Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Goodbye Athens

The two young women sat in their booth, quietly talking. Behind them, a table full of drunk guys talked about them loudly. The girls, obviously a couple, ignored the guys, which made the drunks even more obnoxious.
One of the women couldn’t take it anymore. She grabbed her cup, walked over to the table and threw it at one of the guys. Good for you, I thought.
Stories like that are why I often went to Athens after a night of club-hopping. The food was average and so was the service, but the people were anything but average. You never knew what or who you would see at the diner, and that’s what made it so fun.
The only guarantees were a long wait for food, and that you’d go home smelling like smoke if you didn’t already.
If you missed Jeff Elder's story in Saturday’s Observer, the venerable diner closes on Sunday at 3 p.m. CPCC has plans for it. The owners hope to find a new location. I hope they do it.
The closing of Athens hasn’t received nearly the same amount of outcry as the Coffee Cup, which is unfortunate. Athens has as much character, devotion and history as the Coffee Cup. Maybe Athens isn't getting the same love because it caters to the scary people who don’t go out until midnight. I don’t know, but I do know the city is losing yet another place that adds grungy character to our shiny city.
What’s your favorite story about Athens? Post your replies below.

Step into the 21st Century

When I lived in Rock Hill in the mid-'90s, I drove to Charlotte on Sundays to watch football at Bw-3s, on Woodlawn Road. During football season, beer and chicken wings are mandatory on Sunday afternoons. I would've liked to enjoy my beer and wings at a Rock Hill sportsbar, but restaurants can't serve beer and wine on Sundays.

On Nov. 7, people who live in Rock Hill can help their city step into the 21st century and approve a referendum that would allow Sunday alcohol sales. Imagine, waking up on Sunday, and meeting a few friends for brunch at a restaurant in Rock Hill. Imagine being able to watch the Panthers at a sports bar in Rock Hill instead of driving to Charlotte. Imagine being able to feel like you're not 30 years behind the rest of the world.

Rock Hill businesses support the move because they say it will mean increased revenue. Mayor Doug Echols supports the referendum as well. Predictably, some pastors are against the idea because Sunday is the Sabbath.

I'm all for honoring people's religious beliefs as long as it doesn't affect me. Allowing Sunday alcohol sales in Rock Hill means the people will have a choice: drink or not to drink.

I hope the referendum passes. I also hope we can move both states forward several light years and eventually get Sunday liquor sales at the ABC stores. That would be progress.

Post your thoughts below.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Wire -- I'm my own brand

Omar’s coming! Omar’s coming!

Did you see how folks scattered when Omar walked down the street wearing
his bathrobe to get a box of cereal? I’m not sure if I like Omar because
he’s a bad muthashutyomouth or if it’s because he always drops street

My favorite Omar wisdom was when he told his young apprentice that he wanted people to know he was the one
robbing them because he was his own brand. Bold.

I also like watching Michael wrestle with wanting a better life than the one
streets and schools of Baltimore have to offer, but also succumbing to
the corner that puts money in his pockets. Doesn’t he remind you of a
young Michael Corleone?

I’m going tell you though, last night’s ending still haunts me. My mom
is a middle school principal, my girl is a middle school teacher. I know
“The Wire” is a TV show, but watching a girl slit another girl's face
with a razor shook me. It bothered me so much because I know there are many kids walking around
angry enough to do that to a fellow student, teacher or to themselves.

If you haven't been watching, you can catch it on Friday when HBO will air the first three episodes starting at 8 p.m.

What did you think about last night’s episode? Also, is having Russell Simmons' "Def Comedy Jam" follow "The Wire" the worst pairing ever? Post your replies below.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Who's Bad is Bad

When Larken Egleston invited me to Elevate's "End of Summer Social," featuring a Michael Jackson tribute band, I was skeptical. He hyped the group. I'm a huge Michael Jackson fan, but I figured Who's Bad? ( was going to be cheesy like Elvis impersonators. They weren't.

Not nearly enough people got to see that for themselves. On Thursday night, promoters Mike Kitchen and Thomas Washington, Sony records rep Tone Capone and I joined about 50 other people who showed up at Amos' Southend.

Those of us who were there had a great time. Men and women danced and sang along as the six-piece band, with Brandon Lee as Michael Jackson, cranked out "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough," "Human Nature," “Rock With You" and more. Lee wore high-water black pants, white tube socks, black loafers and a white T-shirt. He wasted no time doing signature Jackson steps -- the Moonwalk, the spins, the crotch-grab and the toe-stand. He also sounded like Jackson.

The band was bad, too. It had a horn section. A horn section! The group jammed and had fun on stage, doing dances as well. During one song the saxophone and the trumpet player joined Lee in the center to do a choreographed Jackson 5-style dance. (Remember the one where they stand in a line facing the side of the stage and they put their hands on each other shoulders and that camel-like motion with their neck?) During another, the trumpet player and Lee did the Kid 'N Play kick-hop one-leg dance.

If the group comes back again, you've got to see them. Next time, I hope the promoters do it up big with a Michael Jackson lookalike contest, a costume contest and a dance contest.

Amos' brings a lot of tribute bands, and I'll admit I rarely see any of them. What are some of your favorite tribute bands that have performed here? Post your replies below.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Slam dancing with the Rev.

Standing in the middle of the dancefloor at the Visulite Theater, the soles of black boots headed toward my face. I stepped back. Two drunk guys tried to lift another drunk guy in the air so he could body-surf over the dozens of people dancing in the Visulite’s pit during the Reverend Horton Heat’s performance on Thursday. They couldn’t get their friend into the air, so they put him on the floor. He stood up and resumed slamming into other dancers.
I’ve never been to a Reverend Horton Heat performance, and was surprised to see the several slam dancers I’ve encountered at the Milestone. I never thought of psychobilly (alternative rockabilly) music as a setting for a mosh pit.
Less exuberant, but enthusiastic fans, danced without hitting someone else. They thrust beers into the air or waved their empty hands and sang to all of the Rev.’s songs about drugs, cars and booze.

Hip-hop fans have more sex

Hip-hop haters, you'll love this:

Fans of hip-hop music are likely to have had more sexual partners in the last five years, while many of those who prefer classical strains will have tried cannabis, according to a new study.

Psychologist Adrian North from the University of Leicester surveyed 2,500 Britons to find out how their musical tastes related to their lifestyles and interests.

Almost 38 percent of hip-hop devotees and 29 percent of dance music fans were more likely to have had more than one sexual partner in the last five years, compared to just 1.5 percent of country music fans. However, they were also more likely to have broken the law, with more than 50 percent of both hip-hop and dance music lovers admitting committing a criminal act.

Meanwhile, a quarter of classical music fans have tried cannabis, while 12 percent of those who liked opera had experimented with magic mushrooms.

North wants to recruit 10,000 people for a wider study (details:

So, hip-hop haters, I'm sure this confirms all of your assumptions about the vileness of hip-hop music. But what’s up with the classical and opera fans smoking weed and eating 'shrooms?

What's up in Charlotte? Hip-hop fans -- have you really been that sexually active? Country fans -- are you really that conservative? Actually, is having more than one sexual partner in the last five years a bad thing?

The Wire - Week 2

Aw shucks! Omar is coming back to "The Wire." He is my favorite homothug ever!

Wasn't that so cute when Bubbles tried to register his young apprentice for high school? I loved the idea of Bubbles, an addict, trying to mentor a teenager and also trying to expand his pushcart business. He sells everything from white T-shirts to paint cans.

I'm curious to see what's going to become of Michael, the teenager who wouldn't take Marlo's money. Michael is fighting to be his own man in a neighborhood where fists, guns and money define manhood.

I really like this season's emphasis on the young kids. Although the show is fiction, it's loosely based on real events. It's an eye-opening reminder that the lock-'em-up mentality won't solve the drug or crime problems in Baltimore, Charlotte or elsewhere. And for some kids, No Child Left Behind is simply a slogan -- not their reality.

If you haven't seen "The Wire: Connected" and "The Wire: The Game," you should. They both give a behind-the-scenes look at the veracity of some of this season's storylines. They also feature interviews with various cast members, many of whom were as criminal in real life as they are on the show.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Charlie Murphy is funnier

Photo by: Danny Greene

If Charlie Murphy revamped the first half of his set,
he'd be great. At a nearly sold-out Comedy Zone on
Thursday, the "Chappelle's Show" star was much
improved over his last performance here, but he
started painfully slow.

He wasted the first 30 minutes telling airplane
security jokes with punchlines that fell flat and
stories that dragged on and on. He seemed to plow through
the material, and he never looked relaxed on stage or
willing to engage the audience. He acted as if he were
reading from a script.

The second half was better. He gave fans what they
wanted to hear, and something they can't get from other
comedians: his takes on life as Charlie Murphy, a
star of "Chappelle's Show." He relaxed as he talked
about being approached by fans of all ages who called
him "Darkness" or asked if they could jump on his couch
(references from the show).

His tales of hanging out with Rick James were
absolutely hysterical, and his impersonations of the
singer were dead-on.

Trying to recapture that in the blog wouldn't do it
justice, but here are a few of my favorites lines of
the night:

n"It's a shame how much I love my own name -- CHARLIE
n"I'm not tired of the s---. Let's not forget my name
was 'Eddie Murphy's brother' for the last (few) years."
n"The chicken flu -- I hope y'all don't think I don't
know who that's for. What's next, the Newport virus?"

For now, he should work on stretching the Charlie Murphy
and "Chappelle's Show" material out longer. If Murphy
insists on tackling current events, he needs to
freshen up the material. In recent weeks, we've had
"Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin's death, gas prices have
dropped, "Survivor" divided its tribes based on race,
and Whitney Houston filed for divorce from Bobby Brown.
Murphy didn't talk about any of that.

Murphy performs at the Comedy Zone through the weekend -- 8 p.m. and
tonight and
Saturday; 8 p.m. Sunday.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Random thoughts - The Wire

Today's posts aren't nightlife related. So, if you want to stop reading now, it's okay. That will save you the trouble of posting that this is supposed to be a nightlife blog. It is. But today I have some other things on my mind.

Hey, "The Wire" watchers, did you watch this week's season premiere? I miss Stringer already. And thanks to the deadly duo of Chris and Snoop, I'll never look at a nail gun the same again. Really, was Lex really that dumb to think his ex wanted to meet him in a playground after she watched him kill her man? No guy is that gullible, especially if he's supposed to be drug dealer.

So, "The Wire" fans, are you excited about this season? Why or why not? Post your replies below.

Random thoughts - Baby names

Did you read the article about bizarre baby names for celebrity kids? It struck me that when black parents give their kids ridiculous names its called “ethnic.” When celebrities, such as Tom Cruise, give their children ridiculous names it's called "creative."

Both sets of children will face challenges in life. The black kids will have a hard time getting jobs, and the celebrity kids will have a hard time in general. Life is so hard, when you're the child of spoiled, rich superstars.

What are your thoughts about parents naming their kids “creative” or “ethnic” names? Post your replies below.

Random thoughts - Just say no

Last random thought.

The other article that caught my attention was the increase in drug use among Baby Boomers ages 50 to 59. Apparently, this is the third consecutive year that this age groups has seen an increase in drug use.

It’s ironic. The same age group that lived it up in the ’60s with acid and weed, then jumped on the "Just Say No" campaign in the ’80s is now saying yes. Hmm. Could it be too much disposable income? Or maybe in the never-ending quest to be young some Baby Boomers are trying to relive their youth.

What are anti-drug crusaders going to do? Afterall, it’s no secret that drug use can lead to promiscuous sex. Will we one-day see an increase in HIV infection among Baby Boomers?

The anti-drug folks ought to act quickly before this gets of out hand. They should revamp their TV commercials. Maybe show adult children talking to their Baby Boomer parents about drugs? How about dusting off the "this is your brain on drugs" campaign? It could feature a suburban housewife in her McMansion.

What do you think? Why are more Baby Boomers are getting high and what can we do to save them? Post your replies below.

Friday, September 08, 2006

A bad combination

When I first heard that Ne-Yo and Chris Brown were coming to Charlotte, I encouraged my girl and another buddy of mine to let their teenage daughters attend the show.

Brown and Ne-Yo are the new young heartthrobs whose posters are plastered on the walls of thousands of teenage girls' bedrooms. They're the kind of artists who should be on the Scream Tour.

I was about to order tickets for my friend's kids when I started thinking about the supporting acts: Lil' Wayne, Dem Franchise Boyz and Juelz Santana.

I didn't order the tickets.

I like the rap acts on the tour, but they shouldn't be packaged with Brown and Ne-Yo. These rappers draw the gold-tooth, white T-shirt crowd. Too often they think women should be treated like the women in music videos - disrespectfully.

Let me see, teenage girls whose bodies are beginning to bud and whose hormones are on overdrive combined with amped grown men, some of whom will be drinking. And way too many of whom will be making inappropriate comments to women and girls.

It's a bad combination.

What do you think? Am I overreacting? Should I have let the girls go? Post your replies below.

Dave Attell ain't right

Listening to comedian Dave Attell is like spending an hour with your most obnoxious, insensitive friend. At his opening show at the Comedy Zone on Thursday, he insulted blacks, Jews, lesbians, women and Mexicans, among others.

Some of his jokes were incisive and others were downright mean, especially the ones about people with disabilities. He dipped into pop culture, current events and frat-boy humor.

A few of my favorites:

*"Smoking is evil now," he said, lighting a cigarette. "That's why you should do it on evil days like Scott Peterson's birthday."

*"There's a lot of hot women here tonight. If I were Flava Flav, I would give you all a clock and call you a derogatory name."

*About crocodile hunter Steve Irwin's death: "The crocs put a hit on him."

The funniest part of Attell's act is how he insulted the audience with compliments:

*"You're a great crowd. Nobody f------ laughs at the joke."

*"It's great when a girl laughs at a rape joke."

If your feelings get hurt easily, Attell's show isn't for you. But if you want a night of chuckles interspersed with some knee slaps, then head to the Comedy Zone. He's there at 8 and 10:15 tonight and Saturday, and 8 p.m. Sunday.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

They all look the same

I was heading inside Amos’ Southend on Friday when a guy wearing an oversized polo shirt and jeans stopped me. He wanted to know if the 1st Fridays party was the only thing happening that night.

The line to get inside the club stretched down the sidewalk just after midnight.

I suggested Studio 74.

He looked at me as if I were stupid, and said he didn’t know what 74 was.

"We’re not from here," he said, pointing to five other guys standing against the building. "Can’t you tell? We’re from Philly."

I looked at his friends. Each wore oversized white T-shirts and jeans.

This time, I looked at him as if he were stupid. I laughed, and said, "You look like every other black man in Charlotte."

Why do grown men feel like it’s okay to dress exactly alike?

Wait, I know. Commercial hip-hop has turned many young blacks into followers, and made geographic regions indistinguishable.

For example, the finger-snap dance popularized in Atlanta’s Bankhead community is now done here, too. If Yung Joc’s "It’s Goin’ Down," plays in the club, watch how many people do the dance from the video. Gold teeth, which have been popular in the deep South forever, are now fashionable nationwide thanks to Nelly’s "Grillz."

Cmmercial hip-hop has turned countless young blacks into ghetto cloones, and there’s a guy from Philadelphia running around thinking he’s an individual.