Saturday, September 27, 2014

ICYMI, earlier this week, Money magazine published its annual package of stories and rankings comprising its "Best Places to Live in America." Among the 2014 lists is the "Best Big-City Bargains," and coming in at No. 1 is Charlotte, which you likely agree with if you live here. Nos. 2-5 are Phoenix, Fort Worth, Boston, and Chicago. The Time Inc.-owned publication describes its methodology for determining the list:
To create this list of best-value big-city neighborhoods, we ranked places with over 500,000 in population on housing affordability, economic strength, home price forecasts, and livability using data from NeighborhoodScout, OnBoard Informatics, and CoreLogic. Then we looked for promising, well-priced neighborhoods in our top 10 locales.
It highlights two thriving Charlotte neighborhoods in particular: Plaza Midwood, writing, "Just 10 minutes by car from the center of Charlotte, this artsy, bike-friendly neighborhood is an interesting mix of the gritty and the pretty;" and Mountain Island Lake, "Convenient to the soon-to-be-completed I-485 beltway, Mountain Island Lake features pretty, spacious homes." I live in the less glamorous section of the Mountain Island area, but about five minutes north of me is the community Money is referring to, which really is a hidden gem in Charlotte (and maybe in five years I'll be able to afford to live there).

In addition to Best Big-City Bargains, Money, in the October 2014 issue, also profiles the 50 Best Small Cities, Best Places to Be Rich and Single, Top Earning Towns, and Best Places to Find a New Job.

Kendra James, whom some of you might remember from the Bad Girls Club reality TV show (or you may have partied with her in clubs), is attempting to make some major changes in her life. She wants to shed her bad girl image for good and start making better decisions, and she feels that building a relationship with God and surrounding herself with positive people is how she'll get there. This Sunday, she's getting baptized at Elevation Church. She told me all about her emotional and spiritual journey, during my interview with her for Creative Loafing, which you can read about: "Kendra James: From ‘Bad Girl’ to baptism."

Sunday, September 21, 2014

I Survived Hurricane Hugo -- 25 Years Ago

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 9/21/2014 No comments
This country has been devastated by several fatal and costly hurricanes over the years. Hurricane Katrina, which struck in 2005, is probably the storm that comes to mind first for most people nowadays. But if you take it back to when I was an elementary school kid in South Carolina, there was no bigger deal than Hurricane Hugo.

The category 4 hurricane touched down near Charleston just before midnight on September 21, 1989, and went on to terrorize the Carolinas on September 22, with maximum winds of 138 mph and the eye of the storm was 35 miles wide. Hugo hit South Carolina the hardest, ravishing most of the state. And as it reached Charlotte, it blew out windows from skyscrapers and toppled thousands of trees, among other damage.

This is now the 25th anniversary for what at the time was the costliest storm in the United States' history ($7 billion in damage in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, and another $3 billion in the Caribbean islands), and tragically it killed at least 41 people in this country, with more than half of the victims being in South Carolina.

Here are a few things I remember from Hurricane Hugo.

- I was nine years old, living in the small town of Rembert, SC (located in Sumter County and about 45 minutes east of Columbia). There were a lot of trees in our yard, and as my family prepared to buckle down for the storm, my mom decided to park her black Pontiac Grand Am in a different place than usual, away from most of the trees. There was only one tree in the area where she parked the car, and it was a really big tree. Surely it would sustain from the hurricane. Not! Hugo knocked that tree over smack on the middle of my mom's car, which she'd only had for about a year. It was a total loss.

- Since the hurricane hit overnight, it had pretty much passed through my town by daybreak. Walking outside in the morning and seeing the devastation was like a scene out of the movies. Debris was everywhere, countless trees uprooted, power lines laying on the ground, houses destroyed.

- Hugo knocked out our power for more than a week (I think). The first couple of days of the aftermath we stayed at home, but then as the power loss persisted, we moved to a hotel in Camden for a few days--I think power got restored there before it came back on in my rural town. Since there was no power in Rembert, there was also no water, and I remember plenty of people going to my Aunt Martha's house to get water because she had one of those old-timey wells with a manual pump.

- Schools were closed for several days. That was the fun part.

- People started selling--and wearing--"I Survived Hurricane Hugo" T-shirts.

Credit: Etsy

The Charlotte Observer and The State (Columbia) have each put together a package of news stories, photos, and accounts of people's memories from Hurricane Hugo, in honor of the 25th anniversary. Visit and

Saturday, September 20, 2014

I'm a longtime fan and watcher of NBC's Today show, and I have the series set to record on DVR. I hadn't watched yesterday's show yet, and at some point throughout the day I saw on Twitter that Jhene Aiko had performed (I love her, and I saw her perform last weekend in Atlanta). So I watched a little bit of yesterday's episode this morning, primarily fast-forwarding to get to Jhene's performance. And in the process, I came across a great segment involving the Carolina Panthers and a kid who has cerebral palsy.

Credit: Today

In the video below, you'll see what the Panthers and quarterback Cam Newton did for 13-year-old Austin Smith, who enjoys playing football and doesn't let his physical limitations stop him, including giving him and his family tickets (great seats) to this Sunday's home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. This further reiterates the influence NFL players--and most professional athletes for that matter--have on our society and on our youth in particular. Generally, these pro stars do a lot of good.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Several NFL players have spoken out against domestic violence in recent weeks, in the wake of the Ray Rice and Greg Hardy situations. And the latest to take a stance--via Twitter--is Steve Smith, who's in a rather unique position. See, Smith is a former Carolina Panthers player, as you know, and former teammate of Hardy; and he currently plays for the Baltimore Ravens, which was Rice's team until they cut the running back last week after the now-infamous inside-the-elevator video was released.

Credit: @89SteveSmith

I'm not digging in the weeds here on the NFL's domestic violence crises because it's being reported on around the clock on major news networks and publications. But I wanted to share Smith's tweets, in case you haven't seen what he posted last night. And in true Mr. Ice Up Son fashion, he didn't back down from smack talk from other tweeters. Click here to read the full thread.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

It's Charlotte's turn to be graced with the Outkast reunion tour, as the iconic hip-hop duo headlines Funk Fest Charlotte. The two-day music festival takes place Friday and Saturday, September 12 and 13 at Metrolina Expo, and while the concert lineup was announced a while ago--in addition to Outkast, there's B.O.B, Fantasia, LL Cool J, Ice Cube, The Roots, Salt-N-Pepa, and more--the show times have now been released.

Gates open 2 p.m.
Salt-N-Pepa - 4 p.m.
Fantasia - 5:30 p.m.
Doug E. Fresh - 7 p.m.
B.O.B - 8 p.m.
Outkast - 9:15 p.m.

Gates open 1 p.m.
95 South and 69 Boyz - 3 p.m.
112 - 4 p.m.
War - 5:30 p.m.
The Roots - 7 p.m.
Ice Cube - 8:30 p.m.
LL Cool J - 10 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased online: general admission, one-day pass, $65; two-day pass, $100; VIP packages are available as well. Go to for complete details. You can also visit my Dusk Till Dawn blog later this week for a list of parties in Charlotte this weekend, including the official Funk Fest after-party, as this music festival is expected to bring a lot of excitement and out-of-towners to the city.

Now, for a little bit of good news involving the NFL. A press conference was held this morning at West Charlotte High School to announce that the school will receive a new synthetic turf football field, as the result of a $200,000 grant from the Carolina Panthers through the NFL Foundation Grassroots Program. The program has helped build or renovate 290 football fields in underserved neighborhoods around the country since 1998.

This is just the latest form of community, corporate, and financial support West Charlotte High has received as numerous efforts are underway to help turnaround this once-reputable school that saw its academics and student population's well-being plummet in recent years. Project L.I.F.T. (Leadership and Investment For Transformation ) has led or coordinated many of these efforts at the high school as well as its eight feeder schools (elementary and middle), all located in Charlotte's westside.

Photos by Jarvis Holliday

There was a lot of positive energy at the press conference this morning. Of course there were officials representing Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, the Panthers, and sponsors, including CMS' Superintendent Heath Morrison and Duke Energy Foundation president Richard "Stick" Williams, but what thrilled me the most was to see the involvement of students in the ceremony. This, after all, is who the initiative will positively impact the most, and it gives them another reason to be proud of their school and to believe that the community cares. Members of the West Charlotte High marching band played, the cheerleaders cheered, and several of the football players were there. There was also a group of student journalists conducting interviews.

West Charlotte student journalists. 

Sir Purr is excited (as always).

The refurbished football field will not only be used by the high school students but by recreational programs from the community as well.

Friday, September 5, 2014

On my Dusk Till Dawn blog, each week I compile a list of social events and parties that are going on throughout Charlotte--there truly is a lot to do around here (check out this weekend's list of more than 20 events). But sometimes you need to participate in something that enriches you--your soul, your life, your career, your community. And there are a couple of events taking place this Saturday, September 6 in Charlotte that will help you do just that. Each is free and open to the public.

GoodCamp: A Social Good Unconference
9 a.m.-2 p.m. | Packard Place, 222 S. Church St.
GoodCamp is a user-generated (you pitch ideas; participants decide) "unconference" focusing on creating effective communications for social good. The organizers say that staff members, volunteers, and board members for nonprofits, foundations, philanthropic organizations, and governmental organizations will have the most to gain from attending. Visit for more details and to register to attend.

Seconnd Annual Men's Summit
4-7 p.m. | Carole Hoefener Center, 610 E. Seventh St.
It’s an evening of empowerment, dialog, and tributes with special guests Senator Joel Ford, Dr. Tommy Watson, and Willie Ratchford. Presented by Suit Up Charlotte, an organization whose mission is to serve and inspire men in transition; to provide support that will result in more stable, confident, and stronger men, fathers, leaders, and families within our communities. Click here to register.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

There are a few things a young man learns early on about dating: make sure your car is clean before you pick her up, keep gum in your pocket, and be prepared to pay for the date. Doesn't matter if he's 16 or 46, he follows those simple (unwritten) rules.

Now, we men sometimes experience a date night in which the woman pays, and that's like winning $100 from a scratch-off lottery ticket--it doesn't happen often (and you've already spent a lot during previous attempts), but you cherish it when it does.

Well, apparently September is "Take a Man on a Date" Month. It's exactly how it sounds, and it seems to be something new for this year. It's gaining steam on social media, of course, including plenty of people making fun of it. You can keep up with the tweets here.

What's also interesting is that this new, month-long "holiday" appears to have been started by a singles group from the LDS Church (also known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints a.k.a. Mormon Church). So the Mormons have sparked the latest dating trend, eh?

Whatever its origins, we'll take it. In the words of Aloe Blacc: I'm the man, I'm the man, I'm the man!

Follow me on Twitter @HollidayInk, like Grown People Talking on Facebook.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Six months to the day after announcing that the CIAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournament would remain in Charlotte for the next six years, conference officials and their partners are holding their next press conference, themed as "New Day-New Event." The press event will take place Wednesday, September 3 at 1:45 p.m. at Time Warner Cable Arena, and the public will be able to watch it via live stream at

The press conference will provide updates on the weeklong tournament, which in 2015 will take place February 23-28, giving more details on the new partnership between the CIAA, City of Charlotte, and the Charlotte Hornets. CIAA Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams, Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter, Mecklenburg County Commission Chair Trevor Fuller, Hornets President Fred Whitfield, and CRVA CEO Tom Murray are scheduled to speak, discussing topics such as tournament ticket sales, hotel availability, VIP experiences in Time Warner Cable Arena, and official CIAA events, according to the press release I received.

Photo by Jon Strayhorn/Media Arts Collective

In 2014, the CIAA Tournament completed its 69th year, with Charlotte being its home for the last nine years, and during its time here has experienced phenomenal growth. The weeklong festivities, which in addition to the 20-plus college basketball games held over several days between the 12 men’s and 12 women’s teams of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, are highlighted by the more than 200 parties and social events that go on that week, mostly unaffiliated with the CIAA but put on by independent party promoters and event planners. The events draw tens of thousands of visitors to Charlotte that week, including dozens of celebrities, and has close to a $50 million economic impact on the city annually.

The Charlotte Post published an article in July that said Bojangles' Coliseum could become a second site for the basketball tournament, specifically that the first two days of games, which are usually poorly attended, would be held there, while the Thursday-Saturday games, which typically get great attendance, would continue at Time Warner Cable Arena. I think that makes sense from a logistical standpoint, but the downside is that for those two days it would move the games away from Uptown, which is the center of all the CIAA-related action. One of the great things about the tournament's location, as it has been the last several years, is that you can park in Uptown (or take the light rail there) and walk to everything--the arena, convention center, hotels, and the majority of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.

Another issue of contention for the CIAA is control over hotel rooms. Its commissioner has stated in the past that they want to receive contracts for large blocks of rooms at many Charlotte hotels so that they can better serve their fans, alumni, teams, and partners. If granted, it would be similar to what the Democratic National Convention had in 2012, which would allow them to handle room reservations and then turn over any remaining rooms back to the hotels by a specified date. This would also help prevent price gouging that tends to go on in regards to hotel room rates that week. February/early March is a slow time for hotels here, but the week of the CIAA Tournament often sees rooms go for two or three times the normal rates, and they still tend to sell out.

Founded in 1912, the CIAA is the nation's first African-American athletic conference, and it represents rich tradition and history for African-Americans who have graduated from its colleges and played on its sports teams over the last 100 years. Some students are now the third or fourth generation in their family to attend a CIAA school, dating back to a time when blacks were denied admission to most colleges in this country. Today's 12 CIAA schools are: Bowie State University, Chowan University, Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, Johnson C. Smith University, The Lincoln University of Pennsylvania, Livingstone College, Saint Augustine's University, Shaw University, Virginia State University, Virginia Union University, and Winston-Salem State University. 

You can keep up with the CIAA on social media:,

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