Archive for the ‘North Carolina’ Category

North Carolina repeals HB2, nobody happy

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

Democratic governor Cooper has signed a law repealing HB2, and also rolling back the Charlotte ordinance that triggered the passage of HB2.

Recognizing he has to give Republican legislators what they want, the repeal goes further than what Democrats could have accepted in December. Cities will be blocked from doing what Charlotte tried until at least 2020.

I predict the NCAA will still vote to block post season touranment events in North Carolina because the repeal didn’t go far enough. Maybe it is time for the SEC to withdraw from the NCAA.

Parrot U

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

While out and about, I stumbled on this store called Parrot U. The store is pretty much what you would think it is – it is a store that teaches parrots.

So when I walked up to the window, a set of beady eyes looked back at me. I seem to have a parrot that would love to be adopted.

Does anyone have experience with owning a parrot? I like the idea that I don’t have to go outside to walk the parrot and pick up his or her poop.

Another fatal police shooting in Charlotte

Sunday, March 5th, 2017

Hispanic drug gang member fires a bullet into an SUV driven by another Hispanic male, sideswipers the SUV, gets out of his car with a handgun, not knowing the driver of the SUV following him is an undercover police officer.

Josue Diaz is deceased.

This incident happened February 21st and got no national coverage and I just noticed it today on the above fringe webbsite.

The Charlotte City Council has been discussing whether Charlotte should be a sanctuary city. I wonder if the Visitor and Convention bureau has an opinion. Mexican drug dealers undoubtedly like spending money here.


Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

Jerseydevil posted a topic that triggered a memory that may or may not be interesting. Apparently Steve Deace created the hypothetical of whether a black caterer could be forced to serve a convention of white supremacists.

So there is so much about my mom that I probably never knew. Her life before she married my father was largely kept private. My parents spent their honeymoon in Key West – they rode the Greyhound Bus from Pittsburgh and the half way point was Statesville North Carolina. They stayed overnight in a hotel across the street from the bus station and my father (who was blind) had memories of the bus station having birds in the waiting room. When he decided it was time to leave Pittsburgh behind, Statesville was on the top of the list of candidates. We had no relatives there, no connections and pretty naive about the culture. I loved the place and adapted. My parents, not so much.

So after we had lived there about eight years and I was living in Charlotte, my parents got involved in the senior center that was operated by the City of Statesville. My parents decided they wanted to be the President of the Senior Citizens club and were elected as co-president. The local daily Newspaper was remarkably active for a such a small town and would cover the happenings of the club.

So as it turns out, there were actually two senior clubs in town – one black and one white (this is in the late 1970s). I don’t know if my mother was a social crusader or just naive, but she proposed that the two clubs should have a joint meeting and get to know each other. They agreed on a pot luck lunch with people bringing in food to share. The guy who ran the recreation department liked the idea. Maybe he was the one who suggested it.

So the day comes and people show up, but there is a problem. The old white women don’t trust the black people – they suspect a conspiracy that the black people have arranged to poison them, so the women are carefully watching who brought what and comparing notes so they don’t accidentally eat food cooked by a black person. Keep,in mind, many of them probably had black women as housekeepers as a child. Maybe that is the source of their fear.

There was no government rule in place creating segregated senior clubs. It’s just the way things were and everyone was comfortable with the arrangement. Pretty much the same was true of the churches. It was eye opening for me to listen on the radio to the services of the black church in town. I struggled with trying to understand how the Christians around me planned to deal with eternal life in heaven with their souls living together with the people they hated in life.

A walk in the park

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

At the crack of dawn (7 AM), I hopped in my car to see what a real commute would be like if someone in Uptown was foolish enough to hire me to patch COBOL programs. Admittedly, it is the week before Labor Day, so traffic might be on the light side. The lack of road capacity is somewhat offset by the courteousness of the drivers. If you drive like you’re in Boston or New Jersey, you eventually learn to relax. Everything is slower in the South. If you’re a type A person popping Alex Jones energy pills to stay awake for 72 hours straight, this place is not for you.

My destination was Romare Bearden Park.


I made the trip without using a map, didn’t make any wrong turns and didn’t get lost in Downtown, err…Uptown. I arrived about 7:45 and those parking spots were completely empty. My instincts were there must be something I was missing, but I couldn’t see anything. I did manage to barrel right through a red light I didn’t see, partly because it was illogical to have a light there.

There are two relatively new 20+ story apartment buildings built on what had been the headquarters of Duke Power when I worked there in the 1970s. They are relatively similar, asking $1400 a month for a one bedroom apartment. Part of the purpose of the trip was people watching to see who lives and walks around the area. There are two more buildings under construction around the edge of Central errrr… Bearden Park.

So I pulled out my iDevices and proceeded to Poké. I fed $2 in quarters into the meter to give me 1 hour and 59 minutes until the parking enforcement would be hovering to give me a ticket. These smart meters take credit cards – this ain’t Mayberry RFD, and I know from New Haven CT, they literally send messages to indicate the time a specific meter will be running out. I think the ticket is $25

So the first thing that was obvious is a LOT of people in this building have dogs. My cursory observation is most were professional women or girlfriends of athletes (the baseball and football stadiums are very close) walking briskly with tiny foo-foo dogs – as a substitute for having a relationship with a man and having children 😉 No Surprise – this is not a place to raise kids. It’s the area where you get blitzed on wine every night and can’t figure out why your life sucks. Too judgemental? Oh well.

So once I was satisfied my car was legally parked and there were no obvious hazards, I ventured across the street, tempting a jaywalking citation. I started walking around a bit and bumped into 4 people sitting in a group – 3 men and one woman. I chatted them up a bit and asked if it was OK if I sat with them. We talked about NASCAR, Charlotte, places to eat, Pokémon, the park, etc…

At some point, they volunteered “you know we’re alcoholics, right?”… To which I said “I know”, and that I was on the street selling newspapers at 10 years old, so I knew they were not a threat. I would rather hang out with them than the woman staring into space walking her pedigree dog. The alcoholic  woman particularly needed a beer (it’s now about 8:30 AM). I declined their requests for money, which were totally expected. They didn’t get aggressive, and I excused myself. The parking meter was ticking down.  They did warn me the park is a no smoking zone.  I rolled my eyes. 🙄  How far North Carolina has “progressed”.



Blue Cross/Shield sponsors a crazy expensive bicycle sharing program for dubious social benefit.

For $8, you can get a day pass. If you hold onto a bike for more than 30 minutes, the meter starts running more, up to $24 a day. Drop off locations are scattered around, up to maybe two miles away from the central core. If the bicycle turns up missing, you owe $1,200. If you buy an annual membership for $85, they give you a free helmet. If you’re 18+, it is your decision whether to ride with or without a helmet.

I circled around to the kiosk, not sure what I would find. What I found was Glyndis. She had a broom and picker upper thingy to pick up trash, but there was nothing to pick up, except maybe dog poop. The alcoholics said that dogs are not supposed to use the park as a bathroom. She seemed bored and approachable, so I said Hello. That’s what people do. I immediately connected with her. We started talking about the neighborhood and when I mentioned I had worked at Duke Power, she told me she had worked in that building as a security guard in the 1980s.

We started chatting about why I was there, and how I was looking for a safe place to walk and build up my strength (I had my cane with me). After a while, I indicated I needed to sit down and she walked with me to a seat. We started comparing notes about our walking problems – she is 62 and had been in the military and one of her knees has a brace and is a problem. She gave me advice about canes and encouragement to get more active. Her mother is in her 90s and still going strong. When it was time to stand up, I struggled a little and she grabbed me to help me up. She wasn’t doing this because it was her job or someone expected it of her. I can’t tell you how good that made me feel. I wonder if she is married? 😗

THIS is exactly why I want to be in Charlotte. We had immediate recognition of common memories and experiences. She immediately caught on that I wasn’t a New Yorker who avoids eye contact and expects her to pick up dog poop.

By 10 AM, the spaces were starting to fill up, mostly construction workers from the two buildings under construction, and a city employee who probably works for the building inspection department. The parade of doggy poopers did not let up.


Sunday, August 28th, 2016

“Up”town Charlotte is the mother lode of pokéness


Each blue dot is a pokéstop where you pick up supplies, each red dot is a Pokégym where the three factions battle for “control” of the gym for somewhat dubious benefits.  It helps to know that downtown was built aligned to the Southern RR that runs from Atlanta to Richmond, which is why “up”town is not a grid that aligns north and south.  It also predates the USGS surveys done in the 1890s that split the country into one mile squares called sections.

The problem is you can’t play Pokémon and drive.  Finding on street parking during the week is a little hard.  It’s too warm in the afternoons for an old guy with a cane to walk around.  So on Sunday morning, few people will be in uptown, unless the transgender teacher union is having a convention.  So it should be easier to pull into parking spots – no need to feed parking meters on weekends.  Even during the week, they are $1 an hour, reasonable by Chicago standards.

So that was basically the case – more traffic than I expected, but a lot less than weekdays.  But there was one little piece of uptown where parking spaces were in high demand – Romare Bearden Park, across the street from the baseball stadium, and surrounded by new high rise buildings under construction.


It didn’t take long to figure out this park is the epicenter of pokésociety.  It turns out there have been gatherings here of 1,000 people playing Pokémon.  There are 7 pokéstops inside the park and several dozen within a couple blocks.

You might be wondering who Romare Bearden is/was.  He was a native of Charlotte who went on to fame in New York City creating works of art picturing black life in America.   Many uptown residents want to believe they are living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, but at cut rate prices.  This park is Harlem.  Bearden was born in Charlotte,,but had no real roots here.  The park exists to reassure Northern liberals that they are not part of the South, but rather embrace the enlightened diverse New South – as long as the black people don’t move into their building.

Returning home to CHURCHs

Saturday, August 20th, 2016


Church’s Chicken

Wilkinson Boulevard used to be the old road to the airport – and everything that meant – stripper bars, rent by the hour prostitution motels, pawn shops, used tire stores. For the first few weeks until I got my first paycheck (I was that broke after the college drained me), I lived in a former Howard Johnson’s motel that had been turned into senior housing, kind of. I was told it was infamous as the place the Outlaw Motorcycle Gang used to hang out. Have I painted enough of a picture?

Church’s chicken has a long and glorious history. Haiti has mentioned it once or twice. It was started by black folks for black folks. Probably around 1979, I ate at the Church’s chicken on Wilkinson Boulevarf a few times. Getting back there has been on my Charlotte bucket list.

This area of Charlotte is definitely “the wrong side of the tracks”. A White person going in is going to create a murmur. Either I’m lost or I’m an undercover policeman. I’m obviously not the latter.

So the last time I was here was memorable enough to remember the details 36 years later. There was something wrong with the order – like I ordered dark meat and got a wing. When I went to the counter, I was greeted with “whatsdamattawidyou?”. Now that’s customer service!

I figure enough time has passed to give it another chance. I did a double clutch in the parking lot – there was a Hispanic looking guy hanging out of a pickup truck door talking on his cell phone. I’ve learned not to second guess my instincts, especially when carrying an iPad. I ditched the iPad and went in.

On the way, I said Hi to a friendly rotund black man heading to his car. Up on the curb was a very old black man who wanted to engage me in conversation. That’s why I was here. If you’ve been around, he’s a very familiar type of person. He rides a bicycle and at least in his 80s with leathery wrinkled very dark skin. My guess is he probably gets by collecting aluminum cans (NC has no bottle deposit law). As close as I could count, he had one tooth. He was curious how old I was, so I asked him how old I look – his answer was “80”. I said that’s pretty close and how old I feel at times. He suggested I need to get out more. He’s absolutely right.

My opinion of Church’s didn’t improve much. The cashier made an obvious boneheaded mistake. I don’t think there was any malice, just inexperience. I ordered a Big Tex chicken sandwich, fries and Mac & Cheese. Only after they made the sandwich and scooped out the Mac & Cheese did she realize there were no fries cooked. It wasn’t a case of someone else bought them. She just hadn’t looked. The sandwich was pretty bad – I threw about half of it away. “Texas toast” is supposed to have Butter or at least margarine. Fries came complete with four pieces of okra. Ask your nanny if you don’t know what okra is. Mac & Cheese was Okay.

I was cured of eating fried chicken by working one summer at KFC where we could eat what we wanted for free.

Freemasonry and the civil war

Sunday, August 14th, 2016

One of the things that puzzled me upon moving to the South in 1970 was the presence of a Masonic lodge right next door to city hall in Statesville, NC. Given the religious nature of the South, it seemed anachronistic, especially the imposing building (since moved a few blocks away). Statesville at the time had a population of about 20,000 people.

From time to time, the local newspaper would mention the local Demolay chapter. As near as I could make it out as a teenager, Demolay seems to be a recruiting arm of Freemasonry, to filter out potential candidates for joining the Masonic lodge as adults.

Looking around Cramerton NC, which is a much smaller town, I couldn’t help but notice there is a Masonic lodge right across the street from the fire department and a block from city hall.


One thing Statesville and Cramerton share is they are located on important railroad lines. Cramerton was a textile mill “company town” located on the Catawba River where it was crossed by the Southern Railroad. These days, it is a suburban commuter enclave filling up with subdivisions oblivious to the history of the town, just enjoying the pubs with their great selection of craft beers.

That got me wondering if Freemasons are here because they played a role in Reconstruction after the Civil War. Here is an interesting article, including the little detail that Andrew Johnson, who became President after Lincoln was assisinated, was a Freemason.

Freemasonry during Reconstruction

Zack’s Hamburgers

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

It’s 1975 all over again.

While Pokémoning Sunday, I bumped into Zach’s Hamburgers at South Boulevard and Scaleybark Road

Like 90% of the non-national restaurants in Charlotte, the 2nd most Bibled city in America, the place was closed on the Day of rest. I looked at the menu though, and it was about 80% identical to the place I worked at when I turned 16 in 1971

Zack’s menu.

I made it there today just at high noon. The building looks like it had been a Burger Chef (remember those?) or maybe a very old McDonald’s or Hardees – a building within a building, with the seating area added on later.


If you’re an Obama lovin’ vegan from Seattle, you ain’t coming here and be around the “little people” who keep America working. No avacado salad here, sorry. They even had the same Taylor shake machine from the 1970s. All in all, it lived up to my expectations. Next time I would avoid the noon rush, though. Here was my 8 oz hamburger steak plate


Original Bell’s sign


A $billion thanks from Charlotte

Sunday, July 31st, 2016

The former Mayor of Charlotte Anthony Foxx (no relation to Vicente Fox or Redd Foxx) is currently the Secretary of the Department of Transportation. Under his careful stewardship, a year ago the Gold Line Streetcar was brought to life.

The more ambitious project was creating an North / East 9 mile extension to the Lynx Light Rail system. Map The estimated cost is $1.2 billion. Groundbreaking was held in July 2013 and the line will be operating before the end of the Obama administration.

The route is very dismal – it runs along a railroad right of way through industrial neighborhoods that lack basic infrastructure for residential neighborhoods (supermarkets, schools, doctors, parks, etc). The hope is that the LRV will stimulate development to transform dangerous neighborhoods built on old toxic waste dumps into millenial heaven.

The line then runs in a median in the middle of North Tryon Street – there are overpasses over the biggest cross streets and grade crossings at a few minor streets.


The track is in – up until about the final mile, the poles to hold the catenary are in place, ready to be strung, the tunnel to go under Tryon Street is close to completion. Traffic signals are in place (currently dark). The ultimate destination is a station at the University of North Carolina – Charlotte (UNCC), so that Bernie’s free college students can put on their transgender presentation, hop on the LRV and go to uptown to play Pokémon and eat at the vegetarian restaurants. Money well spent!