Re: Community is bigger than Neighborhood

The recent commentary by Kristen Smith was deeply offensive to this longtime neighborhood advocate and also quite silly.  Fixated on the Olympics, she seemed oblivious to their central purpose: competition.  When she exhorted us to work together as a “team,” one can only wonder about the team’s opponent.   Homeowners should band together with “commercial property owners, renters, students, business owners…” in short, everyone, to compete against…what? 

The many competing interests within Chapel Hill preclude a single team. This is still a democracy, and we still have the right to look out for our particular interests. As someone who has lived in the Coker Hills neighborhood since 1978, I have worked to defeat interests that would compromise its beauty, peace and tranquility and lessen its value.
 My interests are not those of out-of-town investors and developers intent on making Chapel Hill look as much like Manhattan as possible, with increasing success in downtown Chapel Hill. Ms. Smith’s promotion of groupthink sounds like something out of Orwell’s Animal Farm.
And what’s with the gratuitous swipe against old folks?  She referred to “pretty unsportsmanlike conduct by locals who are at least four times as old as gold medallist Gabby Douglas.”  I am not the only elderly “local,” who tries to protect neighborhood values.  In fact, Chapel Hill is full of such retirees.  Ms. Smith owes us a full description of the so-called unsportmanslike conduct by elderly locals.

I Second That E-Motion

Fifth Week**:

Cinemagram. Now, I enjoy a good app as much as the next guy, but I’ll admit I take to them a little slower than most because I don’t have an iPhone.

My Droid 3 has a pull-out keyboard, which is awesome, but it gets cool apps the same way middle children get ‘new’ clothes (i.e. months or years after they’ve stopped being new, and only as hand-me-downs from big brother).

Luckily, I also have an iPad 2 (a 30th birthday present to myself), so I can use any iPhone app I want, as long as I don’t mind all that extra black space around the edges.

And isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think?

And so it was that I took my love of Instagram to the next level — with Cinemagram.

Quickly, for those less tech-savvy readers:

Instagram: A photo-taking-and-editing app (now available for the Droid as well) that lets you style photos at will. (All my photos in previous posts were taken with Instagram; see Kristen Smith’s awesome around-town columns for more examples.)

Cinemagram: A photo-taking-and-animating app. You actually shoot a video, then select a portion of the field of vision to animate. The rest of the area stays frozen. So it looks like a photo where only a specific area is animated. Time for an example:

TITLE: Restless Ron Syndrome

Here we see WCHL’s Assistant News Director, Alletta Cooper, and Morning News Host, Ron Stutts, paying attention at a company meeting***.  I just animated Ron’s side of the screen in this Cinemagram, so only Alletta looks dutifully attentive. Sorry, Ron. Then Cinemagram auto-looped the forward-reverse in an animated GIF.

The app also makes it very easy to post your cines (pronounced “sin-ease” ****) to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, which is cool if you’re a social (media) butterfly like I am.
Actually, one big reason Cinemagram has felt like an adventure to me this week has been that I’ve been using it on my iPad, not on my phone. When I decide to shoot a video with my phone, it’s no big deal. But when I take a video with my iPad, it’s a whole other story.

In cinematography, as in all areas of life, size does matter. It’s a lot more difficult to get your friends to help with your movies when you look like you’re a farsighted Kindle owner. (I’ve also been told I should wince less.) Here are a couple more of my cines:

TITLE: Scooch, Vinny


TITLE: Short Light.
(Note to Penny Rich: I wasn’t driving.)

In any case, I had fun. Is this app going to change my life? Probably not. But, just like most apps I get a hold of these days, it changes how I live my life for a month or two, maybe gives me a chance to flex a different mental muscle, and, sometimes, that’s enough.
I’ve spent the past week looking around for Theater of the Ordinary moments, finding 3-second stories in meetings and rear-view mirrors. Also, I was dogsitting for my sister this week, and when she got dogsick*****, I was able to send her something much better than a picture:

TITLE: Biting The Hand That Squeaks At You

** My definition of “week” comes from the Gregarian Calendar (which is similar to the Gregorian Calendar, except it’s based on fitting stuff into my busy social life).
*** I was also paying attention. I was just simultaneously shooting this video for my column. Multi-tasking, people, multi-tasking.
**** …although perhaps I shouldn’t have put it like that.
***** As in homesick for her dog, not as in sick as a dog. And not, homophonically, as in this.

Party Animals

The Triangle, especially Chapel Hill, is considered a really smart place — where there are more PhDs per capita than any other metropolitan statistical area [still looking for the citation, but I really have heard it from multiple sources]. 
So, maybe our celebratory nature and proclivity for partying isn’t center stage, but I promise that you can find everything you need to entertain the party animal – whether it’s crazy cousin or a capricious colleague – in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area. 
Now, one can celebrate ANY day of the week in Orange County, but there are a few nights of the year that are legendary in our town:
Halloween: Often the subject of urban legend, October 31 in Chapel Hill has drawn in the crowds in costume for years.  Though recently, there have been efforts to make the evening more targeted to the locals (understandably because of the cost of cleanup to the Town), Franklin Street is still particularly fun when dressed as a ghoul or goblin after a few gin and tonics. 
Living in the 80s: Still have those leg warmers? Couldn’t bear the thought of tossing that “Members Only” jacket? Heck, neon is back.  So, you’re bound to have something to wear to the WXYC 80’s Dance Party.  UNC’s student radio station annually hosts a party honoring a previous decade at Cat’s Cradle, one of the best live music venues in the country. 

The WXYC 80’s Dance was one of the first dates for my sister and her husband.
Most couples celebrate at fancy restaurants,
but dressing in “period costume” seems to make them nostalgic.

So sleazy: A legend in its own right, I’ve actually never attended Sleazefest at Local 506, another great live music venue in our area.  But even the lore that surrounds the annual music festival will keep your favorite party animal entertained.  I’ve seen a much tamer version at Southern Culture on the Skids (and managed not to get covered in fried chicken or banana pudding), but I think most would agree that Sleazefest is a must-see for the ultimate party animal. 
I’ve thought about starting a rival meme to the Mayor’s #EveryDowntownChapelHillLunchSpot, to review #EveryDowntownChapelHillDrinkingSpot; however, I’ve long outgrown games of bar golf.  But no matter what night it is, there is a lively bar scene downtown (and great spots further afield) to host all your party animals for your favorite drinking games. 

Pinching pennies: Say you’re excited about heading out on the town, but you don’t have the pocketbook to match your palate.  Though most are offered only on weekdays, one can find incredible drink specials worth the glare from your boss the next morning listed with the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership or The Stagger, or download the Cocktail Compass app from the Independent Weekly!
Trouble’s-a-brewin’: Forget the wine from that other Orange County, this O.C. has the best in brewskies.  Make sure you hit these local breweries and stores for tastings on the spot or growlers to go: Mystery Brewing, String Steel Brewery, Carolina Brewery, Top of the Hill, Starpoint Brewing, Carrboro Beverage Company, and T.J.’s Beverage & Tobacco.
More than moonshine: Though I haven’t done my research, I am positive that parts of Orange County were once (or maybe still are) manufacturing sites for “White Lightning.” (A little birdie told me that when the land was cleared for Burroughs Wellcome, they found a still). But now in the heart of Chapel Hill, we are host to manufacturing once again, this time to the state’s only all-organic distillery, distilling vodka, gin, and white whiskey.  Stay tuned for when it hits ABC store shelves, but, until then, maybe consider planning your next event at the newly-coined “Chapel Hill Booze Building.”

Shots of organic vodka at Topo Distillery

For those that can’t wait to put on their dancing shoes, many adults search for a place beyond Players, because he or she has grown out of Holy Grails (though some fellow UNC alum will force you down a walk down Memory Lane, straight to the infamous dance club, followed by a ride on the P2P, all out of nostalgia).  I would contend nothing can replicate a Hell Dance Party, there are still places to get your groove on. 
Hitting the books: You can tell everyone you’re headed to The Library and let them draw their own conclusions.  This bar has fun DJs and sometimes you can stake claim on the “stage” next to the window to perform your own show!
EastEnders: Know that whether shaken or stirred, their beverages pack a punch, you can experience varying levels of sophistication on the different floors of the East End Martini Bar.  My M.O.?  Drink your martinis on the “ground floor,” and then head upstairs to shake your groove thing. 

My sister, brother-in-law, friends, and myself celebrating on the top floor.

Nothing but the real thing:  So although I’ve already said that the Hell Dance Party couldn’t be replicated, my co-worker says the “No But 4 Real” dance parties at Chapel Hill Underground (The Bar Formerly Known as Hell) is a place to boogie down. 
Come 2 AM, after all the drinking and dancing, your partying may have caused you to be ravenous.  I’ll save the roundup of late night eating for another post, but just in case, know that you can find a REALLY early, early bird special (see below).  But if you’re going to “get the worm,” head to Bowbarr for a mezcaltini – that’s where this party animal found a worm in her drink, and learned that I could not solicit the waiter’s assistance, but must ingest it for good luck.  Or maybe that’s what my fellow party animals led me to believe…

Sign for an “early bird special” at Time-Out

My two cents on the quarter-cent

 About twenty-five years ago, I was a young girl attending Carrboro Elementary and listened to my dad record a PSA in support of funding for our schools on this radio station. I never would have guessed that twenty-five years later, I would be doing something similar. However, I want to tell you about an opportunity that will not only increase funding for our schools, but create a working future for our children in Orange County.

This fall, Orange County voters – from Carrboro to Calvander, from Efland to Eno – will have an opportunity to support an effort that can help shape our county’s future. On November 8th or during Early Voting (which is less than two weeks away), I hope that you will support a quarter-cent sales tax to raise $2.5 million in revenue per year for the next ten years, with 50% going towards capital needs for schools and 50% going towards economic development. You might ask why in this economic climate, we are talking about taxes. But don’t confuse this with the tax debate in Washington, or even in Raleigh.

This proposed tax is not on gas, prescription drugs, utilities or groceries and is the equivalent of a penny on a $4 purchase, or a quarter on a $100 purchase. It will allow Orange County to collect revenue from visitors and commuters alike, in addition to helping minimize the continual pressure to raise property taxes. This is a potential revenue source that won’t go to the state, won’t go to the feds, but will help strengthen our schools and create more jobs locally.

I hope that you will join me in supporting the quarter-cent to support our schools. With this revenue, we can update our older schools – schools that I attended twenty-five years ago – and improve technology in the classroom. We’ve come a long way from when I was working at an Apple IIc.

I hope that you will join me in supporting the quarter-cent to help create a working future for our children. With this revenue, we can work to retain and recruit employers in Orange County. We’ve had three economic development districts since I was at Carrboro Elementary – and with this revenue, we can make sure that these districts have the infrastructure they need to recruit employers – employers that we’re losing to neighboring counties.

We have lost money – over six million dollars – from the state and this is an opportunity for us to keep local control and to raise revenue that benefits ALL residents of Orange County, including in every municipality.

My name is Kristen Smith and I’m an Orange County native and a graduate of Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. I’m very lucky to work in my hometown and I know that I want our community’s children to have the same opportunity.

Join me on November 8th or during Early Voting which began October 20th (voting’s the only thing I’ve done early in my life), in voting “FOR” the quarter-cent to help Orange County retain and create jobs and strengthen our schools.