JUST BACK FROM
IT WAS ABOUT the time the six-foot-nine professional basketball player and his posse nudged past me and into the VIP bowling room that I realized Id come to the right place. Id come to Charlotte, North Carolina -- the Queen City; the best city to live in in America, according to one survey -- to see what happens when a fast-growing wunderkind village meets the global economic meltdown. Does the partying stop? Do people walk around their shiny, new metropolis moping, feeling sad for themselves and their fellow man and their fellow mans Lexus? The answer could be found, Id hoped, in this banking-center boomtown.
I had arrived just a few hours before and had then met two friends and asked them to show me how Charlottes finest were dealing with the uncertainty of economic life in this turbulent year. One friend, a commercial-real-estate guy, had just laughed, saying, You want to see if were dancing on the Titanic, huh?