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Tom Davidson

fashion statement + functionality

Weird Charlotte: Are you originally from Charlotte, or did you come here from somewhere else? If you came here from somewhere else, where was that, when did you land here, and why?

Tom: I'm from a tiny place in the mountain woods called Glen Alpine, right beside Morganton and about 30 miles west of Hickory, NC. If you think about it, the town is either named after a dude named Glen – which seems odd to me – or it translates to "Bunch of Trees, and Many More Trees", which is what it looks like (namely, beautiful).

WC: Of all you've contributed to the cultural fabric of Charlotte, what are some of your personal favorites?

Tom: Well, on any given sunny day you might spot me walking to the Common Market sporting a spiffy new pedicure and nail polish, which I tend to put on while watching either the Sopranos or football. Also, I tend to draw people on buses lately. I find sketching complete strangers in 60 seconds or less on bumpy-as-hell seating in cramped quarters artistically invigorating. Hmmm... I'd also have to list my involvement with the infamous QZ, the Queen City's finest rag of delectible counter-culture weirdness that ever was. I took a xerox of sketchbook pages, stuffed them into an envelope one day and mailed them to some chick calling herself Li'l Shiva, thanks to encouragement from one Tall Girl. I spent the next year or so doing girlie drawings for page 13 of QZ, and took exceptional pleasure in making the editrix guess as to what the hell I'd turn in next – even though sometimes that backfired on me – and making the girls as edgy and unique as I could.

I still contribute to page 13, and it's taking me into new directions, namely collage and "direct drawings". You might also see me taking black and white peel-apart-Polaroids of interesting nooks around town. And oh, yeah, I'm that dude who wears Park Royal hats around town, even though they went out of style umpteen years ago. I absolutely adore hats and think society's fucked up for it's dismissal of headwear: fashion statement + functionality.

WC: What strengthens your dedication to do what you do, in spite of the fact that Charlotte has not yet developed a critical mass of creatively-attuned people?

Tom: Lots of King Crimson or Neko Case playing in the background, plenty of yoga (I practice throughout the week and take classes), and just ignoring most masses of people in general. To hell with the masses. I do what I do – which is to draw, make comics about fruit flies and everyday losers, while trying my hand at printmaking and painting – because I must. I can't escape it. Believe me, I've tried. Running away doesn't work. So I suppose it's a matter of resignation to just be me.

WC: What sometimes discourages you about Charlotte and makes you dream of living somewhere else? And where would that somewhere else be?

Tom: "Uptown" Gappers who walk in twos or threes and force you to play sidewalk chicken, pretending that their transient world is more concrete or meaningful than anyone else's. Folks who think that wearing a baseball cap sideways is a fashion statement, especially on a night out on the town. The assholes who tore down the gorgeous and historic Independence Building and replaced it with something resembling homogenous underwear, and the assholes who are trying to uproot part of historic Pinewood/Elmwood Cemetery for the light rail project. Basically, haters of history, especially local history, those get my goat more than any other. That somewhere else might be near Ocracoke or Hatteras, NC. Or maybe Vermont or some other weird place in the New England sticks.

WC: What would help make Charlotte a more vibrant cultural city?

Tom: More people drawing, reading or laughing outdoors, for one. More non-chain, kickass neighborhood restaurants. I think more mimes would also make Charlotte vibrate – and street poets! People getting together to go on sketchcrawls would really get things going. More people singing in public, just for the fun of it. Simply be honest and ask questions of people you might otherwise be afraid of. And don't be afraid to smile and be friendly, even when it might not be "cool".

WC: What can we do right now to make Charlotte a more vibrant cultural city?

Tom: Celebrate, don't hide, Charlotte's history. Then ride and experience public transit instead of fueling up that oversized bathtub of an SUV clogging the roadways. Buy your goods and services from the mom & pop businesses that are still out there. Go to your corner gallery and buy local art or pottery. Support local theatre and music venues.

WC: Let's say there's some creative person out there who's considering moving to Charlotte. If you could say one thing to them, what would it be?

Tom: Please come. Don't let the bad aftertaste of an antiseptic façade scare you. There's tons of dirt, history, blood, sweat and tears underneath it all, just waiting to be discovered and explored. And we need all the creative help we can get!