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North Mecklenburg High School graduate Cory Howard brings his Campfireball tour back home from L.A. to Charlotte this weekend at Snug Harbor.

PHOTO COURTESY OF CORY HOWARD

We put out weekly 8

NEWS&CULTURE LOOKING FOR A CHANGE New city council members set signs on abortion battle in east Charlotte

BY RYAN PITKIN 6 EDITOR’S NOTE BY MARK KEMP 10 THE BLOTTER BY TATE ROBERTS 11 NEWS OF THE WEIRD

12

FOOD QUEEN OF THE EAST SIDE Cajun Queen stays afloat through a

sea of change

BY ALLISON BRADEN

14 16

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO THIS WEEK

MUSIC A TRIBUTE TO COMPASSION Helping others motivates Charlotte

musician Justin Fedor BY MARK KEMP

18 MUSICMAKER: CHAD LAWSON BY PAT MORAN 20 SOUNDBOARD

24

ARTS&ENT LET’S GET IT POPPIN’ Meet ArtPop Charlotte’s Class of 2018 BY RYAN PITKIN 25 FILM REVIEW BY MATT BRUNSON

26

ODDS&ENDS 26 MODERN EROTIC BY ALLISON BRADEN 26 NIGHTLIFE BY AERIN SPRUILL 27 CROSSWORD 28 SAVAGE LOVE BY DAN SAVAGE 30 SALOME’S STARS

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CLCLT.COM | DECEMBER. 7 - DECEMBER. 13, 2017 VOL. 31, NO. 42

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NEWS

EDITOR’S NOTE

ARTISTS GIVE BACK Local creatives make Charlotte home for the holidays I HAD MET Justin Fedor many years earlier,

when I was writing a story for The Charlotte Observer on his then-new band, the New Familiars. I didn’t realize this was the same Justin that CL’s news editor, Ryan Pitkin, had booked to come into the Local Vibes podcast studio at Hygge West last week to talk with us about a Tom Petty tribute concert he was putting on to benefit Levine Children’s Hospital. Or that the Justin of the New Familiars was now the Justin of a new band (or, new to me, anyway), Ancient Cities. But when Justin reminded me of our earlier meeting, it all came back. I remembered hanging out with him and his New Familiars cohorts — at the time, it was him, Eric-Scott Guthrie, Josh Daniel and James Stratford — on the front steps of an old house behind the Food Lion on the Plaza. What I had not remembered about Justin was his easygoing personality, or his infectious laugh. When we first met, he had recently arrived in Charlotte, and was excited about his band. I continued following the New Familiars after my story ran, seeing them perform several times, once before a speech by former Vice President Joe Biden during the Democratic National Convention in 2012. That was a real hoot: an affable outspoken vice president backed by an affable Charlotte country-folk band playing to an audience that didn’t want to hear anything

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approaching country music that day. (Go read at Snug Harbor includes a night of giving about it in this week’s music feature on page back to the hungry in Charlotte via the local 16. His recounting of that performance will organization Second Harvest Food Bank. In tickle your funnybone.) this week’s music section, I talk with Fedor What I learned during my interview with about his ongoing series of tribute concerts Justin and during our Local Vibes podcast — that now number 10 and have raised about which you can listen to this week — was that, $50,000 for Children’s Hospital. while I was away from Charlotte between Since this is the holiday season, and 2013 and last year, he had been very the holiday season should be all about busy. Not just making music, but giving and not taking, we’re happy giving back to his community. to highlight artists in Charlotte If there’s a theme to this who spend their time giving week’s Creative Loafing, back to the community that it’s that giving back is supports them. There’s not something local artists enough talk of giving back of all kinds do every day in today’s mean-spirited of the year, often for political climate. little return other than In a way, all artists are knowing they’re helping in the business of giving other people in Charlotte. back. They give us music Big corporations give to make our days and nights back and it’s easy. It’s a writeflow a little more smoothly, MARK KEMP off. Not that it’s bad; it’s great or to make us think. They give when Bank of America or Wells us dance performances that show Fargo donate giant sums of money to us the wonders of the human body in worthy organizations. But it’s humbling and movement. They give us poetry that shows us soulful when one artist chooses to spend what words strung together can communicate his or her time and energy gathering people to us that extend well beyond their dictionary together to help raise money that could pay definitions. They give us culinary delights their own rent for a year, only to give it back that don’t just feed our bodies but also our to sick children or our homeless neighbors. souls. And they give us visual art that inspires In last week’s music section, we featured us in galleries — or on billboards. a story on the local rap duo Dead Sea $crilla, On the cover of this week’s issue, ArtPop whose December Wednesday night residency gives Creative Loafing the exclusive on this

year’s winners. The program, which launched in 2014, is responsible for the amazing works of 80 area artists featured on billboards across Mecklenburg and 10 surrounding counties, on digital display screens at Charlotte Douglas International Airport and on news racks in the Uptown area. Next year, that number of artists reaches 97. Wendy Hickey is the founder and executive director of ArtPop, and she and her team had the monumental task of choosing 20 of 114 artists whose works will be on area billboards in 2018. Two of them are returning artists from 2014. “It was a very long process and it’s hard,” Hickey tells us in “Let’s Get It Poppin’,” by Pitkin and CL intern Tate Roberts, on page 22. “You want everybody to be in it, and there are some absolutely worthy pieces that didn’t make it, so I just encourage everybody to keep applying. That’s the biggest thing, just apply and apply again.” Artpop is Hickey’s way of giving back. Hickey, who loves art and artists; Fedor, who’s driven to make Americana music; and Jesse Kimmel and Joshua Chapman of Dead Sea $crilla, who are inspired to make great hiphop, all have a lot in common. They don’t just give us great art and music of wildly different styles, they give us heart and soul. Without these people, and the many others like them, Charlotte would just be a big bank town with shiny buildings. With them, it’s home. MKEMP@CLCLT.COM


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Around 1,500 people showed up to Latrobe Drive on December 2 to march past A Preferred Women’s Health Center.

NEWS

RYAN PITKIN

FEATURE

LOOKING FOR A CHANGE New city council members set sights on abortion battle in east Charlotte BY RYAN PITKIN

O

N A CHILLY morning on the second day of December, Charlotte City Council member Julie Eiselt stood on Palmer Plaza Lane in east Charlotte and watched as hundreds of people streamed into a lot of land owned by Absolute Beauty College. The college had allowed local anti-abortion organization Love Life Charlotte to hold a concert there to celebrate the 40th straight week of marches outside of A Preferred Women’s Health Center, just down Latrobe Drive from where the concert was being held. Eiselt has attended plenty of marches in the past, and she’s spoken out on council before about what can be done to make sure patients can access the clinic without being harassed or intimidated by large parades of 8 | DEC. 7 - DEC. 13, 2017 | CLCLT.COM

people. The December 2 march, however, was one of the larger ones ever held at the clinic. Love Life leaders had said they expected 7,000 people, although less than 2,000 showed up. Another factor that made this march different for Eiselt was that she had some friends. Newly elected council reps Larken Eggleston and Braxton Winston, both of whom would be sworn in two days later, stood alongside Eiselt. Later, newly elected District 2 rep Justin Harlow would come by to see the march for himself, and incumbent District 3 rep LaWana Mayfield also attended. Without having even been sworn in yet, it would appear that the new city council will be the most engaged in the issues that have arisen and escalated at the clinic over the last two years. However, a lawsuit filed against

the city in November alleging the violation of protesters’ civil rights might make things more difficult to make any changes around APWHC. On November 17, Daniel Parks of the Concord-based anti-abortion group Cities4Life filed a suit against the city of Charlotte, the mayor and a list of other city employees for what he says are violations of the first and 14th amendments and the North Carolina Constitution. The lawsuit results from violations to the city’s sign ordinance that have been doled out to protesters by CMPD over the last year. The lawsuit states, “The defendants in this case — specifically, the City of Charlotte, its Mayor, and its employees — have used the City Code to violate the First Amendment

by restricting Plaintiffs’ use of signs, and therefore their speech, because they object to the content of those signs.” Calla Hales, administrator at APWHC, said she’s cautiously optimistic that the new council will be able to help her patients access the clinic without facing down hundreds of protesters, but worries that the lawsuit might confuse things. “A lot of people had warned us last year that lawsuits were a possibility,” Hales said when I met with her the day before the most recent march. “That’s why they weren’t moving fast; they wanted to make sure they had covered every avenue and they had the research, and then they got sued anyway. So there’s some frustration, for sure.” However, Hales’ first request for


city leaders going into the new year is a simple one. She said that during her recent meetings with members of the CharlotteMecklenburg Police Department, the Charlotte Department of Transportation and other city departments, it’s become clear to her that different people have different understandings of the ordinances in place. She said she hopes the new council can work with city officials to clearly define and explain any ordinance related to amplified sound and protesting in general. “There’s a lot of wiggle room and there’s a lot of miscommunication between departments of how to translate these laws and ordinances,” Hales said. “I think it would be best to really just revisit them, because it doesn’t just affect us, it affects the entire city in all sorts of demonstrations, protests and parades.” Hales’ other request, that the city look into creating quiet zones around the clinic, might be tougher to get traction for. There are quiet zones created by local government in North Carolina cities like Durham, but those are usually based on train noise, as opposed to protests. Other cities elsewhere in the country have created quiet zones around medical facilities, such as hospice care facilities, but a 2014 Supreme Court ruling striking down “buffer zones” around facilities that provide abortions might make it tougher to argue for quiet zones around APWHC.

AT THE DECEMBER 2 Love Life Charlotte rally, Eggleston stood across the street from the loud concert taking place before the march and shook his head. “I feel certain that most of these people that are here are well-intentioned and wellmeaning, but I wish that they would make the connection that if we have better access for women and men to birth control, that would minimize the need for services like these,” Eggleston said. He emphasized that he wouldn’t be presumptuous enough to “paint everyone” in the crowd as voting for any specific political party, but he couldn’t help but feel like many of the folks attending the march were now praying for something that could be helped in more effective ways. “I would guess that many of them certainly would be supporters of candidates who then want to restrict access to birth control,” Eggleston said. “If they want to minimize abortions, that would be an effective way to do that proactively, and yet somehow that connection doesn’t seem to be made for most people.” Each candidate that showed up to the rally on Saturday was open about their respective pro-choice stance, politically, but each one was also adamant about digging into the questions around free speech as compared to harassment. Winston, an at-large representative who came to power in part due to the recognition he received during the Charlotte Uprising in 2016, said it’s especially important to him to make sure he is not stifling anyone’s rights to protest. On the Saturday after the November election, Winston was at the clinic speaking with marchers, police and clinic volunteers. He toured one of the RVs that anti-abortion groups park outside of the clinic in hopes that

RYAN PITKIN

City council rep Braxton Winston was on hand to document the march and speak with people on both sides.

“I’m obviously a staunch defender of First Amendment protections and rights, and I am also staunchly pro-choice, so there’s a lot of different intersections here with those two politics.” BRAXTON WINSTON, AT-LARGE CHARLOTTE CITY COUNCIL REPRESENTATIVE

patients will come in and get an ultrasound and potentially change their minds. “I want to be informed as we move forward,” Winston said at the most recent rally. “I want to be informed of the decisions I have to make or the actions I have to take. Right here is a good intersection of personal politics, and it will take some sort of decision from leadership. In order to be able to make effective and responsible decisions, I think I need to be aware of the totality of the situation, not just have people tell me.” When asked what he’s learned during his time speaking with people on both sides of the issue, Winston’s answer highlighted the complex nature of the debate over what’s happening inside and outside the clinic. “I’m obviously a staunch defender of First Amendment protections and rights, and I am also staunchly pro-choice, so there’s a lot of different intersections here with those two politics,” he said. “But also, as a leader

within government, we have our CMPD out here, we have code enforcement issues, we have subjects with public safety that need to be dealt with. People are here and have their opinions, and we’re all entitled to that, but I believe we’re all entitled to access safe and secure healthcare. There are so many different parts that come to this.” Eiselt said she was concerned about the cost of all the extra security needed at the clinic during the 40-week marches. She pointed out that, on Saturday, she and Eggleston had come to the clinic from a 5K race held by a nonprofit group that helps veterans, and that group was made to pay for off-duty police officers to provide security. At the Love Life rally, however, there were nearly 100 on-duty police officers on foot and riding bicycles, dirt bikes and utility vehicles. Eggleston said it’s one of the issues he hopes council can get to the bottom of quickly. “Why is the city having to pay for the

incredible amount of police detail that’s here today?” Eggleston asked. “I don’t have an answer for that, I think it’s something we’ve got to dig into.” It’s this proactive attitude that has Eiselt feeling optimistic that the new city council will make some changes in the coming year on an issue that has been a passion of hers for some time. “I think it’s an interesting time for this to happen, because in this country we’re seeing people stand up and say, ‘It’s not OK to harass women, it’s unacceptable.’ Freedom of speech is our basic right, but at what point does denying somebody’s legal rights become less important?” she said. “So that’s my concern. At the end of the day, harassing women for doing something that is their legal right to do is not OK and we need to stand up and say that.” RPITKIN@CLCLT.COM CLCLT.COM | DEC. 7 - DEC. 13, 2017 | 9


NEWS

BLOTTER

BY TATE ROBERTS

SEASON FOR TAKING An unknown male

suspect is about to experience the wrath of bad Christmas karma after stealing a Salvation Army bucket of donations. Police responded to the Salvation Army near Park Road after the suspect fled the scene with $150 in cash donations and the iconic red bucket.

SHIRTS FOR DAYS ‘Tis the season of stolen packages off our porches. A 55-year-old man fell victim to the package-stealing crisis that is a regular problem throughout the city but esacalates during the holiday season. An unknown suspect will be able to open up a clothing store with his take from one victim’s east Charlotte porch, as the thief managed to steal a box containing six dozen t-shirts valued at $1,200. COSPLAY A 30-year old woman also fell victim to the roving theives targeting Christmas packages when a box delivered by USPS was stolen from her front porch in north Charlotte. This time, the victim’s dog was the one who won’t be receiving their present, although it’s not clear the dog would have been too excited had he received it. Instead of stealing 72 shirts, the thief unnowingly took

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just one outfit, and it was a “Spongebob dog outfit,” according to the report. Good luck fitting into that.

DIPPIN’ AND BOPPIN’ There’s nothing

we wouldn’t do for the perfect dipping sauce, except for maybe assault a man while stealing a bottle. That’s exactly what happened last week at American Deli when a suspect struck an employee while trying to steal sauce one night at around 7:30 p.m. The victim suffered minor injuries, but toughed it out and refused medical treatment from first responders.

SHRIMP HAND Perhaps the same suspects were to blame for an incident that happened at a Harris Teeter in Matthews, when two victims became violent while trying to steal a bag full of shrimp. As the suspects were approached by an employee, one stated he had a gun. They then made their getaway to go meet up with the guy who had just stolen the dipping sauce to dip their shrimp in. GAME OVER A 33-year-old man and his friend must have had a rough match of Call of Duty or NBA 2K18 last week, because it ended with the friend completely trashing the victim’s Xbox. The 30-year-old victim reported the friend for pouring water on his Xbox inside the

victim’s east Charlotte home. But the sore loser wasn’t finished yet, as he keyed the victim’s 2014 Cadillac and slashed the rear tire, doing $750 in damage to the vehicle. Anyone up for a game on the ol’ PlayStation?

WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE Note to all persons hosting dinner parties this season: lock your valuables away and trust noone. A 38-year-old woman learned this the hard way when she discovered after a recent party that some of her expensive jewelry was missing. The victim stated her guests had access to her bedroom during the party, and stole three pieces of jewelry, including a diamond wristband worth $1,800. In total, the sneaky backstabber made off with $2,700 in jewelry. MIDNIGHT SNACK From greedy friends

to desperate burglars, two thieves in south Charlotte made off with a petty take after breaking into a school in south Charlotte last week. Police responded to Montclaire Elementary School at around 2 a.m. after interior alarms were triggered by the suspects. The hungry men were gone by the time officers arrived and found that the suspects had stolen one box of Goldfish crackers and some miscellaneous candy valued at $15.

THAT FRESH SMELL Police responded

to another petty shoplifting shoplifting call recently at Ulta Beauty in Cotswold after a woman shoved an already-used product in her pants and left the store. Employees told police the suspect walked into the store, went straight to the perfume section and snuck the tester bottle between her shirt and belt line before walking out.

TECHNOLOGY The Minnesota Vikings will come to town this weekend, but one Steele Creek man won’t be there after being ripped off by a man who tried to play him for a fool. The man told police he found tickets to the December 10 game for sale on Craigslist, and sent the suspect $150 for them. The suspect then sent him the tickets — well, a picture of the tickets … sent in an email. The victim called the crew at Bank of America Stadium who informed him — probably in between chuckles — that you most certainly cannot get into the game with a picture of tickets you received in an email. The suspect originally told the victim he thought it would work and promised to refund his money, but has since stopped answering all calls and emails. All stories are pulled from police reports at CMPD headquarters. Suspects are innocent until proven guilty.


NEWS

NEWS OF THE WEIRD

FAMILY VALUES Members of the Spann family of Comanche County, Oklahoma, keep running afoul of that state’s incest law, with the latest dust-up over the marriage of 26-year-old Misty Spann and her 43-yearold mother, Patricia, in March 2016. The two had been separated after Patricia lost custody of her young kids, but when they resumed contact a few years ago, Patricia told investigators, “they hit it off.” KFOR reported that Patricia also married one of her sons in 2008, but two years later that marriage was annulled. Another son reported to KSWO-TV that Patricia tried to start an inappropriate relationship with him, but he shut her down. In early November, Misty received a 10-year deferred sentence and will serve two years’ probation. Her mother/ex-wife (their union was annulled in October) will be sentenced in January. NERD ALERTS Since Twitter announced

that it would allow 280-character messages rather than its original 140, a whole new world has opened up for the game-addicted among us. Gizmodo reports that tweeters are using the expanded tweetspace to play board games such as chess, Connect Four, Shogi and Go. Games are even being customized; one tweet enthuses about “Marine biology twitter-chess.

With a new marine biology fact every time a piece is moved, and a scientifically accurate death scene when a piece is taken.” Uh, ok.

HAWKEYE A sharp-eyed Google Earth user

from Leeds, England, searching for Longcross Studios in Surrey, came across a “Star Wars” fan’s dream: the Millennium Falcon, nestled inside a ring of stacked shipping containers and covered with a tarp. Andi Durrant tweeted about his find on Nov. 8. The spaceship was used in filming “Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi” at Longcross; that movie is set for release Dec. 15.

SWEET! Becky Reilly of Omaha, Nebraska,

was forced to call in a roofing company after discovering thousands of honeybees had invaded her home’s attic, producing so much honey that it was dripping down the side of the house. “We heard a loud and rhythmic buzzing, and it was somewhat terrifying because we knew what it meant,” Reilly told KETV. Jason Starkey of Takoda Green Roofing said he removed about 40 pounds of honey on Oct. 26 before moving the bees and tackling the damage, which he called “horrible.” Local beekeeper John Gebuhr moved the bees to his garage, but he is pessimistic about their survival through the winter. But Reilly’s

friends and neighbors are thrilled: They’re getting honey for Christmas!

INAPPROPRIATE An Indonesian museum,

De Mata Trick Eye Museum in Yogyakarta, has been forced to remove an exhibit that encouraged visitors to take a selfie with a waxwork of Adolf Hitler. The figure, which stood in front of a giant image of the entrance to Auschwitz concentration camp, had been on display since 2014, and the museum said it was one of the most popular displays. Metro News reported that the museum originally defended the exhibit as “fun,” but when the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Los Angeles demanded its removal, the museum complied, taking it down on Nov. 10.

YUCK Sean A. Sykes Jr., 24, of Kansas City,

Missouri, has discovered one way to avoid the justice system. Sykes was detained in a Sept. 1 traffic stop, but he denied any knowledge of the drugs and handguns found in the car, The Kansas City Star reported. As he was being questioned at the police station, the detective wrote in his report, Sykes was asked his address. In response, he “leaned to one side of his chair and released a loud fart before answering with the address. Mr. Sykes continued to be flatulent and I ended the

interview,” the detective wrote. Charges were not filed at that time, but Sykes was pulled over again on Nov. 5 and was in possession of marijuana, crack cocaine and a stolen pistol. He was in custody awaiting a bond hearing.

LEAST COMPETENT CRIMINALS (1)

A loss prevention officer at a Vero Beach, Florida, Walmart happened to catch 25-yearold Cheyenne Amber West and another woman as they carried out some complicated maneuvers in the electronics aisle on Nov. 6. The officer told the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office that West and her friend chose a computer, video game controllers and other items worth a total of almost $2,000, then covered the bar codes with stickers taken from less-expensive clearance items. They then moved to the self-checkout lane, where their loot totaled just $3.70. “I am just trying to get gifts for my son that I cannot afford,” West told officers. “The computer is for my husband. Since he just got me a Coach purse, I figured he deserved something nice as well.” Treasure Coast Newspapers reports that West was charged with felony grand theft and felony shoplifting and was released on $3,000 bail. The other woman was not charged. BACKTALK@CLCLT.COM

CLCLT.COM | DEC. 7 - DEC. 13, 2017 | 11


FOOD

FEATURE

QUEEN OF THE EAST SIDE Cajun Queen stays afloat through a sea of change BY ALLISON BRADEN

T

HE ELIZABETH neighborhood has seen its share of change in recent years, much of it not for the better. Philosopher’s Stone, Jackalope Jacks, Kennedy’s and VisArt are just a few of the area’s staples to have shut down or moved away over the last three years. The Queen of the neighborhood, however, is not going anywhere. Cajun Queen, located in a nearly 100-year-old house on East 7th Street, has been a Charlotte staple for generations. Since 1985, the restaurant has been serving up bayou favorites like crawfish etouffee, blackened catfish and seafood gumbo while live bands infuse the old house with New Orleans ambiance. The restaurant’s origins aren’t, in fact, rooted in a Lowcountry heritage. Instead, the restaurant opened as part of a countrywide trend, and then it stuck around due to its popularity. In the early 1980s, cash was flush in southern Louisiana thanks to an oil boom in the Gulf of Mexico. Restaurants opened left and right, serving food that no one outside of Louisiana had ever heard of: Creole and Cajun. In terms of cuisine, “Creole” typically referred to urbane fine dining and nodded to the French and European heritage of the region’s wealthy residents. “Cajun” shares that French heritage, but refers to the traditional dishes of the Acadian people who lived in the countryside and often had to make do with less. Cajun has come to be associated with fiery spiciness, but authentic Cajun food is less spicy and more spiced, featuring bold and complexly layered flavors. Some put it this way: Creole cooking feeds one family with three chickens; Cajun cooking feeds three families with one chicken. Paul Prudhomme, who was raised by sharecroppers in Louisiana’s Acadiana region, opened a diner in New Orleans’ ritzy French Quarter in the early ’80s. There, he served the traditional Cajun dishes of his childhood, but was quick to innovate and put his own creations on customers’ plates. One technique he devised was blackening. His blackened fish soon became a bestseller and, to his own dismay, outstripped his favorite Cajun dishes. Prudhomme and his restaurant, K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen, gained worldwide acclaim and the chef is credited with popularizing Louisiana cuisine. In the wake of his success, 12 | DEC. 7 - DEC. 13, 2017 | CLCLT.COM

Mardi Gras beads, thrown by children, hang from the trees outside of the historic Cajun Queen building.

ALLISON BRADEN

“We are a destination. If people are coming to the Cajun Queen, they’ll find a way.” TIM FREER, MANAGING PARTNER, CAJUN QUEEN

restaurants boasting authentic Louisiana food opened across the country and provided a flavorful new alternative to traditional European fare. In Charlotte, Sid Gottfried capitalized on the nationwide trend when he opened Cajun Queen. He had competition. Just down the street, Bayou Kitchen also opened for business. Gottfried and his chef Howard Winter, who was trained at Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island, ensured that their product was a cut above by prioritizing consistency and authenticity. In 1990, Gottfried sold the restaurant to his son, Robert Gottfried, and Winter, who remained partners for more than two decades. After Winter retired about a decade ago, he passed the baton to his righthand man, chef William Wessling, who had been in the kitchen since day one. Today, Wessling is still Cajun Queen’s chef and partowner of the restaurant. Just after Sid Gottfried sold the restaurant to his son, a young barback, Tim Freer, reported for his first day of work behind the bar. As vacancies opened, Freer’s responsibilities grew, eventually to the

position of managing partner, which he is today. He grew up at Cajun Queen, and he’s seen others grow up there, too. Once, one of his regulars told him she was pregnant. He later hired her son. Since the beginning, Cajun Queen has been located in the same old brick house on 7th Street at the corner of Lamar Avenue. The house was built in 1918, just a few months shy of a full century ago. Like its location, the menu has stayed consistent. Save for some popular specials that have earned a spot on the regular menu, the food options have changed very little over the last 32 years. However, while things have stayed the same in that centenarian home, Freer and his Cajun Queen family have borne witness to plenty of change in the neighborhood and beyond. Freer says Cajun Queen used to have a symbiotic relationship with the bars at the eastern end of 7th Street — patrons would eat at the restaurant then walk down the street for drinks at one of the watering holes. But now, as those bars have closed or moved elsewhere, Cajun Queen has tried cultivating a similar relationship with bars farther afield, like Plaza Midwood, less than a mile away.

The restaurant’s location is also just a stone’s throw from the massive construction project that has shut down the Hawthorne Lane bridge over Independence Boulevard and wrought havoc on businesses in the vicinity. Catch On Seafood Market, for example, shut its doors in October, with the owner citing the construction as a major factor. But Freer hasn’t been too worried about the road closures affecting Cajun Queen’s business. “We are a destination,” he says. “If people are coming to the Cajun Queen, they’ll find a way.” Freer adds that locals sometimes visit Cajun Queen for the first time because their guests from out of town suggest it. In addition to local celebrities like Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly, the restaurant has hosted famous guests from all over the world, including Gloria Gaynor, who sang at the restaurant once, and one of the Sherpas who has summited Mount Everest more than any other person. Freer takes pride in Cajun Queen’s less famous clientele too. He points out that the restaurant hosts Charlotteans and visitors


ALLISON BRADEN

CAJUN QUEEN Sun., 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Mon.-Thurs., 5-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 5-10 p.m. 1800 E. 7th St. cajunqueen.net

The patio is a great option, but only if you don’t mind missing out on the live music inside. of all backgrounds. People come for their bachelor or bachelorette parties, and people come for their 65th wedding anniversary, he says. Freer credits the restaurant’s success and its wide-ranging appeal to three factors. “It’s the house, the music and the food,” he says. Since Cajun Queen opened, the restaurant has featured live music on a regular basis. Today, you can watch musicians play upstairs seven nights a week. One Yelp reviewer helpfully advises that upstairs at Cajun Queen is a perfect venue if you’re going on an awkward date or having dinner with someone you don’t like very much — the music will drown out the conversation. But for those interested in close conversation, the restaurant’s homey downstairs rooms provide an appropriately quiet and intimate setting, with the upstairs vibes still audible, but at the perfect volume for a personal chat.

Speaking of Yelp reviews, Freer says that Chef Wessling has a saying: “If you didn’t like something last time, don’t order it again.” The chef and his staff take pride in the consistency that’s made Cajun Queen a staple. At 5 p.m. on a Thursday, the restaurant’s staff chats downstairs while rolling silverware, and the kitchen is noisy with preparation. Upstairs, Robert Gottfried’s niece Hanna Bruskin angles the barstools just so and slices fruit that leaves a puddle of juice on the cutting board. When Freer asks her what her favorite thing about the restaurant is, she says it might sound stupid. “It’s the beads in the tree out front,” she says. The restaurant has a tradition of giving children Mardi Gras beads to toss up into the branches of the pair of trees out front. If the beads stay in the tree, a wish will come true. The higher the toss, the bigger the wish. Growing up around Cajun Queen, Bruskin says she would be excited at her opportunities to make wishes and throw her beads in the tree. Today, the branches are still decked out. “It’s home for me,” Bruskin says. Since the 1980s, the Cajun and Creole traditions have blended somewhat, and Cajun Queen’s menu features hallmarks of both. But regardless of the dishes’ specific origins, the menu is undeniably Louisianan. Inside, the walls are tastefully decorated with photographs and memorabilia of New Orleans. But in a corner by the bar, there’s also a nighttime photograph of Uptown Charlotte. As the sounds and smells of New Orleans start to waft through the dining room before the night’s first customers arrive, the photograph is a little reminder that while the food may come from authentic bayou recipes, the recipe for Cajun Queen’s success is thoroughly Charlottean. BACKTALK@CLCLT.COM

CLCLT.COM | DEC. 7 - DEC. 13, 2017 | 13


THURSDAY

7

MINTHILL/GHOST TREES What: If ever there were a better lineup of local instrumental talent than this, we haven’t seen it. The terrific electronic musician Minthill will create her mesmerizing soundscapes followed by the squalking free jazz of Ghost Trees, led by Charlotte saxophonist Brent Bagwell and drummer Seth Nanaa. Oh, sure, there are other notable instrumental outfits in Charlotte, but this lineup is the one not to be missed. Also check for homemade songman JPH and the soundscapes of Joules. When: 8 p.m. Where: The Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd. More: $10-12. themilestone.club

14 | DEC. 7 - DEC. 13, 2017 | CLCLT.COM

FRIDAY

8

FANTASIA: CHRISTMAS AFTER MIDNIGHT

THINGS TO DO

TOP TEN

Shadowgraphs SATURDAY PHOTO BY BRIDGETTE AIKENS

FRIDAY

8

ROBOT JOHNSON 10TH ANNIVERSARY

What: When Anthony Hamilton was inducted into the N.C. Music Hall of Fame in October, we were confused that he was joined by American Idol eighth-place finisher Bucky Covington. If any Idol contestant deserved to join Hamilton, it was his friend and fellow Charlottean Fantasia, who has stayed busy by releasing Christmas After Midnight, and is now touring the album in the leadup to the holidays.

What: The Robot heads to the Rabbit to celebrate 10 years of making Queen City audiences laugh. The sketch comedy show has written and produced more than 100 original-content sketch comedy shows, winning awards along the way. On Friday, each cast member picks a favorite sketch from the last decade. Stick around for what’s sure to be a hilarious post-show karaoke afterparty hosted by Rachael Houdek Sibrava.

When: 8 p.m. Where: Ovens Auditorium, 2900 E. Independence Blvd. More: $59 and up. ovensauditorium.com

When: 9-10:30 p.m. Where: The Rabbit Hole, 1801 Commonwealth Ave. More: $12. facebook.com/ rabbitholemidwood/

SATURDAY

9

SATURDAY

9

CAMPFIREBALL

OPEN MIKE EAGLE

What: North Mecklenburggraduate Cory Howard brings his touring show from L.A. back home to Charlotte. Local musicians, comedians and storytellers take part in this variety show, and Howard weaves the performances together with an audienceimmersive storyline that changes for every tour stop. Howard described it as a “post-modern Prairie Home Companion,” but that was before the harassment allegations, so we’ll go with a “garage Grand Ole Opry.”

What: The title of this alt-rapper’s 2010 debut made it clear where he was coming from: Unapologetic Art Rap. And Open Mike Eagle has delivered on that promise for five more solo albums, several EPs and countless guest appearances with similarly minded artists including nerd rapper Mega Ran and Aesop Rock. Open Mike Eagle’s latest, Brick Body Kids Still Daydream, is as trippy and quirky as ever, and the intimate environs of the Evening Muse is the perfect venue for his unapologetic art.

When: 4 p.m. Where: Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St. More: Free. snugrock.com

When: 7:30 p.m. Where: Evening Muse, 3227 N Davidson St. More: $12 - $14. eveningmuse.com


NEWS ARTS FOOD MUSIC ODDS

Open Mike Eagle SATURDAY

Angela Saylor/Minthill THURSDAY PHOTO BY MARK KEMP

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE EVENING MUSE

SATURDAY

9

SHADOWGRAPHS What: It was pretty clear when CL did a feature story on Shadowgraphs in July that their days in Charlotte were numbered. Indeed, the band is taking off for the wild grey yonder — Portland, Oregon. What Portland will gain: a terrific shoegaze band with psychedelic flourishes. What Charlotte will lose: the same. But you don’t have to miss the band’s farewell concert. Be there, or you’ll have to claim you were there once Shadowgraphs get huge. Either lie later or tell the truth now. When: 10 p.m. Where: Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St. More: $5. snugrock.com

Campfireball SATURDAY

SUNDAY

10 BLACK CINEMA SERIES: ‘THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD’

MONDAY

11

PHOTO COURTESY OF CORY HOWARD

TUESDAY

12

WEDNESDAY

13

DÍA DE LA VIRGEN DE GUADALUPE

STONEWALL BOWLING NIGHT

FOUND FOOTAGE FESTIVAL

What: Zora Neale Hurston’s 1937 novel about a free-spirited heroine who flouts the conventions of a black community at the opening of the 20th century may be one of her best. The 2005 TV movie adaptation of Their Eyes Were Watching God is good but not great. The complex protagonist, played by Halle Berry, is simplified for the sake of narrative clarity, shunning nostalgia to depict a suffocating patriarchal society.

What: According to tradition, the Virgin Mary appeared to an indigenous man named Juan Diego and asked that he build a shrine to her on the hill where she appeared on Tepeyac Hill on December 9, 1531. Guadalupe’s use of Spanish and the indigenous language Nahuatl is said to be a driving force in converting the indigenous to Christianity. We’ll leave the rest to Rosalia Torres-Weiner, whose Red Calaca Studio hosts this evening of prayer and mariachi music.

What: Stonewall Sports has been hosting bowling, kickball, dodgeball, volleyball and softball leagues for Charlotte’s LGBTQ community and its allies for years, and now there’s no excuse not to go check them out, as they’ll be offering up free bowling for anyone interested in learning about Stonewall’s sports leagues and educational services. They cover the lane fees and the shoe rentals, as long as you’re over 21 years old.

What: You can’t look away! Comedy veterans Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher, from The Onion and Late Night with David Letterman respectively, go dumpster diving in the nation’s VHS trash heap so you don’t have to. The jewel in their video detritus crown may be highlights from Letterman’s collection of cast offs, but there’s so much more. Televised train wrecks include bloopers from bad local TV news and satanic panic videos from the 1980s.

When: 2 p.m. Where: Harvey B Gantt Center, 551 S. Tryon St. More: $7-9. ganttcenter.org

When: 6-9 p.m. Where: Tacos El Navado, 4715 Central Ave. More: Free. bit.ly/2AlwoVI

When: 7-9 p.m. Where: Centennial Lanes, 4501 South Blvd. More: Free. facebook.com/ stonewallsportscharlotte/

When: 8 p.m. Where: Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E 36th St. More: $10-12. neighborhoodtheatre. com

with the Loaf’s new years eve guide coming soon

CLCLT.COM | DEC. 7 - DEC. 13, 2017 | 15


MUSIC

PHOTO BY MCKAY PRUITT

FEATURE

A TRIBUTE TO COMPASSION Helping others motivates Charlotte musician Justin Fedor BY MARK KEMP

W

HEN JUSTIN FEDOR came into the Hygge West podcast studio for this week’s episode of Creative Loafing’s Local Vibes, he was a bit dazed, looking as though he’d just been held at gunpoint. As it turns out, that’s exactly what had happened. Fedor and some friends had been hanging out at his home in Plaza Midwood the night before when an armed man came in, demanding money. No one was hurt in the incident, but Fedor was clearly traumatized. We didn’t talk about it on the podcast — he wasn’t ready for that. But he did say one thing before we began rolling tape that pinpoints the kind of guy Fedor is. After the perpetrator ran out the door, some of Fedor’s friends made some pretty negative comments about the man and suggested they should have had a gun in the house. Naturally, they were angry and scared and wanted revenge. But Fedor — one of the two people in the house who had the gun pointed at his head — told them to knock it off. “We don’t know why this man was so desperate that he felt the need to come in, armed, and demand money,” Fedor said. “He may have needed it for his family.” That’s not the reaction most people would have after just having a gun put to their head. But that’s the kind of guy Justin Fedor is. For the past four years, Fedor, 40, a member of the Charlotte bands New Familiars and Ancient Cities, has been putting on tribute concerts to benefit Levine Children’s Hospital. He started doing the concerts after several of his friends were simultaneously dealing with sick children. Right at the time he was organizing his first Levine benefit, in 2013, Ray Manzarek, the keyboardist for The Doors, died. Fedor had an idea: the benefit would be a tribute to the music of the Doors played by several Charlotte bands. Since then, Fedor has organized nine more benefit concerts for Levine, and raised $50,000, with benefits following the deaths of other legendary musicians: Lou Reed, later in 2013, and the Everly Brothers, shortly after the death of Phil Everly in 2014. But Fedor didn’t want to wait for yet another rock-star death to continue his benefits. He’s branched out to doing tributes to cities and decades. In 2015, on the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, he staged a benefit featuring a tribute to the music of New York City, with bands covering artists ranging from Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel to the Velvet Underground and Ramones. He’s also done tributes to decades: the ‘70s, the ‘80s and the ‘90s. When Tom Petty died in October, Fedor 16 | DEC. 7 - DEC. 13, 2017 | CLCLT.COM

decided his next benefit was a natural, and on Friday, December 8, Fedor’s Ancient Cities will join The Business People, The Sammies, Jason Scavone, The Bleeps, Vermillion, Gogo Pilot, Ross Adams, Late Night Special and more to pay tribute to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, rocking out on songs ranging from “American Girl” and “Refugee” to “Don’t Come Around Here No More.” The latter will be done by Ancient Cities, and you can hear it on this week’s Local Vibes podcast. A few days after we recorded the podcast, I sat down with Fedor at Free Range Brewery in NoDa to get a little insight on where his seemingly endless fount of compassion comes from. Born in 1977 in Keene, New Hampshire, and raised in Greensboro, Fedor is the third born of four siblings, an older biological brother and younger biological sister, and an adopted older brother who is black. Growing up with a black brother in an otherwise white family gave Fedor a tiny window into racism to which most white folks aren’t privy. “I’ve been in a car with a bunch of high school kids when we’d get pulled over and the only person in the car who would get frisked would be my brother,” Fedor said. “At one point, we moved to Rocky Mount, North Carolina, and we had a church ask us not to come back anymore because we had a black son in the family. I can’t tell you how many schoolyard fights I had all the way through high school because kids would call me a [N-word] lover. Growing up in the South for us was a challenge.” It was also a lesson for Fedor and his siblings — in the power of loyalty, love and compassion. On Fedor’s birthday in October, his brother Jason, the black brother, posted to Facebook a photo of the two of them with their father, who served in Vietnam, when the two boys were kids. Jason wrote, “My brother Justin once sullenly asked, ‘Father, why did you go to war?’ He calmly replied, ‘Son, so you will not have to.’ Happy Birthday to my younger and wise brother, born on Halloween. Your big brother loves you.” When Justin Fedor got himself a Blue Ridge acoustic guitar in middle school and began making music, he brought that compassion and wisdom with him. He played in a band that took inspiration from R.E.M. and the Velvet Underground during high school, and joined a jam band, None the Wiser, during his senior year in college at UNCG. A star soccer player in high school, Fedor had chosen UNCG for its outstanding soccer program, but gave it up for music. “I remember calling my coach and saying, ‘I started playing in this band and I don’t really want to play soccer anymore.’ I mean,

Justin Fedor

“MY INSPIRATION FOR STARTING THESE TRIBUTES WAS GEORGE HARRISON’S CONCERT FOR BANGLADESH.” — JUSTIN FEDOR


when you start to look down the barrel of the gun” — he said, not even acknowledging the recent irony in his choice of expressions — “you realize that playing soccer your whole life ain’t gonna happen. But you can literally play music your whole life. Like, I sat on the front row during Doc Watson’s last show at the Neighborhood Theatre before he died, and he was in his eighties and still playing as well as he ever did.” Fedor was playing the regional circuit with None the Wiser when his girlfriend at the time convinced him to get a corporate job that took him to Arizona as the district manager of a clothing company. The job had great perks and he made good money, but Fedor wanted to do music, so he quit the job, moved to Charlotte and joined up with some old high school friends he knew here — EricScott Guthrie and James Stratford, as well as Josh Daniel — to form the New Familiars, playing guitar, banjo and mandolin. That’s when the tribute bug hit him. The New Familiars had opened a concert by The Band’s drummer Levon Helm in 2010, and after Helm died two years later, Fedor and company began doing an annual Levon Helm tribute show. A more bizarre opening slot for the New Familiars came when the band was asked to play before a speech by Vice President Joe Biden at the Fillmore during the Democratic National Convention in 2012. Fedor described it on the Local Vibes podcast as the weirdest show the band had ever done. “They were like, ‘OK, you’re the Charlotte band and you guys are acoustic, so it’ll be super easy — just walk up there onstage and play your little mandolin and banjo and it’ll be great,” Fedor said. “So we go up there expecting to do our adult-contemporary bluegrass number, and the first song in, the crowd was just not happy. The ladies in the front row start screaming ‘Sly and the Family Stone’ at us — like, ‘Play anything but this country music you’re playing.’ So I turn and I look at Josh, and I’m like, ‘I don’t know — the only song we know that’s anywhere in that world is Bill Withers,’ and [Josh is] like, ‘Uh, I guess.’ And we play it and they loved it. It was like, ‘Yes! Thank god we saved it.’ Because I really wanted Obama to win and I’d really feel terrible if I ruined it.” After several years playing with the New Familiars, the band backed off from touring, and Fedor joined Ancient Cities as the band’s bassist. He also plays solo acoustic music under his own name along with fiddler Frank Bronson. Earlier this year, Fedor and Bronson were asked to appear alongside Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle and others in the acclaimed docudrama Born In Bristol, about the iconic 1927 Bristol, Tennessee, recording sessions that introduced the world to country music and such country pioneers as Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family; those sessions are considered by many to be the genesis of modern country music. The film has screened at both the Cannes and Sundance film festivals. But as much as any band or solo gig, Fedor, who perhaps ironically has no children of his own, considers his main gig to be a musical philanthropist who organizes tributes to raise money for sick children. “My inspiration for starting these tributes was George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh,” Fedor said, referring to the

Vice President Joe Biden flanked by New Familiars Daniel Flynn (from left), Pat Maholland, Josh Daniel and Fedor.

PHOTO COURTESY OF VICE PRESIDETN BIDEN’S PRESS STAFF

TOM PETTY TRIBUTE TO BENEFIT LEVINE CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL 8 p.m. Friday, December 8, $10. Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E 36th St; neighborhoodtheatre.com

Ancient Cities are Justin Faircloth (from left), Stephen Warwick, and Fedor. 1971 benefit — featuring former Beatles Harrison and Ringo Starr, along with Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, Leon Russell, Badfinger and raga musicians Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan — that inspired many other mega-benefit concerts such as Live Aid, in the 1980s. “I kind of wanted to recreate the Concert for Bangladesh,” Fedor said, laughing, “but I figured it might be difficult to get Ringo and Paul together to do something at the Neighborhood Theare. “But seriously,” he continued, “what happened was that the Neighborhood Theatre had approached me about the New

PHOTO BY MCKAY PRUITT

Familiars or Ancient Cities doing a show there, and both of us already had obligations, but I had a wild idea about bringing a bunch of bands together to do some sort of show to raise money for the greater good. And then Ray Manzarek died. And my friend’s child had just died from a defective heart, and they had fought for three months trying to keep him alive. So a lightbulb just went off in my head: We could do a Doors tribute and give all the money to Levine Children’s Hospital. And then after the show, it was like, ‘Holy shit, we have to do this again.’” Fedor’s patronage has not been taken for

granted by the hospital. “Levine Children’s Hospital was built by the community for the community, and we are made better every day thanks to community volunteers like Justin Fedor,” said Mark Griffith, Assistant Vice President of Major Gifts at Carolinas HealthCare Foundation. “We are grateful that he continues to think of Levine Children’s Hospital as the beneficiary of his many tribute concerts.” On that dark night a couple of weeks ago, when a young man walked into Fedor’s home and put a gun to his head, the young man had no idea what Charlotte would have lost had he pulled the trigger. But that didn’t happen. And the fact that it didn’t happen makes one think that somehow, in the cosmic scheme of things, it wasn’t supposed to. No one knows why the man chose to enter Fedor’s home that night with a gun, but Fedor posted a message to him on his Facebook page shortly afterwards. It read, in part: “I will continue to fight for you. I see your desperation and I believe it can be defeated. Our system is broken. Education is failing you. Healthcare is failing you. I believe we can all come up together. I believe we can do a better job of taking care of one another, and I am sorry that you felt so desperate that you felt the need to threaten mine and my friend’s life for a few measly dollars. No amount of money is worth a human life ... Peace be with you all. I am grateful to be here and hopeful that we will all see each other again further on down the road.” Compassion. It just seems to come naturally to Justin Fedor. CLCLT.COM | DEC. 7 - DEC. 13, 2017 | 17


Chad Lawson

MUSIC

PHOTO BY JARED HOGAN

MUSICMAKER

CHAD LAWSON TICKLES THE IVORIES AND CHILLS THE SPINE Pianist plays everything from Gershwin to the gruesome BY PAT MORAN

CHAD LAWSON’S dulcet, disquieting piano underscores Aaron Mahnke’s spinetingling, true tales of terror on the popular podcast Lore. So Lawson must love the dark and scary stuff, right? “Oh no,” the 42-year-old pianist says, laughing. “Truth be told, I rarely listen to the podcast because it creeps me out.” It turns out that Lawson hadn’t heard a single episode of the series voted Best History 18 | DEC. 7 - DEC. 13, 2017 | CLCLT.COM

Podcast of 2016 by the Podcast Academy until he met Mahnke. Prior to that, Lawson had gained a reputation as a musician equally adept at pop, jazz and classical. In 2015, his groundbreaking collection The Chopin Variations went to No. 1 on the Billboard, iTunes and Amazon classical charts. Growing up in Morganton, Lawson got hooked on piano at age 4 when he saw 1950s revivalist band Sha Na Na on TV. He played and studied classical piano through his teens

when he added jazz, pop and rock to his repertoire. After attending Boston’s Berklee College of Music, Lawson launched his jazz combo, The Chad Lawson Trio, which released three critically acclaimed albums and appeared on the TV show Dawson’s Creek. When the trio dissolved, Lawson concentrated on a solo career that included composing music for television and films. His second collection of nocturnal soundtracks for Lore, entitled A Grave Mistake, was released last October.

On January 12 and 13, he will be playing a program of George Gershwin’s music at the Stage Door Theater at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. Creative Loafing caught up with the Charlotte musician during a break touring a live production of Lore. Creative Loafing: How did the Lore gig with Manhke come about? Lawson: There’s a cool app for iOS called Mention, which alerts you anytime someone


is using your music. I saw a notification where some guy — Aaron Manhke — was using my music for a podcast without asking permission, and that he was doing a live reading up in Vermont. I checked him out and thought the podcast was interesting. I shot him an email and said I’d be happy to come up and do the show with him. He told me that the venue was about the size of a twin mattress, but he said, “Let’s stay in touch and work on something.” That’s how the friendship started. Now I write music for him, but I don’t listen to the podcast. I’ll ask what the next episode of the podcast is about, and he describes it to me in one word. He’ll say, “outcasts.” Then I write some music that I think would fit for outcasts, and send it to him. He places it in the episode where he sees fit, and does the mixing and editing. He has creative control as far as the end product of the podcast. We started doing live podcast shows together, and it’s been mind-boggling. I had no idea how large the podcast community was. Every single show that we’ve done is sold out. Then talks started about the show going to Amazon and being picked up for television. The show runner, Glen Morgan, who was the head writer for The X Files, contacted me to see if I would be interested in writing for the show. I said of course.

where the melody has six notes in each measure. I asked myself, what if we only keep two of those notes? How can I make a simple melody out of this? So it’s still Chopin, but it’s different. Will you be reworking Gershwin in a similar manner when you play the Stage Door Theater in January? There are surprises that I’m trying to make happen. There’s nothing wrong with tributes, but I really don’t want it to be just a bunch of musicians getting together and playing Gershwin. I want that night to be a different experience. The drummer, the bass player and I are putting together a couple of things that I’m hoping will not be what the audience is used to seeing there. It’s still jazz, and it’s still Gershwin. But we want to put a different spin on it, just to give it a fresh coat of paint. PMORAN@CLCLT.COM

Why do you think you work so well with Manhke on Lore? Aaron already has the creepy stuff. That’s his bag, and he does it really well. I found early that if I tried to write creepy or scary music, it fell flat. It’s almost like two wrongs don’t make a right. So I decided to continue writing the stuff that I would normally write even if it weren’t for a podcast. That tends to work well with the show. Someone came up to us the other night after a live performance and explained it in such a perfect way in a nutshell. She said, “Aaron is the one who is scaring us to death, but you’re the one who is holding our hand. You’re walking us through it, saying we’re going to be OK.” For your album The Chopin Variations you altered the sound of the piano. How and why did you do that? In 2013 I was writing a piece for a short film. At the time my wife and I were living with our two young children. On my piano I installed this mechanism that put felt between the strings and the hammers to mute the sound so I could practice late at night, or work on technique or scales at an odd hour without waking anyone up. So the film’s director came over to hear what I’d been working on. I started playing but I hadn’t realized that the felt was in place. I struck the first chord, and he said, “Oh my god. That’s beautiful. That’s perfect. It’s exactly what I’m going for.” I completely played it off. I acted like I totally meant to do it. He left and I thought, “Holy wow! This is amazing.” I’ve been playing the piano for all these years and all of the sudden I felt like I had a new instrument. This is the way I thought about the album: It’s 2 o’clock in the morning and Chopin has a candle at the piano, and he’s just beginning to write this piece. What would the music sound like if it was really simple to begin with? So I photocopied all of the sheet music, and I started going through it and analyzing it. There are certain pieces CLCLT.COM | DEC. 7 - DEC. 13, 2017 | 19


MUSIC

SOUNDBOARD

DECEMBER 7 CLASSICAL/JAZZ/SMOOTH John Alexander Jazz Trio (Blue Restaurant & Bar)

COUNTRY/FOLK Brooks Hubbard Band, Von Strantz (Evening Muse) Open Mic with Lisa De Novo (Temple Mojo Growler Shop, Matthews)

DJ/ELECTRONIC Le Bang: SLAY (Snug Harbor)

POP/ROCK Shana Blake and Friends (Smokey Joe’s Cafe) Carmen Tate Solo (Eddie’s Seafood & Raw Bar) Open Mic for Musicians (Crown Station Coffeehouse and Pub) Open Mic at Studio 13 (Studio 13, Cornelius) Butcher Brown, The Get Right Band (Visulite Theatre) Joules, JPH, Ghost Trees, Mint Hill (Milestone) Karaoke with DJ ShayNanigans (Hattie’s Tap & Tavern) Natty Boh (RiRa Irish Pub) Riley from The Voice (Tin Roof) The Squirrel Nut Zippers – The First Annual Christmas Caravan tour (Neighborhood Theatre) Trans-Siberian Orchestra (Spectrum Center, Charlotte)

DECEMBER 8

15th Annual Travis Avenue Christmas Party: Travis Avenue, Recharged (Visulite Theatre) McKinney Gap (Smoky Joe’s Cafe) Christmas in Dixie (Sylvia Theatre, York) Jitsu, R-Dent, Mercury Dimes, Never Home (Milestone) Matt Bennett Band (Tin Roof) Matt Walsh featuring Joy and the Gent (Hattie’s Tap & Tavern) Public (Evening Muse) Riley from The Voice (Tin Roof) Rumours: a Tribute To Fleetwood Mac (The Fillmore) Sarah Peacock, Flagship Romance (Evening Muse) Smash City (RiRa Irish Pub) Tom Petty Tribute To Benefit Levine Children’s Hospital (Neighborhood Theatre)

DECEMBER 9 CLASSICAL/JAZZ/SMOOTH The 63rd Annual Singing Christmas Tree: MainStage Choir, Caroline Keller, Grey Seal Puppets, Miller Street Dance Academy, the 100-voice Friendship Missionary Baptist Church Choir, Torrence Creek Elementary Quarter Notes (Knight Theater) The Singing Christmas Tree for Kids: Carolina Voices (Knight Theater)

DJ/ELECTRONIC DJ Jason Wiggz (RiRa Irish Pub) Thelem, Rez, Cut Rugs, Jakel (Milestone)

HIP-HOP/SOUL/R&B

CLASSICAL/JAZZ/SMOOTH

Open Mike Eagle (Evening Muse)

Jazzy Fridays (Freshwaters Restaurant) The Gentlemen of Jazz: David P. Stevens, Dante Lewis (Morehead Tavern)

COUNTRY/FOLK

BLUES/ROOTS/INTERNATIONAL Tribal Xing Sound Journey with Zach McNabb & Robbie Warren (Be Yoga Carmel Rd) Steven Engler Band (Blue Restaurant & Bar)

COUNTRY/FOLK Luke Combs, Josh Phillips, Faren Rachels (Coyote Joe’s) The Lenny Federal Band (Comet Grill)

DJ/ELECTRONIC DJ RWonz (RiRa Irish Pub)

HIP-HOP/SOUL/R&B Fantasia - Christmas After Midnight (Ovens Auditorium) Player Made : An Ode To Southern Rap Of All Eras (Snug Harbor)

POP/ROCK 20 | DEC. 7 - DEC. 13, 2017 | CLCLT.COM

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Luke Combs, Josh Phillips, Faren Rachels (Coyote Joe’s)

POP/ROCK Carmen Tate Band (Beantown Tavern) Big Mamma’s House of Burlesque: The Great Southern Exposure Burlesque & Variety Arts Pageant (Visulite Theatre) Mike Faulkenbury And The Whiskey Prophets (Smoky Joe’s Cafe) Birdsong 6 Year Anniversary Party (Birdsong Brewing Co.) Carolinacation - Red Hot Chili Peppers Tribute Band (Sylvia Theatre, York) Here Come the Mummies (Neighborhood Theatre) The Loudermilks, The Holland Brothers, Dream Machine (Petra’s) Pluto for Planet (Tin Roof) Shadowgraphs (Farewell Show), Future States, Echo Courts, Dr Dice (Snug Harbor) Tosco Music Holiday Party (McGlohon Theater)


Wicked Powers (RiRa Irish Pub)

DECEMBER 10

SOUNDBOARD

MUSIC

Joe’s Cafe)

POP/ROCK

Gondwana (Visulite Theatre)

Fortune Teller, The Foxies, Gold Light, SOLIS (Snug Harbor) The Local Odyssey, Dean Moran (Heist Brewery)

CLASSICAL/JAZZ/SMOOTH

DECEMBER 13

BLUES/ROOTS/INTERNATIONAL

The 63rd Annual Singing Christmas Tree: MainStage Choir, Caroline Keller, Grey Seal Puppets, Miller Street Dance Academy, the 100-voice Friendship Missionary Baptist Church Choir, Torrence Creek Elementary Quarter Notes (Knight Theater) Jazz Brunch (RiRa Irish Pub) Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker (Ovens Auditorium) The Singing Christmas Tree for Kids: Carolina Voices (Knight Theater)

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

POP/ROCK The Jolly Lollies (Evening Muse) Omari and The Hellhounds (Comet Grill) The Revivalists (The Fillmore) Twen, Ben Bourne, Ennie Arden (Milestone)

DECEMBER 11 HIP-HOP/SOUL/R&B Knocturnal (Snug Harbor) Stone Soul Mic Love (Freedom Factory @ Seeds) #MFGD Open Mic (Apostrophe Lounge)

POP/ROCK Find Your Muse Open Mic welcomes Loud Mountains (from the UK!) (Evening Muse) Locals Live: The Best in Local Live Music & Local Craft Beers (Tin Roof) The Mineral Girls, Queen Jesus, Ol’ Sport, Permanent Body (Petra’s) The Monday Night Allstars (Visulite Theatre) Music Bingo Mondays (Tin Roof, Charlotte) Open Mic with Lisa De Novo (Legion Brewing, Charlote) Puddles Pity Party (McGlohon Theater, Charlotte)

DECEMBER 12 CLASSICAL/JAZZ/SMOOTH Bill Hanna Jazz Jam (Morehead Tavern)

COUNTRY/FOLK Red Rockin’ Chair (Comet Grill) Open Mic hosted by Jarrid and Allen of Pursey Kerns (The Kilted Buffalo, Huntersville) Tuesday Night Jam w/ The Smokin’ Js (Smokey

HIP-HOP/SOUL/R&B Free Hookah Wednesdays Ladies Night (Kabob House, Persian Cuisine)

DJ/ELECTRONIC Karaoke with DJ Pucci Mane (Petra’s) Cyclops Bar: Modern Heritage Weekly Mix Tape (Snug Harbor)

COUNTRY/FOLK Open mic w/ Jared Allen (Jack Beagles) Open Mic/Open Jam (Comet Grill)

POP/ROCK Brandon Davidson (Hattie’s Tap & Tavern) December Residency: Dead Sea $crilla, Shadow, Sticks & Stones, “Noel a l’Epic” (Snug Harbor) Jay Mathey Band (RiRa Irish Pub) Open Mic & Songwriter Workshop (Petra’s, Charlotte) The Tosco Music Open Mic - ‘tis the Season! (Evening Muse) Vintage Pistol, Lions in Space (Milestone, Charlotte)

COMING SOON
 Sam the Lion (December 14, Evening Muse) Jennifer Daniels (December 15, Evening Muse) Acoustic Syndicate (December 16, Visulite) Bless These Sounds Under The City, Foxture, LeAnna Eden & TGO (December 16, Petra’s) Hectagons!, El Malpais, Recover The Satellite (December 21, Milestone) Moose Kick (December 22, Visulite)

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CLCLT.COM | DEC. 7 - DEC. 13, 2017 | 21


The ArtPop class of 2018 celebrates on Nov. 30. Even the miserable-looking ones were thrilled. Honestly, they were!

ARTS

PHOTO BY RYAN PITKIN

COVERSTORY

LET’S GET IT POPPIN’ Meet ArtPop Charlotte’s Class of 2018 BY RYAN PITKIN AND TATE ROBERTS

I

t’s that time of year again. No, not time to sit in traffic and crawl through a racetrack full of Christmas lights, but time to celebrate the local artists we’ll be enjoying throughout 2018 … while we sit in traffic. On November 30, the Charlottebased arts program ArtPop held its Class of 2018 Artist Reveal Party, and Creative Loafing was the only publication to bring you all 20 works and the stories behind the artists of ArtPop’s fifth class while the party was still going on. Since ArtPop launched in 2014, the program has featured the works of 80 artists on billboards in Mecklenburg and

22 | DEC. 7 - DEC. 13, 2017 | CLCLT.COM

10 surrounding counties, as well as on news racks in Uptown Charlotte and on digital display screens at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. This year is the first in which members of the Class of 2014 were allowed to reapply, and three artists have returned from that first class, while 17 new local artists will be showcased. Wendy Hickey, founder and executive director, was relieved and excited when we sat down with her recently at Common Market to discuss the incoming Class of 2018. Hickey and her jury whittled the applicant pool down from 114 to 20, and it was clear that the ordeal took a lot out of her.

“It was a very long process and it’s hard,” Hickey said. “You want everybody to be in it, and there are some absolutely worthy pieces that didn’t make it, so I just encourage everybody to keep applying. That’s the biggest thing, just apply and apply again.” As for this year’s artists, Hickey said she’s thrilled to meet all of them at the party on Thursday and looks forward to following their career paths. Hickey said her greatest fulfillment comes when she sees ArtPop artists and alums selling pieces or getting jobs thanks to the recognition they’ve received through her program.

“It’s a well-known program in the area now and a lot of the artists are thriving because of it,” Hickey said. “So I’m just excited for this opportunity for each of them, and I hope they use it to the absolute best of their ability to grow their art careers or enhance their existing careers.” We reached out to this year’s class of artists to get a feel for who they are as artists. While some discussed the individual works they submitted to ArtPop, others retraced their paths in the arts or explained their views on art as a whole. So without further ado, we bring to you the ArtPop Class of 2018:


donnadowney.com Gary Abramov, Charlotte Acrylic Abramov is an artist and designer born in Europe who believes that the art created by humans is a protective wall from the threat of artificial intelligence, aggression and the digital perception of the world. He is sure, he says, that “to see the world always in a new way — emotionally but with sensual sensuality — is the major [purpose] of art.”

Amanda Foshag, Rock Hill, South Carolina Acrylic “The action of binding, knotting, crocheting and layering are metaphors in my sculptural forms for how we process the thoughts, feelings and emotions we experience,” Foshag says. “In my paintings and drawings, it is the layering of fiber materials, paint, inks and other renderable media that build up a surface which I violate by sanding and/or scraping away at to reveal the layers of accumulation and that which lies beneath it. This process is evocative of notions of how we conceal and preserve the self from our interactions, feelings and experiences, and also of reflecting upon these moments.”

facebook.com/GaryAbramovArt/

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Elizabeth Bradford, Davidson Acrylic Bradford is a native Carolinian with deep roots in the rural landscape. Her work often centers on images drawn from her rural community and her family’s Century Farm in north Mecklenburg County. In recent years, she has used her passion for backpacking and exploring nature as inspiration for large-scale paintings of the wild.

Cortney Frasier, Mooresville Yarn Frasier is a Pennsylvania native who has lived in a wide range of places stretching from Alaska to Florida. She uses an abstract medium of yarn and salvaged materials to create artwork that reflects her experiences of a woman and domestic identity. Her artwork is highly influenced by her suburban environments. Her love for education and art creation drives her in her artistic

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career.

Eva Crawford, Charlotte Acrylic “‘Eye on the Sparrow’ came into being as we experienced difficulty with one of our children,” Crawford says. “When confronting the unknown of each day, I can choose to lose myself in worry or I can choose to rest in knowing that I can’t control everything, but trust the One who does. The application and results of the unpredictable running paint is like opening a present on Christmas day. Blending that thrill with my love for realism, as seen in the sparrow, is the focus of my current series.”

Gordon C. James, Charlotte Oil James has been pursuing an art career ever since attending high school at Suitland Center for the Visual and Performing Arts in Forestville, Maryland. After a national search in 1997, he was one of only two full-time illustrators hired to work for Hallmark Cards, Inc. After leaving Hallmark in 2001, James has gone on to become an award-winning fine artist and illustrator. He has also created stunning illustrations for children’s books with award-winning authors. James’ work is soulful, emotive and technically sound. He says he is proud to create beautiful works of art that tell stories and bring a little more beauty to the world.

gordoncjames.com evacrawfordart.weebly.com Donna Downey, Huntersville Oil Downey is a New Jersey native now living and working out of her studio in Huntersville. As a painter, author, instructor and all-around creative force, she is a born experimenter — blending and transforming both traditional and unexpected elements into meaningful pieces of selfexpression. Donna is consistently on the leading edge of taking risks that push the creative envelope and empowering others to do the same with their art.

Carmella Jarvi, Charlotte Kiln glass One of three returning alums from the ArtPop Class of ’14, Jarvi’s artwork evolved from paintings of women in water to abstract explorations of water through kiln glass. Intrigued with this common and ethereal material from an early age, Jarvi’s water glass is beautiful and visually enticing. Like a painter, she uses color for contrast, movement and points of interest. After being professionally photographed, the printed digital images of her glass rounds go onto translucent vinyl. carmellajarvi.com CLCLT.COM | DEC. 7 - DEC. 13, 2017 | 23


Katherine Kirchner, Charlotte Photography Kirchner began studying photography as a teen and shooting professionally before she entered college. Since then she’s completed years of intense technical training and fine-art research, winning awards every step of the way. She is now a full-time freelance commercial photographer based in Charlotte, catering to businesses across the country. Her growing success is measured by the continuous support from local and national brands that respect the quality of both her photography and professionalism, she says.

katherine-kirchner.com Hasaan Kirkland, Charlotte Mixed media Kirkland relocated from Sacramento, California, to Charlotte, where he’s involved with creating commercial and critical fine art. He works as an educator, emerging national artist, art entrepreneur and a tenured professor of fine arts at Johnson C. Smith University. His body of work expresses visual literacy, conceptual imagery, popular culture, abstract expressions and reflections of Africa and the identity found in African American culture.

Monique Luck, Pineville Mixed media “The emotion in my work comes directly from the emotions I experience in life,” Lucks tells us. “As I assemble a collage, I often wish I could rearrange pieces of my life as I do pieces of colored paper. Each day I am reminded that life choices are not as easily moved.” Soulful figures textured with emotion emerge, revealing colorful, lyrical stories moving fluidly across canvas. Luck models the features of figures and natural forms using fragments of found paper. She is one of three returning ArtPop alums from the Class of ’14.

moniqueluckart.com Meg Greene Malvasi, Charlotte Mobile photography Malvasi is a photographer and writer who relies almost exclusively on mobile devices to photograph and process her images. Her approach is simple: Nothing is ordinary. Malvasi’s toolbox consists of her iPhone and iPad to process and create her images — nothing else. She is attracted to the portability of mobile devices, and not relying on a computer. Malvasi is known for her subtle dreamlike images, which have a painter’s quality.

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Pauline Dove Lamal, Charlotte Colored pen and pencil Lamal graduated from Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia, where she spent a year studying abroad in Aino-en-Provence, France, then received her Master’s in Fine Arts from George Washington University. She promptly left the United States to complete her first oneperson show in Kathmandu, Nepal, where she had a 50-year-old handmade paper produced for her. That paper became the canvas on which she created her nominated piece for ArtPop. She is one of three ArtPop alums returning from the Class of ’14.

Arthur Rogers, Jr., Charlotte Oil Rogers is a U.S. Army veteran and a native Carolinian with roots in Wilmington; the tiny Caribbean island of Sint Eustatius; as well as Trinidad and Tobago. “After a 12-year layoff from painting or drawing, in 2012 I returned to my initial passion: painting,” Rogers says. “I want to share my love for [Soca] music and [Caribbean] culture. The music energizes me and fuels my visions as I transfer them to the canvas. My goal is to have everyone feel the vibes as I do, to see the vibes as I do. This is the best way I know how.”

paulinedove.com Julia Lawing, Concord Oil “I paint because it engages my senses, my mind, my heart, stirring a passion in me unlike anything else,” Lawing says. “I aim to speak life to the viewer’s soul. My desire is to give voice to the beauty that first captivated my attention, and for my marks to reflect that vitality.” julialawing.com 24 | DEC. 7 - DEC. 13, 2017 | CLCLT.COM

artwerxstudios.com Maria Senkel, Charlotte Wood and acrylic “I was born in Venezuela, educated in Boston, Massachusetts, and later settled in Charlotte,” Senkel says. “I create art with wood, and through my work I want to invite the audience for a respite from the vicissitudes of life. I want them to appreciate the value of a world of wonder and imagination but most importantly a world where it is OK to laugh a little.” beautyanddetails.com


Hilary Siber, Charlotte Oil “As a painter I am aware of how painting communicates, but within my work I hope to recognize where the rhetoric of painting falls short in explicating the complexities of our existence,” Siber says. “Working from direct observation, my work utilizes landscape to visually grapple with the constitution of the medium as a means of representing the ineffable qualities of human experiences. Our humanity is caught up in this beautiful paradox; the dismantling of self is the very beginning of our own reconstruction.”

hilarysiber.com Holly Spruck, Charlotte Oil “The commute to work, a conversation with a friend, getting lost in a maze of tiny streets in Spain, seeing the colors change with the seasons, noticing the pawns in a game called Life; this is where I get inspired,” says Spruck. “My vision as an artist is to capture the world around me using my own vocabulary of bold colors, vivid lines, and ambiguous spaces. In my work I confront dark, sinister subject matter. I try to do it fearlessly, and with a healthy dose of humor.”

‘Coco.’

ARTS

DISNEY-PIXAR

FILM

MEXICAN JUMPING SCENES ‘Coco’ is a lively toon triumph BY MATT BRUNSON hollyspruck.com Bailey Wingler, Salisbury Oil paint and pastel on wood “I am a multidisciplinary artist born and raised in North Carolina,” Wingler says. “My experience as an evolving, feminist woman in the South, in particular my roles as mother, wife, and professional, are a central theme throughout my work. I view art the same way I view life; as a gateway whereby we invite others to join us in collective introspection. I want to highlight and to nourish those universal emotions that connect and unite us.”

baileywingler.com Stella Yang, Salisbury Mixed Media “I was born in Seoul, South Korea and moved to New York at the age of 13. When I visited Charlotte for the first time, I immediately fell in love with the city and decided to move in 2014,” Yang says. “My art is inspired by the patterns and textures of nature all around North Carolina. These patterns, created by nature, look like nothing but repetition from a distance but when you look more carefully, every branch and leaf looks different from one another, much like the city we live in. Using acrylic paints and media I recreate the textures on canvas.” stellayangart.com

VIEWERS WHO elect to see the animated feature Coco (***1/2 out of four) have my full blessing to arrive approximately 30 or 35 minutes after the announced show time. That way, they can miss the 15 or so minutes of trailers for mostly awful-looking efforts like Duck Duck Goose and Sherlock Gnomes and, more importantly, avoid the painful Olaf ’s Frozen Adventure, the preceding short that runs a punishing 22 minutes. After that, it’s all smooth sailing, as Coco proves to be another top-shelf effort from the Pixar factory. The fanciful story centers on Miguel (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez), a young Mexican boy who yearns to become a celebrated musician like his idol, the late singing star Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt). That’s quite the challenge, though, since his entire family hates music and has prohibited anyone within its ranks to ever pick up a guitar or a microphone. (The disdain traces back generations, to when Miguel’s great-great-grandmother was abandoned by her husband, who left to pursue his musical career.) Undeterred, Miguel goes against his family’s wishes, a decision that, through supernatural means, catapults him into the Land of the Dead. There, he not only has to

contend with a hard-luck layabout named Hector (Gael García Bernal) but also with his deceased ancestors, all of whom also forbid him from becoming a musician. Coco opens by following the traditional toon template of a person following their dreams against all odds, but once Miguel reaches the Land of the Dead, the movie deepens in satisfying and even unexpected ways. Interpersonal relationships take some surprising turns, and the story’s metaphysical slant (particularly the notion that a person doesn’t truly disappear until no one remembers they ever existed) lends the proceedings a haunting and ruminative air. All of this is played out with Pixar’s usual attention to engaging characters (dumb dogs are always a reliable addition, and here we get Dante, a street hound with a tongue longer than that of Kiss’s Gene Simmons) and cutting-edge animation that is ofttimes jaw-dropping. In a year in which American animated efforts took a hit with the dreary likes of The Emoji Movie and Despicable Me 3, Coco easily outpaces the competition by continuously hitting all the right notes. BACKTALK@CLCLT.COM

CLCLT.COM | DEC. 7 - DEC. 13, 2017 | 25


ENDS

MODERN EROTIC

ENDS

NIGHTLIFE

STAYING SEX POSITIVE

SHOOT YOUR SHOT, TAKE A SHOT

Not giving in to the negative amidst the misconduct

My appearance on ‘Margarita Confessionals’

A WHILE AGO, a friend and I were assault prevention advocates. Many women talking over beers at Common Market when aren’t offered the choice to begin with, but she said she believed the act of heterosexual whether she’s asked or not, a woman who sex to be inherently patriarchal and invasive says no means it. In 2008, Jaclyn Friedman by definition. Feminist psychologist Dee and Jessica Valenti edited a book that Graham would agree. In her influential and aimed to turn this formula on its head: Yes controversial 1995 book, Loving to Survive, Means Yes! What if instead of having to deny Graham argued that men’s sexuality is by consent, women could leap headlong and nature violent. Women who fear reprisal enthusiastically into sexual encounters, their in the face of this violence must conform desire burning hot? What if our stereotype to patriarchal norms of femininity to avoid of women’s reluctance was replaced with being hurt or killed. Graham says what women’s desire running riot? Wouldn’t sex women perceive to be love and attraction be more fun for everyone? We recently published the results of the toward men in fact comes from a kind of Great Queen City Oral Sex Survey (to the societal Stockholm syndrome. dismay of some readers). The results Today, powerful men are pointed at the disparity between losing their jobs left and right women’s pleasure and men’s. as allegations of sexual In many cases, “oral sex” was harassment and assault rain interpreted to mean fellatio down upon them. Reading exclusively. But the results the details of these men’s also pointed toward what behavior is and should sex, oral or otherwise, be appalling, and the can be: an otherworldly pervasiveness of the slice of heaven right here problem lends credence to within our grasp. Graham’s idea: Women are When sex and power subjects of men, and we do join forces, the results can what we must to survive. ALLISON be horrific. But despite the These harassment BRADEN recent headlines and long falls allegations call into question from grace, I still believe that sex feminist notions of sex positivity. It’s abundantly clear that sex is a recurring source positivity from men and women alike is key. of pain, subjection and degradation for many Enthusiastic consent can only begin, though, women and some men. How can we celebrate when fear and harassment end. When women are no longer held hostage to anyone’s desire such a force for harm? Celebrating sex is exactly what this column but their own. aims to do. Sex is a conversation starter and conversations begin to bridge difference. Sex is also changing, and I try to highlight Charlotteans who take an active role in challenging traditional ideas of sex and wonder instead what sex could be in a perfect world. Arguing with my friend over beer, I tried to conjure sex in its most perfect form: Fun and hot and sweet, like a gooey cookie just out of the oven. A window into someone else’s being. An excellent way to pass time. An opportunity to connect, for a few minutes or for a lifetime. My friend wasn’t altogether impressed. That’s what sex can be, she pointed out, but that’s not what sex is for many people, Meet sexy friends especially women today. The sexual who really get your vibe... harassment allegations demonstrate that. But still. The right response to harmful, Try FREE: 704-731-0113 inappropriate and patriarchal sex is not More Local Numbers: 1-800-811-1633 abstinence. It’s an acknowledgement that sex and power are wielded to harm and abuse, but it’s also a leaning into the potential of sex and consent. vibeline.com 18+ “No means no” is a common refrain from

input — score! I wrapped up my workday A COUPLE WEEKS ago, I received a and started to get ready. Everyone was DM on Twitter (is that what you even call encouraged to dress up like they were going messages on Twitter?). A rare occurrence, on a first date. I donned my heels, which I I’m shocked that I even took notice of the hate to wear, and tried to find things to do alert. I opened the message to learn I’d to bide my time. I opened the fridge and been invited to join a live show and panel remembered that I’d purchased Smirnoff Ice discussion put on by the ladies at The to “ice” other people with, and decided that Margarita Confessionals. Margaritas? Sign I’d need to take a knee and chug one of them me up! if I was going to survive this show. If you haven’t heard about The Margarita When I jumped into my Uber, I Confessionals before, it’s a podcast that you immediately began to purge my anxiety. can catch on Channel 96.1 on weekdays. The I told my driver about the show and creators, Ali Washburn and Lauren Levine, are how nervous I was. He agreed with my best friends who loved to chat about dating, sentiments about public speaking and relationships and work over a good we laughed about how nervemarg. That’s where the idea for wracking the whole experience the podcast came from. Almost can be. Our laughter came a full two years later, here to a complete halt when we they were, “sliding into my rounded the corner before DMs.” (I think it’s safe to The Fillmore where a long say they had no idea what line had begun to form. trouble they were getting He looked back at me as themselves into.) we pulled up and asked if Despite the fact that I was going to be okay as I hate public speaking we both assumed that the and struggle with anxiety line was for the show. I told over miniscule tasks such AERIN SPRUILL him to wait while I found out as deciding on a menu item, if that’s what the line was really I agreed to be a panelist in for. Thankfully, it was for a concert the hopes that it would be a “good at the larger Fillmore venue and not the experience for me.” Ali responded by saying, panel at The Underground – whew! “It will be a very casual conversation about As soon as I walked in, I went straight dating in CLT — basically everything you to the bar for that shot we’d discussed in write about! Dating apps, meeting people irl our DM when someone stopped me for free [in real life], ghosting, etc. Just an honest drinks backstage. Okay, I’ll wait. I went to picture about what it’s like to be single in the back and grabbed a beer. Ali and Lauren CLT :)” Then, she followed up with, “We’ll welcomed me with nice, warm hugs and I take some shots before the show ;)” tried my best to act “normal” when the other Ali has clearly read my column, so she panelists tried to get to know me. I found must have known I was going to hold her to myself sharing in each interaction that I was the whole pre-show shot idea. just nervous. To be real, I didn’t care what For the others of you who have kept up they did and didn’t want to talk about what with my column, you know that the topic of I did either. That’s when we were told that dating, missed opportunities and relationship we’d be able to hop on an open tab at the drama are at the top of my list of topics when bar! I went straight up to the bartender and it comes to nightlife. And after tackling my asked for a shot of fireball and an RBV — I first cover story “True Confessions From the wasn’t playing any games. Millennial Dating World,” I thought I was By the time we were walking onto the well-stocked with ammunition for my first stage for the show, I was so lit that all panel discussion — “The State of the Date: a my inhibitions had faded all the way away. yearly address delivered in November by The From questions like, “How do you feel Margarita Confessionals Podcast to Charlotte, about unsolicited dick pics?” to “What lines giving the ladies’ view of the state of the date,” have worked on social dating apps?,” I was as it was advertised. prepared to pick up the mic at the drop of However, as the day of the show grew a dime. I was so comfortable, in fact, when near, that afrorementioned anxiety started an audience member asked what I felt was to rear its ugly face. Even though I’d invited a a tough question, I grabbed the mic and few friends to come, I’d secretly hoped they’d requested that we have round two of the forget on the day of. Fortunately, most of lemon drop shots we’d had backstage! No them did until it was too late for them to one thought I’d do it, but you know I did! BACKTALK@CLCLT.COM figure out how to get tickets without my

26 | DEC. 7 - DEC. 13, 2017 | CLCLT.COM


ENDS

FeeLing Lonely?

CROSSWORD

STICKING TO THE GOAL ACROSS

1 Roman god with a bow 5 Knotting craft 12 Move like a kangaroo 15 Overquick 19 Be a wanderer 20 Moral 21 Actress Gasteyer 22 Comical Kett 23 Jack London novel 26 Dumbfound 27 Flynn of films 28 Prone (to) 29 Big name in credit cards 30 Cake coater 31 Writer Verne 33 Easy targets to attack 36 Lacking a musical key 38 Writer Bellow with a Nobel 40 Mystery novelist -Stanley Gardner 41 Relative of soul 46 Infuse with oxygen 50 Sphagnum, e.g. 51 Cookie with a “Thins” line 52 One-masted sailboats 54 Chic, ‘60s-style 55 Really, really quick 59 Drive off 63 Pretty low grades 64 “That is -- ask” 65 “Picnic” playwright William 66 With 13-Down, giant in internet service 69 Sports org. with the eight teams featured in this puzzle 71 Trip to a rain forest, maybe 73 Vicious 74 Eban of Israel 77 Foreboding 80 Shimon of Israel 81 2011 Jim Carrey comedy 86 Head sweller 87 Tie up again, as shoes 88 Don’t skip, as an event 89 Oaf’s cry 93 Waters off Eritrea 95 2007-13 pickup truck model 99 Clearasil treats it 101 Designer Saarinen

102 Old TV tube 103 Be engulfed in fire 109 Ate 110 Writer Bret Easton -111 Know -- fact 112 Actor’s help 114 The blahs 117 Rake feature 118 Hawaiians and Tongans 122 Tennis’ Lendl 123 TV producer 124 In a very angry way 125 Filmdom’s -- Lund Laszlo 126 Bird setting 127 Sinuous fish 128 Vilify 129 Gambol

DOWN

1 Johnson of “Laugh-In” 2 Comic actor Jay 3 Elates 4 Tells in detail 5 Ex-Giant Ott 6 Gazetteer shelfmate 7 Hew 8 Falling-out 9 Masquerade 10 -- -jongg 11 Chosen few 12 Papa Doc’s place 13 See 66-Across 14 Inflate falsely 15 Hero, often 16 Top-floor storage site 17 Reeked 18 With 56-Down, surfs like a pro 24 God, in Islam 25 Clever type 30 Most lazy 32 “St. -- Fire” (1985 film) 33 Hero in a deli 34 Fluish, say 35 Shown with explicit detail 36 It has biceps 37 However, informally 38 Golf’s Sam 39 -- of one’s own medicine 42 Dog cry 43 Naval vessel abbr. 44 Fitzgerald of song 45 Loam, e.g.

47 Key of “Fuer Elise” 48 Mouth organ 49 Lawn care tools 53 Eye creepily 55 -- Baba 56 See 18-Down 57 “... woman who lived in --” 58 Evening, casually 59 Rear-ending car, e.g. 60 Arise 61 Natural legume case 62 Cube maker Rubik 67 Peninsula northeast of Boston 68 Brother in Genesis 70 Pre-O trio 72 Mil. missions 75 Bric-a- -76 Yiddish writer Sholem 78 Actress Samantha 79 Italian for “new” 82 Summary 83 16th letter 84 “Don’t make -- habit” 85 Nick of “Warrior” 89 Potato chip topping 90 Singer Helen or actor Jerry 91 Univ. award 92 Envision 94 Wise 96 22nd letter 97 “Indubitably” 98 “Grease” actress Eve 100 Erase 103 Gain entry 104 Drab color 105 Forelimb bones 106 Close-by 107 “Exodus” protagonist 108 Don’s group 109 Cuts down, as a tree 112 Refer to 113 Tech support seeker 115 Bear, celestially 116 “By Jove!” 118 Adolescent leader? 119 Taxing org. 120 Beret, e.g. 121 Senate vote

graB Your copy today

SOLUTION FOUND ON P. 30.

CLCLT.COM | DEC. 7 - DEC. 13, 2017 | 27


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ENDS

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I used to be a fan of your column, Dan, but something happened to you. Maybe it’s stress, the current political climate, or some other issue — I don’t know. I used to look forward to your columns because they were fun, smart, and helpful — but I don’t enjoy what I’m seeing now. If something did happen to you, reach out for help. You’re on the verge of losing a loyal reader. READER ENQUIRING ABOUT DAN’S ENERVATING RESPONSES

A couple of weeks ago, my girlfriend and I were engaging in mutual masturbation when she squirted all over my hand — a large amount — and she was completely mortified. It was the first time it happened for her, and it’s happened several times since. She is upset. I’ve been with a couple of other women in the past who squirted, and I am absolutely fine with it. I love it, in fact! I did my absolute best to reassure her that I think it’s great and there’s nothing to be ashamed of, but she’s really embarrassed every time. The last time, she was close to tears with fears that she’d urinated. My question: There’s so much great writing about female ejaculation around, but rather than bombard my GF — who is the most amazing, incredible person — with links to article upon article, how can I help her feel OK about this?

I’ve been getting letters like yours — what happened to you, Dan, you used to be more fun — at this time of year, every year, for the last 25 years, READER. Maybe I get moody when the weather gets gloomy and that spills into my column annually. And perhaps the current political climate — a rather reserved way to describe the destruction of our democracy — is making my seasonal grumping worse. Another SINCERE QUESTIONER possible factor. . . UNDERSTANDS IT’S REALLY I don’t know how TERRIFIC long you’ve been reading, READER, but I’ve been writing this column for a This one’s pretty good, long time. READER. It’s an oldBack before the internet school, pre-internet Savage DAN SAVAGE came along and ruined Love question. Sexy and everything for everyone, I used playful — charming, even. to get a lot of how-to/what’s-that OK, SQUIRT. You can help her questions about sex acts and sex toys. feel OK about this by continuing to use A column explaining butt plugs to readers your words (“I love this, it’s so hot!”), by who knew nothing about them — and lacked sharing those articles with her (she needs to easy access to butt plug info — was as much hear from and about other women with her fun to read as it was to write. superpower, not just from her boyfriend), But every sex act and every sex toy has and by lapping that shit up. Swallow, its own Wiki page now, which means I don’t SQUIRT. And so what if it is piss? (And many get to write fun columns about butt plugs argue it isn’t.) Piss isn’t sterile, as Mike Pesca anymore, READER, and you don’t get to took time out of his day to explain to me read them. on the Savage Lovecast back when alleged Now the questions all revolve around human being Donald Trump’s alleged pee someone being deeply shitty or someone tape was all over the news. (Goddammit. deluding themselves about how deeply shitty Our current political climate snuck up on they’re being. Columns filled with questions me. Sorry about that, READER.) There are a about and from people behaving badly are never going to be as delightsome as those lot more bacteria and whatever else in saliva, butt plug columns of yore. and we dump spit into each other’s mouths But thank you for writing in to share like it’s maple fucking syrup. If you guys are your concern, READER, and rest assured swapping other fluids regularly, why not that nothing truly terrible has happened to swap a little of this one, too? me — besides Trump, of course, but Trump And remember: It’s only been two weeks happened to all of us, not just me. Still, I — it may take her some time to learn don’t want to lose you as a reader, so I’m to love her new superpower. Maybe watch going to make an effort to sunny things up a some X-Men movies (it’s a superpower, not bit over the next few weeks. a mutation!), and keep being upbeat and OK! Let’s see what else came in the mail positive about the way your girlfriend’s body today! Hopefully something fun! works. Good luck!


CLCLT.COM | DEC. 7 - DEC. 13, 2017 | 29


LILLY SPA

ENDS

SALOME’S STARS

704-392-8099 MON-SUN 9AM-11PM

LIBRA (September 23

LOCATED NEAR THE AIRPORT EXIT 37 OFF I-85 WE ACCEPT ALL MAJOR CREDIT CARDS

SOUTH ON BEATTIES FORD ROAD THEN FIRST RIGHT ON MONTANA DRIVE (LOCATED 1/2 MILE ON THE LEFT | 714-G MONTANA DR)

SOLUTION TO THIS WEEK'S PUZZLE

WHERE WE ALL REFUSE TO WEAR SOCKS.

ARIES (March 21 to April 19) Make a start on that new workplace challenge. But get more information before you find yourself too deeply involved without knowing in which direction you should go. TAURUS (April 20 to May 20) You might find things becoming tedious as your schedule slows down for the holidays. Use this time to get information about a possible post-New Year job change. GEMINI (May 21 to June 20) The creative Twin finds outlets for her or his ideas in the early part of the week. The practical Twin takes it a step further and rallies support to turn the ideas into reality. CANCER (June 21 to

July 22) It’s time to stop being intimidated by someone’s negative behavior. Start taking positive steps on your own to help strengthen your position down the line.

LEO (July 23 to August

22) Look closely at that so-called golden opportunity. Best to be a cautious Cat who approaches things slowly, than one who pounces without knowing where you’ll land.

VIRGO (August 23 to

September 22) Your apology can resolve that personal situation before it overshadows the holidays. You’ll feel better, even if you’re only partly to blame for what happened.

to October 22) Avoid overtaxing yourself, even if your energy levels are high and you feel that you can do it all. Best to pace yourself so you won’t run yourself down before the holidays.

SCORPIO (October 23 to

November 21) Your sense of humor helps get you through a stressful period. Some of your quick quips can take the edge off any remaining negativity being aimed at you.

SAGITTARIUS

(November 22 to December 21) Your artistic talents not only help you express yourself these days, but they also set up a line of communication between you and someone very special.

CAPRICORN (December 22 to January 19) It’s fine to appreciate the importance of “proper form” for doing things. But relax a bit in order to allow newcomers on the project to feel less intimidated by you.

AQUARIUS

(January 20 to February 18) Use your boundless reserve of optimism to persuade others to work with you to resolve a difficult workplace problem before it can ruin your holiday fun.

PISCES (February 19 to March 20) You brim over with self-confidence as you begin to tackle a new challenge. And, before you know it, you’re not alone: Others have taken the plunge with you.

BORN THIS WEEK You have a highly defined sense of commitment to others. You would make a fine social worker.

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2017 Issue 42 Creative Loafing Charlotte  
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