Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Upon any given ground different people see different uses for the land. It is natural to project one's values and desires on to that which the eyes behold. The moss in these oaks is bending to a gentle breeze off the adjacent salt marsh. This is open public land on to which one may step without a pass or fee. It's just there for the enjoying. It has no theme, structure of declared purpose.

Kids will see climbing opportunities in these trees. Their parents will enjoy the shelter of the shade as they watch them. A young couple might find this the ideal picnic spot while it's perfect for someone to toss a Frisbee to their leaping dog. To campers this is a tempting target for their Airstream and a sweet spot to watch the stars from a sleeping bag.

This looks like a great place for a retired couple to build their dream home. Of course, to others it's just where they want to put many homes and close together. We can already see a meandering road snaking around the trees each lit up at night near cute wooden cut out signs posting a 13 MPH speed limit. That was a novelty 25 years ago when Kiawah and Seabrook Island seemed fresh adventures in convenient island living rather than the expensive subdivisions which they have become.

Of course, this would make a good amusement park or go kart track or a marina since water of a practical depth is less than fifty yards forward of this point. Many greedy hands fairly tremble at the prospect of grabbing this land. This property is, however, held by Charleston County as a public park and recreational area. The County has not always been the best shepherd of public land or the best protector from exploitation of private land, but there is hope that a rising voice to conserve Wadmalaw Island is being heard by County Council. If not, let's give them hearing aids before November.

You really can't improve this spot in any decent or meaningful way. The best plan will be to just leave it alone, to neither add nor subtract anything and allow this to remain a free public place. Nothing is all you need to make this place just right.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Don't lead, don't follow, JUST GET OUT OF THE WAY !

Here's a mockup of a plan which we should have put into practice before our recent collision. It looks like a good idea for the post-restoration period of the Mustang.

Simply put, we'll install a rhino tusk, a sort of metallic dorsal fang, which is to be used to gouge and cut our way through aggressive opposing vehicles. Since it's quite visible from a great distance it should serve as a potent deterrent to willful misconduct in our path. To those drivers who might try to run the light, cut us off with an unsignalled lane change or beat us through the intersection, the warning is clear. We might lose a headlight, but you will lose your entire vehicle. It will be cut into two separate, but equal pieces and towed to different junkyards. The destruction is assured, but it won't be mutual.

To compensate for the visual obstruction of the dorsal fang, we've created something of a flying bridge just aft of the rear windshield. We shall hire a navigator-spotter to help route us safely through traffic and provide the coordinates in case, heaven forbid, we must attack.

We promise not to use it against City of Charleston Police checkpoints, but in other jurisdictions, well it would depend upon the situation. We want to live and let live, we come in peace, but we think that our front tag should be a likeness of the Gadsden Flag: a yellow field with a coiled serpent and the motto, " Don't Tread On Me ." We also pledge to make no preemptive or unprovoked attack except in the case where fuel prices leave us no choice.

Don't lead, don't follow, just get out of the way!

Saturday, May 10, 2008


[ May 10: Confederate Memorial Day ]

This is Hwy 217 in Colleton County, South Carolina, somewhere between Williams and Ruffin, SC. We were rolling up that road and suddenly encountered the Stars and Bars planted firmly on a very straight staff in the limb of good sized pine tree. This wasn't just a lucky toss or some drive by gesture, but a scheduled installation. It probably took someone with a cherry picker working from, say, a utilities truck to get this display in place. It is, as urban lizards would say, in the middle of nowhere. By design it is to be within the sight of all, but within the reach of none. We believe that this gesture is both art and science in a site specific application.

Most people call this THE Confederate Flag, but it's not. It's not even the real Stars and Bars. The Confederate States of America had several national flags, many battle flags, navy jacks and ensigns of different designs. This is the flag of the Army of Tennessee, the Western Army, adopted in very late 1863. It has, unfortunately, become an image upon beach towels, bumper stickers, whisky jiggers, and a host other low purposes. The majority of Americans absorbed this misconception in the same way they have bought into many distortions of history: from the movies.

Only a person kidnapped to Mongolia before 1860 would not be aware of the great conflagration which was the American Civil War or of the matrix of sectional, political conflict which settled upon the land through the present. If, by some miracle of macrobiotic diet replete with ancient Chinese secret herbal potions administered by an Asian Mystic Master of Vegan VooDoo, that person made their way back to American soil, it would take hours not years for them to take a side. Perhaps King Tut was dug up expressly to get his take on this. Everyone gets a turn at the microphone.

In the 140 odd years since Lee's surrender we have still not fully resolved the differences which the divergent parties seem unwilling to release. These mutually vexing factions insist upon gathering under this, the alleged flag of the Confederacy, to continue their fretting and fussing. The man or woman who installed this flag upon the straight staff in the pine tree has given those combatants plenty of room to mix it up below. All parties can see it, but none can reach it. It's a kind of reverse mistletoe.

Thursday, May 08, 2008


We hit the road on this first day of 2008 to finally have a look at the what's left of Lake Moultrie following a very long drought. Taking Steed Creek Road put us on Hwy 402 through Huger then to Hwy 52 across the Tail Race Canal. While the canal was clearly low, it was free flowing and unremarkable.

We cut through Moncks Corner to Hwy 6 then eased over to Lyons Beach, an interesting stretch of lake front property which has not yet fallen to development. It's a combination of fish camp, boat landing, recreational facility with an array of small funky lake homes. The place was completely deserted. When we pulled to the boat landing, what had been a great expanse of water now looked more like a Martian Landscape. If not that, it would certainly do nicely for ground zero of a nuclear attack. The complete absence of people, pets and vehicles gave the place a haunted quality. The posted sign forbidding wake and swimming had a mocking quality consistent with irony of old "Twilight Zone" episodes.

Not since 1951 has the lake level been this low. This is Lake Moultrie, the last link in the Catawba Chain, a series of seven lakes formed and controlled by hydro electric plants along the way. On the other end of this chain is the Catawba River which begins in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina. The Catawba finds its way to South Carolina through Lake Wylie on the border with North Carolina. It takes a circuitous route to find its way into Lake Moultrie in Berkeley County. It has run through 9 sub-basins and 3,000 stream miles by the time it arrives.

Out on the dry lake bed we could see few faint tracks where an all terrain vehicle had passed, the only evidence of any living presence. The tiny trace of water seen at the foot of the boat ramp is only rainwater collected at the sump from yesterday's heavy showers. It will have evaporated by tomorrow. During good times the landing operator only asks two bucks a boat for a launching fee, but has no takers these days. All told it's a very grim sight out here. Not many folks want to sit and gaze at the stump field of a dead lake bed so it's quiet at the landing store as well. Neither a tour bus stop nor lover's lane are these mud pastures.

Looking closely at the photo which shows the dock, the signs and two birdhouses on poles, you can see a bird peeking out of one of the openings. They seemed mildly curious at the movement of a human life form outside, but quite content to be domiciled in a sturdy birdhouse suspended by a length of PVC pipe which was swinging in the wind. On that blustery day the bird probably felt he had it made.


You're the Cream in my Coffee...

[ While the Mustang is in recovery we will be posting some previous entries ]

You’re the cream in my coffee,
You’re the salt in my stew
You’re the starch in my collar,
You’re the lace in my shoe

So goes a popular song published in 1923 and recorded by Ruth Etling in 1929. It's been featured in several movies including, IT'S A COCKEYED WORLD, a proposition which we believe to be quite true. Passers by must have thought this a cockeyed idea at first, but it seems to have caught on. It's a bit removed from the Bedlam of the college student radius which civilizes the atmosphere.

While our sentiments about the featured building aren't quite that strong, we are pleased to see an old dog doing new tricks. The structure on the corner of Rutledge Avenue at Nunan Street is pretty old. We can't be too assured of its long term survival, but the fact that it seems to be generating some bit of prosperity and gaining popularity are good signs. If you want to be seen, this is the spot. There must several thousands of cars passing this spot daily. Drivers west bound on the Crosstown must exit here to wend their way downtown via Rutledge Avenue.

The neighbors of long standing in this neighborhood look in on the place with a combination of curiosity and wonder. New neighbors have found the place and appear to enjoy not having to go further down into the rowdy regions of the peninsula for designer coffee. The reuse of old buildings is encouraging as is the adaptation of new neighbors to the old neighborhoods.