Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"Chow Down Uptown - A Food Truck Festival" takes place this Thursday, 5-9 p.m., for the fourth consecutive week. The event seems to be popular enough that the food trucks want to come back each Thursday and the organizer, Charlotte Center City Partners, is keeping it going.

Set up in the parking lot across from Seventh Street Station in Uptown (260 E. Seventh St.), the event showcases Charlotte's growing number of food trucks and the variety of delectables they serve. The list of vendors changes a little each week with some trucks rotating in and out, but those that have served up everything from tacos, pizza, and Philly cheese steaks to fried deviled eggs, cupcakes, and even organic food, include:
There's also been free entertainment each week, truly making this a cultural event. It's featured the likes of singer Shana Blake, guitarist Tom Billotto, a Random Act of Culture by the ASC and the NC Dance Theatre, Tom Hanchett and his old-time string band, and Quentin Talley and the Respect Da Mic slam poets group. You likely won't know what the entertainment is until you get there, giving this sort of a boardwalk feel (if only a beach and the breeze from water was nearby).

Attendees are encouraged to bring their own beverages--alcohol is permitted if you’re 21 years of age or older--and lawn chairs are welcome as well. There's no charge for admission, and parking is available for $5 at the Secure parking lot adjacent to Chow Down. Keep in mind that most of the food trucks only accept cash. Find more details at www.findyourcenter.com.
There's a new Apple store opening at Northlake Mall, according to ifoapplestore.com, a leading tech website on all things Apple. The website cites a job listing and just-issued building permits for renovation at the mall as its sources for this bit of breaking news. Personally, I'm like okay, cool there's an Apple store opening at the mall that's 10 minutes away from where I live. Not that I'm an Apple fanatic--I don't own an iPad or iPhone, but I do have an iPod (that I received as a birthday gift and use most often when running)--but this new store will enhance Northlake's appeal and becomes Charlotte's second location (the first having been at SouthPark Mall for years now).

But some of the tech sites and blogs are starting to go nuts in linking this new store to Apple's East Coast data center, the massive yet mysterious complex that has been under construction in Maiden, North Carolina for two years. Maiden is a small town about 45 minutes northwest of Charlotte. "Where will you get the fastest streaming speeds once iCloud launches? Most likely at the new retail location Apple is opening up a stone’s throw from its North Carolina data super center," reports CultofMac.com.

It's long been rumored that Apple was developing a cloud service, and was speculated that this is what the new data center is for. As you know, Apple always keeps its big projects close to the vest. But the company finally confirmed the forthcoming cloud service today when it announced the topics that Steve Jobs would be discussing at the Worldwide Developers Conference on June 6. There's still no word on what the North Carolina data center will be used for, but this announcement only fuels the speculation that the 500,000-square-foot facility will indeed be home to the cloud.

                                                                                                          Image courtesy of techgeeze.com.

Apple's new service will be called iCloud (of course) and it'll be interesting to see how it differs from Amazon's recently unveiled Cloud Drive. For those of you who don't speak tech geek, "the cloud" refers to a service that allows you to store digital files that you can access from anywhere--similar to how you access email. So the belief is that consumers will be drawn to the fact that they can save large files and access them and not worry about what computer they're on or if they have their flashdrive with them. And this supposedly will be the future of how music is bought and stored, meaning one day that saving your music on an iPod will seem old-fashioned.

It'll be interesting to see next week if Steve Jobs explains what role, if any, North Carolina will play in all of this.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Jill Scott debuted a new video this week for "So In Love," her collaboration with Charlotte's own Anthony Hamilton. It's the first single off her upcoming album, The Light of the Sun, which is scheduled to be released June 21.

I believe "So In Love" marks the first time Jill and Anthony have collaborated on a song. The video matches the feel-good, head-over-heels tone, complete with a wedding, party, and plenty of bright colors. And because Jill is an accomplished actress (from starring in Tyler Perry movies to the HBO series The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency) and Anthony has always been comfortable in front of the character and shown a lot of personality in videos, their chemistry looks natural.

Follow each of them on Facebook: facebook.com/MissJillScott and facebook.com/AnthonyHamiltonMusic. And watch the video below.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Creative Loafing is accepting nominations for its 2nd Annual Charlotte Web Awards. And May 31 is the deadline to submit your entries.

The Charlotte Web Awards honor the city's best homegrown websites, blogs, tweeters and commenters, and more. Categories include: Charlotte's best food blog, music blog, arts blog, restaurant website, retail website, event website, photo website, etc. And cool categories like best Twitterer, Facebook friend, and mobile app.

Click here to submit your nominations. Feel free to consider yours truly when voting (Grown People Talking | Dusk Till Dawn).

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

'Late Movie Fridays,' Red@28th New to NoDa

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 5/24/2011 No comments
There's a new monthly event kicking off and running through the summer. The last Friday of each month, GrownHeadz.com and Charlotte Black Film Festival will present "Late Movie Fridays." The movie night takes place at Red@28th, a new venue in NoDa that's billed as "Charlotte's first multicultural literary lounge."

The event begins at 10 p.m. with board games and cocktails, and the movie starts at 11 p.m. There's no cover charge and you must be 21 and up to attend. The organizers plan to show an independent, cult classic, or forgotten gem of a black movie each month. This Friday's flick is an indie comedy called "I'm Through With White Girls."

Red@28th opened in April.

The planned movie nights are May 27, June 24, July 29, and August 26. This could also be a good opportunity for you to check out Red@28, which is located at 2424 N. Davidson St., Suite 112A (next to Amelie's). Red@28 is owned by the folks who ran RealEyes Bookstore for years in NoDa, and this new place carries on the same eclectic vibe but in a larger space. It features new and used books, a wine bar, hookah lounge, outdoor patio, and hosts cool events like this movie night as well as speakers and book signings. In fact, Sister Souljah is coming to speak there on June 11. Visit facebook.com/Redat28th for more details.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Davidson Wildcats and Clemson Tigers baseball teams played on Tuesday. When rain caused a delay, the two teams decided to kill time by clowning around and thoroughly entertaining the fans in the stands. Clemson's athletics department recorded a six-minute video of the funny antics, and now the video has gone viral. In just the first two days of being posted on YouTube, it's garnered more than 200,000 views. And this morning, I saw clips of the video shown on both ESPN and MSNBC.

In the video below, players from Clemson and Davidson (but mostly Clemson) do everything from human bowling, curling, and playing mock football, to dancing, hunting for deer, and reenacting a war scene. And in actual sports news, Clemson went on to spank Davidson 19-0 once play resumed.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

North Carolina Is a Gas-Guzzling State

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 5/19/2011 No comments
In North Carolina, as if we don't pay some of the highest gas taxes in the nation, which is why gas here is consistently about 20 cents higher than a few miles south of the state line, we're also some gas-guzzling people. In a recent study by Forbes, they ranked "America's Most And Least Gas-Guzzling Cities." Some of the cities ranked are listed as metropolitan areas, and topping the list as burning up the most gas is Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill. Coming in second place: Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill. And not to be left out, in sixth place is Greensboro-Winston Salem-High Point. So North Carolina cities take three of the top six slots.

Time to start carpooling again.

"The cities and suburbs of 'The Triangle' are close enough that people don’t think twice about driving from one to the other. Yet in doing so, the average household racks up 21,800 miles per year. Assuming an average 20.3 miles per gallon, that means burning through 1,074 gallons per year, about $4,200 at current prices," Forbes writer Christopher Helman says.

"North Carolina does not fare well in the rankings. Close on the Triangle’s (Tar)heels comes the Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill region, with an average household gasoline demand of 1,061 gallons. In sixth place, the average household in North Carolina’s Greensboro-Winston Salem-High Point metroplex spends $4,000 for 1,017 gallons per year," Helman continues.

If our state government and department of transportation ever needed any more reasons to complete Interstate 485 in Charlotte and to build the proposed high-speed rail between Charlotte and Raleigh, they have it.

Rounding out the top-five Most Gas-Guzzling Cities is Atlanta in third place, Nashville in fourth, and Monmouth-Ocean Counties, N.J. is fifth. Meanwhile, the least gas-guzzling city, unsurprisingly, is New York, where many households don't even own cars. Click here to see the full list.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

NASCAR Charlotte Race Weeks Begin

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 5/17/2011 No comments
With back-to-back weekend races at Charlotte Motor Speedway, NASCAR events are dominating the city's calendar from now until the end of the month. Known as Charlotte Race Weeks, there are dozens of fan events, driver and celebrity appearances, concerts, parties, and more. And they're taking place from Uptown--NASCAR Hall of Fame, Speed Street, EpiCentre, etc.--to Concord and Mooresville--Charlotte Motor Speedway, race team shops, etc.--and several stops in between.

I've compiled event lists of the action for Charlotte magazine, and you can find it at www.charlottemagazine.com/nascar2011. More content will be added, so be sure to check back over the next several days.

Highlights over the next two weeks include: the NASCAR Rev'd Up festival (May 18), NASCAR Pit Crew Challenge (May 19), NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony (May 23), Food Lion Speed Street (May 26-28), Red Bull Racing Team’s Fan Day (May 27), and more. And new this year, Walmart is hosting NASCAR fan events at several of its Charlotte-area stores (May 17-28) with several drivers making appearances. And you can't forget the reason all of these related events are taking place: the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race is this Saturday, May 21, and the Coca-Cola 600 is next Sunday, May 29 (Memorial Day weekend).

Instead of having to bounce around from website to site trying to plan your days and nights out, we've put all the NASCAR May events in one place, including descriptions and ticket info, at www.charlottemagazine.com/nascar2011.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Drive to End Hunger Made Easy

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 5/16/2011 No comments
Last week, I received a brown paper bag in my mailbox. It was part of the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, in which the Drive to End Hunger campaign teamed up with the National Association of Letter Carriers to present the nation’s largest single-day food drive. The instructions on the bag said that if I wanted to donate non-perishable food items that I should place them in the bag, then leave the bag by my mailbox and on Saturday, May 14 my postman would pick it up and deliver it to a local food bank.

So on Saturday, I took a few minutes to go through my pantry. Seeing how my bro and I have a bachelor's pad, I can't say I had an awful lot of food to choose from. But once I threw away all the things that had expired, I managed to pull together six cans of vegetables, two boxes of Hamburger Helper, a box of mashed potatoes, and a bag of grits to put in the hunger bag. You know I had to believe in this cause to part with my grits. After the postman collected the bag on Saturday, she left a postcard in my mailbox from the organization thanking me.

It always feels good to help those less fortunate. And the fact that this food drive took very little effort on my part, means I had no excuse not to participate. I hope many of you participated if you received a bag in your mailbox. If not, or if you would like to contribute more, go to drivetoendhunger.org to find out about different ways you can make contributions or volunteer.

You might be familiar with Drive to End Hunger, which is run by the AARP, since NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon became one of the lead spokesmen earlier this year. You can see his #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet at the NASCAR races taking place at Charlotte Motor Speedway these next two weekends.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Why, Waka?

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 5/14/2011 No comments
Just three months after getting shot at, and the same week the charges that were filed against the alleged shooters were dropped, rapper Waka Flocka Flame returned to Charlotte today. Waka is here for the Dub Show Tour, a car show event that also features a concert and makes stops in several cities, and is taking place at Charlotte Convention Center from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. In addition to Waka, other rappers performing include Yung Joc, Ace Hood, Kia Shine, locals Bettie Grind, King Carter, and others. Waka has appeared at several of the Dub Show dates so I understand that he wants to honor a contract he likely has in place, but when the show ends at 9 p.m. tonight, he should've been planning to hightail it out of here.

Instead, Mr. "Hard in the Paint" is being hard in the head, and is hosting an after-party at Club 935. Waka is one of those rappers I can't stand because he glorifies violence, drugs, and gang activity in his music and says that he "keeps it real." He's a real idiot, and it's because of the music he makes that trouble follows him.

In February, he took his tour bus to the Car Stereo Warehouse on Independence Boulevard to get the sound system upgraded--I'm still not clear as to why he chose Charlotte to do this because I don't think he had a show scheduled here that day. But while there, two cars pulled up and at some point the men in them fired shots at Waka and his crew. The police arrested six men a few days later, but just this past Monday the Mecklenburg County District Attorney dropped the charges. Basically, the ignorant-@ss "no snitching" policy in the hood prevailed because none of the witnesses would identify the suspects. "I'm not thrilled about having to dismiss these charges. Some of these guys have felony records," District Attorney Andrew Murray said.

Plus, in May 2010, Waka was performing at a nightclub in east Charlotte and a shootout broke out afterward. There's no evidence as to whether any of his actions caused it, but that's two shooting incidents in a year in the same city in which he was present. That's why he should not be at Club 935 tonight. That club does have some of the tightest security around (still, I'm surprised they booked him so soon after his last incident here), but this is more about Waka's ignorance and inability to make good decisions. He knows people are out to get him, yet he chooses to go to a club tonight for an event that will last until the wee hours of the morning. And who's to say that affiliates of the men who shot at him three months ago won't be present tonight? He won't admit it, but most of the trouble that follows him is because of his gang affiliation. And if it's not that, then it's an attempt to rob him of his fool's gold, I mean, jewelry. That's what was alleged to have been the cause of the February shooting here, as well as when he was shot in Atlanta last year.

Let's hope he makes it out of Charlotte tonight without any incident. And maybe one day Waka will wise up.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Katrise Jones opened the first location of her Salon Se Swa hair salon in Raleigh in 2004. She went on to open a couple more locations around the state over the next few years. And then last August she partnered with her cousin Kim Jones a.k.a. Lil Kim, the renowned rapper and music and fashion icon, to expand the franchise, beginning with the opening of a new location in the University area in Charlotte last September. The Joneses held a star-studded grand opening weekend here that month, and I chronicled part of it for Creative Loafing ("Lil Kim steals the show on final night of Charlotte NC Fashion Week").

Kim and Katrise Jones cut the ribbon on their first Charlotte location last year, with City Councilman Patrick Cannon and actress Meagan Good. Photo: Jon Strayhorn/Media Arts Collective.

Yesterday, Katrise announced the latest plans for Salon Se Swa. With her company based in Charlotte, and Kim serving as co-owner, they plan to branch outside of North Carolina for the first time, where they now have five locations, including a location at Carolina Place Mall that opened a couple of weeks ago. There’s also a location opening soon in South End. From there, the Joneses say they plan to expand around the country, with next stops in Atlanta and New York.

Katrise, according to the press release, is also in the planning phase of developing the Salon Se Swa Institute, a cosmetology school focused on the mission of Salon Se Swa, which is to supply services and products that enhance their clients' physical appearance and mental relaxation.

I’m sure Kim’s name will help them draw attention and clientele to their new locations nationwide. And if they’ve got five up and running successfully so far, they must be doing something right. For more details, visit www.salonseswa.com.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

There's a great article running in the sports section of Thursday's New York Times, "Tension Boils Over Between Sprint Rivals" (posted online today), about two swimmers going head to head tomorrow at the Charlotte UltraSwim for a spot on the U.S. team in this summer's FINA World Championships in Shanghai. Cullen Jones, who I've interviewed and written about before for magazines and this blog, is competing against his SwimMAC Carolina teammate Josh Schneider in a 50-meter freestyle swim-off on Thursday during the first day of the 27th Annual Charlotte UltraSwim, which takes place May 12-15 at Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center in Uptown.

                                                                                                 The New York Times.

This Charlotte event has become one of the most popular of the USA Swimming Grand Prix meets over the last few years, and it's once again attracting the biggest names in the sport: Michael Phelps, Natalie Coughlin, Ryan Lochte, Charlotte native Ricky Berens, and several others. For more details, visit www.charlotteultraswim.com.

And you're in luck. WCNC channel 36, our local NBC affiliate, will air Jones and Schneider's swim-off live during their 6 p.m. newscast. The race, which will only last about 22 seconds but is uber important because it's the winner's path to the national team and 2012 Olympics, is scheduled to run at 6:20 p.m. You'll also be able to watch several of the competitions over the three days online on USA Swimming's Ustream channel.

Swimmers train harder than athletes from many other sports, but they don't often receive recognition outside of an Olympic year (2012 is highly anticipated for the U.S. because of what they did in 2008). So it's great to see Charlotte-based SwimMAC Carolina getting such well-deserved media coverage. The swim club puts on this annual event, and several of the swimmers competing this week are trained by the club and its legendary director David Marsh. Click here to read the article I wrote about him and SwimMAC in 2009 for Charlotte magazine.

Monday, May 9, 2011

My email inbox has been getting flooded with events lately as it seems like this is the time of year when so much is going on. Sometimes it can be hard to keep up with. But I was delighted when I received an email reminder today from the USC Charlotte Gamecock Club about the Gamecock Fan Fest Tour. The tour kicks off this Wednesday, May 11 at Charlotte Knights Stadium in Fort Mill, and is traveling across the state of South Carolina to promote the 2011 football season, making six stops over two weeks. Lucky for us South Carolina Gamecock fans and alumni who live in Charlotte, Fort Mill is just over the state line.

With the success of the Fan Fest held at the Garnet and Black Spring Game in April, the Gamecock Club decided to take the show on the road. Photo via South Carolina Gamecocks' Flickr.

Presented by the Gamecock Club, each tour event will last from 5:30 to 8 p.m. and will feature Coach Steve Spurrier, current student-athletes from the local area, Cocky and the cheerleaders, photo opportunities with football and baseball trophies (SEC Eastern Division Championship in football and National Championship in baseball), kids activities, and live music from Tokyo Joe. Admission is only $5.

Here are the Gamecock Fan Fest spring dates and locations:

May 11: Charlotte Knights Baseball Stadium
May 16: Charleston Riverdogs Stadium
May 17: USC-Aiken
May 18: Greenville Drive Stadium
May 24: USC-Sumter
May 25: Darlington Raceway

Urban League to Honor Leaders on May 21

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 5/09/2011 No comments
The Urban League of Central Carolinas will hold its 2011 Leadership Awards on Saturday, May 21, 8 p.m. at The Omni Hotel (132 E. Trade St.). The recipients, who are being honored by the ULCC's Young Professionals Auxiliary, are Nepherterra Estrada, partner and director of public relations at Pride Public Relations; Anthony Foxx, mayor of Charlotte; and Rod Garvin, consultant, business development, and marketing. The event will be hosted by Rahman Khan, of GoodWorks TV, and feature entertainment by R&B/jazz band Innertywned.

Click on flyer for larger view.

I've witnessed firsthand the work of each of the three people being honored, and they've all contributed to Charlotte becoming a more vibrant, inclusive, and progressive city.

Tickets can be purchased in advance for $35 or two for $60. The price will be $45 at the door. Click here for more details, including bios on the recipients, and to purchase tickets.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

If you would like to get in some rounds of bowling, while meeting some of Charlotte's well-known media personalities and supporting a good cause, you can do all of this on Friday, May 13. The Charlotte Area Association of Black Journalists are holding their second annual Bowling with the Journalists event from 7:30 to 10 p.m. at AMF University Lanes (5900 N. Tryon St.). Enjoy a meet-and-greet with appetizers, and then bowl all you want for two hours in the lanes CAABJ has reserved. The cost is $20 and that includes shoes. Proceeds will benefit CAABJ's annual college scholarship, which is awarded to a local student majoring in journalism or communications.

Tickets can be purchased at www.caabj.com. The flyer below shows some of the media personalities scheduled to attend.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Being the news junkie I am, I've been glued to the television and online news reports about the U.S. combat mission into Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden. All the talk of stealth helicopters, secret Navy SEALs teams, special operatives, a CIA safehouse, and all the other details that have been reported this week really do sound like something out of Hollywood. And then it occurred to me: it sounds like something out of Charlotte, as in the new Homeland TV series whose pilot episode was filmed here. Last month, Showtime ordered a full season, 12 episodes, of the show and it's likely to debut either around the end of this year or early next year. According to reports, the show will continue to be filmed in Charlotte and surrounding areas, which is used to look like the Virginia/D.C. area.

Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin star in Homeland.

Our new fixation with combat stories and secret military missions can only increase the interest in Homeland, which is described by Showtime as: "A taut psychological thriller about a volatile CIA officer (Emmy-winner Claire Danes) who becomes convinced that a recently rescued American POW may be connected to an al Qaeda plot to be carried out on U.S. soil. Mandy Patinkin and Damian Lewis also star." Below is a video of the series trailer. The first 30 seconds are particularly interesting as the scene is eerily similar to the photo the White House released of President Obama and his national security team in the Situation Room observing the raid on bin Laden's compound.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Growing Popularity of Yelp Charlotte

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 5/04/2011 No comments
Chances are, if you do a Google search for a business in Charlotte, one of the top results will be a Yelp review. Yelp Charlotte has grown tremendously over the last few years, thanks largely to the growing number of members who join the free site, with many of them writing reviews on businesses they've patronized. Restaurants, bars, salons, clothing stores, auto repair shops, real estate firms, churches, and just about any business or service with an address is reviewed. Yelp Charlotte is a part of the Yelp.com network that was founded in San Francisco in 2004. It's since spread to more than 150 cities across the U.S. (about half of those are in California). The Carolinas cities with Yelp are Charlotte, Durham, Raleigh, and Charleston.

Yelp Charlotte seeks to create a real community, so about once a month it throws a party for its Elite members (the most active reviewers). This Friday, May 6, at The Terrace at South Tryon Square, will be Yelp Charlotte's largest party to date, appropriately titled Yelpo de Mayo. It's free and open to all Yelp members, and there will be plenty of free food and drinks, entertainment, games, a DJ, and even a Shutterbooth. You can RSVP here, and if you're not yet a Yelp member it only takes a minute to create a profile. You must RSVP to attend the party.
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