Welcome to the Charleston City Paper’s annual Best of Charleston issue. But before we get to the winners, please give us a chance to apologize. We realize that some of you out there are scared to death of clowns.
The past few years have been very kind to Charleston. We’ve been showered with praise and honored with so many awards it’s getting kind of hard not to get a big head. It seems like everyone loves us. But when the folks at Condé Nast Traveler declared that Charleston was the Best City in the World, the news still managed to come as a complete shock. What about New York City, we asked? Or London? Or Paris? Or Rome? Surely we’re not as great as those places? We’re just teeny, tiny Charleston, S.C. But apparently, we’re as good as those places. And frankly, we’re absolutely thrilled and completely humbled.
We here at the City Paper are as gung-ho for local businesses as unicorns are for rainbows, sunbeams, and happy thoughts. Now, don't get us wrong. We don't have anything against the national chains and the big-boxes. We can't resist a good deal. But the mom-and-pop shops are risking it all to make our lives just a little bit better. And when you buy local, well, that money, more or less, stays local, unlike in the case of the corporate giants, where a good portion of that money goes somewhere else. Heaven forbid it's Ohio. As with previous Best of Charleston issues, when a national chain beats out a local competitor in the Readers' Picks, we have also noted a local runner up. No disrespect is intended to the nationals. This year we've also added a few new categories, like Best Food Truck and Best Johns Island Restaurant and Bar.
Once again, it’s time for the City Paper’s annual Best of Charleston issue, the one issue of the year where you, our loyal readers, tell us what you like best about the Holy City — the best new restaurant, the best jewelry store, the best local legislator, even the best local actor, who, in this case, happens to be the one and only Bill Murray. And it’s in honor of Mr. Murray, who has chosen to make Chucktown his home, that we dedicate this issue. Heck, we even designed Shepard Fairey-inspired stickers, each one featuring Murray’s iconic mug, to mark the occasion. So get to reading, and start searching for the Bill Murray stickers hidden in every photograph. Enjoy.
The number 13 gets a bad rap. It’s a perfectly fine number, but for whatever reason, 13 freaks some people out. But not us at the City Paper. Especially this year, our 13th year as Charleston’s premier weekly. So call us crazy, but we think the number 13 is, well, lucky. And we want to spread that luck around. Which brings us to this year’s Best of Charleston issue. As usual, it’s packed with readers’ and critics’ picks, spotlighting the best of the Holy City, from restaurants and bars, to music makers and public servants, and everything in between. They’re all lucky bastards.
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Pity the poor coulrophobe who was invited to last night's Best of Charleston Party. They had a difficult decision to make: Stay home and miss out on the party of the year or drop by Johnson Hagood Stadium and be surrounded by the very thing they fear most — clowns. Judging by the crowd, more than a few coulrophobes faced their fears. Wrong decision.
One gloomy afternoon in February, when icy weather had shut down much of Charleston, Charlemagne Pittsford, a.k.a Mr. Pitts, was drunkenly hurling hypodermic needles at a dartboard in a back-alley hobo camp on Upper King Street.
Puddles, a nearly 7-foot-tall sad clown from Atlanta with a mellifluous baritone voice best known for singing Lorde's hit single "Royals" in a viral YouTube video, won't talk to me on the phone. Instead, Puddles' publicist refers me to Big Mike, Puddles' right-hand man of sorts.
Clowns used to be images of happiness, jovial reminders of childhood, but it seems these days that more often than not they strike fear in people — young and old. Where did this coulrophobia, or phobia of clowns, come from?
For a country built on religious freedom and free speech, we certainly are a judgmental lot. In fact, certain subcultures seem to receive a disproportionate share of scorn. Ponytailed ex-hippies in expensive vehicles.
Ivy Esposito wears her heart on her sleeve, one she's been working on over four sessions and about 15 hours since November. Each bit of plush greenery that decorates her left arm represents a member of her family: parents, siblings, cousins. And hidden among the foliage and flowers is something else, a tattoo for her nine-years-younger brother. Unlike everyone else, Esposito's brother is represented by a cat, or, more accurately, a furry gray kitten with green eyes that almost mews at you from its tucked-away spot on the inside of Esposito's left arm.
Phillip Hyman wooed his future wife Kay with two unicorn drawings. The unicorns in each of the illustrations exist in a bright, happy fantasyland befitting fairy-tale princesses and daring knights, a world where good always triumphs over evil. Somehow the tenderly penciled, pastel lines managed to express his feelings for his eventual partner. According to Kay Hyman, Phillip told their elementary school-aged daughter, Zoe, "'That was my love letter to your mom.'"
If you're anything like us, all this talk of unicorns has given you a funny feeling in your pants. You're sitting there, dreaming of one-horned beasts, translucent rainbows, twinkling butterflies, and pink glitter falling from the sky. You close your eyes and imagine riding your very own unicorn into the burning sunset. If you're feeling kinky, you may even be imagining the unicorn riding you. In any case, your passionate love for unicorns has prompted a citywide hunt for the mythical creature, and luckily, we know the whereabouts of your fairy-tale fawn. Check out these shops to help make your unicorn dreams come true.
Maybe you knew this, maybe you didn't. But you can buy cans of unicorn meat. In fact, we here at the City Paper ordered two cans of the stuff. We haven't tasted it yet, because we've been waiting for just the right occasion. Judging by a recent survey of area restaurants, we may never even have to. Apparently, unicorn is popping up on menus all around town, including at several of this year's Best of Charleston winners. Some people might say neigh to eating unicorn meat, but we say yay. Read on and enjoy.
For quadrillions of our earth-years, a battle has raged across multiple universes. It has torn the fabric of time and space (hence black holes), altered the very nature of matter (hence antimatter), and provided an aesthetic framework for an entire generation's glittery grade-school notebooks.
It's funny. When I undertook this article I didn't actually realize that I was a Bill Murray fan. But as I went through his filmography, the evidence was impossible to refute. It's something that kind of snuck up on me.
The Republicans have Reagan. The Democrats have JFK. But when it comes to the slackers, the joke-crackers, and the devil-may-care smart asses, we have Bill Murray. He is our prophet, our sage, our guru of good times. He is the ultimate wise-guy wise man. He is our Big Toe. Behold the Gospel According to Bill.
It seems like everyone in Charleston will cross paths will Bill Murray sooner or later. I had the pleasure of meeting him one night last October at a grocery store in West Ashley. I walked in and there he was in the produce section. He was being schooled on all the latest, exciting vegetables and greens by a very helpful produce guy. I didn't want to dork out on him, so I casually moved on and let him be. But I must admit I was quite star-struck.
Maria Belen Chapur, Gov. Mark Sanford's mistress, was looking for a little good fortune to get over her man. She'd met someone in July 2008, but the romance that had sparked weeks earlier with the Luv Guv had her doubtful of her chances.
Just as the headlines began to peak about North Charleston's status as one of the nation's most dangerous cities, so did the news about a pair of eco-friendly new neighborhoods smack dab in the heart of old North Chuck. The I'On Group announced Mixson, a dense, mixed-use, LEED-certified community between Park Circle and I-26. Just across Montague Avenue, the city of North Charleston partnered with the Noisette Company to found Oak Terrace Preserve, a neighborhood of EarthCraft-certified homes on small lots.
You see them when you go out at night. They keep your glasses full. And sometimes they provide you with some much needed eye candy when you're nursing a scotch or sipping a mojito. They are Charleston's bartenders, and, apparently, when it comes to getting lucky, well, they're lucky sons of bitches.
Athletes are a superstitious bunch. Whether it's baseball players not washing their socks or golfers using special coins as ball marks, competitors from amateur leagues to the professional ranks are always looking for any extra bit of luck that will secure success.
Some people don't believe in luck. Like Seneca, they say, "Luck never made a man wise." For them, luck is something you must earn. But here at the City Paper, we like our luck battered and occasionally deep fried. Here's where to eat if giving 100 percent hasn't proven to be enough. Good fortune is just a dish away.
It's not like musical success is something new to Darius Rucker, lead singer and rhythm guitarist of Hootie and the Blowfish. The band sold, oh, only about 16 million copies of their breakout record in the mid-'90s, with hits like "Hold My Hand" and "Let Her Cry."
When a reporter is trying to nail a story, it's all about being in the right place at the right time. A little luck, some good investigative journalism, and a trusty Dictaphone are all it takes to make headlines. Sometimes.
These days, Carol Hannah Whitfield, the lovable South Carolina pixie who nearly won last season's Project Runway, can't leave her New York City apartment without strangers asking to take her picture. But when she entered Charleston Fashion Week's Emerging Local Designer Competition two years ago, she was just another Charleston girl.
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With its quiet location off the main drag, houses dating back to 1759, and impossibly picturesque landscaping, the Old Village might just be the most beautiful place to live in Charleston County.
It's so much more than a farmers market these days. With more new lunch vendors and handicraft peddlers every year, the Charleston Farmers Market has become a sort of bazaar.
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