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Old July 26th, 2011, 04:27 AM   #1
hauntedheadnc
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It was a comfortable 98F in Charlotte, NC...

...with a heat index of 105, thanks to the humidity. Perfect strolling conditions, in other words.

It's been a couple of years since I've been to Charlotte. I went back in July, 2009 to watch a performance of Phantom of the Opera and not go to the Cheesecake Factory. To be honest, I hated Charlotte on sight for myriad reasons, which I will try not to discuss so as not to upset anybody who calls it home or does happen to like it.

For those of you who have already stopped reading in order to get a jump on composing your angry responses, let me say that no city -- no matter which city it is -- is going to appeal to everybody. There are people out there who hate Paris with a roaring red passion. There are people who hate Russellville, Arkansas. And yet, these cities are the penultimate home sweet home for other people, and that's fine. If Charlotte is where your soul sings, good for you. As for myself, it is definitely not a place I would want to call home.

On the bright side, I did finally get to eat at the Cheesecake Factory this time -- and was not impressed. Feel free to tell me you told me so. Also, and this was the main reason for going to Charlotte, my boyfriend and I went to Ikea. There we jostled among the massed gay and lesbian couples and discovered that Ikea has craftily made it so that the furniture you want has nothing else to match it, comes only in the wrong color, or is out of stock. We'll fix them though... By moving our bed to the left by just an inch or so, we can fit a dresser in on either side, and spite their lack of nightstands that matched the other dresser we wanted. I daresay that once word about this filters back to Ikea corporate HQ, heads will roll -- because customers are supposed to buy non-matching nightstands and like it, by God.

Anyway, once we had planned our assault on Ikea, we went for a long and rambling walk around Uptown.

















While it's awfully nice of the maps like this scattered around the downtown area to attempt to simplify the street plan for visitors, it's futile. The center city streets are actually canted at a 45-degree angle and beyond the core it just devolves into a hopeless tangle. One imagines the same thing occurred in Charlotte as in Asheville -- some developer on some long-ago 1920's afternoon giggling and burping scotch fumes while doodling on a map and the next day, behold! -- there's the map used to lay out the city's latest, greatest neighborhood. It also doesn't help that as they journey through the city, the streets just get in a mood and change names. Sometimes repeatedly. Just like Asheville.





Here's a tree growing out of the corpse of the Carolina Theater, one of the tiny sprinkling of historic buildings Uptown that somehow managed to escape the bulldozer. I imagine that whenever it's discovered that an historic structure in Charlotte has not yet been torn down, alarms sound at City Hall and in developers' offices all over town, so they can all swoop in and take care of that little problem right away.







Charlotte is, of course, a banking town and as such it tends toward the staid. Considering that my boyfriend and I are both long-haired ne'er-do-wells, it often appeared that we were the only men with long hair to be found for blocks around, and you can forget about tattoos. By contrast, in Asheville, the mayor herself is probably wearing ink. I realize this is a generalization and that long-haired men and people with tattoos are legion in Charlotte... but I'm coming from Asheville, dreadlock-and-tattoo capital of the free world, here so cut me some slack.















By taking this picture, I caused a nearby bank security guard to go into some kind of arm-waving fit. Apparently, by forcing photographers to move a block away to take pictures of the big bank towers, the nation is much safer. After all, if a terrorist were going to scope out the logistics of blowing up Bank of America, they could only do so from the base of the building. They would never, for example, disguise themselves as an interested party and infiltrate the building itself, or use a much nicer camera than mine and zoom in on HVAC equipment from a nearby building, or use satellite photography... Rest easy, Charlotte. Your rent-a-cops are ever-vigilant.













Before...



...After. This is what stands on the site now.











This is Settlers Cemetery, Charlotte's favorite dog shit repository. Most of the tombstones had been either damaged or broken, or stolen completely.























A birdhouse shaped like the bank tower behind it? Somewhere, a bank executive snarls and condemns frivolity.



An historic department store building, decorated with statues, no less? All over the city, developers are bedridden with fevers borne of the knowledge that it exists. It still stands. Eventually members of the city planning and development boards have to be summoned to soothe the developers' brows with cold compresses. "There, there..." they say, "you'll get to tear it down one day."









Buildings like this and the other remaining historic buildings in Uptown show that Charlotte once had the potential to be lovely in a way both deep and sublime.









But back to reality. Before...



...and after. This replaced the building described on the plaque.















Charlotte, circa 1948. Probably 90% of this is gone now.





































Here is a dead junebug being eaten by ants.











The message being sent here seems to be, "Hi there! I'm available for all your face-eating needs!"





"Skyscrapers bitten. Reasonable rates. Inquire within."



















Ratcliffe on the Green: "Proudly freaking out little kids since... I dunno. Sometime earlier this year, probably."

























The irony here is that if you actually were to attempt to play in this fountain, you'd send several bank rent-a-cops into arm-waving fits. Meanwhile nearby, some kind of fashion shoot was going on with your prerequisite miserable, pouting model in a dress that won't fit anybody but another model and her standard-issue gay black male photographer.











Before...



...After. This stands on the site of the esteemed Mr. Weil's home.







In a darkened bedroom in the Myers Park section of the city, a bedridden developer weeps to his wife, "It's still there, Bootsie! It's old, and it's still standing -- it's like it's mocking me! It's not fair! It's not fair at all! Why can't I tear it down? It's like no matter what I do, I just can't tear the damn thing down!" Bootsie smiles gamely -- as much as the botox will allow, at any rate -- and pats his hand.









Note the hard features, the squinting eyes, the visage shaped by a life that began miserably, will end miserably, and will be miserable in between -- the life of a poor, Southern mill worker. This woman looks like half the women in my family that I remember as a child.













Before...



...After. The good doctor's house was replaced decades ago by one of the blandest art deco buildings I've ever seen.





Back in Myers Park, the developer considers these two buildings and dissolves into gales of helpless weeping. Bootsie has to leave the room. There is nothing she can do, although she would tear them down herself if only she could, to make her husband feel himself again. But in the meantime, her good friend Barbara waits in a Bentley outside, and the links at Carmel Country Club wait for no woman.



















Meanwhile, over in the First Ward section of Uptown...





























This reminded me of Asheville.

























Were you aware that all of these houses were new? The condos and townhouses obviously were, but so are the houses. It all replaced whatw as, to my understanding, a bad neighborhood. However, despite that frenzied redevelopment, a couple of tiny scraps of the old neighborhood remain. A church and an ugly strip mall from the old hood still stand, as do these two shotgun shacks and another, much nicer church.





Just as a reminder, that church and these two little houses, all alone on their lot, are surrounded by the likes of this.













Sorry to take so many shots of these little houses but frankly, seeing that they and their neighboring church had survived even as they were engulfed by new urbanism... This was the first thing I have ever seen in downtown Charlotte that truly impressed me.



I'm guessing it's an earring.







































Here is a deranged person. Nobody would sit anywhere near her, as she was having a very loud, very angry conversation -- which also involved quite a bit of arm waving -- with nobody. Either that, or she was wearing a BlueTooth. I really miss the days when you could tell at a glance who was crazy because of the way they talked to themselves. Nowadays, it's much harder to be sure. It's the curse of technology.





I take some pleasure in knowing that if Queen Charlotte were to try walking around in this kind of heat in that kind of get-up, she would be on the ground with heat stroke in ten minutes, tops.



Now, I truly meant to end the thread with that picture of the statue of Queen Charlotte, but on the way to get some lunch, we passed another deranged person -- this one leaving no room for doubt whatsoever -- and I just couldn't help myself.

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Old July 26th, 2011, 05:42 AM   #2
Chadoh25
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Great photos!
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Old July 26th, 2011, 08:31 AM   #3
Linguine
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Nice....
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Old July 26th, 2011, 04:16 PM   #4
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nice shots.
this is one rich city but I can hardly see pedestrian people.
I'm guessing they are indoor enjoying the coolness of AC's.
here in Van, i'ts 57F right now and tend to be cooler at night
that one may wear light sweater/jacket.
Our summer hasn't really arrived yet and there you are enjoying yours.
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Old July 26th, 2011, 04:23 PM   #5
hauntedheadnc
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Quote:
Originally Posted by capricorn2000 View Post
nice shots.
this is one rich city but I can hardly see pedestrian people.
I'm guessing they are indoor enjoying the coolness of AC's.
here in Van, i'ts 57F right now and tend to be cooler at night
that one may wear light sweater/jacket.
Our summer hasn't really arrived yet and there you are enjoying yours.
Actually, as it got closer to lunchtime, the sidewalks were packed shoulder-to-shoulder. My boyfriend and I were out early in hopes of getting the pictures in before it got too blisteringly hot... which didn't work. It got plenty hot while we were out and about.

Thanks for looking and leaving your comments, everyone!
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