Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I'm usually not interested in something that has gone "pop." Music, fashion, art—once it goes pop (pop=popular=mainstream=everybody's doing it) it usually loses its flavor, loses its appeal, loses the originality that made you love it in the first place. Pop Life is just the opposite. It has all of those elements intact and I'm a big fan. Pop Life is the weekly Wednesday after-work social presented by Creative Loafing and The Sol Kitchen. It started as a summer series last year at Prevue in NoDa, and it was so popular that they extended it through the fall. Now after a hiatus, a hibernation during the cold I guess (it returned for one night during CIAA week), the eclectic networking event is back.

Pop Life kicks off tomorrow, Wednesday, April 30 at 6 p.m. And it will be running each week until it needs another break, I guess. It's at a new location, Loft 1523 (1523 Elizabeth Ave.). This is a perfect place for the event, and I commend the organizers for switching it up and bringing it to another part of the city, the Elizabeth area. There is no admission fee, and you can expect to find some beautiful, young professional, progressive people. If you're looking for something to do on a Wednesday night, I recommend you go here. If you already have a routine of places you visit on Wednesdays, I suggest you revise it and start your night off here.

This is the second place/event I've blogged about recently that made the list of "Best Places to Meet People," that I helped compile for Charlotte magazine earlier this year. That list, as is the case with Pop Life, are proof that there is stuff to do in Charlotte. You just have to know where to look—so look.

Monday, April 28, 2008

A Weekend of Beautiful Expression

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 4/28/2008 No comments
There were several noteworthy events taking place over the weekend. I made it to three of them. And I feel more cultured because of it.

I started out Friday night by supporting Tiffany Jones (of Digital Divas fame) at her Woman of the Year reception at the Mint Museum, a fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (you can contribute to Jones' campaign by clicking here). It was a nice event: beautiful people and great art with DJ-spun hip-hop playing in the background. There were several notable people in attendance, including Congressman Mel Watt, N.C. House of Representative candidate Nick Mackey (of Charlotte sheriff election fame), and Carolina Panthers cornerback Ken Lucas.

Tiffany Jones and Ken Lucas at the Woman of the Year fundraiser at the Mint Museum.

The evening's proceedings included a tour of Scene in America, an exhibit that explores the black male identity through contemporary art. One of the featured artists, John Hairston Jr., was on hand. There are several intriguing pieces on display, many from young artists. The exhibit is a must-see and it is on display until November. The Mint is currently planning programming for it so be on the lookout for upcoming events.

Next, I headed to the Jack Daniel's Art, Beats and Lyrics event at CenterStage@NoDa. It was just as I expected when I arrived around 9 p.m.: a ridiculous line wrapped around the building. Thank God for my media credentials, so I breezed right in (don't hate). The event reached capacity throughout the night, which I think was 700. After about 9:30 they would only let people in as others left. The event was heavily promoted and more importantly it was free (you had to register for a ticket online).

Crowd in line for free Jack Daniel's drinks during Art, Beats and Lyrics at CenterStage@NoDa.

There was music by DJs and live bands, B-boys were breakdancing, and there was graffiti-inspired art everywhere. It was as if I was in a scene from Krush Groove. Events like this remind me that hip-hop is the most creative art form there is. And the best of it was on display here. We need more of this to balance a lot of the garbage-filled hip-hop we're fed through the mainstream. The spotlight tonight though was on the art. There were dozens of innovative and thought-provoking pieces on display. I hope the artists gained the awareness and fanbase they deserve. They're too talented to be starving artists, and I hope they're not.

Playing the race card—a brilliant piece of art on display at Art, Beats and Lyrics.

I just may start drinking Jack Daniel's now.

The Art, Beats and Lyrics event ended at 11 p.m., then a group of friends and I went to Wine-Up. We figured we'd keep it in NoDa. I don't make it out to Wine-Up that often but each time I do I enjoy it. I always enjoy the laid-back atmosphere (and the drinks are so cheap).

On Saturday, I attended "Get Your Money Right: Hip-Hop Summit on Financial Empowerment," presented by the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network and held at Johnson C. Smith University. There were several big names scheduled to be on the panel so I expected a large turnout. Held at JCSU's Brayboy Gymnasium, it was crowded but I don't think it reached capacity. It should have, considering the fact that many in the bling generation can benefit from being taught how to better handle their finances. It was a free event also. Of the panelists (see picture below to see who the stars were), Terrence J, Anthony Hamilton, and Bun B gave the realest and most honest answers and advice. They spoke to the audience in a way that we could relate.

From left to right: Cheri Dennis, Gorilla Zoe, Anthony Hamilton, Terrence J, Valeisha Butterfield, and Bun B were among the celebrity panelists at the Hip-Hop Summit. Not pictured is DJ Drama, who was seated on the second row.

Here are a few memorable lines from the panelists. Hamilton said to "pay your taxes and your tithes" and to "stay out of jail and stop having babies that you know you can't afford." Bun B told the audience to stop overextending themselves trying to keep up with the next man. "I want to be on Russell Simmons' level one day, but I'm not even in his tax bracket," Bun said. "If I wreck my Rolls Royce, I'll be crying like a little girl. If Russell wrecks his, he'll just go get another one." Bun also explained how much artists make off of record sales, for those who think rappers get rich overnight and don't understand that they are often indebted to their record companies. Terrence J let the audience in on a little behind-the-scenes 106 & Park stuff. "Don't be fooled by the jewelry you see these rappers wearing on TV, because half of it is fake and the other half is rented." Terrence said he's stopped wearing jewelry on the show because he doesn't want young people to feel like it's something they have to have.

Dr. Benjamin Chavis moderated the event and overall I would say it was a good program. The only thing I was disappointed in was that about a third of the crowd started to leave about halfway through the two-hour event. I guess the star power is what drew them there but they weren't really interested in flipping through the 90-page financial literacy booklet that was distributed (which could save some of them from a future bankruptcy or home foreclosure). I think many of them were disappointed when they realized that none of the artists would be performing. I'll tell ya. You can lead a horse to water...

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sam Vincent: One and Done

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 4/26/2008 No comments
Sam Vincent has been fired. The Charlotte Bobcats head coach was officially let go today after just one season. Michael Jordan, managing member of basketball operations, made the announcement. It's a move that was widely speculated over the past week and a half after the Bobcats completed their season. But doubts that Vincent would return began even longer ago as it became apparent that the Bobcats would not be making the playoffs.

I feel bad for Vincent. Sure, in professional sports the head coaching position is the most rewarding yet thankless job around, and people go into it knowing that they are loved when they win and hated when they lose. But the reason I feel bad for Vincent is because he should've never been hired as the Bobcats head coach in the first place. He wasn't ready. His only NBA coaching experience was one year as an assistant coach for the Dallas Mavericks, the season before the Bobcats hired him.

So what the Bobcats did was set him up to fail in a position that he might one day be very good at. If he would have stayed on as a Mavericks assistant a few more years, he would have gained much more valuable experience—with a winning team at that. The Bobcats have made it difficult for Vincent to ever again get a top spot with another NBA team. Many guys only get one shot. This might have been Vincent's.

It was Jordan's decision to hire Vincent, and it was his decision to fire Vincent. We're watching you, MJ. This looks a lot like a move you made when you were running the Washington Wizards, when you hired Leonard Hamilton, who resigned after one season with a 19-63 record. You're the shot caller and it's time for you to call better shots.

Jordan's saving grace may be that Larry Brown is rumored to be interested in the Bobcats' coaching job. Minus his tumultuous year with the New York Knicks, Brown is a proven winner. He would certainly be great for the Bobcats' roster of young players. But I'm not certain he would work well with Jordan and Bob Johnson as his bosses.

This is going to be an interesting offseason.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I Guess My Teeth Are Alright

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 4/24/2008 1 comment
We have a lot to smile about, Charlotte. We just ranked sixth on Men's Health's list of "Cities with the Best Teeth." Raleigh even made third. That's impressive that two North Carolina cities ranked so highly in the nation. This must mean that we're conditioned to take good care of our grills. And it must also mean that we have great dentists. (I require that my dentist be a woman. Man Law.)

The full study is titled "Where the Teeth Bite" and includes several lists, ranking cities on best teeth, worst teeth, households using floss, and more. Check it out.

I'm Seeing A Lot of Green

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 4/24/2008 1 comment
I wish it was money I was blogging about. But the green I'm referring to is the increasing environmental efforts I've been noticing. It's everywhere. Tuesday was Earth Day, so the green stuff was to be expected. But apparently this is also Green Week, at least according to NBC Universal and all of its subsidiaries. Many other companies and organizations have been promoting Green Week as well.

Today, I saw this week's issue of Time and that's what propelled me to thinking about all of the green I'm seeing. Time often has great covers, and as a magazine guy I love it. Not only is this their second green cover this month (the one three weeks ago showed an ear of corn wrapped in money), but this is one of my favorite Time covers in recent memory. It's very impactful.

Locally there's a lot of green going on. The city recently wrapped up a four-day Charlotte Clean and Green event leading up to Earth Day. And I'm often getting press releases or reading news stories about new initiatives or how people or companies are getting involved. A friend of mine publishes an online journal called The Millennial Report and the edition that came out this week, on Earth Day, was all about being green.

I'm not quite sure how I feel about all this green stuff. I think I need to become more educated about it. There are some obvious things that are good for the environment such as recycling, which I've been doing faithfully for about the past eight months after being inspired by a great and very funny article written by Mike Giglio that I edited. Nowadays, my recycle bin fills up almost as quickly as my trash can. I think this is one of the things that will get me into heaven. But then there are things like the debate over whether or not global warming is real. Shouldn't it be scientific, which would then make it fact?

I'm going to do my homework on what's good green and what's a waste of green. I'm starting to think the word is being overused. Maybe it's because of stuff like this: I recently saw on MSNBC that burials are going green. That's right, when you die. I'm sorry but this is bordering ridiculous. See the video below.

Okay, I'll holla. I'm about to work out then take a green shower. Wait, that doesn't sound right.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I awoke from my nap about 30 minutes ago to check a couple of scoreboards: the Democratic Primary contest between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania and the Western Conference playoff game between the New Orleans Hornets and Dallas Mavericks. The results are still coming in for both but the victories are pretty much decided. Clinton is the projected winner in PA and the Hornets are about to wrap up Game 2 in NO. I thought of Charlotte when I saw these results.

With Clinton pulling out a much-needed victory over Obama, not only does she keep her campaign alive but she and Obama now turn their attention to the May 6 Democratic Primary. Well, they'll turn their attention to the next primary after they each spend tonight and tomorrow "spinning" what they believe to be the effects of tonight's results. The May 6 primary features two states: Indiana and North Carolina. And with Charlotte being North Carolina's largest city, we can expect a lot of attention.

It was announced yesterday that there will be no Clinton-Obama debate in NC, after weeks of trying by the state's Democratic Party. I think not having another debate between those two is a good thing. What else is left for them to say? And I see no benefit other than giving us the chance to see them in person at some venue and for us to act like fans at our favorite hip-hop concert. But Clinton is scheduled to come to Charlotte April 28. With Obama coming off a loss in PA, I now expect him to appear sometime before May 6 as well. They'll each also likely be sending surrogates every few days (read my post from a week and a half ago about Tatyana Ali surrogating for Obama). I also expect Obama to be running TV ads like crazy. I don't expect as many from Hillary, although she needs it since Obama is leading in NC in all polls. But the difference here is that Obama is sitting on a war chest of $42 million, while Clinton's campaign is in debt by $600,000. Yet Obama has outspent Clinton in states before, such as Pennsylvania, only to come out with an L.

Now, for the reason there's "No Eyes On Charlotte" (if you must, scroll back up to the headline of this post). The Hornets are in New Orleans and not Charlotte. Yes, it's been six years since Hornets owner George Shinn fell out of love with the Queen City (a failed arena deal was largely to blame) and took his team to the Big Easy. But even with having the Hornets replaced by the Charlotte Bobcats only two years later, it's still a bitter pill for many Charlotteans. If you don't believe me, just read the reader comments section online on any story The Charlotte Observer does on the Bobcats. In fact, I sometimes spend more time reading the people go at it in the comments section than I do actually reading the article. Read the comments to this recent story on Charlotte.com about the Bobcats being contracted to stay in Charlotte. It's crazy. And I'm convinced it's the same folks commenting every time.

Now let's see, what other reasons can I think of as to why the nation would be watching us or not watching us in Charlotte:
  • Tiger Woods had knee surgery last week and will not be defending his title next week at the Wachovia Championship, which means much fewer people now care about this golf tournament: No Eyes.

  • Both Bank of America and Wachovia have released first quarter figures, revealing huge profit losses and showing how much the mortgage lending crisis is continuing to effect the economy: All Eyes.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Meetup's Cool

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 4/20/2008 2 comments
There are so many social networking websites out there. I think many of them will prove to just be fads. I bet you're already visiting your Myspace page less than when you did a year or two ago. There's one site, Meetup.com, that I learned about late last year when I was working on a feature for Charlotte magazine. Meetup.com was profiled as one of the "Best Places to Meet People." It's a great list. You should check it out, if you haven't already. And Meetup.com was the only website to make the list.

I went to my first Meetup event Friday. It was an after-work social held at Loft 1523 and sponsored by the Charlotte Black Professionals, a Meetup group. That's how the site works. Someone will organize a group based on particular interests and people who share those interests will join. According to the website, Charlotte Young Professionals has 151 members. There are more than 200 Charlotte-based groups on the site. One of the largest is Good Eats! Charlotte, with nearly 500 members who love to visit great restaurants. One of the strangest is The Charlotte Paranormal Meetup Group (109 members).

I heard about the event at Loft third person. A friend from college told my brother, he told me, and he and I went out there. I guess if we were to join the Meetup group we could learn about the events firsthand. I'm not sure yet if I'll join, but I think the concept is cool. I've always felt that social networking on the Internet was too impersonal. But Meetup allows you to join a group from the comforts of your computer then meet the people at an organized event if you choose. And meeting a group in a public place should ease any fears of meeting strangers online.

It was a decent turnout at Loft. I would say about 40 to 50 people and, to my liking, mostly women (very well dressed at that). Many of them seemed to know each other, likely because they've gone to events before. I met a few new people and had some good conversations, along with a couple of good drinks, nice music, and great view of the city (from Loft's balcony). What more can you ask for?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 4/17/2008 2 comments
This is a simple, short post because the picture speaks a thousand words (and a couple billion dollars).

The Charlotte Bobcats completed their fourth season last night at home against the Philadelphia 76ers. The Bobcats finished the season 32-50, obviously missing the playoffs. While the record is bad, the team is performing on par with how young NBA franchises have in the past.

The team and its ownership seem to realize the challenges they face (many locals still haven't warmed up to Charlotte's second NBA team since the Hornets left), but they also need to stop being stubborn and give the fans what they want. The fans want a winning team, which understandably can take time (but time is running out). And the fans also want this: to see the team's star owners present at games.

Bobcats majority owner Bob Johnson seated next to minority owners Nelly and Michael Jordan at the team's final game of the season.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

When City Council Meetings Go Wrong

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 4/16/2008 No comments
"This has nothing to do with nothing." I've heard comedians use that line when they're saying something funny that's irrelevant to the topic they were on. This blog post is completely irrelevant to Charlotte or any of the topics I typically blog about, but I found this video so funny that I had to put it up. This is footage from a recent Detroit City Council meeting. And these are supposed to be elected officials?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

What do you get when you put Anthony Hamilton in the studio with Jermaine Dupri, Usher, and Jay-Z? That's what I'm trying to find out after seeing a home video recently posted on a few hip-hop websites and YouTube.

The video, shot last week, starts off with Dupri holding the camera while Jay-Z, Usher, and Hamilton are toasting with what I can only assume is some very expensive drink. They appear to be celebrating music they've just completed. Then Jay-Z starts talking about how he has a concert in New Orleans in three hours. I think they're in Atlanta.

Warning: There's a little profanity in this video.

This collaboration of hip-hop and R&B giants is likely for Usher's new album, Here I Stand, which, as Usher points out in the footage, has been pushed up two weeks to be released May 27. There's a lot of demand for his album after the first single, "Love In This Club," was leaked and then skyrocketed to the top of the Billboard charts.

I'm not surprised to see Hamilton here. I think the Charlotte native is trying to set a world record for the most collaborated artist of all time. He's definitely putting in work as a singer and songwriter. In the last eight months or so he's appeared on songs with Keyshia Cole, Chingy, Mint Condition, and even country singer Josh Turner. He also has a duet titled "Home" with John Rich (of Big and Rich) on the recently released Randy Jackson's Music Club Vol. 1. It's one of the few good songs on the American Idol judge's attempt to show how many industry friends he has. And Hamilton is also featured on Al Green's new album, Lay It Down, which is due to be released the same day as Usher's album.

When I interviewed Hamilton for a story in October, shortly before the release of American Gangster, in which he appears in the movie and on the soundtrack, he said he was getting back into the studio to complete work on his next album. The release date has been delayed once. I think he might be a little too busy working with other artists to focus on his own project. But I don't blame him. How many artists can say they've been in the studio with Jermaine Dupri, Usher, and Jay-Z all at the same time? Probably just them four.

I emailed Hamilton tonight to see what I could find out. When he replied he was surprised the video was online. So I emailed him the link. But he hasn't given me a scoop yet. I'll keep you posted if I find out something.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Great Headline...Moment of Vanity

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 4/13/2008 1 comment
I've spent the weekend developing this blog and while I've been posting to it, I haven't publicized it yet. I plan to do that in a few days, but in the meantime I wanted to have about a week's worth of posts up so my visitors (hopefully I get visitors) can get a feel of what I have to say in the blogosphere.

So after I put up the last post, I decided to do a quick Google Blog Search (Google has a new search engine for blogs now). I wanted to see if I searched for "Jarvis Holliday" whether my new blog site would come up (like you've never Googled yourself). Well, it didn't. But a few things did and one of them is really cool. By cool I'm referring to the headline. I love great headlines, especially those that play on words. I'm not familiar with this particular site, but apparently this was posted three days ago: Charlotte loses Holliday

Yes Sir, Masters

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 4/13/2008 No comments
The Masters is a tradition unlike any other. We've been hearing CBS say that for years during promotion of the telecast. It's true though. The Masters is steeped in tradition--from green jackets and azaleas to the fact that it's the only major that's played at the same course each year. I have a tradition of my own.

Before moving to Charlotte, I lived in Augusta, Ga. for three years. Augusta, of course, is home to the Augusta National Golf Club, which puts on the famed tournament each year. I never had the opportunity to attend the tournament or visit the very, very private beautiful course while I was living there. But I did pass it each day on my way to work (does that count?), and occasionally the gate would be open providing a glimpse into all of the mystique.

I never really cared to attend the Masters while living in Augusta, but I did become a golf fan during that time. It was largely because the magazine I was working for produced an annual tournament guide so I had no choice but to learn about birdies, bogeys, bunkers, and what up-and-down means (I also learned the names of more golfers than I'd ever care to know). It was great to be living in a city in which for one week out of the year, the entire sports world is watching. Tens of thousands of people visit Augusta during Masters week, including dozens of people from the press, celebrities, top CEOs, and, most importantly, the best golfers in the world. And for my generation, that's meant Tiger Woods.

So my annual tradition with the Masters has been to watch the Saturday and Sunday rounds combining one of my favorite pastimes: napping. Yep, there's nothing quite like lying on the couch, watching Tiger take the lead or try to make a comeback, as I doze in and out of consciousness. It's not that it's boring, it's just because golf is played at a very slow pace. And I like to nap lightly then be awaken by the cheers of some great shot. That's what I did when I was living only five minutes from where the tournament takes place. And that's what I do now.

Tiger didn't win today. Trevor Immelman did. Tiger finished second. And I'm sure that's what will be talked about a lot over the next few days, that Tiger finished second. Sorry Immelman, but no one knows who you are. Though you will now forever be known as a Masters champion. I'll be watching SportsCenter tonight to see you get your props. I'll be up late. I took a nap today.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Hopefully Just a Rookie Mistake

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 4/12/2008 No comments
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett reportedly pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges of driving while impaired from an arrest last month, according to an article by The Charlotte Observer.

Jarrett is twenty-one years old, so he's only been of legal drinking age for a short time. He is reported to have had a blood alcohol level of .12 (the North Carolina limit is .08) at the time of his arrest. Let's hope that the young man with so much potential is able to learn from this mistake and put this behind him so he can focus on the upcoming football season. He's going to need it.

Jarrett struggled greatly last season, his rookie year. As the Panthers' second round draft pick out of Southern California, he was expected to fill the much-needed number two receiver spot opposite of star Steve Smith. But Jarrett struggled in practice and appeared in fewer than half of the Panthers' games.

I met Jarrett last summer as I was helping arrange a photo shoot with him for Charlotte magazine. We photographed him at Bank of America Stadium and, coincidentally, it was the day after he had just been in a car accident, in which his BMW was totaled. And even more bizarre, looking back now ten months later, is that his accident was caused by a drunk driver.

Friday, April 11, 2008

I Felt Like a Fresh Prince

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 4/11/2008 No comments
Last night, I attended an Obama For America event for young professionals at Brixx in uptown. I didn't go to show support for Barack Obama or to learn more about his candidacy, (I could be voting for him; I could be not.) instead I went to see Ashley Banks! I'm sorry, make that Tatyana Ali.

The former child star from The Fresh Prince of Belair is now a grown woman. Currently she's an Obama surrogate, traveling the country to drum up support for Obama's presidential campaign. With the North Carolina Democratic Primary right around the corner on May 6 (and more important than it's ever been), she spent a couple of days in Charlotte. She came to Brixx for a small, intimate gathering after leading a crowded, loud rally earlier in the evening at UNC Charlotte.

So I came to see Ali. It's not like I have a childhood crush or am easily star struck. (As a professional journalist I never ask for autographs and only occasionally take photos with the stars. I did pose with her. I think I said something funny before the photo was snapped.) I came to hear what she had to say and to understand why celebrities such as herself choose to lend their voices and images to political campaigns. I made my mind up a few months ago as to which candidate I'm supporting, and even if I hadn't I don't think any celebrity could persuade me. But I'm sure the candidates respect our intelligence more than that. They know that we should be making informed decisions. But a little star power never hurts.

Ali is just as you would hope a child-star-now-adult would be. She's a beautiful young lady who did a tremendous job in articulating her views as to why she believes we should support Obama. She has a degree from Harvard, she's a role model, she seems to have managed her money well, and she's never been in trouble with the law. If you think about it, she's Ashley Banks!

Welcome to "Grown People Talking"

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 4/11/2008 No comments
If you're reading this, then you've decided to visit my new blog. I appreciate it.

There are a million blogs out there. Some good, some bad (some pointless). What I hope to add is insightful commentary with a mixture of wit and humor. I also offer a local perspective, reporting to you live from Charlotte.

I'll be blogging about issues purely from my perspective, resulting from the many things I am fortunate (or unfortunate) to experience. Topics I'll cover are culture, entertainment, nightlife, music, sports, politics, social issues, fashion, Man Law, and just about anything else that goes on in everyday life.

I'll be posting several times a week, so I hope you will visit often. And if you feel so compelled, which I hope you do, please leave a comment, whether you agree or disagree with what I've said.

But if you think reading this blog is a waste of your time, "It costs you nothing. Pay me no mind!"
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