15 folks who made a brief but impactful appearance | Features | Charleston City Paper

15 folks who made a brief but impactful appearance 

15 Minutes of Fame

These folks made a brief but impactful appearance on the scene before fading out for whatever reason.

These folks made a brief but impactful appearance on the scene before fading out for whatever reason.

click to enlarge Linda Ketner - PROVIDED

Linda Ketner

A few facts about Linda Ketner's 2008 campaign for the S.C. District 1 seat in the U.S. House of Representatives: She wanted to overhaul the No Child Left Behind Act. She opposed school-choice vouchers. She wanted to protect rivers from mercury contamination. But Ketner says some people never considered her platform when she took on incumbent Republican Henry Brown. Instead, she remembers being judged — whether positively or negatively — as a Democrat, a woman, and an openly lesbian candidate. "You become a projection screen," she recalls. "People get these really strong feelings and love you or hate you, and it doesn't have that much to do with substance or content or who you are." Ketner lost the campaign by a mere four percentage points, but she didn't come away jaded, and she says she might consider running for office again. "I still believe in the system," she says. "I just think the American voter needs to take more responsibility for understanding substantively who they're voting for." —Paul Bowers

click to enlarge Alex Sanders - FILE PHOTO

Alex Sanders

The old joke goes that, when archeologists pulled the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley out of the Charleston harbor, they found a bumper sticker on the back that said, "Re-Elect Strom Thurmond." But when ol' Strom decided not to run for re-election in the 2002 race for South Carolina's District 3 seat, after nearly a half-century in office, it seemed like a Democrat might have a chance. That Democrat was Alex Sanders, the former chief judge of the S.C. Court of Appeals and ex-president of the College of Charleston who had also served some time in the state House and Senate. He campaigned hard but ultimately lost, carrying 44 percent of the vote against Republican Lindsey Graham's 54. These days, Sanders — who has also worked as an Army soldier, soybean farmer, and circus performer, according to his CofC profile — teaches in the College's Department of Political Science, and he is founder and chairman of the board of the Charleston School of Law. —Paul Bowers

click to enlarge John Graham Altman III - PROVIDED

John Graham Altman III

The City Paper's first nine years as a newspaper were John Graham Altman III's last nine years as a state legislator, and boy, did we give him hell. Truth be told, he was kind of asking for it, what with his tirades against "the militant homosexual crowd," his critiques of women who return to abusive partners, and the bill he wrote allowing Charleston to secede from the state over tax cap issues. Altman continued practicing law after leaving office in 2006, but he left the workforce in November 2011. "I didn't have enough money to retire, so I just quit," he says. Altman is just as feisty as ever, though. He supports the state Voter ID law, and as a former Charleston County School Board member, he sees the current board as far too deferential. "On Thursday after the election, the Election Commission certifies you as a winner, and they put you in a white unmarked van and take you to the animal shelter, where they spay and neuter you and deliver you over to the superintendent," he says. That's our John. —Paul Bowers

click to enlarge Thomas Ravenel - PROVIDED

Thomas Ravenel

In November 2006, Thomas Ravenel was the It GOPer of the Palmetto State. The then-44-year-old had a lot in his favor. He was handsome, single, wealthy, and the newly elected South Carolina state treasurer. But less than a year later, Ravenel was the It GOP Scandal. In January 2007, T-Rav was arrested on a federal cocaine distribution charge, and shortly thereafter, he resigned. And like that, Ravenel's political career had seemingly come to an end. These days, the son of former U.S. Congressman Arthur Ravenel Jr. has said goodbye to his bad-boy ways and is looking forward to the future. First up, starting a family. "Strom Thurmond didn't have kids until he was 68," the still-single T-Rav says, adding that by that standard, "I've got some time." When he's not running his real estate empire, Ravenel works out and plays polo. "They need to make that illegal because it's the most dangerous sport there is," he says. "Drugs are bad. I'm not saying they aren't. But prohibition is worse." Ravenel has also remade himself as something of a political commentator, writing op-eds about the failed War on Drugs and the dangers of the military-industrial complex. As for the future, T-Rav hasn't ruled out a return to the political arena, but right now, he says, "I don't think my candidacy will be viable." But that could change if public opinion shifts regarding the War on Drugs. If that happens, as one of the few drug war critics in the GOP, Ravenel could once again see his star on the rise. —Chris Haire

click to enlarge Maria Goodloe-Johnson - PROVIDED

Maria Goodloe-Johnson

For some strange reason, Charleston County School District Board of Trustee meetings have become something of a spectator sport. More often than not, it seems that many of the board members, as well as the usual gang of critics, care less about improving our schools than in dismantling the entire school district. And nobody knows this better perhaps than former Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson, the first African American to serve in that post. Despite her successes — improving SAT scores, the Plan for Excellence — she earned the wrath of critics because she had become pregnant out of wedlock. A cabal of candidates — a.k.a. The A-Team — entered the School Board race in 2006 reportedly for the sole purpose of ousting the African-American superintendent. But the A-Team's effort came to naught, when their candidates didn't take over the board like they hoped. However, by 2007 Goodloe-Johnson had jetted off to Seattle. These days, she works for the Education Achievement System in Detroit, and looks back at her Charleston years proudly. "The Charleston Plan for Excellence guided our work and established an academic structure that set up success for students," she says. "At the end of the fourth year, academic achievement increased in all areas and the upward trend was very positive and exactly what we anticipated. The capital building plan was also a huge success during my tenure." She adds, "When I left Charleston, the work was not finished, but the foundation was laid." —Chris Haire

click to enlarge Arthur Ravenel - FILE PHOTO

Arthur Ravenel

South Carolina has a horrible habit of naming projects after living politicians. There's the Glenn McConnell Parkway and the section of I-526 named after Bobby Harrell and the Andre Bauer interchange in, um, whatever unlucky city has to be permanently linked to that assclown former lieutenant governor. But none of those have anything on the one project that bears the name of Arthur Ravenel Jr. A long-time state senator and three-term U.S. Congressman, Cousin Arthur was instrumental securing the funds to build the architectural wonder that connects Charleston to Mt. Pleasant, and so the name was a fitting tribute. Ravenel says it's nice that the General Assembly named the bridge after him, but he says the credit for the project goes to many people, from former Mt. Pleasant Mayor Harry Hallman to Congressman Henry Brown to others. "Everybody loves the bridge," Ravenel says. "It's the only thing we've ever done that no one bitches about." But while Ravenel's name is synonymous with the Cooper River bridge, it's also permanently associated with controversy. During the tumultuous debate Statehouse Confederate flag debate in 2000, Ravenel picked his side — he was for keeping the Battle Flag atop the dome — and put his foot in his mouth when he called the NAACP "the National Association of Retarded People." "That was just a slip of the tongue," Ravenel says. "I just apologized to the retarded people." Previously, he joked that when it came to meetings, his black colleagues on Capital Hill operated on "black time," i.e. they were often late. Ravenel says the term is "an old Charleston saying," one that his friend state Sen. Robert Ford often uses. After leaving the Beltway, Ravenel served on the Charleston County School District Board of Trustees and found himself in the hot seat for something he said. He reportedly called Superintendent Nancy McGinley a "bitch." In his defense, Ravenel says that he didn't call McGinley a bitch to her face; he had only remarked to a CCSD employee that the superintendent was "being a real bitch" by refusing to put an item near and dear to his heart up for a vote. But since retiring from politics, Ravenel has managed to keep a low profile. Here's hoping we hear from him soon. —Chris Haire

click to enlarge Reuben Greenberg - FILE PHOTO

Reuben Greenberg

In the history of law enforcement in Holy City, Reuben Greenberg was a rarity. The former Charleston Police Department head was not only the city's first African-American chief , but he was also something of a character. (Did we mention he converted to Judaism as a young man?) During his 23-year tenure as police chief, Greenberg's aggressive, boots-on-the-ground approach to crime fighting earned him the attention of the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Newsweek, and 60 Minutes. While I never had the chance to speak with Greenberg personally — I was working in Greenville in those days — my brother did, and I think it illustrates exactly why some folks loved Greenberg's take-no-shit tactics and others thought he was a brown-shirt bully. As the manager of the now defunct Manifest Discs and Tapes by the Citadel Mall, my brother routinely dealt with shoplifters. More often than not, they'd turn over what they'd stolen when they were caught, but sometimes they didn't. And on one occasion, one would-be shoplifter decided to hightail it out of the store. For whatever reason, my brother decided to chase the man down and tackle him. The cops eventually arrived and arrested the man. Days later, Greenberg showed up at the store to thank my brother for doing his part to fight crime, despite the danger, both legally and personally, and let him know that the city needed more citizens just like him. Unfortunately, Greenberg's strong-arm style got the best of him. Following a series of high-profile WTFs — including one embarrassing freak-out in which he terrorized an innocent driver by banging his fists on the hood of her chair — Reuben retired in 2005. And crime fighting in the Holy City hasn't been the same, for better or worse. —Chris Haire

click to enlarge Lynne Crooks - FILE PHOTO

Granny's Goodies

Back in 1997, Charleston was a grungier place, slowly cleaning itself up after a century of whitewashed poverty followed by a tree-killing hurricane. Upper King Street was just a gleam in Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr.'s eye, and King-George-Burns (the KGB) was the center of urban life. Bars in the area (A.C's, Red Hot Tomatoes) stayed open until 4 or 5 a.m. Street urchins and hobos hung around in smelly packs, and Granny's Goodies was the center of the boho business district, selling vintage clothes, head shop gear (until they got busted by SLED), and generally welcoming anything that smacked of fun and/or subversion. Lynne Crooks (Granny) was the matriarch of the alternative scene in town, and she and her husband Steve welcomed the newly formed City Paper with open arms. As an early advertiser, their business encouraged many others to follow. At our annual Best of Charleston parties, the duo always showed up in costume, one year coming dressed as beer bottles. They were funny, loving, and a joy to visit anytime you found yourself on King Street. Sadly, an era ended when Granny's closed in 20##, the Crooks moved on to Austin, Texas, and their funky shop was replaced by a shiny, impersonal Apple Store. Charleston lost a lot of color and flavor when those two moved away, and we kinda wish we could include them as an essential 15 instead of a 15 minutes of fame nominee. —Stephanie Barna

click to enlarge Committee To Save The City - PROVIDED

Committee To Save The City

The Committee to Save the City is all about preservation. Founded by Jack Simmons and Peg and Truman Moore in 1996, they're the people who will hoot and holler if you try to build something downtown that's much too modern for Charleston's historic aesthetics. Over its years, the group has focused on tourism issues and thoughtful planning in order to maintain the look and feel of historic Charleston as they see it, and sometimes they win and sometimes they lose. The Committee couldn't keep Mellow Mushroom from building its patio, but their efforts helped delay the proposed eight-story building at 404 King St. In 2008, the same year that Truman Moore passed away, the group received the Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America's Arthur Ross Stewardship Award for Exellence in Classical Tradition, which recognizes achievements in preserving and advancing classical art forms, including architecture. Now the group seems to be primarily focused on the cruise ship debate. In August, Peg Moore discussed the effect the industry will have on local seafood in her Charleston Mercury column. Time will tell the results of that fight, and the Committee's role in it. —Susan Cohen

click to enlarge Kulture Klash - PROVIDED

Kulture Klash

For a few years there, Kulture Klash was arguably one of the hottest tickets in town. Created by Scott Debus, Gustavo Serrano, Ambergre Sloan, and Olivia Pool in 2007, the event brought together underground and contemporary artists like John Pundt, Tim Showers, Trevor Webster, and Karin Olah for an art exhibit/music festival/dance party of epic proportions. Each of the event's seven installments featured a unique flavor. The third Kulture Klash brought in BMX stunt riders, the fourth had a putt-putt course designed by artist Carl Janes, and the water-themed seventh featured urban wakeboarding. "We had a really good crowd," Debus says. "Nothing too crazy happened. People definitely partied and we provided buses for people and car services. We tried to keep anything extracurricular or bad happening after the show. Besides almost running out of beer ... that was the only panicky moment that I remember." Though Debus lives in Austin now, he hopes to return to host at least one more installment with Serrano. "I just hope that if we can't do it, more people can jump into the fray," Debus says. —Erica Jackson Curran

click to enlarge Terrace Theater - FILE PHOTO

Marcie Marzluff

Downtown Charlestonians frequently gripe about the lack of a movie theater near their historic homes, especially after the Hippodrome went event-centric not too long ago. When we hear those complaints, we like to tell them the story of Marcie Marzluff. She used to own the Roxy, East Bay Street's art house cinema that closed in 2002 after having never turned a profit. At that point, she had already opened a second spot in the suburbs: the beloved Terrace Theatre, which came into existence the same year as the City Paper. Marzluff ran that one for 10 years before selling the Terrace to Michael Furlinger, who sold it to current owner Paul Brown in 2010. Though Marzluff has seemingly dropped out of the public eye — a Google search reveals little — without her, we might not have a place to see Beasts of the Southern Wild and The Master. Even if we have to go to James Island to do so. —Susan Cohen

click to enlarge Bob-Snead.jpg

Bob Snead

Bob Snead may have left Charleston seven years ago, but as a founder of Redux Contemporary Art Center, he'll always be a significant part of the city's art history. As recent College of Charleston graduates, Snead and Seth Gadsden formed the nonprofit with the goal of "redesigning" the local art community. "We had ambitions for it becoming an institution," Snead says from his home in New Orleans. "We wanted it to be where it is now and really become part of the fabric of the city. It's more so now than when we were there. I think a lot of people weren't taking us seriously, especially city officials. It was hard to get funding and grants." Snead credits Seth Curcio for helping make the organization financially stable, and Karen Ann Myers and Janie Askew for expanding its reach. Snead served as the organization's director until 2005, when he left to study painting and printmaking at Yale's School of Art. Two years later, he formed the artist collective Transit Antenna with Gadsden and hit the road in a vegetable oil-powered bus. These days, Snead teaches at Loyola University, and his wife Dawn runs a bakery called Shake Sugary. He's involved in a literary and visual arts organization called Press Street, and he says he's constantly inspired by his new hometown. "There's so many weird, quirky things about the city, and that naturally seeps into the work that you're doing. The main reason we really love this city is because of the general energy that's happened post-storm and the kind of historical quirkiness of the city. It does take a note in your work." —Erica Jackson Curran

click to enlarge Ken Hawkins - PROVIDED

The Digitel

OK. We'll admit it. When we first heard about The Digitel, we were shaking in our boots a little bit. Just like any traditional print publication, the City Paper had to adapt quickly to new media, and that's an even more terrifying prospect when you've got a new kid on the block nipping at your heels as it churns out local news on a speedy basis. Founded by former Post and Courier graphic designer Ken Hawkins, The Digitel is a news aggregator, meaning they take stories that other people have done and summarize them, kind of like the Huffington Post, but without commentary from Laurie David and Bill Maher. It's an easy way to make enemies of hard-working, old-school reporters, so you can't really blame CP for making jabs at the website in the past (we called them the "Best Website We Didn't Realize We Worked For" in 2009's Best of Charleston issue). The growth of the website, which now has offshoots in the Beaufort and Myrtle Beach markets, seems to have plateaued, and it's never going to be our source of breaking news, but The Digitel is still alive and kicking. —Susan Cohen

click to enlarge Jump, Little Children - PROVIDED

Jump, Little Children

Before Band of Horses, in terms of national recording artists Charleston was perhaps best known for Hootie and the Blowfish and Jump, Little Children. (Forget Edwin McCain; he's from Greenville.) However, Jump, Little Children's hit "Cathedrals" is decidedly more melancholy than anything in the Blowfish repertoire, and it's much rarer to find it on popular radio these days, unlike the same three or four tracks off of Cracked Rear View. Despite the possible one-hit-wonder trappings, Jump, Little Children, which was eventually known just as Jump, played annual shows at the Dock Street Theatre for 10 years before officially disbanding in 2005. Frontman Jay Clifford does mostly solo stuff now, and perhaps more importantly, he works at Hello Telescope studios with Josh Kaler, arranging and producing tracks for themselves and notable Charleston scenesters like Joel Hamilton, Bill Carson, the Green and Bold, and newcomer Brendan James. —Susan Cohen

click to enlarge JONATHAN BONCEK

Charlie's Little Bar

The entrance was located in the back of a parking lot on East Bay Street. The door took you through the kitchen of a restaurant that nobody seemed to have ever eaten in. Cooks and dishwashers milled about, checking out the ladies as they made their way up the stairs to Charlie's Little Bar, a legendary — and some might say infamous — little spot. It was famous for being hard-to-find and full of beautiful people. The couches in the bar saw plenty of action, if you know what I mean, and the crowds varied from well-heeled yuppies to college-aged party animals. In 1997, Charlie's was the last stop on your way home, back when the bars stayed open into the wee hours of the morning. But no matter when you stopped by, it was guaranteed to be absolutely packed to the rafters. —Stephanie Barna


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