Monthly Archives: June 2010

Forgiving trespasses

The children of reason who founded the United State were keenly aware of how the privileged position of various faiths had led to excesses and inequities. Their response, that the state would keep its mitts off personal beliefs and maintain a healthy distance from religions is an exhibition of the genius of those who laid the foundations of the United States.
That said it is undeniable in the US that were there a primary faith it would be the at times combative amalgamation of faith and hooey gathered under the umbrella of Christianity, reflecting at times as much about the stated goals of this Jesus guy as jumping rope. There is no point nor nothing to gain from lumping more stain on the various faiths than they routinely do to themselves, but when faith and tradition expands intrudes on public safety, the quotient changes.
Forget the national day of prayer controversy. I suspect there aren’t many who have not at one point or another observed the broad exclusions granted Christianity regarding parking. I had always reasoned the license to park willy-nilly ANYWHERE on Sundays to be some sort of deep-fried Bible-Belt look-the-other-way tradition. Wrong. The city law addressing the matter:
Sec. 11-2172. – NO PARKING ZONES.

When signs are erected or painted on the street giving notice thereof, no person shall at any time, except during church services on Sundays,[my emphasis] or other times designated in official Traffic Schedule No. 13, park any vehicle within the areas designated as “no parking” zones; provided, use of such areas for church services on Sunday shall not be construed to permit parking where parking is otherwise prohibited by this article. The Transportation Department shall erect or paint signs at locations designated as “no parking” zones. Locations designed as “no parking” zones shall be as set out in official Traffic Schedule No. 13, “No Parking Zones.”

Well given the lack of similar accommodations for other faiths there’s a first magnitude first amendment violation if I’ve ever seen one. Nearly a century of the one and true faith to all things petroleum has inured the church goer to extend what happens inside the church to the outside, notably forgive us our trespasses. The fact is that a church ranks no more nor less than any other enterprise or business under the Constitution and US law. One can only imagine the woof that would sound were the same claim made to expand the parking exception to other organizations’ big days, say Transubstantiation Tuesdays at Snoopy’s Hot Dogs (the actual body, I tell yuh!) “But a weekday?” vegetarians may complain, empty bluster given the latitude given churches every day of Holy Week; cars, cars, cars packed alongside a downtown street and in a bus zone, obliging me to shift to an oncoming lane and path of a burgundy Ford Expedition amid a accompanying freshened awe of mysteries and miracles. A wondrous combination of divine intervention coupled with a cognizant driver enabled my further existence and stiffened my resolve to implore the powers that be, both physical and beyond, to secure a definite horizon on the matter.
I am prepared to give a nod to the continuance of the parking tradition both to the benefit of millions of Christians and our filthy, archaic transportation “system” in exchange for one tiny indulgence. How’s about some consistency and attention to religious liberty? To the city, the parking contractor and august church clergy, I and others implore you to extend the canopy of concern beyond the city’s spiritual life to include the safety of we heretics. I might suggest a once a month flurry of courtesy warning “tickets” to get the Word out coupled with a timely mention to the parishioners to observe the letter of the law? “No parking zones” extend only to this world, not to the hereafter and certainly not to bus zones and traffic lanes. Can I have a witness?

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Try again

Up holler in Virginia visiting my brother John, last night, he, his wife Amy and I journeyed to the Charlottesville Pavilion for an evening with local guitar wunderkind, Jamal Millner and Comrades. Hence, I missed the opening night at the Raleigh Amphitheater/Connells’ show. This is to provide some comparisons with here versus the current “there” of Raleigh.

With regard to our new amphitheater, I have been watching the venue’s progress through the filter of a decade or so of stagehand, theater and audiovisual/film/video production work.

I must admit to certain dismay when the term “finished” became associated with what looked to me to be no more than a sloped, treeless parking lot. I let that roll until this morning upon learning at the inaugural show Budweiser sweetened the pot in their goal of attaining naming rights by charging 4 bucks for a water. Along with irritation and disbelief, the parallel that unbidden sprang to mind was some mystic connection between Raleigh and the guy in Cedarville, Georgia who managed to shoot himself in the foot three times while cleaning three handguns … déjà vu over and over (apologies to Yogi Berra).

In comparison to the mixed reports filtering out of Raleigh, my night at the pavilion was a delight. Millner took the stage with a bass player, keyboard, drummer and a gal vocalist in possession of a voice a force of nature, playing to a mid-sized crowd that tarried, many out under the trees surrounding the venue — kids skipping rope, couples nuzzling in the cooling early evening air.  Five bucks bought a Bud draft or good range of draft microbrews dispensed from a Bud truck. You see, although Bud Light has the franchise for a concert series, the Pavilion is simply known as the Charlottesville Pavilion. But the primary details distinguishing the Raleigh venue is that it resembles something NCSU would set up for a one day rock concert. By comparison, the Virginia example has necessary, integrated features one would expect in a first rate, permanent venue:  an administration, green room, restroom facility, light-colored textured concrete floor and a permanent brick and concrete stage. But the most important detail that Raleigh’s outside venue lacks is a permanent cover, something perhaps akin to Charlottesville’s soaring, steel, tensile fabric canopy that gives everyone a covered seat.

Ok, it is a pricey item but one that separates a credible location for outdoor concerts from one that feels temporary and uninviting. I wrote this not to so much to point out the amphitheater’s obvious weaknesses but to try to elicit public interest in capital additions/improvements that will enable it (1) actually succeed and (2) live up to Raleigh’s status as a capital city. What we have is destined to become an also-ran when touring acts make their tour lists.

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