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A Living Trophy Is Lost

IMG_9435 The hearts of many area sports fans fell heavy yesterday upon learning the identity of the driver in the fatal bus accident on Interstate 40: Lorenzo Charles. Charles and his Cardiac Pack teammates captured the hearts of not only the vast majority of North Carolinians on April 4, 1983, but those of many across the nation.

The 1983 season carried few national story lines: Could Ralph Sampson finally win it after turning down the NBA again?, Could Michael Jordan and a strong UNC team earn another title? Could Guy Lewis’ incredibly talented team continue its dominance through the post-season? That Houston team had names like Micheaux, Franklin, and Young, but it also had Akeem “The Dream” Olajuwan and Clyde Drexler, who would go on to be two of the NBA’s Greatest 50 Players. The team was perhaps the greatest fast-breaking team in history, easily earning the moniker “Phi Slamma Jamma”. The way they dismantled a sensational Villanova team in Kemper Arena in the Regional Finals was nothing short of scary. They were a great rebounding team, too, so dominant that only a miracle could stop them.

Lorenzo Charles came to Raleigh in the fall of 1981 from Brooklyn and quickly became a household name; for the wrong reasons. One night during his first semester, Charles mugged a Domino’s Pizza delivery man and became the brunt of jokes across the ACC. Duke students greeted him with pizza boxes as (yet another) NCSU player had gotten in trouble with the law (see Tiny Pender). Charles settled in, worked on his game, and became a bona fide starter his sophomore year.

The 1983 team was a solid team on paper, but they were thin in the backcourt. Things got worse one night in January when Virginia’s Othell Wilson landed from a jumpshot on Derrick Whittenburg’s right foot, breaking the DeMatha product’s Right 5th Metatarsal bone. Whittenburg would not play for roughly six weeks. During that 14-game period, the Pack struggled going 9-5, but taught us a valuable lesson about laying down a foundation when times are tough. Young shooter Terry Gannon got more reps, and Ernie Meyers’ game really flourished. Little did we know how important they would be spelling starters in tight, more important games.

Whittenburg, coincidentally, returned to play in the Pack’s game at Virginia, and it took a few games for the team to find its rhythm. However in the regular season’s final game, the Pack flexed its muscle in a way that hadn’t been seen since David Thompson left early to the NBA; a 130-89 thrashing of a solid Wake Forest team. “Hmm,” we thought.

Still, NCSU had lost 10 regular season games and needed to get to the ACC championship game to even be in the NCAA tournament conversation, by most accounts. Its first opponent in the ACC tournament was a familiar face; Wake Forest. This time, though, it was a nip and tuck game to open the tournament, coming down to two free throws with a dead clock to win the game 71-70. Who made those two shots? Lorenzo Charles, a 67% free throw shooter.

Next came an improbable OT win against the defending National Champion Tar Heels, led by Sam Perkins and the eventual greatest player to play the game, Michael Jordan. Only Ralph Sampson and the Virginia Cavaliers stood between the Pack and the Big Dance now. NCSU squeaked out a 3-point win for the ACC title, and earned the automatic bid to the tournament. “Four for Albuquerque!” my family announced as we facetiously begged scalpers for Final Four tickets while leaving The Omni.

Of course the Cardiac Pack went on to dispose of Jim Harrick’s Pepperdine team in a double OT heart-stopper in the middle of the night. Next was a last-minute upset of nationally 6th–ranked UNLV. In the Sweet 16 State got a bit of a break, as Utah was no match for the Pack. However the Pack would have another legendary game in a 4th game against the mighty Virginia Cavaliers. The one-point win disposing of 4-year media darling Ralph Sampson sent the city of Raleigh into a frenzy. Horns could be heard across the city as fans poured into the Brickyard for the Pack’s first return to the Final Four since winning it all in 1974.

The Pack went on to handily beat the Georgia team that knocked off UNC, and the well-documented championship became the Houston coronation that wasn’t. State found itself in familiar territory against Houston; down by 6 with around a minute left. We’ve all seen the desperation shot by Derrick Whittenburg and the miraculous stuff by Lorenzo Charles. Almost equally as bewildering, though, is that it was the game’s only dunk, and that Lorenzo Charles only scored 4 points.

* * *

Books have been written about the miraculous ‘83 team, however none quite address how the experience keeps teaching lessons and keeps impacting the Raleigh area. For this 8th grader, it was a bright light in a dismal education period. Junior High was not easy, but NCSU’s win brought the school together as fans of all schools stunningly celebrated the miraculous championship. I was obsessed with jumping and increasing my vertical jump during that period, and it was the first time that I was able to touch a 9-foot ceiling. As the grade’s second-shortest person, the touch taught me that we can go beyond our perceived boundaries, especially when we are truly inspired.

Lorenzo Charles was basketball role model. I always wanted to have a tough, back-to-the-basket game like his. While playing a big-man basketball game was never in the cards for me, it still was a fun escape. More importantly, though, Charles stood as a testament to those who have gotten in trouble; you are not eternally damned and are still capable of greatness.

The ‘83 championship inspired dreams of many, and one of those dreams was that of having a first-class arena. Both Mayor Avery Upchurch and Coach Jim Valvano lobbied necessary people for years to achieve that dream, and today, Raleigh’s RBC Center is one of country’s finest. It is Raleigh’s first climate controlled space that can accommodate more than 2,000 people.

The ‘83 Wolfpack team marked the beginning of an era in the NCAA tournament. Until Charles’ moment, the tournament was predominantly about big programs winning it all. We were less than a decade removed from UCLA’s dominance, and still the rule was that in order to win it all, one needs to be a Top 5 kind of program all season long. Most of the tournament games were predictable and parity was just a concept. After ‘83, tournament games became anyone’s. It was a moment that forever changed the course of the tournament, and turned it into one of the top annual sporting events.

Lorenzo Charles’ professional basketball career was modest, and he went on to be the most recognized limousine driver in the area. Always carrying a smile, he was instantly recognizable to those who were here before Est Est Est was the only decent restaurant downtown. Lorenzo was a walking trophy, representing Hope and all that we can do. Those were some of the favorite moments in our lives, and we will never forget them. We will miss you, Lo Man.


Tommy Bahama Coming to Crabtree

bahama TBJ reports today that this fall, a Tommy Bahama store will open in the former Levi’s space in Crabtree. This will be the second of their stores in N.C.. The first is at Southpark Mall in Charlotte.


Toad the Wet Sprocket Coming to Cat’s Cradle

toad On Wednesday, August 10, Toad the Wet Sprocket will perform at the Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro. Tickets will be $22 advance, $25 at the door (yeah, right).  More info coming soon.


Food Incubator Grows

cookery I recently received a press release regarding a new wave of businesses in the culinary world: food incubators. The incubators offer rentable commercial food production facilities for all if their members, predominately food truck vendors. Here is the release:


The Cookery, a commercial kitchen for rent by the hour, is open for business

May 16, 2011 — The Cookery, a professional food production facility located on West Chapel Hill Street, passed it’s final inspections on Thursday and is now opening it’s doors to members.

In order to use the facility, a membership to The Cookery is required.  Food entrepreneurs seeking membership can apply online at www.durhamcookery.com .  Once accepted as an official member, The Cookery staff assists in the processes required by the Durham County Health Department, and members can begin cooking.

“We are very excited to welcome our new members,” said Nick Hawthorne-Johnson, owner of The Cookery.  “Since we began accepting membership applications on April 19th, we have had a broad range of applicants with innovative ideas for the food industry.  I am eager to see what they create for the Durham food scene.”

The kitchen, which will be open to it’s members 24 hours a day, seven days a week, is equipped with a full professional catering kitchen, four full size commercial convection ovens, 40 and 80 qt. floor mixers, secure storage space in the walk-in cooler and reach-in freezers, food truck cleaning and stocking terminals, and a variety of other food production equipment, as well as personal lockers.  Pricing, which includes monthly and hourly rates with discounts for regular users and nighttime hours, is listed on The Cookery’s website.

For more information about The Cookery, visit www.DurhamCookery.com .

This is a fantastic idea that can help centralize and standardize the production of food truck food. It still doesn’t completely quell concerns about food truck sanitation. Even if a food truck owner uses the facility, how does the Department of Health evaluate the cooks’ grooming, holding temperatures, storage procedures, etc.

The incubator’s About page does nothing to alleviate the problem, either. Why is a guy standing there blowing cigar smoke on a raw piece of salmon? Doesn’t he know this isn’t the proper method for preparing smoked salmon? Is he going to wash that left hand before handling the cigar within it and putting the cigar back into his mouth? (Don’t forget that “24-hour bugs”, almost exclusively, are actually varying degrees of food poisoning.) I am pulling for the creative food truck vendors, but they still need to present more answers about their role with the public health.


“ComeUnityNow” Coming to City Plaza

community On Saturday, July 30, Raleigh’s City Plaza will host the ComeUnityNow Festival (Warning: music) . The event is a nonprofit music and art festival featuring performances by over 30 bands, street entertainers, and visual artists.  from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on July 30 at Raleigh’s City Plaza. The event lasts from 10a-10p and will:

  • Raise funds for ongoing April 16 tornado relief;
  • Honor the First Responders and volunteers who saved lives, offered comfort, and are helping move people from victims to recovered lives. First responder and emergency vehicles will be on display at the ComeUnityNow Festival; and,
  • Celebrate the community spirit of togetherness that makes Wake County a great place to call home, especially in the aftermath of a disaster. Local nonprofit organizations and service organizations are encouraged to contact festival organizers to be included under the "Big Tent" ComeUnityNow is organizing on behalf of local charities.


Carolina Hurricanes 2012 Schedule for Sync and Download

image Canes hockey fans who like electronic calendars rejoice! I’ve uploaded the 2011-2012 Carolina Hurricanes schedule in .CSV, .ICS, and Google Calendar formats. This way you can easily port the schedule over to your Android phone, iPhone, Blackberry, Google Calendar, Outlook, and more!

Without a doubt, the gogoraleigh Hurricanes Calendar is the best on the web. Not only is the complete calendar available, but also a home-only version is available. For each event, the teams playing in the event are listed in 3-digit codes, so the entire event is easy to see on devices that can’t display wide paragraphs. Additionally, the game locations are included, so devices that can automatically associate the location field with a map will offer these locations as hyperlinks. This is perfect if you are going to the game in an away city!

Finally, with the synced versions of the calendar, game time changes and television information are automatically updated as the information becomes available.

Android/Google Calendar Users

If you already subscribe to last year’s Carolina Hurricanes schedule feeds, you don’t need to make any changes. The new events now automatically appear in the feed. For those just getting started with this highly efficient method of scheduling, consult the calendars at the gogoraleigh Calendars’ page:

iPhone/Blackberry/Outlook/Palm Users

  • Create a new folder in your in Outlook calendar (Canes11, for example). Use the File | Import and Export… to import from “another program or file”, then “Comma Separated File (Windows)”. This will set up the schedule in your new sub-calendar where you can make whatever changes you want.
  • iPhone Users – You are done. Now you can view the Canes’ schedule as its own sub-calender or as a part of all calendars.
  • When you are happy with the way the subcalendar looks, change the calendar view to “Events” (instead of 7-day or 31-Day or whatever view you’re using). “Select All” from the list, and drag them over to your main “Calendar” (The Treo and other Palm Handhelds only sync to the main calendar – time for Palm to get with the program on that one!). If you want to keep your sub-calendar intact, use Ctrl-drag instead of plain drag. That will create a copy of each event to the main Calendar and keep the Canes08 calendar in place. Sync your handheld to copy the events to the handheld.
  • CSV Files. (right click on the link and “Save As…”)

CanesCal11a CanesCal11b

iCal Users

There are two options:

  • Use iCalTextImport to import the .CSV version (linked above) of the schedule.
  • Download the .ics files and import them into iCal.
    • Hurricanes Schedule (Complete) – .ics file (version: 6/22/10)


Calendars are apt to change, so check back occasionally for updates. To determine the version of your schedule, open the note associated with any event, and look for the version number. If your calendar is older than those listed above, simply delete the events in Outlook in your old one and import the events of the newer file. Google Calendar is dynamically up-to-date. Use at your own risk. I do not accept responsibility for any consequences resulting from errors in the schedule.


Today’s Market Features GrazeFest

farmersmkt Today’s downtown Farmers’ Market event features GrazeFest, a celebration of grass-fed and pasture-raised farm foods. Indulge in farm animal themed cupcakes from Sweet T, a cakery, learn barbeque secrets from expert pitmasters, and participate in the many other fun-filled activities.

The event features a pig pickin’, the second annual ice-cream eating contest with Lumpy’s Ice Cream, and bluegrass music by Old Habits. Aspiring pitmasters will have the opportunity to learn from the best—expert Bob Garner and chefs from The Pit will share seasoning secrets, barbecue history, and chopping techniques during their 11 am demonstration. Festival goers should come hungry for The Pit’s NC style barbecue sandwiches, prepared from pork raised on Animal Welfare Approved farms, which will be available for $5.  Health conscious customers can stop by the WakeMed Center City Physicians booth for a free blood pressure screening.  At 11:30 am, kids are invited to a special EGGstravaganza with egg relays and a special kids ice cream eating contest.  Ongoing kids activities throughout the day include a market scavenger hunt and a farm themed version of Jeopardy—“farmpardy.”

The event runs from 10am to 2pm in City Plaza.


Dog Whisperer Coming to Memorial Auditorium

MM-CM-PRESALE Professional dog trainer Cesar Millan will come to Memorial Auditorium on Saturday, October 1. Ticket presale is going on now thru Thursday at 10pm (pw: CESAR).


Verizon Launching LTE on July 21

LTE_logo There is good news for Verizon customers seeking the next level of wireless connectivity. On July 21 Verizon’s LTE will go active in the Triangle area. This includes Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Apex, Clayton, Morrisville, Chapel Hil, Carrboro, Gorman, Wake Forest, Rolesville, Knightdale, Wendell, Holly Springs, Fuquay-Varina, Garner and Smithfield. The company expects average data rates in real-world, loaded network environments to be 5 to 12 megabits per second (Mbps) on the downlink and 2 to 5 Mbps on the uplink.

Of course, this comes on the heels of yesterday’s news about tiered data pricing Verizon will roll out on July 7. Those plans are rumored to offer 2GB/mo for $30, 5GB/mo for $50, and 10GB/mo for $80.

Therefore, if your are interested in getting an LTE phone on Verizon (like the Samsung Droid Charge, the HTC Thunderbolt, and the LG Revolution), it might be wise to make a move soon.

If you are interested in a new Android phone, you can always check out gogoraleigh’s Ultimate U.S. Android Phone Spreadsheet . It sorts out the carrier and pricing information for 44 Android phones that are either currently or soon-to-be available.


Machu Picchu Now Open

lomo The long wait for Machu Picchu ’s is now over! The restaurant, located at 4500 Falls of Neuse Road ( map it )  behind Pei Wei (with Jo-Ann and Pulcinellas), is now open and serves Peruvian food such as Ceviche, Jalea, and Lomo Saltado.


Food Truck Rodeos On The Chopping Block?

Today’s agenda for the City Council deals with issue TC-5-11 (PDF), which would severely restrict food truck activity throughout the city, not just in downtown. The first two sections state:

•   Located on a lot containing a principal building(s) or use zoned SC, NB, BUS, TD, I-1 or I-2; and the maximum number of food trucks per lot shall be limited as follows:

o maximum of one (1) food truck on lots of one-half (1/2) acre or less;
o maximum of two (2) food trucks on lots between one-half (1/2) acre and
one (1) acre;
o maximum of three (3) food trucks on lots greater than one acre and less than two (2) acres; and
o no maximum on lots two (2) acres or greater.

•   Located a minimum of 150 feet from the main entrance or outdoor dining area of any business selling food and 50 feet from any permitted food vending cart location unless the owner of the subject business gives written permission; location unless the owner of the subject business gives written permission;

There are some good arguments against food trucks, but the maximum of a truck per half acre doesn’t make sense, especially on private property. Hopefully the City Council will not allow this to pass. We can come up with a better solution that helps both food truck owners and brick-and-mortar restaurants alike.


RDU Terminal 1 Renderings Updated

term1 TBJ reported yesterday that some updated renderings for RDU are available.

Can you say “lipstick on a pig”? First of all, I don’t understand architects’ fascination with pulling rainwater back into buildings. This is a design that has failed time and time again. Secondly, what in the world are we doing dropping a dime into this facility for anything other than tearing it down? The terminal was originally supposed to be a hangar, and got a last minute upfit for short-term terminal space. Renovating this terminal is another step in the airport authority’s history of blowing money hundreds of millions of dollars at a time. There is a reason that people love airports like TPA, they are designed well and handle future growth well.

[ Renderings at TBJ ]


Fleet Foxes Coming to The Walt

fleetfoxes On Wednesday, September 21, Seattle’s Fleet Foxes will return to downtown Raleigh. This time they will be at The Walt supporting their new CE, Helplessness Blues. The Walkmen open. Tickets go on sale Friday (6/24)

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