News+Opinion » Chris Haire

The Commerce Department disses Park Circle

Huck Off

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Look, I'm not happy with what they've done to Huck Finn. But I understand it. The powers that be in the literary world want to make this classic more acceptable for younger readers. However, I simply will not stand for what they plan to do to the greatest literary work of the 20th century: Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. What they have in mind is the biggest literary crime since Ethan Hawke's debut novel.

Recently, a spy within an unnamed publishing house sent me an advanced copy of the revised Fear and Loathing. I will share a portion of it with you despite a stern warning that doing so will jeopardize my career. But it's a risk I'm willing to take. After all, if enough of us raise our voices, if enough of us tell them to take their damn edit-happy hands off of our most beloved books, then perhaps the lords of the book-publishing world will stop this monstrosity from ever getting a Dewey decimal number.

I've included an excerpt from the more kid-friendly Fear and Loathing so you can judge for yourself if they have gone too far in their efforts to woo younger readers:

"The trunk of the car looked like a mobile candy store. We had two bags of gummy bears, 75 Jolly Ranchers, five feet of cherry Twizzlers, a salt shaker half full of Red Hots, and a whole galaxy of multicolored Nerds, Gobstoppers, Sour Patch Kids, Pixie Sticks ... and also a quart of Jolt Cola, a quart of Hi-C, a case of SunnyD, a pint of Hawaiian Punch, and two dozen Capri Suns ... Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious sugar rush, the tendency is to push it as far as you can. The only thing that really worried me was the Jolt Cola. There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of a Jolt binge. And I knew we'd get into that rotten stuff pretty soon."

I know what you're thinking. It's worse than a reality TV show starring Sarah Palin or a tweet from Kanye West. It's utterly and completely horrifying. But it's nowhere near as frightening as the state Commerce Department's plan to run a new rail line through the north end of the Navy Yard, a move that will destroy Park Circle.

According to the Commerce Department's proposal, the primary rail line leading from the yet-to-be-built North Charleston port to Norfolk Southern's intermodal terminal will go up Virginia Avenue — near Madra Rua and the Mill — and cross over North Rhett just before the I-526 overpass. When the line is in use, it will effectively cut off Park Circle from I-526 traffic, blocking drivers to and from Mt. Pleasant, West Ashley, Hanahan, and Goose Creek. And that includes Park Circle residents, patrons of the area's restaurants and bars, fans of the neighborhood's disc golf course, and the hundreds of kids who make the daily commute to Academic Magnet and School of the Arts, two of the top-rated schools in the state and the nation.

While it's true that the line in question currently sees some rail traffic, the number of times each day that North Rhett will be blocked by a train is sure to rise as port traffic increases and BMW's proposed auto terminal becomes operational. The result? Fewer and fewer people will visit the restaurants and businesses in Park Circle, the current residents of the revitalized area will see their property values drop, and the little borough that Men's Journal once called one of the "coolest neighborhoods" in the nation will turn into one of the Lowcountry's most depressing shitholes.

That is if North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey can't get the state to rethink its plan and agree to adhere to the 2002 memorandum of understanding between the city and State Ports Authority. In that document, the SPA agreed that no rail traffic from the proposed port would pass through the north end of the Navy Yard. And, although it was not stated directly in the agreement, by extension that would include Park Circle.

And if Mayor Summey can't get the Commerce Department to change its mind, then it's up to Park Circle residents to tell the state exactly what they think of the rail plan. As for me, my message to the Commerce Department is quite simple: Huck you and your motherhucking plan.

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