I Thought I saw Darius


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.


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.

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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.


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.




10 Things I Hate About Charleston

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.


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.”

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.


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.

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.”


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. 

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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.