ten best! 10 of my favorite Triad things

by Brian Clarey

The weather

In honor of our Reader’s Choice issue, I thought I’d take a crack at pinning down what I think of as the best the area has to offer. And I’ll start with the most obvious: the weather. For a boy raised on Long Island, the climate of the North Carolina Piedmont Triad is downright tropical, relatively speaking. Yes, winters can get a bit rough and black ice totally sucks, but in the months where it matters, the temperature is generally about 20 degrees warmer here than in the place I grew up. And I have an electric shovel in my garage that hasn’t been used in nine years.

The Corner

True, I moved here with my young family nine years ago from New Orleans, and the first place I went to have a drink was set squarely on the corner of Walker and Elam, a neighborhood I would come to call the Whiskey District. I’ve been occasionally stopping by the bars and restaurants there ever since to check on old friends, hear what’s been going on or just to have a drink and see some music. It’s a vital part of Greensboro, a hot pocket of action. Shout outs to Walker’s, the Wahoo, the Blind Tiger, Suds ‘s’ Duds, Fishbones and Sticks and Stones, some of my favorite joints in the world.

Trade Street

Shortly after I began working regularly for Triad Style in 2003, my editor Jeri Rowe pushed me out into Winston-Salem. “It’s like 30 miles down the road,” he told me, which seemed like a lot to me at the time. Burt I soon became accustomed to heading out there a couple times a month, and when YES! Weekly started covering the area it was like hanging out with an old friend. The city is a center of creativity, fellowship and innovation, and no neighborhood exemplifies this more, in my opinion, than this little strip. I give props to the Silver Moon Saloon, the Garage, Finnigan’s Wake, Elliot’s Revue and Chelsee’s, the places where I hang my hat.

Farmers Markets

Whether its all the open space, a proliferation of folks with green thumbs or the nourishing qualities of red clay soil, this part of North Carolina is incredibly conducive to the growing of vegetables and fruits. Farmers markets like the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market, the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market and the downtown Winston-Salem farmers market showcase this fine produce alongside eclectic items such as boutique bacon, local honey and artisan-baked goods.

Piedmont Triad International Airport

PTI is my favorite airport in the country. I can get there I 10 minutes, no matter where in town I happen to be. When flying through PTI I have never waited on a long line to check in or get through the metal detectors. I have never experienced a delay. I have never been bumped from a flight. And I have never had to run along the gates to make my flight. Long-term parking is right across the street from the terminal. And the skycaps still think $5 is an acceptable tip for a bag — at Kennedy they expect at least $10.

The mountains

Sure, I love the beach. But the shore is a bit too far for me to scamper out there on a whim. The mountains, on the other hand, are just over the horizon. We try to change our altitude as a family at least once a year, usually during fall’s riot of color, though it might not be a bad idea to make it out there during the height of spring or even the dregs of summer. I’m way to panicky to bring my children up to Hanging Rock, but we can still make the trek up Grandfather Mountain without Daddy freaking out.

Downtown Greensboro Man, when I moved here in summer 2000, downtown was deader than the Museum of Roadkill, and maybe just a little bit shady. In that time I have seen with my own eyes the downtown streets rise to life, become an intersection of culture and commerce, a true central business district. I like downtown for the action, the beautiful people and the free parking at night, and I like it because somebody always tells me something interesting when I’m down there. I’m down there enough that I have too many haunts to call by name, so I endorse the whole thing, from Southside to Fisher Park, the far reaches of UNCG to Edward R. Murrow Boulevard and everything about or in between.

NewBridge Bank Park

I will call out the home of the Greensboro Grasshoppers by name, however, because I am a baseball fan with enough reverence for the game to appreciate the facility. Also, I like to go to the games as much to watch the contest as to catch the scene. We bring the kids on Fireworks Fridays and leave them home on Thirsty Thursdays.

The blogosphere

I guess the moniker “Blogsboro” hasn’t really stuck — which is fine by me; I always thought it was a bit awkward. But there really are a lot of talented, smart, passionate and devoted bloggers working in this city. Mind you, I think there is something seriously wrong with just about each and every one of them. But seriously, I read a lot of local blogs — again, too many to mention by name — and I’m constantly impressed by those bloggers who take pains to stay informed, bring original ideas to their posts and contribute several times a week, sometimes several times a day, usually for little more than the satisfaction of making themselves heard, participating actively in their community and maybe stirring up a little shitstorm once in a while.

The people

I’ve met some real fine people since I moved here all those years ago: smart ones, fun ones, influential ones, talented ones. People I respect and admire, people who crack me up, people who inspire and people I count as friends. To paraphrase the great Warren Zevon: I’m lucky to be here with people I like.