How cold was it Wednesday morning?
Cold enough in my front yard - 34 degrees - to confirm the wisdom of bringing the tomato and basil plants inside Tuesday night.
But at least it wasn't cold - or wet - enough to precipitate a "Ravalanche" sequel.
In the original horror show of that title, unforeseen perils forced extended closures of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge.
Most of us around here have long known that when ice gathers on bridge roadways, bridges are closed.
But who knew when the Ravenel opened 8½ years ago that large masses of the frozen-hard stuff would eventually accumulate on the cables high above, creating a crashing menace?
Evidently, not many, if any, of the people who make the tough calls about when to open and close the bridge.
As dogged Post and Courier reporter Prentiss Findlay revealed in Sunday's paper, Mount Pleasant Police Chief Carl Ritchie wrote in an email to a lawyer friend on Jan. 29: "We just had to shut the bridge down due to huge chunks of ice falling on cars. I think we are up to six cars damaged so far. NO KIDDING."
And lots of local folks, including me, aren't kidding when we demand that the folks in charge find a way to avoid repeating those 50-hour and 51-hour closures. This innovative way around the problem, and across the bridge, was proposed in this space on Feb. 15: "Drivers, their passengers, pedestrian-lane bikers, runners, walkers and possibly sledders and skiers could proceed over an ice-closed Ravenel if they sign a waiver renouncing all rights to liability claims."
Too bad my good idea is apparently too bold for the S.C. Department of Transportation.
Yet there are technological options that DOT authorities are considering, including a system that brushes and scrapes away ice before it builds up on cables. Of course, such major upgrades would come at major cost.
Get her what?
Meanwhile, just as the reputation of our bridge has suffered a blow this year, so has the reputation of its namesake.
And just as falling ice is hazardous, so is naming anything for anybody who's still alive.
For instance: Arthur Ravenel Jr., who served in the S.C. House, S.C. Senate, U.S. House, S.C. Senate (again) and on the Charleston County School Board, much more recently served as a willing accomplice to misguided son Thomas' cringe-inducing foray into "reality television."
On the March 10 episode of "Southern Charm," which the Bravo channel preposterously pitches as an inside look at "the glamorous world of Charleston's elite," Thomas expressed disappointment to his dad about a woman's rejection of his advances. Arthur offered this fatherly - and unseemly - advice: "Get her pregnant. And if it's a boy child, I'll give him $10,000."
OK, so we live in a vulgar 21st century culture where crudity has become the norm.
And "Cousin Arthur" has long relished stepping up to, and at times past, the bounds of quaint propriety, though often with a quirky Southern charm of his own. Plus, he did play a crucial role in obtaining funding for the bridge.
Still, it's chilling beyond any late March climate change to realize that a $700 million local landmark is named for a man - "elite" or otherwise - who told his disgraced son (rapid 2007 fall from state treasurer to cocaine convict) on national TV: "Get her pregnant."
And if we took Arthur's name off the bridge, we could sell naming rights for it to help pay for the ice-breaking upgrades it needs. After all, the College of Charleston Cougars play at the TD Arena. The South Carolina Gamecocks play at Colonial Life Arena.
Why not the Boeing Bridge to the Future?
Sure, President Bill Clinton already used that "Bridge to the Future" line in his 1996 re-election campaign.
But he soon dropped it - just like he and his party dropped this line from that year's State of the Union speech: "The era of big government is over."
A positive negative
Back to Bravo show biz:
On Monday night's episode, Thomas was mightily relieved by good news that a lady friend nearly 30 years younger was not with child. Or would his dad consider that bad news?
For more tawdry tidbits - and witty insights - about the gross and grossly misnamed "Southern Charm," check out Post and Courier colleague Liz Foster's updates of it on our website.
And for a two-for-one solution to the bridge's problems of cable ice and a dubious title, sell its naming rights.
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is email@example.com.
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