Humor

The Night I Bankrupted Half of Baltimore

 

DJI_0231
The beautiful scene of the crime

 

I have been watching UFC fights religiously since I saw Conor McGregor fight Nate Diaz in 2016. That fight was during UFC 196. The Pay-per-view event on January 18, 2020 was UFC 246. I may have missed a few events here or there, but I have watched most of the UFC fights in the three years since 196. This by no means makes me a MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) expert. Far too many corpulent MMA fans believe they know what they are talking about because they buy Pay-per-views. I am just a fan. That is it. I can’t explain how to perform a D’arce choke or a heel hook. I wouldn’t be able to pass guard or mount a successful ground defense. And the only part of a rear naked choke I could demonstrate is when the victim slumps haplessly to the ground after being strangled unconscious. 

Because of second hand knowledge gained from MMA podcasts and basic fight IQ, my overall fight picking record is pretty good. If I had a stronger appetite for sports gambling, I think I would do ok betting on fights. I’m not claiming that I could be a professional. As you will see in this post, I would be better off trying to make it as a fighter. But I do like to bet on fantasy MMA because it allows me to have a little action on the fights without causing too much damage. 

I have lots of friends who are degenerate sports bettors and I am comfortable saying that I  know more about MMA than they do. Many of them have won money based on my advice. I do, however, include the warning with my picks that if they chose to make bets based on what I say, they are doing so with the knowledge that I really don’t know what the hell I am talking about. I may know more than them, but that isn’t saying much. If they lose, it is their fault.

The UFC likes to make the first Pay-per-view event of the year a big one to generate lots of coverage and to get people excited for the coming year. UFC 246 saw the return of Conor McGregor; by far the most popular UFC fighter in the world.

I was torn picking the matchup because McGregor was fighting Cowboy Cerrone, my favorite fighter. Cowboy holds the UFC record for wins and finishes. While I thought McGregor would be able to out-point Cerrone and win by decision, I wouldn’t have bet on that outcome because McGregor was a -330 favorite. That means that you would have had to risk $330 to win $100 and I thought Cowboy had enough of a chance to win to make that risk too expensive. I did believe that Cowboy would be able to survive in the fight long enough to justify betting on the “over,” which was set at a round and a half. I told everyone to take that bet instead of betting on the outcome. Conor was able to finish Cowboy in the first minute of the first round, making that horrible advice.

Support the Author

Thank you so much for being a patron of this site. Whether you give or not, I am grateful for your support.

$5.00

   

The best night I have ever had picking fights was during UFC 235, where I picked eleven out of twelve fights correctly; the one I got wrong was a split decision. If that was my top then UFC 246 was my bottom. I picked one fight correctly that night and it was a fight on the undercard that nobody asked me about. 

If life were fair, then your odds of winning would get better after you lose. If that were true, then Las Vegas would still be a dusty old truck stop. I should have known that I was doomed when, on the undercard, Maycee Barber, a -1000 favorite, tore her ACL and lost. Even though that was a pretty specific bad omen, I kept throwing out betting advice to anyone who asked like I was TC the Greek. 

The main card began with Anthony Pettis taking on Carlos Diego Ferreira. I knew that Diego Ferreira relied on this masterful Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to win his fights. He isn’t a strong striker but he doesn’t have to be because his submission game is so solid. Anthony Pettis is one of my favorite fighters. He recently moved up a weight class and found some extra strength by eliminating a brutal weight cut. He has looked unbeatable in his last few fights and I thought he would be able to avoid submission and beat Carlos with strikes by either knockout or a decision. I was correct and Pettis defended brilliantly until the middle of the second round where he got caught in something he couldn’t escape from. That happens in fighting sometimes. 0-1.

The next fight was Brian Kelleher versus Ode Osbourne. This fight mirrored the first fight in that a wrestler (Kelleher) was fighting a striker (Osbourne). I picked Osbourne because he has a seven-inch reach advantage over Kelleher. Reach is my favorite stat to exploit when picking fights, but I am not a professional. One way to neutralize a reach advantage is with wrestling. Kelleher submitted Osbourne in the first round. 0-2, but we have three more fights to go. There is still hope!

Maurice Greene is a heavyweight fighter with a devastating punch and a relentless pursuit. He is known as the “Crochet Boss” because that is what he does in his off time, crochets. How can you not pull for a guy like that? His opponent was this old Russian fossil, Aleksi Oleinik. I do not mean to be disrespectful; Aleksi is an MMA legend with 72 professional fights. His nickname is the “Boa Constrictor” because he gets hold of you and doesn’t let go. But I thought that Maurice’s youth and quickness could avoid the Constrictor’s death grip and win the fight with a knockout. I was proven incorrect when this Russian bear grabbed hold of my guy and proceeded to choke the life out of him for two rounds, causing him to tap out at the end of the second. 0-3 and now we are only hoping to owe the juice.

If my heart didn’t belong to the beautiful and deadly “Thug” Rose Namajunas, it would belong to Holly Holm. Nicknamed “The Preacher’s Daughter,” Holly was the first fighter to knockout Ronda Rousey, which shocked the world. Unfortunately Holly is 2-5 since beating Rousey and she really needed to win this fight. But because of her past performances, I couldn’t in good conscious advise people to bet on her. Too bad for them because she won a decision. 0-4, but Hawaii always kicks off at 10:30, so bet the house and save the day.  

Before the final fight of the night, McGregor v. Cowboy, my buddy from Baltimore called me. He’s a pretty good fight picker himself and we collaborate on fight night. He was watching the fight at his buddy’s house in Mount Pleasant with about a dozen other people from Baltimore, who, he informed me, wanted my head on a platter. Even though my buddy and I were agreeing on the picks, he was telling his buddies it was my advice that kept losing. I would have done the same if I was in a house surrounded by my friends who were currently thousands of dollars lighter, so I understood why he did it. 

“Tell them about my picking in UFC 235!,” I pleaded, but they did not want to hear it. 

I was certain my final pick of “over” for the McGregor fight would come in and my buddy agreed that there was no way I could get everything wrong. 0-5, and now I can’t visit to Baltimore. 

 

To give you a better idea of how bad I was at handicapping that night, here is the result of one of the Draft Kings contests I entered: Out of 3921 entries, my team finished in 3788th place. If it wasn’t for the one winner I picked on the undercard, I would have finished dead last. 

So let me apologize to those fine folks from Baltimore who lost money because of my advice. I am not a professional. I had a bad betting night that you only hope to ready about.    

Charleston

I Thought I saw Darius

DJI_0052

I thought I saw Darius Rucker driving a silver Volvo last week. He was turning left onto the crosstown headed towards Mount Pleasant. A rockstar shouldn’t be driving a Volvo and one wasn’t because it wasn’t him. 

There are two celebrity sightings here that feel distinctly Charleston: Bill Murray and Darius Rucker. Bill Murray shows up sometimes when you don’t want him to, like in your wedding photos. Darius can be seen like any other Charlestonian doing Charleston things. I like the man, I love his voice, I like some Hootie songs, and I don’t much care for his country material. Not because it is bad but because I don’t much care for any country songs that aren’t from Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, or Patsy Cline. 

I do love Darius’s voice. If we ever develop artificial intelligence where we can download ourselves into carbon-robot clones, I’d like to buy the “sound like Darius Rucker when you sing” patch. That way when I am singing in the car and the satellite radio cuts out for a second, my horrible voice won’t be left hanging there like a stink-cloud wafting from PePe Le Pew’s behind. 

Darius Rucker’s voice sounds like a bowl of grits. Good grits too, not that hominy shit; his voice slowly slides off a spoon.

DJI_0317

I didn’t see Darius driving a Volvo the other day and yet I still thought that moment was special and I can’t figure out why. I like Hootie and the Blowfish. Well, I like Hootie. You can have the Blowfish. I’m sure they are fine fellows and I don’t mean to disparage them. But every time I hear my favorite Hootie song, I Go Blind, I go blind when one of the Blowfish sings the background vocals. I wish Darius performed both parts.

I should be annoyed with Darius instead of fawning over the time I thought I saw him. He breathed terrible, gut-wrenching new life into the song Wagon Wheel by covering it. I heard his version and I was so angry that I wanted to amass a flotilla and sail it over to his new house in the Bahamas, which he bought with the Wagon Wheel residuals, and demand an answer to why he would ever record that song. He would then hold his arms open to his new island paradise and say, “this is why, asshole. Now beat it!” (The music video he did for it has 218 million views on Youtube.) 

After some thought I realized that Darius didn’t resuscitate that song, he killed it. He wore it out, thank the lordt. Even in Charleston, home of the “Wagon Wheel every night ‘till I die” fan club, I have noticed some eye-rolls when that song comes on. I bet I have heard Wagon Wheel (either the Old Crow, cover bands, or Darius’s version) 580,000 times since I moved to Charleston fifteen years ago. People here insist the song is about Charleston even though it is really about Raleigh, North Carolina. Still, drunkards and sweaty college girls belt that song out at Charleston bars like it is their personal anthem. At least they did before Darius sang the Wagon Wheel eulogy.

Support the Author

Thank you so much for being a patron of this site. Whether you give or not, I am grateful for your support.

$5.00

Rock Me Mama is a track on a Bob Dylan bootleg that someone peeled off a reel to reel in the garbage outside a music studio. The song wasn’t finished and has been described as not even a song at all “but more like Dylan mumbling into a hot microphone while he stomped his foot and strummed a guitar.” I’m not sure how they could distinguish that from one of his finished songs. Then a man named Ketch Secor, whose name makes him sound like the inventor of a Wild West cure-all elixir, heard the Dylan demo and “finished” the song; turning it into what is known as Wagon Wheel. Then Darius heard his daughter’s school band play the song and he decided that he had to record it. Never has a middle school band recital done more damage. It did however lead to the song’s passage into music purgatory right next to the place God has reserved for ABBA’s Dancing Queen, if he can ever figure out how to get the damn thing off Broadway. 

The essence of Charleston is hard to capture in a work of art. Nowhere is this more evident than in the various television shows and magazine articles produced about Charleston in the past few years as a result of the tourist boom. Al Roker comes here and he eats some shrimp and he trips over a cobblestone street and he thinks he has shown you Charleston. I’m not saying that they are wrong or misguided, and I am glad people like The Today Show and Travel and Leisure take an interest in my home, but I think the only way to really understand Charleston is to live here. And the only people qualified to show the rest of the world this place are the artists who live here like Darius Rucker. 

Darius Rucker personifies Charleston. He made a bunch of money early in his life, retired to the marsh and the golf course for a decade or so, and then came back as something completely different and churned out even more hits. He’s part old school and part new. Not all of his songs are about Charleston but he puts a little Charleston into each one. In the Hootie and the Blowfish song I Will Wait, Darius sings the line, “Another night alone in Charleston.” I have heard that line in a train station in Denver, a casino in Vegas, an airport in Chicago, the gift shop on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, and many other places. We celebrate our artists because they package up little pieces of Charleston and send them out to the world. Every time I hear that line from I Will Wait, it is like someone popped open a vial containing a dollop of stinky pluff mud and stuck it under my nose to remind me of home.

I didn’t meet Darius Rucker or take a picture with him or even see him turning onto the crosstown. All I did was see a guy in a Volvo. But what I figured out in that moment is why we connect certain famous people to certain places. Charleston artists like Darius represent with their art this place we call home and they highlight the things that we love about it. Their art reminds us of home over and over again. I smiled when I saw a guy who I thought for a moment was Darius Rucker because art is powerful.

DJI_0447

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone. I would like to sincerely thank those who have patronized this blog. 2019 has been an incredible year for me and I couldn’t have grown or improved like I did without your support. Thank you and I hope to see you in 2020.

 

 

College Football

Never Lost in South Carolina

DJI_0004
Shem Creek

I did not experience a college football rivalry until I moved to South Carolina fifteen years ago. On my first day at the College of Charleston I was confused by all the people talking about “Carolina” football. I knew these people couldn’t be Carolina Tar Heel fans because we never mention football. I learned quickly that some words mean different things in this state than they do everywhere else in the world. In South Carolina, “Carolina” refers to the South Carolina Gamecocks; the rest of the world uses that term to refer to the place where Michael Jordan played basketball. The world loses most arguments in this state.    

The only other football team in South Carolina that anyone cares about is the Clemson (clem(p)son) Tigers. I am sure you have heard of them. It doesn’t matter who you root for outside the borders of South Carolina, inside them you must pick one of the two teams. I have decided to approach the rivalry as a chameleon. I root for the better team unless I am surrounded by an inordinate amount of the worse team’s fans and then I will pretend to share their misery. Being a Clemson fan these last five years has been a lot of fun. They have beaten the Gamecocks five times in a row and won two national championships. Before that, I was a big fan of the Ol’ Ball Coach. He lead the Gamecocks to five-straight victories over Clemson before he retired. I haven’t pulled for a loser in the Palmetto Bowl in ten years.  

My South Carolina friends are split down the middle; half of them are Gamecocks fans and half of them are Clemson Tiger fans. Whether I get invited to a Clemson viewing party or a Gamecocks viewing party, I dutifully show up with my orange or garnet pompoms. It has been fun watching my Clemson friends revel in their success these last few years. It hasn’t been as fun watching my Gamecocks buddies wallow in such misery, but at least they have a good women’s basketball team. 

One of the greatest qualities of Gamecocks fans is their optimism. Every “national signing day” they joyously expound upon their new recruits like they just won it all. I consider this day to be their national championship because they are undefeated and the new recruits have yet to disappoint them. Clemson’s national championship is usually the national championship. 

I have enjoyed Clemson’s domination of college football these last few years, but it is becoming tedious. I’m a Tar Heel at heart and since we don’t mention football, I only watch the games to be entertained. There is nothing entertaining about a 55-10 trouncing, even if the victim is N.C. State. Clemson made its bones ending Alabama’s preeminence only to become that which it killed. Nobody except for those draped in orange wants to watch a football game where graduate student-transfers are substituted for starting players in the third quarter because the game is already won. The price you pay for being better than everyone else is that your games become boring and unwatchable.   

I would like to encourage all the Cocks I know to keep their heads up. What, what? Another word that means something different in South Carolina than it does everywhere else in the world. Anyway, things will not stay terrible forever. Life has an ebb and flow like the tide and the Tide may be your only hope. Dabo will go to Alabama after Trevor Lawrence leaves and things will be peachy in Columbia once again. You will be Sandstorming your way back to prominence before you know it. In the mean time you’ll just have to be content with beating Georgia every year. 

On November 30, 2019, the Clemson Tigers will play the South Carolina Gamecocks for the 117th time. Clemson’s season will be on the line and the Gamecocks will have nothing to lose because their season ended weeks ago. Both teams are lucky that the Tar Heels don’t mention football because they have already beaten South Carolina and they almost beat Clemson. Regardless, I believe that the Palmetto Bowl will be a great game; one in which the Gamecocks have a real chance of winning. No matter the outcome, I am going to enjoy watching the game because it is guaranteed that I will like the winner.

Support the Author

Thank you so much for being a patron of this site. Whether you give or not, I am grateful for your support.

$5.00

 

If you liked this post, please hit the “Like” button and comment below. And don’t forget to share this post on your social media. Thanks! 

Travel

Great Uber Rides in Toronto

IMG_1738
Toronto, taken from Centre Island

A few months ago I decided to go to Toronto, Ontario. People asked why I picked Toronto. I do not know why, but I have never heard anyone say anything bad about the place so I decided, why not? I’ve been looking for somewhere new to go and experience new things, so I threw a dart at a map of the world in my head and I hit Toronto. 

“M”

After I checked into the Westin Harbour Castle on the shores of beautiful Lake Ontario at noon, I just started walking. I had no plans on this trip other than going to Niagara Falls, so I made it up as I went along. I think the best way to experience somewhere new is to walk around aimlessly for a while. Doing so gives you the chance to get a feel for the place. You can see the people, smell the air and hear the commotion of the city. 

IMG_8364
View from my hotel room

Toronto smells nice. Even though it is a major metropolis, it is very clean. I was walking around what is known as the financial district which mainly consists of giant bank buildings. It was a holiday so no one was working and the eight or nine skyscrapers felt deserted. 

Toronto has to be the safest major city in the world. I saw five cops the whole time I was there and four of them were directing traffic. The one that wasn’t was overseeing the most cordial repossession of a car I have ever seen. 

I stopped at a place for lunch that I don’t remember the name of and then I kept walking. 

By 4:00 PM I could not walk anymore. I came to a corner where there was an Asian noodle place and called my first Uber of the trip. In Toronto you never have to wait for more than two minutes for an Uber. 

“M” picked me up in a Ford Flex. He is a distinguished looking black man, bald and had an accent. Some sort of jazz was playing on the radio. I know nothing about jazz; the only thing I know about jazz is that it is making a comeback and new clubs are opening all over the United States, such as the Middle C Jazz Club in Charlotte, NC. 

I think his accent is from the islands like Jamaica or the Bahamas. Maybe the Bahamas were on my mind because part of it had just been destroyed by hurricane Dorian. Looking at the Uber app now, I see that “M” is from Montreal. “M” is the only name given in his profile.

When you travel alone, you go for long periods of time without having a conversation. When one starts up, it can be a little jarring like you forgot for a second how to speak. The ride began with someone behind us honking and speeding around the car, angry that he was delayed by an Uber pick-up. “M” mentioned that he does not understand why people have no patience anymore. I said I thought it was because we expect everything instantly, like Uber. We came to some traffic and “M” asked me if it was ok if we went out of our way to avoid it, not wanting to wait. I said that was fine. 

By now everyone in the connected world had seen the horrible pictures coming out of the Bahamas. That topic came up and I mentioned that I lived in Charleston, SC and was more than a little worried about hurricane Dorian’s projected path. “M” asked me if I had seen the tweet from our president about Dorian and Alabama. I told him that I do my best to avoid all communication from our president. As a person who lives in a place that relies on hurricane forecasts as a matter of life and death, I was annoyed to learn about the president’s irresponsible and dangerous tweet. “M” said that the president gives him hope because, “if someone that stupid can become a billionaire and president of the United States,” then he feels he has a great chance to make it in this world. That is something, I guess. 

“M” got me to my hotel and I thanked him for the conversation. He said that he hoped my home would fare well in the hurricane. Thankfully, it did. 

 

IMG_1827
Incredible, powerful Niagara Falls

“Thanh” 

Toronto has a horse track and a casino about twenty-five minutes from downtown, so naturally I went. Gambling is great in Canada because of the exchange rate: losing doesn’t feel so bad when every dollar only costs you seventy-five cents US. This was still my first day and even though travel was easy, I had walked around for about five miles and I was exhausted. I should have just stayed at my hotel and gotten some rest. I went to the horse track instead, but I had to tap out after a few hours. I feel like there is always a moment on the first day of a trip where your brain says, “go to bed, fool!” I finally listened and called an Uber. 

Thanh picked me up in a red Toyota Camry. Before we made it out of the parking lot he asked me how I did in the casino. I gave him the typical gambler’s response of I did not win but I had fun (no one has fun when they lose); total baloney. Thanh said that the casino is building a hotel and that they have tightened the machines to pay for it. I asked him if you used to be able to win here and he said it was “very hard.” 

Thanh was Vietnamese and he spoke English perfectly well but with a deep accent and I think he had a hard time understanding my deep southern accent and so we had a bit of a language barrier for the twenty-five minute ride. He asked me what games I played and I told him the machines. Then he chastised me for my gambling choices saying, “machines very hard, you should play tables.” I said I know that but I played the machines anyway. He said, “machines very hard, you should play tables.” Then he told me that before he picked me up he “only put a few hundred through the machines.” He said if you do not win after a few hundred, then you should leave. I said that is exactly what we have done and then I told him that the “machines are very hard, you should play tables.” He laughed.

IMG_7641
American side of Niagara Falls
IMG_6133
Below the falls

We transitioned from our gambling choices to what he did for a living. Thanh has been a brick layer in Toronto for thirty-five years. He said that he immigrated here from Vietnam and has worked very hard ever since. He still owns land in Vietnam and is looking forward to retiring and moving back there to be with his ninety-one year-old mother. He said that he is ready to quit laying bricks. 

I mentioned that I would really like to visit Vietnam some day. Thanh said that when he retires to Vietnam, I should come there and he would be my tour guide. He was serious, too. I wish there was some way I could do that. 

We reached my hotel and I opened the van door to get out. Thanh said, “remember, the machines very hard.” Yes, they are, Thanh, yes they are. 

“Kuldip”

When it comes to public transportation, I am a complete boob. I grew up in the suburbs and did not have any cause to learn how to use it. Toronto has an incredible public transportation system that is cheap and efficient. Between the subway, trains and trolleys, you can get anywhere relatively easily. I could not, however, figure out the trolley system. I was so intimidated by it, it took me three days to get on one. I looked at the route map at one of the stops and I couldn’t figure out where I was on it or where the trolley went. Then, I could not figure out how to pay for the ride. Roll your eyes all you want, but it did not occur to me that I had to know where I was before I could find the stop on the map. I thought it would say, “you are right here,” but the map assumed I was not a fool.

I finally got up the courage to try the trolley. I was on a perfectly straight road and I knew that as long as I got on the trolley heading directly for Lake Ontario, I could not get lost. Unfortunately I miscalculated where Lake Ontario was and I got on the trolley heading in the opposite direction. I realized my mistake after a few miles of being proud of myself. I got off in a neighborhood by a huge park, waved a white flag and called an Uber.

IMG_1305
Beautiful Casa Loma

Kuldip picked me up in a Toyota RAV4. He was an Indian fellow with a grey beard and a dark blue turban. Well, I call it a turban because I am an uncultured buffoon. What Kuldip was wearing is called a Dastar and he wears it because he is a Sikh. He had a pleasant speaking voice with barely any accent at all. He told me that when he moved to Toronto forty years ago none of these skyscrapers existed. Toronto is a very young major city. 

Kuldip said that he drove trucks for a living and was now retired. He said that he has been all over the United States and Canada. I told him that I was from Charlotte, NC. He said that he remembers that you can see the Bank of America building from I-77. It truly is a small world. 

IMG_2937
Rich feller’s Tiger rug, Casa Loma

Kuldip and I talked about progress and how things change without you even realizing it, like skyscrapers all over Toronto. He said that he loved the landscape of the American south but it was too hot for him. I told him how much I was enjoying Toronto, but that I was sure the winters were too cold for me. In Toronto, they have a thing called “The Path,” which is an underground mall/subway/everything that winds under the city for miles. That should give you an idea of how cold it gets. 

I would have liked to talk with Kuldip for much longer than our ride together. He was so kind and interesting, and he emitted a very positive energy. Rarely do we get the opportunity to talk with people that come with a completely different perspective than our own. Most knowledge is readily available on the internet but experiencing people may be the last bit of education that has to be gained offline. Kuldip has lived a vastly different life than I have and yet we were able to connect almost instantly. I was able to learn from him and maybe he was able to learn a little something from me during our short time together. When he dropped me off, Kuldip called me “a true gentleman.” That is less a reflection of me and more a reflection of him. 

Why did I go to Toronto? That is why.

IMG_9496
Toronto, through the ferry boat window

If you liked this post, please hit the “like” button and leave a comment below. Also, I would appreciate it if you shared this post on social media.

Support the Author

If you would like to support the author of this blog, you can do it through PayPal by clicking this button. Thanks you for support, regardless of if you give or not.

$5.00

Charleston

10 Things I Hate About Charleston

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0091.JPG
Downtown Charleston

I wrote a post like this in 2013 and it is my most popular post by far. Unfortunately, I recently re-read the post that garners the most traffic on Covered in Beer and was thoroughly disgusted by its lack of effort, skill, talent and words. I decided to rewrite that post here and update it with better opinions, ideas and frankly better paragraphs. I never delete anything from this blog but I deleted that because it deserved nothing less. 

Charleston, South Carolina is my home and I love it here. I do not “hate” anything about it, but “greatly dislike” is too wordy for a title. Other than replacing an embarrassing example of my past work, I hope this post helps you to learn things about Charleston, South Carolina that you would not have otherwise. And, as always, please leave a comment and hit the “Like” button below if you have anything to add about the post.

Flooding 

I do not mean to get up on my high horse about major issues such as global warming, but a high horse is the only way to travel down some Charleston streets when it rains. Sometimes the flooding gets so bad that they close downtown completely to oncoming traffic. In the words of Cosmo Kramer, “We got a big problem, Jerry.”

IMG_2847
Flood Barrier, A downtown staple

 

When I lived downtown ten years ago, flooding was an issue but only after heavy rains. Now, downtown Charleston experiences flooding and street closures when the moon is full and the tide is high. It doesn’t even have to rain. Politics kind of goes out the window when your couch floats out the window after every thunderstorm. I have no idea how to solve this problem, either. Better come to Charleston as soon as you can! It is going to take some Elon Musk-type of visionary to fix our flooding. 

If you are planning a visit to Charleston, do these things:

    1. Check where your Airbnb lies on the flood maps available online. Your car could be totaled overnight if parked in the wrong place during a flood. 
    2. Do not walk, swim, ski or wakeboard in floodwaters. That water starts in the sewers and unless you are a Ninja Turtle, you aren’t going to like what is floating in it. 
    3. Check the tide schedule before you come. Seriously. If you are planning to visit here during a particularly high tide cycle, definitely make sure you aren’t staying in one of the many riverbeds that also pose as streets downtown. I wish I was joking. 

The good news is, Charleston ranks #1 on Conde Nast’s “Unintentional Waterparks” list

Carriage Rides

I understand that touring the opulent streets of Charleston in a horse-drawn carriage while learning about pre-Civil War structures and history is charming. I also understand that the horses used to draw the carriages are cared for in the best way possible given their circumstances. But horses continue to fall over from exhaustion and are injured every year, especially in the summer.

IMG_3267
Boo

No matter the cause, this is not acceptable. There is a multitude of alternatives to using livestock for transportation that would allow the carriage tour companies to remain viable and tourists to remain toured. It is time to retire these horses to their just reward of open fields, oat bags and days free of honking horns and steamy asphalt. Not to mention free the walking tourists from the pungent odor of horse rump and all the fine matter that extrudes from it. Let’s agree to evolve together and release these horses from their unnecessary servitude. 

Shark Propaganda

I hope that it is not breaking news to you that sharks live in the ocean; hundreds of millions of them in fact. I have always heard that when you are in the ocean, you are never more than fifty feet away from a shark at all times. That is a scary thought if you think all sharks are like Jaws, hunting humans for fun and revenge depending on what number sequel we are talking about. The truth is that sharks pose such a minimal threat to humans that it is barely worth covering even for this lowly blog. Last year there were 66 “unprovoked” shark attacks worldwide resulting in 4 fatalities. You have a better chance of dying in a dust-buster accident. 

Despite such a low number, Charleston’s local news stations and papers seem to cover a “shark spotted in ocean” story once a week during the summer. One lady was “terrified when she filmed a shark in the surf from her 15th-floor hotel room in Myrtle Beach.” If the shark had gotten to the woman on the 15th floor, then we would have something worth reporting. 

I wish we would spend more time educating people about how important sharks are to our own survival. If there were no sharks in the ocean it would be a putrid soup of rotting organisms that would make boogie-boarding far less appealing. Sharks keep our oceans clean and enjoyable and they should be revered instead of feared. I wish the local news agreed. 

Cops on the Beach

I recently went to Pawley’s Island, which is about 60 miles north of Charleston, and I noticed a difference in the beach experience there. In Pawley’s, there were no cops constantly searching for violations on the beach. In Charleston, police patrol the beaches on ATVs all day looking to write tickets. It can be quite obnoxious and annoying to have an officer ride behind your beach chair in a loud ATV belching diesel fumes every hour while you are trying to read Where the Crawdads Sing. It would be one thing if those officers were there only to ensure public safety, but they aren’t. The Town of Sullivan’s Island will tell you that they are, but they are really there looking for people drinking alcohol on the beach. That carries with it a fine that exceeds $1000. Having police ride up and down the beach all day is a lucrative business.

I am not anti-cop and municipalities have to enforce their laws. I am merely saying that the constant police presence on our beaches greatly diminishes the experience. If you ask me where I think you should plan your beach vacation, I would suggest choosing somewhere north of Charleston where you can sit on the beach in peace. But come to the city for a few days first, of course. 

Historic Rubble

Depending on which Charleston neighborhood you are touring, you will either see a collection of beautiful historic homes or crumbling rubble. I was recently walking around downtown and I thought about what a tragedy it would be if people were allowed to tear down old houses like they do in so many other places. But the flip side to preservation laws is that we end up with uninhabitable houses that are eyesores scattered throughout our neighborhoods.

IMG_5025
Cornerstone of Radcliffe Street

Laws in Charleston forbid the removal of structures of a certain age as long as one wall is still free-standing. I wish that Charleston would look at these places on a case by case basis and allow the owners to tear them down and build houses that can actually be lived in. This is an area where government and common sense butt heads. We all want history to be preserved in Charleston but sometimes that history simply falls down. If we do not do anything to replace the ruin then all we will have left is “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone/ Stand(ing) in the desert.”

Crime

The glowing reviews of our fair city that appear in a multitude of international publications fail to mention the crime that plagues Charleston. I was the victim of an armed robbery a few years ago, so maybe I am overly sensitive to this subject. But it is unfair to visitors and residents to pretend that crime downtown does not exist. It exists in the “bad” parts of town and in the “tourist” part of town. Criminals do not care about our rating in Travel & Leisure. I mention this not to scare you away, but to make you aware. When you come here, it is not safe to wonder around alone downtown at night after a few drinks. You must be aware of your surroundings at all times, never walk alone and take cabs. I paid the price for forgetting these simple tips. Learn from my mistakes.

Street Signs and Turn Signals

On one of my Sunday walks around downtown Charleston, I found myself traveling down a street that I did not recognize. When I came to an intersection, I looked for the name of the street, but like happens often downtown, no street sign existed. I do not know if people steal the signs off the lamp posts or this is the city council’s attempt to keep some things in Charleston secret, but the lack of street signs downtown is a problem. Especially in a place where most of the people walking around have no idea where they are going. Three intersections later, I finally discovered that I was on Queen street. You know, Queen Street, one of the most famous streets downtown. I should have known where I was, but the city should also have done its part by posting at every intersection the name of the streets. That is kind of a hallmark of the modern city, wouldn’t you say?

Good luck finding where the hell you are.

Another thing that I hate about Charleston is the lack of turn signals. I do not mean Charleston’s lack of using them; that is a problem in the whole state. I am talking about the lack of left turn arrows in busy intersections. I guess the city council has saved a fortune on street signs and left turn lights because they barely exist downtown. Now we have people with no idea what street they are on risking it all trying to get through a yellow light because there is no other way to safely turn. My advice for tourists driving in downtown Charleston: take it easy! Use Google or Waze and only plan on making right turns.

Tourist Complaints

I am not talking about Penelope’s Yelp review where she scored “The Market” one star because she stepped in a puddle. I am talking about local Charlstonian’s general complaints about tourists. If it were up to some people (who live on the Battery), there would be a fence around Market street that allowed tourists to enter but never go anywhere else. These people are misguided boobs that do not represent what Charleston is about. Tourism is what has driven the Charleston renaissance and I am thankful for it. I am especially thankful to the folks from Ohio because they are the Charleston O.G. tourists. People from Ohio have been visiting Charleston for so long that I believe Lord Moultrie had a “Go Back to Ohio” sticker on his cannon. These stickers should read, “thank you for driving a thousand miles from Ohio to come to Charleston for a week a year for the last thirty years!” We appreciate it.    

Charlestonians need to give tourists a break. We need to thank them for coming here and spending their travel dollars so we can have things such as many UNBELIEVABLE restaurants. That is not the only effect tourists have had on our city, but it is my favorite symptom of popularity. If you are a local reading this post, go out downtown and thank a tourist today.

Bad Food

Huh? Yes, bad food does exist in Charleston. And I am not even talking about the ultra-touristy joints where people do not understand that if there are cartoons on the menu, then the seafood probably is not fresh. I am talking about places that ride the coattails of our great food culture but never deliver. Places like Red’s Ice House on Shem Creek.

Red’s is a great place to have a cocktail, enjoy the scenery of Shem Creek and even catch sight of a dolphin swimming out to the harbor. You would be better off, however, eating some of the raw fish that the dolphins are chasing than eating anything that Red’s has to offer. Places like this bug me because they fool tourists into thinking they are about to get another great Charleston meal in a wonderful setting and by the time they find out they have been duped, it is too late. If you are a Charleston first-timer, use online reviews to your advantage. Without looking, I guarantee Red’s reviews mostly say that it is a great bar with a great view and terrible food. Correct.

Blogs About Charleston

I am tired of bloggers trying to cash in on the immense popularity of Charleston with their insufferable “Top Ten” lists. 

Support the Author

Thank you so much for being a patron of this site. Whether you give or not, I am grateful for your support.

$5.00

If you want to experience the South’s most wonderful city, come here. Do not watch Bobo’s “24 Hours in Charleston” video on Youtube, spend 24 hours here yourself. Charleston is a place of great restaurants, unique scenery, kind people and a pleasant sea breeze. I have lived here for fifteen years and I am still in awe of this place every time I walk around downtown. Sure, we have our issues like anywhere else. I would be confident, however, in offering a money back guarantee if you do not enjoy your visit to Charleston. It is not possible.

 

 

Humor

Stupid Peanut M&Ms

DJI_0050

I ventured to Cherokee, North Carolina to do some gambling. When that did not work out I decided to go see the new Lion King at the fine Cherokee Phoenix Theater. The entire first row of parking spaces nearest the door were reserved for “Tribal Elders,” which should give you an idea of where I was. 

This was no IMAX theater, but it was suitable for a one-off visit by a gambler escaping a bad run. The movie ticket cost $5 and the popcorn cost $3. I almost asked the kid at the concession stand who was president just to make sure I had not stepped through some sort of time warp. 

I do not attend many movies these days because the home experience is so much better. The Lion King is a children’s movie so my standards for the viewing public are going to be more relaxed. I expected there to be many children in the theater and there were and they were great. They made the movie much better by singing along with the songs and offering adorable commentary like, “There’s Pumbaa!” Continue reading “Stupid Peanut M&Ms”

Humor

My Turn

DJI_0114

It was my turn to be the subject of ridicule last week. We all take turns. There is not a set schedule because my circle of friends are opportunists. For instance, if you try to get away with wearing a stupid-looking hat out one night, well then it is your turn. That is how it works. 

A group of us were playing golf at Wild Dunes in Charleston, South Carolina on Memorial Day weekend. We were at the turn house and I asked the lady what sandwiches they had. She said they had chicken salad, but when asked told me there were grapes in it, which I hate. Then she said they had tuna salad. It was very hot and I was very hungry so I really would have eaten anything. I had to ask, however, if there were red onions in the tuna because there usually are. I cannot eat red onions because I am allergic to them. I can eat them cooked or pickled, but not raw. The snack lady said she thought there were “regular” onions in the tuna. I am not sure what constitutes a “regular” onion, but I could no longer delve into the ingredients of the various salads at the Wild Dunes turn house and ordered the tuna. Continue reading “My Turn”