Beat from the street (Sept. 12, 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.

Tyler Monroe-Karen, 24, jack-of-all-trades, originally from Gainesville, Florida

What is your profession?
Tyler Monroe-Karen appreciates the
energy in Asheville. Photo by Dusty

Everything, nice.
“Everything but nothing. I haven’t delved into what I want to do yet, but I have. I might have wrapped around the daily process.”

OK. What would you say inspires you creatively?
“Everything, truthfully. I’m into music and I’m leaning more towards that and how I take in everything. My process will be I have music playing but no volume at all. So, I’m constantly pulling images and from everywhere, so if I see something I connect it with that.”

That’s cool.
“It’s kind of intricate like that.”

Yeah, so it’s kind of like a mesh, a collage of different mediums.
“It is.”

OK, cool. So do you have a life motto that you live by?
“I’m going to steal my friend’s life motto. His name is Sam Wilde. He goes by ‘You only live once’ so party hard. I forgot the other part.”

Party hard? Yeah.
“‘Live fast and party hard,’ I think is what he says.”

“Yeah, I feel like that’s good, especially when you’re younger and then when you get older, I notice some people mellow out, but, yeah. After I was 19 is when I stopped partying. I got a little more focused and then I’m typically drawn toward women a little more than what it was as far as manifesting myself and to make something out of me to benefit everybody else.”

Yeah, so, if you were to describe your style, what would you say?


And tell me about these, you’ve got crystals?
“Yeah, I mean, I kind of walk around and people may think that it’s for me but I use it if I walk down and somebody has something going on emotionally, I can feel it. I like to store these crystals, project it out and to do that. Some people may call bullshit but you’ve gotta invest and know what infinite possibilities are.”

Yeah, yeah, crystals seem like they have a lot of healing properties.

So, if you were to describe yourself in three words, which three words would you choose and why?
“Unique because people say no idea is original and the Earth has been here for fucking trillions of years. I don’t mean to curse, but it’s been here for trillions of years and there’s been a lot of thinking going on.”

Yeah, yeah, a lot of ideas.
“So I try to be as original as possible. Number two, balance, because, I mean, you know how that goes.”

Yeah, yeah, you gotta have kind of like a seesaw happening.
“And number three would be organic, not organic in a sense as far as vegetables but what I mean is just free-flowing, going with the wind.”


Yeah, that’s awesome. So if you were to say one thing you like about Asheville so far and dislike about Asheville?
“I fucking love it. I can’t get too, too deep other than that since I’ve only been here for oh-so-much, but the energy’s beautiful. Everybody here is loving and embracing and I see what people don’t like about it and I see what they like but that comes with everything. Where I’m from, it’s already been gentrified. Hatred is already there. It’s manifested itself. So everybody’s kind of just like holding hands and walking through it and keeping a happy mindset.”

Yeah. What brought you here?
“I would have to say the energy and just the whole aspect of how everything is just nice and really inviting and it’s not as conservative as most places.”

“It’s kind of quiet but what I realize as far as what actually brought me here is that there’s allegedly, or possibly, quartz underneath the ground and I feel as if we walk with this peaceful energy, at least, at a stopping point or a pit stop here. What I’ve been told is that this place can chew you up and spit you out if you’re not really meant to be here. If you are meant to be here, you’re good. Don’t let yourself get stagnant.”

“And if you do, just recycle it. Embrace it. Write down what keeps troubling you and whatnot and kind of move on from that.”

Yeah, freshen it up in a way.
“Yeah, that’s pretty much what life is.”

“Just gain that new knowledge, experience, wisdom and whatnot.”

Daniel Gehret, 35, massage therapist originally from Pittsburgh

I say Asheville, they’re like, ‘Oh, drum circle, Pritchard Park.’
Daniel Gehret moved to Asheville to forage through the forest.
Photo by Dusty Albinger. 
“Yeah, ok. I didn’t know about it until I came here.”

How long have you been here?
“Six weeks.”

Oh wow. Did you move here?
“Kind of, I definitely moved out of where I used to live.”

“I gave up an apartment and a job so I could come learn foraging in the woods of Asheville and in that area. Yup. So now I live in the woods.”

That’s awesome. Where are you from initially?

OK, cool. So, Rust Belt.
“Yup, you got it. You don’t want to be foraging there.”

Oh, OK. Cool and how did you hear about Asheville?
“I kept talking to people as a Lyft driver and they just told me what a cool place it was. That just came up over and over again, like, what’s an enlightened city? Where can you go to practice meditation and get in touch with nature and that’s what kept coming up.”


So, what would you say inspires you creatively?
“Man, I’d say Qigong and yoga. But the didgeridoo session that I just went to, that was really amazing. It’s Asheville Community Yoga.”

“Yeah, they get your whole body vibrating and it feels like you’re listening with your whole body eventually. When they get really close, you can actually feel it vibrating. But then, they move away and you’re like, ‘Oh, I still feel something’ or that’s kind of the point of it.”

Yeah. That’s intense sounding, yeah. So if could say or utilize three words to describe yourself, which three words would you choose and why?
“Let’s see. Daring, unconventional and trepidatious.”

Those are all good words.
“Yeah, I came here to, mostly to, actually meditate in the woods. That’s the nature part that’s kind of like my vehicle for reaching towards enlightenment and it’s scary. I found out that if you want to meditate in the woods, you’re gonna end up on a hillside and it’s gonna feel pretty unstable and it was hot, lots of mosquitoes. But what I did was, stepping out, that was kind of a big leap of faith and I’m getting taken care of, yeah.”

Who’s taking care of you?
“Well, a guy’s letting me stay on his land and there’s a spring there.”

Oh, OK.
“Yeah, up in, it’s actually called Swiss but...Have you heard of Swiss?”

“Right, OK. He’s in Mars Hill, just this guy I met at yoga. He was like, ‘Oh, you weren’t comfortable on the Blue Ridge Parkway? You can stay on my property.’ So, that’s cool.”

Yeah, that’s awesome, kind stranger.

So, do you have a life motto that you live by?
“Not really, yeah. I’m trying to kind of erase myself, you know, psychologically.”

Yeah, that’s kind of like an anti-motto.
“Yeah, just try to live more and more without words.”

Yeah, that’s really interesting. I like that. So, what are some things you like and dislike about Asheville so far?
“The kindness of strangers and the willingness to help people that live outdoors. That’s really touching. That’s something that when I’m finally done here, I’m gonna take with me. I’m gonna remember that and be inspired. I mean, I’ve been about community service my whole life, about helping other people heal and now I’m here absorbing community services and goodwill and I’m seeing how it all works. I’m seeing how people take advantage of the service and how it makes their lives possible.”

“It’s really beautiful and I also like that this is on, this place is on the forefront, I’d say, although it’s not perfect. There’s a lot of drinking moving in but it’s a pretty good place as far as meeting kindred spirits who are also interested in getting in touch with nature, living a spiritually aware life. It’s got a good energy.”

Yeah, it does for sure. What made you initially want to help people?
“Well, I saw my parents taking a lot of joy and taking care of battered women when I was a wee boy and it opened my mind, of course, to the possibility that I could really enjoy that sort of thing too and I don’t know, maybe it’s just what humans are like. They feel good when they have a purpose beyond self.”

“Yeah, so I guess I just got to practice and discover for myself that way.”

The original version of these interviews was published on The Blue Banner