It certainly is a great time of year to be in Charleston. The fall has it all: cooler temperatures, lower humidity, fewer bugs, no pollen and -- in my mind anyway -- is even better than spring. I may change my mind next March.
Be that as it may, as I was driving to work recently across the Charleston Connector (which may one day be part of the glorious proposed beltway system), I noted that most mornings the traffic backs up nearly to the Wappoo span in the northbound lanes coming into town. I can't help wondering what it would look like with added traffic from West Ashley and the islands -- other than extremely crowded.
But here's an observation: The technically unrestricted cruise ship berthing activity downtown as recently passed by City Council (while further electing not to propose other terminal options) will actually dovetail very nicely with the 526 Beltway and help reduce traffic and pedestrian density and never pose any threat to Charleston's unique ambience. Never! How could you suspect otherwise?
People generations from now will remember these developments fondly -- just as they fondly remember the desecration of the live oak allee on U.S. Highway 17, the tearing down of the Charleston Hotel and the loss of the Charleston Orphanage Chapel (as examples) -- progressive accomplishments that took place well after the preservation movement had established a foothold.
Well, you'd have to be an idiot to miss the sarcasm.
Not that the above references draw truly fair comparisons, but have there been two hot-button topics in recent years so impacting Charleston and surrounding areas that have been either flip-flopped on (County Council and 526) or passed (City Council and the SPA)? Further, the State Ports Authority, is, of all things, a quasi-government agency. This has occurred despite the intelligent concern from loads of people and grass-roots organizations. It's all very disturbing, if not otherwise characterized by downright hubris and demagoguery.
I don't know why these developments bring to mind this year's Darwin Awards, but here they are for a little Thursday morning levity:
The grand winner involves a gentleman whose .38 revolver failed to fire at his intended victim during a holdup in Long Beach, Calif. The would-be robber then did something wondrous. He peered down the barrel and pulled the trigger a second time, which was the charm. Now his trigger-pulling days are over.
How about the chef at a hotel in Switzerland who lost a finger in a meat cutting machine? The chef submitted an insurance claim, and the company, suspecting negligence, sent an examiner to verify it. He tried the machine as well and also lost a finger. The chef's claim was approved.
A man tried to siphon gas from a motor home parked on a Seattle street but got a nasty surprise. Police arrived on the scene to find the man ill and prostrate on the ground. A police spokesman confirmed that he was trying to steal gas, but plugged accidentally into the ... sewage tank. The owner declined to press charges, saying it was the best laugh he'd ever had.
I made a ghastly discovery the other day while driving. Along the side of the road not far from the shoulder were some hip-high concrete bulkheads, the kind used to make a partition. On top of one of the bulkheads was a dead pigeon. But this was not the typical specter of death one might expect to see on the roadways.
The bird had obviously been killed, ravaged and mutilated, and then very neatly placed atop the bulkhead, as if it were the centerpiece on a satanic altar. The effect was startling and I halfway expected Dr. Hannibal Lecter to jump from behind the bulkhead with a bottle of Chianti, some foie gras and fava beans.
So the pigeon obviously had been placed there, and I suspect it was done so by another bird -- a raptor of some sort that may have a proclivity for this type of behavior. I don't know whodunit, but hawks are common in the area and an occasional peregrine falcon might be seen as well.
Any ideas from you ornithologic forensic types?
Edward M. Gilbreth is a Charleston physician. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.