CHARLOTTE, N.C. I go downtown Monday with a heightened sense of awareness. And it’s not my safety I’m worried about. It’s that Jon Stewart and “The Daily Show” are here. It was all fun and games when he was ripping Tampa. I don’t how funny it’s going to be when Charlotte’s in the crosshairs when the show airs Tuesday through Friday.
What’s the phrase? “Shooting fish in a barrel.” We’ve got a zillion people this week barricaded into six city blocks. That’s not even a barrel. That’s a mug. So we need to lay low. Don’t do anything crazy, don’t say anything stupid, and swim along the rim. We’ll be fine.
If only it weren’t for … CarolinaFest. A loud, attention-getting circus, packing the fish like sardines into a shot glass. With a picture of Obama on it.
A place where you can eat a Gyro, buy a button, see Jeff Bridges, and be saved – all on one block. While a city councilman takes the stage and makes an announcement that “Charlotte is a livable city.”
Where you can sit at a table outside the Bechtler Museum and dictate a postcard to the President, to girls dressed like ’60s secretaries typing on Coronas. Where one lady relates to the President, “Next time you’re in town, I want to cook for you.” And an 8-year-old boy: “I want to meet your daughter.”
Where “Queen Charlotte” roams the streets in a crown and ball gown – her hoop skirt so enticing that my 6-year-old ogles her – while my 9-year-old stands in the middle of a “Blue Dogs” concert and asks, “What are we gonna do today?”
Where a skeleton wears a Girl Scout vest and poses for pictures. Where clowns walk on stilts. At least I think they were stilts, or we have grotesquely tall clowns in this city. Where you can buy Obama towels. But not the matching washcloths.
Where people choose “chicken wrapped in bacon” over a cool icy, and then sit under an umbrella. And where dogs wear “Bark for Barack” sweaters, making me actually wonder out loud whether the RNC had cats that wore “Meow for Mitt” jackets.
And where every kid who grew up here is asking their mom how they got to a place like this without having to get on a plane.
Jon Stewart should be off to a great start.