Saturday, April 29, 2006

Tar Heel Tavern #62 - The Best of Living in North Carolina

Welcome to the weekly reader of North Carolina, Tar Heel Tavern!

It's been a rough month with the news media here in the Triangle and from the mountains to the ocean, so I asked for stories regarding the best things about living in or visiting North Carolina.

My personal new best thing about living in NC is the new record shop that has been so badly needed in the Ninth Street business district of Durham. So, this week, THT is brought to you by Chaz's Bull City Records in Durham.

Open since last November, Chaz's is off Ninth Street at 1916 Perry St., just down from Cosmic Cantina and Ninth Street Dance Studios. Chaz's is the kind of indy/DIY place where I'd buy records (yes, "records") twenty years ago in grad school in Gainesville, FL (home to Tom Petty, Sister Hazel, and Less Than Jake). Owner/manager Chaz Martinstein is the consummate young hipster from Richmond by way of my old stompin' grounds of Boulder, Colorado.

Chaz's Bull City Records is a community experience - pet the dog, look through the used bins and local music, and catch up on what the kids are listening to. If you're lucky, you can even talk with his business-savvy girlfriend, Rachael, who owns the appropriately-named giftshop, Tre Bella, with her two sisters in West Village, together with a handcrafted handbag business as well. The unrelenting positive energy of these young entrepreneurs gives me great faith in the future of our Bull City.

Although a lot of us in the 40-49 demographic might feel uneasy in other "too cool" music shops, Chaz is so comfortable with his own hipness that he didn't laugh when I asked him to order the new Springsteen boxed set or chat with my 3 1/2-year-old daughter. He went off very seriously on a quest with his laptop to find the right Woody Guthrie collection that had a single song I'm trying to learn ("Ludlow Massacre"). Chaz even hosts musical performances in the shop, asking only for a $5 contribution to support the band's gas money.

In these days of corporate-driven, mind-numbing, lemming-leading radio and musical outlets, it is a pleasure to support Chaz's: music by the people and for the people.

Now, on to the show:
The Best of Living in (or Visiting) North Carolina

So, speaking of music, it is only appropriate to start out with the story My Day at Pratie Place by Melinama. She is an empty nester musician who sometimes co-blogs with her daughter Melina in NYC. I was just reminded that she and Bob, who play as traditional British Isles duet called Pratie Heads, had a free, open-air gig in Durham yesterday at Foster's Market. Dang, we were on the road to visit our family in Wilmington at the time - next time, friends!

We also had two fantastic photographic entries that really capture the beauty of living here this time of year. First is Central North Carolina in the Spring from Moomin Light. The self-described "dangers of an avid gardener with a new digital camera" truly capture the beauty of our region. The closure of her post with song lyrics from the Indigo Girls leads very nicely to our next submission.

Second in the photoessay category comes from Jude in Syracuse, the only regular out-of-state Tar Heel Taverner. I Am But A Visitor To This Place at Iddybud Journal captures North Carolina beauty with the yearning that can come only from someone who has left this place. Like James Taylor, Jude opens with, "In my mind I'm goin' to Carolina."

This week's submission from Waterfall's A Sort of Notebook describes Very Cool Science-Class Stuff. Reading her entry and links about her excitement in using the western NC trails as a classroom for her seventh-grade science class makes me wish I was back in junior high.

While we're on the topic of education, I'd be preaching to the choir when I say that the state education system of North Carolina has been a national leader for decades. However, even our great success has not been enough to protect our educational system from being victimized by cost-cutting and short-sightedness all too common in this political climate. Keeper of the THT and prolific blogger, Bora Zivkovic (Coturnix), posted a very nice overview of an essay on Nurturing Success in the Sciences by new NC State president, James Oblinger. Bora closes the post with an important paragraph that argues persuasively why better science education, not necessarily more scientists, is essential to an educated, critical-thinking democracy.

Consistent with this great scientific tradition, I should add that North Carolina has been home to a number of Nobel Prize winners including Gertrude Elion, George Hitchings, Martin Rodbell, Peter Agre, and even the well-known, surfer-dude developer of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), Kary Mullis, who spent a large part of his childhood in Lenoir.

Another high-profile blogger, Screwy Hoolie, submitted a post from Scrutiny Hooligans exemplifying the great grassroots political tradition of North Carolina by calling to the carpet Western NC Rep. Charles Taylor for his refusal to support a memorial for passengers and crew of Flight 93. The post is aptly titled, Charles Taylor: Surrender Weasel.

As Screwy Hoolie says,
"This post notifies NC that Taylor, recently under fire for being the only person on Planet Earth against a Flight 93 memorial, is cutting a deal to get the funding through. It took a political shitstorm to make him come around."

And that's all I had for this week. Thank you all for submitting your posts and putting your best foot forward on behalf of our great state. In my six years here, I've truly come to learn how many North Carolinians truly live our state motto, "Esse Quam Videri"; that is, "To be rather than to seem."

For those who would like to join this group of doers, please be sure to volunteer with Bora to host future issues of Tar Heel Tavern. I'd usually pass along submission info for the next host but a last check of the schedule revealed there is no one listed to host THT #63 on 7 May 2006. This process was really a lot of fun for me to get to know some of my fellow NC bloggers near and far, so think about volunteering even if you are early in your blogging career.

If I forgot anyone or misappropriated credit, please be sure to e-mail and I'll correct the situation as soon as I can. Thank you for reading!


Blogger Jude Nagurney Camwell said...

Great job hosting the Tar Heel Tavern, "BCB"! Thanks.

April 30, 2006 9:27 AM  
Blogger Waterfall said...

Nice job on the THT this week!

April 30, 2006 9:51 AM  
Blogger coturnix said...

Great Tavern!!!!!

April 30, 2006 11:51 AM  
Anonymous Anton Zuiker said...

Very nice. Thanks for a great job with the Tavern. I spent the day in the new Wild section of the Durham Museum of Life and Science, and will be raving about that shortly on There's a saying in Hawaii: 'lucky you live Hawaii.' That's how I feel here in North Carolina.

April 30, 2006 10:39 PM  
Blogger Bull City Booster said...

Hey folks, it's SO easy when you have such great material to work with! Thanks for your work and, Bora, thanks for the invitation.

Anton, hope you saw that I used your inspiration for the theme in the call for submissions. Looking forward to your post - we're members of the museum but have yet to see the new section. Looking forward to you promoting yet another gem of our community.

April 30, 2006 11:24 PM  
Blogger melinama said...

Good work, thanks! See you next time.

May 01, 2006 3:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Better brush up on your Latin: the state motto makes not qualitative judgements about that there quam.

May 07, 2006 5:33 PM  
Blogger Bull City Booster said...

Anon, very good point; there is no qualitative modifier - should be "to be rather than to seem." Correction made; advice appreciated.

May 07, 2006 10:26 PM  
Blogger MLight said...

Enjoyed the Tavern!!! (when I finally had time to read!)

May 08, 2006 2:37 PM  

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