Tuesday, April 26, 2016

We still love you, N.C.

The Old North State has been taking a serious beating of late thanks to HB2 and its fallout. Whether you are for or against the bill, it's hard to argue against this: it's been a public relations AND a financial nightmare for North Carolina. It may take a while to recover.

One positive (if you can call it that) that has come out of this is the level of praise for the state and for its people that has come from different corners of the world. For instance, musician Henry Rollins wrote this:

"It is almost impossible to describe how beautiful North Carolina is. For a few summers, I was shipped off there to live in a tent at a summer camp. Each day, we were given chores. Milking cows, feeding chickens, getting beetles off the vegetables. Since the late 1960s, I have always had an affection for N.C."

So as our state continues to take a beating, here is a simple stream of consciousness list of the things that are good and beautiful about the "Vale of Humility." Feel free to add to this list. There's no way to accurately capture all the superlatives. But, by God, I'm willing to try.  #westillloveNC

  • Barbecue
  • Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Blue Ridge parkway
  • Outer Banks
  • Crystal Coast
  • Char-Grill
  • Asheville
  • Avett Brothers
  • The Connells
  • Red clay
  • Red Clay Ramblers
  • Cheerwine
  • Pepsi
  • Grandfather Mountain
  • Tweetsie Railroad
  • Wine
  • Craft beer
  • Furniture
  • Sherry's Bakery in Dunn
  • Our colleges and universities (public and private)
  • Our teachers
  • Cape Hatteras
  • Our State magazine
  • Big city downtowns and small town Main Streets
  • The suburbs, too!
  • Sugar Mountain
  • Music festivals
  • Waterfalls
  • Grey squirrels
  • White squirrels
  • Cardinals
  • Venus fly trap
  • The Lost Colony
  • The Greensboro Four
  • College basketball
  • Carolina Hurricanes
  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Carolina Panthers
  • Golf courses
  • Blowing Rock
  • Tim McLaurin
  • Lee Smith
  • James Taylor
  • Biltmore Estate
  • Grove Park Inn
  • Wilmington
  • Bald Head Island
  • N.C. Zoo
  • Pine trees
  • Dogwoods
  • Lake Lure
  • New Bern
  • Bath
  • Blackbeard
  • Angus Barn
  • Carowinds
  • Chimney Rock
  • Fairy crosses
  • Emeralds
  • Brown Mountain Lights
  • Chatham County Line
  • Ocracoke
  • Andy Griffith
  • Mount Airy
  • Link Wray
  • Carl Sandburg
  • Michael Jordan
  • Ava Gardner
  • Cape Lookout
  • Krispy Kreme
  • David Thompson
  • Halifax Resolves
  • Bojangles
  • Red wolves
  • Durham Bulls
  • Mount Mitchell


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Urban-rural-suburban chasm redux

This deserves repeating. With absolutely no additional commentary. Seriously. None.

The push by Republican leaders is the latest front in a battle in the Old North State between liberal-leaning cities and more conservative areas of the state, and it’s also the latest front in a national battle over LGBT rights. ...

The state is deeply divided between liberal cities and conservative rural areas, and with few prospects to take back control in Raleigh, progressives have looked to local government as a way to enact change.  

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

It's the holiday season, y'all!

We like to puff our collective chest out here in North Carolina. And mostly for good reason. One area in which our fair state excels is agriculture. And this time of year, boy oh boy, is it a good ag time of the year.

As we are on the cusp of Thanksgiving and Christmas, it's a good time to take stock of where N.C. ranks among the typical holiday trimmings, such as turkey, sweet potatoes and even the literal trimmings (Christmas trees).

How does N.C. rank?
Sweet potatoes -- We're No. 1! We're No. 1! In fact, half of the U.S. supply of sweet potatoes come from our state.
Turkeys -- The Old North State is currently second, behind Minnesota.
Christmas trees -- No. 2 behind Oregon.
Pork (Ham) -- Also second. However, Duplin and Sampson counties are the top two hog-producing counties in the United States.

Nothing Compares. Indeed.

[Image from Pinterest]

Monday, July 06, 2015

Nothing Compares

Driving back west down I-40 last night, I saw a billboard my friend Shannon had told me about. It's simple; it shows the letters "NC" with a pine tree in between with the catchphrase "Nothing Compares" below.

I saw it and tweeted (@matt_lail): "I'm digging the 'NC: Nothing Compares' ads. Nice job, @VisitNC !"

Unfortunately, I name-dropped the wrong state agency. The "Nothing Compares" campaign is a new branding campaign via the N.C. Department of Commerce, not Tourism. However, the point remains that I think this is very tasteful and very classic.

I followed up that tweet by saying that it's as if North Carolina said, "we see you and your Palmetto, SC. And we raise you a pine."

Anyway, here is some more info about the look of "Nothing Compares:"

With its scenic beauty and welcoming spirit, North Carolina has a special place in the hearts of residents, visitors and business leaders alike. Conversations with the people who know and love North Carolina helped us define the qualities that make the state so inspiring, and create the new expression of the North Carolina brand. The logo symbolizes the brand by focusing on the longleaf and other pine trees, a reflection of North Carolina’s strong roots and continued growth. The colors move from green to blue, mirroring the diverse landscape from the mountains to the sea. The tagline Nothing Compares captures the excitement of being connected to a place rich in ideas and opportunities.

The website itself features some nice pieces about the people of North Carolina, the very folks who "Inspire us all."

All in all, I really like this new brand and kudos to Kim Genardo and everyone at Commerce for pulling this off. It clearly has legs as I've seen caps and shirts with this look on them. (If anyone wants to send me some swag, I'm all for it!)  Even the Governor is getting involved. From a recent economic development announcement release (bolding is mine):

“Proto Labs is one of those 21st century companies that is helping North Carolina stay on the cutting edge of technology and innovation,” said Governor McCrory. “By more than doubling its workforce, the company is demonstrating that nothing compares to North Carolina when it comes to being a great place for innovative ideas.”

The Nothing Compares site promotes a brand video; however, I can't get it to load at the moment. So, instead, here is Sinead O'Connor with "Nothing Compares 2 U."

(Image from the NCCommerce.com site)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

American Aquarium works the state toast into one of their songs

Raleigh alt-country band American Aquarium has never shied away from promoting its hometown or home state. (Heck, they give the Avett Brothers a run for their money!) Here are just a few song titles from their catalog ...

  • "Reidsville"
  • "Cape Fear River"
  • "Jacksonville"
  • "Clark Avenue"

... just to name a few. They even name-drop Slim's bar in downtown Raleigh.

The band recently wowed audiences at SXSW with tunes from their new album, "Wolves." (The title track even has a chorus inspired by former N.C. State basketball player Julius Hodge.)  The new album even has a song called "The Old North State." (Not to be confused with the official state song, "The Old North State Forever.") The new tune from AA includes the state toast as part of the chorus.

Enjoy this tribute to North Carolina!

Friday, February 20, 2015

New North Carolina-focused publication coming this Spring

First off, we have no affiliation with this, but we are excited nonetheless when people want to talk about our favorite subject: North Carolina. So we are happy to relay the news that Bit + Grain will be coming this Spring.

From the publication's website:

Bit + Grain canvasses North Carolina and its neighbors, from mountain to sea, in search of exceptional stories. Our home - our people, our places, our culture - inspires us, and we’ve handpicked an array of curators to capture the character of our state. Every story about North Carolina, every bit and grain, counts.

Be sure to head over there and sign up for updates.

Here's some more about the name:

North Carolina, in part due to her place in the American South, is steeped in tradition and lore as thick as the swampy backwaters of the Cape Fear and mountain laurels of Appalachia.  Most of us were raised on a slew of old fashioned stories woven with regional colloquialisms and mystical expressions. There are folks who are masters of this storytelling craft. They commandeer spoken and written language with a lustrous skill and natural finesse. North Carolina has and will continue to serve as an incubator and metamorphic force for many of these masters.  Among these legends are none more notable than the playwright and Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Green. To him, our state and nation owe gratitude for his contributions to the arts, like The Lost Colony, America’s longest running outdoor drama. And it is to Paul Green that Bit + Grain owes gratitude for its name.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Where to see Christmas lights

North Carolina has long been known as the "Variety Vacationland." It could also be known as the "Christmas Lights Variety Land." No matter where you are in the state this time of year, there are noteworthy light displays for your enjoyment.

I am biased toward the Meadow Lights because I grew up not far from there and we tend to make an annual pilgrimage with the kids due to its close proximity to Raleigh.  

"Out west," McAdenville, N.C., is actually known as "Christmas Town, U.S.A."  And then there is Biltmore Estate in Asheville, which has established itself as a national draw when it comes to holiday decorating.

What are some other notable Christmas light displays we should all be aware of? VisitNC.com offers some potential places to visit. Among the list are Chetola's Festival of Lights in Blowing Rock, Speedway Lights in Concord, Beary Merry Christmas in New Bern, and much more. 

Images courtesy of Mcadenville-christmastown.com and Biltmore.com.