Friday, July 30, 2010

Local firm Six Figure Entertainment ends partnership with Therapy Café due to alleged 'racist comments'

Posted By on Fri, Jul 30, 2010 at 4:42 PM

Therapy Café and Six Figure Entertainment used to have a working relationship.

But those days are over and allegations of racism are floating around the Internet after Kirk Brown, CEO of Six Figure Entertainment, a local promotions company, sent out an e-mail blast accusing the martini bar of racial insensitivity. According to the e-mail:

We've ... become aware of an undertone of racial insensitivity to the patrons of SFE as noted by many of you via the automatic addition of 20% gratuity to your bills. For your information, this occurred based upon the comments and attitudes of the management staff that "African-American People Don't Tip." If this were simply the attitude of the employees, our relationship could possibly be sustained through diversity training etc.; however since this is the attitude of management it is best that we part company now. We do not condone and WILL NOT tolerate anyone disrespecting the brand of SFE and its patrons.

The owners of Therapy, located at 401 N. Tryon St., are firing back and are seeking legal advice on how to proceed.

Here's what isn't in dispute: Six Figure Entertainment and Therapy Café entered into a partnership, which would allow the promoters to host events at the restaurant on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Owner Jason Stone said he and his partner knew Brown and knew his ability to get people in the door.

Brown said that Therapy was supposed to make some upgrades before Six Figure began holding their events at the café. He said some of those things weren't taken care of (Stone said the restaurant upgraded its sound system and purchased new glasses as well as lowered the price on menu items.) but they went in anyway.

"We were trying to help them out," Brown said. "So that they could generate some of the money so that they could get some of those things. Meeting with one of the owners, he let me know that they didn't have the capital to invest in [upgrades]. And I said, 'Why didn't you tell me that in the beginning? We could've made a decision to move forward or not to move forward.'"

But Brown said he decided to work with Therapy anyway.

Stone said Therapy, which is eight years old, is always looking for new ways to drive people into their business and added that the cafe is a destination spot because they don't get a lot of walk in traffic like clubs and restaurants closer to the city's center.

"We have always had a very diverse crowd and very diverse employee base," Stone said. "We have always been very open to that and have always loved that about Charlotte. We love the diversity that Therapy brings and we have never, ever had a problem like this."

Brown said his allegations stem from the fact that a manager at the cafe told him one Saturday night that Therapy was adding a 20-percent gratuity to patrons' tickets because black people don't tip.

"Last week was our customer appreciation event, and this is where everything blew up. This was our third week with Therapy. The night of the appreciation, we had already talked about the 20-percent gratuity. And the night of the event, the manager came to me and said we're going to add 20-percent to everyone's bill because the waiters aren't getting tipped," he said. "I said, 'People tip on service and if your service is not right, you're going to get tipped on that.'"

Adam Rees, Therapy's general manager, said the confrontation between Brown and the manager was very loud and unprofessional. But Brown's partner (who Brown chose not to name) had wanted to renegotiate with Therapy about doing future events that Brown wouldn't be a part of.

Stone said after two meetings with Brown where he'd stormed out and said he wasn't going to work with Therapy anymore, they decided to go in another direction.

"Within an hour of that conversation, we'd been labeled as racist. It is a sickening feeling to read this," Stone said. "It makes me physically ill to see that someone is calling my business racist. That is the last thing in the world I would ever tolerate in my business. If there was even a whisper that someone acted this way, they would be immediately terminated."

But Brown said when he asked to see if the 20-percent rule was being applied to black and white customers, he was never shown evidence that was the case. "If you're going to do a percentage, that should be done across the board, Caucasian, Indian, black, whatever the case night be," he said.

But Stone said Brown's allegations are false and stem from his anger at the partnership ending. "We are not taking this lightly. We are not racist," said Stone. "Our doors are open to anybody."

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Today's Top 5: Friday

Posted By on Fri, Jul 30, 2010 at 3:28 PM

Here are the five best events going down in Charlotte and the surrounding area today, July, 30 2010 — as selected by the folks at Creative Loafing.

Barenaked Ladies at Road Runner Mobile Amphitheatre

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Southend Comedy Show at Amos' Southend

Pineville's Rockin' and Reelin' at Pineville Lake Park

Chife, Changing Reflections of My Life through songs of Michael Jackson at Duke Energy Theatre

The Great American Trailer Park Musical at Actor's Theatre of Charlotte

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Church to burn Korans for 9/11

Posted By on Fri, Jul 30, 2010 at 2:12 PM

Here’s a bonus Stupid Thing of the Week, just because we’re generous. Don’t forget that the anniversary of 9/11 is coming up; have you decided what you’ll be doing that day? Well, if you’re a full-on, right-wing Christian nutcase, you may want to consider joining the fine folks at the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla. They are tastefully “rebranding” 9/11 as International Burn A Koran Day – and that’s just what they’re gonna do! So join in the fun (here’s the group’s Facebook page), and show the superiority of conservative Christianity – by burning the holy books of other religions! The true, white, blue-eyed Christian Jesus will love ya for it!

Speaking of right-wing Christian nuts and book burning ...
  • Speaking of right-wing Christian nuts and book burning ...

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FBI to access your Internet records?

Posted By on Fri, Jul 30, 2010 at 2:09 PM

It was hard deciding whether a news item that popped up yesterday should be the Stupid Thing of the Week or the Seriously F’d Up Thing of the Week. Either way, it’s seriously stupid and F'd up.  The Washington Post reported yesterday that the Justice Department wants to go the Bush administration one better on snooping into Americans’ lives. It seems the DOJ has been pressuring Congress to expand the department’s power to access records of Americans’ private internet activity.

That’s disturbing enough, but the way the DOJ wants to go about it is just as bad: by using National Security Letters. NSLs are one of the most insidious government surveillance tactics to be expanded by the Stalinization of  America Act, oops,we mean the Patriot Act. NSLs allow the FBI to demand information and data from e-mail providers and phone companies about ordinary citizens’ private communications. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the letters include gag orders that bar recipients from ever revealing the letters’ existence to friends, coworkers, family members or,  needless to say, the general public. Even more incredible is that the Justice Dept. is making this new power grab just two years after a DOJ investigation revealed that the FBI has routinely abused the power given them by NSLs.

The DOJ's request to allow the FBI access to your detailed Web browsing history, search history, location information, or even Facebook friend requests, is, well, we were going to say “dumbfounding,” but frankly, it’s scary as hell. As if Bush & Cheney weren’t bad enough — now Obama’s DOJ is trying to pull this crap? Let the White House, as well as your representatives and senators, know how you feel about it.

Illustration by Micah Wright / Remix Project
  • Illustration by Micah Wright / Remix Project

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Dinner for Schmucks: Fairly tasty

Posted By on Fri, Jul 30, 2010 at 1:40 PM

DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS

By Matt Brunson

DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS

**1/2

DIRECTED BY Jay Roach

STARS Steve Carell, Paul Rudd

Whereas American filmmakers often prefer to produce comedies like Killers, French filmmakers frequently choose to produce killer comedies like The Dinner Game.

Continue reading »

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Weekender, July 30-Aug. 1

Posted By on Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 4:06 PM

Check out these events going down in Charlotte and the surrounding area this weekend— as selected by the folks at Creative Loafing.

Friday, July 30

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Noises Off

Davidson College’s Duke Family Performance Hall

Davidson Community Players is going British for Noises Off. The play follows a quirky theater company in Great Britain. Audiences see the play from two sides: that of the audience and that of an insider, seeing the real behind-the-scenes drama.

Comedy Amos’ Southend becomes a funny zone tonight, during the Southend Comedy Show. The event is hosted by Bill “TheThrill” Cleveland and will feature guest comedians Greg Martinez, Mike Buczek, Oletha Cuevas and Jonathan Dunn. Come prepared to laugh. more...

Food For Thai food, including Tom Yum Kung soup, curries, noodles and Pad Thai, as well as other Asian choices, visit Blue Thai Basil in Blakeney. Try the delicious signature duck dish. more...

Saturday, July 31

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Natalia Clavier

Dharma Lounge

Argentinean songstress Natalia Clavier is no stranger to the mic — she’s been singing for years, but gained fame in 2008 when her debut album Nectar marked the first ever release by a solo female artist in record label ESL’s history. Clavier breezes into Dharma Lounge tonight to perform a mix of fresh flowing Latin-electronica-fusion. DJ Nat Eichler will spin tunes before and after the performance.

Festival You don’t have to be a fan of sushi to attend the Bon Odori Festival at The Atrium today. In its 26th year, the event presents a variety of Japanese culture and entertainment that’s not fishy, including dance and drum performances, a martial art exhibition, a tea ceremony, arts and crafts. There will also be door prizes and a raffle. more...

Film The Main Library’s summer film series “The Bad and the Beautiful: 8 films by Vincente Minnelli” continues today with a free screening of Bells Are Ringing. Actress Judy Holliday — who picked up a Tony Award for her role in the original Broadway production — plays a switchboard operator who makes her own fun by taking on multiple identities when talking to clients. Though this was Holliday’s last appearance on the big screen, it marked a ringing finale to her career in cinema. more...

Sunday, Aug. 1

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Kinetic Works Dance Performance

Theatre Charlotte

Choreographer Martha Connerton’s contemporary dance company Kinetic Works is swinging onto the stage for its Summer Dance 2010 performance. Titled “Black, White and Blues,” the show is choreographed by Connerton and Duane Cyrus (former dancer with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Martha Graham Dance Company). The repertory will include “A Seat in History,” based on impressions of the Greensboro civil rights sit-ins; “High and Lonesome,” dedicated to bluesman Jimmy Reed and “21 Intrusions,” backed by the music of composer Elliot Carter.

Special Event Event-wise, you can’t get much more global than Pura Vida Worldly Arts’ latest shindig World Party: Potluck + International Danceathon. Aimed at getting the community together to appreciate a cultural fusion of music, dance and food, folks attending are encouraged to bring an international dish to share. more...

Festival Head to Plaza Fiesta Carolinas for the Peruvian Independence Festival today. The daylong cultural celebration features Peruvian food, music by Live Latin Fuzion and dancing by Contigo Peru. Oh, and admission is free, which is cause for a fiesta in itself. more...

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Arizona crime stats contradict anti-immigrant rants

Posted By on Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 1:49 PM

It was a welcome relief yesterday when Judge Susan Bolton issued a preliminary injunction against key parts of SB 1070, Arizona’s police-state immigration law. Bolton’s decision blocks Arizona from enforcing the more repressive parts of the law, relating to warrantless arrests and document requirements, as well as the most controversial provision, which required that police check immigration status. Bolton’s decision will be appealed and could wind up going all the way to the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, important information about crime in Arizona and other border states — info that directly contradicts the hysterical rants coming from teabagger world — has been largely ignored. While Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has ratcheted up her rhetoric about the “uncontrolled, horrendous violence,” “murder, terror, and mayhem” supposedly sweeping through her state like a hurricane, the latest crime stats say something else. Figures from the Arizona Dept. of Public Safety and the FBI actually show that violent crime rates in the state — as well as along the entire Southwest border — have been dropping for some time. According to those two agencies, here are crime facts for Arizona and the border states:

* Violent crimes in Arizona — murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault — are down by 15 percent since 2006, and have been dropping every year.

* Per-capita violent crime rate in Arizona dropped 22 percent in that same time period.

*  Crime has gone down nationally, but Arizona’s drop in violent crime was actually twice as big as the national average.

* Border cities are among the nation’s safest. Yes, that includes Phoenix, where kidnappings of human smugglers and their associates have spiked. In other words, unless you’re a smuggler of humans into the U.S., you’re safer in Phoenix than in Charlotte

* Counties along the Southwest border have some of the lowest rates of violent crime per capita in the nation, with rates dropping by more than 30 percent since the 1990s.

* There is no evidence of “spillover” of violence from Mexico. Example: El Paso is next to Juarez, Mexico, which has seen brutal drug wars take thousands of lives. El Paso, by contrast, had 12 murders last year, down from 17 in 2008. And finally, the stats that would drive the bigots nuts, if they were able to admit they’re wrong:

* Cities with high numbers of immigrants are actually safer.

All of the findings contradict Gov. Brewer’s ongoing scare tactics and, frankly, paranoid delusions. When you’re telling the public that nearly “all illegal immigrants are drug mules” and so forth, even after the new crime figures were released, your state has a big problem. And it’s not the immigrant population, legal or illegal. Brewer, as the state’s top public servant, should at least stick to the facts. It would help, too, if she’d listen to the scores of police chiefs in Arizona who are opposed to SB-1070.

You can read a more complete article on the crime reports, including a link to the full report, here.

Gov. Jan Brewer: Welcome to Arizona — now let me see your papers
  • Gov. Jan Brewer: Welcome to Arizona — now let me see your papers

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The DNC came, they saw, they left

Posted By on Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 11:31 AM

Unfortunately, we're going to have to wait months to find out which city will host the Democratic National Convention in 2012. In the meantime, you can read about their visit in the Charlotte Business Journal. Here's a peek:

"We put our best foot forward," said Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx. "We've had a very successful couple of days. I'm really excited."

N.C. Gov. Bev Perdue, in town to meet with national party leaders, pronounced the Charlotte pitch a success.

“We're going to bring 70,000 to 100,000 people," she said. "It means jobs for our people. This is a good thing for North Carolina. This is an economic-development mission."

Charlotte is one of four cities gunning for the convention. The other finalists are St. Louis, Minneapolis and Cleveland. National party leaders toured the convention center and other sites around town this week as they continue assessing each city’s capabilities. Denver hosted the Democrats in 2008, while Minneapolis’ twin city, St. Paul, was home to the Republican National Convention.

If the convention comes to Charlotte, it will bring 35,000 to 40,000 visitors and an estimated economic impact of $150 million to $200 million.

Foxx and Duke Energy Corp. CEO Jim Rogers are leading the Charlotte bid. Rogers is in charge of a private fund-raising campaign to host the event, with an estimated budget of $40 million to $50 million.

"My job is to garner support — to reach out across the country," he said Wednesday.

Assembling the bid is expected to cost $125,000.

Read the rest of this article, by Erik Spanberg, here.

WCNC stalked, um, tracked the tour:

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Economist say we narrowly avoided another Great Depression

Posted By on Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 11:29 AM

I think we can all agree the Great Recession sucks serious ass, but we should also be reminded that it could be worse ... a whole lot worse. If you've got any friends or relatives old enough to remember living through the Great Depression, just ask them what life was like when the world economy hit the floor in the 1930s.

My grandparents were young children during the Great Depression, so their memories are as sketchy as anyone's childhood memories. What sticks out for my grandmother is eating cherries. They grew wild on the ranch she and her family lived on, so the children would spend most of their days gathering cherries and, for a while, that's all they had to eat. Today, grandma hates cherries. It's no wonder.

Grandpa was a "city boy" in a small town near the ranch. He spent his days gathering scrap metal to sell. He'd spend the money on food for his family. He also tells tales of he and his siblings moving their beds outside during the summer months and sleeping in a field. His older brother traveled the country searching for work. He did everything from picking cotton to handyman jobs on small farms to working as a janitor. When he died, their sister found guns and jars of cash buried throughout his yard and under his house. Though he died relatively well off, his house was in total disrepair. He was still so paranoid about the havoc caused by the Great Depression, he avoided spending money — even for basics, like fixing the plumbing in his house.

For every person you speak to who made it through those tough years, you'll find another, similar story of extreme hardship and survival. When you compare our lives now (assuming you've got a roof over your head — many no longer do), we're pretty damn lucky. Times are tough, but they could be much, much worse. So count your blessings, be thankful for the stimulus funds — all of them, including the ones "W" Bush sent all of us in the mail. Be thankful for the T.A.R.P. program that bailed our greedy bankers out. And, remind Washington D.C. not to forget all of the people who are still struggling to get through.

Unfortunately, things won't really get better until banks loosen their grip on the mountain of cash reserves they're sitting atop and more long-term jobs are offered. And, it would be helpful if Republicans in Congress would stop cockblocking efforts to help the unemployed, the uninsured and every other person in our country who isn't in a position to line their pockets with payola. My hope is the GOP will eventually remember their job is to represent us, not just corporate interests and the uber rich. I know, I know ... might as well bet on Mars to do the jig.

Read about how we skimmed past the Great Depression, part II, from The New York Times. Here's a snippet:

Now, two leading economists wielding complex quantitative models say that assertion can be empirically proved.

In a new paper, the economists argue that without the Wall Street bailout, the bank stress tests, the emergency lending and asset purchases by the Federal Reserve, and the Obama administration’s fiscal stimulus program, the nation’s gross domestic product would be about 6.5 percent lower this year.

In addition, there would be about 8.5 million fewer jobs, on top of the more than 8 million already lost; and the economy would be experiencing deflation, instead of low inflation.

The paper, by Alan S. Blinder, a Princeton professor and former vice chairman of the Fed, and Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, represents a first stab at comprehensively estimating the effects of the economic policy responses of the last few years.

Here's a video from the U.S. National Archive depicting the affects of the Great Depression on the Southeast:

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Did you know our state has a moon rock?

Posted By on Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 11:25 AM

It sure does. And, apparently, it's about to get a lot more attention.

It is the hardest proof of a peak of human achievement, far rarer than any gem and maybe worth $5 million or more.

It's also a drab little black pebble encased in a plastic ball and glued to a slightly kitschy early 1970s plaque. Which might help explain how the state's official moon rock ended up in a desk drawer at the Department of Commerce, then spent the past seven years in the custody of an N.C. State University professor who took it on occasional visits to school groups.

No longer. On Tuesday, the professor, Christopher Brown, brought the rock and other artifacts that it came with to the state Museum of Natural Sciences, where it is expected to go on display in a major new wing called the Nature Research Center when it opens in the fall of 2011.

Read the rest of this News & Observer article, by Jay Price, here.

Here's more from Chris Brown:

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