It may have been grey and dank outside, but Triangle-area dog lovers were in heaven one Saturday last February as they packed the NC State Fairgrounds’ Dorton Arena with hundreds of purebred canine companions, eager to learn how to turn their pets into high-stepping, “Best in Show”-worthy champs.
The American Kennel Club’s “Canine Experience” — part of the AKC’s effort to spread the word about its dog shows and sports — was one of several similar events across the country, all run out of an operations base right here in the Triangle. Though it isn’t widely known, the world’s largest and second-oldest purebred dog registry in the world is effectively run out of its Raleigh-based Operations Center, home to more than 300 administrative and professional employees.
More than a third of those local hands volunteered at the February event, which brought together purebreds of every stripe: St. Bernards, poodles, dachshunds, weimaraners, Nova Scotia Duck Trolling Retrievers — you name it, they were there. As the dogs strained on their leashes, eager to greet one another, their owners, more than 500 in all, picked up tips from local groomers, trainers and AKC volunteers. Puppies and their little masters scampered about, sleek adult dogs trotted in show rings and area dog clubs lined the walls, offering information on particular breeds. Tutorials in grooming and handling, obedience, and rally and agility filled the floor.
“The whole format is designed to be very informal, welcoming and educational,” AKC spokesperson Lisa Peterson told Metro.
Brian Hicks of Clayton brought his children, wife and black Labrador Retriever “Max” to the event. He signed Max up for the AKC Canine Good Citizen 10-step basic obedience test and passed. “It feels like an accomplishment,” Hicks said. “He did really well. I was impressed.”
Bronwyn Merritt brought her husband and three children from Carrboro for their first-ever AKC event. Her 8-year-old daughter, Esme Merritt-Dorosin, led “Neko,” a 9-month-old border terrier, in the ring. “She’s learning to communicate with the dog properly and control the dog,” she said. “I think it’s really good for the children.”
The AKC registers 900,000 dogs annually, representing 155 dog breeds (the newest additions include the Tibetan Mastiff and the Plott Hound — NC’s official hound — and sanctions more than 18,500 events a year, all from its Raleigh office. It also fields more than 800,000 customer service calls and runs its compliance, event and judging operations, and companion and performance events here. Two AKC-affiliate, nonprofit organizations also call Raleigh home, one a nationwide effort that supplies microchips to veterinarians and aids in reconnecting lost dogs with their owners; the other awards grants to research scientists in genetic canine disease.
The whole operation is currently in the process of making a move that should raise the AKC’s local profile. Soon it will pick up from its current location on Centerview Drive and head to brand new offices in the fast-growing Brier Creek area. This more prominent location — near major roads and the RDU Airport — was chosen after a search of more than 40 locations in the Raleigh area. New, distinctive signage visible from I-540 is part of the plan.
— Liza Roberts
Singer Jeanne Jolly Heads Down A Country Road
Jeanne Jolly has taken her golden voice down a road to a sound we haven’t heard yet — country. A Master of Vocal Performance in opera from the New England Conservatory in Boston and known to the public as a jazz artist, Jolly has taken a new and different direction entirely with her new EP (extended play) — to us at least. Her performances as a guest singer with highly regarded trumpeter Chris Botti a few years ago proved that in a virtual sea of singers, she is more than a catch. But that was just jazz.
After living in Los Angeles for a few years, Jolly has chosen to make the music she adores the most. Growing up cultivating her voice, she says she “always loved country, bluegrass, Americana, folk, honky tonk, rock and roots music.”
Within her initial five country songs — now accessible online but later part of an album — Jolly shares a piece of her conscience and the experience of a broken heart, maybe a heart that was smashed to smithereens, and quite possibly a reawakening into a fulfilling existence. “Desert of my Mind” draws from a truly solemn and forlorn place in her memory, while “Don’t Say I’m Sorry” assures us that she won’t be licking her wounds for long.
The raw purity of what some would call “true” country is evident in each song, backed by sturdy country instrumentation — an imperative piece to the country music puzzle. Jolly teamed up with an exceptional group of musicians for this project, a few currently recording in Nashville with the band Stonehoney. A fiddle here, a dobro there, twangy guitar — and the kind of piano seen in wild west saloons — joins with the sincerity and serene tone of Jolly’s voice to make this effort a moving and genuine example of good real country.
But, it’s not Hank Williams. It has a rock likeability, which certainly leans toward the alternative country genre. Although Jolly has been singing since she could talk, this particular string of songs is the product of a fledgling songwriter, a process to which she is relatively new. Fortunately, she had Shawn Davis, also with Stonehoney, there to pen a significant amount of the lyrics. Jolly gratefully reported that “Shawn wrote solid and beautifully melodic songs to the sound of my voice in his head and wrote to the inspiration of what I wanted to sing about.” If writing songs and singing country music is a first step, this is a leap in the right direction. Regarding the EP, Jolly simply said, “I’m just going with the sounds that I love — acoustic and pure — sometimes a little grit.”
Players: David Raven, — drums; David Phenicie, — bass; Micah Hulscher, — piano and pump organ; Phil Hurley, — guitar, mandolin and dobro; Shawn Davis, — acoustic guitar and harmony vocals; Nick Randolph, — harmony vocals; Renaé Truex, — fiddle
Listen at: www.myspace.com/jeanne-
Parade Set For April
A Salute to Our Troops parade will kick off Saturday, April 26, at 10 a.m. on Fayetteville Street in Raleigh.
Parade participants will include troops from all of the state’s military bases, military bands, drill teams and honor guards, and bands from state universities, colleges, and high schools. The parade will proceed north on Fayetteville Street around the Capitol Building followed by an open demonstration of modern military equipment.
The military and their families will enjoy complimentary barbecue from the NC Pork Council and free access to the Marbles Kids Museum. Tickets will be available to the Carolina RailHawks as they host their opening night game at the WakeMed Soccer Park. Mobile USO, launched in 2007, which contains a canteen, library and home theater system, will be on display and accessible for military families.
The parade and related events are sponsored by the North Carolina Bankers Association.
Speaker Tells Raleigh Spy Conference To Blow Up CIA
David Ignatius, a ground-breaking reporter in espionage coverage — and author of five spy novels highly praised by members of the intelligence community — is worried about the CIA.
Speaking at the Fifth Raleigh Spy Conference, Ignatius warned that so-called intelligence reforms put in place following the 9/11 terrorist attacks have left the Agency and the United States vulnerable to terror attacks and espionage by other enemies.
“To be honest, I’d blow up the CIA — get rid of it,” The Washington Post columnist told the crowd in his closing keynote address. Rather than keep the CIA as it exists under the National Director of Intelligence, the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, VA, should be “turned into a theme park,” he said.
In an address that covered his career dating from the 1970s that included his interview as a young reporter with legendary CIA counterintelligence chief James Angleton, Ignatius said the CIA had degenerated from a “robust, well-wired organization” capable of penetrating Yasser Arafat’s inner circle to an organization today that is encumbered by bureaucracy, “an administration that doesn’t like it” and is “risk adverse.”
His calls for change would not be unwelcome in Langley, said Brian Kelley, a 40-year CIA counterintelligence veteran who was also a guest speaker.
“Some in the CIA would agree with him,” said Kelley, who was exonerated by the FBI after a tortuous three-year investigation that targeted him as a Soviet “mole.” The actual spy turned out to be the FBI’s own Robert Hanssen. “To separate the clandestine service is necessary to get us out from the bureaucracy. I’m not sure how it would work, but he is not alone in saying this.”
A strong CIA is needed as much now as ever, added Tennent “Pete” Bagley, an Agency veteran of the 1960s and ’70s who was the case officer charged with handling Soviet KGB defector Yuri Nosenko. Nosenko came to the US with the story that the Soviets had no ties to John F. Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. Bagley never believed him.
In his new book Spy Wars, Bagley relates how he ultimately failed to convince the CIA leadership that Nosenko was an instrument in a KGB deception operation. He told the conference he believes that the Agency’s failure to pressure Nosenko for his true knowledge of all Soviet efforts — such as “turning” cryptologists and running unidentified moles — is being felt today.
“I don’t want to see those traitors escape justice,” he said. “There is always a continuum in espionage, so the spies of the past have roots in the future.”
Although retired for 30 years, Bagley, 82, also insisted in an interview that the Cold War continues with Russia. Under Vladimir Putin, the Russian spy services are as active as ever, he said. On a recent visit to Moscow he met a former KGB rival who said the hate didn’t die with the collapse of the Berlin Wall.
“He looked me straight in the eye and said, ‘We are STILL working against you,’” Bagley said. “Was I surprised? Not at all.”
The Raleigh Spy Conference drew a host of former and current intelligence operatives and members of the public to hear additional speakers, including former Time magazine Bureau Chief Jerrold Schecter and CIA chief historian David Robarge.
“The world is a more dangerous place than ever,” Robarge told Metro in an interview. “There is no balance in terror that prevents the worst from happening, as there was between the Soviet Union and the United States.
“The worst,” he warned, “could happen tomorrow.”
Go to www.raleighspyconference.com for more information and biographies of conference speakers.
— Rick Smith
“Champion” Red Bay Located in Wilmington
Raiford Trask, developer of Autumn Hall, a mixed-use community in Wilmington, discovered North Carolina’s largest Red Bay tree on the 236-acre tract. According to the North Carolina Division of Forest Resources, the tree has a circumference of 121 inches and an estimated crown spread of 46 feet. The Red Bay tree (Persea borbonia) is far larger than the state’s previous record holder that had a circumference of 82 inches and an estimated crown of 23 feet. Urban Forestry Specialist Alan Moore confirmed that the tree is indeed North Carolina’s Champion Red Bay.
The Red Bay sits near the property line along Eastwood Road, which leads to Wrightsville Beach. “I’m not at all worried about development harming this tree,” says project arborist Scott McGhee, “it’s a fine specimen, and it’s in good hands.”
Red Bay is a native North American evergreen tree that can reach 50 feet in height but is usually shorter and wider when grown in urban areas. The tree flowers in the springtime and develops fruit, which is favored by birds and squirrels. The tree has red-brown bark and resembles a live oak with branches low to the ground.
For more information, visit www.autumnhall.com.