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Schools rock, Raleigh tows 

"I am ashamed to be part of this city. I have worked here, schooled here, run a business here for the last 20 years. I have had such hopes for this city. I knew that Raleigh had a long way to go to even begin to measure up to its culturally-diverse, intelligent and progressive neighbors in this region, but I still had hope. After two decades, I see that this is simply not going to happen."

Had you going, didn't I? Thought it was just ol' Petey doing his negative shtick, huh? Well guess what--the above came across my desk from a person whose name, gender and ethnicity remain unknown to me.

Just when I was ready to actually try to say something nice about Raleigh, my buds Mr. Jolly, Jen, C.J. and I were porch sittin' and likening our little town to Walton Mountain after Rolling Stone listed us (to be fair, along with Durham and Chapel Hill) as No. 2 in their list of "Schools that Rock" (above Austin, 4; Nashville, 5; San Francisco, 7; Athens, 8; and Portland, 10).

But the above lament arrived along with another story in The New York Times--we can hold the banner high as now having a national reputation as one of the best places--not for an Ethiopian dinner or a blue martini, not as a place for a day in a park or a museum, nothing so common and familiar as any of those, oh no. The story says that Raleigh shared national standing as being the best place to (drum roll please) have your car towed (for Raleigh natives, old and familiar news).

Boy, oh boy, that kind of draw is sure to get 'em to drop the plow handles and flock to the con-vention center. "Say Marge, I'm sick of hogs, whacha say we git us to Raleigh, see 'em drop that nut on New Year's and pay a hunnert bucks to get th' Buick back." Fun, fun, fun!

I'm feeling lazy today, so I'll just kick back and let my anonymous correspondent continue administering the ritual jack-slapping.

"Drive along the streets of downtown Raleigh. What do you see? Boarded up buildings. Vacant lots. Horrific-looking, rundown businesses. The sight of a collective, city-wide jackheadedness that is killing this city and its inhabitants. Just because a few visionaries built some nice condos down there doesn't mean the city is revitalizing. It is anything but revitalized! Just because you have a new convention center landlocked in a city that won't allow you to park anywhere doesn't mean you are a cultural mecca! Just because some forward-thinking artists and non-traditional business owners made Glenwood Avenue a halfway nice place to visit [you still can't park there] doesn't mean the city is full of 'walkable streets.' As for historic districts, you're tearing down the very heart of what could make Raleigh sing: the so-called 'Warehouse District,' which includes the coolest spaces with the most potential the city has--for what? A rail system that is supposed to serve the multitude of folks downtown who would propose to leave from the grand station near West Street and go where? To the airport? No! Of course not! To where from where? ... If a city does not foster culture and creativity--as well as provide attractive, accessible restaurants, clubs and cultural centers--it will not thrive or attract key people who contribute to the city's growth.

"It is clear that our city's leaders have no clue, no means of working creatively, cooperatively and collectively to preserve and revitalize Raleigh. You have been exposed once again--and this time, I [for one] have had it."

Whew. That made my ears sting. I can't add much except a little addendum to Raleigh's pissant Illuminati: This is the rage that you and your short-sighted folly are engendering. There is a revolution brewing. People are sick of the pocket-padding, the secret meetings, the idiotic and unresponsive "government." In your zeal to make a quick buck, you are fouling your own nests. This place has so much potential, so much creativity that the disconnect between what is and what could be is as different as two dimensions.

As a young man I observed in front of the White House recently screaming at the top of his lungs put it: "The only question now is do we hang them from their necks or from their feet, like Mussolini."

Well put, thought I.

More by Peter Eichenberger

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