Durham news odds and ends, Durham.io podcast episode one edition

OK gang, this is a very special DNO&E: it includes the durham.io podcast episode one!

If you want to subscribe to the podcast, you can put this URL into your telephone.

This happens to be the last DNO&E of 2014, and possibly my last post period until after the holidays, so I hope you guys have a good Christmas or whatever.

And that’s that! Enjoy your holidays, people, the DNO&E sure will.

More protests, more arrests

In what’s becoming so frequent that it hardly deserves comment, protesters from Durham and elsewhere marched through town in response to recent grand jury decisions in New York and Ferguson.

The only notable difference in last night’s actions was that the DPD actually managed to stop protesters from blocking the freeway altogether when they attempted to enter near Swift Avenue. Eleven people were arrested.

Earlier this week, the protesters headed south, disrupting traffic around Southpoint mall.

The durham.io podcast, episode zero

So this is a thing I’m doing I guess.

This isn’t the real podcast. I haven’t totally figured that part out yet. This is basically a 16 minute sound test in which I give a bit of context about what I’m doing and ask for you guys to help.

Any feedback is welcome (yes, I already know I need a pop screen, sorry for the crackles…)

The Durham Fresh Market is now open!

I mentioned The Fresh Market briefly before, and now I’ll mention it briefly again: according to the Herald, the store is open for business:

The 23,400 square-foot store opened in Parkway Plaza Wednesday morning with a variety of activities, including chef demonstrations, food samplings, coffee giveaways and drawings for gift cards.

Parkway Plaza is the shopping center off University near MLK, one block south of the Super Target (which is on the former site of South Square Mall). The Fresh Market promises to be the new anchor for the strip mall, which fell upon somewhat hard times following the loss of its anchors Food Lion and K-Mart.

I can’t find any mention of the opening on The Fresh Market’s own web site, and I’ve seen coverage only in the Herald-Sun so far, so I don’t know if they’re operating at full capacity / hours yet. If you get a chance to check it out, let me know about your experiences in the comments section.

Durham’s grocery store situation seems to really be on the upswing; this is at least the third grocery store to open since last fall (along with the Ninth Street Teeter and Compare Foods on Miami). The Durham Co-Op Market on West Chapel Hill St. is also slated to open in January.

The Monuts soft (re)opening was last night!

It’s no secret that Lindsay and Rob have been preparing to move Monuts into the old Magnolia Grill building, but it caught me a bit off guard when they closed down their Parrish Street location two weeks ago. Unable to get my sugar fix, the knowledge that Monuts would be back again some day in December was cold comfort.

Well, here it is:

Yeah, crappy cell phone shot, but you can see the bar (and a very small part of the massive line).

They sprung the news of last night’s soft opening on Facebook only a couple of hours before service started at 5, but by the time we got there the line wrapped all around the bar and almost out the door. Right after we placed our orders, they shut down ordering for 20 minutes to catch up. Good timing I guess – or maybe the kid bouncing off the walls caused them to take pity upon us. We grabbed a seat and the food came out about 30 minutes later, which was honestly pretty impressive considering how busy they were.

I’m no foodie, but I know what I like, and I like Monuts. We grabbed a chocolate donut right away to appease the kid, and it was the typical delicious fare we’ve come to know and love from Monuts Uno. A big addition to the new location is a full dinner menu, which we took advantage of; we tried the beet and arugula salad, the chilaquiles, the curly fries, and the fried chicken with lentils. It was all pretty excellent.

Given how packed it was and how early it is I’m not really sure of how the restaurant is going to “feel” yet. I have a sense they’re angling for sort of a BCBB / Pompieri vibe; you order and pay at the counter, take a number (well, dinosaur), sit down at a table, and they bring the food out to you. The seating is also similar: booths, benches, long “family style” shared tables, and even the beginnings of a small kids’ nook in the corner. The bar is obviously front and center, which seems to really invite its usage.

This is the first time I’ve stepped into this building in years, and it’s really good to see it brought back to life again. Downtown won’t be quite the same now, but I suspect Monuts will do well in its new home.

Protesters hit up downtown, block the Durham Freeway again (Updated)

[NB: this post has been and may continue to be substantially updated as new information is made available]

Protesters of the recent grand jury decisions, in addition to Chapel Hill anarchist groups, rallied in Durham on Friday night. After gathering in the CCB plaza, they eventually moved on to block the freeway, marching through the streets near the DPAC and the police station for hours before some thirty people were arrested following vandalism and failure to disperse. There was only minor vandalism and property damage, but after the events were over the DPD did find an unused Molotov cocktail near Foster and Geer.

I happened to spot a group of protesters from the lobby of the DPAC (John Oliver was pretty great, for the record, although apparently he re-used a lot of material from his last visit):

Note that the particular crowd in this photo appears to include the Chapel Hill groups I talked about previously, easily identified by their signature “cops are liars” banner.

It seems as if a group of Durham residents gathered at the CCB plaza early in the night, showing solidarity in response to recent events elsewhere in the country. They were joined by the Chapel Hill anarchists, and the two groups commingled. Following that, the combined group started marching, eventually blocking traffic and causing minor property damage.

I think it’s worth pointing out here that the Council has been really aggressive in addressing some of the systemic biases that have been identified in the DPD over the past year, and the new policy requiring written consent for vehicular searches is a powerful reaction to the problems in the department. The events following Huerta’s death really brought the issue of racial profiling to the forefront, and there’s been a pretty solid response to the concerns brought to the Council by community leaders, which you can read about in none other than the New York Times.

Oh, and I really dig the bike cop representation here. Way to stay fit and mobile at the same time, DPD.

UNC Anarchists and prisonbooks.info plan an “emergency” protest this Friday at the CCB Plaza

Oh hey, the anarchists are back on tour in Durham! It looks like we’re in for another round of protests, this time ostensibly in response to the recent grand jury decisions in New York and Ferguson.

A year ago Durham took to the streets repeatedly in protest of the police murder of Chuy Huerta. On Tuesday November 25th we marched with Ferguson, shutting down NC-147 in a broad effort at disruption. That was just the beginning. Please show up Friday night with all your rage and anger at this disgusting, racist system.

[nb: Huerta was determined to have commited suicide while in DPD custody, not to have been killed by police]

According to /u/madaminternet, the event is slated for 7 p.m. on Friday, December 5, at the CCB plaza downtown.

Note that these are the same “anarchist” groups who joined the protests following Jesus Huerta’s death last year, escalating things with the cops until, you know, tear gas and such. They also apparently shut down the Durham Freeway last week following the Ferguson grand jury decision.

Who are these guys, anyway? Well, the Internationalist Bookstore in Carrboro is the hub of their activity. The book store is associated with the web site prisonbooks.info, which posts various anti-establishment news articles. Although neither the book store nor prisonbooks.info self identify as “anarchists,” the UNControllables do; that group uses the book store as a meeting place.

So here’s my take: regardless of these groups’ public personae, there are elements within them which aren’t predominantly concerned with racial inequality in America, nor are they especially interested in peaceful protests in response to racial injustice. I think the goal of these elements is disruption, with anti-police rhetoric as the real message, as evidenced by the “no justice, no peace, fuck the police” stuff and the vandalization of police equipment during the Huerta marches.

There are a lot of people in Durham and across the country who are asking tough questions about race in America right now. These are vital questions to ask and it’s important for people to show up and express their concerns peacefully. But the anarchists and other fringe groups who plan to attend Friday’s event have a history of escalating confrontations with the cops, which isn’t the sort of behavior typical in events organized by the NAACP and other more mainstream groups.

That’s all to say that there’s a real risk that things might go off the rails again Friday. So be careful, and if you do wish to participate be mindful of who’s running the show this time.

[Update: I’m not clear on whether the UNC anarchists and prisonbooks.info are actually planning the overall protest, but they do plan to be there with bells on]

[Update again: I’m sure a lot of people who want to attend are legitimately concerned about recent events and won’t be there simply to goad cops and create conflict, but I remember what happened when these groups got involved last year. There are elements of the anti-establishment fringe who are likely to be there, and peaceful protests are not assured.]

Construction of the downtown skyscraper project will require the removal of existing building façades

Austin Lawrence Partners, the relatively new owners of the Jack Tar Motel, will need to remove the façades of existing buildings on their skyscraper site:

The decision came after developers and engineers working on the project told the commission the façades’ existing brickwork is too fragile to be safely braced during the construction.

Tests found the strength of the bricks in some portions of the walls is “less than 15 percent of what you’d anticipate,” said Matt Ryan, a foundation engineer who’s working with developer Austin Lawrence Partners on the project.

You may remember those façades in the original rendering, which shows remnants of several nearby buildings integrated into the otherwise pretty generic structure:

Instead of supporting those façades through construction as originally hoped, the new plan calls for disassembly and reconstruction later on. They do intend to replicate the appearance of the current streetscape using the old materials if possible, but it sounds like the stuff is in pretty bad shape so expect it to be heavily supplemented with additional materials from other sources.

Due to the expiration of state-level tax credits, Austin Lawrence Partners needs to request demo permits by the end of the year, and the Historic Preservation Commission has signed off on the plan.

When looking this one up again over at opendurham, I had a double twinge of regret; not only due to the loss of the historic structures over the years, but also due to the unrealized Greenfire renderings, which seemed much more compelling than what Austin Lawrence Partners has whipped up for us. C’est la vie.

Ponysaurus is about to upgrade from nano to micro

The so-called “nanobrewery,” which has been operating out of the Cookery, has plans to open a home of its own. Given its limited production capacity, Ponysaurus has so far mostly been sold through local restaurants and at special events. This new facility will enable them to dramatically expand their market to include cans sold at retail.

Conceptually the facility sounds similar to the venerable Fullsteam, as it will include a bar and social space attached to the brewery itself.

The brewery will be located on the corner of Hood and Ramseur, which I assume places it in the brick garage on the southeast side of the intersection. Ponysaurus will be one block away from Bull City Ciderworks, but I guess they don’t need to worry about competition for long; the bulldozers will be coming for Bull City Ciderworks as soon as DPD HQ construction gets moving.

I just want to take a moment here to point out how unfortunate it is that the Council has deemed this area unworthy of salvation. Their thirst for urban renewal threatens to tank an area that was ripe for creative re-use and revitalization, as evidenced by new businesses springing up rapidly. It’s a shame that the city couldn’t have found a less disruptive place to put its shiny new government building.