Saturday, March 08, 2008


It's game day! The second Dook-Carolina game always means a little more than the first - it's Senior Day for the home school, seeding in the ACC Tournament (and often the NCAA Tournament) is on the line and one school is seeking revenge for their loss in the first meeting. All of those things are true this year, with not only the No, 1 seed in the ACC Tournament on the line but a good shot at a NCAA No. 1 seed as well. On the other hand, there's a marked lack of excitement about the game around here as the murder of Eve Carson has put all of this in context.

There's a good Wikipedia entry on the rivalry listing out some of the best games of the series (they left off one of my favorites although it wasn't close - the January 1990 game in the Dean Dome when King Rice held Bobby Hurley to something like 1 assist and 10 turnovers leading to a 19 point win and Hurley in tears). The double-overtime victory at Cameron in 1995 is the game that most people remember best and certainly it was one of the most incredible games I can recall, but it's not my favorite - in no small part because we should have blown them out that year. Guys older then me will point to the early 60's game where Art Heyman and Larry Brown both got ejected for brawling (and I understand this was more than just throwing a couple of punches!). I hadn't move to North Carolina yet in time for the "Greatest Comeback Ever" - the 8-points-in-17-seconds home OT win with the 30 foot Sweet D bank shot capping the comeback and sending the game into overtimer.

No, the game that I remember most fondly (as with much of Carolina basketball, with a little bittersweet) was the final regular season game in 1984. UNC was trying to cap an undefeated ACC regular season, having previously lost only to Arkansas in a non-conference game. It was Senior Day for Sam Perkins and Matt Doherty and I think we all knew it was likely Michael Jordan's last game as well. This was also a team that featured Brad Daugherty, Kenny Smith and sharpshooter Buzz Peterson - it was really no surprise that they were in that position. But this was also the beginning of Duke's Coach K years with the core of the team that would be in the Final Four a couple of years later having had a year of experience under their belts. Mark Alarie and Johnny Dawkins both had good games as I recall and it took a downcourt pass and a 15 foot jumper from (of all people on that team) Matt Doherty to put the game into overtime. I watched the game at my friend Dirk's house and spent a good part of it on the front porch listening as I couldn't bear to watch. I don't have his stats but I remember this as being Matt Doherty's best game of his career. We blew them out in the second OT and finished the regular season undefeated, but of course went on to lose to Dook the next weekend in the ACC Tournament and then to Indiana in the Big Dance, making this team consistently ranked as the best UNC team ever NOT to win the NCAA (and therefore the most disappointing team). But man, what a game!!


Friday, March 07, 2008

The End of Schoolkids

It was sad to hear that Schoolkids Records is closing its Franklin Street store, but certainly not surprising. The Record Exchange closed a few years ago and after expanding into the Little Shop space next door, Schoolkids pulled back out of the expansion some months ago. Jack Campbell shuttered Poindexter Records in Durham a decade ago under pressure from Best Buy and big-box bookstores - add to that the expansion of on-line retailers and downloads (both legal and il-) and I wouldn't expect very many stand-alone rekkid stores to survive. The last physical store that I did much CD buying in was the (also now closed) Virgin Megastore on Michigan Ave in Chicago a couple of years ago - huge selection, great listening posts and it was about the only thing on Michigan Ave I could afford. I've probably only hit Schoolkids twice a year on average over the last 5 years as I've focused more on preserving my vinyl collection and have ordered most of the CDs that I have bought through Amazon. One of the benefits of local records stores was always the ability to go in and just ask the guys behind the counter what was good, but with millions of reviews online, magazines like Paste and Harp and the dozens of others reviewing the latest disks in your genre of choice and my favorite,, that's just not that necessary anymore.

All of that being said, I have tremendously fond memories of Schoolkids going back to my arrival in Chapel Hill in 1978. Schoolkids was in the narrow space on the north side of Franklin Street that later became half the original Pepper's Pizza location and Record Bar had just moved in a few doors down after leaving its Henderson Street location. The standing orders from my upper-classman neighbors in the triple next door at Mangum Dorm were to split my purchases between the stores to ensure both stores stayed open and the low prices continued. And prices were indeed low - a good $2-$3 bucks cheaper at either store than I found when I was back in Charlotte for the weekends or the summer. I'll admit that at the time, Schoolkids had the hipper (read that more intimidating) staff (apologies to PC who didn't start working for RBar until later) so if you wanted something cool, you went to Schoolkids but if you had to fill your Jethro Tull fix, you probably bought it from Record Bar to avoid embarrassment. Schoolkids also of course produced Jefferson Holt, who left the store to become REM's manager early in their journey. Even after their move across Franklin Street, whenever I had cooler folks in from out of town for work meetings, I'd make sure to take them to Pepper's, the Cave or the Cradle and Schoolkids. So while I understand, I'm going to miss 'em.


Let 'Em Run

I can't tell how much of the hand-wringing over the continuation of the Democratic primary race was due to wishful thinking on the part of Obama's supporters that the race was (or at least should have been) over and how much is just nervousness on the part of long-time party watchers that are looking for any sign that we're about to self-destruct again. I can sympathize with the latter as we've certainly shot ourselves in the foot often enough, but firmly believe that the continuing race between Clinton and Obama is only going to strengthen us for the fall. Outside of the blogosphere, I don't think there are many Obama supporters who won't cheerfully vote for Clinton and vice-versa, as long as things stay on the up-and-up. What I mean by that is that it is essential that Dean and the DNC work out a "primary lite" in Florida and Michigan (much preferable to a credentials fight) and that the superdelegates are allowed to vote their conscious. Like the system or not, it's the system all the candidates started out with and tinkering with it now would be unfair to one or the other.

In the meantime, media sweetheart John McCain is going to have trouble getting any airtime for a while longer, which can only help the Dems. If there is enough concern that they're too focused on each other and not on the Repuglicans, I would suggest getting Al Gore and Bill Bradley and John Edwards and Bill Richardson and others (notice that I did NOT suggest Joe-mentum) out on the stump to counter McCain as Democratic leaders without having to pick Clinton or Obama. The bottom line is that we've got two strong candidates, either of whom almost all of us can get behind, against a compromise candidate that no one in the other party seems all that enthusiastic about.



It shouldn't matter so much that the young woman found shot to death in Chapel Hill yesterday was the student body president and a Morehead Scholar. The death of any young person at that point in their life, for any reason, is a horrible tragedy. It is not only top students or class presidents or pretty white girls (or school mascots like Jason Ray) that make positive differences in people's lives so it shouldn't be that much harder to take when someone like Eve Carson dies so young - it ought to be incredibly hard regardless. But this is somehow worse - it really is.

Maybe it's the fact that instead of a vague promise of great things to come (certainly that's the most anyone would have thought of me at that age), she was already starting to fulfill that promise. At a time in our lives when most of us were just trying to make it to that last semester of classes despite our hangovers and worrying more about working on our resumes or applying to grad schools than anything or anyone else, she was already doing great things and improving the lives of others. How can you not be terribly impressed by that - and feel much more strongly that here is a person that should not have been taken away.

Earlier yesterday I had drafted a post about both UNC basketball teams being ranked 1 and 2 and how everything felt right with the world. It is not. Whatever is found out about the series of events that left Eve Carson lying dead in the street, nothing is right this week nor will it be for a long time to come. I grieve for her family and her friends and I grieve for all of us who never got a chance to meet this remarkable young person.

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

English Beat at the Cat's Cradle

I first saw the English Beat in 1983 in Memorial Hall in Chapel Hill with this little band from Athens, GA called REM opening for them. Both bands were pretty damn good.

A couple of years ago, I was able to catch them (them? really Dave Wakeling and a bunch of kids) at the Cat's Cradle and they put on a great show. So I was quite looking forward to the show tonight and was certainly not disappointed. Despite the oddly bad sound (the sound at the Cradle is usually stellar) the show was great - I love seeing the balding and gray-haired and hennaed 50-somethings partying with the 20-year-olds skanking down in the pit. Despite having a bad mike night (and apparently a bad monitor night) Dave just seems to be having a great time out on the road with a bunch of guys that weren't even born when "Wha'ppen?" was released. If you get a chance to see them, I highly recommend it.

There was a funny thing - when the Cradle first posted the date, they posted a link to the "new" English Beat with Ranking Roger - have no idea if they're any good but it just reminded me of "The Drifters" and "The New Drifters" and "The Original Drifters" and "The New Original Drifters" and "The Real Original Drifters" etc. etc...

I tried out the new Canon SD870 at the show - I'll hopefully have "Tears of a Clown" uploaded to YouTube tomorrow...



Or "what the hell happened to February?"

Actually, I realized that I wasn't posting and gave serious consideration to shutting down Half-Life and Times for a bit as I wasn't inspired and frankly didn't have the time to really do much serious posting. Still don't I suppose, but I'm determined to make the time, so there.