Queen City Nerve - May 15, 2024

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UNC Charlotte Palestine solidarity encampment stirs free speech debate



‘The Girls We Sent Away’ explores an oft-overlooked history pg. 6

Food: Bites on 7th highlights Black culinary ventures in Charlotte pg. 10


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Pg. 3 MAY 15MAY 28 , 2024QCNERVE.COM TABLE OF CONTENTS NEWS & OPINION 4 Breaking Camp by Annie Keough UNC Charlotte Palestine solidarity
stirs free speech debate ARTS & CULTURE 6 The Forgotten Girls by Ryan Pitkin Meagan Church’s new book explores the oft-overlooked history of the Baby Scoop Era 7 Lifeline: Ten Cool Things To Do in Two Weeks MUSIC 8 Subterranean Rage by Pat Moran Subvertigo’s shoegaze metal is not as angry as it sounds 9 Soundwave FOOD & DRINK 10 Block Party Bites by Dezanii Lewis Eat Black Charlotte expands on food festival with Bites on Seventh LIFESTYLE 12 Puzzles 13 Aerin It Out by Aerin Spruill 13 Horoscope 14 Savage Love Thanks to our contributors: Grant Baldwin, Aerin Spruill, Dezanii Lewis, Danny Ruhland, Effie Horvath and Dan Savage. PUBLISHER JUSTIN LAFRANCOIS jlafrancois@qcnerve.com EDITOR-IN-CHIEF RYAN PITKIN rpitkin@qcnerve.com DIGITAL MANAGER RAYNE ANTRIM rantrim@qcnerve.com STAFF WRITERS PAT MORAN pmoran@qcnerve.com ANNIE KEOUGH akeough@qcnerve.com ART DIRECTOR AIDEN SIOBHAN aiden@triad-city-beat.com AD SALES EXECUTIVE RENN WILSON rwilson@qcnerve.com TO PLACE AN ADVERTISEMENT EMAIL INFO@QCNERVE.COM QUEEN CITY NERVE WELCOMES SUBMISSIONS OF ALL KINDS. PLEASE SEND SUBMISSIONS OR STORY PITCHES TO INFO @ QCNERVE.COM. QUEEN CITY NERVE IS PUBLISHED EVERY OTHER WEDNESDAY BY NERVE MEDIA PRODUCTIONS LLC. QUEEN CITY NERVE IS LOCATED at 417 EAST BLVD, SUITE 206, CHARLOTTE, NC, 28203. FIRST ISSUE OF QUEEN CITY NERVE FREE. EACH ADDITIONAL ISSUE $3. @QUEENCITYNERVE WWW.QCNERVE.COM COVER PHOTO BY: GRANT BALDWIN COVER DESIGN BY: AIDEN SIOBHAN


UNC Charlotte Palestine solidarity encampment stirs free speech debate

Throughout history, college campuses have been a breeding ground for political and anti-war protests. The protests against the Vietnam War, South African apartheid and in support of the Central American Peace and Solidarity movement on college campuses have directed divestment, boycott and sanction movements that led to US policy change.

For Tina Shull, director of public history at UNC Charlotte, the recent wave of protests against Israel’s military actions in Palestine is a chance to see history playing out in real time.

“I think that’s the most beautiful thing about this moment and about this movement is that students are pointing to and drawing upon a longer history of student-led activism critiquing not only US politics but the impacts of US foreign policy and war,” she said.

And yet, Shull struggled with the decision to use her name while speaking to Queen City Nerve for this story about a growing protest movement at her university.

Citing fear of retaliation against faculty who come out in support of students’ right to protest following a recent crackdown on student-led protest encampments at UNC Charlotte and across the country, Shull emphasized that she would speak on the record only as an individual citizen and not as a representative of the university.

Shull was one of more than 160 faculty members who signed an open letter to UNC Charlotte Chancellor Sharon Gaber on Monday, May 6, hours after Gaber signed off on police action against a student protest encampment that had been set up on UNC Charlotte’s campus in April.

Since April 22nd, student organizers have demanded the university and UNC system as a whole “disclose, divest, defend and declare” — disclose institutional expenditures, divest from companies and projects with ties to Israel and declare the military actions occurring in Gaza a genocide.

On April 29, student protesters set up a Gaza solidarity encampment in the quad outside of the

College of Health and Human Services and Cato College of Education on campus. The students were met with continuous efforts to counteract or shut down the site by administration and counterprotestors.

“The school has responded by constant threats of arrest and suspension if we do not comply with their arbitrary rules,” a student representative told Queen City Nerve.

On May 1, sprinklers were turned on for nearly six hours at the original site of the encampment, flooding the area and forcing organizers to move elsewhere on campus.

Organizers relocated the encampment to the quad in front of the Fretwell and Cato buildings, where they were met with counter-protestors including some with right-wing student organization Turning Point US, who set up American flags around the encampment.

Then, with little warning, campus police raided and broke down the encampment in the early morning hours of May 6.

Shull said she believed the university’s strategic timing in taking down the camp in the early morning hours on the day before a march was scheduled to occur on campus was the extension of a long-cultivated culture of fear and retaliation that aimed to intimidate any student or faculty member who considered getting involved in the protest.

The raid

Student representatives from the solidarity encampment met with university administration to present their demands on May 5.

In a six page packet, administration provided answers to an incomplete copy of the student’s demands they had obtained before the meeting, barring students from voicing their latest individual demands, according to a spokesperson from the encampment and UNC Charlotte graduate who was present at the meeting.

According to the spokesperson, who did not wish to identify themself for fear of retribution, university

leadership claimed during the meeting that they had no interest in shutting the encampment down.

At 6:20 a.m. the next morning, the 14th day of the student-led protest, campus police aided by CMPD raided and disassembled the encampment, leading to the arrest of one student.

According to a post from the encampment’s official Instagram feed (@unccencampment), authorities gave the students two verbal warnings within three minutes before starting the raid.

“Many students and community members did not have enough time to gather their things before they were forced to leave or face the threat of arrest,” the post read. “One student was detained and the rest were forced to disperse.”

The university’s student-run newspaper Niner Times published two videos and additional photos that showed around 20 campus police officers dismantling tents and supplies and one student being taken away with their hands zip-tied behind their back.

Gaber announced the removal of the encampment in a university-wide email sent after the raid on May 7.

“What began as peaceful protesting has transitioned over the past several days to intentionally and repeatedly violating University policy, despite repeated warnings by our Demonstration Activity Resource Team and other University personnel,” the email stated.

“Violations were highlighted verbally and in writing, and exhaustive efforts were made to encourage protestors to exercise their right to free speech in a manner that respects the rights of those not protesting to do their work and pursue their education.”

Those efforts included seven pages of what the encampment spokesperson described as “arbitrary policies denoting that everything we have been doing was a violation of policy, which we [had] not received before.”

That warning was given to protesters at 9 a.m. on May 6. Organizers believe it came in response to a rally they had planned on campus for May 7.

“It really seems like the [switch was flipped] yesterday after our meeting,” the spokesperson said during the May 7 rally. “So [the raid] genuinely



caught us completely off guard because it was disclosed to us that that was not the option they would be taking.”

Gaber said the protesters’ tents, fencing, displays and other structures violated University Policy 601.6, Scheduling University Facilities, and University Policy 601.9, Sales, Solicitations, Distribution of Materials and Campus Displays.

“These actions are not free speech,” the statement said, “…they disrupt campus operations and pose a threat to campus safety.”

The students and allies at the encampment had taken part in prayer, presentations, encampment meetings and wellness checks, along with two peaceful marches held without incident. Nonparticipating students roaming campus amid exam week did not seem to experience any major disruptions due to the encampment during Queen City Nerve’s visit.

Faculty members respond

In a letter shared with protesters on May 6, administration warned that “any disruptive

behavior outside of [the] designated location will be considered trespassing and may result in immediate disciplinary action.”

The designated area for “non-march protest activities” is limited to the 49th Acre student tailgate facility, located behind a parking lot on the opposite side of campus. One protester said the relocation was insulting and would have pushed protesters out of sight.

The letter said disciplinary actions may include suspension and expulsion up to criminal charges for students and non-university members.

Multiple faculty members reached out to Queen City Nerve expressing their concern that the letter served as a warning to them not to get involved in the issue or voice support for student protesters.

In another letter signed by more than 160 faculty members and sent to Gaber after the raid, signers clarified that they did not consider themselves a homogenous group, nor did they all agree politically.

They then wrote, “What we do all agree on is the importance of peaceful demonstration to a functioning democracy and to the ideals and concrete realities of institutions of higher education. In this way, we are opposed to preemptive decisions by university or college administrations to use local or state police forces to evict peaceful demonstrators.

“We acknowledge that universities can limit,

through just and transparent methods, reasonable restrictions on time, place, and manner of protest and assembly,” the letter continued. “We do not, however, think that a university should ever prevent students, faculty, or staff from gathering or protesting.”

On the evening that the march was planned, four UNC Charlotte police vehicles were stationed around the location of the former encampment, with the sprinklers on and signs to deter people from entering the lawn.

During the protest, one student announced they received an email from administration informing them that they had been suspended. The student who had been arrested during the morning raid was once again detained for trespassing after attempting to join the protest on campus grounds.

Students and community members gathered in front of the Charlotte Arrest Processing center for a press conference on May 8, joined by members of Charlotte United for Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace Charlotte, to protest the oppressive stance the university had taken against its student protesters.

“This was an unnecessarily violent response to a peaceful student-led movement, whose purpose was to educate their peers and the wider community about the genocide in Gaza, and to emphasize the

interconnectedness of global justice movements to build solidarity across borders,” UNC Charlotte alumna Noor Sanjak said at the press conference.

Protesters have since called on university administration to drop all charges and overturn all suspensions related to the Gaza solidarity encampment.

One student turned themselves into Mecklenburg County Jail on May 12 after UNC Charlotte pressed criminal charges against them. The student has since been released.

What comes next

UNC Charlotte encampment group continues to grow in supporters. Along with the letter of support from faculty, the local Housing Justice Coalition CLT (HJC) has voiced its public support for the student protesters, as has the Working People’s Association.

“We are steadfast in declaring that the peaceful expression of ideals embodied by the UNCC Gaza solidarity encampment not only remain, but go unmolested by police, security, or any militarized force,” read a statement from HJC. “We implore the UNCC administration to meet with its own students and heed the wishes/demands of UNCC students expressed in the UNCC Student Government Administration Resolution.”

About 200 people gathered in Uptown’s Romare Bearden Park on May 11 to show support for Palestine and the local student organizers who had their camp taken down, marching from the park into the center of the city in a show of solidarity.

At the time of this writing, UNC Charlotte administration hasn’t responded to the letter from faculty or calls from protesters to drop charges and reverse suspensions against some of them.

For their part, the students leading the protests at UNC Charlotte are well aware of their place in history, taking into context all that Shull described about past student movements.

“We’re here picking up the baton that generations before us passed along,” the encampment’s spokesperson said at the May 7 rally. “It poses an interesting question when UNCC upholds that they maintain a policy of institutional neutrality. I really, genuinely [would] just like to see the culture of this university change.”

With UNC Charlotte’s 2023-2024 classes ended, the student and community-led encampment’s future is tentative, the spokesperson alluded.

“We are still working on [the next move for us],” the spokesperson said. “Definitely still fighting for our demands here at the university … We’ll see.”

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Meagan Church’s new book explores the oft-overlooked history of the Baby Scoop Era

Meagan Church remembers being with her dad in a video rental store as a child in the late -1980s when he ran into an old high school friend. Being a small town in rural Indiana, meeting someone her dad once knew but she didn’t was not a common occurrence.

“When I asked him who she was, he said that they went to school together, but they didn’t graduate together because, ‘In that time, if a woman got pregnant, she was sent away and she couldn’t graduate. Let’s put it that way,’” Church recalled. “That little bit of information stuck with me over the years.”

Church’s father was referring to the Baby Scoop Era, an oft-forgotten period in US history, starting after the end of World War II and ending around 1972, when countless girls and women experiencing premarital pregnancies were sent off to maternity homes. There they would carry out their pregnancy to term, only to then be in some cases forced or pressured to give the baby up for adoption.

Released in March, Church’s new book, The Girls We Sent Away, tells the tale of one such young girl, Lorraine, growing up in a Charlotte suburb in the ’60s with her eyes on valedictorian status when an unplanned pregnancy rips her from her family and finds her sent away to a home for unwed mothers.

We caught up with Church following the book’s release to discuss the inspirations behind it and what she’s learned from readers during her subsequent book tours.

Queen City Nerve: Your new book is located in Charlotte, in a neighborhood called Sunnymede. I assume that’s fictional?

Meagan Church: Sunnymede is actually the name of the neighborhood [where my family] lived in South Bend, Indiana. In my mind, I thought of it

more as the Shannon Park neighborhood that exists here in Charlotte because in The Girls We Sent Away, the proximity to Charlotte, plus the fact that it has a neighborhood pool and when the houses were built in that time frame. So it’s loosely inspired by Shannon Park, but the name itself was inspired by our old neighborhood in South Indiana.

Your debut novel, The Last Carolina Girl, took place partly on the North Carolina coast and partly in your current hometown of Matthews. How did you decided on that?

With the first book, I thought that I would set it in Indiana because I started work on it shortly after we moved here and Indiana was a landscape I knew best. The inspiration behind that one, because it’s a story that has to do with forced sterilization and eugenics, I discovered that a great-aunt of mine had been sterilized by the state of Indiana when she was around 12 years old. With that being the state that sterilized her, I thought that would be the setting. But my first bit of research showed me North Carolina’s history and specifically Mecklenburg County’s history with sterilization. That was when I knew the story needed to be set in North Carolina, which really I did myself a favor because North Carolina has so much beauty, and by setting it here, nature was able to become a character within the book.

Then as far as with The Girls We Sent Away, I decided on Charlotte, but the maternity home itself, the location is never defined. I did that for a couple of reasons, partly because I didn’t want any maternity home to come to me and say, “That was not what we did, that wasn’t how we operated,” because they really did operate in a variety of ways. But I also wanted the reader to have a sense of ambiguity and uncertainty, just like the girls in the book had.

What is it about historical fiction that attracts you?

Honestly, historical fiction is the genre that my publisher chooses for me because my stories have so far happened to be set in the past. To me, it’s more about exploring women’s stories and voices throughout time, which could even include contemporary stories moving forward. It was just with the inspiration of my aunt’s sterilization that it had to be set in in the past. Then when I found out about the practice of maternity homes, especially in the ‘60s, in the time period that my parents were graduating high school, again, it happened to fall in that historical timeline.

I find these ideas or these bits of history or information that start to get under my skin. The more I read about it and research and the more it irritates me, that’s when I know that I have a story idea. I don’t worry so much about what the time period it is, it’s more of who the character of that story is.

Did you localize your research in terms of finding maternity homes like these in the Charlotte area?

Honestly, because I knew the maternity home would not be set here in Charlotte, I didn’t worry about that. I do know that The Florence Crittenton Home existed here, and I believe still exists to some degree. Now, Florence Crittenton, just to be clear, had a mission of keeping mother and baby together. I don’t want to imply in any way that they practiced in the way that’s represented within the book. But I did enough research and listened to enough women’s stories of what they endured in those sorts

of facilities that I didn’t necessarily dig into one specifically. It’s more of just an all-encompassing conglomeration of different experiences that women had.

Your two books are similar in the sense of a young girl coming of age and being yanked out of her idyllic world and forced into a strange place against her will and having to adapt to that. Does that come from some personal experience?

So all through college, I was always fascinated with coming-of-age stories, which both of these fall within that category. I think a lot of times that’s part of the journey within a coming-of-age story. But the other thing is that both of these stories are really a search for home and an understanding of what that is. Me moving here to the South, while that was my own decision and we had autonomy and agency, over these past nine years, I have been asking myself that question of, “What is home? Where does home actually exist?”

While I did not have the experience like my main characters of being forced out of my home, I think it comes through in my fiction that that’s just been part of my journey over the last years is questioning home.

Visit qcnerve.com to read the full-length Q&A with Meagan Church, in which she goes more in-depth into her choices behind The Girls We Sent Away, from the inclusion of the Space Race to finally feeling comfortable calling herself a feminist.




With bright coiling guitars, engaging melodies and heartfelt vocals, Charlotte three-piece blankstate. balances lyrical gravitas with the infectious joy of music-making on tracks like the winsome “Jasper Never Cries.” On masterful tunes like “Weedle,” the Queen City’s Seneca Burns employs a smart-ass pop punk template to issue a moving manifesto of hope, pain and defiance. Charging tempos, ringing guitars and Sophie Biancofiore’s arching everywoman vocals propel Raleigh combo Moving Boxes’ hardcore-infused punk pop. Mustering the hard charging attack of Bad Brains, Durham rappersongwriter Austin “Royale” Copeland entwines hiphop with hardcore.

More: $12-15; May 15, 7:30 p.m.; Amos’ Southend, 1423 S. Tryon St.; amossouthend.com


Guitar-driven power rock holds sway at The Milestone. Double kick drums and runaway locomotive guitars propel Boone’s Bongfoot. Mixing stoner metal and 1970s Southern rock, the Appalachian thrash trio depicts cops and generals stampeding over the titular longhairs on “Kill the Hippies.” Similarly, Charlotte’s Hellfire 76 marshals incendiary blues rock riffs and lumbering stegosaurus beats to skewer holy hypocrites with mock blasphemous lyrics: “Heaven’s angels dance with the devil/ Will the preacher see through the eye of a needle?” With tracks like “Sweet Words & Bee Stings,” Queen City four-piece Regence fuses marauding guitars and impassioned vocals.

More: $12; May 16, 8 p.m.; The Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Road; themilestone.club


Since opening in 2017, Camp North End has gradually built up and cultivated a diverse community of artists working in a range of mediums. For one night only, visitors will get an exclusive glimpse into the creative process of Charlotte’s top artists during the community’s first-ever studio crawl, which will provide a unique, behind-the-scenes opportunity to meet with and tour the studio spaces of participating artists while delving into an array of art from participating artists at BLK MRKT, Goodyear Arts collective, MacFly Fresh, Tent Studios and Good Postage as well as independent artists like Frankie Zombie.

More: Free; May 17, 6-9 p.m.; Camp North End, 300 Camp Road; camp.nc


Opened last October, the Ella Scarborough Community Resource Center serves as a one-stop shop for county services including Medicaid, food and nutrition services, child support services, veterans services, job searches, free mental health counseling and more. Beginning this month, the team at the Ella Scarborough Center want to put the community back in “community resource center” by hosting a monthly Saturdays on Stitt event featuring food, fun and fellowship. Get to know your neighbors, including staff and community partners working inside the center at this family-friendly event.

More: Free; May 18, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; Ella Scarborough Community Resource Center, 430 Stitt Road; dcr.mecknc.gov/crc/ebs


Known better by his artist name Rathagod, local avant garde painter Rajuma Bey confronts themes of racial stereotypes, cultural taboos, and black representation in the media, with his thoughtprovoking imagery. Drawing inspiration from his upbringing in an Afrocentric household, Bey fuses street art, cultural references and social commentary into his works as a way to capture the dynamic energy of Black American city life, often employing chaotic markings and bold caricatures to help spread his message.

More: Free; May 18, 7-10 p.m.; Hart Witzen Gallery, 2422 N. Tryon St.; facebook.com/HartWitzenGallery


Formerly known as Girls Rock Charlotte, it;s now been a decade that We Rock Charlotte has worked not so quietly to inspire young people through music, arts and social justice, putting out a number of student albums put together by the young musicians who learn their craft at the organization’s Optimist Park home, but they host visual arts and music workshops for Charlotteans of all ages. They’re celebrating 10 years of that work with a block party of sorts, including a gear sale at the We Rock Charlotte house on East 22nd Street followed by a concert across the street at Starlight featuring We Rock founder Krystle Baller’s band HEY RICHARD and Channeling Granny.

More: Free, donations encouraged; May 19, noon-3 p.m.; We Rock Charlotte, 423 E. 22nd St.; werockclt.org


A great follow-up to Keenan Scott II’s Thoughts of A Colored Man, which ends its Three Bone Theatre run at The Arts Factory on May 18, this Wednesday Night Live event features playwright Michael Garcia leading a discussion on tackling the issues that impact the mental well-being of the community through theatrical expression. Experience select monologues from Garcia’s stage play, Stuff Inside My Head, as well as new monologues from Garcia that are related to the theme of mental and emotional wellness in the Black community.

More: Free; May 22, 6:30-8:30 p.m.; Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, 551 S. Tryon St.; eveningmuse.com


On Alexa Jenson’s breathtaking single “Daylight,” the Charlotte singer-songwriter’s supple voice ranges from powerful declaration to free-falling alt-country lilt. Amid jangling guitars and rolling keyboards, Jenson’s vocals cradle your emotions and command your attention. On his LP Dancing on the Decks, North Carolina-based Joe McGovern crafts cinematic alternative folk-pop with a hard-rock spine. On the exuberant “IFTV” he even throws hiphop beats into the genre-bending mix. Accompanied by his rippling liquid guitar, Queen City alt-country troubadour Sam Brasco lends his honeyed vocals to storytelling songs that expose raw emotions.

More: $15-18; May 24, 7:30 p.m.; Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St.; eveningmuse.com


Riding a wordless incantation that sighs like a wavering breeze, Mariah van Kleef’s elemental, Middle Eastern-grooving “Saraswati” unsheathes a sawtooth edge in the Charlotte singer-songwriter’s vocals. The song imprints like a jarring dream, an afterimage burned onto the waking world. With Boris & the Joy, guitarist for raucous, gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello Boris Pelekh turns to hushed and confessional emo folk. With his Straightjacket Blues Revisited LP, gravel-voiced hardscrabble folk artist Ryan Lockhart spins perceptive tales about small towns, missed chances and the grave site that awaits us all.

More: $8; May 26, 7 p.m.; Petra’s, 1919 Commonwealth Ave.; petrasbar.com


On Princess Goes’ single “Jetpack,” pulsing synthesizers and elastic bowing bass enwrap Michael C. Hall’s smooth ethereal croon: “Swapped out blood for metal/ We were waiting for the mechanism/ We were waiting for the flying car/ We were promised on TV...” Yes, Michael C. Hall from TV’s Dexter makes melodic and experimental music with keyboardist Matt Katz-Bohen and drummer Peter Yanowitz. The avant-indie trio’s “Blur” blends Bowie, EDM beats, the melancholic monumental grandeur of Utravox’s “Vienna” and the warmth of U2’s “With or Without You.” On an art-rock spreadsheet, this would seem a pretentious mess, but intuitively, it works.

More: $25-30; May 27, 8 p.m.; Visulite Theatre, 1615 Elizabeth Ave.; visulite.com

Pg. 7 MAY 15MAY 28 , 2024QCNERVE.COM HELLFIRE 76 Promotional photo 5/16 ALEXA JENSON
by Danny Ruhland 5/24


Subvertigo’s shoegaze metal is not as angry as it sounds

A glimmering curtain of chiming guitars glides in like sudden rain. As sepulchral bass notes toll from deep within the earth, guitarist, lead singer and songwriter Stephen Vorne launches into an anxious vocal: “The world’s moved on without us/ but can you keep yourself?/ This house of cards you stand on/ Will plunge in one small breath...”

The opening strains of “Frail” signposts Charlotte four-piece Subvertigo as a moody shoegaze outfit cast in the image Disintegration-era The Cure. But first impressions can deceive.

Turning deftly on a dime, “Frail” tumbles into heavy metal’s sharp grinding gears. Vorne responds with a guttural roar.

“Fall off everything you stood upon/ Off everything you’ve torn apart/ Another gold-plated lie...”

It’s a disorienting moment. At first, “Frail” harkens back to the shimmering cadences of Cocteau Twins. Then, with a sudden whiplash turn, it embraces the bludgeoning power of Black Sabbath.

“Frail” is about the morality police, and [people] having a fragile worldview,” Vorne says via phone from the house he shares with two of his bandmates. “It’s about moral grandstanding and the hypocrisy of people who do that sort of thing.”

The swirling, shape-shifting composition positions the listener as off balance as the moral arbiters it targets. Like most good art, “Frail” is protean enough to apply to several scenarios, but it particularly serves as a fitting epitaph for Moms for Liberty, the faux grassroots gang of bullies who failed their own purity test when a seamy sex scandal went public.

It’s also a Subvertigo fan favorite. When the band plays the tune live, people love to sing along with the chorus, Vorne says, but there’s one small hiccup.

“People get the lyrics to that one wrong,” says the band’s bassist Ethan Saunders.

“Yes,” Vorne says. “People think I’m saying ‘fuck’ but I’m saying ‘fall.’ I don’t have the heart to tell them because they’re having so much fun.”

“Fun” is a strange yet fitting word to apply Subvertigo’s moody alt-rock with sharp metallic edges. The band plays a set of new and old songs at Snug Harbor on May 21. Singing along, with either correct or incorrect lyrics, is encouraged.

Emerging from a multiplicity of music and bands

The four members of Subvertigo are friends, housemates and bandmates. Following each musician’s path to the band provides a glimpse into how musicians connect, collaborate and cross-pollinate in Charlotte’s music scene. It’s like watching the city’s musical synapses firing.

Growing up in Mooresville, Vorne was exposed to punk, metal and alternative rock via skateboarding videos. When his ambition of becoming a skater was sidelined by a knee injury at age 12, he turned his attention to music.

While attending the Berklee College of Music in Boston in 2015, Vorne played in hardcore outfit Inconvenience Store and pop-punk band Sounds & Scenarios. Vorne dropped out from Berklee in 2017 and returned to Charlotte.

“I figured a music degree is not a good thing to go into debt for,” Vorne says.

Guitarist Declan O’Dell grew up in California but moved to Charlotte when he was 14. While attending the UNC Charlotte, he befriended future Subvertigo drummer Ricky Rodriguez-Cue, who grew up playing music but had never been in a band.

Here is where musical tributaries and band bloodlines get complicated. Both O’Dell and Rodriguez-Cue formed indie psych-rock band Wet Basement Project. The dankly-named project, which couples improvisation with the sashaying kick of Southern ’80s alternative groups like Love Tractor, is currently on semi-hiatus, primarily because some band members play in other bands, including Charlotte alt-roots rockers Warp Street.

“I like to think [Wet Basement Project] is ongoing,” O’Dell says. “But we haven’t played in a hot minute.”

In the meantime, Both O’Dell and RodriguezCue moved into a house in the University City area where they composed and played music with their bedroom project Tiger Babies.

Bassist Saunders was also a bedroom musician, making beats that he rapped over while playing guitar.

In the summer of 2023, Vorne and Saunders also moved into the University house. Meanwhile, Rodriguez-Cue, who with O’Dell had graduated from UNC Charlotte, moved to Chapel Hill to continue his education.

“That’s when all the music making started,” Rodriguez-Cue says.

It actually started earlier, in the spring of 2022, when Vorne, O’Dell and Rodriguez-Cue met at Snug Harbor. Vorne pitched the concept of Subvertigo to the others, and they were intrigued. Meanwhile, Vorne had also started playing in Queen City alternative metal band Cramped Casket.

Vorne, O’Dell, Rodriguez-Cue and Saunders also indulge their lighter side with Rocks for Lizards, an alt-pop-rock combo fronted by singer-lyricist Rayne Antrim (who is also Queen City Nerve’s digital manager).

From all this creative cross-pollination and music making with multiple bands, Subvertigo emerged. Vorne, O’Dell and Rodriguez-Cue began playing together every week, nurturing the chemistry that turned Subvertigo into a serious enterprise.

Saunders came into the fold in August and the band played it’s first show at a Halloween house party in Asheville in 2022.

Subvertigo defines itself

In July 2023, Vertigo showcased its brand of shoegaze/hardcore/metal on the debut five-track EP Define Yourself, engineered and produced by Atticus Lane.

Fittingly, the EP opens with the band’s oldest track, “1258,” written by Vorne four years before he met his bandmates. Here, a haunted music box melody harkens back to the Factory Records roster — particularly Joy Division — before exploding into Rodriguez-Cue’s rampaging drums, Saunders’ freight train bass and O’Dell’s and Vorne’s slurred legato guitar runs, while Vorne’s vocal leaps from a rumination to a roar. He’s shouting into the void.

“Pissed it all away, laying still years more/ forgot what’s outside, traded for basement floors/ A bedroom rotting, lungs filled with mold/ Smoke permeating this hazy light...”

Vorne says “1258” is the address of a crappy apartment where he lived in Boston.

“It’s about of living in that space, being poor and having love life and living issues,” Vorne says. The arrangement and the band’s inspired playing imbue the song with an austere beauty and sprightly sense of exploration. That same balance permeates all of Subvertigo’s oeuvre, and Vorne promises that more similarly challenging and engaging music will be released before the end of the year.

“I want it to … have people think about things,” Vorne says. “If they’re paying attention to the lyrics, maybe [they’ll] think about different perspectives, and if they’re listening to the music, then [they’ll] just rage along with it.”

Rodriguez-Cue hopes that people who see Subvertigo play can also be inspired to make their own music.

Saunders says Subvertigo’s music touches a nerve with listeners because it delves into the darker aspects of being human. As a consequence, playing this moody music has exposed him to a growing, caring community.

“I’ve met so many cool people from playing shows,” Saunders says. “I’ve met all these people who have become my best friends in such a short time.”

That is the dichotomy that defines Subvertigo. Amid resonating stinging guitars, crawling bass and drums that suggest something clattering in the woodwork, there is the joy of discovery. Threading through trenchant lyrics that grapple with the unbridgeable gulf between people, Subvertigo counter-intuitively connects people by letting them know they’re not alone.

Subvertigo’s very existence is a celebration of the members’ friendship, O’Dell says. In the company of fellow musicians, a sympathetic community and friends, even raging at the dying light is fun.


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blankstate. w/ Seneca Burns, Moving Boxes, Austin Royale (Amos’ Southend)

Bodysnatcher w/ Spite (The Underground)

Vorlust w/ Angel Massacre (The Milestone)

Sum 41 (Skyla Credit Union Amphitheatre)


Jazz Nights at Canteen (Camp North End)

Albert Cummings (Middle C Jazz)


Beats @ Birdsong (Birdsong Brewing)


Max Gomez (Evening Muse)

IV & the Strange Band w/ Chase Killough (Neighborhood Theatre)


Delta Fire Duo (Goldie’s)


Tre Ahmad w/ Dhemo, Nia J (Snug Harbor)


Aventura (Spectrum Center)


Singer/Songwriter Open Mic (The Rooster)

Open Mic Night (Starlight on 22nd)



Bongfoot w/ Hellfire 76, Regence (The Milestone)

The Weeks w/ Carver Commodore (Visulite Theatre)


Jake Xerxes Fussell (Evening Muse)

Pecos & the Rooftops (Neighborhood Theatre)


Vision Video w/ Tears for The Dying, Joshua Cotterino (Snug Harbor)


Bashfortheworld (The Underground)


Garden of Eden w/ Garrett Huffman (Goldie’s) INTERACTIVE

Drum Circle with Kennon Knight (The Rooster) COVER BANDS

Jay D. Jones: The Songs of Bobby Womack, Luther Vandross and Teddy Pendergrass (Middle C Jazz)



The Lenny Federal Band (Comet Grill)

Cast Iron Filter (Evening Muse)

Todd Rundgren (Knight Theater)

Cursejar w/ Holy Figures, Navtec, Sesame (The Milestone)

Some Kind Of Nightmare w/ YEA(H) (Tommy’s Pub)

Justincase (Visulite Theatre)


Papadosio (Blackbox Theater)

Galloway and The Love-In (Evening Muse)


Florencia & the Feeling w/ Council Ring (Camp North End)

Keegan Federal & the Smoking Section (Smokey Joe’s Cafe & Bar)

Empire Strikes Bass w/ Moonshaker (Snug Harbor)


Charlotte Symphony: Holst’s The Planets (Belk Theater)


Krista Lynn Meadow w/ Ryan Trotti (Goldie’s)

Avi Kaplan w/ Michael Alvarado (Neighborhood Theatre)

Tim McGraw w/ Carly Pearce (Spectrum Center)


Alex Bugnon (Middle C Jazz)


Bruce Hazel & John William Harrell w/ The Olde Guard, Wilde Green (Petra’s)


Hunxho (The Fillmore)


Sugar (System of a Down tribute) (The Rooster)



Cast Iron Filter (Evening Muse)

Glom w/ The Forum (Evening Muse)

Convictions & Confessions Of A Traitor w/ Detest The Throne, Fault Union, Esca (The Rooster)

Bill George w/ Paper Wasps, The Local Odyssey (Starlight on 22nd)


Midnight Memories: 1D Night (The Fillmore)

Digital Noir Prom w/ DJ Spider & DJ 20th Century

Boy (The Milestone)

BeatFreaq w/ freaquency360: NC vs SC (Starlight on 22nd)


Clarity Eley w/ Jed Harrelson, Willingdon (Petra’s)


Alex Bugnon (Middle C Jazz)


Chayce Beckham w/ Graham Barham (Coyote Joe’s)

ShadowGrass (Neighborhood Theatre) CLASSICAL/INSTRUMENTAL

Charlotte Symphony: Holst’s The Planets (Belk Theater)


Big Fun w/ Randy Paul Duo (Goldie’s) Clay Street Unit (Heist Brewery)

Crystal Fountains (Primal Brewery)

The Jamie Trollinger Band (Smokey Joe’s Cafe & Bar)


Lil Skritt w/ Boom Unit Brass Band, Party Dad X

Lauren Murada (Snug Harbor)


NF (Spectrum Center)


Eyes of the Nile (Iron Maiden tribute) w/ Ironside Inc. (Amos’ Southend)



Sawyer Hill w/ Raue (Amos’ Southend)

Buice w/ Dollhaver, Scrlett, Process//Sleep (The Milestone)

Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown w/ Ace Monroe (Neighborhood Theatre)

Hey RICHARD w/ Channeling Granny (Starlight on 22nd)


Hazy Sunday (Petra’s) HIP-HOP/SOUL/R&B

Soul Sundays feat. Guy Nowchild (Starlight on 22nd) JAZZ/BLUES

Omari & the Hellhounds (Comet Grill)

Luke Pascal Quartet (Camp North End) SINGER-SONGWRITER/ACOUSTIC

David Childers (Free Range Brewing) COUNTRY/FOLK/AMERICANA

Paul Cauthen (The Fillmore)

Bourbon Sons Duo w/ Tommy Keys (Goldie’s) CHRISTIAN/GOSPEL/RELIGIOUS

Christian Anderson (Middle C Jazz) COVER BANDS

Grateful Shred w/ Circles Around the Sun (The Underground)



The Allman Betts Band w/ JD SIMO (Knight Theater)

Soen (The Underground)

Divide the Fall w/ Reign of Z, Forever We Roam, Lilith Rising (The Milestone)

Zorn w/ Doltz, Scaretactic, Constant Mistake (Snug Harbor)


The Bill Hanna Legacy Jazz Session (Petra’s) POP/DANCE/ELECTRONIC/DJ

Shanti Love (Thomas Street Tavern) COUNTRY/FOLK/AMERICANA

Charlotte Bluegrass Allstars (Smokey Joe’s Cafe & Bar)



Red Rocking Chair (Comet Grill)

Mephiskapheles w/ South Side Punx, Violent Life

Violent Death, The Bleeps (The Milestone)

Ringo Deathstarr w/ The Veldt, Subvertigo (Snug Harbor)


Caleb Gordon (Neighborhood Theatre)


GleeClub: Charlottezown (VisArt Video)


Open Mic Night feat. The Smokin J’s (Smokey Joe’s Cafe & Bar)



Smash Into Pieces (The Underground)

Hallpass w/ Noir Noir, The Phantom Friends (Snug Harbor)


Joëlle Jacobs & The Enthusiasts (Evening Muse)

Lola Grace Duo (Goldie’s)

Josh Daniel w/ Jim Brock, Kerry Brooks (Smokey Joe’s Cafe & Bar)


Jazz Nights at Canteen (Camp North End)

Emanuel Wynter (Middle C Jazz)


Beats @ Birdsong (Bordsong Brewing)


Singer/Songwriter Open Mic (The Rooster) Open Mic Night (Starlight on 22nd)



Catalyst w/ F.A.T.E., Middle Earth, Corrupt, Faith, Junk (The Milestone)

Grits & Greens (The Rooster) JAZZ/BLUES

Willie Walker & Conversation Piece (Middle C Jazz)

The Josué Estrada Band w/ The Friday Night Vibe Band (Petra’s)


Quentin Talley & The Soul Providers w/ Jonathan Brown (Evening Muse)


Joey Logano’s 2nd Annual Concert for Charity (Coyote Joe’s)

Thirsty Horses w/ Johnathan Bichfield Duo (Goldie’s) Leo Kottke (Neighborhood Theatre)


Silvestre Dangond (Ovens Auditorium)


Shana Blake’s Musical Menagerie (Smokey Joe’s Cafe & Bar)


Slowhand (Eric Clapton tribute) (Visulite Theatre)



Caitlin Krisko and The Broadcast w/ Mackenzie Roark (Camp North End)

The Lenny Federal Band (Comet Grill)

The Steel Crows w/ High June (Evening Muse) Swingin’ Richards w/ Swing Theory (Goldie’s) Pretty Baby w/ Sidestep Dog, Pet Bug (Petra’s) Davis Family Band (The Rooster)

The Coyotes w/ Juniper Avenue, Cigarettes @ Sunset (Snug Harbor)

Civil Strife w/ The Half That Matters, The Odd Days (Tommy’s Pub)


The Terence Young Project feat. Tia Durant (Middle C Jazz)


Alexa Jenson w/ Joe McGovern, Sam Brasko (Evening Muse)

Phosphorescent (Neighborhood Theatre)


Minnesota (Blackbox Theater)

Sidequest: A Lights Out, Foggy Dance Floor Rave (The Milestone)


Shotguns ‘n’ Roses w/ Barnstormers (Amos’ Southend)



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Eat Black Charlotte expands on food festival with Bites on Seventh

Eat Black Charlotte started as a simple hashtag in 2020, a way for local foodies to better highlight Black food businesses in Charlotte, but like any good social media campaign, it eventually grew into something more.

The Eat Black Charlotte Food & Culture Festival was launched originally as a way to wrap up the Eat Black Charlotte Week, a weeklong event that encouraged residents around the city to support the area’s Black-owned restaurants.

Now four years in, the Eat Black Charlotte team continues to evolve the yearly event, turning the Eat Black Charlotte Food & Culture Festival into Bites on Seventh, an all-day festival that adds some culture to the mix, with live music and entertainment planned throughout the day, bringing more of a block party vibe to the festivities.

“It’s beautiful to see something that started as a hashtag in 2020 grow into a cultural movement,” said Eat Black Charlotte co-founder Erique Berry. “We were super intentional with how we designed the festival this year. We prioritized the commuter parking experience, partnered with Charlotte Mecklenburg Library for literacy programs and leveled up the entertainment factor.”

North Carolina comedian Tim Shropshire will emcee this year’s event, plus live musical performances by Salisbury’s own 5-year-old rap sensation Savannah “VanVan” McConneaughey, Charlotte’s Ray Singleton, educational programs for children, and more.

Scheduled for June 1 from 2-7 p.m. and expected to attract more than 3,000 people to Uptown, the event will span multiple blocks of First Ward including Victoria Yards (209 E. 7th St.), WFAE’s Center for Community and Civic Engagement (301 E. 7th St.), and The Market at 7th Street (224 E. 7th St.).

“The added entertainment and performances this year will set the vibe,” said Cory Wilkins, cofounder of Eat Black Charlotte. “You’ll get good food and it will also be a festival where you’ll want to hang out all day while celebrating some of the best Black-owned restaurants in the city.”

Even with the new additions, good food is still the foundation for Bites on Seventh, with attendees traversing food tents and sampling curated bites and beverages.

At the time of this writing, more than 10 food vendors are confirmed for the event, with more expected to join before June 1. Patrons can expect to see Charmed Cuisine, FunOhCakes, Jhase Made Lemonade, Ms. Didi’s Caribbean Kitchen, So Icy (Philly Water Ice), Q’s Culinary Cart, Ve-Go Food Truck, Boujee Soul Food, Jazzy Cheesecakes, Ever Real Empanadas, and various vendors located in The Market at 7th Street.

Queen City Nerve spoke to one of the vendors, Chef Lavonna Quick of Boujee Soul Food, to get her thoughts on Eat Black Charlotte and the impact of the coming festival.

Succeeding despite adversity

Chef Quick established her love for cooking as a teenager. Her stepmother only cooked dinner on Sundays, leaving Quick to cook for herself and her brothers during the week.

“I had to learn how to cook,” she said. “I used to look on recipes with books and things like that, and I realized that I like building recipes.”

Things took a tough turn for Quick at 17, however, as she ran into trouble and was sentenced to five years in prison.

Doing her best to find the good in a bad situation, Quick continued to cultivate her passion despite her lack of access to ingredients and the like.

“I was incarcerated when I was a teenager and that’s when I really, really felt my passion,” she said. “I was there for five years, and my family used to send me books and things like that. I used to tear all the recipes out of the books and just imagine doing my own recipes or whatnot.”

When she was released at 23 years old, it was tough to find work. Her criminal background and tattoos made her unhirable in the corporate world, but she found her professional home in the kitchen, starting as a dishwasher and moving up to line cook.

Quick has now worked in the culinary industry for about 15 years, helping to open a number of restaurants including Stoke Charlotte in the remodeled Marriott Center City. She’s also worked at Angeline’s, Merchant & Trade, Indaco and others.

Her goal was always to open her own business, however, and she accomplished that in 2021 with the launch of Quick’s Catering, which expanded to become Boujee Soul Food in 2022.

The following year she hit the road in the Boujee Soul Food truck, then continued to grow, offering an expanded menu out of The City Kitch in west Charlotte.

Quick said she named her business after her niece.

“She was a different child,” Quick said. “She liked things done a certain way. I called her ‘Boujee.’ She was more on the fancy end.”

The food, however, keeps things casual, billed as “fine fusion soul food.” The menu features favorites like the oxtail hash, collard greens and lobster wontons, wings, cod fish sandwiches, the Southernstyle sweet tea fried chicken sandwich, braised oxtail sliders and more.

With all the experience she’s cooked up in the culinary industry during her time in Charlotte –Quick says she’s been here all her life – she’s had a front row seat to the changes in the area and she’s happy to be part of that.

As for her past, it’s not worth dwelling on, she insists. In fact, there are more goals she’s focused on in the future, including opening a brick-and-mortar

space for Boujee Soul Food, so she will continue to look forward.

“My goal is to own an official restaurant so that [I can hire] people who, like me, that was incarcerated and having a hard time finding jobs,” she said. “I want to hire felons, misdemeanors, things like that, when I do open a restaurant.”

With the way she has climbed the ladder of the local culinary industry and quickly expanded her own business in Charlotte, it seems just a matter of time before she’s there.

Preparing for the festivities

Chef Quick did bring her food truck to Eat Black Charlotte’s festival last year, though she had just gotten the truck rolling at the time. This will be her first year as a featured vendor and she’s excited to participate.

“I feel like it’s going to be a lot of fun,” she told Queen City Nerve. “I think it’s amazing that a lot of food trucks and people – the Black community –can come together and do something like that, and with a lot of food critics.”

As with other food festivals highlighting Black food in Charlotte such as the BayHaven Food and Wine festival, Eat Black Charlotte was born out of a desire to showcase Black culinary artists in Charlotte who often go overlooked.

This was a sentiment that Quick was familiar with.

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“When I first started, you didn’t see too many Black people with power in the kitchen,” she said. “Mainly if you saw them, they weren’t on a level that you would see other chefs — [Black people] were just a cook, or a dishwasher, or a food runner. But now there’s a lot of [Black] chefs out here. There’s a lot of Black chefs out here that’s actually showing what they’re capable of and that they’re able to do things just like everyone else is.”

Though Quick said she felt that the Black culinary scene is growing as a whole, she also said it needs events like Bites on Seventh to keep that growth going.

“The culinary field in Charlotte is actually where the Black culinary field is really growing” she said. “It’s growing, and I feel like it’s important because a

lot of people didn’t get work [in the culinary field]. It’s just growing.”

In late April, Quick and the Boujee Soul Food team sold out of their selections at the CLT Got Soul festival in Ballantyne, hosted by the South Charlotte chapter of African-American cultural organization Jack and Jill of America, Inc.

Having seen the impact of such events, Chef Quick said she hopes to see more opportunities to platform Black culinary artists as the scene continues to grow.

According to Eat Black Charlotte, Bites on Seventh “is poised to expand its impact to cities across the nation,” so Quick may soon get her wish.

Bites on Seventh will take place at multiple locations along East 7th Street in Uptown’s First Ward on June 1 from 2-7 p.m. Learn more at bitesfoodfestival.com.





New lounge Sneak is a hidden gem tucked into a corner of Pecan Point

Tucked in the back of the Pecan Point shopping center at the corner of East 7th Street and Pecan Avenue in Elizabeth, next to longtime tenant Bang Bang Burgers, now stands a new kid on the block. What started as a deli bar concept, according to co-owner Jamil Whitlow, evolved into a highenergy, speakeasy-style lounge smartly dubbed Sneak.

Sneaky link (noun): A discreet invitation to meet up, often for romantic or intimate purposes, sent via text message or social media. There, now you (nor my editor) will have to Google it.

Whitlow, a veteran of the spirits industry, has over a decade of experience under his belt. He stands on business, poised to finally break the curse that has plagued that particular corner of Pecan Point for years.

“Cruella! Where‘s ya puppies?” Whitlow asked, playfully referencing my current marble cakeinspired hairstyle as he greeted me at the entrance of Sneak during its soft opening.

His jovial spirit and buoyant gait painted quite the juxtaposition to the man sitting across from me two months prior — the fatigued business owner collecting his composure between hurried meals and media interviews, successfully concealing the chaos that is re-construction, permits, zoning and licenses.

“We‘re not a speakeasy, we‘re a sneakeasy,” he explained. “A speakeasy is historically a hard place to find and if you do find [it], you gotta know someone that knows somebody to get there. Our place is not hard to find, but the concept itself is in the location off the beaten path that you‘re not anticipating for it to be.”

The parking lot was oddly full, and the revolving door triggered my anxiety that seating would be limited, but as fate would have it, two lone bar seats sat waiting for the boo and me.

Before taking it all in, we ordered drinks. For me, Quick Trip to the City ($16) with Old Forester 86, sour, and egg white plus a red wine float. For Whitlow,

Don‘t Shy Away ($16) —Teremana Reposado, Cointreau, spicy oleo, and carrot sour. Now I could turn my focus to the finished product: the interior design.

Soft touches of vibrant wall treatments, gold accents and tasteful lighting contrast the masculine hues of brown leather and moody accents, creating a cozy destination that visually appeals to everyone and feels bigger than it is.

Or, as Ryan Gosling‘s character aptly put it in Crazy, Stupid, Love, Sneak delivers the “perfect combination of sexy and cute.”

Ten minutes later, the standing room behind us was two patrons deep. My bitterness over the loss of neighborhood staples like OG Jackalope Jacks and Philosopher‘s Stone softened. I was, yet again, proven wrong that nightlifers couldn’t reimagine this particular intersection.

The energy reminded me of a Grateful Dead lyric hastily etched onto a restroom stall. At Sneak, “Once in a while, you can get shown the light in the strangest of places, if you look at it right.”

A little over a month later, Sneak feels like more than just a home away from my watering hole; it‘s been an escape from the monotony of nightlife. The fact that I can ‘forget‘ I ordered a Philly cheesesteak from Jersey Mike‘s a few doors away at lunch while sipping a nonalcoholic cocktail serendipitously named the Sneaky Link — $13, with Lyre‘s Blanco, Seedlip agave, Lyre‘s orange sec, and Guajillo árbol agave — serves as a testament to Whitlow‘s unique ability to curate experiences that breathe life into stale spaces.

So, what to expect?

-Bar bites, including fresh focaccia, snack mix and, if you really want to flex, D‘Artagnan caviar (for a Benjamin). But you can also order food from other local hot spots nearby.




May 15 - 21 May 22 - 28

ARIES (March 21 to April 19) That anxious feeling disappears with a reassuring gesture from a loved one. In addition, the weekend holds some pleasant surprises for the ever-adventurous Lamb.

TAURUS (April 20 to May 20) A planetary lineup creates unsteadiness both on the job and in your private life. Stay the course, and you’ll soon ride out the worst of the unsettling effects.

GEMINI (May 21 to June 20) Leave nothing to chance. You need to get more involved in working out problems at home and on the job. Meanwhile, a Sagittarian offers romantic possibilities.

CANCER (June 21 to July 22) A new relationship suddenly presents unexpected problems. Clear up all misunderstandings now to avoid more serious situations later.

LEO (July 23 to August 22) This is a good time to act on long-delayed projects, both personal and professional. A new job prospect opens up some exciting possibilities. Check it out.

VIRGO (August 23 to September 22) Those on-thejob changes continue to bring new challenges. In your personal life, be more flexible in dealing with a loved one who needs your help.

LIBRA (September 23 to October 22) A personal problem creates some concern at first, but your prompt attention helps to get things sorted out. Family and friends provide much-needed support.

SCORPIO (October 23 to November 21) A strong positive attitude helps disperse a cloud of negativism around you. A friend reaches out to offer loving support when you need it the most.

SAGITTARIUS (November 22 to December 21) A setback in an important relationship results from a misunderstanding. Forget the finger-pointing and take the first step to set things straight.

CAPRICORN (December 22 to January 19) Keep an open mind about changes in your personal life. What seems unacceptable at first might prove to be otherwise when more facts begin to emerge.

AQUARIUS (January 20 to February 18) It’s a good time to start the healing process for bruised or broken relationships. There may be some resistance to a reconciliation, but don’t give up.

PISCES (February 19 to March 20) During this period of change, the wise Pisces should avoid swimming in rough waters. Take time for things to settle before making a serious commitment.

BORN THIS WEEK: You are friendly and enjoy good company. You have a fine sense of business and are more likely than not to succeed at whatever you choose to do.

ARIES (March 21 to April 19) The cautious side of your usually adventurous nature stands you in good stead this week. Someone might, indeed, be trying to pull the wool over the Sheep’s eyes.

TAURUS (April 20 to May 20) Planetary alignment still causes unsettling situations. Consider delaying matters that aren’t a priority until the weekend. Cheer up! The next such alignment isn’t until 2028.

GEMINI (May 21 to June 20) Family matters take precedence. Spend more time with those close to you. A career move sounds promising, but ask for more facts before making a decision.

CANCER (June 21 to July 22) Your watchword this week is “tact!” While honesty is, of course, the best policy, it’s best to temper your tendency toward bluntness with discretion.

LEO (July 23 to August 22) Nothing pleases our Leos and Leonas more than knowing they’re admired, and this week, you’ll be overwhelmed with compliments. Enjoy the adulation. You earned it.

VIRGO (August 23 to September 22) You’re making progress in your dealings with a troubled loved one. Continue to offer understanding and support. You’ll soon see positive results.

LIBRA (September 23 to October 22) Change is favored this week. You might want to reassess a situation that has become too demanding. Also, reconsider that job move you rejected earlier.

SCORPIO (October 23 to November 21) A loved one returns after a long separation. At work, a decision is made that could lead to the changes you hoped for. The next step is up to you.

SAGITTARIUS (November 22 to December 21) This is a good time to set things straight in your personal relationships. Some decisions might be difficult but necessary if you’re to turn things around.

CAPRICORN (December 22 to January 19) Cupid rules the Capricorn Goat’s heart this week. It’s a good time to start a new romance or reaffirm your commitment to your current beloved.

AQUARIUS (January 20 to February 18) Travel and entertainment are favored for the rest of the month. You earned this good time. Enjoy it with friends and family members.

PISCES (February 19 to March 20) Someone you’ve been close to reveals a secret that could put this relationship at risk. Consider the full impact of the admission before making a decision.

BORN THIS WEEK: You have a sense of justice that sometimes makes you a mite too judgmental, but it also makes you a trusted and loyal friend.

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1. GEOGRAPHY: Which European country has the largest population?

2. TELEVISION: Which sitcom features a character named Ron Swanson?

3. SCIENCE: What are the three layers of the Earth?

4. MOVIES: Which 2001 movie has a famous “bend and snap” scene?

5. MONEY: What is a modern U.S. penny made of mostly?

6. ANIMAL KINGDOM: What is a common name for an animal in the Leporidae family?

7. LITERATURE: Which children’s book contains the line, “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast”?

8. ANATOMY: Where is the pinna located in the human body?

9. HISTORY: Who was the fourth president of the United States?



10. BUSINESS: What did Amazon sell exclusively when it started business in 1994?


-Aperitif or digestif, Sneak is there for both. They‘re open Monday-Wednesday, 4 p.m.-midnight; Thursday-Friday, 4 p.m.-2 a.m.; Saturday, 2 p.m.-2 a.m.; and Sunday from 2 p.m-midnight.

-A full-service patio complete with sleek outdoor furniture and an herb garden.

-Genuine respect for multi-category consumption with a solid offering of NA beer, wine and cocktails.

-A hyperfocus on supreme customer service — one that listens and adjusts. A team who‘s there to, for example, offer fresh fruits and veggie infusions for your water and pick up your local eats.

-Special events, including live music, red carpet viewings, and close-knit activations.

-Seasoned bartenders executing seasonal menu changes.

-Invigorating beats that won‘t overshadow conversation but will pave the way for playlists highlighting local DJs.

With all the commercial development in Elizabeth, Sneak stands to become the elevated living room and cocktail lounge meet-cute that Elizabeth never knew it needed.

P.S. When you find the throne in the hidden Room of Requirement, in all its golden opulence, let me know.

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©2024 King Feautres Syndicate, Inc. All rights reserved.
©2024 King Feautres Syndicate, Inc. All rights reserved.



Regaining the spark

I’m a 40-year-old woman, he’s a 35-yearold man, we’ve been together for 15 years. We met young, and I was his first serious partner. In the beginning, sex was fun, but I’ve never had an orgasm with anyone, ever. We had a ton of other things in common and we stayed together because it mostly worked. Fifteen years later, I have two big issues: I can’t orgasm — that’s issue number one — and even if I could accept that, the sex I have with my partner is unsatisfying and has been for years. He’s a caring partner, but he’s not good in bed. My attempts to explain to him what gets me excited were ignored. When he’s unsure, he gets quiet and retreats. When I finally told him I couldn’t keep having unsatisfying sex, his self-esteem in bed was completely destroyed. Now we don’t have sex at all.

Neither of us wants to end the relationship. We still cuddle, and we’re a great team. We have shared hobbies that take up 95% of our time (mountain sports), no kids (by choice), a decent income (finally!), and an otherwise rewarding life. We’ve also never demanded monogamy from each other but living in a small town in rural Canada makes seeking out others extremely complicated. I sometimes wonder if exploring my sexuality with someone else — maybe even a woman (I’m pretty sure I’m bi) — might help me get my playfulness back and inspire me to try again with my partner. We talk about these things very openly, so it wouldn’t be cheating. Has that ever worked?

About never having an orgasm: It’s not just him. Nothing I’ve ever tried — toys, masturbation, different toys, more masturbation, pot, alcohol, porn — has helped. I just can’t come. Arousal builds then abruptly ends before I come. People say, “Just masturbate more,” but I’ve been doing that

for years and nothing changes. I’m pretty frustrated and wondering if I should just give up. But if I break up with my partner over this and I can’t orgasm with the next person I fall for, what was the point of breaking up? Years ago, I had a super-hot summer fling with a very attractive guy — which my partner knew about and encouraged me to enjoy — and still zero orgasms. Am I just broken? Has anyone who never orgasmed finally achieved one? What worked?


“Pleasure is why people are motivated to have sex,” said Dr. Lori Brotto, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of British Columbia. “When pleasure is absent, it’s not surprising that motivation and desire fade.”

Now, it’s certainly possible to have a pleasurable sexual experience without coming — because of course it is — but if you never come and the sex isn’t very pleasurable and your partner doesn’t listen when you suggest ways to make sex slightly more pleasurable, sooner or later you’re gonna give up or blow up.

But even if you decide to give up on sex — at least for now, at least with your long-term partner — Dr. Brotto, who is also a sex researcher and sex therapist, doesn’t want you to give up on orgasms.

“Most people assigned female at birth who cannot reach orgasm during insertive vaginal sex — 80% of females — can reach orgasm on their own during clitoral stimulation,” said Dr. Brotto. “SOTIRED mentions needing her mind to be very present, which is not only normal but required for high arousal and orgasm in females. Thus, having her mind ‘totally there’ is an excellent skill, and I’d encourage her to build on that.”

Now, Dr. Brotto isn’t just telling you to “masturbate more,” SOTIRED, she’s telling you not to give up.

“But if, despite experimenting with all types of stimulation and focusing her mind on sensations

in the present moment, SOTIRED still isn’t reaching orgasm during masturbation, more may be going on,” said Dr. Brotto. “I would want to rule out any physical causes like vulvo-vaginal pain, skin dermatoses, nerve damage from an injury, diabetes, or neurological issues. I’d also ask a physician to review the medications she’s on — and was on previously — to see whether there’s something pharmacological blocking climax.”

As for your partner, SOTIRED, Dr. Brotto thinks you should see a sex therapist.

“A good sex therapist can reframe ‘working on it’ in a pleasure-focused way,” said Dr. Brotto. “And a therapist could perhaps convey to SOTIRED’s partner that learning to give his partner pleasure will directly benefit him as well. And since many sex therapists offer virtual appointments, living in a small town is no problem.”

And now, at the risk of making myself deeply unpopular in the comment thread this week, I rise in defense of your dense partner.

If you pulled your punches when you tried to talk to him about your dissatisfaction … if you prioritized your male partner’s ego over advocating for your own pleasure because that’s what cis women are socialized to do … your partner may not have known you were this unhappy. If you were gentle and opaque, SOTIRED, if you said something like, “Things are great! But this [small change, vibe shift, sex act] would make things even better,” he may have come away from those conversations thinking, “Hey, things are great,” not because he’s an insensitive asshole, SOTIRED, but because he was socialized as a cis man. Many cis women (and most gay men) will find the tiniest criticism under a mountain of compliments (find it and obsess over it); many cis men (and some gay men) will entirely miss the mountain of criticism because they can’t take their eyes off the single, half-hearted compliment perched on top.

Being confronted by a deeply dissatisfied romantic partner — being told you suck at sex by the person you’ve been having sex with most of your adult life — won’t leave a scratch on a selfish asshole who couldn’t care less about his partner’s pleasure, SOTIRED, but it has the power to devastate a decent person who was too dense to hear what you were trying to say. So, the fact that your partner was hurt when you finally blew up is a good sign — which is a very long way of saying I agree with Dr. Brotto about seeing a sex therapist and giving your partner a chance to make the sex work.

And don’t lose hope — for yourself as an individual, SOTIRED, or for you and your partner as a couple.

Follow Dr. Lori Brotto on Threads and Twitter @ DrLoriBrotto. To learn more about her research, her public speaking, and her books, go to www.loribrotto. com.

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