While other cities erupted, peace reigned in Durham. No bull.

It might've been the weirdest telephone call ever received.

It definitely led to the weirdest call ever made.

Back in the 1990s, when Durham was internationally renowned for its contentious school board meetings - "contentious," my eye: police sometimes literally lifted and carried livid residents out - friends from around the country who'd watched CNN would call and ask me what the heck was happening in the Bull City.

Me? I viewed the raucous meetings as a badge of honor: who wouldn't want to live in a community where residents were passionate enough about their children's educations to risk going to jail?

Fred, my former Gary, Ind., housemate, called recently - again, while watching CNN - to ask what was happening in Durham. Only this time, he seemed dismayed that there weren't violent protests here, that the city wasn't aflame.