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Luxury ApArtments

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• Fitness Center • Internet cafe • Sports Lounge with billiards

call 704.332.5022 to learn more 6/23/2010 9:09:27 AM

now oFFeRing UP To THRee MonTHs FRee FoR a liMiTeD TiMe onlY

Ashton mixes classic design with upbeat modernism. It’s an emerging “it” spot – the ideal locale for the urban sophisticate who thrives on energy and seeks out the unique and intriguing. Here, just south of Uptown Charlotte, South End’s distinguished galleries, shopping, entertainment and dining district is just outside your door.



• Unparalleled views of Uptown Charlotte

• Dramatic living spaces with high ceilings, sleek-lined solar shades and custom-color accent walls


• Pedestrian access to South End’s galleries, boutiques and chic eateries • One block from the East/West Boulevard station with LYNX light rail and trolley service

• Open-concept gourmet kitchens with granite slab countertops, wine racks, custom European-style cabinetry and stainless steel appliances

• The Club with Wi-Fi Internet cafe and HDTV sports lounge with billiards

• Luxurious natural hardwood, travertine and Berber flooring

• Private HDTV screening room with surround-sound and leather club seating

• Spacious bedrooms that accommodate king-sized beds and feature extra-large walk-in closets

• Elevated outdoor terrace with conversational seating

• Upgraded fixtures and ceiling fans with decorative lighting

• Gourmet demonstration kitchen with private dining room • Oversized spa-inspired fitness club • Executive conference room and business center • 11th floor Sky Lounge with resort-style pool, aqua bar, sunning cabanas, firepit and grilling areas • Premier resident services such as valet dry cleaning, package delivery and complimentary fitness classes • Daily coffee and hot tea service

• Luxury bathrooms with custom framed mirrors, marble slab countertops, sumptuous soaking tubs and available frameless shower doors • Full-size washer and dryer in every residence • Oversized terraces, french balconies, street-level entries, studies, dry bars, built-in bookshelves and computer niches are available in select residences

• Multi-level private garage parking with controlled-access entry; storage rooms available • Pet friendly

now leasing // 888.890.3 794 125 W. TremonT Avenue // ChArloTTe, nC 28203 //


Visit our sister project, The Residence at southPark, at July 10.indd 3

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uptown downtown center city noda plaza midwood south end dilworth eastover myers park southpark midtown elizabeth M








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Townhome Living in a Resort-Style Neighborhood Close to Shopping and Dining at South Park Mall

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6/23/2010 9:09:38 AM

the seen

pictures: catch light studio george lanis

The Madison opened up its penthouse and wallets to support the Speedway Children’s Charities and Victory Junction. Bruton Smith and Kyle Petty traded paint with a local cast of Charlotte dignitaries and the developers of The Madison on a night when $10,000 was donated to a good cause.


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01_00764A/4.qxd:Layout 2


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Page 1

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name: Little Shiva species: mutant here for: the smell of ink on paper interests: juxtaposition, transformation, mystery, clarity, the process of becoming, image and design contributions to this issue: table of contents website:


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Shelly Shepard, an editor/writer, called The Charlotte Observer home for over 10 years, writing headlines and copy editing countless front-page stories. Wanderlust has taken Shelly from teaching English in Prague, to living in a hut in Thailand. If not working, chances are you’ll find her hiking. Professionally, Shelly’s at home with a page of words in front of her, a mouse in hand and a deadline looming.

Deciding to move to Charlotte a few months ago was an easy decision for Jessica Bitner. Tired of the heat and humidity in Orlando, she has now settled comfortably into the charming Plaza Midwood area. Working as an Account Executive for Uptown Magazine, Jessica is quickly learning about all the unique characteristics of the Queen City. During race season, you’ll find her hanging at the local tracks promoting her clothing line for female race fans.

Bryan Reed is a man of simple interests— among them, words, records, movies, and adjusting to life as a grownup (whatever that means). Since graduating from UNCChapel Hill’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Bryan’s been living the dream, working as the assistant editor of Charlotte-based music magazine Shuffle and freelancing for several publications, including Tiny Mix Tapes and several weekly newspapers across the Carolinas.

Up-and-coming graphic designer Benjamin Gelnett contributes this month’s cover illustration. Along with poster exhibitions at the Art Institutes of Charlotte and Indianapolis, Ben was featured in Print Magazine’s Regional Design Annual in 2008. When he’s not organizing, promoting, or participating in local art and music events, he enjoys camping with his wife Kara and all his friends.Visit

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say more

with your smile!

Sean O’Connell is a freelance writer living in the SouthPark neighborhood. His work has run in several local publications, and he’s been honored by the North Carolina Press Association. When not staring into a laptop, Sean can be seen in a movie theater or playing sports with his sons.

Peter Reinhart is the Chef on Assignment at Johnson & Wales University, which means he does whatever they ask him to do and goes wherever they send him. He’s written seven books on bread, pizza, food and culture. In partnership with Pierre Bader, he opened Pie Town, an artisan pizzeria on Trade Street. And AS if he weren’t busy enough, Peter is also Uptown’s Contributing Food Editor.

A man about town with his camera, George Lanis of Catch Light Studio has been photographing people in his native Charlotte for years. From friends’ weddings to parties to family photos for the holidays, his work is creative and diverse, and he’s always looking to show you in the best light. Check out catchlightonline. com for more.

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* Photographer Jim McGuire has trouble defining himself in a few words, plus it’s really weird to write stuff about yourself as if you were another person. Basically Jim likes what he does and he still gets excited about going to work everyday. He’s pretty good about being on time and doing what he says he’s going to do. His wife Laura is his rock. Jim’s photographs appear in the fashion section of this month’s issue.


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G. Clay Whittaker has spent his first year as a college graduate sponging off his generous parents. While his Bachelor’s Degree in English and Creative Writing has helped him procure freelance writing gigs, he has found ample time to watch movies from the American Film Institute’s 100 Greatest list and take wine classes through Johnson & Wales University. He recently purchased an IBM typewriter from eBay using his Macbook.

Born and raised in the Northeast, Laura McBurnie ventured off to the bluegrass state for college, where she studied fashion and cheered on her Wildcats. She then joined her family in Charlotte and found her place as an Account Executive at Uptown Magazine. Living uptown lets Laura take advantage of the nightlife, dining, and most important, the sporting events that Charlotte has to offer. She could not see herself anywhere else.

Celina Mincey’s personal essay will soon appear in Charlotte’s Novello Festival Press’ “Topograph New Writing from the Carolinas and the Landscape Beyond.” She has taken up a nomadic lifestyle in Central America while working on her third novel.

Charlotte native Matt Kokenes has left the comfy confines of Uptown Magazine and ventured into uncharted waters. Along with his partner, he has formed Trafk Media, a new marketing agency in town. He has also jumped back into the writing world and penned this month’s interview with Iraqi war veteran Keith Richardson.

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Publisher Todd Trimakas Advertising Jessica Bitner Laura McBurnie 704.944.0551 Executive Editor Shelly Shepard

The magazine is 5 years and 60 issues old this month, but I can only think about my youngest daughter, Anna, with her new tooth, which came in as a present to me on Father’s Day. See, Anna has Down syndrome and everything takes a bit longer for her. She’s over a year old, just getting her first teeth and is yet to take her first step. When Anna was born, her diagnosis crushed me; the attending nurse had to tell me twice what her diagnosis was. Trisomy 21, Trisomy 21. I had to ask what that was. Down syndrome. Like I’ve said before, the news was devastating, so much so that it threw me to my knees, crying in a heap in the corner of the delivery room and into a state of shock for a week. But that was more than a year ago, and things have changed, to say the least. I recently heard a man say that the word “adventure” is overused. In his mind an adventure doesn’t start until everything goes wrong. I couldn’t help but smile and nod my head. How true. In my mind an adventure is also shaped by how we respond to what went wrong. Do we remain crying on our knees or get up and move forward? From this experience with Anna, I think moving forward is life, while standing still is death.


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A couple months after Anna was born, my wife, Julie, and her mom, Sara, were talking on the phone. At the time it wasn’t meant as a joke, but Julie and I joke about it now. Sara asked her if she thought that I was going to leave the family because Anna had Down’s. Julie mentioned it to me, and I said I wouldn’t, but if I ever leave and go to Mexico I’d be taking Anna with me. Thankfully, we never had to find out. I realized with Anna and with the magazine, seemingly insurmountable obstacles will appear one day, then the next day they will appear to be a blessing in disguise, and in the end, will just make your adventure that much more interesting. Just this past week I was able to escape to Oak Island with the family and some friends. We had a great spot on the beach and we would go out every day to drink beer, soak in the sun and play in the sand. With Anna still in diapers you never know what surprise may come, but eventually a surprise will come and one afternoon it did, in her swimmy diaper. Mom went to clean up Anna in the surf, and she came back with a naked, sleepy, salty, wet, fat baby in her arms. Mom gave her to me and for the next 30 minutes a very happy baby slept in Daddy’s arms as a warm, soft Carolina beach breeze dried her off. It didn’t matter one iota what she did or didn’t have, just that she was mine. ~Todd Trimakas Publisher / Editor

Contributing Editors Peter Reinhart (Food) Contributors Matt Kokenes George Lanis Celina Mincey Sean O’Connell Bryan Reed Little Shiva Clay Whittaker

Photography Jim McGuire Todd Trimakas George Lanis Cover Art Ben Gelnett Distribution Sean Chesney Office 1600 Fulton Ave., #140 Charlotte, NC 28205 Contact us at Uptown Magazine is a trademark of Uptown Publishing inc., copyright 2009. All rights reserved. Uptown is printed monthly and subscriptions are $25 annually and can be purchased online at

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6/3/10 4:00 PM

6/23/2010 9:10:45 AM


Lost in Space T h e

e l u s i v e

Live albums, as a general rule, suck. Even without poor recording clarity, it’s rare that a live record manages to capture not only song, but also a sense of place; rarely are we taken into the recording instead of merely hearing a facsimile of it. But occasionally, a live recording – not necessarily in front of an audience, mind you – pulls it off. One need look no further than the careers of Johnny Cash, Cheap Trick or Peter Frampton, whose careers were either boosted or kick-started by live albums. But somehow, knowing that makes the average live recording worse, like it’s little more than a missed opportunity pressed onto plastic. But when the transportative power of a live recording is, on those rare occasions, harnessed, it transforms the music into something bigger. Luckily for Georgia indie rockers Venice Is Sinking that their first foray into live album making went so successfully. Their disc, Sand & Lines: The Georgia Theatre Sessions | May 20th-24th 2008, was recorded in the stately Georgia Theatre a year before it burned to cinders. Here, the theater is as much a part of the band as any of its members. Strings and vocal harmonies swell to fill the historic building, empty during these sessions. Contributions from auxiliary players littered through the cavernous venue alert us to the fact that this is no confined studio booth. Only two microphones were used to capture

a r t

o f

t h e

the sound, and the natural reverb, which developed because of this, gives a unique robustness to these songs. On the two full-length albums that preceded “Sand & Lines,” Venice Is Sinking was a talented, promising and not-particularly noteworthy band, creating the sort of lush, cinematic indie rock that bands like Arcade Fire used as foundations to build careers. The Georgians, though, favored rich, melancholy tapestries woven from densely textured arrangements and somber pacing. Given the space to breathe – as they are here – Venice Is Sinking becomes something else entirely; they become almost redemptive. Their set list is a seamless blend of originals and covers – Galaxie 500’s “Tugboat,” Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” and Waylon Jennings’ “The Wurlitzer Prize (I Don’t Want To Get Over You).” But the covers become entrancing, highlighting the character of the band, and giving credence to its influences – Galaxie 500’s shoe gaze and Parton and Jennings’ timeless country. Finally, Venice is Sinking brings its listeners into its songs, instead of just near them. The similarly unknown, but differently styled, Chapel Hill outfit Hiss Golden Messenger accomplishes a similar feat with the limited release “Root Work: Live WFMU 2009.” While it’s not technically a proper live album – bandleader MC Taylor “spiced it up” at his Pittsboro homestead and in Brooklyn – it has the same transformative and transporting qualities of the finest proper live records.

l i v e

r e c o r d i n g

Chirping birds, whether authentic or synthetic, set the recording outdoors. This suits the loose, casual explorations Taylor takes with his songs here. Track lengths stretch, song strictures embrace diversion. Though several of these songs appear on Hiss Golden Messenger’s 1009 LP “Country Hai East Cotton,” to say they’re repeated wouldn’t do justice. “John Has Gone To The Light” barely touched five minutes in the studio; here it pasts eight. Taylor leads his band through airy compositions lacing his casual songwriter fare with dub-reggae echo and jam-band meanders. But in the outdoor, presumably warm, setting the band has created for itself, and for us, these explorations are more than welcome. The band offers the same sort of rocking chair comfort as James Taylor, if he’d been recorded by dub legend Lee “Scratch” Perry. The graceful sprawl of Southwestern altfolk bands like Calexico provides a gentle momentum as these songs yawn, cat-like, into activity. Each of these records thrives on its sense of place: the cavernous, dusky theater or the sticky, endless summer sky. But setting makes music into travel, song into roadmap, artist into tour guide. Now, it’s up to justice to spin “Sand & Lines” or “Root Work” into “Frampton Comes Alive” or “At Folsom Prison.” U Reach Bryan at For samples of these songs go to

Hiss Golden Messenger “Root Work: Live WFMU 2009” (Heaven & Earth Magic Recording Co.) Venice Is Sinking – “Sand & Lines: The Georgia Theatre Sessions | May 20th-24th 2008” (One Percent Press)

words & pictures: bryan reed

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The Claudia Quintet with Gary Versace “Royal Toast” (Cuneiform) From slow-glow nocturnes to kinetic bouts of jazz aerobics, Royal Toast displays its players’ more-than-ample versatility. But what sticks is the sense of discovery that arrives upon hearing the range – in tone and emotion – the combo derives from its instruments, which include clarinet, vibraphone and a delightful, prominent accordion.

Tender Forever – “No Snare” (K) After two Tender Forever albums that mostly lived up to the name, Melanie Valera shed most of her past work’s sweetness for a darker, more mysterious and more nuanced approach. It’s a good look for her. Like the Eurythmics, Valera uses her singular vocal phrasings and carefully sequenced backgrounds to explore the shaded corners of relationships.

Delorean – “Subiza” (True Panther Sounds) Here Delorean has managed to congeal beats and melodies into an impressionistic whole, smearing distant vocals across a late-night disco backdrop. Though its rhythms dig deep enough and push hard enough, there’s a fog on the dancefloor, like Panda Bear’s psychedelic meanders meeting M83’s nostalgic panoramas. This feels less suited for a night out than the drive home.

Ideal Bread – “Vol. 2 of The Music of Steve Lacy” (Cuneiform) Soprano saxophone innovator Steve Lacy was, perhaps, best known for developing a very structured approach to free improvisation, which would seem to be oxymoronic until it’s heard in practice. Ideal Bread reimagines the late innovator’s work, highlighting Lacy’s formal predilections, but filling the open spaces with thoughtful improvisations that move casually and even playfully through a fond remembrance.

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Tift Merritt – “See You On The Moon” (Fantasy) Pegging N.C.-bred songwriter Tift Merritt as a country singer didn’t work out so well; it was incomplete. Indeed, Merritt’s in deep debt to Patsy and Dolly, but she’s no slave to tradition. And with this, her most assured collection, Merritt drives her light-rocking narrative pieces to the fore of even-keeled singer/ songwriter fare.

Peggy Sue – “Fossils and Other Phantoms” (Yep Roc) English trio Peggy Sue seems at first to follow in the path of similarly styled popsmiths Lily Allen and Kate Nash. But the trio’s rustic instrumentation – spare drums, acoustic guitars, and accordion – seems to suggest a better, more British answer to the coy retro-pop of She & Him.

6/23/2010 12:11:46 PM

words & pictures: celina mincey

the main bay of san juan del sur


Sure, I could have signed up for an all-inclusive vacation, sipped umbrella cocktails on a guard-patrolled beach and pretended to be in another country. But as the UnTourist, I took a different tactic: I picked the cheapest Central American city Orbitz had to offer and

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booked a $250, three-hour flight to Managua, Nicaragua. But it’s ocean I want, not a dusty, crime-ridden capital city, so my trip kicks off with a guy hanging out the back of a bus, pointing at me and screaming something in a frightening

cadence that I will soon learn does not translate to “Attack that Gringo.” It is simply the bus attendant’s repetition of the bus’s destination, “Rivas, Rivas, Rivas, Rivas!” and therefore his attempt to help me find my bus! In Nicaragua, there are no automated/backlit/

6/23/2010 9:10:55 AM

nicaragua S a n

electronic signs that correspond to neatly labeled rows and numbered bus routes. If you think greyhound stations are chaotic, try Managua’s UCA autobus terminal. Once I sort it out, said man further welcomes me by simultaneously

J u a n

grabbing my bag and my arm, hurling me up and into the belly of the bus while flinging my backpack up and over the top, alongside the basket of bananas from the rider in front of me and the cage of chickens from the rider behind me. As the bus pulls out, the attendant

D e l

swings himself through the door opening, clings to a ladder bolted to the side of the bus, scurries to the rooftop, and proceeds to secure (or so I presume from the shuffle and rope noises) all the flung cargo while we speed down the Pan American highway.

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S u r



6/23/2010 9:10:59 AM

side street to the ocean in san juan del sur


At first glance, the Pan American highway is a modern, well-paved thoroughfare running the north-south length of Nicaragua’s western half. From my chicken-bus window, the highway is transformed into a perilous game of Frogger as the rickety, recycled bus dodges oncoming semi-trucks while passing horsepulled carts on unbanked curves at hair-

raising speeds. Ever wonder what happens to old school buses deemed unsafe to transport American school children? They become the main source of transportation in Nicaragua, after a few modifications, of course. First, an assortment of metal tubes, pipes and brackets are welded to configure a rack that is bolted to the entire roof. Second, the bus gets a paint

job. Sometimes the whole bus gets a coat, but more often just the front and back are decorated graffiti-style with an emblem of blazing fire and a clever name such as “2 fast, 2 furious” while the sides are left to proclaim “Franklin County Department of Education” or some other such remnant from its days of U.S. service. Third, all emergency buzzers are disabled.

the beach at san juan del sur


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6/23/2010 9:11:04 AM

But hey, my two-transfer, three-hour ride to San Juan Del Sur only costs the equivalent of about $3.75. So maybe I do arrive shaken and dusty (translation: in need of a beer) but I am also under budget. As a reward for my savvy transportation choice (an air-conditioned tourist shuttle would have cost $40), I splurge for a front room in a boutique hotel whose private balcony overlooks the Pacific Ocean and includes breakfast for a total of $15. Though I won’t see my generous double bed until morning, after my next 12 hours of madness, I’ll never be so glad to not be sleeping on a hostel cot in a dorm full of Norwegians, Germans, Aussies, Canadians, or whoever the hell else. San Juan Del Sur (SJDS) is a Nica beach town about 20 miles north of its ritzy Costa Rican neighbor’s border. The best way for me to describe it is to have you close your eyes and drift back in time – 40 years or so should do it. Imagine Southern California in the late ’60s, early ’70s. Think Manhattan Beach. Think cheap entertainment and no rules. Think dollar beers, shared joints, endless beach, perfect surf breaks and free love. That’s SJDS… today. I take my cold shower, throw on a wrinkled sundress and meander down the beach front until I see “Happy Hour: 2 for 1 cocktails.” Welcome to Nicaragua! Bamboo Bar turns out to have a somewhat luxurious décor, a friendly, English-speaking bartender, and a stunning, extraordinarily friendly hostess named Graciella. I’m not sure whether she works for the bar, or if she just works the bar, but after my second full pour of Flor de Cana, it didn’t matter. The real opportunity here is learning to play Desmoche, a rummy variation and a favorite Nica card game. But herein lies the challenge: Graciella consistently holds her hand of nine cards at bosom level as she gives half the instructions in seductive Spanish tones. Trust me, and I’m a girl, it’s hard to concentrate on the game’s subtleties, such as laying down your three of a kind in alternating colors (rojo, negro, rojo or negro, rojo, negro) when Graciella laughs and leans into you, exonerating you of your mistake while sweeping your 10 Cordoba note off the counter since she’s convinced you that Desmoche is no fun unless all the players lay down a bet. If you’re a male tourist, I suggest surrendering your wallet at the door, but since we’re only talking 50 cents a game and $1.25 per rum cocktail, it seems a paltry price to pay for such a view. It gets later, business at this relatively calm bar is slow, and Graciella invites me to The Pier. I’ll discover that whether you arrive at 10, midnight, or closer to sunrise, this on-the-beach bar will be shockingly stocked with dancing people – a healthy mix of Europeans, Nicas and a smattering of other nationalities. As a newcomer, you will surely meet Pablo, who upon introducing himself offers me “anything my mind can imagine.” “Like what?” is my reply that seems at that point in the evening oh so coy. Pablo could roll his eyes, mutter under his breath (with his bits of English), “stupid American,” or fall back on the Spanish

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6/23/2010 9:11:06 AM

looking south from san juan del sur

equivalent, “malo Gringa,” but Pablo is a business man so he plays along. “Ah, mi Chica. Like drogas, like girls, like experiencias.” The cable networks in Nicaragua play lots of American B movies. Pablo’s obviously learned our unimaginative and repetitive use of “like.” I don’t ask if he has guys for the same price. It’s not that late, and I am too eager to get 28

July 10.indd 28


out on the sand by the bonfire to dance under the peeking moon and in front of the waves. Among the palm trees we meet an Irish bartender who plays a weekly house game of Texas Hold’em. This is my favorite card game, and it turns out Graciella’s repertoire extends beyond Desmoche. I’m not sure if he invites us, or we invite

ourselves, but the bartender seems quite content with meeting the usual group of dudes with two female guests in tow. His surprise will be even greater when he sees we can actually play! I’m not sure if “Ten” is the czar of SJDS or just an ironically lucky SOB, but he lives in an oceanside penthouse complete with elevator and air conditioning. Let me

6/23/2010 9:11:10 AM

emphasize the elevator, as I believe it is the only working one in the country outside of the capital, which is necessary since Ten doesn’t have use of his arms and legs. This doesn’t stop him from commanding the game, or an extraordinary number of bong hits supplied by his demure Nicaraguan aide. We hand over our buy-in of 100 Cordobas ($5) to a little, short Nica guy who is a lawyer. We begin a Hold’em evening that will last until 3 a.m. Finally, I take second place and Graciella feels like singing. We stumble up the main road, cut down a side street, and enter

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a decidedly darker section of town. For a moment, I wonder whether this is the part where we meet her “friends” in the alley and they demand my cash card. My somewhat dysfunctional brain is discarding solutions – pretend not to remember the PIN, throw it into the gutter for morning retrieval, do I even have a cash card on

me? – when I hear, no feel, the thumping backtrack of karaoke music. I enter this known-only-to-Nicas establishment with the guilt of suspecting my new friend, which I quickly discard into a bottle of Tona. We sing (I think), we dance (I know), we drink (I’m sure). My limited use of the

Spanish language is exhausted. My head meets the pillow of my pricey bed with a quick look at the rising sun. U If you are ready to time travel, e-mail today for Celina’s UnTourist advice at or find out more about her travels at

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6/23/2010 9:11:18 AM

words: clay whittaker 32 uptown pictures: brandon beck

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the flaming lips

6/23/2010 9:11:21 AM

It’s just before midnight on Sunday and, after four days without a shower, I’m crammed into a Ferris wheel pod, grinding my way up several stories above the tree line. We’re just high enough that I can’t see people on the ground anymore, but in the darkness I can still see lighters touch glass pipes before the people in the shadows smoke up. I’m clinging to the safety bar with both hands, and I can feel the paint crunching off the metal in my grip. This, is Bonnaroo.

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or several days every summer, since 2002, the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival has drawn crowds of up to 80,000 to a farm about an hour southeast of Nashville. More than 100 bands, ranging from indie rock to hip hop to gospel, entertain the ’Roo faithful. My companion for the festival is a high school friend, Brandon. He’s now been to five Bonnaroo festivals. He’s sitting to the side of me, far more relaxed, talking with the couple sharing our pod. They’re from Nashville and they have a kid. The father is both concerned and intrigued that his 6-year-old son isn’t into sports, and that the kid may be an artist. Brandon, a film student in New York, confirms some of the signs. His wife, a blonde named Sarah, is wearing cowboy boots and has one foot propped up against the door to our little rocking metal deathtrap. She notices my 34

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death-grip and offers me her Gatorade bottle. “Here, this will help,” she says, passing it to me. I take the cap off the bottle and recognize Captain Morgan in the mix, but it’s not nearly strong enough to help with my rising displeasure – unless the ride takes 20 more minutes, in which case I’ll need the whole bottle. It does, however, give me a little courage to look over the sides. Off to my right is a massive, open parking lot. Tents and cars alternate colors off in the distance like a refugee camp, and gaspowered, stand-alone streetlights fill some of the dirt roads with limited light. Behind me is the main entrance to the fairgrounds, where spotty bag checks keep out very little illegal material. Sarah is one of thousands of Bonnaroo patrons who smuggled alcohol or drugs past the security checks at the front gate today.

Inside the compound, people smoke pot in the open with the same nonchalance as if they’re checking their cell phones for the time. None of the security staff cares about drugs at the checkpoint: They’re looking for weapons, firearms and SLR cameras – the three gatecheck taboos. At the end of the night, stockpiles of smuggled booze are shared; that way there’s nothing to carry on the long walk back to your camp. Over the left side of the Ferris wheel lies the rest of the festival: a half-dozen tents and stages erected alongside a sprawling complex. In the center, rows and rows of vendors peddle everything from homemade jewelry to flower power-esque dresses. Bonnaroo is one of the last holdouts of the post-hippie movement, where the Deadheads all gather to pay tribute to their move-

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ment by encouraging everyone to recycle and teaching seminars on how to grow gardens to shrink your carbon footprint. But I’m admittedly surprised on my last night. The hippie culture isn’t necessarily the dominant culture at Bonnaroo anymore. Mainstream bands draw mainstream audiences – college kids off for the summer who want to enjoy themselves. They’re the driving force, along with parents and teenage children, and, of course, journalists. I’m already skipping out on press events by Friday morning when Bonnaroo starts to pick up speed. The orientation overlaps with the wait for Conan O’Brien’s comedy set. Brandon heads out early to get a place in line for us. I’m still in bed when he leaves. The sunlight pours into our RV through the window

next to my bunk. I roll over and ignore it for another half hour of restless sleep, before the next RV over decides it’s time to sound the wakeup call with a healthy dose of Primus. We still don’t have any water in our tank – they’re fixing it, they promise – so I head out of the VIP section with a backpack full of bottled water, feeling grimy and sweaty from Thursday, but smelling of fresh sunscreen, and wishing I could wash my hands. I’m not the adventurous type. I’m at Bonnaroo 2010 because I broke a promise to Brandon last year: I said I would go and I didn’t, so this year I have no way out. I should be enjoying myself. I like concerts more than most people. In fact, I love live music, jam bands, and everything about the concert culture. But I hate camping. I hate long walks on

humid summer days, and not being able to go home and sleep in a familiar place at the end of the day. So Bonnaroo could be a fantastic and efficient way for me to see a lot of bands I love, or a miserable four-day sweaty camping nightmare. This is the silent fear of every mainstream attendant of the festival. The extremists – those diehard fans and groupies who would follow their favorite acts into hell as long as they could find a decent lawn seat for the Eternal Damnation Tour – could care less. Hot, cold, wet, dry, Tennessee, Afghanistan: They’ll be there. After nearly a decade, the ’Roo brings out thousands of stoners, post-hippies, the older generation of Deadheads, the younger generations of Dave Matthews fans and Phish fans, and a decent sampling of other people just looking for live music and a good time.

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conan o’brien

The big-name live performers bring them all together for this one big event. As I make my way across the festival grounds to the Comedy Tent, I’m bumping into a complete cross-section: girls walk by in bikini tops and shorts, or just bikinis, or just their bare chests painted to look like they’re wearing bikinis. The guys are shirtless, mostly pale and out of shape. A noticeable number have a Camelbak hydration pack strung over their shoulders with not-so-clear liquids running up the long straws as they suck it through their dry lips. Under the few sparse trees around the endless fields, people cram together for the shade. Most are sleeping or passing pipes around. It rained earlier in the week, and the ground is mushy underfoot. My shoes pick up some mud and dirt just from following the well-tread pathways between stages. Most of the grass is gone, and some of the wet spots smell like a ruptured septic tank. It’s that way all over the festival, and every so often one poor patron who wasn’t watching his footing passes by, covered in mud from head to toe. The line for Conan snakes back and forth for hundreds of heads. A few people step out of line to toss a Frisbee around. By this point I’m soaked in a new day’s coating of sweat, and the sunscreen running off my forehead stings my eyes. 36

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It’s almost 90 degrees, and the humidity is easily within 10 points of complete saturation. Everyone with a gray T-shirt is sporting dark rings of sweat. Larger people like myself are acquiring unattractive lactation rings. Sweat is beading on my arms, legs, thighs and the backs of my knees. It’s starting to drip down my neck, back and some other places where water retention in the morning means chafing in the afternoon. I find Brandon in front of one of the tent entrances. A mix-up about VIP privileges gets us in the front of the second line for the Conan tent. When they finally open the gates, we race in and manage to snag front-center seats. Conan’s show is incredible. It’s one of only a handful all weekend that I’m able to watch start to finish because the lineup for Bonnaroo is so jammed full of good acts that most of them overlap. It’s also the only time during Bonnaroo that I manage to get so close to an act because the most avid fans fill in 100 yards deep an hour before every show.

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n the afternoon we kill a few hours in the RV before heading out to see the folksy duo She and Him. We catch the last half, and I have to skip the band OK Go so we can grab good lawn seats in the VIP section for Tenacious D. It’s my first main stage act, and the crowd fills in quickly close to the stage. Brandon wants to be up front, but I’m exhausted from six hours of constant sunlight, and I need to sit down. He’s right though: They’re not as good from off to the side. But after half of the set, he comes back and sits down with me, exhausted. By the time they’ve finished, we’ve emptied most of the bottled water we’ve carried with us. Then we drag ourselves across the festival grounds again to catch Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers playing some fantastic bluegrass. We get to watch four of their numbers before they end their set – including an amazing encore performance of “King Tut” from Martin’s early hosting days on “Saturday Night Live” – but this one’s in bluegrass

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The whole afternoon feels like a scavenger hunt, reading maps and racing across the sprawl trying to beat the clock and other fans for the best view. Before the night acts start, we make a quick stop at the RV for some food, Red Bull, beer, and Gold Bond – lots of Gold Bond. The problem is that after a day of discomfort, and with only a small closet of a bathroom to stand in, we’re struggling to apply the Gold Bond to all of the necessary areas. Once I’ve finally carpet bombed myself with medicated powder, I make an unfortunate realization: No water means no way to wash the powder from my hands. Now Brandon and I are cracking open our precious stock of bottled water to wash our hands and faces, and we can hear Kings of Leon starting. We still haven’t had food, so we race through dinner in the VIP tent and limp over to find a spot for Kings of Leon. I’m exhausted. The Red Bull is keeping

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my mind active, but my body is tired from walking and climbing and sweating, and it wants to rest. And that’s when Brandon reminds me it’s time to leave to get decent seats for The Flaming Lips. By the time we get there, I’ve given up on standing and tell him to find me in the VIP bleachers. At this point I’m beginning to appreciate the small miracles of the VIP passes, including the right to sit down somewhere within view of the stage – good acoustics or not. I’ve been up for more than 15 hours in the heat, and I can only listen to half a set of Flaming Lips numbers before dragging myself through the crowd, back to the RV and passing out on my bed.


wake up Saturday and am immediately disgusted with myself. I change clothes and down a bottle of water and another energy drink, hoping I’ll feel more refreshed. Brandon says I missed an awesome second half of the show, and he shows me pictures. Then he reminds me that I forgot about LCD Soundsystem, who began playing sometime after 3 a.m. for everyone who stayed up late enough. My body is still sore, but I’ve only got a few bands left that I really want to see, so like any over-ambitious vacationer, I start making the hard cuts to my to-do list. I narrow it down to two must-sees for the day: Weezer and the Avett Brothers. They’re playing one after the other on the same stage, so I think I can handle it. At 5:45 p.m. the Avetts are playing pretty well, but I’m stuck between two food vendors and can only see the show through the latticework of the sound stage that’s set up in the middle of the crowd. Then the worst possible thing happens: After two days of sunlight, rain comes again, soaking down between the people and into the ground. It’s gone in less than half an hour, but now the dirt feels like a sponge and smells like a toilet brush. But I’m not going anywhere and neither is anyone else. When the rain stops, not many people have moved. The Avetts finish up about 7 p.m. and I’m able to push my way farther into the crowd – within 50 yards of the stage. Now I just have to wait an hour for Weezer. 38

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I pass the time making small talk with people around me. A guy in his 20s is bragging to everyone that his girlfriend accepted his proposal last night at the Flaming Lips show. I congratulate him, and he rewards me with a hug and at least a dozen offers of his pipe over the rest of the afternoon. A few minutes later, a lanky man wearing only a Speedo walks by. He stops long enough to answer questions about the contacts he’s wearing that turn his entire eye blue. Speedo Man then climbs over and around the seated members of the crowd in the least comfortable ways possible and moves on. The show starts around 8 p.m. as Rivers Cuoumo and his bandmates bounce onto stage. Unlike the last (and awesome) Weezer concert I saw in Atlanta half a decade ago, Rivers is an explosive stage dynamo. He’s all over the place, jumping around like a ferret on coke. The crowd’s loving every psychotic thing he says, which is only making him act more bipolar. He loses the beat on a couple of songs because he’s too busy scaling the metal stage scaffolding. I look away for a moment during the first song, and when I look back up he’s made it across the stage and has climbed halfway up one of the stage’s support beams. It’s like that for the next two amazing hours as he rockets off a trampoline onto the drummer’s platform, smashes a speaker because it pissed him off, and carries a small black stage block around, ranting about how these things are always on stages and he never knows what they do. Then he stands on it, and leaps off it again and again during the next two songs. They end the set with an epic cover of “Kids” by MGMT, which they then transition into “Poker Face” to further blow our minds. Rivers gallops off stage and re-emerges wearing a blond Lady Gaga wig, and he’s a little too into it. It’s right then – on the tail end of the whole experience, watching the last encore of the last band that really motivated me to drive across three states – that I realize why music festivals draw so many people year after year. There’s an inherent bond achieved among the survivors from their shared struggles and physical exhaustion – like a club with one meeting

a year. When everybody’s making the same sacrifices, living in relatively similar conditions, it doesn’t matter who you are outside the gates. You’re still just one guy with a ticket, and you’re only going to get as good a view of the stage as you’re willing to work for. It’s not like going to the movies or a golf course – the quality of the facilities is irrelevant in deciding how much fun you have at Bonnaroo. Those things are tailored to provide comfort, but Bonnaroo isn’t; it’s tailored to weed out the nonbelievers. Only the people who drink the Kool-Aid get to step forward. And in a blob of heads and torsos oscillating to a totally rocking live performance, every step forward counts.


unday night comes with a long, exhausted sigh of relief for me and a firm wipe of my brow. I passed most of the day in the RV, napping and hydrating. On the final night of Bonnaroo, with the only act left being the Dave Matthews Band, it’s clear that most of the festival grounds are already dark and vacant. Dave is performing on the main stage, in the far corner of the fairgrounds. I can see the stage well from atop the Bonnaroo Ferris wheel, and the lights are arching over thousands of people who stretch half a mile from the stage. The band sounds muddy from this distance, and I can’t really tell which song they’re playing, but even with close to 80,000 people cheering Dave at the end of the song, it’s clear that Bonnaroo is winding down. Most of those vendors are packing up shop below, and some of the audience is heading out of the gates early to avoid the end-of-show foot traffic. I’m still hot, sweaty, tired, sore, a little hung over, probably dehydrated, and remembering my fear of heights about 20 minutes too late. But I’ve survived my first music festival, and I even might have managed to ignore the physical torments of four days of heat, humidity and public bathrooms long enough to actually enjoy myself. And even if I feel like I didn’t get everything out of these four days that I could have, there’s always next year. U Reach Clay at For more info go to

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one of the first women in nascar

milwaukee mile 1984 where shawna got her first win


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words: sean o’connell pictures: todd trimakas

hawna Robinson was trapped in a Los Angeles hotel room. “Quarantined” is how she described it. She hadn’t been kidnapped. Quite the opposite. Robinson actually had placed herself in this confining situation. Late in 2009,the Charlottean whom countless gearheads know for her accomplishments on NASCAR’s top race tracks had applied to be a contestant on the popular CBS reality television competition “The Amazing Race.” Together with her potential “Race” teammate, Jennifer Jo Cobb, Robinson had flown to Hollywood to participate in a weeklong series of interviews. Though they’d been recruited for the show, Robinson and Cobb still had to make a pitch to the show’s hosts, producers and directors. Until that meeting, they were under lock and key. They had designated pool and gym opportunities, as well as windows of time during which they could eat. Otherwise, they were confined to their rooms.

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t was so weird,” said Robinson, 45. “You could not talk to any of the other people. You obviously knew the other (contestants). Like the two cowboys. … You knew they were cowboys because they even wore cowboy hats with their bathing suits on. And then there were two cops from (New England). I don’t know if you saw the latest season (of the show), but that was the one that we would have been on.”

shawna at daytona 2002


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Amazing as this sounds, Robinson’s mind wasn’t focused on “The Amazing Race,” despite the cramped living conditions. Her thoughts had drifted more than 3,000 miles away to her hometown of Charlotte, where NASCAR’s dignitaries were preparing to cut the ribbon on the sport’s anticipated Hall of Fame. A stock car pioneer who had blazed a trail for female drivers, Robinson had been invited by Hall of Fame marketers to donate memorabilia to display in the hall. Yet she had neglected to send the

materials to NASCAR’s marketing team before embarking on her California trip, and her ongoing participation in the “Race” audition meant she’d missed her window of opportunity to be part of the pomp and circumstance. The hall opened to the public on May 11, 2010. Robinson’s memorabilia remains in her garage.

Family circus Before Danica, there was Shawna. Danica Patrick, the pretty brunette sitting behind the wheel of the No. 7 car, receives more than enough ink by competing in the IndyCar, ARCA and NASCAR racing series. But 20 years before Patrick became the first woman to win an IndyCar race in 2008, redheaded Robinson was burning rubber on top NASCAR tracks like Talladega, Darlington, and the Daytona International Speedway. “In Daytona, during my first time racing that track, I finished third,” Robinson exclaimed. “In my sixth race (the AC Delco 100 in Asheville), I became the first woman ever to win a race in a stock car.” You could argue that racing is in Robinson’s blood. Born in Des Moines, Iowa, as the youngest of five children, she always was around automobiles. Her father, who raced late-model cars, made sure the Robinson clan spent their weekends at Midwestern racetracks. “I was the little girl playing in the infield with my sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins. It truly was a family ordeal,” Robinson said. “I knew how to ride a motorcycle at age 4. That’s just what we did.” The Robinson family wasn’t wealthy. But they were known for inventing automotive routines to entertain crowds at stock car shows. Some of their creations even scored them national acclaim. One of Shawna’s brothers jumped so many trucks during a live race event in the early 1980s that the television variety

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program “That’s Incredible!” featured him in a segment. “We always called my father the circus leader, because we were the circus, and he was our leader,” Robinson said. “It was very strange. But that was just my dad. He was so full of life.” And full of ideas. Robinson said it was her father who first put her behind the wheel of a truck so she could warm up the track and introduce racers. He believed that truck racing – and the site of a female teenage driver – would only increase fan appeal at stock car events. Two days after graduating high school in 1983, 18-year-old Robinson drove her first truck around a short track in Toledo, Ohio. The love affair that would span three decades had begun.

A steady climb


ne year later, Robinson launched her official racing career when she joined the GATR Truck Series. “That’s when I came to realize that I was going to be a racer – when I came to terms with the fact that this is what I was going to be,” she recalled. Not that her truck-driving competition wanted her there. “They hated me,” she said of the other racers. “They thought that a woman’s place was in the kitchen, not on the race track. … It was nasty, but it was fun. It was competitive. They didn’t intimidate me.” On the racetrack is where Robinson consistently proved herself. Pocono, Atlanta and Bristol were just a few of the big-league

tracks Robinson conquered in her debut year. She earned Rookie of the Year honors in 1984, moving from Iowa to Pennsylvania so she could continue to market her talents on Northeast truck tracks, in trade shows and at racing exhibits. Her owners also tolerated Robinson’s presence because a female driver in a male-dominated sport scored valuable media attention. It only took four years for NASCAR to notice. Robinson made her stock car debut in 1988, racing in the now-defunct NASCAR Dash Series. She competed at the Daytona International Speedway that year with the Daytona Dash Cars, a series that previously

her car, the difference in weight (trucks, obviously, are much heavier than cars) was negotiable. In her first two years on the NASCAR circuit, Robinson earned Most Popular Driver honors. With each passing year came another climb up the NASCAR ladder. Robinson moved into the Busch Series in 1991. Highlights of her tenure included a secondplace qualifying at Rockingham in 1994 and, two races later, her first career pole at Atlanta Motor Speedway. “My butt was always in a seat,” she said. “It was always driving, and always on a different type of racetrack. … I wasn’t

“I did get questions, like, ‘Now that you are a mom,

how can you do this?’ And, ‘Don’t you feel now that you shouldn’t be putting yourself at risk?’ (But) I looked at it this way. If a woman succeeds at climbing a mountain, and she breaks records, and then she has children, does that mean she’s not going to climb mountains anymore? No,” had hosted Michael Waltrip and Kyle Petty, to name a few. If there were obstacles to overcome in transitioning from trucks to stock cars, Robinson didn’t notice. She’d already familiarized herself with dirt and asphalt racing on short and long tracks in the truck series. Once she learned how to properly draft – or ride behind other vehicles – in

consistently a frontrunner, but I was always near the Top 10.” Her run, however, was short-lived.

Stock car mom


wnership conflicts, a marriage, and the births of her son Tanner (in 1996) and daughter Samantha (in ‘97) led to Robinson’s semi-retirement from racing.

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She still remembers the day she had to turn down an opportunity to test cars at Daytona because she’d recently found out she was pregnant. “I told the team owner, ‘God, you know how bad I want this, but I guess with the timing, this is where I am right now,’” Robinson said with a hesitant chuckle. “And he replied, ‘Well, I have to tell you, that’s the first time I’ve ever gotten that excuse from a driver.’” Her hiatus from the track, thankfully, was temporary. She returned to racing in 1999, climbing behind the wheel of the No. 8 Kmart Ford Taurus for former NASCAR team owner Michael Kranefuss as part of the ARCA RE/MAX Series. Rust hadn’t formed on Team Robinson, and she went right back to her winning ways. That year, she set a track record during a pole-winning qualifying run at Michigan International Speedway. She also finished sixth in points, becoming the first female to finish in the Top 10 for ARCA. “When I came back, I felt like I was stronger than when I left,” Robinson said. “I had a different mentality.” And people had a different mentality about putting a mom behind the wheel of a race car. “I did get questions, like, ‘Now that you are a mom, how can you do this?’ And, ‘Don’t you feel now that you shouldn’t be putting yourself at risk?’ (But) I looked at it this way. If a woman succeeds at climbing a mountain, and she breaks records, and then she has children, does that mean she’s not going to climb mountains anymore? No,” Robinson said. “This was what I knew. I felt safer on the race track than I was on the street. And I wanted to teach my kids that you always should go for your dreams. You go after whatever your passion is in life. And if you are lucky enough to find that passion, then do whatever you can do to become the best that you can be.” The next few years were a series of highs and lows for Robinson’s racing career. She joined the Winston Cup in 2001, competing in races for Kranefuss and Michael Waltrip 44

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shawna today

Racing. BAM Racing accepted her in 2002, then released her shortly after. She left racing in 2003, only to return to the Busch Series two years later. She competed for Keith Coleman Racing but was released after six races. These memories leave a bitter taste in Robinson’s mouth. As she tells it, biased crew chiefs and team owners who didn’t want her around conspired to prevent her from succeeding on the track. When she fought back against perceived sexism, she was labeled “emotionally unstable.” “Remember back in the day when Tony Stewart had anger issues because of the way he treated the media?” Robinson asks.

“Basically, if I was a guy, and I walked in there and just busted (someone’s) nose or punched a hole in their wall, I would be a cool badass. But because I yelled and screamed and showed emotions, because I was angry … then I became emotionally unstable. That’s where the end started.” After a series of escalating mishaps, Robinson left stock car racing in 2005. “I just was at a point in my life where this was not how I wanted to race,” she said. She had grown exhausted from the sexism and NASCAR politics. Her kids were getting older. Her passion for racing was fading. “I was tired. I was tired of beating down

6/23/2010 9:12:16 AM

doors. I had been beating down doors since I was 18. I think I was just exhausted. If I was going to race, I was going to race for somebody good,” Robinson said. “And so I walked away from it.” She admits she has missed racing every day since.

Female racers, past and present


t has crossed Robinson’s mind more than a few times that had she been able to tough it out a few more years, she might have become the “face” of women’s NASCAR racing instead of Patrick. “If I could have just gotten a second wind and continued a couple of more years, boy, I would have been it,” she says. “Maybe it just makes me feel good to know that. But it really wasn’t the time, within NASCAR, where things were going to be made easier (for women). There are things they can do to make your road a little better. You can see that now with Danica, where they are being very positive in the media. If you go in with a top-rate owner,

IndyCar racing or other competitive series. “She doesn’t have to race full time,” Robinson said, explaining that Patrick is paid handsomely for the part-time racing she does do. “But I think the racer in her will want to.” You get the sense Robinson sees a bit of herself in Patrick. She might even envision herself in the spotlight Patrick now holds. When it comes down to it, Robinson missed her window of opportunity. Unfortunately for her, it wouldn’t be the last time.

The not-so-amazing Race


efore the hotel confinement, the trip to California, and “The Amazing Race” audition, Robinson had received a letter. Aware of her accomplishments, the marketing team for the yet-to-open NASCAR Hall of Fame wanted her to donate items from her racing days for inclusion in the racing museum. Needless to say, Robinson was thrilled. They asked her for a helmet and a suit. They sent her the paperwork needed to facilitate the

“She admits she has missed racing every day since.” and the spin is very positive toward the media, it helps. It really helps.” Lack of support, in Robinson’s opinion, goes a long way in explaining why a woman hasn’t broken through to officially become “the one” in NASCAR. “Why would a woman succeed with lesser opportunities? I don’t think Jimmy Johnson would have succeeded if he didn’t have the opportunities that he had with Jeff Gordon and Busch cars,” she said. “(Johnson) wasn’t that great in the Busch series. He was learning and building. He was winning occasionally before he came in. But he really needed help.” Patrick is getting that help. And because of it, Robinson believes Patrick will be “the one” to finally kick the door hard enough to keep it open. She’s marketable and conducts herself with class on and off the track. But Robinson places one condition on Patrick’s success. She needs to choose to race NASCAR full time, and not divide her attentions between open-wheel

she said. “But how sad is this? The stuff is sitting in my garage in a container. I lost my window.” That’s not all she lost. Out of 15 pairs that auditioned for “The Amazing Race,” the producers selected 11. Robinson and Cobb didn’t make it to Victory Lane. The producers passed on the duo, and they were cut from the show. No “Race.” No memorabilia in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. For Robinson, it’s the equivalent of a Daytona wreck, a “Did Not Finish” in the standings. It couldn’t be more disappointing.

donation. “You are basically loaning them the items, and they return them back to you when they are done with them,” she said. “I was going to give them the Daytona suit for display.” Those papers, Robinson said, got filed away someplace. Lost in stacks of others papers, perhaps. She left town for her “Amazing Race” audition without completing the task. “It’s just such a disappointment on my end. I basically just didn’t get my stuff to them quick enough. I think I just got wrapped up in another opportunity, an adventure that I went and tried to do. It’s my fault,” she said. The mistake has been noticed. Robinson said people who attended opening events at the hall have contacted her, asking why her stuff isn’t prominently displayed along fellow racing pioneers Janet Guthrie and Patty Moise. She can only sigh, explaining the gaffe again and again. “They are going to add me eventually,”

C’mon, get Happy


obinson isn’t sad, though. She’s convinced the Hall will let her in during the next inclusion window. And she’s far too busy running the next chapter in her career: Happy Chairs. Racing wasn’t Robinson’s sole passion. “I have always been artistic,” she said, linking her creative traits back to her mother. Her outlet, when she wasn’t on the track, was furniture decorating and room design. During her extended breaks from NASCAR, she’d decompress by painting nurseries for close friends. Disney characters like Tigger and Pooh were her specialty. Recommendations would circulate among her NASCAR colleagues. Robinson ended up painting the Waltrips’ home, Martin Truex’s race shop and home, and Kasey Kahne’s race shop. “Through word-of-mouth, it just turned into a business,” Robinson said. That business is called Happy Chair. Through it, Robinson restores worn and weathered chairs and gives them new life. “I love big, bold crazy color. I love art,” she says on her website, ShawnaRobinson. com. “As is evident from my past as a race car driver, I love the thrill of taking risks. I’ve combined these loves to create Happy Chair; a unique, soul stirring, heartwarming furniture company designed to create happiness!” The vibrant chairs convey a mantra Robinson has lived by her entire life. “If you don’t love something, then you shouldn’t do it,” she said. U

Reach Sean at For more info go to

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6/23/2010 9:12:18 AM

a warrior’s tale of life in iraq

words: matt kokenes 46 uptown pictures: keith richardson

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“It’s like your entire body is being punched at the same time,” Marine Corp. Keith Richardson offered, looking up after a thoughtful pause, and a big sip from a can of Monster Energy Drink. “The Humvee fills up with smoke and debris. And you get this nasty metallic taste in your mouth. Kinda like you’ve been sucking on a penny.”

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t was late on an unusually warm June afternoon, and Richardson and I sat alone, talking on the patio of the Common Market Southend. The 26-year-old had spent a few years in a much hotter place, and he had made the drive up from his Lake Wylie home to tell me about it. In Iraq, scalding afternoons topped 120 degrees, and some of the locals weren’t OK with him being there. They proved how they felt by trying to kill him with little pieces of exploding hot metal shot in his direction. In the Marine Corps, he didn’t make a living dodging automatic weapons fire, though; he was paid to seek it out. His job description included finding the enemy and enticing him to shoot at him. And then shooting back at them even harder. Richardson’s eyes are ice blue and serious, and he speaks with a Long Island, N.Y., accent softened by a decade living in the South. He’s been on the receiving end of no less than 15 IED (improvised explosive device, or roadside bomb) attacks in Iraq. As he explained the “pucker effect” – how certain anatomy puckers in anticipation of trouble when driving through dangerous intersections, serving as an accurate sort of sixth sense, the after-work beer crowd streamed in and quickly filled the surrounding tables.

Boisterous laughter began to drown out the rumbles of thunder growing in the distance. “You always knew something bad was about to happen when all the Iraqi civilians would suddenly vanish from normally crowded areas,” Richardson said. “The force of an IED explosion is massive,” he continued. “My first one happened in Fallujah. A pretty good-sized IED exploded underneath our truck as we rolled over. When we stopped, everyone checked in on the radio, and there were no casualties. The vehicle was mangled, and there were a couple of concussions, but everyone was fine. “Then the corpsman (medic) started yelling that he couldn’t feel his feet.” Richardson’s 5-foot-9-inch frame is burly, and he could be the all-American good guy in a cable TV action show. He projects an intensity that must have served him well in the Marines. So far he had delivered each of his answers in a methodical, factual manner that would make the Corps proud. “His feet were fine though,” he continued. “The explosion had blown a piece of shrapnel up through the floor right up between his boots, and they were just numbed from the force of the blast and the vacuum created by the shrapnel. He was back on patrol the next day.”

early morning on the euphrates


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Richardson did have the benefit of riding in the armored Humvees that were a favorite topic of the media a few years ago. It was a huge improvement over the unarmored “thin skinned” trucks that were easily destroyed early in the war. But getting blown up by an IED is still not ideal, and the armor makes it only about as safe as a face shield protecting a hockey player from bodily harm. He continued talking as dark clouds rolled in overheard. “Another time we got hit by a pretty small IED. I mean it was so small that our truck wasn’t even really damaged that much. A piece of shrapnel slipped in between a tiny gap in the armor plating, though, and came in through the back seat and hit one of our guys. “He was talking the whole time, and they got him back to medical pretty fast.” He paused for a minute, looking down, rolling his thumb over the graphics on the can of Monster. “They just couldn’t stop the bleeding. “He was fine. I mean, he was talking the whole time. They just couldn’t stop the bleeding.” He nodded his head, looking up, as he repeated this to both of us. “They told us the next day that he didn’t make it.” The joke told two tables over was a hit and the group erupted in raucous laughter. A single girl at the next table lit another cigarette, and the first few drops of the summer thunderstorm

began to fall. Richardson’s initial job in Iraq involved keeping one of the most bomb-riddled stretches of highway in one of the meanest places in the world – Fallujah – clear of danger for convoys. The road was a critical supply line for coalition forces. “We were basically a heavily armed highway patrol,” he continued. “Insurgents would come out almost every night and plant new IEDs, and we’d deal with them the next day. This wasn’t official policy, but it was pretty much understood that if anyone was going to get blown up by an IED, it was to be our patrol and not one of the convoy vehicles.” When I asked him how he felt about that, he shrugged. “All part of the job I guess.” A common ambush tactic of Iraqi insurgents is to plant an obvious IED, knowing that an American patrol will stop when they spot it. Insurgents then rake the vehicles with small arms fire, rocket-propelled grenades, and the occasional Chinese- or Russianmade heavy machine gun. This was how Richardson’s first firefight began. “What was that like?” I asked, realizing I had moved toward

“Right as one of my guys yelled, ‘He pointed!’ two insurgents popped out from an alleyway about a block up the street and started spraying AK-47 fire in our direction,” Richardson recalled. “One of them held the trigger down too soon, and started shooting into the ground as he pointed his rifle towards me.”

a sand storm approaches

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“How’d it feel to kill someone for the first time?” I asked. above: a respite from the barracks in a power substation lived in every third week // keith holding a 249 SAW // keith in front of his humvee with minor damage from an ied // keith and his squad practicing before going out // marines saluting a fallen comrade opposite: corp. timothy roos, a gunner and friend killed in ramadi // the rough streets of ramadi // lt. corp. selz showing how close he came to dying from an rpg that hit the humvee he was driving


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the edge of my seat. “Did you take it personally when you realized for the first time that someone you’d never met was trying to kill you?” “Yeah, it got my attention when I could hear incoming rounds hit the truck, but you don’t really think about the danger when you’re in the midst of the fight,” Richardson said. “They weren’t coming that close to me anyway.” He laughed. “For the most part the Iraqis can’t shoot for shit.” Richardson went on to describe how they identified two MAMs (military aged males) shooting at them from an irrigation ditch about 200 meters away. Even despite his rigid, chronological delivery of the facts of the story, and frequent use of military terms, I could still see the angry orange muzzle flashes and tracers slicing up a postcard-pretty desert sunset. Palm tree silhouettes swaying in a warm desert breeze. “We killed one and the other guy took off. We searched a

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nearby house but didn’t find anything. I remember right after all that happened a really big sandstorm rolled through. “It was ominous.” He glanced over at the group of hipsters comparing tattoos at the next table, and back to me. “I was never really scared during a firefight. Instinct and training take over and you know you have to kill them before they kill you,” he confided. “It’s afterwards that you really think about it. Kind of like, ‘Did I actually really do that?’ “There’s no bigger rush than a firefight. It’s addictive.” Richardson’s unit was later moved from Fallujah, where he had been stationed immediately after the well-publicized battle that pacified the city, to the new Sunni insurgent stronghold of Ramadi. “Ramadi was like the wild West,” he continued as rain began to tumble off the umbrella overhead. “I was in a Mobile Assault Platoon and we went to some of the worst areas in town. Places that the Iraqi army wouldn’t even patrol. We had hostile contact

ing around before nodding toward a staircase a few feet away. “I don’t know. From here to those steps maybe?” “Is there a standard Marine Corps protocol in a situation like that?” I asked. “Automatic burst? Two in the chest, one in the head?” “We tried to conserve ammo whenever possible. I think I popped him like eight times,” he said, squinting upward to remember the number. “How’d it feel to kill someone for the first time?” I asked. “I’ll go with the standard Marine response,” Richardson said, smiling while finishing off the can of Monster. “The biggest impact I felt was the recoil from my rifle.” It had begun to rain steadily and some of the people on the patio had called it quits and gone inside. Richardson glanced down at his iPhone as big drops began to wet the back of his shirt. “Yeah, it’s them or me in that situation,” he added. “I lost nine close friends over there. We rolled hard in 3rd platoon Bravo, and we were known for that. The Iraqis respect strength.”

with the enemy almost daily.” One afternoon, his team had just finished searching some houses suspected of insurgent activity and were loading into the trucks to head back to base. One of his men noticed that an Iraqi civilian on a moped, who had already passed their patrol twice, was coming by a third time. This was another common tactic used by insurgents to spot and signal the position of American forces to each other. “Right as one of my guys yelled, ‘He pointed!’ two insurgents popped out from an alleyway about a block up the street and started spraying AK-47 fire in our direction,” Richardson recalled. “One of them held the trigger down too soon, and started shooting into the ground as he pointed his rifle towards me. “You could see a rooster tail of dirt churn up in the air. “How close did he come to hitting me?” he repeated, glanc-

Later that summer, he and his team were asked to check out a print shop suspected of producing anti-American posters and fliers that had been appearing around Ramadi. While Marines from one of the trucks in his patrol began searching a suspicious vehicle in the street, Richardson and his commanding officer entered the shop. “The middle of a busy road is an extremely dangerous place to conduct a search like that,” he explained. “You’re out in the open, really exposed, and if you stop for longer than 10 minutes, there’s going to be trouble.” He asked one of the men from his Humvee to help the others finish up the search quickly so they could move to a safer position with better cover. “I had only been inside for a couple of minutes when I heard the shot. Single shots are bad news. I’d much rather hear an automatic burst than a single shot. “Single shots usually mean a sniper.”

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6/23/2010 9:12:32 AM

He seemed amused by my question, but answered it easily as though he’d been asked before. “Deaths are like snowflakes. No two are the same,” he informed me.

clockwise above: kuwait - soldiers coming into iraq // downtown fallujah in front of a mosque // top left to bottom right - lt. corp. santoro, corp. wilson, keith richardson, sgt. popp, lt. corp. selz // humvee on fire after an ied in ramadi // staging area at hurricane point before a sandstorm

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6/23/2010 9:12:39 AM

Richardson returned to find Lance Corp. Nick Whyte, the man from his unit he had asked to help search the vehicle, on the ground with a gunshot wound through the base of the skull. “Nick Whyte was a good guy. He was a good friend of mine. A sniper with some talent and probably a Russian-made Dragunov rifle got a good shot in from at least 500 meters away. “Nick was a direct subordinate following my orders when he died. That was hard.” The persistent rainstorm had finally driven everyone else from the patio, and it seemed like a good time for us to call it a night. Our shirts were getting wet, and the action hero seemed to have tired of talking about Iraq. Richardson did have more to say, though, and we picked up our conversation a week later at his kitchen table. While he continued his story, I scrolled through his photos from Iraq. There were a lot of fresh-faced kids in the desert sporting rifles and grenade launchers, posing in front of tanks and Humvees. There was a shot of a tank shrouded in a sandstorm. The handful of video clips featured everything from firefights to practical jokes. All of them were set to the deafening hum of perpetually running diesel engines. “I went to the Green Zone once,” Richardson said. When Whyte died, Richardson was sent to the wellpublicized Green Zone to get away from Ramadi for a while and decompress. “They flew me and a buddy there in a British Puma helicopter at night,” he recounted. “We were flying fast and low – just scraping above the rooftops – and the door gunner was trading fire with insurgents on the ground pretty much the whole way. I could hear rounds hitting the bottom of the helicopter, and it was sketchy. We had this sort of friendly rivalry with the Brits, and I remember the gunner yelling something like, ‘Don’t get nervous on me, Yank!’” The Green Zone wasn’t for Richardson, though. Too much comfort for a seasoned combat veteran, apparently. A white tablecloth and valet parking doesn’t work for a guy who just wants to eat a steak. “I felt out of place,” he said, shrugging. “They have swimming pools there, and lots of civilians. I saw a lot of brand new boots. “My boots have blood and shit on them. I guess I just didn’t really fit in there.” At this point we had talked for hours. It wasn’t until he described “Hell Night,” though, that I felt like I had gotten just a tiny feel for what he’d been through. In the dead of night his unit entered Ramadi’s open-air market district – the souq – for the very first time since they were stationed in the city. During the day, the souq is normally packed with shoppers, but in the early morning hours, the place is deserted. Earlier that night, Richardson’s team had already been hit in two IED strikes elsewhere in the city. One blew the entire back end of an armored Humvee off, requiring a wrecker to come out and retrieve it. Two of its occupants were seriously injured and Richardson’s team had to pick up two more marines from another unit to replace them.

“The souq is like a maze, and we got lost pretty fast,” Richardson said. “It’s dark, and the streets are too narrow to turn around. There are no street signs.” As he continued talking I could envision the four Humvees feeling their way along in the dark, past deserted wooden shop stalls and empty produce stands – all viewed through the eerie green light of night vision goggles. A few lonely stars and clotheslines looking on overhead, and apart from the rumble of four diesel engines, deafening quiet. Eventually the patrol finally found their way out of the marketplace. “We punched out onto a side street that dumped into a T intersection. Vehicle one got hit with a massive IED when they made a left at that intersection, which disabled the vehicle,” he said. The ambush had been sprung at that point, and insurgents delivered savage small arms and machine gun fire from surrounding rooftops. A rocket-propelled grenade fired a second too early skidded off the hood of Richardson’s vehicle and exploded into a nearby electronics store. The other three vehicles pulled up and around to support the damaged Humvee, and a major shootout ensued. “We hit back hard with the Mark 19 grenade launcher and our Gulf 240 medium machine gun. We killed a few of them on the roof and quickly got the upper hand in the firefight,” he recalled. “They put up a fight, though, and there were bullets flying in all directions. They use green tracers and ours are red, and through the night vision goggles it looked like a scene from Star Wars.” Despite being on the receiving end of a well-planned ambush, none of his team received so much as a scratch. It seemed so unlikely that I asked him to repeat the sequence of events and confirm the absence of casualties. “No, we didn’t have any casualties in that firefight,” he asserted. “When we stormed the building, Corp. Greewall shot a couple more of them, too. When two insurgents ran across an open area to try and get to an exit he hit them both with an automatic burst. He had this intuition for stuff like that, and he was just sitting there covering the stairwell, waiting for them to make a run for it. He had a lot of confirmed kills.” “What do people look like when they get hit with the grenade launcher? Or the machine gun?” I finally asked, unable to resist the temptation. I had wondered the whole time, and I finally had to know. “Is it anything like the movies? Nothing at all like the movies?” He seemed amused by my question, but answered it easily as though he’d been asked before. “Deaths are like snowflakes. No two are the same,” he informed me. “There usually isn’t much drama and screaming like the movies,” the TV action hero continued. “Just a lot of pink mist and hamburger meat.” U Reach Matt at For videos from Iraq and more info go to

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6/23/2010 9:12:39 AM

pictures: jim mcguire | clothes and accesories: kitschy-y-cool vintage makeup: scott weaver hair: mandi english models: carolina talent | art direction: jason baker


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Winner of the 2010 Members Circle of Distinction Design Challenge

Charlotte’s best kept secret Find out what the rest of the country is talking about photography: Weinmiller, Inc.


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our new show room: 826 hawthorne lane / 704.377.6304 / www.reaching

6/23/2010 9:14:02 AM

Dining and Nightlife Guide A M ERI C AN Alexander Michael’s – $ 401 W. 9th St. 704.332.6789 BlackFinn – $$ 210 E. Trade St. 704.971.4440 Camilles – $ 1518 E. 3rd St. 704.342.4606 Cedar Street Tavern – $ 120 N. Cedar St. 704.333.3448 Champions – $ 100 W. Trade St. - Marriott Hotel 704.333.9000 Comet Grill – $ 2224 Park Rd. 704.371.4300 Cosmos Cafe – $ 300 N. College St. 704.372.3553 Dressler’s – $$$ The Metropolitan 704.909.6295 East Boulevard Grill – $ 1601 East Blvd. 704.332.2414 Ember Grille – $$$ 601 S. College St. WestinHotel 704.335.2064 Fenwick’s – $ 511 Providence Rd. 704.333.2750 Fox and Hound – $ 330 N. Tryon St. 704.333.4113 French Quarter – $ 321 S. Church St. 704.377.7415 John’s Country Kitchen – $ 1518 Central Ave. 704.333.9551 Lebowski’s Neighborhood Grill - $ 1524 East Blvd. 704.370.1177 Nix – $ 201 N. Tryon St. 704.347.2739 Pike’s Soda Shop – $ 1930 Camden Rd. 704.372.0097 Presto Bar and Grill – $ 445 W. Trade St. 704.334.7088 Providence Café – $ $ 829 Providence R d. 704.376.2008 Providence Road Sundries – $ 1522 Providence Rd. 704.366.4467 Rock Bottom – $ 401 N. Tryon St. 704.334.2739 Selwyn Pub – $ 2801 Selwyn Ave. 704.333.3443 Simmons Fourth Ward Restaurant – $ 516 N. Graham St. 704.334.6640 Something Classic Café – $ 715 Providence Rd. 704.347.3666 South 21 – $ 3101 E. Independence Blvd. 704.377.4509 Stool Pigeons – $ 214 N. Church St. 704.358.3788 The Gin Mill South End – $ 1411 S. Tryon St. 704.373.0782 The Graduate – $ 123 W. Trade St. 704.358.3024 The Penguin – $ 1921 Commonwealth Ave. 704.375.6959 The Philosopher’s Stone – $ 1958 E. Seventh St. 704.350.1331 The Pub – $ 710 West Trade St. 704.333.9818 Thomas Street Tavern – $ 1218 Thomas Ave. 704.376.1622 Tic Toc Coffeeshop – $ 512 N. Tryon St. 704.375.5750 Union Grille – $ 222 E 3rd St. – Hilton Towers 704.331.4360 Vinnie’s Sardine – $ 1714 South Blvd. 704-332-0006 Wild Wings - $ 210 E. Trade St. 704.716.9464 Zack’s Hamburgers – $ 4009 South Blvd. 704.525.1720

A M ERI C AN M O D ERN 131 Main – $$ 1315 East Blvd. 300 East – $$ 300 East Blvd.

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704.343.0131 704.332.6507

Bentley’s on 27 – $$$ 201 S. College St. Fl. 27 704.343.9201 (Charlotte Plaza Building) BLT Steak – $$$ 201 E. Trade St. 704.547.2244 Bonterra Restaurant – $$$ 1829 Cleveland Ave. 704.333.9463 Carpe Diem – $$$ 1535 Elizabeth Ave. 704.377.7976 Coastal Kitchen & Bar – $$$ 222 E. 3rd St. 704.331.4360 Custom Shop – $$$ 1601 Elizabeth Ave. 704.333.3396 Fig Tree – $$$ 1601 E. Seventh St. 704.332.3322 Lulu – $$ 1911 Central Ave. 704.376.2242 McNinch House – $$$ 511 N. Church St. 704.332.6159 Mimosa Grill – $$ 301 S. Tryon St. 704.343.0700 Monticello – $$ 235 N. Tryon St. – Dunhill Hotel 704.342.1193 Pewter Rose Bistro – $$ 1820 South Blvd. 704.332.8149 Ratcliffe on the Green – $$ 435 S. Tryon St. 704.358.9898 Zink – $$ 201 N. Tryon St. 704.444.9001

A S IAN 88 China Bistro – $ 1620 E. 4th St. 704.335.0288 Basil Thai – $ 210 N. Church St. 704.332.7212 China King – $ 128 Brevard Ct. 704.334-7770 China Queen Buffet – $ 127 N. Tryon St. Ste 3 704.377.1928 China Saute – $ 2214 Park Rd 704.333.1116 Creation – $ 1221-A The Plaza 704.372.2561 Cuisine Malaya – $ 1411 Elizabeth Ave. 704.372.0766 Dim Sum – $ 2920 Central Ave. 704.569.1128 Eggroll King – $ 8907 Steelechase Dr. 704.372.6401 Emperor Chinese – $ 337 S. Kings Dr. 704.333.2688 Fortune Cookie – $ 208 East Independence Blvd. 704.377.1388 Fujiyama – $ 320 S. Tryon St. 704.334.5158 Fuse Box – $ 227 W. Trade St. 704.376.8885 Ginbu 401 – $ 401 Providence Rd. 704.372.2288 Great Wok – $ 718 W Trade St. Ste M 704.333.0080 Hong Kong – $ 1713 Central Ave. 704.376.6818 Indochine Asian Tapas Lounge - $ 210 E. Trade St. 704.688.0078 Koko – $ 6609 Elfreda Rd. 704.338.6869 Monsoon Thai Cuisine – $ 2801 South Blvd. 704.523.6778 Orient Express – $ 3200 N Graham St. 704.332.6255 Pho An Hoa – $ 4832 Central Ave. 704.537.2595 Pho Hoa – $ 3000 Central Ave. 704.536.7110 SOHO Bistro – $ 214 N Tryon St. 704.333.5189 Thai Taste – $ 324 East Blvd. 704.332.0001 Taipei Express – $ 731 Providence Rd. 704.334.2288 Tin Tin Box & Noodles – $ 101 N. Tryon St. 704.377.3223

Zen Asian Fusion – $ 1716 Kenilworth Ave.


B A K ER Y Cloud 9 Confections – $ 201 S. College St. Suite 270 Great Harvest Bread – $ 901 S. Kings Dr. Amelie’s Bakery – $ 2424 N. Davidson St. Nova’s Bakery – $ 1511 Central Ave. Panera Bread – $ 601 Providence Rd.

704.334.7554 704.333.0431 704.376-1781 704.333.5566 704.374.0581

B AR B E Q UE Art’s Barbecue – $ 900 E. Morehead St. 704.334.9424 Jolina Tex Mex & BBQ – $ 500 S. College St. 704.375.0994 Mac’s Speed Shop – $ 2511 South Blvd. 704.522.6227 Rib Palace – $ 1300 Central Ave. 704.333.8841

B REA K F A S T Art’s Barbecue – $ 900 E. Morehead St. 704.334.9424 Coffee Cup – $ 914 S. Clarkson St. 704.375.8855 Einstein Brothers – $ 201 S. Tryon St. 704.332.4015 Einstein Brothers – $ 1501 South Blvd. 704.333.4370 IHOP – $ 2715 E. Independence Blvd. 704.334.9502 Monticello – $$ 235 N. Tryon St. – Dunhill Hotel 704.342.1193 Owen’s Bagel & Deli – $ 2041 South Blvd. 704.333.5385 Tic Toc Coffeeshop – $ 512 N. Tryon St. 704.375.5750

B RI T I S H Big Ben’s Pub – $ 801 Providence R d.


C A J UN & C RE O LE Boudreaux’s Louisiana Kitchen – $ 501 E. 36th St. 704.331.9898 Cajun Queen – $$ 1800 E 7th St. 704.377.9017

C ARI B B EAN Anntony’s Caribbean Cafe – $ 2001 E. 7th St. 704.342.0749 Austin’s Caribbean Cuisine – $ 345 S. Kings Dr. 704.331.8778

C H INE S E 88 China Bistro – $ 1620 E. 4th St. 704.335.0288 Vanloi Chinese Barbecue – $ 3101 Central Ave. 704.566.8808 Wok Express – $ 601 S. Kings Dr. 704.375.1122

C O F F EE S H O P S Caribou Coffee – $ 100 N. Tryon St. 704.372.5507 Dilworth Coffee – $ 1235 East Blvd # B, 704.358.8003 330 S Tryon St, 704.334.4575 Dilworth Playhouse Cafe – $ 1427 South Blvd. 704.632.0336

Einstein Brothers – $ $ - 201 S. Tryon St. 704.332.4015 Einstein Brothers – $ 1501 South Blvd. 704.333.4370 Java Passage – $ 101 W. Worthington 704.277.6558 Jump N Joe’s Java Joint – $ 105 E. Morehead St. 704.372.3217 La Tea Da’s – $ 1942 E. 7th St. 704.372.9599 Nova’s Bakery – $ 1511 Central Ave. 704.333.5566 PJ’s Coffee & Lounge - $ 210 E. Trade St. (Epicentre) 704.688.0366 Port City Java – $ 214 N. Tryon St. (Hearst) 704.335.3335 SK Netcafe – $ 1425 Elizabeth Ave. 704.334.1523 Starbucks – $ 545 Providence Rd. 704.372.1591 Starbucks – $ 101 S. Tryon St. 704.374.9519 Tic Toc Coffee shop – $ 512 N. Tryon St. 704.375.5750

D ELI Adams 7th Street Market – $ 401 Hawthorne Ln. 704.334.0001 Art’s Barbecue – $ 900 E. Morehead St. 704.334.9424 Blynk – $ 200 S. Tryon 704.522.3750 Common Market – $ 2007 Commonwealth Ave. 704.334-6209 Dikadee’s Deli – $ 1419 East Blvd. 704.333.3354 Dogwood Cafe – $ 138 Brevard Court 704.376.8353 Fresco Cafe & Deli – $ 3642 Moultrie St. 704.376.5777 Grand Central Deli – $ 101 N. Tryon St. 704.348.7032 Great Harvest Bread Co. – $ 901 S. Kings Dr. 704.333.0431 Groucho’s Deli – $ 201 N. Tryon St. 704.342.0030 Halfpenny’s – $ 30 Two First Union Ctr. 704.342.9697 Jason’s Deli – $ 210 E. Trade (Epicentre) 704.688.1004 Jersey Mike’s Subs – $ 128 S. Tryon St. 704.343.0006 Jersey Mikes Subs – $ 2001 E. 7th St. 704.375.1985 Jump N Joe’s Java Joint – $ 105 E. Morehead St. 704.372.3217 Laurel Market South – $ 1515 South Blvd. 704.334.2185 Leo’s Delicatessen – $ 1421 Elizabeth Ave. 704.375.2400 Li’l Dino – $ 401 S. Tryon St. 704.342.0560 Matt’s Chicago Dog – $ 425 S. Tryon St. 704.333.3650 Owen’s Bagel & Deli – $ 2041 South Blvd. 704.333.5385 Philadelphia Deli – $ 1025 S. Kings Dr. 704.333.4489 Phil’s Tavern – $ 105 E. Fifth St. 704.347.0035 Rainbow Café – $ 400 South Tryon 704.332.8918 Reid’s – $ 225 E. 7th St. 704.377.1312 Ri-Ra Irish Pub – $ 208 N. Tryon St 704.333.5554 Salvador Deli – $ N. Davidson St. 704.334.2344 Sammy’s Deli – $ 1113 Pecan Ave. 704.376.1956

6/23/2010 9:14:03 AM

Dining and Nightlife Guide

Crave the Dessert Bar – $ 501 W. 5th St. 704.277.9993 Dairy Queen – $ 1431 Central Ave. 704.377.4294 Dolce Ristorante – $$ 1710 Kenilworth Ave. 704.332.7525 Luce Ristorante – $$ 214 N. Tryon St. – Hearst Plaza 704.344.9222 Monticello – $$ 235 N. Tryon St.– Dunhill Hotel 704.342.1193

Open Kitchen – $ 1318 W. Morehead St. 704.375.7449 Pasta & Provisions – $ 1528 Providence Rd. 704.364.2622 Portofino’s Italian – $$ 3124 Eastway Dr. 704.568.7933 Primo Ristorante – $$ 116 Middleton Dr. 704.334.3346 Cafe Siena – $$ 230 N. College St. 704.602.2750 Salute Ristorante – $$ 613 Providence Rd 704.342.9767 Terra – $$ 545-B Providence Rd. 704.332.1886 Villa Francesca 321 Caldwell St. 704.333.7447 Volare – $$ 1523 Elizabeth Ave. 704.370.0208 Zio Authentic Italian – $$ 116 Middleton Dr. 704.344.0100



The Melting Pot – $$$ 901 S. Kings Dr. Stuite 140-B 704.334.4400 Therapy Cafe – $ 401 N. Tryon St. 704.333.1353 The Fig Tree – $$ 1601 E. 7th St. 704.332.3322

Cuban Pete’s – $ 1308 The Plaza

Sandwich Club – $ 525 N. Tryon St. Sandwich Club – $ 435 S. Tryon St. Substation II - $ 1601 South Blvd 1941 E. 7th St.

704.334.0133 704.344.1975 704-332-3100 704-358-8100


F REN C H Terra – $$ 545-B Providence Rd.


GREE K Greek Isles – $$ 200 E. Bland St. Little Village Grill – $ 710-G W. Trade St. Showmars – $ 214 N. Tryon St.

Dish – $ 1220 Thomas Ave. 704.344.0343 Mert’s Heart & Soul – $ 214 N. College St. 704.342.4222 Blue – $$$ 214 N. Tryon St. 704.927.2583 Intermezzo Pizzeria & Café – $ 1427 E. 10th Street 704.347.2626

M E X I C AN 704.347.2184 704.333.5833

704.333.0063 704.370.2824

I T ALIAN Carrabba’s Italian Grill – $$ 1520 South Blvd. 704.377.2458 Coco Osteria – $$ 214 N. Tryon St.–Hearst Plaza 704.344.8878 Dolce Ristorante – $$ 1710 Kenilworth Ave. 704.332.7525 Fig Tree – $$$ 1601 E. 7th St. 704.332.3322 Hawthorne’s NY Pizza – $ 1701 E. 7th St. 704.358.9339 Intermezzo Pizzeria & Café – $ 1427 E. 10th St. 704.347.2626 Luce Ristorante & Bar – $$$ 214 N. Tryon St. – Hearst Plaza 704.344.9222 Mama Ricotta’s – $$ 601 S. Kings Dr. 704.343.0148

July 10.indd 66



IN D IAN Copper – $$ 311 East Blvd. Maharani – $ 901 S. Kings Dr.


Cabo Fish Taco – $ 3201 N. Davidson St. Johnny Burrito – $ 301 S. Tryon St. La Paz – $$ 1910 South Blvd. Phat Burrito – $ 1537 Camden Rd. Salsarita’s – $ 101 S. Tryon St.

704.332.8868 704.371.4448 704.372.4168 704.332.7428 704.342.0950

M I D D LE EA S T ERN Kabob Grill – $ 1235-B East Blvd. Metropolitan – $ 138 Brevard Ct.

704.371.8984 704.333.5175

O U T D O O R D INING Big Ben’s Pub – $$ 801 Providence Rd. 704.334.6338 Cans Bar – $ 500 W. 5th St. 704.940.0200 East Boulevard Grill – $ 1601 East Blvd. 704.332.2414 Ember Grille – $$$ 601 S. College St. - Westin Hotel 704.335.2064 Ri-Ra Irish Pub – $ 208 N. Tryon St 704.333.5554

Sullivan’s – $$$ 1928 South Blvd. The Corner Pub – $ 335 N. Graham St.

704.335.8228 704.376.2720

PIZZA Brixx – $ 225 East 6th St. 704.347.2749 Donato’s Pizza - $ 718-A West Trade St 704.714.4743 Domino’s Pizza – $ 343 S. Kings Dr. 704.331.9847 Fuel Pizza – $ 214 N. Tryon St. 704.350.1680 Fuel Pizza – $ 1501 Central Ave. 704.376.3835 Hawthorne’s NY 1701 E. 7th St. 704.358.9339 Latta Pizza – $ 320 S. Tryon St. 704.333.4015 Papa John’s Pizza – $ 1620 E. 4th St. 704.375.7272 Picasso’s – $ 214 N. Church St. 704.331.0133 Pie Town – $$ 710 W. Trade St. 704.379.7555 Pizza Hut – $ 901 S. Kings Dr. 704.377.7006 Rudino’s Pizza & Grinders – $ 2000 South Blvd. - Atherton Mill 704.333.3124 UNO Chicago Grill – $ 401 S. Tryon St. 704.373.0085 Villa Francesca 321 Caldwell St. 704.333.7447 Zio Authentic Italian – $ 116 Middleton Dr. 704.344.0100

Quiznos Sub – $ 127 N. Tryon St. 704.374.9921 Quizno’s – $ 320 S. Tryon St. – Latta Arcade 704.372.8922 Roly Poly Sandwiches – $ 317 S. Church St. 704.332.6375 Sbarro – $ 101 S. Tryon St. 704.332.5005 Simply Subs – $ 212 S. Tryon St. 704.333.0503 Smoothie King – $ Epicentre - 210 Trade St. 704.979.6911 Smoothie King – $ One Wachovia Center 704.374.0200 Spoons – $ 415 Hawthorne Ln. 704.376.0874 Woody’s Chicago Style – $ 320 S. Tryon St. - Latta Arcade 704.334.0010 Zack’s Hamburgers – $ 4009 South Blvd. 704.525.1720

S EA F O O D Aquavina – $$$ 435 S. Tryon St. 704.377.9911 Cabo Fish Taco – $ 3201 N. Davidson St. 704.332.8868 Capital Grille – $$$ 201 N. Tryon St. 704.348.1400 Fig Tree –$$$ 1601 E. Seventh St. 704.332.3322 LaVecchia’s – $$$ 225 E. 6th St. 704.370.6776 McCormick & Schmick’s – $$$ 200 South Tryon St. 704.377.0201 Outback Steakhouse – $$ 1412 East Blvd. 704.333.0505



Bojangles’ – $ 310 E Trade St. 704.335.1804 Boston Market – $ 829 Providence Rd. 704.344.0016 Burger King – $ 310 E. Trade St. 704.334.3312 Chick-fil-A – $ 101 S. Tryon St. 704.344.0222 Chicks Restaurant – $ 320 S. Tryon St. – Latta Arcade 704.358.8212 Church’s – $ 1735 W. Trade St. 704.332.2438 Dairy Queen – $ 1431 Central Ave. 704.377.4294 Domino’s Pizza – $ 343 S. Kings Dr. 704.331.9847 Fuel Pizza – $ 214 N. Tryon St. 704.350.1680 Fuel Pizza – $ 1501 Central Ave. 704.376.3835 Green’s Lunch – $ 309 W. 4th St. 704.332.1786 Mr. K’s – $ 2107 South Blvd. 704.375.4318 Papa John’s Pizza – $ 1620 E. 4th St 704.375.7272 Pasta & Provisions – $ 1528 Providence Rd. 704.364.2622 Pita Pit – $ 214 N. Tryon St. 704.333.5856

Lupie’s Cafe – $ 2718 Monroe Rd. 704.374.1232 Mert’s Heart and Soul – $ 214 N. College St 704.342.4222 Price’s Chicken Coop – $ 1614 Camden Rd. 704.333.9866 Savannah Red – $$ 100 W. Trade St. 704.333.9000 Marriott City Center

S P ANI S H Sole Spanish Grille – $$$ 1608 East blvd.. 704.343.9890

S T EA K H O U S E Beef & Bottle – $$$ 4538 South Blvd. 704.523.9977 Capital Grille – $$$ 201 N. Tryon St. 704.348.1400 Chima – $$$ 139 S. Tryon St. 980.225.5000 Flemings - $$$ 210 E. Trade St. 704.333.4266 LaVecchia’s – $$$ 225 E. 6th St. 704.370.6776 Longhorn Steakhouse – $$ 700 E. Morehead St. 704.332.2300

6/23/2010 9:14:03 AM

Dining and Nightlife Guide Morton’s – $$$ 227 W.Trade St.- Carillon bldg. 704.333.2602 Outback Steakhouse – $$ 1412 East Blvd. 704.333.2602 Ruth’s Chris – $$$ 222 S. Tryon St. 704.338.9444 Sullivan’s – $$$ 1928 South Blvd. 704.335.8228

S U S H I Enso – $$ 210 E. Trade St. Fujo Uptown Bistro – $$ 301 S. College St KO Sushi – $$ 230 S. Tryon St. Nikko – $$ 1300-F South Blvd. Pisces – $$ 1100 E. Metropolitan Ave. Room 112 – $$ 112 S. Tryon St. Ru-San’s Sushi – $$ 2440 Park Rd.

704.716.3676 704.954.0087 704.372.7757 704.370.0100 704.334.0009 704.335.7112 704.374.0008

T A P A S Arpa Tapas – $$$ 121 W. Trade St. Cosmos Cafe – $$ 300 N. College St.

704.372.7792 704.372.3553

V EGE T ARIAN Blynk – $ 200 S. Tryon 704.522.3750 Dish – $ 1220 Thomas Ave. 704.344.0343 Something Classic Café – $ 715 Providence Rd. 704.347.3666

V IE T NA M E S E Pho An Hoa – $ 4832 Central Ave.


B AR S Amos SouthEnd – $ 1423 S. Tryon St. 704.377.6874 Apostrophe Lounge – $$ 1400 S. Tryon St. 704.371.7079 BAR Charlotte – $ 300 N. College St. 704.342.2557 Big Ben’s Pub – $$ 801 Providence Rd. 704.334.6338 Buckhead Saloon – $ 201 E. 5th St. 704.370.0687 Cans Bar – $ 500 W. 5th St. 704.940.0200 Cedar Street Tavern – $ 120 N. Cedar St. 704.333.3448 Connolly’s on 5th – $ 115 E. 5th St. 704.358.9070 Cosmos – $$ 300 N. College St. 704.375.8765 Coyote Ugly – $ 521 N. College St. 704.347.6869 Crave the Dessert Bar – $ 501 W. 5th St. 704.277.9993 Dilworth Bar & Grille 911 E. Morehead St. 704.377.3808

July 10.indd 67

Dilworth Billiards 300 E. Tremont Ave. 704.333.3021 Dixie’s Tavern 301 E. 7th St. 704.374.1700 DoubleDoor Inn 218 E. Independence Blvd. 704.376.1446 Ed’s Tavern 2200 Park Rd. 704.335.0033 Evening Muse 3227 N. Davidson St. 704.376.3737 Fox and Hound – $ 330 N. Tryon St. 704.333.4113 Hartigans Pub – $ 601 S. Ceder St. 704.347.1841 Hawthorne’s NY Pizza – $ 1701 E. 7th St. 704.358.9339 Howl at the Moon – $ 210 E. Trade St. 704.936.4695 Jillian’s SouthEnd – $ 300 E. Bland Street 704.376.4386 Loft 1523 – $$ 1523 Elizabeth Ave. 704.333.5898 Madison’s – $$ 115 Fifth St. 704.299.0580 Morehead Tavern – $ 300 East Morehead St. 704.334.2655 Mortimers -$ 210 E. Trade St. 704.334.2655 Phil’s Tavern – $ 105 E. Fifth St. 704.347.0035 Picasso’s – $ 214 N. Church St. 704.331.0133 Pravda – $$ 300 N. College St. 704.375.8765 Presto Bar and Grill – $ 445 W. Trade St. 704.334.7088 Ri-Ra Irish Pub – $ 208 N. Tryon St 704.333.5554 Selwyn Pub – $ 2801 Selwyn Ave. 704.333.3443 Stool Pigeons – $ 214 N. Church St. 704.358.3788 Suite – $ 210 E. Trade St. 704.999.7934 The Attic – $ 200 N. Tryon St. 704.358.4244 The Corner Pub – $ 335 N. Graham St. 704.376.2720 The Forum – $$ 300 N. College St. 704.375.8765 The Gin Mill – $ 1411 S. Tryon St. 704.373.0782 The Penguin – $ 1921 Commonwealth Ave. 704.375.6959 The Pub – $ 710 West Trade St. 704.333.9818 Thomas Street Tavern – $ 1218 Thomas St. 704.376.1622 Tilt – $$ 127 W. Trade St. 704.347.4870 Town Tavern – $ 200 N. Tryon Tremont Music Hall – $ 400 W Tremont Ave. 704.343.9494 Tutto Mondo – $ 1820 South Blvd. 704.332.8149 Tyber Creek Pub – $ 1933 South Blvd. 704.343.2727 Vinnie’s Sardine – $ 1714 South Blvd. 704.332.0006 Whiskey River – $ 210 E. Trade St. 704.749.1097 Wild Wings - $ 210 E. Trade St. 704.716.9464

Visit Energy Cafe for a

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6/23/2010 9:14:04 AM


July 10.indd 68


6/23/2010 9:14:06 AM

Uptown Magazine July 2010  

Page 22 – Music - Lost in Space Page 24 – Travel – Nicaragua Page 32 – Festival – Bonnaroo Page 40 – Conversation – First Lady of NASCAR Sha...

Uptown Magazine July 2010  

Page 22 – Music - Lost in Space Page 24 – Travel – Nicaragua Page 32 – Festival – Bonnaroo Page 40 – Conversation – First Lady of NASCAR Sha...