Friday, December 30, 2011

The semi-annual Queen's Feast: Charlotte Restaurant Week returns for its Winter 2012 edition, taking place Friday, January 20 through Sunday, January 29. The CRW website, www.charlotterestaurantweek.com, went live today with the updated info and there are a record 101 restaurants participating.

Charlotte Restaurant Week began in 2008 and since then has been held each January (winter) and July (summer). I remember the first time I blogged about it here on Grown People Talking was in the summer of 2009, in which was its third installment--it featured a then-record high 71 restaurants and also marked the first time it spanned 10 days. Clearly, CRW has grown—the last one featured 92 restaurants—and it's now solidified as a culinary tradition in the city.

It's the same deal you love: participating restaurants offering a prix fixe, three-course dinner for $30 per person (not including tax and gratuity). Many restaurants will throw in a fourth course or glass of wine for the deal.

Fern, Flavors from the Garden is one of a dozen first-time participants in restaurant week.

Restaurant owners love the promotion because it draws in diners during what is typically slow periods, and brings them a lot of first-time customers whom they hope will become regulars. And we, patrons, love it because it's a chance to enjoy a great meal and evening out at a reduced cost. Hensley Fontana Public Relations & Marketing, which owns and executes Charlotte Restaurant Week, reports that the summer edition in July 2011 generated approximately 90,000 dinners and an estimated economic impact of more than $4 million in revenue.

While nearly two-thirds of the participating restaurants are located in the Uptown, Dilworth, SouthPark, and south Charlotte areas—understandably so because those areas have the most restaurants period—the list spans the entire Charlotte area. The Lake Norman/North Mecklenburg/Iredell County section of the list has grown the most, now featuring 17 restaurants.

There are also a dozen first-time participants, including Bernardin’s at Ratcliffe in Uptown; Campania Cafe in Davidson; Fern, Flavors from the Garden in Plaza Midwood; Waldhorn Restaurant in Pineville; Yama Asian Fusion in SouthPark; Jeffrey’s Restaurant in Mooresville; Osso Restaurant & Lounge at N.C. Music Factory (opened just last week); La Paz in the Metropolitan; and several others.

Monday, December 26, 2011

It was a great turnout of celebrity support tonight for the Charlotte Bobcats' season-opening win at home against the Milwaukee Bucks. Among the big names in attendance at Time Warner Cable Arena in Uptown were New York Yankees star Derek Jeter and Carolina Panthers star rookie quarterback Cam Newton.

Stars align: Cam Newton sits next to Bobcats owner Michael Jordan at Monday's game. 
[photo via @McBeastie_]

I'm sure the Bobcats front office hopes that Cam will come out to home games all season. But I'm sure they--as well as plenty of Charlotteans--hope he doesn't make the same fashion faux pas again. Mr. Yes We Cam wore a Charlotte Hornets snapback hat to the game. I'm sure he did it more as a fashion statement and probably wanted to pay homage to Charlotte's sports history, but someone in his circle should bring him up to speed quickly about how the Hornets' legacy is still a touchy subject in Charlotte.

Even nine years after the Hornets relocated to New Orleans following then-owner George Shinn's ugly split with the city of Charlotte, and seven years after the Bobcats team was born thanks to the NBA granting the city a new franchise quickly, many locals still decry the lost of Charlotte's original NBA team. This includes some who were okay with the Hornets leaving, but wanted the name to stay so that the future franchise would've been called Charlotte Hornets again, similar to what happened with the Cleveland Browns in the NFL in the 1990s. Personally, I've always felt that the Bobcats--name and presence--have represented a fresh start that should be embraced, and it's good to see newcomers like Cam showing their support. Just don't wear anymore Hornets gear, buddy.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Technocom, a Charlotte-based office technology company, has created the "TechnoMakeover" initiative and will be donating a $50,000, fully customized technology facelift to a local nonprofit organization. And you can have your say as to which nonprofit you believe is most deserving.


Five finalists have been choosing from the process that began over the summer. Voting opened to the public last week and continues until January 15, 2012. Simply visit www.technocommakeover.com and vote for one of the following 2011 TechnoMakeover Finalists:
  • Hospitality House of Charlotte provides shelter to out-of-town families while loved ones receive treatment in nearby hospitals. During its history, Hospitality House of Charlotte has sheltered more than 40,000 guests from 49 states and more than 35 countries. 
  • Michael Scott Mater Foundation creates opportunities for budding entrepreneurs and existing small business owners by providing coaching, mentoring, technical assistance and microfinance. 
  • Crisis Assistance Ministry is the financial hub for Mecklenburg County to assist clients with their financial needs (rent, utilities, clothing, and furniture), helping them move toward self-sufficiency. 
  • Pennies 4 Hope Project transforms individuals and families through partnership in life skills and leadership development. P4HP contributes to the community through crisis provision of resources in food/nutrition, clothing, and pro-life support services with a goal toward self-sufficiency for marginalized families. 
  • With Open Eyes accelerates the sharing and teaching of the good news of Jesus Christ by providing reliable transportation and supplies to modern day apostles they call “Mobile Messengers” seeking access to the unreached and under-served peoples of the world. 
Get more details about each of the finalists, including a video of a representative from each organization describing the work they do and how winning the technology makeover would help them, by clicking here.

The Charlotte-area nonprofit selected for the TechnoMakeover will be announced on January 20. Technocom will work with the chosen organization to understand their office needs and will then bring in, introduce, and train the chosen nonprofit on an office technology package that will help it thrive. This package could include printers and print management, copiers and multi-function systems, mailing solutions, electronic filing and imaging, IT integration and security, and wide-format printing.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Charlotte Chamber held its annual Economic Outlook Conference yesterday at Charlotte Convention Center. You can read The Charlotte Observer article, "CEOs see slow economic growth in 2012," to learn what executives from five of the country's largest businesses and the Federal Reserve had to say about the economy. I just wanted to share one of the Observer's photos here because it shows how much money was in the room yesterday, which you can see from the six esteemed gentlemen on the stage (each of the corporations they represent are either headquartered in Charlotte or have a large presence here). There were also numerous CEOs, presidents, and other top executives in attendance.


Pictured from left to right: Jeffrey Lacker, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond; David Carroll, senior executive vice president of Wealth, Brokerage and Retirement Services for Wells Fargo; Brian T. Moynihan, president and CEO of Bank of America; Dan DiMicco, chairman and CEO of Nucor; Christopher Kearney, chairman and CEO of SPX; and Jim Rogers, chairman and CEO of Duke Energy. Photo by Jeff Willhelm/The Charlotte Observer. Click here to see full gallery.

Monday, December 19, 2011

It's a controversy that's been building for nearly two weeks now, but is one that could've ended a week ago had Lowe's simply admitted it made a mistake when it decided to pull its advertising from the TLC show All-American Muslim earlier this month. I'm sure you've seen at least some of the mountain of news coverage this issue has received.

Lowe's, which is headquartered in Mooresville and is the second-largest hardware store chain in the country (behind The Home Depot), continues to come under fire, with prominent people calling for boycotts of its stores. Music and fashion mogul Russell Simmons and his GlobalGrind site have been among the most vocal. Miss USA 2010, Rima Fakih, who is Muslim, has recently gotten on board as well. There were protests held in front of Lowe's Home Improvement stores around the country over the weekend, and a website, LowesBoycott.com, has been set up.

Protesters rally outside of a Lowe's store in Maryland. [via colesville.patch.com]

On or around December 6, Lowe's made the decision to stop advertising on All-American Muslim, after being contacted by the Florida Family Association (click here to see original email of Lowe's response to the group). FFA had contacted several advertisers claiming: "The Learning Channel's new show All-American Muslim is propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law. The show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish."

Somehow, Lowe's didn't seem to see for itself that, perhaps for the first time in TV history, a show was being denounced for what it didn't include. Companies have been known to pull their advertising when TV shows feature too much violence, nudity, sex, profanity, or hate speech, for example. But FFA believes All-American Muslim is unfit for companies to be associated with it because "the show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks..."

When news began to spread a little over a week ago that Lowe's had pulled its ads, the company posted a statement on its Facebook page on December 10, saying: "It appears that we managed to step into a hotly contested debate with strong views from virtually every angle and perspective – social, political and otherwise – and we’ve managed to make some people very unhappy. We are sincerely sorry. We have a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, across our workforce and our customers, and we’re proud of that longstanding commitment."

But Lowe's didn't say a whole lot in that statement--nor did it apologize for pulling the ads--and certainly didn't address if it would do anything differently. That Facebook post garnered more than 28,000 comments in four days, with many people saying they would never shop at Lowe's again, and some supporting Lowe's for its stance. But there were almost as many comments with hateful and racist language, prompting Lowe's to remove the entire post from its page. It replaced it Wednesday with a post asking users to "keep your comments on this Facebook page respectful..." and "Again, we offer our sincere apology to anyone offended by our advertising business decision or posts on this page." That post has received nearly 12,000 comments so far.

Lowe's is usually active on Facebook, posting several times a day about sales at its stores, but the status addressing the controversy has been its only post in the last 10 days. And on Twitter, where it typically tweeted five to ten times a day, there hasn't been a post since December 10. So Lowe's, whose spokespeople have said in news interviews that the company stands by its decision regarding All-American Muslim, has gone silent on social media. While social media--and traditional media--are severely harming the company's reputation.


All of this could've ended last week if Lowe's would've addressed the issue better. Big businesses never seem to want to give the impression that they're caving on anything or are being pressured to do something, which is why I guess Lowe's hasn't reversed its decision (for a month, Bank of America stubbornly stood by its announced plans to add a $5 monthly debit card fee, until the public backlash became too great). Meanwhile, it appears to most people that Lowe's caved to the pressure from Florida Family Association, which in recent days has been exposed to have misled companies about its actual pull, so to speak.

There's a great article yesterday by USA Today ("TLC show brings Muslims in America out in the open") on the fallout surrounding All-American Muslim. The newspaper also produced a video interview with two of the cast members from the show. This only makes Lowe's look worse when you see these people talk about their lives, which aren't much different from most of us.


My advice to Lowe's: Have your CEO come out and say that the company made a hasty decision that was prompted by a so-called family association without doing more research into whether concern was merited. And to prove that you want to turn this unfortunate fiasco into a learning experience, Lowe's would sponsor a forum on racial and religious tolerance. Two would be held: one in Dearborn, Michigan, where All-American Muslim is filmed and where 30 percent of the population is Arab-American; and one in Charlotte, which is near Lowe's headquarters, so company executives can take part, and is where there have been two well-publicized incidents recently of Muslims being singled out during flights to and from Charlotte Douglas International Airport (a lawsuit was filed today regarding the first incident).

Lowe's: imagine that this problem is a leaking pipe under the kitchen sink. If you continue to ignore it, it will only get worse.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

If you have teenage sons, nephews, brothers, or--equally important--are concerned about the environment in which so many of our kids are growing up, you should watch these two videos below.

You've likely seen the first one. It went viral in January, and shows an uncle beating his teenage nephew with a belt. The uncle was outraged that his nephew had been on Facebook glorifying and claiming to be in a gang. So in an attempt to discipline--and it's safe to say, embarrass--the kid, the elder recorded a minute-long video and forced his nephew to denounce gang activity. I, like millions of people, watched this video nearly a year ago when I saw it posted online. It was shared over several days on Facebook and other social media sites, sparking much debate as to whether the uncle had gone too far. Some commended the uncle for doing what he thought was necessary to keep his nephew from going down a dangerous path. Others believed the uncle should've handled it differently. And some even found the video funny.

Well, unfortunately, in this second video, this time a news clip, it tells how 16-year-old Michael Taylor was shot and killed last week outside of his home in Terrytown, Louisiana. Michael is the same kid who was in the viral video nearly a year ago being disciplined by his uncle. According to a story by news station WDSU, Michael's family believes his glorification of gang life, which apparently had continued, might have led to his death. Yesterday, police arrested a 21-year-old suspect in the killing.

Both videos are embedded below, with the older one first, and you should watch them in that order.



After our young people have been slain over senseless violence, it's too late to say you wish you would've done more. We need to acknowledge that this is happening far too often in predominantly black neighborhoods and schools, and not show a lack of concern if it isn't our kids or if we don't live in one of those neighborhoods.

We also need to stop condoning rap music and rappers who glorify gang life in their music, which has surged over the last few years. I've seen firsthand how kids will wear red bandannas (they call them flags) and holler "su woo" because Lil Wayne or Game does it. Those rappers will say that they aren't concerned about being role models and it's the parents' job to raise their kids. That's true, but that's also why I don't buy Lil Wayne or Game's CDs anymore. See how easy that is.


For Charlotte, below are a few organizations (click on the links) in which you can get involved to try to make a difference in a young boy's (or girl's) life, so hopefully he doesn't end up like Michael.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Watch Second Episode of '282'

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 12/13/2011 No comments
The new, local news roundup show 282 is still in beta mode as we've taped the second of four-planned online-only episodes. This week's episode features host Carlton Hargro, freelance journalist and Washington Post contributor Mary C. Curtis, Matthew Vincent of Hawthorne's New York Pizza & Bar, and Julie Sheffer from MeckEd. They discussed Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools winning national awards, the growth of locally owned restaurants, and the controversy and intrigue that surrounds County Commissioner Harold Cogdell Jr. (click here to read more about this week's episode). And I contributed my weekly commentary, a three-minute spiel titled "Fake It Till You Make It…Or Not."

You can watch the full episode below. And my segment begins around the 22:15 mark.


We'll tape two more online-only episodes in January before the show officially launches on WTVI January 30.

Monday, December 12, 2011

One of the things I enjoy most about covering Charlotte in my work as a freelance writer is the fact that I'm always learning something new and interesting, which I then try to convey to the reader. And, oftentimes, I learn more about something that I'd previously encountered. That's the case with Edison Nation, a Charlotte-based idea-to-shelf product development company I profiled in the December issue of Charlotte magazine: "Being Thomas Edison."


I wasn't aware of Edison Nation until earlier this year. I'd been familiar with its parent company, Enventys, and had actually visited Enventys' office in 2007 for the premiere party they held for the launch of Everyday Edisons TV show (Enventys, Edison Nation, Everyday Edisons, and Inventors Digest magazine are all now housed in that building on the edge of Uptown). You should definitely read my Charlotte magazine article (if you haven't already; the December issue has been on newsstands for about three weeks now) to see how Edison Nation was spawned, largely from the TV show, and how the company has helped inventors as well as ordinary people with good ideas get their ideas patented and developed into products you might have seen in stores or perhaps even own. Eggies, Emery Cat, Gyro Bowl, Mister Steamy, and Total Wrench, to name a few.

One of the reasons Edison Nation has become so successful is that it has created an online community for inventors, idea people, and entrepreneurs. EdisonNation.com members (it's free to join) from around the country communicate with each other daily in forums on the website.


The staff at Edison Nation also fosters interaction through social media sites and, in fact, is hosting a tweet chat this Tuesday, December 13 at 8 p.m. It'll be an hour-long, live chat session on Twitter to discuss important topics in the world of invention. You're invited to "Come ask and answer questions, meet new people, share resources or simply hang out with idea people just like you!" The hashtag for the Tuesday night session is #InventChat. Edison Nation plans to hold these tweet chats every second Tuesday of the month.

Also, to further illustrate how its idea-to-shelf process works, the company put out this video last week: Learn How Edison Nation Works!



Kemba's Kicks

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 12/12/2011 No comments
Now that the NBA lockout is over, the Charlotte Bobcats are getting back to the business of basketball. The team signed their top draft pick, guard Kemba Walker, over the weekend and I'm sure the former UConn star is happy and relieved that some NBA checks are on the way. I know it had to have been tight for rookies like Kemba who haven't been able to get paid by the teams that drafted them in June. But I'm sure a lottery pick like him didn't have to resort to Ramen noodles, thanks largely to the endorsement deal he signed with Under Armour in July.


It's an interesting fact that our city's top two rookies--Kemba from the Bobcats and quarterback Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers--both have endorsement deals with Under Armour. It would be great if UA put up a billboard in Uptown Charlotte of the two of them. Who knows, that probably would've happened by now had the NBA lockout ended sooner and not have caused any loss of games the way the NFL lockout was able to be resolved before preseason.

Because of the NBA lockout's long duration, it has sort of stifled a promotion Under Armour had planned for Kemba. The sportswear and apparel company was planning to commemorate the Bronx, New York native's homecoming, the scheduled December 10 game between the Bobcats and New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, by releasing a special color of his sneakers. A limited edition of the PE "Homecoming" UA Micro G Jukes were produced in white/silver/orange. But all is not lost, Under Armour is going to hold the promotion to coincide with Kemba and the Bobcats' January 4 visit to the Garden.

Under Armour released a previously shot promo video over the weekend, though it still refers to the original December 10 game.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I plan to put my Christmas tree up this weekend, which will be a week earlier than I did last year (*pats self on back*). So in my house, it'll begin to feel like Christmas. Where it already feels--and looks--like the holiday, however, is at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The second annual Carolina Christmas display, featuring more than 3 million lights, a Bethlehem Village with a live nativity scene, pony rides for kids and a petting zoo, local food vendors, and more, is open at the speedway through December 31. Click here to read my review at CharlotteMagazine.com, which I wrote after visiting Carolina Christmas during its opening weekend.

Credit: Charlotte Motor Speedway

This Friday night, December 9, Carolina Christmas will feature an old-fashioned drive-in movie with a modern twist when it shows Polar Express on the world’s largest high-definition television screen at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The movie will begin at 8 p.m. and is included with regular admission to Carolina Christmas that night. Click here for more details on the movie night.

Monday, December 5, 2011

My latest gig as a freelance journalist is an exciting opportunity to work on a new, Charlotte-based television show called 282 (represents the first three digits of the city's zip code, by the way). This new venture is derived from a partnership between CLT Blog and WTVI (Charlotte's PBS affiliate), and it's a weekly, roundtable news show where media personalities will discuss hot topics prevalent in the Charlotte area. Former Creative Loafing Charlotte editor-in-chief Carlton Hargro is the host of the half-hour show, and my role is Andy Rooney-esque (but not so angry) in that I'll be contributing a three-minute-or-so editorial segment each episode about a current topic I happen to feel strongly about or that I think you will be interested in.


We taped the pilot, or first, episode of 282 at noon today at WTVI's studios, and it's now posted online. The show is in beta right now (so please pardon the flubs), and the first few episodes will run online only. After we've gotten some practice and worked out the kinks, 282 will begin airing weekly on WTVI on Mondays at 6:30 p.m., starting January 30, 2012 (WTVI is channel 42 on digital television a.k.a. regular TV, DirecTV, Dish Network, and AT&T U-verse; channel 5 on Time Warner Cable). And because it's important that the show has a strong web and social media presence (Twitter @282tv), beginning next Monday, December 12, we’ll be live-streaming the show online each Monday at noon at cltblog.com/live. So you'll watch it as we tape it.

Below is today's episode, embedded from YouTube. Featured with Carlton are three guest panelists: freelance journalist Rhi Fionn-Bowman, restaurant/nightlife connoisseur Larken Egleston, and The Charlotte Observer columnist Mark Washburn. My segment begins at the 14:07 mark. "I'm on TV talking like it's just you and me."—Kanye West


Click here to learn more about 282 and the pilot episode, and expect to see the show grow, evolve, and get better over the next two months (an improved set—we hope—enhanced graphics, presentation, its own website, etc.; but the one thing that's already great is the opening theme music—love it). There are some talented people involved with 282 so I think it has the potential to be something you'll look forward to watching each week.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Rev. Billy Graham Will Probably Outlive You

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 12/04/2011 No comments
The Rev. Billy Graham is many things, but dead he is not. The 93-year-old Charlotte native, and one of the world's most famous evangelists, was admitted to an Asheville hospital last week with pneumonia. And while reports over the last couple of days were saying his condition is improving, WBTV mistakenly reported during its Saturday morning news show that Rev. Graham had died.

According to a statement by WBTV, Charlotte's CBS affiliate, the morning show producer read what he thought was a breaking news crawl on an off-air network feed about Rev. Graham. Without verifying it first, the news was given to anchor Kristen Miranda through her earpiece, who then announced that Rev. Graham had passed away. Fortunately, this wasn't true, and within 10 minutes WBTV made an on-air correction.

That didn't stop the station from getting phone calls and emails throughout the day, but they did the best they could to try to rectify the situation, including posting an apology on their website, Facebook page, and having anchor Sharon Smith address the mistake during the Saturday night newscast, which I happened to see. I'm sure all those involved in the production of the show will forever think twice before reporting breaking news without first verifying it.

The spiritual icon speaks to staff at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in Charlotte last December.
Credit: facebook.com/ReverendBillyGraham

Rev. Graham could live to 100 and beyond, but certainly at his age and the fact that he's had a couple of health scares in recent years, people are more likely to believe it if they hear he's passed away. Because the erroneous report was made early on a Saturday morning around 6:30 a.m., when most people are still sleeping, and the fact that WBTV corrected the mistake rather quickly, the misinformation didn't have long to spread. Had this happened in the afternoon, it would've become a trending topic on Twitter before it could've been retracted.

Now, it is actually common practice for major news outlets to pre-write celebrity obituaries for those famous people who are either very old or are living dangerous lifestyles in which the media believes could lead to their early demise ("Lindsay Lohan and the risks of 'pre-written' obituaries"). When it's done regarding elderly famous people, it can be a benefit such as was the case when Elizabeth Taylor died earlier this year. Within an hour of her death, national television news stations and websites were broadcasting and publishing in-depth reports about her death, which included only a little bit of details about when and how she actually died but more about her recent health problems and the legacy of her 50-plus-year career, which was clearly comprised of reports and footage they had on standby. But when it goes wrong, a celebrity becomes the latest to be "Murdered by the Media."

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fernando Is the Man, Yo

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 11/30/2011 No comments
If you live in Charlotte or the surrounding area, you likely heard the big news yesterday that Chiquita is relocating its headquarters from Cincinnati to Charlotte. The multibillion-dollar company that's most known for bananas will bring 400 jobs to the city next year, with its corporate office being housed in NASCAR Plaza in Uptown. The news of Chiquita's relocation was the talk of last evening's Charlotte Chamber Annual Meeting, and was the focal point of about a third of the formal program.

Chiquita CEO Fernando Aguirre took the stage and talked about why his company chose Charlotte over remaining in Cincinnati or moving to one of the other cities that were courting them--the two biggest reasons were the financial incentives package the city and state put together and the appeal of the high number of daily, direct, and international flights that operate out of Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Based on the 15 minutes or so that Fernando spoke, I believe he's going to do well in Charlotte and add to the city's long lineage of savvy, forward-thinking, civic-engaged corporate executives (think Hugh McColl, Leon Levine, Jerry Richardson). I like the guy.

Fernando Aguirre appeared on CBS's Undercover Boss last year.

My first impressions of Fernando is that he's sharp, witty, and an avid tweeter (@FdoAguirreCEO). And he was thoughtful enough to don a yellow bow tie he says was sent to him by Charlotte-based High Cotton Ties in what was one of the many ways people in the city came together to help lure them here (#bananas4CLT / #bananasforCLT). But out of all the things he stated at the event, to me, one of the most important announcements was that Chiquita will be donating 15 salad bars to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools so students will have more access to fresh fruits and vegetables. The salad bars will be donated through the Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools program.

Fernando is the man, yo.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I've worked in the magazine industry for the past decade, and there's one thing I know that many casual observers don't seem to comprehend: the magazine business is a business. I've seen entirely too many glossies launch and fail over the last few years, largely because the people behind them either have no publishing experience or don't fully understand all of the pieces that must be put in place for a magazine to have a chance to succeed. Furthermore, I feel that post-2008 has not been a good time to launch a new magazine. I'm sure you've seen some of your favorite titles fold or continue to publish at 50 to 75 percent of the size (number of pages) they once were. This is mostly attributed to the decline in advertising revenue that magazines--and most media outlets--have experienced since the recession. Companies aren't making the money they used to--retail stores, fashion brands, airlines, car companies, electronics, record labels, etc.--so they aren't advertising like they used to. Fewer ads mean fewer magazine pages for stories, and fewer ads mean less revenue for a business to operate.

So before I go too long on my soap box, please know that I love magazines, they're partly how I make my living, and I hope they thrive for another century (even if it is on iPads, Kindles, and tablet PCs). It's just that I was surprised to learn that the National Football League is launching a new magazine in December. But then again, I'm not.

The inaugural edition of NFL Magazine is scheduled to hit newsstands nationwide on December 13. Most magazines make most of their money off of subscriptions, newsstand sales, and paid advertisements, which is the largest chunk of revenue. NFL Magazine is coming into the game facing the same challenges as other more established mags and will be fighting for a share of the advertising dollars, but my guess is that the NFL believes that publishing a monthly magazine year-round centering on a five-month season will make good business sense.

The league launched the NFL Network eight years ago to give fans around-the-clock, year-round television coverage of professional football, and that's been going well, right? Not necessarily. Most fans who subscribe to NFL Network have satellite TV or one of a few major cable companies. But some of the nation's largest cable companies, like Time Warner Cable and Cablevision, don't offer the NFL Network to their customers. And documents that leaked over the summer while the league was locked out over a collective bargaining agreement with players showed that NFL Network is one of the few league products that loses money. The league operates NFL Ventures, which oversees its sponsorships, marketing, media properties, sales, and satellite rights, and I assume is where NFL Magazine will fall under. NFL Ventures' operating profit reportedly grew by 29 percent from 2009 to 2010 to $1.8 billion, which is a sizable chunk of the league's $8 billion in revenue.

So basically, folks, the NFL is being greedy. It is making so much money that it can afford to launch another media property--this time a magazine--that I'm betting will never become profitable. It loses money on NFL Network, but continues to operate it because it wants its own network, despite the fact that ABC, ESPN, FOX, and NBC pay it billions to broadcast games. Now it wants a magazine, to compete with the likes of ESPN The Magazine (owned by ESPN obviously) and Sports Illustrated (owned by Time Warner). NFL Magazine might draw a decent number of subscribers early on because it has so many vehicles in which to market it, but I'm curious to see how great of an editorial product it will be. ESPN The Magazine and Sports Illustrated are both lauded for their fan appeal as well as their thorough reporting and journalism. While each of them cover several of the major sports and not just the NFL, they're not afraid to criticize the sports leagues. Will NFL Magazine offer criticisms of the league? Roger Goodell isn't always right, you know.


But I digress. You might want to pick up a copy of the first issue of NFL Magazine next month. It features our guy Cam Newton on the cover. That's a big deal for Cam and it's great national exposure for the Carolina Panthers. You might want to read it since leading-rookie-of-the-year-candidate and rookie-records-breaker Cam hasn't done much press this season--access is something the magazine is touting: "Go where no other magazine can," one of its taglines reads. And you might want to own this copy because it could one day become a collector's item when NFL Magazine no longer exists.

UPDATE: April 2012

NFL Magazine has folded after only four issues. Below is the statement posted on thenflmagazine.com.
Information Regarding NFL Magazine Subscriptions
Thank you for your interest in NFL Magazine. We regret to inform you that at this time NFL Magazine is not accepting any new or renewal orders for this product and will not be publishing additional issues after the Special 2012 Draft Issue, dated April 2012.

If you are a current subscriber with a fully-paid account and have a balance of unserved issues after the Special 2012 Draft Issue, you will be refunded for all unserved issues.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Production for ABC's acclaimed Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is returning to the Charlotte area in December, with local builder Bellamy Homes selected to oversee the construction. The builder and the show are currently organizing the local efforts and you can get involved.


To get the community excited about this opportunity to build a new home for a family in need, there will be a pep rally on December 1, 7 p.m. at Belmont Abbey College in Belmont (only 20 minutes from Uptown Charlotte). The event will be hosted by KISS 95.1's Otis and Brittney of The O Show, and you'll meet the builders and members of the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition team. The Carolina Panthers' TopCats will also be on hand and there will be ticket and prize giveaways. Admission to the pep rally is free but seating is limited. Get more details at www.bellamyhomes.com/extreme-makeover-home-edition.

The actual location of the build will be announced on December 11. You can get involved as a volunteer--the project needs more than 3,000 volunteers for general labor, food servers, and clean-up workers, as well as skilled trade professionals. The reason so many people are needed is because the entire build will be completed in one week, and all products and labor will be donated by partnering trades and suppliers. The episode will air next year in a two-hour broadcast on ABC. Get more details at www.joinextreme.com/nc.

The most recent time I recall Extreme Makeover being in Charlotte is 2008, when the show built a new home for the King family in the Windsor Park neighborhood. As you can see in the before-and-after photo below, and as is usually the case, the new home was a drastic improvement.



Thursday, November 17, 2011

On Friday I kicked off a contest to give away a new Windows Phone to a Grown People Talking reader, courtesy of Microsoft, allowing you four days to enter to win by interacting with me via social media (and then posting your entries in the comments section). I originally said I would announce the winner on Wednesday, which was yesterday, and I'd planned to do it once I returned from the Windows Phone Party at Mez last night. But I ended up having too much fun and bounced around to a couple of places in Uptown after and was in no condition to do any blogging when I returned (you too can keep up with fun things to do in Charlotte nightlife on my Dusk Till Dawn blog).


So, without further ado, the winner of my Windows Phone giveaway is...Andrew Buchanan! Congratulations Andrew! Email me your mailing address and contact phone number and I'll let you know the process for receiving the phone: JarvisH@grownpeopletalking.com.

Just so you guys can have faith that the contest was legit, I recorded how I selected the winner. It's a riveting five minutes of footage of me undergoing the process of putting slits of paper in a bag and pulling one out.


As for the Windows Phone Party last night at Mez, it was filled with mingling, free food and drinks, music, and prize giveaways--my favorite recipe for social events--all courtesy of Microsoft. I only knew a few people there, but met a few interesting people as well that I conversed with throughout the night. There were several tech geeks there also, which, from my understanding, was an important demographic, since we were, after all, there to try out and experience a new line of smart phones.

You can get a recap of the night's events on Twitter by searching the hashtag #WPCHR (Windows Phone Charlotte). Microsoft gave away several phones and other prizes last night (my friend Jameka won a customized skateboard) and one of the ways people were eligible to win was by tweeting about the event with that hashtag. The phone party tour is in Dallas, Nashville, and Phoenix tonight.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

If you have teenage children, relatives, or encounter them in youth groups or activities, you should encourage them to attend the Youth Expressions Summit (Y.E.S.) taking place this Saturday, November 19. It's a free event for students ages 12 to 19 that will allow them to discuss and engage in many of the issues they face as young people growing up in this crazy, fast-paced world today.


Here's an excerpt of the official description of the event:

Levine Museum of the New South, as part of its New COURAGE project, invites students ages 12 to 19 to come show your courage at the Youth Expressions Summit (Y.E.S.). Join hundreds of fellow students as you explore the issues today and the guts to face them—the things that matter to you as individuals, in your schools, in your communities, and in your world. Designed by teens, the summit focuses on a host of hot topics, from cliques to bullying, dating-violence to sexting, immigration to re-segregation, peer pressure to personal advocacy, and much more.

Levine Museum is partnering with ASPIRE Youth Leadership and Development Program, Girl Talk Foundation, Inc., Planned Parenthood of Charlotte/Teens Taking Action, and UNC Charlotte's Department of Public Health Sciences to present the Y.E.S. Summit.


Youth Expressions Summit (Y.E.S.)
Saturday, November 19, 2011
9 a.m.-2 p.m.
UNC Charlotte, College of Health and Human Services Building, 9601 University City Blvd.
Free; registration required at www.yessummit.eventbrite.com or the morning of the event.
www.facebook.com/NewCourage

Monday, November 14, 2011

'The Hunger Games' Movie Trailer Debuts

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 11/14/2011 2 comments
The official movie trailer for The Hunger Games debuted today on Good Morning America, and apparently has fans--who've been waiting for the best-selling science fiction novel to be adapted to a movie--going nuts. This is latest snippet of what we've received from the otherwise tightly guarded production; the last time was the exclusive sneak peek that aired in August during the MTV Video Music Awards.


I've never read the book and am not usually a fan of these kinds of stories, but I've been keeping up with the developments in The Hunger Games movie because a large portion of it was filmed throughout North Carolina, including Charlotte and Concord. And it's the reason stars Jennifer Lawrence, Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz, and others were spotted around the city all summer. I don't recognize Charlotte in the trailer, which could be because the clip only shows limited footage from scenes in the first half of the movie, according to Lionsgate. Charlotte was rumored to be the setting for the Capitol scenes, a city in the fictional country of Panem in the story.

You can watch the trailer for The Hunger Games below or on iTunes. The promo includes the hashtag #HeadForTheSquare.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

GoodWorks Youth Awards November 17

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 11/13/2011 No comments
A great, annual event takes place this week and you should come out to show your support. The GoodWorks Youth Awards honors exemplary young people who are doing good works in the areas of diversity, education, and the environment. The ceremony is this Thursday, November 17, 6-9 p.m. at the Mint Museum Uptown (500 S. Tryon St.).

Scene at the 2010 GoodWorks Youth Awards. Photo by Jon Strayhorn/Media Arts Collective.

The GoodWorks Youth Awards is hosted by my friend and colleague, Rahman Khan, president of GoodWorks Media Group, who also hosts the local PBS show of the same name. Rahman is passionate about showcasing the positive aspects in our community to help balance out the negative news coverage we're so often inundated with. The keynote speaker Thursday is Molly Barker, founder of Girls on the Run. Molly is an inspiring speaker, who wowed audiences at TEDxCharlotte last year. The GoodWorks Youth Awards also features special guests NBA Hall of Famer James Worthy and Revolution Racing NASCAR driver Ryan Gifford.


Click here to purchase tickets to the GoodWorks Youth Awards, which are $30 for adults and $20 for youth.

Friday, November 11, 2011

How would you like to win a new Windows Phone? Well, I'm giving one away, thanks to the folks at Microsoft. But before I tell you how you can win one from me, let me give you the details on a cool event Microsoft is bringing to Charlotte.

Microsoft is taking its Windows Phone Inner Circle Tour to about 20 cities around the country and is hosting parties. The Charlotte Windows Phone party takes place Wednesday, November 16, 6-9 p.m. at Mez (210 E. Trade St., inside EpiCentre). At the event, a Microsoft team will show you the latest Windows Phones--its features, apps, games, etc. There'll also be music, mixing and mingling, and appetizers and drinks served, plus phones and other prizes will be given away. Click here to register to attend.

Partiers playing Angry Birds on a Windows Phone at a recent Windows party in New York.
Credit: facebook.com/windowsphone.

Now, here's how you can enter to win a Windows Phone as a faithful reader of Grown People Talking. Microsoft is providing a phone for me to give away, such as the HTC Radar 4G, HTC Titan, Samsung Focus S, or Samsung Focus Flash (click here to read about the new Windows Phones). I'm kicking off the contest on Friday, November 11 at 5 p.m. through Tuesday, November 15 at 11:59 p.m. And I'll announce the winner here on Grown People Talking on Wednesday, November 16.

You'll be entered to win the phone by submitting your entry in the comments section of this post. You'll get one entry for each of the following ways you interact with me via social media:


So that's a total of seven entries you can earn. After you've done some or all of those things, post one comment in the comments section below with your first and last name, the number indicating how many entries you've earned, followed by a description of which social media tasks you completed. Here's how your comment should look:

John Smith - 5 - liked you on Facebook, followed you on Twitter, subscribed to YouTube, shared Dusk Till Dawn on Facebook, shared DNC on Facebook.
-OR-
Jane Adams - 2 - liked you on Facebook, followed you on Twitter.

If you're already a fan on Facebook, follower on Twitter, or subscriber on YouTube, you don't have to undo and redo it. Just list it in the comments section of this post as the tasks you've completed.

I don't need any contact information from you yet. I'll only need it from the person selected as the winner. So when I announce the winner on Wednesday, I'll ask the winner to email me his/her mailing address to receive the phone.

If you have any questions about how this contest works, feel free to email me at JarvisH@grownpeopletalking.com. Good luck!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I went on a media tour of Mummies of the World this morning and it's far more intricate than the King Tut exhibit I remember going to see when I was a kid. Mummies of the World officially opens to the public at Discovery Place tomorrow, November 11 (11-11-11, how fitting for this tomb-esque exhibit) and runs through April 8, 2012. It's the Southern U.S. premiere for MOTW, which is the largest exhibition of real human and animal mummies ever assembled, with more than 150 specimens.

Discovery Place is a science museum, of course, and that's what's really at the heart of this traveling exhibit (Charlotte is one of only seven cities that will show it). It's fascinating to see how these mummies have been preserved for centuries and how scientists study them to learn about cultures, the environment, historical eras, and even diseases.

"The Tattooed Woman" is from Chile, believed to have lived before 1400. She's noted for her unusual tattoos--an oval with a dot inside on both breasts and her mouth.

Walking through the exhibit, you'll experience a range of emotions. One of the first pieces you'll encounter is the "Monkey Mummy." This howler monkey is from Argentina and is believed to have been naturally preserved in the warm, dry environment of the area. But what makes it stand out is that it's displayed with a feather skirt and feather wreath around its head and neck--a fancy monkey it is, that'll have you going "awwww." But as you proceed through MOTW, you'll encounter other pieces such as a South American mummy of a woman and her two children that'll leave you a little sad. These are, after all, the remains of people who once lived.

MOTW is a 12,000-square-foot exhibition so you'll journey through many sections, several of which are defined by the region where the mummies were discovered. I captured a short video, which you can see below, of a display in the European Mummies section. In the video is the Orlovits family, also known as the Vac Mummies, a husband, wife, and son group of mummies from the 18th century who were found in a long-forgotten church crypt in Vac, Hungary.


Admission to Mummies of the World is $24 for adults; $18 for children ages 2-13 (you might want to think carefully about letting small children see it); and, $20 for students with ID and seniors ages 60 and older. All tickets include full-day admission to Discovery Place. For more details, visit www.discoveryplace.org or www.mummiesoftheworld.com.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Carolina Panthers star player Jon Beason has been on the sidelines since September with a torn left Achilles tendon, but that's not going to stop him from doing a little lifting for the holiday season. The All-Pro linebacker is partnering with Harris Teeter to assemble 2,000 Harvest Feast Thanksgiving bags to benefit local families in need.

The philanthropic deed takes place Tuesday, November 15 at Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina (500B Spratt Street), beginning with a press conference at 1 p.m., followed by the bag assembly at 1:30 p.m. Harris Teeter is donating enough food for the Panthers player and Harris Teeter associates to assemble 2,000 Thanksgiving dinner bags.

Follow him on Twitter @jonbeason. Photo via panthers.com

After filling the bags, Jon and company will then make a stop at the Boys & Girls Club Marsh Road to personally distribute some of them to children and their families. Each Thanksgiving bag will feed a family of four, containing cranberry sauce, corn, green beans, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, a two-liter Coca-Cola, pie, rolls, and ham.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina will identify and distribute the Thanksgiving bags to emergency pantries throughout its 19-county region before the holiday. Emergency pantries and soup kitchens are reporting 30 to 40 percent increases in requests for assistance over this time last year. Click here for more details on the November 15 event.

You can help families in need by contributing to Harris Teeter's Harvest Feast Food Drive and Donation Card Campaign, through November 29. Click here for more details on this drive.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Grammy Award-winning, platinum-selling recording artist Anthony Hamilton is releasing his next album, Back To Love, on December 13. It'll be the Charlotte singer's fourth studio album and he's putting it out exactly three years after his last album, 2008's The Point of It All.


The first single from Back To Love is "Woo", which finds Anthony in awe of a woman he meets, singing in his usual soulful tone. "Ooh girl, you're so bad. [Woo woo ooh ooh.] But it feels so good," he croons on the chorus. He shot the video for "Woo" on Friday and posted a couple of camera phone photos to his Facebook page.

Anthony Hamilton on the set Friday for his new music video, "Woo".

Back To Love features songwriting and production by industry legends Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Salaam Remi, Dre & Vidal, and Anthony himself. You can pre-order the new album by clicking here, which includes an instant MP3 download of “Woo”.

And you can see him in concert when he brings The Woo Tour home to The Fillmore Charlotte on November 30. Tickets are $45 to $55. His website, www.anthonyhamilton.com, is currently raffling off tickets to select concert dates. Click here to see photos, by my friend and colleague Jon Strayhorn, from when Anthony last performed at The Fillmore in March.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I saw a cool new TV commercial tonight in which Charlotte, specifically its Uptown buildings, is the star. Verizon has rolled out a national campaign to promote how its "network of technology, people, and ideas" is benefiting businesses and communities. In the commercial featuring Charlotte, it highlights how the city is using "Verizon technology to inspire businesses to conserve energy and monitor costs, making communities greener."


The creative premise of the commercial shows a series of Uptown buildings being honored as employee of the month inside their respective offices. Those include the new UNC Charlotte Center City Building and NASCAR Hall of Fame, among others. Watch the video below.

video

If you visit the Verizon website dedicated to this campaign, verizon.com/plus, and click on the "Energy" tab, it takes you to several resources, including white papers and case studies on smart grid and cloud technology. There's also a link to Envision Charlotte, an initiative led by Duke Energy's Smart Energy Now program that uses digital grid technologies to display real-time energy data throughout Uptown, to create awareness and encourage behavioral change. The goal of this initiative is to cut energy use in Uptown by up to 20 percent by 2016. Several major corporations and organizations have partnered with Duke Energy on this, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Cisco, Verizon, Mecklenburg County, the City of Charlotte, and others.

Plans for Envision Charlotte have been in the works for the past year, and the campaign officially kicked off last Friday (click here to read The Charlotte Observer article). Below is a video from last year, in which former President Bill Clinton announces Envision Charlotte at the 2010 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting. He's joined on stage by Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers, Cisco CEO John Chambers, Mayor Anthony Foxx, and Charlotte Center City Partners President Michael Smith.


All of this strengthens the momentum Charlotte has been building over the last few years to grow its energy sector. Several local leaders want the city to be known as an energy hub as much as it is known for banking, and the motivation behind energy is propelled by the possibility of job creation, in addition to environmental sustainability.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Halloween, Jay and 'Ye, and Demons

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 10/29/2011 No comments
It's Halloween weekend. If you're a kid, you're probably getting your costume ready to go trick-or-treating. If you're an adult, you're probably getting your costume ready to go clubbing. For all you Grown People in Charlotte, I've got you covered. Over on my Dusk Till Dawn nightlife blog on CharlotteMagazine.com, I've compiled a list of 20 of the best Halloween parties taking place through Monday. Since the majority of the Halloween parties are going on tonight (I've listed nearly a dozen for Saturday night alone), I wanted to drop this quick note to direct you to the list.


I probably won't have time to partake in any Halloween fun this weekend because I'm headed to Columbia today to see family, and then to Greensboro tomorrow to see Jay and 'Ye. Yes sir, my brother and I are going to the Watch The Throne concert Sunday. As if it wasn't cool enough that Jay-Z and Kanye West, my two favorite rappers, made an entire album together, now I get to see them in what could be the concert of the year. Since the tour just kicked off last night in Atlanta, we'll be among the first to see it.


This will be my second time seeing Jay-Z in concert--the first was also in Greensboro in 2008 when he toured with Mary J. Blige (I wish he'd start choosing to tour in Charlotte). But this will be my first time seeing Kanye in concert--I didn't see him when he came to Charlotte in 2008 with his Glow in the Dark Tour, but I was lucky enough to go to the official after-party that night at what was then HOM nightclub.

Back to Halloween, if you're looking to be frightened and to get in the spirit (or for the spirit to get in you), check out these short Demon Cam video clips. FOX Charlotte weatherman Reg Taylor created these demonic visuals of his fellow news anchors with the Demon Cam app on his phone and posted them onto his Facebook page. It's amazing what you can do with smart phone apps these days. In the videos below, you'll see Morgan Fogarty (who's also on the cover of Creative Loafing's Halloween-themed issue this week), Ramona Holloway, and Reg each transform into demons.

Morgan
video

Ramona
video

Reg
video


Friday, October 28, 2011

J. Cole Is Having the Best Week Ever

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 10/28/2011 No comments
A month after his debut album, Cole World: The Sideline Story, hit stores and eventually went on to reach number one on the Billboard charts in its first week, J. Cole continues to ride high. The rapper from Fayetteville has had many great, well-deserved opportunities come his way recently thanks to his chart-topping success and Roc Nation support. But I'd like to go on the record as saying the reason J. Cole is having the Best Week Ever (remember how VH1 used to do it?) is because on Wednesday, Beyonce the Great debuted her new video for "Party" and J. Cole has a featured verse and appears in the video.


The version of the song in the video is actually a remix of sorts, in that J. Cole has replaced Andre 3000, who appears on the album version. There are all kinds of rumors circulating as to why the reclusive Outkast rapper didn't appear in the video--and his name was a trending topic on Twitter for two days because of it--but his omission has been to J. Cole's advantage. And I don't think it would be a stretch to say that Mr. Cole World benefited from the fact that his label boss Jay-Z is married to Beyonce. Nevertheless, J. Cole shined during his brief verse and appearance in the video.

He even shouts out his home state when he raps: "We out in Abu Dhabi, we like to party. / We don’t cause trouble, we just ride Bugatti. / Bad chick shawty, sorta resemble Sade. / Imported her in from Raleigh, and pulled up into the valet.”


The "Party" video has averaged more than a million views a day since debuting, and I have to say that I'm loving the song and video. It just puts me into a feel-good mood. Even though Beyonce has no reason to go to a trailer park other than to shoot this video, she captures the spirit that people can have a good time and enjoy life even if they don't have a lot by society's standards.

Keep up with J. Cole at www.jcolemusic.com.
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