Dropped Acorns

In December 2021/January 2022, Feature Stories by Raleigh MagazineLeave a Comment

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It’s that time of year again… Judgment Day. Our annual Dropped Acorn Awards—like the local Oscars for “best” blunders, flubs, faux pas and just plain screwups. They brought the lapses in judgment and questionable decisions. We bring the snark. So, from dirty coaches and “filthy” representatives to unhinged drivers to people just straight peeing on each other (yes, for real), consider this your 2021 yearbook of the crappiest (ahem, urine-credible) things locals did to get canceled.


Pitches Be Crazy

Shot through the heart, and we’re to blame… If you were raised by the wolves (*cue Big Sean and Post Malone song*), then this particular brand of NC State “Stuff” no doubt bit the hardest. In a shocking turn no one saw coming (but everyone felt as the burn of an oh-so-familiar NC State letdown), the championship-caliber NCSU men’s baseball team got sent packing (!) from the College World Series at 2am via Tweet (you can’t make this stuff up), when the NCAA Division I baseball committee declared Saturday’s upcoming winner-take-all bracket final against Vandy a no contest due to pandemic protocols—landing the Commodores in the championship round and the Wolfpack back on the bus home. After having just beaten No. 1 overall seed Arkansas and earning back-to-back subsequent victories, hopes were high for the Pack. Vandy coach Tim Corbin even said the Pack had “some magic with them.” Clearly that magic was a bunch of hocus pocus as protocols suddenly limited the seemingly unbeatable team to just 13 available players Friday… and less than 24 hours later, the season was over. Heartbreak, headlines, accusations, misinformation, confusion and tweets aplenty ensued. (A listen to Epipod 5 of NC State “Stuff” takes a deep-dive into what happened that is def worth a listen.) Whether you blame the NCAA, the team, the (inconsistent) testing protocols, or the evil demons behind the NC State “Stuff” curse—one fact remains…. #SadPack.

Crash Landing

The state of Ohio (aka the Birthplace of Aviation—the Wright Flyer was designed and built there, but the plane first successfully flew in NC) printed 35,000 new license plates with an in-flight banner attached to the wrong end of the Wright Brothers’ first plane. So much for being Wright, right? State officials announced they will be recycling the incorrect plates and printing new ones to be released Dec. 29. On Twitter, NCDOT trolled Ohio tweeting, “Y’all leave Ohio alone. They wouldn’t know. They weren’t there.” I guess that’s what Ohio gets for just winging the truth. 


DRIVERS GONE WILD

“Wrecking” Havoc 

Peace Street Bridge: bustin’ trucks since 1954 (s/o to House of Swank’s iconic T-shirt). As a matter of fact, the 12-foot-4-inch Raleigh bridge has such a bad rep that it even has its own Twitter page—@PeaceStBridge: “I’m a bridge. Bane to those that can’t read numbers. Undefeated. Undeterred.” You’d think by now the “low clearance” sign would deter large trucks from going under it, but, alas, the infamous bridge has victimized over 280 challengers to date. It’s like monster trucks meets the ultimate limbo challenge. How low can you go? Clearly the bridge is tanking the competition.

Dropping a Load

Get a load of this. Apparently for some drivers, traffic patterns and concrete barriers are just suggestions. Taking a dump all over Glenwood Avenue near Crabtree in September at rush hour—perhaps mistaking his dump truck for a bulldozer (just here for the ditches and hoes?)—a dump-truck driver departed Crabtree View Place, barreled across all inbound Glenwood Avenue lanes, smashed right through the concrete divider and hit two cars on the other side, snarling traffic by the mall and backing up the Beltline exit lanes for hours. (Because Crabtree traffic at rush hour doesn’t already make you want to rage and come, well, unhinged like Russell Crowe in Unhinged). Emergency crews were on-site at 4:30pm till as late as 11pm-ish for cleanup, which included a hazmat team for oil spillage and backhoe crews to haul away large concrete chunks scattered across the street. Clearly, he needed to check himself before he wrecked himself. 

Having a Ball At Target

A female from Holly Springs really dropped the ball after driving over one of the infamous large, bright red balls outside of the Holly Springs Target in July. Officials said the driver, Michelle Wright, was backing out, accelerated and backed over the ball. She was charged with driving while impaired and careless and reckless driving in connection to the crash. Wright was not injured during the incident—so, yeah, you’re free to laugh now. Who knew it was even feasible to straight up drive a car over Target’s signature red ball? I mean, it takes a lot of balls (had to). Imagine what a sight that must’ve been. Memes aplenty ensued, of course, including one that read “Me 45 minutes after my wife says she just needs to run in to get a couple of things.”


Wilded Out

After 2020, we knew everyone wanted to wild out, but we didn’t expect it to be literal. Cobras, wolves, albino dear and bears—oh, my! Talk about a grizzly scene. Like our own little Hogwarts haven, it all first slithered to life—thanks to “brobra” Christopher Gifford, who thought it was a bright idea to harbor and carelessly handle rare deadly snakes from Africa (and post evidence to Insta and TikTok)—with the infamous venomous zebra cobra on the loose in NW Raleigh. With its insanely accurate ability to shoot venom up to 9 feet, the rare cobra paralyzed the community with fear… and of course plenty of social media fodder, hilarious memes and shirts (“Northwest Raleigh spitting cobras”—s/o House of Swank). But NC wildlife was like “hold my beer”… let’s take this Jumanji level. Nod to the ensuing hybrid wolves masquerading as German shepherds and gallivanting around otherwise quiet Orange County, the black bear hanging out in a tree outside UNC Rex Hospital on Lake Boone Trail and the rando albino deer spotted chillin’ in North Raleigh. Can’t wait to see what wild thing we’ll be fawning over next.

Not So Lit

“Holiday Tip: If you have tickets to WRAL Nights of Lights tonight, please get in line yesterday,” warned Raleigh’s famed farce news ITB Insider last December. While WRAL made big promises for its first holiday lights drive-through event at Dorothea Dix Park, it fell short (or shall we say long?). Lines of cars stretched down Western Boulevard for miles (we’re not exaggerating), with hundreds of Raleighites waiting sometimes up to four hours (!) to get into the mere 1.3-mile light display, despite WRAL projecting the route could accommodate about 1,000 cars per hour and allocating 500 tickets in each 30-minute time slot. More than 100 families were even turned away one night after police on-site closed the park (though tickets were honored the following nights or refunded). Let’s hope this year WRAL has worked out the kinks—otherwise, yule be sorry you ever bought a ticket.


YA FILTHY ANIMAL

Lacking Courage

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me “thricemore,” well, apparently you’re hired to run the top women’s soccer league in the land? With a raunchy résumé, Courage head coach Paul Riley was fired this fall following a recent investigation due to allegations of his misconduct while coaching the Portland Thorns in 2015, and a subsequent lengthy investigative story published by The Athletic sports website in September detailing allegations of emotional abuse and sexual coercion. Clearly, Riley’s previous track record was ignored upon the not-so-courageous Courage hire… perhaps because he was one of the best coaches in the NWSL? But when will public penalties (ahem) outweigh scores? Clearly Riley is #notakeeper. So, yeah, Riley is for sure the Dropped Acorn of Dropped Acorns.

Lousy Lt.

Hold onto your seats because this one’s a doozy. Back in June, North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson publicly called “transgenderism” and homosexuality “filth” while speaking at a church. Guess he wasn’t feeling so “all are equal in the eyes of God” from his perch at church. But wait—it gets worse. Robinson also told the crowd that it’s child abuse to force parents to send their children to school, tell them where to attend school (um, OK?), then teach them to hate the U.S.—and called people who support Critical Race Theory and the Black Lives Matter movement “morons” (mind you, he is Black). Naturally, after the video of Robinson’s extremely hateful words made their way to YouTube, many voiced distaste of his commentary and called for his resignation—which you think would be automatic, but somehow he’s still in office (Robinson even had the audacity to say he’s “not the bad guy”). Ah, democracy at its finest. Keep that in mind when you go to the polls in 2024.

“SEEDY”

Making a case for heroin as a plant after all (get it, opium?) in a pretty seedy way, once-honored RPD Employee of the Year (!) detective Omar Abdullah allegedly planted fake drugs on Black men who were then arrested for heroin trafficking. He reportedly paid an informant to alert officers to local heroin dealers, who then came back with recordings of drug deals with vital portions missing and a substance later revealed to not be illegal. Sound confusing? It is. But, after the men spent a combined 2.5-ish years wrongfully incarcerated (um, in COVID times to boot) on fabricated allegations, the charges have now been dismissed and they’ve been awarded a cool $2 mill settlement from the City of Raleigh as part of a federal civil rights lawsuit. The informant is facing criminal charges; and Abdullah is suspended. No doubt a billable win—now maybe we take a look at those RPD “employee of the year” benchmarks? 

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