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Issue 1.79 | Thursday, Aug. 20, 2009 | Is there a morning chill?

The USS Laffey, with a little help from some tugboats, left its home at Patriots Point on Wednesday morning and headed under the Ravenel Bridge and up the river to Detyens Shipyard, where it will spend the next four months or so undergoing repairs. A loan from the state will finance the $9 million repair bill. (Photo provided by Patriots Point)

:: New CD of local favorites


:: The good, bad and spineless

:: Thanks for taking us to the ballgame

:: Telltale signs

:: County saves, school grows, more


___:: CALENDAR: This week ... and next
___:: REVIEW: Tell us why you like a book
___:: HISTORY: Poet laureats
___:: QUOTE: Nessen on believability
___:: BOOKSHELF: Interesting reading
___:: SPOTLIGHT: Meet an underwriter


ABOUT US is a new online twice-weekly publication that offers insightful community comment and good news on events. It cuts through the information clutter to offer insight and news on the best of what's happening locally. More | Reader testimonials


Local recording studio releases CD of area favorites
Charleston writer and media consultant
Special to

AUG. 20, 2009 -- When Charleston musicians wanted a radio-quality recording of their music, it used to mean a trip to Atlanta, Nashville or beyond.


Not anymore. The buzz around the Lowcountry music scene this summer is all about Charleston Sound, a state-of-the-art studio located in Mount Pleasant. It's the brainchild of owner and chief engineer Jeff Hodges, a longtime producer who moved his family here two years ago and embarked on an ambitious plan to bring top-level audio production to Charleston.

The studio opened in February after a year of construction and fine-tuning. Since then, it's seen an eclectic group of local and national artists, recording everything from rock and jazz to advertising spots and audiobooks.

Today, Hodges and his staff have just launched the definitive statement on the studio thus far: an 11-song compilation CD featuring some of Charleston's most exciting local artists called "Charleston Sound Presents: I Got Music." Originally conceived as a means to introduce the studio and get to know area musicians, the project took more than six months to complete. Each artist was given a full day of free recording time at the studio, and Hodges personally mixed and produced each track. The result is funky blend of rock, blues and country, an audio snapshot of Charleston's music scene during the summer of 2009.

"It's exciting because for many of these artists, this is the first radio-ready cut they have had the opportunity to record," Hodges says. "The project has been really gratifying for us because of what it means to these musicians. They play their hearts out every night around Charleston, and this was a great way to appreciate and support them."

The CD is available online, through independent local retailers and at Piggly Wiggly locations across the Lowcountry. Sales will benefit the artists and a portion of the proceeds will go to Lowcountry Local First, an advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening the local economy.

Headlined by area favorites The Plainfield Project (voted best local band of 2009 by readers of the Charleston City Paper) and Dangermuffin, the CD is a showcase of up-and-coming talent. Other featured artists include Mac Leaphart, Part-Time Heroes, Skye Paige & the Original Recipe, Firework Show, The Graham Whorley Band and more.

For Hodges, the compilation is just a first step in a long-term commitment to area musicians. "We're here to serve the community and plan to stick around a long time," he says. "This is my passion and I'm thrilled to work in such a great community of artists."

For more about the studio and "Charleston Sound Presents: I Got Music," log on to

The good, the bad and the spineless
By ANN THRASH, editor

AUG. 20, 2009 -- Summer isn't over in Charleston until Halloween, as far as I'm concerned, but with schools back in session this week, there's a summer's-over feeling in the air, and I've found myself looking back and reflecting on The Vegetable Garden That Was. It was my first venture growing veggies beyond the basic tomato-plant-in-a-pot efforts, and I'd say that all in all, it was a mixed bag with more positives than negatives. Some vegetables, we'll do again; others, we'll stick to picking up at the farmers market.


Back in the spring, my husband built a beautiful raised bed in a sunny corner of the garden, and we planted tomatoes, eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini and cucumbers. Here are the winners and losers from the crop:

The Biggest Flop Award: The cucumbers. All I can say is that they were a major disappointment - and in talking to other friends around the Lowcountry, it seemed that we weren't the only ones with a miserable crop this year. We got one normal-looking cuke; the rest were freak-show cukes, bulbous and sickly green on one end, skinny and white on the other. The vines were covered with flowers, but it was all show, no dough. We ended up with two -- that is, two that I wasn't scared to eat because they were so bizarre-looking.

The Biggest Surprise Award: Eggplant! We put out two plants, and we've been well-stocked with nice-sized, tasty eggplant for about six weeks now. The 'Black Beauty' variety did us proud. My favorite way to fix eggplant is a pretty simple takeoff on how Mom used to do it. I peel them, slice them pretty thin (about one-quarter of an inch) and let them sit for about 30 minutes in a mixture of 1 quart cold water and 2 tablespoons kosher salt. I drain them, rinse them and pat them dry, dip them in little beaten egg, then coat them with my favorite crumb mixture - it's regular dry bread crumbs, crushed Ritz crackers and little bit of cornmeal for crunch. We fry them in a little canola oil with a touch of butter (or, if I'm feeling decadent, a bit of bacon drippings). Good stuff!

Most Reliable Producer Award: The tomatoes. We started out with four plants; one died a mysterious death, and the other three produced pretty well until about a month ago. We weren't overrun with 'maters, but we had a good supply - just enough to keep us happy and to have some to share. We had some delicious tomato pie, plenty of sliced tomatoes for simple side dishes at supper, and a little extra for some homemade tomato sauce to put up for the winter. We also had some over-the-top BLTs, thanks to an addition that a food-loving friend recommended: a fried egg. Oh my. (By the way, I feel I should add that my cholesterol is just fine. "Everything in moderation" is the way to go.)

The Spineless Beauty Award: This goes to the zucchini. Actually, 'Spineless Beauty' is the name of the variety we got -- mostly because I bought the zucchini on the spur of the moment, hadn't done any research on varieties, and just thought the name was funny. Our zucchini turned out to be low in quantity, but high in quality - so while they lacked oomph (spineless), the ones we got were keepers (beauties).

The "What Did We Do to Deserve This" Award: Bell peppers, jalapeno peppers and figs. I call this the "What Did We Do to Deserve This" category because while we enjoyed good harvests of all three of these favorites, we didn't really do anything to earn them. The fig tree we have was planted by the previous owner of our house, and it's had a show-stopper of a year. We also were the lucky beneficiaries of some next-door neighbors who moved to Colorado last month and told us to help ourselves to their little garden patch after they left. We're missing them, but we're loving the stuffed jalapenos we've had.

So, all in all, our first "real" vegetable garden turned out to be a worthwhile venture. Now we're entertaining the idea of fall and winter vegetables -- so if you have any ideas or want to share what's worked for you, let me know.

Ann Thrash, editor of, can be reached at:

Thanks for taking us out to the ballgame

To the editor:

I simply wanted to thank you for the tickets to the RiverDogs game on Sunday and show you the joy on the little ones' faces in the picture below. You can let (RiverDogs General Manager) Dave Echols know that two free tickets turned into seven people going, and we got snared by several Dippin' Dots, brat and souvenir stands. Mine are the two blonde boys. We had a blast! Thanks again.

-- Jim Buxton, Charleston, SC

Editor's note: To the victor belong the spoils! Jim won our recent contest to guess the location of a photograph in downtown Charleston, and we're glad he enjoyed the RiverDogs tickets that were his prize. Pictured above are (from left) Barky the Tree, Virginia Buxton, Chelsea T. RiverDog, Julian Buxton, Thomas Buxton, Charlie T. RiverDog and a very happy Hugh Buxton.

Have a comment or want to vent? If you have something to say about leadership in South Carolina, the state of baseball today, good barbecue or something about your community's government, drop us a line to: Please send no more than 200 words and include contact information (phone number, hometown) so we can get in touch with you.

Pluff Mud Connect

The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring CharlestonCurrents to you at no cost. In this issue, we highlight Pluff Mud Connect, a new Web service that connects Lowcountry nonprofits and the businesses that serve them. Nonprofit organizations register for free, and can search across more than 100 categories or fill out a simple form to request multiple quotes from local businesses. Lowcountry sole proprietors, small businesses and corporations pay a low annual fee to market directly to nonprofit organizations and receive requests for bids via email. Pluff Mud Connect -- helping Lowcountry nonprofits and businesses thrive. Click here to send a message or visit online at: .

  • Later today: Announcement of the Thrive Prize winners!

County saves $350,000 with energy conservation program

Charleston County saved about $350,000 in the second half of the recently ended fiscal year by implementing a new internal initiative called the Energy Conservation Program. The program was put in place in March with goal of reducing the county's electricity consumption 10 percent by the end of fiscal year 2010 (July 1, 2009 - June 30, 2010) compared with fiscal year 2008. County officials recently measured their progress and, according to staff, a savings of $350,000 was realized between the time the program began and June 30, when the 2009 fiscal year ended.

"Our tracking system shows that we've made major progress in accomplishing our goal during the first few months of the program," said Dan Chandler, director of the Charleston County Facilities Department. "We've not only stopped the upward trend in electricity use, but also used nearly 7 percent less kilowatt hours than the year before."

"What is impressive about this campaign is that many of these things would have been easy to overlook," County Councilman Joe McKeown wrote to the county staff. "This is a great example of our staff trying to make a difference."

Because of the program's success, the County is continuing with its initiatives during fiscal year 2010, which began on July 1, 2009, and staff is continuing to look for new ways to cut costs. So far, some of the biggest cost savings measures have been:

  • Ensuring that office lights and equipment are turned off in the evenings and when rooms are not in use.

  • Setting temperatures in county buildings at a minimum cooling level of 74 degrees and a maximum heating level of 70 degrees.

  • Turning off or reducing heating and cooling systems in all nonemergency and noncritical facilities during off hours.

  • Replacing magnetic fluorescent ballast lighting with electronic ballast lighting as needed. This results in energy savings of 39 percent per fixture.

  • Replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact florescent bulbs as they burn out; this results in an energy savings of approximately 35 percent per bulb replaced.

  • Having more than 400 Charleston County electrical bills reviewed, which revealed that three rate schedules could be changed to reduce energy costs. The new rates took effect on June 1.

Town hall meeting to focus on arts community

The Charleston Arts Coalition, the city of Charleston's Office of Cultural Affairs and the College of Charleston will host a town-hall style meeting on Aug. 25 titled "Nursing Creativity Through the Economic Slump." The meeting will run from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Wachovia Auditorium in the Beatty Center, 5 Liberty St., at the College of Charleston.

The meeting is open to anyone in the creative community who is interested in exchanging ideas and raising awareness of how the creative arts make the Lowcountry a thriving and prosperous cultural city. The coalition will also announce the results of its recent survey of the creative community.

Jessica Solomon Bluestein, president of the coalition, says panelists for the meeting are expected to include Ellen Dressler Moryl, director of the Office of Cultural Affairs; Mark Sloan, curator at the College of Charleston's Halsey Institute; Karen Chandler, co-founder of Charleston Jazz Initiative and arts management professor at the College of Charleston School of the Arts; and Sharon Gracie of the League of Charleston Theaters. John W. Zinsser of Pacifica Human Communications will be the facilitator.

For more information about the arts coalition or to get involved, please visit

Provost Academy increasing size, distributing computers

Provost Academy, a new state-authorized public online high school that's free to S.C. residents, has increased its enrollment from 1,000 to 1,500 students this fall to accommodate the growing number of students enrolling, and administrators also say that those already enrolled will soon be receiving the technology equipment to begin their online education on Aug. 31.

Enrolled students will be provided a laptop computer, printer/scanner and Internet stipend to connect them to the online high school offered by Provost. Students work toward their regular public high school diploma as they would in a traditional school, but they work at home through computer-based educational programs.

"Unlike many other online schools, Provost Academy is providing the technology our students will need to take full advantage of the online educational experience we offer," said Dr. Darrell Johnson, the school's executive director. "For us, the computer is like a book a student checks out of the school library - it will cost them nothing to use it and (it will) have to be returned at the end of the school year."

Students can still enroll for the current academic year. To learn more, visit the Web site or call 1-877-919-7272.

Trident Health System earns heart care recognition

Trident Health System has achieved the bronze level in the American Heart Association's "Get with the Guidelines" program, a hospital-based quality improvement program that allows health care providers to consistently treat heart patients with the most up-to-date guidelines.

Trident submitted the necessary information and patient data to achieve the bronze level, but will continue to collect more data in an effort to achieve the silver award and then certification through the Joint Commission, according to a press release from the organization. The Joint Commission is an independent, not-for-profit organization that accredits and certifies more than 16,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. Joint Commission accreditation and certification is recognized nationwide as a symbol of quality that reflects an organization's commitment to meeting certain performance standards.

The overall mission is to "show a hospital's commitment to evidence-based care so patients have fewer readmissions and better care," said Catherine Reinhart, CV medical management coordinator at Trident Health System.

Trident Health System's goal for 2010 is to achieve the Joint Commission certification for heart failure treatment.

What's your favorite?

HAVE A REVIEW? If you have a review of a book, movie, restaurant or local arts endeavor, please send no more than 150 words to editor Ann Thrash. Make sure to include your name and full contact information.

Poets laureate

A poet laureate is a poetry writer who is honored, officially or unofficially, as the most distinguished or representative poet of a country or region. The South Carolina General Assembly made the title of state poet laureate official in 1934, proclaiming that "the Governor may name and appoint some outstanding and distinguished man of letters as poet laureate for the State of South Carolina."


That same year Governor Ibra Blackwood appointed Archibald Rutledge as the first official poet laureate of South Carolina. Born near McClellanville in 1883, Rutledge held the title until his death in 1973. During his almost forty-year tenure, he attained almost legendary stature among his fellow South Carolinians.

Altogether, South Carolina has had six poets laureate since 1934: Archibald Rutledge (1934-1973), Helen von Kolnitz Hyer (1974-1983), Ennis Rees (1984-1985), Grace Beacham Freeman (1985-1986), Bennie Lee Sinclair (1986-2000), and Marjory Wentworth (2003- ).

Poets laureate do not have a strictly delineated job description, beyond the expectation that they will present poetry at a few state occasions. Nor is the position meant to be a lucrative one. It carried a small annual stipend until 2003, when Governor Mark Sanford vetoed funding for the position. Despite the absence of actual duties, however, the poet laureate has the unique responsibility of bringing poetry out of the classroom and into the places where South Carolinians are living their lives.

-- Excerpted from the entry by Julia Arrants. To read more about this or 2,000 other entries about South Carolina, check out The South Carolina Encyclopedia by USC Press. (Information used by permission.)


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Telltale signs

Finish this sentence: "You know you're from Charleston, S.C., if …"
We found ourselves chuckling the other day when we found a Facebook page that asked that question - and gave a bunch of great answers. Here are not five, but 10 of them. You know you're from Charleston if …

  • You have tripped over the bricks downtown.

  • You know that you can't see 6 inches in front of you under water in the harbor.

  • You hold the door behind you for the next person.

  • You know that there is an island near Edisto called Monkey Island and that there are real monkeys on it.

  • You know not to go down Harborview Road at 5 o'clock.

  • You say or understand the meaning of "Bo."

  • You know that every year, at least one bad thing happens at the fair.

  • You know what The Washout is.

  • You know it's not a shopping cart, it's a buggy.

  • You wear sandals in the winter.

On reliable sources


"Nobody believes the official spokesman ... but everybody trusts an unidentified source."

-- Ron Nessen (1934 - ), former NBC News correspondent and former White House press secretary for President Ford


Going Green for the Girls II: 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 20, Halls Chophouse, 434 King St. Green Drinks Charleston, Carolina's Eco-Unit, and Halls Chophouse are throwing a second cocktail hour to help fund some simple energy-efficiency upgrades and retrofits to the historic building downtown that houses the Center for Women. Donation of $10 (cash or check at door) includes food samples. There will be a cash bar. More info online.

(NEW) TUW Battle of the Bands: 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Aug. 20, Music Farm, 32 Ann St., Charleston. Thirteen bands composed of local professionals will perform in the contest. As a requirement to compete, each band had to take part in a volunteer project with one of Trident United Way's funded partners this summer. Admission: $10 donation to Trident United Way, along with a business card (includes all you can eat and drink).

Health Care Films, Forum: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 20, North Charleston Picture House, 1080 E. Montague Ave., North Charleston. The Greater Park Circle Film Society will offer a forum on health care reform in conjunction with the premiere of two independent films, a documentary called "Charleston Health Care Stories" and a musical comedy called "Damaged Care." Following the films, panelists will react to the movies and discuss issues related to health care reform. Tickets: $2 film society members; $5 nonmembers, available at the box office starting at 6:45 p.m. the night of the event. Seating is limited, and a standing-room-only crowd is expected. More info: Online or 478-3911.

Buy or Burn Book Sale: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 22, Village Square Shopping Center, 1650 Sam Rittenberg Blvd. (formerly The Map Room); sneak preview ($10-per-person admission) from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 21. Event to benefit Trident Literacy Association. Wide variety of books, CDs, DVDs and other electronic media will be priced for quick sale; only cash or check will be accepted. Book donations will be accepted at the sale site from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily Aug. 17 to Aug. 20, or books can be dropped off at any Trident Literacy location. More info online or 747-2223.

RiverDogs Cow Bingo: 6 p.m. Aug. 22, Joe Riley Stadium. The Charleston RiverDogs' inaugural Cow Bingo contest will give participants a chance to win $5,000. The baseball field will be marked off as a grid with 10-foot-squares. Fans can purchase a square for $25, and if a cow "drops a chip" in a purchased square, that square's owner will win the money. There will also be line-dancing, hillbilly horseshoes, "moo'shine," "Ye Haw" contests, food, a dunk tank and more. The $25 fee for a square also includes two tickets to the event. Regular event tickets (square not included) are $5 (free to ages 12 and under). Tickets/more info: Online or 577-DOGS.


Women in IT: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Aug. 27, Tate Center, College of Charleston, Room 207 and Gallery. The forum will explore the challenges and opportunities for women in the IT industry with a panel of local industry leaders and educators. An MIT Enterprise Forum video from Technology Review's EmTech08 Conference will be shown, featuring successful female entrepreneurs in the industry with companies such as ZipCar, GoLoco, and Daily Grommet. Lunch and networking opportunities included. Registration (required): $20 (includes lunch). More info/registration.

Surf Seining at Sullivan's: 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Aug. 28, Station 30, Sullivan's Island. The Station 30 area on Sullivan's Island area has been a seining hotspot for generations. Join the experts from Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission to catch and discover a variety of marine critters at the first CCPRC seining program on Sullivan's Island. A registered and paid chaperone is required for participants ages 15 and under, and pre-registration is required. Open to ages 6 and up. Cost: $7 Charleston County residents, $9 nonresidents. Registration/more info, or 795-4FUN.

Chamber Grassroots Meeting: 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 1, Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, 2750 Speissegger Drive, Suite 100, North Charleston. The chamber will join the S.C. Chamber of Commerce and other area chambers in preparing for the 2010 legislative session with the annual Charleston Grassroots Regional Meeting, an open-forum session that's the first step in creating the 2010 Competitiveness Agenda and the business community's annual list of legislative priorities. Free. RSVPs/more info: Julie Scott by email or 803-255-2628.

Wine + Food Launch Party: 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 3, Founders Hall, Charles Towne Landing, 1500 Old Towne Road. Barbecue and beverages will be available, and the latest news about next year's BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival, including the lineup of chefs and authors, will be announced. Entertainment by the Blue Plantation Band. Tickets: $10 per person cash or check at the door, with proceeds benefiting the festival's charitable efforts. Reserve tickets by Aug. 31 by e-mailing or calling 727-9998, ext. 4.

Rice Plantation Program: 10 a.m. to noon Sept. 5, Caw Caw Interpretive Center, Ravenel. Investigate daily life and practices on a South Carolina rice plantation in the colonial era. Examine the details of field construction, planting, cultivation and harvest to reveal an endeavor of amazing scope. Advance registration required; a registered and paid chaperone is required for participants age 15 or younger. Open to ages 9 and up. Cost: $7 Charleston County residents, $9 nonresidents. More info: 795-4FUN or click here.

(NEW) League of Women Voters Fall Kick-Off: 6:30 p.m. Sept. 16, Renaissance on the Harbor, 100 N. Plaza Court, Mount Pleasant. Two S.C. House members representing Charleston County -- Republican Jenny Horne and Democrat Anne Peterson Hutto -- will talk about their experiences as first-term representatives and their priorities for the upcoming legislative session in January. The Charleston County League of Women Voters will also provide information about its activities. Free. Parking available across the street in the Belvidere lot and next door at the Motley Rice building. More info: 745-5166 or

(NEW) Entertaining Charleston Style: 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays, Sept. 30 through Nov. 18, Culinary Institute of Charleston's Palmer Campus, 66 Columbus St., Charleston. A series of short courses celebrating the many facets of entertaining with a focus on Charleston style and traditions. Guest presenters include hosts, event professionals, authors, collectors, stylists and other specialists known for their distinctive contributions to local hospitality and tourism. Light beverage and cocktail samplings will be provided. Cost: $149. More info/registration.

Wednesdays on the Waterfront: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesdays through mid-October, Pier Plaza at Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park. Free concerts for the community. Beverages available for purchase at pier shop. Bring a chair or use the benches and tables at the site. Upcoming performers include Nick Collins, acoustic guitar, Aug. 12, and Jeff Norwood, Southern Blues revivalist, Aug. 19. More info: Online or 884-8517.


In this section, we offer a list of good reads that you might want to consider reading:

  • A Short History of a Small Place, T.R. Pearson
  • The Book of Marie, Terry Kay
  • Charleston Jazz, Jack McCray
  • I'll Be Sober in the Morning: Great Comebacks, Putdowns, and Ripostes, Chris Lamb (List)
  • Plain Speaking: An Oral Biography of Harry S. Truman, Merle Miller

  • Suggest a book to us


11/5: McCutcheon: Work gap
Ohl: On carpooling
Wiedman: Women at Gibbes
10/26: Matouchev: Bear markets
Conover: BarCamp buzz
Wilson: Symphony update
Bender: Special Olympics
Baron: Breast Center
Ginn: Growing prosperity
Buffum: Waterkeeping
Personal branding
Acker: Designer fashion
Spencer: Art galleries
Riley, Moryl: MOJA
Gaither: Green Room
Chesson: Museum Mile
Barnette: Chas. Ballet
Deaton: Thrive Prize


11/5: Improving turnout
10/29: Celebrating a year
10/22: Good, bad signs
10/15: Bob's new food show
10/8: Robot ice cream
10/5: Costumes, snarks
Must-see TV
9/17: Fall leaves
Cold comfort, more
Being a fan
Good, bad, spineless
Locals on Runway
Cookie contest
Vote on car tags
True confessions
New way of tithing?
Lookout for manatees


11/2: Boeing highlights needs
No place for prejudice
Have fun at Halloween
Renovated Gaillard?
10/1: Napa wine trip
9/28: Anti-crime measures
9/21: Caw Caw park
Debris policy
Mystery solved
This and that
SC's treasures
8/17: RIP to old clunker
8/10: Lots to squeeze in
8/3: On flying Delta
7/27: Conspiracy theories
7/20: Protect carriage animals
7/13: Economic thaw here?


11/5: Weather watching
5 cooking classes
Best lists of year
Oyster recycling
Howl-o-ween fun
Giving blood
Top ratings
Major league
Book sale
Citadel football
Taste of Charleston
Feeding the need
History for sale
Shrimp baiting
Day of Caring
Free legal clinics

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