Struttin' with my gold-tipped cane into this new week.
Here are nine things to know from this award-winning newsletter. Today, we tackle urinal troughs, Italian counts, and door stops.
Last Thursday, I wrote a long manifesto declaring that UNC and NC State should leave their large and empty home arenas to go play basketball in their historic and empty retro arenas: Carmichael Auditorium and Reynolds Coliseum. That bubble popped pretty quickly. UNC succinctly explained to me why they won’t, and NC State announced a deal to stay at PNC Arena in Raleigh just a few hours after my newsletter came out. On top of that, Gerry Cohen, a man who has literally done everything ever in North Carolina, said that the best thing he experienced at Carmichael had nothing to do with the Tar Heels:
I used that same newsletter to drag the Cleveland Browns for, among other things, once playing in a crumbling icebox of a stadium that had urinal troughs in the men’s bathrooms. Well, a number of you spoke up to tell me that I missed an obvious Chapel Hill connection:
It’s true! They’re not porcelain New Deal-era troughs like in Cleveland, but rather long metal installations that go all the way down to the floor. That’s right, the Dean Dome has URINE-WALLS.
I’ve been to the Smith Center at least twice and never noticed this (I didn’t have to use the bathroom?). Also, this is one of those things that apparently everybody knows, but is not explicitly part of Tar Heel basketball canon. Every true fan eventually discovers this on his own. The men, anyway.
It’s such a secret that a search for “Smith Center urinal troughs” only returns three relevant results. Two of them are blogs written in 2016. Why then? Because, ugh, that’s back when we were all talking about House Bill 2. If you don’t remember it, it was a legislature vs. cities thing. Places like Durham and Charlotte were passing non-discrimination ordinances. The GOP-led General Assembly countered with an election year base-rallying law regulating who could use which bathrooms. It was all a very stupid and costly exercise that was repealed in 2017, but it also became a writing prompt for two North Carolina bloggers, one of whom said, um, this:
“Looking to either side” is NEVER suggested in any Men’s Room. Of course all that might change if/when HB2 is overturned. Guys with high-pressure urethras CAN be a problem with “splashing”. It’s best to wear old shoes…. Countless Boys and their Dads have “bonded” as they “do their guy thing” side by side @ The Dean Dome Pee Wall.
That paragraph is only digestible if you read it aloud in Larry King’s voice.
Another blog I found — also from 2016, also trying to connect the troughs to HB2 — is much more legible. However, I stopped reading after I hit a sentence that began “For readers without penises.” The only straight news story I could find about the troughs was from WRAL, which pleads with UNC to remove them during the next Smith Center renovation.
I’m told the troughs also exist at the legendary Chapel Hill bar He’s Not Here. Folks, a place with astonishingly large receptacles for beer needs to have astonishingly large receptacles for … that beer.
Charlotte’s trying to remove a bunch of racist street names. Of note, Jefferson Davis Street in Charlotte appears as “Jeff Davis Street” on signs, as if someone was trying to soften the blow by saying, C’mon, his name’s Jeff, how bad could that guy be? Anyhow, here are some people who could have streets named for them instead:Some suggested local names by the commission to be considered: Dr. Reginald Hawkins Ishmael Titus Harry Golden Count Vincent de Rivafinoli Julius Chambers King Hagler Kelly Alexander Senior Annie Alexander Elizabeth “Libby” Randolph Elizabeth “Liz” Hair Gladys Tillett
All are worthy, although Ishmael Titus sounds (and was) particularly badass. But! Count Chevalier Vincent de Rivafinoli is up there too. Who’s he? Just some guy who showed up in Charlotte 190 years ago claiming to be an Italian lord who served under Napoleon. The miners he brought with him immediately started pulling gold out of the ground. Then, after Rivafinoli made an obscene amount of money, he just vanished. But my favorite detail about him, according to Charlotte magazine, was that this guy set aside a chunk of time every day JUST TO STRUT:
Each morning, he leaves the house in his fine clothes carrying a gold-tipped cane. He walks west to oversee his mines, followed each step by a man named Paulidon Brickett, his servant, butler, and barber.
NAME EVERY STREET FOR THIS MAN.
The U.S. House voted to legalize pot last week. It was a day that the guy who played bootleg Dave Matthews Band cassette tapes for 6 hours a day EVERY DAY at maximum volume in the dorm room next to mine said would never come.
Over the last five years, I’ve had two people eventually tell me, unprompted, about their serious preparations for a day when marijuana would be legal. One guy, who was in his 90s, confided in me that he was putting a good amount of money into cannabis futures. This was before hemp and CBD had their moments. I knew that this was not the sort of man who was going down to the corner to fill up his one-hitter, so I figured he’d discovered a legitimate investment vehicle for weed. The other dude was a guy who gave me a very long interview (3 hours!) in his truck, and told me of his plan to corner the market on refrigerated warehouses in western North Carolina. He’d already started buying them up. That way, when every day became 4/20 for Asheville, anyone who wanted to run a distribution network would have to deal with him. Well, it looks like their bets have finally pai— oh the Senate won’t pass it.
Sure. Sure. Sure. (from the Wilmington Star-News)
On Friday, I asked folks on Twitter to share their best North Carolina road trip disasters. I got two responses:I’ll just say it involved the Ramp Festival, VERY DRUNK Legionaires, a loudly malfunctioning car alarm system that had to be disabled by pulling out a fuse to stop the horn that also killed my rear taillights, and a scary drive down from the mountains in the dusk.
Kathy Purvis is one hell of a writer (Read her extremely well done appraisal of Charlotte restaurateur Jim Noble in the most recent Charlotte magazine). Whenever she calls you in close for personal story time, listen up. I don’t know much more about this particular episode, other than a.) it came during her time as food writer at the Charlotte Observer, and b.) it involves ramps, a wild onion that will absolutely murder your senses. Being in an enclosed space with anyone who has just eaten them will probably be an experience that you will remember for the rest of your life.Driving from the mountains to coast, SC route looked faster. Hit a snowstorm and drove 30 mph on for hours on 26, got pulled over twice by some bored patrolmen, and stuck on the shoulder once because of it. Lesson? Stay in NC.
Let’s simplify this by looking at three ways you can make it from Asheville to Wilmington.
The most logical way to go is the blue route above: I-40 to Hickory, down 321 to Gastonia, and then drive on Highway 74 all the way to the coast. There is a good alternative: South on I-26, then east through Shelby. This makes sense if you’re a fan of Bridges barbecue in Shelby (either one). The third route, at bottom, is for deranged people only. Have you ever taken the third of the three route options Google Maps gives you? Ever? It’s only for masochists who have given up on a normal life.
First off, this route assumes that you voluntarily want to go to Columbia. Second, it takes you through the northeast portion of South Carolina, a region in which the entire economy is dependent on speed traps. And third, if a state ever wanted to devise a way to create snowstorms just to punish outsiders, it would be South Carolina. If you ever go this way, expect to spend a long time riding out some sort of natural disaster in a Hardee’s.
This newsletter has been around for three weeks now, which is apparently long enough for it TO WIN AN AWARD. I am not joking about this. The fine folks at Queen City Nerve named it their best new newsletter of 2020. Like, for the whole year! This is a bit like Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, but yes, I’ll take it.
(My friend, the photojournalist Logan Cyrus, is also name-dropped in that Nerve story, and he also has a new newsletter. In the latest one, he recounts the story behind his excellent photographs of the confrontations between police and protestors in Alamance County.)
Anyhow, if you live in Charlotte, subscribe to the Queen City Nerve. If you’re not already aware, here’s their origin story: The folks who run it were working at Creative Loafing in Charlotte when, one day, that paper’s owner fired everyone and declared that he couldn’t make money printing an alt-weekly anymore. A note: If you’re going to blindside your entire staff, change your social media passwords first.
So Ryan Pitkin and Justin LaFrancois and others went out and started printing an alt-weekly themselves. They’re still going. They also did something simple and extraordinary during the Black Lives Matter protests in Charlotte, which was to live stream as much as they could, as often as they could. Along the way, they documented and exposed harsh treatment from police.
Bonus: Talking about Ryan gives me an excuse to talk about my favorite Charlotte news story ever, which is the one where he interviewed the guy who stole the Homer the mascot costume from the Charlotte Knights. Every word in that story is precious, although this is my favorite part:
I left Hooters and there was a big line at Tilt next door. I just said, "Yo man, can I go in?" The guy said, "No," and I was like, "Dude, You're not gonna let Homer the fuckin' mascot into your bar right now?" Then he said I could go in. There was nobody on the dance floor. I come sliding in and start getting it. I was doing all the moves you always wanted to try but are too embarrassed to.
So, what’s Creative Loafing up to these days?ah yes, creative loafing charlotte has now completed its long awaited pivot to... to... /checks notes basic explanations of horse racing clclt.com/charlotte/some…
I know that’s an old tweet, but I wanted to be fair, so I went to see what news articles are up on their site today. Among them, a story titled “Guide to Fitting Door Stops.” Here is how it begins:
If you want to prevent getting scuffed, scratched, or knocked on walls, then you should consider using door stops.
Please, tell me more.
We will now look at how you can find, select, and properly fit door stops inside of your home.
LET’S DO THIS.
After you've decided on the best type of door stops to use, you can easily purchase them at any local hardware or even online.
Perhaps, being a trusted news source, you could link me to merchants who sell locally-sourced artisan door stops. That way, when I walk into Blackhawk Hardware and start telling those fine folks about the issues I’m having with wall-door relations, they will say “ah yes, I see that Creative Loafing sent you.”
If the doorstop is not placed at the edge of the door and more inwards, then it can potentially punch a hole into your door, especially if it is hollow.
WHOA WHOA WHOA, are you telling me that installing a door stop improperly might solve my wall problems but then lead to a whole new slate of door problems? Wait a minute, is this article just an naked SEO play? Who wrote this story? What wisened door stop expert deemed it wise to pull back the curtain on the mystical world of practical home furnishings to instill false confidence in us laypeople?
That’s the last time I trust you, Mr. Contributor, sir. From now on, I’m only going to read stories from my favorite Creative Loafing writer, Press Release.
h/t The Trolley Walk for Rivafinoli awareness.
I, Jeremy Markovich, am a journalist, writer, and producer based outside of Greensboro, North Carolina. If you liked this, you might like Away Message, my podcast about North Carolina’s hard-to-find people, places, and things. Season 4 was all about the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.
Author avatar by Rich Barrett.
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