D.G. Martin

One on One: Basnight Continues to Serve

Former state senate leader Marc Basnight’s restaurant near Manteo evokes two of my favorite things: politics and people coming together for good food. Working on a follow-up to my book, “North Carolina’s Roadside Eateries,” I am gathering material about local, family-owned restaurants along U.S. Highway 64. The highway connects Murphy near the Tennessee line all the way to Manteo and the waters of the Atlantic. It passes through 22 counties and extends more than 600 miles. Not far from where U.S. 64 ends at the Atlantic Ocean is Basnight’s Lone Cedar Café, an important gathering place. The owner, former...

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One on One: Who’s Got The Biggest House?

Here is a newspaper headline from last week: “A ‘palace’ in NC: One of the state’s largest homes is for sale.” Must be the Biltmore House in Asheville, I thought. Then I kept reading. No, the 16,000-square-foot home in the headlines is in Rougemont, a high-end Durham suburb. You can buy it for $6.95 million. But if you owned it, you would not come close to having one of the largest houses. Just for comparison’s sake, the White House has 50,000 square feet. President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago has 62,500. Whitehall, the Palm Beach house Henry Flagler built for his...

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One on One: 4 More Important NC Books

Here are four more North Carolina-related books for your spring reading. Many of us remember the court-ordered desegregation of schools back in the early 1970s, but we never really understood what it was like for the children whose routines and expectations were disrupted. Two female students, one black, one white, were reassigned from schools where they felt at home to the formerly all-black Hillside High School in Durham. More than 40 years later, Cindy Waszak Geary and LaHoma Smith Romocki came together to write “Going to School in Black and White: A Dual Memoir of Desegregation.” The result is...

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One on One: New Novels from NC’s Best Writers

Is the cold weather really over at last? If the warmer season is finally here after all, what are some good books you should consider for your spring reading list? Here are four recent novels from three of North Carolina’s most popular writers and a promising debut author, all of them featured on recent or upcoming North Carolina Bookwatch broadcasts. When “Long Upon the Land” was published in 2015, North Carolina’s beloved mystery writer Margaret Maron told us it was her final in her 20-book series featuring District Court Judge Deborah Knott, the daughter of a bootlegger and the...

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One on One: SOS – Calling For Erskine Bowles

Where is Erskine Bowles when we most need him? Bowles is best known to North Carolinians as president of the UNC System from 2005 to 2010. Before then he was a successful business leader in Charlotte, a key staff member in the President Bill Clinton’s administration, and two times the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate. In 2010, he and former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson co-chaired the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, a bipartisan budget-reform effort that proposed a plan to reduce the country’s deficits by $4 trillion over a decade. Bowles had gained credibility in deficit...

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One on One: Justice Ginsburg in Durham

“I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks,” U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told me the other day in Durham. The 85 year-old justice had lots to say about her personal struggles as a law student, a young lawyer looking for work, an advocate for women’s rights as a crusading attorney, and as a judge and justice. In dealing with her fellow judges, “I did see myself as kind of a kindergarten teacher in those days,” she explained, “because the judges didn’t think...

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One on One: P.T. Barnum & Approval Ratings

Can a new book about North Carolina’s famous Siamese twins help explain today’s persistent, even growing, support for President Donald Trump? Notwithstanding the disarray in the White House, the wave of publicity about the alleged Stormy Daniels matter, the revelations from the relentless investigation of his campaign’s connection to Russia, the unceremonious sacking of key officials, CNN reported last week that Trump’s approval rating is up to 42 percent, up from 37 percent in February. First of all, a word about the new book, Yunte Huang’s “Inseparable: The Original Siamese Twins and Their Rendezvous with American History.”  Huang is...

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One on One: Public Intellectuals & Column Readers

Who would be on your list of North Carolina public intellectuals? I asked that question recently in a column about some of our state’s influential people who could take the places of the late UNC president William Friday, Duke professor John Hope Franklin and other smart, public-spirited, and influential people who helped shape our opinions and inspired public action. There were a few discouraging responses, including one from Mike Robinson, a fellow unsuccessful candidate in the 1998 U.S. Senate Democratic primary. He wrote, “My sad observation is we have so few these days who are capable of critical thinking, research, and reflection about...

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One on One: Lovely Language

Frazier’s lovely language worth the wait. With the publication of “Varina” early next month, Charles Frazier’s many fans will celebrate the end of a long wait. Frazier refuses to work fast. Every word of every chapter of every one of his four books, “Cold Mountain,” “Thirteen Moons,” “Nightwoods,” and now, “Varina,” was reviewed, rewritten, replaced, and restored by him to make the final product just right. In “Varina,” as in “Cold Mountain” and “Thirteen Moons,” Frazier takes us back to the 1800s and Civil War times. The central character of the new book is Varina Howell Davis, the second wife of...

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One on One: Done With One-and-Dones

This week in the middle of all the basketball madness, we put aside the hard fact that we are loving our favorite game to death. Even when we acknowledge what is happening, we blame the wrong people for the coming implosion of college basketball. Our favorite game is, for many North Carolinians, college basketball. Whether it’s Duke, State, Carolina, or Wake Forest — most everyone around here has a team. On a national scale, they are not alone. Lots of other favorite teams bring joy and agony this time every year. But these teams and the NCAA are blowing...

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