Thursday, October 26, 2006

Out and About

Events over the last two days represent both new Charlotte and old Charlotte:

Wednesday night brought me to the Ballantyne Village Theatre to see Jonathan Taplin, a film producer who worked on some early Martin Scorsese films, receive an award and screen his film “The Last Waltz.” (I love this theater for its unique “spaceship” look, the fact that it supports independent film and because it’s in a thriving area that I remember as a cow pasture not so very long ago).

Taplin was tapped for the “Power of Image” award by the Light Factory, the museum of photography and film based in uptown Charlotte’s Spirit Square. I got a chance to ask him during the reception what he thinks of Charlotte, and he said he’s impressed by our up-and-coming arts scene. But he said he hopes we don’t grow and change so much we lose what makes us special and different from other cities.

During the Q&A after “Waltz,” a 1978 documentary about The Band’s farewell tour featuring performances by Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison and others, an audience member asked why contemporary popular culture doesn’t seem to be producing anyone as timeless as the musicians featured in the film. Taplin’s take: Culture runs in cycles. Just one year before the Beatles hit, the biggest musical acts were Fabian and other 60s versions of prefab boy bands.

Artificial, “plastic” culture can’t last forever, he said. Here’s hoping he’s right.

Earlier today, of course, I had to stop by the famed Mallard Creek Barbecue, a 77-year-old tradition in northeast Mecklenburg. On the way I realized I’d forgotten to warn newcomers about how atrocious the traffic is getting there. Yes, recent growth in the area has exacerbated the situation, but it’s always been bad.

Once there, however, I loved the atmosphere and the old-fashioned pre-election politicking. Where else can you meet county commissioners, members of Congress, judges and soil and water conservation board candidates? I shook hands with at least 29 candidates or their representatives, including Congresswoman Sue Myrick and Mecklenburg Sheriff Jim Pendergraph.

(Most bizarre moment: Democrat Larry Kissell, challenging incumbent Robin Hayes in the 8th District Congressional race, handed me a flyer that endorsed a Cumberland County sheriff candidate alongside Kissell. When I asked why he’d do that so far away from Cumberland County, he had to turn and ask a campaign staffer, who told him “That’s what we had in the car.”)

Oh, and the barbecue and Brunswick stew were pretty good too.

Newcomer Bethany Boyd told me she enjoyed her first-time experience at the event. Boyd, 22, moved to Charlotte from Raleigh three months ago.

“With all the political signs lining the way, there was more color on the ground than there was on the trees!” she e-mailed.

“It was a great, cheery atmosphere. Everyone was smiling and the workers were happy to help wherever they could. I'm very glad that I went!” she wrote.

What events have you been to lately that are unique to this area? Let me know your impressions.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Charlotte sucks.

3:53 PM  

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