Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Charlotte's northside got its H&M when the retailer opened at Northlake Mall in November. Now it's the southside's turn, as H&M holds its grand opening this Thursday, February 27 at Carolina Place in Pineville.

Tomorrow's grand opening event begins at noon at the store, located on the mall's upper level. Guests can begin lining up at 7 a.m. at the upper level entrance. The event will offer free T-shirts and gift cards valued from $10 to $300 for the first 200 people in line (the chance to win the $300 gift cards is what usually spurs a large turnout). There will also be music by DJ LP, refreshments, and plenty of great deals on merchandise.

This location of H&M at Carolina Place, which is selling apparel in ladies, men, kids, and young, reportedly, is 17,000 square feet, which is about a third smaller than the 26,000-square-foot Northlake store. And the Charlotte area will go from having no H&Ms, having been long overdue to this market, to soon having three locations. A SouthPark Mall store is currently under construction.

Shoppers lined up before the H&M Northlake opening last November. Photo credit: @htrenda

Monday, February 24, 2014

For the fifth consecutive year, I've provided comprehensive coverage of CIAA Week for Each year the parties lists get bigger, and so do the names of the celebrities who are coming to Charlotte to host them. You've likely already been checking out the content over the last few weeks--we began publishing the events lists at the end of January and have been updating them with additional events each week (shout out to Google for driving the traffic).

And today, CIAA Week 2014 officially began.

One thing I take pride in is showcasing the whole story of what CIAA Week is. Yes, for many of you it's about coming to Charlotte for a few days and partying your arse off. But there are also 12 men's and 12 women's teams from HBCUs competing for the CIAA basketball championship at Time Warner Cable Arena, and for many of those young people this is the highlight of their lives thus far. And for a lot of alumni from CIAA schools, this week is about reuniting with their former classmates and with their fraternity and sorority brothers and sisters. Some of them are the second or third generation in their family to attend a CIAA school.

So when you visit, in addition to perusing the parties lists, take a few minutes to also read the articles about the reunion aspect of CIAA, and about how Miss CIAA 2004 is now a U.S. diplomat. A lot of African-American traditions haven't survived throughout our country's history. CIAA is one of them. Make sure you appreciate it.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

When I interviewed longtime NASCAR team owner Felix Sabates for Where Charlotte magazine last year, among the many interesting things he told me (and many that I didn't have space for in the article) that he believed his league needed to do to grow is to attract younger fans. Well, one of NASCAR's newest television commercials, which began airing this weekend with the running of the Daytona 500, features kids.


In the minute-long commercial, titled "Heroes," several boys and one girl talk about what they dream of becoming. They appear to be between elementary and middle school age, and they dream "of flying," "of riding a rocket," "of being an athlete," "of being a king," and "of being fearless," among other things. Their assertions are followed by quick and exciting scenes from NASCAR races and several of the sports most popular drivers. The commercial closes with one of the kids saying he dreams of being a race car driver, which essentially is what each of the kids is saying.

When I saw the commercial this afternoon, I immediately liked it. Heck, it even gave me a little bit of that excitement we only tend to have about something as kids. Even though I consider myself an avid sports fan today, it pales in comparison to how I was as a kid. When I would watch games all day on the weekends, wouldn't miss a round of the playoffs, read the player and team stats whenever they were published in the newspaper (that's a lost art). So it is absolutely imperative that NASCAR chase these young fans, whom I assume they hope will grow to be adult fans.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Race is often something people have difficulty talking about, or they talk about too much but not in a constructive way. So it's great when you have an expert facilitating the discussion. That's what we'll get when Soledad O’Brien hosts her "Black In America" Town Hall Tour this Tuesday, February 18 in Charlotte. The event starts at 7 p.m. and is being brought to you by the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, but is actually taking place across the street at Knight Theater (430 S. Tryon St.) to accommodate more people. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased through CarolinaTix.

Photo credit: Starfish Media Group

The conversation will focus on issues of race, class, wealth, and education, all of which stir frequent debate and division in this country. Directly after the discussion, she'll hold a book signing for her book, The Next Big Story: My Journey Through the Land of Possibilities.

Charlotte is the second of five cities on the "Soledad O’Brien Presents: Black In America" tour, taking place over the span of a week. And this tour is a part of the new ventures Soledad (@soledadobrien) is launching, as she branches out beyond her role as an award-winning journalist (she's still doing high-profile reporting, including for Al Jazeera America and this recent interview with Russell Simmons). She left her CNN morning show a year ago to launch her own media production company, Starfish Media Group, which, among other things, she will continue to produce documentaries in the "In America" series on CNN.

The newswoman-turned-entrepreneur has partnered with Google, which is sponsoring the Black In America initiative, and the tech giant is assisting Starfish Media Group by providing Google+ Hangouts, Google Apps for Business, and creating a YouTube channel to allow the company to reach a broader audience, according to The Huffington Post.

You can follow Black In America on Google+, and the first Hangout airs live this Wednesday at 6 p.m., from the tour stop at Towson University in Maryland. You can join in the conversation by uploading a photo of yourself holding a sign that says what "Being Black in America means..." to you, and post it using this hashtag: #iAmTheConversation.

Photo credit: Google+

Visit for more details.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

My message to the youth.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Like clockwork (but without a clock), I wake up almost every morning around 6 a.m. It usually doesn't matter what time I would have gone to bed the night before; my body is going to force me to open my eyes some time within that morning hour. But I don't mind it too much because I don't actually get out of bed at that time (no way). Instead, I usually turn on the TV and tune in to Morning Joe on MSNBC. I'm a big fan of Mika Brzezinski (okay, so yeah, it's sort of a crush), and Joe Scarborough is a likeable chum too.

Joe on the left, Mika on the right, but that's opposite of their political views.
Photo credit:

Well, we can see the two Morning Joe co-hosts in person, and at a very suitable hour, on Thursday, April 17, during "An Evening with Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough." You can expect the two of them to offer their usual mix of wit, intelligence, and candor on a range of topics, not the least of which is politics (he's the Republican, she's the Democrat). The event takes place at 7 p.m. at Knight Theater at Levine Center for the Arts, 430 S. Tryon Street. Tickets are $45 and can be purchased through CarolinaTix.

The event is being brought to you by The Learning Society of Queens, a group of leading citizens from the Charlotte area who provide funding for this national speaker series held annually at Queens University of Charlotte.

Note: This event was originally scheduled to take place two months earlier, but due to #snOMG #CLT back in February, it was rescheduled for April.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

It's not often that I get to blog about something in my neighborhood, so it is with great pleasure and excitement that I tell you about Heirloom Restaurant. About two weeks ago, I drove past the building and saw that a new sign had gone up. I wasn't even aware that a new restaurant was getting ready to open, so now I'm particularly looking forward to it because their aren't many restaurants--other than fast food--in this area, which is the Coulwood/Mountain Island area, in northwest Charlotte.

Photo credit: Jarvis Holliday

Last week, I'd noticed several cars in the parking lot at the restaurant, so I was wondering if it had opened yet. Come to find out those were the cars of the people working to get the place open. I stopped by yesterday and talked briefly to the parents of the owner, 27-year-old Chef Clark Barlowe. They told me the restaurant will open on Tuesday evening (February 11).

Barlowe is a Johnson & Wales University graduate and has experience working at some top restaurants. The food and ingredients he'll serve at his place will be locally sourced, meaning they'll be fresh--in many cases organic--and come from gardens and farms in North Carolina, including the vegetables, chicken, beef, pork, and more. This movement, called farm-to-fork or farm-to-table, has grown tremendously over the last several years in Charlotte. And it will certainly add some much-needed flair and food sophistication to this part of town (Bull & Barrister, which does well in its own right, is about the best thing we have going over here).

According to the menu on Heirloom's website, entrees will range from $21 to $31 and include: New Life Farm Half Broiler (boneless half chicken, La Ratte potato puree, kale, red eye gravy), NC Clam and Shrimp Curry (Thai chilies, lemongrass, milk broth, Carolina gold rice, basil, onion), and Asgard Farm Duck (Crispy duck confit, seared breast, red cabbage, hoecake, duck jus), among others

The restaurant is not as far away as you might think. It's only 15 minutes northwest of Uptown--take I-277N (or Exit 11B on I-77N), which becomes Hwy. 16N/Brookshire Boulevard and turn left onto Bellhaven Boulevard. Then it's about a mile down on the right, next to a branch of Suntrust Bank and across the street from the road that leads to Coulwood Middle School.

I look forward to eating there soon, and I'll let you know how it goes.

Heirloom Restaurant, 8470 Bellhaven Blvd., 704-595-7710,, Twitter @HeirloomRestNC.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

This is just one more reason for me to convey how much I love The Currys. The Charlotte Bobcats played the Golden State Warriors last night (and won), out on the West Coast. And during the pre-game telecast on FOX Sports Carolinas, Stephen Curry videobombed his dad, Dell Curry. The three broadcasters--Stephanie Ready (looking flawless as usual), Steve Martin, and Dell--all got a good laugh out of it. See video below.

And speaking of Dell, a limited edition Dell Curry Charlotte Hornets bobblehead will be given away to the first 10,000 fans this Saturday, February 8, during the Bobcats' home game against the San Antonio Spurs. This is the third of five Buzz City Nights the Bobcats are putting on this season as the team prepares to make the transition back to the Charlotte Hornets name next season.

Monday, February 3, 2014

On my Dusk Till Dawn blog, where I write about Charlotte's nightlife and social scene, I'm used to posting details about bar crawls. There's usually at least one taking place just about every other week throughout some part of Charlotte. But a few minutes ago, on Facebook, I learned of a crawl that's a lot more unique and that many of us could stand to participate in. It's Fitness Crawl, taking place this week, February 4-10, in Charlotte.

Creative Loafing is putting on Fitness Crawl, guiding you to a week of free fitness classes and workouts at several Charlotte gyms and kickboxing and yoga studios. If you want to attend, sign up ASAP--some of the classes have filled up--by visiting

SouthComm Inc., the parent company of Creative Loafing, has brought Fitness Crawl to five cities where it owns publications, including Louisville, Kansas City, Cincinnati, and Nashville, with Charlotte being the final city on the schedule, as far as what's currently posted.

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