It’s Really Happening…

All the votes are not in yet, but it does seem as if Barack Obama is on the verge of winning crimson red North Carolina. I’ve been saying this for over a year, but few believed it could be true. Will NC end up going blue? We’ll have to wait a bit longer to find out, but things are looking up. Exciting!

I Voted for Barack Obama Today

I took off from work today to head to the early voting location near the Iconfactory. I arrived at the Leonard Recreation Center on Ballinger Rd. around 4pm. I went inside to find a line of about 100 people stretching from the voting room to the gymnasium, and so I took my place at the end of the line. As I settled in, I started the chronometer on my iPhone to see just how long it would take to get to the front. Although the line was long, it did seem to move right along. People were in good spirits and I saw many young and African American voters come into the gym and head to the back of the line.

While in the gym, I was able to check my tweets and email and generally stay busy playing games and surfing the web. As I got near the front of the line more and more people started to come in, presumably trying to beat the rush before 5pm. When I reached the voting room, the nice volunteers took my name, printed my voting confirmation sheet and then asked me to wait for a free machine. To my surprise, the gentleman who showed me to my station recognized me and said “I know you, you’re the “icon man!” I’m not sure if he recognized me from past years voting in Greensboro or from the Fox 8 piece that aired a few months back. Either way it was a pleasant surprise and he and I chatted for a bit before I actually set about the business of voting. He explained to me that the rec center had been processing about 900-1100 voters per day for the last week and a half.

He gave me my instructions and warned me about voting separately for the presidential candidates if I chose to do a straight ticket and then we parted ways. I was very proud to press the button that was labeled Barack Obama / Joe Biden for President and Vice President of the United States. I double, then tripled checked it was correct and then set about voting on the rest of the ballot. I skipped many of the local judges since I wasn’t familiar with them.

When I confirmed my choices and stepped out the exit, I looked at my iPhone’s chronometer and it read 38 minutes. Time had really flown by there in line and the poll workers knew their job very well so all in all I had no problems. I was pleased to see so many of my fellow North Carolinians voting early. But most of all, I was happy that for the first time in recent memory, I actually had a candidate that I was proud to cast my vote for as President. Many people in line were smiling while they waited, I could tell the mood was upbeat and positive. I think many of them were voting for Obama too.

My Election Predictions

With 11 days left until the 2008 General Election, I thought now would be a good time to get my predictions out. I usually hesitate to do this kind of thing so I don’t end up jinxing anything, but the older I get the more I realize just how superstitious such an attitude is. The only way I can personally effect the outcome of this election is with my single ballot, and so I’ve decided to take the plunge and get my picks out there now. Some of these may be no brainers but at least I’ll be on record so I can see how I did after all is said and done. In no particular order they are:

• Barack Obama will become the 44th President of the United States. I predict He’ll end up with at least 320 electoral votes.

• Obama will win the contested states of North Carolina, Colorado, Ohio, Indiana and Missouri.

• Obama will win the popular vote by at least 3%.

• John McCain will win Florida, Georgia and Virginia.

• John McCain will win West Virginia, but I think it will be much closer than polls indicate.

• Liddy Dole will defend her seat here in NC, but just barely.

• Pat McCrory will defeat Beverly Perdue for NC Governor.

• Al Franken will beat Sen. Norm Coleman in Minnesota.

• Senator Ted Stevens will lose in Alaska. Badly.

• Democrats will pick up a total of 4 seats in the Senate.

• Democrats will pick up a total of 32 seats in the House of Representatives, one of which will be the idiotic Republican Michele Bachmann of MN.

• When all is said and done, the VP choice of Sarah Palin by John McCain will be the overwhelming reason why McCain loses. I do think she’ll attempt to run again in 2012, we haven’t seen the last of her unfortunately.

• National election turnout will end up around 66%.

So what happens if I’m wrong about Obama winning? Will I move to Canada or Europe? Will I spiral into a deep depression and curl up into a ball for months? I might be angry for a while but I’ll live. This country survived eight years of George W. Bush, and it can survive at least 4 of John McCain and Sarah Palin.

In my heart of hearts, I firmly believe we are on the cusp of something historic. Millions of people will be casting their vote for the very first African American for President of the United States. Barack is a good man who has the temperament, wisdom and values to lead this awesome country. Will he make mistakes? Undoubtedly. Does he love his country? Without question. I have faith that he and Joe Biden will do what’s best for the American people to keep us safe, get our economy on the right path and do what they can to bring the red and the blue together once again. We’re ready to start healing and we’ve gotta lot of work to do. It all starts on November 4th, 2008.

UPDATE: An insightful post over at The Anonymous Liberal seems to echo my thoughts about Palin as the soon-to-be scapegoat for McCain’s upcoming defeat – “If McCain loses, the GOP will quickly descend into recriminations mode. Many conservatives who have been holding back thus far will unload their frustrations about Palin.” That about sums that up. He’s not as convinced about Palin’s chances in 2012. Only time can tell.

NC ‘Straight Ticket’ Votes Not Counted for President

If you reside in North Carolina and are getting ready to vote in the 2008 elections, then you need to be aware of a potential problem that is giving both poll workers and voters alike, headaches. Due to an obscure law passed back in 1967, when you vote a so-called “straight ticket” (pressing the button on the electronic voting machine for all Democrat or all Republican), no vote is recorded for President of the United States or judges.

In order for your vote for President to count, you will have to manually select the candidate of your choice in addition to the straight ticket choice. A Daily Kos diary of a poll worker in North Carolina has outlined the problem and the worker personally saw at least 200 votes that were meant for one candidate not counted because of the confusion. Spread the word about this NC voting quirk if you can, the more people that sound the alert, the better.

Hat tip to David Miller for this post.

Obama Visits North Carolina. Again.

Fresh off his St. Louis, Missouri rally where over 100,000 supporters showed up, Barack Obama once again visited North Carolina. This time Barack headed to Fayetteville and after his scheduled stop decided to head for a local diner to meet some folks and grab some food. Politico reports Obama’s visit to the diner was met with some angry shouts from some McCain supporters of “Socalist!”. One woman called him a “closet Muslim”.

Despite these jeers, Obama made the rounds in the diner and attempted to shake the hands of the supporters, answer their questions and quell their fears. The pool of reporters said that Obama could have chosen a predominately black diner just down the street, but instead chose the diner frequented by white Republicans as if to meet resistance head on.

There’s been a great deal of talk about Obama’s “character” from the McCain camp lately, but I think it speaks volumes that he has the strength of character to “enter the lion’s den” and answer tough questions from voters face to face. Not bad from a candidate that some local bloggers said would be abandoning North Carolina early in the race. Just another conservative prediction that hasn’t panned out the way they hoped. Something tells me this won’t be the last one.

UPDATE: Police say that while that rally was going on, someone slashed the tires on at least 30 parked cars of Obama’s supporters. I guess lashing out with cries of “Socialist!” weren’t enough for McCain fans, who had to resort to vandalism to vent their frustrations with Obama.

UPDATE II: For those of you keeping track at home, the Fayetteville stop was Obama’s sixth visit to North Carolina since the primaries. It may come as no surprise then that the NYT reports that Obama is basically tied with McCain here, something that, at this late stage in the race, the paper calls “unfathomable”. Indeed.

Becoming A Statistic

Since my wife and I have privacy blocking on our home phone, I usually don’t answer unknown calls after dinner time. I would have ignored tonight’s phone call too if it hadn’t been for the fact that the Red Sox were getting their can kicked by the Rays for the second straight night and I desperately wanted a diversion. So I answered the call, which was cool since it was a survey group collecting data for their latest political poll.

They asked me all kinds of questions. How familiar I was with the candidates for both President and North Carolina Senate, how likely I was to vote for them and how I felt about a range of issues. They also asked me some interesting questions about Dole and Hagan’s advertising, what I took away from the ads and what my overall impression of the candidates were based on what I had seen. Needless to say I was all too eager to voice my opinions on all of these subjects.

When it was over, the poll had taken about 10 minutes in which time the Rays had managed to score another 4 runs on the Red Sox so all and all I think it was time well spent. I look forward to seeing the latest polls at FiveThirtyEight.com and knowing that I did my bit to push Barack’s numbers just a tad bit higher for the week. I do what I can.

Seeing Red

I love North Carolina, but sometimes living here can be frustrating. Today, on my three mile round trip to grab lunch at Wendy’s, I saw no less than 6 yard signs for McCain / Palin and not one for Barack Obama. This isn’t surprising considering I live in what my wife and I affectionately call, “the boonies”. McCain / Palin and even Bush support runs as high here as ever, which is remarkable considering around 80% of Americans think the country is on the wrong track. To make matters worse, the homes that displayed these signs were, shall we say, not well off. One appeared to be a single bedroom home no larger than 1,000 square feet, and another was straight out of The Grapes of Wrath.

Logically, these McCain supporters would benefit more from an Obama presidency than from a McCain administration. Obama’s tax cuts on middle class Americans would seem to be right down rural North Carolina’s alley. Obama wants to stop shipping jobs overseas and give consideration to small businesses that strengthen our local economies, not weaken them. But it seems that folks around these parts vote more on their so-called “values” instead of the issues and policies that should concern them most. Strange when you consider that lately, even John McCain’s values have been anything but honorable. I’ve been driving around town with my Obama ’08 bumper magnet for weeks, but it may be time to finally upgrade to an Obama yard sign. I can’t let my neighbors have all the fun.

UPDATE: Maybe I just need to move to Charlotte. Check out the huge crowd that came to see Obama speak today. Somehow I just don’t see McCain / Palin drawing that kind of crowd, even in crimson North Carolina.

Greensboro Apple Store Update

Back at the end of July I took a picture of what I was sure was the future home of the new Greensboro Apple Store. Unlike my first guess, I was sure this time I had the actual location of the retail space and submitted it to The Unoffical Apple Weblog. The fine TUAW folks indulged my Jimmy Olsen fantasies and posted the picture to the cheers of Triad Apple fans. Unfortunately, last week Talos found out that the store in the picture will in fact be a new William Sonoma and not the Apple Store. So much for that Pulitzer Prize I was gunning for. Now comes this video from Greensboro WXII News 12 stating that the Greensboro Apple Store is indeed delayed until February of 2009. A major bummer to be sure, but if what the reporter in the piece is saying is true, then we have a good reason for the delay. I’ll take a larger Apple Store if it means we have to wait a bit longer. Must. Be. Patient.

FOX 8 Profiles The Iconfactory

If you’ve ever wondered just what I do at my day job, then this awesome 2 minute profile of the Iconfactory explains it pretty darned well. We were proud to be considered for WGHP’s “Made in North Carolina” series broadcast right here in the Triad. The goal of the series is to highlight companies that you may not realize are in NC, but that make things you know and use every day.

I didn’t realize that Texas Pete or Crest Toothpaste were made in North Carolina, so its fun to see just what the good folks of the Tarheel state are up to. Stewart Pittman of Fox 8 came by this past Monday and interviewed us to find out more about what we do and how we got started. The resulting segment pretty much nails what goes on at the Iconfactory each and every day. Stewart said he had a blast filming our office with all our toys we have on hand to keep our creativity up, and I think that comes out in the video. If you didn’t know better, you’d think we design toys instead of icons for a living. Our thanks go out to Stewart and everyone at Fox 8 for having us, we had loads of fun.

UPDATE: I’ve gone ahead and put up a better version of the video over at Vimeo that includes the Fox 8 intro and outro bumpers. Enjoy!

A License To Hate

Sometimes I almost feel pity for conservative radio personality Michael Savage. For some reason the man seems positively wracked with hatred for his fellow human beings. Over his career he’s managed to spew some of the most foul words that anyone has ever heard, and get paid while doing it. Something seriously fucked up must have happened in his childhood to help explain how he can look down on so many of us. From blacks and jews, to gays, liberals, muslims and more, Savage has done his best to ensure intolerance has a place on public airwaves.

His latest attack came in the form of kids with autism and the parents that coddle them. On the July 16th edition of his syndicated radio show, The Savage Nation, the host put forth this cruel, but not surprising theory for what lies behind children plagued with autism:

“Now, the illness du jour is autism. You know what autism is? I’ll tell you what autism is. In 99 percent of the cases, it’s a brat who hasn’t been told to cut the act out. That’s what autism is.

What do you mean they scream and they’re silent? They don’t have a father around to tell them, “Don’t act like a moron. You’ll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don’t sit there crying and screaming, idiot.”

So in Michael Savage’s world, the debilitating illness of autism is simply an act. A racket that parents encourage their kids to partake in so that they can collect welfare checks. Coming from any sane person, this stance would be met with abject ridicule and perhaps even a pink slip, but because of who the messenger is (a right-wing, ultra-conservative radio host), his opinion is allowed to stand unchallenged. Of course the First Amendment gives him the right to speak his mind, but I’m more concerned with why anyone owning a radio network would want this kind of hate speech, directed specifically at children, to be associated with their business. Do ratings unilaterally trump morals? Are ethics only for those with small market share?

Back in January I posted about Brave New Film’s efforts to get Savage’s sponsors yanked. Local radio talk show hosts Brad & Britt defended Savage’s right to say what he says. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s show to see what, if anything, Brad & Britt will have to say. Will they once again come to his defense and if so, why do they hate “the children” so much?

In the end, I think Savage’s latest tirade will turn out to be a huge miscalculation. History teaches us that you can offend, ridicule and insult minorities without so much as people raising an eyebrow, but speak ill-will of children, and you might as well start World War III. I wouldn’t be surprised when all is said and done, it was the parents of autistic children (and parents in general) that finally revoke Michael Savage & Clear Channel’s license to hate.

UDPATE: Today’s show (7.22.08) of Brad & Britt tackled the Savage question, and to their credit, the radio pair seemed pretty sensitive to the kids and their parents. However, I was surprised by the sheer number of callers who phoned in to agree with Savage. Throughout all of this, there seemed to be a point that Britt in particular wanted to make — can you get away with anything as a radio talk show host? Is there a line that shouldn’t be crossed? It’s funny because this is exactly the point I was trying to make in my last post about Savage’s hateful speech. A bit sad that it took the topic of innocent children for the pair to come to this realization, and I’m not sure if FM Talk’s support of a local Autism charity event is influencing their stance, but I’ll take them at their word.

In related news the radio station Super Talk Mississippi has announced that “effective immediately, Michael Savage and his Savage Nation Radio Show has been canceled.” Glad to see that ethics sometimes trumps ratings.

UPDATE II: Savage has been dropped from another radio station, this time in Cleveland, OH. Station manager Mark Jaycox was quoted as saying: “This guy’s a knucklehead, and I want to get rid of him.” I always did like Cleveland.

Barista’s Lament

I don’t drink coffee and have no particular love for Starbucks, but I’m sure more than a few of you out there do, so here’s a list of the Starbucks locations that are folding in North Carolina. I really thought there would be more of them closing up shop around here. The mini-Starbucks at the Guilford College Harris Teeter comes to mind. You can view the complete list over at the Huffington Post.

•11525 CHATHAM DOWNS 141 CHATHAM DOWNS CHAPEL HILL
•10420 WILKINSON BLVD 3220 WILKINSON BLVD CHARLOTTE
•10836 NORTHLAKE COMMONS 9335 CENTER LAKE DR CHARLOTTE
•11056 PIEDMONT TOWN CENTER 4620 PIEDMONT ROW DR CHARLOTTE
•13533 WORTHINGTON 1520 OVERLAND PARK LN CHARLOTTE
•14141 PROVIDENCE RD & SHARON AMITY RD 2921 PROVIDENCE RD CHARLOTTE
•14183 FIRETOWER RD & ARLINGTON BLVD 1889 E FIRETOWER RD GREENVILLE
•11136 VALLEY HILLS MALL 1960 HWY 70 SE HICKORY
•11925 NASH STREET 2113 NASH ST WILSON
•8716 HARPER HILL COMMONS 4912 COUNTRY CLUB RD WINSTON SALEM

Restaurant Graveyard Additions

Back in March I wrote a post about some of my favorite local restaurants that, for one reason or another, have kicked the bucket. As much as we’d love for our favorite hangouts to thrive and flourish, unfortunately this isn’t always the case. A city is a living, breathing thing and businesses are born, live, and then eventually they sometimes die. If you live in a place long enough, you see it happen all to often and in today’s tight economic times, it seems to be happening more and more. Here is a short update of two places that I used to frequent that have gone to what I call, Greensboro’s Restaurant Graveyard.

Imperial Gourmet – Vanishing International Buffet

Until a week ago, Imperial Gourmet was located near the intersection of W. Wendover Ave and Stanley Road here in Greensboro. If you drive by on your way to Home Depot or Best Buy, today you’ll notice only an empty lot. Bulldozed to the ground, Imperial Gourmet was the only real option for chinese dim sum in Greensboro. Before it opened back around 1998, one had to travel as far away as China One in Durham for pork sticky buns and turnip cake. Sadly the food had been declining in recent years and the owners couldn’t decide if they wanted to offer Japanese Sushi, Chinese-American fusion or authentic dim sum, none done well. Despite having a prime location on one of the busiest roads in Greensboro, Imperial Gourmet exists only as a memory and now even China One is closed. The search or good dim sum in the Triad starts anew.

Giacomo’s Italian Market – Beware the Ghost of Simply Italian!

The intersection of Hilltop and Highpoint Road must be cursed. It previously claimed my favorite drive thru of all time, Simply Italian, and now it has murdered another local favorite, Giacomo’s Italian Market. While Giacomo’s isn’t a traditional sit-down restaurant, it did offer some of the best quality Italian food anywhere in Greensboro. I’ve written about the chain’s other location on New Garden Road and their wonderfully delicious sub sandwiches before. And while I had not visited the Highpoint Road Giacomo’s for several years, I have no doubt it was the location that finally did it in. Highpoint Road has been dying slowly for years as traffic and development shifted west to Wendover Ave, leaving several businesses in dire straights. Giacomo’s Italian Market was only the latest casualty in a long line of eateries that went up to dining heaven. Hopefully the New Garden location will survive for years to come.

Restaurant Death Watch Update

I’m pleased to report that my original picks for Restaurant Death Watch are still here and kicking. Of the three, I most frequently visit Mykonos Grill and I have to say every time I eat there the place is jumping. So much so that I think they could stand to move into a larger space, but then again I don’t want to upset the delicate balance that they have going so I’ll just squeeze in when I can.

Panizzo’s Cafe & Bakery

– This fun little cafe has some of the best lunch fare and baked goods anywhere in town. Unfortunately when I and the guys from work visit for lunch, the dining room is usually close to empty. I’m not sure what’s keeping the place from being successful, but if things keep going the way they are, I fear a new addition to the graveyard any time now. Keep your canolis crossed. UPDATE: Talos just learned that Panizzo’s is closing for “renovations” soon. Hopefully these are renovations of the temporary kind and not “permanent” if you know what I mean.

What about you? Have any favorite restaurants that bought the farm? Feel free to add yours in the comments below. Misery loves company!

Greensboro Gets a Slice of Apple

While we patiently wait for the new Apple Store to open at the Shops At Friendly Center here in Greensboro, a small bit of placation has appeared in the meantime. Yesterday when I walked into the Best Buy off of Stanely Road, low and behold part of the formerly all Windows PC section had been ripped out and replaced with an ultra-mini Apple Store. Right where Toshiba laptops, Dell desktops and other Microsoft loving hardware had stood was the familiar spartan trappings of Steve Jobs’ retail store. It was like the Borg had sliced out a 15×20 foot section of the Southpoint Apple Store in Raleigh, and transplanted it directly into the middle of Best Buy, carpeting and all.

While a surreal experience, it was great to finally see someplace in Greensboro where Apple products can be purchased. Since we lost our local CompUSA back in December, if you wanted to pick up a new MacBook or iMac, you had to make the trek to Raleigh or Charlotte. The inclusion of Apple goods in Best Buy is an impressive about face for two companies that have not always been on the best of terms. I think mini-stores like this one in Greensboro are a testament to Apple’s growing popularity and the strength of the brand. No matter what caused it, I’m just glad to see a tiny bit of Apple in Greensboro once again. Maybe now I can stop driving over to Friendly once a week to check on any signs of life. Nah!

Dodging A Mean Bullet

Last night saw some of the worst storms come through North Carolina in a long, long time. Around 8pm I first started paying attention to the weather and then around 11:15pm it got really, really bad. I live in Colfax, NC which is just north of the Piedmont Triad Farmer’s Market. We started listened to Britt Whitmire on 101.1 FM Talk after our cable TV went out shortly after 10:30pm and I have to say Britt did a great job of describing where the storm was heading and alerting people to the danger.

Shortly after 11pm the police scanner started really going crazy. The sky was almost constantly lit up from hundreds of lightening flashes, and the rain started coming in buckets. We did not see high winds where I lived, but on the scanner many vehicles all around us were being reported overturned. Lots of damage on Sandy Ridge road, officers going on foot door to door to make sure residents were okay. The section of Sandy Ridge they were talking about on the scanner was only 2 miles from us, so I knew the bad stuff was close. It wasn’t until this morning on the news we found out just how close.

The map you can click on here outlines the intersections that are closed off this morning due to multiple power lines down, trees and buildings and business that have been damaged. The authorities have set up a command post at the Farmer’s Market just to the south, but you can see from here just how close we were to where the tornado touched down. Even worse, my friend and co-worker Corey Marion lives between me and the red zone, so he was even closer to the damage.

I thank God that neither we, Corey or Talos (who also lives in my neighborhood) were in the path of this tornado. Planes (Fed Ex cargo planes, not Sesnas) at the airport were blown off the runway, 18 wheelers were overturned and some people even lost their homes. This is one storm I think the Triad will remember for a long, long time. Scary!

North Carolina’s Patience Pays Off

While watching the primary coverage last night, I was curious about the seemingly large number of delegates that were at stake here in North Carolina. As the Daily Kos reports, it turns out North Carolina received bonus pledged delegates from the DNC as a reward for playing it cool and going late in the primary process:

“To keep states spread out and not all clustered in February, the DNC offered bonus pledged delegates to those states that went late in cycle. Thus, instead of only getting 66 pledged delegates to the Democratic convention in Denver, Indiana gets to send 72. And North Carolina went from 89 delegates to 115. Those extra delegates put Indiana ahead of Tennessee and Maryland and gave it as much voting strength as Minnesota and Missouri. And North Carolina bypassed Massachusetts and New Jersey.”

So thanks to North Carolina’s willingness to wait our turn, not only did we most likely cast the deciding ballots in the race between Clinton and Obama, but our fine state will have more political leverage at the convention. Well done North Carolina, I always knew you were a class act!

‘Britt & Brad’ On FOX

Just finished watching our favorite local talk radio hosts, Brad Krantz and Britt Whitmire make a brief appearance on the national broadcast of FOX News. They spoke about North Carolina’s role in the upcoming election and responded to questions about their listener’s views on the controversial GOP ad currently running in the state.

I think they did a pretty good job for not being allowed to expound on their thoughts for more than a few sentences and represented North Carolina extremely well. Brad’s point about how NC has changed since the days of Jessie Helms is well taken and with all eyes turning to our state in the next two weeks, hopefully the media will continue to portray North Carolinians as the intelligent, modern people they are. One small note to Britt: Don’t let top billing from the clueless FOX host go to your head :-)

Greensboro’s Restaurant Graveyard

If there is a truism about living in the Triad, it is this: people here love to eat out. More than any place I’ve lived, the residents of Greensboro enjoy dining out. A lot. Ask anyone who’s tried to get a table here after 6 pm and they’ll most likely tell you they had to wait. As the area’s population has exploded, so has the strain on Greensboro’s dining circuit. Yet despite all this, the place is littered with the corpses of eateries that for one reason or another, couldn’t take the heat. Some of these fine establishments were ahead of their time, others suffered from poor location, but a few died sudden and mysterious deaths. This post is dedicated to these wonderful joints, that for whatever reason, went the way of the dodo. Let us all join hands now and fondly remember:

Simply Italian – Doomed Italian Drive-thru

Simply Italian used to be located at the corner of Hilltop and Highpoint road near Adam’s Farm in Greensboro. It opened right after I moved to the area in 1994 and lasted less than a year, but what a year! The place was built around an old instant photo processing building and as such had no interior or exterior seating. You had to drive or walk up, order and take your food away. Simply Italian served some of the best Italian food I’ve ever eaten and offered huge quantities of classic Italian dishes for just pennies. You could order an entire 12″ lasagna for $7.00 and they’d even throw in garlic bread, utensils and more. The day Simply Italian closed was a sad one for me and my friends. A classic example of pricing yourself right out of business.

Hey Mon – Bermuda Triangle Swallows Caribbean Cafe

Formerly located at 2408 Spring Garden St. in Greensboro, Hey Mon was a jumping little joint that featured wonderful Caribbean flavors including spicy jerked chicken sandwiches, wraps and my all-time favorite – Caribbean cole slaw. When I worked at Image Technology, Hey Mon was one of our absolute favorite places to visit for lunch. The place was always packed and sometimes there was even a line out the door. One day at lunch, our group found the restaurant closed and a sign on the door saying they were moving. We were disappointed that we didn’t get our lunch, but excited that Hey Mon was moving into new, and possibly larger digs. Days turned into weeks, and weeks into months and still no Hey Mon. To this day I have no idea what happened to this awesome eatery. It’s almost like it never existed.

Sushi Rock – Seppuku, Sushi Style

This wonderful sushi house used to be located on Battleground Avenue and was known for its reasonable prices and wonderful decor. When my friend Talos first introduced me to Sushi Rock, I knew I had found my new favorite sushi restaurant. It didn’t take long to realize however, that the place was in trouble. Crowds thinned and prices rose slightly and then one day it was just gone. Thankfully there’s no shortage of good sushi restaurants in the Triad. My current favorites are U.S. Sushi at the corner of Eastchester and Wendover in Highpoint and the always yummie Asahi on West Market St.

Pie Works – Death by a Thousand Cuts

I know what you’re thinking. Pie Works isn’t dead, at least not yet. Technically that may be true, but if you’ve lived here as long as I have then you may remember that there used to be many more Pie Works’ than the one (yes, there is only one left) on Lawndale Ave in Greensboro. Pie Works serves up some of the best gourmet pizza this side of New York and yet the franchise is faltering. I used to frequent the small Pie Works that lived down on West Market back in the day, but that location didn’t last long and is now a laundromat. There used to be a Pie Works in Winston Salem as well, but that too is gone. There are now a grand total of 3 Pie Works locations in Louisiana compared to one in North Carolina. Like it or not, I fully expect the Lawndale location to visit that big pizzeria in the sky in not-too-distant future. I think I’ll miss the Rosemary Roast most of all. My stomach is sad.

Bo Hogs – Another Pig Bites the Dust

When Bo Hogs opened a few years back at the corner of West Market St. and Muirs Chapel road, the last thing I thought Greensboro needed was another BBQ place. Marked by good service, a friendly atmosphere and excellent food, Bo Hogs quickly changed my mind and it became my favorite NC barbeque joint. That was their kiss of death. Although they seemed constantly busy, like many other eateries I’ve fallen in love with, one day they just closed. No explanation was given and no forwarding address was left on the door for a new location. I calling the developer to find out what happened, but only got a cryptic “The owner decided to close it down.” in response. Oh the horror! Today, my favorite Triad BBQ places are Prissy Polly’s of Kernersville, Carter Brothers BBQ in High Point and Country BBQ on Wendover Ave. in Greensboro. Pig places may come and go, but there will always be a hush-puppy in my heart for Bo Hogs.

Restaurant Death Watch

Finally, here are a list of places that as of this writing, seem to be alive and kicking, but that I’m keeping a close eye on. My track record indicates that at least one or more of these places may go belly up within the next 3 years for no other reason than I enjoy eating there.

Mykonos Grill

– The best Greek restaurant in Greensboro, hands down. Took up the mantle after Pita Works closed in Quaker Village. Place is always packed to the roof at lunch, which unfortunately means it’s probably doomed.

Leblon

– Brazilian steak house that hosts the Iconfactory’s annual Christmas party, or as we call it, “The Night of Meat“. Awesome food, great service. Seems underpriced for all-you-can-eat top notch cuts of meat. Danger Will Robinson!

Rearn Thai

– Their original location across the street on West Market was small but cozy and inviting. The new all-glass building is no bigger (maybe even smaller), but also cold feeling and loud. I’ve eaten there just once since they moved. This will be the one time when it’s not my fault when they go. Good food but their architect doomed them IMHO.

What about you? Have any favorite restaurants that bought the farm? Feel free to add yours in the comments below. Misery loves company!

Brad & Britt Defend the Indefensible

Another journey into the land of hypocrisy (on both sides of the issue) this morning on the Brad & Britt show on FM Talk 101.1. You see, some people have had enough of the hate-spewing rhetoric of Michael Savage and have decided to contact his advertisers to try and get them to yank support of his show. The plan seems to be working and Savage has lost at least 4 major sponsors to date.

Into the fold, once again, comes our local radio talk radio hosts, Brad Kranz & Britt Whitmire who did a segment on Savage this morning. Unsurprisingly both hosts take the position that while some of the things Savage broadcasts to millions of people each day are offensive, and even in some cases as Britt said “indefensible”, if people don’t like it, they can turn the dial and simply not listen.

It’s interesting because I actually do turn the dial as soon as Alan Handleman goes off the air. I’ve tried to listen to Savage several times, but find myself becoming nauseous very quickly. I agree he does make some interesting points from time to time on issues of the day. But then he goes and says stuff like this:

“90 percent of the people on the Nobel Committee are into child pornography and molestation.” – 12/12/07

Madeline Albright is “a traitor. In my opinion, she should be tried for treason, and when she’s found guilty, she should be hung.” – 10/9/06

“Liberalism is, in essence, the HIV virus, and it weakens the defense cells of a nation.” – 7/6/06

and the one that got him rightfully fired from MSNBC:

“Oh, you’re one of the sodomites,” Savage said. “You should only get AIDS and die, you pig. How’s that? Why don’t you see if you can sue me, you pig. You got nothing better than to put me down, you piece of garbage. You have got nothing to do today, go eat a sausage and choke on it.”

Being the “liberal” that I am, I fully support free speech and the First Amendment. I have a problem however when someone’s rhetoric goes from being simply one of opinion (no matter how difficult that opinion might be to take) to one of hate. Michael Savage is a purveyor of hate, pure and simple. Britt would tell you that’s all “part of his act”. As if that makes everything he says acceptable somehow. I find it interesting how they’ll spend 2 or 3 minutes berating Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, but Neal Boortz and Michael Savage, for some reason, get treated a little differently.

So my questions to Brad & Britt are these: Is there anything a radio talk show host (particularly one on your own station) could say that you think would merit them being either fired or boycotted? Why is it unacceptable for groups of citizens to try and get a person who fills our airwaves with hate, fear and intolerance, off the air? And finally, are we all just expected to let talk radio hosts say whatever they want, no matter how hurtful and offensive it is, all the time?

CompUSA Goes Buh-bye!

My friend Rick Yaeger just tweeted some astonishing news about the national computer chain CompUSA. Apparently, after the holiday buying season is over, all 103 of the stores will be closing. For good. From Yahoo:

“Consumer electronics retailer CompUSA said Friday it will close its store operations after the holidays following sale of the company to Gordon Brothers Group LLC, a restructuring firm. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

CompUSA operates 103 stores, which plan to run store-closing sales during the holidays.

Privately held CompUSA, controlled by Mexican financier Carlos Slim Helu’s Grupo Carso SA, said discussions were under way to sell certain stores in key markets. Stores that can’t be sold will be closed.”

All I have to say about this is that thank GOODNESS Apple recently announced plans to open an Apple retail store here next spring/summer. Between January and the opening of the new Apple store however, there will be a huge hole for local merchants to fill. Best Buy will probably pick up a great deal of the slack, but the business potential for the new Apple store in Greensboro just got a whole lot brighter. As a side note, Twitter & Twitterrific win points once again for the first point of contact for me with breaking news items.

An Illustrated Guide to Triad Subs

Regular visitors to my blog know that I occasionally dabble in submarine sandwich reviews. I’ve not reviewed a new sub place in a while, so this should serve as a stopgap until the next write-up. In all of my reviews, I use a “Yummie Scale” to rate the overall taste, appearance and value of the sub. At the bottom of this scale is Subway which rates a 1. At the opposite end of the extreme is Dibella’s Old Fashion Subs based in New York and Ohio which rates a 9. I grew addicted to Dibella’s when I went to school at R.I.T. and have never found anything that comes even close to them anywhere else. My friend Talos recently went up north for Thanksgiving and was kind enough to bring back Dibella’s subs for all of us at the Iconfactory, which gave me a chance to do this detailed guide explaining just what makes Dibella’s so good.

With my Dibella’s Godfather sub in hand (thanks to Talos), I made the rounds to some of the sub shops I frequent around Greensboro. The three that I chose were Giacomo’s Italian Market on New Garden Road, Subway (does it matter where?) and Jimmy John’s at the Quaker Village Shopping Plaza. I ordered the same basic Italian sub at each location to try and level the playing field as much as possible. The first tell-tale sign of a good sub is the cross section. Click the thumbnail image here to get a detailed look at the four subs by cross section as well as how they stack up by price.

Everyone from students to working folk appreciate the value of a buck. How that buck stretches when it comes to subs varies from place to place. This photo shows the dramatic difference of just what six bucks will get you around the Triad and how that compares to Dibella’s. If anyone knows a place in Greensboro or Winston that has 14″ subs for $7.50, please let me know.

The key to any good submarine sandwich is the bread. In my opinion, as your humble sub reviewer, sub rolls should be crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. Some places like Subway have what amounts to pathetic excuses for bread and it’s important that you know the difference. The sub places around the Triad seem to all use similar bread recipes and it’s starting to tick me off. If you own a deli, for the love of the sub, look here and study well. Our stomachs will thank you later.

So there you have it. The next time I get a chance to write up a Triad Sub Review, you can refer back to this handy comparison chart to get a better sense of all those things I’ll be talking about. Of course, you may not even enjoy submarine sandwiches, in which case you probably didn’t even read this far in the first place. What do I look like a mind reader?