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Friday, November 29, 2013

Paint it yellow: a facelift on Durham's Main Street

Posted By on Fri, Nov 29, 2013 at 10:06 AM

The building at 433 W. Main St., at the corner of Great Jones Street in Durham, was named the "Professional Center"—as opposed to the Amateur Center?—and sits on the lot where, until circa 1972, a Phillips 66 gas station used to be. (Endangered Durham has an excellent architectural discussion and visual history of this corner.) Constructed in 1974, the Professional Center used to be a drab, faceless edifice that sucked the energy out of an otherwise vibrant Main Street. So last month, I was delighted to see the owner Robert Rosenbaum and local architect David Arneson do something bold with...

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Wanted: wreath hangers. Must love heights.

Posted By on Sun, Nov 24, 2013 at 11:14 AM

Last week I saw Everybody Street, a wonderful film about New York street photographers, at the Full Frame Theater at the American Tobacco Campus. One of my favorite photogs, Joel Meyerowitz, is featured in the movie; he co-wrote Bystander: A History of Street Photography, a must-read for those of you interested in the art form. One of the points in the book, although I can't remember who said it, is that street photography is the union of formalism (geometry, shape, patterns) with surrealism. The challenge is to capture that union on the fly, in the chaos of the street....

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Inside Liberty Warehouse, a hidden history

Posted By on Thu, Nov 21, 2013 at 12:26 PM

For several years, the INDY stored copies of the newspaper at the historic Liberty Warehouse on Rigsbee Street in Durham. Early on Wednesday mornings, the trucks from Fayetteville, where the INDY is printed, would unload the papers; and our delivery drivers would then distribute them Triangle-wide. We now use a warehouse in Raleigh and a new one in Durham, as it's likely that the former tobacco auction house, with its leaky roof and its state of general disrepair, will eventually be torn down. Since part of its roof collapsed after a heavy rain more than two years ago, displacing the warehouse's...

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Peering through the fence of the former Mary Duke Biddle estate

Posted By on Tue, Nov 19, 2013 at 8:20 AM

Kent Street is the dividing line between Lakewood, a middle- and working-class neighborhood, and Forest Hills, which is famous for its million-dollar homes. The former residence of Mary Duke Biddle, the eight-and-a-half acre estate backs up to Kent Street, and is shielded from view by fencing and bamboo. I often look through the fence and marvel at the buildings and grounds. Recently, I spied this statue—I had never seen it before—on the porch of the gardener's cottage. It seems like he or she is hiding behind a tree to avoid being seen through the windows of the Tudor mansion;...

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

A kids' pop-up bakery, no GMOs

Posted By on Sun, Nov 17, 2013 at 10:46 AM

The Lakewood neighborhood in southwest-central Durham epitomizes the diversity of the Bull City. Racially and economically mixed, progressive—during the 2012 primary, Vote Against Amendment One signs were more prolific than dandelions in the lawns— it is a hodgepodge of woodsy back yards, '50s ranch homes with toys in the driveway and mid-century bungalows, their verandas often crowded with people in the summertime. On Saturday morning, handmade signs, the colors running from the overnight rain, pointed the way: Fun Friends Bakery, owned, operated and named by two young girls, Ella and Ameerah, had popped up on James Street. Their friends,...

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

How do we react when we meet a homeless person?

Posted By on Thu, Nov 14, 2013 at 12:25 PM

When I passed this homeless man on Roxboro Street Sunday afternoon, I felt unsure of what to do. First, I tried to wake him to see if he was OK. Although he didn't respond, he was breathing and sleeping deeply. And then I took his picture. I feel conflicted about how to deal with the problem of homelessness. I have compassion for people living on the street; it could happen to any of us. They are no less human for not having a roof over their heads, or for having a drug or alcohol addiction that prevents them from...

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A gospel brass band pops up in Durham's Five Points

Posted By on Tue, Nov 12, 2013 at 7:32 AM

An editor’s blog or column is historically a place for a publication to express its institutional voice on pressing issues. Yet unlike the INDY's Bob Geary, whose Citizen columns are compelling and insightful, that is not my calling. But I am a storyteller and an insatiable flaneur, a French word that originally meant stroller—or less charitably, loafer—but has come to signify an urban spectator, "a way of understanding the rich variety of the city landscape." In that vein, I'm recalibrating the editor's blog to document the Triangle's urban vibrancy during my weekly 20–30 miles of wandering. (I burn through...

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