Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Charlotte in the Top 25

That's right party people. According to Forbes magazines' sixth annual Best Cities for Singles, Charlotte ranked #25. We were No. 33 last year.The rankings were based on nightlife, culture, job growth, number of other singles, cost of living alone, online dating and coolness.

Heck, according to that criteria I see why we got good marks. Charlotte always looks good on paper, but let's be real. I know way too many singles who think Charlotte is better for families than swinging singles. BTW, Raleigh is No. 6 right below New York. Dag.

What do you think? Should we be No. 25? Should we be higher or lower? And what does Raleigh have that we don't - the Hurricanes?

Here's the full list: www.forbes.com/singles
San Francisco- Oakland
New York
Washington- Baltimore
Minneapolis-St Paul
New Orleans
San Diego
Los Angeles
Las Vegas
Dallas-Fort Worth
Kansas City
St Louis
Salt Lake City
San Antonio

Monday, July 24, 2006

A magical weekend

What's folks! I have so much to tell you about. I visited a magical placed called Mysteria this weekend where I saw so much self expression it was crazy. I'm talking people twirling fire, playing in hula hoops, painting canvas and each other, and dancing - oh how they danced. Big shouts to the Charlotte crew of Jungle Jim, the Barron, Jade and others who allowed me to stay in Big Puffy Yellow with other Charlotteans.

I spent Sunday night at a make-up show at the Forum. I always thought make up was lip gloss and eye shadow to hide our insecurities, but Awaken showed me there's so much more to make up. And on Sunday, I caught the tail end of black gay pride with the white party at the Breakfast Club. A light turnout, but hey it was Sunday night and the folks had fun. That's all that mattered.

I've got so much to write about, so the above pictures should get you started. Over the next few days, I'll update my blog, post a video from the make-up show and a picture slideshow from the festival. Keep checking' back.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Lyfe saved the show

The Lyfe Jennings performance at Tempo nightclub was nearly a disaster Monday. The show was supposed to start at 8:30 p.m. with opener Rudy Currence. When I arrived at 8:45 p.m. they had just begun letting people inside the club on Wilkinson Boulevard.

We were hustled outside to the back patio on a muggy night. Not good. Apparently, the club was prepared for an acoustic show, but the neo-soul singer brought a band. The club owners spent the day hustling to get all the sound equipment and they were still doing soundchecks when customers arrived.

We waited for at least an hour for doors to open. Lyfe was only scheduled to perform for 30 minutes. As much as I support club Tempo, this was turning into a bad night.

About 10 p.m. local fave Rudy took the stage. I've seen him numerous times, but this wasn't one of his better nights. I sat there trying to convince my friends that he was a really a good live performer.

Lyfe, however, saved the night. If you've never heard of him, he has a gravely soulful voice and sings about his life experience. His current single is "Sex," about girls coming into their sexuality.

Lyfe opened the show with Tupac's "Keep Ya' Head Up." Then he moved on to cuts from his upcoming album "Phoenix." It's an album about relationships. From what I heard Monday, the album mostly deals with relationships that ended. My favorite cut was set to Sam Cooke's "Change Gonna Come."

On stage, Lyfe connects well with his band. They're as charismatic as he is, but they don't try to steal the spotlight. Although most of his songs are slow they give the songs enough oomph to keep the show spirited.

After the show, the line stretched out the door for autographs and he patiently signed them all and posed for pictures.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Mary J. Blige was trippin'

Can't see the picture above well? That's because it's Mary J. Blige running off stage after a quick shout-out at the Big Chill on Sunday.

I was not a happy camper.

I was already irritated that the Mary J. Blige party moved from the Forum to the Big Chill. I'm not a fan of the Big Chill. They charge too much for drinks. I paid $6 for a Jack on the rocks at the White Affair at the Blumenthal Saturday. I paid $8 for the same drink at the Big Chill.

But I digress. MJB performed Sunday at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre. I arrived shortly after midnight. It's a light crowd. As usual for artists, MJB hasn't made her entrance yet. About five minutes later, she walks onto the stage, says hello, thanks fans, tells them to have a good night and then leaves.

I kid you not. That was it. She didn't hang in the VIP. Nothing.

I heard she was disappointed more people didn't show up. That's fine, but don't punish the people who did come out. I've seen plenty of celebrities at parties, and many who are as big or bigger than MJB. They usually do the VIP thing and at least shake a few hands and pose for pictures.

MJB's behavior Sunday night, especially considering that she got pizzaid to be there, makes me think she hasn't grown as much as she thinks she has.

Do you go celebrity parties? What was your favorite? What was the worst?

Skydiving in Chester

It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's Frenchie.

I'm standing in the doorway watching clouds zip below me. My tandem partner is connected behind me yelling instructions. Knees in. Back straight. Squat. She grabs my head and pulls up.

This is the moment when I'm wondering why the heck I decided to skydiving - again.

I'm the first jumper out of a group of four -- my girl, L-Boogie and Frenchie -- on Sunday at Sky Dive Carolina in Chester. The Charlotte Breezers, a black social and snow ski club, organized the outing.
My girl is terrified. L-Boogie is hype. Frenchie is slightly nervous. I'm faking stoic, but I went to the bathroom all morning long. (For the record, my girl is now hooked and wants to be aninstructor. And Frenchie and L-Boogie are glad they went.)

Now, I'm standing at the doorway wondering if I'm going to scream during the entire freefall like I did last time.

My tandem instructor, Heidi, launches us out of the plane. I scream. My heart races. Air rushes into my mouth. Suddenly, I get used to the feeling of falling, no it's more like flying and I stop screaming.

I take short breaths so my mouth doesn't dry out and hold my arms. I arch my back and plummet, mentally scream curses and know I'll definitely do it again.

Skydiving is the closest I'll ever get to flying like a eagle, and the seconds of terror are well worth that thrill.

What's the scariest thing you've ever done? Post your replies below.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Men can be groupies too

In yesterday’s blog, I ragged on women groupies. Last night, I saw the male version at the Little Brother show. No, the guys didn’t dance all over each other or start kissing.

Instead near the end of the set, one guy jumped on stage. He put his arm around Big Pooh and later Phonte and pounded their chests. At the same time, two other guys jumped on stage as well and started taking pictures of themselves.

I’m wondering. Whether you’re a male or female, when does a fan become a groupie? I say anytime, you go out of your way to be noticed by a celebrity, get a picture or get an autograph, you might as well tattoo a giant G on your chest. What do you think?

Little Brother killed it

Each time I see Little Brother, I like them more. The chemistry between the laid back Big Pooh and the charismatic Phonte makes for one of the hottest hip-hop acts ever. Phonte draws you in with his dancing -- he’s a big boy who can move -- and his expression. He’s always sticking out his tongue or doing fraternity style steps as he dances. He preens and poses on stage. Add tight beats and meaty rhymes about materialism, fatherhood and romantic relationships, and it’s easy to see why fans love them.

Little Brother headlined a benefit for Charlotte rapper Wolly Vinyl who was kicked out of his home when the Johnston Mills closed. More than a dozen artists from throughout the Carolinas came out to the Spot last night to support Wolly. Along with Little Brother, I caught the Others and the deadPOETS (DPS), but I missed the earlier acts. Several people were impressed by the level of talent among the unknown MCs.

When you stepped inside the Spot last night, it was so hot that even my sweat started sweating. Yet, there was no drama. Everyone was into the show. It felt like the vibe at the Room and I hope it’s something that will continue. We don’t have enough underground hip-hop venues in Charlotte where people can spit about more than money, cars and sexual conquests.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Tony Rock groupies

During his comedy set on Wednesday, Tony Rock mentioned that he gets plenty of women. I figured he was talking smack until I hung out with him and his crew after the show. It was Rock, two of his boys and about five women who tagged along after the show.

I knew it was going to be an interesting night when we were all sitting upstairs in Cosmos and Tony began ordering rounds of Red Headed Sluts, a Jagermeister-based shot. Jager makes you do crazy stuff. And it did on Wednesday.

At the bar, I asked Tony how many of the people in the entourage were his peeps. Only the two guys.
"I move fast," he said.

I had to give him his props. I've seen groupies before, but this little set took it to another level. First, I'm not convinced that I can call them Tony Rock groupies or just celebrity groupies. All I know is that by the time they finished knocking back at least three rounds of Red Headed Sluts the women were more than a little frisky. They danced all over each other, a couple of girls tongued each other down and two others made sure Tony's boys didn't feel left out.

My friends and I watched in amazement. Who knew a couple of pizzas and some shots of liquor could make women do all that.

Can somebody please explain the groupie mentality to me? What exactly do women or men get out of making a fool of themselves for pizza and free drinks?

Tony Rock is funny

After seeing Charlie Murphy at the Comedy Zone last year and being totally disappointed, I was skeptical about seeing another comedian's brother.

Still, I wanted to give Tony Rock a shot. I was stunned. He was hysterical.

Chris Rock wraps political and social commentary in comedy, Tony does that everyday “what’s up with” style humor. At a nearly sold out show at the Comedy Zone on Wednesday, he talked about going to a McDonalds in a white neighborhood versus a black one, legalizing marijuana and black people’s love of chicken.

“When the bird flu gets here we’re going to be immune.”

Tony Rock did have a few commentary moments. He told blacks to support Mexicans who come here to work and he skewered America’s obsession with fighting illegal immigration. He also ripped the stereotype that all black people act the same. Overall he stuck to comedy. He played off the audience, especially the chick in the sunglasses and the uptight guy in front.

He performs tonight, Friday and Saturday at the Comedy Zone, but tickets are going fast.

Oh, props to opener Scott Oseychik, a local comedian who was so funny I was worried he might overshadow the Rock.

Did you go to the show last night? What did you think?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Suprise b-day bash for Andy K

In all my years of partying here, I saw something on Tuesday night that I never thought I'd see -- Andy Kastanas dancing. Yep, he was actually shaking his groove thing on the dance floor last night in Pravda lounge.

Friends, family and industry folks turned out to surprise Kastanas for his birthday. And Andy said he was genuinely surprised. In fact, it took some arm-twisting from wife Lesa to get him to come out, but when she did it was worth it.

She created a sentimental slideshow biography of Andy from his years as a little boy in Greece on up through his DJ years in Charlotte to his current status as a proud pop. Since it was iPod night, some of Andy's closest friends brought their iPods and playlists created for him. Considering that he's a big house music fan, most of the music a range from funky house to gay club house.

Andy danced to it all and profusely thanked his friends for coming out. In the mix were his wife along with Carol Adams, Scooter, DJ Ronnie D and James Funderburk.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

No more seafood

I'm on a seafood hiatus. My girl and I were in Savannah last weekend and we ate seafood for breakfast lunch and dinner. Boy was it good. I had a seafood omelet at Huey’s and one at Clary’s. I ate so much seafood at the Crab Shack, I thought I was going to grow a shell.

By Sunday I was seriously flirting with going to Wild Wing Cafe. I settled on pizza at Vinnie Van Go-Go.
I listed a bunch of lounges and clubs to visit, but I didn’t club hop like I planned. I did the beach bum thing. However, I do hate I missed the Haunted Pub Crawl. It’s supposed to be good, according to Jen of Jens and Friends. (More on her later).

We watched the World Cup final at Molly MacPherson’s, a Scottish pub in City Market. I had never been to a Scottish pub, and I wondered if it would be different from an Irish one. Other than the bartenders wearing kilts, it wasn’t. This pub served Belhaven and I don’t remember seeing Guinness on draft. The food was similar, from shepherd’s pie to fish and chips. They did have some kind of pork filled pastry that was supposed to be a traditional Scottish dish.
I also had another small-world-moment while in Savannah. On our way out of town we stopped at Jen and Friends for lunch. It’s a little cafe downtown. We met the owner Jen, who says she’s tight with J.D., who owns Bonterra. She almost considering moving here to work for him.

Small world.

With its historic and cultural district downtown and Tybee Island nearby, Savannah is becoming one of my favorite romantic getaway cities within a day's drive. What’s yours? And why?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Violence and fireworks uptown

I don’t know Dante Beattie, but he’s my kind of guy. This year, knuckleheads once again chose to act-a-fool after the uptown fireworks display. Fights broke out, police in riot gear controlled the crowd and at least one person was shot on North Tryon, according to an Observer story.

Still, Beattie told an Observer reporter that he’d return next year to see fireworks uptown.
Beattie took his daughters to the show and said it was “probably the best I’ve seen so far n this region.”

People like Beattie are the reason the city, sponsors and uptown leaders must not let knuckleheads prevent them from scheduling outdoor events in the center city. We can’t allow a bunch of punks to make us afraid to book large outdoor events uptown, or make law-abiding citizens afraid to go uptown.

Where did you watch the fireworks display this year? How was it?

Monday, July 03, 2006

Celebrate Independence Day

If you don't have to work tonight and are looking for something to do, here are a few parties to help your start your Fourth of July Celebration.
*Open mic: Studio 74 on Independence Boulevard. 8:30 p.m. Free. Power 98's Tone X hosts.
*Pre-Independence Day Explosion: 10:30 p.m. Dilworth Neighborhood Grille on Morehead St. Free before 11 p.m. DJ Polo spinning.
*Monster Karaoke: Dixie's Tavern on Seventh Street. 9 p.m.
*Independence Day Celebration: 10 p.m. Crush on Stonewall St. Patron shots $5. Hosted by Power 98's No Limit Larry.
*NBA:NFL Celebrity Bash: Special guest Jeff McInnis, Antawn Jamison and Deon Grant. 10 p.m. Menage on Fifth St. Ladies free b4 11 p.m., men $5 'til 11 p.m. Then price varies.
*Independence Day pre-party: 10 a.m.-until, Creation Restaurant in Plaza-Midwood.
* Get it started: Inner Circle gets your July 4th festivities started. DJ Flemingo in the Forum, and Tomato Slice in Pravda lounge spinning old-school, house, R&B, soul, and more. The Forum. 10 p.m. $10 and up.

Fantasia parties with Youngbloodz

The scene at NV nightclub played out like a rap video on Saturday. A stage full of men wearing in baseball hats, shower caps and gripping microphones. They passed around bottles of Patron and other liquor and rapped about the good life: money, cars and women.

Fantasia shimmied and shook among them. Tasia celebrated her birthday with style. Wearing a short black dress and with her hair slicked down, Tasia partied so hard sweat glistened on her back.

The Youngbloodz performed their hits and sang along to other Dirty South rap hits, such as Yung Joc’s “It’s Goin’ Down.”

She turned the stage into a dance floor. Her family, friends, other rappers and fans she pulled onstage helped her celebrate. Tasia was her usual self, telling the security guards to ease up.
Tasia was the consummate host. She had fun and made sure fans did too. She danced from one side to the other pointing out fans who danced the hardest.
A couple of guys behind me were doing that hip-hop bounce. Across the bar, I saw two women standing on bar stools dancing. For every song, at least two women in front of the stage would start dancing real hard, like shaking their goods so hard Beyonce would be proud. People around the dancers would step away and watch the show, clearing an area like you would for breakdancers.
She pointed them out and gave them big smiles. The popular thing of the night was tossing out dollar bills into the audience. (Told you it was like a rap video. There were even people videotaping on stage)
Singer Calvin Richardson also stopped by and joined Fantasia on stage.
I was surprised by the turnout at NV. It was Tasia's second birthday party of the weekend. Her first was at the Big Chill on Friday. I figured that one would do well, but I wasn't sure how it would go at NV. Considering that the club is in Lake Norman and draws a predominately white crowd, I was curious whether Tasia could pull a hip-hop crowd out there.
She did.