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From the editor 

What makes a great city interesting? Is it clean streets? Smiling faces? Sports teams, steeplechases? Perfectly manicured lawns in cookie-cutter suburbs? If that's the criteria, the image of Charlotte the Chamber of Commerce thrusts into the Internet ether should have folks scrambling to this Carolina mecca like Peter Pan pilgrims in search of Never Ever Land.

In Charlotte, the chamber folks say, "you can kick back and relax on one of our numerous award winning golf courses or ride a roller coaster until your stomach hurts at Paramount Carowinds."

Blech!

Most Creative Loafing readers know that such a "paradise" doesn't exist. And thank God. Does anyone go to New York for its clean streets? Who ever traveled down to the late, lamented New Orleans for its perfectly manicured lawns in cookie-cutter suburbs?

So in this issue we bring you the Charlotte Infamy Tour (page 26), a guide to the dark side of the Queen City, the side the Chamber fails to mention in its propaganda. Here you'll find out where a bunch of members of the Outlaws motorcycle gang were blown away; you'll see where idiot racists blew up the office of a civil rights activist; you'll learn about the time some of our brilliant, morally superior county commission members attempted to block an award-winning play.

Remember Jim Bakker? Rae Carruth? We'll also show you where those notorious celebs did their evil deeds.

Come on, now. Have some fun. Take a walk on Charlotte's wild side. (Some folks don't even believe Charlotte and "wild side" exist together.) Then you can brag when New Yorkers talk about Son of Sam or Chicagoans talk about the Windy City's roster of mobsters.

Don't get us wrong: We love our uptight city, we really do. That's why we're so fond of nudging it out of its doldrums. It's why, elsewhere in this issue, we sent Sam Boykin out to talk to members of Charlotte's classical music community about getting more than just rich white folks out to concerts. And why food writer Tricia Childress has come back from the Charlotte Shout! festival celebrating the delicious South African cuisine served up at Zebra.

Hang on for a wild ride this week -- through gritty, grimy streets; burned-out trailer parks; front lawns with pot holes in 'em. And then thank your lucky stars Charlotte isn't really the antiseptic city some folks would have you believe it is.

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