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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Our own Crash Davis 

Former Durham Bull, Dan Johnson

The Tampa Bay Rays miraculous comeback victory to clinch an American League playoff spot was wildly celebrated in some corners of Durham last night, including Bull McCabe's Irish Pub. Hidden within what will surely be a celebrated Rays win and an unforgettable Red Sox collapse was a huge moment for one long-time Durham Bull, Dan Johnson.

Who is Dan Johnson you ask? (Of course, dear reader, if you are a Bulls regular, you already know the answer, but indulge the rest of us for a moment.) Dan Johnson has played a career 993 minor league games. He has made more than 4,000 minor league plate appearances for squads ranging from Modesto, California to Yokohama, Japan to Vancouver, BC, Canada. Since 2008 he has played 309 games for our own Durham Bulls.

Johnson was terrific in 2010, in his thirties, ancient for a AAA prospect, he hit .300 with 30 homers for the Durham Bulls. The Bulls parent club, the Rays, gave him a chance to start the season in the majors. After all they had parted with their seven highest paid players from the previous season, there were open spots on the roster, why not give Johnson a shot?

Johnson had played a career 300 major league games, most of them in 2005 and 2007 for the Oakland A's. Unfortunately for Johnson, he bombed. He started the season with only nine hits in sixty-four at-bats, a brutal .141 average. He followed that up with 0 for 14 in May and was sent back to Durham posthaste to resume his minor league career.

So when Dan Johnson stepped up to the plate last night, in the bottom of the ninth, with two out, and nobody on, the Tampa Rays trailing by a run, their season hanging in the balance, he hadn't had a major league base hit since April 27th. He was hitting .108 on the season. Johnson had no hits in six at-bats since coming back to the majors ten days ago. At thirty-two years old, it was the biggest at-bat of his career. Once before in the Rays memorable 2008 run to the World Series, which they lost, Dan Johnson had contributed a seemingly miraculous home run.1

Last night, down to the final strike in the season, he did it again. A laser shot down the right field line that tied the game.

Historically, Rays superstar first round draft pick, Evan Longoria, who hit two homers, including the game winner in the bottom of the twelfth, in walk-off fashion, will probably be far more remembered and lauded. People will talk about the Red Sox collapse. The sinking line drive their $142 million dollar leftfielder could have caught to extend the game.

Here in Durham, perhaps we will recall one of our adopted sons, a humble Durham Bull, a ginger haired man from Coon Rapids, Minnesota, Dan Johnson, and his homer that saved the season. This is why we watch sports, for these kind of hair-raising, chill inducing, it is all on the line moments. You're a kid standing in the back yard, bottom of the ninth, two outs, two strikes, one swing to save or end the season.

The Clarion Content, for one, won't forget what happened. We doubt that anyone else still in Bull McCabe's a few minutes before the clock struck midnight will either. Thanks for the memories, Dan!

1Johnson hit an 9th inning game tying home run off Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon after arriving at the ballpark from Durham mid-game. Unfortunately, despite his heroics, he only hit .192 for the Rays in 2008 and was forced to sign-in Japan in 2009 when the club didn't offer him a Major League contract.

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Duck and Cover 09.29.11 

Our thanks to "Duck & Cover" and creator Storey Clayton.

Check out his other projects, here, at the Blue Pyramid.

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Twitter wisdom 

Little shouts out of Twitter wisdom.

Firstly, from a music blogger we like, Lydia Simmons, "You must master your rage, or rage will become your master."

Ms. Simmons runs Sunset in the Rearview.

The other is from a Twitter feed called Eastern Health citing Carl Jung, "Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate."

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Runaway Clothes 

designed by Runaway Clothes

Looking at the Runaway Clothes collection, it’s impossible to tell they’ve only officially been in business for about three months.

"It’s been an aspiration of mine for a long time," said Gabriel Eng-Goetz, a native of Durham who studied illustration at Syracuse University, after graduating from Jordan High School. "It’s a process, but you’ve just gotta go in and put everything on the table."

Runaway Clothes is a company with that hip, Nuevo, southern metropolitan vibe seen from other up and coming designers, promoting a street feel of independence, creation, and rebellion that seems to come hand and hand with well done, graffiti-inspired designs.

Although some of Eng-Goetz designs certainly hone in on the widely felt Durham vibe, he also takes inspiration from many other outlets. His sophisticated and detailed illustrations, and his constant thirst to do more, are what make the label different, setting it apart from others like it.

After studying illustration at Syracuse University, he spent time in Australia. It gave him an opportunity to witness first hand the ways street art can make social change and commentary accessible and unavoidable, and also how it can be expressed in new ways.

"Sydney, in particular, has a prevalent street art scene," Eng-Goetz, who also took inspiration from street crossing signs he came across while overseas, said. “While living and walking through the city, I was exposed to this growing scene and the social impact it can have."

Eng-Goetz creates a balance of play, technical skill, and imagination in his designs, giving wearers a chance to wear a statement without emblazoning it on their chest in stark, harsh, billboard-like manner. For instance, the ‘Prime Cuts’ tee, a map of historic Durham neighborhoods viscerally showcased in the jigsaw cuts of the infamous bull. In the ‘Southern Summer’ illustration, a half melted Rocket popsicle comes shooting out of your childhood memories. The ‘Lonely Drifter’, a silhouette of a young boy tagging a wall with Runaway’s logo, highlights the label’s graffiti influence and reads like a modern day The Boxcar Children promotional flyer.

The image of a train and the ideas that come along with it have had a wide influence in provoking the sparks that feed many of Runaway’s designs, and not just on his Durham shirts. The philosophies of old train hoppers in constant transit, running away from convention and literally living in motion lends to the movement away from convention and societal norms Runaway’s designs are sparked by.

After doing some time in the gallery scene of the art world after college, Eng-Goetz has found this collection to be the most fulfilling. He wanted to take his message and his work directly to the people. He recognized that the gallery scene was cost prohibitive for some his most fervent fans.

"A t-shirt is a piece of art, but it also goes to a bigger audience," he said. "It more interesting sometimes to show your art on a different level, in a different way."

Showing up on many different levels isn’t something that Eng-Goetz will be stopping anytime soon. Some of Runaway's collection already appears in the swanky local gift boutique Morgan Imports, as well as the cute and kitschy, Vaguely Reminiscent on 9th Street. Between an upcoming new collection with more cut options and styles available for women (and men) due out in late October, his recent shirt designs for Durham-based band LiLa, and other upcoming collaborations, we can only expect to see more from this transient inspired, exciting new line. To view the collection, visit www.RunawayClothes.com, and for more work from the artist, Gabriel Eng-Goetz, go to www.PorkFriedArt.com.

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Duck and Cover 09.28.11 

Our thanks to "Duck & Cover" and creator Storey Clayton.

Check out his other projects, here, at the Blue Pyramid.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Duck and Cover 09.27.11 

Our thanks to "Duck & Cover" and creator Storey Clayton.

Check out his other projects, here, at the Blue Pyramid.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Duck and Cover 09.26.11 

Our thanks to "Duck & Cover" and creator Storey Clayton.

Check out his other projects, here, at the Blue Pyramid.

Sorry this post is late, the editor is at fault.

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Obama notes 

Built in the 1960's, the Brent-Spence bridge over the Ohio River

The Clarion Content has to admit, for as hard as we have been on President Obama, we have seen some glimmers of late. For reference, on our colossal disappointment with the Obama Presidency see these debates. We still think a disastrous miscalculation was made when the President attempted to overhaul health care policy first. We see no way in which the system he passed, through the meat grinder of Congress, ends up sticking around for long. It will either be ruled unconstitutional or repealed by Congress.

The President wasted nearly two years during which he could have been focused on the economy, foreign policy, or immigration. His health care debacle cost him Congress. Only now, in recent months, has he sidestepped Congress to make some policy progress. Though we worry about the veracity of his pledge, the President has said that there will only be 5,000 United States troops in Iraq by year's end. He has by executive fiat slowed the deportations of illegal immigrants who are not convicted violent criminals. The Clarion Content applauds both of these moves, though we would have liked to have seen them made three years ago.

Further, there are elements of the President's jobs bill that excite the Clarion Content. Loyal readers know, that we are big proponents of infrastructure spending by government. It is government's job to maintain the roads, bridges and railways. The arteries of the State. In the face of historic job losses, this is where Obama should have begun his presidency, with a New Deal II.

Today he is speaking in Ohio at one of the countries busiest bridges. It is in chronic disrepair. Will the President be able to do anything? Did he blow all of his political capital? Can he get re-elected during a period of economic hardship not seen since the Great Depression? And in that way, get new political capital, even though he will then shortly be a lame duck?

Republicans in Congress demonstrated yesterday just how recalcitrant they intend to be when they banded together with some peeved Dems, who were coddling the auto industry, and torpedoed a bill that would have provided emergency funding to FEMA to deal with Hurricane Irene, the Virginia earthquake and the Texas wildfires. Even disaster victims are not immune from Republican austerity prescriptions. Will the President be able to make anything happen in this climate? Or will the Obama hope fires flameout like a damp squib.

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City Council candidate, Solomon Burnette 

from a Durham Tech file photo, Candidate Solomon Burnette

If all politics is local, one has to like Solomon Burnette’s chances of winning a seat on the Durham City Council. No fewer than five pedestrians, one assumes residents of the local community, stopped to say hello to Mr. Burnette, as he and your Clarion Content correspondent had a conversation over lunch outside the Broad Street Café.

He knows people generally and he knows his neighbors individually. It is this curious mix of the local and the global, the small and big picture that attracted the Clarion Content to Mr. Burnette in the first place. We have to admit that, despite our deep abiding love for Durham, the Clarion Content has hardly been up to speed on the race for City Council. It was a chance meeting with Burnette outside another Broad Street institution, the Palace International, that led to this interview and this article.

Mr. Burnette sat down with our correspondent for just over an hour two weeks ago.


The Clarion Content does not buy into the idea we have heard bandied around town lately, that there is a distinction between an old and a new Durham, a way it was and a way it is. Our thought is, that’s facetious! Where we are as a community is a continuation of where we were. It is only possible because of those unique circumstances that make Durham uniquely what it is: from institutions to architecture to individuals, this Durham is built on the Durham that was.

Mr. Burnette gives truth to this proposition, this narrative, in his own personal story. He grew up in Durham’s Walltown neighborhood. He admittedly got into trouble. He might as he put it, “Blow the classwork out of the water,” but attendance problems meant he failed his freshman year, more than once. Before he went to prison, for felonies he says he neither committed nor snitched about, he had an eighth grade education. Yet his promise was evident even then.

His own words tell it best and give life to the truth that Durham is a continuity, an unfolding tapestry. There is no break from the past only further weaving of new story as it is created.

Solomon Burnette says, “I am a Durham son.”

And then, he tells a fabulous story from his high school years. When he was fifteen, and his homies [his word] from the neighborhood were not exactly about doing homework, he, the boy who did well on tests, but would eventually fail for poor attendance, went to Washington, D.C. He appeared on a Discovery Channel program, to present a Dancing Lasers project he had done under the auspices of the Museum of Life and Science. He got to hang out with then Secretary of Education in the Clinton Administration, Richard Riley. He got an award and came back to Durham with recognition…

“Bill Bell was on the County Commissioners, back then, Joe Bowser was on the County Commissioners back then, Helen Rechow…all the people who are like big names now, they were just regular County Commissioners then…and they wrote this resolution vowing to support me in all of my endeavors.”

It is a story, not without irony, rich with detail, loaded with nuance. There is a valuable Durham institution, the Museum of Life and Science. There are numerous Durham power brokers, involved in politics fifteen long years ago. It is a story told by a young man, not far removed from being a student who failed his freshman year of high school three times. But he didn’t falter, waiver or give up. And Durham’s institutions and individuals didn’t fail him. His promise didn’t disappear.

Mr. Burnette went on to tell the Clarion Content the account of Malcolm Golf, an art teacher at E.K. Powe Elementary who, after Mr. Burnette was released to the world with an eighth grade education and had found a job laying carpet, told him that he could go back to school. Mr. Burnette had thought his felonies automatically disqualified him.

Durham’s institutions did not fail Mr. Burnette either. What started as a conversation with Mr. Golf led to Durham Tech and Mr. Burnette’s one of his most influential instructors, whom he proudly credits, Lucy Sayer. He weaves a story that leads past Dorothy Brokaw’s desk, through Phail Wynn’s office, and into a chair opposite one Tracy Mancini. From there, as you can read in this Durham Tech profile of Mr. Burnette, it was onward, full speed ahead. It was a Durham centric path that would take him on to the institutions of North Carolina Central University and Duke University, where he learned Creole, Spanish and Arabic.

Now Mr. Burnette wants to continue the story. He is running for City Council, inspired and encouraged by his mother, herself a former City Councilwoman. What is his platform? He has an extensive gang amelioration program. He supports diverting regional light rail funds towards subsidizing fare free city buses. He has plans to improve the Durham Department of Parks and Recreation. He opposes the application of Proposition 287g, an important issue for the Clarion Content.

Is he the answer? Is he a dreamer? What is the question? Surely we cannot easily shunt aside a man who seeks to represent Durham and comes with this story.

He is a Durham citizen who has traversed this path.

He is a man who did not pass 9th grade and now presents papers to conferences in far flung places.

He is man who still fronts his own hip-hop act, City of Medicine Music and says “Politics is a particular application of a skill which allows me to engage people…”

He is an avowed man of faith and he says with conviction, “I believe the light will beat the dark in the end.”

The Clarion Content is not sure if he deserves your vote, but we are certain he merits closer examination.

Solomon Burnette is a man worth getting to know better.

The Durham City Council primary takes place October 11th.

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Duck and Cover 09.22.11 

Our thanks to "Duck & Cover" and creator Storey Clayton.

Check out his other projects, here, at the Blue Pyramid.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Duck and Cover 09.21.11 

Our thanks to "Duck & Cover" and creator Storey Clayton.

Check out his other projects, here, at the Blue Pyramid.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Duck and Cover 09.20.11 

Our thanks to "Duck & Cover" and creator Storey Clayton.

Check out his other projects, here, at the Blue Pyramid.

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Duck and Cover 09.19.11 

Our thanks to "Duck & Cover" and creator Storey Clayton.

Check out his other projects, here, at the Blue Pyramid.

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Centerfest Rethink 

Durham's Five Points

The Clarion Content's brilliant new Culture columnist, Cady Childs, has the first of a two part series rethinking Durham's Centerfest. As likely most of you know, dear readers, Centerfest, a thirty-seven year-old Durham tradition, is taking a hiatus this year. What was sad news for many Durhamanians at first, may end up being a wonderful opportunity as the beloved, one-time street festival reconciles itself to Durham's vibrant, exploding, downtown cultural scene. Durham loved Centerfest when nobody outside Durham loved Durham. Now Durham pride and patriotism are everywhere: our food, our music, our art are undergoing renaissance of proportions not seen for generations1, it is time to bring Centerfest into this era.

Cady Childs channels her personal experiences at the height of Centerfest's popularity to envision what it might become again.


Imagine being ten-years-old, in the passenger’s seat of your Dad’s truck, the whole booth packed back tight and cozy behind you, dusk-tinged sky in front. A cream soda bottle clutched in your fist drips chilly beads of condensation over your hands and thighs, leaving streaks from where it cuts through the street grime clinging to your palms, fingers, legs, and arms. You’re singing in harmony with Whiskeytown’s ‘Avenues’, and the then bare, dirty, and empty Morgan Street streams outside your window. You’re clutching a tile you made all by yourself out of tiny little mosaic squares, mapping out a gray sword with an off-white border, a present for your older brother’s upcoming birthday. Proudly, you hold it up to your father, his show hat secure to his head with a leather cord, big nineties shades and a t-shirt line peeking out from under his sleeve. It is 1998, Centerfest is at its peak, and your mind is a sponge sucking up everything around you.

I remember wandering up and down the blocked off grid of Main, Corcoran, Chapel Hill, and Morgan streets, the potters, painters, leathermakers, quilters, photographers, jewelers, and sculptures sitting under their white canopy tents, most with portable fans clipped to the back pole to cool them off. These blocks, instead of yielding to the traffic headed for the Durham Freeway, were packed with people, their brightly toned shirts and hats making a hodge-podge, a spotted flag out of downtown. I would stop and stare with child-like wonder at everything I saw, and while the craftsmanship was impressive, it is the people I remember the most. Many of these artists, my father included, knew each other from other shows. They were a community. They had shared booths next to each other at the Eno, been a few spots away at Virginia Beach. They had watched each other’s children grow older, had mutually observed one another’s art develop.

The familial and the familiar was always more apparent at certain shows than others, Centerfest felt to me, a kid who grew up around it, more like a reunion than anything else. I spent the afternoons quietly walking around the Durham Arts Council, sneaking into a dance studio I knew on the top floor from summer camp. It was always unlocked and empty, a great place to play. I’d roam the hallways, peaking in at artists quietly at work, teenage actors sitting on the back steps flirting with each other before their afternoon performances. I would stare at prints and paintings on the walls. Enjoying how hushed and quiet it felt in the corridors, almost, hallowed and holy, almost church like, the thick wall of crowd noise and humidity that hit me as I walked out the door always felt dramatic, vibrant, alive with community and art: more talent, more voices, more mediums, more life than most children’s heads have an opportunity to witness or experience throughout the entirety of their elementary educations.

Recently, Centerfest has been such a hot topic for papers, news stories, blogs, conversations over lunch, etc., it’s hard to be left out of the loop or miss the buzz surrounding the Durham Art Council’s recent decision. After several years of declining attendance, squeezed budgets and funding, the conclusion was to “rest the festival for 2011 in order to launch a one year visioning/production process for the 2012 expanded arts and entertainment festival format.” This new format, according to Sherry DeVries, executive director of the DAC, will include additions such as a food festival, and perhaps synchronization with other Durham events and entertainments such as Full Frame and African-American Dance Ensembles, taking note from successful festival models such as Bele Chere, Asheville’s yearly booze, food, music, and art weekend celebration.

I am personally struggling to see how Centerfest (not parking lot Centerfest---old, Five-Points Centerfest) did not already serve as the festival of converged Durham cultures, tastes, sounds, and smells it seems DeVries is hoping to create (and find the funds for). Budget cuts are something we can understand, now more than ever, and certainly no one is pointing a finger of blame at the first person to suggest attempting to attract art lovers into a barren parking lot on a sunny, unseasonably hot, autumn day. The loss of what Centerfest used to be is apparent, almost self-evident and the why it happened is not one answered with one name or one group. It is a question of place.

Breaking the festival away from the Arts Council building that has served as its beacon, its central hub, was likely rooted in the financial reality rather than in the ideal world. A parking lot cannot stimulate the character of city streets. This loss of character and eroding of the community vibe has been clearly visible in the steady drop in attendance since the festival’s move. But now, with a commitment to making it better than ever being heard and felt across so many Durham demographics, the step to take Centerfest back to it’s original form and location seems more possible and achievable than ever.

Local businesses, restaurants and foot traffic are ever more prevalent inside the Loop. Downtown Durham is thriving! Imagine what could be created with all the amazing new establishments as a part of the process. Imagine the representative canvas it would paint, local artists, musicians, performers, and small business owners working together each year on a celebration of our cultures, our ideas, our community and its people. Durham.

Considering the exposure the Arts Council and everything surrounding it would receive in those two days, it’s hard to think that there aren’t enough people to create the necessary coalition and financing for the festival to be heralded home to it’s literally, street form. And personally, I can’t think of a better form to base this re-envisioning process on than the Centerfest of the past.


1Just ask the New York Times. Or check out this month's Durham Magazine. (Of course, if you only read The Independent, you'd never know...)

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Friday, September 16, 2011

The Early Morning 

Does anything bad ever happen in the early morning?

Birds crowd on droopy telephone wires and sing towards your window replacing the radio from your alarm clock. Go ahead, yell. The birds are too happy to stop squawking. That black cable is their water cooler.

Drug dealers enter the paint-peeled squares as the worms burrow into the mud.

Bed monsters rub that weird shit out of their eyes, and sleeping beauties snore until their wives kiss them on the cheek.

Some wake up on the right side of the bed. Others, lie there and will continue to do so, until found days later.

Some wake up with wings, because last night after the party, they flipped from their backs, crawled over the tile floor, inched up to their blanket cocoons, and waited to become better. Much like it makes what was cold into warm, morning makes disgrace into opportunity.

The magical elves hide in the bushes, only leaving their morning dew as evidence of their presence. The stars take five to refuel their tanks, and end their opening act. Sunrise is soon. Turn off all cellphones so as not to disturb the audience.

It’s time for the eagers to feel the wooden floor with their toes and catch the cold water from the shower head. A shaving razor clinks against the side of a sink to lose the whiskers and cream. Cast off high heel shoes, cover the shag carpet, as a woman hops on one leg to slip on another likely rejection.

House doors are closed by night-shift workers and opened by diploma recipients. Joggers break their mothers’ backs and mommies reach into microwaves for the warm bottles. Two hands carry a bike out of a backyard and a car cranks from slumber.

Tires massage the highway’s back and vehicles honk good morning to one another. Middle fingers are shoved out of windows while peace signs are shown right back.

No, nothing bad happens in the morning.

Because too much is already going on.

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Searching for Ringside, Chapter III 

Picture credit to the kickass folks at Carpe Durham

The Clarion Content is delighted to invite you to come along on a magical ride as Pop Culture columnist, Cady Childs, once again takes us "Searching for Ringside." This fictional look at life in Durham explores the common trials, travails and misadventures so many Durhamanians face. The metamythical characters, Andrew, Vita, John, and Megan, and their sordid but bemusing stories will resonate with those of you who carouse in Durham. Cady knows our collective experience, she shines a light on it and relates it back to us with a laugh and a smile.

Check out earlier chapters here [you will have to scroll down]


Chapter III, "This was gonna be the big one, folks."

Andrew sat in his living room, surrounded by unread newspapers strewn about in angst, watching a woman with bumpy skin and a brunette bob pointing and gesturing to clouds, maps, and water on a screen behind her. A tone of destruction in her voice made the whole broadcast seem like it was meant to be foreboding, but it read like a mock local news station skit, her arm fat jiggling as her hands waved, traveling the scope of the east coast and up into Canada.

He’d heard it all before. Every year, around mid-September, the meteorologists threatened their southern city with the hurricane of the century, keeping them in check, aware of their respective places in the universe, and giving everyone a reason to scramble around in a frenzy, preparing themselves to be bunkered in and hunkered down. But if you were faced with a natural disaster, would you really be huffed up on getting the last loaf of bread at the store, or would you be searching for something else to get you through the tides?

Andrew did not believe in disaster shopping for milk and bread with the rest of the throngs, but he was fully stocked on Lucky’s, Jim Beam, Vienna sausages, and had an entire pound bag of ground coffee from the shop up the street. He’d even broken down and bought his own French press. Just in case. He didn’t want to be without his familiar companions, even in the eye of the storm.

Vita was in her bedroom, sprawled out on the bed and blasting Florence and the Machine. She hated storms, and since she was a kid she always felt safest in bed, attempting to ignore the wind whipped branches tapping hello at her window, the lightning flashing brighter than sunshine to hung over eyes was somehow easier there. She was playing ‘Hurricane Love’ over and over, ironic as it was, but she had been doing this off and on before the storm hit, so there was no sense in stopping now. She thumbed through Lookbooks on her phone and drew multiple pictures of the same dress over and over in varying sizes on a page in her little lilac book. She awaited the end of the turmoil, one wary eye on the looming blob of red that was traveling slowly, showboating across the center of the state on the live Doppler radar broadcast.

John was laying on the couch with the chick in the Alexander Wang dress. Two days later, and she hadn’t done anything to annoy him yet, or said something that sounded ditzy. He kissed her temples, working his way down to her mouth. She was still emanating scents of cinnamon and peppermint, even after rolling around all night in his bed, which he knew reeked of cedar from the woodchips he put underneath his mattress (it ensured a boyish, woodsy scent that made girls feel safe, at ease). They were laying in front of three glass windows that ran from ceiling to floor in the front of his apartment, playing chicken to see who would get scared of the Tempest worthy display first.

She wasn’t real. Girls like this didn’t move to this town and smell like this after having sex all night, or laugh at hurricanes. And they didn’t know enough about grammar or Cummings to call him out on the extra comma he had put in that quote on his wall.

“That’s supposed to be a hyphen there, you know,” she was swaying, drunk after the bar, and he was noticing how much he liked the way her lips were shaped when she smiled, than noticing it was really strange that he noticed something like that about her.

“Yeah, well,” he murmured this phrase in an attempt to make her lean closer to him, and as she started to laugh, he grabbed her hips and decided some contact might be the best way to see why it was he kept staring at her mouth so hard. She didn’t object.

Megan loved watching the rain. She sat on her screened-in porch (it was the reason she paid so much in rent, so she may as well enjoy it), drinking red wine and feeling the strong wind blow drops of chilly precipitation on her cheeks, making pinprick tingles when they landed on her skin, which was flushed from the alcohol. There was something about the power of the weather that made her feel content. It had a way of settling things around it, whether they wanted to be settled or not. You didn’t have much of a choice in a hurricane- you just had to sit still and wait it out. She’d always thought she’d be great at storm chasing, but that might just be from seeing Helen Hunt being so badass in Twister at a young age. Still, there’s something to be said for someone that not only doesn’t mind a threat, but who seeks it out, so they can feel life a little more. She heard warning alarms going off at the school down the street, and reveled in her little rocking chair in the middle of it all, stretching like a cat in a pool of sunshine.

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Duck and Cover 09.16.11 

Our thanks to "Duck & Cover" and creator Storey Clayton.

Check out his other projects, here, at the Blue Pyramid.

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Gaming the system 

So how does one get a tax break in Jersey?

If you are one of those who think that America's tax system is designed to be gamed by the large at the expense of the small, here is one more example. This one is from the State of New Jersey, where over the objections of the slovenly Governor, Chris Christie, the production company that makes the Jersey Shore was awarded a $420,000 tax credit.

Ya know for doing their part to stimulate the economy and all.

It is not like Christie is a teaching firing disaster who is part of process that redirects monies from students and schools to Snooki and the Situation.

Read more here.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

New Posts in the Sections 

New Posts in the Clarion Content sections

Politics and Policy section---click here

Gaming the system...
If you are one of those who think that America's tax system is designed to be gamed by the large at the expense of the small, here is one more example...

Good Samaritans ...
For those of you losing faith in America and/or your neighbors...

Jon Huntsman...why him?
Seen an interesting question posed in more than one place lately. Why is Jon Huntsman getting so much coverage for a candidate who receiving only one percent in the polls? It does not appear to mimic what has happened in the past for one percent, so-called fringe candidates...

Funny political joke...
From one of our Allentown, Pennsylvania readers...

Sports section---click here

Our annual...NFL preview
The Clarion Content is a dangerous source for predictions...

The NFL...has good guys too
The Clarion Content and many other media outlets are found of dragging the NFL and other sports leagues through the mud when one of their players does something ethically questionable. In the effort toward some kind of proportion...

Can the Rays...catch the Red Sox
We must beware the powerful Clarion Content jinx. We are noted for our ability to make the diametric opposite of what we predict come true. Thus it is always dangerous for the sports editor to predict things we wish will happen...

Pop Culture section---click here

Durham freestylers...
From a session filmed on Clarendon Street...

Funny ha-ha...photo
as first seen on Twitter...

Bittersweet...but funny video
We saw this one on the Bill Simmons vehicle, Grantland, and had to repost it here on the Clarion Content...

Durham...is dank
Any fair-minded Durhamanian has to say that is, in part, because Duke is dank...

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Durham freestylers 

A freestyle session filmed on Clarendon Street, Durham, 27705.

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Duck and Cover 09.15.11 

Our thanks to "Duck & Cover" and creator Storey Clayton.

Check out his other projects, here, at the Blue Pyramid.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Funny ha-ha 

Saw this funny photo on the Twitter feed of one Courtney Roskop.


Duck and Cover 09.14.11 

Our thanks to "Duck & Cover" and creator Storey Clayton.

Check out his other projects, here, at the Blue Pyramid.

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Good Samaritans 

For those of you losing faith in America and/or your neighbors...a group of Utah heroes, who had no intention of saving a man's life when the day started. When the moment of crisis arrived, they stood up and were counted.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Duck and Cover 09.13.11 

Our thanks to "Duck & Cover" and creator Storey Clayton.

Check out his other projects, here, at the Blue Pyramid.

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Duck and Cover 09.12.11 

Our thanks to "Duck & Cover" and creator Storey Clayton.

Check out his other projects, here, at the Blue Pyramid.

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

NFL Preview thoughts 

The Clarion Content is a dangerous source for predictions. We would almost recommend betting in directly opposition with our thoughts, save for this is what we are indeed thinking. This year we have had time for even less research than we have done in some years past, some sports talk radio, a podcast here or there, Grantland is about the sum total of it. Henceforth, we will only have a sentence or two about most teams, and for some even less.

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys
We agree with former Super Bowl winning Cowboys QB Troy Aikman that it is put up or shut up time for this core group of players. Gut instinct feel, this team collapses, they break it up and start over with a high draft pick. Last year's start was indicative, not a fluke.

New York Football Giants
We keep hearing how banged up they are on the defensive side of the ball. Eli Manning threw a ton of interceptions last year. This feels like a down year for the G-Men.

Philadelphia Eagles
They have assembled a defense of stars this year. But the offense looks vulnerable, lucky for them the NFC East looks very mediocre this year. Michael Vick has always been fragile. The Eagles wideouts are small and injury prone. Andy Reid is a horrible game manager and an even worse play caller. The Eagles consistent failure to develop a running game will see them come up short of the ultimate prize. (This must all sound so familiar to Donovan.)

Washington Redskins
Well, they got rid of Albert Haynesworth. But aren't they going with Rex Grossman at quarterback? We have never believed in Mike Shannahan.

NFC North

Green Bay Packers
The Super Bowl champs look great. We like Bill Simmons theory that the NFL lockout actually helped ameliorate the typical Super Bowl hangover. The Packers weren't feted the way most champs are. Did it help keep them hungry?

Detroit Lions
Apparently, it was Matt Millen, not ownership after all. The Lions are poised for a breakout season. Ndamukong Suh looks like he could be the defensive MVP. The only question mark is quarterback Matt Stafford.

Chicago Bears
We do not believe in Jay Cutler, we never have. They still have no number one wideout. We like Coach Lovie Smith. Is the defense aging? .500 at best...

Minnesota Vikings
It is just not going to be a happy career for Donovan McNabb... Maybe, maybe if Adrian Peterson stays healthy all year, their season will be less than disastrous.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons
They are a chic Super Bowl pick. We like, not love, Matt Ryan. We think Julio Jones will eventually be an asset, but the lockout didn't help him. And what about their cornerbacks? Up to the task? This team takes a step back.

Carolina Panthers
The biggest question facing the Panthers this season is what position Cam Newton will play after the Panthers draft Andrew Luck. Tight-end? The Panthers resigned the stars of their 2-14 team. They still have no #2 wide receiver. We think Duke Blue Devil football wins more games than the Panthers this season. 0-6 in the division seems certain.

New Orleans Saints
Darren Sproles is the perfect Reggie Bush replacement and might even be an upgrade. Drew Brees is a wizard. We will take brains over brawn every day.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Nobody believes in Tampa quarterback Josh Freeman more than Bill Simmons, not his mom, not his coach... There must be a reason. We haven't seen enough to make up our minds on young Mr. Freeman. The Bucs appear to be the classic case of a team that suddenly faces a harder schedule and backs up. They are in a tough division.

NFC Worst

Arizona Cardinals
Kevin Kolb reminds us of the illustrious Scott Mitchell. Did they get worse defensively? This division is so bad that anything is possible.

San Francisco 49ers
If not for Alex Smith we would pick them to run away with this division. Why are they still sticking with Alex Smith? Andy Dalton would lead this team to a division title. Graham Harrell could probably be plucked from the Packers practice squad and lead this team to a division title. (We are assuming 7 and 9 will be enough again to win the West again.)

Seattle Seahawks
When did they give up on Charlie Whitehurst? Tavaris Jackson couldn't hack it in Minnesota with Adrian Peterson and a good o-line. What is he going to do here?

St. Louis Rams
We are not sold on Sam Bradford. Stephen Jackson is a useful asset. Do they have enough other offensive weapons? Says here no.

Division winners: Philadelphia, Green Bay, New Orleans, other
Wild Cards: Tampa Bay and Detroit

Conference Champ: New Orleans

Drew Brees is a winner on and off the field

AFC East

Buffalo Bills
We like quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. They need to find ways to utilize C.J. Spiller. Receiver Steve Johnson has skills too. The Bills are improving in a tough division.

Miami Dolphins
Bad ownership is destabilizing the franchise by undermining the head coach. We don't think Chad Henne is the problem, he might even be okay eventually, but not in this trainwreck of a situation. Brandon Marshall needs the departed Ricky Williams to tutor him in the way of karma.

New England Patriots
Why is everyone so enamoured with Belichek and company signing a bunch of aging defenders? Because the Junior Seau addition worked out so well? If these were the Al Davis led Raiders they would be getting killed for the same additions. Lucky for the New England defense, Tom Brady is on the other side of the ball.

New York Jets
Mark Sanchez is not getting any better. He looks great on a poster, less so on the field. Can the Ryan and the Jets defense carry them to the playoffs again?

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens
The last hurrah or the beginning of the other shoe dropping? We like the offense. This is the year the Anquan Boldin signing pays off. Ray Rice is dominant. Ricky Williams is a good change-up The o-line is pretty solid. Joe Flacco is a winner. Can the defense do its part? Is the window still open? Just maybe.

Cincinnati Bengals
We like quarterback Andy Dalton. And the Bengals won't be as bad as people think, oh they'll be bad all right, just not as bad as people think. Andy Dalton wants no part of the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. (Although, maybe he should, as it would hasten his departure from the black hole that is Bengal land.)

Cleveland Browns
This is a team headed in the right direction. We like what Colt McCoy showed last year. They have some weapons on offense. But, the top of the division is amongst the NFL's elite. So .500 appears to be a best case scenario.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Everyone is talking about the Ravens aging defense, but the Steelers are actually older. In fact, we heard they are going to start the oldest defense of this millennium. James Harrison had two off-season surgeries. Predator Ben Roethlisberger and the offense will likely drag them into the playoffs, and if they do, anything can happen.

AFC South

Houston Texans
It doesn't seem like even Gary Kubiak could screw this up. No Payton Manning? Could he and the Texans get a bigger gift? If they don't win the title this year, he gets fired and they break the thing up.

Indianapolis Colts
The Colts season changed when Payton Manning got injured. Kerry Collins is a joke. The rest of the roster is less than talented. Even stud defensive ends Mathis and Freeney are less valuable on a team that does not have the lead all the time. We are, however, the last sports page in America to believe in Curtis Painter. In Purdue's Joe Tiller we trust, it says here if Painter gets the keys in time, he leads a late charge for a Wild Card berth that comes up just short.

Jacksonville Jaguars
Well, until they shocked us by cutting David Garrard last week, we were predicting the Jags would win the division. We like head coach Jack Del Rio. He has moxie. Maurice Jones-Drew has enough heart for three men. But what other talent is on the roster? On a team now led by a journeyman quarterback? No playoffs for them.

Tennessee Titans
We cannot believe the Titans were dumb enough not to be able to retain either Vince Young or Jeff Fisher. In this mess of a division, keeping just one of them might have been enough to get the team to the playoffs this season. Then again, maybe it is a better to bottom out and get into the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. The Titans figure to be about that bad.

AFC West

Denver Broncos
May as well play Tim Tebow, it is not like they have anything else going for them. Maybe Tebow inspires divine intervention on their behalf?? Mile High fans haven't seen back to back teams this bad since the early 70's.

Kansas City Chiefs
This is the year when Matt Cassell shows us why Tyler Thigpen and Matt Leinart have played ahead of him. K.C. got an easy schedule and lots of breaks last year. This team is backing up. We think Jamaal Charles is powerful running back, but they do not have enough weapons around him.

Oakland Raiders
We like Jason Campbell. We have believed in his leadership since his Auburn days. We love the way he throws the ball. The Raiders went 6 and 0 in the division last year. Why did they have to fire Coach Tom Cable and subvert it all? Answer: Al Davis.

San Diego Chargers
Phillip Rivers is a winner. Absent Norv Turnerm, we would be picking this team to the Super Bowl. They have a gaudy array of offensive weapons and a lousy division to beat up on. How will they find a way to lose in the playoffs this year? No idea, but we can't wait to find out.

Division winners: New England, Baltimore, Houston, San Diego
Wild Cards: New York Jets and Pittsburgh

Conference Champ: Baltimore Ravens

Ray Rice is a dominant force, with a defense that has one last hurrah left.

The Super Bowl winner?

Says here the New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees make it 2 out of 3, beating the Ravens of Baltimore in Ray Lewis's final game.

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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Our Noisy times 

Regular Clarion Content feature contributor Cliff Phillips returns with another insightful piece about pace, society, and environmental change. Once again he examines our shared modern world and ways. His astute observations take what had heretofore been subterranean and casually ignored, and ask us to acknowledge and confront it in our cultural selves. We would say, "Amen, brother, shout it from the mountaintops!" but it would probably be drowned out by the din.


What is the difference between a broom and a vacuum? Between a scythe and a mower? Between a horse and a car? Between a rake and a leaf blower? The newer tools save labor, of course, but it’s also important to recognize that the older tools belong to a quieter time.

Stop to picture doing things the old way and you will notice a critical break industrial man has made with our past. The bad old days of manual chores seem impossibly difficult to us now, but it has been easy to forget that they were blissfully quiet compared to the sonic environment we endure today. And the ongoing technological proliferation of gadgetry, machines and toys comes at the direct cost of escalating noise levels.

While studies document the damage of noise pollution to hearing, cognitive function, mental health and cardiovascular health (and not just for humans), there is no measure of the collective social damage caused by the stress, anxiety, and even pathological behavior unleashed by the escalating racket. And the roar is steadily increasing, even periodically doubling in many environments (like near growing airports), with no indication of how it might level off. The din is not merely diminishing our quality of life. Worse, civilization is sick with noise.

Noise pollution is defined as any environmental noise which is annoying, distracting or physically harmful. “Annoying” and “distracting” may seem to stretch the definition, until you try to listen to one of two or more competing sounds. It’s not just difficult, it can be irritating, and those unwanted sounds are a problem. Consider an office worker, standing beside a running copy machine in a busy office, straining to make out what their boss is saying to them from across the room. They may well feel a surge of annoyance, not all of it caused by their boss.

At 60-80 decibels, the competing sounds of conversation and office machines are beneath the 90-95 decibel range at which prolonged exposure can result in hearing loss. The typical modern environment is pretty cluttered with 60-80 decibel sound, whether from humans or from their electronic surrogates. But the brain can’t easily distinguish between multiple sound sources, making the quantity of noise just as problematic as its volume. The office worker can’t distinguish her boss’ words from the meaningless sounds, and events quickly outpace her senses. The tiny primal thrill of hypertension (“annoyance”) she feels is harmless in itself, but a busy day in the office can become thrilling in a bad way. When we talk about having “stress” and “distractions,” we are often referring to noise.

Our standard for what we deem unreasonable noise is bound up in notions of what a reasonable person would tolerate in their sonic environment. But when we try to imagine this “reasonable person” in our noisy contemporary world, it is often the exceptionally tolerant person we picture. Given how prolific noise sources are, we need to seek a standard of quiet rather than a standard of noise tolerance. There truly is a level at which noise is not only too loud, but too much, and just not healthy for individuals or society.

But can we remember the quiet well enough to make the judgment? What would the “reasonable person” of 1900 or 1800 have thought was unreasonable noise? How would they respond to an environment where streams of jet planes rip through the city skies, highways scream past crowded neighborhoods, televisions broadcast from every room in the household, cell phones sing spontaneously from every pocket, and swarms of leaf blowers and lawnmowers drone perpetually through the warm seasons of suburbia? The astonishing fact is that almost every basic task of life has been automated and has a corresponding mechanical or electronic noise. We live with a ruckus unanticipated in the hush of 1900. Unimaginable in the stillness of 1800.

No doubt, our ancestors would be rattled to encounter the sonic environment of 2011. The crescendo would alarm them, but so would the sheer fact that we endure it. No doubt they would wonder, because we seem unaware of the riot in the air. It might seem to them that in all the sustained commotion, human consciousness itself had been blasted into an altered state: that interacting with our environment no longer sharpened or heightened our senses but actually deadened them; that instead of listening we filtered out, instead of paying attention we ignored, instead of experiencing we disengaged; that the restorative beauty of silence, now nearly extinct, caused many only loneliness, anxiety and fear.

Maybe they would be sorry for us. Maybe angry at us. They would think us lonely, for sure, but also sense-addicted and over-stimulated. Was something gained? Would our ancestors see a world of “connectivity” and because of it leisure and freedom? Or would they see a bleak echo chamber where the human spirit is shouted down and gradually forgotten, silenced by the rampant, petty violence of exponential noise?

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Friday, September 09, 2011

Duck and Cover 09.09.11 

Our thanks to "Duck & Cover" and creator Storey Clayton.

Check out his other projects, here, at the Blue Pyramid.

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Thursday, September 08, 2011


We saw this one on the Bill Simmons vehicle, Grantland, and had to repost it here on the Clarion Content. As Grantland contributor Katie Baker put it, "When life gives you lemons, feed them to an unsuspecting baby.

Adults will do that, and proceed to laugh about it.

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Duck and Cover 09.08.11 

Our thanks to "Duck & Cover" and creator Storey Clayton.

Check out his other projects, here, at the Blue Pyramid.

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Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Duck and Cover 09.07.11 

Our thanks to "Duck & Cover" and Storey Clayton.

Check out his other projects at the Blue Pyramid here.

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Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Duck and Cover 09.06.11 

Our thanks to "Duck & Cover" and Storey Clayton.

Check out his other projects at the Blue Pyramid here.

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Monday, September 05, 2011

Duck and Cover 09.05.11 

Our thanks to "Duck & Cover" and Storey Clayton.

Check out his other projects at the Blue Pyramid here.

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Sunday, September 04, 2011

Why him? 

Seen an interesting question posed in more than one place lately. Why is Jon Huntsman getting so much coverage for a candidate who receiving only one percent in the polls? It does not appear to mimic what has happened in the past for one percent, so-called fringe candidates, like Dennis Kuchinich, Ron Paul and Gary Johnson. Why would former New Mexico Governor Hunstman be getting so much publicity?

Hunstman's positions might overall be considered more mainstream than any of those three, or Rick Santorum or Herman Cain. It could be said that Huntsman's poll numbers are marginal, but not his policies. However, the Clarion Content would argue, wouldn't this make him less interesting, less appealing, less newsworthy as it were, not only is he not polling well, but he does not stand-out for unique and different solutions and ideas. (This media darling candidacy this reminds us of is Lamar Alexander.)

The Clarion Content has actually most frequently heard Jon Huntsman's name out of Democratic or Obama administration associated types. They have been out far and wide proclaiming that Huntsman is the candidate they least want to face. To us here, it sounds like the proverbial Briar Patch. President Obama and his men aren't the least bit scared of the tall, photogenic, Huntsman. Having nominated him to be Obama's ambassador to China, they must know the chinks in his armor, as it were. They are actually hoping that he somehow gains the nomination.

Is it their promotion of Huntsman that is getting him on the telly? This week he was on CNBC’s "The Kudlow Report," on Friday, and on Thursday, he was on Fox News’ "On The Record with Greta Van Susteren," before that on Wednesday, he was CNN’s "John King, USA." He capped it this weekend with Bob Schieffer on the prestigious, "Face the Nation," where he shared the screen with the leading insurgent candidate, Michelle Bachmann.

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Friday, September 02, 2011

A text from last night 

The Clarion Content is an avid follower of the bemusing and outlandish smut that is published over at Texts from Last Night...

The best one we have seen in a while appeared yesterday, from the 678 area code.

I'm sorry. But when a stripper driving a Bentley tells me I have potential..... I gotta at least listen to her proposal. God did not mean for me to waste these tits on law school.


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Sweet Tweets 

Here are a couple of the funny tweets we saw yesterday on Twitter.

From Nikon is Love...the internal query, "Into me or into getting into me? #singlegirlproblems"

From Canadian Andrew Classon a youthful political perspective, “California aint a state its a army” [sic]

For those who don't speak the Twitter jargon a # is a hashtag, which indicates a subject or topic of the tweet.

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Duck and Cover 09.02.11 

Thanks to Storey Clayton, and "Duck & Cover" for a great August!

Check out his other projects at the Blue Pyramid here.

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NFL has good guys too 

The Clarion Content and many other media outlets are found of dragging the NFL and other sports leagues through the mud when one of their players does something ethically questionable. In the effort toward some kind of proportion, we want to highlight when we see something extraordinarily good, too. Regular readers of the Clarion Content's politics site, will know that our editors are suckers for a good hero story.

In this case, Baltimore Ravens rookie wideout, Tandon Doss, gave us an opportunity to both credit an NFL good deed and tell you a hero story. Indiana University alum, Doss said it wasn't his intention, he was merely thinking about a pregame meal when he strolled into 5 Guys Burgers and Fries in Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

Doss found a fight in progress. One man with a knife was holding the restaurant manager captive while another beat him. Apparent the knife wielding man had been fired in the days previous. Doss, who humbly downplayed his role, was quoted in the Baltimore-Sun, "I saw the guy on the ground bleeding, and I saw a guy on top hitting him. So I stopped it."

The manager suffered a cut on the chin. Doss said, "I mean, it was two dudes on one. I was trying to help the situation out. I broke it up."

Read more here.


Political Joke 

From one of our Allentown, Pennsylvania readers...

A plane with four passengers on board is about to crash, but it has only three parachutes. The first passenger says "I'm Kobe Bryant, the best NBA

basketball player. The Lakers need me. I can't afford to die." So he

takes the first parachute and leaves the plane. (Nice high sense of his self-worth.)

The second passenger, Sarah Palin, says "I was the running mate of the

former Republican Party candidate for President of the United States. I am the most ambitious woman in the world. I am also a former Alaska Governor, a potential future President, and above all, the smartest woman in America." She grabs the second parachute and jumps out of the plane.

The third passenger, the Reverend Billy Graham, says to the fourth

passenger, who is a 10 year-old school boy, "I am old and I don't have many years left. As a Christian, I will sacrifice myself. You can have the last parachute, young man."

The boy says, "It's okay. There is still a parachute left for you, sir. America's smartest woman took my school backpack."

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Thursday, September 01, 2011

It is a tough job... 

but somebody has got to do it.

First of all, you have to spend all day around Hooters girls...

Terrance Marks was named the CEO of Hooters last week. Mr. Marks had previously served as the chief executive of The Pantry Inc., a convenience store chain which has more than 1,650 units in thirteen states. Before The Pantry, he had done twenty-one years at Coca-Cola.

Marks was quoted in the Nation's Restaurant News, "I am thrilled to be returning to Atlanta and am very excited to be joining the Hooters team. The opportunity to contribute to the growth of a great brand like Hooters is extremely energizing to me. In just a little over two decades Hooters has become known around the world for great American food, a fun environment, and, of course, the iconic Hooters Girls."

Yeah, it is a tough job...

Read more here.

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Duck and Cover 09.01.11 

Thanks to Storey Clayton, and "Duck & Cover" for a great August!

Check out his other projects at the Blue Pyramid here.

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Searching for Ringside, Chapter II 

Picture credit to the kickass folks at Carpe Durham

The Clarion Content is delighted to invite you to come along on a magical ride as Pop Culture columnist, Cady Childs, once again takes us "Searching for Ringside." This fictional look at life in Durham traipses through familiar haunts. Cady explores the trials, travails and misadventures so many Durhamanians face. The metamythical characters, Andrew, Vita, John, and Megan, and their sordid but bemusing stories will resonate with those of you who carouse in Durham. Cady knows our collective experience, she shines a light on it and relates it back to us with a laugh and a smile.

Check out Chapter I, the Introduction, here


Chapter II, "They're baaaa-aack."

Andrew entered his daily coffee stop, looking down at his hands while he walked through the door-he had a bug bite on the web between his pointer finger and thumb, and was attempting to mentally will it to stop itching (he couldn’t scratch it-he was not one to easily give in). Not looking, he clumsily ran into the back of a small, curvy woman standing at the end of a very long line, polluted with university key chains and mother’s carrying those handbags that look like quilts. What was the line doing all the way back here?

The poor local behind the counter, the ends of her hair bright pink like they had been dipped in raspberry Kool-Aid, was being stoned by the crowd with inquiries about what café au lait is, and bombarded full force with demands about what frappucinos she had to offer, her sad little face getting more confused and red by the second. Andrew quietly ducked out the back door, barely stepping out of the way of two girls walking in high wedge sandals, who clearly hadn’t learn how to balance in them yet, sorority pledge ribbons already pinned to their ample chests with baby silver safety pins.

Oh, he’d forgotten. He’d forgotten. He’d forgotten summer was almost over. He’d forgotten about this weekend, like he did every year until it was already upon him. He seriously needed a cigarette.

Move in weekend was hell on earth for a twenty-something-girl with a shitty dye job serving brunch. Megan looked in the soap spotted mirror over the sink in the bathroom at work, willing herself to travel back twenty-four hours and warn past dimension Megan not to listen to the stylist’s idea to tint her hair ‘a few days in the sunshine lighter.’ She winced in the mirror at her Taylor Swift blonde locks, and pale skin. Not a good combination, unless you’re actually Taylor Swift and look like a fairy from Lord of The Rings. She sighed to herself, tightened her apron, and walked out into the dining room like a knight preparing to face the gauntlet.

And face it, she did. Three hours and forty some turns later, Megan stood behind a packed bar, making mimosas for a group of six that showed up with just twenty minutes left till they closed. Three guys sat in front of her, drinking champagne and talking about their lives loudly enough for everyone around them to hear just how amazing, fuckable, and sought-after they were. A blue-eyed, almost porcelain faced type, who looked like he used expensive moisturizer, and kept his legs crossed on his bar stool like a girl perched for a flirt, shouted at a high enough volume for a three-year-old girl playing with Cheerios at the table beside them to turn and coo, her eyes wide in surveillance, “I mean, I just hate that bitch. Any tall chick with a big rack and blonde hair just always looks like she wants to get fucked. Right? Am I right? She’s a joke, man.” His two buddies laughed and nodded, and one looked up to see Megan’s face, responding not only to the thought of someone letting this kid into college, but the visceral scene of the little girl staring at them like they were something on a television screen, ‘True Life: Low Self Esteem & Being A Dick’. She grabbed a paper cup and silently poured the rest of the champagne bottle into it, staring the jerk with the American Girl doll skin right back in the face, daring him to say a word as she walked toward the back of the restaurant, cup in hand.

John had exactly ten minutes to scribble something ironic on his chalkboard wall before his buddy Jack came over to pregame with some girls he had just picked up before they went out. He had frantically starting googling ‘unknown great Gatsby quotes’ while checking his hair in the mirror over his bed (yes, he had a mirror over his bed, and it was an antique with a big crack down the middle. He’d seen it in his sister’s Anthropologie catalogue and had to have it, of course, he would never admit this. He told people it was a family heirloom). He was interrupted by a new text from Jack: ‘Met some new freshies an they wanna get high. Im bringing them with.’ This gave John little to no info to work with in his preparations. Shit! He switched his search to e.e. cummings.

It would have been nice to at least know what the girls looked like, whether they were preppy or urban, if they were wearing heels (girls in heels loved it when he quoted Shakespeare, but if they were wearing little sparkly flats or something Mark Twain was a better stand-by). e.e. Cummings was the best neutral pick- he naturally turned girls on, made them feel special with his broken grammar, seemingly stuttering with awe. “You, Not Not You, Not Possible.” Damn, that was perfect. He heard his buzzer and rung them out, pulling back his curtain to see what to expect. He caught the back of one of the girls before they went in the lobby. Fuck. White cowboy boots and an Alexander Wang dress. Now he didn’t know what to do.

Vita did not, repeat, did not mean to wear a white, strapless sundress out on the week the influx of students returned. She had forgotten this was coming, and wearing the most generic looking piece she owned at such a time of excessive population was not, repeat, not, a good idea. She was a chameleon in the crowd, and two boys in bowties had already asked her what she was studying. She always responded with feminist theory when asked this by such characters, though she was not in school, it was a surefire way to insure they would leave her the hell alone for the rest of the night.

Looking across the room at her group of friends, who all had gotten started a little earlier than her, and who were all looking around at the swarms of people starting to charge the bar with the same expressions of uneasiness on their faces that she was feeling, she decided to call it an early night. Saying her goodbyes, she started to walk home (it was only a few blocks to her little converted one-bedroom), and made a last-minute, one more glass of sauvignon blanc stop at a wine bar a few store fronts away from her place. It was pretty empty, this place was far enough from the immediate campus to avoid being polluted by squealing girls and drooling boys (at least yet, anyway). She unlaced her little lavender notebook and opened it, but only so it looked like she was doing something. Sometimes she got bored pretending she wanted to be in action and surrounded by people all the time. Sometimes she just wanted to sit and listen to the quiet.

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