Wednesday, April 18, 2007

In defense of Charlotte

Lots of people out there are quick to defend Charlotte whenever someone disparages it.

That happened last weekend when I published excerpts from an anti-Charlotte e-mail I’d received from a reader, Jim Domnick. His comments were representative of others that were either e-mailed or posted to this blog earlier. (He’s no longer answering e-mails from me and never provided a phone number, by the way).

Here’s a sampling of responses:

"If things are so awful here, why don’t all of these gripers go back home? I will buy them the gas to do it. Oh, that's right, they can't get jobs back home and the ground is still covered in snow there. Belly up to the bar, boys, and enjoy what you have here. Don't like it? Fix it with your time and talent, not your mouth." –Jeannie

"Seriously? There's nothing to do here? What is it that you want to do? Sports - We have professional, semi-professional, collegiate and amateur. Outdoors - We have the U.S. National Whitewater Center, lakes, parks, fishing, hiking, biking, hunting, nearby mountains and beaches. Cultural - We have museums, galleries, theatre, opera, dance and live music venues. Dining - We have restaurants for every taste and pocketbook. We also have special-interest clubs, service organizations, churches, the YMCA & YWCA, colleges (offering classes and cultural events), etc." --Elizabeth Williams

"Charlotte's citizens are some of the most generous and caring people I know of. There will always be people who love wealth and the wealthy, but they are the exception. From what I've seen, the wealthy here in Charlotte give abundantly to the community. As for racism, it exists everywhere in the world and I don't believe Charlotte is any worse than other places." --Marilyn Nasekos

"Why are we experiencing the population expansion in the Charlotte metro area if all these new folks are bored?" –Anonymous

"It seems to me that there is plenty to do. A good question for that particular reader who wrote those comments would be ‘What things to do (activities/events) would you like to see Charlotte offer that it doesn't already have?’" Karen Eckert

"I guess there is something wrong with me! I love it here!" Marion Loughran

"Sometimes when you move to a new city, it takes a little work to find the things you are used to doing." Linda Allen

"I know Charlotte and other Southern cities have a ways to go before they will be perfect for you Mr. Domnick, but have you checked the numbers of people of different races, religions, backgrounds, age groups, and cultures that are living here? People that retire here? People that relocate here for a better life?? How can a city that diversified not be on the right path to decrease racism and intolerance?" Anonymous

And, I heard from one writer with a lengthy list of reasons why she agrees with Mr. Domnick and wants to move away from Charlotte: "This place is terribly short on loving kindness and plays an interesting ‘us versus them’ insider/outsider game," she wrote.

In my experience, this city certainly could stand to improve, but clearly its defenders outnumber its detractors.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Charlotte's an easy place to live. On the reasonable side for housing. Decent enough as far as theater goes. That's why I stay. Sure there are a bunch of other places I would much rather live but the cost of living there is so much that I wouldn't be able to enjoy all the things they have to offer.
Staying in Charlotte I can enjoy everything they have to offer.
It's really good here. But it could be GREAT.
We could really use more big name music acts to come here though. Are they not coming because we don't sell out shows or do our venues charge too much to the entertainers for their use ?
We also need smaller music venues uptown. Alley Cat rock club is underway on College but we could use a really good blues club in the uptown. Double Door is just a total dive.
Another thing we are in desperate need of is a trendy shopping area. NoDa, Plaza/Central or SouthEnd would be ideal for such a thing. As would the planned retail area along Brevard St. in uptown. Fill it with retail and cafe's and the people will support it. But make it unique stores. Not your run of the mill GAP and typical mall fare.
Did anyone say MARKET ? A REAL one ! Uptown, big, seafood, baked goods, fruit, veggies, etc. Like Seattle's just on a smaller scale. With all the condos uptown ready to open we can definitely support this venture. Wake up Center City Partners. Get off your conservative butts and get some real stuff in this town.
Lastly, ADVERTISE IT ! Get it out there. So many times I find out about things a few days after they happen. Seems the only way to find out what to do in Charlotte is to go in search of it. Put it on the radio, t.v., tack it to the telephone pole. Just get it out there.

4:14 PM  
Blogger Mr. Tee said...

Well said.

8:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great comment poster #1. The Double Door is a dive, but it's an awesome dive. Show some love there.

As for the last part of the post, we used to post fliers on the telephone poles, but then some pesky developers of yuppie condos said they were an eyesore and the city began clamping down on that type of stuff. True hipness gets squashed around here too opften, but soon enough, maybe anough people will overcome it. One can only hope.

10:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You cannot deny that there are intolerance issues here that are much more noticeable here than other cities of similiar size. A lot of that has to do with being in the bible belt. Pretty ironic huh? You think those people would believe in tolerance and acceptance, but instead do the opposite. Organized religion is scary and abused.

11:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ohhhhhhhhh, don't even get me started on religion. I forgot to include that in my first post.
That is ranking close to the #1 problem with Charlotte for sure. Too much religion and too many churches. Too many that but their noses into everyones business that is.
Tax exempt status, right ? Well then they need to keep on being a "charity" and clamp their fat traps shut on everything else. Otherwise you go from being a charity to being a political outlet. It leads to all sorts of abuse. You wanna talk ? Then pay your taxes like the rest of us and then you can open your mouth all you want. If not, stay a charity and shut up.
Double Door: It occasionally has good acts come through but it really is a dive. I am a non smoker and I cannot stomach it for more than 45 minutes.
No ventilation whatsoever.
The city really wont allow signs on telephone poles ?
Unreal ! Where's the charm ? The hipness ?
I don't like trash everywhere as much as the next but some flyers on a pole posting cool happenings of a city is what being a "city" is all about.

6:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

#1: Don't expect "Center City Partners" to do anything worthwhile. They are only interested in making a quick buck for themselves and other developers.

And we can still put stuff on telephone poles. Just do it at night when all the good people are asleep.

10:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having tall buildings and condos "uptown" does not make you a world class city. Before I moved here I had heard all about Southern Hospitality and how southerners are the friendliest people around, well I have yet to see that..the only types of people I have encountered here are rude, racist, judgemental people if you want to experience true southern hospitality I suggest you visit the Gatlinburg, TN area I have never felt more welcomed anywhere since before I left TX. Obviously the people who moved here and like it lived somewhere similar or just a bit worse than Charlotte. This city has the worst infrastructure I have ever seen, only in NC can you get stuck on a road for 4 hours in traffic with no way to exit. You pay state income tax and property tax on vehicles here. .I have never had to pay property tax on my car anywhere else that I have lived and yet the state seems to not have enough money for roads?!? And you talk about restaurants here in Charlotte, well this is definitely not a Service Industry town, no matter what restaurant I go to service and the food is horrible with the exception of the chain restaurants for the most part. You might have alot of outdoor things to do here but having to drive on congested two lane roads all day to get there does not entice me in one bit. Charlotte has the worst drivers.. I have never seen so many clueless awful drivers in my life where did they get their licenses .. a vending machine? Now before you say if I don't like it here I should move I will say the only reason I am here is because of my wife's need to be close to her family, so unless I suddenly fall out of love with her I am stuck here for now.. but what makes me happy is that I will one day leave this god forsaken place. Charlotte and NC's slogan should be "NC pretty to look at but not to live in."

11:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel your pain with the terrible drivers and infastructure.
I'll give you that. As well as some really cluless service staff at restaurants.
I am at Belle's uptown the other week and asked the waitress what type of beers they had.
Her response: "I don't know" and on she went to the next table.
I finally got an answer by asking the bartender.
But I have found some really good restaurants as well.

Savannah Red
Carpe Diem
Coco Osteria
Bentley's on 27

12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeeesh--maybe some of the above posters are having a hard time adjusting to Charlotte because they themselves are so unpleasant. At least they sure sound like it from their comments!

12:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon @ 12:38 PM: Exactly.

Too often I've heard Northern refugees complaining that things Down South aren't the way they are up North... to which I respond, if you like it better up North, why are you here? Answer: Lower cost of living and less congestion... the two things that are getting worse because of the influx of refugees from the North.

But is it any wonder that there's a joke that Cary (a suburb of Raleigh) is acronymic for "Concentrated Area of Relocated Yankees"?

3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Charlotte isn't that bad. It's just the intolerance here that I can't stand, especially the intolerance and ignorance of others about people from other parts of the country and the world.

And why use the word "refugees"? You know, just like Charlotte isn't that bad, the North isn't that bad of a place to live either. And Northern people are not the only people moving here - so are people from the West, Midwest, and yes, the South. They are all contributing to this problem, not just Northerners. Thats another thing that bugs me. People here still think only North and South. You know, there is a whole country out there now, and the Civil War has been over for a long time.

4:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I call them "refugees" because I keep hearing about people moving here from New York, Massachusetts, Ohio, New Jersey, etc. Just take a look out on the street and you will see a large percentage of cars that still sport license plates from those states. It's like those people are escaping from the North... in droves. Seems like there may come a time when the North is nothing more than a giant Rust Belt with a few megalopoli scattered throughout.

Conversely, I don't know ANYONE who has moved from Charlotte to the North. If the North is so great, how come no one's moving there? Answer: Too cold, too crowded, and too expensive.

4:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And it's people like clayj that give Charlotte and the South a bad name. I moved from Charlotte to Connecticut a few years ago, moved back, and who knows, I may move again some time soon. And don't blame the South in general as that there are many cities down here that are much more prograssive than Charlotte. Atlanta, Nashville and Raleigh come to mind. The differences between Charlotte and other metropolitan areas is that in other cities, the reactionaries who moan and groan about everything here get laughed out of the other towns, or even better just get ignored.

8:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, obviously it's people like me who are to "blame". [insert eye rolling here] People like me don't just roll over and let irresponsible governments do whatever they like with our hard-earned tax dollars in the name of "progress" (I put that in quotes because my idea of progress obviously differs from yours).

I have nothing against people from up North, or anywhere else for that matter. What I dislike is when they try to change my home into a facsimile of where they came from. Charlotte does not need to be New York, or Boston, or Nashville, or Atlanta. Charlotte is Charlotte. If you want Atlanta and its horrible traffic problems, move to Atlanta. If you want a subway stop on every block, move to New York.

Charlotte needs to concentrate more on being its own city and less on trying to be like everyone else. We don't need trains because everyone else is getting trains; we don't need a Major League Baseball team because other cities have them. We need to work first on making things better, and that doesn't always mean making them bigger.

9:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And I have yet to you suggesting anything to make Charlotte better clayj. All you do verbally spit on people who have opinions different from your.

10:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, here are MY suggestions for making Charlotte a better place:

1. Better public safety. This means more funding for the DA's office, more police, and more jail space. Enough of this revolving door, only-33%-of-people-who-are-arrested-go-to-trial mess. Sure, our crime rate is lower than other cities, but why should we settle for "lower" when we can have "lowest"?

2. Get the existing roads and infrastructure back into tip-top shape. No more new roads until the existing roads are brought back to snuff and the existing issues (like I-485 around Pineville) are corrected. Let's get all of the streetlights working again (esp. along I-77) and get the trash picked up.

3. We need a full audit of all city spending, so as to eliminate all wasteful spending. Stuff like the CATS office debacle and making loans to small business owners (who then default on their loans, leaving the city holding their debts) needs to end immediately. City employees who make financial decisions which result in huge losses should be held accountable when they act without proper authorization. They're not spending their money; they're spending our money, and they need to treat it with more respect than they do now.

4. Yes, we need more schools... so let's build new schools where the students are and stop bussing them all over the place. We also need to stop hugely expensive renovation projects... if tearing down a school and building one from scratch makes more sense than renovating, then let's do that. We also need to get better discipline, and less ass-covering, in our schools. Enough of the CMS shenanigans that have been going on for years.

5. New developments which will require city/county expenditure should require developers to pitch in their "fair share" to help build new roads, schools, etc. Yes, this will slow down growth somewhat, but I point out that unbridled growth is usually not a good thing. We need BETTER growth.

That's a start. Happy?

10:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a start

10:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your logic makes no sense. When do trains = being like New York? I guess that means we shouldn't widen roads either because then we will be like Atlanta. It has nothing to do with being like somewhere else. As Charlotte grows, more people demand more things to do and more ways to get around.

And by the way, somebody's got to be moving there if all these people are somehow selling their houses and moving here. What do you think - people just leave and the house they left behind no longer exists?

12:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clayj is a total fool. Ignore these people and they tend to go away then. Remember the whiney little kid who always wanted attention and would do anything to get it .................

6:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon @ 6:27 AM: Very brave of you to call me names from behind the cloak of "Anonymous"... you've sure got some backbone there, yessir. You do know that "Anonymous" means to be without a name, or nameless, yes?

As far as what happens to homes in the North when people move here: Maybe they lived in an apartment, which now sits vacant. Or since the population there still grows (not like it used to, though), people do find someone to sell their house to, but not at the price they might have gotten previously.

10:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know clayj. Home prices keep rising up north and people keep buying them. I can also assure you that when I moved up there, I was amazed by how many more people actually lived up there. Some may be moving down here, but the area is far from emptying.

Question...Clayj, you live Uptown, correct? You are an artist correct? It seems to me that you would want more metropolitan qualities in Charlotte than you project here. Where does the right wing hostility come from?

10:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, I can assure you that there are very few vacant apartments up north too. I foiund that out when I was looking for onw. No 4 months free rent like they offer down here...

10:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, I'm not an artist. I *collect* art. (There's a big difference, mostly having to do with my barely being able to draw a stick figure.) I do support the arts, and nowhere will you find that I've made any comment suggesting otherwise. I don't necessarily think, however, that it should be up to the taxpayers to fund the arts... such funding usually belongs in the realm of private philanthropy.

And yes, I live Uptown. But not everyone who lives Uptown is part of that Uptown crowd. I moved here from Cornelius because I got tired of the long commute, and because I enjoy walking to restaurants, Panthers games, etc. This has no bearing on my politics... there are probably just as many conservatives Uptown as there are liberals.

11:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not a chance Clayj. I've been uptown for 6 years now. You are totally wrong. I know in the neighborhood of about 50 people uptown and out of them I can only name 2 Republicans.
Keep dreaming Bud. You moved to Liberal country so get used to it.

11:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I've been Uptown for 6 years, and I know several Republicans just in the building where I live. So obviously we travel in different political and social circles.

11:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Charlotte proper is Blue through and through. It will be even more so with the influx of people I am meeting all the time from New York, Philly, Pitts, Boston, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles., San Fran.

It may be a Red state for now but at least our city has got it right.

11:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How does someone live Uptown and be opposed to mass transit? It just doesn't make any sense.

4:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

my opinion on charlotte is that it is very slow. i moved here about 1 year ago and i am already looking for a new home. charlotte is ok. but if you notice the people that like it here are people from smaller towns, larger cities, natives and retirees. This is not a world class city, at least it doesnt feel like it. All you see here when you take a drive are trees. I am so tired of seeing trees would be nice to have a city skyline that expands from 6 uptown towers. we might as well be in vermont. yeah we have nba and nfl affiliations, but we dont have a strong following because everyone is from somewhere else. the inner city is bad and crime ridden, the outskirts are racist, the rich folk do not want anything to do with the rest of charlotte. charlotte just isnt hip,it doesnt have the feel of a major city, at least not yet. where are the city parks. where you can just relax and view the city. why is this city's college presence so weak. why havent the lights on the interstate been fixed in this city for so many years (really pathetic that people accept that)why are there just a bunch of two lane confusing roads in a city of 600,000. why ask why...who knows maybe it will get better. if charlotte grows on me i will stay if it doesnt ill just move away and visit family ocassionally

11:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just got back from DELAND,
WINTER HAVEN, and CLERMONT, Florida and think their are more jobs in Florida because more People from the North are heading there.Tyhe cost of living is much lower than CHARLOTTE and the roads are far better to my suprise; Why People grow FANGS when you use constructive criticism here is beyond me; I do believe they have GOONS around Charlotte who work for special groups that will rough you up if you tell the truth about ORGANIZED CRIME , PROSTITUTION, and COP KILLING in Charlotte. I have had dark cars following me and people making false claims like ' I shook my weinie at them " that sort of thing. They dont like the truth here and Preachers teach hate mongering like Hate thy YANKEE, and anyone whos feet didnt hit the ground here after birth.

12:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Charlotte gets all the rejects from everywhere thats why JOBS are not coming here ; CORNWALLIS the great general said " CHARLOTTE has the bitchiest peopl he had ever been " Now you all know what he was talking about ; Charlotte is very hot with no sea breeze. I heard from People in Virginia that 300 years ago People dumped their retarded children on the N.C. side ; I also heard in North Carolina that it has more Pyshco wards than anywhere else on the U.S. This may have been from alcoholism and additives like embalming fluid in the Moonshine.

1:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last year, I moved here from Baltimore, and I've noticed several similarities between the Queen City and B'more:

First off, both cities have lots of great uptown activities. In Baltimore, you can watch the Orioles play baseball at Camden Yards (the Ravens' football stadium is also there), sail out on the Inner Harbor, and sample some Maryland crabs at Harborplace. In Charlotte, you can go to Bank of America Stadium for Panthers football or the Bobcats Arena for Bobcats basketball, walk through the many shops on Trade and Tryon without having to cross over (there are walkway bridges for that), and hopefully, in a few years, watch the Knights play at their new ballpark. And haven't I mentioned the light rail access, which will be here in a few months?

As a joke, I often refer to I-77 as "the other Jones Falls Expressway", in reference to Baltimore's section of I-83. And I-85 here serves about the same purpose as I-95 up there, only without the tunnel, because Charlotte's not a true port city, even though the Catawba River only lies a few miles to the west. Once the I-485 Outerbelt gets completed, it will be exactly like the I-695 Beltway.

Then there are the two uptown locations where you can take up some studies: down here, it's CPCC and up there, it's Community College of Baltimore City. I should know this, because I'm currently a student at CPCC, and I considered classes at CCBC once.

Locations aside, not to mention the fact that it's a lot warmer in Charlotte than it is in Baltimore, there are plenty of similarities between my former and current hometowns. So maybe there should be a section called Defend Baltimore, and they can use the Queen City's model as an example. Just a thought...

But I love Charlotte, and I don't intend to leave anytime soon!

9:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have just one thing to say: Stop Hating! Charlotte's a much better place to be than a lot of people think...You can leave the hate in Atlanta, New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles or wherever you came from. Seriously! (This coming from a Chicago transplant)

9:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please NO! Please don't change this great city to try to please all of these whiners. I have been here for two years and really love living here. I am from The North East and much rather be here than to go back there.
Charlotte, become a great city but please don't let outsiders change this place to suit their fancy! Keep your many churches and your own unique style. This city is very pretty. Some of the best neighborhoods I have evr seen in this country.

10:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of those restaurants suck. Bentleys sucks.

2:15 PM  

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