Millions of people will gather on Monday afternoon to stare at the sun, which will be blocked by the moon for a few minutes in what is known as a “total solar eclipse.” This doesn’t happen very often, which is why so many people are freaking out over it. Classic supply and demand.
Apparently, there’s this thing called the “path of totality” which is the area where the eclipse will be the most blackout or, according to NASA, “the path that the moon’s shadow traces on Earth during a total solar eclipse.”
We did some investigative journalism by looking at that map and discovered that Raleigh isn’t even in the path of totality. That means we’ll only get about 90% blackout, if you really believe the folks at NASA.
Most Raleigh residents seem excited about the eclipse, with Facebook posts seeking eclipse glasses numbering in the billions. So after conducting extensive research on planetary alignment and proximity to the beltline, we came up with the best places to view the solar eclipse in Raleigh.
Carolina Country Club
The Club will be holding a members only viewing party of the total solar eclipse. An anonymous CCC representative commented, “We considered coming up with a plan to shift the Earth’s axis so that we would be directly in the path of totality, but the estimated cost was around $70 trillion. We didn’t feel comfortable asking members to pay higher dues for a 2 minute event. Plus we’re just really focused on the Deb Ball right now.”
Broughton Bell Tower
Broughton is commonly known as the center of the universe, which makes the bell tower the best place in the world to view the solar eclipse. Light refreshments will be served and the Broughton show choir will perform a rendition of “Total Eclipse of the Heart”. If you’ve already graduated, you’ll need to bring either a Caps Club pass, your diploma, or a class ring to get in.
Second Floor of Felson’s (Fosters/Nelson’s)
Once home to the highest number of weekend blackouts in Raleigh, Felson’s (Fosters/Nelson’s) is another great spot to view the eclipse. The second story offers amazing views of our beloved Cameron Village and downtown Raleigh. Attendees must be able to name the top 5 songs played on the NDF in order to be let in. Marcus will be checking IDs, just kidding, he’ll just be standing next to the door greeting people as they walk in.
How to View the Eclipse
Once you select your location, you’ll need the proper viewing equipment. You could join the thousands of parents searching Facebook for $2 NASA approved glasses. Or you could just buy a pair of our custom-made LaClipse™ glasses. If you didn’t pick any of these up, your polarized Ray-Bans are probably fine. If you happen to burn your retinas out while wearing your Ray-Bans, my attorney Stacy Miller would be happy to represent you in a class action lawsuit against the sun.
With the proper location and equipment you should all have an enjoyable total solar eclipse viewing experience. Remember, just like mansion fires, it’s not safe to stare directly into the sun.
Looking directly at the sun. It’s something we’ve all wanted to do at some point in our lives. Lately, this desire has become mainstream, thanks to the upcoming solar eclipse. I’ll be honest, I don’t actually know what a solar eclipse is, and I haven’t had time to Google it. I’m too busy talking to the BBC (again) about a Fyre Festival documentary, and with Vanity Fair (again) about being in their September Spain issue. So forgive me for not knowing all the phases of the sun or whatever this whole thing is about.
This whole eclipse craze caught my attention thanks to the micITBit private Facebook group I run. Over the last few days, not an hour has gone by without a caring ITB mom posting to the group asking if anyone has extra eclipse glasses for sale. It seems that taking kids to and from the beach and Camp Sea Gull and Camp Seafarer left ITB moms with no time for ordering eclipse glasses online. Here’s a screenshot of just a few of the “in search of” (ISO) posts on micITBit.
As you can see from that last post, these moms just want to make sure their kids don’t burn their eyes out while staring into the sun. Apparently, “scientists” say the only safe way to look directly at a solar eclipse is through some type of filtering device, such as eclipse glasses. Well they’re wrong. Thanks to my revolutionary LaClipse™ glasses, you can finally stare directly into the sun whenever you’d like.
LaClipse™ glasses are constructed from the finest materials, sourced from local LaCroix boxes. The glasses come in three flavors: Pure, Lemon, and Pamplemousse. The color schemes go well with any outfit.
LaClipse™ glasses are NOT certified by NASA, the FBI, the CIA, the Weather Channel, or whoever approves these things. Obtaining certification is a nightmare, with way too much red tape. Just trust me when I tell you these things are 100% safe. Again, you can stare directly into the sun while wearing these. I’m currently working on some LaClipse™ croakies, which should be available by the end of the day.
For the low price of $100 per pair, you can be the coolest person at your upcoming eclipse party. There are currently three pairs available, but we can easily ramp up inventory by rounding up some kids from Root and Lacy to assist with mass production. Don’t worry, we’ll call it “Arts and LaCrafts” to avoid violating child labor laws, plus we won’t have to pay them anything.
The Vanity Fair August issues and VIP Guns N Roses “Not in This Lifetime Tour” book (one of only 4,000 made) are not for sale. I just put them in the picture for scale, and to brag.
I have the legal team at Stacy Miller’s office working on a trademark and a patent, so don’t even think about stealing this idea. Please let me know how many you’d like and in what flavor. You can Paypal me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you all, and enjoy your LaClipse™ viewing.
The Fyre still burns. Vanity Fair chose to interview me and feature my photojournalism from the infamous Fyre Festival in an 8 and a half page spread in their August issue. Another day, another feature in an international publication. This comes on the heels of my third interview with BBC last week, my Bravo debut on Andy Cohen’s show in June, and dozens of other interviews I’ve done as the leading expert on surviving Fyre Festival. The Vanity Fair issue features a pregnant Serena Williams, one of the best tennis players ever, on the cover.
Before I go any further, I just want to clear up some rumors. I’m not the father of Serena’s baby. We’re just friends. I do plan on sending her an ITBlessed onesie as a baby gift, since we will forever be linked by this issue of Vanity Fair.
As a growing media empire, I try not to talk about the interviews and outlets I’ve been featured in, such as The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Time, Boston Globe, ABC News, NY Post, BBC, Buzzfeed News, In Touch Weekly, Us Weekly, NPR, Good Morning America, TMZ Live with my ITBFF Harvey, Channel 4, London Times, Bloomberg, Inside Edition, the Daily Mail, Washington Post, People, NY Times, LA Times, CNN, the Weather Channel, Billboard, Business Insider, W Magazine, USA Today, and more. I always thought it wasn’t in my best interest to promote my competition. But after working for weeks on this feature with the wonderful folks at Vanity Fair, I’ve realized it’s ok to collaborate with your peers.
In June, Vanity Fair reached out and asked if I would do an interview and also let them buy my soon-to-be award-winning photos from Fyre Festival. I did what I always do when I get these types of requests, I asked my lawyer Stacy Miller if it was ok. We’re still tied up in a Fyre Festival lawsuit (that I’m DYING to talk more about) and I have to be careful about what I say in public. Stacy said it was fine to talk to them as long as I sent all questions about our lawsuit against Ja Rule, Billy McFarland, and others to him.
So I started talking with Vanity Fair, figuring I would be on the cover of the issue. Once I found out that Serena Williams was pregnant I immediately told them not to put me on the cover. As the owner of micITBit, the most popular secret Facebook group comprised mainly of Raleigh moms, I know how important it is to respect women and babies and let them have the spotlight. Seeing what a gentleman I was, Vanity Fair released a few issues with this cover that I made for them.
Vanity Fair sent me some issues and, since I’m now a photojournalist, I decided to hold a tasteful photoshoot for the issue.
If you haven’t picked up the August issue of Vanity Fair yet, I strongly suggest you do before they sell out. I look forward to winning our lawsuit so that Stacy and I can be on the cover of Vanity Fair some time this fall. Stay tuned.
Local authorities were dispatched to the home of Mary Anna Howell after receiving a tip that she had attempted to sell her child on the internet in exchange for tickets to Pullen Park’s sold-out Holiday Express event. The yearly event features a festively lit Pullen Park and a train ride on The Holiday Express, which runs for 10 nights in December.
Howell’s posting was found in micITBit, a private Facebook group where ITB residents buy and sell new or used items, seek out recommendations, and complain about a variety of topics.
“UGH, y’all, I can’t even right now. We just wanted to take our kids to a lit AF Pullen Park but the tickets sold out in MINUTES! I’d be willing to give up our second child for 4 tickets. PM me if you have extras. Thanks!”
Authorities arrived at the Hayes Barton home around 9:00 am and found Howell drinking rosé from an ITBlessed wine glass. They confronted her about the post.
“I wasn’t selling my child, it was just a joke and it wasn’t even my firstborn. Give me a break,” said Howell, who has three children and runs a multi-million dollar monogram store on Etsy that she claims is not a business.
Howell claimed the post was made out of frustration, and pointed to other moms who had expressed their disappointment online. The Facebook comments began as soon as the tickets went on sale.
“I saw William Needham Finley IV’s post about trying to save Christmas, but I just couldn’t wait any longer,” said Howell. Finley IV had reached out to the Raleigh Parks Department in an attempt to rent out the entire park.
“If I can’t get tickets I’m definitely buying one of his photoshop packages,” said Howell, referring to Finley IV’s offer to photoshop pictures of families on the Holiday Express for a small fee.
“He also said he was going to set up a class action lawsuit that Stacy Miller would help us on, so we may join that,” added Howell.
To prevent people from buying a large quantity of tickets for the purpose of reselling them, the City capped the number of tickets one could buy at 10 per transaction. However, that doesn’t stop people from opening up multiple browser windows and buying 10 at a time.
“Raleigh Parks employees apparently had a betting pool on how fast the tickets would sell out. I’m pretty sure betting is illegal. Someone should look into that,” snapped Howell, as an agent looked through her monogramming drawer.
“It makes no sense that the City holds this for 10 days. Hell, start it with “Christmas in July” and run it for 6 months if you have to. And are we really just letting anyone buy tickets to this? It’s a CITY park. They should be verifying ZIP codes before allowing people to buy tickets,” Howell continued to rant, opening a second bottle of rosé.
Authorities determined that pretending to sell your child online in exchange for tickets to an event was not actually a crime, but have placed Howell on a watch list. As they left the Hayes Barton home they could hear Howell on the phone with her husband yelling, “Do they know who I am? I mean, do they know it’s Christmas time at all?”
Our current professional soccer team, the North Carolina Football Club (NCFC), is rolling out the red carpet for Major League Soccer executives who are visiting Raleigh today to see if we should be given a bid to join their league.
The team will hold a public rally at 214 E. Martin Street in City Market at 5:00 pm to show MLS execs how badly we want to be an MLS team. During a morning press conference, NCFC owner Steve Malik will provide updates on the MLS bid process and progress towards a soccer stadium and entertainment center. That last part really sticks out. An “entertainment center” could mean anything. Could we be building a soccer stadium on top of the downtown canal? Could the entertainment center also be home to a future baseball team? Anything is possible.
If you haven’t been following this story, allow me to ITBring you up to speed.
1.) We have a professional soccer team in North Carolina.
2.) They were once called the “Carolina Railhawks” and they played in Cary. Surprisingly, the Town of Cary lifted the “all-beige ordinance” and allowed their field to be a natural green grass color.
3.) A guy named Jonny Steele played for the Railhawks. A few years ago, I met him through an ITB friend who was also on the team. Jonny Steele is one of the most legendary people I have ever met. That’s all I can say.
4.) Owner Steve Malik took over the team in 2015 and changed the team name to “North Carolina Football Club” or “NCFC” in December of 2016.
5.) Since 1929, the highest honor one could achieve while playing soccer was to play for Broughton.
6.) Major League Soccer is expanding their league and giving out bids. There are 12 other markets trying to get bids.
So where does Raleigh stand? We have a very impressive owner who wants an MLS team and wants it to play in a location where more people will attend games. He’ll be showing the MLS executives around Raleigh, meeting with local business leaders, and unveiling plans for a stadium. While I admire his efforts, I’m confused as to why we have to do any of this. If getting an MLS bid is anything like getting a Deb bid we shouldn’t even have to try. We’re from Raleigh. This is a birthright.
But, just to hedge our bets, I would encourage all Raleigh residents and soccer fans to show up at City Market today at 5:00 pm to show your support. I’ll provide more updates from the press conference that I’ll be attending, since I’m a media empire. Stay tuned.
Raleigh native and Broughton graduate Bonner Gaylord is seeking a fifth term on the Raleigh City Council. He joins Stacy Miller on my list of ITBFFs running for office. As many of you know, I was instrumental in getting Bonner elected during the last race. I wasn’t “officially” working for or with the campaign, but we all know who was pulling the strings. I was the political mastermind behind this campaign poster:
With Bonner set to run for re-election in District E, which spans North Hills and northwest Raleigh, it’s time to take a look at his qualifications and a preview of his first campaign video that I wrote.
He’s a Native
Bonner grew up in Raleigh. Here he is taking care of George the snake, showing leadership at an early age to ensure that none of the other children were eaten alive.
He went there.
Not only did Bonner attend Broughton and give a speech, he also played football. During his senior year he led the team in brooding on the sideline.
As the Managing Director of Kane Realty, Bonner helped turn North Hills from this:
The Weather Dome that Bonner and I co-created has kept citizens safe from storms and rain for years. You’re welcome.
He’s related to Webb Simpson
Bonner and Webb are cousins, and have been their whole lives, which shows how loyal Bonner is. Bonner even helped Webb win the U.S. Open and hung a massive banner in North Hills to celebrate the victory.
Bonner’s been an advocate for Dix Park and has agreed to play the part of Dr. Alan Grant in my screenplay.
So basically, we have a native of Raleigh, who loves technology and gadgets, and devotes his life to his city. Sound familiar? I thought so too.
To help get all these talking points across to the general public, I pitched the following campaign video to Bonner, titled “A Day in the Life of Bonner”.
The camera fades in from black. It’s morning at Dix Park. An F3 PAX (it’s like a secret workout group) works out as the Raleigh skyline watches over them. Around 20 men are doing Empty Wheelbarrows up and down a hill with cases of Trophy Wife strapped to their backs. One stumbles near the top of the hill and as he’s about to fall backwards to certain death a hand reaches out to grab him. It’s Bonner. He looks in the camera and says, “Not on my watch.” He saves the man’s life and then helps him do 50 Fairy Jacks, because if you give a man a Fairy Jack, he’ll Fairy Jack for a workout, but if you teach a man to Fairy Jack he’ll Fairy Jack for a lifetime.
Done with the workout, Bonner looks out over all of Dix Park and then turns to the camera and says, “Dix Park, the dinosaurs are coming.”
We follow Bonner as he rips off his F3 clothes to reveal a perfectly tailored suit from Hengs Suiting and Armoury underneath. He hops on a bikeshare bike and pedals off towards downtown Raleigh. He stops to help an old woman cross Western Boulevard of Broken Dreams. She thanks him and says, “Only 5 more miles until home.” Bonner says, “Ma’am, we have a growing bus system that will take you anywhere your heart desires.” Bonner helps the woman on to the next bus.
Bonner looks into the camera and says, “Transit. You pay for it, so you might as well use it.”
Bonner rides by some children selling refreshments and stops. “Hey lil’ entrepreneurs, what are you selling?”
A five-year-old wearing a Lilly Pulitzer dress replies, “LaCroix, it’s $5 a can.”
“$5 a can? That’s how much a 12 pack costs,” Bonner says.
“Where else are you going to get a cold refreshing LaCroix right now? Cash or charge?” the child replies.
“Capitalism! I love it. I’ll take two,” he says, handing her his credit card.
Bonner looks into the camera and says, “I’ll continue to support all businesses, big and small.”
Bonner then teaches every child in the neighborhood how to ride a bike and leaves his bikeshare bike behind. “Remember kids, sharing is caring,” he says as he pulls his phone out to order an Uber.
While waiting for his ride, Bonner looks into the camera and says, “Technology, let’s keep it up.”
Bonner hops in the Uber. The driver recently moved to Raleigh from New Jersey and uses the beltline to get around because he doesn’t know about ITB backroads. Bonner takes over as backseat DJ and plays a remix of The Connells that he made in high school, on repeat.
Bonner stops by City Council and signs off on the paperwork to make March 15th “ITB Insider Day” and passes a few other laws or whatever they do in City Council. He hops in his electric vehicle and heads home to his family, where he makes dinner, teaches his kids to read, checks on the status of the Weather Dome, and then responds to all of my Tweets before heading to bed.
As he reaches to turn the lights out, he looks in the camera and says, “Raleigh, It’s The Best.”
I’m still waiting to hear back from Bonner and his team about when we’ll start shooting this. I’ll keep you updated, while Bonner keeps us safe.
The mimosas have been freed and brunch is now better than ever. After the passing of the “Brunch Bill” and the approval from the City Council, Raleigh residents can now enjoy alcoholic beverages in restaurants starting at 10:00 am on Sundays. The law came as a result of many protests in support of freeing mimosas and Bloody Marys. Late last week Raleigh residents celebrated the historic law change and began making grand plans for their first boozy ITBrunch.
The Norris family, who live in Hayes Barton, were determined to be first in line for Sunday brunch at NOFO. Their plan was to spend Saturday night camping out in the NOFO parking lot, sort of. The Hayes Barton family paid roughly $15,000 to have a sherpa construct an igloo out of YETI coolers and place it near the entrance to the restaurant. The igloo itself would be cooled by a portable air conditioning unit. That might sound luxurious, but the family didn’t actually plan on spending the night. “Well, we had church in the morning and our kids hate the outdoors. We figured we could pay the sherpa to spend the night in the YETI igloo and keep our place in line,” said James Norris V.
His wife, Mary Ann Norris, added, “We thought about just making the sherpa camp out in a tent but it’s so hot that we didn’t want to be responsible if something happened to him.” Unfortunately for the sherpa, the AC unit failed after a few hours causing him to abandon his spot to avoid heat stroke. The family was less than pleased. “We got to brunch and found the YETI coolers strewn across the parking lot and there was no sign of Padrig, or Paulo, or whatever his name was,” Mary Ann said. “It’s hard to find good help these days,” added James.
The family had to wait in line, unlike my friends and I, who were the first to arrive at NOFO on Sunday morning. The red carpet was rolled out, Glowmosas from Humdinger were poured, and French Toast was ordered. I even brought my own ITBlessed glass, which I never leave home without. (Yes, these are available for sale, and my online store should be up in the next week.)
I documented the historic occasion on social media.
This was a great way to kick off my new ITBrunch series, where I’ll be touring Raleigh’s best brunch spots. I don’t even need to do an in-depth review of NOFO, since it’s already one of the top brunch places inside the beltline. Special thanks to NOFO for the wonderful hospitality. The whole experience gets a 5 out of 5 beltline rating.
Residents of Five Points are taking matters into their own hands after a disastrous 4th of July. To celebrate the birth of our great nation, many neighborhood residents gathered near the railroad tracks at the end of Bickett Boulevard to view the fireworks display being put on in downtown Raleigh. Then disaster struck. As the fireworks were starting, a Norfolk Southern train showed up and ruined everything.
“The train showed up right as the fireworks started and came to a complete stop. It would pull forward about ten feet then back up again, all while the train crossing signal kept ringing,” said Stahler McKinney, who notified me of this tragedy on Twitter.
Neighbors became more irate as they stared at a large train blocking their view of the fireworks.
“We have rights. It’s in the Declaration of Rights,” said Liza Jane Wambles. “Who the hell is Norfolk Southern? Isn’t that in Brier Creek? I’ve been drinking rosé all day, hashtag rosé allll dayyy!!!!” she slurred, before being cut off by her husband, Banks Wambles.
“Please don’t say “hashtag” in public. We’ve been over this,” he said quietly, pulling the bottle of rosé away. “But yes, this is definitely a problem. Now we’ve got to deal with three kids under 5 asking where the fireworks are. We can only distract them with Pirate’s Booty for so long,” he added.
Children could be heard crying “I can’t see! Moooooom, I can’t see!” while many parents wept silently, knowing there would be no end to the whining.
“This was basically our Vietnam. Explosions going off, the train crossing signal blaring, and little Charlie Jr. here torturing me with constant questions about why the train won’t move. I pushed my kids all the way out here in our UPPAbaby stroller that my wife got on micITBit. We were expecting to see fireworks.” said Charles Jarvis, a Five Points resident.
Emotions ran high as two dads fought over the last craft beer in the YETI Hopper. “My dad and Mr. Caldwell were wrestling in the street. Then Mr. Caldwell took a nap on the ground and the ambulance bagged and tagged him, so we went inside to play Mario Kart 8,” said one child, clearly desensitized to the ITB dad on ITB dad violence.
“Yeah, the dad on dad crime isn’t a good look, but it happens. If word gets out that we can’t even see the fireworks from our neighborhood, our property values are going to plummet,” said Wambles.
The residents plan to sue Norfolk Southern for negligence, obstruction of independence, obstruction of freedom, potential decrease in property values, and “being annoying AF” as Liza Jane Wambles put it. While the residents have yet to select a firm to handle the class action suit, they are expected to go with Stacy Miller and Miller Law Group.
It’s finally over. Our long Sunday morning nightmare is over. Less than a week after Gov. Roy Cooper signed the “Brunch Bill” into law, the Raleigh City Council voted 7-1 to allow alcohol sales starting at 10 a.m. on Sundays, EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY.
“After reading about the Brunch Bill protests on ITB Insider™, we knew we had to act fast to approve this,” said an anonymous council member. “We didn’t want any more protests, and we certainly didn’t want another pastel-colored frat wall blocking the entrance at the Cameron Village Harris Teeter.”
I don’t want to take all the credit for this victory. A lot of other people helped out, including the NC Restaurant & Lodging Association, legislators, and businesses who wanted the law changed. But I will say that before I addressed this on ITB Insider™ the bill had not passed. Once I investigative journalismed the issue, the bill was passed. I’ll let you all read between the beltlines on that one.
Upon hearing the news, residents cried tears of joy while group texting their friends to make Sunday brunch plans. “We were going to stay in Atlantic Beach through the weekend, but now that we can drink Bloody Marys two hours earlier we’re cutting our trip short. LOAD UP THE SUBURBAN, THOMAS, WE’RE GOING HOME,” said Hayes Barton resident Mary Lane Lane. Some residents became so excited after hearing the news that they couldn’t even keep their cars on the road.
At first I thought this might have been some sort of kamikaze attack on the Club by an OTB mom who was upset that her daughter wasn’t selected as a Deb. Then I remembered they haven’t sent out the Deb announcements for 2017 yet. This accident was clearly due to Brunch Bill euphoria.
How Brunch Impacts the ITB Economy
A representative from Capital Club 16 added that the law change would result in at least an additional $60,000 in mimosa sales…. each week. “This is great for our industry. I’ve had to hire 4 new employees just to manage our mimosa wheels.” The law change isn’t just helping restaurants that offer brunch. A representative from Capital Creations added that this was great for their business as well. “Giving people two more hours to drink mimosas and Bloody Marys is great for us. By the time people are done with a Sunday Funday and that French Toast has worn off they’re dying for a Sunday night anxiety pizza. We support the move 100%.”
It’s time to celebrate our newfound brunch freedom. I wanted to throw an ITBrunch Bash at Dix Park featuring The Connells with a menu of Rise biscuits, flights of French Toast from my favorite brunch restaurants, and Glowmosas. (A Glowmosa is a combination of the traditional mimosa and Glow, a juice made from pineapple, apple, mint, and lime from my friends at Humdinger. When combined with champagne this becomes the Glowmosa, a drink far superior to your run-of-the-mill mimosa.) We’d even have a mimosa ice luge shaped like the beltline. After eating, drinking, and Instagramming it all, we would take three hour Netflix naps and everything would be right in the world. Then I realized you have to get permits, call caterers, and do a lot of work, which we literally don’t have time for.
Instead, I’ll be dining at either NOFO or Capital Club 16 to kick off this new era of brunch. I’m also going to ask my lobbyists to get every good brunch spot in town to add the Glowmosa to their menu. I look forward to celebrating this Sunday. Thank you once again to all who were involved in making this happen. Now it’s time to work on a law to keep Chick-fil-A open on Sunday.
After a deal with a corporate sponsor dried up, Meredith College needs help. Their iconic lake currently sits empty due to the erosion of pipes that caused the lake to drain in March. The beloved lake sits next to an amphitheater which has held countless concerts, graduations, and events over the years. Meredith administrators expect that it will take around $500,000 to fix the pipes and refill the lake. They’ve spent the last few months working on a wide range of solutions, including a major sponsorship from LaCroix.
“We had a deal with LaCroix where they would refill the lake if we agreed to make them our exclusive beverage provider. But then students kept filling up those damn Swell bottles and ITBlessed wine glasses with water in between classes. They were calling it “LaLake Water” and posting about it on Snapchat and Instagram constantly. The whole lake was empty again after 6 hours. It just wasn’t sustainable,” said Rachel Weaver, a Meredith administrator.
They continued to look for other options. “We even tried filling it with the tears from the Cornhuskin’ losers but the lake actually isn’t big enough to hold that amount of liquid,” said Weaver. Similar to Homecoming or the Hunger Games, Cornhuskin’ is a yearly tradition where classes compete against each other to establish a pecking order for the next year.
“We also pitched the students on selling wrapping paper door-to-door to raise money, but that didn’t go over well at all,” Weaver added.
Some students even thought about raising money. “I thought about opening an Etsy shop to make graduation caps with quotes I found on Pinterest,” said Mary Lacy Anderson, majoring in Modern Romance Studies. “But then I had too much going on with planning our watch party for the series finale of Pretty Little Liars.”
Once those options fell through, Meredith turned to their alumnae for donations. So far over 700 alumnae have donated over $100,000. Another donor is willing to match donations up to $250,000. To spread the word about donations, the college considered filming a commercial featuring Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel” as students surrounded the dry lake and sadly tried to hold water in their arms.
“It was real symbolic, with the whole Meredith Angels thing, and then they’d be trying to hold nonexistent water in their arms. We had a director and everything. We were going to have Sarah McLachlan come do a live performance as well. Turns out that would cost as much as fixing the lake so we scrapped it. Plus we didn’t want to make everyone depressed,” said Weaver.
The Anthropology Department has tried to make the best of the situation by letting students excavate the dry lake bed. Students uncovered dozens of onyx rings and bottles of wine. “This is a great experience for the students. Sure, there are always one or two who sign up for anthropology because they think it’s related to Anthropologie, the retailer that sells boho-chic womenswear, shoes, accessories and home decor. We just let them post pictures of what we find on social media to keep them involved,” said one professor.
Meredith now has until June 30 to meet their fundraising goal. They’ve set up a donation site and are accepting donations from the public. “We’ve seen how passionate people can be over things like the brunch bill. To try to tap into that movement, we’ll be holding lakeside brunches with bottomless mimosas for all of our donors,” said Weaver.
Yep, that’s me. You’re probably wondering how I ended up in this situation, listed in the credits of Andy Cohen’s Then & Now on Bravo. I know some of you probably don’t watch Bravo, or know who Andy Cohen is, but a significant portion of my readers are obsessed with both. After clearing it with my lawyer, Stacy Miller, I can now give you all a ITBehind the scenes look of how I ended up on the show.
On June 13th, Bravo reached out to me about using my Pulitzer-worthy footage from Fyre Festival on a new show hosted by the one and only Andy Cohen.
Obviously I had to hear them out. I had never seen Andy Cohen’s Then & Now, but I assumed it consisted of Andy asking different Real Housewives about pop culture in hopes that a fight would break out. More than happy to contribute to such a worthy cause, I threw out an offer, which they then countered. Classic showbiz move.
I tried to play hardball by asking for a signed Andy Cohen headshot, mainly so I could brag about it in my secret Facebook group full of ITB moms who would eat that sort of thing up.
I also requested a shout out on the show, knowing that I would gain a ton of followers because Andy Cohen’s viewers do anything he tells them to. That’s just Influencer 101. And remember, I am an influencer. If you’re reading this and disagree, then ask yourself “Am I asking myself a question right now because William Finley IV told me to ask myself a question?” Yeah, you just got influenced.
Unfortunately, the show had already taped, so none of this was possible.
At this point in my career I consider myself the patron saint of Fyre Festival footage. It’s my duty to make sure I keep talking about it, and provide others with pictures and video footage so they can cover it, until justice is served. So I accepted the offer and started planning a big event for my Bravo debut. I thought I had weeks to pull everything together, but then I got an email saying the show would air the next day.
I quickly reached out to Vita Vite about hosting a watch party (because that’s what people who watch Bravo do) and planned to have some Humdinger Glowmosas for everyone to drink, using their new ITBlessed wine glasses, of course. It would be so synergistic.
After posting about this pop-up watch party on Facebook, I discovered that the show was actually airing in a few hours. I wasn’t even home to watch it but fortunately another Fyre Festival survivor’s wife sent me this clip. Note: I spent about 3 hours tracking down footage and creating a video highlighting my appearance, but YouTube took it down because of copyright violations. Don’t worry, YouTube will be hearing from Stacy Miller shortly.
The episode was titled “Being Rich” and here’s the description: “Andy Cohen dives into the opulent 1980s to explore how the wealthy spent their fortunes on everything from limos and jets to extravagant weddings, and how that’s influenced the ways the mega-rich spend their money today. With celebrity guests Susan Lucci, Jill Kargman, Amber Rose and more, Andy looks at how the gilded mega-mansions of the 80s created today’s high-tech minimalist homes, and how the pricey plastic surgery of yesterday influenced the anti-aging treatments of today. Plus, the Real Housewives spill their pre-nup secrets!”
You can watch the full episode here. While I may have totally botched the watch party for my debut appearance on Andy Cohen’s Then & Now, I’m still glad I helped bring attention to this humanitarian crisis. I hope you enjoyed this insider look at how media empires work together to cover important stories. Now I’m going to go pick up the latest issue of Vanity Fair so I can look at the Fyre Festival pictures that I let them use.
Massive protests took place in Raleigh on Wednesday morning, all with the same message: free our brunches. Demonstrations were held in multiple locations, as citizens of all ages, races (but mainly Caucasian), and genders came together in support of ending brunch inequality.
“We’re all in this together. It’s not about party lines, it’s about brunch lines,” said Kelly Iredell, who helped organize the protests by creating a Facebook event.
The protesters were supporting SB155, also known as the “Brunch Bill”, which would let local governments allow restaurants to serve alcohol starting at 10 a.m. on Sundays. By statute, North Carolina currently allows alcohol sales statewide from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day, except Sundays, when alcohol service cannot begin until noon.
SB155 was referred to the House ABC Committee, projected to meet this week, which is most likely why so many protests sprung up on Wednesday morning.
Protesters chained themselves to tables and bicycle racks outside of popular brunch spots like Capital Club 16, Poole’s, NOFO, and Beasley’s Chicken + Honey.
“The mimosa has sat imprisoned until noon every Sunday for decades. I don’t want to be dramatic, but we might as well call it the “Nelson Mimosa” at this point,” commented Esther August, a barista at a local fair trade coffee pop-up wheelbarrow (it’s similar to a pop-up food truck, but it’s a wheelbarrow.)
“It’s normal to have a crowd of dozens of women and bearded guys, both dressed in plaid shirts and selvage denim, waiting for us to open so they can be the first to Instagram their food before discussing a thing they heard on a podcast for the duration of their meal,” said an anonymous Beasley’s employee. “But once they started chanting “Sunday Bloody Mary Sunday” (a parody of a U2 song) we knew they were serious,” she added.
“We’ve suffered long enough. We’re live tweeting the protest, hoping it will get national attention. Trust me, I work at Br&nd & Br@nd (a local digital marketing firm) I know how to leverage social media to amplify our key messaging,” said Leona Jordan, who considers herself an influencer despite having only 423 followers on Instagram.
The protests seemed to die down at Capital Club 16 once supporters finished dining on French Toast and cheese grit cake, universally known as the best French Toast inside the beltline. “I honestly forgot what we were protesting. I could crush a Netflix nap right now,” said Davis Russell, who manages an Airbnb.
It wasn’t just the downtown Raleigh crowd that came out in support of craft cocktails before noon. Over in Cameron Village, college-aged students formed a pastel colored wall of solidarity at the entrances to Harris Teeter, refusing to let anyone in.
“If we can’t buy beer and champagne for our Glowmosas before noon, then no one can buy any groceries ever,” said Thomas Meyer Williams III, who added that he was “hungover AF” from the previous night’s band party at Delta Sig.
It seems that the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association (NCRLA) has been effective in mobilizing support for the bill. They called on community leaders, industry professionals, restaurateurs and patrons alike to learn more about the benefits of the NC Brunch Bill. A petition at ncbrunchbill.com has over 6,200 signatures.
They’ve been posting about the impact of the bill across their social channels on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, encouraging supporters to use #FreeTheMimosa. Here are some examples of a coaster and social media ad that was created to spread the word.
NCRLA believes the change will increase tax revenue, benefitting both local and state governments. They also expect that, with more venues offering brunch on Sunday morning, the NC Brunch Bill will serve as a vehicle for job creation for people in the restaurant industry.
“We’ll keep an eye on the results of the House ABC Committee meeting,” promised Jordan. “Well, unless any more details come out about the Bachelor in Paradise investigation, then I’m totes gonna drop what I’m doing to follow that.”
This is the story of how I got a fidget spinner and half of my Fyre Festival wristband added to the North Hills time capsule, extending my 15 minutes of Fyre fame to at least another 50 years. I also met a Hollywood director who told me he enjoyed my Tweets.
What a Time to be Alive
There’s nothing more ITB than reliving the past and reminiscing about the good ol’ days. So it came as no surprise that Raleigh residents were excited about the unearthing of a 50-year-old time capsule buried in the North Hills luxury retail destination center. On June 8th, 1967, before the beltline (BTB) even existed, a time capsule was buried in the sidewalk in front of The Cardinal movie theater to celebrate its grand opening. That capsule sat dormant for 50 years, waiting to melt people’s faces off like the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
For decades, residents wondered what was inside. I’d always thought it contained the founding documents for the pre-Algebra Club or maybe the original blueprints for the beltline. When North Hills announced that they would unearth the time capsule, and bury a new one, I knew I had to insert myself into the story somehow. Even though North Hills is now technically JOTB it has long been considered ITB, as long as you take Lassiter Mill to get there. Also, the annual revenue generated from ITB residents shopping in North Hills is greater than the GDP of Lithuania, so North Hills is clearly on #brand with our way of life. To make sure I was involved in this epic event I reached out to Bonner Gaylord, Broughton graduate and managing director of North Hills, about getting VIP access.
Bonner let me know that, like Fyre Festival, there wasn’t actually a VIP area at the unearthing. If I couldn’t get VIP then I at least wanted to contribute to the new time capsule. North Hills was accepting items from an exclusive group of businesses, nearby schools, and media outlets. Confused as to why I wasn’t included, since I’m both a business and a media empire, I politely demanded that they let me submit some items. They politely said they would consider it.
I thought long and hard about what I should add to this historic moment. It needed to be something ITB, but also something that represented 2017. I settled on an ITB Insider koozie, an ITBlessed wine glass, a can of LaCroix, half of my Fyre Festival wristband (I need the other half for the lawsuit, more on that soon), a letter to the future, and a rose gold fidget spinner engraved with “ITB 2017” and “WNF IV”. I wanted the fidget spinner to be shaped like the beltline, but I just didn’t have the time to get one made.
On Wednesday, I met with Bonner and his North Hills colleagues for one of the most important decisions in Raleigh history. I laid out all of my items and waited nervously as they reviewed them. It was basically the same process used when selecting the next Dalai Lama. Bonner ended up choosing the fidget spinner and half of my Fyre Festival wristband, as you’ll see in the super dramatic film I made to commemorate the decision.
The next day I joined other residents traveling by Tahoe caravan along Lassiter Mill to get to the celebration. The crowd gathered around the spot on the sidewalk between what is now Bonefish Grill and the Verizon store, waiting to see what would emerge from the year 1967. History was being made.
John Kane, who bought North Hills to find out what was in the time capsule, gave a nice speech to kick things off. Bonner then took over the hosting duties and introduced a few people who spoke about what North Hills was like back in the day. Again, very ITB.
We were then treated to a speech from Broughton graduate and Hollywood Director and Producer, Peyton Reed. He talked about seeing various movies at The Cardinal movie theater while growing up in Raleigh. Reed went on to directAnt-Man, Yes Man, The Break-Up, Bring It On, and many other projects.
They opened the time capsule and discovered that it had not been sealed properly, allowing water to seep inside. Apparently, the folks in 1967 thought that what looked like a metal ice cream bucket would be the perfect vessel for a time capsule. Some of the items were damaged, while others that had been wrapped in plastic were in decent condition. They finished the excavation and laid the items out on a table for people to view. (See pictures at the end of this post.)
They also laid out the items that would be going in the new time capsule. There was a yearbook and stuffed Rooty the Raccoon from Root, a newspaper from the News & Observer, a DVD from WRAL, the newest book from Raleigh native David Sedaris, and my fidget spinner and Fyre Festival wristband. I just hope the new time capsule is a YETI cooler so my items don’t get damaged.
After the event I spoke with Peyton Reed, who was nice enough to hang around for a bit to meet with fans. We talked about Fyre Festival, Twitter, and a few other topics and basically became ITBFFs. The only regret I have was not asking him if the scene in Bring It On where Jaime Pressly (also a North Carolina native) says “It’s already been broughten” is a reference to Broughton.
To impress Peyton Reed, and hopefully break into Hollywood, I filmed, directed, edited, and produced this documentary about the North Hills time capsule. Be sure to watch the part where Bonner approves my request to meet the Dalai Lama when he visits Raleigh later this year. You can also watch the full video of the event on the North Hills Facebook page.
UPDATE: This post has officially been endorsed by Peyton Reed.
Special thanks to Bonner and North Hills for including me in this historic event. The new time capsule won’t be opened until 2067. It is now one of my life goals to make sure I live to see the day my fidget spinner and Fyre Festival wristband are unearthed in front of a crowd of thousands. I even made a calendar reminder just so I don’t forget.
The Electric Storage Battery Company – ESB Exide Missile & Electronics Division
I feel greatly honored in being asked to place an item of interest in the Time Capsule arranged for a ceremony at the new Cardinal Theater in the North Hills Shopping Center on June 8, 1967. Since this is the so-called Space Age, I am enclosing in the Time Capsule our ESB NEWS which is a company publication covering the news media of our company activities for May 1967.
In this issue is a rather interesting article on the batteries that were designed, developed and produced in Raleigh with Raleigh people that powered the Surveyor Spacecraft III that was launched in April and had a most successful flight to the moon, a softlanding on the moon, the taking and transmission of over 13,000 pictures of the moon surface, including a soil scoop or shovel which tested the moon surface for suitability for eventual manned landings. I am also enclosing a Western Union telegram in which Hughes Aircraft Company, who is the prime contractor of the Surveyor Spacecraft, congratulates our Division for our part in this successful program.
It is my understanding that this Time Capsule is to be opened 50 years from now. If this is so, I expect that by the time the Capsule is opened these initial attempts to explore space will be long forgotten, since at that time they will probably have hourly schedules to the moon, to Mars, Venus and other planets of our solar system. However, we are proud of our Raleigh area and the accomplishments of our people in this Outer Space Exploration Era.
By copy of this letter to Mr. C.E. Stone, Manager of the Ambassador Theater in Raleigh, I hope that this letter and the items mentioned will be suitable for placing in the Time Capsule at 11:00 A.M. on June 8, 1967.
We’ve all seen the commercials. “Buy 1 suit and get 7 suits, 5 pairs of pants, and 4 shirts free.” This sounds like a good deal, until you discover the suits fit about as well as a Hefty trash bag, and looks like something straight out of Mugatu’s Derelicte campaign.
Thanks to Raleigh’s newest pop-up shop, Hengs Suiting + Armoury, we are no longer faced with the dilemma of wearing trash bags or being forced to brave the mall crowd when going to Brooks Brothers. Just months after debuting an app to connect clients with their mobile tailoring service, Glenwood South Tailors is now offering high-end custom suits and off-the-peg (the ITB term for “off the rack”) suits through their Hengs pop-up shop.
Pop-up shops aren’t just for hipsters selling conflict-free organic vegetables grown in gluten-free soil. If done properly, these shops can actually serve a purpose. Starting June 21, Hengs Suiting + Armoury will be open for business by appointment. The best part, it’s one block away from Broughton, located in the same space as Glenwood South Tailors + Alterations.
Hengs will offer two options to start. The High-end Custom Suit, aimed at the attorney and accountant type, includes a custom-made suit, shirt, styling, and shoe shine starting at $1,000. The Young Professional is an updated style and fit on the classic workhorse suit that’s perfect for YPN meetings or networking events at bottle shops in Raleigh. That starts at $550 and includes free standard tailoring and alterations. They’ll also offer bulk groomsman suit ordering for 2018 wedding parties and provide clients with personalized styling sessions.
In classic entrepreneurial fashion, they are leveraging relationships with Nordstrom and Cole Haan. As the top rep in the area, they’ll offer made-to-measure suits from J.Hilburn. Their fabric is sourced from Italy (I’ve been there) and produced under humane working conditions in Portugal. They’re also actively interviewing local cut and sew tailors and seamstresses.
“The inspiration for Hengs comes from hearing horror stories about the big-box suit retailer experience. Guys aren’t getting measured properly and there’s little to no style advice or consultation. Not only are our clients saving time and money, they’re getting free personal styling, alterations, and tailoring with each suit. We care more about your look than just selling you a suit,” said Burnett.
Hengs has also merged with HarperGaston Personal Styling out of Chapel Hill, where Brian serves as Creative Director, to take care of clients that need more attention to their wardrobe. They’ve worked with professionals in engineering, law, finance, and tech to assist in personal style.
“In 2017, it’s about quality, service, and a personalized experience. That’s what Hengs is about,” added Burnett. With Father’s Day coming up and Christmas right around the corner (only 199 days away!), Hengs makes a great gift for those in need of a new suit and styling.
A Raleigh couple can breathe a sigh of relief after over 15 months of waiting. The news of the Boylan Bridge Brewpub’s reopening has brought joy to a Five Points power couple who were beginning to give up hope.
Vance Craig VI, a 31-year-old Senior Super Duper Executive Broker at a boutique commercial real estate firm, spoke about how difficult the wait has been, “It’s my right as a Raleigh native to crush 12 beers and enjoy the view on that deck. Do you know how many deals I could have closed out there by now? At least two, I bet.”
Mary Cameron Knoll Craig, Vance’s stay-at-home-wife, runs multiple Instagram accounts that have been impacted by the closing. During the bar’s hiatus she had no choice but to put her account devoted to images of skyline selfies on hold. “Ugh, you don’t even know how many likes I’ve missed out on with this place being closed. Where am I supposed to go for skyline selfies, Dix Park? You can’t even drink out there.”
Her husband added, “We didn’t know what to do. Sure, we could have driven all the way from Five Points and taken a skyline selfie on the bridge that’s 20 feet away from the bar, but that just looks like we’re trying too hard.”
“Exactly. Our skyline selfie needs to appear organic and authentic so we’ll get more likes. No one likes a try-hard,” explained Mary Cameron.
“Plus, if people saw us posing on the bridge for a picture they’d think we were doing engagement photos or headshots for a residential real estate website. Everyone knows we’re married and that I’m in commercial real estate. People would start asking questions,” said Craig VI.
The couple seemed surprised to learn that the bar would now offer a new menu and expanded wine list.
“This place has a full menu? I thought they just served cheese quesadillas, pretzel cheese dip, and whatever that Summer Ale beer is,” said Craig VI.
The couple’s assumption was backed up by a social media analyst with Walk West. “We’ve analyzed thousands of social posts related to this location. We have never seen a single picture of food or beer. Users are taking the same exact picture with the skyline as a backdrop, especially women between the ages of 21 and 40. Typical images contain at least 5 girls wearing Aviator sunglasses, oversized t-shirts, and Jack Rogers sandals. Sometimes they’ll wear those gladiator sandals and a festival ready layered Bohemian dress or super chic cutoff jean shorts and a top with fringe. We expect a flood of skyline selfies from this location in the coming weeks,” commented the Walk West representative.
Being at the mercy of the brewpub’s back and forth has been hard on the couple, but has also been an issue for another member of their family, Mabel the dog. “Thank God we can finally take Mabel to a bar where she can sit outside while we social climb by taking skyline selfies with other couples that we envy,” said Mary Cameron.
“It’s finally summer and I’m just ready to get lit on this deck. Now all we have to worry about is which Barbour apparel to wear,” said Craig VI.
It’s been almost a month since Fyre Festival. While the experience was quite traumatizing, I believe the best way to get through this is to keep talking about it constantly. That’s exactly why I went on the Free Lunch podcast at Clean Design to tell my story. This was my second appearance on their show. On the first episode I taught the gang all about ITB, my growing media empire, and how I was about to go on the trip of a lifetime to Fyre Festival.
Little did I know that I would have to survive and escape the island while becoming a “minor celebrity” (according to Bloomberg). Clean Design asked me to come back on their podcast after seeing what a disaster the trip was.
I set the record straight on a few issues. We covered the “planning” notebook, which media outlets are super lame, how my attorney Stacy Miller plans to handle this, and more.
Drinking wine and perusing goods and wares on a Sunday afternoon in the name of charity is a classic ITB pastime. This Sunday from noon until 4:00 pm you can do just that at the “Farmers + Makers Market” that’s being put on by The Raleigh Wine Shop and Inter-faith Food Shuttle. The two have teamed up to support local farmers and craftspeople while raising money to fight hunger in North Carolina.
This special event takes place on the final day of The Raleigh Wine Shop’s 6th Anniversary Celebration. Over a dozen local growers and purveyors will be selling their goods and wares in the paved open space next to the wine shop that’s located on Glenwood South. Farmers, juicers, artisans, pasta makers, dog treat bakers, ice cream makers, and more will be featuring their finest offerings. It’ll basically be like a real life Etsy. A list of farmers and vendors and more details can be found here.
The Raleigh Wine Shop will sell glasses of their meticulously sourced wine while Tarboro Brewing Company will sell pints of their locally made beer. A portion of the proceeds from the market and drink sales will go directly to Inter-faith Food Shuttle. It should be a great event in support of a great cause. We’ll give it a preliminary 5/5 beltline rating.
About The Raleigh Wine Shop
The award winning wine shop, located on Glenwood South, welcomes wine novices and connoisseurs alike with a bright, inviting atmosphere, friendly and unintimidating service, and varied price points on quality wines crafted with integrity from around the world. To learn more visit www.theraleighwineshop.com or call (919) 803.5473.
About Inter-faith Food Shuttle
The Food Shuttle recovers and distributes 6 million pounds of food per year, teaches culinary job skills, shopping and cooking healthy on a budget, and how to grow food. To learn more visit www.foodshuttle.org or call (919) 250-0043.
Welcome to this edition of ITBMZ, your best source for mildly entertaining celebrity news that tangentially relates to Raleigh. NFL stars Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly, Greg Olsen, and a few other Carolina Panthers players were in Raleigh on Wednesday evening. The group dined at Bida Manda before attending the Kings of Leon concert at Walnut Creek with literally everyone else in Raleigh. We aren’t sure what Cam Newton ordered, but he seems like a stir-fry cashew ginger chicken kind of guy.
As you can see, Cam had a bit of a rough start at the beginning of the show. “He was singing along way too quickly on some of the songs. Midway through the first quarter of the set he seemed to settle in and find his rhythm,” noted a Senior ITB Sports writer #sources. Expect a full recap on ESPN later today where they’ll break down Cam’s performance and discuss topics like “Why isn’t Cam practicing instead of going to concerts?”
While many expressed their excitement at seeing NFL superstars in Raleigh, some were not as interested. When reached for comment about being in the pit next to the Panthers players, a local socialite replied, “They were apparently right by us but I don’t hang with people from Charlotte.” When pressed further he stated, “If I wanted to watch football I’d go to a Broughton game.”
As the Panthers players left the concert they were overheard saying, “You know what? Raleigh really IS better than Charlotte.”
We’re told the plans for the Hillsborough Street development surrounding the Players’ Retreat have been withdrawn. When we broke this story on the Development Beat back in March it caused quite a reaction from readers and residents of the surrounding neighborhoods.
Here’s a quick recap in case you missed it: an unfiled rezoning case requiring City Council approval would allow for the development of offices, apartments, retail, and town homes on the lots surrounding the PR.
The current plan for the site includes the following:
-A 7 story and 3 story, 70,000 square-foot, 60-unit condo building with ground floor retail on the site where BB&T is currently located.
-A 140,000 square-foot office building with ground floor retail on the site of the David’s Dumpling & Noodle Bar building.
-A 5 story, 75-unit apartment complex on the site of a parking lot and duplex across Oberlin from the PR
-14 3-story town homes, built on the parking lot and duplex site
-A three-level 500-space underground parking garage that will be accessible through the traffic circle
-Sam and Bill’s Hair Salon will be preserved
-A pocket park, contingent on the acquisition of additional land abutting the future apartment site
Local architect Michael Stevenson said the project is a “Planned Development,” meaning its approval would be based on the design.
The plans were presented at recent meetings of the Hillsborough CAC and Wade CAC. Attendees expressed concerns over a variety of issues, including traffic, fitting in greenspace, needing clarity on the number of stories and height, the aesthetics, character and scale compared to the surrounding neighborhoods, the impact of adding 500 cars and offices to rush hour traffic, parking, and more.
The project has been withdrawn. No word on if future plans will be submitted at this time. We’ll keep you posted.
The current number one documentary on iTunes is the product of a financial analyst located right in our own backyard. About a month ago, Burke Koonce, an equity research analyst in Raleigh, reached out to tell me about “Betting on Zero”, a new financial docu-thriller, and the screening he had planned for the Rialto this Tuesday night. I was intrigued, so I watched the trailer.
As you can see, the film follows billionaire Bill Ackman as he goes up against Herbalife, a multi-level marketing company, by taking a $1 billion short position on their stock and asserting that the company is actually a pyramid scheme. “Betting on Zero” premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and has been reviewed by the New York Times and the LA Times. I assume that Koonce, one of the film’s executive producers, reached out because he wanted coverage from a source that people could ITBelieve in. We recently met to talk more about the film and his involvement.
Koonce comes across a lot of interesting material as an equity research analyst that writes about stocks and financial matters for clients. “Sometimes the material I’m researching gets pretty interesting, even bizarre. So one of my clients suggested that we start a film production company specializing in Wall Street stories. And we did. We thought making a documentary about Ackman vs. Herbalife could be really interesting,” said Koonce.
So he and his partner teamed up with some film professionals who, like them, were drawn to the drama of the story. The filmmakers were given free rein creatively and Koonce and his partner promised not to be involved in Herbalife stock in any way.
“My client put up essentially all the funding. I handled the day-to-day responsibilities of running a production company and wrote weekly research reports to help keep the film team up to date. Fast forward to 2016 and we had actually made a documentary that was pretty good. It premiered at Tribeca last April, and we picked up a distributor last fall. The film opened in theaters in New York and LA in March, and we have another big deal to announce soon,” said Koonce.
The documentary currently sits atop the iTunes charts and is getting great reviews. John Oliver covered Herbalife and other MLMs on an entire episode of Last Week Tonight. He even created his own pyramid scheme to tell people about pyramid schemes.
Since that was such a great idea, I’m going to steal it. I want you to find 3 people to come to the screening on Tuesday at The Rialto. Make sure each of those people find 3 other people to bring to the movie, and so on. You can buy tickets here.
Koonce had more to share, including Herbalife supporters attempting to suppress the film, plans for other finance based films, and more. We’ll get to all of that in a few weeks once you’ve had a chance to watch the film. I watched it over the weekend so I could do a review and rating before the Rialto showing.
Betting on Zero
“This is the best managed pyramid scheme in the history of the world,” states Bill Ackman, CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management. It’s a bold claim, and one of many that he makes about Herbalife during the film, which was written and directed by Ted Braun. Ackman is confident in his beliefs and provides a lot of evidence to back them up, despite being doubted by critics. The facts seem to get lost on the general public as Ackman and billionaire Carl Icahn, who supported Herbalife after learning of Ackman’s short position, battle it out on cable news networks and in the media. The film also takes a closer look at many of the Herbalife distributors who lost significant amounts of money after being involved with the company. It’s a very interesting story that I knew little about before watching the film.
ITB Film Critic Rating: 5 out of 5 beltlines
If you can’t make the Tuesday showing, you can watch the documentary on iTunes and on Amazon. I encourage everyone to check it out and keep it at the top of the charts.
What started as a typical Easter egg hunt soon became a lesson on local ordinances in Cary this weekend. Residents new to Cary were surprised to learn of a strict ordinance in place which requires all Easter eggs to be painted beige.
Janice Adams, who recently moved to Cary from a suburb of New Jersey, took her two children to the Prestonwood Easter egg hunt expecting to see a colorful display. What she saw was underwhelming. “They just had a bunch of tan and beige eggs everywhere. I was like, what the hell is going on, it’s Easter, where’s the colorful eggs?”
She received the following response after reaching out to the Town Council. “We view Easter eggs as a sign of Easter and like all signs in Cary, they must fit within our guidelines. While we are aware that God offers a Master Plan, He has yet to submit it to the Town of Cary for approval. Until that time, the eggs will remain beige colored and will only contain licorice Jelly Beans, Yellow Peeps, and beige Necco Wafers,” said Jane Morrison, who sits on the Cary Town Council.
Raleigh residents were bewildered after being informed of the ordinance. Mary Anna Harrington, Director of Easter Programming at the Carolina Country Club, commented, “Beige eggs? We only use pastel colored and gold plated eggs. We had to stop using solid gold eggs because they were too heavy for the children to carry, especially when they’re putting 20 or 30 in their baskets. We don’t want anyone tearing a rotator cuff and putting their future tennis or golf career in jeopardy. We also monogram the eggs after the hunt to ensure siblings don’t get their eggs mixed up. Every single egg contains a combination of at least $100 in cash, Godiva chocolate, and keys to a miniature luxury sedan, Tahoe, or Escalade.”
Even North Ridge Country Club found the beige egg ordinance to be archaic. “Our Easter egg budget obviously isn’t as high as some other country clubs in town. While our eggs are plastic and filled with loose change and more economical candy, we can at least afford the multi-colored ones. We’re also able to hide more eggs since we have two golf courses. Yeah land is cheaper out here and DON’T quote me admitting to that, but two is still better than one, ya know? I mean, it’s not like we care what other clubs are doing though,” said North Ridge Assistant Director of Holiday Gatherings, Steve Booker.
The Town of Cary remained firm in their decision after hearing of the other egg policies. “When I joined the Town Council after moving here in 2006, I swore to uphold the values of our ordinances. We take our Master Sign Plan very seriously. If we stray from these rules all hell could break loose. Before you know it we’ll have shopping centers that don’t look identical to each other,” said Morrison.