Monday, January 31, 2011

If you ever wanted to understand the complexities that make up the public school system today, just look at the two largest headlines coming out of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools right now. And perhaps the way in which we share these stories says more about us than the events.

On Friday night, a fight broke out at the Butler High School versus East Mecklenburg High School basketball game. Allegedly, two parents and their daughter attacked a school resource officer, who is paid to keep the peace at events such as this. A camera crew from WCNC NewsChannel 36 (Charlotte's NBC affiliate) was at the game recording footage for the night's sports coverage, and ended up getting the entire brawl on tape. The video, which is embedded below, has gone viral, popping up on websites and newscasts across the country for the last three days.

Fast forward to Monday morning, and a group of Charlotte business and philanthropic leaders, known as the CMS Investment Study Group, unveiled a five-year, $55 million plan to help improve performance at West Charlotte High School and the seven elementary and middle schools that feed into it. West Charlotte High has a 51 percent graduation rate. Repeat: Almost half of West Charlotte's students aren't graduating. Titled Project L.I.F.T. (Leadership and Investment For Transformation), this new effort will "focus on enhanced teacher and school leadership quality, more time spent on task (including extended day, out of school time, and pre-kindergarten programs), access to technology, and policy changes that will allow school leadership more freedom." A news video of the announcement is embedded below as well. Click here to read the press release announcing Project L.I.F.T.

It's a tale of two stories. One gave Charlotte a black eye. The other gave Charlotte one more reason to be admired by other cities. I wonder if Monday's story will spread like wild fire across the Internet like Friday's did. Probably not. Instead of people not wanting to look away from the train wreck, I hope the community will soon take seriously this collision course we're on with a future filled with large, uneducated segments of the population. Like the behavior in the fight video, it starts at home.

Hats off to the Charlotte corporations and foundations that have already made hefty pledges to Project L.I.F.T., totaling $40.5 million so far:

  • Belk Foundation: $1 million
  • Foundation For The Carolinas: $2 million
  • Wells Fargo Foundation: $2.5 million
  • Duke Energy Foundation: $5 million
  • Bank of America Charitable Foundation: $10 million
  • C.D. Spangler Foundation: $10 million
  • The Leon Levine Foundation: $10 million

Click here if you would like to contribute to the cause.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Forbes recently released its annual list of the NBA's Most Valuable Teams. The headlines jumping out from the list are that the New York Knicks have overtaken the Los Angeles Lakers for the number one spot, valued at $655 million and $643 million, respectively, and that LeBron James taking his talents to South Beach has given his new team the Miami Heat the largest increase and his former team the Cleveland Cavaliers the largest decrease. The Heat are now in seventh place, valued at $425 million, up by 17 percent from last year. The Cavaliers are valued at $355 million, a whopping 26 percent drop in one year, essentially having lost one-fourth of their value. Guess we know why Dan Gilbert was so angry last summer--he knew his pockets would soon get a lot lighter.

The Charlotte Bobcats rank about where they usually are on the list, at 25th with a value of $281 million. That's a 1 percent increase from last year and that's even more of a positive when you consider that 11 of the NBA's 30 franchises saw their values decline. Coming in slightly short of being a statistical tie with the Bobcats is Charlotte's former team, the New Orleans Hornets. The Hornets are ranked 26th, valued at $280 million, and saw a 5 percent increase.

Team owner Michael Jordan speaking at the Bobcats Town Hall Meeting last fall. Photo from

The Bobcats' value of $281 million is only a little more than the $275 million Michael Jordan reportedly purchased the team for last year. But it should be noted that in describing how it determines team values, Forbes states that "our valuations sometimes differ from the amount teams have recently sold for. Our estimations are based on the team’s current economics (unless ground has been broken for a new building) and do not include the value of real estate." If you consider real estate regarding the Bobcats, the city of Charlotte owns Time Warner Cable Arena, which opened in Uptown in 2005, but the team operates and maintains the building and receives most of the revenue. This is why professional sports franchises usually covet publicly financed arenas and stadiums, though it can often be a tough sell to the public and politicians, which is why the Hornets left Charlotte, when the city wouldn't build them a new arena in the early 2000s.

I predict the Bobcats' value will increase by more when next year's list comes out. The franchise seems to be on the upswing in securing corporate sponsorships, such as its announcement earlier this month that the team had added Duke Energy as a new sponsor. Many analysts attribute Jordan's star power--number 23 still lights up a room and you'd be surprised how many CEOs want to be next to him.

For the complete list of NBA team values, according to Forbes, click here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Win a Trip to the 2011 CIAA Tournament

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 1/26/2011 No comments
Since tens of thousands of people will visit Charlotte the last week in February/first week in March for this year's CIAA Tournament, the opportunity to win an all-expense paid trip to the festivities should be desired by many. The CIAA has announced that Lowe's, one of its major sponsors, is hosting live radio broadcasts at select store locations where you can register for the chance to win the top prize. Free travel and hotel accommodations could make this your best CIAA experience ever.

At each broadcast, you’ll also be able to win giveaway items such as CDs, T-shirts, and tickets. Below is the list of Lowe's locations and dates where the broadcasts are scheduled to be held. It appears they chose store locations in states where CIAA schools are located, which makes sense for the fan base. It's interesting that a Charlotte location is listed for each of the dates, though.

Lowe’s Radio Remote Locations:

January 29, 12-2 p.m.
7710 Riverdale Road - New Carrollton, MD 20784
117 William Penn Plaza - Durham, NC 27704
5900 Baltimore National Pike - Baltimore, MD 21228
3625 North Commerce Drive - East Point, GA 30344
1100 Chancellor Park Drive - Charlotte, NC 28213
4551 S. Laburnum Avenue - Henrico, Va 23231
1500 North 50th Street - Philadelphia, PA 19131

February 5, 12-2 p.m.
10440 Campus Way South - Upper Marlboro, MD 20774
700 N. Wesleyan Blvd. - Rocky Mount, NC 27804
8281 Gateway Overlook Drive - Elkridge, MD 21075
7458 Highway 85 - Riverdale, GA 30274
10275 Perimeter Parkway - Charlotte, NC 28216
6425 Mechanicsville Turnpike - Mechanicsville, VA 23111
2106 S. Christopher Columbus Boulevard - Philadelphia, PA 19148

February 12, 12-2 p.m.
16301 Heritage Blvd. - Bowie, MD 20716
111 River Oaks Drive - Tarboro, NC 27886
1400 Taylor Avenue - Parkville, MD 21234
5375 Fairington Road - Lithonia, GA 30038
217 Iverson Way - Charlotte, NC 28203
2601 Weir Place - Chester, VA 23831
3800 Aramingo Avenue - Philadelphia, PA 19137

For more details on official CIAA events and contests, visit

And of course, don't forget about the list of events and parties taking place while the CIAA Tournament is in town, along with profiles and team coverage I'm compiling at

Monday, January 24, 2011

Have You Spotted 'Homeland'?

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 1/24/2011 1 comment
I think I might have to drive around Charlotte a little bit this week to see if I can "accidentally" make my way onto the set of a television production. I blogged last month about Homeland when it was holding casting calls, and now the Showtime pilot has been filming for about two weeks in Charlotte and surrounding areas.

Homeland is a TV drama in the works about U.S. Marine Sgt. Scott Brody, played by actor Damian Lewis, who spent eight years as a prisoner of war in Baghdad and was presumed dead. Recently rescued, Brody has returned home. But CIA agent Carrie Anderson, played by Emmy award-winning actress Claire Danes, suspects that he's plotting an attack on America.

Charlotte is reportedly being used to replicate the Virginia/D.C. area, which, you know, is home to top government and military operations and officials. Filming locations include the Mountainbrook neighborhood in south Charlotte, the Ritz-Carlton in Uptown, Carolinas Aviation Museum at the airport, and the now-closed Philip Morris USA plant in Concord. The Philip Morris plant is a cool idea because it's being used as the CIA headquarters during filming. (And you might recall news from a couple of months ago in which an entertainment company proposed turning the vacant plant site into a music and movie studio complex.)

The Homeland Casting Facebook page is a great way to keep up with the progress the film crews have been making. It's also a place to find out about last-minute casting needs if you're wanting to be an extra. Below are some recent photos from Facebook.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

In news that seems to have flown under the radar, Major League Lacrosse (MLL) announced yesterday that it is adding a team in Charlotte to begin play in 2012. I know this isn't the "2012 announcement" the city has particularly been looking for, but it's welcomed news all the same.

According to MLL commissioner David Gross, the league is granting franchises to Charlotte and Columbus, Ohio. The ten-year-old league, which has gone through much expansion and contraction over the years, currently has six teams: the Boston Cannons, Chesapeake Bayhawks, Toronto Nationals, Long Island Lizards, Denver Outlaws, and Rochester Rattlers. When Charlotte and Columbus begin play in 2012, the teams will play a 14-game schedule, an increase from the current 12-game schedule.

A professional lacrosse team in Charlotte could be a good thing for the city as well as the state. Duke University and the University of North Carolina both traditionally have strong lacrosse programs. Soon with a pro team in the state, those schools could serve as feeders for talented players. In fact, the MLL held its draft yesterday and UNC players were selected 3rd, 7th, and 36th overall, while Duke players went 26th and 46th.

I'm curious as to what Charlotte's lacrosse team mascot will be. What do you suggest? And would they call it Carolina or Charlotte? I also wonder where the team will play. If you want to follow developments with Charlotte's newest professional franchise, a Facebook page (Charlotte MLL 2012) and Twitter account (@CharlotteMLL) have been set up.

Click here to read more about the MLL's expansion.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Seventeen-year-old Phylicia Barnes, an honor student from Monroe, has been missing since December 28. She was spending the holidays with her sister in Baltimore, but there's been no trace of her since she went out shopping one afternoon--no activity on her cell phone or bank card.

There's been debate and criticism over the amount of--or lack thereof--attention Phylicia's case received during the early days and now weeks of her disappearance. The one positive about the scrutiny of media and the often-played race card, whether valid in this situation or not, is that this missing young lady is now getting the attention she deserves. An official with the Baltimore Police Department, who questioned the level of media coverage, referred to this as "Baltimore's Natalee Holloway case."

See video below from the NBC Nightly News segment that aired this evening about Phylicia.

While I hope this case turns out better than another missing woman case we had a few months ago, I'm reminded of a point I made then about the importance of media attention: "Valerie Hamilton's Case on 'Good Morning America'."

Monday, January 17, 2011

CIAA 2011 Parties and Events: The List

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 1/17/2011 No comments
UPDATE: Go to for the list of CIAA parties and events I've compiled.

Are you planning or promoting an event during CIAA Week, February 28-March 5, 2011, in Charlotte? If so, click here and fill out the online submission form to be included in Charlotte magazine and Where Charlotte's comprehensive coverage of events, parties, and personalities during the Queen City’s most vibrant week of the year.

You'll find content added frequently at, leading up to the CIAA Tournament.

The CIAA Tournament, the annual week-long basketball tournament for the 13 historically black colleges and universities in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA), has a rich tradition that dates back decades. CIAA officials made a wise choice in moving the tournament to Charlotte, which has hosted it each year since 2006 (and recently had its contract renewed to host the tournament through 2014). The tournament has reached record highs in attendance since coming here.

The more than 100,000 people who come to Charlotte each year during the last week in February/first week in March for CIAA will tell you it's about more than basketball (though the men and women's teams put on great games at Time Warner Cable Arena). There are literally close to 200 parties, social, and entertainment events going on that week as promoters and event planners rent out nearly every available venue in uptown and other parts of Charlotte.

This "day party" at MEZ last year was one of dozens of parties held during CIAA Week. Photo by Neil Nicholson. 

The CIAA holds its officially sanctioned events--a three-day Fan Experience at Charlotte Convention Center that's highlighted by concerts and celebrity appearances--but the bulk of the events around town are being put on by individual promoters who want to capitalize on the large crowd of twenty- and thirty-somethings who are visiting and are looking to have a good time. Locals take off work to go to "day parties" on that Thursday and Friday. It's a tradition.

So look for the list of events I'm compiling, coming soon to And once posted it'll be updated each week until March 1.

CIAA 2011 Parties Events, 2011 CIAA Parties Events, CIAA party list 2011, CIAA Tournament Charlotte, CIAA Week, CIAA Weekend Charlotte
The Charlotte Bobcats have become quite the purveyors of social media. From their Bobcats Break blog, to their use of Facebook and Twitter, the team is connecting with fans on the 'net (and beyond the net...pun intended). The latest effort is their Social Network Challenge.

Fans can sign up through a Facebook app to compete in an online ticket sales contest to win prizes. You sell the most tickets and you could win one of these: season tickets for the 2011-2012 season, lunch with team captains Gerald Wallace and Steven Jackson, a live introduction on court during a game with the Bobcats starting line-up, a custom-made Bobcats watch party at your house with the Lady Cats, a Bobcats suite, dinner at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, an autographed pair of Jordan Retro 11s, courtside seats; and the grand prize is an opportunity to meet Bobcats Chairman Michael Jordan and get two courtside seat tickets.

Here's how the contest works. After you register, you'll be given an exclusive link and passcode to sell tickets at a reduced rate for all the remaining regular season Bobcats games to your friends and family. You'll want to share your link and passcode on your social networks and/or via email and try to sell as many tickets as you can. The top-10 sellers get to choose one of the 10 prizes, with the top overall seller winning the chance to meet Jordan, which includes hanging out with him before a game and then you and your guest having a seat courtside. Prize selection is based on order of finish. And as motivation along the way, the first 50 entrants to sell 15 or more tickets will get two tickets to see the Bobcats play the Lakers on February 14.

You need to register by January 23, and the Bobcats organizers will send out links and passcodes soon after. You'll then have until March 21 to sell tickets and compete to win. Click here to register.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

'COURAGE' Is Here and We Need It

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 1/16/2011 1 comment
In this current climate we're living in, where struggles with public education are dividing people, right now is a good time for COURAGE. And you can experience it at Levine Museum of the New South. COURAGE: The Carolina Story That Changed America, an exhibit that tells the powerful story of the Rev. J.A. De Laine and other brave citizens of Clarendon County, S.C., who brought the first lawsuit in America challenging racial segregation in public schools, opened yesterday at Levine Museum and will be displayed for an entire year. The exhibit, which the museum created seven years ago, has just returned from a national tour and is back in Charlotte for the first time since 2004.

Today and tomorrow, Levine Museum is offering free admission and special programs and activities in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day (the museum validates free parking in Seventh Street Station).

You should encourage your family, friends, and colleagues to see COURAGE. Many people in this area don't know about the De Laine family and their town's story and how their fight for equal education opportunities led to them filing a lawsuit that was later combined with four other national lawsuits. The result was the 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education, which ruled that racial segregation of schools was unconstitutional. The exhibit is comprised of personal histories, photographs, artifacts, and interactive components, including one that shows you how far some black children in Clarendon County had to walk to school (nine miles, which is the equivalent of walking from Uptown Charlotte to Carowinds).

Below is a video promo about COURAGE and the MLK holiday.

Levine Museum of the New South is located at 200 E. Seventh St. For more details such as hours and events, visit

Then on Thursday, in conjunction with the exhibit, Levine Museum is featuring "COURAGE: Where Do We Need It Now? A Conversation with Juan Williams, Janet Murguía, John Payton, and William Winter," 7-9 p.m. at McGlohon Theatre at Spirit Square. This panel of prominent figures will discuss the legacy of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, as well as race relations and the challenges facing public education today. Juan Williams, civil rights historian and FOX News commentator; Janet Murguía, president and CEO of National Council of La Raza; John Payton, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; and William Winter, former governor of Mississippi, will also answer questions from the audience.

Tickets for this event are $25 for Levine Museum members; $35 for non-members/general public, and are available through N.C. Blumenthal Performing Arts Center Box Office at 704-372-1000 or

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

There's a singing competition being held this Saturday at Northlake Mall in which the winner will get to attend Justin Bieber's Los Angeles premiere of his new movie, Never Say Never, next month. But before you Grown readers get too excited about a chance to meet the Biebs, please note that the competition is for teens ages 13-17. So grab your kid, little brother or sister, neighbor, or whomever because if the little rascal wins you can go with them! They'll need to be a good singer though.

Here's how it works.

The competition is this Saturday, January 15 at the Grand Court in Northlake Mall (6801 Northlake Mall Drive, Charlotte). Registration begins at 1 p.m., and the contest is scheduled for 2-4 p.m. Registration will be on site and is first-come, first-serve, and the scary part is that only the first 50 teens (13-17 years of age) to register on site will be entered in the contest. Raise your hand if you can see people lined up outside the mall before it opens Saturday.

Contestants can choose one of three Bieber songs to perform: “Never Say Never,” “Baby,” or “U Smile.” They'll be judged on voice quality, visual presentation, interpretation, and creativity/originality. Basically, it's American Idol with Bieber fever.

The winner with the highest score from the judges at Northlake Mall will win a trip for four to attend the L.A. premiere of Justin Bieber Never Say Never on February 9. Prize includes round-trip airfare, two nights hotel accommodations, transportation, and four tickets to the movie premiere. Plus, the winner from Charlotte will be put up against all the other winners across the United States, and the top five performances will be posted on the Paramount Pictures website to be voted on. Whoever gets the most votes will get to meet Justin Bieber one on one.

Kiss 95.1 FM will be on-site broadcasting and giving away prizes Saturday.

Click here for more details and for the official rules.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Flu Is for the Birds, Snow Is for Kids

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 1/10/2011 No comments
Despite my desire to make 2011 a year full of goals and personal pursuits, I think I'm being told to slow down. A day after ringing in the New Year, I began feeling under the weather. I don't get sick often, but it's easy for me to tell when illness is trying to invade my Superman-like immune system. Last Sunday, I started feeling a little weak, and by Monday I was confined to the bed. Flu symptoms ended up sidelining me most of last week. I didn't actually feel like I was back to being 100 percent until yesterday. What a way to start the year.

So what I wasn't able to get out and about to do last week, I was planning to hit the ground running with today. The snowstorm had other plans, shutting down Charlotte almost completely. Even though I didn't leave the house, it's not like I got a snow day. I spent the entire day getting caught up on freelance work that last week's illness made it difficult to do with a head full of meds. So that part was an accomplishment, and I'll attempt my errands again tomorrow (or maybe Wednesday with the way the roads are looking).

As a kid, I remember being excited to see snow. That could've been partly because growing up in South Carolina, we wouldn't even get one day of snow a year. There were plenty of years when one day would bring light flurries that would melt before we could even get outside. Building a snowman? Forget about it. But there was the rare occasion when we would get two to three inches of snow, which would close down the schools and cause power outages (I can hear the Yankees mocking us as I type this).

It snows more in Charlotte--we've gotten at least a couple days of "substantial" snow each year since I've lived here. And it has snowed more across the South in general this winter, so it's actually a little worrisome considering we usually don't get snow until late January or early February, but it's already snowed on Christmas Day and the second week of January this season.

So instead of a year where I'm going to be on my grizzy, as the kids say, I think I'm going to slow it down some. I'm going to take time to appreciate good health. And to count the snowflakes. (As you can see in the photos below--one's from my front yard and the other is from the back--the snow in my yard doesn't get touched because there are no kids living here. Kids know how to enjoy themselves.)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

My First Time: Pinky's Westside Grill

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 1/02/2011 No comments
I ate at Pinky's Westside Grill yesterday, the new restaurant on the corner of Freedom Drive and Morehead Street in Wesley Heights. Open since November, the restaurant built a cult following before it even served its first meal. The two-year process to open Pinky's came with a lot of hurdles, including the owners' fight to keep the iconic 1966 Volkswagen Beetle on the roof, which it inherited from the building's former home as Triple G Automotive. Now Pinky's is open and it's poised to become Charlotte's next dining institution.

Andrea and I had an early New Year's Day dinner there. I ordered hushpuppies as an appetizer, which not only were scrumptious but came in a dozen (take that all you other restaurants with your small appetizers). For my entree, I ordered the Mammoth Westside Burger, which is two five-ounce patties served with mustard, chili, slaw (and onion but I had it without). And I ordered the waffle fries as the side--I haven't seen these on many menus outside of Chick-fil-A. The burger was good, tender, and juicy though I needed to add a little salt to the patties. And I now wish more restaurants served waffle fries.

Pinky's Westside Grill (1600 W. Morehead St.) is a cozy and hip neighborhood bar and restaurant that I'm sure will attract people from all over for years to come. It serves lunch and dinner, and is open till 11 p.m. Monday-Thursday, till midnight Friday and Saturday, and till 10 p.m. Sunday. Visit

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