Pop Culture

Monday, August 17, 2015

Live review: Jim Gaffigan, Uptown Amphitheatre (8/15/2015)

Posted By on Mon, Aug 17, 2015 at 1:08 PM

Jim Gaffigan
Uptown Amphitheatre
Aug. 15, 2015


Shortly before showtime, as a long line of people was still filing into the Uptown Amphitheatre, dark, ominous clouds rolled into Charlotte and drenched the area. While it might have delayed the start of Saturday night's Jim Gaffigan performance by roughly an hour, it did little to dampen the spirits of those who waited. The comic's set, which ran just over an hour in length, was definitely worth the wait. 

Having been familiar with Gaffigan through his standup routines, his appearances on CBS Sunday Morning, his books and The Jim Gaffigan Show, I had a good idea what to expect — profanity-free humor that would touch on life in general. And the laughs rarely let down.

From an opening bit about the pointless activity of hiking — "Let's see what life was like before they invented the wheel" — to the inability to slam down a cell phone to hang up when you're upset, the 49-year-old comedian's transitions from subject to subject were fairly seamless. 

He cracked jokes about people with pickup trucks who rarely seem to pick stuff up, dealing with the TSA at airports, the difficulties of being the pope and why fish is a disgusting food.

Sure, he did a tired joke about his kids' summer vacation and ISIS that he's told on every late night show and Sunday Morning; and claiming he stopped the rain in his introduction — when it was still raining — fell a bit flat, but the majority of it was continuously entertaining. He also shared his thoughts on roller coasters — "We don't want to die, but we sure love feeling like we're about to."

When he began his closing chat about Hot Pockets, I feared for another retread, but was glad he included plenty of updated material. Leaving the audience laughing as he walked off stage. 

I wondered about the dynamics of seeing a comedian in an outdoor setting usually reserved for concerts, but it worked. The somewhat soggy crowd remained seated, attentive and didn't seem to mind the light rain one bit. I guess humor is not only good medicine, but a decent umbrella, too.

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Kendra James: From ‘Bad Girl’ to baptism

Posted By on Thu, Sep 25, 2014 at 1:13 PM

Charlotte native Kendra James was thrust into reality TV stardom when she appeared on season four of Oxygen network’s Bad Girls Club in the winter of 2010. Audiences tuned in every week for four months to see what type of chaotic — drunken, violent, sexual, hilarious, impulsive — situations the young women would be shown in. James also went on to be cast in a spinoff show, Love Games: Bad Girls Need Love Too, that year.

And then she did what most reality TV starlets do these days: she embarked on a career, so to speak, of being paid to host parties and nightclub events around the country. An impromptu tour of sorts that she found herself on for two years. She made a lot of money and enjoyed a lot of wild nights. She “turned up,” as they say.

But then it was time to get back to reality — real life, not that stuff you see on TV. And she’d made a name for herself, and quite a few headlines, along the way, that she wasn’t too proud of. Now, at age 27, she wants you to know that she’s making changes for the better. And she’ll take a big step this Sunday when she gets baptized at Elevation Church.

  • Courtesy of Kendra James

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

'CL' editor debates "Accidental Racist" at 'New York Times'

Posted By on Thu, Apr 11, 2013 at 1:23 PM

When a New York Times editor invited me to participate in a debate about Brad Paisley and LL Cool J's controversial song "Accidental Racist" at the paper's online "Room for Debate" forum yesterday, my feelings about the song had already evolved several times. They continue to do so.

I initially listened to it at home with my fiancee. Coming from two different cultural backgrounds -- I'm white and she's black -- we watched each others' faces as the country singer and rapper alternated lines in the refrain:

Paisley: I'm just a white man...

LL Cool J: If you don't judge my do-rag...

Paisley: ...comin' to you from the Southland...

LL Cool J: ...won't judge your red flag...

Paisley: Tryin' to understand what it's like not to be...

So far, it was an interesting if clunky dialogue about why we should not judge each other based on external trappings, whether those trappings are the color of our skin or the symbols we choose to wear - in this case, the symbols being do-rags and Confederate flags. After all, symbols can mean very different things to different people. We need to dig beneath the surface of those symbols if we are to understand each other.

But then, the two continued this dialogue:

Paisley: I'm proud of where I'm from...

LL Cool J: If you don't judge my gold chains...

Paisley: ...but not everything we've done...

LL Cool J: ...I'll forget the iron chains...

Paisley: It ain't like you and me can re-write history

LL Cool J: ...Can't re-write history, baby.

Whoa! Tarrah and I looked at each other in disbelief. Did LL Cool J really say that he (or anyone) could forget the chains that white Americans used to shackle slaves and drag them into a foreign country to work for nothing and be viciously whipped and treated as less than human? Yes, he did say that. And it is the weakest, most gravely unfortunate line in a song in which both artists' intentions were good.

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Musto on 2011: Global economic meltdown makes Mike merry

Posted By on Thu, Dec 29, 2011 at 1:44 PM

Musto occupies the CLog
  • Village Voice
  • Musto occupies the CLog

Warning: I love the Village Voice's Michael Musto. Always have. So my CLog post today fairly beams with Musto love. And there's much to love about a man who celebrates global catastrophe.

What does a Michael Musto cover story in the Voice have to do with Charlotte? Well, glad you asked: We have occupiers, too, and they've made, to quote a dead '70s glam king, life a gas.

Replace "New York" and "Wall Street" with "Charlotte," and Musto's words here may also resonate for those of us living in the Wall Street of the South in these last days of 2011. Y'all.

New York became fun again in 2011.

Thanks to a global economic meltdown! The lingering desperation in the air brought down our emotional walls, and New Yorkers became friendlier and more open than we've been in ages, most of us no longer propped up by elitism as we reached out to one another like we were having a massive midlife crisis together—in a good way.

Even better, activism replaced bottle service as we saw the rise of Occupy Wall Street, a grassroots movement hating on the corporate greed and corruption that has led to drastic social inequality, unemployment, and crappy pizza. . . .

The generation being propelled into the hopelessness of someone else's making wasn't going to take it in a prostrate position, even if incidents of police brutality and neighborhood antagonism were trying to wet-blanket the excitement. "Get a job!" yelled the idiots, forgetting that this uprising was happening because there weren't any!

Enjoy the rest of Musto's glee here.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

CPCC goes geek chic

Posted By on Wed, Nov 9, 2011 at 4:02 PM

Cursing the latest hack job that's brought your computer to a halt?

Curious about putting your social media profiles to productive use?

If you could be any superhero, would you want to be a PowerPoint wizard?

If these types of questions pop up in your internal monologue, then THE Geek Fest is the place for you.


Now in its 8th year, The Geek Fest 2011 (TGF2011) is a free community event highlighting emerging technology, industry, career opportunities, startups and innovators. It's an eclectic celebration of the “geek” in everyone. And it happens today.

The main draw of the day will be the 39 conference-style presentations and topic sessions, covering everything from “mobile development and animation to social media and education.” For those looking to experience the more entertaining pleasures technology offers, a Halo Reach death match tournament will also be taking place, during which top-placing participants can win a VIBRAS Five.One headset by Track Scan.

TGF2011 is a locally-spun effort: the event's website proudly boasts that “in addition to showcasing many of CPCC’s programs, technologies, and resources, the festival features innovative regional and national businesses and their contributions to new technologies and the hottest fashions and styles.”

TGF2011 is being held at CPCC' Levine campus. Sessions begin at 9:00 a.m. and last about an hour with 15 minute breaks between. Limited seating. Email geekfest@cpcc.edu of tweet @thegeekfest if you have any questions.

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Latinos in Social Media comes to Charlotte

Posted By on Fri, Oct 28, 2011 at 6:41 PM

In discussing social-media websites like Facebook and Twitter, some are guilty of looking the gift horse in the mouth, complaining that ever-expanding online communities are huge time-sucks that take people away from physical interaction. Others, however, believe social media can be a catalyst for social change, an important tool in uniting and empowering like-minded people. The Social Media Masquerade at Gil Gallery Thursday night highlighted the positive effects of this staple of the Digital Age on young Latinos.

The event celebrated the group Latinos in Social Media (LATISM), a nationwide non-profit organization which has launched five new chapters in the last three months, including one in Charlotte. The nonpartisan group, dedicated to advancing the social, civic and economic status of the Latino community, has a strong online presence, with about 90,000 Facebook members and 10 million hashtag impressions daily on Twitter.

Brian Cockman, director of LATISM Charlotte, describes himself as “a 100% gringo who is somewhat of a Latin-phile.” He first got involved with LATISM by browsing through Twitter. “Every Thursday night at 9 p.m. there's a LATISM party on Twitter, and it's people discussing education, health, and other issues affecting Latinos," Cockman said. "I just started joining the party, at first as a voyeur." A little more than a year ago, LATISM national's communications chair Elian Ramos contacted Cockman and asked if he would be interested in starting a Charlotte chapter. Cockman was thrilled: "I said, 'most definitely!'"

Edwin Gil, the artist whose gallery hosted the launch, learned about LATISM through Cockman. Gil said the group seemed like a “great way to promote Latin culture through social media," so he decided to mix LATISM with an art exhibit. The party proved successful, with more than 100 mask-wearing attendees mingling among Gil's colorful conceptual paintings. “These relationships were formed through Twitter. Until tonight I had never met any of these people in person," said Cockman. “One of the main things that we wanted to do here in Charlotte was to take all of these online conversations and turn it into off-line community action.”

Halfway through the night Cockman, along with Rafael Rodriguez, co-director of LATISM Charlotte, spoke more in-depth to the crowd about the group's goals. “Technology has changed the way we communicate,” said Rodriguez. “Now we have the power to tell our own stories, not only for ourselves. Social media is here to stay, to open up communication channels.”

Cockman stressed the importance of community on LATISM. “You don't have to be a Latino to be part of Latinos in Social Media," he said. "You just have to be willing to support your fellow brothers and sisters, no matter where they come from or what kind of accent they have.”

Find out more about Latinos in Social Media on Facebook and Twitter.

Latinos and others throw a Twitterific social media party at Gil Gallery
  • Latinos and others throw a Twitterific social media party at Gil Gallery

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Friday, September 30, 2011

John Lennon in Charlotte

Posted By on Fri, Sep 30, 2011 at 11:44 AM


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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Is dieting dead?

Posted By on Wed, Aug 3, 2011 at 1:28 PM

  • toettoet

Is dieting dead? No, but fat acceptance is alive and well.

From MSNBC.com:

The pulse of tribal drumming fills the air. Jeannie Troy, 48 and 220 pounds, dances wildly, pogo-ing like a punk rocker at a Green Day concert and shaking her sweaty hair. All around her, women—whose body sizes range from average to well over 300 pounds—grin as they get their groove on.

This is what fitness looks like at Green Mountain at Fox Run, a center in Vermont for women determined to end their weight struggles. As the class breaks up, applause erupts and Troy grabs a towel. Her face is bright red and her extra-large purple T-shirt is blotched with sweat, but she's beaming. "I've finally learned to take to heart that saying 'Dance like nobody's watching,' " she says.

Before coming to Green Mountain, Troy had spent countless days—and dollars—dieting. She isn't alone: At any given time, 53 percent of Americans are trying to slim down. So why, then, are so many women overweight? Many experts believe it's because diets simply don't work for keeping weight off long term. "If we had a 95 percent failure rate with a medication, it would never get approved by the FDA. Yet that's dieting's record," says Michelle May, MD, founder of Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Workshops.

Read the rest of this article, by Marjorie Ingall, here.

So, lemme tell you a little personal story about the fat acceptance crowd …

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Friday, June 3, 2011

The many looks of Rob Schneider

Posted By on Fri, Jun 3, 2011 at 4:25 PM


The Comedy Zone at the NC Music Factory opens later this month, and what better way to fling open those doors than with a comedy legend? Alas, no comedy legends were available, so they settled for Rob Schneider instead. To prepare CL readers for the possibly wild and zany antics that may materialize during his stand-up routine, we present ... the many faces of Rob Schneider.

Here's Robert as he appeared in 50 First Dates:


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Thursday, March 4, 2010

VIDEO: Nelly, Ginuwine in Charlotte

Posted By on Thu, Mar 4, 2010 at 10:01 AM

CIAA — which officially ended Sunday — is a thing of the past, but thanks to the World Wide Web, the memory lives on. Here's a clip of the world famous hip-hop artist Nelly and R&B vocalist/dance-man Ginuwine hanging out in the Queen City last week:

For even more stuff about this year's CIAA — hundreds of photos, reviews and more — visit our CIAA 2010 page.

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