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Old 08-08-2012, 02:26 PM
 
345 posts, read 470,344 times
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Before even stating my reasons, let me be clear that these are my personal preferences based on my interests and what I look for in life, and that I recognize that people seek out different things and may not view the following factors as negatives or even important. And that's okay. This is just meant to provide some insight into the mindset of one particular individual with one particular viewpoint but might nevertheless be useful if others should share some of the preferences that I value.

To give some background - before moving to Charlotte, I had lived in a number of places, some small towns and some large cities. These places have included a university town in Florida, Charleston, SC, Atlanta, GA, Raleigh/Durham, NC, Charlottesville, VA and the San Francisco Bay Area. So I have had exposure to a way of life both outside and within what the biggest cities can offer. Out of all of those places, I can safely say that for my personal preferences and needs, Charlotte, NC is by far the worst place I have ever lived and is singularly removed from some of the common favorable aspects I found in all the previous cities I have lived.

I think the prevailing thesis underlying most of my complaints is the shock to find what in my mind is a wholesale acceptance in Charlotte of a boring, uncreative, uninspired, passive way of living. For a metropolitan area with over 2 million+ people, it is incredible how there are so few people who demand more than just the typical chain restaurant or third-rate performing arts/symphony/opera/museum. Especially with so many people being transplants, you'd expect that coming from bigger cities, they would have brought their previous exposure to such "after-work" activities and the level of quality they are used to and miss it so much that they would actively partake in trying to recreate something similar here. Yet that's not the case. If you find a non-chain restaurant here that isn't your basic ethnic place, it appeals to a completely passive and superficially bold way of presentation; instead of being something crafted in substance and a drive toward a philosophical mission such as farm-to-table, it's all about the first-impression atmosphere and decor calling the shots while the food itself harkens back to your 1980s or early 1990s style idea of "gourmet food", unchanged (in other words, expense-account style dining). It's why I save my money to spend on restaurants in towns that are actually producing exquisite cuisine, like Asheville or Raleigh/Durham or Charleston, and to a growing extent Washington D.C. and Atlanta. Chef owners have previously posted here how they've had to change up their menus from something more inspired (not weird like molecular gastronomy or something, but something as fundamental as sourcing local ingredients and such) because it didn't matter a difference to people, and folks just wanted their boring meat and potatoes every week, year in year out, without tiring of it or craving variety. Again, that passivity is the common theme here.

As for performing arts such as symphonies and opera, Charlotte has the worst quality of any city I've lived in. The Charlotte Symphony can't even play in tune and the opera is worse than some repertory theaters on the outskirts of towns with music schools. And if you look at the endowment for such groups, it's clear why. The Charlotte Symphony pays its concertmaster (the most important performer in the group) something like $72,000 - compare that to Atlanta which pays around $210k and San Francisco which pays $400k. If you're not going to pay your musicians well, of course you're not going to draw talent. At $72k, Charlotte is the largest metro. area in the country with a symphony orchestra that pays its performers so little, by a large margin. That pay is more on the level of metro areas in the 250,000-500,000 range. And of course you start running into a chicken v. egg dynamic, when the opera can't even fill a 1,850 seat auditorium when it gives away tickets to a particular concert for free, and then the performance ends up being so third-rate that half the audience leaves at intermission. In San Francisco, I see people of all ages (yes, even "young buck" college students) going out to the symphony or opera, and demand is so high that the cheap seats still sell for $75-125, with the expensive seats for $275, and every performance over the past few years has been sold out. That price may seem high, but good football seats cost as much... And forget having an indie music scene like Asheville or Durham/Chapel Hill. What Charlotte brings in is laughable in comparison.

It also seems that a lot of people in Charlotte have a faux sense of self-importance, and that's borne out by their passive aggressive behavior towards others when they can remain anonymous enough to not put up the superficial southern patina. Charlotte has absolutely terrible drivers - impatient and overly hurried. I think if you took the average traffic flow speed here and compared it against the speed limit, Charlotte would have the highest "overage" amongst cities in which I've lived. I've encountered far more tailgaters and headlight-flashers here when I'm already going 7-10 mph above the speed limit and not in the far left lane than anywhere else. I can't imagine that Charlotteans have something that important to get to, compared to say folks in Silicon Valley who are innovating and moving the country forward technologically and economically as substantially as any of us. Yet out there people seemed to recognize that there was no need to get up in someone's grill over saving a handful of minutes.

The self-importance aspect is also reflected in the number of people who don't understand the concept of keeping their conversations private or using "normal speaking voices", the sort of stuff I was taught in 1st grade. The number of "loud talkers" is astounding here - people who despite standing right next to one another speak nearly at the top of their lungs. It's almost as if they subconsciously want to boost their egos by acting as if the conversation they are having, what they are dealing with, or how they feel at a given moment is important enough for others to overhear. Yes, I understand you might be having a good day, but you don't have to laugh at the top of your lungs or hoot and holler. Yes, I understand that you are about to bake an awesome casserole, but there's no need to submit that to a public forum. The idea of decorum doesn't seem to cross a lot of people's minds here - ride the subway in D.C. or Paris and compare the hushed tones that folks use. As George Costanza would say, "we're living in a society!" and it feels like here society is treated as an audience for one's day-to-day activities as opposed to respecting that others are living their own lives.

A lot of the above just wasn't the case anywhere else I've lived. Maybe it's because I've been overexposed to places (both large and small) that were towns or cities with important universities (Raleigh, Tallahassee, Charlottesville, San Francisco, Atlanta), big cities (San Francisco, Atlanta), or have deep cultural roots and heritage of their own (Charleston), but the fact is that in all of those places, there was a lot more to do and enjoy of the type of stuff I enjoy doing, and a critical mass of people interested and active in that sort of thing.

Different cities should attract different people because they offer as a package different elements of things. I think we ignore that to our peril if we just move somewhere because it has a large population or is fast-growing or such, or is in a particular region of the country, because you have to look a lot deeper at the underlying ethos of a place to know whether you'd actually like it there. It's not as simple as saying that because a city has $x level of per capita income times y # of people and is in a particular region of the country means that a place will have or develop a motivation for certain things. Anyone debating whether to move to Charlotte v. Raleigh or Charlotte v. Charleston or Charlotte v. any other city needs to take heed that they are going to likely be able to get very different things out of those places even if the raw numbers look comparable on paper.

As for me, I'm leaving for sure. I've found that maybe I didn't realize that the cities I had lived in so far were all of a similar nature and didn't realize that wasn't how things were across more of the country. I just need to decide whereto - whether it be a smaller university town, a large world-class metropolitan area, or a mid-sized city steeped in a history and a strong sense of identity. I just know that whatever I decide, I know what my "type" is and to never make this same mistake again.

 
Old 08-08-2012, 02:30 PM
 
Location: Matthews, NC
14,699 posts, read 14,225,140 times
Reputation: 13833
Whew, that's a lot of words. Good luck to you, sorry it didn't work out for ya.
 
Old 08-08-2012, 02:31 PM
 
Location: Up above the world so high!
45,168 posts, read 57,238,212 times
Reputation: 38448
Well bless your heart
 
Old 08-08-2012, 02:32 PM
 
2,441 posts, read 2,799,088 times
Reputation: 1878
Respect your opinion and very much agree with you. I always tell people that Charlotte is not for everybody. It's a very fickle city to say the least.
 
Old 08-08-2012, 02:32 PM
 
345 posts, read 470,344 times
Reputation: 429
Quote:
Originally Posted by lovesMountains View Post
Well bless your heart
lol, I've used that insult to a lot of people over the years (remember, I'm southern too), but thank you. I consider my heart "blessed"
 
Old 08-08-2012, 02:33 PM
 
Location: Up above the world so high!
45,168 posts, read 57,238,212 times
Reputation: 38448
Quote:
Originally Posted by blueheronNC View Post
lol, I've used that insult to a lot of people over the years (remember, I'm southern too), but thank you. I consider my heart "blessed"
It wasn't an insult.

I was saying how sorry I am that you are so miserable.

Perhaps assuming the worst about others intentions is part of the problem you are having in Charlotte? Just a thought...
 
Old 08-08-2012, 02:36 PM
 
Location: Charlotte NC
7,381 posts, read 3,740,062 times
Reputation: 2662
when someone rights a novel about their feelings it comes off as self-important. I'm pretty sure you were the one huffing and puffing at the symphony the last time I was there.

rude...
 
Old 08-08-2012, 02:38 PM
 
Location: Charlotte NC
7,381 posts, read 3,740,062 times
Reputation: 2662
Quote:
Originally Posted by westcoastbabe View Post
Respect your opinion and very much agree with you. I always tell people that Charlotte is not for everybody. It's a very fickle city to say the least.
you guys should hook up and open a hipster bar called Hatuer's.
 
Old 08-08-2012, 02:38 PM
 
345 posts, read 470,344 times
Reputation: 429
Quote:
Originally Posted by Feltdesigner View Post
when someone rights a novel about their feelings it comes off as self-important. I'm pretty sure you were the one huffing and puffing at the symphony the last time I was there.

rude...
This is, after all, a forum about Charlotte. Unless you think that individualized input about a place is not useful information for others to consider...

I know such impressions coming from others would've helped me out a lot.
 
Old 08-08-2012, 02:40 PM
 
345 posts, read 470,344 times
Reputation: 429
Quote:
Originally Posted by Feltdesigner View Post
you guys should hook up and open a hipster bar called Hatuer's.
See, this is part of the problem. Certain interests and activities aren't given equal billing here. If you like football and NASCAR and demand a certain level of performance from your teams, you're keeping it real. If you complain that an opera or symphony isn't good enough, you're being snooty. That ain't fair.

I happen to like both. One interest doesn't have to be to the exclusion of others. It just means you can have 2x the fun.
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