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Bang A Chong

Pothead comedian fires up audience

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Last Friday night, a legend was in town. Tommy Chong, late of the best-selling comedy duo Cheech and Chong and currently on hiatus from a guest star role on That 70s Show, is to pot smokers what Babe Ruth is to fans of gluttonous sluggers. In fact, Chong might be the celebrity dope smoker, at least now that Snoop Dogg is cutting back. Chong was in town to do two shows at the Comedy Zone, conveniently located across the street from Chez Davis. Arriving early to pick up my reserved tickets, I scanned the crowd to detect any potential loud talkers. First check: clear, though a woman beside me with a cellular phone that lit up whenever she talked was placed under observation (for the Myrtle Beach taste in phones, mostly). Pretty soon, a table of Jackass Repeaters sat beside me. You know Jackass Repeaters -- they're the kind of loud people that, at a comedy show or movie, repeat exactly what was just said, except louder and not as funny. Soon, the Prince of Pot appeared, and all was well. Frankly, I spent the majority of my time trying to figure out if Chong was indeed high while on stage, but was unable to come to a reasonable conclusion. Chong, potted and planted at the front of the stage, was the perfect mix of dry and outrageous: "People ask me why me and Cheech broke up. . .Well, we were rich, man. And you can't make a rich Mexican do shit he don't want to." Perhaps the most interesting part of Chong's show was at the end, when he and wife Shelby sold Chong trinkets in the lobby. There were "Buy American" shirts, featuring Chong inside a flag with a spliff, Chong Thongs, with Tommy's face right in the middle of the postage-stamp sized material, and Chong Bongs. A Chong visage was directly applied to the Chong Bong, and he'd sign it for you for free. To potheads, using such a thing must feel like a kid in a sandlot with a signed Barry Bonds baseball bat. Judging by the numbers Chong sold of his contraption, a lot of folks looked ready to play ball. (Davis)

After seeing the big ad in CL last week, I had to check out the Goddess Wanda Dee for myself. I'll remember my trip to the Thoroughbred Lounge the rest of my life. Want the formula? Kick the scene off in an industrial area on the West side of Charlotte not far from Tank Town. Take an old white redneck bar with classic office-style hanging tile ceilings and beer signs. Fill it full of Arnold Palmer types and aging weekly comb-out beauty salon queens bouncing around to some contemporary hip hop, a handful of middle-aged black clientele nonchalantly munching on a hot wing buffet, a token lesbian in a rainbow cap chatting with her western gear-wearing girlfriend along with a few over-dressed posing gay men and for good measure stir in a mullet-wearing wrestler known as the "Italian Stallion" locking lips with a local radio DJ (female). Add a one-armed comic known as "Minister P" who promises to heal any "coochie" by a laying upon of his nub, a couple of faded strutting disco divas, and one pleasantly high-strung promoter in a black jumpsuit with a headful of extensions, and you've got the mighty Thoroughbred Lounge. The heavily hyped Wanda Dee, by the way, bounded onto the stage looking something like a circuit party drag diva from the planet Venus. Audience total. . .about 50. Nevertheless, it was one of the most surreal evenings I've spent in any bar, anywhere, ever. It was even stranger than the evening I spent with the Del Rubio Triplets. (Moore)

Saturday night, they had something called Punk Wars at Tremont Music Hall, featuring bands like Choke Their Rivers With Our Dead, Walsham, My So-Called Band, and many others. Ironically, none of the bands are what you'd consider straight-ahead punk, with the exception of My So-Called Band, who received one of the worst receptions of any band on the list. Go figure. It was packed, however, meaning that Americans in general love a war, even when they don't know what the heck it's for or about (hmmm...something vaguely familiar about that). And if you've ever wondered what happened to all those old high school P.E. shirts of old, this would have been a good night to come out. But it was a grand night, one that makes you feel pretty good about the Charlotte music scene's potential staying power. One of the best bands on the bill, the caustic Between The Buried And Me, effectively mix a little emo-sensitivity with hardcore, topped off with some death-metal-lite vocals that would make Phil Anselmo of Pantera shave his head in glee. This band doesn't play emo, they play chemo. Conveniently free of mook skinheads looking to cause trouble, the show even featured several makeshift moshpits, as well as some dancing circles people would enter and do a Fight Club-style dance that I heard one onlooker describe as "like watching someone drown without water." (Davis)

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