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Shrimp 'n Grits

Charleston’s Own Music Man
Lee Walton

If bedecked in his finest gold-fringed uniform and twirling a silver baton, Robert Preston, the late award-winning actor of stage and screen, would pale in comparison to the contorted visions, deals and shakedowns orchestrated by Charleston’s own Music Man, J Pericles Riley. Eighteen months ago the original Shrimp ‘n Grits version of whimsical verse repeated below described what was then a forecast of perceived threats to the fragile quality of life on the Peninsula. Today, each has become a tragic reality

Seventy-Six Condos

Seventy-six condos planned for Anson Field,
With a hundred ‘n ten hotel rooms built behind.
And as every “Ben Yeh” knows, it’ll be
Rows ‘n rows ‘n rows,
Of the most expensive housing Joe can find.

Seventy-Six Condos for every quid pro quo,
With deals and glowing kudos for all who sign.
There’ll be Knott ‘n Ginn ‘n Way,
Just in time to save the day,
As they all watch jealous Wally loose his mind.

There’ll be Laurens II a’ buildin’ on some old lagoons,
Settling, settling as it begins to sway.
Double deals, term conceals and big tycoons,
Overreaches, under-funds, will all end in disarray.

There’ll be carpetbaggers living on the Battery,
Movin’ here, movin’ in from up North by the score.
“Cum Yehs” in every guise,
And “Yankees” who’ve won their prize
With yuppie wealth and bad ideas galore!

No one to nix the condos built on Ripley Point,
While a hundred ‘n ten nail guns have their say.
To the tune of “Gentrify”!
All poor kids begin to cry,
As their parents lose their jobs and move away!

Seventy-Six Condos led the big charade,
As the Music Man barked orders loud and clear.
Starting with a prancing song to cover up his wrong,
And backed by praising cronies from the rear.

Two times six Jawbones sit and disappoint,
Allow a towering new hotel to block the air.
As we watch this priceless place end up in such disgrace,
Soon there’ll be no sun to shine on Marion Square.


With Literary apologies to Meredith Wilson

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