Posts Tagged ‘DurhamNC’

Election follow-up: May 2018 primary

May 13, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 13, 2018

It’s safe to say that Tuesday night’s results support the notion that my views are not widely held by Durham County’s Democratic electorate. Incumbent Sheriff Mike Andrews was defeated by challenger Clarence Birkhead, in a rematch of Durham’s 2014 sheriff election, while incumbent district attorney Roger Echols was upset by challenger Satana Deberry.

A key measure of a healthy, functional democracy — or a functional republic, if you prefer — is that the supporters of losing candidates accept the results as legitimate. And I do!

But, while I hold no animus toward either victor, I stand by the reservations I expressed in my previous post about both of the candidates (as well as about Andrews). I suppose only time will tell whether Birkhead is a good sheriff or Deberry a good D.A. It might be a while, if ever, before I produce an edition of my Patented Pundit Scorecard™ on this topic.

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Notes from the polls: Primary election, May 8, 2018, Durham, North Carolina

May 8, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 8, 2018

Author’s note: About 90 minutes after this post was first published, I added a disclaimer at the bottom in the interests of completely disclosing the relationship with and potential biases I may have had regarding Durham sheriff candidates. MEM

If you check my record as a North Carolina voter, you’ll find that prior to today, I’d participated in nine primary elections over the course of nearly 14 years. As an unaffiliated voter, the state lets me choose which primary ballot I use: Democratic, Republican, Libertarian or nonpartisan.

This spring, the Green Party became the fourth political party certified to place candidates on North Carolina ballots, but this happened too late for the current primary voting cycle. The Libertarian Party has been officially recognized in the Old North State since 2008.

As a Durham County resident, however, Republican and Libertarian ballots rarely afford much in the way of choice. Durham is North Carolina’s fifth most-populous county, but it has the state’s fourth-highest number of registered Democrats. (The Bull City and its surrounding county surpass the slightly more populous Forsyth County, home of the city of Winston-Salem, in terms of the sheer number of Democrats registered here.)

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Area man goes outside, hears noises: From the case files of Matthew E. Milliken

May 5, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 5, 2018

Incident report

Date/time: Tuesday, May 1, or Wednesday, May 2, 2018 — around midnight.

Narrative: I went outside to retrieve a water bottle that I’d left in my car. I was parked across the street, so I had several yards to walk from my front door.

As I ambulated, I heard a noise that struck me as unusual. I looked around and caught a vague glimpse of what appeared to be a four-legged animal scaling down the trunk of one of the large trees that surround the houses in my pocket of the city. The animal briefly paused at a point about 10 or 15 feet from the ground; after a moment, it descended out of sight.

This, of course, is the kind of climbing that squirrels do all the time. But this creature struck me as being both larger and noisier than a squirrel.

I pulled out my phone, turned on its camera flash/light and swung it around, trying to spot and identity the thing I’d sighted. The beam isn’t very strong or focused, however, so I came up empty.  Read the rest of this entry »

Practicality, love and gloves: A few thoughts

November 30, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 30, 2017

I used to own a pair of hybrid glove-mittens. When I needed to keep my hands warm, I’d pull on the hybrids and make sure the mittens enveloped my fingers. When I needed to use my digits, I could pull the mitten-pocket away from my fingers and pin it on the back of my hand using Velcro patches. That left me sporting what were essentially fingerless gloves: except for the top inch or so of my eight fingers, my hands were completely covered. It was like having the best of both worlds!

These hybrids weren’t the most stylish item — then again, very very little of what I wear is — but they were incredibly practical. I wish I still had these hybrids, but alas, I lost track of them years ago.

One of the nicest gifts I ever got was given to me by Lady X when we were dating. She took a solo trip to Italy in the fall or winter. (I think this would have been towards the end of 2010 or the beginning of 2011.) When she came back, she presented me with a pair of brown leather gloves. They fit quite comfortably and looked great. I was thrilled with them.

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The Friday that white supremacists (never really) came to town: Part 2 of 2

August 24, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Aug. 24, 2017

Author’s note: This post contains one word that is considered obscene and one usage of a notorious racial slur. The obscene word is part of the title of a famous rap songMEM

After returning to my car last Friday, I decamped for a coffee shop and finished writing about The Big Sick. Then I went back home and changed out of my sweaty clothes. Like I said, man, it was hot that day.

The rumors circulating on social media said that the white supremacists who had failed to show around noon might instead (or also) be planning to come around 4 p.m. A little after the hands on my watch pointed to that hour, I drove to another quiet residential neighborhood. I parked my car and began walking back to the courthouse.

At least one helicopter was still hovering in the air, but I found very little traffic when I arrived downtown. The block of Main between South Corcoran and North Mangum streets had been reopened. In fact, cars were allowed on Main as far east as Church Street, where there was a barricade. At least one police officer must have been standing there, but most of the people clustered around the blockade were regular people demonstrating against white supremacy. Some held banners and signs declaring their enthusiasm for diversity and tolerance.

It was at this point that I witnessed the first — and for me, really, the only — tense encounter of the day.

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The Friday that white supremacists (never really) came to town: Part 1 of 2

August 22, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Aug. 22, 2017

It was around 11 on Friday morning when I noticed a tweet saying that white supremacists were planning to march on downtown Durham at noon. I ate an early lunch and started preparing to go.

However, I dallied. This was partly because I was skeptical that any hate group would actually show up in what might be North Carolina’s most liberal city. Indeed, none of the tweets I saw from people who were downtown indicated that any white supremacists were showing up. But to be completely candid, I also dawdled for the very converse reason: Because I was afraid of the catastrophe that could occur if armed reactionaries did in fact turn out.

Many of the white-supremacist marchers at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., earlier this month were heavily armed and obviously spoiling for violence. Moreover, on Thursday evening, I’d read a disturbing news story about a gun-toting militia group that had turned up at a San Antonio city council meeting. (The stated rationale was that an official of the This is Texas Freedom Force had received death threats after publicly opposing the council’s intention to move a Confederate monument.) If shooting had started in Charlottesville, or San Antonio, or Durham — or if some whack job decided to drive into a crowd, as happened in the town where Thomas Jefferson lived and founded a university — no one could guarantee the public’s safety.

However, when the Ku Klux Klan might roll into your town, able and available adults can’t just sit on the sidelines. So even though I showed up late, I did show up.

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Crime and misdemeanors: A crowd tears down a Confederate monument in my home town

August 15, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Aug. 15, 2017

It’s not every day that Durham, N.C., gets national attention — and it’s even rarer when the City of Medicine generates widespread news coverage for something other than college basketball. Unfortunately, despite being in town yesterday, I was completely unaware of what might be a seminal moment in an important national news story until a few hours after the event had taken place.

On Monday evening, protesters pulled down a monument to Confederate soldiers that stood in front of the Durham County Administration Building, which served as the county courthouse from 1916 through 1978. The statue in question was erected in 1924; the front of its pedestal reads, “In memory of ‘The Boys who Wore the Gray.’”

I won’t miss the statue; it venerated soldiers who, while they may have fought bravely, did so in service to a disloyal would-be nation that was dedicated to keeping black men, women and children in bondage.

Durham, like many American cities, is full of symbols of disdain for African-Americans, some more explicit than others. One example — subtler than the statue of the rebel soldier, but more prominent in a way — is the Durham Freeway, a.k.a. N.C. 147, an expressway built in the late 1960s that devastated a once-thriving black community named Hayti. These badges of dishonor can never be wholly erased; nor should they, for to plaster over past injustices is to invite their repetition. But neither should such affronts be afforded undeserved esteem.

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A short monograph on Triangle traffic; or, my Wednesday-afternoon trip to the airport

July 31, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 31, 2017

I’d planned on taking a trip the week that ended on Saturday, July 22. But I hadn’t planned on leaving on Wednesday the 19th, and I hadn’t planned on flying. However, an urgent situation arose, and it seemed best that I book an evening flight.

That afternoon, I went to a barcade in downtown Raleigh. I did this partly to help myself unwind for a bit before my flight, but I also did this because evening rush-hour in the Research Triangle tends to be heaviest going east from Durham to Raleigh, and Raleigh-Durham International Airport is located about halfway between the two cities.

(Sidebar: A significant disparity between housing and jobs helps fuel traffic holdups in the region, as does a lack of rail-based mass transit. The city of Raleigh, which forms the Triangle’s eastern vertex, is the most populous in the region. But a significant proportion of Raleigh residents work either in Chapel Hill, the site of the University of North Carolina and its major teaching hospital facility, or in Durham, which is home to Duke University, to Duke’s major teaching hospital facility and to North Carolina Central University, a large historically black state university.

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Cheeps and Chirps for April 2017 (more catch-up)

June 23, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 23, 2017

You got it: Yet more catching up from my Twitter feed!

• ZOMG Donald Trump!

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Return to outer space — recalling another not-so-terrific science-fiction adventure from the waning weeks of 1979

May 10, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 10, 2017

Occasionally, YouTube’s algorithms offer up something interesting. That happened the other week when I stumbled upon some video clips excerpted from The Black Hole, the poorly received 1979 film that was the first-ever Disney production to receive a PG rating.

When I looked up the film’s release date, I found that it came out on Dec. 21, 1979 — exactly two weeks after the premiere of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. I went to see The Black Hole in the cinema during its initial theatrical run, which meant that that month was full of science fiction excitement and disappointment.

The nearest art-house cinema to my current home is the Carolina Theatre in downtown Durham, N.C. The Carolina regularly shows old science fiction, horror and fantasy movies, and a few years ago, they brought in The Black Hole for a showing. Naturally, I went.

The film that had disappointed young me also disappointed adult me, albeit for somewhat different reasons. But that hasn’t stopped me from returning to movies (and occasionally books) that my younger self enjoyed. Which, not at all coincidentally, will be the topic of my next post…

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