Friday, June 30, 2006

My Blog Does NOT Have A Permit

A recent news article about the size of cities in the Charleston area surprised me. Sure I expected Mt. Pleasant and North Charleston to be among the leaders but my tiny little town of Hanahan posted a 6% gain since last year!

Of course, with 3,800 as a total population that's only about 230 new people.

Municipal governments of all sizes have to eke out income every way it can and Hanahan has found the mother lode : permits.

Nearly 50 years ago my parent left Society Street in Ansonborough (that's the "old Ansonborough" where nobody owned, everybody rented) and moved into their 800 square foot home on a corner lot out in the country just off Remount Road.

My dad was an expert carpenter and cabinetmaker so the first thing he did was extend one side of the house to build his 50' by 20' workshop. The porch out front was moved forward later and the kitchen grew about 20 feet toward the rear. Today, the modest home has 2000 sq.ft upstairs (under air as they say) and another 2,000 square feet downstairs including a huge workshop.

Couldn't do that today. Not in Hanahan. Nope.

Permits would be required for every step of the way. My dad was not a patient man and did not suffer fools too kindly. I chuckle to think of an inspector coming to HIS house to tell him HOW to do anything! He didn't take such comments from me and I was his middle son.

I am trying to keep the house nice for my elderly widowed Mom and I have met the enemy. Wish me luck.

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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Riding with the King - B.B. King & Eric Clapton

What a musical month this has been. As readers of this blog know, I enjoy live music concerts and will hop in the car for a 2-hour drive up to Myrtle Beach when the House of Blues brings in someone I really want to see.

The trick is to arrive around 5pm and have a burger or sandwich at HOB. Your dining receipt allows you to go to a "special" entrance with a covered walkway while the general public lines up and snakes back through the simmering paved parking lot amidst the three tiny shade trees.

Since you're out of the sun or rain, the decision on when to get in line depends on the artist. Two weeks ago, for Chicago Blues legend Buddy Guy, we showed our receipt one hour before the doors opened and we joined four others at the head of the line. Last Friday we were there to see B.B. King and joined the line 1 1/2 hours early and there were about 6 people ahead of us. Within 30 minutes, about 200 people were standing or sitting behind us.

Being in front of the line means you have an excellent opportunity to race in and grab one of the few barstools in the very large 2-story club. Or, you certainly are assured a spot right in front of the stage, leaning on the cushioned security railing. Either one is great because the doors open one hour before the show starts. You learn to be patient... and to wear comfortable shoes. A bonus for being in front, when the guitar picks are thrown to the audience, you'll probably get one!

King is on his 80th Birthday Tour and never sounded better. He sang and played his guitar he named "Lucille" and joked with the audience and his blues band which features 4 horns, a great bass, drums, keyboard and lead guitar. The band leader has been with him for 27 years and they've toured 90 countries. (I first saw King at Brittlebank Park in 1997 when he was only 71.)

The photo of Buddy Guy was taken in Columbia a few years ago at the Three Rivers Music Festival before he shaved his head. When I saw him last year in Atlanta at The Tabernacle he introduced his bald look. It was the night after he had been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

While waiting in line we talked with a local fellow who has been to 125 concerts at HOB and elsewhere. He had a tip on getting good placement for the upcoming Eric Clapton concert in Charlotte...join his fan club and have access to good prices for down front seating. It worked well! We have seats in the 8th row in October. It's assigned seating - like we had for 10th row for the Eagles in Charleston at the Coliseum - so my legs and feet will get a break. I'll have my ear plugs of course. Just in case.

Oh, one final note on music media, I've added a link to PeerFlix. I found it about a year ago and it's an excellent LEGAL Peer to Peer setup that lets you list DVDs that you have and enjoyed but don't need anymore. You get other DVDs from people and earn "points" to use for future trades. Each DVD to you is $1. I've had about 65 DVDs pass through here and, on each one I send out, I add a note to "check my blog." We do what we have to do.

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Saturday, June 17, 2006

Hey...People actually read this stuff!

Several months ago when I posted my first blog message, I had no idea that soon my comments would be read by people in 22 states...and the District of Columbia.

My "tracking program" also tells me that since I have been doing this, people from Canada, France, Ireland, Japan, The Philippines, Serbia, South Africa, Spain and Switzerland have read about the Piggly Wiggly logo I saw way up in New York City, my family's unusual connection with the Old Cooper River Bridge, my first (and only) landing on an aircraft carrier that recently sank in 37 minutes and my adventures as a Marine Corps and newspaper photographer.

My blog readers soon will learn that I know how to land the Goodyear blimp in an emergency, that I hung out daily for four months with Charles Manson (Monday through Friday, except holidays) and I plunked down $950 for an enjoyable 30 day AMTRAK round trip Charleston.

Think about it. It was round trip, get it?

A year ago I rode the rails up through DC and NYC to Montreal where for 5 days I tried to remember my college French then trained down to Toronto to board The Canadian< for a 3 1/2 day mini-"Orient Express" trip across the Canadian Prairie, over their version of the Rocky Mountains and into Vancouver in British Columbia.

Back in the States again I reboarded AMTRAK in Seattle and headed south, stopping to spend time with my daughter in San Francisco, a son in San Diego and - backtracking - 4 days in Denver with my younger daughter. "Dad, I'm exhausted! We've done more sightseeing in 4 days than I have done in 4 years. Good Lord, Pike's Peak - Got Oxygen?"

I look forward to more blogging and more sharing of experiences. I read the other Lowcountry sites and enjoy being part of an exciting and interesting group of local people.

The Block Party, er, the BLOG party, last month was a great opportunity to meet some of the people behind the posts: the Mustang guy, the bloke from London who likes Whole Foods and our candy bars, the Knitting Lady Who Was Always Knitting and the "walk this Way" person with a camera, among others.

Years ago when I was a photographer for the Union-Tribune in San Diego, a reporter and I were sent to interview a man - he was born before the Wright Brothers invented powered flight - whose son was going to walk on the moon. So much in the span of just one lifetime.

That's kind of how I feel about blogging. Indeed we live in interesting times. Wow.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

This Northern pig looks familiar...

During a Memorial Day weekend trip to New York City, I took time out from Broadway shows to roam around colorful Little Italy in Manhattan, searching for a particular New York Style Pizza. Imagine my surprise - and my double take - as I spotted a familiar corporate face from Charleston. I was "Sticking With The Pig" in the Big Apple.

I had the address of Lombardi's, a pizzeria that had opened in 1905 and was recognized for its fine pies and Neopolitan atmosphere. About 2-3 blocks from where a Peroni bier and thin crust hot slices covered with melted cheese and crisp pepperoni were waiting for me, a NYPD officer held us back on the sidewalk as a high school band marched past, horns blaring, followed by men proudly carrying banners and a large statue of a Saint.

I later found out the figure was St. Anthony and the occasion was a huge Italian Saint's Day block party and carnival. They had cordoned off about 4 blocks and set up booths for foods and games and the place was thronged with happy, laughing crowds of people of all ages. My eye went to a pork products booth and I saw the recognizable South Carolina icon logo. Hmm, now I wondered, who had it first? The Italians or the Pluffmudders? Was the highly vaunted trademark simply lifted from a ClipArt booklet? Was some high-priced ad agency paid handsomely to come up with this?

My long weekend in The City was filled with many diverse happenings and photo ops and I'll share some more with you later. Right now we should ponder if Piggly Wiggly is preparing to open stores a little further up the coast. What about Publix?

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