Daily rush-hour commuters may be surprised to learn they’re living in one of the top 10 driver-friendly cities – but four North Carolina cities have earned that honor.
The personal finance website WalletHub just released a list called “2015’s Best and Worst Cities to Be a Driver,” and Greensboro is the top-rated North Carolina city, at number four.
Durham is rated at number four among U.S. cities, while Winston-Salem is ranked at number nine, and Raleigh is number 10.
WalletHub’s rankings are based on average gas prices, average annual traffic delays, rates of car theft and car clubs per capita.
The number one city for driving, according to WalletHub, is Lubbock, TX.
Ranking lowest among the list of one hundred most populated cities is good old New York, NY.http://chapelboro.com/news/national/four-nc-cities-make-wallethubs-most-driver-friendly-list/
It had to be Kansas. Kansas. Kansas.
Roy Williams may be over the heartbreak and heartache his leaving Lawrence caused in 2003, but it’s just getting worse with me. The tweets, emails and blog posts are already out there, claiming that Bill Self has built a better program at KU than ol’ Roy has at UNC over the last 10 years.
Statistics don’t show that (they’re pretty damn even, in fact), but the fact that Tar Heels have now gone home at the hands of the Jayhawks in three of the last six NCAA Tournaments makes it seem that way to a lot of basketball fans.
Both programs have been great all the way back to the Phog Allen and Frank McGuire eras, each having blip periods that caused them to change coaches. But the last 10 years have been basically even-steven, certainly close enough to disavow any notion that one guy has out-coached the other.
Kansas and Self have won more games and have a better record (300-58 for 84%) than Carolina and Williams (282-79 for 78%), but that is largely due to several factors over that 10-year span.
One, Self took over a Kansas team that Williams left in sounder shape than the one Roy inherited from Matt Doherty. Two, the Tar Heels had one dreadful season in the last 10 years, the 20-17 debacle that followed losing four starters off the 2009 national champions. And, three, Carolina’s overall pipeline to the pros has been better than Self’s at Kansas, which ironically has made it worse for UNC.
Thirteen players have been drafted in the first round during the Williams era, 11 of them who left a total of 17 seasons on the Tar Heel table. Compare that to Kansas under Self, which has produced nine first-round picks, one who left after one year, two who left after two and another two who left after three seasons. If you add Mario Chalmers, the MOP of the 20008 Final Four who was drafted in the second round, the Jayhawks have lost 10 seasons of eligibility in the last 10 years.
As for the NCAA Tournament, Self and Kansas have been there all 10 years but with less results than Carolina and Williams in nine trips. KU has one national championship (’08) and reached another Final Four (2012) and could still improve on those numbers this season. The Jayhawks have gone out in three regional finals, one Sweet Sixteen (and counting), one second round ouster and two embarrassing first-round upsets (Bucknell and Bradley in 2005 and ’06).
Carolina under Williams has those 2005 and ’09 NCAA titles, one other Final Four and three Elite Eight game goners. Sunday’s loss to KU was the third second-round ouster for UNC and Williams, who holds the record of 23 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances with at least one victory. Both Self and Williams have won three national Coach of the Year honors at their current schools.
Their conference records are pretty close, with Self winning a few more regular-season and tournament titles in the Big 12 than Williams in the ACC. But, over that 10 years, the ACC has been the better league top to bottom and won three national championships to KU’s one for the Big 12.
So don’t give me that hoo-ha that Kansas has a better program than Carolina. They are both great. What skews the pooch are those three losses to KU in the three NCAA match-ups, and each one has a story to itself.
At the 2008 Final Four at San Antonio, the Tar Heels were a slight favorite over Kansas after winning both the ACC regular season and tournament and losing only two games all season. But this was the first time Williams faced Kansas, the still-angry KU crowd and all the storylines took away from the game itself.
The Heels played horribly, fell behind by 40-12 in the first half and made a late push that fell short in the 84-68 crusher. Williams (wearing the infamous KU sticker) stayed to watch the Jayhawks win the national championship two nights later, only after Memphis did not foul Kansas with a three-point lead and Chalmers’ dramatic bomb sent the game into overtime.
When the 2012 NCAA brackets came out, Carolina was on another collision course with Kansas in the Midwest Regional, hoping to have John Henson back at full strength from the wrist he sprained in the ACC Tournament. Of course, it got worse after Kendall Marshall went down in the second-round win over Creighton. With back-up point guard Dexter Strickland already sidelined by a knee injury, the Tar Heels were left with freshman reserve Stilman White, who played admirably in the 13-point loss to the Jayhawks in St. Louis.
The committee did it again this season, when it was an even worse scenario for Carolina, which lost two sophomores, one junior and one senior from its 2012 starting lineup that when whole was the only serious threat to Kentucky’s national championship. And the suits sent the Tar Heels to Kansas City (which is like playing Carolina in Greensboro).
By then, UNC had made the NCAA Tournament only due to perhaps Williams’ best coaching job of his 25-year career. Reluctantly, in early February, he scrapped his two low-post offense for a small lineup of four guards and little presence in the paint. The Heels launched and made enough three-pointers to turn their season around and get another NCAA bid, but they went to the Dance living by the long bomb, which was enough to give Williams the hives.
And, yes, they died that way, shooting barely 30 percent for the game and giving in to Kansas’ best half of the tournament thus far. So Carolina under Williams is 0-3 against KU and Self. And, since they will never play in the regular season by mutual consent, it will stay that way until the next time they meet in the NCAA tournament.
With at least five guys 6-9 or bigger next season, Williams will go back to the way he likes to play and, sooner or later, he’ll see his old school again. The NCAA committee seems to like that kind of theater for TV.
Even though, as of this moment, we hate it.
All photography in Hoop It Up is provided by Todd Melet.http://chapelboro.com/ford-corners/kansas-kansas-kansas-ugh/
Last Tuesday, The Brand New Life trundled their operation down I-40 to heat up the Carrboro eve at The Cat’s Cradle. The band incorporates elements of different types of music into what materializes as a kind of fusion jazz/rock/world beat amalgamation which is a tremendously refreshing sound to the music lover’s ear.
Reminiscent of some sort of gourmet quiche that hit’s several buds on one’s taste palate, The Brand New Life’s sound is hard to put your finger on, although it is easy to dance and let the sweet sounds of their horns move your body. The band draws on influences from Fela and Sean Kuti, and boasts a diverse array of musicians in order to create a unique sound.
On this evening, bassist Seth Barden was really capturing the energy of the moderately crowded Tuesday night dance floor, shaking his long hair to and fro as he switched between stand-up and electric bass on several numbers. I have had the pleasure of not only observing The Brand New Life’s growth as a group over the past four years, but also of knowing them personally. I have been watching some members of this band perform their craft since high school, in venues like the musty Grimsley High School auditorium, the Greensboro school from which several current and previous members of the group graduated.
One of the defining aspects that has always captivated me is their ability to keep time and rhythm, while seemingly so much is happening on stage. Tuesday evening was no different, as I was again awed at Daniel Yount’s consistency on the drum set, complemented by the band’s array of Conga drums.
The drums and bass are just one prong of The Brand New Life’s attack on the eardrums, as horn players Walter Fancourt and Sean Smith assume the “front man” positions respectively, leading the crowd into and out of their various songs. The horns are like a spiraling whirlwind, capable of creating mass confusion while still pleasurably keeping the rhythm and moving the song along nicely.
The funny thing is, these guys make it look easy, in spite of the potential difficulty with so many sounds and band-mates to account for on stage. Their transitions are fluid; the sound of the band is organized confusion that just invades one’s soul. It is as if the extremities of the crowd members have surrendered their wills to music, while The Brand New Life plays puppeteer on stage. Just when the beat begins to linger, the effects of the lone electric guitar pick up and revitalize listeners and band mates alike.
The Brand New Life is a smorgasbord of musical composition and talent. The music is as diverse as the members who comprise the outfit. As I mentioned, some members of the group bring their talents from right here in Greensboro, NC, while some come all the way from West Africa. In talking to some of the attendees at the show, I was interested to hear some of the average listener’s opinions.
One comment specifically stuck out, to paraphrase: “Popularizing music like this here is like popularizing soccer in the United States: only the intelligent people get it.” While I do not watch too much Futbol myself, I perfectly understood this remark. The sound is so different from anything else, and seems to attract a very appreciative high-brow and intelligent set of ears. Taking in a Brand New Life show is like going to an educational symposium of sound. The attendee WILL come out the other side with more mental stimulation then he or she entered with.
As their set concluded, I thought how lucky I have been to witness the formation and transformation of The Brand New Life’s music. I have first-handedly observed a group of people whom I am honored to call my friends take their admittedly different sound from out of the basement and into the forefront of many North Carolinian’s musical consciousness. The show last Tuesday exemplifies their ability to shake a room with an original flavor, and The Brand New Life can be an inspiration to other bands that shy away from traditional categorization.
You can follow Charles on Twitter @This_Is_Boneshttp://chapelboro.com/columns/charles-frank/enter-the-brand-new-life/
Those who missed North Carolina Bookwatch on UNC-TV while it has been off the air to make room for “Festival’s” special programming can look forward to this Sunday afternoon at five o’clock. Bookwatch returns with an encore lineup of books, authors, and characters.
It all begins next Sunday with Rachel, the blue-eyed child of a black American GI and a Danish mother, who is the central character in an award-winning novel, “The Girl Who Fell From the Sky” by Heidi Durrow. Durrow herself is the child of a Danish mother and an African-American father, whose military assignments brought him to North Carolina. The author’s real struggle to find her identity provided the background for the similar fictional struggle that Rachel faced. But the novel is a darker story, a more compelling one, of a child whose mother loved her so much she wanted her child to die with her. (Durrow will be my Bookwatch guest at 5:00 p.m. Sunday, April 1.)
From “Birth of a Nation” in 1915 to Hattie McDaniel in “Gone with the Wind,” to Ethel Waters in “Member of the Wedding” in 1952, African-American actresses made their way into American movies in the first half of the last century. In her new book, “African American Actresses: The Struggle for Visibility, 1900–1960,” UNC-Chapel Hill professor Charlene Regester tells the real stories of these women who became stars in a time of segregation and oppression. (April 8)
John Hart’s novel “The Lost Child” won for him a second Edgar Award for the best mystery novel of the year. He says his latest, “Iron House,” is even better. It is a page-turner, with much of the action set on a large estate near Chapel Hill owned by a wealthy U.S. Senator. (April 15)
Hillsborough author, Anna Jean Mayhew, and a new novel, “The Dry Grass of August”, take us all the way back to the racially-segregated Charlotte of 1954 and the poignant story of a young girl in a family under stress, being pulled apart by forces the girl does not understand. It is a story, in Lee Smith’s words, that is “written with unusual charm, wonderful dialogue, and a deeply felt sense of time and place.” (April 22)
One of North Carolina’s most respected authors, UNC-Greensboro’s Michael Parker’s new book, “The Watery Part Of The World,” is an imaginative story that blends coastal history and legends with race and other complexities to make a gripping and lovely story. (April 29)
Best-selling author Steve Berry’s many visits to eastern North Carolina led him to set much of his newest adventure novel, “The Jefferson Key,” in and around the town of Bath, where fictional modern-day pirates live in palatial estates. (May 6)
Rosecrans Baldwin’s first novel “You Lost Me There” is set in Maine, and Baldwin has only recently settled in Chapel Hill. But when the book was named one of National Public Radio’s Best Books of 2010, a Best Book of Summer 2010 by Time and Entertainment Weekly, and a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, I knew Bookwatch viewers would want to learn about Baldwin and his highly praised book. (May 13)
Morehead Scholar and Rhodes Scholar Robyn Hadley used her experience in counseling students in the Alamance-Burlington school system to write a book for students planning for college. The book is “Within View, Within Reach: Navigating the College-Bound Journey.” Hadley’s good advice might be even more important for parents of prospective college students. (May 20)
Last fall, Charles Frazier’s “Nightwoods” made the New York Times bestseller list and stayed there for weeks. “Nightwoods” may not be the same kind of blockbuster that his “Cold Mountain,” but it is a solid success sales-wise. “Nightwoods” is set in Frazier’s beloved North Carolina mountains. With engaging characters and a story line of suspense and surprise, this short book is attracting a new group of fans. Because it is compact it opens the doors for a wider audience to become acquainted with Frazier’s magnificent gifts. Many people who did not finish “Cold Mountain” or “Thirteen Moons” are, through “Nightwoods,” enjoying Frazier’s luscious prose. (May 27)http://chapelboro.com/columns/one-on-one/bookwatch-returns-with-authors-who-were-worth-waiting-for/
What books are you looking forward to this fall? Let me know below.
I usually ride my bike around town, but on Wednesday July 20, the bike needed some adjustments, so I had to strap it to the back of my Honda Accord and drive up Franklin to The Bicycle Chain. After turning left into the parking lot between Vespa and Noodles and Company, I wound around to the right until I was next to The Bicycle Chain.
I had my choice of open parking spots and chose one in front of a white, graffiti-tagged wall with a sign that read, on quick glance, ‘For Customers Only.’ Knowing that my business would be brief and feeling confident that I was a customer, I unstrapped the bike and rode it in to the shop. I exited the shop around twenty minutes later, only to find there was not a silver Honda in sight. I quickly had to face the reality that I had been towed.
A closer inspection of the sign informed me that I needed to be a customer of 306 or 214 Franklin and not 210. Should parking in a small horseshoe of businesses require such specific analysis? Obviously it does in Chapel Hill, unless of course you are comfortable paying $100 in cash to a tow truck owner who appears to stalk the lot with predatory efficiency.
I was so impressed with the support and compassion the employees of The Bicycle Chain provided. They were immediately on the phone with George, the owner of this tow “service.” Their frustration seemed to equal mine in that George had recently told them he would not tow their customers.
I continued to pursue information regarding the oddity that one would get towed from a parking lot adjacent (about twenty or so size twelve foot strides) to where they were providing local business. I learned that my situation was far from an anomaly. I came across story after story about being towed while providing business to the local economy, not only from customers, but also from owners of the businesses themselves. I was simply left with questions.
One of the questions I attempted to ask George was what the mission of his business truly is. Is he providing a service when no spots are available and somebody is craving a bowl of noodles, or is he cashing in on people who are having adjustments made on their bike while their car sits feet away in a merely half-full parking lot?
I also question the ethics of his business practice. As I pulled my car out of his fenced in lot I requested a receipt for the cash I gave him. However, the girl who was pulling her car out alongside mine (I wish I could make $200 that fast as a public school teacher) was not given a receipt. So, is there record of her payment? How is this dealt with when April comes around and George is filing taxes?
My final question is for Chapel Hill – how do you expect locals to contribute to the economy when fixed video cameras are watching their every move and waiting to alert George out on Old Greensboro road that it is time to race over and collect five twenty dollar bills. Sure is tempting to just stay in Carrboro.
I’m just glad that my bike is now fixed (it turned out to be quite an expensive brake adjustment once George’s “service” was added in), so I can get around town and avoid advancing the wealth of tow truck “services”…well, at least until they start towing bikes.
What are your thoughts on towing in Chapel Hill/Carrboro? Let us know below.
As I was reading a recent blog post regarding budget cuts to the UNC system in the area of 15 percent equating to an estimated $75 million and the quality of education for 222,000 students in North Carolina I applaud any organization in today’s economy offering scholarship programs for education!! Gone are the days we can take for granite benefits offered via our employers, including health insurance, and I am fortunate to work with an organization that believes in its employees enough to continue the Scholarship Program for Education during the tough economy we are all experiencing.
I have a son in college at NC A&T and I am thankful I don’t have two kids in college at the same time as do many parents in this area. I am counting the semesters til graduation in May 2012 and you will probably be able to hear my shouts of joy all the way from Greensboro to Chapel Hill! To have $500-$2,000 reduced from your budget for education and student loans as a student and parent is note worthy and I look forward to my one year of service in order to apply also.
Retired seniors in Chatham County are making sure the multigenerational workforce is able to achieve the American dream with post secondary education. By donating $15,700 Chatham County residents supported a local scholarship and education program offering thirteen scholarships to deserving applicants. What an amazing way to “pay it forward” in today’s economy and continue your philanthropic efforts by giving to such a great cause. Education is critical in making the difference in providing for our families and we applaud those who believe in making a difference.
Beatrice Runyan, Director of Human Resource at a local nonprofit stated, “The Employee Scholarship Program is just one additional way organizations can recognize and reward good employees and help encourage their continued education.
Those are my thoughts. What do you think of the budget cuts?http://chapelboro.com/columns/enjoy-life/scholarship-programs-for-education-what-do-they-mean-to-a-community-in-today/