Thursday, April 21, 2011

I ALWAYS have something to say about something. So I don’t think I’d run out of words—or space, or subjects—to tackle or wrestle in these pages. But, as ever, I’d like to write about people in and around Asheville—sweet and fascinating humanity. And places. As well as those that sort of conjured up in my perpetually adventuring, super-active brain cells. The music scene and scenery, arts stuff and things, food and foodstuff, politics and politicians, funny downtown buskers, irksome Greyhound drivers, bored Wal-Mart stock clerks, overzealous Lexington Av sales staff, dreamy bookstore denizens, drunken Pritchard Park homeless, fascinating Westville Pub back porch owls and ravens, snotty The Cliffs nouveau riche. And vampires and vampyres, too. Zombies and selkies, wolverines and werewolves. Babedawgs and koolcats. And you and me.

FIRST, of course, you’d like to know who’s behind this “The Asheville Passkey” shenanigan, right? Well, my name is PASCKIE PASCUA, born—George Alfredo Pascua. My photo will pop in and out of this blog so don’t worry—you’ll have a visual reference who this dude is. (I am a miserable narcissist when it comes to my face. I already filed a 2,345 Pasckie pics in my Facebook, by the way.)
I sort of “crashlanded” here in Asheville in the winter of 1999 from New York City. The truth was, I meant to visit Nashville, but somehow—ended up in Asheville. Long, boring story. Thing is—I am here, so deal with it…
Well, I lived and loved, rocked and rolled in the mountains, from 1999, until I bankrupted myself sick and silly eight years later, so I left for the West Coast in the fall of 2007—to, sort of, recover financially. I used to edit and publish "little fancy rags" under my Loved by the Buffalo Publications. The main publication was a twice-a-month rag called, The Indie—conceived in New York City but found its true, inner calling in Asheville. (The two others: Wander and Blue Sky Asheville.) I also head a traveling arts/music/whatever organization called Traveling Bonfires. We organize/produce community rockfests, small club gigs and all those kind of free stuff that I put up to make people happy, at the same time, these sweet madnesses do fondle my astronomical ego.
Now, let’s talk serious…
Around the time of my departure in 2007, all 24 counties of Western North Carolina had a three-year average unemployment rate of 6 percent, compared with 6.2 percent statewide and 5.5 percent. Most WNC counties were designated "transitional," meaning they lagged behind the national average on one of the three key indicators. But then, that data was culled around 3 or 4 years ago. Asheville has come a long way, since then, yes? It's now the Beer Capital of the entire United States of America! I just don’t know how that fares with joblessness; all I know and certain about is, AA meetings have been crowded to the ceilings lately, uh-huh. (And, yes, 13 months from the time I returned here, I’m still broke…)

AFTER a 3-month sojourn in Las Vegas, I moved to Long Beach and worked as Southern California/Los Angeles bureau chief for the Philippine News, the largest Filipino-American newspaper in the US. A relatively good-paying job but, darn, I still left. Why? Uhh--I don’t intend to discuss that here… the thing is, I decided to return to Asheville in late summer of 2009. I realized, and I must say—Asheville is my home barrio, although friends and enemies identify me with Manila and Baguio City in the Philippines, and New York City. I identify myself with anywhere wherever whatever. But where I am right now—Asheville—is where it’s at.
I am here so deal with it, hokeydokey?