Beat from the street (October 25, 2016)

Many stories lurk throughout Asheville, whether they are behind the Vaudevillian jazz-folk played by buskers around Pritchard Park, the colorful businesses decorated with funky, hand-made crafts or the laughter echoing from a patio as locals and tourists alike enjoy delicious beer. 

Mireja Critel, 67, retired, originally from Panama

Mireja Critel said age does not matter when it comes
to style. Photo by Karen Lopez.
How would you describe your style?
“Fun, I like everything wild. I just bought some really wild pieces.”

At the wig store?
“Yes, and I like to wear wigs and put my hair up and do different colors, like lipstick and makeup and everything. I know I should dress like a 68-year-old.”

No! That’s what makes you distinct. It’s fantastic!
“I have four colors in my hair, I think and I like to put the feathers. I buy them. I ordered them online and I put different colored feathers all over. I love it. My husband says that I change from day to day. He never knows how I’m going to look because my hair is totally, really curly. I have curly, curly big hair. Sometimes, you see me with my big afro or sometimes with straight hair.”
Nice. It all depends on your mood.
So do you have a personal life motto that you live by?
“I don’t what you mean by that.”
Like, a saying that you keep in mind. 
“Be happy. Be healthy. I think that I want to be happy.”
That’s awesome. So if you were to say one thing you like about Asheville and dislike about Asheville, what would it be and why?
“I’m here on vacation. This is my third time. I don’t live here. We live in Florida. But I love Asheville. I love everything about Asheville. I would like to someday buy property here and I don’t think I have disliked anything here yet. I have not been here in the winter-winter, so I don’t know how brutal it can be, but this weather is perfect. I love it.”
Especially coming from Florida, I can imagine. 
“Yes, it’s, ah, fresh air. This is wonderful. I love it. It makes me want to do stuff, go shop and buy.”
Yeah, buy wigs!
“Buy wigs!”
So if you were to describe creative influences, like music, literature, people that inspire you, what would you say they would be?
“I think it’s been music. I love music. I love The Beatles and I used to work for the school of music at USF, at the University of South Florida in Tampa in the office and concerts and theater and everything, everything. I love the arts.”
That’s fabulous. If you were to describe yourself in three words, which three words would you use and why?
“One would be colorful, because everybody tells me that. They tell me colorful. Outgoing. Loyal.”
Loyal. That’s a good word.

Mary Francis Kidd, 21, senior art history and French major, originally from Raleigh

Mary Francis Kidd rarely takes off her sunglasses.
Photo by Karen Lopez. 

How would you describe your style? 
“My style? Well, I just wear what I think is cool, which is usually baggy clothes and typically, I’ve always worn a lot of black and I always wear my sunglasses. Yeah, I always wear them and they were $10 at Marseilles at a flea market, too and I work at a glasses store, which is funny. They sell really nice glasses but I can’t take them off.”
Yeah, they’re very distinctive.

So what would you say inspires you creatively?
“Creatively, I’m an art history major so I love the performance arts I look at. I’m really into the Viennese Actionists, so G√ľnter Brus and artists like that, even Marina Abramovic. So I’m really into performance art and Matisse’s decorative arts stuff, I think is really cool, too. So, I draw a lot of inspiration from artists and their lives and the things that they’ve done. I listen to a lot of music. I think that’s good and creatively, also just my girlfriends. We hang out and drink wine and paint and it’s fun.”
That sounds fabulous. If you were to describe yourself in three words, which three words would you use and why?
“Three words I would probably say would be fun and aggressive, maybe a little bit too much and loyal. I think I’m pretty loyal. Maybe, instead of aggressive, it would just be honest, loyal and fun. Tons of fun and I love dancing.”
‘I love dancing’ can just be a second set of three words as well. 
“Yeah, I love dancing. Actually, can you just do that? That’s how I would describe myself. I love dancing. Dancing is good.” 
Yeah, dancing is wonderful. So if you were to describe one thing you like about Asheville and one thing you dislike about Asheville, what would you say?
“I think what I dislike about Asheville is how homogeneous it is. I don’t see a lot of different stuff so much. You know, it’s really small and everybody knows each other and people are kind of the same. That’s not super cool. But what is cool, I guess, is that at the same time, even in a really small place, there’s always something kind of fun to do. People are really nice and there’s always karaoke, karaoke and dancing.”
Yeah, trashy karaoke.
“Trashy karaoke is my thing. I go to karaoke Sundays and Wednesdays and Mondays.”
Nice, you have a schedule lined up. 
“I have a karaoke schedule and I think that’s kind of my favorite thing about Asheville is being able to do that.”
So, do you have a personal life motto that you live by?
“My grandmother always told me that it was dishonest to go into a ten item or less checkout lane with twelve items. That’s kind of my thing. I get flustered a lot and I don’t like it when people do that and I don’t do that, so I try and, I don’t know, it means something to me. I’m not totally sure what it means but I think that if you have ten items, you should go in the ten item checkout lane and it applies in other parts of your life, too. Not that I’m a rule follower, you know? I’m certainly not a square.”
No, no, no. You’re beyond the square.
“I’m beyond the square, but I think there’s something about that, that she told me that’s important.”
This column was originally published in The Blue Banner