Keeping Asheville Weird

On this Friday evening, the Drum Circle has formed in Pritchard Park.  The drummers, many of them on the downhill side of 40, follow the lead of a tall black man standing before them.  The music is primitive and repetitious, like the drumming in one of the old Tarzan flicks.  In front of the drummers five women in their 20’s are swaying their hips.  Soon they are joined by a drunken, shirtless white man.  Around them are several hundred onlookers, many of them tourists holding cameras and taking pictures like amateur anthropologists.

North Carolina’s largest zoo is in Asheboro, where visitors walk five miles of paths looking at elephants, rhinos, lions, zebra, and other such creatures.  North Carolina’s second-largest zoo is in Asheville, where visitors from May through October walk the middle of the town, looking at Rastafarians, New Age gurus, tattooed women, people of various sexual preferences, cross-dressers, musicians and street entertainers, and other such creatures.  Not for nothing did Rolling Stone call Asheville “America’s Freak Capital.”

Here in our fair city and the surrounding mountains you will find all sorts of freaks: crypto-Buddhists, crystal gazers, vegans, Greenies, neo-Nazis, socialists, witches, satanists, pagan worshipers of Diana, Tantric priestesses, Atlanteans (not the ones from Georgia), astrologers, magicians, sex therapists, ghost...

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