WSJ Profiles NC Basketball Culture

basketball[1] Basketball is a way of life in this state. If you don’t know that, you are either new here or you are an unpopular local sports talk radio host. It shows with our driveways, our packed youth leagues, and with our participation in the Final Four (22 of the last 30). Today the Wall Street Journal did a feature on our beloved heritage as a basketball hotbed. It’s a good, quick read that doesn’t even mention the popular, but insulting, moniker! It’s a good read…


Nowell’s Furniture Hosting Benefit Event

Nowell’s Contemporary Furniture in Cary will launch its holiday fundraiser to benefit multiple myeloma research (at Duke University Medical Center) with an in-store kick-off on Tuesday, December 7, from 6-8 p.m. The event will include giveaways, music, refreshments, and a brief presentation on the illness as well as Nowell’s fundraising effort, “Nowell’s Fund To Fight Multiple Myeloma.”  Nowell’s owner Jerry Nowell was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the white blood cells, earlier this year and is currently undergoing treatment.

There are two associated benefits as part of the program:

  • An online auction of fine furnishings from Nowell’s that has been featured on the set of NBC 17’s “My Carolina Today” show.
  • The in-store Ekornes benefit: Every customer who purchases an Ekornes Stressless Recliner during the holiday season and donates $50 to Nowell’s Fund To Fight Multiple Myeloma will receive a $200 discount off his or her purchase. The Ekornes fundraiser began Thanksgiving weekend. Party “giveaways” will be provided by Ekornes.

City Collecting Leaves

leafmap Those working working to free their suffocating lawns from leaves this past weekend will be glad to know that the City of Raleigh has already begun their annual leaf collection route. For a couple of weeks the city has been working on Zone G, but began Zone A today. They will proceed clockwise, by zone, around the city over the ensuing month. Because collections were light in Zone G, the city is going to attempt to resweep that zone before Christmas. The city will make two collections in each zone before the latter part of the winter. [source]


Raleigh’s Biggest Needs

While we have a lot for which to be thankful in Raleigh, there is more work to be done! Here is my list of 30 things Raleigh needs:

  1. 20090220601[1] A sexy CAT Bus system. This means rolling out Android and iPhone apps that consider your location and your destination, and suggest routing options and times of route service that are based on real-time bus location data…for all routes. Right now the R-Line reports its bus locations to the web, but this doesn’t cut it. The free TransitGenie app on the iPhone does what I am describing and makes using Chicago’s bus and rail system very easy and actually fun to use. Each CAT bus should be spotless, have internet access, feature  news and ads on video screens, and should be lit with something other than fluorescent lighting. Would you rather fly on this airplane or on this one? Here is a private bus company with their comfy bus.
  2. Walnut Creek and/or RBC Center bus shuttle on every night there is an event. The Caniac Express is fine, but has been poorly marketed. Parking is nearing the $20 point, and if we add that to the $12 per head, at least, for a minimal concession stand meal, that means that my wife and I will spend at least $40 above the ticket price to go to a hockey game. Wouldn’t it be better for me to spend that money in downtown restaurants, use a shuttle that skirts traffic, delivers us near the RBC North Entrance, then returns to downtown after the game? You never know, we might just want to go have a drink downtown after the game. If we cannot have a downtown arena, then we can, in effect, have one with an express shuttle service. The buses, by the way, must play the Hurricanes or Wolfpack’s pre/post game broadcasts on their intercoms.
  3. Lingerie Football (link to Chicago Bliss). notreally
  4. An outstanding restaurant that almost has no service. Essentially think of a Zoe’s Kitchen concept that serves food like Bloomsbury Bistro. Each order could be handled online, via a mobile webpage or Android or iPhone app. One could set up an account, and order on their way to the restaurant. Simply pick up the food upon entering and eat. Pizza Hut’s iPhone app works almost this simply, but you still have to pay when you pick up the food. There is a growing number of people like me who just want good food, and we want a drink refill when we want it, not when someone happens to give us permission to get one….and we don’t want to be constantly interrupted…nor do we want some failed comedian trying to entertain us. Just give us the food!
  5. ChutneyJoesA really good fast-food Indian restaurant. I visited Chutney Joe’s in Chicago, and it is almost exactly what we need; a Chipotle-level fast-casual restaurant that serves Indian food. The key is to not make the food too hot, which is a weakness of Chutney Joe’s.
  6. A great, quick taqueria downtown.
  7. A 5,000 seat indoor concert venue.
  8. An El Pollo Loco location
  9. Milepost designations for Glenwood Avenue. Much like those used on the Outer Banks, mileposts for Glenwood Avenue, from Morgan Street to the Durham County line would help to regionalize the 14 mile-long spoke. Businesses could advertise that they are "between mileposts 11 & 12", for instance.
  10. A place to buy fresh-made corn tortillas
  11. To fold A Taste of the Triangle into Raleigh Wide Open, and make it the premiere food event in the south.
  12. 20100624-42A ferris wheel at Pullen Park. When that’s a success, add a wave swinger.
  13. To convert Dorothea Dix into a State government office park/urban park. The downtown Raleigh amphitheater should eventually be relocated to the sledding hills so that the skyline can be appreciated by concert-goers.
  14. More non-country and non-rock live concerts. Walnut Creek should be booking more events centered around Broadway reviews, light jazz, Oldies, world music, and traveling symphonies, like WolfTrap is booking. Many of these events should have lawn rules conducive to families spreading out, allowing short chairs, blankets, picnic baskets, and wine. Sorry, but people are just fed-up with paying for $15 beers and bad food, and are just not choosing to attend events now. The concert industry needs to win us back.
  15. A slew of free, artsy concerts in the new amphitheater that are free. Local big-band jazz bands, talent show winners, world music performers, etc should get exposure using this facility. Fans should also be able to bring their own food and wine onto the grounds. See my statement about venue price gouging above.
  16. To make US1 past I-540, and US64 west of Cary limited access highways. Access roads should be the only way the businesses can be accessed. These are major arteries, not portals for parasitic business that will turn each stretch of road into the nightmare that is Capital Blvd.
  17. To move forward with Dan Douglas’ Capital Blvd plan
  18. A combined Hopscotch Music Festival, Artsplosure, Downtown Live, and Raleigh Wide open as one week-long extravaganza. The experience at Milwaukee’s Summerfest, complete with an excellent iPhone app that allows one to plan the events they want to attend, far exceeded the experiences of these combined. This is something that the Arts Commission would have to organize.
  19. 20100624-105To commission great pieces of public art for both Moore Square and Nash Square. Pieces like the Bean in Chicago find themselves constantly pulling people in. Each could define the squares and offer a very different experience in each, but complement each other.
  20. To cut down half of the trees in Nash Square. There needs to be some shade, however Nash Square is extremely uninviting and boring.
  21. Better mobile food truck sanitation monitoring. This is the job of the state, however, do you know that the conditions are sanitary?
  22. Twice-a-week garbage pickup in the summer. The days are up to 4 hours longer, so each truck could run two shifts. Add Monday service in the Summer, too. The smell of rotting diapers and shrimp is terrible.
  23. A Mexican cafeteria
  24. Great pieces of art for the Hillsborough Street Roundabouts.
  25. A blimp festival
  26. A concerted effort to corral all of the area’s Soups of the Day. This would allow one seeking a particular soup to know which restaurant to visit.
  27. A local DCI drum corps contest.
  28. A better technology statement throughout the city. Parking in decks downtown should have a “vacancy” sign, and that data should be integrated with a web client that allows people, in real-time, to see where parking vacancies are in the downtown decks. [essay]
  29. Minor arteries to be rezoned to have small commercial clusters, like Five Points and Oberlin/Fairview.
  30. Traffic lights to flash red/yellow during lightly travelled times of the week.

Raleigh’s Biggest Thanks

DT_snow Thanksgiving is a day where we like to reflect upon our fortunes and blessings. I don’t see too many civic-based lists, so here’s one man’s take. I am thankful for:

  1. A city where there is more to do than I a) have time for and b) can afford.
  2. The RBC Center. Until the 1986 opening of the Student Activities Center in Chapel Hill, the Triangle did not have an air conditioned space that could hold more than 2,300. The Smith Center is difficult for attendees and cannot be operated without major government subsidies. The RBC Center is an excellent, comfortable, convenient venue that made it possible for the area to have its first major pro sports franchise.
  3. The 440 Beltline. Sure it acts like a sieve to outer/inner traffic transitions, but if you ask Charlotteans they will talk at great length about how hard it is to get around a city with just city streets.
  4. Clean water at a good pressure piped right into my house. How much harder would our lives be if we had to boil river water any time we needed it?
  5. Live sports on an HDTV. I love watching basketball, hockey, and football on a big TV. In some ways it is better than going to the game.
  6. A strong Y-Guides Program. Several decades ago the Raleigh YMCA established a local Indian Guides program which gave fathers and sons chances to do projects and spend wholesome time together. The program was a wild success, adding a father/daughter program. Together they are, by far, the largest Y-Guides programs in the nation. Dallas’ is a distant second.
  7. Lex Alexander. Many years ago Lex Alexander established a small grocery store in Durham called Wellspring. It was such an excellent outlet for ingredients for chefs, that it acted as a magnet, attracting chefs such as Ben Barker and Scott Howell to that are. The roaring success of Durham’s restaurant scene has spilled over giving Raleigh its own chapter in the area’s nationally recognized dining market.
  8. Everett Case, Dean Smith, and Mike Krzyzewski. These three weren’t the only factors in making the Triangle the capital of college basketball, but they were the most important at each of the area schools.
  9. Excellent shopping options. Whenever I travel to a smaller market I am constantly stunned by how few shopping options there are. If there is a good retail outlet, it is often the only one of its type in a small market, leading to delays if the item is out of stock. Sure, there is interesting stuff in the major shopping markets, but in the modern era I don’t find myself coveting retail finds in major markets like I used to.
  10. Strong youth sports programs. While the odds of becoming a professional athlete are slim for an area child, the opportunities offered by Raleigh Parks and Recreation, the YMCA, American Legion, and Boys and Girls Clubs are an important opportunity for children to learn how to work on a team and hone a skill.
  11. A great variety of music venues. In the area we have a plethora of music venues that is as good as almost every other market in the country.
  12. sparkchalk Downtown festivals. Annual events like Artsplosure, Sparkcon, Hopscotch, Raleigh Wide Open, and more are doing an excellent job of attracting people downtown and allowing them to create their own experiences. These events are important in building a sense of community. (the chalk drawing to the right was just one of the many fantastic works that appeared during SparkCon.)
  13. A stock of old buildings. Raleigh never had much industrial growth so its stock of old buildings, whether office or industrial, is not large. However the city has done an adequate job of of keeping its stock, offering some variety. Many other cities have torn down all of their old buildings resulting in a lack of character.
  14. The beach is only 2 hours away. Think of how many nice areas to live are within 2 hours of an ocean. There aren’t many!
  15. Stadium seating in movie theaters. I’m not the tallest person, and now I don’t have to crane my head because some giraffe is sitting in front of me.
  16. Ubiquitous internet access. The growing coverage of Wifi in Raleigh and the competing cell phone networks have made our options for communication, music streaming, and news reporting mushroom. The thought of listening to terrestrial radio is so foreign to me that I can’t remember relying on it.
  17. Chick-Fil-A. People who live in an area without a Chick-Fil-A are missing America’s best fast food experience.
  18. Cars and light traffic. I honestly love being able to get out of my seat and get to a post office, a hardware store, and a computer store on my terms, quickly, and comfortably. While I-40 is something I don’t like, traffic in the Raleigh is generally pretty good, especially inside the beltline where there are numerous options for moving from point A to point B.
  19. RDU Airport. We are lucky to have an excellent airport in the area. Movement through the terminals is efficient, they are clean, and the routes offered a good for a city this size.
  20. North Hills. The North Hills Mall was in terrible shape when John Kane purchased it. His speculative plan to replace the mall with a lifestyle center serves as an excellent example to other developers that something other than a boring strip mall can survive here. North Hills isn’t perfect, but it is outstanding compared to the other renovation/replacement ideas that were being considered.
  21. Plumbing! “Pipes the $%^& right out of your house!” (History of the World)
  22. Civil obedience. We want Raleigh’s crime rate to be lower, but generally we live in a society that respects others’ rights, property, and authority. Without those we have no value.
  23. The Wake County Public Schools. It’s been a rough couple of years, but in all honesty the school system here is as good as the child and his/her parents want it to be. Not all cities can say that.
  24. Curb & Gutter and Sidewalks. There are some excellent neighborhoods in Raleigh that don’t have curb and gutter, and I wouldn’t consider living in any of them. Sidewalks really make a neighborhood valuable.
  25. Local blogs. I honestly appreciate all of the other local-based blogs, and am very upset when one shuts down. We all have our own approaches, and no one site can do it all. Luckily we have quite a collection of interesting sites like (in no particular order): The Raleigh Connoisseur, Goodnight Raleigh, Raleigh Skyline, NewRaleigh, The Downtown Living Advocates, Raleigh MSA, Raleighing, the Raleigh Downtowner, Triangle Modernist Houses, VarmintBites, OvertheTop/InsidetheBeltline, GlutenFreeRaleigh, LiveWorkPlay, ITBInsider, The Independent, and many more! (If I omitted anyone, it is an accident. Please let me know because you are all important to our experience here in Raleigh!)

Keith Urban Coming to RBC Center

Keith Urban announced today a 60-city tour which includes a stop at Raleigh’s RBC Center on Saturday, June 25. Tickets go on sale Friday, February 11. Urban will be supporting his new CD, Get Closer.


Solving Game Day Traffic Woes

Going to the UNC/NCSU game in the morning? You are apt to find serious traffic problems due to the closure of two lanes on I-40 West. In order to avoid problems choose one of these alternate routes:

  • SOUTH – Take Highway 64 West out of Cary to Farrington Point Road. Turn right and proceed for a few miles where you will bear left as the road becomes Mt. Carmel Church Road. Pass Governor’s Club’s entrance until you reach the next traffic light, 15-501 sound of town. Turn right to proceed into Chapel Hill or turn left to proceed to the Southern Village Tar Heel Express bus stop.
  • NORTH – Take Highway 70 West to Durham and get on I-85 West. After Mile marker 174, take 15-501 South and follow it into Chapel Hill. There is a Tar Heel Express option at University Mall, near Dillards.
  • MIDDLE – There are a few options to wind your way into Chapel Hill. If you are in the middle of Raleigh, take I-40 to I-540 South. Proceed until the road ends at Highway 55. Turn Right and then immediately turn left onto OKelly Chapel Road. It will end at 751 where you will turn right. Two lefts later turn onto Stagecoach Road. At its end, turn left onto Farrington Road. Follow it as it becomes Barbee Chapel Road. The next traffic light is Hwy 54, where you’ll turn left. If you want to take the Tar Heel Express bus, take the next left onto Friday Center Drive.

With all of these routes, it takes about 50 minutes to get from Cameron Village to the Tar Heel Expresses mentioned. This is in contrast to the 35 minutes it normally takes on a non-gameday without traffic problems. If you don’t have a place to park reserved for you, your best bet is to go to one of the Tar Heel Express locations and ride the bus to the stadium-side UNC Belltower. (Note that postgame departure points are in front of Fetzer gym, which is 1 block east of the belltower pregame dropoff points).

When traveling over, be sure to use WRAL’s traffic cams linked on their website, and follow my updates on Twitter.



Phydeaux Opens Raleigh Store

phydeax Good news for pet lovers! Phydeaux is now open in Raleigh. The store is at 10 West Franklin St. (near the intersection of Peace Street and Capital Boulevard). The store carries all of the pet pampering products, prices, and individualized service customers have come to love at the original, Chapel Hill store.

At 14,000 square feet, Phydeaux’s Raleigh location is larger than the Chapel Hill location. Additionally, Phydeaux Raleigh will continue the tradition of supporting local animal rescue groups and shelters by hosting adoption events and raising funds to donate. Phydeaux does not and will not ever sell animals.

Phydeaux has been awarded Best Pet Supply Store in the Triangle for 4 years running, and is listed as one of Inc. Magazine’s top 5000 fastest growing private companies in the US.

Store Hours:

  • Monday – Saturday: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM
  • Sunday: 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Map it


Ted’s Montana Grill Closes

On Monday Ted’s Montana Grill closed 9 underperforming stores around the county. One such outlet was the Triangle Town Center location.



Cameron Village Hosting Open House Thursday

On Thursday (Nov 18) Cameron Village will host their annual Christmas season Open House.

“It’s a magical night of music and laughter at Cameron Village. Start your holiday shopping here and we will treat you to cookies and cider, great entertainment and tons of holiday fun. Bring the kids to see Santa Thursday November 18th from 5 – 8 p.m.”


Symphony Horn Quartets Coming to Humble Pie

On Monday, November 22, Humble Pie will host an evening of horn quartets to go with beer drinking, including music by Kerry Turner and Eugene Bozza and a handful of traditional German tunes to accompany your Oktoberfest afterglow. The musicians are playing German music in honor of German festival Oktoberfest, and the restaurant will serve a German beer to accompany each course.  A local beer aficionado will discuss each beer as they are served.

The NCS Musicians performing are Christopher Caudill, horn; Michael Hrivnak, horn; Rachel Niketopoulos, horn; Kimberly Van Pelt, horn. Dinner begins at 6pm and the performance begins at 8pm.


Robert Plant Coming to Memorial Auditorium

plant Robert Plant will return to Raleigh on Wednesday, February 2. He’ll at Memorial Auditorium supporting his newest CD, “Band of Joy”.


Escovedo Playing Chip Robinson Benefit

Chip Robinson, founder and frontman of Raleigh’s beloved Backsliders was seriously injured recently in a bicycle accident. He lacks health insurance and is unable to work while he recovers.

Several renowned local bands as well as Alejandro Escovedo (backed by Robert Kearns of Lynyrd Skynyrd) are rallying around Robinson, and will play a benefit show Sunday (11/21) at the brand new Southland Ballroom, a 300 capacity state-of-the-art performance venue in the Glenwood South district of Raleigh.

All of the featured acts have shared stages with Chip (and with one another) over the years, and all feel a great fondness for him and a deep admiration for his one-of-a-kind songwriting and showmanship. Expect a musical love-fest and a memorable night to benefit one of the shining stars of the Triangle music scene.

The event begins at 4pm and admission is $20.

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