Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Homer Thief Returns

Posted By on Thu, Mar 30, 2017 at 5:17 PM

Joe Gillespie after a night of Homerin' it up in 2015. - MCSO
  • MCSO
  • Joe Gillespie after a night of Homerin' it up in 2015.

Next week kicks off another season for the Charlotte Knights at BB&T Ballpark, and to help us celebrate we've brought in a guy whose hijinks at the park have already become urban Uptown legend.

Joe Gillespie, aka the Homer Thief, subject of the most-read story Creative Loafing has ever published, has hooked up with JD Harris, founder of Charlotte-based Glory Days Apparel, to bring the city something they didn't know they needed for the upcoming baseball season.

Yes, Gillespie is bringing back the mullet-and-mustache combo seen 'round the world, but that ain't all. You'll have to wait until Creative Loafing brings you the full story on Monday, but until then, catch up on the legend as it was originally told, and check our guy in the teaser below...

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Friday, March 17, 2017

WHOOPS: Corrected Spring Guide Knights Schedule (Promotions Included)

Posted By on Fri, Mar 17, 2017 at 11:23 AM

It's the Knights' fourth season in the Uptown ballpark, and yet no one wants to believe that their friends have already seen enough skyline shots on social media. Snap away, folks. - LAURA WOLFF
  • Laura Wolff
  • It's the Knights' fourth season in the Uptown ballpark, and yet no one wants to believe that their friends have already seen enough skyline shots on social media. Snap away, folks.

So, this is embarrassing, but it came to our attention this morning that in this week's Spring Guide print edition, we screwed up the Charlotte Knights home schedule royally. And no, that awesome pun won't fix it.

For that reason, we've created this post to get things right, and we've included some of those ironically tacky promotions (did you know Soup Nazi was in town last year?!) so you know the right night to attend. Also, remember that every Thursday is a Thirsty one, with $3 domestic drafts and $1 small sodas, and every home game on a Friday night will feature post-game fireworks.

This isn't paid content or an advertising scheme — we actually haven't even heard from the Knights about our flub yet — we're just trying to fix things quick after realizing we've gotten ourselves behind in the count. Print this and hold on to it or put it in your "Favorites" folder or whatever it is you kids do these days. Our apologies for any confusion caused by the botched schedule in the print edition.

April 6-9: Norfolk Tides*
(April 9 is Homer the Dragon's Birthday Party)
April 18-20: Pawtucket Red Sox
(April 18, Jackie Robinson Day, Knights Honor the Negro League; April 19, Luis Tiant Appearance; April 20, Irish Heritage Night)
April 21-23: Rochester Red Wings*
(April 23, Wiffle Bat and Ball Set Youth Giveaway)
May 2-4: Norfolk Tides
(May 4, Star Wars Night and Homer Bobblehead Giveaway)
May 5-7: Gwinnett Braves*
(May 7, Pirates and Princesses Day)
May 15-17: Durham Bulls
(May 15, Bark in the Ballpark; May 16, Hispanic Heritage Night, Tony Oliva Appearance;
May 23-25: Syracuse Chiefs
May 26-29: Buffalo Bisons*
June 5-7: Durham Bulls

(June 7, Jerry "The King" Lawler Appearance)
June 13-15: Louisville Bats
(June 13, Women in Baseball night; June 14, Brian Jordan Appearance)
June 16-18: Indianapolis Indians*
(June 18, Yoga Day at the Ballpark, Father's Day Pre-game Catch on the Field)
June 26-29: Columbus Clippers
(June 26, Bark in the Ballpark; June 27, Crockett Park/Griffith Park Replica Giveaway; June 28, Bucky Dent Appearance)
June 30 - July 3: Gwinnett Braves*
(July 2, Super Hero Day; July 3, Independence Day Fireworks)
July 13-16: Gwinnett Braves*
(July 15, Carolina BBQ Battle Royale)
July 24-27: Columbus Clippers
(July 24, First Responders Night; July 25, Retro Knights Youth Jersey Giveaway; July 27, Jewish Heritage Night)
July 28-30: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders*
(July 30, Salute to Softball Night, Long Haul Bombers Exhibition)
August 4-6: Gwinnett Braves*
August 15-17: Toledo Mud Hens

(August 16, Jack Morris Appearance, Mustache Bash; August 17, German Heritage Night, Augtoberfest)
August 18-20: Lehigh Valley IronPigs*
August 28-31: Durham Bulls

(August 31, Greek Heritage Night, Greek Life Night)
September 1-4: Norfolk Tides*

*Weekend series

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Can Charlotte Really Afford Major League Fútbol?

Posted By on Thu, Jan 26, 2017 at 5:15 PM


The possibility of Major League Soccer in Charlotte quickly became the center of controversy this week because, well, it all happened so quickly.

If you haven’t been close to a news source, or just don’t care about soccer, let me come in with the assist: On Dec. 14, 2016, the MLS told national media outlets of its plans to add two new teams, and it mentioned Charlotte as a possibility. Burton and Marcus Smith, owner and CEO of NASCAR Speedway Motorsports, respectively, jumped at the opportunity, to the surprise of area government officials. The MLS set a Jan. 31 deadline if Charlotte wants in on the deal. 

But the city already has a minor-league soccer team that hopes to expand. The Charlotte Independence, founded in 2014, has been dribbling around the idea of renovating Memorial Stadium, installing 10,000 seats and leaving room for expansion, with the possibility of becoming a MLS stadium in the future. As far back as last year, the Charlotte Observer reported on the team’s hopes. On Wednesday, Jim McPhilliamy, president of the Independence, told the Observer that his architectural plans for the stadium had been used “without our knowledge or consent” to help Marcus Smith score one of the available MLS franchises.

Charlotte certainly has a robust soccer fan base, with the Charlotte Soccer Academy, Charlotte United Soccer, and other clubs. What’s more, Bank of America Stadium has held sold-out games for national and international teams, so there is a profit incentive, too.

The question is: Can Charlotte afford to spend big money on a MLS team?

While Mecklenburg County officials jumped at the opportunity, Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts said in a statement released today that city leaders are not ready to commit. “While this is very promising, it is clear that we are not prepared to move forward at this time on the current soccer proposal,” Roberts wrote. “Any major decision we make needs to be considered as part of the bigger picture, as we serve our entire community.”

The Smith family would shell out $150 million for one of the teams. But the rest of the project would cost $175 million, $87.5 million of which would be split between Charlotte and Mecklenburg County to help cover the construction costs of a new stadium over the Grady Cole Center and Memorial Stadium. The Smith’s team would agree to repay those costs at a rate of $4.26 million a year, for 25 years, raising the original $87.5 million to $106.5 million. But by that time the new stadium would need millions in renovations.

What’s more, that plan would kick the Charlotte Independence out, forcing the team to find a new home — halting its future like a dead ball.

In case you’re not already convinced that this deal is an attack on an integral part of the Charlotte community, including people's jobs and taxpayer dollars, take a look at what Jay Leach, senior minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte said in a Facebook post Tuesday:

“Keep in mind, these county funds are not restricted and could be invested in public education, affordable housing, social services, museums, parks, or other opportunities to enhance the well-being of our community. But this rushed proposal is in support of one of the wealthiest families in the nation and their interest in getting to own a pro soccer team.”

Let’s red-card the multi-billion-dollar family that will profit off a project that the city is so clearly not ready for; a project that tackles the dreams of a club that is already active in our community.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Walker, Charlotte Ranger aims to end Charlotte's NBA All Star drought

Posted By on Wed, Dec 28, 2016 at 12:43 PM

Kemba Walker (right) and his deputy Frank Kaminsky in Walker, Texas Ranger.
  • Kemba Walker (right) and his deputy Frank Kaminsky in Walker, Texas Ranger.

Who said the local film industry is dead?

A new web series that debuted at the Spectrum Center over the holiday weekend is filmed wholly in Charlotte and aims to raise awareness for a problem that has plagued our local NBA franchise for years: no players in the All Star Game.

Let's just sidestep the fact that Charlotte was in line to host the upcoming All Star Game until House Bill 2 inspired commissioner Adam Silver to move it — lost to New Orleans just as the franchise itself was in 2002.

The more immediate problem faced now by the Hornets — one that can potentially be fixed without having to deal with slithery members of the NCGOP — is a six-year drought in sending a Charlotte player to the NBA All Star Game. The last player to make it was Gerald Wallace, who appeared in the 2010 game as a representative of the Charlotte Bobcats. It's been 14 years since a player went as a Charlotte Hornet, when point guard Baron Davis repped the Hornets in 2002, their last year before moving to New Orleans.

Now in steps a brave new point guard — one who has arguably proved to be the best at his position in franchise history in five-and-a-half seasons — with a cowboy hat, a duster and a seemingly magical basketball.

Over the weekend, the Hornets debuted the first two episodes of Walker, Charlotte Ranger, a web series that parodies the awful '90s Chuck Norris vehicle Walker, Texas Ranger. In it, Walker stars as the namesake of the show alongside his deputy, played by the goofy Hornets big man Frank Kaminsky.

SPOILER ALERT: In the first two episodes, Walker assists a young Hornets fan in distress with a simple bounce pass of his basketball, then saves Hugo from three bad guys — conveniently wearing shirts that read Bad Guy 1, Bad Guy 2 and Main Bad Guy — with juke moves. The main bad guy then makes off to New Orleans, where Kaminsky promises Walker will eventually follow. The acting is laughably bad throughout and can be hard to watch, but that's what makes it fun. There won't be any Webby awards handed out for these performances, but the Hornets are hoping the awkwardness of it all will lead to a trip to New Orleans for Walker.

The series is meant to inspire fans to vote Walker into the All Star Game. Corny but fun campaigns like this have become the norm for the Charlotte marketing team. In 2014, they launched a "Big Al's Paint" website in an attempt to make the case for Bobcats center Al Jefferson to be named to the All-NBA team. He was named third team All-NBA that year.

Near the end of the 2014-15 season, the Hornets launched a "MKG Security" campaign complete with commercials and a press kit seen below. That campaign to get Michael Kidd-Gilchrist named to the NBA All-Defensive team was not successful, although it appears MKG will reprise his role as "chief security officer" in an upcoming episode of Walker, Charlotte Ranger.

The Hornets are expected to release new episodes at upcoming home games on Thursday night against the Miami Heat, New Year's Eve against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Jan. 4 against the Oklahoma City Thunder. All-Star voting ends on Jan. 16.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Charlotte Roller Girl to check opponents on Jeopardy tonight

Posted By on Tue, Feb 16, 2016 at 2:04 PM

Manisha Parekh joined the Roller Girls in 2014. - PHOTO COURTESY OF CHARLOTTE ROLLER GIRLS
  • Photo courtesy of Charlotte Roller Girls
  • Manisha Parekh joined the Roller Girls in 2014.

For Manisha Parekh, a member of the local Charlotte Roller Girls roller derby team, being on an episode of Jeopardy has been a lifelong dream. Tonight, that dream becomes a reality.

Parekh, known on the track as Not So Sari, has been watching Jeopardy for as long as she can remember. Growing up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, she participated in every quiz bowl through middle and high school.

But tonight, at 7 p.m. on WCNC, she’ll go pro. That’s when an episode (and hopefully more) that she taped in January will air.

“This was a lifelong bucket list item dream. I knew the odds were slim. It was a dream of mine and I just didn’t think it would ever happen,” Parekh said before the show airs. “This has been a day of trepidation, of excitement and a whole bunch of feelings wrapped up into one.”

The process took about three years from the moment she decided to make a legit stab at being on the show. She first tried the online test in January 2013, but didn’t do well enough to receive a call. When a new test was released a year later, she was able to try again. She soon received a call to attend an in-person audition in Raleigh, and made her way there in March 2014.

“When I finished there they were clear in telling us, ‘Don’t call us, we’ll call you,’” she said.

Then the waiting game began. Parekh was told she had been entered into a pool of potential contestants that would remain open for 18 months. She tried to keep it in the back of her mind while going about her normal life in Charlotte. She joined the Roller Girls in September 2014, but was just "fresh meat" during last season and took some time to learn the game. In December 2015, she passed final assessments and will be on the track with the team this year. 

“Last night was her first scrimmage, but you can tell she is picking up the game quickly and will be an awesome addition to the team,” said Liz McLaughlin, an All Star Jammer with the Roller Girls known as Total Lizaster. “We are all excited to see her compete tonight on Jeopardy and on the track this season.”

Through all of her work, Parekh knew an important deadline was approaching fast. 

“When October (2015) rolled around, I figured, that’s 18 months, I guess I won’t be on,” she said.

Then, in the last few days of October, she got a call asking her to fly to Culver City for taping over Thanksgiving weekend. An unplanned surgery for Alex Trebek pushed the taping back to January, giving Parekh more time to study up. She spent the next two months reading trivia books, taking online tests and having her kids quiz her on a daily basis. Looking back, she didn’t even need to. 

  • Photo courtesy of Manisha Parekh
“All of those things I studied, I don’t think any of it helped me one bit,” Parekh said, laughing. “It was just stuff I picked up along the way.”

While on set, Parekh didn’t get to do much speaking with Trebek, although he had a certain interest in her roller derby talent when he finally did approach her.

“At the end of the show when you see him standing in front of the podiums with all three contestants, he asked me to teach him how to do a Derby Whip,” she said, referring to the move in which one teammate slings another ahead. “He was very specific that he wanted to give a Derby Whip rather than receive one. So I put my hands right on his arm and I showed him the right way to do it.”

If not in the same physical way they do on the track, Not So Sari’s teammates will have her back tonight at a viewing party at Fox & Hound at Northlake Mall. She and the other Roller Girls invite any fans or potential fans to join them.

“We’re just going to watch and have fun. The seasons kicks off on March 5 so this is a great chance to get together and hang out with fans and do something that you wouldn’t typically think about when you think about a Roller Girl,” she said.

As might be expected in a sport filled exclusively with badass women, Parekh has experienced her share of quick judgments and misperceptions, and hopes tonight’s Jeopardy appearance can help dispel all of that.

“I think there’s a stereotype that roller derby is not a real sport, but there’s so much strategy and you really have to be on your mental game to do well in it,” said Parekh, a psychologist by day. “Another stereotype is that we’re not well-educated women. We have a couple PhDs on team. We have nurses and teachers. Hopefully, this will change some of the stereotypes.”

McLaughlin agrees, and said she can’t wait to see how the new addition uses her head come March 5 at the Grady Cole Center.

“Roller derby is such a cool sport because it brings together so many different types of people,” McLaughlin said. “From teachers to artists to web developers to lawyers to journalists and even doctors like Manisha.”

Creative Loafing couldn’t get a hint out of Parekh regarding how she did or whether she moved on to the next day (Television secret: It’s not really the next day. They tape five episodes in a row and change clothes in between.) We’ll just have to watch and cheer like the rest of you, hoping to see her on our TVs through the week.

And even if she loses and hip checks whomever wins, we will Not Be so Sari to see that, either. 

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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Why are Carolina Panthers shirts so terrible?

Posted By on Tue, Feb 2, 2016 at 4:02 PM

Before you start yelling "bandwagon," let me first state that I’ve been a fan of the Carolina Panthers since moving to North Carolina in the late 1990s. You know, back in the days of Steve Beuerlein and Muhsin “Moose” Muhammad. I can also spell and pronounce the last name of Tim Biakabutuka.

For some reason — probably lack of funds — I’ve never purchased a Carolina Panthers t-shirt. I’ve wanted one, but it just hasn’t happened. A few years ago, I went to my first regular season game and saw one I liked, but for some reason I didn’t pull the trigger.

Fast forward to this year and the excitement that’s been building around the Super Bowl-bound Panthers. I feel like it’s about time that I had some kind of clothing to show my support of the Cardiac Cats, so I started the great 2015-16 t-shirt search. So far, I’ve been completely unsuccessful.

Let me explain…

• I don’t want a shirt that has 2015 NFC Champions on it. In a year or two it’s going to look dated. And who cares if you won the NFC Championship if you can’t win the big game — which is all anyone cares about anyway.

• I don’t want a Super Bowl 50 t-shirt that has the Panthers and Broncos logos on it because a) I’m not a Broncos fan and b) I’m not attending the Super Bowl. Those shirts are going to look even worse if the Panthers lose on Sunday.

• I don’t want a player’s number on the shirt. I’m a huge fan of Cam Newton — because War Damn Eagle! — but in a few years, it could look like a Jake Delhomme jersey. Hey, you never know what the future holds. If a player gets traded or leaves the team, the shirt might just look silly.

• I don’t want a “Property of Carolina Panthers” shirt because it’s not 1986.

• I don’t want to pay $40 for a t-shirt — $40?!? — so let’s cut those out of the running, as well.

• I don’t want a wicking t-shirt because I want to wear it when I'm not working out.

* I'm glad they put "football" on the shirts so no one confuses it with the Panthers water polo team.

So, before you think I’m picky as hell or just plain grumpy, let me explain what I’d like. A Panthers logo on a cotton t-shirt. That’s it. The simple, black and blue Panther logo on a dark gray or black shirt. Hell, they could even throw a "Carolina" above it. Should be simple enough, right? Apparently not. I've looked all over and one is not to be found. 

You would think that it would be the best seller? It’s timeless. It’s classic. It’s the team’s logo. No years, no gimmicks, no player names. Just the team's logo.

The only ones I can seem to find have silver, shimmering eyes and teeth or they have holes punched in them like swiss cheese. I’ve searched high and low — from WalMart and Target to the tents on street corners and the team store at the stadium. Maybe this is what I'm looking for — but it's only available in small? 

So, what's the story? Why are the Carolina Panthers shirts so terrible? 

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Friday, January 29, 2016

Top 10 reasons to love the Carolina Panthers

Posted By on Fri, Jan 29, 2016 at 11:40 AM

  • Melissa Melvin-Rodriguez – Carolina Panthers

We'll start by saying that lists like the ones below aren’t the type of thing you’ll regularly see in Creative Loafing, but following the publication of a click bait listicle titled “The Top 10 Reasons to Hate the Carolina Panthers” by an unnamed alt weekly in Phoenix leading up to the NFC Championship game, we felt the need to stand by our boys.

Now, we could have stooped to that level and tried some similar nonsense tearing apart the Denver Broncos team or Arizona Cardinals fans (although we’re pretty sure there are none left after only two fans showed up to meet them in Phoenix following the loss) but we’d rather stay positive and share the 10 reasons we couldn’t be more excited for February 7.

Enjoy…and Keep Pounding.

10. Michael Oher…The Blind Side guy is finally having his come-uppance

Michael Oher was certainly a big name coming out of the draft; an Oscar-nominated film depicting his life as a troubled black youth adopted by a well-to-do white woman played by Sandra Bullock certainly made him one of the most visible players in the 2009 draft.

He never panned out as the great player fans of the movie hoped he could be, and after being signed by the Panthers in 2015, he made it known to reporters that he was sick of talking about The Blind Side and believes the movie, which he didn't even like, hurt his career.

On Wednesday, Cam Newton said he made an extra effort to recruit Oher to the Panthers, mainly with texts like one saying, “I fucking need you.” He ended up being very right. While Oher has still struggled to be effective as a run blocker this year, he has been a huge help in pass protection on Newton’s blind side (We know, we know).

The Panthers will be wearing their black jerseys with silver pants on Super Bowl Sunday. - MELISSA MELVIN-RODRIGUEZ
  • Melissa Melvin-Rodriguez
  • The Panthers will be wearing their black jerseys with silver pants on Super Bowl Sunday.
9. Best uniforms in the NFL

This is not just us talking; the Panthers’ all-black jerseys were literally voted the best NFL uniforms of all time by fans in an poll two years ago.

They chose not to go with the all-blacks, however, and will be rocking the black jerseys with silver pants and helmets at Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco on February 7.

The only uniform combination out of the question for the Panthers at the Super Bowl was the all-white pairing they’ve been donning in both playoff wins thus far. As the home team, the Denver Broncos had first pick for unis and went with their own white road outfits, with owner John Elway stating that the Broncos’ 0-4 Super Bowl record while wearing orange played a part in the decision.

With a team like this year’s Panthers, though, who needs superstition?

Continue reading »

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Monday, January 25, 2016

Cam Newton celebrates Panthers' win at Label

Posted By on Mon, Jan 25, 2016 at 1:18 PM

TMZ is reporting that quarterback Cam Newton and defensive end Charles Johnson hit Label after the NFC Championship Game to celebrate the Carolina Panthers' victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday night. While Juvenile and DJ Holiday were performing, an Instagram post by Label states Johnson bought shots — for everyone in the club! 

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Dear LeBron James: Move to Charlotte?

Posted By on Wed, Jul 2, 2014 at 4:13 PM

Dear LeBron James,

On behalf of Charlotte, North Carolina, I am asking that you consider joining the rebranded Charlotte Hornets for the remainder of your career. I know it sounds crazy — Charlotte is more Cleveland than Miami, and you couldn't wait to get your talents out of Ohio — so hear me out. Now that NBA free agency is officially underway, it is time for you to search your inner LeBron and see where it is that you truly belong. I know you think it’s Miami. You even agreed to take a pay cut to play with the Heat. But it’s not too late to change your mind. Because really, you belong in Charlotte.

Pretty please, King James?

Continue reading »

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Hornets pick up surprise in last night's draft

Posted By on Fri, Jun 27, 2014 at 2:49 PM

Thursday night was the first draft for the rebranded Charlotte Hornets and an exciting one for the team. With the ninth pick, the Hornets took Indiana power forward Noah Vonleh.

Few saw Vonleh as a realistic option for the team; he was predicted to go as high as the fourth pick. Analysts thought the Hornets would select Doug McDermott from Creighton University instead. Vonleh was an unexpected, but much-appreciated surprise. After the announcement Hornets guard Kemba Walker tweeted "Welcome to Charlotte @NoahVonleh I love that pick!"

Continue reading »

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