Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Hey Dems, we do have indoor plumbing

Observer staff photo (May 18,2010) by David T. Foster III
I'm already hearing from out of town friends about their plans to come to Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention. A pal who runs the BBC's North America bureau sent word that the BBC had already booked 50 rooms. Then he e-mailed back that "the city have told all hotels not to take bookings.....12 thousand rooms....." Word is the DNC controls hotel room allotments. I wonder if that means we should clean the junk out of our guest rooms and pick up some income from less-well-funded members of the world's news media.

I've been trying to think of what to tell our global visitors they should expect in the Queen City. You know many will arrive imagining the usual stereotypes of The South – unpainted shacks, no indoor plumbing, cousins marrying cousins, overseers and sharecroppers visible in every cotton field, mules hauling cotton to the cotton gin, hellfire and brimstone preachers thumping Bibles on every corner. You get the picture.

Do they realize:

• That Charlotte is a hotbed of Presbyterianism? (Don't you love seeing "hotbed" and "Presbyterian" in the same sentence?) Sure, there are places where people rock 'n' roll and even dance, but you'll rarely see a local elected or business official cutting the rug or belting a show tune after too many beers.

• That when our civic leadership encounters a problem, the first instinct is to form a large and interminably meeting committee to talk it over?

• That not only do our civic leaders not care about the Confederacy, or even mention it in public, they don't even mention the past of 20 years ago. Visitors hear much about our banks, and probably get a banking genealogy worthy of the Old Testament. Commercial National and Southern States Trust (aka American Trust ) begat American Commercial, which begat North Carolina National Bank which began NCNB (No Cash for No Body, is the local joke) and NCNB begat NationsBank, and NationsBank begat Bank of America, with many side deals along the way.

But I bet they won't hear that this Banktown stuff is rather new. For a now barely mentioned century or so, Charlotte was a textile town, with company-owned mill villages and impoverished and uneducated mill workers.

• That despite Michelle Obama's gracious praise, and despite North Carolina's sitting at the acme of all barbecue cultures in the nation (take THAT, Texas!), Charlotte does not boast truly excellent barbecue joints – the kind of old cinder-block building with stacks of hickory wood and smoke coming out the back where you can get the most flavorful, juiciest, crispy-edged barbecue. For that you have to drive to Lexington (if you like Lexington style) or Shelby (if you like Western style) or east of Raleigh (if you like Eastern style). Best 'cue I've had in Charlotte recently was at the Sharon United Methodist Church Boy Scout troop's annual January barbecue.

Here's as good a description as I've seen of Charlotte, courtesy of a commenter on the Huffington Post article about Charlotte being chosen for the convention [I've added some punctuation corrections]:

"Good luck here in Charlotte (my hometown), Mr. President. It's a pleasure to have you coming to the Queen City. Strange things happen in the Carolinas, though. Nothing or no one here is ever what they seem to be. See that farmer over there in the overalls? He's a billionair­e. See the banker-looking guy with the tassles on his shoes? He's bankrupt – again. See all of those folks out front there in the audience smiling? Half of them are from S.C."

And this tidbit: My Google search to see what the BBC was saying about Charlotte found the website of the Bible Believers Chapel on Lancaster Highway in south Charlotte. No, I am not making that up.

Finally, here's a skyline photo roundup of dated skyline shots:

• The Washington Post online article shows the Time Warner Cable Arena (site of the actual convention), which opened in 2005, STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION!

Politico.com's piece shows an artsy, night-time shot with a construction crane that I'm pretty sure isn't there any more.

• And while looking for Huffington Post coverage, I stumbled on this not-so-cheery story of the "13 surprising cities where foreclosures are soaring," with Charlotte listed at No. 4. It, too, has the arena-under-construction photo. Geez.


Anonymous said...

I guess Mary has never been to The Pit in downtown Raleigh. I have eaten BBQ all over this state and The Pit is the best I have had.

Anonymous said...

I bet if the GOP was holding their convention in Charlotte you would not have any friends calling saying they planned to attend. Just sayin....

Mary Newsom said...

Dear Anonynmous 5:17 PM:
The friends were journalists. One will attend the political conventions regardless of party. The other is an N.C. journalist hoping to attend any national political convention being held in Charlotte.

Anonymous said...

I agree, the skyline photos are pathetic! All they would even have to do is go to Wikipedia, which has an open-source photo that is much more recent.

Anonymous said...

"you'll rarely see a local elected or business official cutting the rug or belting a show tune after too many beers."

Visit Lazyday.com more often. Plenty of evidence there!!

JAT said...

"global visitors..."

Bless your heart.

Anonymous said...

Agree with Anonymous above...Raleigh has some darn fine BBQ restaurants, including The Pit.

Anonymous said...

The best barbecue in our state is in the Kinston area. They have a place that catered both the Democratic AND the Republican national conventions in the same year.You can read letters on the wall from people like Katie Couric who are fans.The 'cue is the vinegary-tasting kind,and very tasty.

Anonymous said...

BBQ King has fabulous BBQ, and don't forget to order some BBQ chicken, it's even better!!! AND it's here in Charlotte.

Anonymous said...

You could also tell them that hard work and capitalism brought our indoor plumbing. I shudder to think about what our toilets would look like if FDR had signed an act to mandate everyone buy indoor plumbing.

Anonymous said...

It's not the photos of the skyline that are pathetic. It's the skyline itself. A little blip of a city. A wannabe.Never will be world class. The DEms will soon learn Charlotte can't handle it. First someone needs to clean up the crime. Maybe this will give them incentive.

Anonymous said...

Headline should say "Hey BBC" or Hey Brits -- not Hey Dems. Who are they to talk anyway?

Anonymous said...

Ah, here we go. The usual over-the-top civic boosterism that turns Charlotte into a babbling moron whenever she gets another feather in her cap. A few hours in and I'm already sick of hearing about it. And I like the Dems.

Anonymous said...

Carolina is Michele Robinson Obamas home roots since she was descended from slaves on a large South Carolina rice plantation in Georgetown 35 miles below Myrtle Beach.


Ironically Obamas materal side, the Dunhams, were slave owners in Kentucky and some even suggest could have had a blood connection to owning his wifes ancestors as slaves.


Anonymous said...

Well, from the census 2000 records there was 959 housing units in Charlotte that lacked complete plumbing facilities. Hopefully by now that number has dropped.

Anonymous said...

We may have indoor plumbing but there's still a lot of people with "outhouse" attitudes around.

Jonathan Webber said...

Re: skyline shots

I saw those, as well and had to shake my head. I take fresh photos of Charlotte almost daily, some of which are featured on the Charlotte in 2012 web site. Had they come to me, I would have been happy to supply current photos.

That Huffington Post article about forclosure rates was a slanted piece of reporting that misled a lot of people in addition to the old Charlotte photo.

Anonymous said...

Though I'm not a Democrat, I am a Charlotte native who would like to be a liaison for the Convention. I would like to show them the REAL Charlotte, where I grew up, way before the illegals, gangs and people with funny accents got here. Where Independence used to be a four-lane narrow boulevard instead of a freeway. Where the east side of town was a very nice and decent place to live. Where the majority of people here were FROM here (this is what I miss the most). As for economic impact, all these millions of dollars that will supposedly help our economy will never trickle down to me.

Jonathan Webber said...

"Where the east side of town was a very nice and decent place to live."

I live in Windsor Park, and I find my neighbors to be very nice and decent. Many have lived here since their homes were built in the 1950s, and many others, like myself, are relative newcomers.

I am sorry that you have lost something dear to you in the "Old Charlotte", but many of us find the New Charlotte to be a fine place to live and raise children.

I do think that designing tours and educational programs about Charlotte's history would be valuable, and some smart entrepreneur will probably do just that, but I hope without your gloomy outlook.

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