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Cheerios on the French Broad River

I always dreamt of hiking the Appalachian Trail, so after spending the 4th of July in NYC I booked a one way flight to Charlotte, NC. I rented a mini cargo van as the most practical means to navigate remote Appalachia at my whim, while also providing a secure and mobile place to sleep amidst the unplanned, unfamiliar, and remote travel ahead.

I later made my way to Asheville, NC deciding to rent a bike to explore town and Pisgah National Forest. I googled some shops, but the rates were high, the availability low. I called some places on Craigslist, leaving messages since no one picked up. The odds weren’t looking good. I was getting fed up with the hunt so I took a break to get some food at one of the local craft breweries.

While sipping a juicy IPA, I received a hilarious text from someone named “Brewce” using an unfamiliar number. The relationship escalated quickly when he text me a risqué photo of a bike he had for rent. I called him and set a time to swing by. He promised to meet all my requirements for time, equipment, and price…”no problem.” It seemed too good to be true.

I drove over to his little unit in a storage facility just before the posted closing time. Brewce had the bike set up ready to go. Brewce, had steel-blue eyes, effortless shoulder length salt and strawberry hair, and like many cyclists, was trim, had perfect thrift-store style, sun-kissed skin, and an ageless smile.

Friendship is an unexpected thing, part vulnerability, part circumstance, one hundred percent magic.

When you connect with a stranger who immediately makes you curiously aware of your weaknesses and strengths, your frustrations and your passions, the before and after of your life disappear. Whatever you had imagined as possible is changed forever.

Brewce’s rawness and humility stripped me bare, and wrapped me in generosity and humor. What was left was space, infinite space, free of secret scripts, and imagined barriers. The byproduct of that vulnerability was intimacy, the intimacy that exists in friendship that usually takes years to build. This mirror allowed us to appreciate one another as part of the same beautiful, ridiculous whole.

I ended up renting the bike and staying in Asheville for longer than I had anticipated thanks to Brewce’s hilarity, hospitality, and friendship.

One day, Brewce invited me to join him and his girlfriend to go floating on the tree-lined French Broad River. Jennie Lou was a voluptuous and radiantly lively women with a personality that matched her curves. She was the woman I imagined Brewce would be with, a woman the original Hollywood dames would have drank  beer with. There we were under a highway bridge drinking beers as we chatted and filled up inner-tubes. It begin to rain, but just the perfect amount for a float in the hot, humid days of a Blue Ridge summer. The regal, yet flat and muddy French Broad was unlike the creeks and dry drainage channels we have in deserts and mountains of Southern California where I am from.

We carried on like old friends as we drank beers and enjoyed the cloud-filled sky, cool water, and warm intermittent rain. Brewce told stories as we drifted down the river like tied-up Cheerios in a bowl of chocolate milk: A woman drove off the bridge landing there four years ago. They just removed the car last year. Our place is over there. It’s kind of a dump, but it’s cozy and the landlord doesn’t suck. Home prices/rents have skyrocketed due to the breweries and artist moving in.

We landed at a perfectly situated river adjacent saloon where we dried off and enjoyed beer and food as banjo music played.

On my last day in Asheville I stopped by Brewce’s shop to say goodbye. The bike, the money I handed him, formalities. I told him he should charge more. I had found so much more than an affordably priced bike on Craigslist. We drank a few beers in his shop, and generally just enjoyed each other’s company and existence as we floated in the river of life that makes up this vast, mysterious world.

Gratitude for Mister Fred Rogers – “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” Documentary Review

Feb 2019 Update where to stream:
Morgan Neville’s critically acclaimed Mister Rogers documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is coming to HBO on Feb. 9, 2019.

Also on Feb. 9, HBO will honor Fred Rogers’ contribution and commitment to public television with a special presentation of the film on PBS’ Independent Lens.

Stream on FandangoNOW where “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” is the most-downloaded documentary in the history of streaming service.

On Amazon

Why the film was snubbed at in Oscar nomination? Law of Familiarity… obviously life changing let’s vote for something else that’s less obvious. This mistake is all too common. Post Gazzette


“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” highlights the pure magic of a fully integrated man, the creative genius, Fred Rogers. For over 30 years Mister Fred Rogers created deep conversations through puppetry and other forms of story telling. Through his revolutionary TV show, Mr Rogers Neighborhood, he taught children that “feelings are mention-able and manageable.”

Expect a lump in your throat and some volume of sobs if you call Mr Rogers an old friend. The warmth and authenticity of his character came back to me in a way I had not anticipated. It may be nostalgia, it may be a portal to the vulnerability of the inner child, or it may be the light and love that Mister (Fred) Rogers still exudes through the camera, in a way that very few, if any, video personalities do today.

One strength of this film is that it highlights the miraculous roles Mister Rogers played in the development of generations’ emotional intelligence:

  • Master of Technology (pioneering TV producer, music composer, puppeteer, child advocate, minister, TV personality)
  • Visionary (made his amorphous thoughts reality and set a standard for TV which no one else can/could touch)
  • Dedicated to his mission (protect and guide children with the care of talking to them one at a time)
  • Celebrate the human uniqueness of the human spirit (echoed by his reticence to be like other programs of the time, which the documetary contrasts as often violent, humiliating, or flat out make believe)
  • Alchemist (confronted pain and communicated human emotions with love and tenderness)
  • Resistant to racism and social/norms (washes the feet of his black friend, police officer Clemons)

Mr Roger’s mission was to be a nurturing adult who was also your friend. He lived that mission by talking directly to the individual viewer through his puppetry, music, acting, and vulnerable dedication to tackling some of the hardest topics troubling children and adults alike.

He ritualistically worked through everyday problems and reminded us that our uniqueness is a call to action. Beyond the way he started and ended his show. (Changing from work clothes to the classic sweater and sneakers) He also swam every morning and maintained the weight of 143 lbs most of his adult life to see “I Love You” represented numerically in the scale.

He showed that it is humanly possible to live in alignment with one’s mission and that kindness isn’t a weakness. He challenged us to choose how to repond to what is happening within and around us by talking about what is right and why, and that we “can stop of we want to” even if we are “mad enough to bite.”

He lived as a model for each one of us to express all the good within ourselves even though it’s often hard to be alive. He didn’t wish to shield his viewers from pain of an increasingly mean world. His show confronted the human experience head on. Mister Rogers worked tirelessly to be an example of compassion in a world that increasingly and unquestioningly profited through humiliation and violence.

We can best honor Mr. Rogers by living up to his challenge to “make the most of this beautiful day” and creating what he called a “neighborhood expression of care.”



What Do You Do with the Mad that You Feel?
By Fred M. Rogers

“What do you do with the mad that you feel
When you feel so mad you could bite?
When the whole wide world seems oh, so wrong…
And nothing you do seems very right?

What do you do? Do you punch a bag?
Do you pound some clay or some dough?
Do you round up friends for a game of tag?
Or see how fast you go?

It’s great to be able to stop
When you’ve planned a thing that’s wrong,
And be able to do something else instead
And think this song:

I can stop when I want to
Can stop when I wish.
I can stop, stop, stop any time.
And what a good feeling to feel like this
And know that the feeling is really mine.
Know that there’s something deep inside
That helps us become what we can.
For a girl can be someday a woman
And a boy can be someday a man.”

Watch Mister Roger’s Neighborhood – Original Show on Amazon Prime
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