Thursday, August 31, 2006

Ignorance at the Big Chill

Up and coming comedian Kenneth McLaughlin was talking about AIDS at the Big Chill when I heard the most ignorant comment of the day on Wednesday. It outranked all the Bush hate mail I've received.

McLaughlin, who was competing to open for Steve Harvey at Ovens on Oct. 7, said his wife was in the audience. So, was his girlfriend. So, was his girlfriend's girlfriend. The audience laughed. Then he said something like AIDS was in their bed. The room fell silent.

McLaughlin talked about how black women make up more than 20 percent of new AIDS cases and black people make up 50 percent of all new cases.

Then I heard it.

"Whatever," said a woman behind me.

I whipped around to see who made the asinine statement.

McLaughlin used the stats to set up his punchline. He dates white women -- its safer.

The room erupted. I laughed too. The best comedians -- Chris Rock, Richard Pryor, to name a few -- educate while making us laugh. McLaughlin’s joke did that too.

But the "whatever" nagged me.

What is there to "whatever" about?

In case the woman who dismissed the comic reads this blog or has friends who do, I want to reinforce McLaughlin's message.

AIDS is killing black people.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, blacks account for half of all new cases of HIV. AIDS is the leading cause of death for black women between the ages of 25 to 34. It’s gotten so bad that in August, Jesse Jackson and NAACP Chairman Julian Bond called on blacks leaders to step up. I won’t even get into the failure of leaders such as Jackson and Bond to confront AIDS sooner.

So, if you are the one who said "whatever" on Wednesday, please get tested. Obviously, you don't have a clue that AIDS is killing black women just like you.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Reggae Sunsplash in Charlotte

On Sunday, I caught reggae artists Buju Banton at the Metrolina Expo for Carolina Caribbean One Love Festival. For a first time event, I was impressed by the diverse crowd getting irie together. Parents brought children and set up tents near the back of the stage area. Vendors sold the typical goods, hats, flags, bracelets and CDs.

New owners at 7-Ten

Will Carper never rests. At 7-Ten, he was behind the bar filling up glasses, then he was outside cleaning tables. If you think owning a bar or lounge is glamorous, it can be after you’ve made it big.
Carper hasn’t made it big yet, but he’s working on it. You might remember him from City Tavern and Liquid Lounge. Now, he co-owns 7-Ten with partner Michael Mark. The former face of 7-Ten, Whiskey, isn't there anymore. That's al I know on the record, so I'm leaving it at that.
Carper and Mark took over the small lounge in Gateway Village about a week ago, and they’re hoping to pick things up there.
"I’m pretty much sleeping here," he said Saturday, during a brief break.
He wants to draw an upscale crowd (who doesn’t?) at night and make it a neighborhood gathering spot during the day. He plans to have more speciality, invite-only parties and ramp up the kitchen.
Carper works hard and finally has a majority ownership in a place where he’s busting his bosom. Making 7-Ten prosper won’t be easy. The place is tiny so to make any kind of money is going to be tough. It’s a great spot for a chill evening with friends. You can sit outside on the patio or grab a sofa inside. On Saturday, a mix of people in flip-flops and shorts; and designer jeans and leather shoes hung out there.
DJ Levi spun chill house. Carper zipped around refilling glasses, cleaning tables and welcoming customers to his latest venture.
So, party people. What would it take to make 7-Ten work? What kind of theme nights would you like to see there? What kind of music? Post your replies below.

Roaring '20s

No, this blog isn't about reliving my reckless years. I swung by Great Gatsby 2006 in the Wachovia Atrium on Saturday. It was my first time. I decided to attend at the last minute so I wasn’t as GQ as I should’ve been. Don’t get me wrong, I looked good and wore a tight Dobb hat, but next year I’ll be ready.
As the song goes, "I've got to stay flyyyy, till I diee!"
A full band played on stage and couples of all ages twirled, whirled and whipped around the floor. I saw women tossed into the air or slide around partners' legs. Some couples looked like professional dancers, but I was equally impressed by the ones who couldn't swing dance, and got out there anyway.
The Multiple Sclerosis fundraiser drew a diverse crowd, and at least 80 percent of the partiers wore ’20s style outfits. It was good to see Charlotte's button-down professionals let loose.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Jungle love in the Attic

When we walked into the Attic on Tuesday, “Jungle Love” blared from the speakers. A young couple danced sloppily to the ’80s hit.
It was the second week of Old School Tuesdays and about 25 people milled about the bar. After Morris Day’s “Jungle Love,” DJ Wojo spun Abba’s “Dancing Queen.” I realized this wasn’t a typical oldies night.

Before we left the Attic, Wojo would play Tupac’s “Dear Mama,” A Tribe Called Quest’s “Award Tour” and Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive.”

I loved the mix. Typically, old school nights are stuck in one genre, but Wojo delved into pop, hip-hop, disco and rock catalogues.

The Attic is the right vibe for such a mix. You don’t mind looking silly dancing or singing. But you can also feel comfortable sitting and talking with friends.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Buggin' out in Sullivan's

I was about to spear a fried shrimp when J-boogie leapt across me and said, “Stop!” (Okay, it wasn’t that dramatic.)

It was Thursday night and we were hanging out Sullivan’s for their popular happy hour. It’s one of the city’s best, with live jazz and two bar menu items for $10. I went before at the request of the restaurant's general manager. They treated my friend and I like queens.

This time, I went incognito with a larger group of rowdy friends to see if we’d get the same good treatment. I arrived about 5:30 p.m. to reserve a table, which go quickly there. I joined other people sitting with large empty tables, reading books or magazines as we killed time waiting for our friends to arrive.

Once my friends arrive we ordered fried shrimp, the blue cheese chips, burgers, salad and salmon.

I’m sitting there with fork poised to grab a shrimp when J-boogie points to a itty-bitty white thing wiggling out of one shrimp. We froze. Let out a collective eeewww and passed the plate around. It was a live worm.

I’ve had a dead bug in a salad at Mama Ricottas years ago and hair in my food at numerous place. A live worm was new.

We called the manager. He ordered us a fresh plate and came back to explain how a live worm could’ve possibly ended up in our food. It was something about the jalapenos coming out of a jar. We stared at the freshly fried plate of shrimp. We acted like little kids saying, “No, you try it,” “No, you try it.”

I took the plunge. It was good and without the unwanted protein. The manager and staff were apologetic. They reduced our bill and gave us a platter of desserts to sample. (The bananas foster bread pudding was the bizomb! It's now my favorite bread pudding in Charlotte.)

We left still wondering how a live worm survived the frying process.
Everyone I’ve told this story too has a different way they would have handled. One friend said she would’ve left immediately and she would’ve wanted the entire meal comped. Another said she’d never go there again.

I’ll definitely go back. Bugs or hair in food isn’t that uncommon. What have you discovered in your food while eating out? And how did the situation get resolved?

What's playing in the clubs

Here’s what Starfleet Music Pool DJs are playing in this area's clubs and parties.
1. “Promiscuous”
2. “Get together (remix)/I love new york (remx)”
3 “ U & Dat”
4. “Get up”
5. “Shoulder Lean”
6. “Me & U (remx)”
7. “Crazy”
8. “Ain’t No Other Man (remixes)”
9. “Turn It Up”
10. “Déjà Vu”
For a complete list of what’s being played in area clubs:

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Nothing against Ray

Ever since a photographer asked me if I was attending a benefit for Ray Ducharme, I’ve been debating about whether to blog about benefits for the injured banker.

I don’t have anything against Ducharme, but neither the line-up of entertainment nor the cause are enough to get me to the Hearst Tower Plaza on Thursday or the Neighborhood Theatre on Saturday.

I can’t see donating money to a fund for a guy who was injured when he was thrown from a cow in a vaquilla, an event where people chase cows around a bull ring, pulling these animals ears and tails. Ducharme was in Spain for the annual running of the bulls in Pamplona.

I’m glad to hear that, according to, Ducharme is getting better. Unfortunately, he continues to have a hard time swallowing and with one lung. His friends are amazing. They’ve set up a Web site to update his condition and organized benefits for Thursday (Hearst Tower) and Saturday (Neighborhood Theatre).

If something ever happens to me, I hope my friends will be that vigilant. I don’t, however, want any benefits if I get injured doing something crazy. I'm a thrill seeker: motorcycles, sky-diving, tree-hopping on zip lines. One day I want to run with the bulls.

I live my life this quote: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, champagne in one hand, strawberries in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, hair in a mess, and screaming: "WOO HOO - What a Ride!"

With that said, benefits are for people who aren’t that wild and who have no control over what happened to them, such as DJ Scott Beaty who was seriously injured in a car accident last year. The accident wasn’t his fault and he didn’t have health insurance. They’re for Renelvis who has to care for disabled daughter alone now that his wife has passed away. Of course, I’m down with anything benefiting cancer foundations and children.

Speaking of which, there’s a breast cancer benefit tonight at the Comedy Zone and a leukemia benefit on August 26 at the rooftop terrace at South Tryon.

I wish Ducharme luck for a speedy recovery. I hope he will be able to run with the bulls again one day if he chooses. I also hope that we remember there are a whole bunch of other people who are less fortunate and who don’t put themselves in harms way who need our donations too.

For details on the benefit and Ducharme’s recovery
So, how do you choose what charities or benefits to support? Or are there so many that you’ve given up? Post your reply below.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Think you're as good as Taylor Hicks?

On August 27, you can prove at the "American Idol" auditions at Fox Charlotte studios.

You have to be between the ages of 16 and 28. Please, if you're older or younger stay home. When I judged a few years ago a lady obviously well past 28 stormed into the audition area and started singing. Security removed her. I was embarrassed for her.

Please do the judges a favor and sing something you think no one else is going to sing. If it's your favorite song, it's probably some 15 other people's favorite song to. I heard "His Eye is On the Sparrow" so many times, I wanted him to close his eye. Be yourself. Don't try to sing like Whitney Houston (before Bobby) or Mariah Carey. You can't. I was kidding about the Taylor Hicks thing. Don't do the blue-eyed soul thing. It worked for Michael McDonald and Hicks. It's not going to work again for "Idol" -- trust me.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

CIAA time already?

Standing in the back of a Charlotte Convention Center conference room this morning, I had flashbacks. The last week of February into the first few days of March were a blur of day parties, night parties, early morning breakfast stops, celebrities, traffic jams and basketball.

Yep, it's time to start talking about the CIAA's return to Charlotte Feb. 25-March 3. Last year, was a good debut for the city. Next year should be even better.

This morning organizers unveiled the new logo and had a ra-ra session to get the city excited about the tournament's return. Starting Sept. 1 you can log on to to buy tickets.

Daniel Entertainment turns 5

I don't get to see many cover bands, but I met a slew of folks on Monday at Doug Daniel's five-year anniversary party for Daniel Entertainment Group. I've heard a lot about the variety band Too Much Sylvia, so it was nice to meet them. It's always good running into Scott McCloud of Hip Shack. Daniel Entertainment books bands and events for Panther parties, Food Lion Speed Street and other big time events. Doug is my go-kart tormenter and soon-to-be paintball victim. Congrats on making it five years!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Taylor Hicks at Coyote Joe's

Apparently, I missed a heck-of-a show at Coyote Joe’s on Wednesday morning.
I arrived about 10:15 p.m. and stayed until after midnight. I went to see if the latest “American Idol” winner Taylor Hicks was going to make a “surprise” appearance to support his former band LiMBO.
He did.
After the concert at Bobcats Arena, Taylor stopped by Coyote Joe’s about midnight Wednesday. (By the way, Taylor ate at Morton's uptown on Tuesday before the "Idol" concert.)
He walked to the side of the stage, snapped a few pictures of the band, shook hands with the sax player, waved to fans and left.
The band started playing again. Fans chanted “Taylor! Taylor!”
Finalist Ace Young showed up and was the perfect distraction. He posed for pictures with women and hugged whoever could reach him.
The crowd was a mix of Old Navy-moms, Aeropostle-twenty-somethings and Stetson-men. Everyone jockeyed for pictures with their digital cameras.
By the time Ace came out, I figured Taylor wasn’t coming back so I left. My bad.
Taylor, Ace, Elliott Yamin and others took the stage about 1:30 a.m. and performed for about 30 minutes, according to club owner Alan Presley. He called it “American Idol” at Coyote Joe’s.
I can only imagine.
By the way, Taylor's presence pulled the crowd out for LiMBO, but that band can stand on its own. They’re energetic and play boogie-woogie blues that makes you want to dance. If they play the Visulite Theatre or Double Door Inn, they’d be worth seeing.

Did you go to Coyote Joe's last night? What did you think?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

MTV is getting old

Today we celebrate MTV's 25th anniversary. Like it or not, the network changed the landscape of pop culture when it debuted in 1981. It did some good stuff, such as challenging young people to care about news, politics, and starving children in other countries. Some MTV moments affected pop culture, but most fell in the line of "did you see (fill-in-the-blank) last night?"

In today's paper we looked at some of the incidents that made MTV a cultural button-pusher, from Madonna loving all over her body during the inaugural VMAs as she performed "Like A Virgin" to watching Mariah Carey self-destruct on "TRL."

My favorites were the 1983 debut of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and the VMAs in 1999.

I was a huge Michael Jackson fan. When "Thriller" aired, I sat in the family room with my parents and my brother to watch. It was a family event, and after that, we'd often catch Jackson's video premieres together. My parents would critique them afterward, and I would coo about how Jackson was so great and they just didn't understand.

My other most memorable moment was when Lil' Kim wore a pasty over one breast as she presented a video music award with Diana Ross. It wasn't the pasty I remember the most. It was Diana Ross jiggling the Queen B's breast on national TV. That still cracks me up. Ross seemed so fascinated with the outfit.

So, what's your favorite MTV moment. I don't care if it's the VMAs, a program, a video, whatever. Post your replies below.