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Much ado about not much 

Early deadlines and other tragedies

Deadlines. There are few words a newspaper writer likes hearing less. Included among those would be something called "early deadlines."

Early deadlines are pretty much what they sound like: due to some holiday or other distraction, copy is due much earlier than normal. To complicate matters, it's been a slow week for interesting events. Now, "slow" is good for some things. There's the whole Slow Food movement, Eric "Slowhand" Clapton, and, er, sloe gin. However, "slow" is decidedly not good for a "man about town" column.

I decided I would use this opportunity to check out my (God willing) soon-to-be new digs over in the lovely Plaza-Midwood district. And what a place! There's The Steeple, and The Penguin Drive-In, and the best used bookstore in the city, all within a couple of blocks. There's Ace Tattoo and John's Country Kitchen, and even a place to get my hair braided in case I wanted to rock the whole Latrell Sprewell thing. There's Dish, and Harris Teeter, and. . .and there's a guy doing graffiti. Now, I've always been a big fan of graffiti before, calling it "art" and all the things diversity studies tell you you're supposed to say. (Said folks might change their tune a bit if it was their house being tagged, but that's another story for another day.)

So anyway, this guy stands there, big permanent ink marker in hand, as if waiting for a horde of autograph seekers wielding glossy 8x10s. The dolt draws a bit, stands there looking guilty as people walk by, and then draws some more as soon as they pass by.

Finally, our budding Picasso finished and scampered off. As I was to meet my friend Shawn for dinner at Dish soon, I decided I'd be the first visitor to this guy's al fresco galleria. I was greeted by the name "Andre," written in some weird font that looked like two pinecones getting busy with each other. I have since overhauled my official take on graffiti. If you're going to do it, at least try not to suck. I realize we're probably the graffiti equivalent of Double-A baseball, but you'll never tag a New York subway at this rate, Mr. Andre.

Later that evening, I hit the Visulite Theatre. (I know, it's not even in Plaza-Midwood, but I told you it was a slow week. I couldn't even think of a decent segue.)There was a band set to play, Creekside, that I knew next to nothing about. I knew they were a jam band, of course, because of all the Dockers and knockers on display. Past that, however, they could have been the second coming of Pink Floyd and I wouldn't have known it.

They weren't. The second coming of Pink Floyd, that is. They did cover Pink Floyd pretty well, however, and even did a sort of hippie-fied take on a Michael Jackson song. Pretty entertaining stuff, though I did get the sense that Creekside were more along the lines of a Widespread Panic than a Grateful Dead, their improvisation celebrating excess more than discovery.

Whatever it was, it seemed to be a big hit with this crowd. You've seen that new show on Fox, The O.C.? Picture this as the Queen City version: The Q.C. One girl entered the club carrying a handbag that I'd conservatively estimate cost her (or somebody) $500. She complained about having to pay seven dollars to get in, saying she'd have no money to spend at the bar (no doubt never having heard of anything called a credit card). Having no money but having a $500 handbag to carry it in says something rather serious about our society these days, doesn't it? And, more importantly, how much more to I have to write to fill this space?

And oh, the Bud Light. A bartender and I noticed this trend rather quickly. Literally 70 percent of the place was drinking Bud Light. I began to wonder if maybe I was missing out on something: Government Provides Anheuser-Busch With Special License to Dispense MDMA: Diet-Conscious Yuppies Rejoice. I decided it still wouldn't be worth it, and ordered a Kamikaze. When in Rome. . .

What has all this taught me? First, that it's possible to get 750 words out of damn near anything. Second, that I should really pay attention more the next time we have early deadlines. Last, I've learned that you can take the boy out of Uptown Charlotte, but you can't take Uptown Charlotte out of the boy (or at least his city-bred indifference to his fellow man). Or something.

Look out, Pinecone Andre, 'cause here I come!

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