Friday, March 09, 2007

BCHQ Launch: Bull City Headquarters

Seems like a great time to resurrect the old local blog. Been spending most of my time at my gig at Terra Sigillata, so it's always nice to come back and sing the praises of the Bull City.

Through my friendship with Catherine Edgerton and Chaz Martinstein of Chaz's Bull City Records, I learned of efforts of find a local community gathering space, in part, to keep Chaz's Southeastern band bookings from falling through the floor of the record store. With the closing of Jo & Jo's Downtown, it became even more urgent that a community space be identified and supported.

Well, Bull City Headquarters (BCHQ) identified space at 723 N Mangum Ave in Durham and the kids have been bustin' ass getting the place in working form over the last month.

From the mission statement:
Bull City Headquarters is a drug and alcohol free community space intent on facilitating creative expression, educational resources and public workshops.

Our mission is to:

*Create an opportunity to bring together neighborhoods through events such as public lectures, lending libraries, and workshops.
*Foster creative expression including but not limited to performance and visual arts, musical events, and gallery exhibitions.
*Offer public service through an organized meeting space, a bike co-op, and a resource center.

Here's the schedule for March 10th as detailed in this week's e-mail:
Hey Folks!

So BCHQ is on the verge of opening it's doors... this SATURDAY, MARCH
Come out to see the new space, learn a new skill or rock out to some
Read on to find out more.

In this e-mail...
1) The Grand Opening!
2) Mural Painting and Artwork Hanging: What's going on at the BCHQ
this week
3) How you can help
4) Thank You!

1) Ta Da! The grand opening of the space is happening this weekend!
If you haven't been by the space, we're located at 723 N. Mangum in
Old Five Points (near UDI and O'brien's Fire Extinguisher).
Detailed directions are at the bottom of this e-mail.

Here's what will be going on at the space:

5pm - "How to Change a Bike Tube"
Bike workshop presented by the Durham Bike Co-op
5:30pm "Mural Painting"
A quick and easy way to paint a mural
6pm - "Our Community: The Future of BCHQ"
A discussion about the future of the space
8pm - Live music featuring:
Beloved Binge, eberhardt, the Future Kings of Nowhere, Dead
Elephant Bicycle, and Mandrin Dynasty!
Also, look out for a possible appearance by a neighborhood

Throughout the night, there will also be food, a raffle of great local
donations from places like Pops, Alivia's, the Regulator, Bean Traders
and more!! It's also the opening of "Our Durham," the first art show
at the space.

Come by and share your ideas! Join in the fun! Learn something new!

2) This week is full of prepartions for the opening this weekend.
We'll be hanging the art show, painting a mural and setting up the
stage (Thanks Scrap Exchange!). We have the start of a library,
complete with donated book shelves and a reading area. Folks have been
coming in for work nights to scrap wallpaper, haul out carpet and
paint the floor shiny, shiny blue (Thanks for the paint Clyde!) We
also have freshly painted walls (Thanks Kim and Mel) and a gorgeous
mural (Thanks Catherine).

3) Wondering how you can help? Here are a few ways you can give back
to BCHQ!
- Volunteer for a work night (there's still stuff to build,
clean, organize, etc)
- Have a skill to share? Set up a workshop! Are you a yoga
instructor? Do you have tax tips? Do you know bookbinding? Let us
- Donate! And that just doesn't mean cold, hard cash. Our
current wishlist includes: curtains, a wireless router, folding chairs/
table, gallery lights, trash bags and paper products like toilet paper
and paper towels
- Other ideas? E-mail us at There are
so many ways you can help!

4) A huge heaping thanks to everyone who has helped us at the space
and given us donations (Ross, Susan, Kim & David) We couldn't do this
without you! Here we go...

Rebekah and the rest of BCHQ

Friday, October 20, 2006

North Carolina brewers win national competition honors

This is kind of a homer version of The Friday Fermentable (from Terra Sigillata), but I think that it has enough international interest that I am putting it here and on the oft-neglected local blog, Bull City Bully Pulpit.

Many themes will come together here that involve science blogging and this will be our first discussion of beer since this feature began. To be honest, when I began making my own wine some 15 years ago, I realized it took so long to enjoy the wine I had made (at least a year or more) that I began brewing beer, a fermentable that can and generally should be enjoyed within three to four weeks.

During my 11 years in Denver, I spent nearly ever final weekend of September at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), sampling the best offerings of this country's craftbrewing efforts. A small club gathering led by Boulder beer sage, Charlie Papazian, has grown in 25 years to become the major US craft brewing competition, now held at the city's new convention center (btw, the ageless Papazian is pictured at the bottom right of the six pix from this year's GABF seen here.)

The GABF was such a national event that my brother, John, a former chemical engineer for a major US pharmaceutical company, would fly to Denver every year for us to attend together. This was not an uncommon experience for many of my Denver/Boulder colleagues.

Moving back to the eastern US, I was excited to learn how the English/Scottish/Irish influence in North Carolina would manifest itself in craft brewing around the state. Unbeknownst to me, North Carolina had previously had a cap on beer at 6% alcohol by volume (ABV), limiting severely the types of beer that could be brewed or sold.

Thanks to the efforts of a lobbying group called Pop The Cap, legislation was passed on 13 August 2005 permitting beers to be brewed and sold in NC at up to 15% ABV. To give you an indication of my priorities, I donated more money to Pop The Cap than to any presidential candidate in 2004.

Well, in the past, NC brewers didn't fare so well at GABF, never winning more than one medal per year. But this year, the first full year that the new beer legislation was in effect, NC brewers won five GABF awards. Not all are strong beers, mind you, and only one of the five would not have been permissible before the new law. But I feel that the freedom offered brewers this year by Pop The Cap led to a rejuvenation of the creativity of the North Carolina craft brewing industry.

Julie Johnson Bradford, an editor of All About Beer magazine and beer writer for the Raleigh (NC) News & Observer wrote the following article about these triumphs:

Tar Heel brewers win honors

And the winning beers were:

1. Ham's Restaurant & Brewhouse, Greenville (GOLD - Münchner-Style Helles) - Sunfest Lager

2. Carolina Brewery, Chapel Hill (GOLD - English-Style India Pale Ale) - Flagship IPA

3. Foothills Brewing Company, Winston-Salem (GOLD - Pro-Am Competition) - Baltic Porter

4. Natty Greene's Brewing Co., Greensboro (SILVER - English-Style Brown Ale) - Old Town Brown

5. The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery, Farmville (BRONZE -
Sweet Stout) - Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout

The medal for which I have the greatest pride is that for the milk stout brewed by Duck-Rabbit Brewery in the bustling metropolis of Farmville, North Carolina. Duck-Rabbit gets a fair share of my discretionary income, split more often toward their excellent porter rather than their now-award-winning milk stout.

aab_27.5.jpgI also must make special note of the Carolina Brewery's fabulous gold medal for their Flagship IPA, for a number of reasons that also relate to this blog. As I am a semi-pro musician, it has not escaped my attention that the brewers at Carolina also have a rather accomplished rock band, The Imperial Stouts. Their guitarist is actually featured on the cover of the most recent issue of All About Beer magazine.

Moreover, Carolina Brewery will also be one of the post-conference dinner sites following the 2007 North Carolina Science Blogger Conference on 20 January (see current registrants here.). As a result of this convergence of science blogging, music, and fermented beverages, yours truly will be hosting the post-conference dinner gathering at the Carolina Brewery. So, if you want to find out who I really am, or if you just want to try some of the best beer that North Carolina has to offer, join us at the SBC '07 and tip a pint or three with the Pharmboy and bloggy friends.

The bottom line is that while winemaking is geographically restricted based on climate, beer can be made anywhere that one can ship barley, hops, and yeast. Most beer is meant to be drunk while young and the American craft brewing culture is a nicely inclusive group of folks who are already part of your communities.

So, while North Carolina beers are distributed throughout the US, you can give yourself an enriching experience regardless by patronizing your own local craft brewery.

Think Globally...Drink Locally.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

A big boost for Duke-Durham from Robert King Steele

In a new feature on the Bully Pulpit, I'd like to reprint the best Op-Ed essays from our hometown, Durham Herald-Sun. Since the links expire quickly, within about 10-14 days, I'll put the link here, but will reproduce the text below for the sake of posterity:

A big boost for Duke-Durham
The Herald-Sun
Oct 1, 2006

As a former vice chairman of Goldman Sachs & Company, Robert King Steel has surely made important decisions about investing other people's money.

So we were gratified that when it comes to spending his own money, Steel, now chairman of the Duke University Board of Trustees, is banking on a town-gown partnership between Duke and Durham.

Steel, who teaches at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, was recently nominated by President Bush to serve as an undersecretary in the U.S. Treasury Department. The Durham native grew up near East Campus and graduated from Duke in 1973.

This week, Steel announced that he would give $500,000 to help fund the activities of the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership. It was a marvelous bequest that will reverberate through Durham for many years.

The Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership dates back to 1996, but 2006 has surely been a singular year for fundraising. Steel's gift brings the amount the Duke-Durham Partnership has raised this year to nearly $1.5 million. This summer, the Duke Endowment awarded the partnership $527,500, and a campaign before that raised $412,000.

When Steel was asked about his personal priorities for his gift, he sounded like an investor with a lot of confidence in the current management.

"I should just get out of their way and let them do what they are doing," he said.

The partnership focuses the impressive skills and talents of the university on problem areas in the community.

For example, Duke helps to close the achievement gap by sending students to volunteer at schools and churches near campus. One example is "Rites of Passage," a mentoring program for teens at Northside Baptist Church in Walltown.

The partnership also helps stabilize neighborhoods by working to increase the supply of affordable housing. For example, the partnership is engaged in a cooperative venture that will help to build 13 new homes for low-income families in Pauli Murray place.

It is also sponsoring a design workshop that will kick off a revitalization effort for the West Chapel Hill Street neighborhood.

And as an example of synergy that most communities can't duplicate, Duke experts from programs in business and economic development are working to teach and bolster local nonprofit community partners. More than 35 Duke departments and programs are engaged in working with the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership.

We predict that Robert King Steel's generous gift will turn out to be a wise investment, both for the university and for those who live in neighborhoods all around it.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Durham starts off on the right foot with new Duke students

From the forum of the Trinity Park neighborhood comes this encouraging synopsis by Susan Kaufmann of beginning of the year activities for new Duke students, as sponsored by Durham merchants, neighborhood groups, and all individuals interested in planting the seeds of understanding and mutual respect:

Thank you for welcoming first-year students to their new home town of Durham. About 500 students experienced the city by performing some type of community service -- such as sorting donations to Read Seed, a Durham nonprofit that gives books to low-income children. Others visited a small farm that raises produce and animals for area Farmers Markets. Yet others attended a Durham Bulls game. And every freshman received $50 to spend in participating Ninth Street restaurants. Special thanks to Trinity Park resident Alice Bumgarner and her crew of neighbors who assembled care baskets for students and to John Schelp, who gave his famous walking tour of East Campus and environs!

Listen to an audio report of Duke students learning about Durham's Civil Rights heritage:

Read about the 2006 Duke Orientation program:

Students Take A Walk Through Durham

Students, Meet Durham

First-year students visit farms, restaurants and ride bikes in tours of Durham and the surrounding community

Heck, I've been here six years and even learned a fair bit. Note also that Duke University provided some of these activities as part of their Class of 2010 orientation program.

Let's keep the momentum going...good on ya, Bull City!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Sometimes, you get what you pay for...

Dear Mayor Bell,

I read with interest last Saturday's N&O article announcing a major effort to improve the perceived image problem of our great Bull City: "Make !T Durham."

But, sir, $105,000 per year?

I know some individuals who spend more on their own personal self-promotion. Surely we can do better than an outlay of 53 cents per resident.

In fact, if you look at our own promotional web info, the number 1 misconception about Durham is that an image problem even exists as 71% of residents feel pretty darn good about living here.

Please go back and re-read the note I handed to you at the opening of the Terry Sanford documentary - if we're going to have a limited budget, then we need to be enlisting the help of volunteers like myself to sing the praises of our great city in forums like these and others.

You know where to find me.

Bull City Booster


25 Common Misperceptions About Durham and the Realities Behind Them

300+ Great Things About Durham

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Baldwin Scholars experience during the Duke lacrosse scandal

As a fan of women in science and medicine and father of a little girl, I get periodic updates from one of the country's best academic personal development programs for young female scholars: The Baldwin Scholars Program at Duke University. Named for Alice M. Baldwin, the first female faculty member at Trinity College (the forerunner to Duke University), the Baldwin Scholars program provides a curriculum and framework for young women to cultivate their leadership skills from day one on campus.

The lacrosse scandal this year has provided an unusual living laboratory in which the scholars have had to confront their own preconceptions about each other and the larger Duke community. Beyond issues of race, entitlement, and sexual violence, the greatest challenge to the Duke woman came an amazingly myopic but thought-provoking article in Rolling Stone, Sex and Scandal at Duke, by Janet Reitman.

Take, for instance, the following quote from Reitman's article:
Among Naomi and her friends, a certain weariness creeps in when discussing the whole scene. ''Girls reduce themselves a lot here in order to be able to have the sexual freedom that I think they don't have by doing that,'' says Naomi. She sighs. ''There's a big difference between the global values and feminist ideals we think we should be subscribing to and the behavior a lot of us exhibit -- and I do it too,'' she admits. But maybe not as much as some of her friends, she adds. ''One of my friends thinks she's the biggest feminist, but to me she is one of the biggest anti-feminists, just because of her sexual behavior'' -- which is hooking up with several guys in the course of a weekend, including one, a ''regular'' who ''really treats her like shit.''

This example (and there are many other more graphic examples in Reitman's article) illustrating the blurring between sexual freedom and simply being a sex toy of the jock/BMOC patriarchy led Tracy Clark-Flory to query outloud in Salon: Is feminism dead at Duke?

But, as always, how representative is Reitman's article of the collective of Duke women? The answer is never easy and the effort it takes to dissect multiple truths isn't always amenable to sound bites, or even a four-page Rolling Stone article.

The previous sentence is lifted in part from a very eloquent and frank essay on the front page of the new Baldwin Scholars newsletter that just came in the e-mail box yesterday. Co-Director, Dr. Donna Lisker, really caught my attention with her take on the rollercoaster ride of this past semester through the eyes of a program meant to celebrate and cultivate leadership and self-confidence in young women. With Dr. Lisker's permission, I'd like to reproduce it here in its entirety, just to give voice to the complex nature of the kinds of discussions we've had around town over the last few months:

An Alternative Image of Duke - Donna E. Lisker, Ph.D.

It’s been a rough few months at Duke. When the sexual assault allegations against the men’s lacrosse team broke in late March, those of us who work and study here found ourselves in the midst of a media maelstrom. Satellite trucks were lined up four deep, first on the main quad, then relocated to the parking lot of the Bryan Center. Anyone walking across campus was fair game for a roving reporter. The novelty of this situation quickly wore off, especially given the complexity of the issues rocking the campus and the deep emotions connected to those issues. How can you talk about the legacy of racism in a sound bite? How do you discuss the complicated intertwined history of Duke and Durham in 30 seconds or less?

Most reporters took the easy way out, seeking interview subjects who would declare their opinion in absolutes. This was certainly Rolling Stone’s approach; their reporter identified four undergraduate women, all sorority members, who believed staunchly in the innocence of the accused men. She then followed them around, took careful note of their social patterns, and wrote a piece that presented their social lives (focused heavily on alcohol, drugs, and sex) as typical of all Duke students.

I spent two hours with the Rolling Stone reporter when she was on campus. I agreed with her that some undergraduate women lead social lives that seem incompatible with their intelligence and ambition. We talked about why that happens, about how pleasing male peers becomes more important than staying true to one’s self. I talked about patriarchy, about effortless perfection, about some insidious aspects of female socialization. I also told her over and over and over again – that the social scene she was witnessing represented just one subculture at Duke, and that many Duke students would find it as unfamiliar as she did. Unfortunately, the reporter did not include that context in her article, which made it a one- sided piece, an incomplete and inaccurate portrayal of Duke.

What would a complete and accurate portrayal look like? I think back to how the Baldwin Scholars – 36 of them in the spring of 2006, 18 sophomores and 18 first-years – reacted to the accusations. We have a diverse group of women, nearly half of them women of color. We have varsity athletes (two from the women’s lacrosse team), feminist activists, sorority members, survivors of sexual violence, and political conservatives. Not surprisingly, they did not all agree on what had happened or on what should happen next. Different students approached the situation from different angles. Aria Branch appeared on Nightline with three other African-American students talking about the racial aspects of the Duke University situation. Our lacrosse players, Rachel Shack and Regan Bosch, appeared in an NBC piece about the success of the women’s team and the difficulty they had watching their male counterparts go through this ordeal. Rosanna Myers organized a meeting early on for women who wanted to protest the situation. Claire Lauterbach spearheaded a display of party posters, virtually all of them demeaning to women, that she and other Baldwin Scholars collected over the course of the year.

What was remarkable about this diversity of responses is that they all coexisted peacefully. The Baldwin Scholars gave one another the gift of respectful and constructive disagreement. What’s more, they did not let this highly polarizing experience split them by race, by campus affiliations, or by social class. They recognized that in a situation this complicated, there would be multiple truths, and they tried to see one another’s perspectives. In so doing, they were far ahead of most of the media professionals roaming campus throughout March and April. I spoke often of the Baldwin Scholars to the many reporters who interviewed me this spring; I wanted them to know about these remarkable young women leaders who were asking good questions and refusing to reduce the situation to its lowest common denominator. I thought they might learn something from them.

It was a stressful and difficult spring, but it convinced me of the value of the work we are doing with this program. Though the behavior portrayed in Rolling Stone is not ubiquitous, it’s true that too many undergraduate women pander to the low expectations of their peers, trading self-respect for popularity. The Baldwin Scholars provide an antidote to that phenomenon by stressing self-discovery, self-confidence, and being true to one’s own values. We were very proud of the way our Scholars handled themselves this spring and we look forward to their active participation in the campus culture conversations that will continue throughout the year.

Again, you can learn more here about The Baldwin Scholars Program at Duke University.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Upcoming performances at Helios Coffee

Yes, I know that I'm promoting a Raleigh establishment. However, the merger of Helios Coffee and Six String Cafe has my blessing as something that it of wonderful benefit to the greater Triangle music scene.

From the Six String Café mailing list:

Here is the weekly calendar for music at Helios Coffee Company in Raleigh. Look for the opening of The Six String Café at Helios with the addition of the 2nd floor music room. As always, you can find more information at or at

06/16/06 – Friday – Six String Café Presents The Parsons –
Traditional – 9pm - $6

06/17/06 – Saturday – Tangophilia – Tango Dancing – 9pm - $6

06/20/06 – Tuesday – Long Time Gone – Bluegrass – 9pm – Tips

06/21/06 - Wednesday - Keith's Spin – Urban Spin – 9pm – Free

06/22/06 - Thursday – Robin Wynn – Acoustic Rock – 9pm – Tips

06/23/06 - Friday - Six String Cafe Presents Big Medicine -
Traditional - 9pm - $7

06/24/06 – Saturday – Wry Dawn – Grass Rock – 9pm – Tips

06/28/06 - Wednesday - Keith's Spin – Urban Spin – 9pm – Free

06/30/06 - Friday - Six String Cafe Presents Jason Harrod - Folk/Pop -
9pm - $6