Irritated by Greensboro’s ambitions to surpass Winston-Salem’s coolness, two Twin City elected officials have issued a challenge, suggesting that members of each city’s council participate in a kind of “Hunger Games” at the Hanging Rock District Cub Scout District Day Camp.
“I thought we settled this when we landed a Trader Joe’s without even trying,” Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines said. “I can’t tell you how pathetic it is to see people falling over themselves in Greensboro to get this store. You’ve got Robbie Perkins saying that a development deal like that sends a message about the kind of city that Greensboro is. Give me a break.” Joines and Councilman Dan Besse, who conceived of the competition, said the competition will be decided when one team gives up from sheer exhaustion. Besse said he envisions a wide range of events, including swimming, wilderness running, archery, mud wrestling and a variation of debate that involves marathon filibustering. Each council would put up their best member for each event. Besse qualified his remarks by saying that Winston-Salem’s advantages are already settled, and the games would merely establish bragging rights once and for all.
Greensboro Mayor Robbie Perkins said the city has too much serious business to engage in such frivolity, but he was certain Greensboro’s council would handily win such a competition.
“Which Triad county had the highest growth in the past decade?” Perkins asked. “Ask Dan Lynch which Triad county has the most people commuting in to work. The answer to both questions is Guilford County.”
“That may be true,” said Besse, “but Winston-Salem is the true hub of the system. We have more spokes coming in to our downtown transportation center than any other county. We’ve got people coming in from Mt. Airy, King and Rural Hall, Yadkin County and Davie County. We share connections to Davidson County. The only unique spoke Greensboro has is Randolph County. Have you ever wondered why they don’t have lines to Rockingham and Alamance? Who wants to go to Greensboro.”
Besse said he would put Winston-Salem’s microbrew up against Greensboro’s any day, adding, “I’d like to invite Mr. Perkins to visit Winston-Salem so he can see a real downtown.”
Joines offered a litany of categories in which he said Winston-Salem surpasses Greensboro: 4th Street over South Elm Street, Piedmont Triad Research Park over Gateway University Research Park, the Milton Rhodes Art Center over the Greensboro Cultural Arts Center. And what does Greensboro have to compare to RiverRun International Film Festival or the National Black Theatre Festival, he asked.
Greensboro Councilman Zack Matheny said he takes offense to Joines and Besse’s slanders, but that he might accept the challenge on behalf of the Greensboro council, notwithstanding the customary practice of allowing the mayor the privilege of making such decisions.
“I’m just so passionate about Greensboro,” Matheny said, “and I can’t stand for our citizens to be mistreated like that.”
If the games do, in fact, occur it seems likely that Perkins and Besse would be matched up in the running event. A marathon runner, Besse filmed a video ad for his 2008 campaign for lieutenant governor that showed him running through various neighborhoods in his ward. But Perkins ran for Duke University and competed professionally in Europe.
“I could be to Timbuktu and back before Besse even made it around the block,” Perkins commented.
Winston-Salem City Councilwoman Denise D. Adams said she would like to see monster speakers set up in the events areas so that each council can antagonize opponent teams with ear-splitting noise. Teams might intersperse amplified taunts and trash talking with selections such as Van Halen’s “Panama” or Wagner’s “The Ride of the Valkyries.”
“We know who wins that contest,” she said. “You’ve heard me say that we were all young once and at that age you like loud music. You don’t feel like you’re a part of it unless it’s loud,” Adams continued. “I have to retract that: I don’t think this bunch of lightweights was ever young.”