Beat from the street (Mar. 6, 2018)

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. 

Thomas Calder, 32, writer for Mountain Xpress, originally from Plantation, Florida

So how would you describe your style?
“A lot of black, black pants, collared shirt. That’s usually my get-up, button-up.”

Yeah, this is classy.
“I try and stay a little classy on Fridays.”

Yeah, that’s a good motto to have. So how would you describe yourself in three words?
“Structured, creative and anxious.”

Anxious, yeah. Do you have a life motto that you live by?
“Life motto. I don’t think I do. Just keep on keeping on or the word ‘try.’ ‘Try’ is a good word.”

Yeah, it can be. So, what do you like about Asheville and dislike about Asheville?
“Oh my goodness, I love Asheville. My parents grew up here. I grew up in the flatlands. I grew up in chain stores and the suburbs. That’s why I love the mountains. I love the unique quality of locally-owned businesses, the historic. I do the Asheville archives for the Mountain Xpress.”

That’s awesome.
“Yeah, so I love looking up the history of the area because it’s got a really rich history, although I’m sure Florida has as well.”

It’s a little harder to find.
“Yeah. What do I not like about Asheville? I don’t know. There’s not much I dislike about it, honestly. I know a lot of people say traffic, tourism. I was in Houston for four years, so the traffic doesn’t bother me here and I mean, tourism is kind of unfortunately like our bread and butter.”

That’s very true. So would you describe any creative influences you have, like artistic, literary, musical?
“Mostly it’s probably literary and musical. I love The Walkman, Hamilton Leithauser and then Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe. I do weekend tours at the Wolfe Memorial. So, the early 20th century American writers are a big influence. Joseph Heller was a big influence early on. Julian Barnes, I love The Sense of an Ending. That’s one of my favorite books and then a lot of people I went to grad school with that are coming up. Ian Stansel’s a writer I really like. He’s in Louisville, I think, now and I think that covers most of the influences. Rancid, I was really big into punk rock growing up.”

The original version of this interview was published in The Blue Banner.