Thursday, May 31, 2007

Hardcore partier leaving Charlotte

By the time you read this, Party Goers Anonymous founder Doug Hunnington will be heading to his new home in Fort Lauderdale. (His job was outsourced, so he’s moving Friday.)

The 41-year-old started PGA about six years ago. The group sponsored bar crawls and game nights, and Hunnington was a regular at all of the big events. I spoke with him recently about the city’s changing social scene.

Why start PGA?
It was actually something that just happened. I was sending out an e-mail to a few friends, letting them know whose name the happy hour was under that week. Everyone started giving me their e-mails to be included on "the list.” Then people would suggest doing other events.

In just a few months, the list had grown to over 50 names, and we were doing something almost each night. I did a naming contest, and one of the members came up with PGA: Party Goers Anonymous. The e-mail was named The PGA Tour.

How many members on your e-mail list?

What was the social/nightlife scene like when you moved here in 1998?
There were not near as many bars. There were not many social groups. The biggest were (Charlotte Outdoor Adventure) and the Charlotte Skibees, a snow skiing and social club.

How has it changed?
There are grand openings going on around town almost every weekend. Neighborhood bars or restaurants are hosting social events and mixers to bring in business. And, of course, there are several social clubs and organizations in Charlotte.

In addition to the couple I already mentioned, there's, famous for their nightlife photography and bar crawls; RockHouseEvents.Com, which throws some great party events you really have to attend; and several others. Lake Norman even has events now, and most are sponsored by

What are your favorite events?
The Bartender’s Ball, Queen’s Cup Steeplechase, Taste of the Nation and Center City After Five. I also like the formal dress-up Christmas charity events like Second String Santa and Toys for Tots. These are some of the things that will be bringing me back up for a visit.

What does Charlotte need to make nightlife better?
More friends who don’t let friends sit home bored on a Friday or Saturday night! Actually, I’d like to see more theme bars uptown. A club should have a theme other than just dancing or watering down your thirst! I like the new Alley Cat bar with the rock and roll music similar to the old Stray Cats band in the ’80s.
Oh, and I would like to see strict fines for towing companies and parking lot owners who tow vehicles of drunk people left over night. What do they want drivers to do? Drive home drunk?

Are you starting a PGA in Fort Lauderdale?
Yes. For now it will cover the Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, and Miami area. I am planning a bar crawl already in the Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk area. They are going to love it! My goal is to get them to visit some of the other cities. I understand folks in Boca won’t travel to Fort Lauderdale, and Fort Lauderdale won’t go down to Miami for events.

I also plan on continuing to lead trips that may include Charlotte folks as well, like the annual cruise in November and maybe Mardi Gras next year. We’ll have to see what the next phase of Party Goers has in store for everyone.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A waiter with adult A.D.D.

For my birthday on Saturday, I wanted to eat a good dinner and then barhop Hilton Head style. We settled on dinner at the Old Oyster Factory.

The wait for a table was 45 minutes on Saturday night so we sat in the bar area. Our waiter was a jittery guy named Chris. Love him.

You always knew what Chris liked. I asked him about the different oysters. He said he didn't have anything else to say that would add to the menu description. I asked about the Blue Point oysters. He excitedly detailed how big and juicy they were.

After we ordered, he moved us downstairs to a bigger table. I asked him about the night's dinner specials and he said "Oh yeah!" You could see the light bulb go off. He listed the specials. We asked him for more silverware. Chris dashed across the dining area so fast he flew into the glass window leading to the patio.

The Oyster Factory has steps leading from the bar area to the room where we sat. Chris jumped down the stairs like a little kid.

After dinner, I asked about desserts. Chris said, "We're not really known for dessert." (Luv him)

Our final Chris moment came at the end of the evening. My girl surprised me. The staff brought me a birthday cake and sing "Happy Birthday." (I'm still embarrassed and plotting revenge.)

Chris offered to take our picture. We handed him a camera. He pointed it at us and said 1, 2, "s---." Yep, he snapped the picture too soon. We laughed our faces off.

Turns out this was Chris first night with his own section. We weren't surprised, but judging from his demeanor, I have a feeling he's always spastic.

If you go to Hilton Head this summer and eat at the Old Oyster Factory, and you're not pressed about having a polished server ask for Chris.

Hot mamas and fun guys in Hilton Head

After dinner we headed to the plaza just outside of Sea Pines Planatation to begin my birthday night of barhopping.

After peaking into the Lodge and Brew Pub, we settled on One Hot Mama. My girl and I were walking out of One Hot Mama into the crowded plaza when I saw the empty table in the corner. I wasn't the only one who saw it. A dude and his three friends saw it as well.

The outdoor plaza was the courtyard for three bars (One Hot Mama, The Lodge and The Brew Pub) in the plaza leading to Sea Pines plantation on Hilton Head Island. Sea Pines is the happening area on the resort island known more for golf and pristine beaches than raucous partying. It was 10:30 and the plaza was starting to get packed. Speakers blasted music outside and 20- and 30-somethings filtered in as the 40-year-olds drifted out.

I didn't sprint, but I started a fast stroll to the table. The dude did the same. We arrived together. The dude looked at me, and said something like, "We got here at the same time." I smiled, and said we could share. My girl looked at me like I was crazy. Baby, there's four of them, she said. The foursome looked at each other like WT-?

I sat down and pulled up a chair for my girl. The dude said okay, and sat down as well. His friends pulled over two more chairs, and we spent the night drinking and swapping stories with Patrick, Wade, Tiffany and Laina. Patrick and Laina (a couple) were from Tennessee. They were in Hilton Head for a physical therapy workshop. Wade and Patrick went to high school together and were fraternity brothers. Wade and Tiffany, who live in Jacksonville, had dated before and were hooking back up. They came down for the night to hang out with Patrick and Laina.

Wade regaled us with tales about the men's urinal inside One Hot Mama's bar and restaurant. Apparently, there was a one-way mirror behind the urinal that gave him a view of the bar. Wade spent a lot of time in the urinal. Patrick and Laina giggled about a woman whose store-bought breasts were obviously out of place on her petite frame.

We all laughed about the black guy with the contacts that made him look like a zombie. They were all-white and made his pupils look like black slits. (But more on him later. Let's just say he said he was from New York, and unless there's a New York in Georgia, dude was lying.)

Tiffany's company is based in High Point, and she loves Charlotte. She said she visited for New Year's Eve one year and loved it. She stayed at a Hilton uptown, and was surprised to see streets were pristine on New Year's Day. She promised to stay in touch and hopes to transfer to the High Point area for work.

Patrick wanted to know about the live music scene. I told him about the type of shows that come to the our venues. He was drawn to the type of shows at the Visulite, such as Derek Trucks and Victor Wooten. I gave him information on MerleFest and told him to stay in touch.

After buying a round of lemon drop shots and toasting my birthday, we headed to Monkey Business, a dance club about a block away.

Getting into some monkey business

My final stop on my birthday night of barhopping in Hilton Head was Monkey Business.

When I asked people where to find a raucous club, everyone suggested Monkey Business.

We arrived at Monkey Business Electric Piano about 11 p.m. Inside, a man played piano and sang, and a drunk older woman stood on her chair and sang loudly. I walked through a thicket of people who ranged from Baby Boomers to one-foot-in-the-grave and headed to the bathroom. After surveying the crowd, I decided it was going to be an early night.

I snapped a few pictures and turned to catch up with my girlfriend. A man old enough to be my grandfather had snagged her near the door and was begging her to go home with him. He told her if she went home with him, he'd have a great night. He must have had a pocket full of Viagra and a defibrillator under his bed.

I howled with laughter, and thought about all of the readers who angrily dissed me about my Richard Gere column.

Outside of that Monkey Business, we noticed another club on the right tucked into the corner. Rap music blasted from speakers. It was the Monkey Business. With the exception of Mr. Contacts (read about him in other blog posts), my girl and I, and a group of Asian guys, the club was predominately white. It was smokey from fog machines, and a DJ played top 40 hip-hop. It wasn't crowded, but the vibe was fun. Large groups of friends mostly danced together, and couples watched from tables near the bar.

The club's clientele reminded me of my visit to Soho East/Daisy Dukes in the University Area. After about a half-hour, I was ready to go. Monkey Business is fine for a resort like Hilton Head, but I preferred people-watching in the courtyard area better.

Hey black guy, don't try so hard

I don't have a problem with black men who date white women. Some of my closest male friends do. Heck, my brother lives with one. But I do have a problem with black guys who act stupid to get a white girl's attention. My friends and I call it the minstrel show.

A buddy of mine loves to describe the black guy surrounded by white girls and starts doing the snake and other '80s dances. Why? Why? Why?

On Saturday, I saw a whole new act in the minstrel show. It started in the courtyard outside One Hot Mamas. As I mentioned in a previous blog, I took a picture of a black guy wearing all-white contacts. He said he was from New York, and he liked to be different. Ugh. Then Mr. Contacts started doing the footwork dance that kids in middle school here did years ago. Grown men do not do footwork.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the last of his antics. We ran into Mr. Contacts again at Monkey Business, a dance club just outside of the Sea Pines plantation. At the club, he continued his footwork clinic and kept trying to freak on groups of women. Embarrassing.

I have countless examples of black guys behaving badly to get white girls. Do white guys do the same thing to get black women or women of other ethnicities? Post your replies below.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

George funked up Noda

I almost made a huge mistake this weekend.

I was thinking about skipping the George Clinton show at the Neighborhood Theatre on Sunday. I’ve seen him three times. The first was memorable, but the other two were forgettable. He came out for a hot five minutes, mumbled into the mike “To the windows, to the wall...” and bounced.

But I wanted to support promoter Dana McKelvey’s return to the music scene. And my girl had never seen Clinton before.

Thankfully, Clinton and the fans at the Nabe gave my girl a show to remember. Parliament performed for more than three hours, and Clinton stayed on stage for about two. Clinton sang a few lines, scatted a few, did hand dancing, freaked a couple of girls on stage, and then repeated.

Parliament was an odd collection of musicians and singers. There was a trumpet player wide enough to be an offensive lineman, a shirtless guy with abs that would make a six-pack jealous who wore feather pants and a big top hat (think Andre 3000), and singer Belita Woods -- who sounded as if she's smoked one too many cigarettes. There was also a full-grown man wearing a towel fastened around his waist like it was a diaper. Yuck.

They performed all of the hits, such as “Flashlight” and “Atomic Dog.” My favorite was Woods singing “Sentimental Journey.” Her voice is so raggedy, and she took fans to that other world where only Clinton, Parliament and his fans can visit.

The best part of the night was when Clifton Homesley of Mooresville bolted onstage and started singing "ga ga goo ga goo ga goo ga ga" along with the band. I thought Homesley was part of the band because members came onstage and went off all night.

A bouncer ran Homesley off the stage. He joined his friends, beaming. He said he was a Parliament fan from way back. Now, he can say he sang with George Clinton.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

City Range happy hour da' bomb-diggety

Next Wednesday, stop whatever you are doing at 4:30 p.m., jump in your car, and head down to CityRange Steakhouse Grill in Ballantyne.
I know: You’re thinking, Heck noooo -- Ballantyne is too far away! But I promise CityRange is worth the drive.

My friends and I met there yesterday as part of Tonya’s May Madness. Each week, my friends and I have met at a different restaurant to celebrate my birthday, which is May 26.
I’ve picked spots that I’ve either never been to or have only visited once.

This was my first time at CityRange, but its Wednesday happy hour is my newest fave. It’s $5 for a pork ribs and peel-n-eat shrimp buffet from 5-7 p.m. All draught beers are $2 and it's the good stuff, such as Bass Ale. The restaurant's microbrew -- City Brew -- isn’t bad either.
For me, those types of specials are enough to get me in the door.

But get this: They have a special-priced bar appetizer menu Monday through Friday from 4-7 p.m. Items range from fried calamari (yummy) to crab and onion souffle (OMG!) to grilled brie (delicious) for $4 or $5.

The serving sizes were respectable, and did I mention the food was yummy already?

Of course, all of these specials are only in the bar area, which has bistro tables and a lounge with sofas, chairs and coffee tables. There also are flat-screen TVs.

I have a few warnings if you go. Our server was a tad disorganized and slow. For example, he would bring a beer for one person in our group, but not the other. The manager, however, chipped in to speed things up.

And don’t do what Larken did, which is eat so much so fast that your tummy hurts. Poor baby.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

No Limit and Terri Bennett are going down

Next year, it’s on and poppin’.

I’ll be gunning for Power 98's No Limit Larry and his crew in the media Pit Crew Challenge, a lead-up to tonight's official Nextel Pit Crew Challenge. Watch the video.

On Tuesday, No Limit’s team - which also had former Hornet Dell Curry, former Panther Brentson Buckner, and some guy named Steve - beat myself, Fox’s Kelli Bartik, WSOC’s Scott Wickersham and MetroNetworks Radio's Mike Markham by less than a second.

They changed two tires, fueled a car, jacked a car and pushed one in 21.80 seconds. Our team did it in 22.64. Call me a sore loser (I am), but I told No Limit that they only beat us because they had two former professional athletes. He claimed Buckner and Curry slowed him down.

Along with team competitions, we had individual winners as well.
Those were: Gasman Curry (4.8 seconds), tire changer Herman Towe (7.69 seconds) and jackman Buckner (4.54 seconds).

Hey Herman, I’m gunning for you and WCNC’s Terri Bennett next year as well. Towe beat me in the tire changer individual competition by like half a second, but I swear he practiced a hundred gazillion times. (I said I was a sore loser).

For real, Bennett is the tire changer to beat. Denny Hamlin’s pit crew could use her. On television she looks all nice and sweet, but put a pit gun (that thingy that pulls the lugnuts off) in her hand and Red Bull flows through her veins. She was a beast.

Her practice time was under six seconds. She couldn’t get it together for the actual timed competition, and kept scoring 10s. Don’t be surprised if you see her pointing to a low-pressure system with a pit gun in her hands tonight.

The Nextel folks should have never invited us out. It’s going to be a war next year. I’m hitting the gym even harder to get ready. (Dell, you might want to join me. I noticed quite a few gray hairs. No Limit might replace you with Emeka Okafor.) Speaking of the gym, be sure to read my blog about training with Walt Smith in preparation for Tuesday’s competition.

Yay! Walt Smith tried to kill me

I always envision that I can work out with any professional athlete and at least hold my own. Personal trainer Walt Smith slapped me back down to reality on Monday.

He works with the pit crews for Dale Earnhardt International, keeping them in top shape so they can jump the wall and change a tire in record time.

I decided a workout with Smith would get me ready for the media pit crew challenge on Tuesday. By the time I finished the hand-eye coordination and agility drills, I was just trying not to embarrass myself.

I lift weights 3-5 days a week and do some type of cardio at least three days a week. I figured, I would have to push Smith not to go easy on me.

We started with a 15-minute warmup on the treadmill. He used interval training, which means I would run with the treadmill set on 3 for a few minutes, then 4.7, then 3, then 6, etc. I alternated between walking, trotting and jogging.

Next we did a hand-eye drill. He tossed me a racquetball with one hand. At the same time, I had to catch his ball with my empty hand and toss him a ball. We spent a lot of time chasing balls that hit the floor.

The hand-eye drill bruised my ego. I thought I was coordinated. The agility drill kicked my rump. Smith bounced a racquetball to my left or right. I had catch the ball on the first bounce, toss it back and be ready to catch the next ball. I was panting after a few tosses. Once again, I chased a lot of balls that hit the floor.

My favorite workout was his leg circuit. We did resting squats, where you squat and hold the weights for five seconds and then explode up. After eight repetitions of that, I did jumping lunges, followed by a wall squat. For the wall squat, you squat with your back against the wall and your quads and buttocks are parallel to the floor.

After about 20 seconds, I was looking at my legs and trying to figure out if the fire burning in Florida had moved to DEI. I lasted for 38 seconds.

The other challenge was the exercise ball pushup. I placed an exercise ball on the floor and tried to do a pushup off the ball. Like I said, I tried. My bench press max is 135, and I couldn’t even do one pushup off the ball. Ugh.

I loved Smith’s abdominal workout. He had me perform a series of crunches in different positions for five minutes. The hardest was the reverse crunch. All of these years, I’ve been doing it wrong. I couldn’t even get my legs to go far enough back without him pulling my feet into the air.

I have so much work to do this summer. The Temple of Tonya (that’s what I called myself in my brief boxing days) will return.

Snug Harbor open in Plaza-Midwood

Ahoy, mates!

That’s the first thing that comes to mind when you enter Snug Harbor (formerly Fire & Ice Martini lounge) in Plaza-Midwood.
The bar, which opened a couple of weeks ago, is really into this pirate theme. The sign above the door has an anchor in it, and there is all kinds of boating memorabilia hanging from walls and sitting on shelves.

Snug Harbor is actually an alternative rock bar. If you like Dish and the Penguin, then you’ll fit right in at Snug Harbor. It has the kind of vibe that's probably good for chilling even if there isn’t a band performing. Plus, the beers aren’t expensive.

On Saturday, the Alternative Champs performed for more than 50 enthusiastic fans. I couldn’t decide whether the crowd, which ranged from Baby Boomers to people in their early 20s, was so diverse because of the bar or because of the band.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Adults worse than kids about Akon

Photos by E. Stubbs

When I saw two 14-year-old girls wearing T-shirts with the words “Smack That” written on them at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on Saturday, I was sad to think about the world in which we’re raising kids.

But when I interviewed adults about Akon -- who was dropped by Verizon last week for humping a 14-year-old girl onstage during a performance in Trinidad -- my sadness turned to anger. Akon opened for Gwen Stefani on “The Sweet Escape Tour,” which till the controversy had been sponsored by Verizon.

The people I interviewed on Saturday who saw the video or heard of the controversy were unapologetic Akon supporters. Their rationale: the girl should not have been in the club, Akon can’t be blamed if he didn’t know she was underage; and if you go onstage be prepared for anything.

Did I mention that these were common responses from adults?

Like I said, it makes me worry about how we’re raising our children. On the lawn area, I watched young girls grind on each other and undulate their little bodies to “Smack That” and “I Wanna Love You.”
If I ever catch my young niece dancing like that, if I don’t kill her, my brother will. And walking out of the house wearing a T-shirt that says “Smack That?” I wish she would try it.

As I said before, a 14-year-old girl should not have been in that club in Trinidad. But teens try to get away with things they’re not supposed to do because that’s what most kids do. It’s our job as adults to protect them, not shrug our shoulders when they endanger themselves or get hurt.
Also -- and I've said this before, too -- it doesn’t matter if the girl was 14 or 21. I do not agree that if you go onstage you should be expect to be sexually assaulted.

Is it not unthinkable that a female fan can go onstage with a male artist and not be humiliated or humiliate herself?

Oh, for those of you who are waiting for Stefani to drop Akon from the tour, don’t hold your breath. During Saturday’s performance, he returned to the stage to sing the hook of “The Sweet Escape.” If she wanted to distance herself from him, she would not have brought him onstage. Her actions were disappointing as well. She sings girl-power pop, but embraces a man who obviously doesn't respect women.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Verizon dumps Akon

The war to clean up hip-hop has begun.

Verizon dropped its sponsorship of Gwen Stefani’s Sweet Escape tour because of opening act Akon. (The tour comes to Charlotte on Saturday.)

In a performance last month in Trinidad, Akon simulated sex while dancing with a 14-year-old girl during a performance. When video footage of the performance got back to Verizon, the top dogs pulled their money from Stefani’s tour, which wasn’t related to Akon’s Trinidad performance.
They’ve also pulled Akon’s ringtones and music from stores and handsets.

Talk about a wake-up call.
Verizon is doing what consumers won’t do: holding artists accountable for their product.

In my That’s Wassup! column about Don Imus and previous columns and blogs about hip-hop, I’ve written that consumers can dictate what artists create by choosing not to support rappers who sell sex and violence. Verizon’s decision shows that big companies might be the ones who dictate the future of hip-hop.

Akon is one of the hottest artists out there. Verizon pulling him is like the Lakers benching Kobe Bryant. The cell phone industry is a lucrative market for artists, and Verizon’s decision to pull Akon is going to reverberate through the industry.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Associated Press ran a story saying that Akon apologized and that he didn't know the girl was underage. Um, unless this child has been eating steroids instead of Wheaties it's hard to believe he couldn't tell a 14-year-old from an 18-year-old. If you watch the video on YouTube, you won't care if the girl is 14 or 18, the way he throws her around the floor and simulates sex could be a considered a sexual assualt for anyone.

What do you think? Did Verizon make the right decision by pulling sponsorship of the tour and refusing to sell Akon’s ringtones and music? Post your replies below.

Me'Shell N'dego has lost her mind

I’m officially finished with Me’Shell Ndegeocello’s concerts. She’s too deep for me. She’s too deep for music.

I was skeptical about attending her show at Amos’ Southend on Friday, but I wanted to give her another shot.

The last time I saw her was in 1999, when she opened for Sting at Ovens Auditorium. When she finally arrived on stage, after her band had played for an eternity (think Parliament and George Clinton), she acted as if she didn’t want to be there. She sang with her eyes closed, and it took her several songs to hit her stride.
I worried Friday would be the same.

However, Kitch (who promoted the show) assured me she was going to perform at 10:45 p.m. When he booked the show, the deal was that Me’Shell would open for W. Ellington Felton. Then Felton would perform a set, after which the two would perform together. It had the potential to be great.

When I arrived at Amos’ about 11 p.m., Me’Shell was already performing, and she seemed into it. Between songs, she talked about issues such as hunger and poverty, and wondered aloud why people such as the Rev. Al Sharpton were criticizing hip-hop instead of fixing real problems. She sang a few songs, but focused mostly on her instrumental cuts. She played her bass and jammed with the band on rock and trippy jazz tunes.

She acted like one of those artists who is too deep to play older material, such “"If That's Your Boyfriend” and “Dredloc.” Instead, she force-fed fans her newer jazzy music. Selfish, but not surprising.

The surprise came 45 minutes into the set. I was talking to some friends when I looked up a the stage and noticed that Me’Shell was gone. Fans were streaming out of the door. In what seemed like 10 minutes, Amos’ was nearly empty.

Apparently, sometime during the day, Me’Shell decided she wasn’t going to perform with Ellington. She didn’t perform an encore. She came out later to introduce Felton, and she talked about how she was a fan of his music.

If Me’Shell was really a fan of anyone but herself, she wouldn’t have acted the way she did on Friday.

Opening for Ellington was dumb. Fans want to see her perform. She knows good and well that as soon as she’s done, people are going to leave.

Plus, if she really wanted to support Ellington, she should have performed with him and slowly fazed herself out and left him onstage. Then fans who liked what they heard would have stayed for his set. Instead, the stage was empty for at least 10 minutes, and people left.

Me’Shell comes off as one of those artists who is deeper than deep and believes the rest of us simply don’t understand how deep she is. I don’t want to understand. I want to see a good show, and have a good time. She can save that deep stuff for her boo.

Apparently, considering what I’m hearing about her recent shows in Washington (someone got cussed out) and Atlanta (she passed out, cussed out the audience, performed and left), we got off easy.

It’s a shame. She’s alienating fans and wasting her talent. She used to use her music to make people talk and think about uncomfortable topics. Now she uses it to try to prove how deep she is.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Chuck Brown, Rich Boy and Lyfe coming

Get ready to see rap, neo-soul and go-go shows here in coming weeks.
Rapper Rich Boy (“Throw Some D’s) is performing at NV lounge on May 19. Tickets start at $20.
Soul singer Lyfe Jennings kicks off the Sol Kitchen’s Black Music Month series at Amos’ Southend on June 2. On June 16, go-go great Chuck Brown will perform at Amos’ as part of the series. Brown’s performances during the CIAA tournament are always one of the most popular parties.
This month, the Sol Kitchen is teaming with Creative Loafing to launch Pop Life. It’s a weekly Wednesday party at Prevue (formerly Gilda’s) in NoDa. Kitch and Creative Loafing editor Carlton Hargro are trying to bring Miami’s Winter Music Conference vibe to Charlotte.
The party features a DJ spinning soul, funk, afro-beat, acid jazz, house and more. It’s 6 p.m. every Wednesday May 16 through Aug. 29. Hit up for info.

Ray Lewis and other celebs at Loft

Loft 1523 is becoming the place to rub elbows with celebrities.
In the last month, they’ve had cast members from the movie “Leatherheads,” and Baltimore Raven Ray Lewis.
On April 21, nearly all of the cast members from “Leatherheads,” except George Clooney and Rene Zellweger, hung out at Loft in Elizabeth.

Then, last Thursday, about 50-75 people (mostly women) attended Ray Lewis’ private party at Loft 1523. According to people who attended the party, Lewis was relatively approachable, especially for women.
Lewis threw the party to promote his new barbershop Kutt 52, which is in Eastridge Mall in Gastonia. Yeah, I’m also wondering why Lewis would open a barbershop in Gastonia.

Lewis' personal trainer used to live in Charlotte so Lewis knows people here. Along with the barbershop, he also owns a trucking company here. He plans to open other shops. I hope they’re not all in Gastonia. If he’s going to attach his name to a project, it would make sense to find a location in an area that has good buzz. I’m not hearing a lot of buzz out of Eastridge.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The real Wachovia master

If you want to watch a pro, stand near the putting green and watch David Parker snag autographs.
The 12-year-old stood near the gate where the players walk to the putting green. Holding a Wachovia Championship flag, he yelled "Hey Mister, can I have your autograph?"

Some golfers stopped, others didn't. The ones who did had to find a place to sign because Parker's flag, and his sun visor, were already covered with the signatures of Vijay Singh, John Daly, Sergio Garcia, Phil Mickelson and others. He also got Peyton Manning. And he got all of those signatures this week.

“You’ve got John Daly?” said a woman excitedly.
He proudly pointed to the signature.
Parker, 12, said the secret is that he calls them mister, and sometimes uses their last name. He also says "please" and "thank you." The best place to get signatures, he said, is at the 18th hole.

The one signature he wants most?
“I want to get Tiger. He wouldn’t sign it for me.”

The Wachovia hat trick

If you're going to the tourney. Rocking a fly hat is essential.

The golfers and their caddie's sported the best gear.

I'm loving the black lid that Jesper Parnevik is rocking as well as the railroad conductor cap worn by Robert Garrigus' caddie.

The dream Wachovia gig

Travis Pearsall has the dream volunteer gig.
For at least four hours, he gets to walk the greens at Quail Hollow carrying a five-pound sign with the last names of the three golfers that he’s following. He’s called the standard bearer.

This is Pearsall’s fifth year volunteering. He’s been a marshal and a scorer, but he likes carrying the sign the best - unless it’s windy.

“It blows you around like a sail,” he said.

Oh no, they're trapped

The ropes between the third and fourth green went up suddenly. An older lady was trapped in the middle. A little boy was separated from his father. The bewildered woman looked around, and the field marshal was bearing down on her. Quickly, she lifted a rope and passed underneath it. Safe.

The boy looked at his father. "Come on," the father said, urgently. "I can't," the boy replied. A river of green separated them. The boy looked to his left. The final rope hadn't gone up yet. He sprinted down the ropes to the opening, cut across the green and joined his father. Safe.

If you're going to the Wachovia, you do not want to get caught in the crosswalk when golfers are coming. Big no-no.

We want Jordan, we want Jordan

Bring back Tiger and Jordan. Bring back Peyton Manning. Quail Hollow Club was way too sedate as the Wachovia Championship tournament started on Thursday morning.

On Wednesday, Jordan joked with fans. Tiger tossed balls around on the green and Peyton was chilling, too. Today, the golfers were all about the game. Understandably, there was no banter with fans. The field marshals were real serious about that "Quiet Please" stuff, and fans doled out polite applause and obeyed the rules.

It's tourney time, and big money is on the line.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

He ain't heavy, he's my brother

Mac Weller, Connell Maloney and Joe McLean, all ages 11, work to get a better view of Michael Jordan. They were really hoping to get autographs from Jordan, Tiger, Peyton Manning, um well, John Fox too.

Talking to Jordan

Tiger and Jordan doubled up with two other golfers on the 10th hole, and they had to wait their turn. Jordan stood near the rope talking with fans and putting. Cameras shot into the air as fans snapped pictures.

He talked about the game, and the Bobcats. He made funny quips, and fans responded with ones of their own. If you were one of the lucky fans who caught Jordan’s eye or ear, he responded to you personally.

In that moment, you were actually talking to Michael Jordan.


Jordan has the coolest golf bag

Talk about self-promotion, Jordan's golf bag is the bizomb.

Finally, found Tiger and Jordan

“Here comes Jordan,” said the man standing near me.

Applause rippled through the gallery at the ninth hole. Jordan ambled up wearing fresh pants and a white hat, while chomping on a cigar. Tiger walked up a few minutes later.

As Jordan worked on getting his ball in the ninth hole, Tiger walked around dropping golf balls onto the green and putting. Then he’d drop another ball on the green and putt some more. I was confused.

Later, Observer sportswriter David Scott explained that during the Pro-Am, the professionals take the first few strokes seriously, but after that, they practice for the big tourney. Tiger was practicing.

As Tiger and Jordan walked through the tunnel to the tenth hole, a fan yelled, “How much money are you going to take off Michael today?”

Jordan smiled.

Sign here baby!

It's gotta be the shoes. Zack Beck's brother wears a pair of Air Jordans.

Zack Beck stood in front of his chair at the ninth hole. Beside his foot were two footballs, and a plastic bag with baseballs and PGA flags.

He’s an avid autograph collector, and he was hoping to score Peyton Manning’s autographs on the footballs and Michael Jordan’s on the baseballs.

“He probably won’t sign,” the 18-year-old said, referring to Jordan.

He wasn’t worried though -- he already has Jordan’s autograph, a game-worn jersey signed by Vince Carter and other game-worn gear signed by Yao Ming and Baron Davis.

Tiger-Jordan hunt

I had big visions of arriving at the Wachovia Championship at 6 a.m., so I could be lined up at the first tee when Tiger and Jordan started at 7:30 a.m.

But yesterday was the start of May Madness, my monthlong celebration of my birthday on May 26. After four hours of kicking off my month at George Herman’s bar in Latta Arcade, I got a late start this morning.

When I arrived at Wachovia about 7:45 a.m., I had no clue where to find Tiger and Jordan. They were 15 minutes into their round. In my three years of covering the tournament, I never actually paid attention to the golfers and the schedule. Now, I didn’t know where to begin.

Luckily, I ran into freelance photographer Renaul Hill. Together, we set off on a Tiger hunt. At the fifth hole, we saw Peyton Manning working his way out of some sand, and Sergio Garcia rocking this funky Adidas outfit.

Renaul and I stopped an oh-so-helpful volunteer driving a golf cart. We asked him if he knew what hole Tiger and Jordan were on.
“He’s somewhere around here,” the guy said.

Like I said, he was oh-so-helpful.

Finally, a couple told us that they had just seen Tiger at the seventh hole. Renaul and I headed to the ninth to get a good spot.