This must be the place

art theplaceThe strings of tradition and progress echoed from the back alley. Upon further inspection (and a lone door cracked open), the harmonic tone was radiating from the mandolin of Darren Nicholson.

This must be the place

art theplaceEditor’s Note: After receiving a heartfelt letter in the mail recently from an inmate at a North Carolina correctional facility, Garret decided to write back. Here is his response.

Dear A***,

First off, thank you from the bottom of my heart for the letter you sent. It was filled with such kind words. I often wonder myself if anyone actually reads what I put out there, if my words find themselves in the hands of those looking for something that day, whatever that something might be. 

This must be the place

art theplaceMy ears are still ringing.

From Nov. 1-5, I went and saw nine bands. Yep, that’s nine acts in the matter of five days. It was a musical odyssey, to say the least. If there ever were evidence of my obsession for sound and performance, ideal for my mother to give me that signature puzzled look, you’d find it following me around these last several days. 

This must be the place

art theplacePizza. French fry.

Those were the initial instructions I was given the first time I went skiing. I must’ve been around four or five years old. Growing up in the Champlain Valley, surrounded by the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York and the Green Mountains of Vermont, there were innumerable opportunities to hit the slopes and make the most of an unknown weekend.

This must be the place

art theplaceI sat there, under old copper piping and newly formed spider webs, wondering where the hell my story was.

It was December 2006, and I was in the basement of the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, Mass. A sit-down, pre-show interview with legendary singer/songwriter Peter Rowan was to be my first feature as a budding journalist. And yet, there I was, waiting outside his drab dressing room, listening to him snore and enjoy a cat nap before his performance in the coming hour.

This must be the place

art theplaceAll I wanted to do was play soccer.

In the summer of 1997, I was 12 years old and ready to enter seventh grade in upstate New York. Until that point, I had attended a small Catholic elementary school. Now, I was finally entering public school, middle school no less, where a whole new world awaited me.

This must be the place

art theplaceHelp.

That’s what was texted to me a couple weeks ago. It was my co-worker at the newspaper, stuck in mud somewhere in the backwoods of Maggie Valley. Normally, I would finally get to sleep in on a Saturday morning, but not this time. I pulled myself out of bed, cranked my pickup truck and headed out of Waynesville.

This must be the place

art theplaceI needed to make an escape.

Last Tuesday morning, my cell phone vibrated incessantly on the nightstand. It was 8 a.m., and the sender was my news editor. My eyes creaked open like a rusted cellar door. The message informed me that the government shutdown had taken effect. Thus, we needed to scrap our original cover story while going to press that day and do a whole new feature on the closures in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

This must be the place

I like to get lost.

Though my sense of direction is as strong as a dog’s sense of smell, I purposely wander into destinations unknown. If there’s two ways to a location, I’ll take the one I have yet to traverse. I want to cross paths with people, places and things either unnoticed by a rushed society or forgotten by the sands of time. Plenty of these things are old, some new, with many hovering somewhere in between. 

This must be the place

art theplaceI know a lot about nothing.

As far back as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated with everything. How many dimples are there on a golf ball? — Ranging from 330-500, depending on model. What’s the deepest point in the Pacific Ocean? — Mariana Trench at 35,797 feet.

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