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Shrimp 'n Grits

Shrimp ‘n Grits - reflections upon the beginning…
Lee Walton

Believe it or not, Shrimp ‘n Grits is celebrating the beginning of its third year as a thorn in the rear of the “powers that be” who think they rule the minds and hearts of the few caring “Charlestonians”, natural or naturalized, left in this fair City.

The following is a slightly edited version of the very first “Shrimp ‘n Grits” article authored by Lee Walton. But for a few parenthetical additions to make it timely today, little else has changed in “Riley World” but for the increase in those “from off” wandering the streets of Charleston like a herd of strange beasts from far away lands “East of the Kingdom of Nod”.


“I’m sick and tired of hearing the Mayor bragging about his vast knowledge of Charleston’s architecture, history and economy. To test his vast reservoir of current events, I challenge him to take the following exam that any South-of-Broad “Blue Blood” born before 1960 could “Ace” with ease. It will be jointly administered by Clemson’s School of Architecture and the College of Charleston’s Business Department.

1. Calculate the smallest diameter Palmetto tree planted on the outside of the curve along the Ashley River Walk at the east end of Broad Street that will withstand the impact of a BMW SUV driven westbound at 35 MPH by a person “From Off" who just got appointed to the SC Aquarium Board (in the past two years, there have been a least a half dozen more “blown-out palms” in this curve – Steve Livingston must buy them by the dozen).

2. Which of these cars will rust out the quickest when repeatedly driven through a foot of salt water standing in the intersections of Wentworth and Gadsden and Wentworth and Barre?

A. A 2004 Volvo Wagon with “Ashley Hall” and “SCA Supporter”
rear window stickers

B. A 2000 silver BMW Z4 driven by the youngest attorney at
BMS&McG

C. A 1985 Chevy Blazer with two Boykin Spaniels and a bumper
Sticker that says “It’s The Drainage Stupid”

D. A 1998 Crown Victoria “Yellow Cab” that spent its first
200,000 miles as a Charleston City Police Cruiser.

3. Three of Charleston’s best-known developers begin buying up all the property around Marion Square. How many new eight-story hotels must they build before there are enough tourists in Charleston to pay back the principal and interest on the City’s $9.3 million Aquarium Bond (now that Wally owns Ansonborough Field, the answer is - two 50-room hotels, plus anything else “Little Joe” wants him to build)?

4. One of "Charleston's Finest" operates a motorcycle "Speed Trap" every morning for two hours at the crest of the SC-61 Expressway as it crosses over Folly Road. How many Porter Gaud parents must be ticketed each year to pay for two City police cars to go to the Town of Santee four days a week for coffee and donuts (believe it or not, this little “speed trap” is still a favorite money maker for City Hall)?

5. How many historic homes South-of-Broad must be sold to multi-millionaires "From Off" each year to use only during the Spoleto Festival before SCE&G can divert half its generating capacity to the new residential developments on Daniel Island and turn off all the unneeded street lights down town (apparently the Mayor hasn’t got what it truly means to be “Green” – the palm tree lights from Christmas still burn 24/7 on Broad Street – so much for energy conservation – what a joke!)?

6. A new front porch is to be built onto a house located on the west side of Ashley Avenue just south of Calhoun. The contractor will construct it using 1x6 pine decking over 2x8 pine joists with 16-inch centers on a brick foundation. The BAR has approved a maximum width of 8 feet and a length of 24 feet. What is the maximum wave height the new porch can withstand when hit by a wave from a CARTA bus going north at 30 MPH with one (1) passenger? With two (2) passengers (Ask Council member Gilliard - he seems to be the only “brains“ left on City Council)?

7. The same family has owned a house for generations on the "East Side" and struggles each year to pay the property taxes. The current couple has four children in public school; the mother and father both work long hours in low-wage hospitality jobs at a new down town hotel. How many “Drug Sweeps” must the City Narcotics Squad make each month before the current owners sell out in the depths of despair and fear to a young, wealthy, gentrification minded couple “From Off” who will triple their investment when they sell the same house again in three years (not to fear, “Buck Wheat” has bought the whole neighborhood out, including the council members that represent everything north to the City of North Charleston)?


8. A 40 feet long tour bus is overloaded and proceeding up East Bay Street at 25 MPH as the driver narrates a tour; the brakes fail. Given average traffic conditions on a Saturday afternoon between Queen and South Market, how many loaded rickshaws must the bus driver run-over before the bus comes to a complete stop?

9. A walking tour has 20 customers “From Off”, the average age is 58 and each male drank two (2) cups of coffee before they started walking down Meeting Street from the Mills House Hotel. How far will the tour walk before at least three men ask where is the nearest restroom? After being told that the nearest is in a parking garage at the corner of Mid Atlantic and Prioleau about five blocks away, how far past Water Street will the tour get before the first man sprints north?

10. MUSC continues to build many tall, massive buildings on the west side of Courtney between Spring and Calhoun. Because this area of Charleston was a tidal mud flat and garbage dump until the early 1960’s, everything must be built on 100 feet long piling. Each time a pile driver drops, the surrounding streets sink another 64th of an inch as the underlying mud and decayed garbage settles. How many inches per year will Bee Street sink at the present rate of construction before it’s covered with two feet of water at high tide? How many years will it take before City Council passes an ordinance to prohibit imported gondola rentals by enterprising med students on the newly created “Canals of Charleston” (just try to go north from Calhoun to String Street on Courtney during a high tide and you’ll find out quickly why all the “Been Here’s” own big SUV’s”)?

Good Luck Mayor- You have thirty minutes to complete this exam. No! David and Laurie can’t help you (even with LOT’s of help, “Little Joe” still can’t get five out of ten right).”

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