Bill Targeting Sanctuary Cities and Faith ID’s Approved by Senate

A bill that would withhold some state funding for local governments that have sanctuary city policies has cleared one chamber of the North Carolina General Assembly.

“Altogether, this bill represents one of the harshest pieces of immigration legislation in the nation,” said Sarah Rawleigh, Immigrant Assistance Center Manager at Faith Action, which is a Greenbsoro-based non-profit that started a wave of action across the state to get identification cards to residents not eligible for standard state-issued ID’s.

Rawleigh added, “For us, this program has always been about public safety and building bridges between law enforcement in our diverse community.”

What started in Greensboro has now spread to about a dozen municipalities across the state – including Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

These identification cards – or Faith ID’s – would now be banned under a proposed bill in the state legislature – House Bill 100.

Rawleigh and other advocates for the identification cards were speaking at the General Assembly just hours before the Senate gave its approval to the legislation, sending it on to the House of Representatives.

Kate Woomer-Deters, staff attorney with the North Carolina Justice Center, said there were many occasions where these locally recognized identification cards were valuable public safety tools.

“We could have a person who is missing, a person who is disoriented, a person who is a suspect of a crime,” Woomer-Deters explained, “and law enforcement needs every tool in its toolbook to figure out who this person is.”

But Republican Senator Bill Rabon, who represents three counties in southeastern North Carolina, said these identification cards legitimized residents who may not be in the state legally.

“I think it must be crystal clear to everyone – not only in this chamber but outside and all around our nation – that we have to do something to get immigration under control,” Rabon said.

“There are several reasons for it, not the least of which – if we don’t control it, we lose our sovereignty and our ability to function as a nation. I think this bill goes a long ways towards helping get the kind of control we need until the federal government can finally act along those lines also.”

Another concern voiced by supporters of the bill was that the documentation used to receive a Faith ID was not reliable. Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle disputed that claim. Lavelle and several other local representatives received the identification cards last weekend.

Lavelle said the process included showing original proof of identification – which could include a passport or national ID card, among other options – and a proof of a current address by way of a bill or other document with a date within the last three months. Lavelle said the remaining steps included paying $10 and going through a dialogue and orientation with local law enforcement. Lavelle noted representatives from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and Chapel Hill and Carrboro Police Department’s have attended all four of the Faith ID drives in Orange County so far this year.

“As I went from one area to first give my information, then to the next area to pay my fee, then around the corner to get my picture taken, the process was as orderly as one can imagine.

“In fact, perhaps even more orderly than getting a driver’s license at your local DMV.”

In addition to banning these identification cards, the proposed bill would withhold state money for school construction and local road projects from any local government body that is found to be in violation of immigration laws. The initial suspension of funding would be for the upcoming fiscal year. If the locality is still in violation after 60 days, it would lose a second year’s worth of funding.

Opponents to the bill said it gave too much power to the state attorney general to be the “judge, jury and executioner” in the cases. Supporters blamed opponents for spreading fear to immigrants who may be living in North Carolina illegally while opposing the bill, saying the bill would target the government body and not individuals.

After passing through the Senate, the bill will still need to be approved by the House before going to the governor’s desk for his signature.

Greensboro Lobbying to Keep NCAA Tournament Amid HB2 Backlash

It is still unclear how a new rule from the NCAA will impact the ability of certain cities in North Carolina to host the men’s basketball tournament in future years.

At least one potential host site is taking a proactive approach when fighting to keep its share of March Madness.

The NCAA Board of Governors adopted a rule last week that will require sites hosting or bidding on NCAA events to “demonstrate how they will provide an environment that is safe, healthy, and free of discrimination, plus safeguards the dignity of everyone involved in the event.”

This rule does not mention North Carolina’s controversial House Bill 2 in particular, but it was passed by the board just over one month after North Carolina’s law was passed through the General Assembly and signed by Governor Pat McCrory in a whirlwind special session on March 23.

GOP leadership has continued to call the law “common sense” legislation that protects North Carolinians. Meanwhile, the state is being sued by groups who maintain the law is among the worst pieces of anti-LGBT legislation in the nation. HB2 requires transgender individuals to use the bathroom and changing facility that corresponds with their birth certificate rather than their gender identity. The law also strips local nondiscrimination ordinances that went beyond the statewide policy and makes other changes to local ordinances.

Now this new legislation appears to jeopardize a tradition in the Tar Heel state, hosting NCAA Tournament basketball games – and raking in money – during the early postseason festivities.

Greensboro Coliseum vs. Time Warner Cable Arena

The new NCAA rule seems to directly impact the Greensboro Coliseum, which is owned and operated by the city, as the Coliseum prepares to host the first two rounds of the men’s basketball tournament next March.

Meanwhile, the City of Charlotte owns 2018 host site Time Warner Cable Arena, but the operations of the facility fall under the purview of the Charlotte Hornets, according to city officials.

The distinction means that it is hard to find a scenario where the Coliseum would be exempted from the portion of HB2 that requires multi-occupancy restrooms in public agencies to “be designated for and only used by persons based on their biological sex.”

A statement from an NCAA spokesperson said the cities would have to prove they could host the events to the NCAA.

“The information must be reported to the Board of Governors Ad Hoc Committee to Promote Cultural Diversity and Equity and full implementation is expected.”

Greensboro Mayor’s Proactive Approach

From an economics standpoint, the Greensboro Convention and Visitors Bureau is projecting that hosting the first two rounds of the 2017 NCAA Tournament will result in nearly $14.5 million worth of an economic boost to the city.

In a letter provided to WCHL dated April 12, Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan wrote to NCAA President Mark Emmert to tout the city’s inclusive nature – even before the NCAA adopted the new rule.

Vaughan wrote, “I wanted to personally assure you that the City of Greensboro is a progressive, open-minded community with a long-standing tradition of support for members of the LGBT community.”

Vaughan told Emmert that the City Council had passed a resolution opposing House Bill 2 by an 8-1 vote at a meeting on April 5 and that a 2015 evaluation from the Human Rights Campaign determined Greensboro had the highest Municipal Equality Index among any city in the Carolinas.

The letter from Vaughan said that the Coliseum “has been at the forefront of this issue, having gender neutral restrooms available for over 20 years.” Vaughan said that these facilities are offered “for the comfort and inclusion of all patrons.”

A spokesperson with the Greensboro Coliseum Complex said in an e-mail that they have not heard directly from the NCAA as of late last week and that the letter from Vaughan “hopefully addressed any potential concerns of Greensboro as a host city/site.”

Varying Levels of Enforcement

The line differentiating enforcement requirements for the Coliseum and TWC Arena is blurry, even to those trained to find them.

Trey Allen, an assistant professor of Public Law and Government at the UNC School of Government, wrote in an e-mail to WCHL that, “It seems pretty clear to me that [the multiple occupancy bathroom] requirement extends to a civic center that is owned and operated by a municipality.” But he adds, “HB2 doesn’t expressly address the extent to which its bathroom provisions apply in such a situation.” Allen went on to say that arguments could be made from each side whether TWC Arena would fall under the purview of HB2 and that “clarification by the General Assembly or the courts may be necessary to resolve this issue.”

Lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, via spokesperson Mike Meno, said they believe “the best reading of HB2 is that it would apply to arenas that are owned by localities in the state.” That would go beyond the Coliseum to being enforced in a situation where the building is leased to a private tenant, as it is in Charlotte.

Officials with the City of Charlotte and within the Hornets organization did not respond to a request for comment regarding the enforcement of HB2 in TWC Arena.

No More NCAA Tournament in NC?

North Carolina has been a popular destination for the NCAA Tournament. TWC Arena has hosted the event in 2008, 2011 and 2015. The Coliseum has hosted the men’s basketball tournament games on 13 occasions, according to Vaughan’s letter to Emmert. PNC Arena in Raleigh – which is owned by the Centennial Authority, a body created by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1995 – has also been a popular destination for early round games.

Whether the NCAA Tournament will be making a return trip to Tobacco Road remains to be seen.

Chansky’s Notebook: Love Affair at the Wyndham

The Wyndham championship still had a perfect ending.

The first appearance of Tiger Woods at the Wyndham championship had record crowds showing up at Sedgefield Country Club since Thursday. And Woods had them at hello when he shot a first-round 64 and was still in striking distance going into Sunday’s final round. Tiger had to win to get into the FedEx playoffs that I don’t understand if the 286th ranked golfer in the world can get in with a single win in the last event of the season.

But Tiger faltered on the back nine Sunday with a horrendous triple bogey on No. 11, including a skulled chip and a chunked chip to take a seven and lose any chance of posting his first victory of a sad, sad season on the links. He was wearing his Sunday red, but was seeing red when he ended the day tied for 10th place and complaining that his hip was bothering him all weekend. Whatever.

But the real perfect ending was former UNC star Davis Love III firing his own 64 to win the Wyndham for the third time and his first PGA event in seven years. Love, who is now better known as the U.S. Ryder Cup captain, is 51 and the third oldest pro to ever win on the tour. He has always been one of the most popular athletes to come out of Carolina, and his senior-Cinderella victory Sunday had to leave even the biggest Tiger fans still satisfied.

Love won his twenty-first PGA tourney, which at his age may be the sweetest of his career. And he was also coming off foot surgery three months ago, so beating a pretty good field in Greensboro is pretty remarkable. The regular on the Champions Senior tour, Love now is in the FedEx Cup playoffs and will begin with the young kids at the Barclays this weekend. His eagle at the par 5 15th hole put him ahead and left him in the clubhouse watching guys half his age trying to force a playoff down the back nine. None of them could do it.

Only Sam Snead and Art Wall were older than Love when they won PGA events, and that was a long time ago before all the young guns showed up on the tour.  But the $972,000 check comes with a chance to compete for the $10 million that goes to the qualifying player with the most points in the complicated Fed Ex Cup formula for victory. That Love reached the 125 points needed to make him a FedEx entry gave Sunday a happy ending for him and most golf fans. Unlike the polarizing figure that is Tiger, Davis Love is easy to Love.

And he’s a Tar Heel winning on Tar Heel soil, so what could be better than that?

Four NC Cities Make WalletHub’s Most ‘Driver-Friendly’ List

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.

Kansas, Kansas, Kansas (Ugh!)

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.

Enter The Brand New Life

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_Bones

image by jon staton

Bookwatch returns with authors who were worth waiting for

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)

Autumn reading suggestions from North Carolina Bookwatch

It is reading time again.
So, courtesy of UNC-TV’s North Carolina Bookwatch, I have some autumn reading (and early Christmas gift) suggestions for your consideration.
Charles Frazier’s new book “Nightwoods” will be on this Sunday’s New York Times best seller list for the second week in a row. “Nightwoods” may not be the same kind of blockbuster that his “Cold Mountain” became, but it is off to a solid start 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 could become a favorite. Because it is compact it opens the doors for a wider audience to become acquainted with Frazier’s magnificent gifts. I am betting that many people who did not finish “Cold Mountain” or “Thirteen Moons” will, through “Nightwoods,” become new members of Frazier’s fan club. You can visit with Frazier on UNC-TV’s North Carolina Bookwatch this weekend: Friday, October 21, at 9:30 p.m., and Sunday, October 23, at 5 p.m.
A new book by a New Bern resident will almost certainly be at or near the top of The New York Times list by the end of October. Nicholas Sparks’s “The Best of Me” is the kind of love story Sparks knows how to tell so well. Set in Oriental, a small town and sailing center on the Pamlico Sound, two high school lovers come back to their hometown twenty years after their last parting. As usual, Sparks makes the romantic sparks fly.  (Oct. 28 and 30)
Andrea Reusing recently won a James Beard award for her complex cooking skills. She owns the acclaimed Chapel Hill restaurant, Lantern, where her amazing Asian-inspired dishes require expert preparation. Nevertheless, her book “Cooking In The Moment: A Year of Seasonal Recipes” is designed for us normal people who want to cook simple seasonal foods for our families. Using clear language she tells her readers how and when to shop for foods in season. Using the same direct instructions she guides them in the simple steps of preparing those foods. (Nov. 4 and 6)
Jane Borden’s “I Totally Meant to Do That” is a humorous memoir of a young college graduate from Greensboro making her way in a less than friendly but highly addictive New York City. This book should be required reading for every young North Carolinian considering a move to the Big Apple and for the North Carolina parents of any child now living there. (Nov. 11 and 13)
UNC-Wilmington’s Clyde Edgerton’s latest book, “Night Train,” takes us back to a segregated North Carolina town of the mid-sixties. Two teen-aged boys, one white and one black, share a passion for music. The white boy wants to be another James Brown, but the laws and customs of his society make it very hard for his relationship with his black friend to continue. Edgerton explores some of the same themes that the novel and recent movie “The Help” brought to a wider audience. (Nov. 18 and 20)
Thanks to an author who lives in Chapel Hill we can read an up-to-date 007 mystery featuring a James Bond revised for modern times. The author is Jeffrey Deaver, already a very popular and best selling author of a host of thriller novels. The estate of Ian Fleming, the original author of the James Bond series, commissioned Deaver to write the new book, “Carte Blanche.” It is set in current times. Do not worry about James Bond’s age. Today, the original Bond would be about 90 years old, but Deaver’s Bond was born in 1979 and served in Afghanistan. He reminds us of the original Bond, but he is a brand new model. (Nov. 25 and 27)
Enjoy the books and tune in Bookwatch this fall.

New books and a new Bookwatch

UNC-TV’s North Carolina Bookwatch begins a new season on Friday, August 5, at 9:30 p.m., and Sunday, August 7, at 5 p.m.
My editors let me share with you my reading suggestions. They know that the suggestions parallel exactly upcoming Bookwatch shows.
Because earlier columns have already discussed several books on the list, some descriptions will be short.
The new series opens with one of North Carolina’s most respected authors, UNC-Greensboro’s Michael Parker. He discusses “The Watery Part Of The World,” an imaginative story that blends coastal history and legends with race and other complexities to make a gripping and lovely story.  (Aug. 5, 7)
In “Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next,” John D. Karsarda, director of the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at UNC-Chapel Hill, explains why efficient, well-designed airports attract economic development and will be the central cities of the future. He discusses the challenges and opportunities that face North Carolina’s major airports. (Aug. 12,14)
Can a retired professor of religious studies write a successful science fiction novel? David Halperin’s “Journal of a UFO Investigator, ” proves that UFOs, science fiction, and religion can come together to make compelling fiction in a most unusual way. (Aug. 19, 21)
Sara Foster’s “Southern Kitchen: Soulful, Traditional, Seasonal” will be the first of several food-related books featured on Bookwatch this season. Foster, who once worked with Martha Stewart, generously shares favorite recipes from her family and from her market. (Aug. 26, 28)
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. (Sept. 2, 4)
Rosecrans Baldwin’s first novel “You Lost Me There” is set in Maine, and Baldwin has only recently settled in North Carolina. 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. (Sept. 9, 11)
Watauga County native Sheri Castle’s “The New Southern Garden Cookbook: Enjoying the Best from Homegrown Gardens, Farmers’ Markets, Roadside Stands, and CSA Farm Boxes” is a guide to finding the best seasonal foods in our region. She organizes her recipes into about 40 chapters, each featuring a different vegetables or fruit. (Sept. 16, 18)
Where do you get these seasonal foods? Diane Daniel’s “Farm Fresh North Carolina: The Go-To Guide to Great Farmers’ Markets, Farm Stands, Farms, Apple Orchards, U-Picks, Kids’ Activities, Lodging, Dining, Choose-and-Cut Christmas Trees, Vineyards and Wineries, and More.” Durham’s Daniel’s great travel writing skills describe where doors are open for us to learn how the best North Carolina foods are grown and raised. (Sept. 23, 25)
Marjorie Hudson’s “Accidental Birds of the Carolinas: Stories about newcomers and natives, and the healing power of the rural South” is a collection of fiction that gives a true look at how rural North Carolina is changing and staying the same. (Sept. 30, Oct. 2)
“Butterfly’s Child” by former N.C. State writing teacher, Angela Davis-Gardner, is a sequel to Puccini’s opera. It answers fictionally the question, “What ever happened to Madam Butterfly’s son after she committed suicide when her American lover came back to Japan with his American wife?” (Oct. 7, 9)
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. (Oct. 12, 14)

What books are you looking forward to this fall? Let me know below.

Our Towing Economy

Guest Column by Mike Harris

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.

Mike Harris


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