scot Sanborn, owner and distiller of Sutler’s Spirit Co. Sanborn and I were introduced via email from a mutual friend back in March. We’d been playing tag up until July, when the two of us finally sat down at his distillery and had a chance to talk. When we went our separate ways, I left Sanborn a bottle of my Tonyc and took with me his sleek and sexy bottle of Sutler’s that I purchased. I definitely got the better deal in the exchange.

Although he was born in Boston, Sanborn considers himself a “Southern soul with Yankee blood.” As he relocated to the South as an infant, Charleston, South Carolina, served as his stomping ground as a youth. After graduating high school, Sanborn went on to attend The Citadel, where he received his undergraduate degree, and later, his MBA.

When scanning over his unique bottle of gin, you can definitely see the patriotic influence. Twenty-some years of the commercial photography business followed, but it wasn’t until eight years ago, when Sanborn began experimenting with home distilling, that his passion developed. After making what he calls “horrible-tasting spirits,” Sanborn began taking distilling courses, traveling the country, and acting as an apprentice to deepen his knowledge and perfect his craft. Soon after, he left his domestic cocoon of garage distilling and took it to the next level.

Gin is the spirit that has intrigued him the most over the years for a few different reasons. “It’s versatile and classy, and it doesn’t require aging, which means that I knew that I could get it on the market much quicker than other spirits starting out.” He’s also been perplexed as to why gin sales in the South aren’t much higher than they are: “I feel that gin is a spirit that people have forgotten about, but are slowly returning to.” And he’s right: Most folks that I’ve talked to that pass on gin do so because they’re used to London Dry gins, whose characteristics are juniper-forward, or “piney,” as most would put it (think Beefeater’s or Tanqueray). It wasn’t until Hendrick’s went global that people began to rethink their position on the ever-changing botanical spirit.

Delving into a glass of Sutler’s, on the nose I immediately notice the presence of juniper. However, on the palate, the juniper is present, but nothing like a London Dry or as Sanborn calls it “a lack of a ‘punch in the mouth’ Christmas tree flavor.” In fact, I find that the juniper is balanced quite nicely with citrus, and coriander. On the finish, a trace of lavender and Earl Grey tea. I’ve never prided myself on having the best palate so I’m afraid that I’ve had to keep sipping just to make sure that I get this right.

Actually, this is something that Sanborn and I have in common: good, but not great palates. To help him with distinguishing the subtler notes of his labors, Sanborn recruited distiller Tim Nolan. The two met in Winston-Salem a few years ago when Sanborn was building his distillery in the renovated Mill Works complex near downtown. Sanborn would cool off next door at a Hoots Roller Bar & Beer Co. and would chat with Nolan, who managed the brewery and was often behind the bar. Nolan’s background spans over 10 years in the food and beverage industry, including working in New York and studying abroad in Italy. They would always chat, and “during one of these conversations, I realized he was very knowledgeable about gin and I asked if he would like to help me,” Sanborn recalls. After a short apprenticeship, Nolan became a “mad scientist, (and) after almost 11 months of hard work, and making all types of gin, Nolan and I were finally confident that we had something that was special. I am very lucky to have found someone who is so passionate about gin and other unique spirits. Nolan is a great asset to Sutler’s Spirit Co.”

Sanborn, Nolan and I sip the fruits of their labor at the distillery, which, incidentally, you can tour (just reserve an appointment online at or through its Facebook page.) Otherwise, look for Sutler’s in Triad ABC stores or in cocktails at area restaurants such as Crafted, Undercurrent, all three locations of 1618 and at Quaintance-Weaver properties, Green Valley Grill, Print Works Bistro and Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen.

For the moment, Sanborn and crew are only selling Sutler’s across North Carolina, but it’s making a, well, splash wherever it’s served. (Last month, the Wyndham Championship chose Sutler’s as its exclusive gin, “the only locally made North Carolina spirit at the tournament,” Sanborn notes.) It’s just a matter of time before the rest of the world catches on and Sutler’s gin makes its way across the Southeast and other parts of our nation. The gin has plenty of depth, with unique packaging to boot. In time, Sanborn and Nolan plan to release a rum that they’ve had barrel-aging for a few years. They’re hoping for a winter release, but nothing’s set in stone yet. In addition to the gin and rum, they’re experimenting with other spirits at the moment. Their gin is delicious, so I’m eagerly anticipating their rum, my favorite spirit. With the work ethic that these two employ, I’m sure it’s going to be nothing short of fantastic.  OH

Tony Cross is a bartender who runs cocktail catering company Reverie Cocktails in Southern pines. He can also recommend a vitamin supplement for the morning after at Nature’s Own, a local nutrition store.

Vine Wisdom

Pinot Noir Goes Gaucho

Chileans find surprising success with a difficult grape

By Robyn James

Pinot noir: the Holy Grail of wine grapes. It’s finicky, it’s elusive, and it may be the best wine you ever had, or the worst. As the primary red grape of Burgundy, France, be prepared to spend $50 for a low-level basic Burgundy and sell your car to try the best.

It’s a joke in the wine industry that there is no such thing as a “good value” pinot noir. It’s painstaking and expensive to grow this grape that needs vines with age and lower yields at harvest.

Many love Oregon; California gets a lot of play, and New Zealand has made great strides with the grape.

Ever considered pinot noir from Chile? Probably a resounding no. Fifteen years ago I sampled some Chilean pinot noirs and thought, hey folks, stick to chardonnay, cabernet and carménère.

Pinot noir takes time for vines to age, and winemakers need to find very site-specific areas for the grapes that need a cooler climate, preferably with a maritime influence. Fast forward 15 years, and winemakers have zeroed in on the Casablanca, Maule and Aconcagua Valleys on the coast, brought pinot noir clones from Burgundy and hired Burgundian consultants. The vines are older now, and Chile is off and running with pinot noir. Although pinot noir is only 3 percent of Chile’s total plantings, it has increased 170 percent since 2006. Chilean winemakers have embraced the challenge.

Eric Monnin, a French enologist with experience working in Champagne and Burgundy, splits his winemaking duties between Chile and France. He is the head winemaker for the Boutinot Company and supervises making the El Viejo del Valle pinot noir. He and his team discovered a very old block of pinot noir beneath a volcano in the Maule Valley and picked it to produce this little gem that sells for a ridiculous $9. The interesting label is a reproduction of Chilean street art, and if you look closely you can find the profile of the “Old Man of the Valley” hidden in the art. They describe their El Viejo pinot as “deliciously long, bright, textural pinot from cold, stony vineyards deep in the Maule Valley. Some oak barrel fermentation adds complexity, depth and warm vanilla notes to the finish.”

Don Maximiano Errazuriz founded his winery in 1870 in the Aconcagua Valley. His fifth generation descendants now run this natural quality winery and have named their reserve lines “Max” in his honor. Already located in a great pinot location, Errazuriz is a must on any visitor’s itinerary. The estate is stunning, and their techniques are first class. First-class oak barrels, 15 percent new, for 12 months before release. One of the first Chilean wineries to gain success with pinot noir, the current vintage scored a whopping 90 points from The Wine Spectator. They describe it as “a suave red, with a silky mouthfeel and medium-grained tannins behind the flavors of cherry, plum and hazelnut. The spicy finish is long and rich, revealing accents of sandalwood.” That’s a description and score worthy of a $65 Oregon pinot noir. This winner from Chile is about $17.

August Huneeus, born in Santiago, Chile, has one of the most impressive résumés in the wine industry. He became CEO for Concha Y Toro at a very young age, then came to the United States for a long, successful career. He owns several prestigious wineries in California such as Quintessa (where he resides), The Prisoner, Illumination and several others.

In 1989 Huneeus and his wife, Valeria, decided to venture back into Chile and founded the Veramonte Winery in Casablanca Valley. Their Ritual pinot noir is hand-harvested from the coolest vineyards of their estate, put through a malolactic fermentation and aged in French oak barrels for 12 months. The Wine Advocate gave this $18 wine 89 points, and noted that, “This aims at showing what Casablanca can do as a valley in pinot noir. There are more fruit than herbal aromas here, and this shows nice ripeness, combining aromas of sour cherries with lactic hints and bare traces of spicy oak. The palate is medium bodied with fine tannins, good freshness and the final granite bite in the finish with the oak much better integrated.”

Incidentally, Chile has the same ability as California to allow up to 25 percent of another grape into the wine without noting it on the label. However, all three of our pinots recommended are happily 100 percent pinot noir. “A” for effort, Chile!  OH

Robyn James is a certified sommelier and proprietor of The Wine Cellar and Tasting Room in Southern Pines. Contact her at

Artist at Work

Flights of Fancy

Aerial artist Jay Jones trades in a different kind of mobile device

By Maria Johnson

Jay Jones walks into HQ Greensboro, a shared workspace on the south end of downtown, and points at the ceiling.

There, in the rafters, twirls a piece of his art: a mobile. Its long arms look like I-beams. Two white figurines, courtesy of a 3-D printer, sit at the end of a beam. Jones was inspired to make the mobile after looking at Charles Ebbets’s famous photograph, Lunch atop a Skyscraper, which captured workers taking a break over New York City in 1932.

Riding currents of air-conditioning, the mobile catches the eye, demanding a pause and a gawk.

Funny thing about mobiles, Jones observes: They’re moving, but they have the opposite effect on viewers.

“They cause people to slow down,” he says.

Here’s another funny thing about mobiles: They’ve quickened Jones’s career as an artist.

Since 2012, when he dived into mobile making full time, Jones has amassed a client list that includes several private customers and about 250 galleries, museum shops, and home furnishings stores around the world.

Abroad, his mobiles pirouette in Spain, France, Belgium and Japan.

In New York, the Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum stock his mobile kits. So do the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian Institution and the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.

Closer to home, the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh sells his kits. You can find his assembled mobiles for sale in the Biltmore Estate gift shop and at the Grovewood Gallery, next to the Grove Park Inn in Asheville.

Area Inc., a modern home furnishings store in Greensboro, carries his pieces.

Jones also has created large, commissioned works for private homes in New York, California and Atlanta.

“It’s a challenge, being a professional artist,” says Jones, 57. “But if you have a good product, you can do it.”

A native of Arizona, Jones started making his flights of fancy in a roundabout way. After a semester of college, he landed in San Diego, where he acted and built sets for The Old Globe theater. Connections took him to New York City, where he continued making sets for Broadway shows, the New York Shakespeare Festival and the children’s TV show Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.

“That was a lot of fun,” he says.

More fun came while working with the Trisha Brown Dance Company.

Jones traveled to Naples, Italy, with renowned artist Robert Rauschenberg, who had designed the scenery for a show. A dock strike stranded the scenery at sea, so Jones and Rauschenberg made do.

“We drove around Naples, around Christmas 1986, just collecting things off the streets for sets. He’d say, ‘Build this, build that.’ He was a master of composition and structure,” says Jones.

Back home in posh Westchester County — where Jones and his growing family lived relatively low on the hog in a two-bedroom apartment inside a three-family home — he started his own furniture-building business, incorporating into his bookcases, chests and desks some of the exaggerated, cartoonish curves that he had perfected on the Playhouse children’s show.

In 1995, Jones and his family moved to North Carolina, where relatives resided and where Jones thought he might catch a break as a furniture maker.

“We had a fairly extensive client list,” he says. “We needed to find a manufacturing-friendly environment.”

He scored small victories — his hourglass bookcase was included in a Christie’s auction to benefit the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in 1998 — but manufacturing success was difficult to sustain.

“This area is really friendly to giant manufacturers; not so much to small manufacturers,” he says. “We were purchasing materials in small amounts, but paying full price for stuff. We were not big enough for anybody to take us terribly seriously. It was too costly. We could never really get ahead on it.”

Jones took a job with the City of Greensboro in 2001. He was responsible for replacing old computer equipment with newer machines. Gradually, he became a creative go-to guy.

For libraries, he built book carts, computer tables and set pieces like a scaled-down English cottage for the children’s area at the Edwards branch and a whimsical tree for the Hemphill branch.

He managed the website for the engineering and inspections department.

He designed signs.

Once, he made the city manager a conference table from a huge pane of glass that was removed from the Melvin Municipal Office Building.

It was interesting work, but hardly the stuff of a career.

“I kept having to create my own job,” he says. “There was no path for advancement.”

In 2006, while on vacation, his family visited the National Gallery of Art in Washington, and Jones’s life was altered as he approached a large, drifting Alexander Calder mobile.

“It stopped me in my tracks,” he says. “That was the first time I saw a real mobile, not something dangling above a baby’s bed. I sat there for a long time looking at that piece.”

Jones had always thought of himself as artistic, but not necessarily an artist — more of a mechanically inclined designer.

That’s why Calder’s mobile, with all of its moving parts, spoke to him.

“I thought, ‘I get this. I know how he’s doing this,’” Jones says.

The next Christmas, his wife Naomi, an elementary school art teacher, gave him a VHS tape about Calder’s life.

“I must have watched that fifty times,” he says. “I would start-stop, start-stop, start-stop, watching the mobiles.”

He began messing around in his garage, creating his own Calderesque pieces with wood, metal and wire. A coworker asked him to make a mobile out of copper. Jones obliged with a leaf design inspired by the gingko trees that he saw while on lunch break in downtown Greensboro. A passion was kindled. Jones began carting copper mobiles to weekend craft shows. They flew out of his booth.

He diversified, offering different shapes – leaves, butterflies and birds, as well as abstract ovals, darts and squiggles. He worked in different woods. He burnished the copper with chemicals and with flame to create distinct patinas. He gave customers a choice of sizes. The best seller, then and now, was the copper ginkgo leaf.

“I sell the ginkgo leaf probably ten-to-one over everything else. It’s a pretty shape, even if you don’t know what it is. A lot of people seem to have an emotional connection to ginkgo trees. They stand for peace and longevity in Japan,” he says.

Jones’s wife, who had retail experience, guided him to wholesale market shows, where retailers bought his pieces in large numbers.

“I was eating up all of my vacation time,” he says. “It was amazing how I had a ‘little cough’ on Mondays,” he says.

In 2012, he took the plunge, quitting his city job for the high-wire life of a mobile artist.

“It’s coming along,” he says, with a grin punctuating the middle of his Rembrandt mustache and beard.

Jones works in a studio in the Old Greensborough Gateway Center on South Elm Street. His wife now runs the business side of the operation in addition to contributing design ideas and creating her own colorful paintings of animal faces.

“They all have a little attitude,” Jones says appreciatively as he scrolls through images of Naomi’s work.

For the mobile business, the Joneses employ a full-time assistant, who helps with the manufacture and assembly.

As JFJones Mobiles, they turn out 1,500–2,000 pieces a year. They subcontract some aspects of the manufacturing. Someone else in their building laser-cuts the shapes. Someone around the corner creates the 3-D figures that inhabit the I-beam mobiles.

Jones painstakingly creates new designs and commissioned pieces. He literally balances the shapes and armature until the whole thing looks right to him. This involves hours of trial and error, but it’s the only way for Jones.

“I have to do it by hand,” he says.

When he’s pleased with the result, he reverse-engineers the piece, documenting rod lengths and balance points for future reference. The price of his work ranges from $42 for a small kit to $10,000 and up for large commissioned pieces.

To date, most of his work hangs in private homes, but he’d like to change that. He’s shifting his focus toward commercial clients. Greensboro developer Andy Zimmerman, who owns HQ Greensboro, the shared workspace on Lewis Street, has been supportive.

Well-Spring, the Greensboro retirement community, bought a large piece that hangs in an atrium.

Jones dreams of creating a large, one-of-a-kind mobile for the Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts, scheduled to open in downtown Greensboro next year.

It would be an ideal place for him to show that art is not confined to walls or stages.

“I think there’s a big need for aerial art,” he says. “I walk into a space and think, ‘You need something up in the air here.’”   OH

Maria Johnson is a contributing editor of O.Henry magazine. You can find Jay Jones’s work online at

Scuppernong Bookshelf

Male Call

Exploring masculinity in American letters

It’s hard for men to know how to behave. Acceptable social behavior changes from generation to generation, and sometimes from year to year. The pompous balloon of chivalry, once the norm, has been lanced and deflated. Even holding the door open for “the fairer sex” feels antiquated at best, demeaning in many circumstances. What’s a man to do?

Change is difficult, and some will resist it with all the testosterone in their rage-filled veins. This month’s Scuppernong Bookshelf looks at the phenomenon of “Toxic Masculinity” from a literary perspective. Who are the pillars of hyper-masculine literature? How do we think of them today? And what contemporary books address the evolving norms of masculinity?

The grand men of 20th-century American literature have not aged well. Ernest Hemingway and Norman Mailer should be judged for the excesses of their openly demeaning attitudes and behaviors toward women. And the crimes of the Beats include William Burroughs killing his wife, among a litany of misogynist behavior by other Beat writers. Still, we can read The Sun Also Rises and The Executioner’s Song and Naked Lunch with enthusiasm and interest even as we recognize the failings of the authors. Can’t we?

Neil LaBute, a prolific playwright, really made his name with an early, provocative film, In the Company of Men, in which two men separately seduce a deaf coworker, then dump her, comparing notes and enjoying themselves all the way. It’s a savage film and controversial in its day, exploring both the dark side of male conquest and the sliminess of the relationships some men have with each other.
Reasons to Be Pretty (Faber & Faber, 2008. $14) is pretty much more of the same. The thing is, LaBute no longer appears to be exploring the dark side of masculinity, he just seems to be sadistically reveling in it. There’s not much fresh or engaging here. It’s just another exercise in walking a fine line toward misogyny under the guise of psychological truth. The characters are repellent, which is a LaBute calling card, but they’re not saying anything new, so that the play itself becomes a monument to the very thing it professes to explore.

Unlearning toxic behaviors is painful enough. Unlearning toxic behaviors as a country is truly excruciating. J.M. Coetzee’s Booker Prize–winning 1999-novel Disgrace (Penguin, 2000. $16) follows the fall of a predatory English professor, David Lurie, who employs the words of Lord Byron to manipulate his young female students into bed. It is the story of a man who must pay for his actions, which are simultaneously a metaphor for the abuses of white males in post-Apartheid South Africa. Reading this multilayered text is by no means easy, but then again, neither is change.

The knockout stories in Junot Díaz’s This Is How You Lose Her (Riverhead, 2013. $16) continue the misadventures of Yunior, narrator throughout most of Díaz’s other books Drown and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, as he tackles love — romantic, familial, unrequited, and doomed. Presumed dominance as a man living in a hyper-masculine Dominican-American culture crops up repeatedly, often to humorous ends. It is his fatal assumption that the women in his life will always stand by him regardless of his actions, though, that comes back to knock him down in the rawest sense. Díaz, as usual, handles these moments flawlessly.

As late as the 19th century, knitting was considered primarily a male trade and pastime. And why not? What’s more manly than being able to whip up your own horse blanket out on the range with only some spare yarn and two dowels? The Manly Art of Knitting, (Ginko Press, 2014. $13.95) by David Fougner, is the perfect resource for beginners, offering easy-to-follow pictorial instruction on basic stitches, common problems and solutions. There are even a few manly patterns, including a dog blanket, a skullcap and a rope hammock knitted with two shovel handles as needles. How do you get more manly than making your own hammock with nothing but rope and shovels?

Of course, some think that “toxic masculinity” is not the problem at all. Fox News contributor Pete Hegseth — in his book In the Arena (Threshold Editions, 2016. $28) — sees a greater danger in “the feminization of masculinity.” He warns, through the speeches of Theodore Roosevelt, of the blindness of “a man of refinement” to his own failings.

Finally, there’s Rebecca Solnit’s lovely little book Men Explain Things To Me (Haymarket, 2015. $12.95), which examines the phenomenon of mansplaining. She suffers through a man explaining her own book back to her (without knowing she was the author), and when she corrects him on a few points, he dismisses her — even after she lets him know she wrote the book!


September 6: Dear Mr. M, by Herman Koch (Hogarth, $26). The author of the deliciously wicked The Dinner returns and once again spares nothing and no one in his gripping new novel.

September 13: Killing the Rising Son: How America Vanquished World War II Japan, by Bill O’Reilly, co-written with Martin Dugard, (Henry Holt, $30). Will the Killing never end?

September 20: Odes, by Sharon Olds (Knopf, $26.95). Poet Olds has spent a career looking at gender and violence.

September 27: Born to Run, by Bruce Springsteen (Simon & Schuster, $32.50). “When I look at myself I don’t see / The man I wanted to be.” Bruce offers his own examination of self.  OH

Scuppernong Bookshelf was written by Brian
Lampkin, Steve Mitchell, Shannon Jones and Gabriel Pollak.


Just trying to have me some fun(d)

By Maria Johnson

Dear Potential Sponsors,

I wanted to let you know that I have the most amazing opportunity. I can’t believe it. It’s like a dream come true. I could go to Tahiti!

THAT’S RIGHT, Tahiti!!

I have always wanted to go to Tahiti!! And now it’s possible for me to go!! YES!!

There’s just one hitch: money.

Don’t get me wrong. I could save enough money to go to Tahiti.

But I really don’t want to do that.

I want YOU to pay for it!!


In case you don’t know, crowdfunding happens when people go online (and sometimes in magazines!!) to ask for money for specific projects. This idea is, you can raise a lot of money if everyone gives a little. Usually, the projects help people who are truly needy or down on their luck. But sometimes, the campaigns are like mine!!!

Just to be clear, I am not sick.

I am not a flood victim.

Or a crime victim.

I have no religious agenda.

I’m not trying to help anyone.

Or be reunited.

Or start a business to benefit people.



He’s a swell guy. We’ve been married twenty-seven years, and he’s always there for me. He loads the dishwasher every night! He walks the dog every morning! Sometimes, when we grill hamburgers, he points to the last one on the platter and says, “Do you want that?”

And I’m like, “Awwwwwwwww! You are soooooooo sweeeeeeet! Yes. Yes, I do!”

And he gets this sad little look on his face.


How can you not send this man to Tahiti with me?

Right about now, you might be saying, “Where the heck is Tahiti, and why do you want to go?”

Well, allow me to educate you. Tahiti is an island in the South Pacific. It is part of the Society Islands in French Polynesia, south of Hawaii and directly east of Australia.

The sunsets are breathtaking, and water is Ty-D-Bol blue.

The area is a magnet for movie stars and artists, and it has been for a long time. The French painter Paul Gauguin lived in Tahiti in the late 1890s. Marlon Brando liked it, too. He bought a chain of tiny islets near Tahiti after filming there for his 1962 film Mutiny on the Bounty.

In fact, his former islets are now home to a super-luxury resort called
The Brando.

You guessed it!! That’s where we want to stay!!

Yes, it’s expensive, but we plan to go in the OFF SEASON!!


I can hear the cynics now. “Maria, why should we help you and your husband go Tahiti? Why don’t you spend your own money on something that benefits only you?”

Wow. OK. Wow.

Let me explain something, all right? This trip is about ENRICHMENT. It’s about enabling us to OPEN our minds, and UNDERSTAND another culture, and RESPECT indigenous people.

Who do you think bakes the croissants in these places? Who rakes the beaches and minds the bicycle liveries? Who gives the massages at the spas? The local people, that’s who. We will be interacting with them face-to-face, talking to them as needed, and tipping them — but not too much because we will be good stewards of your generous donations!

If we happen to see people in dire need — which, let’s face it, would be a total vacation downer — we will point them to local churches.

Also, we will be documenting things with our cell phones and posting our photos and videos.


What will we be documenting? Well, endangered stuff for sure.

Coral reefs, probably, when we go snorkeling.

Maybe migrating whales, when we go kayaking.

Birds. God knows there’s got to be an endangered bird over there somewhere.

So, really, this trip is about learning, which is almost like RESEARCH, which, as we all know, has been linked to SCIENCE!

Let’s just call this trip what it is: a SCIENTIFIC EXPEDITION!!


I’ll tell you something else: You ARE going to directly benefit from this trip because a) We will tell the most wonderful stories about Tahiti at your next party, and b) We will text all of our donors the recipes for the best drinks we encounter in the course of our research at The Brando. Don’t you want to know how to make The Dirty Old Bob? YOU KNOW YOU DO!!!

So don’t hesitate. Please give to this worthy cause. We would sooooooo appreciate it! THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU in advance!!!

With Beaucoup Good Energy,


P.S.: A few people have asked about going to Tahiti with us. We have carefully considered these requests, and, after many nanoseconds of thought, we have decided it’s probably best if you create your own crowdfunding pitch. In other words: Go fund yourselves.  OH

To help Maria get to Tahiti, go to and click on the button that says “hahaha.”