Thursday, May 31, 2018

Listen Up: Mineral Girls Bid Farewell on 'Local Vibes'

Episode 45

Posted By and on Thu, May 31, 2018 at 11:22 AM

Three days from playing their last show together as members of Mineral Girls, the band's vocalist/guitarist Brett Green and guitarist Audrey Ayers came in for a long chat with Ryan and Mark that covers everything from the ups and downs of their recent tour to future plans for both of them.

That's not to mention stories of all-nighters at the casino, fights amongst the band and someone at the end admitting to having been on acid for the whole podcast.

Be sure to check out the rest of our team at the Queen City Podcast Network, where you can find the best locally based podcasts covering everything from comedy to craft beer. Also, catch up on past Local Vibes episodes on iTunes or Stitcher, or by simply typing "Local Vibes" into your Spotify search bar.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Lawana Mayfield Is Who She's Always Been

She's an activist, and she won't back down

Posted By on Wed, May 30, 2018 at 7:00 AM


When I first met LaWana Mayfield she was making a lunchtime presentation on for-profit prisons to a handful of elderly white folks at Myers Park United Methodist Church. It was around 2010, months before she announced her bid for city council.

While the District 3 city councilwoman's platform has since expanded, her message has remained much the same as it was back then when she could be found marching through the city's streets protesting inequality in its various forms — something she did for more than 25 years as an activist, she says.

One thing she wants her haters to know: she's not planning to shut up now.

"I'm doing exactly what I said I was going to do when I first ran for office, and that is highlighting what is happening in my community," she says.

Controversy has surrounded Mayfield since recent tweets of hers have made the news, including one on March 26 that equated some police officers with "homegrown terrorists." That led the president of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Fraternal Order of Police, the police chief and wives of Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers to speak out against her. Many people called for her to step down from the Charlotte City Council.

What I haven't seen reported is the text from the tweet that Mayfield was retweeting and commenting on when she made her controversial comment. Posted by NBC, via @NBCBLK, it refers to the shooting of Stephon Clark, shot and killed by two police officers in Sacramento on March 18. The original tweet reads, "Stephon Clark's grandmother Sequita Thompson: 'Why didn't you just shoot him in the arm, shoot him in the leg, send a dog, send a taser? Why? ... I just want justice for my baby.'"

On March 31, as the dust settled on news of Mayfield's tweets, the Associated Press reported: "Sacramento police shot Stephon Clark seven times from behind, according to autopsy results released Friday by a pathologist hired by Clark's family, a finding that calls into question the department's assertion the 22-year-old black man was facing officers and moving toward them when he was killed."

Charlotte media outlets have covered the Twitter-gate story by saying Mayfield is "under fire," with WCNC writing, "According to her Twitter page, Councilwoman Mayfield still has more than 4,000 followers, but she may be losing some voters after the latest Tweet." When she defended herself, also via Twitter, the headlines said she's "doubling down."

After Mayfield posted a tweet on May 31 specifically asking "So who is going work [sic] to remove the BAD cops?" WSOC reporter Paul Boyd posted a screenshot of the tweet, stating, "Fresh calls today for [Mayfield's] resignation after unequivocal broad statements like this that lump together all police officers."

Lawana Mayfield
  • Lawana Mayfield

According to Mayfield, whose district is in southwest Charlotte, her reality is different from the media's assumptions. "Good cops aren't paying attention to the media hype," she said. "I see them in the community every day. I've got support from officers — current and retired — that have come up to me and thanked me because they recognize that bad officers make their work more difficult."

More importantly, while the Charlotte media focuses on Mayfield's tweets it has failed to discuss what prompted her posts: the death of yet another young black man at the hands of the police.

I must admit, I feel a bit responsible for Mayfield's recent Twitter rant. When I thought to reach out to her for this column I reviewed our correspondence. The last written words to pass between us, the end of a conversation about First Amendment rights, were these, circa 2012, and they were written by me: "I'll urge you to be your own media. Video tape and take photos and blog. Show people what's going on. Don't wait for the media to notice. They probably won't. They want page views, because that's what drives ad revenue."

It's advice I've offered to many people over the years, though few take it. I realize it's not self-serving in a time when newspapers like this one could use that ad revenue. At the same time, I know how thinly stretched my media cohorts are as newsrooms slash staffs while the tenor of the day demands that the reporters who remain take on more and more work.

So when clickbait comes along – like a city councilwoman tweeting with a strong opinion, one who shared a link about a 9/11 conspiracy theory (stupidly, yes) in April – it's irresistible, since clicks equate to revenue for media companies.

"For seven years, I have posted so many things around housing, around community, around job creation, around coming out to the meetings to speak on the budget and those posts got no attention from the media," she said. "So all of this stuff I've tried to talk about to educate us, to try to uplift us, to try to put us in a position of power – the media doesn't want to talk about any of that, but they're going to focus on Twitter. So, I'm like, alright if that's the game we're gonna play then I'm just going to go straight to the people and say what I've got to say."

Don't expect her to hush up any time soon.

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Listen Up: Mickey Stephens Relives The Troubles on 'Local Vibes'

Episode 43

Posted By and on Thu, May 17, 2018 at 12:59 PM

Mickey Stephens has been through a lot, but we can proudly say it was a first for him when he came through to speak on our podcast. "I've never done a podcast before," Stephens said, as he settled into his chair in the Hygge West studio.

He may not have done podcasts, but as front man of the late-'70s Northern Irish roots-punk band The Mighty Shamrocks, Stephens has done his share of radio interviews and TV spots. Now, almost 40 years later, in the lead-up to his Charlotte band Poor Blue's album release party at Petra's, Stephens sat down to talk about The Wasteground and his experiences coming up as a musician during The Troubles in Northern Ireland, which inspired the album. And don't forget to check out our story on Stephens in this week's Creative Loafing.

Also, make sure to go check out other members of our local podcast team at the Queen City Podcast Network, where we've joined up with some of Charlotte's best podcasts to showcase the city's talent on audio. Also, catch up with our past episodes on iTunes, Stitcher, or just by typing "Local Vibes" into your Spotify search bar.

Deep inside the pod: Mark Kemp (from left), Mickey Stephens and Ryan Pitkin.
  • Deep inside the pod: Mark Kemp (from left), Mickey Stephens and Ryan Pitkin.

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Thursday, May 10, 2018

Listen Up: Patrick Hill Takes Us Through Disctopia on 'Local Vibes'

Episode 42

Posted By and on Thu, May 10, 2018 at 12:25 PM

This week is a good episode for the tech heads, as we brought in Patrick Hill, founder of Disctopia, a Charlotte-based music platform looking to compete with the Bandcamps and Soundclouds of the world as the go-to spot for indie artists to stream music.

We talked with Patrick about how his company works and the ways in which he plans to turn it into a one stop shop for local artists to cultivate a sound and an audience.

Be sure to check out the Queen City Podcast Network, our team of Charlotte's best podcasts covering all the local angles you need. Also, catch up with all our past episodes on iTunes or Stitcher, or just type "Local Vibes" into your Spotify search bar and find us there.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Was That a Topless Woman in Center City Today?

Posted By on Wed, May 9, 2018 at 2:36 PM

Samantha Paraison stood in front of the Bank of America Coroporate Center during lunchtime today to protest the arrival of the UniverSoul Circus. (Photo by Ryan Pitkin)
  • Samantha Paraison stood in front of the Bank of America Coroporate Center during lunchtime today to protest the arrival of the UniverSoul Circus. (Photo by Ryan Pitkin)

If you walked through the intersection of Trade and Tryon streets in uptown Charlotte during your lunch break today, you may have heard the booming voice of the "Jesus Saves" guy and thought it was just like any other day. But if you glanced at the eastern corner of the intersection in front of the Bank of America Corporate Center, you saw something way out of the ordinary: a nearly nude women painted up to look like a tiger.

The woman was a volunteer with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and was in town to protest the opening night of the UniverSoul Circus, a touring circus that will be in town through May 20. A press release from PETA noted that UniverSoul leases the tigers it uses in its shows from Mitchel Kalmanson, who has been cited by the federal government for failing to provide animals with basic veterinary care, depriving them of the opportunity to exercise, and confining them to foul-smelling, maggot-infested trucks.

Paraison said the painting process took about three hours.
  • Paraison said the painting process took about three hours.
The painted woman in Center City today was Samantha Paraison of Miami. She said she volunteered to tour with PETA because she's a vegan and believes in the cause. Paraison and Mysti Lee, assistant campaigner with PETA, have been showing up in the lead-up to UniverSoul opening nights for months. Paraison said the only time the pair ran into trouble was in Columbia, South Carolina, where police told her she had to put some clothes on or leave the area. Today, Paraison wore nothing but high heels, a bikini bottom, pasties over her nipples and body paint.

Paraison said the pair began the painting process at 8 a.m. this morning and didn't finish until nearly 11 a.m. They took to the busy intersection at noon, at which time Lee handed out literature to curious passersby while Paraison stood holding a sign that read, "Animals Suffer at UniverSoul Circus."

Lee said she wants to make people aware that animal cruelty in the circus is still happening, despite the fact that Ringling Bros. shut down their "Greatest Show on Earth" last May.

"A lot of people focused on Ringling Bros., and once Ringling Bros. shut down, they think that animals aren’t still being abused in the circus," Lee said. "UniverSoul has a lengthy record of animal abuse, and we’re hoping that UniverSoul ends its animal acts but continues the show, unlike Ringling Bros., which shut down." 

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Thursday, May 3, 2018

Clergy Members, Former Inmates Speak Out Against Solitary Confinement in Mecklenburg County

Posted By on Thu, May 3, 2018 at 4:39 PM

Local members of the clergy joined three former inmates gathered in uptown Charlotte to speak out against the use of solitary confinement in Mecklenburg County, one of multiple issues that have dogged Sheriff Irwin Carmichael in the lead-up to next week’s primary election.

Brandy Hamilton, 30, recalled an experience from 2016 when she said she was placed in solitary confinement for ignoring orders to stop singing gospel songs while in custody at Mecklenburg County Jail. This goes against Carmichael’s repeated claims, including to Creative Loafing in March, that solitary confinement is only used in cases where inmates become violent with guards or each other.

Brandy Hamilton (Photo by Ryan Pitkin)
  • Brandy Hamilton (Photo by Ryan Pitkin)
Hamilton said she was in between medications for bipolar disorder at the time, and doesn’t remember some details, but does remember the Direct Action Response Team rushing into her cell after. She said that when her mother came to the jail, she was told she couldn’t visit Hamilton because she was “in the hole.”

“It was for not obeying an order, but I was singing and I wasn’t violent and I had harmed no one,” Hamilton said. “And also, I was experiencing a mental health situation, a crisis some would consider it.”

She said she does not remember anyone checking on her mental health before she was placed in solitary confinement.

Hamilton said she confronted Carmichael at a recent panel discussion at Johnson C. Smith University when he stated that solitary confinement is only used in incidents involving violent inmates.

“People shouldn’t be thrown in there for any reason, I believe, but [especially not] just for any little reason, like singing or whatever excuse they give to lock up a person in a cage within a cage with no human contact. It’s really crazy.”

In a sit-down with Carmichael in March, Creative Loafing asked him about the use of solitary confinement on youthful offenders.

“If someone assaults an officer, attacks an officer, attacks another inmate, another staff member, then yes, we have disciplinary housing, and that is when we do that,” Carmichael said. “But they’re still allowed visits with their clergy, their doctors. They still have access, it’s just they cannot see their family members. It’s a disciplinary thing.”

Two other former inmates who stated they had spent time in solitary confinement in Mecklenburg County jail also shared their experiences, followed by members of the local clergy including Rev. Corine Mack, president of the Charlotte NAACP, and Rev. Donnie Garris of the United Missionary Baptist Association.
Rev. Corine Mack speaks at this afternoon's press conference. (Photo by Ryan Pitkin)
  • Rev. Corine Mack speaks at this afternoon's press conference. (Photo by Ryan Pitkin)
Speaking from the courtyard of the courthouse on East 4th Street, Garris pointed out that there were inmates going through solitary confinement just across the street from where he stood.

“In my church, we would say that what is happening in solitary confinement, we would say it’s a sin and a shame,” Garris said. “It’s not only a shame in that it’s something to be pitied or regretted or embarrassed, but it’s also a sin in the way that we inhumanely treat a fellow human being.

“Solitary confinement isn’t rehabilitating, it’s damaging. It’s crippling people mentally and releasing them back into our communities as men and women who are forever changed.”

After Garris spoke, Rabbi Judy Schindler of the Stan Greenspon Center called on the county to immediately end the practice of solitary confinement.

"We are calling for change in the policy and practice that allows for solitary confinement," Schindler said. "No matter what you call it, and our sheriff’s office has many names for it, it is inhumane, it is psychologically damaging. It is not the jail we want to have or the city we want to be.”

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Listen Up: The Wormholes Space Out on 'Local Vibes'

Episode 41

Posted By and on Thu, May 3, 2018 at 8:00 AM

For the 41st episode of the podcast, Ben and Chris of the Wormholes came and kicked it in the lead-up to their May residency at Snug Harbor. We talked about — and followed along musically with — the band's transition from a more traditional rock sound to their newer synth-based space electro-alternative vibe.

Be sure to get acquainted with the rest of our squad over at the Queen City Podcast Network, and catch up with all our past episodes on iTunes, Stitcher or just by typing "Local Vibes" into your Spotify search bar.

[From left] Mark Kemp, Ben Verner, Chris Walters and Ryan Pitkin.
  • [From left] Mark Kemp, Ben Verner, Chris Walters and Ryan Pitkin.

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