This weekend I had an errand to run in Raleigh, NC. Actually, we left for there on Sunday and made our way back on Tuesday evening, so weekend is a loose term. A few years back, Alex lived in Raleigh for a year, so we are reasonably familiar with the area. The place has a good feel to it. If you find yourself there, I recommend checking out this place called "ArtSpace." It's a two-level building designated for art studios right on the edge of the downtown area. Don't go on Mondays though. In fact, Raleigh seems to close on Mondays. We spent half the day on Monday just trying to find interesting businesses that happened to be open. We thought that maybe it was people trying to squeeze an extra day out of the long weekend, but upon closer inspection, we realized that it just seems to be a local quirk.
Another note about the city is that it was the home of Jesse Helms who passed on Friday, July 4th. It was interesting being there during the posthumous debate over his "contributions." On the one hand, you had the loyal constituency putting up signs calling him a "great American patriot" and talking about "how appropriate it was for him to die on July 4th". On the other hand, you got the feeling that Jesse Helms' death really made this year's Independence Day Celebration a little sweeter for the rest of Raleigh's residents.
We seem to have this tradition of not speaking ill of the dead, but I don't share that tradition. If you spend your life being an asshole, I don't see any reason to pour the perfume when you're dead. Let's face it, Jesse Helms was a bigot. He even made attempts at reversing desegregation! When I was growing up in the 80's, his name was synonymous with old-school down-south segregationist politics. What I didn't know about him was that during his entire ride in the senate, his highest margin of victory was 55%/45%. Apparently, North Carolina had just enough fearful, bible-beating whites to eke him by in each election, thoroughly embarrassing the rest of the population. Sound familiar?
I agree that July 4th was an appropriate date for which Jesse Helms to give up the ghost. It made me feel one powerful white-supremacist lighter.