Straight Outta Content: A Brief History of Charlotte vs. Raleigh

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Some people think that I’m not qualified to have an opinion on Charlotte. They claim that I can’t fairly judge the city since the only time I’ve ever been there was on a field trip to Discovery Place when I was in the 5th grade. For those that don’t know, taking a field trip to Charlotte in the 5th grade is an ITB rite of passage, or form of corporal punishment, depending on whom you ask. They say time heals all wounds, but it doesn’t erase the entire memory of being kidnapped by the Wake County Public School System and forced to visit some sort of brainwashing propaganda center disguised as a museum. I’ve repressed this memory, but I’m willing to share it with you now:

Flashback to 1995 – Discovery Place Museum – Charlotte, NC
The air was thin. I could barely breathe. Three hours earlier I had fallen asleep on a charter bus parked outside of Aldert Root Elementary school. I was now being gently shaken by Ms. Roberts, the hot 5th grade student teacher from Meredith. Where were we? As usual, she ignored my questions and continued to help my classmates get off the bus. We were shuttled single file towards a building with a glass façade and a sign that read “Discovery Place” over the entrance. My classmates and I waited outside in the cold with nothing but our monogrammed fleeces and L.L. Bean boots to protect us from the elements. A young girl came to the door to let us inside. “Welcome to Charlotte!” she said as she held the door for us. I gasped audibly and then checked to make sure I hadn’t soiled my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles tighty whities. Charlotte?!? We were IN Charlotte?!? This had to be against some sort of law. Who would do this to us? I immediately turned to Ms. Roberts and begged to go to the restroom, knowing she couldn’t legally go inside with me. Once inside I pulled out my 10 pound cell phone and called Dad. He answered after 20 rings.

Me: Dad?! Thank God you answered. I think my entire class has been kidnapped!
Dad: What are you talking about and why are you on your mother’s cell phone?
Me: This morning when I got to school they loaded us up on a charter bus, Ms. Roberts made me drink something that tasted like cough medicine, then they told us we were going on a field trip to a “big city”. Three hours later we ended up in something called “Discovery Place”…… IN CHARLOTTE!!!
Dad: I know that.
Me: WHAT?!? You knew that and willingly allowed me to go to Charlotte?!
Dad: Yes, it’s like getting a vaccination. You need to go there once so you’ll know to never go back again. I told Ms. Roberts to knock you out with cold medicine so you wouldn’t have a panic attack and refuse to go. I’m hanging up the phone now, this call is $29 a minute because you’re roaming.
The phone clicked as I tried to process what I’d just learned. My parents willingly sent me to Charlotte so I would learn first hand that I should never return? Maybe they were just trying to protect me. Maybe they really did love me after all.

Needless to say, I intentionally learned nothing about Charlotte during my time there. Despite my efforts to remain immune to the Queen City, I’ve still been exposed to enough of its arrogance and inferiority complex to know that it’s not for me. Charlotte has a long history of trying to fire up the Charlotte vs. Raleigh debate. We normally don’t take the bait since we have better things to do. We have parks to design, Trolley Pubs to hate, restaurants in the Ashley Christensen food court to dine at, etc. Here are just a few examples of Charlotte’s unflattering obsession with trying to make Raleigh out to be the lesser city.

The Raleigh > Charlotte T-shirt
To be fair, this was in reaction to a t-shirt that was made by a Raleigh resident stating a simple fact, Raleigh > Charlotte. In this response video, two mouth breathers claim that Raleigh hates Charlotte and that Charlotte simply doesn’t care. Totally not caring at all, they proceed to do a 6 minute and 53 second segment on the topic. I can’t even begin to respond to this. Just watch the segment and die a little bit inside like I did.

The Mark Washburn Incident
Mark Washburn is a writer for the Charlotte Observer. He wrote some click-bait titled “Boredom takes flight in Raleigh” in an attempt to generate pageviews for his flailing publication. He was trolling Raleigh and got exactly what he wanted. Everyone got all fired up and I joined in with this picture.

I was going to address every single sentence from the original story but I have better things to do. The backlash spread so much that WNCN did a story about the reaction to Washburn’s story. You’ll notice my tweet is above the fold (that’s a newspaper term that means I’m important).

As with any event that generates mild outrage, a Raleigh t-shirt company made some “Keep Raleigh Boring” t-shirts to make a quick buck off of it.

The Charlotte Magazine Cover
This week, something called “Charlotte Magazine” ran a cover story titled “Charlotte vs. Raleigh” and I just couldn’t stay silent any longer. I posted a picture of the cover to Instagram and made a few key points.

This is hysterical for three reasons: A.) Charlotte has to put Raleigh on the cover to sell magazines 2.) The stupid thought bubble over the guy’s head says “Where’s Raleigh?” like it’s supposed to be some sort of insult that the transplant from New Jersey doesn’t know where we’re located. Dude, you’re wearing a shirt with a crown on it like some reject Dad from Toddlers and Tiaras. Go back to whatever gym you work at that’s just going to close in 3 months when a new one pops up in the suburb next to yours and makes you immediately outdated. D.) They’re still doing stories about Steve Smith. He plays for the Ravens now. He played for the Ravens last year too. Let. It. Go. Charlotte vs. Raleigh will never be a “thing” so just stop. Ever met someone FROM Charlotte? Didn’t think so. For a great magazine about Raleigh and ITB, check out @waltermagazine (Pic from @teamhinkle)

A photo posted by William Needham Finley IV (@wnfiv) on

Note: the “A.) 2.) D.)” format is a Home Alone reference.    

As expected, Raleigh residents validated my existence by liking the picture, while Charlotte residents replied with “jokes” that aren’t even worth reading. I didn’t waste time responding to any of them because you can’t argue with people that don’t have souls. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, and an internet meme is worth a million words, I simply replied with this. 

I

I’ll just leave this here for now. A photo posted by William Needham Finley IV (@wnfiv) on

I have an ITB wedding to attend this weekend and don’t have the time or energy to spend analyzing this manufactured “feud”. I have plenty of friends from Raleigh that moved to Charlotte who don’t even acknowledge the “Charlotte vs. Raleigh” issue. They are two totally different cities and that’s fine. It’s just sad that Charlotte Magazine has to resort to this in order to sell magazines. To even try to understand where their inferiority comes from, you must put yourself in their shoes. You grow up in a suburb of a larger city, let’s say New Jersey. You identify with strip malls and chain restaurants like Chili’s and T.G.I. Friday’s because it’s all you’ve ever known. You know this isn’t luxury and it makes you feel empty inside. You’re a big fish in a small pond and you need to go where it’s “pay to play”, where people will accept you as long as you flaunt your pseudo wealth while grabbing drinks with the bros from your entry level finance or sales job.

For some reason you choose Charlotte, a nice sized suburb of South Carolina. You can’t wait to brag about a skyline with a few dozen buildings. They’re so tall! Maybe you’ve heard of Brazwells and the time that girl pooped in her pants at the bar. You want to get that drunk. Maybe you’ve heard of Selwyn Pub and how Michael Jordan has a parking spot reserved for him for when he picks up take-out. You like Michael Jordan. Maybe you’ll see him get out of his expensive car. Just being near an expensive car will validate your existence. You pack up your U-Haul, tell everyone on Facebook that you’re moving, and hit the road. Charlotte, here you come.

You’re a few months in and things start to go wrong. You haven’t seen Michael Jordan get take-out yet and you aren’t making six figures after spending all day in the office on Gchat gossiping about what happened at Brazwells. You start to look around for a reason to justify your life choice. Hey, what’s this other city that keeps appearing on all these Top 10 lists? Raleigh? Rawl-lee? How do you pronounce that? Why is this place totally ok with its position as a medium sized city that’s growing while keeping its culture? What is culture? These questions are called “feelings” and they’re overwhelming you. You don’t know how to handle them so you immediately dismiss this threat. “Raleigh is boring. They don’t even have NASCAR or an Uptown and their mayor isn’t in prison for taking bribes. Who cares about college sports? I didn’t even go to college. Let’s go pound some Bud Light Platinums at the Panthers tailgate! CAMTHERS!!!!! Raleigh doesn’t have an NFL team! What a bunch of losers.”

Raleigh continues on, unaware of your existence and of how massive your inferiority complex has become. To Raleigh, you’re just the capital of North Georgia. Raleigh’s indifference to you eats away at your psyche. Desperate for attention you decide to write some articles about how boring Raleigh is. You make some hateful videos in which you claim you’re just “pointing out the differences” between the two cities. You act like Raleigh is the little brother that you never wanted. Well, Raleigh never wanted you either. You moved to Atlanta Junior and that’s ok. Just embrace it. Raleigh doesn’t hate you. Raleigh doesn’t care enough to hate you.