Charlotte, NC: Sometimes life calls for sacrifice, but this is not the place to do it

With about 5% of the city’s workforce propped up by two large, national banks, Charlotte is all the rage for single-family housing speculators and metropolitan transplants. Data from MacroMarkets’ Case/Schiller Index series shows that the trend in home prices in Charlotte has opted for a steadier sloping linear growth path versus the steeper S-curve of the national index (see chart) and other flipper-happy metro areas. Of course, office and residential developers are excited to capitalize on this anomaly.


“Both Bank of America and Wachovia are building downtown office towers more than 30 stories high to provide space for their work forces to grow (About supply gluts in ‘sleepy’ towns deemed by developers as major metropolises waiting to happen…The last firm I worked for rented 3,000-ish square feet of office space on the 19th floor of a Dallas high rise…in order to store old files…for less than my monthly SF rent).

…The banks `are a magnet,’ said Robert Eisenbeis, former head of research at the Atlanta Fed… `Charlotte has become a financial center. Charlotte is an example of a community focused on services with a well-defined focus (…until some foreign bank comes along and buys Wachovia).’

Some transplants find the average-middle-America-suburbia lifestyle to be an adjustment tolerable with offsetting concessions, namely cheap housing. Of the move, transplants commented,

“We can get a house we really want in Charlotte, and I think if we make the right decision, we’ll be sitting on a lot more equity in 10 years.”

“It takes about two Top-40 songs and I’m pulling into my parking lot”

Bargain, or the national pastime of settling? Trading ten years of life for a ‘decent’ return on an equity investment doesn’t seem as rational as Russian agro-bonds and living in an international city promising a relatively greater proportion of thoughtful and interesting residents.

Karla Knotts (president, Charlotte research firm): We don’t do anything flashy or showy around here
ES: So, here in Charlotte, you live to work? Is that how you’d describe the lifestyle?
KK: [no response]
ES: So, bondage…would you call it that?
KK: We call it plodding. This is not Vegas or Florida.
[Banks Help Charlotte, North Carolina, Buck Housing Downturn, Bloomberg]

The New 7 Wonders of the World: What we aren’t calling news these days…


People do all sorts of strange things when they think the ‘stars are/have/will align(ed).’ 07/07/07 –because it has to mean something – brings us the ‘New 7 Wonders of the World,’ an extravaganza designed by contemporary Swiss-Canadian explorer, Bernard Weber. According to The Economist, he “hopes it will put him on a par with Pierre de Coubertin, the Frenchman who revived the Olympics.” That’s a stretch, considering the only media outlet to really cover the story has been the one that made the aforementioned statement. The list: 

1.  Chichén Itzá, Mexico
Christ Redeemer, Brazil
The Great Wall, China
Machu Picchu, Peru
Petra, Jordan
The Roman Colloseum, Italy
The Taj Mahal, India 

I’ve only seen one in the flesh, and considering there’s a historical record of pretty much everything about it including the plans regarding its inception, I wasn’t left with much to ‘wonder’ about it. Incidentally, Egyptian authorities are relieved this morning, now that their pyramids, which are “living in the hearts of people around the globe, and don’t need a vote to be among the world wonders” avoided making the ‘nonsens[ical]’ list.

Destination: Driving ranges. In search of the automatic golf ball tee

mail.jpgAny of you sick of bending over to set up your tee at the driving range?  Sure, we sound a little developed-world-super-power-technologocial-whore-ish, but when your instructor decides you need to work on driving –only driving– and you’ve got 100 balls to get through on a damp Saturday morning, your languished stance starts to get the better of you.  Not me.  When my instructor finally left, form sufficient for her standards, I gave my last 10 balls to the guy in the next box and went off in search for…well, first food, and then…a driving range boasting an automatic golf ball tee.  It is with that effort, dear reader, that I bring you a list of driving ranges across the country possessing this heavenly invention.  And if you can’t get to one of these ranges, check out Hammacher Schlemmer’s portable version.  Disclaimer: you will look like an idiot dragging it out at the range, however, you will run a lower risk of throwing out your back after ball #86.

Chelsea Piers
I’m sure most of you already know this, but the Golf Club at Chelsea PIers is one of the nicest places to work on your golf game. Ever. The club claims to be America’s most technologically advanced driving range, and features 52 climate-controlled stalls, a computerized automatic ball tee-up system, and enclosed full-swing gold course simulators.

Evanston-ish, IL:
Skokie Driving Range
This venue features a two-tier, 40 station range with an automatic tee-up system, Fiberbuilt Hitting System, lights for evening practice and eleven heated stalls. 

Philadelphia-ish, PA:
Mad Golfer Golf Club
Mad Club features 25 heated stalls (50 total), lights for night time driving, private tees with automated tee-up systems, and most importantly FREE range balls on Thanksgiving!

Dallas-ish, TX:
Texas Indoor Golf

According to Texas Indoor Golf, the top 5 reasons to visit:
   1. It’s always 72 degrees
   2. You don’t have to fly for 12 hours to play St. Andrews Old Course
   3. You can play Pebble Beach for $40 instead of $350
   4. Water hazards don’t scare you because you’ll never lose any of your golf balls
   5. You can play 18 holes when it’s dark outside in under 3 hours

Any City, USA:
Hammacher Schlemmer
You can use this portable sucker for putting, chipping, or driving. It holds 35 golf balls, and isn’t even electrical or battery operated at all -runs on good old elbow grease (your clubhead). And, comes with a lifetime guarantee!