The Road Goes on Forever and the Party Never Ends: The Mayoral Race and Jobs

So the upcoming mayoral election has me questioning my future in Charleston. I can’t find one person running who I don’t have major problems with. Let’s look at some things. Part 3: Jobs

Charleston is a city steeped in history. That presents all sorts of challenges. How do we as a city retain what makes us unique while moving into the second decade of the 21st century? I moved to Charleston (for the first time) in 1998. I was drawn to the fact that downtown Charleston still had beautiful and old buildings (there were a couple exceptions to this rule – the library on King St and the Government building on Meeting being the most egregious offenders). It was a city with secrets older than my country, waiting to be discovered. I’ve always been drawn to the fact that the Pirates never really left Charleston, they just became a little more genteel. I wasn’t the only person drawn to the area, as evidenced by Charleston’s population explosion and by the hundreds of thousands of tourists that visit our city. Businesses have also come to call Charleston home.

Lately our Mayor has come out against Unions. He is the definition of a Blue Dog Democrat through and through. If you want to look how far right the Democrats have come, look at how they revere an anti Union mayor. Because he’s held power for so long I guess the Democrats have been looking past his policies and only see the letter next to his name. One of my biggest problems with the local party is that no one calls him out on his bullshit. Here’s the thing. Charleston needs Unions now more than ever. Our restaurants and hospitality workers aren’t going to be able to live in the city that they work in without unionizing. Our workers need better protection on the job. How many stories are there in F&B about a server getting fired because he or she didn’t reciprocate feelings towards a general manager? How much longer are we going to tell ourselves that the guy doing the dishes will one day own one of these corporations (restaurant groups)? How many more internationally owned hotels must go up, only to ship out the profits every night instead of letting some of that money come home with the workers? It’s our land, our city, and our way of life. Let’s keep it and stop selling our citizens to the highest bidder. Let’s vote for a candidate willing to support Unions.

Blackbeard’s crew faced better management than most hospitality workers

No candidate has come out in favor of organized labor. Thankfully with organizations such as BACE, the workers voices are starting to be heard (although I’d like a little more fire and brimstone in their voice).

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The Road Goes on Forever and the Party Never Ends: The Mayoral Race and Crime

So the upcoming mayoral election has me questioning my future in Charleston. I can’t find one person running who I don’t have major problems with. Let’s look at some things. Part 2: Crime in the Holy City

A couple months back a friend of mine came to me and told me how she was drugged at a bar downtown, put into a taxi where she was driven to the battery, then put into another vehicle where she was driven to a North Charleston apartment complex, raped, put back in the vehicle, and dropped off (still drugged) in West Ashley in a neighborhood she didn’t recognize. She went to the hospital and completed a rape kit. Later, she spoke to the detective handling her case. She was told that there is one detective that handles the rape cases in Charleston and if there were cases such as homicides, etc, the rape kit could take months to process. It’s been 9 months and the kit has still not been processed, and she has resigned herself to the fact that it probably never will be.
My friend, and all victims of rape, deserve more than one detective investigating charges. Even when my friend called the detective and left additional information on the case (including a license tag number for the taxi in question) she was never called back. When she asked the detective why only one officer would take the rape cases for this city she was told that it made the male detectives uncomfortable to deal with rape cases.

There are many problems with crime in this city. Instead of dealing with them we have our police force out on King St on a Friday night making sure no one walks down the street with a beer, we have our investigators making sure college kids don’t throw a keg party, and we have a fully funded “livability” court making sure that I don’t rent my living room to a tourist on the weekend.

Hardy-Boys

Riley and Mullen solve the case of the loud music coming from a bar after going to their detective guide books.

Here’s a wake up call to our mayoral candidates: Our city and police department resources aren’t making the city better if they can’t fight actual crime. Stop using our officers for revenue collection. Use them to make sure our friends, our family, our loved ones, and perfect strangers aren’t RAPED and MURDERED.

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The Road Goes on Forever and the Party Never Ends: Mayoral Race in Charleston

So the upcoming mayoral election has me questioning my future in Charleston. I can’t find one person running who I don’t have major problems with. Let’s look at some things. Part 1: I-526

First of all, I-526 is complete. This push to extend it is not only a waste of tax payer money ($720,000,000.00 dollars to be exact), but it’s also poised to destroy wetlands and farmlands. Am I the only one who remembers that we are a coastal city that sometimes gets hit by hurricanes and barrier islands and wetlands protect the city from hurricanes? Keeping Johns Island (the fourth largest island on the US East Coast) as a rural island with agricultural and fishing industries is not only good for Charleston’s food and beverage industry, it’s beneficial when the next Hugo decides to wreck havoc on this city. I know that wealthy people on Kiawah donate to candidates campaigns (as do real estate developers) but it’s time to stop this mad talk. Fix the roads we have now. Fix the roads on Johns and James Islands that don’t have proper drainage. Don’t destroy the natural beauty of Johns Island with another bridge. Don’t destroy estuaries and wetlands needed for shrimp and fishing industries. Don’t leave Charleston more vulnerable to another Hurricane. Don’t destroy the farms on Johns Island needed to supply our city with fruits and vegetables. The argument that traffic is bad on Johns Island and would be alleviated by building roads is ludicrous. It would behoove our candidates to read any one of the many traffic engineering studies that show that building new roads doesn’t decrease traffic. The other part about this that is terrible is the fact that many of these properties are owned, and have been owned, by black families going back decades. This is a culture that is going to be destroyed because some asshole who just moved here from Ohio has decided that it’s inconvenient for him to sit in traffic, despite being completely aware that traffic was a concern before he bought his new development house. Why are we catering to that? Why are we rewarding bad behavior? Let’s keep culture, farm lands, fishing and shrimping industries all alive. Don’t extend I-526. 

Every single person running for mayor has come out in support of extending I-526. 

Why is Charleston intent on destroying it’s culture? Stop the madness.

My mom and daughter playing patty cake on the back porch of our home on Johns Island

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Don’t Fall Apart On Me Tonight: Infidels of love and religion in Memphis

This month has once again brought lots of travel. The rental car guy and I are on a first name basis at this point in the year. I’m currently writing this blog post while stuck in Greenville as my wife spends her weekend working a moonlighting position. The weekend before we were in Memphis attending the wedding of friends of ours.  

 
 

the rental car

 

My friends Laura and Evan decided to get hitched a couple of months ago. I’ve known them both for a number of years. Laura and I went to college together and Evan and I worked together. Evan is the person I refer to as my little brother, despite our lack of blood relatives and the fact that he’s a pretty big dude. So while on my last trip to Memphis, Evan and Laura asked me to officiate their ceremony. I am an ordained minister, which is not a fact that I readily tell most people. It usually involves quite a lot of questions because I’m also an atheist. But I have performed a wedding ceremony in the past, a ceremony which Evan also attended and got the idea that I should speak in front of his new family.

So the wife and I began to prepare for this weekend. Tracy started pumping and freezing extra breast milk as my Inlaws said that they would watch our child. She bought herself a sensible dress that she could also wear to work and I got a couple of my suits dry cleaned. And then I had to write what I was going to not only tell the couple on their wedding day, but what I was going to tell their families.

Laura and Evan both have family members that are Deep South religion. They are conservative, right wing, bible thumpers. I’m pretty sure the preacher father from Footloose would be somewhere in attendance for this wedding.  

So I asked some friends for advice. One of my greatest friends and influences in life is ordained as a Southern Baptist minister. He has a masters degree in theology (among his multiple masters degrees) and I turned to him for answers I had regarding the ceremony. I also was able to turn to my sister, a practicing Catholic, for advice. And finally, from the wedding I performed before for two other (atheist) friends, I just copied their vows. In the end I (we all) came up with a pretty good speech.  

So I packed up the car. I managed to pack my entire closet I’m pretty sure. I normally pride myself in my ability to pack light. This was not the case. We had also rented a Ford Escape, which turned out to have (much) less interior room than our Toyota sedan we normally drive. We had this sucker packed between me, the wife, and the kid. We got on the road and headed to Knoxville. There we spent the night and dropped the kid off with her grandparents.   

Grandpa and Baby

They were excited to watch her a weekend, we were pretty excited about sleeping through the night and having some alone time. This was the first time my wife would leave our kid overnight. So then we went to Memphis to meet up with the wedding party.

The first night we were there we stayed at the groom’s house. We had the rehearsal and then the dinner. Afterwards the bride had taxed us with keeping Evan on the straight and narrow.  

Bride, Groom, Officiant

 
I learned the day of the rehearsal that the wedding procedure was going to be left to me. Which temporarily caused an “oh shit” moment. But, with years of bartending lessons to have learned from, I faked it and everyone seemed to think I knew what I was talking about.

After the rehearsal, the dinner was at Andrew Michael’s Italian Kitchen. The wife and I made an agreement that I would drive Friday night and she would drive Saturday, after the wedding. The food there was fantastic, once again (I wrote about a dining experience there in another blog post). It was a 5 course meal that they pulled off for 53 people.  

The next day Evan and I were up at 7am for haircuts and breakfast. Well, he was up for a haircut. Because of the medicine I’m on I can’t shave (see the other blog posts about this). Because I can’t shave I also have kept my hair long. I currently look like the cover of Bob Dylan’s album “Infidels”.  

We get to the salon where one of my old regulars from Memphis, and one of Evan’s current is cutting hair. Rob is a throw back barber. He gives fantastic cuts and shaves, and does so while telling (in)appropriate barber shop joke.  

Rob might also be the inspiration for a character from “The Simpsons”

  The groomsmen broke out the beer at this point (8:30am) and started drinking, laughing, and generally doing a great job of releasing any pre wedding anxiety Evan might have. Around 9:30 or 10 two 12 year old boys came in with their dad. I’m pretty sure they were going back to school on Monday with a new vocabulary.  

After the barber shop we headed out to the wedding site, but not before stopping to grab a TV from one of the groomsmen’s houses. See, the other big thing going on in Memphis that day was the Old Miss / Memphis football game. Memphis has a pretty decent team this year and it seemed like an upset might occur of a mighty SEC team and the city was a buzz with excitement. Memphis is a city where maybe 20% of the population pulls for the Tigers, 20% for the Volunteers, 20% for Old Miss, 20% for Alabama, and 20% for Arkansas. So for that 1/5 to finally be even in a game with an SEC team was a big deal. The Tigers ended up wining, pulling the upset, and moving into the top 25. 

Evan, Bob Dylan, Dave Matthews

 
After watching the game (I mean getting dressed) we went for photos.  

Wedding Party

  Evan saw Laura and the water works flowed. And then came my moment.  Err, Laura and Evan’s moment.

I was able to mix in stories about my dealings with Evan and Laura, with information that they had given me about how they felt around each other. I was able to pull from multiple religious texts (start quoting the Quran at a wedding in rural Tennessee. I dare you. I did it.). I’m an atheist, however, I’m smart enough to know that religious texts do offer some relevant advice on how to be a good and just person. 

The ceremony went over well and I believe everyone was happy with the service. Afterwards at the reception everyone danced to old Stax hits, ate hot chicken, and drank wine (or maybe bourbon from an inside suit pocket).  

That Diet Coke can might have had Bourbon in it…

  Then we wished the couple well, said our goodbyes and went and slept all night long. We got up early, jumped in the car, and were ready to be reunited with our daughter.  We had missed her, being away for 2 days had seemed like 2 weeks.

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Viral matters

At what point does social media make a difference? When I heard about the “ice bucket challenge” I asked the young woman who was explaining it to me, “what is it raising awareness for”. She checked her smart phone and came back with her answer a minute later. She informed me it was to raise awareness for a sick baseball player (in reality it was to raise awareness for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). When a well meaning friend nominated me as a participant, I figured donating money to local charities was a better use of my time and money.

The “ice bucket challenge” is just one example. We’ve had so many hashtags and social movements on social media they’ve all become so watered down. The latest I’ve seen, #masculinitysofragile, had become watered down from its original intent within a matter of hours it seemed.  

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media sites are really cool. They allow you to share information so quickly with such a large group of people. But sometimes, just remember to look up the actual studies. Check that meme you saw on a fact checking site. And always remember: #Kony2012

  
 

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