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See & Do 

JANUARY 7 - WEDNESDAY
OK, you've piddled around long enough. This is the last week for one of the finest visual art exhibits we've had in town in years so get over to the Mint Museum of Art and check out Raphael To Monet. This glorious exhibit includes 58 masterpieces of European painting and sculpture from the 16th through the 19th centuries -- by artists including Raphael, Brueghel, Van Dyck, Bernini, Manet, Pissarro, Monet, Sisley, Degas and others. The works of art are from one of America's most celebrated collections of European art, at The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, and will be on display through Sunday, January 11. The Mint's hours are Wednesday-Saturday 10-5; and Sunday 12-5. Call 704-337-2000 for more information. (Grooms)

JANUARY 8 - THURSDAY
Playwright Steven Dietz has an abiding interest in mystery and the macabre, as evidenced in previous works produced in Charlotte, Private Eyes and his adaptation of Dracula. In BareBones Theatre Group's upcoming Lonely Planet, we'll meet Jody, a proprietor of a map store who doesn't exercise his geographical knowledge -- or anything else -- beyond the front door. Carl tries to reassure his best friend that it's OK to venture outside to take an AIDS test (while bringing in relics of dead friends). Watch out for Dietz's surprise ending as Nicia Carla makes her BBTG directorial debut at SPAC. Through January 25. Call 704-332-5300. (Tannenbaum)

JANUARY 9 - FRIDAY
Don't forget the earplugs for the mid-South regional competition of the 20th Anniversary edition of Arenacross, one of the largest indoor motorsport series in the world. Amateur as well as professional motorcyclists from around the country compete in several events for money, prestige and bone-crunching action -- including a Jump-Off Contest that will have riders sail 70 feet through the air while doing aerial acrobatics. Ouch. Times: Jan. 9 & 10, 7:30pm, Jan. 11, Noon at Charlotte Coliseum. Tickets range from $10-18. More details call 704-522-6500 or visit www.arenacross.com (Shukla)

JANUARY 10 - SATURDAY
Punk Wars "04, both a showcase for local and regional bands and a platform for social and political awareness, takes place today on Tremont Music Hall's Casbah stage. Local acts like My So-Called Band, Choke Their Rivers With Our Dead, and Minority Party share the stage with bands like Raleigh's Between the Buried and Me, Circle Takes the Square (Savannah), Shadows and the Silence (Virginia), and loads more. Additionally, booths will be set up around Tremont as both an example of and a call to arms for DIY (Do It Yourself) action and awareness. Doors open relatively early (5pm), but the all-ages show runs till midnight. Tickets are $5 in advance and $7 at the door. For more information, call 704-343-9494. (Davis)

There's a twisted form of irony at work in the universe when, on the same day one learns of the imminent closing of one of the best and last independent record store chains in America, you receive a press release celebrating a Bobble Head Doll giveaway for one of the "nation's hottest recording artists," Clay Aiken. But sometimes it's better not to think too hard about these things. And a match-up between Conference USA rivals the Charlotte 49ers and East Carolina might be just the ticket to take one's mind off the topic of irony. After all, no one's forcing you to take one of the 9,105 Aiken dolls they're giving away, or suggesting what to do with it afterward. Tip-off is at 7pm at Halton Arena, and all tickets are $20. For more information, call 704-687-4949. (Schacht)

JANUARY 13 - TUESDAY
Born Andwele Gardner, the Detroit native Dwele began writing songs at the age of 10, after his father was murdered outside his home. Blessed with a silky smooth voice, he's a Marvin Gaye disciple with underground hip hop and neo-soul leanings. His solo record, Subject, was released in June of "03 and has been garnering great press. He's touring with a seven-piece band, and as if that wasn't enough, he's got a great opener, too. Scratch is the human beatbox who's been blowing away Roots' fans with vocal tricks that simulate a DJ working a pair of turntables. Advance tickets are $12 ($15 at the door) and available at Groove Merchant Records on Central. The show is at Tonic and starts at 9pm. Call 704-347-2582 for more information. (Schacht)

The Charlotte Business Guild welcomes former Major League Baseball player Billy Bean at the Lesbian & Gay Community Center tonight from 5:30-8:30pm. The Guild's highest profile speaker since Greg Louganis, Bean will share his experiences of life as a closeted pro athlete and the reaction to his coming out after his retirement. Tickets cost $35 and include food and an open bar. Bean will be available for photographs and autographs. And you'll want a photograph -- he's hot. The Center is located at 1401 Central Ave., in Plaza-Midwood. Call 704-333-0144 or 704-565-7075 for details. (Grossman)

Pioneering producer Cameron Mackintosh has made his mark by bringing Cats, Les Miz, and Phantom of the Opera to Broadway. Now he's piloting a new national tour of Oliver!, a show he previously revived in London in 1994 -- with new songs by Lionel Bart added onto his 1963 Tony Award-winning score. Keeping standards like "Consider Yourself," "As Long as He Needs Me," and "You've Gotta Pick a Pocket or Two," the revival looked like a surefire winner. Early reviews of the non-Equity production, however, haven't been worshipful. Hopefully, it's because the new version packs more Dickens and less cutes. Call 704-372-1000. (Tannenbaum)

The man who made the Statue of Liberty vanish into thin air and walked through the Great Wall of China comes to the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center tonight for two performances at 6pm and 9pm. David Copperfield, recognized by critics and fans alike as the greatest illusionist of our time, makes a one-night stop in Charlotte for "An Intimate Evening of Grand Illusion." Tickets range from $30-$49 and may be purchased by calling 704-372-1000. You better get them while you can -- fans are sure to make those tickets disappear. (Grossman)

JANUARY 14 - WEDNESDAY
UNCC's Martin Luther King birthday celebration, "You are the Dream," will be held today through Friday. A panel discussion: "Once Upon a Time: Reflections From the Past to Build on the Future," kicks off this series of events today from 11am-1pm in the Cone Center, followed by a Timeline Exhibit in the Lucas Room from 3-9pm. The highlight of the celebration is the MLK, Jr. formal program tomorrow night, featuring Ben Ruffin. Ruffin was the first African-American to chair the NC Board of Governors and was VP of corporate affairs for RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co. The program begins at 7pm in McKnight Hall. Other events include a screening of A Walk to Remember and a candlelight vigil. For a complete schedule of events (which are all free), call 704-687-4160. (Grossman)

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