Queen City Nerve

Charlotte's Cultural Pulse

What a Difference a Year Makes
Another one bites the dust

By Ryan Pitkin

December 20, 2018

What can I say about 2018?

This year has been off-the-wall batshit crazy — I mean that personally, professionally, politically and presidentially. As the country spirals into two divided states, storms continue to escalate in severity and journalists become the scapegoat for an entire segment of the population that’s been brainwashed by their cult leader of a president, I decided to wade into the waters and launch my own publication.

I’m Slim Pickens barebacking the bomb while waving his cowboy hat in Dr. Strangelove. I’m riding this thing out, baby, and I’m loving every minute of it.

By now, most folks know the story of how Queen City Nerve was born. At this point, even I’m sick of reading about myself in the local media. From radio interviews on WFAE to TV appearances on WCCB (see you again real soon, Edge fans) to being listed on multiple “People to Watch in 2019” lists, I’ve been more than humbled by all the attention and support over the last two weeks since we released our debut issue.

I’ve also been humbled in other ways. After riding high on the wave of support that followed the announcement of our new publication, actually making it happen brought me back down to the sand. Rather, it smashed me into the coral.

Ryan Pitkin

I’ve never experienced a day quite like Dec. 5, which was our first print day two weeks ago. It seemed like everything that could have gone wrong did. New computers bought just weeks previously began to crash under the strain of everything that’s needed to put a paper out. Indentations mysteriously disappeared from each page, leaving square blocks of text. Entire rounds of copy edits apparently never got saved, leading to as cringeworthy a paper as I’ve ever been involved with in terms of typos and the like.

Despite all that, we got a paper out that I was proud of — albeit six hours past our print deadline (my apologies to the fine folks at the Winston-Salem Journal). What my team accomplished in just 35 days after all being fired without warning was nothing short of amazing. We made lots of mistakes and we learned from them, and continue to learn from our experiences every day.

And with that I present to you the second-ever issue of Queen City Nerve. I can’t promise you it’s mistake-free, but it’s a hell of a lot cleaner than the first one. There’s also some new content that I’m excited to share with the community.

My arts feature is one that I’ve been working on since before Queen City Nerve existed. Some months ago, local comedian Brian O’Neill told me about Nonconsensual Comedy, a weekly open mic event held every Wednesday at Crown Station in NoDa. As I mention in the story, the idea of going to watch local up-and-coming comedians work out material sounded like an awful way to spend a night. “We talkin’ ‘bout practice? Practice?!”

However, I was pleasantly surprised at the raw talent emanating from the stage on the very first Wednesday night I attended. And I knew I had come across one of those gems of a story.

More than a story, I had come across an entire scene that I was previously unaware of. I’m familiar with a few local comedians in town, some of whom I consider friends, and I know they’re talented, but I was completely caught by surprise by this underground open mic where many of the folks in the crowd were comedians just trying to roughen out the edges on their new material and support one another. And like I said before, they were actually laugh-out-loud funny.

Two or three years ago, I began building networks within the local hip-hop scene, as it became clear that a certain momentum was building. Over the last year, I’ve focused heavily on getting to know visual artists, as there seems to be a similar groundswell happening among muralists, street artists and such.

To be clear, I am not taking credit for the amazing growth occurring in these scenes. I like to think some of my coverage of culture in the city in recent years may have helped folks find a wider audience, but that’s not my point.

My point is that, with or without me, maybe 2019 will be the year the local comedy scene blows up. I know I plan to be right there watching and writing as it happens.

Such are the things that excite me.

Moving forward, my team will continue to work out the kinks, similar to a comic on stage at Crown Station. We know we’ve got plenty of eyes on us, and so much support in this city, and we’re thankful for it.

Now all that’s left to do is follow through.

We got this.

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