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CLCLT.COM | NOV 2 - NOV 8, 2017 VOL. 31, NO. 37

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Shout out to everyone who showed up for our Best of Charlotte 2017 party on Oct. 20. Head to page 18 for more shots.


We put out weekly 8

NEWS&CULTURE VI LYLES KEEPS MOVING FORWARD Charlotte’s Mayor Pro Tem looks to take the logical next step



FOOD JUST DON’T CALL IT REDNECK Get to know your softneck from your hardneck garlic


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MUSIC CANARY IN THE COPPER MINE Arizona-born singer-songwriter George Banda finds peace in Charlotte



ARTS&ENT BURN BABY BURN The dystopian classic ‘Fahrenheit 451’ still strikes







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VOTE ACCORDINGLY ‘CL’ grills Charlotte mayoral candidate Vi Lyles BY MARK KEMP

IT’S BEEN SAID that Vi Lyles is just a terms of bridging the gap between the “short Jennifer Roberts” — that the two majority of Charlotteans who feel ignored women are virtually the same politician, and by city government and those who have that as mayor, Lyles would be no different always enjoyed certain privileges. In other words, between the old Charlotte and the from Roberts. current Charlotte — a swiftly expanding city That couldn’t be further from the truth. Though the two certainly agree on many with a growing and diverse population of of the most pressing issues facing Charlotte, millennials. There’s really only one choice for a mayoral candidate and Mayor Pro-Tem Lyles and current Mayor Roberts come from totally mayor who has the skills and understanding different backgrounds. Lyles, 66, grew up with required for the kind of community relations five brothers in Columbia, South Carolina, in Charlotte needs. And that’s Vi Lyles. In her 30 years of service, Lyles has been the segregated 1960s, in a family that faced the scourge of that era’s deeply entrenched Charlotte’s budget director and its assistant racism every day. She was among the first city manager, as well as a member of the group of black women to attend Charlotte’s Charlotte City Council for the past four years. Queens College (now Queens University), and She is methodical; she listens to all sides of directly felt injustices that still plague this issues and is clear in her ultimate assessments of what the city requires in order to thrive city in different ways today. while still attending to the needs of Mayor Roberts, 57, sympathizes marginalized communities and with issues of injustice, but those who live outside of more growing up in a white family prosperous areas. in the 1970s in Charlotte’s Smith is a competent Lansdowne community public servant, but he near SouthPark, she didn’t voted against LGBTQ feel it nearly as directly protections that sought as Lyles. to bring equality, fairness This is not a criticism and safety to Charlotteans of Roberts, who certainly of all kinds. And he faced tough challenges as seems rather oblivious — a woman in politics; nor whether strategically or just is it some sort of blanket MARK KEMP because he’s tone deaf — to validation of Lyles. the real discrimination that exists But it is a fact. And it’s a fact for LGBTQ people. And that tone that goes to the very heart of why this city needs a Vi Lyles in the very symbolic role deafness, by extension, should be a concern of Charlotte mayor right now. It needs this for other marginalized people. Although Smith has toned down his now more than it has in decades. In the past couple of years, Charlotte anti-LGBTQ rhetoric since announcing his has endured two high-profile political candidacy for mayor, his comment in 2015 explosions that put the city squarely in the that some city council members wanted to national conversation — the HB2 fiasco and “impose the progressive left view of morality the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott on the majority of our citizens” was a strong and subsequent uprising. For this reason, indicator of his real feelings about fairness not to mention day-to-day issues such as and equality. Both mayoral candidates are fiscally housing, gentrification, transportation and other concerns, Charlotte needs a mayor qualified to lead a prosperous city like and spokesperson who truly understands the Charlotte, but only one has the right sense of subtlety and understanding to represent the nuances of inequality. Roberts didn’t have that. Not completely. needs and concerns of all Charlotteans. In the leadup to the election on Tuesday, And as a conservative, white, male, Republican candidate whose concerns mostly center November 7, Pitkin sat down with that on issues affecting suburban Charlotteans, candidate, Vi Lyles, to get her to talk about the specifics of her positions on policing in Kenny Smith certainly doesn’t have it. But Charlotte’s mayor is not just a Charlotte, on housing and gentrification, on LGBTQ issues and issues facing blacks and figurehead, as some often suggest. “The mayor has a veto to use very carefully Latinos in Charlotte, and on the influx of when needed,” Lyles tells CL news editor Ryan millennials and other young people into city Pitkin in his cover Q&A with the candidate politics and other leadership positions. You can read Pitkin’s Q&A with Lyles on this week. “The mayor has important powers page 8. And then vote accordingly. increasing citizen engagement.” Right now, it is essential that Charlotte MKEMP@CLCLT.COM not lose any momentum it has gained, in 6 | NOV. 2 - NOV. 8, 2017 | CLCLT.COM

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VI LYLES KEEPS MOVING FORWARD Charlotte’s Mayor Pro Tem looks to take the logical next step RYAN PITKIN


T FIRST, Vi Lyles just wanted to get out of Charlotte. Upon her arrival here in 1970, as one of the first African-American students to attend Queens University and a freshman living in a senior dorm, she felt out of place. Lyles went home to Columbia, South Carolina, and begged her mother to let her return or transfer to a place where she would feel more comfortable. Her mother told Lyles that she was no quitter, and that she should go back to Queens and stick it out. She did just that, and decided to rush for a sorority as a way to make friends. The experience shed light on the racism Lyles faced at the university. Each white recruit was accepted into the sorority of her choosing, while neither Lyles nor any other black student was let in. Instead of looking back on the experience with resentment, Lyles recalls how she was inspired by her white friend Lynn, who resigned from her privileged position within the Kappa Delta sorority in a show of solidarity with Lyles. Lynn’s support moved Lyles forward, as she puts it, and she grew to love the school — the less racist aspects of it, anyway — and the city she’s called home ever since. Lyles, now 66, pauses halfway through telling me about her experience with Lynn. “I don’t think I’ve told anybody this story yet,” she says, before resuming the tale. I assume she means she hasn’t shared it with a journalist as she’s bounced among countless interviews with local reporters in recent weeks. When I visit Lyles’ campaign offices in the Park Expo & Conference Center in east Charlotte early on a Monday morning, she’s already appeared on one morning show and has a full day of campaign stops ahead. “I think I’ve met every TV anchor in town now,” she says, laughing. Since she annonced her candidacy for mayor, Lyles has traveled to all corners of the city discussing Charlotte’s issues and her goals for its future. I talked with the Mayor Pro Tem about why she’s been enjoying the campaign rather than letting it tire her out, and how she plans to keep engaging with the community if elected on November 7. Creative Loafing: You’ve been very busy lately, balancing your mayoral campaign with your work as Mayor Pro Tem. Are you about sick of this campaign yet? Vi Lyles: Absolutely not. I’m absolutely 8 | NOV. 2 - NOV. 8, 2017 | CLCLT.COM

loving it. The best part of this campaign has been — I’ve been here for a while, so I have lots of great relationships — either seeing those folks again or meeting new people. The second part that’s really great is being able to drive all over the city. There are nooks and crannies that you don’t get to see, but when you’re going to meet someone and you’re going to their house or you’re going to have a little coffee with them, there’s just so much in Charlotte that we don’t see because we’re always on the highways. What made you decide to run for public office originally? Deciding to run for office came after I worked with the Democratic National Convention in 2012. Sandra Conway and I put together a group of over 500 women, and we were called DVAs [pronounced divas]. It stood for donate, volunteer and advocate. And we worked really hard because the commitment that then-Mayor Anthony Foxx made was that we would do things that were a legacy for the convention, it wouldn’t just be a one-off. The food truck at the transit center is still around. DVAs are still around talking about issues with race and reconciliation. So we have continued that legacy, and Sandra and I worked really hard on that to make sure it was real and tangible and making sure there would be long-term results. When I saw that the council dialogue in 2012 had basically become what I would say is not Charlotte in a way that we weren’t working collaboratively, that’s when I decided that running for office was a good thing. I called up Anthony and he of course encouraged me and supported me, all the while knowing that he was going to D.C. (laughs), but I’m grateful for his support today. The face of Charlotte leadership is changing, in a way now, as we’ve seen a large group of relatively young candidates entering the political stage. Why do you think that is? I think it’s really one of those situations where people are beginning to understand what public service means. Also, we’ve had some crises. Braxton [Winston] came out of the Keith Lamont Scott protests. I think Matt [Newton] came out because of the changes on Eastland Mall. I think Dimple is linked to the question about economic opportunity and mobility. Those folks are coming in and saying, “We need to have some change.” And what grounded them in that change, I would ask

Vi lyles in her east Charlotte campaign offices. them specifically, but my sense of it is that the east side feels that they’ve been left out or disenfranchised. I think people that saw the Keith Lamont Scott shooting want to figure out how to better connect with local government. So I think that’s a large part of it. Someone asked me, “Well, how are you going to deal with all these young people? How are you going to deal with the millennials?” I wouldn’t treat a millennial any differently than I would treat anyone else. I want to respect the fact that they’ve been supported and elected, that they are sending a message, and the first thing I would ask them is, “What’s most important for you to accomplish? Let’s figure out how that fits in the agenda that the council currently has, and how do we work together to get it done?” I want every part of the city to feel that we’re trusting their judgment, and that we’re going to make them a part of the solution. What are you most proud of accomplishing while serving on city council? I think it was after the civil protests that I actually was thinking, not only what are we having to deal with today, but what are we going to do next? I believe that my letter to the city council that ultimately resulted in the Community Letter [her personal statement on the Keith Lamont Scott shooting that was officially adopted by the city] was heartfelt about peeling back the layers that we needed to change, but it was also something very tangible that we could do and say to the community — that we have a goal. I’m glad we accelerated affordable housing. We have a $250,000 job-training program that became a $1 million program. There are over 120 graduates today. Those lives have changed. So, that’s what I’m most proud of. Any things you would change now, looking back on the past four years? I’ve been thinking about that a lot, and it’s not something that necessarily I would change, but I wish I could change how it’s perceived. The vote on taking the money away from Bojangles’ [Coliseum] and moving it to affordable housing, my vote to continue to fund that


[Bojangles’ Coliseum] project from the bonds was because we made a commitment to the east side that the east side would have a facility over here that they could be proud of, because this is the gateway. Independence Boulevard is about to be done; this is going to be a changing area, where we sit now. So I wanted that to be done, plus I wanted that commitment to be honored and respected, and I voted that way. But my colleagues were talking about soccer. To this day, nobody has brought forth a soccer plan for us to vote on, but the way it’s being framed is that I voted against affordable housing for soccer, and soccer was never on the agenda. Anyone who knows me well, they know that I worked on the 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness, they know that I’ve actually worked really hard to get affordable housing bonds on the agenda. I just don’t think that that is a way that people feel about me, but if I could change that perception of that vote, that’s probably the one thing I would do. Some people say the role of mayor in Charlotte is as a figurehead, so what made you decide you could effect change more as mayor than as a city council member? The mayor has a veto to use very carefully when needed. The mayor has important powers increasing citizen engagement, which is one of the things that I believe is really important. We’ve got the same 35 committees that we’ve had, the same 350 appointments. In this community, with the lack of digital access, what are we going to do differently? But in terms of substance, it is about leadership and vision. The idea of having a common vision by the council is really important and then acting on that vision. We’ve got to stop talking about these things and start acting. We can’t have 50-year plans and 20-year plans and 10-year plans that sit on the shelf any longer. We’ve got to take something and do something for this community that makes them know that we care about them. The people in this community feel like everything is either OK, or they’re being

left out, and we’ve got to bring everybody together. We’ve got to engage with the people that think, “Well, it’s just OK. Everything’s OK and I don’t need government.” But we’ve also got to really engage with the people that feel that they’re left out. So that’s the difference: a vision and leadership that’s collaborative in order to get it done. Another important role of mayor is the relationship with the police department, a role that’s become all the more important since September 2016. How do you plan to build on the relationship you already have with CMPD Chief Kerr Putney to manage the balance between police leadership and the distrust some community members feel for the department? I don’t think it’s a balance, I think it’s an integration. During the Keith Lamont Scott protests, every morning we would have a 6 o’clock meeting and I sat with the chief and city officials and we talked about how we were going to work hard that day. I have the utmost respect and confidence that Chief Putney is going to be a true leader in this community, changing the way that our police officers are perceived, and working really well with the community. The work that he’s doing in Hidden Valley right now, I think, is a model for what we’ve got to do in other parts of the community that feel like they can’t trust the police. And where we have trust in the police, we need to make sure that those folks understand that that trust comes with great value and we need to maintain that. What’s your biggest concern regarding CMPD? I am really concerned that we have enough qualified officers to implement community policing again. That would be one of the very first things that I would ask the chief to really tell us. Do you have the people that you need, with the skill sets they need? I’ve heard some police departments are hiring mental health counselors. Some police department are doing social work. I was with Shaun Corbett with Cops and Barbers on Friday, and we talked a lot about how they’re taking the recruiting class at the police department, and if you’re white, they’re linking you with a young African-American about your age so that you can develop a dialogue. And the same thing in reverse. If you are an AfricanAmerican recruit, we’re finding someone in the community that would be white to make that partnership. We’re talking about building relationships and understanding, and that’s what they’re doing now with the police department and Cops and Barbers: tangible change. It’s not just black and white, however. In the Latinx community, there is a disconnect that is often reinforced by a language barrier. As we saw with the recent police killing of Rueben Galindo, this can lead to tragic ends. That is a huge issue in this community. There are over 100 languages spoken in our school system. The department has been sending officers to Mexico to learn Spanish immersion, basically. We are using translators, as you saw


with the Rueben Galindo 911 call, but other departments are taking those people with them when they go to those types of calls, and we need to look at that. Another one of the bigger stories during the time you’ve served on council was HB2. The council stood strong in defense of the non-discrimination ordinance that led to HB2, but in the end the ordinance was repealed as part of a deal to repeal HB2, which is regretful. Was that truly necessary? It was necessary if we wanted to have the repeal by the state of HB2. That’s flat out. I participated in three opportunities to try to get a compromise with the state legislators and both governors, Pat McCrory and then Roy Cooper. It was that line that was drawn by the state to do that, and Gov. Cooper worked really hard to bring about that resolution, and I have great respect for him for doing that. At the same time, that loss, I think, was something that was felt immensely by the people that worked so hard for many years, ever since 2012, to try to find a way so that when you walk into a Bank of America and you have these rights, why can’t you have those same rights just as soon as you walk out the door, after you’re on the sidewalks of our city. I think there’s a lot of regret around it. The lesson that I learned in this one is that we can’t make it just a Charlotteowned idea. Already we’re fighting with our image with the state. When we go back — it’s not if, but when we go back — for a non-discrimination ordinance, we’ve got to bind together with other cities in our state that see that same value of respect and dignity for everyone, who see that same value in developing our workforce with talented people, that same welcoming value, and then we can make a difference. One issue you’ve spoken about passionately is walkability. So much of that conversation about transit tends to revolve around folks walking to a grocery store in South End or bike lanes in Plaza Midwood, but the real key issue around transit is for low-income people to be able to get jobs or get to the jobs they already have. How do we make that conversation more inclusive? If a family can avoid having a second car or any car at all, that’s $3,000. Imagine if you SEE



RULE BREAKERS Not your average Muslim BY LARA AMERICO Editor’s Note: In 2016, Creative Loafing contributor Lara Americo debuted her photo series “Trans & Queer in the Workplace” in CL between August and December. That series was later picked up by Huffington Post and served as the basis for Americo’s Chrysalis exhibit at C3 Lab. This year, Americo highlights another marginalized and misunderstood population, the local Muslim population. Since June, Creative Loafing has run Americo’s photos of different Charlotte-area Muslims along with insights from them about their work, their personal lives and the judgment they often live with. This week, Americo talks with Jazzmine. Visit for previous entries and videos of Americo’s subjects. Jazzmine grew up in a foster home in Fayetteville, and moved to Charlotte a little more than a year ago to take part in the protests following Keith Lamont Scott’s shooting. Jazzmine identifies as trans non-binary, which sets them apart from many other practicing Muslims. Here, Jazzmine talks about people’s preconceptions of “the average Muslim.”

“I think I feel more pressured by non-Muslims than I do by actual Muslims, with the idea that I’m not like a valid Muslim or I’m not a real Muslim unless I wear the hijab. And, you know, I think I get pressured from Muslims in this time of Donald Trump and Islamophobia and everybody being like, ‘We need to be super, super conservative,’ or, ‘We need to be super liberal.’ And it’s always Muslims who break the rules — who are drinking or partying or who are queer — used as this example of, ‘Look how normal Muslim people are.’ But we’re not the average Muslim.”

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STASHED A nurse at Peak Resources nursing home in east Charlotte was relieved of their job last week, but they certainly made the most of it during their two-month employment. Management at the nursing home filed a police report stating that the suspect was found to have stolen 100 prescription pills belonging to the business — mostly Oxycodone and Hydrocodone — between September 1 and October 24. PERTURBED Police had to intervene

during an incident at Alexander Graham Middle School in which a student completely lost his cool after getting into it with another student. According to the report, the kid began throwing laptops on the ground after a disturbance in the classroom. The steamed student then left the classroom and picked up a big stick from outside and tried to go back into the classroom to hit a classmate with it, but was confronted by a school resource officer. The kid then threw the stick to the ground and attempted to push past the officer, but wasn’t able to, because, well, he’s in middle school.

SOCIAL DETECTIVE Police responded to

a call at Cotswold Elementary after a kid was jacked for his bike there on a recent night. The 15-year-old victim said that he was hanging with friends outside of the school at around 8 p.m. when a man came up and took his bike from him before riding away on it. The kid told police he didn’t know the suspect’s name, but was able to provide the man’s “Facebook alias,” which is a start.

POLICE BRUTALITY A police officer had to file a report on his own self last week after a little community outreach took a bad turn in south Charlotte. According to the report, a uniformed cop was playing basketball with some kids in the Sterling neighborhood and when he went up for a jump shot, his utility belt scraped across the face of an 11-year-old boy, creating a “rug burn type of scratch,” according to the report, and a cut on the inside of his lip, making him the first person to ever get pistol whipped by accident. In an unrelated incident, a different 11-yearold boy found himself in a bad situation at Community House Middle School in south Charlotte. The boy’s mom filed a report saying that he was offered drugs while at the school one morning, and also suffered a bruised upper lip after being struck by an umbrella during a “horse-playing incident.” RECRUITMENT Police officers posing as prostitutes are usually more apt to catch a john than a pimp, but that’s not what happened over the summer during one Vice squad sting. According to a report from July that was only recently released, an undercover police officer arrested a man 10 | NOV. 2 - NOV. 8, 2017 | CLCLT.COM

who tried to get her to work for him on McCullough Drive in the University area. He was let down to find out that the only pimp she answers to is the CMPD.

CAN I CRASH HERE? A 28-year-old

woman called police last week after someone almost drove right through the back door of her south Charlotte condo. The woman, who lives in the Sharon Lakes community, told police that a vehicle struck the chair that was on her patio, sending it crashing through her sliding glass door. The reckless driving did $500 in damage and certainly scared the shit out of the woman, seeing as how it happened in the middle of the night.

PROBLEMS AT WORK A 43-year-old

woman called police to her job at Dollar Tree on The Plaza last week after receiving a disturbing phone call. The woman told officers that someone called her phone and told her that they know where she works and they were planning to come there to beat her up and blow up the whole store. Sounds personal, right? Except the victim told police she has no idea who the person on the other end was and doesn’t believe they’ve ever met.

UNSTUCK A woman filed a police report

after getting her car stuck in northeast Charlotte last week, then finding out that it wasn’t stuck after all when someone stole it. The woman said she was driving at around midnight on the inner loop of I-485 when she slid off the road near exit 33 and her car became stuck in a grassy embankment. The woman left the car and walked off to find assistance, but when she returned about two hours later, the car was gone. She confirmed that the car was not simply towed away when she visited a nearby 7-Eleven and watched on their surveillance video as a stranger got into her car and drove it away. In an unrelated incident, a 52-year-old man was upset to return from work to find that his car was not where he left it in the driveway of his southwest Charlotte home. He was mostly upset because he soon found out that his son took the car without asking, and all the more upset because his son is 15 years old and doesn’t have a learner’s permit, let alone a license. The man told officers the kid has taken the car for joyrides without asking in the past.

REEFER MADNESS Police responded to

a robbery call at a home in the Steele Creek area last week, only to find out that no robbery occurred. The report does not state any reason for the confusion, but judging by what happens next, it probably stemmed from someone being really, really high. Police investigating the fake robbery did find evidence of plenty of drug use, and ended up leaving the scene with a baggie of pills, scales, weed, 13 pipes and three bongs.







34, of Columbus, Ohio, was nothing if not thorough on the morning of Sept. 18 when, following an argument with her daughter, she purposely drove her car onto the sidewalk and struck the 17-year-old, who was walking to school, according to Columbus police. After knocking the girl down and running over her leg, Woody stopped and backed up, driving over the leg a second time. QFM96 reported Woody generously gave the girl a ride to her father’s house, where she dropped her off without reporting the incident. Woody later turned herself in at police headquarters and faces charges of felonious assault, aggravated vehicular assault and endangering children. The daughter was treated for two fractures to her left leg.

QUESTIONABLE JUDGMENT Coolidge, Arizona, resident Victor Pratt boasts that he’s played with snakes his whole life. So when a rattlesnake slithered by during a family party at a nearby lake on Sept. 7, Pratt grabbed the viper and showed the kids “how to catch it and I was playing with it like little kids do. I wasn’t thinking. I was showing off,” he admitted to FOX 10 News. The rattler apparently didn’t want to play along and bit Pratt on his face and neck. Pratt’s sons quickly drove him to a nearby emergency room, and he was later airlifted to BannerUniversity Medical Center Phoenix, where Dr. Steven Curry treated him. “There is a 100 percent chance he would have died if he’d not made it to the hospital within minutes,” Curry noted. Pratt remained unconscious for several days. He told reporters he had learned his lesson and would not play with rattlesnakes again. SOCK PUPPET A family in Coventry,

England, are “quite mortified” after calling the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in September to rescue a lizard peeking from underneath a bed in their home. But when officer Vic Hurr arrived at the home, she discovered the “lizard” was not a “lizard at all, it was a pink stripy sock.” The dirty imposter sock, about 7 inches long and 2 inches wide, wasn’t moving, Hurr noted. “I think the family eventually saw the funny side,” an RSPCA spokeswoman told the Independent. “The sock had obviously been there quite a while. It was a typical teenager’s bedroom, I suppose.”

LEFT BEHIND The Caving Club at Indiana University explored Sullivan Cave in southern Indiana on Sept. 17, but when they headed back to campus, they forgot one thing: a 19-year-old freshman physics major who had become separated from the group and was trapped behind a locked gate. When the club president realized two days later that a caver had been left behind, members rushed back to save him. “You could tell they were pretty shaken up,” the caver told the Indiana Daily

Student. “They did near kill me.” The student reported he licked moisture off the cave walls during the ordeal and wrote goodbye letters to his family on his iPhone until the battery died. (BONUS: The rescued caver’s name is Lukas Cavar.)

THE WEIRD APOCALYPSE Cable television viewers in Orange County, California, were stunned on the morning of Sept. 21 when an ominous message accompanied by an “Emergency Alert” banner flashed on the screen. At increased volume, a man’s voice boomed: “Realize this, extremely violent times will come,” said viewer Stacy Laflamme of Lake Forest, who was watching HGTV on the Cox Communications cable system. Spectrum customers also received the alert. The warning seemed especially timely given that doomsday writer David Meade had predicted the end of the world “as we know it” to occur two days later. Laflamme told the Orange County Register the message “sounded like a radio broadcast coming through the television.” Dennis Johnson, a spokesman for Spectrum, said: “We have confirmed that we were fed an incorrect audio file,” but neither company could determine where the audio had come from. BRIGHT IDEAS (1) Kevin Michael Cook,

24, of New Castle, Pennsylvania, was too drunk to drive on Sept. 3, so he enlisted the help of an 8-year-old girl. WPXI News reports the girl told Darlington Township police that Cook, a family friend, ordered her into a car at her grandmother’s house and forced her to drive him toward East Palestine, Ohio. The car stopped after nearly wrecking twice, as bystanders called 911. Police tried to give Cook a sobriety test, but he was too impaired to finish it. He was charged with endangering the welfare of a child, driving under the influence and driving without a license. (2) Prosecutors in Geneva, Switzerland, are looking for the culprits who flushed about $100,000 in 500-euro notes down four toilets in the city in May — one in the vault area of the UBS Bank, and the other three in nearby bistros. While neither throwing money away nor blocking a toilet is a crime, Vincent Derouand of the Geneva Prosecutor’s Office told the Tribune de Geneve, “we want to be sure of the origin of the money.”

GOTCHA! The Greene County (Tennessee)

Sheriff ’s Department alerted drivers along Chuckey Pike on Sept. 20 not to be alarmed by a body that appeared to have been crushed by a house’s garage door. “THIS IS A HALLOWEEN DECORATION!” the department’s Facebook page warns. “Do NOT call 911 reporting a dead body.” Officers had rushed to the scene with sirens blaring after a caller reported the body, but then discovered the clever holiday tableau.

had $3,000 of disposable income. If we could get to a place where people are not working that second job to pay for childcare, and that is not a poverty issue, it is a middle class issue, we need to figure that out. So I really do support our bus system growing. I hope that we’ll be able to do a light rail system in a way that’s tactful for these communities, but I think our most valuable resource right now is to quickly move our bus system to a better routing, not just based on linear but radial routes. And you know, the good thing about what you just said is that, while you can identify Plaza Midwood and South End, you have to remember Wilmore is right next to South End, and that’s where people want to be able to walk as well, is in Wilmore. And Wilmore isn’t gentrified. There might be a part of it that is, but we’re talking about the inside of the 1960s development. When we were building those roads we put the sidewalk right up to the road, nobody really thought about it very much, but now we’re going back and retrofitting. The four corridors that we’re working with are North Tryon, South Boulevard, Parkwood and we’re also working on West Boulevard, where we built the road so far apart, and you can drive 55 miles per hour to get to the airport. Now we’re talking about how do we bring crosswalks together, how do we create more of a calm boulevard effect versus inner city highway, which is what I call West Boulevard. I’m glad you mentioned gentrification. In a city growing as fast as Charlotte, how can we do a better job of making sure displacement is not the inevitable result? That’s one of the most complex questions that we’re dealing with right now. The tax assessor said this last week, he said, “There’s no new dirt in Charlotte.” And so we’re going to have escalating land values. In some communities, what they’ve done is they have created funds where if you are the person who bought your house at $70,000 and you’re living there and then all of a sudden someone builds a $400,000 house next door and your values raise — we can take care of the house values, we can adjust for all that — but if your land values, mainly your tax bill, makes it unaffordable for you to live there, other communities have created private funds that allow you to draw down on that and pay the difference. We have to figure out a way to keep people in their houses. It’s not their fault that they chose to live here, worked hard all their lives, paid their taxes, voted for the bonds that made these improvements possible, for them to not be able to stay in their homes. So I’m going to work really hard and focus on that. RPITKIN@CLCLT.COM

CLCLT.COM | NOV. 2 - NOV. 8, 2017 | 11



JUST DON’T CALL IT REDNECK Get to know your softneck from your hardneck garlic BY ARI LEVAUX


ANY PEOPLE claim to love garlic, but can’t tell a hardneck from a softneck. That’s like claiming to be a car guy, but not knowing the difference between a standard and automatic transmission. One is for high performance, the other is for the undiscerning masses. If you’ve ever tried to peel 15 tiny slivers of garlic just to get enough for a proper meal, and had the wispy wrappers stuck to your stinky, garlic-juice fingers, then you know the frustration of softneck garlic. But do you know the giddiness of not being able to find a clove small enough for a dinner for two? Or the pleasure of placing a single piece on a cutting board and bopping it with a frying pan, so the wrapper falls off the clove like a porn star shedding their wardrobe? Ease of peeling means more time doing the fun parts of cooking. Hardneck garlic cloves radiate around a central stalk like slices of pie, while softneck bulbs are lumpier, with a central stalk that is shriveled like a belly button. All you have to do is press your thumb into the middle of a bulb and you will know what you are dealing with, if it wasn’t already obvious. The majority of the world’s garlic is of the softneck variety, which lends itself more readily to mass cultivation. Most hardneck acreage is tended by smaller-scale farmers, of the size you would see represented at a farmers market. Family farmers are growing for themselves as well as their customers, after all, and they want to eat the good stuff. Not only is hardneck better in the kitchen and more fun to grow, but only hardneck garlic produces the early-season scapes that amount to an extra harvest on the same garlic crop. Softneck garlic, to its credit, will usually store longer into the following spring. So if you are looking to be garlic self-sufficient, you might want to consider planting a portion of softneck, or living on scapes for a few weeks. The other redeeming trait about softneck garlic is you can braid it. (Yay.) One typically has to pay more for hardneck, but it’s worth every penny. The first time I saw Romanian Red, in a basket in the back of a pickup truck in the Pacific Northwest, I bought 30 pounds for $150. That was 15 years ago and one of the best investments I’ve ever made. To this day, Romanian Red is the kind of garlic you want to work with in the kitchen, ergo the kind you want to plant. The man who sold me that life-changing garlic stash, David Ronniger, passed away last 12 | NOV. 2 - NOV. 8, 2017 | CLCLT.COM

summer. A grower and purveyor of the finest in root vegetables, David was a great guy to have around. Until our paths first crossed at the Tonasket Barter Faire, I had been growing a not-bad Spanish Rosa. But since meeting the Romanian Red, I have not looked back. All of my garlic-growing friends have switched as well, growing out seed that I’d gifted them. Once, to win a softneck-vs.-hardneck debate with my farmer friend Patty Fialkowitz, I gave her a bag of Romanian Red. Years went by. I moved away. I moved back to find Patty’s husband Bob now growing 600 pounds of Romanian Red, all from the seed I gave her to make my point. Bob was even selling Romanian Red to David Ronniger, who ended up selling more Romanian Red than he could grow. Now that David is gone, Bob has extra, if anybody wants any. ( Online, the going rate for Romanian Red seed is about $25 bucks a pound, but I’m pretty sure the stuff available at your local farmers market, including Bob’s, runs quite a bit less, and you can plant it just the same. There is nothing special about so-called “seed garlic” — or Romanian Red, for that matter. There are many good varieties out there, and the most important thing, other than it be a hardneck, is that it grows well in your area. If you pick up some locally grown garlic at your farmers market and treat it right, you can assume it will resemble what you bought. Break the bulbs into cloves and plant them, scab side down, with the tip an inch below the surface of the earth, about 6 to 10 inches apart. Mulch it thru the winter if you live in a cold climate, and don’t ever let it dry out until harvest time. Otherwise, find a farmer that’s growing what you like, and buy a bunch to eat through the winter. You should be able to find hardnecks at most of the farmers markets around Charlotte, which is good, because the closest true garlic farm is in Rockingham, about and hour and a half east of here. If you want the real experts, look up Cornerstone Garlic Farm and make a day trip out of it.


HERE’S A RECIPE for a garlicky Thai sauce called nam jim, which basically means dipping sauce for seafood. In addition to being great for that, it also gives a salt water flair to non-



ITAL IS A LIFESTYLE Xavier Stephens of Sun Burger preaches sustainability BY MARK KEMP


Ingredients 16 miniscule garlic cloves, painstakingly peeled (she used softneck garlic, in other words); or, preferably, a clove or two of a decent stock Small bunch of cilantro * Way too many Thai-style chiles for me to handle. Meaning at least one *

seafood dishes thanks to a copious amount of fish sauce. In addition to being too fishy and too garlicky, nam jim is also too spicy, sour and salty, so it all balances out. It’s a great marinade for wild game, which can then be pan-blackened in oil with mustard, kale or some other uppity greens. Nam jim works on eggs, can be mixed with mayo — everything. If a seafood feast is in order, and you have the shrimp or crab legs and whatnot, this sauce is all you need to eat it in a truly authentic and flavorful Thai way. There are as many recipes for nam jim as there are Thai kitchens. My recipe comes

* 2 limes, quartered and ready to squeeze, for about 1/2 cup juice * 1/4 cup fish sauce * 1/3 cup sugar (or to taste) * 2 Tablespoons chicken soup powder (Optional. She uses this as a replacement for MSG) * Salt, to taste

from Pornthip Rodgers, who runs Pagoda Chinese and Thai food in Missoula, Montana. Pornthip augments the fresh garlic with a few heads of Thai-style pickled garlic. Try the International Supermarket at 4520 N. Tryon St., or any number of other Asian groceries around Charlotte. Or, stick to fresh garlic and add a splash of white vinegar. Start by blending the cilantro, garlic and chiles along with sugar, soup powder, and lime juice. Blend it all to a course slurry. Adjust ingredients to ensure there is too much of everything, then add too much fish sauce. BACKTALK@CLCLT.COM

Queens, New York, to the Queen City a little over a year ago, the Caribbean native brought Sun Burger Vege Cuisine with him. It wasn’t difficult. Stephens’ 100-percent vegan, 100-percent organic restaurant is also 100-percent mobile. Stephens had started Sun Burger two years earlier, serving his Jupiter Triple J burgers (that’s Jamaican jerk jackfruit), Saturn 5-Spice and Kimchi burgers (organic cannellini beans and black rice, with vegan kimchi and five-spice plum dressing) and Mars Spinach Masala burger (chickpeas and spinach with masala spices) from Queens to the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn. “This was a venture that I thought was fitting to what I love to do and also what I think I could share with my community,” Stephens says. What he wanted to share was a commitment to sustainability — and to Jamaican ital [pronounced EYE-tol] cuisine. He brings the lively Caribbean-style flavors of his culture to vegan food and the vegan lifestyle in a way that lovers of spicy meatbased foods also might find palatable. When I took my meat-eating, traditional-AfricanAmerican-soul-food-loving girlfriend to the Sun Burger tent at the Bla/Alt black alternative music festival last month, even she admitted that this was food she could sink her teeth into. And she’s a hard sell. So I thought I’d chat with Stephens about his food, and the philosophy behind it. By the way, you can find Stephens’ Sun Burger Vege Cuisine tent set up in front of Gumbo, on Commonwealth Avenue, and at other locations around Charlotte. Just look for the red-and-yellow sun logo with a burger in the middle. Creative Loafing: How do you make vegan burgers with no GMOs and no soy taste so lively and flavorful, like no vegan burgers I’ve ever had? Xavier Stephens: Well, we grew up in the Caribbean, so really it’s just a part of the cuisine to have those spices and those flavors. Besides, we’re trying to create cuisine that should be enjoyed and should taste great. It’s part of the message we’re trying to get across. And what is that message? Sustainability. This is ital cuisine, and ital is pretty much the Caribbean version of the vegan movement here. It’s a movement that’s understood to have been started in the 1930s by a Rastafarian community in


Xavier Stephens (in black turban) prepares ital cuisine at the Bla/Alt Music Festival. Jamaica. So you had people who lived away from society, who were self-sustaining, who planted their own food, and that’s what they ate. And it was vegan: there was no dairy, no meat, no meat byproducts. Ital was a lifestyle, but it was also a resistance movement, you know, to sway away from the decadence of a society which was represented by people who ate meat. It was a conscious movement. So that’s the core of the flavors, in terms of where the cuisine that we offer comes from. Sometimes this places us in a precarious position when we observe the vegan movement here in America, because we have intention behind what we’re offering. We’re not just out here cooking food. And we’re not just jumping on the vegan bandwagon. We have a deep understanding of the core of this movement, the message behind the food — self-sufficiency, sustainability. This is just one vehicle we use to communicate that message. Still, vegan food and the vegan lifestyle are gaining in popularity in Charlotte and elsewhere. That must be good for business, isn’t it? It definitely has a positive impact, from a business perspective. And I think it’s great that the market is expanding, visibly, and that people in the community are more receptive to this variety of cuisine. I think that’s an indication of where the consciousness of the community is going. And that’s the most important part of it, to me. We want to be an intimate part of the community here. And we have an intention behind what we’re doing: sustainability — an awareness of where we are as a species on this planet, living in consciousness and respect for all sentient beings, and understanding that we have a role to play in terms of what we hand down to future generations. So there are many avenues that we’re bringing. It can be very personal, in that sense, but it’s also a very enjoyable, creative process to try and morph a message with the kind of food we think a community needs. (For more info, go to Sun Burger’s Facebook or Instagram pages.) CLCLT.COM | NOV. 2 - NOV. 8, 2017 | 13



JAMES BROWN DANCE PARTY What: At first glance, James Brown Dance Party looks just like any other tribute band, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Hell, throwing a dance party and simply playing James Brown music would be fine. But a closer look shows the talent hidden within this rotating tribute supergroup, which features members of James Brown Band, Trombone Shorty, Snarky Puppy and an endless list of other contributors. When: 7 p.m. Where: The Shed Ampitheater at The Station House, 600 E. Sugar Creek Road More: $15-18.

14 | NOV. 2 - NOV. 8, 2017 | CLCLT.COM





Light Factory Auction SATURDAY






What: For those unfamiliar with Sufism, Bollywood singer Richa Sharma will enlighten you to a divine Islamic way of life through her electrifying vocals. “The Sufi Queen” rightfully earns that title from her powerful and diverse albums and performances. The sacred side of Sufism came naturally to Sharma, as she is the youngest of seven born from a temple priest. She represents a new wave of Sufism in Bollywood, making it recognizable in the Indian mainstream.

What: Running 3.1 miles can sound gruesome to out-of-shape folks like us, but sliding, climbing and bouncing your way through the worlds largest inflatable course sounds like a helluva good time. This may sound like some simple bounce houses, but it’s no child’s play. It’s called insane for a reason: a wall that’s 20 feet tall and 80 feet long, giant balls like the ones on Total Wipeout, a crash course ... need I say more? Hell, this might even get us off the couch and into our long-lost workout clothes.

When: 8 p.m. Where: Blumenthal Performing Arts, 130 N. Tryon St. More: $49-89.

When: 8:30-11:30 a.m. Where: Charlotte Motor Speedway, 5555 Concord Pkwy. S. More: $60.







What: Free chicken for a whole year! If that didn’t get your attention, nothing will (or you’re vegan). Folks have been buzzing about Plaza Midwood’s new chicken and char grill eatery, which is finally celebrating its kick-off by giving the first 50 people through the door a free roasted chicken meal every month for a year (you’ve gotta buy something, though, you cheap bastard). Stick around for an old-fashioned day party starting at noon.

What: The experience of reading a paperback book is lost on many kids of the 21st century, because even when you can get them reading, it’s usually on some digital platform. EpicFest gives parents the chance to connect their kids with one of childhood’s most important pastimes. A couple well-renowned authors and illustrators will be attending this year’s festivities. We’re here for it, because if your kids can’t read later on, where does that leave Creative Loafing?

When: 10 a.m. Where: Coaltrane’s Char Grill, 1518 Central Ave. More: Free.

When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Where: ImaginOn, 300 E. 7th St. More: Free. foundation.cmlibrary. org/events




Coaltranes Opening Celebration SATURDAY











What: The Light Factory has been a consistent staple in Charlotte’s art scene over the decades, and every year it relies on one single event to account for one third of the organization’s annual budget. The live and silent auctions feature a mix of digital and film photography, and are perfect to find the right piece for your collection, or perhaps get a jump on holiday shopping. Help launch the Light Factory into the next 35 years. Could you picture that?

What: The sweetest way to spend a Sunday, Wentworth and Fenn will host this artisans market to showcase only the best pastry and artisan chefs in Charlotte, and yes, you will be able to get your hands on their edible artwork. Beloved bakeries like Best of Charlotte winner La Piccola Gabbia join culinary minds like Chef Alyssa to bring you the sweeter side of CLT. Now you just have to decide what to do with your sugar rush.

When: 6:30-8:30 p.m. Where: The Light Factory, 1817 Central Ave. More: $40-50.

When: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Where: The Village at Commonwealth, 1308 Lorna St. More: Free. wentworthandfenn/









What: Three fun facts about easy listening artist Bon Iver: He’s ethereal indie folk for people who find Ed Sheeran too edgy and Cat Stevens too ethnic. Classic rock group Procol Harum unwittingly penned a description of Bon Iver’s music when they wrote “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” Lastly, his best performance was actually Justin Timberlake’s impersonation of Bon Iver on a Saturday Night Live sketch, where the snoozy singer-songwriter plays one of his interchangeable songs and promptly puts himself to sleep.

What: This Las Vegas-based band has been around for less than five years but has left a decent mark on American pop music, selling more than 9 million albums at a time when nobody sells those anymore. Not only are their album covers dynamically crafted, the music inside is the perfect balance of head-banging rock and danceworthy grooves. Their newest album, Evolve, marks a transition from rock to electro-pop, which could go either way.

What: Michael Trotter, Jr., one half of the duo The War and Treaty, taught himself how to play the keys on the ebony and ivory of an old piano he found in a corner of one of Saddam Hussein’s abandoned palaces while serving in Iraq in 2004. Upon his return, Trotter met Tanya Blount — also blessed with a larger than life singing voice — and the pair married and started making music. From the pair’s beautiful singing to the mix of instruments and old-fashioned boot stomping, War and Treaty shows are a tent revival for the soul.

When: 8 p.m. Where: Fillmore, 820 Hamilton St. More: Sold Out.

When: 7 p.m. Where: Spectrum Center, 333 E. Trade St. More: $29 and up.

When: 10:00 p.m. Where: The Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. More: $7.

= Á< 5Á< ÁRPQW For more information please contact your CL sales representative! CLCLT.COM | NOV. 2 - NOV. 8, 2017 | 15



CANARY IN A COPPER MINE Arizona-born singersongwriter George Banda finds peace in Charlotte BY MARK KEMP


N THE MIDDLE of another toxic workday at the Asarco copper mine in the tiny desert town of Hayden, Arizona, George Banda decided that he’d had enough. The powerful stench of reagents — the chemicals used when copper ore is crushed into a fine powder during a process called froth floatation — smelled like a combination of rotten eggs and dirty gym socks. Banda was 19. A few years earlier, he’d told himself he would never work in the mines. But then he graduated from Hayden High School. What else was he going to do? “In Hayden, you do one of two things: You either waste your life away or you work for the mine,” Banda says, and shakes his head. He’s sitting at an outside table at Mugs Coffee Shop on Park Road, under a crisp autumn sun, cradling a custom Taylor cutaway acoustic guitar with a lovely figured koa top. “So I thought, ‘OK, I’ll be a heavy equipment operator, I’ll be a welder.” He got a job with the Ashton Company, a construction outfit that was contracted to fix Asarco’s floatation agitators and tailing pipes, where the depleted dirt goes after all the copper has been extracted. It was hot, dry, dangerous work. “One day I was in there smelling all the reagents, and I realized: I can’t do this anymore,” Banda says. “That was the moment I knew I had to go, and I just said a little prayer. I said, ‘God, if you don’t get me out of here, I’m gonna die.’” Banda had played guitar in high school and dreamed of making music for a living. He’d even hung a Hal Leonard guitar theory poster on his bedroom wall. “I would stare at it and just desperately wanted to understand it, but I couldn’t,” he says. The schools in the depressed mining town that butts up against the sprawling San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation — about 100 miles southeast of Phoenix and 72 miles north of Tucson — weren’t exactly the highest ranking in the country. “They didn’t even teach music at my high school,” Banda says. “My dad played guitar and my mom sang, but they did it by ear. We didn’t have the language. We couldn’t read or write music, and I definitely couldn’t explain what I was doing when I was playing.” All that was more than a decade ago. Today, Banda is 30, and sports a shiny bald 16 | NOV. 2 - NOV. 8, 2017 | CLCLT.COM

George Banda sits at a table outside Mugs Coffee, picking the custom Taylor guitar he named Ele. dome, thick black eyebrows and a black beard specked with gray. He lives in Charlotte now, where he’s completed degrees in music theory and guitar performance at both Central Piedmont Community College and Queens University. He finds peace riding the rural backroads on his yellow Harley Davidson Road King (which he named Pikachu, for the Pokémon species), and doing volunteer work with forgotten, underserved communities wracked by homelessness, addiction and neglect. And today, Banda has achieved his childhood dream: He writes deeply emotional, acoustic-based songs that sometimes recall the whispery British folk of Nick Drake and other times the gruff and soulful fare of singer-songwriter Ray LaMontagne. And Banda performs them at local venues like the Evening Muse in NoDa. “George is one of those songwriters that can bring a quiet to the audience that is uncommon,” says Erik Button, front man of the Charlotte punk band Dollar Signs and host of the Muse’s ‘Find Your Muse’ open-mic night. “I’ve seen him play at a talkative open mic that, by halfway through his first song, you can hear only the clank of bar glasses.” On Friday, November 3, Banda will headline a show at the Muse, performing tracks from his 2016 self-titled debut EP on a bill with two other Charlotte singersongwriters, Alexa Jenson and Ellie Morgan.

Banda and Jenson both were part of the recent Down Yonder project that showcased eight Charlotte bands and solo artists playing their music in videos set in an old abandoned building at the Camp North End art complex on Statesville Avenue. [See “Charlotte Rocks, page 17.] The whole thing was shot in a day. “That was super fun — me, Alexa, Dollar Signs, Junior Astronomers, Sinners and Saints. . . ” Banda says, then trails off. “Just to be able to see all these different artists and bands thriving here in Charlotte, and to see so many supportive people who are willing to come out and say, ‘Look, we have something germinating in this city. We should give it a little more light.’”

THE WORLD was not always so bright

for George Banda. When he arrived in the Charlotte area in 2006 he was broken and in desperate need of spiritual and emotional healing. He had enrolled in the School of Ministry at MorningStar University in Fort Mill, just below the South Carolina border. He chose MorningStar, he says, because it was as far away as he could get from Hayden, where he’d experienced a rough childhood — an abusive mother at home, and taunting from the kids at school. “I was an outcast in that little town. I was the kid who would get up in the morning and go pray at the flagpole. I was the weird guy who would skip his lunch breaks to go play


guitar. I struggled with my weight,” Banda remembers, and then pauses. “I mean, look, we all have stuff, right? But that was my stuff,” he continues. “I just needed to get away, and coming out here was my way of getting as far away as possible.” MorningStar provided a soft landing for Banda, but it didn’t scratch his most intense itch. Music had been his escape from the abuse at home and teasing at school, and he needed to continue pursuing it. One hot August day, after attending seminary for a while, he had his second-most-important epiphany. “I was living down in the Steele Creek area at the time, and I would work out at the Planet Fitness on Whitehall,” he remembers. “I had just finished my workout and was sitting in the parking lot when it hit me like a train: ‘I want to understand everything about music.’” He looks up. “I was almost in tears, man. That was my moment of clarity.” He left MorningStar, enrolled in CPCC and began his musical journey in earnest. He learned music theory, studied guitar under Bob Teixeira, who taught him classical techniques, and songwriting under John Parks, who continues to help Banda hone his lyrics and melodies. The guitar part, he has mastered. Banda’s hands flutter about the strings of his Taylor like a hummingbird. “He’s always been an exceptional guitar player,” says Button, “and it’s been very inspiring

GEORGE BANDA W/ ELLIE MORGAN & ALEXA JENSON Friday, Nov. 3. 7:30 p.m. $7. The Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. 704-376-3737.

watching him develop his songwriting skills. Very few people I know think as much about their songs as George. He’ll incorporate things like the sounds his phone makes into the melody of his song about text messages he got. I mean, who does that?” But to Banda, his lyrics and melodies remain works in progress. “Just being able to be a good communicator on your instrument — that’s what’s most important to me,” he says. “In fact, sometimes, it takes precedence, and that’s gotten me into trouble with my songwriting teacher. John will tell me, ‘You can play the guitar well — now, let’s work on your lyrics and your songwriting.’” Banda’s songs all end up centering on love — “unrequited love, girls, that kind of thing,” he says. “That’s where I hang out; it’s my medium. But I’m starting to expand beyond that.” He looks down at his Taylor and begins picking two notes, an octave apart. It’s the intro to “Just For Love,” the second track on his EP in which he sings, “I have been in lovely love, but not like this before. / It was just emotions, tingles, butterflies, nothing more.” This particular song speaks to a different kind of love — the unconditional kind that can’t be snuffed out. “I pushed you out the door,” he sings later in the piece. “Yet you persist with endless gifts. . .” Thinking about the song’s genesis makes Banda emotional. “It’s my favorite song on the album,” he says, still playing the twonote intro but now adding an ascending chord progression. “It’s a story of finding the kind of love that walks in at those times when you’re completely broken, and it just mends you — whether it be my dad’s love, or whether it be a dear friend’s love, or my grandmother’s love, or my faith. “The song is about the people in your life who are unwilling to let you sink,” he continues. “They’re going to just kick down the door when you don’t want to let anyone in. They’ll make a door.”

BANDA’S FATHER, also named George, is the one person in his life who has consistently kicked down that door. When the younger Banda’s mother was abusing him, both mentally and physically, his father provided sanctuary. The elder Banda is an artist who immigrated to the United States from Guadalupe, Mexico, and attended Arizona State University, where he majored in philosophy and minored in art. He also fought in the Vietnam War, and came home riddled with Agent Orange. Today, he is blind and on dialysis three times a week. But he’s always there for his son. “He’s my best friend,” Banda says, his eyes tearing up slightly. “In this vast sea of life, my dad is a lighthouse that always lets me know where my boundaries are. He shines so bright. Anytime I feel like I’m lost, I can always see him. He’s the person who pushes me and

still gets on my case.” Banda pauses, his voice breaking slightly, then continues: “He’s a special, special man. If I can be a fraction of what he is, I’ll be doing something.” Banda has gone back home from time to time to visit his family, which also includes a younger sister, Valerie, and two older sisters, Rosana and Carolina. But in the past decade, he mostly knows his father from the sound of his voice on the phone. “Realizing that I’ve now spent 11 years not seeing my dad every day has been difficult for me,” he says. “But I always hear his voice. I’ve talked to him for 11 years on the phone, so the sound of his voice is always in my head.” As for his mother, Gloria — the person who tormented Banda when he was a child — he’s forgiven her. “That may be the most beautiful story of all,” Banda says. “One of the main reasons I left Arizona was the way my mom treated me when I was growing up. She was very, very cruel, and it was very difficult to grow up around her. The abuse that came from her was palpable, and it showed up for years until I finally began to work through some of those things.” Three years after he arrived in Charlotte, Banda sought counciling and began to slowly shed himself of the pain that he now expresses in his music. And the beautiful part for him: Gloria ended up getting help, too. “When she opened up and became willing, she said to me, ‘Tell me what I did to you. Let’s talk about it,’” Banda remembers. “And when you allow someone into your personal space again, and into your trust again, it’s a little scary, because you’re vulnerable. I had to make the choice to just love her and push all those things from the past aside and let her go through her thing. “It’s not that I buried it; you never bury stuff,” he adds. “You just have to talk about it. So that’s what we did, and watching how my mom has changed after all these years has been incredible.” Banda believes his leaving Arizona helped push his mother to seek the help she needed. “It created a vacuum that made her look into herself, and she’s done that,” he says. “And for her to do that — and for me to watch that process and be a part of it and watch her grow from it — that’s been one of the greatest honors of my life.” Forgiveness has been crucial, he says. “I don’t want to repeat what she did. So I wanted to make sure that we built a relationship now, so that when all things are said and done, that woman knows I love her and I know she loves me. And now my mom — who was hurt herself as a child — has become someone who is in my corner. She got there. She’s herself now. She’s Gloria.” And when Banda steps up to the mic at the Evening Muse Friday night to sing lines like “you left me bleeding, broken and worn,” in a coarse but vulnerable, sandpaper voice, over sweet, fingerpicked acoustic guitar, he will be George. Not a mine worker. Not a MorningStar student. Not a minister. Just George Banda — a very grateful singer-songwriter from Charlotte, North Carolina.


Capturing the scene: Dollar Signs rocks out while filming Down Yonder at Camp North End on Statesville Ave.

CHARLOTTE ROCKS Down Yonder puts video spotlight on 8 local acts BY MARK KEMP

FOR YEARS Matthew Tyndall would hear rumors of Charlotte’s crappy music scene. He wasn’t aware of the city’s crappy scene, but he knew of its good one. So Tyndall, a co-partner in the local digital production company Priceless Misc, decided it was time to showcase it. He and Priceless editor Erik Button, who fronts the local punk band Dollar Signs, kicked around the idea of bringing together some of the city’s best bands and solo artists in a compelling way that would shine a larger light on the local scene. “Erik and I kept talking about how we wanted to film some Charlotte music,” Tyndall says. The problem was coming up with the right location. They finally found one at a sprawling new arts complex on Statesville Avenue. “After visiting Camp North End early this year, we thought it would be the perfect venue,” Tyndall says. The project — shot this past summer in an abandoned building on the complex — became Down Yonder at Camp North End, Vol. 1, a series of videos and a limitededition kit that includes a t-shirt, CD and digital download. It features songs by eight very different Charlotte acts: Dollar Signs, popular post-punk outfit Junior Astronomers, indie-punk duo Alright, Americana duo Sinners & Saints, free-jazz duo Ghost Trees, the electronic singersongwriter duo of Bless These Sounds Under the City, and singer-songwriters Alexa Jenson and George Banda. Tyndall assembled a production crew of about 20, including several people connected to the Evening Muse: owner Joe Kuhlmann served as Down Yonder’s sound guy; Button, who hosts the Muse’s Find Your Muse open-mic night, oversaw the selection of artists; and Banda is a regular performer at the open-mic series. “We just called up a bunch of our friends and invited everyone out for a day of shooting,” Tyndall says. The crew shot the whole thing in one 16-hour whirlwind of a day on June 10. “We then went over

the next month or so and cut down all the videos into a stand-alone video that had two songs from the artists [as well as] interviews.” The idea, Tyndall says, was “to present this as an introduction to all these great Charlotte bands and push back against that stupid thought of Charlotte not having any local music.” In a video documenting the making of the project, Play My Songs for Free - Inside Down Yonder, Vol. 1 at Camp North End, Button explained how he chose which acts to include. “I wanted to try and find people that both are established acts, like Junior Astronomers, who have been big on the scene for as long as I’ve been here, mixed with musicians like Alexa Jensen, who’s graduating high school today,” he said. Tyndall launched a website for Down Yonder,, where you can watch the videos, see photos from the shoot, and read about how the project came together and the people who made it happen. The music is also available on Spotify and iTunes, and the proceeds from the sales of the CD/download kit go to the organization Girls Rock Charlotte, which teaches and encourages confidence and leadership through music-making. “It was a really good project where we had a lot of creative freedom to work with some great people in Charlotte to create something really unique to help grow the creative scene here in town,” Tyndall says. “It was a long day,” Khulmann adds, laughing. “It was super fun,” Banda says of his contribution. “Just to see so many supportive people who are willing to come out and say, ‘Look, we have something germinating in this city. We should give it a little more light.’ That’s amazing to me.” The big question is: Will there be a Down Yonder Vol. 2? “We definitely hope to do more,” says Tyndall’s copartner at Priceless Misc, Justin Ruckman. Stay tuned.

MKEMP@CLCLT.COM CLCLT.COM | NOV. 2 - NOV. 8, 2017 | 17


We hosted the 30th annual Best of Charlotte party at Levine Museum of the New South on Oct. 20. We had a blast hanging with some of our favorite CLT folks.

18 | NOV. 2 - NOV. 8, 2017 | CLCLT.COM

We want to thank our photographer Rachel Snider of Designs & Photography by Rachel. Hereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a few of her photos mixed in with staff pics from throughout the night.

CLCLT.COM | NOV. 2 - NOV. 8, 2017 | 19



NOVEMBER 2 CLASSICAL/JAZZ/SMOOTH Cyrano De Bergerac Student Night (Belk Theater) John Alexander Jazz Trio (Blue Restaurant & Bar)

COUNTRY/FOLK Open Mic with Lisa De Novo (Temple Mojo Growler Shop, Matthews) Ward Davis (Neighborhood Theatre)

DJ/ELECTRONIC Bugalú – Day of the Dead Edition (Petra’s, Charlotte) Le Bang (Snug Harbor)

POP/ROCK Carmen Tate Solo Acoustic (Eddie’s Seafood & Raw Bar, Mooresville) Musicians Open Mic (Crown Station Coffeehouse and Pub) Hotel California: A Tribute to the Eagles (Knight Theater) The Jag (Evening Muse) Jon Linker Band (RiRa Irish Pub) Moses Jones, Ziggy Pockets, Page Mackenzie (Visulite Theatre) On Your Feet – The Emilio & Gloria Estefan Broadway Musical (Ovens Auditorium) RL Grime, Graves and Kittens (The Fillmore) The Scott Clark Toyota 6 Man + Cam Acoustic Jam: Big and Rich, Scotty McCreery, Jerrod Niemann, William Michael Morgan, Chase Bryant, Cam, Ben Rue (Coyote Joe’s) The Trashcan Sinatras All Acoustic Show (Evening Muse)

NOVEMBER 3 BLUES/ROOTS/INTERNATIONAL Richa Sharma (Knight Theater, Charlotte) Steven Engler Band (Blue Restaurant & Bar)

COUNTRY/FOLK Reckless Kelly, The Trongone Band (Neighborhood Theatre) The Lenny Federal Band (Comet Grill)

DJ/ELECTRONIC Blow Your Head: Flock of Slagles, Jah Freedom (Crown Station Coffeehouse and Pub) Dj Supa Skip (RiRa Irish Pub, Charlotte)

HIP-HOP/SOUL/R&B Danbury Music Live Concert: Dig, Big Pooh, Money Baggz featuring ZayBeatz & Chezzy (La Revolucion) Electric Relaxation f. DJ Skillz (‘Stache House Bar & Lounge) 20 | NOV. 2 - NOV. 8, 2017 | CLCLT.COM

SEND US The James Brown Dance Party - The Funkiest All-StarTribute In Show Business: The Chase Brothers (The Shed at the Station House, Charlotte)

POP/ROCK Anchor Detail, Hardworker, Glimpses (Petra’s) Bebe Rexha, Marc E. Bassy (The Underground) Fall Out Boy (Spectrum Center) George Banda, Ellie Morgan, Alexa Jenson (The Evening Muse) Group Text, America is a Mistake, Ghost Trees (Milestone) Heavy Water (RiRa Irish Pub) Johnnyswim (The Fillmore) Kara Grainger (Midwood Guitar Studio) Machine Funk, Polecat Voodoo (The Rabbit Hole) Nevermind The Sex Pistols, Here’s The Bollocks, The Penitentials, Trash Room (Snug Harbor) Of Good Nature, Tropidelic (Visulite Theatre) On Your Feet – The Emilio & Gloria Estefan Broadway Musical (Ovens Auditorium) Wilderado, Jimmy Lumpkin & The Revival (The Evening Muse)

NOVEMBER 4 CLASSICAL/JAZZ/SMOOTH Austin Piazzolla Quintet (The Evening Muse, Charlotte) The Bechtler Ensemble (McInnes Parlors at Burwell Hall, Queens University) The Bechtler Ensemble (Queen’s University’s Dana Auditorium) Opera Carolina: Cyrano de Bergerac (Belk Theater)

BLUES/ROOTS/INTERNATIONAL Latin Night In Plaza Midwood: Chocala, Los Acoustic Guys, MoFunGo, DJ Ez Music (Snug Harbor)

DJ/ELECTRONIC Borgore (World) DJ Method (RiRa Irish Pub)

HIP-HOP/SOUL/R&B Grits & Biscuits (The Fillmore) Off The Wall (Petra’s) Oteil & Friends (Neighborhood Theatre)

COUNTRY/FOLK Brett Young, Carly Pearce (Coyote Joe’s) Ride20, America’s #1 Zac Brown Tribute Band (RiRa Irish Pub)

POP/ROCK The Boron Heist, J And The 9s, Year of the Ox, Trash Room (Milestone) Estuarie, Wakeville, The Riflery LeAnder (The


Evening Muse) Jazzology (Comet Grill) On Your Feet – The Emilio & Gloria Estefan Broadway Musical (Ovens Auditorium) Thirsty Horses (RiRa Irish Pub) Truckstop Preachers, Loose Lugnuts (Visulite Theatre) Welcome To The Village listening party





Whitney Rose (The Evening Muse)

CLASSICAL/JAZZ/SMOOTH Carolina Voices Festival Singers: Reflections, Guest Artists: The Gay Men’s Chorus of Charlotte (St. John’s Baptist Church) Jazz Brunch (RiRa Irish Pub)

BLUES/ROOTS/INTERNATIONAL Benny Turner (The Rabbit Hole) Tribal Seeds, The Expanders (The Underground)

DJ/ELECTRONIC Bone Snugs-N-Harmony (Snug Harbor)

POP/ROCK Benyaro, Mark Mathis (The Evening Muse) Bone Snugs-N-Harmony Karaoke Party (Snug Harbor) Flounder Warehouse, The Chroma Divide, Psychotic Reaction, Waterworks (Milestone) On Your Feet – The Emilio & Gloria Estefan Broadway Musical (Ovens Auditorium) The Shadowboxers, Cameron Floyd (Visulite Theatre) Tiny Stage Songwriter Showcase: Dan Anderson, Michael Wayne Avery, Raymond Franklin (Free Range Brewing Company)



CLASSICAL/JAZZ/SMOOTH Bill Hanna Jazz Jam (Morehead Tavern)

DJ/ELECTRONIC BYOV with DJ Aswell: Bring Your Own Vinyl Night (Petra’s)

Dubbest w/ Sensi Trails (Crown Station Coffeehouse and Pub) Amigo, Sammy Kay, Motel Glory (Snug Harbor) Him, CKY, 3Teeth (The Fillmore) Nothing Feels Good - Emo Night (Noda 101) Uptown Unplugged with Jordan Middleton (Tin Roof)

NOVEMBER 8 CLASSICAL/JAZZ/SMOOTH The Clarence Palmer Trio (Morehead Tavern)

DJ/ELECTRONIC Cyclops Bar: Modern Heritage Weekly Mix Tape (Snug Harbor)

COUNTRY/FOLK Old Salt Union (The Evening Muse)


BLUES/ROOTS/INTERNATIONAL HIP-HOP/SOUL/R&B Knocturnal (Snug Harbor) Stone Soul Mic Love (Freedom Factory @ Seeds) #MFGD Open Mic (Apostrophe Lounge)

POP/ROCK Bon Iver, Aero Flynn (The Fillmore, Charlotte) Open Mic with Lisa De Novo (Legion Brewing, Charlote) The Monday Night Allstars (Visulite Theatre)









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Faye, Strange Ranger, Heckdang (The Station) Imagine Dragons (Spectrum Center) November Residency: Jaggermouth (Snug Harbor) Pluto for Planet (RiRa Irish Pub) Unamused Dave, Hey Thanks, 40 oz Mouse, Rothschild, Never Home (Milestone) The War and Treaty (The Evening Muse)

Small Batch Concert Series: Calin Lupanu, Monica Boboc, Ben Geller, Jon Lewis (Free Range Brewing Company)

Kate Grom (The Evening Muse)

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At left in first pane: Harry Jones Jr. ( Montag) and Thom Tonetti (Beatty): clockwise from top left in second pane: Lisa Hatt (Mildred), Bill Reilly (Faber), Angie Cee (Mrs. Hudson), Stefani Cronley (Clarisse), ensemble players Alystia Moore, Varun Aggarwal, Christopher Long and Anna Royal




BURN BABY BURN! The dystopian classic ‘Fahrenheit 451’ still strikes sparks BY PAT MORAN


HEN WE FIND ourselves with

an oppressive government that limits our freedoms, in large part we’ve done this to ourselves,” Charles LaBorde says. “We’ve allowed it to happen.” A veteran Charlotte theater director and educator, LaBorde is discussing themes central to his latest production, Fahrenheit 451, a stage adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s 1953 novel about a society that has banned and destroyed books. The novel’s title refers to the temperature at which book paper burns. LaBorde is particularly excited to direct the show for Three Bone Theatre at Duke Energy Theater because Bradbury, who died in 2012, did the stage adaptation himself. The play was first performed in Los Angeles in 1979, but wasn’t published until a decade later. Bradbury’s cautionary tale has also been adapted as a 1966 film, directed by François Truffaut and starring Oskar Werner and 22 | NOV. 2 - NOV. 8, 2017 | CLCLT.COM

Julie Christie. HBO is currently developing a version of the story starring Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon. In all three versions of the story, books are outlawed because their contents are frequently considered unpleasant, and they often present contradictory opinions and points of view. Most damning of all, books stimulate the imagination, and an active imagination can make someone question their lot in life. Instead of putting out fires and saving lives, the firemen of Fahrenheit 451’s dystopian future are charged with putting volumes of non-fiction, literature and poetry to the torch. It’s no accident that LaBorde’s production clads this anti-intellectual Gestapo in helmets and body armor that mirror the makeshift uniforms of the altright terrorists who have descended on Charlottesville, Virginia, and elsewhere.

The play’s plot centers on Guy Montag, a fireman dedicated to his job of burning books — that is, until a strangely alluring young woman named Clarisse entices him to open one of the forbidden volumes and start reading. Then all hell breaks loose in Montag’s ordered world. With the Nazi book burnings still a recent memory, the notion of a violent antiintellectual movement was incendiary when Bradbury’s novel hit the bookstands in the 1950s. The concurrent pro-censorship cancer of Senator Joe McCarthy’s anti-communist witch-hunt added a sting to the author’s tale. “The play deals with issues of freedom of speech, control of the press or the lack thereof,” LaBorde says, noting that the author’s reaction to his own work shifted over the years. When the book came out during the McCarthy hysteria, Bradbury said it was a reply to censorship. In later years, the Emmy

Award-winning writer claimed that Fahrenheit 451 was a commentary on how television and mass media have supplanted reading and degraded culture. “When [Bradbury] wrote the novel television was in its infancy,” LaBorde says,” and when he did the play, it was pervasive.” LaBorde, however, maintains that the theme of surrendering our liberties ourselves, rather than having the government come and steal it from us, is the most important one. “It’s a strong message for us at any time,” he adds. Bradbury’s vision of an unimaginative, anti-education America strikes a chord with LaBorde. The 67-year-old actor, director and playwright put his performing career on hold to become a pioneering educator in the Queen City. He launched two of CharlotteMecklenburg Schools’ most successful magnet institutions, Myers Park High’s International

A fiery cast (from left): Thom Tonetti (Beatty), Christopher Long and Anna Royal (ensemble players), Harry Jones Jr. (Montag), Stefani Cronley (Clarisse), Angie Cee (Mrs. Hudson), Lisa Hatt (Mildred), Alystia Moore and Varun Aggarwal (ensemble players)


This book is not for burning: Cee (Mrs. Hudson) flanked by Tonetti (Beatty) and Jones (Montag).


“WHEN [BRADBURY] WROTE THE NOVEL, TELEVISION WAS IN ITS INFANCY, AND WHEN HE DID THE PLAY, IT WAS PERVASIVE.” - CHARLES LABORDE Baccalaureate and the Northwest School of the Arts. LaBorde served as Northwest’s principal for 14 years, preparing countless graduates for film and stage careers, before retiring in 2008. Since then, he’s been active in Charlotte’s theater scene. Fahrenheit 451 is his second production for Three Bone, having directed The Actress for the company last May. LaBorde acknowledges that casting was a big part of his job as director of the current show “I’ve directed a lot of plays in Charlotte since I arrived here in 1976,” he says, “so I know the acting pool pretty well.” Given that, LaBorde is surprised that he had previously worked with only three cast members — Harry Jones Jr. who plays fireman Guy Montag; Thom Tonetti, who portrays Fire Chief Beatty, Montag’s boss and mentor; and Lisa Hatt, who essays the role of Montag’s shallow wife Mildred. The other performers — Stefani Cronley, who portrays Clarisse, the young women who stirs the spark of rebellion in Montag; Bill Reilly, who plays retired English professor Farber; Angie Cee, who brings to life book hoarder Mrs. Hudson; and ensemble members Alystia Moore, Varun Aggarwal, Christopher Long, and Anna Royal — are performing in a LaBorde production for the first time. LaBorde counts himself lucky to have landed such an exceptional cast. Jones is an intense actor and expert listener, LaBorde says; a characteristic that is vital for portraying Montag.

“Even though Montag is onstage for the entire show, he doesn’t speak much,” LaBorde says. “He’s confused and reticent, and at times he doesn’t dare say what he’s thinking.” Much of Montag’s journey is conveyed in his reactions rather than dialog, which LaBorde says plays to Jones’ strengths as an actor. Chief Beatty, the villain of the story, is a complex character. “Beatty’s also a mentor to Montag, and he stokes the fires of rebellion and resistance in Montag,” LaBorde says. Once an avid reader, Beatty invites Montag to his house where he shows him shelves of unopened and rotting books. “[Thom Tonetti] is a cerebral actor,” LaBorde says. “He does a great job of capturing Beatty’s wit, humor and sarcasm.” The balance between the two firemen is crucial to show’s dramatic tension. “The show is in many ways a battle of wits and differing philosophies between Montag and Beatty,” Laborde says. He also praises Lisa Hatt, an actress still new to Charlotte audiences, for the humor she brings to the role of Montag’s wife Mildred, a woman drugged into happy submission by a barrage of mind-numbing media. “She’s a superb comic actress, and her resume is almost all musicals and musical comedy,” LaBorde says. “We’re using her in a totally new way. She’ll make a big impact [on Charlotte audiences].” Stefani Cronley, as Clarisse, has done a great job of capturing the naiveté and youthful inquisitive mind of the character, LaBorde

enthuses. Her relationship with Montag is crucial, because she finds the chink in the fireman’s authoritarian armor and shines the light of knowledge into his oppressive world. The biggest challenge LaBorde faces with his cast is its relatively small size. “We’re doing [the show] with 10 actors and there are probably 25 to 30 characters in the play,” he says. At the end of Fahrenheit 451, Montag escapes civilization and flees to the woods There he joins the book people, an outlaw group whose members memorize great works of literature before consigning their books to the flames. That way, mankind’s knowledge, art and poetry can be passed down orally to future generations until justice and sanity return. “That could be confusing to the audience,” LaBorde says, “because the same actors they’ve seen all night are also playing these book people out in the woods.” But LaBorde thinks it will work. The approach encourages the audience to use a little imagination, and that ties in neatly with many of the play’s themes. LaBorde says he thinks that much of the play’s impact relies on its depiction of future technology, and he plans to emphasize tech heavily in the production. The most terrifying manifestation of innovation run amok is the mechanical hound, a kind of watchdog for Bradbury’s oppressive society; it’s a combination of blood hound and hit man fashioned from machinery, copper wire and storage batteries. “It represents

FAHRENHEIT 451 By Ray Bradbury Duke Energy Theatre at Spirit Square November 2-4 and 9-11 at 8 p.m. $22 in advance, $28 at the door

technology that we have created that then turns on us,” LaBorde says. “In the show, Montag and Beatty develop the hound, and it is eventually used as a weapon against them.” LaBorde has decided to never show the hound onstage. Instead, lights and sound effects will suggest the presence of the eightlegged monster. Ironically, depicting the rest of the technology of Bradbury’s illiterate dystopia will require very little suspension of disbelief. Originally LaBorde planned to pantomime most of the high tech, but he opted instead to use the technology that’s already readily available. “Almost all of the functions that are depicted in the play, with television and communication, are done on smart phones,” he says. “So the smart phone is all-pervasive in the world of the play,” LaBorde adds. “It’s not too far from where we are now.” PMORAN@CLCLT.COM CLCLT.COM | NOV. 2 - NOV. 8, 2017 | 23



AWFUL, BY GEORGE Clooney strikes out with suburban stinker BY MATT BRUNSON



for Suburbicon (* out of four) was written by Joel and Ethan Coen back in 1986, shortly after the dynamic duo flashed their calling card in the form of their debut beauty, 1985’s Blood Simple. Shelving the script, the siblings instead moved forward with 1987’s brilliant Raising Arizona, although they later incorporated some of Suburbicon’s elements into their Oscar-winning screenplay for 1996’s Fargo. Coen pal George Clooney later got hold of the script for Suburbicon and planned to turn it into a movie as far back as 2005. Instead, one thing led to another, and it’s only now that Suburbicon is hitting theaters, with direction by Clooney and a Coen script that has since been modified by Clooney and his frequent writing partner Grant Heslov. Given the ghastly result, perhaps the Coens should sue, since it’s almost inconceivable that their original idea bore much resemblance to a debacle that unexpectedly has emerged as one of the year’s worst films. Topical yet tone-deaf, Suburbicon initially appears as if it will focus on the tensions that emerge when a black family moves into a white middle-class neighborhood in 1959. With an unrepentant white supremacist soiling the White House and his dimwitted supporters spewing their hatred at various rallies and marches (oh, and on the Internet), a movie examining unbridled racism certainly couldn’t be timelier. But no, this is merely a side dish to the real plotline, which centers on the plight facing mild-mannered neighbor Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon), his wife Rose (Julianne Moore), their son Nicky (appealing Noah Jupe), and Rose’s twin sister Margaret (also Moore). A home invasion by two seedy criminals (Glenn Fleshler and Alex Hassell) results in one death — this is turn leads to a cover-up, a visit from an insurance investigator (Oscar Isaac), and several more slayings. The sequences involving the Lodges — that is to say, the majority of the movie — is pitched as a dark comedy, but since Clooney doesn’t share the Coens’ natural aptitude for satire, these scenes prove to be awfully heavy-handed and stridently overbearing. The Coens must share some of the blame, though, for creating such flat characters in the first place. (Then again, there was a reason the brothers tossed this aside back in ’86.) 24 | NOV. 2 - NOV. 8, 2017 | CLCLT.COM


Matt Damon and Noah Jupe in ‘Suburbicon.’ The portions of the film focusing on the African-American family — Mr. and Mrs. Mayers (Leith M. Burke and Karimah Westbrook) and their son Andy (Tony Espinosa) — are presented in far more dramatic fashion, wisely stripped of any comedic underpinnings. Yet witnessing the Mayers being harassed on a daily basis and seeing their car firebombed works in direct conflict to the broad comedy unfolding elsewhere in the film, and the only possible reaction is one of embarrassment. Clooney of course means well, but his point that the nice black family is being persecuted while no one pays any attention to the white scumbags next door couldn’t be more clumsy or obvious. By repeatedly shunting the Mayers storyline to the back burner in what turns out to be a dismissive and even condescending manner, Suburbicon is no different than the countless other movies that believe — excuse the Casablanca paraphrase — the problems of three black people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy Caucasian world. It’s the same old cinematic song, even more off-key than usual. Goodbye Christopher Robin (**1/2 out of four) is a film of several stories and many moods. It’s a biopic of author A.A. Milne (Domhnall Gleeson), best known as the creator of Winnie the Pooh. It’s a story of PTSD, as Milne suffers from flashbacks to the horrors he experienced while participating in World War I. It’s a coming-of-age tale, with Milne’s son, Christopher Robin (played by Will Tilston at age 8 and Alex Lawther at age 18), learning to cope with being a star in his own right (and against his will), as the kid whose childhood provided the template and inspiration for his father’s most popular

Domhnall Gleeson and Will Tilston in ‘Goodbye Christopher Robin.’ works. It’s a piece about family dysfunction, as there are frequent fissures created between Milne, his wife Daphne (Margot Robbie), and their young boy. It’s an inspirational study of how the creative process can be employed to soothe the soul and heal the psyche. It’s a horror story about the cult of celebrity, with an innocent life being subjected to the sort of media frenzy that’s still very much in effect today. And, for those who care to subscribe to this viewpoint, it’s a film about child abuse. That’s an awful lot of weight for one movie to carry, but the strain really only becomes apparent during the latter passages. For the most part, director Simon Curtis and scripters


Frank Cottrell Boyce and Simon Vaughan do a smooth job of integrating the disparate elements to fashion a bittersweet yarn that largely centers on a co-opted childhood. The efforts to reclaim said adolescence would logically factor into any such narrative, yet it’s during the final stretch (basically, when Lawther takes over from Tilston in the role of Christopher Robin) that the picture becomes rushed, clipped and unsatisfying. Goodbye Christopher Robin makes a valiant effort at emerging as more than just a traditional biopic. Ultimately, though, its lofty ambitions are a bit too much for the filmmakers to bear.

Why were signs important for business in Charlotte? That was a burgeoning time for getting behind the wheel. Businesses were trying to draw customers in with color, big fonts and ostentatious signs that would get you off the road and into their parking lot. Now, the focus and need has shifted, I don’t think [a sign] is as required. I think people do it more through branding now, through menus, interior of a restaurant or a store versus all that energy being put into one sign out front. I think people still take pride in their businesses, just in a different way than 50 years ago.

What’s next? I would love to see the Ratcliffe’s Flowers sign and a lot of these other signs that are in storage become part of our art history; like a monument on the side of the road. [I may want to] spearhead an awareness of this art history. Let’s get this history back out there. One of the things people tell me is that Charlotte has no history. Yes, I understand we tear down a lot of it, but the history is still there. That’s what I wanted to prove to people — it’s all around us. Charlotte: The Signs of the Times is available at Park Road Books, Paper SkyScraper, Coffey & Thompson, Jesse Brown’s Outdoor and online at for $34.99.




SIGNS OF THE TIMES Christopher Lawing’s book of Charlotte’s iconic signs hits stores VANESSA INFANZON

CHRISTOPHER LAWING is a walking encyclopedia — damn, Wikipedia’s already taken — when it comes to signs. He can tell you the history and location of almost every sign in Charlotte, from Mr. K’s Soft Ice Cream on South Boulevard to Open Kitchen on West Morehead Street. Lawing’s sign knowledge, along with his photography skills, led to his new book, Charlotte: The Signs of the Times. The 160-page volume features photos of well-known signs such as South 21, Dairy Queen and JJ’s Red Hots, joined by shots of 102 more signs from the late ‘20s through present day. Each photo includes the sign’s location, date of operation and status, whether saved in a private collection, lost to progress or still on display. Seven years ago, Lawing, 25, chose to photograph Charlotte’s iconic signs for a class project at Myers Park High School. It was an easy decision for him as an eighth-generation Charlottean to photograph signs for his project. He knew people would identify these places as important Charlotte landmarks. “I grew up with all these Charlotte stories from my dad, from my grandfather,” Lawing said. “I grew up with the heritage and the love of Charlotte.” Lawing graduated from North Carolina State University with a degree in industrial design and works at Jesse Brown’s Outdoors as a sales associate. I first met Lawing at his booth at Freedom Park’s Festival in the Park. Later, we met at Park Road Shopping Center, an appropriate choice for this sign history expert.

Creative Loafing: Which sign did you shoot first? Christopher Lawing: The first image was the Jesus Saves sign in Wesley Heights. That was torn down in the summer of 2010. It was on the roof of the Garr Auditorium. These were neon letters, just simple channel letters — that’s where you have the metal casing and exposed neon. The congregation saved that sign and restored it. They have a location in South Charlotte where they have that sign displayed. How do people react when they see your photos? I’ve heard so many memories: “This is where I went on my first date,” or “This is where we’d go every Sunday afternoon after church.” Here, at Park Road Shopping Center, they had a carousel and petting zoo in one of the empty store fronts. When people saw the Park Road Shopping Center sign, they said they remembered going to the petting zoo. It would have been the very first year, 1956. What patterns did you notice? Color and the funny shapes. I saw that a lot of the signs from the ‘20s through the ‘40s were focused on neon, bright colors, very unique shapes. You have to remember that this was in a day when everyone was putting up a sign. The signs in those days were hand painted or neon. It was more expensive, but if you wanted that business, you better put up a neon sign.

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NOT DRESSED UP AND EVERYWHERE TO GO Pre-Halloween weekend in the Queen City panty hose to the random guy selling water IT WAS THE best of times, it was and drugs (now that’s what I call strategic the worst of times. You know what I’m marketing) for not wearing a costume. The talking about: Rich & Bennett’s 17th Annual only time of year where ­you will be brutally Halloween Pub Crawl. I know, last week I judged for not dressing like a freak show. said I wasn’t going to revisit the shitshow “I’m a Duke student,” I’d say after letting that is the Halloween pub crawl, but I soon out a long sigh with a tinge of annoyance. thereafter found myself coming in contact Still, I was amused by the spectacles that with a multitude of the Queen City’s were around every single corner. I mean, monsters, dinosaurs, “cereal killers,” Hooters who wouldn’t laugh at the sight of a couple girls and those “who could not be named.” furiously arguing on a patio in inflatable I started my weekend on Friday at Soul giraffe costumes?! Gastrolounge in Plaza Midwood. Would you believe there are a fair share of Queen City After dropping a band of misfits, aka imports who have yet to try one of the most drunken bar crawlers, aka my cousin and popular spots for delectable small plates and her band of misfits off at home, I thought irresistible craft cocktails?! Yeah I know, I I’d put the Halloween shenanigans behind am floored every single time I meet me. Nope, the following day I was one of these anomalies. How convinced that I should go to could one not be tempted by a country concert at Rooftop the allure of the menu that’s 210 in the EpiCentre. What proven itself time and time do you get when you again by being backed by combine freezing cold a three-hour wait? While temps, Uptown wind I couldn’t indulge in a and country music? A Moscow mule, — it was black chick’s Halloween still Sober October after nightmare come true. all — I was able to give Don’t get me wrong, I don’t a few new dishes a try: hate country music, it’s just barrel aged Greek feta, not my preference and in the AERIN SPRUILL saganaki and sashimi tuna freezing cold, I can’t say that I’d tacos. I don’t regret a single even want to see Lil’ Wayne in the bite. cold wind-whipped setting that was After a meal like that, there’s not Rooftop 210 on Sunday. much anyone can do to top that. Late-night Nevertheless, I went. Our group huddled festivities, however, consisted of a game of on the rooftop while Randy Houser played Picolo around a table in a cozy row house some tunes. I’m not going to lie, all I could off of 10th street with a group of people think about was when I was going to leave that always tend to drag me into a scenario and how much warmer the drunk people that’s built for a drinking game. It’s funny, dancing must feel. Before his encore, I let an intimate setting around a dinner table everyone know I’d be heading to my car in at 2 a.m. with a pizza and drunk folk can the parking garage. I waited on my friend to still be just as fulfilling and entertaining get into her Uber and then proceeded to call as watching the belligerent pub crawlers for the Aloft elevator. searching for a safe place to vomit in their When I stepped on, I pulled out my googly-eyed costumes. phone in the hopes that no one on the On Saturday, I woke just in time to catch elevator would speak to me. What can I a late afternoon football game. One of my say? I have social anxiety, believe it or not. friends wanted to meet at Flight Beer Garden “You are GORGEOUS,” someone said as the & Music Hall. I looked up the pub crawl and elevator started to lower. Sighs, “Thank you,” searched for the list of participating venues I responded thinking that my phone tactic uptown — of course, Flight was on the list. didn’t work. “What’s your name? My name’s We decided, however, that most crawlers Randy.” I finally lifted my head to look wouldn’t show up in droves at a beer garden at the stranger who’d extended his hand. ... and we were wrong. It wasn’t long before Would you believe it?! It was Randy Houser. we were trying to escape to our favorite *insert crying laughing cat emoji* Out of watering hole — I won’t even mention where all the people to meet this man, it was the that is this time. hip-hop loving black chick who can’t stand As I walked the streets later that night, being cold! I’m telling y’all, I can’t make this I was berated by everyone from the girl in a shit up. costume that was too small and runs in her BACKTALK@CLCLT.COM

26 | NOV. 2 - NOV. 8, 2017 | CLCLT.COM


FeeLing Lonely?



1 Carried, as a load 6 University in Druid Hills, Georgia 11 Old TV’s “Mayberry --” 14 Mythical man-goat 19 Sub in WWII 20 Coloratura Callas 21 The “E” of REO 22 Milo of films 23 Toot one’s own horn 24 Tidy up 25 Seoul soldier 26 Bridle straps 27 Start of a riddle 31 Volcano stuff 32 Basilica seat 33 -- -Lorraine (region of France) 34 Break bread 37 Riddle, part 2 44 Made up for 46 Cupid’s counterpart 47 Mello -- (drink brand) 48 Paint type 49 Trembly tree 51 Pepsi or Tab 55 Picnic spoiler 56 Pitching star 57 Clog or pump 58 Skylight? 60 No-frills shirt 61 Riddle, part 3 67 Actress Long or Vardalos 68 Hurry-scurry 69 People with power 70 Riddle, part 4 82 Lac liquid 83 Bumper finish 84 Assistant 85 Man-mouse connector 86 eBay offers 88 Stitches 89 Signed one’s name to 91 Up and about 93 Weeps 95 Slushy drink 96 Gave in exchange 97 End of the riddle 104 Me, in Lyons 105 Old game consoles 106 Near-infinite time span

107 Shiny stone 110 Riddle’s answer 117 Student 119 Hill VIP: Abbr. 120 Sky hunter 121 Feel jubilant 122 Beneficial 123 Ending for Sudan 124 “Pippin” Tony winner Bob 125 Lamp spirit 126 Overly fond type 127 Old JFK flier 128 Paid to play 129 Braying ones


1 Friend of Forrest Gump 2 Some double reeds 3 Household insect trap 4 Curiosity org. 5 Caesar’s dying words 6 Was a roast host, say 7 African land 8 Russian city 9 Iranian coin 10 Yin’s partner 11 Throw again, as dice 12 Like silky down 13 Authoritarian decree 14 Black magic 15 On a cruise 16 Sleeping bag fabric brand 17 Osaka coin 18 Coll. dorm supervisors 28 Barreled 29 Fezzes, e.g. 30 Learning loc. 35 More homely 36 Gives a call 38 “Liftoff!” preceder 39 Really annoy 40 Ward off 41 Prior to, to a bard 42 Swindle 43 Beyond, to a bard 44 “Woe!” 45 Tijuana nosh 49 “I caught ya!” 50 Fa-la link 51 Bovine chew 52 Eye, to a bard 53 Mauna -54 Make it

57 Mown paths 58 Before long, to a bard 59 Ex-governor Carlson 62 Savings acct. earnings 63 Blu-ray -64 Unvarying 65 Suffix with block 66 Suffix with balloon 70 Skype setup 71 Coiffure 72 An amplifier receives it 73 “-- you in?” 74 Drag 75 Ambulance inits. 76 “Star Trek” actor George 77 Rush along 78 Mix in 79 Holders of frankfurters 80 Maumee Bay’s lake 81 36 inches 87 Month no. 9 89 German “I” 90 Born, in Lyons 91 Klee’s forte 92 Took a chair 94 Waldorf’s Muppet partner 95 Formal reply to “Who’s there?” 96 Scads 98 Biblical verb suffix 99 Lectern platforms 100 “Hondo” actor James 101 Official seal 102 Lie at rest 103 Bewailed 108 “The Office” actress Kemper 109 Deals (out) 111 Belgian/French river 112 Den fixture 113 Pressing tool 114 Nasal spray, e.g. 115 Dreamcast company 116 Firewood splitters 117 Peas’ place 118 ET carrier

graB Your copy today


CLCLT.COM | NOV. 2 - NOV. 8, 2017 | 27

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I’m sorry to be graphic, but it can’t be avoided. I’d like to have my fiancé come on my pussy and then have someone else lick it off. My two questions: (1) Does that fall in the realm of safe sex for the extra person involved? (2) How do we find that person? Is there an app to meet a third or how do we find swinger parties in our area? Is that a degrading thing to ask someone to do?

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1. Nope. Various sexually transmitted I’m curious what your boyfriend’s “support” infections — gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, looks like, FATHER. Does he tell you herpes, HPV, etc. — could be contracted privately that his father is a creep and that by the extra person and/or passed on to he wishes his dad would knock this shit off? you and your fiancé. There’s low to Or does he tell his father directly no risk for HIV, PUSSY, but the that he’s being a creep and insist act nevertheless falls outside he knock it off? The latter is the realm of safe sex. Very support, the former is not. I’m thinking there’s a little actually exists in the reason your boyfriend’s realm of purely safe sex. brothers only have exThere’s always risk, we girlfriends, and it’s not can mitigate for those just because their dad is a risks, we can make sex creep. It’s because no one safer, but save for solo in the family is willing to and cyber, sex is rarely stand up to this creep. Not ever 100 percent safe. DAN SAVAGE his wife, not his children. 2. This is technically If your boyfriend refuses to three questions, PUSSY. You run interference and/or shut his find that person by putting ads father down, I would advise you to on hookup sites and/or by putting join the list of exes. yourselves in places where you might meet BACKTALK@CLCLT.COM that person, i.e., pick-up joints, sex parties, swingers clubs. There are lots of apps out there for couples seeking thirds, you can even advertise as a couple seeking a third on big dating sites like OkCupid. It is a degrading thing to ask someone to do — but since there are lots of people out there into erotic degradation, that’s a potential selling point. I am in a relationship with a lovely and amazing man. Everything could be really good, if only his father would stop being a creep. He’s constantly telling me how beautiful, smart, and attractive I am. Last year around Christmas, I sang a few songs when we were visiting my boyfriend’s family, and his father commented that I have an “erotic” voice. A few days later, I received an e-mail from him. Attached was a poem about my singing, where he called my voice “angelic” and “pure.” It made me really uncomfortable and I told him that I don’t want to receive poems from him and that he should stop complimenting me all the time. He didn’t. When I told him again to stop commenting on my

28 | NOV. 2 - NOV. 8, 2017 | CLCLT.COM

appearance, he responded that I must like myself very much. I talked to my boyfriend’s mother, and she said she’s “given up” and ignores her husband’s behavior. It turns out that he behaved similarly with ex-girlfriends of my boyfriend’s brothers. I’m so angry and don’t know what to do. My boyfriend supports me, but it’s hard to talk about the topic, because it’s his father.

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ARIES (March 21 to April 19) Your work requires increased effort during the next few days. But it all will pay off down the line. Things ease up in time for weekend fun with family and/or friends. TAURUS

(April 20 to May 20) Your genuine concern for others could prompt you to promise more than you can deliver. It’s best to modify your plans now, before you wind up overcommitted later.

GEMINI (May 21 to

June 20) A situation that seems simple at first glance needs a more thorough assessment before you give it your OK. Dig deeper for information that might be hidden from view.

CANCER (June 21 to July

22) Careful: Right now, things might not be quite what they appear. Even the intuitive Crab could misread the signs. Get some solid facts before you act on your suspicions.

LEO (July 23 to August 22) Your energy levels are high, allowing you to complete those unfinished tasks before you take on a new project. A social invitation could come from an unlikely source. VIRGO (August 23 to September 22) You might think you’re helping, but unless you’re asked for a critique, don’t give it. If you are asked, watch what you say. Your words should be helpful, not hurtful. LIBRA (September 23 to October 22) Your attempt at mediating disputes might meet some opposition at first. But once you’re shown to be fair and impartial, resistance soon gives way to cooperation. 30 | NOV. 2 - NOV. 8, 2017 | CLCLT.COM

SCORPIO (October 23 to November 21) Go ahead. Reward yourself for helping settle a disturbing workplace situation. On another note: A personal relationship might be moving to a higher level. SAGITTARIUS (November 22 to December 21) A sudden change of heart by a colleague might create some momentary uncertainty. But stay with your original decision and, if necessary, defend it.


(December 22 to January 19) Rely on a combination of your sharp instincts along with some really intense information gathering to help you make a possibly lifechanging decision.


(January 20 to February 18) Instead of worrying if that new person in your life will stay or leave, spend all that energy on strengthening your relationship so it becomes walk-out resistant.

PISCES (February 19

to March 20) A sudden financial dry spell could reduce your cash flow almost to a trickle. But by conserving more and spending less, you’ll get through the crunch in good shape.

BORN THIS WEEK Your ability to keep

secrets makes you the perfect confidante for friends, family and co-workers.

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32 | NOV. 2 - NOV. 8, 2017 | CLCLT.COM

2017 Issue 37 Creative Loafing Charlotte  
2017 Issue 37 Creative Loafing Charlotte