Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx turns 42 years old today. If you've even slightly paid attention to news in Charlotte over the last 24 to 36 hours then you know that Foxx has been nominated by President Obama to become the next U.S. Secretary of Transportation, to replace outgoing secretary Ray LaHood.

Credit: whitehouse.gov

Foxx as Obama's latest cabinet pick is being written and opined about everywhere. Here are a few links to what the national media is saying:

What You Need to Know About Obama Transportation Pick Anthony Foxx - National Journal

Meet Anthony Foxx, Obama's Next Transportation Secretary - The Atlantic

President Obama announces Anthony Foxx pick - Politico

Obama Diversity Promise Makes Second Cabinet Like First - Bloomberg Businessweek

Locally, The Charlotte Observer has done great reporting since news leaked on Sunday that Obama would nominate Foxx the following day. The story is the main feature on today's front page.

So, you have plenty you can read up on about Foxx as far as news is concerned. Here's what I'd like to add.

In 2009, when Foxx was running for his first term as mayor of Charlotte, I wrote here on Grown People Talking: "10 Reasons Why Anthony Foxx Will Be Charlotte's Next Mayor." In that blog post, the first nine reasons I listed described the attributes that made Foxx very electable, the strength of his campaign, the political climate in 2009, and even a couple of comparisons of him to Obama. Then in the tenth point on my list, I said:
He's a Charlotte native with a terrific story. Not only do we not encounter many Charlotte natives these days (I always say that only 2 out of every 10 people I meet in Charlotte are actually from here), but we have even fewer in leadership positions. Foxx has a great story that shows what a person can accomplish with hard work, talent, and ambition. As he remarked last evening, he grew up in a neighborhood off Beatties Ford Road, where he wasn't expected to succeed. After graduating from West Charlotte High School, he then went on to graduate from Davidson College (where he served as student body president), and got his law degree from NYU. He's been a successful attorney for the last 13 years, and a city councilman since 2005.
Today, Washington's gain is Charlotte's loss. Foxx was a great fit as this city's mayor. You might not agree with all of his policies, but you have to acknowledge that not many people actually care as much about this city as he does, or are as personally invested as he is. I ran into, met with, interviewed, and wrote about Foxx several times over the next four years, including that time I proclaimed "Mayor Foxx Is Charlotte."

I had plenty of interaction with him during the year I wrote The DNC In The CLT blog about the 2012 Democratic National Convention, including this Q&A published last May and the video below I captured of a DNC press conference last April when Foxx welcomed the mayor of Los Angeles to the city.

Then when I ran into Mayor Foxx about three weeks ago, after speculation had been swirling that he was being considered for the Obama cabinet position, after he announced that he wouldn't seek reelection as mayor, we had this brief exchange:
At 42 years old, and with the opportunity to serve in a high-profile position in the Obama Administration for the next three and a half years, Foxx's national political success will be his for the taking. And for all the kids attending west Charlotte schools today, who may feel like they have too many obstacles to overcome to be successful in life, they can point to a guy in the White House who used to attend schools along the Beatties Ford Road corridor too.

Monday, April 29, 2013

If you haven't seen the highlight reel from Stephen Curry's video-game-like performance during the third quarter of the Golden State Warriors versus Denver Nuggets playoff game last night, stop what you're doing and watch it right now.

In a span of six minutes, Steph scored 22 points, including hitting off-balanced floaters and five three-pointers. Any basketball fan will tell you that the Charlotte native and former Davidson College star is one of the best shooters in the NBA. He set a record a week and a half ago when he concluded the regular season with the most three pointers in a single season in NBA history--his 272 three pointers surpassed Ray Allen's record of 269.

And speaking of Ray, he's the player Steph seems to be compared to the most these days. They're both among the greatest shooters of all-time and arguably the best shooters of their respective generations--Steph is in his fourth NBA season, while Ray is in his 17th (sort of like how Kobe Bryant was beginning to rise as a young star in the league when Michael Jordan was on the tail end of his career). I got to see Steph and Ray play early on in each of their careers. I grew up in the same area in South Carolina as Ray, so when I was in middle school I attended many of his basketball games during his senior year when he led our Hillcrest Wildcats to the state championship.

It's natural to compare Steph and Ray because fans today have gotten to see them play in the league at the same time for a few years. But I think Steph's game is more like retired Indiana Pacers legend Reggie Miller, in that he will take over a game and take shots that most players wouldn't have the nerve--or skill--to attempt. The main difference between Steph and Reggie, the latter whom played several seasons against the former's dad, Dell Curry, is that Steph will bury threes all over your head while wearing a smile on his face (he has that nice guy persona), and Reggie used to shoot up your arena and taunt you (he seemed to love for you to hate him on the court).

But whether you're comparing Steph to Ray or Reggie, that's great company for the 25 year-old to be in.

The fans who watched Steph warm up before last night's game got an indication of the type of night he was going to have, when he hit a H.O.R.S.E.-like shot from behind the players bench. So the deep three pointers he hit during the game were a cinch.

Credit: @CorkGaines

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The creative folks at UNC Charlotte Center City are putting on another great event this Saturday, April 27, led by community outreach coordinator Donell Stines-Jones. The Community Street Soccer Challenge will take place in the garden in front of the Uptown building (320 E. Ninth St.), featuring a full afternoon of activities, free and open to the public, beginning at 12 p.m.

There'll be soccer clinics for kids provided by FC Carolina Alliance, and competitions between Urban Ministry's StreetSoccer 945, Charlotte 49ers alumni soccer team, and a team from La Raza 106.1 FM. And as usual with events organized by Donell, there'll be plenty of other eclectic and entertaining elements at the event, such as a DJ, food trucks, vendors, a community mural, and a silent auction featuring 30 soccer balls designed by local artists. Proceeds will benefit the Urban Ministry Center.
April is National Poetry Month, and the Hip Hop Caucus is in the midst of a “Hip Hop Is Poetry” multimedia and social media project. HHC is releasing videos from renowned poets to showcase the contributions of poetry to hip hop culture and social and political movements throughout history. At HipHopCaucus.org/poetry you'll find videos of original pieces being performed by poets such as the legendary Nikki Giovanni and Charlotte's award-winning poet Boris "Bluz" Rogers.

Charlotte poet Bluz at dupp&swat.

Hip Hop Caucus-Charlotte Leadership Committee member Jameka Whitten organized a video shoot a few weeks ago for Bluz at dupp&swat boutique/studio in NoDa. In the video below, Bluz delivers a riveting four-and-a-half-minute poem about the many facets of hip hop culture and life's struggles. "I understand that life on the block, meets life in the block cell lot. Where prison bars produce convicts that spit 16 bars. 'Who's hard?' Not me," he rhymes.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I read a press release this morning that I thought would be interesting to share. Below is an excerpt.
In January 2009, Barry Leonard was a passenger on USAirways Flight 1549, involved in an incident that became known as the Miracle on the Hudson. The incident made Leonard take stock in his life and reevaluate his bucket list, which now includes an August 2013 climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro with his son Matthew and two good friends, Richard and Matthew Gershen, another father-son team.
Barry Leonard and his son Matthew.
"After the plane crash, I better understood the importance of time, but also the importance of doing things today and not waiting until tomorrow," said Leonard, a Charlotte resident who is president/CEO of home textiles company Welspun USA. "I always thought these things would be what I will do 'someday' but that has all changed."

Leonard's climb will help raise funds for the Kilimanjaro Education Foundation, a nonprofit volunteer organization with a mission to provide African children the same educational opportunities as children in developed countries. Funds raised from his climb will help build school facilities and also furnish library books to a new library an hour outside of Arusha.

With an August climb scheduled, Leonard has begun training in earnest, riding a stationary bike and running on a treadmill. He has also started hiking in the local hills of North Carolina to be followed by hiking Mount Mitchell, which is the tallest mountain in the U.S. east of the Mississippi River. 

"There are things you want to do together in life with a son and this is one of them," he said. "Since the plane crash, I've gone through a lot of stages. I know a lot of people say 'it was four years ago, that should be behind you,' but I'm in a search for spirituality stage. For me that is a huge part of what this climb is all about."

As you probably know, the plane from US Airways Flight 1549 is now the signature exhibit at Carolinas Aviation Museum. I chronicled its arrival to the Charlotte museum back in June 2011, when I met several of the survivors who attended the homecoming reception. A year later, the once-little-known museum completed a renovation to showcase the Miracle on the Hudson exhibit, in a manner befitting of its notoriety. Then in February, Carolinas Aviation Museum received the coveted Smithsonian Institution affiliation, a designation that fewer than 180 of the country's 18,000 museums have.

Miracle on the Hudson Exhibit. Credit: facebook.com/ft1549

Monday, April 22, 2013

If you were watching last night's episode of Veep on HBO, then you surely noticed that Gastonia played a large role in the comedy starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus. It was episode 10 of the show (season two, episode two), and Julia's character, Selina Meyer, the first female vice president of the United States, received orders from POTUS to attend a North Carolina pig-pickin' as part of their new Listen to Rural America Program, "U.S. Hey!" The pig-pickin' was in Gastonia.

Around these parts, we love for our cities and towns to get TV time, even if in fictional shows (Showtime's Homeland and Cinemax's Banshee, for example), but I'm not sure how Gastonian's feel about their portrayal in Veep. In one scene, while aboard Air Force Two on her way to Gastonia, the fictional vice president says she doesn't want to get "stuck talking pig sh*t with people who use hay as furniture." You had to laugh at that.

Another portrayal the show embarks on is the long-running, heated debate on North Carolina barbecue, by choosing a pig roast in Gastonia to attend. N.C. BBQ got thrust into the national spotlight when the real First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, announced that Charlotte had been awarded the 2012 Democratic National Convention, saying that: "Charlotte is a city marked by its southern charm, warm hospitality, and an "up by the bootstraps" mentality that has propelled the city forward as one of the fastest-growing in the South. Vibrant, diverse, and full of opportunity, the Queen City is home to innovative, hardworking folks with big hearts and open minds. And of course, great barbecue."

I wrote extensively about the DNC for a year, so I saw how often N.C. barbecue was brought into political circles and conversations. Veep does a good job of mimicking things politicians actually do, but with more of a hilarious exaggeration. Like, politicians really do go campaigning at North Carolina barbecue events: read my past DNC blog post, which includes a recap of the annual Mallard Creek Barbecue; and last June I begged national media to stop talking about N.C. BBQ; and even more fitting, in October 2010, a New York Times reporter visited a Pig Pickin’ and Politickin’ rally in Huntersville, hosted by a Republican women’s club.

At a recent Levine Museum of the New South event, the Uptown museum featured an Eastern vs. Western North Carolina barbecue tasting and competition.

We take our barbecue seriously around here. Veep got that much right.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Run For Your Life, the Charlotte sporting goods chain that specializes in selling running shoes and organizing local races, is hosting memorial runs this Monday, April 22 to show support for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. “Runners for Boston” is a free, casual run taking place all over the country Monday evening, and Run For Your Life is organizing a run beginning at 6:30 p.m. at each of its four Charlotte stores: Dilworth, SouthPark, Piper Glen, and University.

Runners are encouraged to wear the Boston Marathon’s signature blue and yellow colors, or any Boston Marathon apparel. Also, a limited number of commemorative Runners for Boston T-shirts can be purchased Monday for $20, with 100 percent of the money going to The One Fund Boston, Inc., which was announced by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino to help the people most affected by the tragic events that occurred in Boston on April 15.

Store managers at Run For Your Life, a name that takes on new meaning after this week's tragedy, will provide routes and leaders for the group runs. If you plan to participate Monday, you should arrive before 6:30 p.m.

Several Charlotteans competed in last Monday's Boston Marathon, including at least one who was severely injured in the bombings. Among other local ties, Andrew Collier, a machinist in the Concord-based Hendrick Motorsports engine department for the leading NASCAR race teams, is the brother of Sean Collier. Sean is the MIT police officer who was shot and killed in Cambridge Thursday night, believed to have been committed by the alleged Boston bombers, brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Speculation has been running rampant over the past week about an anticipated announcement that ESPN and the Southeastern Conference would be launching an SEC network/channel, similar to, but better than, the Big Ten Network that's jointly operated by the Big Ten and FOX Sports. A press conference by ESPN and the SEC had been scheduled to take place Tuesday in Atlanta, but officials decided to postpone it Monday night after the bombings earlier that day at the Boston Marathon.

No rescheduled date has been given yet for the press conference, nor has ESPN/SEC released any details on what they would be announcing, but media outlets across the country are reporting that it's about the creation of the new network. I'm a proud South Carolina Gamecocks alum and fan, so I'll be excited to see an all-SEC channel, putting even more spotlight on the most dominant football conference in college sports (great baseball teams and solid basketball too). And I'm also happy with, assuming it's true, the speculation that the new network will be headquartered in Charlotte at the ESPN Regional Television offices in Ballantyne (also home to ESPNU).

Below are links to several news stories about the anticipated ESPN-SEC television network deal and what it could mean to college sports, including some that reference the possible location in Charlotte:

Up next: SEC network (Sports Business Daily)

SEC's network with ESPN: A fan's primer (CBS Sports)

ESPN, SEC to Form New Sports Net (Adweek)

SEC, ESPN To Announce SEC Network, Likely The Most Valuable TV Deal In College Sports (Forbes)

The SEC channel through the eyes of sports media consultants (The Huntsville Times)

SEC TV Network Is Brilliant Move That Will Prove Lucrative in Short Order (Bleacher Report)

Could SEC changes one day push Tech off UGA’s schedule? (The Atlanta Journal Constitution)

How ESPN Sets The SEC Network Apart (MR. SEC)

UPDATE 5/2/13: It's official. The SEC and ESPN have announced a 20-year agreement for their new joint, 24-hour television network, to be based in Charlotte.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Dale Jr.'s Making Chips (Potato and Money)

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 4/16/2013 No comments
There are several slang terms that represent money and/or a person who's making it. Many of them use food references, like: eatin', caked up, dough, cheese/cheddar, bread, and chips. Well, there aren't too many people out here today making chips like Dale Earnhardt Jr. Last month, Forbes ranked him as the highest-paid NASCAR driver for the fifth-consecutive year. And you don't even have to know much about NASCAR to know that Dale Jr. makes a lot of money away from the racetrack. You likely see the Mooresville resident frequently starring in national TV commercials endorsing products and companies, or you see products bearing his name in stores. The latter is what happened to me tonight.

Credit: My Windows Phone

I made a trip to Bi-Lo tonight and stumbled upon a display case of "Dale Jr Foods" potato chips. I had no idea Dale Jr. had gotten into the snack game. Once I got home and did a little Googling, I learned that this food venture with KLN Family Brands, a Minnesota-based company, was announced in January. And that the first products, to have begun hitting stores in February or March, would be four flavors of potato chips: Crispy Original, Carolina Barbecue, Creole & Green Onion, and Zesty Jalapeno.

Interestingly enough, tonight I saw three of those four in the store, but the Carolina Barbecue was missing. My assumption is that's the flavor Charlotteans have been snatching up first, out of curiosity if nothing else. Curiosity is what led me to buy two bags--one each of the original and jalapeno. I haven't tasted them yet, though. 

NASCAR drivers' names and faces on products is common. Heck, their race cars and driving suits are the opposite with brand logos all over them, so sponsorships and endorsements literally fund the sport. But Dale Jr. appears to be taking it a step further because "Dale Jr Foods" sounds like an entire division of a company in which we will eventually see other food products. But hey, if his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon can successfully sell wine, then why not?

UPDATE 4/18/13: I tried Dale Jr.'s potato chips today, both the Crispy Original and Zesty Jalapeno flavors. They kind of remind me of Wise brand potato chips, but Dale Jr.'s are crispier/crunchier, which is very important to me in a chip. I was particularly impressed with the jalapeno flavor. I'm interested in tasting the Carolina Barbecue now. The Dale Jr. name is what will lead people to giving the chips a shot, but I can't say that I plan on breaking away from my regimen of Lay's, Utz, and Cape Cod.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Last week, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Heath Morrison presented his budget proposal for the 2013-2014 school year to the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners. Morrison's 46-page proposal, titled "Advancing The Way Forward," requests a $28.5 million, or 8 percent, increase, for a total of $365.9 million from the county (CMS has a budget of more than $1.1 billion, including money from the county, state, and federal government).

Morrison is nearing the end of his first year as CMS superintendent, after serving in that role at the school district in Reno, Nevada (he was named national superintendent of the year while there). I saw him speak at a Charlotte Chamber luncheon last August and I was impressed with his perspectives on how he would improve Charlotte schools.

Superintendent Heath Morrison. Credit: CMS

A little more than a third of the additional $28.5 million Morrison is requesting would go toward improving technology in schools: increasing wireless Internet capability, adding projection systems in all classrooms, and creating mobile tech labs. Three million dollars would be used to hire 36 facilitators or academic coaches to help teachers improve their skills; $1.2 million would fund after-school and summer programs to help about 5,000 kindergarten through third grade students improve their reading skills; $900,000 would be used to hire 10 people to coordinate community partnerships at 40 to 50 schools and a volunteer coordinator to work district-wide; along with requests for money to create six new magnet programs, as well as money to cover fees for students taking advancement placement tests (source: The Charlotte Observer).

Those all seem like important and worthwhile requests, that I could see myself supporting once I learn more about them. But $28.5 million is a lot of money, and county commissioners have said they might not have the funds to spare, and that they're already having to make cuts to other county-funded programs. Plus, some people might view this as throwing money at the educational problems, when that doesn't always work. But you know what? You, the citizens of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, need to voice your opinions.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is holding two community meetings to discuss the 2013-14 budget proposal. 
  • April 16, 6-7:30 p.m. at West Charlotte High School, 2216 Senior Drive
  • April 22, 6-7:30 p.m. at Rocky River High School, 10905 Clear Creek Commerce Drive
Superintendent Morrison and members of the executive staff team will present information on the budget priorities and facilitate a question-and-answer session. CMS will provide an interactive technology tool that will allow participants to ask questions and provide feedback from their mobile phones and tablets. It would be a good idea that you looked over the proposal before you attended. Click here to view the PowerPoint presentation. Click here for more info on the meetings.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

I can't tell if Fantasia has heeded my advice, but things are looking good for the Charlotte-based singer as she approaches the April 23 release date of her new album, Side Effects Of You. Since the tracklist was revealed several weeks ago, there's been one song in particular I've been looking forward to hearing. Now, Fantasia has debuted "Without Me," her collaboration with Kelly Rowland and Missy Elliott.

I like the new track, and I think it'll get radio airplay and spins in the club. The beat sounds a little too much like Nicki Minaj's "Beez In The Trap" though, but Fantasia and crew bring a good combo of slowed-down hip hop (even some chopped and screwed elements) and finger-snapping R&B, with some braggadocio lyrics/smack talk aimed at the male species.

Fantasia and Missy. Credit: Facebook

In more Fantasia news, you can watch as she makes her return to American Idol this Thursday, April 18, 8 p.m. on FOX. She's scheduled to perform her new album's first single, "Lose To Win" (fellow Idol alum and North Carolinian Clay Aiken will also perform on the show). An appearance on Idol should bolster record sales for her album, particularly pre-orders (Amazon and iTunes).

Also, you can listen to snippets of all 13 songs from Side Effects Of You, by clicking here. Better yet, she's hosting a listening party for the album on Google Hangout on Tuesday, April 16, 10 p.m. at youtube.com/fantasia.

Keep up with Fantasia at www.fantasiaofficial.com, Facebook.com/Fantasia, Twitter @TasiasWord, and Instagram @TasiasWord.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Five Years of 'Grown People Talking'

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 4/11/2013 No comments
Five years ago today, I launched GrownPeopleTalking.com. Below is the gist of what I said in the very first blog post on April 11, 2008:
"There are a million blogs out there. Some good, some bad (some pointless). What I hope to add is insightful commentary with a mixture of wit and humor. I also offer a local perspective, reporting to you live from Charlotte.

I'll be blogging about issues purely from my perspective, resulting from the many things I am fortunate (or unfortunate) to experience. Topics I'll cover are culture, entertainment, nightlife, music, sports, politics, social issues, fashion, Man Law, and just about anything else that goes on in everyday life.

I'll be posting several times a week, so I hope you will visit often."
What I'm most proud of today, April 11, 2013, is that over the last five years I've done what I said I would do with this blog. And I'm appreciative of all of you who have visited.

When I started GPT, I was a month into my new career as a freelance journalist. I'd spent the previous six years on the staffs of magazines, when I decided to venture out on my own, so to speak. I figured this blog would be a great way for me to share my voice and perspectives, keep you all informed on relevant topics and interesting events, and, most importantly for me career-wise, it would serve as a place for me to link to articles I write for other publications. In effect, it became a way to develop myself as a Charlotte media personality and person who knows a little bit about a lot (I've gotten numerous opportunities and paid gigs because of this blog). I'm not all highfalutin, but I quickly learned that in my industry (and in just about any industry, for that matter) it's important that you create a platform for people, whether it be consumers or potential employers/business partners, to know what it is you do and what you have to offer.  

Back in the spring of 2008, social media was in its infant stages. Facebook hadn't yet reached 100 million users worldwide (now there are more than 1 billion), many people didn't know what Twitter was or thought it wouldn't last (I would stubbornly resist joining for another three years), and Myspace was the most-visited website in the United States. My, how things change. Today, I use Facebook (Facebook.com/GrownPeopleTalking) and Twitter (@HollidayInk) to share links to my blog posts.

Also in 2008, launching and maintaining blogs was all the rage. It continues to be popular today, but I can't name many other Charlotte blogs that have lasted five years. That's not to toot my own horn--okay, maybe a little--but it's really to say that I've come too far to turn back now.

Photos of me rarely make it onto GPT, because this blog isn't about "me".

I have several ideas for where I can take this blog creatively, but what I never want to do is over-promise and under-deliver. So when the changes are ready, you'll see them, and I hope you likey. In the meantime, I plan to continue giving you "insightful and entertaining commentary about life in and around Charlotte," as this blog's tagline states.

I'm also planning a party at one of Charlotte's newest venues to celebrate this milestone. Sorry, but it's going to be private, for my industry peers and friends (invitations go out next week). But what I am planning to do is invite several of you GPT readers who have commented on blog posts and sent me thoughtful emails (jarvish@grownpeopletalking.com) over the years (so be on the lookout).

I've written exactly 1,064 Grown People Talking blog posts, as of today. Cheers to all the good things we've experienced over the last five years!

P.S. Make sure you regularly visit Dusk Till Dawn, the Charlotte nightlife blog I've written for Charlotte magazine since December 2010 (the recent headlines from that blog's posts are listed at the top of this blog via FeedBurner).

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I have three meetings today: the first was a lunch meeting in South End, followed by a project meeting in Uptown, and this evening I have another meeting in South End (I'm writing this blog post during my downtime in between). So I figured I'd take the light rail from South End to Uptown and then back again once I'm done for the day and ready to go home. Riding the LYNX Blue Line today gave me the first opportunity to see one of the liquor ads that stirred up much controversy when the plans were announced last year.

If you'll recall, last August, The Charlotte Observer reported that for the first time ever, the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) would begin selling alcohol--beer and liquor--advertising on the sides of city buses and trains to generate much-needed revenue to offset rising operating costs. This infuriated Charlotte City Council, who said they weren't aware of the decision and they expressed concern about children and recovering addicts who would see the ads. By late October, a compromise had been reached to begin selling the alcohol ads. I'm not sure when the first liquor ad appeared on the light rail, but I saw one for the first time this afternoon for Baileys.

Credit: My Windows Phone

"Your Chariot Awaits, Madame," reads the large headline on the Baileys ad that covers the light rail car I boarded. I don't have a problem with it, and, in fact, I feel that the accompanying "Enjoy Baileys Responsibly" tagline could help encourage people to use public transportation rather than driving after leaving bars and nightclubs if they've had too much to drink.

And, this particular ad looks cool. Big-city like, even (and you know how much Charlotte desires to be viewed as a big city). What are your thoughts on the whole alcohol-ads-on-public-transit thing?

By the way, I realize this is the second liquor-related post I've written in as many weeks (here's the other), but there's no cause concern (Mom).

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

This Food Video Should Go Viral

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 4/09/2013 No comments
I came across a video on YouTube tonight that I think should go viral. It won't, though (it doesn't feature a new dance craze, adorable baby doing something funny, or stupid human/bizarre animal trick). But that won't stop me from sharing it, and telling you why it's so awesome.

It's an inspiring video showcasing a little bit of the great work being done every day in the Charlotte area by Friendship Trays, a nonprofit organization that prepares and delivers meals to elderly or disabled people who are unable to prepare their own meals. Friendship Trays grew from the good deeds of a handful of local churches more than 35 years ago, to operating its own kitchen facility and now utilizing more than 100 volunteers each weekday. Yet, many of you have never heard of this organization.

The video is actually a part of the Good Morning Charlotte series, in which each video shows beautiful scenes of Charlotte--the cityscape and landscape--followed by Friendship Tray staff and volunteers preparing and packaging meals for delivery. You can't help but feel good from watching this.

And if you want to do more than feel good, the organization holds a monthly Breakfast Tour at its Distribution Street facility for people interested in volunteering to learn more about the program. The next tour is Thursday, April 18, 8:30-9:30 a.m.

Visit www.friendshiptrays.org.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Last fall, Belk announced its newly formed partnership with Cam Newton to produce a clothing line by the star Carolina Panthers quarterback. Now, MADE Cam Newton has officially arrived in stores. Belk, the exclusive seller of the line, describes it as:

"Modern fashion for the modern, Southern gentleman. Polished for the man who can put it all together. Designed for the man of action. Charismatic as the man who wears it. It's time to get MADE."

MADE offers an assortment of men's pants, shorts, shirts, T-shirts, suits, sportcoats, and ties. Cam is said to have worked closely with Belk's designers in crafting the line. You can tell he's a fan of close-fitting clothing. You don't have to have Cam's physique (we're mere mortals), but you pretty much have to be in shape or be somewhat slim to pull off wearing most of his pieces. (But then again, there are plans to launch MADE Big & Tall soon.) Personally, I like the suits.


The regular retail prices for the items are: complete suits, $500; suit separates, $80-$240; ties, $50; tees, $28-32; polo shirts, $40-45; long-sleeve woven shirts, $60-65; shorts, $50; pants, $60; and jackets, $120.

Charlotte-based Belk is the nation’s largest family-owned and operated department store chain with 301 stores located in 16 Southern states. MADE is being sold in 133 of those stores and at Belk.com.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Levine Museum of the New South puts on one of the best cultural events each spring with its annual Taste of the New South. It's the museum's signature fundraiser, and the organizers come up with creative ideas to make it fresh and exciting each year. This year's Taste of the New South event is themed "Murphy to Manteo," and guests will be taken on a culinary and cultural trip across the state without leaving Charlotte, or the museum for that matter, when they visit on Thursday, April 11.

Click on image for larger view.

First off, bring your appetite. In fact, on Thursday skip lunch. Working closely with the TOTNS planning committee, Best Impressions Caterers have put together an impressive and diverse menu for the evening. There'll be numerous hors d'oeuvres, such as Southern-style egg rolls, fried green tomatoes, and fried oysters; hefty servings of Eastern vs. Western North Carolina barbecue (guests will get to vote) paired with your favorite fixings like mac-n-cheese and hush puppies; a calabash station featuring fried flounder and jumbo crab cakes; and more.

For your sweet tooth, there'll be a dessert station with popular items from the North Carolina State Fair, including fried apple hand pies, banana pudding shots, red velvet funnel cake, and Coca-Cola cake, to name a few. Games will accompany the state fair flair, and you can expect to find varying decor and activities (like a pie-eating contest and kissing booth) in each of the rooms throughout the museum to accentuate the menu items.

Because you'll need something to wash down all of this great food, you'll enjoy an assortment of Southern tea and lemonade cocktails, along with local craft beer and wine. An eclectic mix of live entertainment is planned throughout the evening.

Taste of the New South truly is one of the most entertaining, belly-pleasing events you'll come across in Charlotte. The event begins at 6 p.m. on Thursday. Tickets to the event are $85 for Levine Museum members, $100 for nonmembers, and that includes all of the aforementioned food, drinks, and activities. You can buy tickets in advance at www.museumofthenewsouth.org. Great prizes will be raffled away--including weekend getaways, jewelry, and tickets to sporting events--and raffle tickets can be purchased for $25 each.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Name the Charlotte Knights Dance Team

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 4/04/2013 No comments
UPDATE 4/12/13: The dance team has been named The KnightinGals (video).

For the first time ever, the Charlotte Knights have a dance team (cheerleaders). The group of ladies debuted last weekend during the Triple-A baseball team's annual fan event, Knights Fest. Now, team officials are asking you to name the dance team.

To help with your brainstorming, consider the names of Charlotte's other professional sports dance teams/cheerleaders. The Carolina Panthers (NFL) have the TopCats; the Charlotte Bobcats (NBA) have the LadyCats; and the Charlotte Checkers (AHL) have the CheckMates. Quick side note: someone should organize an annual beauty pageant in which our city's professional cheerleaders compete. I'd pay to see that (swimsuit competition).

The Charlotte Knights dance team. Credit: Facebook

Back to the issue at hand, what do you think the Charlotte Knights dance team should be named? My suggestion is "Ladies of the Knight." Provocative, I know. Well, you're encouraged to email your suggestions to Media Relations Director Tommy Viola at tommyv@charlotteknights.com. Entries must be received by Tuesday, April 9 at 5 p.m. The winning name will be revealed at the Knights' opening day, Thursday, April 11, during the dance team's pre-game performance.

The Knights dance team is scheduled to perform at 11 home games this season:

Thursday, April 11
Saturday, April 20
Saturday, April 27
Saturday, May 11
Saturday, June 1
Saturday, June 15
Saturday, June 29
Saturday, July 6
Saturday, July 27
Saturday, August 17
Saturday, August 31

As you likely know, the Knights are currently playing their final season at their stadium in Fort Mill, where they've played since 1990. The team's future home will be in Charlotte proper, when the brand-spanking new BB&T Ballpark opens in Uptown next spring.

For more details on the Knights' 2013 season, visit charlotteknights.com.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Social Media Charlotte hosts a monthly breakfast networking event and panel discussion, and this month they've partnered with the Charlotte Bobcats to present "Breakfast with the Bobcats: Social Media and Sports.” The event takes place tomorrow (Thursday, April 4), 7:30 a.m. at the BackCourt lounge inside Time Warner Cable Arena (333 E. Trade St.).

Breakfast will be served and there will be networking from 7:30 to 8 a.m., followed by the panel discussion from 8 to 9 a.m. The panelists representing the Bobcats are:

Matt Rochinski, Director of Interactive Media, @mattrochinski
B.J. Evans, Vice President of Communications, @bobcatsbballpr
Jen Embler, Dancer for the Lady Cats, @theladycats, @JenEmbler
Eryn Gradwell, Social Media Coordinator, @eryngradwell

The Bobcats organization does a lot with social media. The team is on all of the major sites: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, and a free mobile app. They use those platforms pretty well to engage with fans, including promoting contests and exclusive team content.

If you're a Bobcats or NBA fan and/or have an interest in social media, this should be a worthwhile event. Bring plenty of business cards because I've found these events to be good opportunities to network. There will also be a raffle for a pair of suite tickets to see the Bobcats play their last home game of the season.

Visit breakfastwiththebobcats.eventbrite.com to register. Cost is $10 in advance; $15 at the door.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The US Airways Education Foundation has begun accepting applications for the 2013 grants it plans to award to nonprofit organizations with educational programs located in, and providing services within, the major metropolitan areas of the airline’s hub cities, including Charlotte (also Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Washington, D.C.). The grants are for a minimum of $10,000 each, and the foundation plans to give away $270,000 worth of grants through the Community Education Grant program.

Interested nonprofit organizations must meet at least one of the following criteria:
  • Educational programs that focus on learning and academic achievement for economically disadvantaged children age 18 and younger. 
  • Educational programs that focus on learning and academic achievement for developmentally disabled children age 18 and younger. 
  • Programs that increase student interest and academic achievement in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) for children age 18 and younger.

A $10,000 check can go a long way to a deserving local nonprofit. Last year, five Charlotte organizations received grants from the US Airways Education Foundation: Allegro Foundation, Discovery Place, Freedom School Partners, Junior Achievement of Charlotte, and Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) of the Central Carolinas.

The deadline to apply is July 1, and can be done by visiting www.usairways.com/corporategiving. The winning applicants will be announced this fall.
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