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sociology prof and Z-Axis TV producer

Weird Charlotte: Are you originally from Charlotte, or did you come here from somewhere else? If you came here from somewhere else, where was that, when did you land here, and why?

Phil: Originally from Miami, Florida. I've been in Charlotte now for more than 25 years.

WC: Of all you've contributed to the cultural fabric of Charlotte, what are some of your personal favorites?

Phil: Lots of Z-Axis episodes come to mind. One of my all-time favorites is Do's and Don'ts of Dating. I liked all the episodes featuring the Z-Axis version of wrestling. Then there were the episodes featuring 1950s monsters, certain ButtCo ads, and the Samfira mocumentary featuring Linda Alley. The parodies of spaghetti westerns worked well too. Helping Russ Newsom create Mad Prophet and Corporate Man was great too, as is helping work with the Randberg characters. Very far out. Probably the funnest part of the show was helping to cook up or support weird characters being developed back when we used Pat's Tavern with Lepton Neutrino has the host of the show. Since we lost the studio, I've been relying upon whatever others submit to me. Lately I've been getting fantastic material from Steve Daniels out of Columbia. Currently, the material submitted by Little Shiva, Jenn O+>, Nick Randberg and Lepton Neutrino has been good.

WC: What strengthens your dedication to do what you do, in spite of the fact that Charlotte has not yet developed a critical mass of creatively-attuned people?

Phil: Charlotte has relatively little alternative culture, given its size. Miami was like that back in the early 70's. You must be grateful for what little you have. Support local culture. Focus on the long haul and be realistic. Most of all, keep it fun.

WC: What sometimes discourages you about Charlotte and makes you dream of living somewhere else? And where would that somewhere else be?

Phil: The corporate media here is lousy at recognizing local culture. It would be nice to live in a region where the local media actually supports the local culture. There are some places where the alternative scene is much stronger, such as Asheville. On the other hand, Charlotte seems to offer so much potential.

WC: What would help make Charlotte a more vibrant cultural city?

Phil: We need interlocking webs of information and resources. For example, we need a common website that's noncommercial and tied to the grassroots that provides a weekly database for the alternative music scene, art scene, political protests, etc. We need a local radio station that's run by students and other noncommercial types dedicated to supporting local culture. Charlotte does have some cool scenes to be proud of, but you wouldn't know it if you just moved here.

WC: What can we do right now to make Charlotte a more vibrant cultural city?

Phil: We need artists/radicals/alternative culture types of all kinds to step forward, regardless of whether folks think they're "good" artists or "experts." What amazes me is that so few people are involved in actually helping make local culture come alive (local musicians excepted). It seems like we've all met each other, but we're not organized to support each other. For example, I recall a club that formed a few years ago to help local filmmakers. I invited them to present their material on Z-Axis, to show Charlotte they're here, and not a single person from that club followed up with providing material. Nobody stepped forward.

WC: Let's say there's some creative person out there who's considering moving to Charlotte. If you could say one thing to them, what would it be?

Phil: Charlotte has great potential. The alternative scenes here are good but hard to find, so ask around. Don't be deceived by the corporate cookie-cutter look: there are various undergrounds, but you have to dig for 'em.


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