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Creative Loafing gets a new look 

Plus, what's in this week's issue and a call for letters

For Creative Loafing Charlotte's 25th anniversary issue last week, we unveiled a brand-new look — a sleek and curvy new logo, updated typefaces and section openers in the print edition that allow for more of the news, reviews, profiles, art and photography that you've come to expect. Our creative director, Melissa Oyler, worked long and hard with the editorial staff to create the ultimate alt-weekly template for the 21st century, and we believe she succeeded beyond all expectations.

But last week's special issue was just a taste. This week, we unveil all of the regular sections and new features you'll be seeing in these pages going forward.

The centerpiece of the redesign, CL Recommends, is an expanded, one-stop section of critics' takes on the most talked-about things to do in Charlotte each week. CL Recommends combines the old See & Do page with CL Picks from the Sound Menu. We've dropped the Sound Menu from the music section and moved the concert listings to our digital platforms at clclt.com. We also moved the Style section to clclt.com.

Why did we do this? The intent is to free up CL's limited print space in a way that makes for a better read. We believe CL's print edition should focus on reported news, more critical analysis and more arts, music and culture recommendations. Our digital platforms, on the other hand, can provide every single thing you could possibly want to see or do in the Charlotte area — at a click.

When I was a kid in New York City, I would rip out the listings from the latest issues of the Village Voice, stuff them in my pocket and refer to them for the rest of the week. With smart phones and tablets, we no longer need long lists of events on paper to stuff in our pockets. That paper can be used for information that's better suited for paper — like stories; good, page-flipping stories.

All of this is just the beginning of an ongoing series of initiatives Creative Loafing is taking in order to continue being your go-to source for information on arts and culture in Charlotte.

Speaking of a go-to source for information — our news editor, Ana McKenzie, checks in this issue with an Independence Day cover package on what it means to be an American. She profiles three very different demonstrators — a founding member of Occupy Charlotte; a teenage, out-lesbian activist fighting for the rights of local gays and immigrants; and a pioneer of Charlotte-area activism, the late Ella May Wiggins, a Gastonia cotton mill union organizer of the 1920s who sacrificed no less than her life to stand up for what she believed in. Sometimes being an American means fighting to the last gasp against the status quo.

Elsewhere, Jordan Lawrence, one of CL's more astute freelance music journalists, talks to Ari Picker, leader of Chapel Hill's excellent orchestral pop band Lost in the Trees, about the group's devastating new album and June 28 performance at the Visulite. Longtime food writer Tricia Childress reviews a hot spot for Belgian waffles in south Charlotte. And our intrepid film head (and arts editor) Matt Brunson gives you the goods on several new movies, including an unexpected delight from writer-director Lorene Scafaria, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.

And let me extend a few more staff shout-outs — like, did I mention how awesome CL's managing editor Kim Lawson is? This paper literally would not get to press each week without her. That's how awesome she is.

Our tireless assistant arts editor, Anita Overcash, is the one responsible for gathering all those critical previews for the new CL Recommends (including writing a bunch of them herself). You may have noticed how diverse the music section has become lately, with so many new experts weighing in with reviews and analyses of so many pop-cultural trends, from rock and hip-hop to out jazz. For that, you can thank music editor Jeff Hahne, who's been hard at work recruiting the best of the best area music journalists. And if CL seems to be reading more smoothly lately, it's because our new copy editor, Emiene Wright, is one hell of a stickler for details.

Moving forward, we'd like for you to let us know how we're doing. How are CL's different platforms working together for you? Are you getting what you want and need from Creative Loafing? What more would you like to see us do? We gratefully accept any compliments you may offer, but also feel free to critique us on the things we aren't doing well. After all, we critique Charlotte for the things it isn't doing well or not doing at all. We do this because we love Charlotte and want this community to be the best it can be. And we want the same for ourselves.

So fire away. We've made it easier for you to get your ideas not only online but in the paper, by bringing back CL's Letters section. We won't be printing long letters, as we did in the pre-digital years, but we will be printing key sections of letters. So send us your thoughts, either by mail (you'll find our address on page 4) or by email, to backtalk@creativeloafing.com.

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