Charlotte is a beautiful city. It has a pristine feeling to it, like they made it to be shiny and nice and they aim to keep it that way. Beautiful flowers and some big trees. The downtown area is not huge, but it has several modern looking skyscrapers close together, so when walking the streets, it has a very big city kind of feel. Only cleaner.
I enjoyed Charlotte when I first visited in 2003, so I was glad to be back for another look. This time my cousin Dru offered to let me stay at her place. I pulled into town early in the afternoon, stopping first downtown for a stroll. As I said, Charlotte is shiny and modern looking. The dominating tower of town has spikes on a conical spire roof. This is the Bank of America Tower. I made my way towards it, taking lots of pictures. I noticed a lot of police presence, as well as security guards dressed just like police, around all the main plazas of the tall buildings.
I went into the Bank of America tower, smiling at the guards who were eyeing me inquisitively. I could tell right away that this was a high security area, and even though I suspected it was hopeless, I went to the visitor desk and explained my situation, asking if I could go up to grab some pictures.
I was met with a bewildered and slightly indignant "No of course you can’t just go up." I’ve run into this before. In most cases, the elevators are open and I can just go right up. Sometimes the staff at the top floors shoo me away, sometimes they grant me access to windows with views. Often times I can get up and get pictures without being bothered.
And then there are some places where they have keycard entry and security posts. Boo police state! You’re ruining our agorist photography opportunities. I tried another tower in Charlotte that day and was again rebuffed, though the second guy seemed to have more compassion for me. He was truly sorry he couldn’t allow me up. It seems reasonable enough, after all. I just want to take a few pictures and be on my way.
But this was forbidden. Back out in public, I resumed my picture taking, but I was soon approached by a man dressed like a drill sergeant, in brown. He was private security.
“You can take any pictures of this plaza. Or this tower.”
He got the eyebrow. “What nonsense is this?” I asked.
“It’s a policy that no photography is allowed on these premises.”
“We’re in public,” I said.
“This is private property, though.”
I thought this was both funny and very sad. This was the world that’s going on. The world of fear and militarism to protect us from all the threats. Photography? Verboten!
I told this guy that whoever told him this is mistaken. Nobody has the authority to prohibit me from taking pictures in public, private property or not. Private property that is really private, fine. You don’t want me taking pictures inside your house? Fair enough. This is different though. I took another picture anyway, wondering if I was violating the non-aggression principle.
The topic would come up again for me, very soon. A few blocks down I was taking a picture of a flower bed when another young uniformed guy came up and told me that I wasn’t allowed to be taking pictures in the plaza. Private property and all.
I questioned him on this matter. “Why is this? Is there a reason they’re being so uptight?”
“Yes. The reason is 9-11.”
“What has that got to do with photography?”
“People planning a job will scope a building. Take pictures.”
This seemed highly naïve to me. People doing a job like that don’t need to take pictures. “You realize that the CIA and Moussad were responsible for 9-11, right? This whole hijacker story is a fraud…”
“You don’t even need to be telling me about that. I know more about the whole thing than you.”
“You think so?” I asked, delighted to find out if this was true. I was ready to get right into it.
“I am a very informed person. I know what’s going on. But this conversation is only to let you know that you can’t take pictures.”
“Except from the sidewalk.”
“That’s right. If you step over there,” I moved two feet, “you can take pictures. That is public property.”
“Now my angle isn’t right,” I complained. “The world has gone mad.”
Smiling he returned to his post. I concluded my walk and went back to the car. Time to get out of downtown and find out where Dru’s house was. The directions were simple, and I followed them into a really nice, old neighborhood. The main drag was lined with really old turn of the century mansions, and some really beautiful stone churches. When I realized I was at the house, I was blown away. What a gorgeous home!
I will write an article about that house and my stay there another time. For now, I’ll just say that it was a lovely stay, and very productive. Dru and her family were actually not home, so I had the house to myself. I took several days to work, having done lots in the last week that I needed to compile. It was great to have the time in such a beautiful setting. There was a beautiful garden and a grand piano too, so that made me very happy. It was a setting very conducive to creativity, no doubt.
Even several days in a row was not enough to catch up on all I had to do, but I got ahead on uploading articles that are ready to post, so I can spread them out over time. This is a grind, that’s for sure. I worked for about ten hours a day, I would guess, taking some time for walks through the neighborhood (every single house was photo-worthy) and around the grounds of these really beautiful stone churches.
I also took an afternoon to go hang out in Freedom Park, which was close by. I took my guitar and some oranges and some of my books and I set up on the grass. I used to enjoy hanging out in the parks this way, on the poncho, for as long as I felt like it. What a beautiful park!
I left Charlotte bound for Norfolk, stopping over in Raleigh for a walk. Next stop, Richmond, and the Liberate RVA folks. I’ve always enjoyed the style of discourse they use when they speak to people about certain issues, and it seems a highly effective way to get real communication opened up. Check out the videos Kal makes at Liberate RVA, talking about anarchy and freedom with people in the streets.
I plan to join him on just such an expedition, so stay tuned for that! Peace, love, and agorism my friends.