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By the way, Boston, in Charlotte Brahmins are cattle

Yo, Beantown. As has been the habit in the past, when we Charlotteans bought out banks in Dallas, Jacksonville, Fla., St. Louis, Atlanta, San Francisco, Miami, Richmond, and Philadelphia, we'd like to get off to a warm Southern start: Welcome to our empire.

We realize Boston has history and tradition. Sure, you haven't won a World Series since 1918, and now Boston College and your biggest bank are selling out for the South.

But I want to say, we Charlotteans appreciate your heritage, no matter how colloquial and trendy -- hey, we're getting a Nordstrom! -- we might seem.

We realize you had that Tea Party and Old Ironsides and, gosh, the Celtics -- Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, Larry Bird -- and the Curse of the Bambino and, of course, Billy Buckner.

Well, we have history, too.

Sort of. We have the Gang of Five, the Hornets Nest, the Bobcats . . . OK, the Curse of Ray Wooldridge, and, of course, Kerry Collins.

We have read about your Lexington and Concord in our history books. We know about JFK and Paul Revere. We know about the Big Dig, John Kerry, and clam chowder. We know about the Bull and Finch Pub, Faneuil Hall, and Fenway Park.

Well, we've got Lexington and Concord, too. Lexington is the home of big, bad (and recently indicted) Sheriff Hege and his pink jail. Concord is the home of NASCAR, our other big-money blood sport.

No, it's not as sexy as mergers and acquisitions, but Madison Avenue loves it.

You should know about Andrew Jackson and Jesse Helms. You should know about lite rail, John Edwards, and barbecue. We don't have an uptown ballpark, but we do have Knights Castle in Fort Mill and PBR at the Penguin.

You've got Harvard and MIT? Well, we've got Queens and CPCC. The Big East? We've got the ACC, the premier hoops, er, football conference in the land. Boston's favorite glam couple, Mia and Nomar? Yes, two ACC kids.

But enough of that. We're here to help you understand how you lost your last big bank.

You see, we've got this little sibling rivalry going between Bank of America and Wachovia, and BofA wanted to up the ante. It's a civic poker game to see who can wag the biggest bottom line.

Trust me. It wasn't personal. Boston just got in the way.

But now it's time, perhaps for the first time in your long history, to know your place.

Put it this way: San Francisco thought it had a merger of equals, and the highest-ranking official left out there is a branch manager. You may have gotten a couple of seats on the board, but that will last about as long as it takes to say "David Coulter."

You'll soon understand what all the other former banking cities already know. We're in charge.

When you come see Ken for the money to build the next Fenway, lose the Boston Brahmin act.

It's Mr. Lewis to you.

Call it the curse of the Green Monster. You can't outspend the Yankees, and you can't outspend us, either.

Don Hudson is a writer for The Charlotte Observer. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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