An Issue of Plenty

Global warming indeed. On the day I write this, weather forecasters are calling for the temperature to reach 101 degrees. I tell you what, a mountain getaway sounds pretty good right about now. To that regard, I found our cover package (“It’s in the Mountains,” page 78) very useful.

When I first settled in Charlotte a little more than a dozen years ago, the nearby mountains were somewhat mysterious to me. I grew up in flat Florida (I believe mountain residents refer to my type as Floridiots—lovingly, I’m sure), and I just didn’t know what to make of all those hills and valleys and winding roads and waterfalls. Gradually, I’ve figured out what’s what and where’s where up there. Over my years at this magazine, we’ve written about the mountains several times, but I think this is the strongest package we have put together. We cover some old standbys, like Asheville’s Grove Park Inn and West Virginia’s Greenbrier, and we also offer some newer options and off-the-beaten-path ideas. I hope you find it useful as you plan your fall getaway (and you better be planning a fall getaway—you know you’ve earned it).

Partly by coincidence, partly by design, two stories in this issue are related in interesting ways. In “Look Homeward, Angel” (page 57), former Observer religion editor and columnist Ken Garfield writes about his personal experiences covering Billy and Ruth Graham and about coming to grips with the new Billy Graham Library. And in “Cartoonist, Prophet” (page 73) former Observer columnist Don Hudson remembers editorial cartoonist Doug Marlette, who won a Pulitzer for his work with The Observer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Ruth Graham and Marlette passed away earlier this year.

Billy Graham, of course, has been and remains a powerful force in evangelical Christianity. Marlette, on the other hand, made his bones skewering television preachers like Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker and Jerry Falwell. I wonder if the two ever met. Clearly, Graham has and Marlette had strong personalities, although Marlette showed his more through his drawings and prose (he became a successful novelist). Both shared a respect for the truth. I suspect that Graham would have asked Marlette to forgive his targets, and, Graham being the persuasive sort, I suspect that Marlette would have complied. I also suspect that if Graham for whatever reason were to ever step out of line, Marlette wouldn’t have hesitated to produce a cartoon.

This issue also contains the final segment of our four-part series on crime in Charlotte. It’s the most ambitious project this magazine has undertaken in the twelve years I’ve worked here, and it has stirred plenty of conversation in city hall and over local radio and television airwaves. All the credit goes to writer Melissa Hankins. She worked the phones and the streets to interview local leaders, police officers, judges, and criminals. And she put together four great stories that, together, explore the issue of crime here in exhausting and compelling detail. Read the story on page 100, and be sure to check out the series summary on page 107.
—Richard Thurmond

Categories: Editor’s Note, Opinion, The Buzz