Friday, August 31, 2007

A Dot, and a Pearl

It's a busy Friday but I wanted to point y'all to a couple of things:

-- On Sunday I'll have a story in the paper about a momentous day in Charlotte history -- the day Dorothy Counts (now Dot Counts-Scoggins) integrated Harding High School. As of now (2 p.m. Friday), there's a slideshow on that serves as sort of a preview. On Sunday we'll have a story in the paper, plus photos, video and other extras online.

We'll also be running other stories this month about the events of September '57, including updates on the other three black children who integrated the Charlotte schools that day.

-- On a different subject: Back in 1986 I wrote a story on a guy named Pearl Fryar, who lives in Bishopville, S.C., and does amazing topiary work with the trees and plants in his yard. Pearl is one of my all-time favorite people. Well, now there's a documentary about him -- "A Man Named Pearl" -- and it's showing in Charlotte this week at the Regal Stonecrest 22. Larry Toppman, our movie critic, reviewed the movie in today's E&T (three stars!) and wrote about the filmmakers for Wednesday's paper.

I've seen the movie. It's great, and you will love Pearl Fryar. Go check it out.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

School overcrowding -- old news

Lately I've been combing through a bunch of old Observers from 50 years ago. (It's for a project that will show up in the paper in a few weeks; that's the reason I haven't written as many columns lately.)

The front page of the paper from Sept. 4, 1957, has a story with the headline "Area Schools Expect 52,000." That's less than half the size of the Char-Meck school system today.

Here's a couple of paragraphs from the story:

"Five new schools and additions at 13 other schools are now open or will soon be completed in an attempt to relieve pressure of the ever increasing pupil load.

"Despite this, double sessions and staggered sessions will still be necessary at some schools both in city and county."

School overcrowding in Charlotte is a lot of things -- divisive, contentious, frustrating, damaging, painful.

The one thing it's not is new.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

It's so hot in Charlotte...

On Monday I was down in Columbia to hang out with some of the fabulous folks at The State newspaper. We talked a lot about the heat.

As many of you know, Columbia is the hottest place in the South and one of the hottest places not located directly on the surface of the sun. Today in Columbia it was a balmy 102 degrees. The good news is, there's also humidity. You can leave a live chicken and a can of Crisco on the sidewalk and come back to find an 8-piece box.

So in honor of the heat (and in tribute to Johnny Carson) The State asked readers to finish the sentence: "It's so hot in Columbia that..."

You can see the results here. And although a couple are fairly funny, I have to think the intelligent and sophisticated residents of Charlotte can do better.

And it was 100 degrees here today, so you don't want to be going outside, right?

So let's hear it in the comments: It's so hot in Charlotte...

Bonus points for local references, of course.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Time to make some trades

If you follow sports you know that this was a big week for trades. In the NBA, the Boston Celtics traded half their team -- and, I think, the old Boston Garden parquet -- for superstar Kevin Garnett.

The baseball trading deadline was also this week, and a bunch of deals went down -- the main one being in Atlanta, where the Braves traded one hard-to-pronounce player for another.

It's always fun to fantasize about sports trades. But here's your challenge for the day: Come up with a Carolinas trade that DOESN'T involve sports.

For example: We went to Baltimore a few weeks ago. I'd trade uptown Charlotte for downtown Baltimore in a heartbeat. Baltimore has a harbor, a fabulous aquarium, a neoclassic baseball park, and the beautiful and disturbing American Visionary Arts Museum.

Our uptown is a lot better than it was 10 years ago. It's an up-and-comer. But downtown Baltimore is a proven veteran. I'd make the deal.

Sports trades have two unofficial rules:

1) You trade value for value. Nobody's going to give you Paris if you're offering Pineville. Sometimes you have to throw in a little extra -- if we're swapping downtowns with Baltimore, maybe we have to toss in SouthPark to sweeten the deal.

2) Having said that, you want to get the best of the deal, but you want the other guy to think HE got the best of it.

So that's the idea. Would you trade our mayor for some other leader of roughly equal value? Our trees for some other city's nightlife? Would you give away a great Carolinas barbecue joint for somebody else's crab shack?

Start dealing below. And justify your trades. The commissioner (um, me) has final authority over all transactions. Don't make me start testing for steroids.