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Fourth of July, Junk and Jazz 

And no one was arrested

I have nothing against cops. They have a hell of a tough job, and usually don't make a whole lot more than the real bottom-feeders (like say, writers and teachers) on our nation's pay scale. That said, I do have a problem with "statement" moves like Independence Day roadblocks and targeting certain, specific neighborhoods to get soundbite coverage from the TV news scavengers. Exactly what lesson does this teach? That any other day you want to get liquored up and drive is fine, just don't do it on Our Nation's Birthday? (Hey, if drugs fund terrorism, doesn't it also mean that alcohol -- you know, being a drug and all -- helps fund Osama & Co.? If we drink on July 4, the terrorists win!)

It all seems so random. From my uptown apartment window, I can regularly see drug deals going down, all sorts of fights and other disorderly behavior, and more drunk driving than after a Carolina Panthers players-only party during the Seifert era. All this, mind you, takes place about a block from a police station, and happens weekly if not nightly.

Sometimes, however, this law-enforcement myopia can work for the good. Many like-minded folks in the Plaza-Midwood area chose to stay home on July 4, attend the big Pig Pickin'-cum-street party being held at the Penguin, and watch the uptown fireworks display from a parking lot filled with lawn chairs. Their loyalty treated them to a hell of an evening: music was provided by Gigi Dover, the Eric Lovell Band, David Childers and The Modern Don Juans, and -- playing their last show ever -- Lou Ford. Lou Ford is a band known for playing long, rowdy sets, and for their fondness for drink.

"Can we get some brown liquor shots up here so they'll stop playing like pussies?" Lou member Alan Edwards asked. A couple of songs later, laughing: "I was kidding about the "pussies,' but it would be nice if we could get a couple of shots." The band (augmented by former members including Mark Lynch and Jimmy King) started playing somewhere around 8pm; when I left around midnight, they were still playing. For all I know, they may still be. Heck, I think my beard grew an inch while the band ran their Springsteen-length set! Hmmm...beard, drinking alcohol, works for an "alternative" newspaper -- I'll probably get a knock on the door any second now.

The Metrolina Fairgrounds held an "Antique Spectacular" this weekend, and, being a bit of a pack rat, I went. These events are great for people-watching, and, if you're patient and carrying lotsa sun-block, a great way to pick up some good junk cheap. Plus, you get the added fun of haggling. I haggled one man for 20 minutes before purchasing a Harpers magazine compendium from 1852. How old is that? Nathaniel Hawthorne had a new book out, and the magazine talked about their hapless president, Millard Fillmore who, after serving his first term as President, took a few years off before accepting a nomination as President of the Know Nothing Party. Hell, at least their hapless President was willing to admit it.

You wouldn't know it from the local coverage, but the Independence Park Sunday Jazz Series might be one of the best-attended music events we've had in Charlotte for quite some time. (I have an inkling the lack of publicity might have something to do with the fact that most of the attendees are African-Americans, and that greater Charlotte fears thousands of blacks gathering together -- Oh my God, it's one of those. . .those Freakniks! -- but that's just one hack's opinion). It's a friendly, rather relaxing event once you wind your way through the throngs of people-watching people people-watching other people-watchers (did I mention it's a great place to people-watch?). It's a good marketing demographic, too. By the time I made it back to my car, I had flyers advertising a Temptations concert, home refinancing, manicures and pedicures, and hairstyling (the last contained this legend: "I Specialize In Shaving Men Heads With Razors." Yikes!). As for the jazz, we're not talking Miles here -- unless you're talking about how far away one can hear the music. No, figure on reasonably adept radio jazzbos with a hint of a cover band mentality. Toward the end, the band even launched into the Nelly hit "Hot in Herre." Which was my cue to get the hell out of. . .therre.

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