Tom Petty Coming to TWC Pavilion

tom-petty-the-heartbreakers-damn-the-torpedoes Tom Petty announced his summer tour today, and it begins with a May 6 date at Raleigh’s Time Warner Cable Pavilion. He’ll be supporting his first studio album in eight years, Mojo. Joe Cocker will open. Presale tickets go on sale on Wednesday (3/3) morning at 10am. Tickets go on sale to the public on Monday, March 8, at 10am.


Caniacs Featured in Canadian McDonald’s Ad

McCaniacs Joe Ovies at the WRAL SportsFan blog astutely points out today that McDonald’s ad for Canada honoring the hockey Team Canada features crowd shots from none other than…Raleigh. Click on the link, then watch the “Anticipation” ad.


Fixing Olympics QAM Troubles

Channel 17 ran an informative crawl during last night’s Olympic broadcast. It regarded cable customers who get to their HD on NBC by literally tuning the TV to 17.1. If these viewers cannot get their TV to tune into the HD version of the Olympics, they should try rescanning their channels. Incidentally, this also applies for those periodically having trouble tuning their TV (not their cable box) to 5.1, 11.1, 50.1, etc.

When the TV runs its new channel scan, it will find the hidden channel to which Time Warner has newly assigned WNCN’s HD channel. (Periodically Time Warner will reassign the actual location in the bandwidth where some channels exist in order to get more efficient transmission. The cable boxes and CableCARDs do a fine job of detecting these new addresses, but QAM tuners, which people use when they tune in to 17.1, need to be manually remapped).


Amos Lee Coming to Lincoln Theatre

amoslee Amos Lee will be playing the Lincoln Theatre on April 6. Tickets are $22 in advance.



demrep WRAL’s site features a section called “Because It Is Friday: show each other some love today”. I don’t know if this icon exactly expresses the sentiment they intended. I know a few Republicans who would say this is the way things are…


Clay Aiken Coming to Memorial Auditorium

clayaiken That incredible voice from the 2003 season of American Idol is putting on a single concert in Raleigh’s Memorial Auditorium. The concert is at 8pm on March 12 and tickets go on sale to the general public tomorrow at Noon.


Sports Radio Swaps Lineup

Beginning today, WRAL is swapping 2 of their 3 biggest local sports talk acts. Adam Gold and Joe Ovies will move to the afternoon drive-time slot on 99.9FM while Mark & Mike will be taking over the morning drive-time slot on 620am.

It is a very interesting move that says nothing more than 99.9’s coveted afternoon drive-time ratings must have been extremely disappointing. Mark and Mike are pretty knowledgeable about football and hockey, but their talent in the basketball is extremely inappropriate for this market. Adam Gold, on the other hand, is extremely knowledgeable, but is only slightly less annoying than Billy Ray Cyrus.


Three Days Grace Playing RBC Center

3daysgrace Three Days Grace, Adelitas Way, and Chevelle will be coming to the RBC Center on Saturday, April 10.


Canes Poised for Playoff Run?

After an abysmal start to the season, the Carolina Hurricanes enter the Olympic Break as the NHL’s hottest team. Is there room to make the playoffs? Let’s see…

The boys are only about 8 points out of being in the conversation. Had they just won 1 game every month, we’d be right about where the team is in the standings most seasons. Perhaps the playoff cutoff will be lower than the typical 93 points, because the current 8th place team is going to have to go 14-3-1 to get to 93.

So maybe the cutoff isn’t 93 this season. With around 20 games to go, and with a playoff-level team winning 60% of the time and, therefore, earning 24 more points, I’m thinking the cutoff will around 87 for the East this season.

In order to get 87 standings points, the Canes will have to get 32 points in the remaining 21 games. So, they will have to close out the season with a 16-5 (76%) record. So really, Rutherford should trade every unrestricted free agent, limit practices, and perhaps have the team meals at the Raleigh Convention Center to assure that this team tanks  and gets at least a decent draft pick for putting the fans through that horrible first third of the season. There sure are some nice draft picks to get this year.


Michael Franti & Spearhead to Headline Band Together

franti Band Together NC, a nonprofit organization that uses musical events to raise funds and awareness for select Triangle charities, has announced that acclaimed reggae, hip hop fusion artist Michael Franti & Spearhead will top the bill for this year’s charity concert May 22 outside Lincoln Theatre in downtown Raleigh. Visit www.bandtogethernc.org to purchase tickets starting at 10 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 19.

Last year’s Band Together NC concert featuring Rusted Root, the Rosebuds, Chatham County Line and HOBEX attracted more than 2,700 music lovers and raised more than $141,000 for the Lucy Daniels Center for Early Childhood. Supporting acts and activities for 2010 will be announced as the event date approaches.

Throughout his musical career spanning nearly 25 years, Franti has combined political and social themes with diverse musical influences such as hip hop, funk, reggae, jazz, folk and rock. After playing with the Beatnigs and Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, Franti formed Spearhead in 1994. The band has released numerous albums including “Home,” “Chocolate Supa Highway,” “Stay Human,” “Yell Fire!” and the recent “All Rebel Rockers,” which marked their highest Billboard Top 200 Album Chart debut ever. The band’s song “Say Hey (I Love You)” was a hit in multiple formats last year. It was one of the most added recordings on multiple radio formats (Top 40, Hot AC and Alternative) and its music video has already exceeded 1 million views on YouTube.

Known for energetic live shows and Franti’s penchant for going shoeless, the band has gained a passionate worldwide audience through extensive touring and appearances in alternative media. As advocates for peace and social justice, Michael Franti & Spearhead have played numerous benefit concerts worldwide, including their own Power to the Peaceful Festivals in San Francisco that have recently drawn more than 50,000 attendees.

“As a musician and a man, I more than anything else want to be a unifier,” Franti explains. “I want to bring people together through music and its unique power. And I hope that somehow that sense of unity extends beyond the music.”

In October 2009, Band Together NC’s Board of Directors announced that the charity recipient for 2010 would be StepUP Ministry, an interfaith nonprofit organization that teaches low-income and homeless people to become self-sufficient. Founded in 1988, StepUP annually helps empower nearly 600 individuals in Wake County through two life-giving programs: job training/placement and life skills training.

“Our goal this year is to raise $150,000 for our charity partner,” said Danny Rosin, president and co-founder of Band Together NC. “But that’s not all. Amazingly, StepUP Ministry has pledged to match our fundraising efforts dollar for dollar, so there is a potential that we could generate up to $300,000 for this wonderful and deserving organization.”

Through corporate and individual donations, Band Together has already raised more than $70,000. Commitments have come from Cargill, S&A Cherokee, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, Davenport Investments, Duke Realty Corporation, Lincoln Theatre, Synergy Commercial Advisors, RPG Solutions, Brand Fuel, Trisure, Capstrat, Prometheus, Hosted Solutions and Manning, Fulton & Skinner, PA.

Tickets for the event will be $22 in advance or $25 day of the show. VIP tickets are $150. Sponsorships begin at the $150 level. Event attendees must be 21 years or older.


Valentine’s Day is Time To Fertilize

goodlawn[1] Of course, you know, I’m talking about nurturing a drought-resistant lawn that is beautiful year round, right? The three times to fertilize a Tall Fescue lawn are the beginning of September (with seeding), Thanksgiving, and Valentine’s Day. The first two are most important as they aim at stimulating good, downward root formation. The Valentine’s Day fertilization promotes a hearty top half of the plant. Fertilizing once the weather is warm is a recipe to creating a lawn that grows too fast and requires too much water to live.

In order to fertilize, one needs to evenly put the adequate amounts of fertilizer down. The rules of thumb around here are 75 lbs of limestone per 1000 feet (to bring pH around these pines and azaleas up), 1 lb of nitrogen per 1000 feet, and 6lbs of tall fescue see per 1000 feet (if seeding, but remember that seed placed in the spring never has the chance to grow downward, and will therefore have to be watered all summer).

In order to fertilize correctly, measure the square footage of the lawn. Then look at the fertilizer offered in the store. There are three numbers XX-YY-ZZ, and the first (XX) is the nitrogen. Divide 100 by this amount, and multiply that resulting number by the number of thousands of the lawn’s square feet. This will result in the correct number of pounds of fertilizer to use.

read more…


North Hills Harris Teeter: Failure on Multiple Levels

IMG_4066The new Harris Teeter at North Hills East opened this week and introduced a new concept in grocery shopping to North Carolina, the 2-story grocery store. The design is part of the New Urbanist-styled North Hills East, which replaces a failing, low-rise apartment complex with a tightly-designed, semi-urban mixed use design. Judging by early reviews, the store has major, unrecoverable flaws that will prevent the store from sustaining its ambitious goal.

IMG_4070 To be fair Harris Teeter has done an outstanding job stocking the new store. Along with their full compliment of non-perishables from their distribution centers, the store also stocks an impressive array of fresh food. The produce section is outstanding, and stocks some exotic fruits and vegetables that aren’t typically seen at even high-end grocery stores. A prepared foods bar and salad bar are positioned to rival that seen at Whole Foods, while fresh pizza and made-to-order sandwiches at a reasonable price add some value to the store over others in the area. The fresh breads are superior to Whole Foods, while the cheese and meat counters pale somewhat, but are still outstanding in their own right. This somewhat to be expected for a new store, and it will be interesting to see how the store is stocked once the constant clientele settles in.

IMG_4073 That said, the rest of the store is a complete failure, and it goes back to the design stages. In residential real estate older houses blessed with a charming design and strong foundation, but need some cosmetic work are said to have “good bones”. On the other hand there is this Harris Teeter, which will stand for decades as an example of “bad bones”.

Most notable is the two-story design. I am all for breaking paradigms to find new solutions. We didn’t get where we are today without some people taking some risks, and to that, Harris Teeter and Kane Realty are to be commended. This implementation of the vertical big box concept, though, is horrible at best.

IMG_4074 The second story hovers over the left half of the store, and contains aisles of housewares, baking goods, cereals, cosmetics, pet foods, and juices. It essentially is all of the stuff that exists in that 3rd, 1/4th of a normal grocery store. The problem, however, is that in order for one to get their cart upstairs, they must use an elevator, which in this instance, is not a glass elevator and only holds two people and two shopping carts. During fairly busy times, there is a line of people trying to get on at the top and the bottom. The design team did not account for this, and did not allocate an adequate space for the queues.

The aisles feel tight. While the central aisles in a store like the Cameron Village store are also tight, the end aisles are wide, and there is a high ceiling. Not so at North Hills. The end aisles are just as narrow as the grocery aisles, the ceiling is low, and there is no natural light entering the space, creating a nightmare for claustrophobic people.

IMG_4069 The store did a poor job with signage inside the store. Brown aisle makers with small, beige type are hard to read from the end aisles.

The upstairs section consists of about 7,500 square feet of stock space. One has to wonder of the store would have been better served by a North Hills design that just implemented 8,000 more square feet of space on their footprint. It isn’t like there is a scarcity of land that required this usual design. It would have made an enormous difference in the convenience level for this store.

Second to the disastrous 2-story design is the store’s strange parking-deck-only entrance. The only way to access the store is from the parking garage. Did I mention claustrophobia? While I tend to favor parking garages for their relatively constant temperature and always dry settings, this parking garage design is horribly inefficient and dangerous. There are two stories of the garage that are designated for Harris Teeter shoppers. Cars coming from Six Forks enter the upper level, which is a simple ring with a downramp in the middle. The bombastic lower level is accessed also by the St. Alban’s Drive traffic. All traffic entering the lower level moves in a counterclockwise direction, and there is only one way, one lane out of the deck’s lower level. What happens when some big SUV wants to back out of a space? The entire line of traffic leaving has to wait. What happens when a second car backs out? Urge to kill rises.

To top it all off, before reaching the garage’s exit, this steady stream of exiting traffic makes one final sweep, right by the store’s front doors where the pedestrian concentration is highest. It is a design that is so bad and was so preventable, that is makes me wonder if the architect who is responsible for this should be allowed to stay in his/her profession.

Because the store sits on the ground level of a 7-story apartment building, I was only able to get spotty cell phone and internet service on the store’s main floor, and had absolutely no connectivity on the second floor, where all of the cafe seating is. This is a solvable problem, but a big one as while shopping I like to access my recipes and rolling shopping lists in Evernote as well as call home to check on current pantry inventory.

So what is the shopper’s best plan of attack? During hours that are likely to have light traffic, just park in the lower level. It won’t be that dangerous. During times where the store is likely to be crowded (and this morning is an example of that. The store was far more crowded that the old North Hills store ever was), though, I recommend parking in the upper ring and using the parking lot elevator. This upper ring can be accessed two ways: from the main entrance on Six Forks Rd, and from the State Street entrance. (State street is a little one-block long street off St. Albans, parallel to Dartmouth Drive, perpendicular to St. Albans.)

I also don’t like the store’s placement as it pertains to the entire North Hills development. The North Hills master plan would have been better served by putting this store at the Dartmouth/Six Forks corner, facing St. Albans with its back to Six Forks. The store could have been the base for a very functional, attractive building that would join the flow of the existing North Hills to the new East. As it stands now, one of the major advantages to living in The Alexan, an accessible grocery store, is gone.

I fear for the store’s future as I have heard nothing but thumbs down so far. Judging by the people I overheard and talked to in the store, most ITB shoppers will go to the Harris Teeters at Glenwood Village and Cameron Village, as well as the big, nearby Kroger. Those to the north are most likely to use this HT store, but that is not the demographic this particular store aims to reach. It is a BIG problem that the boys in Charlotte will have to address (most likely by eventually removing all of the labor-intensive, short-life fresh-cooked items that make the store special). As it stands now, the architects picked by Kane have done a great disservice to not only the Harris Teeter corporation, but also the residents in the North Hills region of Raleigh.


Hurricanes’ Top Minor League Team Moving to Charlotte

Charlotte Checkers owner Michael Kahn today announced his purchase of the AHL’s Albany River Rats, a Carolina Hurricanes affiliate. The AHL team’s new name will be the “Charlotte Checkers”, and the team will play its games in the Time Warner Cable basketball arena in Charlotte. The ECHL Charlotte Checkers will move elsewhere, likely to another North Carolina city if the team is not sold to another owner.

What this means to the Hurricanes is perhaps a strengthened fan base. As fans in the western part of the state follow the Charlotte team, they are bound to follow the players’ journeys up to Raleigh. It also greatly increases the chances of seeing the Carolina Hurricanes hold an exhibition game each year in Charlotte (after the already-booked 2010 preseason). Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford clearly made the point at the press conference today about this being a part of the franchise’s long term strategy of growing the sport of hockey in the state of North Carolina.

seating_hockey[1] No need to worry about this being Part A of a takeover scheme by the powers that be in Charlotte. For an NHL team to move the Charlotte, a new arena would have to be built. The TWC Arena has a short axis, much like the Dean Smith Center and the U.S. Airways Center (home of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns). The short axis makes for a superior basketball configuration, but results in an unacceptable compromise for hockey. There are several bad options, and the Charlotte Checkers have opted to bizarrely offset the ice such that one of the blue lines runs through the center of the building. The result is that there is absolutely no seating beyond the faceoff circles on one end of the ice.

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