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Best of the Triangle 2011: Best Moments of the Triangle 

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Longing for home, and finding a bit of it here

I grew up on Long Island, where my father played the double role of dad and college lacrosse coach, so the stickball game runs through my veins. I spent my Friday evenings running around in the blazing sun, stick in hand, trying to "lax" like the big girls did on the varsity team. On Saturday afternoons, I'd watch my dad's team play while my mom bopped me up and down on her lap. Early Sunday mornings consisted of me wrapped in an Adelphi University Lacrosse sweatshirt three sizes too big, plopped in a fold-up chair and dozing off to the sound of refs' whistles and voices shouting, "Get the ground ball!" and "Go to goal!"

At 15, I moved out of the hotbed of lacrosse to Raleigh, a lacrosse no-man's-land. I was 556 miles from my hometown, where playing lacrosse was a way of life that started at age 6. My dad became the varsity lacrosse coach at my high school, Ravenscroft, and I was no longer "the coach's daughter" in the same way that the term had applied to me on the Island. Now, instead of 40 big brothers that would sneak me extra brownies at the tailgates, find me when I'd hide from my parents under the bleachers and call me by my family nickname, "Beana," I had 20 or so guys my age that would constantly ask me if they had to run in practice, wouldn't date me because my dad coached them and called me "Kap."

It's been different, and I've missed the way it used to be.

Then, earlier this spring, the UNC men's lacrosse team came to Ravenscroft to play in our stadium against Limestone College. Limestone is one of the top Division II lacrosse teams that my dad played against when he coached for Adelphi. Limestone was now playing at my high school—the same team I had grown up cheering against from the stands. Except this time, instead of my dad pacing the sideline, clipboard in hand with a hat over his eyes to hide his expression, he was sitting beside me, holding my hand and smiling.

It was different, but a good different. As the game finished, and both teams shook hands, I instinctively diverted my attention toward the sideline. My eyes searched for the coaches as a little blonde girl wearing a Limestone College Lacrosse sweatshirt three sizes too big caught my eye. She skipped onto the field and into her dad's arms, and I knew exactly how she felt for being able to claim the coach as her dad.

I turned to my dad and gave him a hug, and in that moment, I have never felt more like the coach's daughter. —Kristine Kapatos

Kapatos completed her high school senior project at the Independent Weekly. She graduated from Ravenscroft School in Raleigh and will attend Queens College in Charlotte in the fall.


click to enlarge Marlin Stover, of the Charlotte Hornets beepball team, waits for a truck to pass so the game can resume. The team's fans stay quiet while the pitcher tosses the ball to the batter; he or she needs to hear the beep in order to hit the ball. - PHOTO BY JEREMY M. LANGE
  • Photo by Jeremy M. Lange
  • Marlin Stover, of the Charlotte Hornets beepball team, waits for a truck to pass so the game can resume. The team's fans stay quiet while the pitcher tosses the ball to the batter; he or she needs to hear the beep in order to hit the ball.

Time of the season

It is noon in August at Herndon Park in South Durham, where a din of buzzes and beeps rises from a ball diamond. Beepball is a fierce game played by fearless people. When the pitcher, the only person on the field who can see, lobs the ball to the batter, who is blind, it emits a beep. The ball, I imagine, sounds like Telstar, a satellite floating through space, a lonely beacon looking to make contact with someone or something.

The batter smacks the ball. Fielders feel for it by ear. A base buzzes. The batter runs toward it, cleats carving into clay. Behind me the stands erupt in whooping and hollering. Durham Sluggers win!

It is a Saturday afternoon in February at the Book Exchange. The store is in her final days, closing after 75 years, and she smells of old varnish, aging paper, dust and must. I caress her shopworn hardbacks with their frayed edges and sticky remnants of binding glue. I flip through her paperbacks, whose pages release a puff of fusty air that may have been trapped inside since the Korean War. Her floors groan. Her shelves groan. Just buy your books and go, she seems to say.

It is spring and the wisteria vines have sprung to life. The purple blooms give off an aroma that reminds me of the cavity-causing grape gum my teammates and I used to buy at the concession stand before our softball games.

After wisteria season it is time for honeysuckle. I step into a large bush and simply stand there, inhaling near the bees that are nursing on the blooms. I had cancer earlier this year. And now I don't. I am not afraid of bees.

It is midsummer and I'm trying to shake off the doldrums, so I stop at a panadería in my neighborhood, where I like to sniff the contrails of masa that stream from the exhaust fans.

Some days I head downtown, where once I've cleared the turbulence of scrambled eggs emanating from the Marriott Hotel kitchen, I enter the clear air of sugar and flour. At Ninth Street Bakery, I order a carrot megamuffin. The woman behind the counter has been up since 3 in the morning, but nonetheless is extremely chipper. She tells me, "Have a wonderful day." And I make a point of trying. —Lisa Sorg

Sorg is editor of the Independent Weekly.


A honeysuckle sorbet

What invasive species and its transformation into food would give rise to my most transformative Triangle experience? No, it's not kudzu or bamboo grass or starlings that I'm talking about, but that lovely scented treat from Southern childhood—honeysuckle.

How many of us spent the first hot days of May and early June risking ticks and chiggers as we plucked honeysuckle flowers? We pinched each flower's base and drew the anther through the blossom's cone to reveal a sweet drop of nectar. Like bees or hummingbirds, we would suckle on the honey. Repeat.

I could and did spend hours at a mass of vine learning in the process which of the flower colors indicated the sweetest drops. (Answer: Not the whitest nor the most yellow, but white going to yellow, a sort of middle-aged bloom, is the most tasty and most reliable.)

A few years back, I heard that Bill Smith at Crook's Corner had invented a new dessert treat that captured this experience and improved on it. I rushed down to Crook's and I wasn't disappointed. I was taken to a special section of foodie heaven, a place where the most formative tastes of my childhood were re-presented and re-formed and reimagined.

Bill had kept the distinctive honeysuckle flavor, made it both sweeter and cooler, by borrowing a cool extraction process from some Persian recipes for flower nectar ices. Bill's invention took me to the cool late May evenings spent along the vine-covered hedges picking flowers, but without the chiggers or ticks or—thanks to Crook's—the mosquitoes.

Since that first night at Crook's, I've started making my own batches of sorbet. I returned to being food for the insect pests. I've been back out in the summer heat—especially this past weekend. But I can stockpile the honeysuckle flavor for a while and make some new uses of the sorbet.

Since Bill was good enough to share his recipe in Seasoned in the South, I'll share one innovation here. Instead of putting the final liquid into an ice cream maker, I pour it into ice trays. Once the ice has solidly formed, serve about four cubes per chilled glass. Add two shots of good bourbon. Garnish with mint. Then, as with mint juleps, sip slowly while holding the glass from the bottom, allowing the heat of your palm to slightly warm the mixture.

Don't hurry. In time, you will be transported and transformed. —Paul Jones

Jones is the director of ibiblio.org, a digital library of public domain and creative commons media administered by UNC's Office of Information Technology Services. He is a clinical associate professor at the UNC School of Journalism; he lives in Chapel Hill.


A lap dance and a homecoming

It was 1997, my freshman year at North Carolina Central University, and I was missing home. I was getting the scrub treatment as a walk-on for the football team, and it was overall just a pretty miserable time. Because I wasn't on the traveling squad for the football team, though, I got to stay behind and catch that year's homecoming show: Luke, Lil' Kim and a burgeoning (at that time, anyway) rapper named Jay-Z.

Luke was the headliner, and he brought out about 10 half-naked dancers who pulled my friend Jamie onstage, took his pants down and gave him a lap dance. Needless to say, that was Mr. Campbell's last appearance at Central.

After the show, Jamie, a few friends and I went to eat at Pan Pan (R.I.P.) and laughed like hell about all that happened that evening. On the drive back to Chidley Hall, we drove down the Durham Freeway and I took the city in and thought, "I can probably get used to this place." I've been in the area ever since. —Phonte Coleman

Coleman is a Grammy-nominated rapper and formerly of Little Brother.


A new perch

Most of my experiences in the Triangle come from the past three years I've spent as a student at UNC. I could recount a number of moments shared by thousands of my fellow Tar Heels, mostly due to our love of crowding Franklin Street until its seams burst. There was Halloween, Obama's win, beating Duke, winning the NCCA National Championship—and that was all just my freshman year. Those were great moments, and of course I was out there jumping over fires and singing "Hark the Sound" with the best of them, but I wouldn't say any of them are the best moment for me personally.

My best moment was shared with maybe eight people, the small staff of Uncharted, when the first issue came out with me as editor-in-chief.

I'm an anomaly at UNC, a journalism major who doesn't write for the Daily Tar Heel. Instead, I've devoted my extracurricular time to building a student magazine few have even heard of, Uncharted, an online magazine that focuses on the arts in Chapel Hill. Uncharted started my freshman year, but when I was a sophomore, the founding editor-in-chief resigned her post and named me as her successor. Immediately, I was given all of the responsibilities of the magazine, not just writing and editing articles and managing staff but also getting status as a student organization and publicizing the magazine. All of this was without any funding (yet another problem I had to figure out) or really any idea what I was doing. But I believed in the potential Uncharted had to be a great student magazine, and I still do, so I was willing to take on the stresses of the struggling, newborn magazine.

When I saw the finished product up on our website I felt accomplished, relieved and proud. It didn't matter that probably the only people who saw it were the staff and our friends and families. And I still feel proud whenever a new issue comes out; even if every time I tell someone I'm the editor of Uncharted I get a blank stare in return. —Rebecca Collins

Collins is a summer intern at the Independent Weekly. She attends UNC. Read Uncharted at uncartmag.com.


A passing of the sword

May 19, 2000: The Old Well stood to our side, flanked by beds of pink and white azaleas. My uniform was so tight I walked with my stomach clenched. My neck pulsed beneath the midnight blue choker-collar. Friends and family formed a half-moon around us as my father read me the Oath of Office.

"I, state your name, do solemnly swear," Dad stated in his booming bass.

"I, Rye Barcott, do solemnly swear ..." I stood at attention in my dress blues, eyes fixed on the jagged scar across my father's cheek. Thirty-five years earlier a bullet from a Viet Cong machine gun entered and somehow exited without chipping a tooth.

We continued, my father, then I.

" ... that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same. ... So help me God."

My father whacked me on the shoulder, smiled, and pulled Mom and me into his embrace.

It wasn't until we were back at the old Chapel Hill Best Western motel that Dad approached me in the parking lot next to the forest of Southern pines. He opened the cargo hatch of the woody, my parents' aging wood-paneled Dodge Caravan, and turned to me. I braced myself for a lecture. Instead, he told me that it had been a special day for him, and that he hoped I would be able to keep a critical mind, wherever the Marine Corps took me. He hoped that I wouldn't allow myself or my men to be taken advantage of by others, no matter their rank or powers of persuasion.

As he turned to remove something from the cargo, a line from the Oath of Office flashed to mind: I will support and defend the Constitution. Our oath pledged allegiance to a body of ideas and a way of government, not to an individual or an ideology. I interpreted my father's advice as a way of saying that the nation commissioned us as officers to think and to be discerning with our leadership.

Dad faced me holding his Mameluke sword, palms-up, the flat edge of the blade resting against his heavily calloused hands. The blade glistened. I fingered it as a flood of emotions swelled over me. My father was not a warmonger. He even disliked the word "warrior," which he considered to be "belligerent" and "self-inflating." But I viewed him as a warrior. He was a warrior who loved peace and knew about unnecessary wars after having fought in one of them. Flawed leadership, however, did not detract from the need for a strong defense in a volatile world. Peace had to be guarded with a sword and citizens who would willingly put their lives on the line.

Dad's mouth was twitching the way it did the only two times I ever saw him tear up. He gestured to me with a nod, turned, and walked away into the forest. I sheathed the sword. He had done his part, and now it was time to do mine. —Rye Barcott

Barcott is the author of It Happened on the Way to War: A Marine's Path to Peace.


Oh, oh, it's magic

There was a time right after all the original, great alt-country bands in Raleigh had broken up. The Backsliders, 6 String Drag and Whiskeytown had all recently either imploded or faded away. Through some weird coincidence, probably due to the fact that I brought beer and liquor over to the house after Lakeside had closed for the night, Kenny Roby, Ryan Adams and Chip Robinson all ended up over at my house. From about 3 to 11 a.m., the three of those folks traded songs, sang covers and did their own versions of each other's songs. The only other person there that night was my girlfriend at the time, Kim Czornij. It must have made a pretty good impression on her, too. She went on to become a DJ at the Penguin, Wilmington's alt-country radio station. She is still fighting the good fight to this day.

As was the usual practice back then, we all pretty much slept in the next day. There was still a little afterglow from the vibe of the night before, so Ryan picked up the phone and asked Caitlin Cary and Johny Williams to meet us all down at Lakeside around 10 that night. I guess we put the word out on the Guitartown and No Depression bulletin boards, because when we got there there were probably 50 or 60 people milling around on a weekday night, waiting for something to happen.

Something happened, again. Everyone went upstairs and the five of those folks caught lightning in a bottle for the second time in 24 hours. They sat on the couches and played for us, while we all sprawled out on the floor or brought barstools up from downstairs. It went on until that dreaded hour when the lights came up and the alcohol stopped flowing. Everyone just sort of faded away into the night, with that
weird
happy
stupid
shit-eating
grin that folks get when they've just witnessed something magical.

Magical, indeed. —Van Alston

Alston owns Slim's in Raleigh and has been a longtime fixture in the local alt-country scene.


Correction (June 9, 2011): WXYC is the legendary college radio station at UNC-Chapel Hill (not Duke); this was an editing error. Thanks to the commenter below.

  • Local activists, artists, thinkers and businesspeople share their best moments of living in the Triangle

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It's Albemarle AVENUE. Not to nitpick but it sounds so much nicer.

by Mike Leary on Secrets inside the beltline (Best of the Triangle)

Virgil, blame the website! It's duplicatepposting & I can't erase the duplicate...

by J.P. McPickleshitter on Best of the Triangle 2015 (Best of the Triangle)

J.P., If you hate to be a complainer then why are you repeating yourself?

by VirgilCane on Best of the Triangle 2015 (Best of the Triangle)

I hate to be a complainer, but the format for the "Best of" (including the ballot without multiple choice options, …

by J.P. McPickleshitter on Best of the Triangle 2015 (Best of the Triangle)

I hate to be a complainer, but the format for the "Best of" (including the ballot without multiple choice options, …

by J.P. McPickleshitter on Best of the Triangle 2015 (Best of the Triangle)

Comments

It's Albemarle AVENUE. Not to nitpick but it sounds so much nicer.

by Mike Leary on Secrets inside the beltline (Best of the Triangle)

Virgil, blame the website! It's duplicatepposting & I can't erase the duplicate...

by J.P. McPickleshitter on Best of the Triangle 2015 (Best of the Triangle)

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