Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Rock HOF passes on Dunn's Wray

In the end, it was probably a long shot. Still, we hoped that Link Wray would find a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the 2014 class. We promoted it, and others did as well.

Wray, a Dunn native and the father of the power chord, had an uphill battle going against the likes of Kiss, Nirvana and Cat Stevens (among others).

From Rolling Stone:

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has officially announced next year's inductees: Nirvana, Kiss, Peter Gabriel, Hall and Oates, Cat Stevens and Linda Ronstadt will all join the class of 2014. The E Street Band will be given the Award for Musical Excellence and Beatles manager Brian Epstein and original Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham will both receive the Ahmet Ertegun Award for non-performers. 

Artists are eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25 years after the release of their first album or single. Nirvana, whose first single "Love Buzz" came out in 1988, are entering the institution their first year of eligibility. "That's really no surprise to me," says Rock and Roll Hall of Fame President and CEO Joel Peresman. "People see the relevancy of that band. We're just getting into the creative of the show, so I don't know what's going to happen with that performance. They have to figure it out."

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Come up with a better name, Colorado


Voters in some northeast Colorado counties recently cast their votes to secede from the state and form a new state: "Northern Colorado."

"The nation's newest state, if rural Colorado residents had their way, would be about the size of Vermont but with the population of a small town spread across miles of farmland," wrote the Associated Press. "There wouldn't be civil unions for gay couples, legal recreational marijuana, new renewable energy standards, or limits on ammunition magazines.

"After all, those were some of the reasons five counties on the state's Eastern Plains voted on Election Day to approve the creation of a 51st state in the first place."

As the AP article goes on to say, the vote doesn't officially mean a whole heck of a lot; it was more of a symbolic gesture than anything, spurred by a population that feels like the leaders in the capital have lost touch with their needs.

This is not a new concept; not by a long stretch. In fact, here in North Carolina (well, in an area that USED to be part of North Carolina), we have seen a new state rise up out of frustration, only to dissolve into the annals of history. And though it was never officially recognized by Washington, the short-lived State of Franklin did, in fact, live. (And it still kinda-sorta lives today, thanks to entities like the State of Franklin Bank, based in Johnson City, Tennessee.)

In fact, Franklin (or "Frankland") was a pioneer (pun intended) in the whole "let's secede out of frustration" thing. When it was founded in 1784, Franklin leaders had hopes that it would become the 14th state. It even had a capital (Jonesborough) and a Congress. From Wikipedia:

Franklin was never admitted into the union. The extra-legal state existed for only about four and a half years, ostensibly as a republic, after which North Carolina re-assumed full control of the area.
The creation of Franklin is novel, in that it resulted from both a cession (an offering from North Carolina to Congress) and a secession (seceding from North Carolina, when its offer to Congress was not acted upon, and the original cession was rescinded).

In fact, if any new state ever had a chance to make it, it was probably Franklin. But, alas, it wasn't meant to be, and the territory of Franklin became part of a real, honest-to-God new state: Tennessee.

File:Map of Tennessee highlighting Former State of Franklin.png

So sorry to dash your hopes, Colorado -- excuse me, NORTHERN Colorado. Speaking of ... couldn't you have come up with a better name? I understand a lot of the good names (Franklin, Jefferson) are taken, but you can do better than that.

After all, as Will Truman recently wrote, this new state "wouldn’t, however, have any good postal initials, since NC is taken."

Darn tootin.'

(Click here to read our sister blog's take on the idea of North Carolina counties seceding.)

Images from Wikipedia.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Devilish North Carolina

We're on the cusp of Halloween, so this post (found via The Atlantic Cities) seemed appropriate: A Hellish Tour of America. The so-called United States Devil Map is referenced, which notes those places with names like "Hell's Kitchen" or "Devil's Swamp" or or "Hades Canyon" or "Lucifer Falls." You get the drift.

Our fair state has its fair share of ominous-sounding names -- even if the places themselves are anything but. Off the top of my head I can think of a couple that made the Devil Map:

I had not heard of Hell Gate Creek or Hell Swamp -- but I'm sure a glimpse into the North Carolina Gazetteer would pull up all sorts of devilish places.

One place that is blatantly missing from the Devil Map? Why, the Devil's Tramping Ground, of course.  I also imagine Nancy Roberts could find some others.

Any others that didn't make the map?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Let's get Link into the Rock Hall of Fame

Honestly, it's probably a long-shot -- particularly with artists such as Nirvana, Deep Purple, Yes, KISS and Hall & Oates on the ballot -- but Dunn native Link Wray is a finalist for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year. This is Wray's first year on the ballot.

Many credit Wray as the father of the power chord. His guitar-heavy song, "Rumble," is considered one of the best guitar songs of all time. (For what it's worth, back 2007, Wray's contemporaries, The Ventures, were inducted.)

Of course, you can help sway the inductees by voting here.

[F]or the second consecutive year, the public gets to vote alongside the artists, historians and music industry insiders of the Rock Hall voting body. From now until December 10th, fans can vote on RollingStone.com for the nominees they'd like to see inducted. The top five acts will comprise a "fan's ballot" that will count as one of the more than 600 ballots that determine the Class of 2014.

Let's get Link in the Rock HOF! I am admittedly biased, being a Dunn native myself. But, for whatever reason, that city has cranked out some creative folks, including the late Dave Matthews Band saxophonist LeRoi Moore.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The chasm between urban and suburban/rural North Carolina

I mentioned this on Twitter the other night (you can find me @Matt_Lail, by the way) and I may be WAY off base, but it seems to me the chasm between urban North Carolina and suburban (or rural) North Carolina has grown wider during this most recent General Assembly session. Or maybe the gulf is just as wide as before. But either way, the gap doesn't appear to be closing.

North Carolina is a state in the midst of demographic change. On one hand, this change has been called the urbanization of the state as populations grow in the "urban" counties like Mecklenburg, Wake, Durham and Guilford (among others). And it has political implications, no doubt.

Over the past four decades, North Carolina has grown from a state of 5.08 million to 9.54 million people.  Along with that near-doubling in population has come a decisive shift in the state’s societal landscape. Once a spread-out state of small farms, small factories and small cities and towns, it is increasingly defined and driven by a metropolitan economy and culture. A robust “metropolitanization’’ increasingly shapes state politics, too.
From 2000 to 2010, North Carolina had a net gain of approximately 1.5 million people. One-third of that population increase came in only two counties – Wake grew by 273,000 people, Mecklenburg by 224,000.  No other county had population increase of six digits. ...
To help assess the political implications of those population shifts, the Program on Public Life at UNC Chapel Hill recently looked at the 15 counties with the highest voter-turnout totals in the 2008 presidential and statewide elections. Those 15 counties accounted for 53 percent of the total votes cast in the state.

But to others, the trend is more suburban in nature -- North Carolina is becoming the land of cul-de-sacs and will remain that way, according to a John Hood piece from a couple of years ago.

After the U.S. Census Bureau released more of its 2010 data last week, including the counts that will serve as the basis for congressional and legislative redistricting, some politicians and pundits observed that population growth in Wake, Mecklenburg, and a dozen other counties will make North Carolina politics more urban.

I think it would be more accurate to say that state politics is about to become more suburban.

The distinction isn’t merely a semantic one. While North Carolina’s metropolitan areas accounted for a disproportionate amount of the state’s growth over the past 10 years – as they have done for many decades, by the way – the truly urban business districts and neighborhoods in the downtowns of Charlotte, Raleigh, Wilmington, and other cities weren’t a major part of the population story. 

Contrary to the marketing claims of condo developers, the flow of young people and seniors into downtown residences has remained a trickle. The vast majority of the population growth has occurred in suburban neighborhoods, some within the core counties such as Mecklenburg, Wake, and New Hanover but many others across the border in counties such as Union, Cabarrus, Iredell, Johnston, Harnett, Chatham, Brunswick, and Pender.

And later ...

In reality, North Carolina’s emerging suburban politics will reward state and local officials who keep taxes low, tackle traffic congestion primarily with new highway capacity, and prioritize spending on public safety and education. Suburban voters tend to view most other government plans and programs with skepticism, if not disdain.

Disdain is what many urban elites have felt for suburbs. Their sentiments are duly noted, and irrelevant.

It just seems to me like the dozen or so "Moral Monday" protests this year have shined a light on this gulf. And I'll admit: I'm basing this completely on gut feeling and anecdotal "evidence" such as posts on my Facebook and Twitter timelines. As I tweeted recently, my urban friends "are impassioned, and my suburban ones balance between ecstacy [about recent political developments] and not caring any less."

How this plays out over the next election cycles remains to be seen. Some think the Republicans have lost their swagger. From where I'm sitting, I don't see a great shift away from the conservative momentum. (Though I will fully admit that the clamor of teachers' pay may just turn the tide when it's all said and done.) But just as we have finally become a two-party state, the places we call and the people we live with and around have become polarizing factions as well.

Monday, June 24, 2013

A grandfather 'to beat the band'

Several years ago, we had one of the more enjoyable discussions here at the Dare Society when the subject matter was "old-timey" or dying Southern colloquialisms.  At the time, I shared some of the favorites that I heard often from my Sampson County grandparents. In particular, I noted my grandfather's use of the phrase "to beat the band."

For some odd reason, I never looked up the genesis of that saying. Not sure why. Nor did I ask my grandfather. Sadly, he passed away just a couple of weeks ago at 94. He lived a long, productive and inspirational life, and we all miss him dearly.

Reflecting on his life made me, naturally, think back to those phrases he would use. And I just had to know where "to beat the band" came from. I assumed it had some sort of early 20th century, Glenn Miller Orchestra or radio show tie.

A post at English Language and Usage discusses the phrase, saying it is an "idiom for to the greatest possible degree."

And ...

Also, to beat all. To the greatest possible degree. For example, The baby was crying to beat the band, or *The wind is blowing to beat the band , or *John is dressed up to beat all . This idiom uses beat in the sense of "surpass." The first term may, according to one theory, allude to a desire to arrive before the musicians who led a parade, so as to see the entire event. Another theory holds that it means "make more noise than (and thereby beat) a loud band." [Colloquial; late 1800s]

Of course, there is debate. What band?  The Word Detective has an entire entry on this phrase, with discussion that it could actually relate to a town in Ireland.

“Beat the band” first appeared in print, as far as we know, in the late 19th century. Interestingly, another “band” phrase, “when the band begins to play,” was current at the same time, meaning “when things get serious,” or what we might today call “crunch time” (“It’s send for Bucky quick when the band begins to play,” 1910). I think it’s significant that both of these phrases arose at a time when recording technology was in its infancy and music was almost always heard live, whether in a music hall or at a concert in the park.

... In his Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English (1961), Partridge suggested that “beat the band” was developed from the older phrase “to beat Banagher,” Banagher being a famously corrupt village in Ireland. Something outrageously corrupt or unfair was said “to beat [be worse than] Banagher,” meaning to surpass the accepted standard.

But while Banagher does exist and apparently at one time had that reputation, the likely origin of “beat the band” is simpler, and simply musical. To “beat the band” means literally to drown out the sound of a brass band with whatever you are doing, and thus, metaphorically, to excel or surpass the standard to such a degree that all eyes turn toward you (“I was on the box-seat driving, you know, — lickety-split, to beat the band,” 1897).

Incidentally, the use of “to beat” to mean “to surpass, excel” is simply a modern use of “to beat” in its older military sense meaning “to defeat or vanquish.” The use of “beat” in other phrases equivalent in meaning to “beat the band” (“to beat anything,” “to beat all,” etc.) dates back to the early19th century (“Well!’ I says, ‘if this don’t beat everything!’,” Charles Dickens, 1863).

Regardless of its roots, "to beat the band" is one of those quintessential grandfatherly-type phrases that I will try to incorporate like, as I mentioned a few years ago -- to the chagrin of my wife -- "fuller than a tick." It would be sad for these sayings, like "I declare," or "you know not!" (that's one my grandmother has been known to use), "catty wampus" and much more to go the way of the Greatest Generation.

As far as grandfathers go, mine was incredible. He was a grandfather "to beat the band." I swanny.

(Non-family images from GlennMillerOrchestra.com and Twitter)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

What is 'that place' in your hometown?

I found out the other day that my neighbor's wife has family from Dunn, my hometown. After we chuckled over the fact that it truly is a small freaking world, he said to me, "her family one time brought us some stuff from this one bakery ..."

I knew exactly what bakery to which he was referring. "Oh, Sherry's Bakery, I bet," I said.

"Yeah, that's the one!" His eyes were wide and his grin was big as he reminisced on the baked goodies he got from the so-called "Sweetest Smelling Corner in Town."

This got me thinking: With all due respect to other long-time, established places, Sherry's Bakery is "that place" in Dunn that most people first think about if they have lived in Dunn, visited Dunn or even heard of Dunn. Heck, the Governor visited Sherry's a couple of weeks ago.

So whether you are from Dunn, Raleigh, Hickory, Waynesville, Duck or wherever, what is "that place" in your hometown? What's the one signature place that people think of when they think of your hometown?

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Wildflowers? Good! Roadside trash? Not so much

North Carolina used to be known as the "Good Roads State." I can't say I've been on all of the highways and byways of late to speak to construction or potholes. But one thing that seems to have gotten worse over the years is the amount of litter alongside our state's major roads. In fact, my wife's aunt (visiting from Nebraska) once commented, "I love your state. It's beautiful. But why is there so much trash along the highways?"

We took a day trip to Florence, S.C., last weekend, and this problem was evident. On many stretches of Interstates 95 and 40 were used fast food bags, aluminum cans, cardboard boxes -- you name it. It was unbelievably distressing -- and unnecessary. 

We have discussed before the N.C. DOT's Swat-a-Litterbug problem. Do your part; if you see someone disrespecting our state, make the call.

In better N.C. road news, if there is one thing that our state seems to do really well, it is the N.C. DOT's Wildflower Program. On our journey to South Cackylacky, we remarked time and time again about the beauty of the wildflowers that populated the medians and grassy portions of exits all up and down our roads. Seriously, kudos to the state transportation department for that! It's really a program of which we should all be proud. But I just wish people had enough pride in their state not to throw cigarette butts and pizza boxes and more out their car windows.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Our State mag updates TRAVEL NORTH CAROLINA app

We were pumped last year when Our State magazine unveiled its new mobile phone app for people interested in seeing what this great state has to offer. Well, we recently got an email from the good folks at Our State to let us know that they have not rested on their proverbial laurels; TRAVEL NORTH CAROLINA has been redesigned and updated.

From a press release:

“This redesign makes the app much more user-friendly for those exploring North Carolina," says Laurie Weaver, integrated marketing director. “You can search by category, city, or region to plan a vacation in advance, or use the ‘Near Me’ function to discover restaurants, shops, and things to do in your vicinity while you travel. It's a must-have for folks traveling around North Carolina.”

The app is brimming with more than 1,500 points of interest across the state, organized by location and category. In addition to lodging, attractions, dining, and shopping destinations as well as clickable phone numbers and websites for easy planning, the updated app offers the following new features:
·       "Local Favorites" that offer tours of featured areas
·       36-hour guides to Our State's Tar Heel Town magazine features
·       "Near Me" function that shows nearby attractions as you travel
·       "Editor's Picks" that include points of interest from the magazine
·       A build-your-own itinerary function
·       Digital postcards to share your adventures from your smart phone via email and social media channels

TRAVEL NORTH CAROLINA is available for free download in the Apple Store and Google Play. For users that downloaded the earlier version, update the app using your smart phone's regular update process. More details are available at ourstate.com/app.


Monday, April 15, 2013

The Republic of Ocracoke?

For such a small place, the island of Ocracoke is probably one of the most talked-about locales on this blog. This is due to a variety of reasons: it's beauty; it's "remote-yet-still-accessible" nature; it's language. Ocracoke is one of those quintessential North Carolina places; it's a treasure -- a special place to many Carolinians and "foreigners" alike.

I can't recall where I first heard the term, but recently I heard the island referred to as the "Republic of Ocracoke," and I wanted to follow up to see if this is a commonly-accepted term.

Some quick research (ie, "Google Search") does show some mentions of the term "Republic of Ocracoke," though not a ton.

This travelogue from 2008 makes a mention of the term. Along with some glowing reviews of the flora and fauna of the island is this paragraph [bolded for emphasis]:

The other local news is that Ocracoke’s oldest resident, Mrs. Belle Bryant, has just passed away.  An African American woman, born in the year the Wright brothers launched their plane at Kitty Hawk, she lived her entire life on Ocracoke and died at the age of one hundred and four.  She remembered her grandmother as a slave in the Antebellum South.  There are no African Americans living on the island now.  A number of mexicans have recently moved in as a new minority to work in the modest island construction industry.  Such is the odd human balance that currently exists in the Republic of Ocracoke 

 Another piece is this from the Ocracoke Current that is more of a civic-minded writing:

Everyone on Ocracoke has a voice that is heard. We resist change until a clear consensus is apparent.  The microphone gets turned up a notch for people who have lived here the longest, and even further for those with deep roots on the island. Yet native Ocracokers often are overlooked and misunderstood.
This page is intended to be a resource to enhance civic involvement.  We want to increase understanding of the mission and scope of the many organizations, committees, boards, non-profits and government entities that make things happen on Ocracoke.
If you’ve read this far, congratulations!  OcracokeCurrent encourages you to check out the links, see what raises your blood pressure or makes your heart beat faster, and contact the people involved.
Democracy is not available to everyone, and we are lucky enough to have it, here on the republic of Ocracoke.

Has this phrase been around for a while, or is it fairly new? Does anyone know the genesis?

Not surprisingly, most anytime an area is segmented and presented as a separate "republic" or "state" (see the State of Franklin, for instance), it is typically because of a disconnect or downright mistrust of the preceived heavy-handed government. I wonder if this is the case with the Republic of Ocracoke -- or is it just more of a state of mind, or even a marketing campaign? If it's the latter, perhaps it's time for a flag or a snarky motto?


(Image from Wikipedia)

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Francis, Bryant, Morton among latest N.C. Sports HOF nominees

The latest batch of North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame entry names have been released, and there are certainly some notables on the list. Headlining the list is Carolina Hurricanes great Ron Francis -- the first hockey player ever to be named to the N.C. list.

Francis already has been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame after a career in which he won two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins before signing a free-agent contract with the Hurricanes in July 1998. He spent 16 of his 23 seasons with the franchise – the Hartford Whalers until the relocation to Raleigh in 1997 – before retiring as a player in September 2005.
Francis scored 549 goals and had 1,249 assists in 23 NHL seasons and his 1,798 points are the fourth-best in NHL history. The Canes retired his jersey, No. 10, in January 2006 and he went into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November 2007.

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/01/08/2589071/ron-francis-among-11-new-members.html#storylink=cpy

Among the other names on the list are the great UNC running Kelvin Bryant, the school's third all-time rusher and scorer, and longtime UNC basketball assistant Bill Guthridge, who did quite fine as the main coach himself for several years, leading the Tar Heels to a 90-28 record in three years with a Final Four trip after Dean Smith retired.

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/01/08/2589071/ron-francis-among-11-new-members.html#storylink=cpy

A name that struck me as odd at first glance but certainly makes sense the more I thought about it was Hugh Morton, arguably North Carolina's most important photographer. Morton -- as readers of this blog will note - made a name for himself as a nature photographer and conservationist. However, he was a spectacular sports photographer in his own right; his contributions in this area cannot be understated.

Here are the others on the list, from the News & Observer. (Warning: Subscription needed.)

• Rich McGeorge, a 1971 graduate of Elon College (now Elon University), who was a first-round draft choice of the Green Bay Packers. He played tight end in Green Bay for nine seasons.
• Wade Garrett, a premier fast-pitch softball pitcher and a member of the N.C. Softball Hall of Fame.
• Bob Quincy, a five-time Sports Writer of the Year in North Carolina who graduated from North Carolina. He also was a Charlotte Observer columnist and sports writer and died in 1984
• Tommy Helms, a Charlotte native who was a member of the Cincinnati Reds’ “Big Red Machine” and Rookie of the Year in 1966.
• Marion Kirby, who compiled a 278-65-8 record at Edenton and Page High School, including four state titles at Page.
• Marty Sheets, who holds 250 Special Olympics medals in a variety of sports.
• Mildred F. Southern, a long time proponent of tennis in North Carolina.

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/01/08/2589071/ron-francis-among-11-new-members.html#storylink=cpy