Tis the season ... the season of giving, and holiday parties. Friday, Dec. 17, I am combining the two and hosting the White and Gold Holiday Gala at BUTTER to benefit the Levine Children's Hospital.
Bring an unwrapped toy to be donated to the children's hospital and your cover will be waived. It's essentially Second String Santa in a club ... rather than a Christmas prom.
If you like kids, you'll come!
I'm making a list and the bouncer's checking it twice ...
If you want to come just e-mail me the names at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll put you on my list for my table. Cheers!
Former NASCAR driver and current USAC star Shane Hmiel was involved in a nearly fatal accident in October while running his Silver Crown car at Terre Haute Action Track where he broke his back and neck in two places. And with that his hopes of running in the Indy 500 turned to hopes of ever walking again... and now, he is racing to recover.
As he lies in a hospital bed in the ICU undergoing multiple surgeries, the bills are adding up adding insult to serious injury.
So, there's going to be a good party for a good cause, to support Shane's race to recovery. Wednesday, Nov. 17, starting at 4 p.m. there will be a silent auction at the Rusty Rudder, one of the racing community’s favorite hangouts. There will be auction items, live music and some of racings biggest names.
Bidding will end at 8 p.m. but the party will continue at the Lake Norman Comedy Zone with comedian Shaun Jones, one of the nations top touring stand up comedians who has been featured on television stand up hours and acted alongside Jamie Foxx in feature films.
To attend the event you will need to purchase a ticket in the form of a $40 donation here. In addition to the party, everyone that attends will receive an exclusive “Heal The Real Deal” t-shirt, and be entered in a raffle for some great prizes. And all food and beverage proceeds will go towards Shane’s recovery. So cheers to Shane Hmiel, because he's the real deal and in time will heal, with our help!
Call me a freak, but I have found myself working more in bars than I do in an office. And not just because I’m a nightlife reporter, or because the Creative Loafing offices are nestled between BUTTER, Wet Willie's, and Black Bear. Perhaps I really am a freak, but it’s just a better working environment than an office.
For starters, the bar ambiance is more fun to be in than a cubicle. And bar stools don’t hurt your back the way computer chairs do. And there’s a bartender on hand to make you coffee so you don’t have to do so yourself … or a cocktail. Pick your poison.
Sure, people always look at me funny when I pull out a laptop and legal pad on a bar. But most bars have free WiFi for a reason. And the annoying people who interrupt you to ask, “Are you working at a bar?” are the alternative for the annoying co-worker who asks “Does someone have a case of the Mondays?”
Employers should have company Happy Hours, the morale would be high. Though I am spoiled, and slightly jaded, from my days working at MAXIM Magazine back in 2003-2004. On Friday, the interns would turn the office into a bar and serve us drinks to our cubicles. Fresh out of undergrad, I hadn’t yet mastered the art of drinking functionally, so I’d always have to redo everything on Monday, completely defeating the purpose.
Some of the places I’ve set my office up at locally include Mac’s Speed Shop at Lake Norman, Yn2 Cafe, Pillars Pub, Rusty Rudder, Ed's Tavern, Loco Lime, the new Growler’s PourHouse in NoDa, and M5 (which is actually closing and transforming into Zink, which closed Uptown).
Nightlife is fun ... and you can utilize it to make work a little bit more fun too. But I don't suggest getting a drink from Wet Willie's when trying to do so. I went to go work on their patio and ordered a "Naked Willy" (their low-sugar daquari-slurpee selection), so that I could pretend I was at the beach rather than just across from the CL office. And a few sips later, I was too tipsy to get much accomplished.
Last Friday night after a long week, I found myself sitting in my house whining ... to myself. I wanted to complain that I had hours of work left on a Friday night and the Internet had gone down in my house — then I remembered I have a job and house, so I shut up. But even still, the little stressors in my life were attacking my mind like a parasite, eating my positive thoughts and laying eggs of self-doubt. Don't you hate it when that happens?
So I figured that in order to stop whining, I should just go get some wine ... it hasn't yet been FDA-approved, but I hear it's a good medicinal remedy against bad moods.
So I went to check out Yn Café in Dilworth, where the element is wine.
It's a hole in the wall — not that it’s not nice, but it is literally a hole in the wall. It’s like 131 Main’s secret wine cellar. With its dark wood, dark lighting, and discrete ambiance, it's a good place to take someone you don’t really want to be seen with — like an Ashley Madison date or something. But it’s also a good place to go for an innocent low-key relaxed night, or in my case, a place to whip out the laptop secluded from Internet, drink wine and work on my book in a venue as cozy as my own living room (with a much more extensive wine rack).
A few months ago, while driving down Tryon Street, I almost wrecked when I passed a giant, silver, shiny bird-like creature. I thought the city had been invaded by aliens ... Then I realized it was just the Firebird statue decorating Wells Fargo Cultural Campus — all of those new buildings and apparent giant bird statue make up the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Knight Theater, the Mint Museum of Art (which opens Oct.1), The Harvey B. Gantt African American Cultural Center … and the NASCAR Hall of Fame museum?
Hilary Howards of the New York Times calls it an arts oasis in a sporty town: "Nestled amid these modern-day shrines to sweat and gasoline is a brand-new cultural oasis where high art reigns.”
But Howards forgot to mention that nightlife also reigns on the campus of culture under the new Duke Power building. Is it just me or does it look a lot like a martini. So, inevitably, it’s nightlife-centric. You just need a ticket to kick it for the ever-changing plays, concerts, art exhibits and special events.
Walking and talking may seem to us like simple luxuries in life that we take from granted, while we complain about a gimp knee, headache, or hang nail... but for some, it's a miracle - and they don't complain at all. Such as Lexi Haas, the most amazing and inspirational little girl I know, personally.
You may have heard about Lexi via the Charlotte Observer, when last year at the age of 7, she became the first person in the world to have a deep brain stimulator placed to help alleviate symptoms of kernicterus, or neurological damage caused by her newborn jaundice. Lexi endured 11 hours of brain surgery, much of it while awake, to place the electrodes in her brain, followed by a second surgery the next week to implant a stimulator in her abdomen that she named Hope. Lexi is now 8, has shown some important improvements, and is celebrating the one year anniversary of the surgery.
And to celebrate Lexi is having a party, and you're invited...
Lexi’s Celebration of Hope will be at the Weddington Chase Clubhouse on Saturday July 31 from 4 - 8 p.m featuring live music by Highway 17, food and a silent auction. A suggested donation of $25 at the door will go to the kernicterus research fund at the Medical College of Virginia where Lexi’s surgery was performed. Proceeds from the silent auction will be put in a trust to help offset Lexi’s medical expenses that aren’t covered by her insurance.
A celebration of hope, I can't think of a greater cause for celebration.
Learn more about the celebration of hope and find out ways to spread hope here
To read Lexi's full story check out her Caring Bridge Journal
And by Courtside I mean the condo building next to the arena — Kalu has opened underneath it, appreciating the value of the property. But all residents of Charlotte can appreciate this new bar and restaurant.
Just like the waitress does, let's start with the drinks... They have a sake line exclusive to their venue, and a drink menu to match it.
Cason-Point: the Sake Slurpee — which was so thick I needed a spoon to consume it. Which is better than the alternative of getting esophagus freeze like I always do at Wet Willies sucking down the spiked slurpee.
They also have (and are the only ones in Charlotte who have) Eichigo, an imported rice beer from Japan and Kissui, an Asian vodka. And their signature drink is the Geicha green tea.
And now for the food...
Green Flag on the holiday weekend!
Happy birthday, America! Time to fire up the grill, eat some hotdogs, watch fireworks ... and a NASCAR race.
You can watch the Daytona 400.
Tickets to the viewing party are $5 and include a free simulator ride and race scanner like that of an actual race that broadcasts drivers and crew radio chat and lap-by-lap commentary. But unlike an actual race at the Beast of the SouthEast, the HOF is not BYOB - concessions and a cash bar will be available.
Note, it's a simulator, not STIMULATOR ... which I learned after incorrectly saying "the vibrations of the stimulators ..." on live television. Whoops.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for NASCAR Hall of Fame Members; 7 p.m. for general public. Green Flag waves at 7:30 p.m.
I got a new tattoo!
Actually, a temporary cartoon crab on my hand, applied by a 3-year-old at Levine Children’s Hospital. I was there for what was not only the best party I’ve ever attended in Charlotte in all my years as a nightlife writer, but just ever in general … the Starlight Society’s Beach Bash.
In addition to fake tattooing, there was dolphin ring toss, beach ball coloring, picture frame-making, and face painting … in which I found myself in charge of. A little boy asked me to draw a dog on his face. Now this is well beyond my artistic ability, but I drew the best stick figure of a dog with spots I could ... and it pretty much looked like a kid drew it. Yet, he loved it — he even showed it off to the doctors and then asked me to draw a shark on his other cheek ... he was just as happy and grateful as could be. As were all the kids attending the beach bash. Those kids appreciate every moment, every breath and they find the fun in any situation ... It’s amazing the things children can teach adults.
The Starlight Society is a group of young professionals that exists to support the Levine Children’s Hospital — it’s kind of like a fraternity or country club of community service. Their first project is the Center Stage Entertainment Series Program, in which they hold events such as the Beach Bash, and the Prelude to the Dream race-viewing party at Strike City — that Team Levine led by Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch actually won. Because of Johnson’s win and Busch’s third place finish, Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte received 45 percent of the proceeds raised by the race and the pay-per-view broadcast. Perhaps the only time I’ll cheer for Jimmie or Kyle.
If you wish to join the club you can do so here.
There's nightlife ... then there's nightlife so good that you literally make a night of it, and it turns into over-nightlife. Now I'm not talking about staying up all night snorting Red Bull, or doing the horizontal mumbo that results in waking up to do the walk of shame (or stride of pride as I prefer to call it).
I'm talking about adult slumber parties, such as camping. That's right ... camping.
Last Sunday I woke up on the ground, with the freshly risen sun shining through the screen of a tent like a spotlight, so hot it dried the layer of dew covering my body — while an off-key mockingbird was singing like a rooster. I'd gone country ... back to my roots. I roughed it for the weekend in the mountains surrounding Virginia Tech with my old college girls. And girls we were.
When pitching the tent after installing the poles, we realized their flimsiness made them good for fly-slash-spear fishing. So we proceeded to take them down to the river to fish, but then gave up after five minutes. Eventually, we got it up (the tent that is), and our temporary home stood even longer than the first two little pigs' homes did.
We retreated to the camp fire to have a little jam session with bongos and other unknown instruments — such as a stick with little jingle bells attached to it. We deemed this "Bells on a Stick" and proceeded to sing a song about it to the tune of the song "Pants on the Ground" ... "sounding like a fool with your bells on a stick" (you may had to have been there).
The worst thing about camping is the lack of water — to drink and bathe in. So we took our water bottles and had a water chugging contest. I felt and looked like a hippie … I was wondering if bugs were flying toward me because I smelled so bad. I started dousing myself in insect repellent hoping it would make my skin and blood a little less appetizing for the insects. Kinda like dipping a wing in blue cheese ... the condiment just ruins the flavor.
I've been obsessed with camping since and have asked around and scoured the Internet for places to go camping in and around Charlotte. And my research findings have led me to the conclusion that there aren't many places to go camping in or around Charlotte.
There's a campground in Carowinds, and being the home of NASCAR, there are countless RV lots. There are places to camp on Lake Norman, but it's illegal ... I'm not sure if taking a nap or passing out counts under that law, though. But it is legal on Lake Wylie — there's the McDowell Nature preserve and KOA in Fort Mill. There's also King’s Mountain, where I've been warned it's illegal to have alcohol.
Where else can one go camping in the concrete jungle? You tell me.
My friends and I wanted to go camping so badly last night that we got my tent that was conveniently still ready for use in the trunk of my car, and pitched it on the the roof of my Uptown parking garage … don’t try this at home kids. I got off lucky that the security guard in my building could be bribed with S'mores ice cream.