Tuesday, June 30, 2009

John Edwards made a sex tape?!

Allegedly. I don't want him suing me. According a former Edwards aide, Edwards made a sex tape with Rielle Hunter. Yes, if that's true, John Edwards made a sex tape.

Why are the people of the Carolinas, who are generally very decent human beings, cursed with this douchebag politicians? The list goes on-and-on (Jesse, Strom...) but recently John Edwards and Mark Sanford have broken off from the rest and formed a sort of Douchebag Premier League (note to self: less soccer analogies). I mean, I'm not the biggest fan of Pat McCrory (though I begrudgingly voted for him, I was really voting against Bev), but compared to these two he's Mandela! This has made me thankful that we have McCrory. I disagree with him a great deal of the time, but he calls it how he sees it. He never broke out the "good Christian man" card like Sanford, and never touted a fake issue like Edwards. That said, North Carolina will regret not picking Munger.

I liked John Edwards, I really did. I thought he was the real deal, I believed in him. I genuinely thought that he was going to make some good changes. He was strong on the issue of poverty and that really resonated with me. I admire Elizabeth greatly, she has faced down unbelievable demons in recent years and handled them brilliantly. Elizabeth deserves respect, John deserves to get slapped in the face and kicked in the balls. He had smart, passionate people behind him and he ruined it. We honestly thought that we had someone very special, and we thought very wrong. I've gone from voting for him to despising him. He is a slimey, untrustworthy snake of a man and a blight on the State of North Carolina's name. I'm glad you lost to Obama, John, I am. Obama is everything you aren't.

Jenny Sanford and Elizabeth Edwards need to have a chat and kick their worthless husbands to the curb.

Most of us bash Bev, she presents an easy target, but let's give the woman a little credit, she's a far cry from the likes of Edwards, Sanford, or Easley. A far cry.

Monday, June 29, 2009

USA v Brazil, the media, and ESPN v Univision

I write about soccer in another blog, but I don't do it much here. You can see my thoughts on the on field happenings of the FIFA Confederations Cup final there. I'm extremely proud of our players, but puzzled by our manager's tactics. It was a heartbreaking loss.

Being in a final, even a Confederations Cup final, is a big deal, and as such it has brought a lot of attention to the national team both positive and negative. International sports outside of the Olympics are often met with derision by the American mainstream media for some reason (though the general American populace seems to enjoy them greatly), I don't know why. One writer once said he thought that the US should pull out of the Olympics and just have an American Olympics (sidenote: We already have something similar, that took 30 seconds of research) because "we always win anyway", apparently China didn't get the memo. That struck me as xenophobic. He's a rather well known writer, he's even featured on television for some reason. I guess because controversy creates cash and if you yell out the most outrageous things someone will argue with you. By now I've learned to ignore the detractors.

There has been positive attention as well, and that's been very nice. If that was your first non-World Cup soccer experience, the national team plays several matches every year, often all through out the country, if you're interested you'd be more than welcome at any of them. The Gold Cup starts on July 3rd, click the link and you can see if any matches are near you. The Gold Cup is our regional championship, think of it as a World Cup with only North American teams (CONCACAF is North America, Central America and the Caribbean including Suriname, Guyana, and French Guiana). It's fun and you may meet some good people at the same time.

I have to say though, ESPN has disappointed me again. I speak very little Spanish but I often find myself watching the Univision feed for matches. ESPN's feed often seems to lack the passion associated with the sport and I guess that rubs me the wrong way. Yes, the GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL can be over-the-top at times but if you watch the entire feed you can honestly see how passionate the commentary team on Univision is. I know there's a massive controversy over English and Spanish in the United States but Univision (Miami, FL-based) is as American as ESPN (Bristol, CT-based) and seemed more proud of that fact during the Confederations Cup. I'm thankful ESPN showed the competition (but if they hadn't, FSC would've and Max Bretos is very passionate about the game and the US team) but I wish they'd try a little harder, it'd be nice.

Now my stomach hurts, I shouldn't eat red meat. I must turn in, again.

Friday, June 26, 2009

North and South Carolina should probably look at legalizing marijuana

Another person has been arrested for growing marijuana in the Carolinas. This time it's a dentist, a highly educated doctor who may well see jail time for this. North Carolina's already overstretched prison infrastructure will get yet another inmate who hasn't harmed anyone or anything, and North Carolina's overstretched medical infrastructure will lose yet another professional.

Both Carolinas have always been, and still are, tobacco producing States. Some of us aren't proud of that but we won't bash the farmers for growing it, no one bashes farmers who grow the ingredients for beer and it's harmful, yet it's celebrated as a staple of Americana. With the recent tobacco legislation farmers in the Carolinas are going to take a huge hit, and while ten months ago this may have been a small deal ever since the banking industry (a major Carolina employer) has fallen on it's face our secondary industries are a big deal. North and South Carolina both rank in the top ten of unemployment.

Which brings me back to the issue of marijuana, something which is somewhat of a "hot button" issue due to it's status as a "gateway drug" (don't tell anyone, but so is beer). Many people demonize marijuana as some evil substance sent by the devil or something, despite the fact that it has been shown to be less harmful than alcohol to the human body. In fact, hundreds die from an alcohol overdose ever year, there has never been a recorded marijuana overdose. In fact, alcoholism is the third leading cause of death in America. Marijuana addiction hasn't really caused any. Celebrated. Americana. Among smokers who smoke marijuana exclusively there have been zero (as in, less than one) cases of lung cancer caused by smoking. Alcohol contributes to the destruction of the liver, kidneys, pancreases, and heart. While small amounts of alcohol are touted as being healthy, marijuana's active ingredient actually kills cancer cells. Kills cancer cells.

I don't think alcohol should be illegal, you should have a right to drink if you want to, but for it to be legal and marijuana to be illegal is simply mind-boggling. But how does this effect North and South Carolina you ask? Well, the federal government seems to be asleep at the wheel on this topic. The reason they banned marijuana in the first place was because so many racists were in power at the time and they wanted to arrest Mexicans. Really. North and South Carolina have endless tobacco fields, thus endless space for growing marijuana. Both States, regardless of what Mark Sanford says, need tax revenue badly. Even Bev knows that and she's stupid. Marijuana legalization could provide a lifeline for the farmer who will be hurt by the tobacco legislation and provide the two States with a stream of tax money at the same time it will stop harmless people from clogging up our prison system. This is without mentioning the benefits of legalizing marijuana's sister plant Hemp, which is being studied for many, many uses including ethanol.

Honestly, it's 2009. It's time to move forward.

On the difference between Mark Sanford and Bill Clinton

"Were you calling for Bill Clinton to step down?! Huh?!"

Why yes, yes I was. Bill Clinton lied to the nation about his affair and that was a terrible thing to do, he lied under oath and he should've stepped down. I agree.

John Edwards is even worse, what he did was vile. But John Edwards was a private citizen when he did it, while that doesn't excuse it, it does disqualify him from discussion.

Yes, you lose certain rights when you become the Governor of a State. You don't become a public official to play golf with powerful people, you do it to shape policy, you become a public servant. A CEO isn't paying you, the people are paying you, you work for them and you answer to them whenever they call your name. This is why "liberals" (The Democratic Party is a moderate party, just FYI. Here's a left-wing party.) are harder on Mr. Sanford than they are on Mr. Edwards.

To find out why they're harder on Mr. Sanford than they are on Mr. Clinton you have to look no further than the platforms of the two candidates. Mr. Sanford is a Christian conservative, who ran on a platform of family values, a platform of Christian morals, and more than once defended "the traditional family unit". Mr. Clinton did not. This is why Mr. Sanford is a hypocritical scoundrel while Mr. Clinton is simply a scoundrel. It's not that hard to understand.

Mr. Sanford along with his fellow Republicans Mark Foley, John Ensign, and Larry Craig ran on a platform of bravado. A platform that proclaimed them as men and their male opponents from other parties as, well, not men. They spoke of defending the "family unit", bringing morality back into the Government and what it meant to be of good moral character. But mostly, being a man! They spoke to Preachers and got the Church goers to vote for them, they spun a record that played well in houses of worship every Sunday and they reaped the rewards of doing that, and then they lied to those people. No "liberal" does this. These four men proved to be of disgraceful moral fiber despite spending entire campaigns questioning that of their opponents, often sacrificing time to speak on real issues in the process. For this, they're being put to the sword, and rightly so. They shouldn't be defended, these men aren't martyrs, they're scoundrels.

There is nothing wrong with running on a platform of morality, that's perfectly fine. We have freedom of speech in this country. If you want to tout your dedication to your faith, do it, please. But you'd better live up to it. And when the crap hits the fan, don't look at the people who didn't profess it in the first place.

Until the Republicans can find a candidate that fits these requirements within their own party I've taken the time to find one who fits them in another party. A self-made man, a dedicated husband, a proud father, a man of strong faith and a man of values. Why don't you stop yelling for a second, and give him a look sometime.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The King of Pop, 1958-2009

Michael Jackson died today, it honestly came out of the blue and I was taken by surprise. It happened on the same day we lost Farrah Fawcett, and the same week we lost Ed McMahon. I'm not big on the cult of celebrity, as you can tell from my post on Perez Hilton and Will.I.Am, but all three of the people we lost this week were enormous talents who deserved and earned all of their fame. Jackson through his music, music which defined a generation, Farrah through her screen work, and McMahon thanks to his prolific resume and down to earth character. It is tragic.

Michael Jackson's "Bad" was the first CD I ever owned, and I still own it. It's an excellent album, in fact Michael rarely put out bad music. The man's career became overshadowed by his eccentric behavior in the 90s and allegations that he had taken advantage of children. He was never proven guilty, many claimed that his status as a mega-star helped him get off the hook, I don't know. I don't think Michael had the heart to harm anyone.

He often spoke of how he never really had a childhood and his fascination with Peter Pan, he famously named his ranch "Neverland", a homage to the fictional universe of Peter Pan. Michael suffered the same torments as many child stars, Dana Plato for example, except Michael suffered them in the spotlight. His career never really fizzled out like many other child stars, an testament to his special talent and brilliant songwriting ability. Despite the millions of dollars, and billions (literally, billions) of fans, you could often feel yourself feeling sorry for Michael, and while some may disagree at times he seemed somewhat of an unwilling celebrity. His reclusive nature attracted the cameras, as there was money in capturing Michael's face on film, but he always seemed as if he wanted to escape from adulthood, like Peter Pan.

Despite being reclusive Jackson did love his fans. He loved them in an odd way, but he never forgot that without his fans he was just another person, something many modern celebrities could learn a lot from.

I hope his legacy is that of a brilliant musician and generous philanthropist, and not that of a strange man. Michael had many problems, but he was also an original. Until his last day he remained one-of-a-kind in a Xerox world.

He is a legend.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

So that's where Mark Sanford was, but why are we surprised?

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford cheated on his wife. Hardcore. He didn't cheat on her in South Carolina, he didn't even pop up to North Carolina for a bit of afternoon delight, no, Mark left the freaking continent.

Sanford, who looks like what would happen if you spliced the DNA of Bert with that of a carrot, went AWOL last week but everyone's suspicions were raised when his wife said she "didn't know where he was" but wasn't the least bit worried. Republicans rushed to defend one of their rising stars - Sanford has been listed as a potential Presidential candidate in 2012 - but even they had to know something was amiss. Some spoke of how Sanford was supposedly out hiking, and "being a man, something lubrals (liberals) wouldn't understand". Well, if being a man means leaving the your wife and four children behind while you desecrate your marriage thousands of miles away, I don't know if that's what I want to be.

Now their defense is that Sanford "made a mistake" and that it's "no worse than what Clinton or Edwards did" (ah, the old Slick Willy chestnut), but they're wrong. They're very wrong. The actions of Bill Clinton and John Edwards were nothing short of despicable, no one is doubting that, but Clinton and Edwards never ran on a platform of family values, Christian morals, and never pushed sexual minorities to the fringes of society with their rhetoric. Sanford has made no secret of his distaste for homosexuals, bisexuals, or even sexually active heterosexuals who may not be married. He is going to get a lot of stick for this incident, and he deserves every bit of it. There is no room to defend this hypocritical lying sack of crap, there isn't.

Soon we will hear them climb atop their towers and cry foul of the "liberal media", the same liberal media that includes The State newspaper, Columbia's daily, which received the erotic emails exchanged between Sanford and his lover as early as last December and elected to withhold them, in essence, protecting a conservative official from public scorn. All the outlets are blocked off, Sanford is impossible to defend. You can't blame this one on Obama, who, I may add, is a dedicated husband and father. He's also a Christian. He is what Sanford claimed to be.

Furthermore Sanford was a harsh critic of Bill Clinton and voted for the President's impeachment following his affair in the 1990s. Sanford actually resorted to name calling, though he was never as bad as Lindsay Graham. Sanford may not have lied under court oath, but he did lie. He lied under religious oath to his wife (you know, something about a Preacher, an alter, a Church, lots of people watching), he lied to his family, he lied to his staff, and he lied to South Carolina. By his own standards, he is unfit for leadership.

No, this isn't a good time to jump on Mark Sanford, that happened a long time ago.

One person in the Observer editorial forum asked if we could send NC Gov. Bev Perdue for a hike and transfer Sanford here, you still want that? Bev might be stupid, but she has nothing on Sanford.

I'm not a Democrat, in fact I'm not very fond of them, but thanks to people like Mark Sanford, John Ensign, Larry Craig, and Mark Foley (all supposedly Christian men who ran on a platform of morals only to prove themselves hypocrites) this country is going to become a one party state with the Democrats in charge.

Well, at least the Democrats try. The SC Libertarian party is probably loving this, and they have every right to be. Every right to be.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Perez Hilton, Will.I.Am, and the Bonobo

As you surely know by now, professional loud mouth Perez Hilton was punched by a member of Will.I.Am's entourage in Toronto after the MuchMusic video awards, or something. Apperently Will.I.Am's manager hit him.

This has, somehow, become major news in the last day, and it's a shame that it has. It's not news, it just isn't. Neither of these people are important, one is famous for running his mouth, and the other is famous for making trendy music that no one will remember in ten years time, maybe not even him. The way people are acting you'd think Bob Dylan laid out Tom Wolfe with a hurricane kick. Honestly.

Perez probably deserved to be hit, I'm not disputing that, but I will openly question the masculinity of those involved. Do you really need multiple people around to beat up an out-of-shape gay man? Really? I mean, listen to the guy, he's about as tough as a goomba, the proper ones. And really, Perez, calling him a "faggot"? Nice one, hypocrite.

The Khalid Sheikh Mohammed joke was brilliant though, shame most ardent fans of either party will have no earthly idea who that is.

The fact that this is major news during a revolution in one of the world's most important nations, during the worst financial crisis in global history, and the day after a deadly commuter rail crash in our nation's capital has me questioning mankind's fitness for it's position atop the animal kingdom.

You may ask, who will take our place then? (or maybe, who will take r place den?) Dolphins? No, they're overrated. But I love them anyway. Baboons? Possibly. Elephants? That's a good shout, but I can't see it. The most likely answer is the Bonobo. Bonobos do have facial expressions and emotional awareness, which puts them ahead of Mike Jefferies. Kanzi, a 26-year-old male from Des Moines, understands some 3,000 spoken English words, which is more than most celebrity worshipers. Underneath the hairstyles and fancy clothes, we're still apes (I know I am), and Perez Hilton and Will.I.Am are the ones throwing their own crap for attention.

It'll take them awhile, no doubt as they're still progressing, but we should be very aware that we have someone gunning for our spot now, and our strength is not in our depth.

Thanks a million, Perez.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Holy waste of newsprint, Batman!

Excuse me for the canned headline, I actually feel dirty for that. I apologize profusely.

On Saturday the Charlotte Observer did it's credibility no favors when it published a story about a Batman comic that made a mother angry. Really, they actually put it in the print edition. Here's the online version.

I don't blame the mother, Yvette Spivock, as much as I blame the Observer. Seriously, has the editorial staff been under a rock? Charlotte has big problems, world changing events are taking place in Iran and I'm sure something must've happened in Gastonia recently. Honestly, don't cover this crap, it isn't news, it isn't even fluff, it's garbage. Are you going to cover it every time an overzealous parent complains about some crappy show giving Paris Hilton television time? It's a slippery slope, and no, it wasn't a "slow news day".

But really, Mrs. Spivock, I'm not mad at you, but if you were "outraged" by a Batman comic it's time to reevaluate your values. Do you really think comic books should be labeled like cigarettes?

South Charlotte *sigh*. It was nicer when it was just farmland.

Every time a convention comes to town people do this stuff, and the paper covers it! Why, paper, why?!

Friday, June 19, 2009

"The Hut"


You are so going out of business.

It's actually not that surprising when you consider Yum! Brands, parent company of "The Hut", was spun-off from Pepsi for whom 2009 has been a rebranding disaster on more than one occasion.

Edit: They now say it's only a "secondary name". Mmmhmm.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A hero

The 2009 equivalent of Tank Man. (Photo: TehranLive.org)

Try as they might all of the efforts by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's goons to stop the free flow of information out of Iran have been circumvented by modern technologies and creativity. Despite silencing the venerable BBC by jamming equipment, and destroying NBC's Tehran offices, the government has been unable to prevent people from seeing their tyrannical behavior, which includes beating protesters to the verge of death. Some have even shown their injuries on YouTube and related site.

The Iranian government hasn't stopped at injuring people within it's own borders, it has launched DoS attacks on some ex-patriot news sites such as TehranBureau (twitter account as the site as been attacked), which are critical of the conservative government. Some have offered reformists within Iran a cyber lifeline of sorts in the form of American and European proxy IPs which allow them to freely post updates to sites such as twitter.

In support of the reformists, and in support of freedom, everyone should take the opportunity to wear green. People do it every St. Patrick's Day, many without the slightest clue as to why, just that it's what everyone does. Do it for something important.

Stand with FREE Iran. Protect a free world.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Do schools kill creativity?

My friend came across this and shared the link. It's from a TED talk featuring Sir Ken Robinson.

As a product of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools I can say that the answer as related to CMS is plainly, yes. For those who don't know, CMS is basically the educational and governmental equivalent of what British Leyland was to the automobile industry. A large, unwieldy, overly bureaucratic, top heavy organization that has lost sight of it's original goal.

CMS, as with most Western educational systems, focuses primarily on mathematics and language (in our case, English), then on science and social studies (though the latter is being forced closer to the fringe), and then, and only if there's time after all the standardized testing, physical education and the arts. In many cases the last two are seeing themselves axed in the name of saving money. Teachers are being fired while the top level officials who ran the ship so shoddily that it began to take on water in the first place keep their six-figure jobs.

According to these people sitting behind their desks in office buildings in Second Ward, Raleigh, and Washington, the education of the youth should be based solely on the student's ability to pass a standardized test. A menial, tedious selection of multi-choice questions answered on a sheet of paper with hundreds of tiny circles on it. This, to them, is education, and the aggregate performance of students on these tests determines how much money is allocated to each school for the following year. Bad performance - for some bizarre reason - equates to less money, and with the focus so heavily on math and language, the arts and physical education bare the brunt of the cuts.

Furthering out the arts and physical education is the somewhat recent idea of "workforce development", basically turning schools into an assembly line of workers for the already established business community. You basically go to school to learn how to become a good, productive worker. This rigid system stifles individual creativity because it's dead-set in the needs of the industrial economy. Yesterday's economy.

I'm not saying that it's all about more focus on the arts and physical education, it isn't. Not everyone's talent is playing the harp or keeping goal. One can be talented and creative with mathematics and languages, but it once again boils down to the standardized, rigid system employed by the higher-ups.

Also, I am not criticizing teachers. I'm a great admirer of teachers, they are among the most selfless people on the planet and often work for a pittance because they have a passion for helping young people. I am criticizing those in the higher positions, some of whom have never been teachers, who believe that test scores determine a person's worth. It's borderline criminal.

In my opinion education needs to be revolutionized to fit the 21st century rather than the 19th century. The world has changed dramatically, but the education system is stuck in the era of the steam engine.

Children should be taught to express themselves, and to learn by doing, rather than placed on an assembly line and have their failures punished in draconian ways.

Nike, of all things, makes sense with this ad:

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Mystery shadow leaders find a new enemy: Pygmy goats.

Ahh, the pygmy goat. A loud, dangerous animal. At least according to several "neighborhood leaders" (read: someone who thinks they're important) in Charlotte.

Two pygmy goats, who are smaller than an everyday black lab, one of the most popular, if not the most popular, domestic pets in Charlotte were recently removed from Jeffrey Koenig's Fourth Ward yard because it wasn't big enough for animals not considered "domestic pets" by the city of Charlotte. Though it is worth noting that the comparable city of Seattle does consider them domestic pets. As a result Koenig has taken his battle to the city council and has received support from some members, and hundreds of Charlotteans.

But there are those who would like to see the goats, Alvin and Buckley, forced to leave the Queen City for the pastures of outer Metrolina. One woman said that her grandmother "had regular goats" and that they were "a pain". This is probably because "regular" goats on average weigh 185 pounds, or about the weight of an average 6'3" male. A fat pygmy goat will probably weigh 55, and that would be considered very husky. Most float between 30 and 45. My lab, Jake, weighs 70. Can you see where I'm going with this?

If indeed Koenig fails in his effort to move the goats back into the city, will the children of the NIMBYs who have chavtastic sport mufflers on their cars to make it sound more powerful than it really is (drive through South Charlotte, you can't miss them) be forced by the city to remove them in order to adhear to noise restrictions? The goats not only make less noise (a lot less), they also pollute less. Charlotte is trying to "go green", you know.

And before you say having goats in the city makes Charlotte look "small town" and "country", remember what Charlotte was 20 years ago, and remember what it will be when the trendy folk pull up the stakes and move to the next hot spot. Charlotte is country.

I also want to say that Tetris is celebrating it's silver jubilee. It's hard to believe it's been that long, it seems like just yesterday I was playing it in beautiful pea soup green on the Game Boy, which also celebrated a special birthday this year. Certainly a magnificent milestone for a creation that has played a monumental role in not only gaming, but technology in general.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Ka, please. Thank you.

In 2010 Ford will introduce Americans to it's Fiesta, a fuel-efficient sub-compact that has already proved wildly popular in the European market. This year Ford launched the Fiesta Movement, a chance to show Americans what the Fiesta was all about, how the car drives, and what it's capable of. If you want to learn more about that, you can ask Fiesta Agent 48, who just so happens to be my, erm, "e-wife", Jane.

The introduction of the gas-saving Fiesta is a smart move from Ford who endeared themselves to many Americans this year when they refused the federal bailouts that were accepted by the now bankrupt General Motors and Chrysler. As of June, Ford is the only of the "big three" under it's own control as Chrysler is soon to be in the hands of Italian auto giant Fiat, and if you're an American, you own 60% of GM, like it or not, and most of us don't. As a result of this in recent months some Americans have pledged that their next car purchase will most certainly be a Ford and the Fiesta gives those with modest budgets but ambitions of owning a new car a chance to do just that. However, Ford should take this one step further and bring it's tiny Ka stateside in 2011 to compliment the Fiesta.

Even though fuel prices have dropped since this time last year, when they were more easily compared to gold and silver than other liquids, they're still more than twice as high as they were ten years ago and wages, well, aren't. Because of this people are trying everything possible to save a dime here, a penny there, and a quarter somewhere else. One of the easiest ways to do this is to either drive less, or drive a more fuel-efficient automobile, and this is where cars like the Fiesta and Ka, and even slightly larger Focus, come into play. The Fiesta averages nearly 47 MPG while the Ka manages a stunning 56, even out dueling Toyota's vaunted Prius (note: I'm not bashing the Prius, it's a wonderful car in it's own rite). Plus, it's adorable.

Given it's small size safety is an obvious concern about the Ka. During the 2008 model's test by Euro NCAP the Ka managed decent, though far from spectacular, figures. These will probably need to be improved if the car is brought to America due to the larger prevalance of freeways and SUV-type vehicles.

Thus far Ford has done a commendable job of switching away from the gas-guzzlers that were the vogue of the high-flying, free-wheeling 90's, and it's ability to do so is a large reason why it's in such good condition compared with it's main domestic rivals today. But there is no reason why Ford can't keep going and push the American industry into a new frontier with it's fuel-saving, affordable, small cars. There will always be a special place for the F-150 in America's heart, and rightly so as it helped built this country and will continue to do so for many years, but Ford, and the American auto industry's, futures lie with the Ka, Fiesta and Focus, and because of that, the future looks bright.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Memorial Stadium is falling apart & The Pan American Games?


That's not really a shock to anyone who's driven past the near seventy-five year-old concrete hulk on 7th Street.

This now leaves the city with a new bill to foot because a structural analysis of the stadium is sure to show more damage than we currently know about. That actually creates a possibility for the city: a chance to bid for the Pan American Games.

Charlotte loves to bid for sporting events, particularly college basketball tournaments which are always successful in the city, just ask the CIAA. But recently Charlotte has begun to enlarge it's portfolio with events beyond basketball such as the Quail Hollow (formerly Wachovia) Championship, a stop that has become a gem of the PGA tour, and the Charlotte Ultraswim, which though it's been around for awhile has only recently garnered much publicity thanks not only to the apperence of Michael Phelps, but due to several Mecklenburg Aquatic Club swimming grabbing medals in Beijing last summer. There are some who would dream of the Olympic Games being in Charlotte, but that is the longshot of all longshot, the Pan American Games are actually a realisitic possibility for the city.

Indianapolis (1987) and Winnipeg (1999) are similar sized cities which have hosted the games, though they have grown in size and expectation since. Rio used the 2007 games to help boost awareness for a potential 2016 Olympic bid where they will compete against Chicago, Madrid, and Tokyo. Rio will also most likely host the final of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in it's world-renowned Maracana. Rio built an entirely new stadium for the Games, the 45,000-seat Estádio Olímpico João Havelange, which has since been home to Botafogo (to whom it is known as Engenhão, after the neighborhood where it's located) who were quasi-nomadic before the move.

Also this week we found out that UNC Charlotte seems to be a bit short in their quest to raise money for a new football stadium, why couldn't a 40,000-seat stadium in the University area become a joint project between the city and the University? There isn't really a reason. UNCC's current sports venues could also play some role in the Games.

Charlotte does have the ability to host such an event, though it may be somewhat adverse to hosting a "second-tier Olympics" having seen the much scowled at Atlanta host the real deal in 1996. Those people need to understand that we're not Atlanta, we're Charlotte and we can't let everything Atlanta does decide what we do and don't do.

In 2011 the Mexican city of Guadalajara will host the games and they will feature thirty sports, the twenty-six Olympic events plus baseball, softball, rugby union, and raquetball. Greater Charlotte has the venues for these sports:

Archery: Independence Park (Elizabeth, Charlotte)
Aquatics: Mecklenburg Aquatic Center (Second Ward, Charlotte)
Athletics: Pan American Stadium (University City, Charlotte)
Badminton: Grady Cole Center (Elizabeth, Charlotte)
Baseball: Knights Stadium (Third Ward, Charlotte) {or Fort Mill, SC}
Beach Volleyball: Lake Norman (temp venue)
Basketball: Bobcats Arena (First Ward, Charlotte)
BMX: Park Road Park (Charlotte)
Boxing: Belk Arena (Davidson)
Canoe: National Whitewater Center (Mecklenburg County)
Cycling: Uptown Charlotte
Equestrian: Gaston Equestrian Park (Dallas, NC)
Fencing: Cabarrus Arena (Concord, NC)
Field Hockey: Davidson Field Hockey Stadium
Gymnastics: Halton Arena (University City, Charlotte)
Handball: Bojangles' Coliseum (Independence Blvd., Charlotte)
Judo: Grady Cole Center
Karate: Grady Cole Center
Modern Pentathlon: Irwin Belk Complex (Biddleville, Charlotte) - running, Aquatic Center - swimming, Independence Park - shooting, Grady Cole Center - fencing
Mountain Bike: Reedy Creek Park (Charlotte)
Open-water swimming: Lake Norman
Raquetball: TBD
Rowing: Lake Wylie
Rugby: Belk Stadium (Wingate, NC), District Three Stadium (Rock Hill, SC)
Sailing: Myrtle Beach, SC or Outer Banks, NC
Shooting: Independence Park
Skating: TBD
Soccer: Bank of America Stadium (Third Ward, Charlotte), Pan American Stadium, Richardson Stadium (Davidson), Queens Stadium (Marion Diehl Park, Charlotte)
Softball: Phillips Stadium (University City, Charlotte)
Squash: Cabarrus Events Center (Concord, NC)
Table Tennis: Cabrarrus Events Center
Track Cycling: Rock Hill Velodrome (proposed) (Rock Hill, SC)
Taekwondo: Grady Cole Center
Tennis: The Palisades (Charlotte)
Triathlon: Lake Wylie, York County, SC - Charlotte bike course, run to stadium
Volleyball: Halton Arena
Weightlifting: Cabarrus Events Center
Wrestling: Brayboy Gymnasium (Biddleville, Charlotte)

Of course, this is just one of my pipe dreams. :)