Q&A

Ed Harrison

Q&A

How well do you know other members of our community? No, not what they think about politics or their views on international relations. We’re talking about the more important personal questions — like what’s their favorite restaurant.

In our new, regular Q&A feature, The Local Reporter decided to find out how our neighbors would answer the same five (mostly easy and a little quirky) questions.

Want to let your neighbors — and the rest of our community — know a little bit more about you? Then answer our Q&A. Email editor@thelocalreporter.press and put Q&A in the subject line.


Q&A with Ed Harrison

Ed Harrison is a former member of the Chapel Hill Town Council.

What’s your go-to restaurant? 
The “default” restaurant for my wife Pat and me as a couple is the Mediterranean Deli, long recognized as “the best cheap date” eatery in Chapel Hill. Given that Pat is my lifelong definition of “best cheap date,” that lands us at the Deli, but not in cold weather. We were the only inside customers on her birthday late last spring.

Our go-to takeout in Coronatide is Vimala’s. Another takeout option we consider is Saltbox Seafood in West Durham, actually a quicker trip than to downtown CH.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
Haven’t ever stopped wanting to go to Nepal to see the Himalayas. In more recent years, the more achievable goal is to visit high-elevation areas in the Rockies and on the Big Island, Hawaii, as a plant ecologist who’s never seen alpine places close up. Am hoping I can still hike well when those finally become available. 

As the son of a Frenchwoman, it would be wonderful to get into France to visit my favorite European cousin Catherine at the north end of Provence, a woman my age who used to be a fashion buyer in Manhattan (and visited a dress shop in Chapel Hill in the mid-1970s). I haven’t been to Europe since my teens. Nowadays, visitors from NC are required to have a lengthy quarantine period if allowed into France at all.

What was your first impression of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro community? 
Three sets of first impressions, from three decades. 

1970, in a carload of Duke lefties on the UNC campus for an anti-war event, I was made to feel immediately welcome to Chapel Hill and UNC by the person who apparently organized it, one Clint Pyne, because with my travel companions, I had come from his home town. He’s Milo Pyne now, and a close associate in botany and politics. I recall that in the early 1970s, when I could get a ride here, I could walk barefoot on East Franklin Street without encountering chewing gum or glass shards.

A second impression: In the early 1980s, when I returned to the Triangle from a small town in western NC, Chapel Hill was where I came for whatever I couldn’t get in Durham, including time in Nature Conservancy offices. Downtown had parking and food was cheap. That was the same period when an artist girlfriend who grew up “off Airport Road” had me drive her to her old neighborhood, Lake Ellen. She also introduced me to University Mall, which had a large arts and crafts supply store, unlike any Durham mall.

My third impression was in 1990s, coming to CH to live with Pat, in a neighborhood very different from the half-dozen I’d inhabited in West Durham over two decades. Suddenly, the most unsafe bicycling I’d ever experienced! We went to the Christmas Tree lighting at the downtown PO, and I was surprised and gratified that Town Manager Cal Horton came over and greeted me by name. I’d already complained to manager and council about the dangerous bicycling … .

Where’s the best place to meet people locally? Socially distanced, of course.
In terms of an actual “place” I really don’t know anymore! There never has been one “best” place for me. Events were always best, including church social hour. All that’s gone for the duration. No one has suggested even socially-distanced get-togethers since mid-March, with the exception of one outdoor board meeting where we sat 6-8 feet apart in our masks. In my case, outdoor church services were an opportunity to renew or start acquaintance with someone — and they’re gone now. Zoom “social” sessions have very seldom included new people, but I’m very pleased when they do.

What is your favorite TV show?  
Over the decades, PBS Masterpiece Theatre, especially the mystery series. I’ve missed most of the past half century of it (on its 50th anniversary) but have seen enough to be continually amazed at the quality of its performers and directors, in particular. Most of my TV watching during Coronatide has been of dramas and politics on different channels of UNC-TV.


Aaron Keck

Q&A with Aaron Keck

Aaron Keck is the new morning host at WCHL radio, 97.9 The Hill.

What is your go-to restaurant?
My husband Brad and I have a few favorites around the Triangle, but in Chapel Hill our favorite right now is Hawthorne & Wood in East 54. Great people and amazing food, plus they’ve got a terrific outdoor-dining space and they’ve done an excellent job staying COVID-safe through the last few months. You can’t go wrong with anything, but try the General Tso’s cauliflower. Of course, these days we’re getting takeout more often — and for that, we love Alfredo’s Pizza Villa in University Place, just around the corner from the station. Get the eggplant lasagna!

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
We’ve got a very long list of places we want to visit once the pandemic is over, but my number-one choice right now is Michigan, where I grew up. I’ve got close family and friends up there that I haven’t seen in months, and it’s been way too long already.

What was your first impression of Chapel Hill-Carrboro?
Funny story! I first visited a couple years before I moved to the area, with one of my best friends from grad school who was a UNC alum and absolutely loved Chapel Hill. Even though we were only going to have a few hours to visit, she was very excited about taking me to Franklin Street … and then it just so happened to be the coldest, rainiest, dreariest March day of the year, and we shivered miserably for several blocks as we walked downtown. First impression: not so hot. (I Love NY Pizza was exactly as good as she’d described, though.) Fortunately, I got a second chance two years later, and I fell in love with Chapel Hill-Carrboro just as much as she had.

Where’s the best place to meet people locally?
That’s easy: Weaver Street Market in Carrboro, just as soon as they’re comfortable getting the tables and chairs back out again. But University Place is a good option too: lots of parking, big enough to get a nice walk in, and plenty of places to sit and enjoy an outdoor, socially-distanced meal or drink. Hawkers, Bartaco, Trilogy, Stoney River — it’s pretty vibrant there, actually. And if you don’t mind stepping outside Chapel Hill-Carrboro, the outdoor garden at Namu in Durham’s New Hope Commons is a nice hidden gem.

What’s your favorite TV show?
I’m a child of the 90’s, so it’s got to be The Simpsons. (The early years, that is.)


Michael Parker

Q&A with Michael Parker

Michael Parker is a member of the Chapel Hill Town Council.

What’s your go-to restaurant?
Chapel Hill has too many to pick just one. Depending on the mood I’m in it could be Mama Dip’s, Al’s Burger Shack, Elaine’s, Elements, Jujube, Crossroads Carolina, Med Deli and others. And apologies in advance to those I’ve inadvertently omitted.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
Right now, Switzerland to see our daughter and son-in-law, who we miss and worry about.

What was your first impression of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro community?
I first came to Chapel Hill in 1970 to attend grad school at UNC. My first impression was of the beauty that is East Franklin Street as you approach downtown from the east. It still gets me almost every time I see it.

Where’s the best place to meet people locally? Socially distanced, of course.
Downtown on Franklin Street. When I’m there I know I’m in Chapel Hill — and so glad to be here.

What is your favorite TV show?
All time, probably M*A*S*H. Currently, the new version of Perry Mason.


Randee Haven O’Donnell

Q&A with Randee Haven O’Donnell

Randee Haven O’Donnell is a member of the Carrboro Town Council.

What’s your go-to restaurant?
Spotted Dog.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
Vancouver, BC
 
What was your first impression of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro community?
Carrboro — 42 years ago, hometown shops and businesses, human-size scale, look and feel.

Where’s the best place to meet people locally? Socially distanced, of course.
Weaver Street Market lawn or at Town Commons.

What is your favorite TV show?
The Rachel Maddow Show.


Susan Romaine

Q&A with Susan Romaine

Susan Romaine is a member of the Carrboro Town Council.

What’s your go-to restaurant?
Cham Thai Cuisine in Carrboro

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
After the air clears, hiking through the California redwoods.

What was your first impression of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro community?
I moved to Carrboro after living in Chicago, Boston and Washington, DC. So, Chapel Hill-Carrboro felt very small, welcoming, uncongested (I never complain about the traffic here!), charming and a little quirky. One of my most vivid first impressions was the many cars with bumper stickers — the most of any small town in the South, I hear.

Where’s the best place to meet people locally? Socially distanced, of course.
In times, Open Eye Café and Gray Squirrel are my go-to places for a really good cup of coffee with friends and co-workers. During COVID, almost all of my social interactions are during walks around Lake Hogan Farms (where we live) or the nearby Pumpkin Trail.

What is your favorite TV show?
I don’t really have a favorite show. When I do watch TV, it’s usually for news or sports. I’m a big UNC and LSU fan, and  I also rooted for the L.A. Lakers to win the NBA championship for Kobe.


Q&A with Rani Dasi

Rani Dasi

Rani Dasi is a corporate finance professional and a member of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education.

What’s your go-to restaurant?
My favorite cuisine is Indian food followed closely by Thai. Vimala’s, Chimney and Cham are my current local favorites.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
I’m interested in the history and culture of Morocco and I would love to see the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania/Kenya. The Serengeti hosts the second largest terrestrial mammal migration in the world, which helps secure it as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa, and as one of the ten natural travel wonders of the world.

What was your first impression of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro community?
Lots of transplants, welcoming people and beautiful weather. I think I was here for a while before I actually met someone from North Carolina. 

Where’s the best place to meet people locally? Socially distanced, of course.
We are so lucky to be in a community with so much green space and walking trails. I enjoy a socially distanced walk on the Pumpkin Loop trails in Chapel Hill North. 

What is your favorite TV show?
Don’t have a lot of time to watch TV. If I watch anything it’s likely a recorded version of “The Daily Show” or “Blackish.”


Q&A with Laurie Paolicelli

Laurie Paolicelli

Laurie Paolicelli is Executive Director of the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau.  

What’s your go-to restaurant?
I love Carolina Crossroads at the Carolina Inn. I’m fortunate in that I have many clients that I’ve had to meet there and I just fell in love with the menu, the visuals, and the feeling of being on campus and watching all these academics discussing the future over fried chicken and pimento cheese. It’s thrilling for me each time. And my visiting friends and family love their menu. And of course, parking is easy.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
Norway has always been on my bucket list. I grew up near Duluth, MN, home to many residents of Scandinavian descent. I remember watching the 1994 Olympics in and around Lillehammer, Norway and thinking, “Oh, it looks just like “Duluth.” I want to visit in winter but my family is insisting on a summer visit. We were close to booking it when the pandemic hit.

What was your first impression of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro community?
It was sort of like Dorothy waking up in Oz. I had never experienced a place as visually beautiful. I stayed at the Siena during my job interview and driving down Franklin Street, all the way through Carrboro, and then on to the Weaver Street lawn for coffee. It was all simply mesmerizing. On my second trip here to house hunt nobody told me about the Carrboro Music Festival so I just assumed it was a normal weekend around these parts. I took the job.

Where’s the best place to meet people locally? Socially distanced, of course.
I have meetings at the Visitors Center conference room at 501 W. Franklin because it’s easy to sit apart, with masks and talk. I love to sit out on the bench in front of our Center on Saturday and Sunday mornings with my coffee cup and just say “hey” to the runners and walkers out before noon. It’s such a small town that you actually end up having important conversations on Franklin Street. Even though we are not officially open yet, we offer that meeting room to anyone who needs to meet face to face. Just drop me an email: lpaolicelli@visitchapelhill.org and I’ll open up and even serve coffee.

What is your favorite TV show?
Aww, there’s so much good television now. I’ve really stayed up late and watched wonderful TV since March. I’m a big Trevor Noah fan. And I love, Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel on HBO, because it’s all about the human behind the sport. In fact, this is a wonderful time for me to plug the recent editorial he recited on what it’s like to be black in America. He calls it the Black tax. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvKPBJVAPWE


Q&A with Issac Marsh

Issac Marsh

Issac Marsh is the head football coach at Chapel Hill High School.

What’s your go-to restaurant?
Olive Garden

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
Italy

What was your first impression of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro community?
Supportive and reliable

Where’s the best place to meet people locally? Socially distanced, of course. 
Weaver Street Market

What is your favorite TV show? 
Grey’s Anatomy


Q&A with Rob Gelblum

Rob Gelblum

Rob Gelblum is a lawyer, former counsel to the State of North Carolina’s Brownfields Program and the state’s Superfund Program, and a Carrboro-based musician who has been playing guitar and piano, and singing, for more than 50 years.

What’s your go-to restaurant? 
I don’t get out much, but let’s say Vimala (I’m a sucker for Indian).

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
Paris (France, not Texas), where I lived as a busker for two years in the ’70s.

What was your first impression of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro community?
Utter fascination. It was 1968 when my family moved here from Philly. I’d had no idea there were places that were a) Southern, b) small-townish, and c) liberal, and also filled with friendly folks and beautiful surrounding countryside.

Where’s the best place to meet people locally? Socially distanced, of course.
As noted, I don’t get out much in this, my first stint here since the mid-’80s. If you’d asked that question regarding 1975, I’d have answered, “Town Hall/Cat’sCradle/WildflowerKitchen/Carolina Coffee Shop/Tijuana Fats.” For 30 years, until two years ago, we were on the other side of the Triangle in Raleighwood.

What is your favorite TV show?
“The Wire” (hope it doesn’t have to be a current show).


Q&A with Jamie Fiocco

Jamie Fiocco is the owner of Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill.

What’s your go-to restaurant?
It depends on what I’m in the mood for, there are many great options in Chapel Hill. I’ve had a hankering for Turkish food recently so Talullahs  on West Franklin Street comes to mind.
 
If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
I’ve had the good fortune to travel a lot for both work and vacation, and there are many places I’d like to return to but I’ve always wanted to visit North Africa, specifically Morocco.

What was your first impression of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro community?
I moved here in 1975 with my family from New Jersey, so my first impression was of Carrboro Elementary School. I had an amazing third-grade teacher who helped me fit in even though I came in the middle of the year. She created my very own reading lists which I’ll forever be thankful for.

Where’s the best place to meet people locally? Socially distanced, of course.
Oh well, since I’m working at my bookstore (Flyleaf Books) I’m not really going out anywhere because we’re trying to keep outside interactions down, and the business going. But I won’t deny I’m pining for a seat at the bar and good conversation with the bartenders with a cold beer in hand at OCSC, Bow Bar, the Dead Mule as well as music at Cat’s Cradle … but for the time being, it’s my backyard and my husband Michael and our three cats. And whatever deer, chickens and rabbits pass by.

What is your favorite TV show?
I’m afraid I gave up on TV a long time ago. It’s news and sports (baseball, soccer, UNC teams) for me so I’m not a good person to have on a trivia team!

Want to let folks know about your favorite TV show or your first impressions of our community? Email thelocalreporter.press with your responses to our Q&A.

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