Beat from the street (Jan. 31, 2017)

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. 

Brian K. Smith, 54, government employee, originally from New Jersey

“I’m Air Force retired, so I came here because that’s where the jobs are.”
It’s true. Washington is bustling. So, what made you come out to the inauguration today?
“Growing up in New Jersey and Donald Trump gave a lot of my friends jobs when we were teenagers, you know, at the casinos and stuff and I’ve always been a supporter since then.”
So you see him as fiscally responsible in a way as well?
OK. What about his particular platform speaks to you? What would you say?
“Well, I think that the main thing for me right now is that we pay a lot of tax dollars for folks that may or may not be working and I’d rather have those tax dollars stay in my pocket so I can give them to my daughter instead of freeloaders.”
So, in terms of your experience at the inauguration, what would you say the energy has been like?
“Yeah, there’s been a lot of energy coming from both sides, yeah. It’s really cool. That’s what makes this country great.”
And when he says that slogan ‘Make America Great Again,’ what do you think he means by ‘great?’
“I think that what he said, a lot of times, we are getting beat on trade deals and I think he’s going to turn that around. When he says that, to me, that’s what I hear, make us great again where we should be driving the bus.”

Sade Santiago, 18, student, originally from Pittsburgh

Why are you here? What brought you out to the Women’s March?
“I’m here with my mom and my brother and her friends. We’re here to stand up for what we believe in, the mental health field. We’re here to talk about that.”
That’s awesome. What do you feel like the energy here has been like so far?
“I find it’s really positive and uplifting and I’m feeling pretty rad. During the speakers and stuff, people were crying and I found it really positive and comforting.”

The original version of these interviews was published in The Blue Banner.