What we learned about the ‘Tear in the Space-Time Continuum’ sign in uptown Charlotte

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So I’m pretty sure I know the story behind the “Tear in the Space-Time Continuum” historic sign in uptown. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, read this story from last week first.)

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With the help of many CharlotteFive readers, I’m 99.9 percent sure I know who placed the signs. This story got more response than probably any other I’ve written, most of it pointing in the same direction. And I’m going to tell you what I learned.

But first, I want to talk about another kind of response I received, which I loved even more. People made “Dr. Who” and “Back to the Future” references. They made time travel jokes. The question isn’t where the sign came from, some said, but when.

That, to me, is the beauty of these signs. They spark the imagination and allow people to make up their own stories about what the signs mean.

If you want to know what I learned, keep reading. But if you don’t — if you’d rather just enjoy the mystery and fun of the sign and let your imagination run wild about a tear in the space-time continuum, stop here and close the page.

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Still with me? Here’s what I learned.

First, I should note that the sign in uptown was taken down. I emailed Linda Durrett with the Charlotte Department of Transportation to see if that group took it down and got this response: “The Charlotte Department of Transportation removed the signs that were not permitted in the City right-of-way. There are ordinances affecting what can and cannot be installed in the City right-of-way.”

Bummer. I knew this was a risk involved with publishing the story, but I truly hoped the city might look the other way.

According to many readers, including a person who claimed to have helped design the Cameron Yards website (which we linked to the signs in our initial investigation) the signs and the website were done by the same person. They’re definitely linked, and there are definitely some Cameron Yards signs out there to be found.

Soon after the article posted last Monday morning, I got emails claiming to be from someone named “Harley Dixson,” who supposedly had some association with Cameron Yards. The emails were the same style of rambling nonsense that you’ll find on the website. A taste:

“As all of you in the media are fully aware we are in talks with potential candidates to replace our previous two trainers, both of whom experienced premature and tragic ends. Its public knowledge but one died from Turf Toe after only 3 months on the job and his replacement met his untimely demise only 7 months on the job after “messing with Texas”.. Its a shame cause he sure could tape. He brought taping to a new level. “To Tape, that is everything”, he would constantly say.”

But it wasn’t “Harley Dixson” who put the signs up.

All the evidence from readers who emailed me — a combination of good internet sleuths and people who claim to know the person (including someone on Twitter who said he was his son) — pointed to a Charlotte man named Bill Wright. He was described by readers as a man with “a wicked sense of humor,” “a bit eccentric,” and a “nice guy” who “probably thinks its the funniest thing ever.”

Bill Wright is also listed as the admin of the CameronYards.com website, which you can find by looking up the WHOIS registration. So all signs point to him.

I love this idea, that one guy erected all these signs just as his own little inside joke, as a way to pull a fun prank on the whole city.

I found an email for Wright and reached out to him. We went back and forth for more than 20 emails.

Here’s the problem: I couldn’t ever get a straight answer out of him about the signs. So, unfortunately, I can’t tell you with 100 percent certainty that this is the person behind the signs.

This quote is the closest thing I got to a real answer about where the signs came from. It came from Wright’s email address, but the writer claimed to be the “Asst. to the Deputy Turfmaster.” (Any weird spelling or punctuation is copied directly from the email.)

“The signs are purely for directionally challenged.. and that they were a by product of the marketing department who felt they would have an impact on sales.. In terms of the space time continuum we had noticed some ‘irregularities’ occurring here and can only attribute them to the break in the continuum. One day in the mid 90s, the late actor Larry Storch actually appeared and the next was gone. Same with Burl Ives who in 1982 appeared naked just beyond 2nd base for mere minutes in the bottom of the 4th inning before disappearing . Via process of elimination , it was concluded a break in the continuum must be to blame. As one can see , the boys in marketing ran with it.”

So there it is. It seems to be one guy, just having a little fun with Charlotte. It worked. I sure had fun.

Photos: Corey Inscoe

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