The morning was grey and overcast, and it had been raining, but it wasn’t at the time I checked out of the hotel. There was a restaurant called the 501 Diner down the road from the hotel, and I ate breakfast there, and then drove on into the downtown area of Chapel Hill, which somewhat reminded me of Bloomington, Indiana.
The CD Alley store that I needed to visit wasn’t open yet, so I drove further down the street into Carrboro, where there was a cool used book store, and there I purchased several books by Bertolt Brecht. There was a coffee house across the street from the bookshop, so I stopped there for a latte, and by then CD Alley was open. Next door to the record shop was a Marxist-Socialist-Anarchist bookstore called Internationalist Books, and in there I found a book that I had been looking for about the Wilmington Ten case. The other music store in Chapel Hill, Back Door Music, turned out to be used only, and the rain had picked up somewhat when I visited there.
I then drove on to Durham, first to Bull City Records, which proved to be a vinyl only store, and then to Offbeat Music, which is one of the best record stores I had ever been in. The store was located in Brightleaf Square, former Liggett & Myers tobacco warehouses that had been turned into a collection of hip boutiques, shops and bistros. The store was full of used classical and jazz CDs, as well as great imports, and it was all I could do to keep from spending all my money there. A Brazilian bistro across the courtyard had good espresso and gelato, and then I drove on over to Raleigh, with the rain even heavier. I stopped at Schoolkids Records near the North Carolina State campus, as well as a coffee bar and two used record/bookstores, and then I drove through downtown over to the eastside, where there was a store called Mr. Freeze’s, not far from a housing project.
Further out on the northeast side was a store called Big Katt Records, and once I had left some promotional things there, I headed eastward toward Greensboro and Winston-Salem, making a brief detour into Burlington to stop at Keith’s CDs & Tapes. Finding a decent place to eat dinner proved to be far more difficult than I had imagined.
I passed on through Greensboro into Winston-Salem and got checked into my suite at the Residence Inn. I then decided to eat dinner at The Loop Pizza Grill, which was outstanding, and then I drove downtown looking for live jazz or at least a coffee bar. Winston-Salem’s downtown was dead, looking like it had experienced a half-renaissance that died aborning. Few places were open, although I did find a coffee bar, but, by the time I located a jazz event (in Greensboro) it was too late to go back over there. I finally drove back to my hotel and went to bed. (November 13, 2008)