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Stalking the Anti-Idol

CL breathlessly follows local hero for a day


Adios! Ciao! Hasta la vista! Surely we're not alone in gladly saying goodfreakinbye to American Idol this season. Honestly, over the past month or so, AI finalists have popped up everywhere -- from hanging out with Katie Couric on Today to singing the national anthem at the Coca-Cola 600 last week at Lowe's Motor Speedway. And if all the national media attention wasn't bad enough, with runner-up Clay Aiken being from Raleigh, our friends at the esteemed local daily latched right on to him as well. Yes, Aiken is a student at UNC-Charlotte, but did we really need to read about him day after day, week after week? Heck, Fox 18, who admittedly turned Aiken away during preliminary tryouts, even went so far as to hold a Clay look-alike contest last week. Enough already! As a needed antidote to the endless barrage of "news" by and about Clayniacs, we set out to find our own local idol. Of course we wanted someone who's genuinely musically gifted. A person who commands attention. Somebody who makes the stage his or her own. More importantly, in true CL fashion, we wanted to find someone who wouldn't be caught dead auditioning for some glamorized karaoke TV show (not to mention someone a certain radio talk show host would definitely not find suitable to play Peter Pan). Luckily, we didn't have to look very hard to find our man. Actually a quick trip to The Penguin Drive-In on Thomas Street and there he was, hard at work hanging flyers for one of his upcoming shows -- local icon Mike Hendrix.

Long before Clay Aiken was even a glimmer in his father's eye, mighty Mike Hendrix was rocking it out at the Milestone on Tuckaseegee in one of the area's very first punk rock acts. Soon after, he formed a group of his own, The Belmont Playboys, and the rest is, well, local music history. In fact, just a few years ago we had to retire the "Best Rockabilly Band" category in our Best Of Charlotte Awards since there's never been an act superior to the Playboys.

These days, Hendrix is still playing and writing music with the Playboys, and he's also taken on a brand new project called The Sorry Bastards. Multi-tasking: the mark of creative genius.

Along with anointing Hendrix with his new title as CL's Local Idol, we decided to do the mainstream press thing and become annoyingly obsessed with him. So, we followed the Idol around for a whole day to get a glimpse of life as a rock star. Here's most of the stuff that was fit to print:

1pm After bitching us out for waking him up, Mike wants to head out to "grab a bite for lunch." Whoa mama! Does he mean what he says! Lunch buffet at, er, an adult establishment.

4pm We stagger, uh, get into a cab and head back to his house. Mike (a closet computer geek) fires up his PC along with something else that we probably shouldn't mention due to him being on probation and all. He checks his e-mail, adds a few political rants to his website,, then shows us how to transfer old cassette tapes onto MP3 files.

6pm Pow-wow at The Penguin with another Charlotte idol, Mookie Brill. They discuss how DJs and electronic music are killing live music; how clever a show Seinfield truly was. . .and so were the first three seasons in particular of Married With Children; and how it's a sure sign of a business in trouble when restaurants start booking bands. We also learn a countless number of jokes that mostly involve drummers.

8pm Some fella recognizes Mike. Uh-oh. Apparently Mike slept with his old lady once and well, matters had to be taken up outside.

8:45pm Mike realizes he hasn't shown us his hog. We go back to his house, his old lady bitches him out for a while about something he was supposed to do today, then we head to the garage.

12midnight "Really, (yaw-w-w-n) it's a super cool bike and all, Mike, but we've really got to get going now," and we exit.

OK, so we didn't get to jet-set across the country and attend a big Hollywood movie premiere, but we did learn some valuable stuff such as you can't get a discount for buying more than one lap dance and you really do have to wash dishes at some places if you can't pay your tab. Cab drivers will certainly run you down for their fare, day or night. And beer and wine are a waste of time -- if you really want to take care of business, you go with liquor.

Since hearing that plans are underway to have an official "Clay Day" here in Charlotte, CL is currently negotiating with the owners of The Penguin to have a (very stout) mixed drink named after Hendrix.

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