Happy Juneteenth, Gentle Reader!
Last week, I tagged along with Anitra to Charleston. She was there to attend the GIANT conference, while I continued with my regular telecommuting workday from our hotel room and various wifi-equipped establishments in town. I also managed to squeeze in a little touring around, and snapped a few photos along the way.
Graphic artist Shepard Fairey — he of the “Andre the Giant has a posse” signs and Barack Obama’s HOPE poster — was born and grew up in Charleston. He recently painted murals all over downtown, and I spotted a couple, including Andre’s face atop the Francis Marion hotel:
Our hotel was just north of Marion Square, the largest green space in the downtown area.
It seems as if there’s always something going on at Marion Square. We saw a drum circle one night, outdoor yoga another night, and on Friday noon, the local hospital, as a way to promote skin cancer awareness, was giving out free hats. We couldn’t pass those up:
The weather was quite good that week, and the hotel had outlets and a strong wifi signal in its courtyard, so this was my office:
Much better than a cubicle, don’t you think?
Other times, I set up office in various wifi-equipped places downtown, which gave me a chance to check out the heart of the city. I love the palmetto-lined streets:
Even smaller side streets get the palmetto treatment:
Of course we visited Fort Sumter. I was torn about visiting this traitorous hive of scum and villainy, especially with Juneteenth coming up, but I figured I might as well see how they told their side of the story.
I couldn’t help being reminded of this South Park episode…
…and after hearing over and over about defending their way of life and the so-called “Lost Cause,” I walked out of that dump thinking…
Anyhow, enough about that.
Being a well-preserved older city, there’s no shortage of alleyways like this downtown:
And while there are the usual tourist-trappy shops you’d expect to see in a destination like Charleston…
…with the usual kitschy wares…
…they don’t seem to be short of quirky, locally-owned establishments:
Or this sort of business:
Reading the local alt-weeklies, it seems that like a lot of other places, the mayor of Charleston has declared war on nightlife. Only bad people go out at night, right?
That’s a shame, because they’re actually quite good at it, with a number of excellent bars, restaurants, and clubs, from what I could see:
And hey, you’re going to need a night out dancing if you’re going to work off that lobster and grits (this one’s from Stars, who do an excellent rendition of the local shellfish-and-grits dish, and who also have a killer daily rotisserie special):
One night, we found that many restaurants were booked and ended up at Stars a second time. The staff recognized us, and seeing that we’d shown up twice in a week, comped us with their fantastic baked oysters. Thanks guys!
In addition to good food, there’s a lot of good drink to be had here. I’d recommend The Gin Joint (I wish I’d taken a photo), as well as The Belmont, pictured below:
A local favourite is the coffee/bourbon cocktail, which is hard to come by in other bars. This one’s called “The Bucket List”, and they serve it at Husk:
We ate outside on Husk’s balcony, which has this lovely view that lets you see the cyclists — and there are many in Charleston, mostly on cruiser-style bikes, many of whom bike in nice clothes and dresses as opposed to sports cycling gear:
…and they too serve a great shellfish-and-grits. I’m going to be paying for my caloric sins this week at the gym.
The folks at the GIANT conference were cool about letting spouses and significant others (I suppose I exist in that zone between the two now) attending their evening parties, and they threw some good ones. The opening night party was at Charleston Music Hall…
…where I got to entertain the crowd in the lobby and got free beer in return:
The second night’s party was at The Alley. You know your city’s doing well when it has one of those “like a bowling alley, but more hip” drinking establishments:
The final night’s party was at the office of Blue Ion, a local digital marketing agency who had a space that anyone in New York or San Francisco would kill for (and I’m sure their rent is cheaper). It turns out that I wasn’t the only person to bring an instrument — Katie Greff did as well, and we had a little jam session that night: