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Charlottesville Grand Opening August 25
kulturerva.com mysmokestack.com 8 yr anniversary event coming soon!
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U P C O M I N G S H O WS
“If There Happens To Be Need” at ADA Gallery
opens October 12th and runs through November 11th. The following quote is from Miriam Katz for Artforum.
“Langdon Graves’s work makes you trust her. She draws precisely; she joins sculptural elements smoothly. Her palette consists of friendly oranges and yellows, as well as soothing pinks and whites. The pieces are both comforting and familiar. And then, they are not. The whites, we realize, are dirty; the pinks contain the menacing elements of red: fire, passion, blood. Objects we thought we had recognized appear, on further reflection, to be implacable, indefinable. This overturning of our expectations is not, however, an act of aggression. It instead takes us out of our comfort zone so we are unable to simply rely on formulaic analysis. Familiar and yet unfamiliar, the work forces us to come to terms with it specifically, to deal with something new in a new way. As such, coming away from Graves’s drawings and sculptures doesn’t merely leave us with a memory of an oeuvre, but rather incites us to move forward with a new vision of the things we see around us. We notice what is off, or rather just off, and we realize, with delight, how incredibly strange the world is.”
Monstrae # 3 p l a s t i c , enamel, latex, cowhi de, synthetic hair 5x5x6”
ADA Gallery 228 West Broad Street Richmond, VA 23220 email : firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com web : www.adagallery.com gallery hours: wed-sat noon - 6pm or by appointment / phone: 804.644.0100 / cell : 804.301.1550
Carnival Arms f e l t , s a t i n, vinyl, plastic, latex, enamel d i m e n s i ons variable (room-sized)
Heir graphite, enamel, plastic, wool 6x6â€?
of Cabell Library By Ellen Firsching Brown
Yo u ne v e r k no w w he r e ne w ex p e r ie nc e s m ig ht le a d yo u. Se v e r a l m onths a go, a friend s ho w e d m e a n o d d lit t le v e r s io n o f Little Red Riding Hood c r e a t e d in t he 19 60s by a Swiss a r t is t na m e d Wa r ja L a v a t e r. I c r a d le d t he s lim v o lum e in my l e f t ha nd and tried to open it . As I t ur ne d t he f ir s t p a ge , t he r e s t o f t he p a ge s s t a r t e d p o p p in g out of my hand. It t o o k m e a f e w s e c o n d s t o und e r s t a nd t ha t t he e nt ir e b o o k w a s m a d e o f one long sheet of p a p e r t ha t ha d b e e n fo ld e d b a c k a nd fo r t h i nt o a n a c c o r d io n. Ev e n m or e inter esting than t he f unk y fo r m a t , w a s t ha t t he b o o k d id nâ€™ t ha v e a ny w o r d s o r im a ge s o f anything r emotely r e c o g niz a ble a s L it t le Re d , he r g r a nd m o t he r, o r t he w o lf. I ns t e a d , t he ar tist pr esented t he s t o r y t hr o ug h a n a m a z ing s e q ue nc e o f c o lo r f ul lit ho g r a p he d s y m bols. It w as c le ver, unw ie ldy, b e a ut if ul, a nd ut t e r ly e n g r o s s ing. I ha d ne v e r s e e n a ny t hing like it befor e and w a s a nx io us t o f ind o ut m o r e a b o ut Wa r ja L a v a t e r. To my s ur p r i s e , t his quest into midc e nt ur y Eur o p e a n b o o k a r t e nd e d up r ig ht d o w n t he s t r e e t a t Vir g inia Commonwealth U ni v e r s it y â€™ s J a m e s B r a nc h C a b e ll L ib r a r y. I n my e f fo r t s t o le a r n m o r e a b o u t L a v a t e r, I s c o ur e d t he I nt e r ne t w it h little success. T hus fo r c e d int o t r a d it io na l r e s e a r c h m e t ho d s, I v is it e d t he R ic hm o nd P ublic Libr ar y to see if i m a g e J e n n i f e r Wa t s o n 12
it might have any r efer ence m a t e r i a ls o n L a v a t e r o r Eur o p e a n book ar t. As I f lipped thr oug h a d u s t y o ld t r e a t is e o n a r t is t s ’ books, t he wor ds “Par k Av e n ue , R ic hm o nd , Vir g inia ” j um p e d out at me fr om a pa ge. I q uic k ly t ur ne d b a c k a n d c o nf ir m e d that I had not been ima g ining t hin g s. T he r e w a s VC U ’ s Ca bell Libr ar y inc luded on a lis t o f int e r n a t io na l b o o k a r t s collections. I admit to being pr etty sur p r is e d . W hile VC U is w e ll k no w n for its fine ar ts pr o gr am, I ha d ne v e r he a r d C a b e ll L ib r a r y r efer enced as an ar t colle c t io n. I ’ d b e e n in t he build in g numer ous times over the yea r s, but ha d ne v e r no t ic e d a ny t h in g r elating especially to book a r t s. I f ig ur e d it w a s w o r t h a c a ll though. In a matter of mi nu t e s, I ha d le a r ne d t ha t C a b e l l’ s Special Collections and Ar c hi v e s ho us e d a n ex t e ns i v e b o o k ar ts collection inc luding s e v e r a l w o r k s by Wa r ja L a v a t e r. I w as welcome to come by any t im e t o t a k e a lo o k . I s e t up a n a ppointment for the next day. Not sur e w hat to expect, I r e a c he d t he fo ur t h f lo o r o f C a b e ll with a bit of tr e pidation. I d id n’ t r e a lly k no w w ha t I w a s looking for and cer tainly d id n’ t ha v e a n o f f ic ia l p ur p o s e fo r i m a ge Je n n i f e r Wa t s o n 13
visiting something as serio us s o und ing a s Sp e c ia l C o lle c t io ns a nd a r c hi v e s. I ne e d n’ t ha v e w o r r ie d . I w a s w e lc o m e d by a n a r c h i v is t w ho w as mor e than glad to help. After showing me s e v e r a l a m a z ing w o r k s by L a v a t e r a nd a l lo w i ng m e t o p e r us e t h e m a t my le is ur e , s he o f f e r e d t o g i v e m e a t o ur of the Ar c hi ves. I compar e the experience to Alic e f a lling t hr o ug h t he r a b b it ho le . Like many uni ver sity libr arie s, C a b e ll ha s a s p e c ia l c o l le c t io ns a r e a s e t a s id e fo r s c h o o l a r c hi v e s, r e g i o na l his t o r y, a nd t he p a p e r s o f local historical figur es. While p r e s e r v ing t he p a s t is a n im p o r t a nt p a r t o f VC U ’ s a r c hi v a l m is s io n, t he r e a lly int e r e s t ing t hing is t ha t VCU’s ar c hi v al staf f places e q ua l v a l ue o n c ult ur a lly s ig ni f i c a nt m a t e r ia ls o f m o d e r n lif e . To t ha t e nd , VC U ’ s Sp e c ia l C o l le c t i o ns houses a wide v ariety of r ec o r d s r e la t ing t o c o nt e m p o r a r y ins t it ut io ns, a ut ho r s a n d m e d ia . Pa r t ic ula r ly no t e w o r t hy ar e f ascinating collections o f t w o d is t inc t ly m o d e r n a r t fo r m s : b o o k s a r t s a nd c o m i c b o o k s. T he Lav ater titles I had b e e n s ho w n w e r e j us t a t iny s ub s e t o f VC U ’ s c o lle c t io n o f inter national book ar ts. It o f f e r s ov e r t hr e e t h o us a nd ex a m p le s o f b o o k a r t f r o m a ll ov e r the wor ld, inc luding: ar tist s ’ b o o k s, f ine p r e s s w o r k s, c o nc r e t e p o e t r y, Fl ux us m a t e r ia ls, alter ed books, and cor r es p o nd e nc e a r t . T his c o lle c t io n b e g a n in t he 1 9 7 0 s w hen local ar tist Davi Det H o m p s o n o f f e r e d t he s c ho o l his p e r s o na l collection of Fluxus materi a ls a nd c o r r e s p o nd e nc e a r t . T h e sc hool has been acquiring in t he f ie ld e v e r s inc e . Alm o s t thir ty year s later, the VCU c o lle c t io n is o ne o f t he l a r ge s t o f its type in an American uni v e r s it y a n d c o nt a ins r a r e inf lue nt i a l wor ks of the genr e, suc h a s Ed Ru s c ha ’ s Ever y Building on the
Sunset Strip and Dieter Ro t h’ s 246 Little Clouds .
While the ar tists’ books ha d b r o ug h t m e t o VC U t ha t d ay, my a t t e n t io n w a s e q ua lly g r a b b e d by a m a s s i v e c o lle c t io n o f c o m ic b o o k s and comic-r elated materials. Ar ound the same t im e t he b o o k a r t s c o l le c t io n s t a r t e d , VC U Eng l is h p r o f e s s o r a nd p o p c ult ur e ex p e r t , D r. M . T ho m a s I nge , b e g an donating comicr elated r efer ence jour nals t o C a b e ll L ib r a r y. To d ay, VC U e s t im a t e s t ha t it ha s t he f if t h la r ge s t c o lle c t io n o f c o m ic - r e la t e d m a t e r ia ls in t he U nited States. It is an impr essi ve assembla ge of ov e r 1 0 0 , 0 0 0 c o m ic - r e la t e d it e m s, inc lud ing c o m ic b o o k s, g r a p hic nov e ls, e d it o r i a l c a r t o o ns, m a nus c r ip t c o lle c t ions, and r efer ence materials. T he colle c t io n e v e n inc lud e s t he o f f ic ia l a r c hi v e s o f t he Will Eisner Comic Industr y A w ar ds , t he O s c a r s o f t he c o m ic b o ok industr y. Pa r t r a r e b o o k c o lle c t io n, p a r t m o d e r n a r t g a lle r y, C a b e l l’ s Sp e c ia l C o lle c t io ns a nd Ar c hi v e c a n f a ir ly b e d e s c r ibed as an exquisite je w e l t uc k e d a w ay o n Pa r k Av e nue . At f ir s t , I a d m it f ind ing it o d d t o f i nd t he s e m a t e r i a ls in a n a c ademic libr ar y. In r e t r o s p e c t , ho w e v e r, it s e e m s o bv i o us t ha t t he s e t w o inf lue n t ia l m e d ia fo r m s o f 2 0 t h- c e nt ur y cultur e ar e wor th a r c hi v i ng. I n d e e d , by e s t a blis hing c o lle c t io ns in t he s e f ie ld s b a c k in t he 1 9 7 0 s, VCU demonstr ated r e m a r k a ble fo r e s ig ht . As a p p r e c ia t io n o f t he s e t w o f ie ld s g r o w s, a r c hi ves like VCU’s will c e r t a in ly b e w e ll us e d a nd inc r e a s ing ly v a lue d . B u t , b eyo nd t he nov e lt y o f t he s e t w o c o lle c t io ns, w ha t s t r uc k me the most a bout t his t r e a s ur e t r ov e o f c o nt e m p o r a r y a r t a t VC U is t he s c ho o l’ s willingness, indeed d e s i r e , fo r t he s e m a t e r ia ls t o b e ut iliz e d a nd e njoye d . W hile e v er y item in Special C o lle c t io ns is s t o r e d in a s e c ur e a r e a , t he s e c o lle c t io ns a r e o p e n to the public and f r e e ly a v a ila ble fo r v ie w ing a nd ha nd ling. I d o n’ t k no w o f m a ny o t he r places in Ric hmond w he r e yo u c a n w a lk in un a nno unc e d , a nd b e g i v e n t he o p p o r t unit y t o sit down and pour ov e r a w o r ld c la s s a r t c o l le c t io n. N e e d le s s t o s ay, I w a s t hr ill e d t o h ave discover ed this uniq ue r e s o ur c e i n my o w n b a c k y a r d . M y o nly r e g r e t i s t ha t it ’ s b e e n s it ting ther e all these ye a r s w it ho ut m e ha v ing a c lue . image Ken Hopson 15
Part of what makes Plympton successful is what makes anyone successful: a belief in himself and his dream, timing, and a spec of audacity. Don’t get me wrong, audacity is a good thing for an artist to have if he/she wants to be successful. Many successful people are successful, not because they are
Bill Plympton is probably America’s top independent animator - that’s right - INDEPENDENT. That means no Disney or Pixar or anybody backing him financially. He draws each frame for each of his films himself, and he doesn’t just scrape by either. Plympton has an apartment and a studio in Chelsea in Manhattan, and boasts five full time employees. He travels the world showing and promoting his work. He is a real artist who makes real money, and he is coming to Richmond to tell you that you can be an independent animator (or artist) and make a good living as well – a message you don’t normally get around here. (see September 23 Richmond Times-Dispatch Flair section cover story “Creative Survival”)
By Mercedes Grey Images courtesy of Bill Plympton
with Bill Plympton
TO QUIT SMOKING
particularly gifted, clever, or intelligent, but because they have the audacity to do what they do and insist on payment for it. But Plympton is only about 10% audacity, which is just enough to carry out his visions. In addition to being gifted and clever, he is one of the most unimposing, typecast-regular guys you would ever meet. Very much like the “average guy” characters that he draws, Plympton is completely unassuming; he is kind of soft spoken, tall, a bit goofy even. He never wears the ubiquitous artist black, favoring plain jeans and painfully ordinary shirts. He has very simple taste; he’d rather eat a hamburger or meatloaf and mashed potatoes than anything else. (I was once with him at a fabulous French restaurant in New York where he ordered a hamburger and a beer while the rest of our party gorged on gourmet – the irony being he chose the restaurant.) But best of all, Plympton has a really endearing kid-like wonder about him; a charmingly innocent playfulness that would fool you if you were not familiar with the darkness of his films. Other than the “average Joe” aspect, Plympton’s persona is the polar opposite of his work. His humor is dark: a little old blind lady is run over by steam roller in Guide Dog, and a man’s head is burnt to a crisp from lighting a cigarette with a blowtorch in 25 Ways to Quit Smoking. His style is distinctive: hand drawn frames with colored pencil-like coloring featuring plots that start with normal daily routine-type situations that somehow mutate into the abnormal. Maybe he just gets all that violence, sex, and sick humor out through his art, leaving nothing left to be acted out in his real life. Or maybe that is just part of the humor. Perhaps Plympton is the
So, young Plympton wants to be an animator and eventually ends up at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He wants to realize his dream but is told that animation is dead. “So I became an illustrator and cartoonist,” he says. Bill has illustrated for dozens of major magazines, and in 1975 he began a political cartoon series called Plymptoons in The Soho Weekly News. Plymptoons was soon syndicated to over twenty papers owned
A good example of Plympton’s personal non-violent credo and how it was twisted into the production of things violent in nature, is a story about his time in the National Guard. He enlisted in the National Guard to avoid being drafted into the Vietnam War (very much like the current president of the United States, but Plympton does not pretend to have the expertise to be the Commander and Chief of our Armed Forces). He refused to fire his rifle during the initial riflery training session. The Drill Sergeant called the Captain to deal with Plympton’s refusal, and the Captain called the Colonel. Plympton was threatened with court-marshal and jail time yet he would not yield and fire his gun. “Somehow it came to the Colonel’s attention that I was an artist,” says Plympton. “So with the excuse that a court-marshal would be too much work, I was assigned to the art department where I served out my time illustrating posters about how to fire rifles, clean rifles, how to put them back together, and stuff like that.” The ironic humor of this real life situation – peaceful guy is made to use his talent to help engage others in the same violent behavior he is determined to avoid - is the same kind of humor that makes his films so hilarious.
Where does this definition of humor come from? In a recent telephone interview he named his inspirations as Disney animation and Charles Addams cartoons. “I was obsessed with the Mickey Mouse Club, Goofy, and Daffy Duck,” Plympton reminisces. “There is a lot of that slapstick type of humor and bad situations happening to regular people. And I loved the dark humor of Charles Addams’ cartoons. You know The Addams Family? He was always finding humor in things related to death.” He knew he wanted to be an animator very early in his life. “I grew up in Oregon where it rains a lot,” says Plympton. “I had to entertain myself indoors and I just loved to draw. I was constantly drawing and started making up stories with cartoons to amuse myself. My first stories were about a shark named ‘Sharkey’ that went around eating people.” Plympton also loves film. Many of those rainy Oregon days were spent watching movies of all types which helped him form his ideas of what is funny. “There is a long history of violence as vehicle for humor in American film. Violence is everywhere from those old silent Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton movies to Quentin Tarantino. So violence is sort of a hallmark of good comedy in our culture.”
ultimate personification of a Plympton character: the every day guy that is subject to, or plagued by thoughts of out-of-the-ordinary violence or idealistic sexual situations. In Plympton’s world this is the definition of humor.
In terms of his independent work, Plympton is known internationally and has received awards too numerous to count. He has been nominated for two Academy Awards, once for his first short, Your Face, in which a man is singing a song about a lover’s face while his face contorts in various impossible ways. The other in 2005, was for a short about the inner thoughts of an endearing tongue-hanging pug-like dog protecting its master, titled Guard Dog. When asked about his inspiration for Guard Dog, Plympton explains, “I was sitting in Madison Square Park one
Plympton does do commercial work occasionally which “really boosts the income,” he says. He is most known for a series of commercials he did for United Airlines and GEICO. Regarding the GEICO gig, Plympton recalls, “One day I got a call from Ron Diamond at Acme Filmworks. He had designed some ads specifically for my artwork based on 25 Ways to Quit Smoking. There were six altogether of people doing dumb things that people do - quick, violent, humorous gags.” In 2005 he animated a music video, “Hear ‘em Say” for Kayne West featuring Adam Levine. Also in 2005, Plympton animated a short for writer/director, Dan O’ Shannon called The Fan and The Flower which was narrated by actor Paul Giamatti (Sideways).
But here is where the timing thing comes in. Animation began to make a comeback through The Simpsons, the success of Disney’s Little Mermaid, and the incorporation of animation into film with Who Framed Roger Rabbit. People were paying attention and paying money to see animated films again. The resurgence of animation as an art form alone was not enough to pave the road for Plympton’s success though. He no longer wanted to work for Disney or anyone else. He just wanted to do animation that he wanted to do. The beginnings of independent film and filmmakers reaching commercial accomplishment are the second ingredient for Plympton’s recipe of success. The early ‘80s was the beginning of the indie film movement with achievements from Spike Lee like She’s Gotta Have It and Steven Soderbergh with Sex, Lies, and Videotape. These guys helped make independent filmmaking viable and allowed Plympton to ride in on the tide.
In 1983, Plympton was asked to do the animation for Jules Feiffer’s Boomtown. Although he had never done animation before on a professional level, he jumped at the opportunity to learn the ropes. He did, and decided to make his first solo animated piece, a short called Your Face. Your Face was a huge success and was nominated for an Academy Award in 1988. “Suddenly people began returning my phone calls,” says Plympton. “I decided that I could make money doing animation on my own and called all of my newspapers and told them I wouldn’t be doing cartoons anymore. They all said, ‘Animation is dead. You’ll be back in six months begging to do cartoons again.’
by Universal Press. Plympton had achieved a comfortable level of success but not his dream of being an animator. Then a few things happened to change all that.
Plympton will be in Richmond on November 9th to chat about his work and inspire would-be independent animators and filmmakers. During “An Evening with Animator, Bill Plympton,” Plympton will show some shorts and excerpts of his work (including his latest yet unreleased work, Idiots and Angels), talk about making it as an independent animator, and personally draw a picture for anyone who wants one during a reception after the presentation. The event will be held at the Canal Club at 1545 East Cary Street in Richmond at 8:00pm. “An Evening with Animator, Bill
Even though Plympton is world famous for his work, he sometimes gets a little flack for using the traditionally perceived child-like medium of cartooning as a vehicle to express sex and violence as humor. “A lot of America’s reaction against sex and violence in cartoons is confusing to me. In American cartoons violence is everywhere and sex is a deeply embedded part of American film. Look at Mae West, Betty Boop and Marilyn Monroe. Why is animation this sacred children’s art form? Animation is an adult art form like any other. I am carrying forth the tradition of American comedy.” The innocent child-like man using an innocent child-like art form to create violenceinspired adult comedy – the formula sounds familiarlife imitates art imitating life.
day and was watching this little dog bark and freak out at everything – even the most innocuous things like pigeons. I started to wonder what the dog was thinking about and Guard Dog is what I came up with.”
An Evening with Animator, Bill Plympton Friday November 9, 8:00pm at the Canal Club 1545 E. Cary Street, Richmond Tickets: $10:00 students with ID, $15.00 everybody else Purchase tickets at Chop Suey Books and Video Fan
Plympton” is brought to Richmond in a collaborative effort between The Art Cheerleaders, The Richmond Moving Image Co-op, the VCU Kinetic Imaging Department, and Style Weekly. The Art Cheerleaders will perform a few Art Cheers, Plympton will do his thing followed by an on site reception where audience members get a chance to meet him in person and get a drawing. Cash bar (with proper ID) and Plympton merchandise will be available. Tickets are $10.00 for students with a valid ID and $15.00 for everyone else – a good deal considering you get an original piece of art if you want. “This show is not for young kids,” reminds Plympton. “The work is essentially ‘R-rated’ so kids under seventeen should be discouraged.” Proceeds from the evening go to The Art Cheerleaders and the Richmond Moving Image Co-op. Tickets may be purchased through Chop Suey Books and the Video Fan. For more information contact Rebecca Oliver, Art Cheerleader Captain, at Rebecca@oliverfinearts.com or visit www.plymptoons.com. For contact information Mike Jones of Richmond Moving Image Co-op at 355-6537.
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a constant unfocusing toward a broader picture
Tyler T homas by Patrick Bell.
I was impressed by the first Tyler Thomas paintings I saw: compositions cobbled together from pages of takeout order forms. Those paintings are collages: ballpoint pen portraits done in various places, at separate times, that lie embedded together on large canvases. This interview is like a story told on one of those canvases. Fine details emerge from each of Thomas’s narrative responses to the questions I pose, but the story—the real story—and the real insight into his visual narrative, demands some patience and a constant un-focusing toward a broader picture. Thomas sits in a wooden school chair/desk in his living room (not his studio) and as we speak he paws at two small new paintings. Patrick Bell The 821 Paintings - where did they come from?
I think I started doing that in Baltimore. It was the same idea. I worked at a deli. You would take people’s order with a memo pad and basically a crayon. And I wrote down people’s order, whatever sandwich they wanted. And I would keep those, too. At the end of the day I would go to a bar and draw on them and keep them in my pocket. PB What are the portraits? Who are these guys? TT They’re really nobody. I started doing them when I lived in Portland. If you looked at old sketchbooks and my drawings from high school, I did a lot of bald guys with these same almond, sunken eyes. I was probably nineteen or twenty when I was living in downtown Portland. And my roommate was way into graffiti. He was always talking about, “Man, you should come down to the railroad tracks, you should go out with me at night.” So I came up with, instead of a tag—and I still don’t have a very good signature tag—but this icon I came up with was this face. And from that I’ve been doing it for years now. Six or seven years now I’ve been doing these faces.
Tyler Thomas It’s acrylic and paper collage. I got the tickets that are made out, like a phone order will come in and you write down the address and the phone number and what they want to eat. Some of the tickets were made by the kids I was working with and some by me. And I would keep them in my pocket and at the end of the day I would have five or six tickets...
PB With these portrait series’, multiplicity is an integral part of their success. Is the multiplicity the intention, or is it a result of the way you did it? Because what comes out of it is an intense sense of sameness, anonymity, alienation.
PB And this when you were working at 821 Cafe?
PB Is that a natural process, to have them drawn and then to collect them and incorporate them into the painting? Is that a common process?
TT I’m a line prep cook now, but at the time I was a delivery driver and washing dishes. And I would keep those tickets, and after a month I’d have thirty or forty tickets. So, it was like three months of tickets. I’d take them home and sit on my porch, drink a beer, draw the faces. I collected them. I think I did the painting in two nights. That was just a matter of lining them all up, arranging them. But I liked it a lot because it was all places in Richmond that I had driven to. I had been to the address and stood at the door. It was very Richmond. While making it, looking at the address, figuring out in my head, “How did I get there from 821?” There was a lot of remembering [in the process] and incorporating my drawings. I did two of those [large 821 ticket paintings]. One is the biggest painting I’ve ever done. It was six feet wide and four-and-a-half feet tall. And that’s in Los Angeles now. My friend Liza, she worked at 821, and she bought it.
TT Yeah. When I sit down that’s what I naturally draw: these faces. The multiplicity of them is my repetitive drawing of them. It’s a lot of repetition and a lot of obsessive drawing.
TT Yeah, I’ll draw something in my sketchbook and then cut it out, and put it on a panel. I still do that. I guess I’ve been doing that since 2002. Yeah, that’s pretty common. PB You said that you’re trying to capture some aspect of the “human condition.” TT I don’t really follow the news a lot. I’m somewhat up-to-date on current events, but as far as what I hear in American media, I have a hard time swallowing it. These characters, to me, are how I feel about America and the people in control of it. And these people, they’re smart people, or dumb people, but to me, we’re not in a happy world. PB Are the characters depictions of the people in power, or are they depictions of the effect of that culture? TT Yeah. Yeah, both. Yeah, they’re definitely the people that work for the people in power. Or the people that are, you know, the big heads. A lot of my images have dudes wearing shirts and ties, bald heads. Men. White corporate America. I don’t know how or why I started doing that. But after doing it for so long, I was like, wow, that’s exactly how I feel 23
about what I see in politics in America and corporations. It’s all run by these white guys.
When I first saw Tyler Thomas’s work, it immediately brought to my mind the detached aesthetic that artist Stanley Donwood gave to Radiohead’s OK Computer and Kid A, not to mention the texture and alienation of the music within those sleeves—“fitter, happier, more productive.” Tyler Thomas is familiar with Stanley Donwood’s work, and he is well-aware of the work of Shepard Fairey, too. Fairey, the RISD graduate whose street art is now fine art, is the ubiquitous reference point for this ilk of ironic, iconic art. Tyler Thomas shows his work in galleries too, but raw street art is what really excites Thomas and informs his work. It always has. As I approach the topic he’s answering a question before I have the chance to properly form one. TT Tagging is pretty much the essence of graffiti. It’s getting your name up everywhere. I’ve seen it here. I’ve seen it there. I’ve seen this kid’s shit all over town. It’s everywhere. I love the anonymity of it. That’s the best part of it. No one knows who the hell they are. But they know the work. And that’s the most important part. I’ve gotten a lot of inspiration and a lot of motivation from seeing graffiti. Since I was a kid that art form has always interested me. It’s beautiful to me. It represents so much of youth and self-expression. If people think that it’s ugly, I think advertisements are just as ugly. And you’re being forced to look at that too. And that, to me, is more offensive.
When I ask him to explain the violent motifs in his work, Thomas seems genuinely surprised that anyone would take the violence at face value. To him, he explains, it’s innocent humor. With his long brown hair and bushy brown beard, Thomas is a round-cheeked, easy-going “dude”, who is naturally shy. When he talks at length, he tells stories to explain himself. He discusses violence with an easy candor and a disarming friendliness.
PB In a lot of the paintings you take a canvas that’s powerful in its alienation and detachment but it’s also laced with these jarring visual barbs. There’s blood seeping from mouths... TT I don’t really think about it while I’m drawing it. I drew a picture for my friend of a dude in a bunny rabbit costume, you know, with the head cut out and his face exposed, and then another dude in a dog outfit. The bunny rabbit guy is stabbing him in the head with a giant knife. It’s like Itchy and Scratchy. Like the Roadrunner, all the cartoons I grew up with. That kind of violence is humorous to me. Because it’s not real violence. It’s absurd. It’s funny. PB And now you’re interested in making children’s books? TT Yeah. PB For children? TT Well, maybe not for children. [I’m making one] about Halloween. It’s like a wholesome book about Halloween, despite the fact that some of the images are cruddy, creepy guys with blood coming out of their mouths. That’s what Halloween is to me, you can dress up and make your face look like you just got your throat cut open. That’s the best part of Halloween to me, is seeing kids with those kinds of costumes. Like going to your friend’s house and your friend’s dad has got an ax through his head. I loved Halloween when I was a kid. PB How are you making these books? TT I get the children’s books that are hard cardboard, five or six pages. They’re twenty-five cents at the thrift store, really cheap. And then I get construction paper and I go over all the pages of the books. And then I draw on top of the construction paper. If I fill up all the pages with drawings then I have a little
book. In doing that I also try to incorporate a narrative in the book. It’s just like a children’s book where it’s like the different games you can play on the playground: hopscotch, four square, the jungle gym, the monkey bars, the swing set, you know, the stuff you see in a children’s book. But this, my theme is Halloween. So the first page is a guy in a suit with blood coming out of his mouth with this octopuslooking thing. And it says, “Halloween, the night when the ghosts and goblins come out for the kids to chase around.” Something along those lines. And then the next page, is like a dude, his face has got a little blood coming from the side of his mouth. He’s wearing a shirt and tie. He kind of looks like Dad. “Even Dad will dress up on Halloween and take part in the activities.” They’re not that publishable, really. They’re just my drawings. They’re not really geared towards [being] children’s books at all. And I don’t think that’s the way you really go about making children’s books. I just like the process of making my own little sketchbook and making a narrative with it. PB Where did you grow up? TT I was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa. My dad got a job [and we moved to] Prior Lake, Minnesota, which is just north of Minneapolis. We lived there for two or three years. This was when I was little. I was probably two or three. We moved to Flower Mound, Texas, which is just north of Dallas. I think the first year I lived there I didn’t go to school and then I got into kindergarten the next year. And he worked for Northern Telecom and then he got a job offer in Virginia. Northern Telecom had an office somewhere between Reston and DC. When we moved from Texas, we moved to Washington. We lived across the highway from the Pentagon. My brother and I shared a pull-out couch in this one bedroom apartment. 25
We only lived there for six months. We got a nice house in Reston. We lived in three houses in Reston. From first grade to tenth grade I grew up in Reston. PB Why did you move to Portland? TT My dad got a job offer from his job at Northern Telecom, which became Nortel. He got some position to move out to Portland, Oregon. And we went and visited. My mom loved it. My dad was really into it. I couldn’t wait to get out of Reston. I fuckin’ hated it. I couldn’t wait to graduate. My dad had a job offer. It was a higher position. So I moved with them, and I graduated from high school and he was still working there. When I moved to Richmond he got laid off. I never really knew exactly what my dad did there except that he worked in a cubicle and worked there forever. And never missed a day of work. And then he just got fucking canned. He was really bummed out. He worked there for a long time and some kid, fresh out of college, you know, fresh out of, like, ITT got his job. I think that ties into my idea of corporate America.
Thomas had moved to Baltimore with a friend, Aylen Beazley, who studied art at MICA, but he found Baltimore unfriendly and the art scene difficult. When he moved to Richmond in 2003 he immediately found a friendly community of artists and musicians and was soon showing his work at Chop Suey with Adam Juresko, an artist with whom he is still close. He is also familiar with the ADA Gallery and the work of Ryan McLennan and Bruce Wilhelm. Despite his familiarity with formal galleries, however, Thomas seems more gratified to simply be a part of the constant production and collaboration of art in Richmond. Our conversation soon turns to his recently-deceased friend, musician and artist, Jonny Z. PB Why is it important for you to have people appreciate your work? TT This is my life’s work. I’ll always do this. Nothing could ever happen
to me where I would not do work. I’ve had friends die and stuff and it bums me out. But seeing their work or having a piece [of their work] is always something cool to remind me of how cool they were. My friends have been such an important part of me making work that if, I mean, that’s the biggest tragedy in living is having friends and watching them die. Especially at a young age. And relatives that have been important to me that have died, that’s always motivated me to do even more work. Because that’s what they would want me to do. When Jonny passed, that was a big blow to this whole art community. And I think from his passing a lot of people have started, I think a lot of people are pretty inspired by him. He’s a really good example of a person who made work so selflessly and put it out in the world. PB You designed a tattoo for him? TT I gave him a drawing from a sketchbook. I made up a xerox of it and gave it to him. He liked it. I don’t even think he was working that day, he just came in to pick up his check, and he’s like “Oh yeah, man, check this out,” and I’m, like “Oh, my god!” It was like real big on the side of his body and I was like, “Oh, my god, dude, that’s fuckin’ huge.” Like, bigger than the actual drawing. Yeah. I was really overwhelmed. I was like, “Man, I can’t believe you got that done to you, on your body.” He’s like, “It’s cool.” He really liked it. PB How did you know him? TT He worked at 821, too. That’s how I met him and we just started hanging out. Everybody I know in Richmond was friends with Jonny.
He had his hands in a lot of stuff and was always positive with it. He made a lot of artwork, played in several bands. It was amazing, that guy’s schedule. I can’t believe the amount of shit he accomplished every month. Making t-shirts, making paintings. Like, “Dude, how do you find time to do all this shit?” He did it.
Thomas Tyler told me more stories than I could include here. Ask him about Mormon missionaries and about his collection of found objects that he finds in Oregon Hill and keeps in small jars. You’ll hear stories. So, it’s not surprising that Thomas’s work has begun to incorporate narrative. That’s exciting. But because any new work (including the new children’s books) has a good chance of ending up in the hands of his countless friends instead of gallery walls, unless you’re a friend of Thomas you may never get to see it. That’s too bad. But Thomas doesn’t seem to care. He’s still scratching at the same two new paintings with a ballpoint pen. PB You seem more concerned with disseminating your work than with making money from it and getting it in galleries. How are you going to make a career out of being an artist? TT This is what I’ll always do. If someone offers me an opportunity to always be able to do it, if someone gives me a venue to do it, and there’s people buying my work, whatever, I’ll still always make art. Making money would be cool, but that’s not my primary goal. PB Why are you an artist? TT Because I can’t seem to stop doing this. I can’t seem to put it down. It’s not a hobby for me. It’s the way I go about daily life. I do this all the time. It’s one of the few things I truly care about. 27
THE APOCALY P S E
T H E M A N W I T HOUT
Apocalypse, from the ancient Greek, apokalypsis, means a revelation, or literally, the lifting of a veil. Apocalyptic ar t and literature, as a movement, has deep roots going back to the Old Testament. Generally, it is rich in symbolism and is often the product of periods of history with intense social strife. The most famous work of apocalyptic literature is without a doubt The Book of Revelation, written by John of Patmos, in the New Testament. In the visual ar ts illustrations of the prophecies found in The Book of Revelation were inspirations to a wide variety of medieval ar tisans, and the incredibly
THE CITY IN THE SEA
complex symbolic language that became synonymous with apocalyptic ar t reached its zenith with the imagery of Hieronymus Bosch and his followers. My purpose with this series was not just to illustrate The Book of Revelation, but to create a series of visual parables and allegories through an intense and consistent symbolic language. My imagery is derived, in bits and pieces, from a wide variety of both secular and religious works of the late medieval and early renaissance periods, whose implications hold as true today as they did 500 years ago. I was not interested
THE SLUMBERIN G O N E S
T H E T E M P TAT I O N
in creating a historically accurate period piece, only a series of images that had the illusion of belonging to the late medieval period. This body of work has the overall, outward effect of being torn straight out of an early German block printed book. The subject matter of each piece deals with growth, transformation and destruction, on both a personal and societal level, the aspects of which remain so incredibly painful and baffling no matter how self-assured we may become in the seeming progress of our existence on this planet.
T H E TO M B B U I L D E R S
T H E V I S I ON
My use of the linocut stemmed par tly from my desire to mimic the outward appearance of medieval woodcuts, whose subject matter often dealt with allegories as well as with prophetic revelations. I also found that the process relief printing best fit the spirit of this series, the surface of a plate is cut away in such a manner as to reveal my imagery. To see more of Michaelâ€™s ar twork visit www.archaiotypos.com
Breaking Bread with Puppet Theater
i ma ge b y M as s im o S ch ust er
By Rainey Lacey
22 24 30
In a flurry of cardboard and cloth, the Bread & Puppet Theater will grab Richmonders’ attention during the last w e e k o f O c t o b e r. T h i s w o r l d f a m o u s company is driven by the ideas of cheap ar t and theatre for the people. Coming from their home base in G l o v e r, Ve r m o n t , t h e y w i l l b e s t o p p i n g in Richmond during the final week of October for several performances, including a collaboration with our own All the Saints Theater Company for our city’s 2nd Annual Halloween Parade. “A r t s o o t h e s p a i n ! A r t w a k e s u p sleepers! Ar t fights against war & stupidity! Ar t sings Halleluja!.... Ar t is like good bread!...it FEEDS you.” Based on the WHY CHEAP ART? Manifesto created by Bread &
Puppet founder Peter Schumann, the c o m p a n y, o v e r i t s f o r t y - y e a r h i s t o r y, sticks to its word. Being the oldest self-suppor ted, non-profit theatre in America, Bread & Puppet uses circus to enter tain and educate about issues such as capitalism and the war in Iraq. On October 28th, they will be performing THE DIVINE REALITY COMEDY CIRCUS in Monroe Park, which will feature famous rats leaving a sinking ship, the triumph o f t h e s m a l l f a r m e r, a c e l e b r a t o r y ballet by a flock of rooster s, and accompaniment by the Bread & Puppet Circus Band! Nine company members will be performing the show along with a group of volunteers from our c o m m u n i t y. Vo l u n t e e r i n g is an
i ma ge b y M as s im o S ch ust er
im a ge by M as sim o Sc hus ter
integral par t of the theatre at Bread & Puppet. “It’s not so much for a crowd of people who sit, but it’s for a crowd of people who want to par take,” says Schumann. “If they come to us, we want to engage them.” With two shor t rehearsals you can join this revolutionary theatr e in their cr eative process and perfor mance. And don’t for get the free bread! That is where the name Bread & Puppet comes from. This theatre believes that ar t should be as basic to life as bread, and each performance brings the audience together in a communion of freshly baked bread ser ved with a strong garlic aioli, a sauce so spicy it reminds us of the bitter and necessary message that Bread & Puppet brings: there are events happening in this world that need o u r a t t e n t i o n a n d e f f o r t s n o w. I t i s B r e a d & P u p p e t ’ s h o p e t o i n s p i r e a u d i e n c e s a n d b r i n g t h e m t o g e t h e r a s a c o m m u n i t y, b e c a u s e c h a n g e h a p p e n s t h r o u g h c o m m u n i t y.
Along with their serious message, their circus is serious fun and all people young and old, tall and small, are invited to be apar t of the show whether by watching or doing. So here are the times to catch them. On October 27th meet at Gallery5 at 10am to join the circus t h a t w i l l b e p e r f o r m i n g t h e n e x t d a y. T h a t e v e n i n g , a l s o a t G a l l e r y 5 , they will be doing a special performance of Guantanamo along with A l l t h e S a i n t s T h e a t e r C o m p a n y. O n O c t o b e r 2 8 t h a t 3 p m T H E D I V I N E REALITY COMEDY CIRCUS will commence at Monroe Par k, and then join All the Saints and Bread & Puppet for Richmond’s 2nd Annual Halloween Parade on October 31st, meeting in Monroe Park at 7pm. With all of t h i s b r e a d a n d p u p p e t r y a t t h e e n d o f O c t o b e r, R i c h m o n d i s s u r e t o b e left with a hear t full of laughs, a head full of thoughts, and a belly full of bread.
BREAD AND PUPPET THEATER
MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES FOR BREAD BAKING BRICKS FOR THE OVEN T he bricks we use ar e ordinar y clay building or chimney bricks. T hey do not have to be special fir e brick. T hey should be solid - i.e., they should not be hollow or have holes in them. T hey can be used bricks, but they should be clean of paint and mor tar. We will need roughly 400 bricks. The size that is most common her e in the US is about 2.25 inches by 3.5 inches by 8 inches. It is often possible to bor row bricks from someone; they do not necessarily need to be purchased. T he oven is a tempor ar y str ucture. We build it from loose bricks without using mor tar. T he bricks can be used again after the oven is taken apar t.
i ma ge b y J ac k Sum ber g
GRAIN We use roughly milled r ye flour. ( i.e., IT SHOULD NOT BE FINELY MILLED.) Roughly milled wheat flour can be substituted for r ye flour. We usually uses about 30 pounds of r ye flour per perfor mance. _ALSO: We will also need a 4’ x 8’ sheet of plywood to build the oven on, scr ap wood fr ee of paint to heat the oven. For baking we will need two or thr ee plastic tubs about the size of a baby bathtub, thr ee or four buckets (about 3 - 5 gallons each) of plastic or any material; a broom of natur al fiber s (i.e., not plastic) for cleaning out the oven; 2 poles about 2 meter s long, and 2 pieces of wood @ 50 cm x 35 cm x 2 cm PERMISSION Please check with any r elev ant authorities to make sure that it will be possible to use this oven at your location. It is ver y fr ustr ating when the oven is all set up, the br ead is baking inside and the fir e depar tment comes and tear s the whole thing apar t. You can tell them that the fir e that we build inside the oven is quite small - no mor e fir e than would be used in a backyard barbecue. We build this fir e to heat up the bricks. When the fir e dies down, we r ake out the few ashes and put the br ead inside the war m oven to bake.’ INGREDIENTS FOR AIOLI about thr ee pounds of gar lic, and quar t of canola or olive oil a good bunch of par sley. We also need a cutting board and a good shar p knife for chopping the gar lic and par sley. T hese amounts are for one perfor mance. 33
Coffee with a Cause
734 West Broad Street Richmond, VA 23220 Local Art, Local Music, Local Food, Free Wifi
UNCONVENTIONAL INSTRUMENTALIST B y A lina Sha b a s he v ic h I m a ge s by C a m e r o n L e w is
On the last day of September, Shockoe Bottom’s bricks took a deep breath and exhaled with Andrew Bird’s thick, velvet sound. The spinning gramophones projected an elongated, growling call with violin, dr ums, bass, whistles and a glockenspiel, while the odd far m-sound pull toys tugged and pulled at each other as the flood r ushed through Toad’s Place. Andrew, dizzy with fever, grinned as he conducted the air with his hands—a Shakespearian stature on the folk-pop hero. A week prior, my phone conver sation with Andrew Bird was ever ything you would imagine a conver sation with a stranger you admire would be like – awkward and disjointed. Only in the process of hearing his live voice did it strike me that until that point my interactions with Andrew had been so per sonal – his grand mythical imager y; his war m, cr yptic nar ratives; his expansive, inimitable sound filling my head through headphones on buses and streets. All these elements were confined within my private wor ld. Fitting—the private space is the most natural habitat for Andrew Bird and his music. “When I wor k by myself, my music tends to be – star t to finish – more unusual,” he told me. Unusual seems to be the fundamental point of pride. Lyrics like “I fascinate myself when I’m alone/ so I go a little overboard but hang on to the hull/ while I’m airbr ushing fantasy ar t on a life/ that’s really kind of dull,” seek to convey the almost embar rassing simplicity of the private space – a place so often neutralized through over examination and or namentation. Andrew explained, “I feel like I know I’m on to something when I’m embar rassed about what I’ ve just written. When I fir st wrote the song ‘Lull’, I felt like I can’t write that, I can’t sing that, and then it was like, wait a minute, it probably means I’m getting something so honest that I’m embar rassed. “I got a little thrill out of breaking my own r ules and there is still some reminiscence of tr ying to strip away all the distraction to get down to the most 37
elemental par t of the song. I never would have thought a couple of year s before that I would write songs with only two chords in it, I would have thought that was boring, and there I was challenging myself to write a song that is really selfaware and that’s awkward. I think it’s a good idea to both, lyrically offending my sensibilities, in a good way, and musically challenging myself to do the less-ismore thing.” Andrew Bird shies away from ter ms like “troubadour” although a simple Inter net search brings up hundreds of such references. “I don’t think of myself as the traditional troubadour,” he said to me over bad cell phone static while he was in Buffalo. “You know, the traditional singer/songwriter with a message. I think once you star t thinking of your self as the songwriter with a message, that’s something that could potentially get pretentious, or too context heavy. I’m really an instr umentalist and the words are totally in ser vice of creating beautiful sound. Words are tricky. They lose their value. Language can lose its weight.” Tricky though they may be, he tr uly has mastered the ability to braid seemingly non-sequitur s into thick tapestries, creating a sound simultaneously calm and haunting and words both simple and deeply prolific. “Melodies come no matter what and then lyrics are the language I tur n over into the melodies,” he said. “Whatever gets stuck in the grooves is what tur ns into a song. I get fixated on words like I do on melodies, but melodies will happen as a result of getting up in the mor ning, where as words are a little trickier.” This graceful combination of meaningful mass and succinct elegance entrances me. With tender ness Andrew confides in the audience and welcomes us to open the cur tains, the door s, and explore each room of his mind. The private and honest is briefly revealed, leaving the audience with their own trace fever.
The Sound of Music: ima
Local recording studio recovers as city reconsiders vacant building problem. By Lauren Vincelli
ge b y Ly n
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e by M ic h
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ios, a Richmond Sound of Music Recording Stud en their Broad reop to s plan k, recording landmar nsive damages exte r afte Street studio this month . Along with the year this ier earl fire a by ed caus es, Sound of Music newly renovated recording spac disaster brought and this s nitie ortu has taken the opp e involved part of mor h muc turned their studio into a and nationally. lly loca both stry indu ic mus the promotions push, their With the new studio, a broad Friday Art Walk, and t Firs own musical twist on the Seven Hills will be alive of City the s, idea h fres e mor time. with the Sound of Music in no in the vacant building On Mar ch 11, a fire broke out The building is owned ic. Mus of nd Sou to r doo next ngly controversial by Oliver Lawrence, an incr easi also owns the who inia, Virg property owner in icious fire that properties involved in the susp e St. in late April. stretched from 212-215 E. Grac a hundred properties Lawrence reportedly owns over and watc hdo g area d in and around the Richmon .com lists 81 properties ond chm ntRi Vaca tion niza orga Properties, LLC that are owned by Lawrenceâ€™s Bayou roducer/ engineer, er/p Own ed. vacant or condemn ic says that the Mus of John Mor and from Sound ed was a well-known inat orig fire the re whe ing build that the building crac k house. Mor and also said e a while, allowing quit for r doo t hadnâ€™t had a fron pleased. Mor and they as go vagrants to come and the fire at 323 W. over disc to first the of one was orities. Broad St. and notify the auth
Morand was on the phone with his mother, walking to the studio to begin a session with local band Cinemasophia when he noticed the smoke. Just as he was attempting to put the fire out, an intern and the band showed up. They tried to extinguish the flames until the Richmond Police and Fire Department arrived. “We all tried to pull down the boards that were nailed up over the building ‘cause it was a really small fire then,” said Morand. “It was basically boxes of beer and newspapers and shit. We’re all indie rock engineers; we couldn’t pull the wood off. If the guys from Lamb of God were there, I’m sure we would have been able to rip it right down but we couldn’t. “The fire department, they were awesome and they did an awesome, awesome job. When they get to a fire they don’t exactly leap off the truck, they sort of pull up and put their coats on, and they were in the front, not the back. By the time they got their coats on and got to the back (the fire) was huge because the building had been demolished. (The owner) had put up the framing as if they were going to build apartments and then never put up the sheet rock. It was just a bunch of wood.” When the authorities arrived at the fire on March 11, 2007, the building still displayed a banner boasting “New Luxury Apartments 2006.” According to Lt. Keith Vida, the Richmond fire department’s public information officer, the fires at 323 W. Broad St. and on the 200 block of E. Grace St. are listed as suspicious in nature and are still under investigation.
They are not yet releasing any information on the progres s of either case. However, Lt. Vida did say that they are both priority cases for the Richmond Arson Investig ation Department. Members of the Sound of Music crew and visiting bands, as well as passers by, had known the building to be a readily available squat for dealers, addicts and other vagrants for years. Employees of the recording studio had made numerous attempts to notify authorities of the suspicio us and unsavory behavior since they moved into the space in 1997. However, their complaints were met with bureaucracy and headac hes. Only after the fires did Lawrence finally secure his vacant Broad Street proper ty. He also added a new roof to it. The Richmond Police Headquarters is just over one block away from where the fire took place, but Miguel Urbiztondo, a manager/producer/drum tech for Sound of Music, says since the fire there as been more suspicious activity there than ever before. “Currently, it’s more active than it ever has been since Sound of Music moved in,” said Urbiztondo. “At this point the apartment building that’s across the alley from the studio— at this point it’s almost like a drive though crack house. They are always offering me drugs, and I’m just going there to clean my building. I think that we deterred it to some degree , and now that we’re not even there it’s full on. It is full on. I’ve called the police to get people to come out there, becaus e I’ve felt like there were too many people back there already since the fire. They keep assuring me that they’re going to have people there, but they have to go through differen t measur es to control this. We’re talking about crack.”
Sound of Music was displaced from their studio due to al excessi ve water and smoke damage as well as potenti structural damage from the fire. They took refuge in a the studio of Bryan Walthall in the attic of Backsta ge, theater/sound equipment store across the street, and reassembled their studio so they could continue work and recording. Several bands were rescheduled and rearranged because of the move including Souvenir’s well Young America and Cinemasophia from Richmond, as from flights their booked already had who as Hazy Jane, the Nether lands. The first time I sat down with the guys from Sound of Music, they were preparing for make up recording session with Cinemasophia. Their dulcet sounds set the pace for our first intervie w. John Morand “I was pretty sure the whole thing was going to burn down. David (Lower y) was on tour in I Georgia and I think Craig (Harmon) was in church, so left a message. We all knew what happened right away. the Those people have been driving us crazy for years – homeless people. We thought they finally did it, they finally burned the building down.” Lauren Vincelli “Did you personally make the police aware of the problem with the neighboring building and back alley?” JM “I would leave the studio at midnight pretty much every night and walk home past the main police station there, of and more than once there would be a cop getting out in his car and I would say, ‘Hey you know the crack house
the alley over there?’ And they’d say, ‘Yeah?’ And I’d say, ‘Well it’s really roc kin’ tonight, maybe you could go by there. They’re scaring my clients.’ They kne w it was there and they wer e com pletely away for the situatio n.” LV “When you said things like that to them what was their reaction? Did they go check it out?” JM “No. It’s weird. You’d think that the police station would be a highly policed area, but almost every pol ice officer would say, ‘This isn’ t my precinct. I’m just her e to file some piece of pap er or whatever. You have to call the community action pho We went though all the reg ne number,’ which we did. ular channels of leaving the messages. There is a spe cial police task force invo lved in building code violations. We called and left messag es with them multiple times. There are plenty of on file records of that. We used to call the police pretty ofte n. It’s funny. It’s gotten wor se since the fire. There are literally people coming out of that blue apartment building saying, ‘Here’s your crack. Her e’s your crack. Her e’s your crack.’ It’s like from an HBO series or something. It basically get s down to the fact that in Virginia, landowners hav e incr edible power. And you can maintain a nuisance and a condemned buildin g.” LV “What was it like whe n the fire department did allow you to go bac k into the stu dio?” JM “The water was about up to (my knees) in the basement. All the tapes wer e down there. There was no power. We didn’t have power for about a week I guess. It wasn’t as bad as we wer e expecting at firs t. They had put tarps over stuff and moved some of the org ans away from the wal l and 38 4 2
covered them up. The second day when we went back in, that’s when it started to get pretty gnarly, and then about a week into it, that’s when there were flies flying around and stuff. We did a big data recovery project that took probably a week straight of Bryan’s time.” Over the course of the interview the problems kept pointing back to the negligence of the neighboring property owner, as well as the city for allowing the neglect to continue to not be penalized. Since then, Oliver Lawrence has reportedly been cited for numerous violations for the buildings in his extensive portfolio. At press time Lawrence was unavailable for comment. However, city building commissioner, Art Dahlberg, said that the city is cracking down on negligent property holders. He was unable to confirm the exact number of violations served to Oliver Lawrence but said that most of the violations pertain to thirty to forty properties in his portfolio. According to Dalberg, Lawrence was of particular interest to the city because after the fires, Lawrence expressed concern that his properties were being targeting by arsonists and vandals. Dahlberg even spoke with Lawrence at the scene of the Broad Street fire. Dahlberg said that when he confronted Lawrence about his vacant properties he gave every indication that resources to fix the buildings wouldn’t be a problem. But long after the fire, many of Lawrence’s properties are still vacant and condemned. It was only after court proceedings that Lawrence finally constructed a brace to secure
neighboring buildi his 323 Broad St. property, allowing the . finally reopen safely
for his word,” said “What happened was, we took a gentleman as he is buying.” ngs buildi many as ss proce can’t “He Dahlberg, in charge of permitting Dahlberg later said that his office is also nce has only new construction sites. Since the fires Lawre various levels of for its perm y twent to ten d aroun applied for has even tried to office his that ioned ment work. Dahlberg also any repairs or up hold not to as expedite Lawrence’s permits, construction. responsibility to “He isn’t taking his personal or corporate on our community,” ensur e that those buildings aren’ t a blight said Dahlberg. plans to make many In the coming months Dahlberg’s office cted property problems changes to eliminate the rampant negle Richmond City in Richmond. Accor ding to Dahlberg, the to take a closer plans nt lopme Deve unity Comm of t Departmen they care for how and city the in rs holde rty look at major prope way.” the lead their buildings “because they nt also plans to The Department of Community Developme and work with police city the with n oratio spark a better collab ar with the famili more are who neighborhood based inspectors erg also estimated problematic buildings in their areas. Dahlb in Richmond, an that there are over 3,000 vacant buildings estimates that about erg Dahlb late, of As er. unusually high numb rties have been prope d done aban 3/4 of the city’s vacant and secur ed, but they still inspected and many of them have been have a long way to go.
Since the fires, the crew from Sound of Music has been busy renovating their old space and recording in their temporary space across the street. They plan to reopen this October and are beaming with excitement for their upcoming projects. In addition to renovating the studio spaces, Sound of Music plans to open their doors on First Fridays and invite spectators in to view a live recording session. They are also planning to broaden their involvement in the music industr y with a distribution company and will perhaps even release some of their special recordings. Don’t forget The Gaskets, Lucero, Susan Greenbaum, The Hotdam ns, and Lamb of God have all called Sound of Music Studio home. As for Oliver Lawrence and the Commissioner of Buildin gs and the Depar tment of Community Development, they will go to court this October to resolve any outstanding and unattended violations. Dahlberg says that Lawren ce may face an estimated $2,500 fine for each violation, but it seems only time will tell if any real changes occur. October’s First Friday Art Walk marked the grand reopening of Sound of Music Recording Studio in conjunction. You can take a look at the brand new Sound of Music Studio (well, at least part of it) at 321 W. Broad St.
The brand new Sound of Music Studio (well at least part of it) held it’s grand re-opening in conjunction with the Frist Friday Art Walk on Friday, Oct. 5th. This free event had artwor k by Fred Pinckard of Salvati on Tattoo and Mason Dixon Disaster, photography by Lynn Crounse and live musica l perfor mances by Cinemasophia, the Hotdamns!, and Trilobita.
im ag e by M ic he lle D os so n
Artwor k by Fred Pinckard of Salvation Tattoo and the Mason Dixon Disaster Photography of the fire by Lynn Crounse. Music by Cinemasophia, The Hotdamns, and Trilobita
“ M urp hy, M urph y, darlin’ dear I l on g f or you no w night and day Y our p a in i s my p leasure, your sorrow my joy I f e el now I ’v e los t you to health and good chee r . . . ” Th e D i rt y Gla ss – Dropkick Murphys
D r op kpi chky s Mur
attribute their success to the seamless fusion of two kinds of folk music: punk rock and Irish. Punk, at its core, is a folk music. It’s a storytelling form that cries for social justice, unity Gr aha m M. Ian by ges ima and Wor ds and pride, much like traditional Irish music. The Murphys’ fan base extends far beyond No words can better capture how those of Irish descent, I (and, from the crowd at Toad’s and their material varies from strongly pro-union worker’s Place this last Saturday, a large songs, traditional Irish and American tunes, melodies and chunk of town) felt about the rhythms, and the drunken exploits of Spicy McHaggis. Dropkick Murphys during their years of absence in Richmond. In a flurry Suppor ted by the Horrorpops (a great psychobilly act, of bagpipes, flutes and the punk if you haven’t caught them), and after far too long of a wall-of-sound, Dropkick returned, break from the capitol of the South, the Murphys rocked greeted by Irish flags, cheers of the brand new Toad’s Place almost to the ground. If beers and a full house screaming, you haven’t seen it, the venue is quite impressive and “Let’s go, Murphys!” cer tainly superior to the Norva and 9:30 Club in its design alone. The mix was good. I personally could have used If you’re unfamiliar, The Dropkick more bagpipes, but I always want more bagpipes. We, as Murphys are a punk band out of Americans, are constantly deprived of such a wonderful Boston, Massachusetts (hence the instrument, and I look forward to the day when the crowd’s cries of “fuck the Yankees!”). institution of bagpipes becomes a morning wakeup call for They are heavily influenced by the entire Fan. That being said, the show was absolutely their Irish roots and include many fantastic. For the last two songs, the band called the crowd traditional Irish instruments in their to the stage, while they retreated to drummer Matt Kelly’s music. Bagpipes, flutes, tin whistles, riser. Gladly, I joined the merry jubilations, snapped a few accordions, mandolins and banjos more shots, and kept on dancing. No matter what you’ve are in the mix, making a sound been through, it’s pretty hard to not have a good time with that is international in its roots and a great band and a great crowd in a great venue. purely American in its execution. I
year s experience behind the board. Chamber s and Whalen began their career s inter ning at The Sound of Music and Richard cut his chops at Shangri-La. In the time since then, all three have gone on to record and engineer albums that have become indie mainstays. The Amoeba Men, Hallelujah!, Direct Control, PCP Roadblock, Suppression, Graceland Grave Robber s, Alabama Thunderpussy, RPG, Far m Vegas, Atomatron, The Yes Sir s!, Lycosa, Chasing the Ghost, and Hex Machine are just some of the elements to emerge from their aural chemistr y set over the past few year s. In addition to recording bands, they have also composed original music used by local businesses for radio adver ts. This is a crew that manages to stay busy from dusk to dawn.
Words and images by Chris Crisis Not long ago, on a stormy night in downtown Richmond, something was happening behind the walls of an old brick building. A variety of par ts were being assembled and combined. A switch was thrown. Electricity flowed and the thing moved, emitting a sound that had never been heard before. From behind the glass, the audiomancer s smiled, knowing that the process has been successful. Since that day, the audiomancer s at The Etching Tin have helped to infuse local bands with life beyond the practice space. The feeling that “creativity is timeless, it should never feel like work,” defines the ethics of the studio, and recording bands in an environment conducive to creativity is the cor ner stone of their success. The ability to produce memorable music lay solely upon this pivotal idea. Through the diligent effor ts of audiomancers John “Tor ture” Chamber s, Richard “Genius” Schellenberg, and Ian “Golo” Whalen, it has become a reality. All three engineer s have at least ten
The Etching Tin is of the few D.I.Y. recording studios in the region that provides access for musicians who do not have a huge budget. Remaining D.I.Y. allows the recording ar tists to retain creative integrity over their material, as well as providing an avenue for them to publish their own music. The Etching Tin cover s it all, from recording to post-production. A lot of time and energy is put into ever y track, and it is the love of music that drives these mad scientists to capture the best sound possible. One should not forget that not all of the wor k is done in the control room; there are other s who make it happen. Their wor k is just as vital to the studio as the engineer s. Chris “Crisis” Vilseck manages the day-to-day studio business while Joe “Legz” Lagey assists in the technical realm of the studio. Should you happen to wander by 320 Brook Road late one night, you don’t have to listen ver y hard. You too can hear the sounds of the next sonic monster being created from within the walls of the studio. If you want to know more visit their website at etchingtin.com. If you dare to enter...
Brother Reade Rap Music Record Collection The first time I saw Brother Reade was about 2 years ago opening up for Hanger 18 at the Nanci Raygun. Despite the horrible turnout that the show garnered, all of the groups that performed that night put on their game faces and entertained the small crowd. This was my introduction to Brother Reade, and I repaid their awesome performance by promptly picking up the two CD’s that they had on sale.
Since then I have been playing them relentlessly, hoping they might make it back to Richmond with new music. My wish was granted (somewhat) when they recently played in Norfolk, and a friend and I made the trip to see them. Playing a set of songs that I didn’t recognize I was easily convinced to pick up their newer album, Rap Music. On this record, MC Jimmy Jams and DJ Bobby Evans have stepped up their game, forgoing the relaxing grooves of their previous works and making an album that lives up
Local band names are in RED
to its name. The beats on this record are much heavier and way more aggressive, and the lyrics are presented with much more conviction and precision. Opening the album with a reference to Refused’s “The Shape of Punk to Come“ before blasting into the song “Let’s Go,” Jams isn’t afraid to wear his influences on his sleeve, whether they be punk or hip-hop. “Back in the days we would listen to Kane/ Now cats is just spitting the cane/ And on the other hand/ some complain that rap’s changed/ What you hating on man/ it’s a
beautiful thing.” On the club banger “About That Rock,” Bobby Evans shows his versatility by creating a beat that you can’t help but move to, while Jams holds down the mic with infectious rhymes like “No trap fame no crack cocaine/ but the world need a Kurt Cobain with a chain/ It ain’t where you are it’s where your dream is at man/ I’m like Hemingway would’ve been if he had game.” Another great standout track is “The Marcie Song,” which appeared in an earlier form on the last EP,
NorthcackAphonicrobotickilla. This song is much closer to the stylings of their earlier albums; a much more laidback beat, and lyrics that read like poetry with rhymes that surprise with their placement. From beginning to end this album is an utter success, and one would be a fool to not at least give it a chaqnce. Rap Music is exactly that, a rap album, and a horribly underrated one at that. -Brandon Peck
The Catalyst / Brainworms Split 7” Rorschach Records Two of Richmond’s favorite punk bands have teamed up for a split 7” that will knock your socks off. For the last few years, both The Catalyst and Brainworms have been playing relentlessly, and somehow still managing to consistently draw out huge groups of people to almost every show. The energy is high and everyone is always guaranteed to have an amazing time watching them. It’s been some time since
Brainworms last record, Which is Worse? was released, and it’s nice to see that not too much has changed. Staying true to their revamped early DC sound, these guys continue to play sometimes spastic, yet unceasingly melodic punk rock. Singer, Greg Butler is as animated as ever both in person and recorded. His lyrics read like poetry, but he presents them like the ramblings of a madman, perfectly rounding out each song by complementing the song structures. Each song teeters on the edge of falling
apart, but in a way that makes you realize that they meant for it to seem that way. In two songs Brainworms will remind you why you can’t ever get enough of them, live or otherwise. The Catalyst, on the heels of their new EP Mariana’s Trench, comes to bat with two new songs and one instrumental. You know that chant that you hear from time to time at punk shows? You know, the “HOLY SHIT!” one? Prepare to start chanting it at your record player. The boys in The Catalyst are on fire, and these
two songs are proof. Never have they been so catchy and so heavy simultaneously. Not to mention I have never heard something so heavy come out of Allen Bergandahl’s studio and sound so absolutely perfect. Don’t be surprised if you have these songs stuck in your head for days. Hats off to everyone involved in the making of this record, there isn’t one flaw to be discussed, and even the art kicks ass! - Brandon Peck
Cloak / Dagger We Are Jade Tree In a blisteringly 24 minutes, Cloak / Dagger will show you why they are one of the best musical acts to bless the Richmond scene. To repeat almost every other review that I’m sure has been written, We Are showcases strong influences from the brash grittiness of Black Flag, to the frenetic rock and roll of Hot Snakes. The songs blast by with uncontrollable speed, stopping only for a few
seconds to switch to the next track, and by the time it ends you are left trying to catch your breath. The production on this record shouldn’t go unnoticed, either. It sounds incredible. Recorded almost entirely live, it’s easy to understand why Cloak / Dagger is on the tip of everyone’s tongues, as this recording is flawless, much like their live shows. If you haven’t checked out this record, it is highly recommended that you do so. - Brandon Peck
Environmental Youth Crunch Let’s Ride Dead Tank/Bakery Outlet After a couple of solid split releases with bands such as Pink Razors and Defiance, Ohio and one EP under their belt, St. Augustine’s Environmental Youth Crunch has released their first full length. Let’s Ride takes all the elements of their previous records to some next level shit. The record gives the feeling of any good pop punk record, but there are a lot of sweet rock elements
compared to the same rehashed pop punk parts that many bands tend to use. If anything the lyrics and feeling of this record will make any miserable winter night better. Lyrically the album is mainly about going to the beach, riding bikes, and just having fun. It still holds integrity by having some
version is hand screened on recycled paper. This record is on point in pretty much every way it can be. - Curtis Grimstead
songs aimed at environmental and political issues. Having a reputation of being eco-friendly the band chose to have the CD version printed on recycled paper with vegetable oil ink and the LP
Miss the Descendants? While
the last few years these guys have been putting out solid records and garnering fans from every scene of music. Upstairs / Downstairs is the newest full length, and while not a vast departure from previous releases, it is certainly more varied musically than the last few albums. The Ergs! manage
few bluesy, doo-wop numbers, and they manage to do it with grace and modesty. Almost any song on here could be the album standout. The album moves quickly from start to finish, with most songs not crossing the twominute mark, the exceptions being the aforementioned slower songs and the final
The Ergs! might not be the same thing but they are hands down the closest thing around these days. Nerdy pop punk tunes played by three guys who make it sound like there’re five of them. For
to come off silly and simple at times despite writing some of the most sophisticated and complicated pop punk heard in a long time, if not ever. On this record we find these guys trying their hands at writing a
track. This particular song is the only thing that takes away from an otherwise perfect album, as the actual song part of it ends around the two minute mark, then trails off in noise for almost
The Ergs! Upstairs / Downstairs Dirtnap Records
16 minutes. There’s really no payoff for listening to all of it, as it eventually just ends. Don’t let this dissuade you from checking this record out though, because no matter how long you listen on into the last track, the only thing you’ll want to do when you hit stop is to start the record all over again. - Brandon Peck The Good Life Help Wanted Nights Saddle Creek Tim Kasher is a busy man. Hot on the heels of his other
band Cursive’s fantastic new album, Happy Hollow, he is back at it with The Good Life, his not-so-side project. Since their last album, Album Of The Year, it seems that Kasher has decided to calm things down a bit this time around, opting not to include much aggressiveness in the music aside from some of the lyrics. This isn’t to say that there isn’t any variation in tempo or intensity from song to song, only that the album is strongly centered around either an acoustic guitar or a generally controlled reverb-
laden guitar. There are many layers musically, but at the core is always his guitar. Always the story teller, Kasher’s lyrics this time around focus on stories from the bar, consistently returning to the topic of love gone wrong, which he accepts with a certain sense of selfloathing and masochism. He
Just as has always been the case with both Cursive and The Good Life, the songwriting on this record is not conventional in the slightest - sometimes it is just downright weirdbut the end result is always something strangely beautiful, complemented with poetic lyrics that are easily inspiring. Longtime fans will agree that
Meneguar Strangers In Our House Troubleman Unlimited
ever heard, it sounds as if every instrument is fighting to be the most interesting. Somehow though, all of them end up coming out on top at the same time, creating some of the most peculiar and oddly catchy brand of weird poppy indie rock since Modest Mouse, minus the bravado.
Special Ed & the Shortbus Ground Beef Patrol Self-Released www.specialedshortbus.com
Meneguar is a strange phenomenon in indie rock. Across the board, almost any fan of any type of music tends to hear this band and instantly ask, “Who is this?” before rushing out to track down
fans losing their minds to Strangers In Our House. At least that’s how I’m assuming it went, as this record continues on in the footsteps of their critically acclaimed first LP, I Was Born At Night, this time with a little less naiveté and more confidence in the music they write. This band employs a technique to
makes his character out to be the antagonist, the asshole, the cheater, etc. from song to song, a theme he’s employed on previous works, and it is as effective and captivating as ever.
this album is a success, and newcomers, while maybe needing a few listens to take it in fully, will more than likely join the party. - Brandon Peck
their music. This accounts for the still growing number of fans across this continent and further. Hot off the heels of their first European tour, Meneguar returns to the New York home to be greeted by hordes of
writing that really shouldn’t work, but somehow does, and very successfully. From the jumbled compositions, dueling guitars, weird notes constantly being bent, a bass that acts more like a guitar, and one of the tightest drummers I have
This is feel good music and once you’ve finished giving this album a shot, don’t be concerned if you feel the need to go back and listen again to make sure you caught everything. - Brandon Peck
The two records I’ve set out to review this month are much more alike than it would appear upon first listen. Both add fresh chapters to the legacy of a fiercely independent music scene
The Riot Before So Long, the Lighthouse Quote Unquote Records www.quoteunquoterecords.com / www.fallofthewest.com
that screams Richmond, Virginia through and through. Both were recorded frills- and fancy-free by Lance Koehler at Richmond’s Minimum Wage Studios. Both bands tour relentlessly, helping to solidify a visible and permanent spot for Richmond on the American musical map. And, both incite neck embracing, beer-raising sing-alongs. First up is the Appalachian (and slightly Eastern European) jug band Special Ed & the Shortbus. Ground Beef Patrol chronicles the
sounds of five good ol’ boys sitting around the back porch engaged in an animated story-telling session. Shameless humor combined with ragtime, rock ’n’ roll, and cabaret cadences enliven each tale as they play out, scene by distinct scene, in this minstrel theater. Guitarist “Special” Ed Brogan has the boozy heartbreak blues (“World Is Spinning,” “Can’t Get To Carolina”), mandolin player Josh Bearman rips those damn creditor
predators in “Paper Chase,” and banjoist Ben Belcher extols the miracles of Viagra in “Soft John.” Then, everyone whoops and hollers about that one “Dirty Baby” in their life. Fiddler Aaron Lewis and percussionist Jake Sellers will have you unknowingly thighslappin’ along with odes to underwear and hobos. Special Ed and the Shortbus are not simply jesters for fun, however; they are accomplished (and award-winning) players who are serious about keeping bluegrass progressive for the
ADD generation and vital for the 21st century. Emerging from a resurgent Richmond punk scene where folk mixes comfortably with pop comes the Riot Before. Lead singer/songwriter/ guitarist Brett Adams found his voice with their first fulllength Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, but his affecting rasp has been sharpened through constant touring, playing over 150 shows since the current lineup solidified in May of ’06. The new EP consists of five downloadable
songs from Quote Unquote Records, plus one extra track that can be found on the CD available at shows. Fall of the West Records is also releasing a four-song 7” version that contains another exclusive song. With songs ranging from the anthemic “The Uttica Stare” to the minimal strum of “Lather, Rinse, Repeat,” the Riot Before give themselves enough room to emote with urgency and aggression without sounding forced. The lyrics on So Long, the Lighthouse are just
asking to be shouted with fist in the air, as the Riot Before delivers a rousing treatise on challenging the social norms and structures constructed in the past but inherited at birth – “All I ever wanted was a road to carry me / far from blind tradition and predictability.” Attacking fear, apathy, borders, and war (especially the intense “Redneckties”), the Riot Before carry the punk torch for deprogramming the American public, one burning flag at a time –
“Everyday let’s forget our lives and make our breath a gift / so when we say we hate their lies we are not hypocrites.” - Mike Rutz The Weakerthans Reunion Tour Epitaph Records I’ll go out on a limb, albeit a fairly sturdy one, and say that this is the best album to come out in 2007. The Weakerthans have been turning heads for nearly a decade, and in that time they have acquired a fan
base with an unrivaled sense of loyalty. Each album leads up to the best album they’ve made, without devaluing the older ones. Reunion Tour picks up musically where their last album Reconstruction Site left off, mixing their signature blend up upbeat poppy indie rock with their slower compositions and a good dose of country twang for good measure. The layering of sounds across the board is impressive in it’s own right, but where this
album (and past ones) truly shines is in its lyrics. Singer, John K. Samson, long known for his poem-like lyrics brings his words to life in a way that makes the listener feel as if he is singing about events in their own lives. The reality of the situation is that Samson is largely a fiction writer when it comes to the lyrics on this album. Despite the fact that he can disassociate himself from the subjects of his writing, it doesn’t cheapen the overall effect. In fact, it does quite the opposite, drawing
the listener into the short stories and making them feel involved for 2-4 minute intervals before moving on to the next chapter. On the song, “Civil Twilight,” Samson spins the story of a bus driver who is haunted by an ex-lover, and by some odd twist of fate is given a route that takes him by a house that marked the end of their relationship. By the end of the song he tries to come to terms with his own involvement in the unraveling of their love. In “Relative Surplus Value” we
hear the first hand account of a man who is stuck in a job that he doesn’t care about, and longs to escape from the monotony of it. We also get another taste of fiction from the viewpoint of Samson’s cat, Virtute, in the song “Virtute the Cat Explains her Departure,” in which the cat explains why it had to run away. In the song “Bigfoot,” one of the albums slower, more melancholy songs, a man retells his Bigfoot sighting and how the local media and the general
public view him as crazy and generally full of nonsense. You get a sense of giving up as he repeats that he “won’t go through it all again, watch their doubtful smiles begin.” There are so many other stories worth discussing, but the discovery of these musical works of literature should be left to the listener. Do yourself a favor and pick this record up. - Brandon Peck
When Michael Met Rob: A Killer Love Story By James Wayland When I heard that John Car penter’s Halloween was on the verge of being remade, I was not happy. I believe that some movies shouldn’t be revisited, and the atmospheric chiller that spawned the slasher flick* belongs on that list. Then I heard that the picture was to be directed by rocker tur ned rocker/director Rob Zombie, and as much as I enjoyed The Devil’s Rejects , I found myself growing even more skeptical. However, the more I pondered this bizar re match, the more I found myself wanting to see it. Would it be as slow-paced and serious as Car penter’s original or as frantic and campy as “Zombie’s Rejects”? Would Michael be the somber killing machine Car penter created or the br utal murderer grounded in humanity that Zombie prefer s? By the time the film opened, my initial reser vations had given way to excitement, and I wasn’t disappointed. Rob Zombie has given the hor ror faithful one of the best films of the last decade. Perhaps only The Descent can match the new Halloween in ter ms of tone and scope; both films aim to hor rify, and pull no punches in the pur suit of fright, dragging the audience into an intense nightmare that refuses to look away. If you want to be scared, this is the type of picture you’re looking for. As a purist, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I tr uly believe that this remake/revision is superior to the original—it’s almost as if Zombie gave the concept wings and allowed it to soar to new heights. When you’re discussing a remake that you’re fond of, you’re supposed to say they “redefined” this or that, but in this case that would be untr ue. Rob doesn’t “redefine” Halloween , he defines it. Period. In addition to expanding the stor y and giving Michael and Loomis far more depth, Zombie’s style captures Michael’s detached mayhem while allowing the audience to experience the ter ror and pain the looming murderer inflicts on his prey. On one hand, the film offer s the audience some involved and highly dramatic insight into
*always a slasher flick and never a slasher film** **and not because it would be demeaning to the term “film,” because clearly it would be demeaning to the term “slasher”
the wor kings of the man behind the mask. The character is given depth—we come to see him as a haunted but emotionless monster who murder s easily, nonchalantly, as though he is doing nothing more meaningful than making a sandwich. On the other hand, you’ ve got a vintage thriller that handcuffs you to several poor souls doomed to fall before the fated killer, forcing you to str uggle with them, hoping in vain for mercy or some show of humanity while the body count steadily mounts. It’s a strange pairing, these contrasts in approach, yet Rob never fails to maintain both visions. While Car penter set his tale up with a brief sequence featuring a young Michael, Zombie devotes near ly half of his feature to building a foundation for the ter rifying thrill ride to come. Sheri Moon shines as Deborah Meyer s, Michael’s mother, who str uggles to provide him with some war mth and suppor t, but is over shadowed by what Dr. Loomis will later characterize as a “perfect alignment” of har sh circumstances. Young Daeg Faerch proves to be a real find. His por trayal of a human monster in the making is both moving and frightening. This por tion of the film features Michael’s fir st murder and an absolute freak-out at the mental ward that establishes Zombie as a master director. Both scenes are ar resting mar riages of audio and visual components. However, while the murder is a fascinating juxtaposition that could be considered somber if not for the inherent br utality, the mental ward piece is loud and jar ring, instantly subjecting the audience to Deborah’s hor ror as she tr uly sees her son for perhaps the fir st time. After the audience is given a sound under standing of who Michael is and how he became a monster masquerading as a man, the film veer s into remake ter ritor y. Many of the scenes hor ror fans know and love haven’t changed at all, but there are some groundbreaking revisions to the original tale as well. I feel that while Michael and Dr. Loomis (maybe my favorite Malcolm McDowell perfor mance of all time) are ser ved better in Zombie’s rendition of Halloween , Scout Taylor-Compton was unable to match the magic Jamie Lee Cur tis brought to the role of Laurie Strode. I enjoyed her perfor mance, and I thought she excelled when she was called upon to be ter rified or flee, but she wasn’t as believable when she needed to fight
back or show some courage. Jamie Lee became quite the badass when her back was against the wall, and actually decided to attack when she realized that r unning was futile, but this time Laurie is always looking for an escape route. It’s probably what I would do too, but I fell in love with the gutsy babysitter who finally stood up to a madman in the original, and I never felt the same connection with Scout. Rob Zombie clear ly appreciates the source material. In addition to expanding the premise and doing his best to provide a motivation for one of the genre’s most feared villains, he utilizes the original score to great effect. He also calls upon legions of fan favorite thespians, providing ever yone from Clint Howard and Udo Kier to Dee Wallace Stone and Ken Foree (and pretty much ever yone from The Devil’s Rejects ) with a moment of glor y. The effects are great throughout, providing the film with innovative kills in addition to an abundance of blood and several instances of shocking violence. Zombie is an honest filmmaker who captures bizar re dialogue and over-the-top mayhem and somehow grounds it in reality. The small town of Haddonfield, Illinois, seems vibrant and alive, and though Car penter was able to por tray the spooky aura of society’s scariest holiday better, Zombie also gives Halloween a festive yet disturbing feel prior to the slaughter that ensues. In closing, though I may have avoided this remake/revision altogether if not for Zombie’s involvement, I think it tur ned out to be one of the genre’s best features in recent memor y. In fact, I think it sur passed the original, which I place on a pedestal above all other slasher films; though I’ ve always prefer red a Friday the 13th to anything other than the fir st Halloween . Anyone who likes to be scared should make sure they catch this master piece in the theatre, and I would per sonally recommend checking it out on a Friday or Saturday night when the house is packed. The audience really got into the picture when I saw an advance screening in Roanoke, and I enjoyed myself immensely in the midst of a rabid crowd that couldn’t get enough of Zombie’s bloody remake…make that remake/revision. Hell, let’s just go for a triple dose of “re” and call it a redefined/remake/revision. Better yet, if you must label things, and as a critic that’s par t of my job, why not refer to it as “The Best Slasher Flick of All Time”?
“I Want To Ride My Bicycle” -BICYCLE RACE, Queen By John Wade Illustration by Ant Lights on bikes are a good idea. However, the Richmond Police Department’s new policy (as near as I can tell, about a month and a half old) of harassing and ticketing those bicyclists without lights is wrong. This should have been preceded by an attempt to warn the public that such a law existed, and would now be enforced. This article is about the harassment of bicyclists. To research it, I submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to see how many bicyclists were ticketed for light violations in the last two months. The Richmond Police Department, in the person of General Counsel Victoria Pearson, told me that it was “practically impossible” to get the information under the time limit specified in the FOIA. The term “practically impossible” is from the FOIA, and by using it, they were allowed an additional seven days to process my request. When I was told the information was ready, the invoice (under FOIA, it is my responsibility to pay any costs directly related to finding and copying the requested records), said that it took staff 0.3 hours to find the information I needed. I guess it was “practically impossible” to find twenty minutes in five working days. However, the journey was not over. The police department claimed, “Under Section 2.23706(B), release of this information is required for felony offenses only.” So instead of providing me with the information about traffic violations, they charged me ten dollars for four sentences concerning two old felony arrests…that had nothing to do with bicycles. I called the department again and politely informed Victoria Pearson, a lawyer, that Section 2.2-3706(B) of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act said absolutely nothing about releasing or not releasing non-criminal incident information. That is, it was totally irrelevant. The department promised to send me the traffic violation information. I spoke with the department many times over a period of several weeks trying to get the records. When I called back a few days ago, I was told that my invoice for these thirty-one records was now at one hundred and thirty seven dollars. And apparently they weren’t done yet. I talked to them again, and this I time managed to communicate that it was only the basic information I needed—dates and offenses. About five days later, they finally released the records of bicycle violations from July first to September twenty first. 60
A ticket for not having a bicycle light carries with it a seventy-two dollar fine. Between August 25th and September 5th, a period of eleven days, twenty-four tickets were given out to bicyclists. In the last six days of August alone, eighteen bicyclists were ticketed for light violations. An officer named Robert Jamison issued every one of these eighteen tickets except four. This raises the possibility that this apparent policy change on the part of the police department is, instead, primarily an indication of the disposition of a single police officer. In that case, the police department was irresponsible for not directing Officer Jamison’s attention elsewhere. Bicycling is good for the city of Richmond. In fact, there is a national subculture that revolves around the idea of a bicycle not strictly as a means of transportation, but as a means to change neighborhoods, save the environment, and exercise (Ok, ok, they are also incredibly fun). Bicycling is serious business because it represents the sort of fundamental lifestyle change that is necessary to start living healthily, both personally and in relation to the Earth. Riding a bicycle is also, in many cases, a last option for poor people with limited transportation options. The department should be aware that not all the citizens of this Commonwealth have the extra money to buy bicycle lights. It is illegal not to have a visible light on the front of one’s bicycle at night (and the back of the bicycle too if on a road with a posted speed limit of over thirty-five miles per hour). However, the police department has never really enforced this law. Before doing so, they should make some token attempt to educate the public, and they could even start some sort of program to get lights to bicyclists without them. Bicycle riding should be encouraged, and bicyclists should not be hassled. Even the police officers themselves are in many cases unaware of the laws concerning bicyclists. I called the police department to ask about bicycle laws. After talking to three officers, someone who was finally at least under the impression he knew the laws about lighting requirements told me that a bicycle is always required to have a front light and a back light. That is not true. Then I asked about helmet laws and had to be transferred to the magistrate to get the information--and he had to look it up. Many problems in the United States are associated with our automobile dependency. We are obese, we breath unhealthy air, and we are not very active. Also, according to the December
2006 edition of TIME magazine, automobile accidents kill more people every year in the United States than choking on food, homicides, drug overdoses, lightning, snakebites, and HIV/Aids combined. Many environmental problems in the United States are the direct result of suburban sprawl, which was made possible by the popular use of the automobile starting in the early 20th century. These problems could include open space destruction and the increased pollution resulting from driving from outlying areas rather than from close to the urban core. There are also all sorts of tax burdens that result from suburban sprawl—from paying to expand infrastructure to paying for road maintenance. Most of these problems are related to most of the other problems in such a way as to make dissecting them difficult. However, one thing is clear: riding a bicycle instead of driving an automobile goes a long way towards solving all of them. The law and bicycles have long had an ambiguous relationship. Bicyclists are perhaps most notorious for running red lights and stop signs. It’s called momentum, and to a person on a bicycle it is precious. Please overlook these violations and in return I won’t claim what’s mine—a full lane of road (actually, with some exceptions bicyclists are required to ride as far to the right as safely possible…but try making that ticket stick). Speaking of the road, I have personally seen people hassled by the police for not riding their bicycle on the sidewalk. A friend of mine was actually pulled over by the police in broad daylight on Grace Street and screamed at for not “getting on the sidewalk.” Hey guys, it is illegal to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk in the city of Richmond. We bicyclists don’t ask for much, just an acknowledgment that what we are doing is good for society, and some consequent leniency when it comes to minor infractions of the law (again, at least make it clear that you are going to start “cracking down” on bicycles without lights - I think you will find us a reasonable bunch). We already have to contend with motorists who honk their horns at us, rev their engines, and otherwise display an irrational anger at bicyclists that can border on insanity. When I am finally caught polluting from a bicycle, robbing a bank on a bicycle, or stealing a bicycle (surely a capital offense in any civilized society), feel free to throw your lights on, spin your car in a violent 180 degree U-turn, and arrest me. But until then, please allow me to ride my bicycle in peace.
C U T T I N G WEIGHT PA RT 3 o f 4
By James Wayland
“Throw me those keys and then play dead, it’s your only chance.” “Play dead, hell. I’ ll be dead, dammit, and I don’t want to die!” The bear growled and the man concealed by the pine trees screamed at it, cur sing loudly and clawing at the air with his remaining hand as the beast slowly advanced on him. It took hold of his leg with both of its massive paws, its claws slicing into his skin, and yanked him forward, raking his dripping stump against the ground. He whelped and the bear rose up before him, bellowing and raising its massive ar ms skyward. “Son of a bitch,” Sara groaned, scooting back until she was centered beneath the tr uck. She didn’t want to see anymore, she had seen far too much as it was. After a moment or so of slashing and tearing sounds riddled with high-pitched screams, the man grew silent, tr ying desperately to play dead, to hold back his cries of anguish as the bear pawed at his battered body. The animal relented in its onslaught, studying him as it wandered around his bleeding for m in a tight circle, nudging him with its bloody muzzle. I m a ge by Ad a m Jur e s k o 64
Sara lay under the vehicle, studying the dir ty machiner y above with grim fascination. She was in a nightmare from which there was no escape, and she knew that even if she managed to sur vive, she would never forget what was happening here. The wor ld as she knew it would be forever changed by this savage affront on her nar row view of reality.
thought led to another, a more frightening prospect: what might happen when whoever happened upon this hor rid spectacle fir st ar rived?
The thought of her poor mother falling beneath the beast’s claws drove her to act. Deciding she could no longer wait the bear out and go for the man’s keys, she wanted to see if she could get into the The bear’s cold nose came into contact with the ravaged camper shell that covered the bed of the tr uck. man’s cheek and a hot blast of breath sprayed his lips with Perhaps there was something she could use back a mixture of saliva and blood. The animal stank of raw there. She would never know unless she tried. meat and sweat, a pungent and hor rific tandem. It stared him in the eye, daring him to react. Somehow he was able Scuttling backward, she emerged from the rear to contain himself. of the vehicle and rose slowly, peering through the filthy glass at the bear, which was about Sadly, his façade would not last. The bear resumed its twenty yards away and had yet to take notice of prodding until it found his stump, and then it began to lap her movement. She tried the handle and found at the jagged wound with its rough tongue. some resistance, but it wasn’t locked, so she kept twisting. It snapped downward with a loud pop and He could take no more; he let loose with a miserable howl the big bear immediately spun and began r unning and the awful feeding began again as the teenage wrestler toward her on all four s, huffing violently with each lay beneath the dir ty pickup tr uck and cried, power less and massive bounce forward. shaken, teetering on the brink of delirium. There was no way she could hope to open the hatch After a few gut-wrenching minutes, the sounds dwindled off and scamper into the back of the tr uck in time. She once more. pulled the hatch instead, which eased open a few precious inches, and dropped to her stomach. She There was only Sara and the bear, alone with the soft gurgle exhaled loudly and began to crawl forward as the of the creek. The sun was setting and dar k was slowly bear closed in. She str uck her head on something descending on the forest, shading the evening pur ple. The hanging from the undercar riage of the pickup, and temperature was dropping as well, and the wrestler was the blow was hard enough to obliterate her vision soon grateful for her extra layer s of clothing. for a moment as a white-hot bur st of pain surged through her. Gr unting, Sara rolled to her back and The bear slowly wandered around, stopping for several pushed her self fur ther beneath the tr uck with her minutes at a time and doing nothing, as though it was either feet, kicking up dir t and gravel. lost or uncer tain of where to go. Beneath the tr uck, Sara began to wonder when her mother would come looking for The big beast was at the rear of the vehicle, swiping her or when another vehicle would pass by. This train of at her with a massive black paw. She screamed as
it barely caught her with one jagged claw, grazing her ankle, leaving a razor-thin slash in her skin that seeped blood. The force of the attack swept her two feet to the left, slamming her legs into the tire. The bear lunged around to the side to get a better shot at her, but she had anticipated nothing less. Using the tire for leverage, she thr ust her self away from the ravenous bear, rolling to the other side. The bear immediately bounded around the tr uck and once again Sara rolled to evade it. The animal bellowed its displeasure. Then began a game that lasted for what seemed to be an eter nity to the hor rified teen, but in reality it may have been no more than a few minutes. The big predator began circling the tr uck, stopping to peer at her with those empty black eyes on occasion. She kept her self under control, drew shallow breaths that she exhaled through her nose, and continually changed positions. Whenever it came near she adjusted her position, always moving away from that soulless killer, her eyes glued to those massive paws. At last the bear grew tired of this and retur ned to the rear of the tr uck. It dropped down so that it could see her better and roared angrily. The beast was mad, it wanted to kill her, to tear her to shreds, but thus far she had escaped it. Perhaps it was even angrier at the tr uck that ser ved as a bar rier between them, for it suddenly took a few quick steps backward before charging, slamming into the tr uck’s tailgate with all of its considerable might. The tr uck slid forward several feet and the black bear howled, ready to dismember its troublesome prey. To be continued… 65
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Halloween Couture If you had to list the top ten planned outfits you wear in your life, your wedding dr ess/ t u x e d o, f i r s t d a t e g e t - u p s a n d a w a r d c e r e m o ny attire definitely make the cut. Often overlooked in this tr ain of thought is your Halloween costume. Many people spend a month or mor e discussing, planning and gleefully pur suing their perfect Halloween regalia. Given the static natur e of the date – you can pr edict your costume deadline for decades in advance – All Hallows Eve is one night y o u s h o u l d b e p r e p a r e d f o r. I h a v e a t t e m p t e d to help you in your quest for the memor able c o s t u m e w e a l l t a l k a b o u t N o v e m b e r 1 s t . We shall have no more “next year I’ ll get it tog e t h e r ” o r “ I j u s t c o u l d n’ t t h i n k o f a n y t h i n g ” . Broaden your horizons. Angels, devils and clowns are passé, unless they’re all in the same costume. I’ ve put together a handful of inspir ation guides to guide you along the path of creative expression via pagan holid a y. E n j o y ! O P E N I N G PA G E Mar y Heffley and Andrea Sledd wear costumes (or lack thereof) that embody the themes of l u s t a n d h a t e . H a n n a h E l v i n g t o n o f w w w. m a c h i n e d a n c e . c o m a n d w w w. a t t i l a t h e h a n . c o m envisioned the physical r epr esentation of these emotions to lurid effect. Consider your options beyond these – fr ustr ation, blue b a l l s ( h e h ) , j o y, i n s a n i t y, e t c a n d t h e p o s sibilities ar e endless.
H E A D S H OT S This shot is more in tone to help with the attendant par ties that sur round the Halloween rite. Themed part i e s a r e a b l a s t , b u t p l e a s e d o n’ t r e h a s h t h e s a m e o l ’ 70’s, pimps and ho’s, and saints and sinner s themes. T hink a little. Find your favorite chameleon-esque ar tist, musician (in this case David Bowie – Andrea as t h e M a n W h o Fe l l t o E a r t h a n d E m e r a l d G r i p p a a s A l a d din Sane) or historical figur e, and make ever yone tr y to come up with the most obscure representation of that per son. How many different Jesus incar nations are there? There’s South Par k Jesus, buddy Jesus, black J e s u s , b a by J e s u s , r i s e n ( z o m b i e ? ) J e s u s … I t m i g h t be better to go with something a little less incendiar y though, no one wants to see two Jesus’ making out in t h e b a t h r o o m . Po i n t m a d e t h o u g h , t h e m e p a r t i e s r o c k !
N OT E : N o t p i c t u r e d b u t i m p r e s s i v e a s h e l l , J o n To b i n a s Z i g g y S t a r d u s t w a s f l y l i k e M a j o r To m a n d M a r y a s t h e G o b l i n K i n g f r o m L a by r i n t h w a s c r e e py – b u t , a l a s , o u r p a g e c o u n t i s n o t i n f i n i t e . S o r r y b u d d y, i f y o u w a n t c o p i e s o f t h e p i c s , c a l l m e . Yo u k n o w t h e d i g i t s . CLEVERNESS What’s better than the costume that should have to be explained but somehow hits the nail right on the head? Phrase-based costumes should evoke the proper recognition at a glance, but the payoff in explanation is often satisfying as well. Answering “what the hell are you supposed to be?” with “I am the physical r epr esentation of the ter m ‘What the Fuck?!’” is so choice. In this group shot, Ken Howard gives us “Up Shit’s Creek without a Paddle”, Doug the Inter n spor ts his three p i e c e s u i t a n d c u r i o u s , s m e l l y h e a d g e a r i n “ Yo u C a n’ t
Po l i s h a Tu r d ” , A l i n a S h a b a s h e v i c h k e e p s i t r e a l a s “ H o l l a B a c k ” , a n d K i m Fr o s t i s j u s t “bor ed with you.” Just as a point of stating t h e c o n v e r s e , C l a i r e m a k e s t h e Fr e n c h M a i d outfit sing, even if the costume is as tir ed a s m y 9 2 - y e a r - o l d g r a n d m o t h e r. I f y o u a r e going to wear anything this pedestrian you better fill it out as if your name wer e Brigitte DuCroissant. CREDITS AND THANKS P h o t o g r a p h y by K i m Fr o s t S t y l i n g by C h r i s t i a n D e t r e s , K i m Fr o s t and Hannah Elvington A r t D i r e c t i o n by C h r i s t i a n D e t r e s M a k e - u p by K r y s t a l P h i l l i p s , Hannah Elvington and Mar y Heffley H a i r by K r y s t a l P h i l l i p s and Hannah Elvington T hanks to ever yone who spent what seemed like an eter nity on this shoot. All the models, helper s (Holly!!!) and friends and family that put up with missing loved ones ‘til 3:30 in the m o r n i n g. S o r r y f o r a l l t h e p e o p l e t h a t w o r k e d o n s h o t s t h a t d i d n’ t m a k e t h e f i n a l c u t . O n e of these days we’ ll be able to afford a higher page count. Also thanks to chuck at Bang On in Car ytown for the Holla! shir t and Diver sity T h r i f t f o r t h e i r u n c h e c k e d g e n e r o s i t y. Pe a c e , Christian Detres
City Council Theatre: Worst Vs. Worser By Don Harrision illustration by Jeff Smack
“I am not aware of any time where a Mayor ordered such ‘regrettable’ action, where a chief administrator plotted in secret to prepare to implement such action, that a Police Chief had his or her men positioned to enable such an action to take place, and a respected Judge found such action so harmful that she had to issue not one, but now two restraining orders, and the city’s academic, journalistic and legal power structure has not demanded that heads roll…. There has been a death at City Hall, if not in the soul of this town.” — Paul Goldman, “Death at City Hall” www.decisionvirginia.com/component/option,com_ myblog/task,blogs It’s one thing to be a strong leader who takes forceful action. It’s quite another thing to be a double-crossing despot who says one thing and does another. So it was on the evening of September 10, when Mayor L. Douglas Wilder offered up a verbal olive branch to Richmond City Council. On that night, he offered to meet with the 9-member body regularly, in front of the public, to talk about important issues (right after the rushed vote on the $50+ million CenterStage, of course), and promised to “wipe the slate clean” as far as all the bad feelings between his administration and the legislative branch of the city. Then he practically challenged 3rd District Rep Chris Hilbert to a fight before concluding that he and Council should leave the contentious matter of the Richmond school system to the courts. All in all, it was a fascinating performance — straight 74
out of Shakespeare’s Richard III , or Christopher Walken’s psycho monologue in the film True Romance (it’s your call). As we now know, the Mayor’s “clean slate” was akin to a nuclear strike. Eleven days later, on a day that would become known as “Black Friday,” the office of the same Doug Wilder:
- accused Council President Bill Pantele of surfing porn on a city computer. - asserted a questionable hiring and firing power over City Council’s aides. - kicked the school board out of City Hall on 45 minutes notice — more than a week before the deadline he set for them to leave, and in violation of a City Council ordinance permitting them to stay. A judge temporarily blocked the Mayor’s expulsion and ordered the schooladministration back to City Hall in the wee hours of Saturday morning. Wilder’s actions had touched off a legal firestorm — not only were members of the media denied access to a hastily-called school board meeting by the police, but confidential school records were left exposed in the midst of all the turmoil. Now we find the school board AND the City Council suing the mayor, and the local media using words like “chaos,” “crisis,” and “coup d’état” to describe the conditions surrounding city government. “If I don’t have the authority, the courts will say [so],” a smiling Wilder tells the cameras.
So far, Hizzoner’s actions against the schools and Council haven’t yielded much fruit. Pantele was cleared of all porn-surfing charges two weeks later, and the state supreme court ruled that the City Council’s suit against the Mayor can commence despite objections. As the Times-Dispatch reported, several days after the events of “Black Friday,” “Circuit Judge Margaret P. Spencer extended the school administration’s safe haven in City Hall until Nov. 30, after finding that the aborted eviction Mayor L. Douglas Wilder ordered over the weekend caused substantial harm to the school system —including its students and employees.” At press time, the Mayor has added to the city budget the services of a Mayoral image consultant, and two separate reports by the Times-Dispatch and Style Weekly reveal that the Mayor’s original rationale for moving the school administration out of City Hall — that it would save the city money — turns out to be false.
Wiping the slate clean, eh? ****
“There’s not a heckuva lot of difference between this plan and where we were in Nov. ‘05. . . some of you in this room know that when the meals tax was first proposed, I opposed it. And yeah, I got my kneecaps broke and my elbow pulled out of joint...” — Richmond City Council president Bill Pantele, Richmond City Council, Sept. 10. The real tough question we have to ask ourselves about L. Douglas Wilder and his clearly unhinged behavior over the past weeks: What’s the alternative?
But, as reported in the T-D, he was undaunted:
Mayor Bill Pantele?
“Mayor L. Douglas Wilder has no second thoughts about trying to throw school officials out of City Hall last weekend -- not even if it costs the millions of dollars that a Times-Dispatch analysis suggests it will. Now, Wilder says moving the school offices out was never about the million-dollar savings he touted.
It’s a question that seems to be dividing even the behind-the-curtain bigwigs who collectively serve as the real “boss” of Richmond. It seems that the one thing that Wilder and his nemesis (and presumed political opponent in next year’s election) Pantele share is a willingness to placate the big boys — case in point: The rush vote on Sept. 10 to pass the Virginia Performing Arts Foundation’s CenterStage.
‘I don’t regret what happened,’ he said in an interview Friday. ‘I regret that it had to happen.’ It had to happen, he said, because his word was at stake. ‘If I were interested in the move solely for cost-saving purposes, you’d be right,” Wilder said. ‘But the move has more to do with bringing those entities within the city government under the direct involvement of the mayor.’ ” And the sound you aren’t hearing while this power struggle goes on? Schools being renovated and built. Infrastructure being fixed. Or much else being done.
What a stroke of good fortune — what a miraculous and totally coincidental happenstance — that the Mayor and the City Council managed to find common ground on one issue and one issue only. Yes, the business community somehow got their arts center on the City of the Future docket and funded BEFORE all hell broke loose at City Hall. Hmmmm, say the conspiracy theorists. A few months ago, a group of Richmond’s biggest business names got together and submitted an “open letter” that called for a return to an appointed (rather than elected) school board. Never mind that many of these bigwigs were among those spearheading the movement to DIRECTLY ELECT the city’s Mayor a few years back. Wilder — at war with the school board and administration — said he liked the plan by Rich-
mond’s Titans of Industry to disenfranchise city voters. Style Weekly would later report:
man who managed to push and rush the arts center’s funding through Council; the good soldier who made sure that the project’s financial details would remain shielded from future taxpayer oversight.
“One City Council insider who declined to be identified says there’s little coincidence that many letter-signers are closely connected to the Richmond CenterStage project. Among them is Thomas Farrell II, chairman, president and CEO of Dominion Resources, who also chairs RPAC Inc., the nonprofit overseeing the CenterStage project. Farrell is cited by various other signers as having approached them about adding their names to the letter. Farrell, who is traveling abroad, was unavailable for comment. ‘Is there quid pro quo there?’ asks the anonymous City Council official, suggesting Wilder is getting support he’d like from the business leaders in exchange for greasing the wheels of the CenterStage project. On Monday, Council members received the letter, and ‘on Friday,’ the insider says, “Wilder asked for Council to hold special hearings to approve the CenterStage agreement.” Wilder’s former chief policy adviser, Paul Goldman, also asked the question: ‘Is this quid pro quo? The arts center in exchange for the School Board?’ **** The same business leaders — including Arts center booster-at-large Jim Ukrop — now sit on the sidelines while chaos reigns at City Hall following “Black Friday.” The “Gang of 26” have sidestepped any meaningful criticism of their new friend Wilder over his recent actions. Still, one of Ukrop’s compadres at the Virginia Performing Arts Foundation is letting his freak f lag f ly. He’s staying loyal, not to the Mayor who put his rubber stamp on CenterStage, but to the enthusiastic Council-
It’s time for “Bill Pantele’s Fundraising Frolics”: Here is the invitation for the $100 a ticket fundraiser for Bill Pantele’s mayoral bid, sponsored by the Friends of Bill Pantele. Check out the host committee. See any interesting names? Yes, that’s Bob Mooney, the outgoing president of the Virginia Performing Arts Foundation; the man who wrote the “comprehensive agreement” that binds the city to a $50+ million arts complex over 40 years with little or no oversight built in; the behind-the-scenester who claimed CenterStage had to pass quickly (and without supporting documentation) because of “subcontractor issues” (Pantele eagerly concurred with his future fundraising host, shutting off debate at the same time he compared Downtown Richmond to Bosnia). You scratch my back, I fund your arts center. Business as usual at City Hall. Among the luminaries joining Mr. Mooney to host the Pantele fundraiser, we find the developers of Vistas on the James, a project that the Councilman and others have awarded a boatload of subsidies. And let’s not forget David White of SWA Architects/Historic Housing LLC. who is partners with the recently jailed - for bribing Councilwoman Gwen Hedgepeth with a paper sack full of money - Louis Salomonsky. So there you have it, folks, your choices for Mayor: A megalomaniac who can’t be trusted on his word, may even be daffy and has little regard for the consequences of his actions... Or the man behind the “Party Patrol,” an old-school gladhander for every bad developer scheme and shady backroom deal that ever wanted easy city money.
Paul Goldman is right: this city’s soul is at stake right now following the chaos of “Black Friday.” But I fear there may be darker days ahead. Right now our choice for Mayor on next year’s ballot is Worst vs. Worser. On the Net: “City Council Theatre” Bill Pantele in his unedited, vote-rushing glory: http://vimeo.com/310948 Doug Wilder at City Council (in 3 parts): 1. Wilder: 15 Months Left http://vimeo.com/321031 2. “Agendas”: What is Ellen Robertson Talking About? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaQtlCJKpeg 3. Doug Vs. Hilbert: Let’s Get It On http://www.youtube.comwatch?v=bPvbADRhe9Q And For those who prefer their schizophrenic public pronouncements set to music, we present these special video “remixes” by DJ Fundraiser Flex and DJ Dom DeLuise: “Bill Pantele - Bosnia Remix” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oY1nkqxQBbY “Bill Pantele - Make It Work Remix” http://vimeo.com/316393 “Doug Wilder: Work Together Remix” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dQvpxcopbE