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Sights Seeing 

From a club with no seats to club seats at the game

Last Wednesday night, I decided to head down to the venerable old Fat City Deli to see the sights. Actually, to be truthful, I went to see a band called Asteroid No. 4 along with The Sights, a Detroit band that deserves a much bigger audience for their Stooges meets Stones swagger than the one Fat City corralled. I'm not faulting the folks who did go, mind you, who were as raucous as 25 or so people have a right to be. In fact, it was one of those rare shows that an athlete or creative person might describe as being "in the zone," wherein the band -- and the crowd, and the music -- seemed as one, reflecting the created energy back and forth on each other like mirrors in a barber shop. Guitars, already at the ear-ringing level, were cranked after lead singer/guitarist Eddie Baranek asked for requests: "Turn up the guitar!" Drummer Dave Shettler attacked the drums like a thrift-store Dave Grohl, his headbanging looking like so much damn fun one couldn't help but bob along with him. On top of it all? Fat City. On nights like tonight, with bands like this, it deserves better than the reputation it sometimes receives (from me, even). Sure, the bathrooms look (and smell) like ones in a NYC subway. Sure, it's got a little funk around the edges. But where else in Charlotte would you rather go to see some low-down-and-dirty garage rock, a place that, for all intents and purposes, really does feel like some (really cool) kid's garage? That's right: Fat City. You can keep your Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. Give me the Bloomin' Squall any day.

I don't wake up very well. Ever see movies of bears after they come out of hibernation and they walk gingerly and bump into stuff and growl a bit? That's me. Saturday morning, I was awakened by the sound of a marching band. Which usually means some interminable parade for some stupid cause. Which usually means I'm there, as Saturday Morning cartoons have gone to hell. Turns out there wasn't really a parade. There was the Public Library's Wordplay Saturday, the Susan Komen Race For The Cure, and a sort of Fire and Rescue Festival across from the new Fire Museum on Fifth Street. I stumbled down into the local coffeeshop next door to my apartment for a hot styro-cino (a big cup of flavored coffee in a decidedly unflavored styrofoam cup), and lumbered down the street trailing behind me smoke and Bavarian Strudel. As I walked down Tryon, I met the eyes of many Komen racers, who looked at me in my jeans and dirty T-shirt with a mix of bewilderment and disdain. (Or at least I think they did -- my eyes were barely half-lidded.) Hey, I'm all for exercise, especially if it's for a good cause. I'm just not real big on doing it (or anything) at eight in the morning. The winner of 5K, I'm told, did it in about 17 minutes. Which, by my watch, is how long it took me to walk and see the damn thing. I was, of course, slowed down by the coffee.

One thing I learned about the Panthers on Sunday: if you're gonna sit in the good seats, bring sun block. Yes, if you're going to go watch a mediocre football team with no offense play another mediocre football team with no offense, you damn well need some SPF protection. Somehow, the football gods smiled upon me Sunday. I started Priest Holmes on my fantasy football team, and was offered a free 50-yard-line ticket, eight rows from the field. I expected, as I entered the stadium's bottom level, that I would be feted with stuffed grape leaves and fanned by beautiful women, but it wasn't to be. Rather, it wasn't very different at all from my usual seats, other than the fact that the lower-level people had jerseys of people still on the team, as opposed to all the Biakabutuka and William Floyd and Rae Carruth jerseys in the cheap seats. Cussing was pretty much constant, except that you could only hear the players doing it, as opposed to the fans around you. Every now and then, a Cardinals player would bark something to a jeering fan, not understanding in Charlotte, that guy with the lower-level PSL probably makes more than you, Mr. Backup Linebacker. Strangely, and despite my best wishes, the people in the section I broiled in were uniformly nice, even asking you if you wanted a beer when they went to get one. I'm not sure how knowledgeable they were, but they were fired up just as much as the guy sitting in the top of section 225 ducking Douglas International's incoming flights. More, perhaps. Which shouldn't have surprised me. The way I see it, if you pay $10,000+ just for seating rights, you want to see some return on your investment.

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