Wednesday, September 29, 2010

You've probably seen the commercial on TV about Mountain Dew getting skateboard shops nationwide to compete in a contest to design a can. Charlotte's own Black Sheep was one of the 35 shops invited to participate and they've now been named one of the seven finalists in the Mountain Dew Green Label Art Series contest.

Black Sheep's design, farthest to the left, is one of seven finalists nationwide.

You can vote for your favorite can design until October 14 by visiting www.greenlabelart.com (or click here for the direct link to Black Sheep's page on the site, where you can get a 360-degree view of their can). The winner will be awarded the grand prize: $10,000 and have their custom artwork appear on Mountain Dew cans distributed nationwide. Artist Richie McCorkle designed the can for Black Sheep.

If you've never visited Black Sheep, you should check them out. They're a cool shop located in South End (1504 Camden Road Suite 200).

Below is the Mountain Dew commercial.

video

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I attended Charlotte NC Fashion Week's Saturday night event for one reason: to see Meagan Good. She was Lil Kim's special guest for the weekend, as the Queen Bee was in Charlotte promoting the opening of her new hair salon, Salon Se Swa.

As a journalist, I maintained my composure around Ms. Good. And that was really difficult to do after I "embedded" myself in their entourage. Visit Creative Loafing's website to read about the experience and see two videos I captured with my mini Kodak Zi6 camera. (Direct link to the article: "Lil Kim steals the show on final night of Charlotte NC Fashion Week.")

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The hugely successful, annual Taste of the World is taking place Thursday, October 7. If you aren't familiar with the event or have never attended, you've been missing out on a culinary and cultural treat. This event, which has been held each year since 2003 and usually sells out, guides patrons through the diverse cultures east Charlotte has to offer. And it guides you by your stomach.

The all-evening event begins with a reception at 5:30 p.m. at VanLandingham Estate. You're then taken by bus to three ethnic restaurants. And after you've eaten enough to feed a small village, you're escorted back to VanLandingham for dessert and coffee. Tickets are only $30, and the experience you'll get being exposed to different cultures is priceless.

Photo by James Willamor for Crossroads Charlotte.

In advance of the October 7 extravaganza, Crossroads Charlotte, for the second year in a row, is providing written previews (with photos) of the participating restaurants on its website, posting one each day. There are at least a dozen confirmed restaurants so far, including Middle Eastern, African, Brazilian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Mexican, and more. As a correspondent for Crossroads, I've written a few of the previews, which is only building my excitement for the event.

You can read about the restaurants by visiting www.crossroadscharlotte.org and clicking on the Bulletins link.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ochocinco Causing Mania Uptown

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 9/25/2010 No comments
If you read my previous blog post, you know that Chad Ochocinco is offering a free dinner to 85 people tonight at Chima Brazilian Steakhouse in Charlotte. Word on the street is that Tryon Street has gotten hectic with people wanting to be among the lucky 85 to get in. Here's a photo (courtesy of @LarkenEgleston) showing the line in front of Chima stretched down the block.

UPDATE: 4:05 p.m.: Ochocinco has just announced on Twitter that his Charlotte dinner will be held at Chima Brazilian Steakhouse, 139 S. Tryon Street. Good luck being one of the first 85 admitted!

Chad Ochocinco is arriving in Charlotte this afternoon for tomorrow's Cincinnati Bengals versus Carolina Panthers game. Because the star wide-receiver-turned-reality-TV-star does nothing in moderation, he's inviting 85 people (his jersey number and his Spanish-adopted last name) to have dinner with him this evening. Ochocinco is a profuse tweeter, having sent out more than 20,000 tweets to date on Twitter, and so he's using the popular micro-blogging website to announce where his dinner will be held.

Above is the photo and caption Ochocinco tweeted before traveling to Charlotte.

Ochocinco will be tweeting the secret Charlotte dinner location today at 4 p.m. And while the dinner is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m., the first 85 people to arrive will be admitted, so that means that people will likely be rushing there shortly after 4. Even if you aren't on Twitter (I'm not), Ocho's tweets are public so you can visit twitter.com/ogochocinco to be on the lookout for his announcement. Good luck!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Charlotte NC Fashion Week Underway

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 9/24/2010 No comments
The third annual Charlotte NC Fashion Week (CNCFW) kicked off yesterday with workshops in the afternoon, a reception in the evening, and a fashion show at night. The all-day schedule continues today and tomorrow at Bank of America's Founders Hall and Urban Garden.

I attended Thursday's reception and fashion show, and my first impression was a good one as I stepped inside the Urban Garden for the first time. I had read about the building's construction and had passed it several times since it opened a few months ago, but this was my first time inside. It's a beautiful space and great venue for the fashion show and just about any other special event.

The crowd last night was a little light, I'm guessing about 150 people, but that's not surprising for a Thursday. I'm sure Friday and Saturday's crowds will be much larger. Even still, the fashion show last night was enjoyable. The DJ (and servers carrying drinks) kept us entertained until the fashion show began about 8:30 p.m. CNCFW Director Anthony Simons greeted the audience and shared his vision for the event. He then introduced host Debra Kennedy, who did a great job hosting the show--she's very charming and witty.

Since last night was Boutique Night, the models wore designs sold at several local boutiques, including: O1NE Boutique, Moonkee’s, Fresh Boutique, Ivey & Leo, L.A. East, Reign Fine Apparel, Banana Republic, and Scarlett Plus Boutique.

Courtnee Mason was among the models at last night's CNCFW event. Photo courtesy of QcityMetro.com.

O1NE, whose apparel was very urban/street/skateboarder-like, was my favorite. They featured the most male models of the night, and the dudes wore items that I would actually wear (that doesn't happen much for me at fashion shows). O1NE's female models wore sporty dresses and jeans that I wouldn't mind seeing my chick wearing. L.A. East had by far the most models in the show, and their presentation was very Hollywood chic, like you would see worn on The Hills. Scarlett Plus got the most applause of the night as patrons cheered every time one of their plus-size models proudly strutted down the catwalk.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I can opine on anything, but I most enjoy it when it's shedding light on important issues. In case you missed it, last night I appeared in a segment on Fox News at 10 that discussed the trend and dangers of high school students recording fights on their cell phones and posting the videos on YouTube.


Morgan Fogarty interviewed me after coming across a blog post I'd written on the topic. After airing last night, the segment also ran this morning on Fox News Rising, and it later generated several comments on FNR's Facebook page. You can watch video of the broadcast below.



Also, I was contacted this morning by a producer for The Tara Servatius Show, so I will be speaking on the topic this afternoon. The radio show airs 3-6 p.m. on WBT News Talk Radio 1110 AM and 99.3 FM. Click here if you want to listen to it online, either live or later on podcast.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

'Redneck Roots' Wraps

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 9/21/2010 1 comment
Redneck Roots, "a romantic comedy gone south," wrapped filming over the weekend. The movie is being produced by Charlotte-based Emulsion Arts, and most of the filming was done in Charlotte and surrounding towns.


The synopsis of the movie goes:

"Chris Dowdy, a beautiful young woman, has always been ashamed of her kissin' cousin redneck past. So when her sister's high school graduation calls her home, she covers up the truth, lies and leaves the big city and her boyfriend behind in a gigantic fib. Unbeknownst to Chris, her jealous boyfriend, Ben, takes off in hot pursuit after his true love into the deep South. Nothing could prepare Ben for the oddball, off-kilter loveable kin and townspeople of Beaver County. Nothing. A sexy sister, a Mamma that loves Jesus and a Daddy that loves the 'juice' sets the tone as a funny foul-mouthed grandmother, a tight knit group of backyard bubbas, storekeepers, police officers set off rapid-fire one liners all day long."

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bad news turned to worst when 23-year-old missing woman Valerie Hamilton's body was found Saturday night inside a storage unit in southeast Charlotte. When she went missing early Wednesday morning after leaving Thomas Street Tavern in Plaza Midwood, her case quickly made local and national news because she's the daughter of Concord police Chief Merl Hamilton. This morning, Hamilton and Concord Mayor Scott Padgett appeared on Good Morning America to help bring attention to suspect Michael Neal Harvey, a registered sex offender with a long rap sheet who's now on the run.


With all of the attention Valerie's case is getting, her killer will likely be caught soon. And when the suspect is captured, I hope the media will take a look at how their coverage made it impossible for this animal to hide, and realize that if they gave this same kind of immediate coverage whenever a person went missing, particularly when there's a suspect, how much more likely it is the criminal will be caught. Just think of how these real-life cases are depicted in A&E's The First 48. Far too many missing people are never found or their abductors/killers are never brought to justice because their case lacks the sensationalism that media too often desires.

This is not to in any way diminish how tragic Valerie's murder is and I certainly offer my condolences to her family and friends. She was a young woman who taught swim lessons and loved working with children, and it's always sad to see the good die young. Hopefully, the Good Morning America broadcast, which I've posted video of below, will help lead to her killer's arrest.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

New York Times Reviews 'Banktown' and City

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 9/19/2010 No comments
In the Sunday edition of The New York Times, the venerable newspaper reviews Banktown: The Rise and Struggles of Charlotte's Big Banks, a book released this month that was written by The Charlotte Observer reporter Rick Rothacker. The Times review is quite lengthy and you realize it's as much a book review as it is a business article and that this book is as much about Charlotte as it is New York. It was, after all, Charlotte that was home to two of the country's biggest banks, becoming an unlikely financial district that puzzled New Yorkers.


As is evident by the review, titled "Big Banking, Southern Style," the book contains a lot of what we in Charlotte have known for quite a while, such as how Bank of America and Wachovia's Tryon Street rivalry built their balance sheets while simultaneously building this city. And then there's the ugly reminders:

“Bank of America and Wells Fargo remain formidable corporate players in the city,” Mr. Rothacker says, and Charlotte also possesses a range of other financial firms. But it remains to be seen, he says, “whether or not the city can replace the salaries of high-paying bank jobs” that it has lost.

The Times review goes on to say that Banktown reveals a lot of details from court documents and securities filings, as well as provides great insight from Hugh McColl. But in the most stinging line of the review it states:

The “Banktown” saga has all the elements of a compelling tale of high finance. Unfortunately, the writing fails to rise to the drama of the occasion.

Banktown is available at many major bookstores and at Amazon.com.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Events for the Weekend: September 17-19

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 9/17/2010 No comments
Your best weekly list for parties, nightlife, social, and cultural events in Charlotte. This isn’t intended to be a complete list of everything that's going on, but instead are the events GPT recommends. Use contact/website info listed to verify event details.

Friday, September 17

Sip and Stroll: Art, Wine, and Music Festival (Sept. 17-18)
This two-day festival will span all three levels of the EpiCentre, where artists will set up booths displaying and selling artwork, and more than 20 wine vineyards present wine tastings. Areas will be reserved for kids to enjoy face painting and other activities, while live jazz performances are held (Friday: Innertwyned, 7 p.m. Saturday: Uniq’blend, 4 p.m.; Fifth & York, 7 p.m.). Friday, 12-10 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. EpiCentre, 210 E. Trade St. www.sipandstrollcharlotte.com.

End of Summer Nightlife Crawl
Celebrate the end of the season by barhopping Uptown. Locations include Corner Pub, Champions Sports Bar, Buckhead Saloon, Ed's Tavern, and Black Bear Saloon. You'll be transported on a party bus, where beer will be served. Presented by MyUptownFun.com and Pearl Vodka. Registration 6:30-7:30 p.m. $10. Corner Pub, 335 N. Graham St. wwww.myuptownfun.com.

Poetry Slam
SlamCharlotte brings you the best in performance poetry and featured artists each month. This installment features Kane "Novakane" Smego, George "G" Yamazawa, and Will McInerney. 8 p.m. $10. McGlohon Theatre at Spirit Square, 345 North College St. www.slamcharlotte.com.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hootie and the Monument

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 9/16/2010 No comments
Legendary rock band Hootie & The Blowfish is getting immortalized in steel and granite in Columbia next month. The best-selling band to ever come out of South Carolina (probably both Carolinas), who formed in the 1980s when all four members were students at my alma mater, the University of South Carolina (Go Gamecocks!), will forever be known for their 1994 debut album, Cracked Rear View, which has sold 16 million copies.


All four members of the band--Darius Rucker, Dean Felber, Jim Sonefeld, and Mark Bryan--will be present Thursday, October 21 when a stainless steel and black granite piece of public art, 20 feet long, 10 feet wide, and 12 to 14 feet tall, is unveiled in their honor at the corner of Santee Avenue and Harden Street in Five Points, a popular nightlife section of Columbia within waking distance of USC's campus. That part of Santee Avenue will be renamed Hootie Boulevard. The unveiling event, scheduled for 4-11 p.m., will include a tribute concert featuring several bands, some who will perform Hootie & The Blowfish covers.

The band doesn't record together anymore and doesn't tour much other than performing several charity concerts a year, which they've always made time for. Frontman Rucker, who many people mistakenly refer to as Hootie, released a solo country album in 2008, which went platinum, led by three number one singles on the Billboard country music chart. Rucker, who's no stranger to Charlotte (he's a member of The Sunset Club, where his engraved humidor is among the notable ones), is releasing a new album next month, titled Charleston, SC 1966.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Meetup Group for WM and BW

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 9/14/2010 No comments
Even though I don't have a profile on Meetup.com and am not a member of any Meetup groups, I've attended a few "meetups" with friends, usually a networking event or mixer of some sort. Probably the main reason I never joined Meetup is because I don't want an additional web profile to have to maintain (Facebook and LinkedIn are enough for me), but I've always admired how Meetup enables you to meet and build relationships with people whom you have similar interests.

A person can start a Meetup group that focuses on just about anything. The more than 600 groups in the Charlotte area include: Charlotte Area Jewelry Artists, The Charlotte Asperger's Syndrome Meetup Group, Charlotte Area Singles (24-36), Charlotte Yoga Club, and The Charlotte Movie & Dinner Group. So as you can see, the groups' interests can be very specific.


Perhaps none is more specific than one of Charlotte's newest Meetup groups, White Men & Black Women Together, which formed three days ago. My girlfriend forwarded me an email alert she received about this group (it matched two of her interests criteria: social networking and new in town) and she thought it was interesting. So did I, which is why I'm blogging about it. I thought it was interesting how the focus of this group is specifically for white men and black women who want to date each other, as opposed to a larger potential pool of interracial couples of black and white, meaning the man or woman could've been either race. But hey, that's the beautiful thing about Meetup. If you're not interested in a particular group, then it's not for you.

The stated criteria for White Men & Black Women Together is that the white men must be 28-55, the black women must be 25-55, they all must be heterosexual and single, divorced, or widowed (no married or separated people, but single parents are welcomed), and college graduates are preferred.

Many people might look at a group like this and have negative feelings about it. Some might even view it as racially bias or divisive in some way. Personally, I think it shows how comfortable we've become with each other, and because of that I think it's okay. We each have our own preferences when it comes to dating, so really this isn't much different than men who only want to date women with big boobs or women who will only date men who are at least a certain height. The heart wants what the heart wants. But while we're using clichés, remember: We're all the same color once the lights go off.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Great Place to Watch Monday Night Football

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 9/13/2010 No comments
Football season is officially underway and tonight is the first Monday Night Football game of the 2010 NFL season. There will actually be two games tonight: Baltimore Ravens vs. New York Jets at 7 p.m. and San Diego Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs at 10:15 p.m. Both games will be televised on ESPN and if you're looking for a great place to watch them in Charlotte, I recommend you attend Mainstream Mondays at Buffalo Wild Wings at NASCAR Hall of Fame.


Mainstream Mondays is a weekly event put on by Eddietainment each Monday night during the NFL season. Last year, the event was held at Therapy Cafe and drew great crowds with its offerings of food and drink specials and music. Expect the same with this go-round of the series and it'll probably be your first time visiting Buffalo Wild Wings' Uptown location, which opened in April at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Buffalo Wild Wings (400 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.) has plenty of TVs and a large outdoor patio, not to mention that wings is their specialty. There's no cover charge for this event.

Click on flyer for larger view.

Mainstream Mondays is hosted by SG and her NFL "Inside Wire" crew and also features a great blend of hip-hop and R&B music by DJ Shogun. Fellas will be pleasantly surprised to see the number of women in attendance. And the crowd changes a little each week depending on which teams are playing. Fans of the Cowboys (week 7, October 25) and Steelers (week 9, November 8) definitely come out to represent, and you won't want to miss week 10's match-up of the Eagles versus the Redskins on November 15 (when Donovan McNabb plays his former team). The Carolina Panthers don't have a Monday Night game this year, which is probably a good thing--no need to shine that prime-time spotlight on a struggling offense.
Fayetteville native and rising hip-hop star J. Cole is getting the opportunity this week most artists only dream about. As the first hip-hop artist signed to Jay-Z's Roc Nation last year, J. Cole has been enjoying a rapid rise into the spotlight. In recent weeks he's had his own BET Rising Icons special, took home a coveted MTV2 award, been featured in major publications, and performed at top concerts around the country. But it doesn't get any bigger than these next two nights.


J. Cole will be the opening act for the two-night run of Jay-Z and Eminem's Home and Home tour at the new Yankee Stadium. This sold-out mini-tour first held two shows a week and a half ago at Comerica Park in Eminem's hometown of Detroit. Tonight and tomorrow night, the final two shows are taking place in Jay-Z's hometown and will be the first concerts held at Yankee Stadium since it opened last year.


J. Cole, followed by second opening act B.o.B, will perform in front of tens of thousands of hip-hop's biggest fans, in front of scores of celebrities who will undoubtedly be in VIP, and share a stage with two of the biggest artists in music. Plus, you can expect Jay-Z and Eminem to feature several high-profile guest appearances during their sets, like they did in Detroit, where they brought out Drake, Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, Young Jeezy and others.

To keep up with the North Carolina native, visit www.jcolemusic.com or follow him on Twitter @JColeNC.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Warner Bros. Pictures is presenting a free advance screening of The Town this Tuesday, September 14, 7:30 p.m. at Regal Ballantyne. The action crime thriller stars Ben Affleck, Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Rebecca Hall, and Blake Lively and is based on Chuck Hogan's novel Prince of Thieves. Go to www.screenthetown.com and register ASAP if you want to get in on this limited-seating event.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Thursday night I attended what is likely one of the largest fashion shows Charlotte has ever seen. To kick off Fashion’s Night Out, a global shopping initiative, Butter NC and Effie Loukas (owner of Lotus boutiques) hosted a fashion show in the courtyard at NC Music Factory. The fashion show featured 16 boutiques, 17 salons, and dozens of models.


I’ve been to several fashion shows in Charlotte and because there's usually fewer than a handful of boutiques/labels featured, the actual runway portion of the fashion show typically only lasts a few minutes. But because of the large number of boutiques participating in Thursday’s show, models strutted back and forth for more than 30 minutes, creating a thorough showcase of what local boutiques have to offer.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Events for the Weekend: September 10-12

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 9/10/2010 No comments
Your best weekly list for parties, nightlife, social, and cultural events in Charlotte. This isn’t intended to be a complete list of everything that's going on, but instead are the events GPT recommends. Use contact/website info listed to verify event details.

Friday, September 10

Fall Tip Top Sale
Today only (until 11:59 p.m.), take advantage of a buy-one-get-one-free special on select seats to nearly 50 upcoming shows at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. Buyers must purchase tickets in increments of two and receive two tickets for the price of one (each ticket is half off the regular price). The events featured in this sale include: Mary Poppins, 9 to 5: The Musical, Indigo Girls, An Evening with Jeff Daniels, Reduced Shakespeare Company: The Complete World of Sports (Abridged), Hot Rize, Dream Girls, NC Dance Theater’s Dracula, Theatre Charlotte’s Steel Magnolias, A Christmas Carol, and more. www.blumenthalcenter.org, 704-372-1000.

Yiasou Greek Festival (Sept. 9-12)
Over the last 30-plus years, this annual festival has become one of Charlotte's largest cultural events. Yiasou (the Greek word for hello, goodbye, and cheers) Greek Festival features Hellenic cultural exhibits, authentic Greek cuisine and pastries, entertainment, art, shopping, and more. Thursday thru Sunday (visit website for times). $2; children 12 and under free. Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 600 East Blvd. www.yiasoufestival.org.

Charlotte Literary and Queen City Neo Soul Festival (Sept. 10-11)
To celebrate CLF's fifth anniversary, the event’s organizers have partnered with the Neo Soul Music Festival. The weekend's festivities will include speaking engagements by Sonia Sanchez, Susan L. Taylor, and Mary Monroe. Festival goers will also get to experience live musical performances by Dwele, Algebra Blessett, and N'dambi. Friday, 6-10 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. $25. The Park (formerly Merchandise Mart), 2500 E. Independence Blvd. www.realeyesbookstore.com.

Fashion's Night Out
Neiman Marcus is hosting the second night of Charlotte's participation in this nationwide style extravaganza, with local stylists putting their looks on the line for a runway competition sponsored by Charlotte magazine. In addition, product demonstrations will be showcased in the beauty department, and a raffle benefiting Charlotte Mecklenburg Libraries will give guests a chance to win prize packages from Neiman Marcus, the Ritz Carlton, and Bond Street Imports. 6:30 p.m. Free. Neiman Marcus, SouthPark Mall, 4400 Sharon Rd. RSVP to rsvpcharlotte@neimanmarcus.com. Click here for more details.

The Arts for Mentoring Gala
The Living Waters Inc and Charlotte CARES Mentoring Movement present this event that will feature a silent auction and concert with live performances by B.B. Dance Productions, master concert violinist Daniel D. Lyric, soprano Teresa Moore-Mitchell, dramatic soprano Angela Renée Simpson, and Que’nection featuring Buff Dillard and Danyell Cherese. Proceeds will be used to provide mentoring programs for at-risk youth in the Charlotte area. 7-11 p.m. $15-$25. Halton Theater, CPCC Campus, 1206 Elizabeth Ave. www.carolinatix.org.

Bowling With the Journalists
The Charlotte Area Association of Black Journalists (CAABJ) present this evening of bowling with some of your favorite local media personalities. There will be lanes reserved and you can bowl all you want for two hours. Proceeds will benefit CAABJ's college scholarship. 7:30 p.m. sign-up/check-in; 8 p.m. bowling. $20, includes shoes. AMF University Lanes, 5900 N. Tryon St. www.caabj.com.

"Next" Friday
MAZ Entertainment presents this event as it continues to celebrate its three-year anniversary. On the main level, they'll be carrying out their "party hard" mantra. And on the other levels, they'll be showcasing what's "next" in Charlotte with a fashion show, artist showcase, and business expo. 10 p.m. $10 and up. The Forum, 300 N. College St. www.mazentertainment.net.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sharing My 'ViewPoint'

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 9/08/2010 No comments
As a journalist, I basically ask people questions for a living. So it's always interesting when I end up on the other side of the process. I was recently interviewed for the September issue of Charlotte ViewPoint, and I was honored that the web-based magazine that has built a reputation for its thought-provoking articles and columns would be interested in what I have to say.


Click here to read "Q&A with Jarvis Holliday" and get my thoughts on blogging, being a black journalist, and why I think news is losing its perspective.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A new study released today ranks the stress levels of America's 50 largest metropolitan areas. Conducted by Portfolio.com and Bizjournals (which are both owned by Charlotte-based American City Business Journals), the study analyzed 10 factors to compute its rankings: unemployment, income growth, poverty, deaths from circulatory-system diseases, amount of sunshine, unhealthy air, robberies, murders, commuting, and housing costs. When you total it all up, Detroit, not surprisingly, ranks as the most stressful city in America.


With number one being the most stressful and 50 being the least, Charlotte ranked 18th. We were middle of the pack in most of the individual categories, but we did place second worst in change in metro per capita income, -5.68 percent, only behind Las Vegas's -6.17 percent. But Charlotte fared well in the all-important stress-level category of average commuting time to work at 25.11 minutes, compared to New York City's 34.55 minutes and Washington D.C.'s 33.23 minutes.

The Top 10 Most Stressful Metropolitan Areas in America are:
  1. Detroit
  2. Los Angeles
  3. Cleveland
  4. Riverside, CA
  5. St. Louis
  6. New York City
  7. New Orleans
  8. Chicago
  9. Birmingham
  10. Miami-Fort Lauderdale

Raleigh places an impressive 47th, meaning it's not very stressful at all to live in North Carolina's capital. Salt Lake City takes home the coveted prize of least stressful city at 50th.

Click here for more on this study.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Changing Lanes premiered Wednesday night on BET in front of a national audience, placing NASCAR, Charlotte, and women and minority drivers on center stage. To celebrate the unprecedented convergence for this reality competition "docu-series," the show's producers held a premiere party in Charlotte at Mez/EpiCentre Theaters that I was fortunate to attend (there was also a premiere party in Daytona).

After an hour of red carpet photography, mingling, drinks, and passed trays in Mez's lounge, we all filled into the theater at 8 p.m. to watch the premiere at the same time it was airing on BET. This was the first of 10 one-hour episodes that will chronicle a group of women and minority drivers competing for a spot on a race team through NASCAR's Drive for Diversity program.


Driver Ryan Gifford and Max Siegel at the Changing Lanes premiere party at Mez.

The showing we were treated to was commercial-free, so the extra time allowed for an introduction by Jay Abraham, COO of NASCAR Media Group, which is a producer of the show. The other main principal behind Changing Lanes, aside from BET, is Max Siegel and his Revolution Racing team.

I'll sum up my thoughts of the first episode of Changing Lanes first by saying that it was interesting and I think it's certainly a concept that is to be applauded by all parties involved. In the history of NASCAR, only one black driver has won a race in its top series (today known as the Sprint Cup): Wendell Scott in 1963. It has baffled many as to why nearly 50 years have passed without seeing this feat repeated. Whatever the challenges and difficulties may be, I think we'll see it play out on Changing Lanes.

Baked beans are a staple at any cookout, and if you're grilling this holiday weekend you're probably planning to make some. Here's a baked beans recipe you might like. I recently made them and they were a hit at the cookout. I can't take too much credit though. I got the recipe from The Pioneer Woman, who said she got it from Pam Anderson (no, not the famous blonde).

Quick Southern-Style Baked Beans Recipe
Serves up to 18
8 slices bacon, cut if half
1 medium onion, cut into small dice
1/2 medium green pepper, cut into small dice
3 large cans (28 ounces each) pork and beans
3/4 cup barbecue sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup distilled or cider vinegar
2 teaspoons dry mustard or 2 tablespoons Dijon


Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Fry bacon in large, deep skillet until bacon has partially cooked and released about 1/4 cup drippings. Remove bacon from pan and place on paper towels. Add onions and peppers to drippings in pan and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add beans and remaining ingredients bring to a simmer. (If skillet is not large enough, add beans and heat to a simmer then transfer to a large bowl and stir in remaining ingredients). Pour flavored beans into a greased 13-by 9-inch (or similar size) oven-proof pan. Top with bacon, then bake until beans are bubbly and sauce is the consistency of pancake syrup, about 2 hours. Let stand to thicken slightly and serve.

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