Monday, April 30, 2007

On Abortion

Posted By on Mon, Apr 30, 2007 at 4:14 PM

Since we published a story about a local abortion clinic, I’ve received e-mails and phone calls that weighed heavily on me, particularly in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision.

A woman who’d had an abortion at A Preferred Women’s Health Center without incident wondered if the procedure had gone as well as she'd originally thought. An employee at another clinic worried how abortion providers are portrayed in the media. An abortion protester wanted information about ambulances arriving at one clinic.

Some correspondents took the situation at A Preferred Women’s Health Center as confirmation that the procedure is inherently more damaging than giving birth. I suppose anytime a story is published about a controversial subject, particularly one as emotionally charged as abortion, reaction will fuel such preconceived notions. In fact, abortion typically is not an unsafe procedure. Mainstream medical groups say it’s far safer than giving birth.

Clinics generally operate under stringent guidelines, but there are exceptions that I sometimes feel abortion-rights supporters are reluctant to address.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Sam Bush: Reflections on Merlefest

Posted By on Fri, Apr 27, 2007 at 2:08 PM

It doesn’t seem that long ago the Sam Bush was the rebel in bluegrass. Now, at the age of 55, Bush is considered one of the genre’s elder statesmen, a fact which amuses him greatly.To hear him tell it, his contribution consisted of the idea of bringing rock and roll in the genre.

But as anyone knows who has ever heard him play mandolin, Bush is steeped in traditional music as well. His fooling around with the dynamics (jamming) and content (rock, jazz, blues) of the genre is now accepted and expected from most contemporary performers and many of the older ones have stretched out as well.

On the day before Merlefest, we caught up with Bush at his home in Nashville as he was packing up to leave for the festival.

Merlefest is more than just a gig for Bush. He was friends with Merle and says that all the attention directed toward him might have been a bit much for him.

“Merle was a pretty private sort of person. He never asked for that. ” Bush says he was always content to let Doc stand out, and wanted Doc to stand out more. “I think he might be a little embarrassed; in another way, he was bound to be flattered by the love that’s come out for him."

“When we first got it going, it was really just friends of Doc’s and Merle’s and we all gathered together on the flatbed truck twenty years ago now,” Bush remembers. “I think it’s a great time when you think bout how well Nickel Creek had done, and what Alison Krauss has established.”

Doc Watson and Ralph Stanley still represent the old school crowd proudly, their voices and performances still strong.

“I think it’s a wonderful time in music when you still have Doc Watson in his 80s, still sounding wonderful, totally on his game, and his voice sounds beautiful.”

He cites the Duhks and the Green Cards as strong representatives of the style he helped initiate.

“The overview is that it's healthy in that they’re so many and there’s room for us old guys and for the new fun kids too,” he says, laughing.

Enjoy the show!


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Live Music Review: Eve to Adam, Autovein, The Exies

Posted By on Thu, Apr 26, 2007 at 9:55 AM

Amos' Southend

April 25, 2007

The Deal: Four bands do their best to bring the rock back to live music.

The Good: I won't say they were bad, but Autovein was a weak followup to opener Eve to Adam. The band had a difficult time getting the small crowd moving, though they tried their best. I'll give them points for effort, but even singer Bryan Roach noted, "Feel free to show your enthusiasm." When The Exies hit the stage, the crowd was up and jumping and ready to rock. Most of the crowd appeared to be there for the headliner, Smile Empty Soul.

The Bad: I was unaware that Eve to Adam would be playing on the bill as well. They opened the show with a 20-minute set that was little more than standard rock tunes that all sounded a little too alike as singer Taki Sassaris flirted with the women up front. On their Web site, they compare themselves to Nickelback and Creed — I guess that's why they didn't stand out. I'll admit it, I left before the headliner Smile Empty Soul. A small crowd was the reason the upstairs of Amos' was not open.

The Verdict: The Exies shredded their 50-minute set and sounded great after two weak openers. I give all the bands credit for trying to keep rock alive, but wish more people showed up.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Tamia Back in Charlotte

Posted By on Wed, Apr 25, 2007 at 9:09 AM


That's right. Mrs. Grant Hill the beautiful paid Charlotte the tremendous honor of a second visit. It was just February, during CIAA week, when the Queen City was first treated to the Canadian songstress' presence. She came back this past Saturday as part of the Pantene Total You Tour (PTYT) at the Charlotte Convention Center. PTYT was still the place to kick it with your girls and get a “good old fashioned house call” from uplifting women like nutritionist and wellness expert Dr. Rovenia Brock and Essence editorial director Susan L. Taylor. Other panelists included former Miss USA Kimberly Cockerham Along with Tamia, silky-voiced Brian McKnight was on hand to make the ladies swoon.



Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Kurt Film Career

Posted By on Tue, Apr 24, 2007 at 2:06 PM

With the passing of Kurt Vonnegut Jr. two weeks ago, the literary world lost a giant. Yet Vonnegut also deserves a tiny footnote in the annals of film history.

With rare exception, Vonnegut didn't adapt his own novels to the screen, allowing others to complete the tasks. As expected, the quality of the pictures culled from his novels and stories runs all over the map.


Slaughterhouse-Five (1972), directed by George Roy Hill in between helming Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting, remains an absorbing watch, with a sophisticated script by Stephen Geller (Kurt himself praised this screen version). On the other end of the spectrum rests 1999's awful Breakfast of Champions, writer-director Alan Rudolph's wrong-headed satire starring Bruce Willis and Nick Nolte. And while I've never seen it, Slapstick (Of Another Kind) (1982) is reportedly terrible, having been envisioned as a Jerry Lewis vehicle that sat unreleased on the shelf until 1984.

Vonnegut appeared in cameos in Night Mother (1996) and Breakfast of Champions, yet his finest moment came in his split-second appearance in the hilarious Rodney Dangerfield comedy Back to School (1986). Dangerfield plays a millionaire who returns to college late in life; more interested in partying than studying, he hires various academicians to do his homework. And for a term paper on Kurt Vonnegut, he hires no less than ... Kurt Vonnegut. The payoffs to this gag — the assignment's final grade and the ensuing telephone exchange between Dangerfield and Vonnegut — are priceless.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Presidential Donors

Posted By on Mon, Apr 23, 2007 at 2:28 PM

Former Sen. John Edwards may be lagging both in the polls and in fund raising, but he's gotten the lion's share of North Carolinians (and Charlotteans) donor dollars.

From, here's a breakdown of where campaign donations from the Charlotte area are going:

John Edwards: $1,423,157

John McCain: $169,240

Barack Obama: $115,734

Mitt Romney: $87,373

Hillary Clinton: $85,610

Rudolph W. Giuliani: $77,000

Mike Huckabee: $36,449

Sam Brownback: $21,450

Christopher J. Dodd: $20,900

Joseph R. Biden Jr.: $14,550

Bill Richardson: $6,450

Tom Tancredo: $5,264

Ron Paul: $2,441

Duncan Hunter: $1,000

Dennis J. Kucinich: $800

Mike Gravel: $10

Total to All Candidates: $2,067,428

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Kid with Gun!

Posted By on Fri, Apr 20, 2007 at 11:17 AM

This week, a 16-year-old North Mecklenburg High junior who threatened students with a gun he brought on campus later killed himself with it when confronted by police at a nearby gas station.

The response by the local powers that be to the tragic and frightening incident Wednesday at North Mecklenburg High school was pretty convincing.

Those who don't know any better would almost think that school system leaders do everything in their power to prevent a tragedy like the one at Virginia Tech. But don't be fooled.


There were 18 instances of possession of a firearm at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools last year and 378 instance of possession of a weapon, but only six expulsions.

The North Mecklenburg student who tragically took his life this week is probably the only kid who brought a dangerous weapon on campus this year who DEFINITELY won't be back in school within the year. And that's only because he' s no longer with us.

The kid in the photo above is Holly Mitchell, who made local news this fall for bringing an M-16 assault rifle and ammo to a football game at West Mecklenburg High School, where he was a student. Amazingly, he's still running around town, racking up new charges and posting photos like this one on MySpace. (Thanks to for the photo.) That's because the schools and prosecutors also haven't made it a priority to prosecute these kids.

Christopher Fonseca (pictured left) was charged with bringing a weapon on educational property in April 2006. He was back in school in December, when he was arrested again for having a gun on school property.

And then there is my all time favorite, Jorge Marin. CMS officials apparently thought that the 10-day suspension they gave Marin for slashing at another Coulwood student with a knife during a fight on a school bus in February 2005 would get his attention.

It didn't. In another case at Coulwood, Marin threatened and then attempted to stab a teacher with a pencil because the teacher told him he couldn't leave the classroom. When the teacher threatened to fight back if Marin kept lunging at him, Marin sharpened the pencil and came at the teacher again. CMS officials handed Marin another 10-day suspension. Marin would no doubt still be at CMS too if he wasn't arrested for trying to mow down a police officer with a stolen car.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Live Music Review: Blues Traveler

Posted By on Thu, Apr 19, 2007 at 9:52 AM

The Deal: Blues Traveler's rockin' harmonica and the jam band flu came to infect the Neighborhood Theatre and, well, it was sick.

The Good: After 20 years (this was their anniversary show), Blues Traveler showed they still have what it takes to put on a great live concert. A two-and-a-half-hour set, featuring 20 songs including a 15-minute encore, was a great way to start the next 20. Over the years, singer/harmonica player John Popper has learned to tone it down a notch. It's not the "John Popper show" that it used to be. He shows more control and better solos. Instead of showing off his talent, he showcases it like a guitar player. The band played songs from albums new and old with some highlights being "But Anyway" and "Mulling it Over" from their debut self-titled release, "Amber Awaits," "Mountains Win Again," "Hook" and "Carolina Blues." Guitarist Chan Kinchla was on top of his game and the rest of the boys got to showcase their talents as well. The encore was a blistering, 15-minute "Mountain Cry."

The Bad: I see it all the time ... it's a concert, stop trying to talk to people on your cell phone. I didn't go to the concert to hear you yell at your friend who may or may not also be at the concert. You can also stop taking 50 pictures of you, the band, your friends, etc. The flashes were out of control in a distracting way, although most of you left after you heard "Runaround."

The Verdict: The first time I saw Blues Traveler was about 17 years ago, and they haven't lost a step. They may not have radio hits, but their talents are easily visible. It's no surprise that they've lasted this long.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Brain Candy

Posted By on Tue, Apr 17, 2007 at 1:53 PM

Last Thursday, I attended a meeting set to give Charlotte's Black community a new direction.

Ahmad Daniels (pictured to the left) and his Creative Interchange organization hosted the "Crisis Affecting Young African-American Males" forum, which became even more pertinent after the arrest of 25-year-old Demetrius Montgomery in the murders of Officers Sean Clark and Jeff Shelton. The meeting room was filled with a standing-room only crowd of families and buppies alike intent on finding an answer to the question Marvin Gaye asked years ago, "What's Going On?" And yes, I was thrilled to be in the company of young, successful Black men and can admit to scanning the crowd for date material.

However, that ended the moment a solution to the breakdown of our community became reinstating segregation. "WTF?!" I thought. I did not just hear what I thought I heard. Not in the year 2007. Comments would be greatly appreciated.


The CM3A Agenda

Posted By on Tue, Apr 17, 2007 at 12:31 PM

So the Charlotte Mecklenburg African American Agenda was unveiled yesterday, at least officially. The bulk of information presented at Billingsville Elementary School was already available on the Web site, but then, having a report on a Web site isn't going to get you time on the 5 o'clock newscast.

Turnout was better than what one might expect for a Power Point presentation, and some of the questions posed to state Sen. Malcolm Graham, developer Stoney Sellers and others were pointed. One guy took Power 98's Janine Davis to task for negative lyrics in some songs the station plays. That was after Davis acknowledged concern about some of the messages in popular hip-hop and said those worries were one reason she'd started Girl Talk Foundation Inc., a self-empowerment initiative for girls ages 11 to 16.

Look to CM3A to offer more to the public discourse in coming months and — likely — years. Graham said the group's steering committee will take a stand on a school bond referendum, should one be put on the ballot.

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