Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Charlotte Bobcats visited the Los Angeles Clippers last night. For fans out on the West Coast, the game started at 7:30 p.m. But for us Charlotteans and East Coasters, it was a 10:30 p.m. start time, which means it probably was too late for you to stay up and watch or see through to the end. If you missed it, then you missed Blake Griffin doing what he does best--dunking throughout the entire game, en route to a 106-84 victory over the Bobcats.

Thanks to the good old Internets, you can watch this great Blake Griffin highlight reel from last night's game, courtesy of YouTuber Dawk Ins. The 3/4-court-long alley hoop Blake catches from Chris Paul (1:20 mark in video) and monster dunk through the lane (1:58), both in the second quarter, and an equally electrifying lane-soaring feat in the third quarter (3:45) have people particularly talking this morning.

Poor Bobcats. Not the way they want to be in rotation all day on SportsCenter.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The 2013 CIAA Tournament kicks off tomorrow (Tuesday, February 26) at Time Warner Cable Arena in Uptown, featuring 22 basketball games over five days between the men's and women's teams of the 12 Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) colleges. But if you know anything about CIAA Week in Charlotte, you also know it means hundreds of parties (by individual promoters), dozens of celebrities coming to town, and tens of thousands of visitors—many of whom are coming to party.

Like I've done the last few years, I've once again compiled a comprehensive list of CIAA Week parties and events for You'll find lists, organized by day, of 200 events featuring everything from the actual CIAA basketball games, to networking events, to fraternity, sorority, and alumni mixers, to fashion events and concerts, to the three-day CIAA Toyota Fan Experience, a film festival, and parties, parties, parties. Many of those parties are featuring some of your favorite hip hop and R&B artists—either hosting or performing—including Drake, 2 Chainz, T.I., Fabolous, Chris Brown, Jermaine Dupri, Juicy J, Juelz Santana, Joe Budden, Future, Ludacris, Young Jeezy, Trey Songz, Monica, Chaka Khan, Anthony Hamilton, and dozens more. Yes, that's all going down this week and weekend in Charlotte.

Visit for the best CIAA Week/CIAA Weekend guide you'll find on the 'net.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Girl Talk Foundation, Inc. is kicking off its Prom Project for the 11th year. The Charlotte nonprofit organization makes a positive impact in the lives of middle and high school girls year-round with its programs and events, and Prom Project is one of the most successful. Each year, the program provides new or gently used prom dresses, shoes, and accessories free of charge to high school girls for what is an important and memorable event in their lives.

Girls receiving dresses during last year's Prom Project, posing with Mrs. North Carolina International 2012 Kimberly White. Credit:

Over the last ten years, Girl Talk has collected more than 6,000 prom dresses, and it's people like you who make Prom Project possible. Beginning this Monday, February 25 through Friday, April 5, Girl Talk will collect donations of new or gently used prom dresses, bridesmaids gowns, or cocktail dresses, shoes, accessories such as purses, and unused makeup and perfume. You can donate these items at any one of the six drop-off locations listed below (take note of the days and times):

South County Regional Library
5801 Rea Rd., Charlotte
Mon., Wed., Thu., 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

North County Regional Library
16500 Holly Crest Lane, Huntersville
Mon., Wed., Thu., 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Morrison Regional Library
7015 Morrison Blvd., Charlotte
Mon., Wed., Thu., 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center
300 E. Seventh St., Charlotte
Tue., Wed., Thu., 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Fri. and Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun., 1-6 p.m.

WPEG FM (Power 98)
1520 South Blvd., Suite 300, Charlotte
Mon.-Fri., 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

Saks Off 5th
Concord Mills Mall, 8111 Concord Mills Blvd., Concord
Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun., 1-6 p.m.

After hundreds of dresses and other items have been donated by generous members of the community as well as corporate sponsors and local businesses, high school girls will get to "shop" for those items free of charge at a make-shift boutique that will be set up at ImaginOn on Saturday, April 6 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. As a prerequisite to shopping, girls will attend a 45-minute etiquette class that includes beauty, fashion, and prom safety tips. Those young ladies who wish to participate can register by clicking here.

Girl Talk Foundation, Inc. was founded by Janine Davis, who serves as executive director. The organization positively impacts the lives of more than 700 Charlotte-area girls each year through its programs and special events, which also include the 16-week Tailoring Teens for Success curriculum, community service projects, a college tour, and more.

Visit for complete details on Prom Project 2013.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

It was a little more than two years ago that plans for the ambitious Project L.I.F.T. philanthropic education initiative were announced to help improve some of Charlotte's lowest-performing schools. Several of the city's largest corporations and charitable foundations--Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Duke Energy, and the C.D. Spangler and the Leon Levine foundations, among others--came together to give $40.5 million to launch the program; then several other community organizations and philanthropists stepped up during the next year and a half to help the group reach its $55 million fundraising goal. Now, with Project L.I.F.T. having been officially implemented in a five-year plan with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools system, beginning with the 2012-2013 school year, we're seeing many of the efforts start to come to fruition.

You can witness one of those efforts in a fun and creative way this Saturday, February 23 during the first-ever “Lifting Our Black History” Brain Bowl at West Charlotte High School. At the crux of Project L.I.F.T. is West Charlotte High and the elementary and middle schools that feed into it. The six middle schools are competing in Saturday's Brain Bowl, and the teams have been preparing for it all month with IB students from West Charlotte tutoring them.

There will be three rounds in the bowl, consisting of true false, multiple choice, Family Feud-format, and single-elimination questions. The questions have been written by the staff at Beatties Ford Road Public Library and are derived from the book African American Firsts: Famous Little-Known and Unsung Triumphs of Blacks in America, by Joan Potter. Students received copies of this book last semester, thanks to a donation by Johnson C. Smith University. The Brain Bowl is designed by Charlotte City Councilman James “Smudgy” Mitchell, his wife and former astronaut Joan Higginbotham, and West Charlotte IB students. The event will be moderated by Mayor Anthony Foxx, Congressman Mel Watt, Councilwoman Lawana Mayfield, Councilman David Howard, and Former Mayor Harvey Gantt. This event alone embodies how much of a community effort Project L.I.F.T. is.

Parents and the community are invited to attend the “Lifting Our Black History” Brain Bowl, this Saturday, 9 a.m. at West Charlotte High School, 2219 Senior Drive, and support their favorite middle school. The school with the most school spirit will receive an award along with the first and second-place winners in the competition.

The Brain Bowl is just one of several innovative ways Project L.I.F.T. organizers are attempting to achieve 90 percent proficiency, 90 percent on grade level, and 90 percent graduation goals with its more than 7,000 students. CMS recently signed off on a plan that will allow four Project L.I.F.T. schools--Bruns Academy, Walter G. Byers School, Druid Hills Academy, and Thomasboro Academy--to begin a year-round school calendar beginning next school year. Project L.I.F.T. is also engaging in the One Laptop Per Child program and Microsoft's Shape the Future program, to provide computers and Internet access to students and families at a significantly reduced cost. 

Read more about Project L.I.F.T. and find out how you can support this great initiative, by visiting

Sunday, February 17, 2013

I'm an '80s baby, which means I was born at the greatest time ever. I grew up listening to music by--and trying to emulate the dance moves of--Michael Jackson. I watched great television shows created by Bill Cosby. I ate sweetened cereal that came with prizes in the box, and sat down with a big bowl in front of Saturday morning cartoons. I witnessed some of the greatest movies come to the big screen, and when my parents bought a VCR sometime around 1985, we watched many of those movies at home on our floor-model TV. But of all the entertaining marvels I was fortunate to have witnessed because of the era in which I was born, there are two that top them all: the aforementioned Michael Jackson and the other MJ: Michael Jordan.

Jordan turned 50 today, which you already know, sparking reflection throughout the sports and non-sports world. It's only fitting that his 50th birthday falls on the same day as this year's NBA All-Star Game (he threw a star-studded bash Friday night in Houston), and that sports news giant ESPN has spent the past two weeks counting down to this momentous occasion.

Sports analysts, reporters, bloggers, and anyone with a social media account have opined on what Jordan has meant to the game of basketball, sports as a whole, pop culture, fashion, and to their individual lives. He's widely considered the greatest basketball player of all time, and he's the player every great player after him is and will be forever compared to, i.e. Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.

For me, personally, it's kind of hard to believe that Jordan is now 50 years old. But contrary to the media reports as to how he's dealing with growing older, we're the ones who are actually getting old. When you're as great and legendary as Jordan--and for him to have played his entire professional career at a time that allowed it to be captured on video--the stories that will be told about him 50 years from now will be supplemented by highlight films of him hitting game-winning shots, dunking over star players, waving championship trophies in the air, gliding from the free throw line, endorsing major brands and products, and releasing sneakers that bear his name and that people rush to the stores to buy years after he's quit playing.

I was a Chicago Bulls fan growing up, even though I'd never been to Chicago nor had I seen the Bulls play in person. I was a fan because as I was learning about the game of basketball and watching NBA games on TV for the first time, No. 23 was mesmerizing us. When my brother and I and numerous friends would play countless games on our backyard court, we all dreamed of playing like Jordan. When he retired for the first time in 1993, I was devastated. And when Jordan returned to the NBA in the spring of 1995, I remember his first game back being on a Sunday and how I couldn't wait to get home from church and watch the nationally televised game. Then the following season, when the Bulls won a record 72 games and embarked on their second three-peat, I couldn't wait to watch every game I could. His absence during his year-and-a-half-long retirement taught me not to take witnessing greatness for granted.

No other athlete, entertainer, or icon, for that matter, has had as large an impact on culture the way Jordan has. I was happy when he became majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats a few years ago and made Charlotte his part-time home, just so I could have that association with him (and be able point to his Uptown condo when I have guests visiting from out of town). Now, Jordan needs to prove he can build a winning NBA franchise as an executive.

I'm sure Jordan feels he has a lot left to accomplish in life, and why wouldn't he? But regardless, he's already left an indelible mark on the world and hundreds of millions of people. We all want to witness greatness, even if it's from a distance. Or for the once-in-a-lifetime chance to come face to face with it, like some kid named Justin Bieber had a few weeks ago.

Justin Bieber poses with Michael Jordan, backstage at his concert at Time Warner Cable Arena in January. Credit:

I have three teen-aged nephews who are between two and four years younger than Bieber, and like him they're too young to remember the peak of Jordan's playing days. But they all know who he is, and they all want to wear his sneakers. Decades later, we all still want to be like Mike.

Below are links to a few of the many recent news stories and reflections on Michael Jordan's legacy now that he's turned 50 years old.

50 memories of Michael Jordan - Chicago Tribune

Michael Jordan's 50 SI Covers - Sports Illustrated

In Chicago, Especially, Jordan Still Reigns Supreme - The New York Times

Michael Jordan's Influence Praised By J. Cole, Kobe Bryant - MTV News

MJ at 50: A look at Michael Jordan's final All-Star Game performance - CBS Sports

Celebrating Michael Jordan's 50th Birthday with His Top 50 Career Moments - Bleacher Report

Michael Jordan's 50th birthday stirs memories of his basketball greatness - New York Post

Michael Jordan Top 50 All Time Plays - YouTube/Meir21

Thursday, February 14, 2013

After a year of rumors and speculation, today US Airways and American Airlines officially announced their plans to merge. The combined company will keep the American Airlines name, and will become the largest airline in the world. They've created a website for you to track developments and news:

The new American Airlines has also created a couple of web videos to mark this milestone.

Charlotteans and local businesses and media have all been concerned about the prospects of this merger because of how it could potentially affect Charlotte Douglas International Airport's status as US Airways’ largest hub--US Airways operates more than 600 flights coming in and out of CLT daily, nearly 90 percent of the airport's total daily flights. The indication right now is that the merger will bring more daily flights to Charlotte, according to US Airways CEO Doug Parker.

Charlotte's business and civic leaders are, of course, concerned about how the merger will affect the city in terms of economic impact and number of jobs. But there's another thing: Charlotte is fixated, almost to the level of obsession, with being able to claim it's the headquarters city of this and that, or is the largest home to this or that (folks still haven't gotten over losing Wachovia). After the merger, the US Airways name will go away, and as for the new American Airlines, Charlotte is expected to be its second largest hub, behind only Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (the combined company will be headquartered in Fort Worth).

All of that is fine and dandy, but to most of us there's one thing that's more important: how will the cost of fares be affected? That's something we won't know for months, maybe even years to come. As if it hasn't gotten expensive enough to fly.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Ideas to Take Shape at TEDxCharlotte 2013

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 2/09/2013 No comments
TEDxCharlotte will bring together innovative, creative, and thought-provoking people and ideas for the third year, Friday, February 15 at Silver Hammer Studios at NC Music Factory. Tickets for the all-day event are $50 and can be purchased at

For TEDxCharlotte 2013, themed "Unlimited: Ideas Take Shape," presenters and artists include:

Behind the scenes of TEDxCharlotte promo featuring Red Jesse and Jocelyn Ellis.
Photo by Deborah Triplett.

I'm familiar with more than half of these presenters/artists and their work, so I know they're some of the leading professionals, entrepreneurs, and creative thinkers in their fields. Plus, I attended TEDxCharlotte in 2011 and can attest to this being a well-organized event (I don't think there was a conference last year).

This year's event takes place on a Friday--9 a.m. to 4 p.m.--which means many of you would probably have to miss work to attend. Just tell your boss that it will be a career-enhancing and personal development seminar, of sorts, that you should be given the time away from work to go to. Also, this year, there was no application process to attend--simply purchase a ticket. An after-party will follow at VGBG Beer Hall & Garden, which is also at NC Music Factory.

For more details, visit

Thursday, February 7, 2013

One of the most popular and top-rated commercials during this year's Super Bowl was the "So God Made a Farmer" commercial by Dodge Ram. The two-minute spot featured a voiceover from a speech delivered by legendary broadcaster Paul Harvey in 1978, and was paired with beautiful countryside photos of farms and farmers that looked like they'd been run through Instagram filters.

While that commercial may have pulled at Americans' heartstrings, it's also sparked some parodies. One of the latest is "So God Made a Banker" by Brett Arends for MarketWatch. While it isn't set to video or audio (yet), you're asked to "read in the voice of Paul Harvey."

The column features such standout lines as:
God said, “I need someone who doesn’t grow anything or make anything but who will borrow money from the public at 0% interest and then lend it back to the public at 2% or 5% or 10% and pay himself a bonus for doing so.”

So God made a banker.

God said, “And I need somebody who will tell everyone else to stand on their own two feet, but who will then run to the government for a bailout as soon as he gets into trouble — and who will then use that bailout money to help elect a Congress that will look the other way. And then pay himself another bonus.”

That verbiage got me thinking: Since God made a banker, then Charlotte must be heaven. Because this city makes (has) a lot of bankers, as the second largest banking center in the country. And I guess the intersection of Trade and Tryon streets in Uptown would be the pearly gates. And Billy Graham Parkway is, well...

Monday, February 4, 2013

The greatest musician, performer, and entertainer of the last 10-plus years (give Bey her props), Beyoncé has announced her first tour since 2009. Paying homage to her life as Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter's wife, she's dubbed the multi-country, multi-city outing "The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour." After a highly anticipated and strongly delivered Super Bowl XLVII halftime performance last night, a couple of weeks after singing the national anthem at the Presidential Inauguration, a documentary about her life and career airing on HBO in less than two weeks, and a planned new album that is reportedly on the way, this is truly shaping up to be the Year of the Bey.

Beyoncé's world tour begins in Europe where she kicks it off in Serbia on April 15 and will play 24 shows across the continent through the end of May. She then returns stateside where she'll open the North American leg at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on June 28. A month later, on July 27, "The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour" stops into Charlotte at Time Warner Cable Arena. She'll wrap up the 22-city U.S. and Canada run a week later, ending August 3 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn a.k.a the House that Jay-Z built (Jay is a part-owner of the Brooklyn Nets NBA team that plays there). The world tour is expected to run for almost an entire year, with dates to be announced later for Latin America, Australia, and Asia.

Beyoncé's 2013 concert in Charlotte will be on a coveted Saturday night. Tickets for that tour stop go on sale February 15 at 10 a.m. at, with prices ranging from $47 to $252.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Charlotte-native and platinum-selling recording artist Anthony Hamilton was stuntin' on 'em this week. He celebrated his 42nd birthday a few days ago and took to Instagram to show off the gifts he received from Jordan Brand, the lucrative division of Nike, run by Michael Jordan, and maker of the forever-popular Air Jordan sneaker. A-Ham has had a friendship with MJ for several years now, something he attributes to their "North Carolina connection." Jordan's company sent over a dozen pairs of retro Air Jordans, or J's as they're known in the streets, as well as a nice watch for Anthony's birthday. The company has also thrown parties for him in the past (see here and here).

That watch reminds me of one of my favorite lyrics from rapper Sauce Money, years ago: "Since my watch was a gift, there's no better time than the present."

The good times continue for A-Ham. He's nominated for two GRAMMY Awards this year: Best R&B Song for "Pray for Me" and Best R&B Album for Back To Love. He's up against R. Kelly, Robert Glasper, Tamia, and Tyrese in the album category. The 55th GRAMMY Awards air live Sunday, February 10, 8 p.m. on CBS.

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