Saturday, September 29, 2012

On Q Productions' two-week run of Kiss My Black Angst concludes tonight at 8 p.m. at Johnson C. Smith University's The Arts Factory. I had the privilege of attending the second-to-last show last night.

Kiss My Black Angst, which is billed as "an evening of revolution dedicated to the Black Arts Movement," is comprised of two plays, directed by On Q's artistic director, Quentin "Q" Talley. Q is an amazing talent that Charlotte is fortunate to have (he was recently awarded a handsome grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation). Through productions such as this he's continuing to expand the presence of African-American arts and culture within the city's growing cultural scene.

Funnyhouse of a Negro performed last night.

The first of the two plays in tonight's finale is Funnyhouse of a Negro, written by Adrienne Kennedy, a key figure in the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and '70s. The play runs about 55 minutes and chronicles the last hours in the life of Sarah, a young black woman who we witness experiencing terrible nightmares resulting from her race and identity issues--she's visited by several black spirits. The play is very dark, and at times, even creepy, but is well-performed by the cast of eight.

After a 10-minute intermission, the second play begins. Titled Dutchman and written by Amiri Baraka, another instrumental black playwright from the 1960s, this was my favorite of the two last night. It puts a twist on the Adam and Eve story--as you'll see from the presence of apples--but it takes place on a city subway and features a black leading man and white leading woman. Aside from a few people riding on the subway, they're the only characters in this 50-minute play. It's edgy, thought-provoking, sometimes funny and sometimes tragic, all the while examining race.

So, you can catch the final show tonight at 8 p.m. and purchase tickets ($24) by clicking here or at the door. It is also a good chance for you to experience the black box theater at JCSU's The Arts Factory (1545 W. Trade St.), which opened two years ago.

Also, before that, this afternoon On Q Productions is presenting a free panel discussion. "The Black Arts Movement: Present Condition - Future Vision" takes place at 3 p.m. today at Duke Energy Theater at Spirit Square (345 N. College St.). Distinguished leaders of the Black Arts Movement will explore the radicalism, relevance, and vision of this groundbreaking creative crusade from its emergence out of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement to current 21st century reality. The discussion will be moderated by John "Moe" Moore, and panelists include Amiri Baraka from Newark, NJ; Lou Bellamy, founder/artistic director of Penumbra Theatre Company from St. Paul, MN; and Joan Myers Brown, founder of Philadanco! - The Philadelphia Dance Company.

Visit for more details on these events.

Friday, September 28, 2012

UPDATE: Autumn AirFest has been rescheduled to this Wednesday, October 3 due to rain forecast for Tuesday.

The Charlotte Chamber's SouthWest Chapter is presenting its annual Autumn AirFest event on Tuesday, October 2 Wednesday, October 3, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at Ayrsley Town Center, 9110 Kings Parade Blvd. You should break away from work and enjoy the entertainment by 102.9 The Lake, networking, sponsor giveaways, games, prizes, and food from area restaurants. There will also be a chicken-wing competition by chefs from Nana's Soul Food, DD Peckers' Wing Shack, Mac's Speed Shop, Wild Wing Cafe, and Fuel Pizza. And I have the honor of serving as one of the judges. I'll be prepared for somebody to point out that I pronounce wings like "wangs"—hey, I was born and raised in South Carolina.

You can purchase tickets for $6 in advance by clicking here; or pay $10 at the event. Follow the tweets at #CLTAirfest.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

It's scary sometimes to think about how much we use our mobile phones. In fact, one day soon we should start calling them something else because the phone--in terms of actually talking on the device--is becoming less and less of what we use them for. In addition to all of the texting, web browsing, social networking, picture taking and uploading, video recording, etc. you use your smartphones for, the money is in, well, the money. I'm sure you use your phone to check your bank accounts and maybe even make payments or online purchases through the mobile web, but Bank of America is seeking to up the ante in the global market of mobile payments that's estimated to be more than $170 billion.

BofA has launched a pilot program that it's testing out only in Charlotte, in which a customer can pay at a store register by simply scanning an image with a smartphone. So, basically, instead of swiping your debit/credit card at a register (as if that's too difficult), you would have the clerk scan your phone, which you likely would be holding in your hand anyway (oh no, but that would mean you wouldn't be able to rudely talk on your phone while in the checkout line).

Bank of America has partnered with a Wellesley, Massachusetts-based startup company called Paydiant, which specializes in mobile-wallet technology. Only BofA employees are participating in the three-month trial period, and five Charlotte merchants/retailers are being used. You can read more about the pilot program in this Reuters article.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Charlotte Motor Speedway has a flair for the dramatic that is probably unmatched by any other NASCAR racetrack in the country. Marcus Smith, president of Charlotte Motor Speedway (and son of Bruton Smith, owner of Speedway Motorsports, Inc. and its dozen-plus racetracks from coast to coast), has carried on the tradition of entertaining and wowing race fans at the Charlotte/Concord track similar to the way his predecessor Humpy Wheeler did for decades.

Yesterday, Charlotte Motor Speedway kicked off this weekend's annual Food Lion AutoFair, where more than 1,500 collectible vehicles are lining the 1.5-mile track, with Jeff Gordon and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles revealing a special paint scheme that Gordon will race in the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 13. Gordon’s two-year-old son, Leo--not to be confused with Leonardo of the TMNT, was there with his dad. He's a few years younger than I was when the turtles became one of the biggest kid attractions of the 1980s and 90s--I remember watching the cartoon, going to see their movies, and wanting to "scarf down pizza" the way they did.

Jeff Gordon and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Photos by Brad Bowling/CMS Photo.

Marcus Smith surrounded by Michelangelo, Leonardo, Donatello, and Raphael.

At yesterday's press event, Gordon said if he wins the Bank of America 500 in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles paint scheme next month, he'll breakdance in victory lane. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will be presenting the Bank of America 500 pre-race show with concerts by Nickelodeon star Victoria Justice and country music stars Big & Rich, along with a daredevil stunt by world-famous tightrope walker Nik Wallenda (more flair for the dramatic). There will be special TMNT activities, appearances, and family fun throughout the race weekend. Click here for ticket info.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Enjoy the slideshow I created from Saturday's E Pluribus Unum Opening Reception with Respect My Vote, using Storify (click here) and incorporating tweets, posts, and photos from Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram by several of the event's attendees. And there's a YouTube video I captured of Quentin "Q" Talley's spoken word.

Friday, September 14, 2012

If you were up watching TV close to midnight last night, aside from seeing those infomercials that have you tempted to order some "As Seen On TV" products, you would've also had the opportunity to watch a great news story about a Charlotte-based company that's responsible for many of those products. Edison Nation, an idea-to-shelf product development company, was featured last night on ABC's Nightline. "Think of it as the fairy godmother for everyday inventors," says anchor Terry Moran as he introduces the segment.

If you'll recall, I wrote an article on Edison Nation, titled "Being Thomas Edison," last December for Charlotte magazine. Also, Edison Nation has flown 25 finalists into Charlotte this weekend, to choose 10 of the inventor hopefuls for season five of its PBS show, Everyday Edisons.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

As you might've seen me talk about before, I'm a member of the Hip Hop Caucus Charlotte Leadership Committee (HHC has leadership committees in 14 cities around the country). Through that involvement I'm helping organize an event this Saturday in partnership with UNC Charlotte Center City. It should be a great time, and you should come out. See details below.

E Pluribus Unum Opening Reception with Respect My Vote! 
Saturday, September 15, 6-10 p.m. | UNC Charlotte Center City, 320 E. 9th St. 
Free and open to the public.

E Pluribus Unum, Latin for “out of many, one,” is the title of an exciting new art exhibit at UNC Charlotte Center City that explores the experience of pluralism in America, conveying the concept that diverse traditions, perspectives, and philosophies add value to the whole. UNC Charlotte has partnered with the Hip Hop CaucusRespect My Vote! initiative to host an interactive Opening Reception on Saturday, September 15 at 6 p.m. at UNC Charlotte Center City (320 E. 9th Street), free and open to the public.

The evening will feature performances by Mike from Day 26, Bettie Grind, and Mr. 704, along with spoken word by Quentin "Q" Talley in front of a melting ice sculpture depicting the Middle Class. A live digital lounge will be set up for attendees to discuss E Pluribus Unum pieces, enabling them to post messages and images to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, using the #RespectMyVote and #EPluribus hashtags. A photo booth by Favors in a Flash will allow guests to take home complimentary photo keepsakes. Plus, complimentary wine and farm-to-fork cuisine provided by Harvest Moon Grille will be served during the first two hours of the evening.

E Pluribus Unum, presented by the College of Arts + Architecture and located at UNC Charlotte Center City, is a gathering of different cultures and expressions, including works by Michael Murphy of Georgia; the collaborative team Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese of New York; historical artists Arthur Mole and John Thomas; and Charlotte-based artists Barbara Schreiber, Grant Baldwin, Carrie Gault, and Jason Michel.
What happens when Compton, California and Fayetteville, North Carolina connect over hip hop? See the video below (NSFW: explicit lyrics). Kendrick Lamar brought out J. Cole for a surprised appearance Tuesday night during the BET Music Matters Tour stop at The Fillmore Charlotte. In addition to performing "Nobody's Perfect," my favorite song off of Cole World: The Sideline Story, J. Cole also launched into a freestyle.

Speaking of J. Cole and BET, the Fayetteville native/Roc Nation star has been nominated for six BET Hip Hop Awards: Best Collabo ("Nobody's Perfect" featuring Missy Elliott), Best Live Performer, Lyricist of the Year, Producer of the Year, MVP of the Year, and CD of the Year. The BET Hip Hop Awards show airs Tuesday, October 9 at 8 p.m. on BET.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My First Time: Toast Cafe in Dilworth

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 9/11/2012 No comments
I'll make this short and sweet. I ate at Toast Cafe in Dilworth for the first time on Sunday, and you should check it out if you haven't already. I enjoyed the brunch, and this time of year makes for great weather to dine on Toast's patio. There's also a location in Davidson. A few food pics below.

Complimentary cornbread with apple cobbler dressing.

What's brunch without mimosa? On special for $5.

I ordered the blueberry pancakes with bacon ($7.95) and a side of cheese grits ($2.25).

Toast Cafe, 2400 Park Road, 704-215-4166, Open daily for breakfast and lunch.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Hip Hop Caucus is hosting a Respect My Vote! Town Hall 2 p.m. today at Charlotte School of Law. It's sure to be a packed house, with the number of tickets distributed greatly surpassing the venue's capacity (seating will be on a first come, first served basis). But whether or not you're planning to come out today, you can watch the event live at, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. I'll actually be producing the live stream (I'm on the Hip Hop Caucus Charlotte Leadership Committee). And better yet, Black Entertainment Television (BET) will be taping the event, with plans to air portions of it on 106 & Park.

This nonpartisan town hall event will highlight the concerns of young voters in preparation for this fall's election. Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., president and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus, will moderate, and speakers include: Barbara Arnwine, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; Kevin Powell, nationally renowned activist, writer, and speaker; Big Mike, recording artist of the group Day 26; and Carrie Cook, local community activist and founder of the Youth EmpowHERment Summit. The event will be hosted by Nolimit Larry of Power 98, and Charlotte-based artists Bettie Grind and Mr. 704, along with A. Dot of Power 98, will host the live stream, in addition to spoken word poet Bluz delivering a performance. Celebrity guests are also expected to attend.
It's been more than a year and a half--19 months to be exact--since Charlotte won the bid to host the 2012 Democratic National Convention. All of the hard work and planning from DNCC and Host Committee staffs, volunteers, local businesses, media, and everyone in between, comes to fruition as the festivities begin.

For the past year, on Charlotte magazine's "The DNC In The CLT" blog, I've been chronicling what Charlotte has done to prepare for hosting the convention, in which President Barack Obama will formally accept the Democratic Party's nomination for reelection. This week, there will be more activity than ever on the DNC blog, with Charlotte magazine staffers contributing, and you can check out all of the magazine's related coverage at

Time Warner Cable Arena, where the major television news networks will broadcast this week, has been transformed into the Democrats' mecca for the convention. 

One particular blog post you'll want to check out, if you haven't already, is a list of dozens of DNC Week events I compiled that are open to the public, ranging from free events like Monday's CarolinaFest in Uptown, to Tuesday's party at The Westin with President Bill Clinton and of The Black Eyed Peas for $150 a ticket, to Wednesday's Victory reception at Dressler's (where I'm being honored with a Rising Star award), put on by the Young and Powerful Group, to closing night of the Democratic National Convention at Bank of America Stadium where President Obama will speak, but not until after the crowd is entertained by Foo Fighters, Mary J. Blige, Earth, Wind and Fire, James Taylor, Marc Anthony, and more. It's all on this list.

And finally, you can check me out on a couple of television appearances this week, sharing my insight about the Democratic National Convention. Watch me Monday, September 3, shortly after 6:30 a.m., on WCNC NewsChannel 36 (Charlotte’s NBC station), on the morning show. And Tuesday, I'll make an appearance on WCNC's Charlotte Today, which airs at 11 a.m. Set your DVR!

My appearance a week and a half ago on WCNC's morning show.

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