Downtown matures

by Brian Clarey

Downtown Greensboro came into its own last week as a trifecta of controversy shook the district. First came news that the International Civil Rights Center & Museum has not been meeting its projected attendance numbers — so far they’ve hit about 20 percent of the annual goal. On the heels of this news came a headcutting: Five employees lost their jobs, which is not too many by today’s standards, but still…. It’s easy to throw stones at the museum — which took fully 16 years to realize on the corner of South Elm Street and February One, 50 years after the event it commemorates. It’s also been criticized for its bookkeeping, its tour policy, its ticket price, its museum-y-ness and even its founders. Some of this criticism is valid. But it’s pretty standard practice to tweak a new business venture six months in, especially if it’s not meeting expectations. Layoffs are a part of that equation, unfortunately. You can’t complain that the museum makes bad business decisions and then also complain when it makes an effort at cutting costs. The real question is: How will laying off five people increase attendance? Then, at least week’s Greensboro City Council meeting, talk turned to a proposed downtown entertainment venue with about 3,000 seats. Behind the initiative were big names like Downtown Greensboro Inc., the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro and former Greensboro Mayor Keith Holliday, who suggested the venue appropriate the Carolina Theatre, where he now works. We like entertainment venues, and have been saying that Greensboro needs a big room — or, at least, an upgrade to the city-owned War Memorial Auditorium. But now it seems, what with council green-lighting an amphitheater on the coliseum grounds earlier this summer, we have arena fever. But we like the idea, if only for the possibility of better, government-subsidized shows downtown. Frankly, we are sick of writing about the Wailers, who have played downtown Greensboro three times in the last two years. The last time Bob Marley’s band came to town was in June at the Red Room, a club formerly owned by Joey Medaloni, who was indicted by a federal grand jury last week for allegedly falsifying tax information to take out a million-dollar loan in 2005. If the feds have their way, he’ll come back to Greensboro in handcuffs. Medaloni was a driving force behind the resurgence of downtown Greensboro, opening nightclubs down there when the streets vacated after 6 p.m. and the “scene,” as it were, consisted of the Rhino Club, Ritchy’s and, to a lesser extent, Twiggy’s. Downtown Greensboro has come a long way since then, but never before has it been able to generate three genuine scandals in such a short period of time. So it is with the demeanor of a proud parent that we say our little district is finally growing up. YES! Weekly chooses to exercise its right to express editorial opinion in our publication. In fact we cherish it, considering opinion to be a vital component of any publication. The viewpoints expressed represent a consensus of the YES! Weekly editorial staff, achieved through much deliberation and consideration