The Charlotte in 2012 host committee threw another fun party for the Democratic National Convention. CarolinaFest drew a diverse group of delegates, dignitaries and a mob of Mecklenburgers (Charlotte is in Mecklenburg County) to the heart of the city.
Museums were free or entrance fees were at reduced rates. We were hoping to go to the Harvey Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture to see Tavis Smiley’s exhibit, America I AM: The African-American Imprint but the line to get in was down the street. Noticing the exhibit will be in Charlotte until the end of the year, we moved across the street to the Mint Museum where Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright’s Read My Pins collection is on display.
A few years ago when we were in D.C., we had a few minutes to pop into the Smithsonian and got a quick glimpse of the exhibit. We didn’t have time to do it justice then so I really wanted to see it again. It’s at the Mint Museum for a few more days so we the opportunity to really look at the collection.
The exhibit is cooler than it sounds. Secretary Albright used those pins to set the tone of high-level meetings. Diplomats would look to see which pin she was wearing to determine the mood.
It all started when Saddam Hussein’s poet-in-residence called her “an unparalleled serpent.” For her next meeting with Iraqi officials she decided to make a statement with a snake pin, sending a message that dates back to the American Revolution – Don’t Tread on Me! From then on the pins signified the tone of her diplomatic meetings. Her book “Read My Pins” describes momentous meetings and the how she chose the brooches she wore to them.
We get to the Mint Museum just before the huge crowds arrive. Even so, security is tight and it takes about 20 minutes to get into the museum. I’m okay with that because we are out of the hot humid air outside. Once my purse and pockets were checked and we were wanded, we made a beeline to the 4th floor to the pin exhibit. Time is ticking so we zoom through.
I really want to see actor Jeff Bridges and his band The Abiders. Stages are set up at either end of Tryon Street. There’s a stage outside of the Mint Museum but of course The Abiders are set to play at the other end of the festival. Wanting to get a decent spot, we head north.
It gives us a chance to take in all the activity. For the next five blocks, everything from buttons, to bauble to burgers are for sale. People pitching their causes are everywhere with petitions to sign and literature to pass out. Every cause imaginable is represented.
The area around the main stage has a small crowd milling around in front so we move off to the right and get a spot right by the railing to wait for Jeff Bridges to take the stage. His little brother Beau is my first star sighting. He was a few feet in front of me as we waiting for Jeff to come on stage.
While Jeff was waiting for North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue to introduce him, I swear he waved to me from the back of the back stage. I’d like to think he remembered me from when he was on a show I produced on KNUS radio in Denver a few decades ago. The host was Woody Paige (now on ESPN) and Jeff was promoting his movie “Starman.” Every woman who worked in the building somehow had immediate business on the studio side of the building on that day.
You could hear the collective disappointed swoon when he talked about being happily married. Evidently it stuck. He has managed to stay married to the same woman all these years later.
Three songs in, we got drenched. Remnants of Hurricane Issac dumped a whole lot of rain in a short amount of time. With squishy shoes on our feet, and dark clouds above, we decide to call it a day. As much as I really, really wanted to see James Taylor, I was ready to make the 6 or 7 block hike back to the train station. His show was cut short by another downpour so I think we made the right decision.
Even with masses of people escaping the storms, we were smashed into the first train leaving the station. It didn’t matter if we were nose to nose with strangers. The atmosphere was festive and fun and we only had a few stops to go.
I didn’t have time to get groceries and there’s no way I was going to cook dinner so we stop off at Copper on East Boulevard to take home some Chicken Tikka Masala (made “Indian hot” as I requested), basmati rice and plain naan. There’s even enough left over to take to work for lunch. Best Indian food ever! A very good day.
These are some images from the day.