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My home town has "penis envy."
My home town has "penis envy."
If you were watching CNN at 7:38 AM EST this Sunday morning, you saw the implosion of the 20 plus year old convention center here in my hometown. The CNN anchors made it a point to state how we Charlotteans do not call the place where the convention center was located as downtown, no, we call it "uptown."
This Charlottean still calls it down town and always will.
I am a rarity here in Charlotte. A born and raised Charlottean, still living in Charlotte. You don't see too many of us. And over the years I have been amazed at how our city fathers and elected officials have attempted to turn my humble home into a "world class city." They look at other major metropolitan centers (New York, Chicago, LA) and come off the experience with a huge case of "penis envy." It goes like this, "Our city (or penis) is not as world class (or big) as that other city. We must become a world class city (get a bigger penis)." So they've been trying to get a bigger one for years. Nothing satisfies, no scheme works, but they don't stop trying. First it was the new airport. Charlotte-Douglas is a beauty, an airport to be proud of, but it wasn't good enough. Next the politicos and businessmen felt we needed a big time sports franchise. Enter millionaire George Shin and the Charlotte Hornets of the NBA. This grand new team needed a grand new home, so the New Charlotte Coliseum was built (but not where it should have been. It's location would prove disastorous). This would make my city world class. Nope. In ten years time George Shin suffered a stroke and came out of it a changed man, a sexual tyrant who nearly paid for his appetites with jail time, the public turned on the man and his team, while the new Coliseum became obsolete in record time. George did make one good point though, he wanted a new arena built in the heart of the city (where it should always have been). He didn't get it and he took his franchise to another town. Then the owner of BET stepped in and brought us a new franchise, the Charlotte Bobcats, he was rewarded with an arena currently being built in the heart of uptown, oops, I mean downtown. But the struggling Bobcats haven't soothed the savage beast of hoity toity high and mightys. Neither has our NFL team, the Panthers. The new (or rather newest) coliseum means new convention center, and this morning the old was brought down. The new will be raised and some politico will do a sound bite where he or she will tell us all how this new convention center in the heart of "uptown" will make Charlotte a world class city (as a quick aside, no one mentions the fact that charlotte is now one of the biggest hubs of banking in America. Why is it that no one remembers this when they talk about world class city?).
And what of "uptown?" Years ago, someone here in Charlotte figured that it was degrading to call downtown what it always was, downtown. No, we needed a term that would make us a world class city, something bubbly and up, like Uptown!
Charlotte is a wonderful city. It doesn't need to be world class, whatever the heck that truly is. It needs to be Charlotte, my home, a nice place, some good, some bad, no better or worse than any other city. And the heart will always be downtown to me. There is nothing rude or degrading about the phrase. I grew up with it and am not about to change it. So don't believe it when they tell you that all Charlotteans call it up rather than down. They don't, I'm proof of it. So all you business tycoons and politicians, I proudly call the heart of Charlotte, "Downtown." And you can't do a thing about it. Get over you penis envy, let my home be what it is.
And in closing, to a friend who is going away to school at UVA, I know you won't read this, this isn't the type of place you would hang on the net, but I need to say it, you're a friend, a brother and I'm going to miss you. I hope we meet again.
Hopefully in downtown Charlotte.
Always on the level, honest and loyal.
7/25/2005 11:03 am
Yes, it is Charlotte. My sometimes silly home town. I like to say it's a great place to live, but I wouldn't want to to visit! |