BEST LOCAL POLITICIAN FOR VOTERS WHO DIDN'T REALIZE THERE WAS A CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT AND THAT IT WON
We got tired of giving Mecklenburg County's biggest bigot a "Worst" prize in our annual Best of Charlotte issue, so we came up with a "Best" category for this despicable excuse for a human being. Everybody knows the long-past-expired county commissioner's greatest hits: his use of "moral sewer" in describing predominantly African-American neighborhoods; his sustained inflammatory comments about our gay and lesbian citizens; his hatred of Latino immigrants. We thought we'd award those who continue to support James with a category that explains their voting behavior. Clearly, these people just aren't aware that there was a civil rights movement nearly a half-century ago and that this movement actually changed the way society treats people who are different from the dominant culture. James supporters don't mean to be hateful – their brains are simply stuck in reverse, and they keep going round and round and round — backward.
BEST REASON FOR HAVING THE DNC IN CHARLOTTE
It mercifully kept the RNC out of Charlotte.
BEST LOCAL MAYOR TO SPEAK AT A NATIONAL POLITICAL CONVENTION
BEST LYNX STOP TO SEE THE CHARLOTTE MELTING POT
You get the cultural and socioeconomic gamut on Charlotte's light rail, from working folks headed to blue-collar jobs to bankers in their monkey suits. During the DNC, we watched in one train car as out-of-town delegates rubbed shoulders with construction workers and at least one white-bearded priest. All of the stops along the blue line — you know, the only line — are great for people-watching (with the Convention Center stop probably being the place you'll see the most people), but we picked Scaleybark because ... well, we just like the name.
3750 South Blvd.
BEST CHURCH WHERE YOU'LL HEAR LIMITED REFERENCES TO GOD
Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte
At the UUCC you'll hear about a Life Force, Gaia, Mother Earth, the Interdependent Web of All Existence and, yeah, OK, sometimes God. But you won't get beat over the head with language describing some paternalistic, anthropomorphic deity sitting on a throne in the clouds ready to zap you with a bolt of lightning when you invite your gay brother and his partner over for dinner. UUs look to all kinds of teachers and messages from human history — Jesus, Muhammad, Saint Paul, the Buddha, Lao Tzu, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thich Nhat Hanh, Karen Armstrong, the words of Emily Dickinson, Henry David Thoreau, Dylan, Lennon, Chuck D. — and each other. Yeah, they like and respect each other. Their only creed is to look for the inherent worth and dignity of every person on the planet. Scandalous, innit?
BEST PLACE TO BE REMINDED THAT SOME PEOPLE STILL WORSHIP THE CONFEDERACY
It's one thing to honor our dead and our region's rich history. It's another to honor a misguided cause that was antithetical to what America stands for. That's what the fetishistic obsession with the Confederate graves at Elmwood Cemetery is about. And it's creepy. Thankfully, the city removed the Confederate flag that once flapped above those graves. But you can still find the noxious fetishization of the Confederacy there — not far from the graves of the slaves our Southern forebears fought to keep bound and shackled.
BEST LOCAL TWITTER HANDLE EVEN THOUGH WE'RE AWARE THAT PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING SHE TWEETS AND RE-TWEETS IS PURE, UNADULTERATED BULLSHIT
She's bold, that's for sure. Her handle is a play on Sista Souljah, an African-American rapper and radical political activist of the '90s who couldn't be any more different from Ms. Toldjah, who is a blonde, self-described "genuine conservative Southern belle born in the wrong era." We don't know exactly what era the Sister thinks she should have been born in, but we suspect it must be the era of Watergate, white-only country clubs, closeted gays and Betty Crocker housewives. Her tweets are defiantly, self-righteously and mean-spiritedly anti-women, anti-gay, anti-science, anti-liberal — and yet she benefits from the landmark work all of those groups have done to make her and her country stronger. Oh, but she's pro-liar (see her link to Breitbart.com). A typical Toldjah tweet: "[Feminists] are a disgrace to classy yet passionate debate." You, uh ... go, girl. No, really. Go.
BEST ISSUE IN THE NATIONAL NEWS THAT MAKES US SQUIRM
The threat of the Zombie apocalypse
People eating intestines, faces and such. What is the world coming to? Oh, that's right: It's coming to an end.
BEST LOCAL HIPSTER 'ZINE THAT WANTS TO BE A REGIONAL VERSION OF PITCHFORK
All the ingredients are there: Correct ratio of local experimental jazz/indie/avant-skronk eclecticism (Bo White, check); tender, delicate, earnest but very adventurous folk (Mount Moriah, check); smart, indie-approved hip-hop (King Mez, check); blipping, beeping, clicking avant-electronics (Storms OV Jupiter, check); Springsteen-like heartland rock that's OK to like (Temperance League, check), etc. What else? Writers who know entirely too much about Yo La Tengo, The Go-Betweens, John Zorn, Titus Andronicus, Animal Collective, all those cool Canadian acts associated with Broken Social Scene, and various and sundry other references you must somehow shoehorn into an album review. (Check.) And you know what? Shuffle is damn good at it! The writers know their stuff. And we're proud they're based in Charlotte, scouring the nooks and crannies for great music from across the Carolinas.
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
BEST LOCAL MUSICIAN TO GIVE YOU THE SHIRT OFF HIS BACK — EVEN IF YOU DON'T ASK FOR IT
In the glow of stage lights, things can get awfully sweaty and heated. It's not uncommon to see random band members (or complete bands) strip off their shirts and leave them in a wet, goopy mass on the sides of stages. Then there's Benji Hughes. The whimsical crooner often strips the clothes off his ample torso before he even hits the stage, but if you're going to be singing about A Love Extreme and "tight T-shirts," maybe that's the best way to start. His XL T-shirts are tight, that's for sure.
BEST CHARLOTTE ARTIST RESPONSIBLE FOR GETTING HIP-HOP'S IMPRINT ONTO EVERYTHING ARTS IN THE QUEEN CITY
Quentin "Q" Talley
Yeah, we got our local hip-hop painters and illustrators and graffiti artists, our break dancers, our DJs and MCs, and our slam poets. But Quentin Talley has created a veritable incubator for black arts in Charlotte that mixes it all up. Since 2006, his On Q Productions has continued to bring some of the most wildly adventurous plays and events to the Queen City arts scene, from a production of Ain't Misbehavin' to a work focusing on jazz legends John Coltrane and Miles Davis to Stacey Rose's fabulous staging of Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage's Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine. Not to mention Rose's "Hip-hop Unplugged" and Kamiliah Forbes' ambitious A Rhyme Deferred, this past year, which put hip-hop culture into a blender, shook it and stirred it. This year also found Q introducing his fourth season: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, It'll Be Live! We bow to you, Mr. Q.
BEST EVENT DURING THE DNC THAT YOU PROBABLY MISSED BECAUSE YOU WERE TOO INTERESTED IN WATCHING THOSE OCCUPIERS
UndocuNation: A Night of Art, Activism, and Immigrant Rights
Put on by CultureStrike and the Center for New Community, this showcase at the Neighborhood Theatre the Wednesday of DNC week honored Benita Veliz, the Mexican immigrant raised in San Antonio, Texas, who became the first undocumented person to address a national political convention. The event featured a spectrum of activist performances, from Raleigh spoken-word artists Sacrificial Poets to Greensboro singer/songwriter Laila Nur and West Coast hip-hop duo Los Rakas. Not only that, but the art gallery during the event included works of Latino artists from across the country. Where were the 1 percent while these less-than-one-percenters were subverting the subversives?
BEST MUSICIAN WE COULDN'T FIND A CATEGORY
He can skronk it up with noisy horns and clattering drums, twang it up with wavery guitars, get melodic with strings, trip through an obstacle course of tempo changes, program music for the Muzak company, release other adventurous artists on his cool indie label Kinnikinnik Records and perform with friends at his Yauhaus home studio. Not only that, but 30-year-old White (along with other local experimental musical luminaries including Great Architect saxophonist Brent Bagwell) can make just about any fellow Charlotte musician's sound become profound — and profoundly compelling. White surfaced a few years ago with his wildly creative noise-rock outfit Calabi Yau. And if his 2012 solo album con la Orquesta Seleccionada, Same Deal/New Patrones, doesn't thrust him to Pitchfork superstardom, there ain't no god.
RESIDENCE WITH THE HIGHEST RATE OF ONE-NIGHT STANDS AND LONE/LOST HIGH HEELS IN THE ELEVATOR
A favored after-party spot Uptown, The Avenue off Church Street is known for being the place to have anonymous bathroom sex. Visiting girls can be sure to lose at least one of the following: their right shoe, their purse, their way or their best friend. Guys are pretty much guaranteed to find a sure thing, or at least some heavy petting ... and a random purse, shoe, etc.
BEST PLACE TO POLLUTE YOUR LUNGS WITH FRUITY-TASTING SMOKE
This literary lounge has wine, beer, a jukebox, pool and the best hookah selection from downtown to NoDa. It's also open delightfully late and has a relaxed policy about outside food — which is perfect, as it's situated right across the hall from Amelie's French Bakery.
2424 N. Davidson St.
BEST NIGHT TO BREAK YOUR NECK
Radio Rehab @ Neighborhood Theatre
Held at Neighborhood Theatre the third Thursday of every month, Radio Rehab is one of Charlotte's most creative hip-hop nights. DJ Skillz and DJ DR spin a heady mix of old school and Golden Era 90s, with some classic Nirvana or White Stripes thrown in on occasion. Bob your head, but pace yourself — you may need a neck brace come morning.
511 E. 36th St.
BEST PLACE FOR LADIES TO FIND A GAY "BOYFRIEND"
Bar at 316
Bar at 316 is not only a spot for delish drinks, a stacked online jukebox and some prime karaoke, it's also the perfect venue for heterosexual ladies to find the gay "boyfriends" they've always dreamt of. Weekends offer wall-to-wall pretty boys who are sure to sweep any gal off her feet and make her wish that cover marriages were still a thing. Next time your actual boyfriend is annoying you and you want to dance your heart out to Britney's greatest hits and receive unsolicited compliments from men who aren't trying to get into your pants (only if you've really put in the effort; gay men are selective), we suggest this South End favorite.
316 Rensselaer Ave.
FOOD & DRINK
RESTAURANT WE KEEP GOING TO EVEN THOUGH IT GIVES US HEARTBURN
Three varieties of chili and you leave the Monroe Road eatery smelling like grease. There's no accounting for love.
2718 Monroe Road
BEST FOOD THAT HAS NO BUSINESS BEING SERVED AT BREAKFAST BUT WE ARE SO HAPPY IT IS
Broccoli Casserole at Pike's Old Fashioned Soda Shop
The only authentic analogy for taking your first bite of Pike's broccoli casserole is having passionate, public sex for the first time. You know it's not the appropriate time, but you've started and now you can't stop. It's hot, it's delicious, and you intend to clean your plate regardless of the consequences. Oh yeah, it's that good. Pike's also offers more "vanilla" traditional breakfast/brunch items, but we love that they offer this particularly creamy, cheesy goodness to complement the biscuits and grits.
1930 Camden Road
BEST PLACE TO FIND CHOCOLATE CAKE THE SIZE OF YOUR HEAD
Hawthorne's New York Pizza and Bar (Elizabeth)
One time, six of us shared a single slice.
1701 E. 7th St.
THE BEST FRIEND A CHARLOTTE SHOPAHOLIC CAN HAVE
Effie Loukas is the coordinator of the annual Style Night Out event, which brings together more than 30 locally owned boutiques in Charlotte for one big fashion show in September. Surely with her connections, she's got the hookup.
BEST STORE FOR DRUNK-BUYING CHEESY MAGNETS, MINTS, CARDS, OBAMA DOLLS AND ALL MANNER OF WEIRD AND BIZARRE TOYS
Hey, it's better than drunk-buying copies of the National Enquirer or Weekly World News in the impulse-purchase line at Harris Teeter.
2007 Commonwealth Ave.
1515 S. Tryon St.
BEST PERSON TO DONATE YOUR USED TABLECLOTHS TO
At a sustainable fashion show hosted by The PPL during DNC week, local fashion designer Cigi Guz showcased three models sporting outfits made from tablecloths. Yes, the same cloths that cover your kitchen table to catch your children's spaghetti spills. Either she's got an eye for this kind of stuff or she has too much time on her hands.
BEST STEAMPUNK TRASH GLAM VINTAGE STREET JEWELRY DESIGNER
Melissa Wineman of Mo's Arts Crafts & More
She can be found creating tiny sci-fi novels in the form of vintage, remixed and upcycled necklaces and earrings. A fixture at All Arts Market and most other recurring craft showcases in and around Charlotte, her pieces are not only one of a kind, they're also priced right for those with big personalities and small wallets. Look for the energetic redhead, or see pictures of her freaky-good items on Facebook.