Thursday, April 26, 2012

Charlotte Metro Credit Union is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Founded in 1962, it now has eight branches in the Charlotte area. It appears to me that business is good for CMCU, as it is likely experiencing some of the resurgence that many credit unions and small, local banks around the country have ever since the "big banks" helped cause the financial meltdown a few years ago, and as consumers have grown increasingly frustrated with the practices and fees by some of the large institutions. So as CMCU markets the benefits of its services and touts its 50 years of serving Charlotte, it has been doing so with a bit of an edge.

A TV commercial CMCU first aired in the local market on NBC during the Super Bowl took shots at the big banks, which, as you know, have a major presence in Charlotte. "Apparently there's no limit to what big banks will do for profits," says the voiceover as the commercial shows, what is presumed to be, a banker going around sucking money out of people's pockets with a vacuum. In this, as in several of CMCU's advertisements, it ends with the slogan "like a bank...only better."

A couple of days ago I came across the ad below on, in which the square web ad reads: "Fidel Castro started something in 1962. So did Charlotte Metro Credit Union. Celebrating 50 years." I was like, "What, Castro?" Because the first thing that came to mind was the controversy stirred up recently by Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillén after his comments about Castro, which made it clear how it can be risky to associate yourself in any way with the polarizing Cuban leader.

I'm assuming the "Fidel Castro started something in 1962" line in the ad is referring to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Putting my Don Draper hat on for a minute (my new addiction to Mad Men manages to creep up often in my conversations), here's why the ad doesn't work. 1) Until I Googled, I didn't know what Castro did in 1962. Yes, I'm knowledgeable of the Cuban Missile Crisis, but the date it occurred isn't infamous like 9/11. 2) When you see the web ad as a solo piece of promotion for the bank, it makes you question the association with Castro. It wasn't until I did a little digging that I came across a second ad, that uses Gregory Peck, that I realized it's part of a series (see that ad below). "Gregory Peck defended something in 1962," it reads, referring to the late actor's portrayal of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. Again, it takes too much work for the consumer. I appreciate the cleverness of it, but the campaign falls short without a reveal--the ads should link to a promotion that gives more depth to the campaign--sort of like Google Doodles; instead, when I clicked on them they simply took me to the bank's homepage.

So, in short, the Castro ad doesn't work. I am, however, more fond of this 30-second commercial about CMCU's 50th anniversary. It shows quick glimpses of several historical figures and important moments from the 1960s, including John F. Kennedy, Jackie Robinson, Marilyn Monroe, a space shuttle launching, as well as a shot of Castro, a news clip of "The Cuban Crisis," and a marquee of Gregory Peck and To Kill a Mockingbird. The TV spot works because you're given the full context right away.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Delta's Charlotte Opens this Week in Uptown

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 4/24/2012 2 comments
Delta's Charlotte has the opportunity to shake up the city's Southern cuisine, a.k.a. soul food, market. The owners held a media day and ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, which I had the pleasure to attend. Over the past year, you might have seen the renovation signage on the windows of the building that last housed GW Fins, and now that space is the new home to the second location of Delta's restaurant--the original is in New Brunswick, N.J.

Delta's makes its presence known in the 525 N. Tryon Building. Photo by Jon Strayhorn.

This by no means is intended to be a review of Delta's. I believe you can't thoroughly do that until a restaurant has been up and running for at least a month or two. So this is more so my first impression, which is a favorable one, thanks largely to the meal I ate there. Because that's what it's really about--the food. The restaurant is one of the largest in Uptown at 9,000 square feet, and the decor is filled with rich woods and leathers, beautiful artwork and colors, and soft lighting. It, in my opinion, is Charlotte's first upscale soul food restaurant.

Inside one of Delta's large dining rooms. Photo by Jon Strayhorn.

But again, it's about the food. Several restaurants have opened in Charlotte over the past couple of years, signaling that the dining market is bouncing back after the recession. Each one, it seems, outdoes the previous one when it comes to decor and ambiance, but they don't always hit the mark with the food. Delta's seems to. The fried chicken and sweet potato waffle, with collard greens, baked macaroni and cheese, and candied yams was one of the most delicious meals I've had in a long time. I, literally, was thinking about it later that night, and I don't typically crave food like that.

Phone pic of the meal I had; so much food the yams didn't make it into the shot.

You can experience it for yourself when Delta's Charlotte opens its doors this Thursday, April 26, at 525 N. Tryon St. (, 704-612-2633). The planned hours are Tuesday and Wednesday, 5 p.m.-12 a.m.; Thursday to Saturday, 5 p.m.-2 a.m.; and Sunday, 1-8 p.m. It will feature happy hour, dinner, live jazz and R&B, and Sunday brunch.

The owners, who've operated the first Delta's location in New Jersey since 1999, have made Charlotte the first market for their planned expansion. The restaurant's tagline is "Celebrating the Spirit of the South," and now it's doing that in the South.

The Queen City has had the appeal of expansion as of late. American Roadside did the same thing when it opened in Uptown last fall, making Charlotte the first market it expanded to after having one location in Smithtown, New York for several years.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The North Carolina Science Festival has been underway for a week and a half now, showcasing science and  technology at museums, parks, public libraries, college campuses, and other cultural arts venues all across the state. The festival, now in its third year, wraps up this Sunday, April 29, so you have all week to check out some of the many events taking place this week in the Charlotte area, including a visit to Duke Energy, an exploration of electronic devices at Hackerspace Charlotte, a stream science hike at Latta Plantation Nature Center, and more (there's also a series of events called "Make it Rain," but it's not about throwing dollar bills on dancers).

A recent N.C. Science Festival event at Discovery Place. Source:

There's a cost to attend several of the North Carolina Science Festival events, but some of them are free as well, including these two events listed below, taking place after-hours at Discovery Place, 301 N. Tryon St. Parking will be free also in the parking garage behind the museum (the gates will be open).

Tuesday, April 24
Nature on the Move: How Important Are We?
Join Patrick McMillan, the host, co‐creator, and writer of the popular and award‐winning ETV nature program Expeditions with Patrick McMillan and hear about how change is constant and humans have always played an integral part in that change. 6-7:30 p.m. Free. Click here for more details.

Thursday, April 26
Avian Adventure
See live birds and meet experts from Carolina Raptor Center, Mecklenburg Audubon Society, Companion Parrots Re-homed, Wing Haven, Master Falconer, Steve Hughes, and more. Learn how to attract, identify, and enjoy birds in your own backyard, find out about conservation efforts of both native and non-native birds, and hear about research in avian medicine. 5:30-7:30 p.m. Free. Click here for more details.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Carolina Panthers star quarterback Cam Newton is a finalist in the vote to appear on the cover of Madden NFL 13. He's up against Detroit Lions star wide receiver Calvin Johnson. After nearly a month of competition between 32 top NFL players in a tournament bracket-style contest, spread over four previous rounds (this is the fifth and final round) with fans given a week to vote in each round, it's now down to two of the most exciting offensive players in the league. Superman (Cam) versus Megatron (Calvin). They're both Georgia natives, and at ages 22 and 26, whomever doesn't win the cover this year, will surely have several more opportunities in the future.

As a Carolina kid (SC native), current Charlotte resident, and Panthers fan since the team began in 1995, I'm absolutely rooting for Cam to win. He would be the first player to ever grace the prestigious video game cover after just one year in the league (Madden has featured a top NFL player on the cover each year since 1999). And it would be another milestone that No. 1 is bringing to the Panthers franchise (wide receiver Steve Smith is the only other Panthers player who's ever come remotely close to Madden cover consideration). Until Cam's arrival last year and amazing rookie season, Charlotte hadn't possessed a top-tier, superstar athlete, whose fame and marketability is as big as his play, since Larry Johnson during the Charlotte Hornets heydays of the 1990s. Cam is quickly eclipsing that.

The first Madden video game, then called John Madden Football, debuted in 1988. That was around the time my brother and I got our first Nintendo video game console. Video games, which I haven't played regularly in several years, sure have changed a lot since then. When Madden games today are played on a high-definition TV, they can almost be confused for a real-life NFL game. It continues to be a top-seller and is approaching the 100-million-copies-sold plateau. A lot of dudes anticipate the release of the new game each year the way some people crave the next iPhone. Many chicks know the game as the thing that keeps their guy from spending quality time with them.

The Madden NFL 13 cover vote finals between Cam and Calvin started yesterday and ends Wednesday, April 25. The winner will be revealed that day at 5 p.m. on SportsNation on ESPN2. Go to now to vote for Cam. That is, unless you believe in the whole Madden Curse thing. I don't.

By the way, did you know a statue of Cam was unveiled last week at Auburn University? The Tigers honored their three Heisman Trophy winners--Cam (2010), Bo Jackson (1985), and Pat Sullivan (1971)--with life-sized statues. Watch the video here.

UPDATE 4/20/12: In this video below, Cam Newton--after running through a long list of aliases--explains why he deserves to be on the Madden NFL 13 cover and challenges his co-finalist Calvin Johnson to play him in the video game. Plus, in what he's calling the CAMpaign Challenge, he invites you Madden gamers to play him by sending an email to with your full name, phone number, and gamer tag, and he'll select one or some of you.  

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

#TCOT Coming to Charlotte for BlogCon CLT

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 4/18/2012 No comments
Some of the nation's leading conservative (right-wing, Republican, and/or Tea Party supporters) bloggers and media personalities are converging in Charlotte this weekend for BlogCon CLT. Put on by FreedomWorks, a Washington, D.C.-based political organization that "fights for less government, lower taxes, and more freedom," this is the third BlogCon. The first was held in D.C. in 2010; the second was last year in Denver.

Dana Loesch is among the high-profile media personalities speaking at BlogCon CLT.

BlogCon CLT features two full days of speakers and training sessions this Friday and Saturday, April 20-21 at Hilton Charlotte Center City hotel. Notable scheduled speakers include Dana Loesch, contributing editor at, talk radio host, and CNN contributor; James O’Keefe, founder of Project Veritas who's most known for the undercover video that brought down ACORN; Stephen Moore, senior economics writer at The Wall Street Journal; Deneen Borelli, author of Blacklash: How Obama and the Left Are Driving Americans to the Government Plantation; Stephen Kruiser, comedian, writer, and host of Kruiser Control; and several others. They'll also pay tribute to Andrew Breitbart, who died unexpectedly last month at age 43.

Topics at the training and info sessions include: Data Visualization, Using YouTube Effectively, Slaying the Legacy Media, Pitching and Promoting your Work, Opposition Research: Digging up the Dirt, and more.

Some BlogCon CLT swag. Source: @TabithaHale.

For more details, visit And you can follow the action on Twitter with hashtag #BlogConCLT (some are also using #BlogCon12).

'Nolimit' to His Reality

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 4/18/2012 No comments
Many of you have listened to Nolimit Larry & The Morning Maddhouse on Power 98 (WPEG 97.9 FM) for years. The lead guy on the show, Nolimit Larry aka Noleezy, government name Larry Mims, is a well-recognized voice and face in Charlotte. You likely know his story, and if you've lived here for a decade or more, you've been along for the ride. He worked his way up from being a Johnson C. Smith University student interning at Power 98 in the late '90s to eventually hosting one of the top-rated radio shows in the Carolinas. And in this climate of more and more radio stations moving to syndicated programming, Nolimit is in rarefied air.

Last month, he launched a new website,, where you can keep up with his many involvements, from hosting parties to lending a hand to charities. He's also working on a reality show, tentatively titled American DJ. In the three-minute video reel below, you get a look inside Nolimit's career. And in the process, it's a great look at Charlotte, with brief appearances by several celebrities and professional athletes that either live here or are from here. Plus, an ode to Charlotte's Anthony Hamilton with "Comin' From Where I'm From" playing.

You can follow him at and

Thursday, April 12, 2012

'Man v. Food Nation' Takes on Charlotte

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 4/12/2012 No comments
Last night's episode of Man v. Food Nation on Travel Channel showcased Charlotte eateries that you've either made a beeline to often or at least have heard people rave over. Host Adam Richman and crew visited Charlotte a few months ago to try out popular or extreme menu items at The Penguin Drive-In (Plaza Midwood), Price's Chicken Coop (South End), and Jackalope Jacks (Elizabeth). The Penguin's Double Pounder (pictured below), with four half-pound patties (two pounds of beef), pimento cheese, and fried pickles, is the star of the show (and a cardiac event waiting to happen).

I can personally attest to the mouthwatering goodness served at The Penguin and Price's, but I've never eaten at Jackalope. If you missed the show last night, it re-airs this Saturday at 12 p.m. You can also watch a few video clips from the episode by clicking here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

2012 Jordan Brand Classic this Weekend

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 4/10/2012 No comments
The Jordan Brand Classic, one of the biggest, annual high school basketball events in the country, takes place this Saturday at Time Warner Cable Arena. It's a tripleheader, beginning with the International Game at 2:30 p.m., followed by the Regional Game at 4:30 p.m., and then the big show, the All-American Game at 7 p.m., which will be nationally televised on ESPN.

Jordan Brand, a division of NIKE, Inc. and named after the legendary Michael Jordan, whose sneaker line is as popular today as it was during his playing days, puts on this event for the 11th year, showcasing the best amateur basketball players in the world. Many of them have gone on to become superstars in the NBA, such as Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Blake Griffin, among others. And two of the top five picks in last year’s NBA Draft were International Game alums Enes Kanter from Turkey (drafted by the Utah Jazz) and Jonas Valančiūnas from Lithuania (drafted by the Toronto Raptors).

This year's squads in the All-American Game--there's an East team and a West team, each with 11 high school seniors from around the country--feature several members of ESPNUs top 100 players: No.1 Shabazz Muhammad (Las Vegas, NV/Undecided), No. 2 Isaiah Austin (Arlington, TX/Baylor), No. 3 Kyle Anderson (Jersey City, NJ/UCLA), and No. 4 Kaleb Tarczewski (Southborough, MA/Arizona). There are two Carolinas players on the East team: Brice Johnson, a power forward from Edisto H.S. in Cordova, SC, who's committed to UNC; and Rodeny Purvis, a point guard from Upper Room Christian Academy in Raleigh, who's committed to N.C. State.

If you want to see more talent from within the state, the Regional Game will showcase the top high school seniors from North Carolina. The players for the international and national teams are scheduled to arrive in Charlotte tomorrow, and will begin practicing Thursday. As was the case last year, I'm sure they'll make appearances around the city over the next few days. The best way to keep up with their movements is to follow Jordan Brand Classic on Twitter @JordanClassic. Plus, rapper Fabolous is scheduled to perform after the national game, and you can expect to see plenty of other celebrities in attendance.

And then, there are the shoes. The national team will wear the Air Jordan 2012 Deluxe on the court in special East and West team editions. The West team will wear a team orange/cool grey colorway while the East team will wear a university blue/white-obsidian colorway. Both sneakers feature the Jordan Brand Classic logo on the tongue. These special editions go on sale tomorrow, for a suggested retail price of $223.

Tickets to the Jordan Brand Classic can be purchased, from $10 to $125, on Ticketmaster. For more details, visit

Thursday, April 5, 2012

My friend, colleague, and 282 host Carlton Hargro is diving into one of his first loves: comic books. He's collected them since he was a kid and even used to write them before he got heavy into his journalism career. Now as a freelancer and with more time and flexibility, Carlton has began working on a new comic book tentatively titled The African American Superhero Anthology.

Carlton hangs out at local comic book stores--Heroes, to be exact--and attends conventions like Comic-Con, so he's never lost his passion for the art. But he feels now is a good time to strike with his venture because of the prevalence of comic book characters in pop culture. Just look at all of the Marvel Comics stories that have been made or remade into blockbuster movies in recent years, with several more on the way (The Avengers hits theaters next month).

But as Carlton points out, very few of these comic book characters, whether in print or on the big screen, are people of color. They're fictional, after all, so why not add more black characters?

Isis is a character by Image Comics artist Jimmie Robinson, scheduled to be featured in the anthology.

The African American Superhero Anthology is designed to introduce a bevy of new and divergent heroes of color to the comic landscape, Carlton says. And you can support his cause by making a financial pledge to his Kickstarter campaign for the project. If you pledge $5 or more, you'll receive a special edition of The African American Superhero Anthology, featuring a special cover and autographs from all the creative teams involved.

Carlton actually reached his fundraising goal of $3,000 today, after only eight days. But with a month left to go on Kickstarter, you have the opportunity to give to this project so that the creative teams will have a more ample budget to work with. Click here to make your pledge today.

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