Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Dave Chappelle in the 'hood

You would have thought Dave Chappelle said his after-party was in Baghdad.
At Ovens Auditorium Sunday, the crowd booed. At the Comedy
Zone, the crowd groaned. At both places Chappelle
asked what was so bad about Wilkinson Boulevard?
People yelled that it was the West side, the 'hood, that you would get shot and one guy said the street had ugly prostitutes (Okay, that was funny).

I went to the after-party and guess what, I didn't get shot. But I and a few hundred other people did go home with tales to tell.

Imagine seeing Chappelle sing "Sexual Healing," hearing Erykah Badu's early raps and shooting as many pictures of Chappelle as you wanted? That's what went down at Tempo on Wilkinson Boulevard. (It happens to be across the street from Coyote Joe's, another popular club.)

For at least an hour, Chappelle, rapper Talib Kweli and friends celebrated singer Erykah Badu's 35th birthday. They cut loose. It was a jam session and sing-a-long. It was like hanging on their tour bus or behind the scenes on the set of the "Chappelle's Show." Chappelle asked fans what they wanted to hear. Then he sang a few versus of Notorious' B.I.G's "F------ You Tonight." The crowd, Kweli and Badu joined in for that one. Chappelle sang the first line of Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing." That would be "Baayybeeee..." Then he started laughing and gave the microphone to Kweli. They went on like that for a while. Chappelle would sing a little something and then pass the microphone around. Badu sang "Bag Lady" and threw in impromptu rap about liquor, driving her man's car and sleeping with his best friend. When she finished, fans were cheering and laughing. Her brother and sister cut-up on stage as well.

Even better than their stage antics was how approachable all three were. Chappelle and Badu signed my friend's cast and posed for pictures with her and anyone else who asked. They signed autographs and talked to people. Chappelle hung out at that bar and talked to people.

What's so bad about Wilkinson Boulevard? People too scared to see there's nothing to be scared of.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Is MySpace the devil?

I know MySpace has been getting a lot of bad press lately, but we could all take a deep breath? MySpace is more than a place for young teens to post their weekend exploits and for sexual predators to find new victims. Unfortuantely, those types of activities will always happen whether it's on Instant Messaging, text messaging or a walk in the park.

In Charlotte, MySpace is a popular way to promote parties and events. Big Ryan, a popular local DJ hipped me to the site last year. It’s one of the main ways he promotes his parties. DJ Matt Bolick, of the Forum, used MySpace recently to pub his DJ Colette show at the Forum. Top Down Productions, which brought Boy George to Velocity, uses MySpace and so does local promoter Mike Kitchen of the Sol Kitchen.

Verizon has teamed with MySpace to help launch a single by on unsigned band on the Verizon’s VCast system.

We’re all worried about teen safety, but let’s not make MySpace, Facebook or any of the other social sites the scapegoats for teens' bad behavior.

What do you think? Is the news media going overboard with the MySpace hysteria? Post your replies below. Are you a promoter on MySpace? If so, please add me to your friends

Game time, party time, enough talk

Next week, the CIAA comes to town and it's going to make uptown feel like a real city. We'll have people walking the streets, visiting restaurants, shopping and chilling uptown from late morning until the way after the sun goes down. Uptown Charlotte will have some real energy.

Bars and restaurants will be packed and many are staying open late. Mert's will be open until late. I can't wait. I met a woman the other day who will be selling fried fish sandwiches near Time. Fried fish! Forget hotdogs and sausages. Give me some hot sauce and white bread.

I know there will be a bunch of basketball games at the arena since it is a basketball tournament involving historically black colleges and universities in North Carolina and Virginia, but I'm excited about the parties.

Tom Joyner won't be here, but Steve Harvey will. Joyner, a longtime CIAA tournament supporter, is on Radio One-owned Q92.7, but Infinity-owned V101.9 is a tournament sponsor. Harvey is on V101.9.

Magic Johnson is going to be here. No Grease is hosting a Mardi Gras themed fashion show with a brass band -- a brass band. On March 4, there will be almost as many parties during the day as there will be that night. The Omegas fraternity brothers will even have a breakfast party. There's also a pajama party.

To really grasp how big this is, check out the list of CIAA week parties. It took me four hours to compile it and I'm still getting e-mails about other parties.

By the way, I'm looking for the women's I met last year in a hotel lounge and who promised me breakfast. You know who you are, holla' at your girl.

Do you have a party I need to attend? What are you most looking forward to? Post your replies below.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Trying to smack your....

I'm heading to the bathroom for one last time after an evening of partying with friends and strangers at the Bartender's Ball when it happens.

I see one of my flag football teammates and another guy whom I've played against. We had all spoken to each other earlier that evening and we say hello again. The guy who I've played against starts whacking me on my tailbone. I grab him by his shirt and jerk him toward me. I ask him, why he keeps hitting me.

"I'm trying to smack your a--," he says as he twists out of my grip and hits me again.
I put him in a headlock and tell him "No one, smacks my a--."

I let him go. My flag football buddy says he's drunk (Who isn't at this point?) and gets the guy to leave. I know alcohol loosens inhibitions and all that, but that's no excuse to touch me or any other woman beyond a hug, high five or half chest bump.

So, what do ya'll think? Did I overreact? Did I underreact? How often does this type of stuff happen to you and how do you usually handle it?

What U missed at the Bartender's Ball

*A guy stealing the inflated Bacardi bottle, and a woman chasing him down.
*A woman named Molly who loved nice people and her gay friend who kept yelling "Pride!"
*Men and woman doing shots from the ice luge at Pravda.

I had a good time at the Bartender's Ball at the Merchandise Mart on Sunday, but I still liked it at the Adam's Mark better. The hotel felt warmer than the concrete of the Merchandise Mart. Plus, it seemed like the bars were more into it. I remember folks at the Palomino dressed up as Britney Spears last year.

When we arrived at 9 p.m., only a handful of people were on the dancefloor, but two hours later the floor was packed. Girls grooved on a platform near the DJ booth, couples danced, strangers boogied. Packs of friends danced together in the back. Partiers wore everything from Hawaiian shirts to satin dresses to suit and ties.

The ball is a great place try out new beers and liquors. I saw all kinds of flavored vodkas and rums that I didn't know about. I tasted a raspberry beer - too girly; loved an 1800 silver tequila and a bourbon. The only problems is that there wasn't enough water available for partiers. The guys at the Connolly's booth were nice enough to give me a couple of bottles.

RJ Gators had the best drink. It was called the Zoo. It had rum, amaretto, a splash of Bud Light and some green stuff. It was tasty, but with that many liquors it was a recipe for a bad hangover. I didn't mess with it.

Pravda showed off their infused vodkas -- watermelon and peach-ginger. Pravda had the most popular ice shot luge as well. The Uptown Cabaret area was cool. It was a lounge with leather sofas and lamps light. The lamps were a needed bonus because the main room was so dark. Uptown's area was tasteful, and their lemon drop shots were yummy.

The Irish crew -- Connolly’s, Madison's and the Attic -- had a hopping section in the other room. The Attic had a tasty Tuaca and Red Bull shot, but you had to get it chilled or it tasted like cough syrup. I didn't catch much of the bands, but the DJs kept people dancing and most folks seemed to have fun.

Were you there last night? What did you think? Any funny stories to share?

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Here's who coming with Dave

Erykah Badu and Talib Kweli will be here with Dave Chappelle when he performs here on Sunday. The show at Ovens Auditorium is sold out, but if you don't have tickets his movie, "Dave Chappelle's Block Party," opens in Charlotte on March 3.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Finger lickin' good

For express barbecue (or fast casual as its officially called) Shane's Rib Shack in the University area is the spot. I stopped by on Wednesday and their grand opening is today (Feb. 16). Shane's is in the Grande Promenade near Total Wine and Moe's.

I had a barbecue sandwhich with a side of mac and cheese and collards. A waitress walked around with ribs for patrons to taste. The ribs fall off the bone. The barbecue sandwich was good as well. The collards were sweeter than I prefer and I could've skipped the mac and cheese. I should've tried the baked beans and the cobbler -- both looked yummy.

Shane's has outdoor seating and the area where you order resembles a screened-in front porch. Shane's serves beer, and the owners will decide if they want to sell wine. Who drinks wine with barbecue anyway?

Shane, the man behind the Georgia-based franchise, was at the restaurant Wednesday night. The one in University is the first in Charlotte, and they also plan to open one in the EpiCenter by the end of the year. Heck, I'd like to see if anything opens in the EpiCenter this year.

Apparently, fast-casual barbecue is a burgeoning market in the restuarant business. What do you think, can good barbecue really be fast food? And what's your favorite area barbecue joint and why? Post your replies below.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Dave Chappelle Update

It's a definite that he'll be bringing a musical guest. (I was just predicting that in yesterday's announcement.) I'm still trying to nail down who's coming.

Also, his movie "Chappelle's Block Party" opens here on March 3.

So one more time, Dave Chappelle is coming to Ovens on Feb. 26. 7 p.m. Tickets are $55. As of 2 p.m. Wednesday, there were only a few balcony seats left.

In honor of Chappelle's return to the spotlight, what's your favorite sketch. And please remember no cursing, use dashes.

Mine is the blind white supremacist and the Wayne Brady one.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Something new for Twist

Changes coming to Twist.
What those changes are however remains uncertain, but one thing is for sure: Twist won't be the same.

New Ivey building owner Stefan Latorre and Twist restaurant majority owner John Weinbrenner recently met in civil court. The biggest beef is this: Latorre accused Weinbrenner and other Twist partners of violating the lease. It requires the property be run primarily as a restaurant and open during the day. Anyone who drives along Church Street knows Twist is empty most weekdays and functions as a club on weekends. Saturday nights used to be jumping.

Weinbrenner, who also owns City Tavern, says he is ready to sell Twist, which was previously a City Tavern and a place called Palladium. He has his hands full running his City Taverns restaurants. He’s about to open one in Wilmington in a Birkdale-style development. The problems is Weinbrenner’s partners don’t want to sell. Twist has tried to do the restaurant thing, but hasn’t been able to make it work. Weinbrenner’s also been looking for a buyer, including offering to sell his share to Latorre.

Weinbrenner says a Chicago-based cajun restaurant has expressed interest in buying the property, and he's also talked to company about opening an Asian restaurant. If he can’t find a buyer, Weinbrenner says he’ll renovate the place, change the concept and get cranking again as a restaurant. The presiding judge said she would mail her ruling to them.

My question are: Why hasn't anything worked in that spot and what type of restaurant would you like to see there?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

What I also thought of the Grammys

Hands down, Kanye West's performance with Jamie Foxx was off the chain. No matter how pompous he is, you have to give him credit. That was as memorable as Eminem walking in with the white T-shirt clones. But earlier, what was up with Kanye's Cameo-esque black gloves and the white suit. And as one of my co-workers said, he really should button his shirt.

Paul McCartney trying to rock out was comical. He sounded and looked so stiff when he said, "I want to rock - now." He reminded me of why the Super Bowl planners didn't want anyone over 40 on the field. I will admit, however, I liked seeing him join Jay-Z and Linkin Park. Plus, I liked how that performance ended with a shot of the late Coretta Scott King on the big screen. Nice touch.

What was up with the Gorillaz's Murdoc wearing the cape and tightie-whities? I'm outraged the network didn't blur his pelvic thrusts. (Okay, not really.)

Kelly Clarkson's acceptance speeches felt the most genuine. I like her more each time I see her live. She's totally shed that American Idol label. American who? what?

On the country front, I loved Keith Urban. He looked scrumptious in those jeans, T-shirt and a razor hasn't touched my face in days look. Sugarland sounded flat and I could hear the tech people doing mike checks. (People, people, we're live here.)

Wait, why was Mariah Carey trying to out-churchify Mary J. Blige. Can't be done sweetheart, let it go. Mariah honey, a word of advice. You're new to hip-hop and R&B. You've always been the pop princess. Stick to your screeching don't try to take it to church on the same stage as the Queen of hip-hop and her princess Tay-Tay (that's Fantasia).

Seriously, I the "Emancipation of Mimi" is a slamming album, but did Mariah really think she was going to break the Grammy record for women? She went from being a pop princess that young girls tried to copy to being an R&B singer who sounds like Ciara, Beyonce and every other singing rumpshaker.

What did ya'll think? Post your replies below.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Gilda the newest place to be

A white stretch SUV pulled in front of Gilda's on Friday night and I knew this hideaway lounge in NoDa was destined to be the next hot spot. Out stepped City Tavern owner John Weinbrenner, a guy who looks like George Clooney, Chuck Howard and his wife Karen, and an entourage of people I didn't know. A few minutes later Blue restaurant owner Alex Myrick walked in as well. And a guy who looks just like Checkers' head honcho Felix Sabates was there too.

With little to no fanfare, Gilda is drawing top echelon partiers and lounge regulars to it's location in the Highland Mills development in NoDa on NOrth Davidson. It's easy to see why. The place is rustic swank with floor to ceiling windows, huge chandeliers, exposed brick and the biggest candles I've ever seen. There's also a huge mirror on the back wall. The mirror looks like a separate room until you walk into it and bang your head. The music was chill house.

What makes Gilda most interesting is the crowd. Its owner is Jennifer Blackburn, a club socialite who knew Myrick and others. That means Gilda gets the money-dropping folks as well as locals, and I'm not talking about the yuppies.

After the first wave of club owners left, a fresh wave came in about 1 a.m. Alexis, the cutie who co-owns Dolce Vita wine bar in NoDa stopped through. So did, K.C., formerly of Fat City Deli -- BTW: my favorite sandwich place, ever. K.C. is cooking at Boudreaux's now and says some changes are coming up for the menu. He's also talking about re-opening Fat City Deli, but he wouldn't give me any details.

Gilda grand opening party is Friday. Doors open at 6 p.m. Greg Pappanastos starts spinning at 10 p.m. It's free.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Slaying near Liquid Lounge

The suspects in the shooting near Liquid Lounge are black so instead of mourning the tragic loss of life, I know some readers (read comments on my previous post) see this incident as an example of why uptown clubs shouldn't be more diverse. I don't. I stand by my call for uptown's clubs, bars and restaurants to more fully reflect this ethnically rich city.

I was at Liquid Lounge on Saturday night, and I can't believe four days later Norman Antoine Gilmore was shot dead after leaving the same club. My heart goes out to his family. And city leaders offer their condolences as well. Charlotte Center City Partners President Michael Smith says "We offer our sympathies to the family and friends of the victim. This is a senseless loss of life."

This slaying won't deter me from hanging at liquid or quiet my call for diversity uptown.

I still plan to go to Liquid Lounge and other uptown clubs, not because I'm Paid to Party, but because I won't let a bunch of gun-toting punks scare me away from the places I like to go.

My question though is what about you?

One of the things I repeatedly heard from patrons regarding CJ's lounge before it closed was that it was a safe place to go. That got me to wondering, long before this shooting, whether people feel safe going out in Charlotte, whether its uptown or anywhere else.

Do you? And how will this shooting near Liquid affect where you party? Post your replies below.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Time for a task force

I like how the Forum handled an e-mail complaint accusing them of ethnic discrimination. The Forum is the latest nightclub to face one of these e-mail campaigns, and like previous accusations this boils down to he said, she said.

In an e-mail last November, member Joe Wind accused a bounce at the club of barring he and his Asian friends from getting in. When the club received the e-mail from Wind describing his experience there, the club's management sent an e-mail apologizing for any "perceived impropriety" and invited Wind to return with friends for a free evening in the VIP area Prive, according to Forum spokesperson Carol Adams. The club did not receive any response from Wind, but the offer still stands, she said. (I have not received a response from Wind either as to whether he plans to accept the offer.)

At a staff meeting, the Forum's management reiterated the clubs desire for diversity and reminded the staff that any sort of discrimination would not be tolerated, Adams said.

Although the club doesn't admit any wrongdoing, they recognize that a patron was upset with the level of service they received, and the club tried to rectify it before Wind's e-mail got a bunch of press.

Still, I'm concerned about the persistent perception that uptown establishments don't welcome ethnic minorities. Whether it's true or not, that perception means when minorities have negative experiences uptown one wonders if skin color played a part in it. On Sunday, Observer writer Gillian Wee writes about her experiences as an Asian in Charlotte. It's not pretty.

You can tell from my previous posts that the issue of how minorities are treated uptown sparks heated debate. Ranting about it on blogs and through e-mails won't solve this problem. I would like to see city leaders form some kind of task force to look at the issue of diversity uptown, from restaurants and bars to the way the city handled the cruisers. Invite people who are black, white, Asian, Hispanic, gay, transgender and anyone else who I've left out to be a member of this task force to identify the problems and solutions. The city should also increase the fine for violating the human relations ordinance. Anything less than $1,000 per incident is laughable.

What do you think? Post your replies below.