RVA 31 WINTER 2017

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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR Dear Reader, I’m David Streever, and I’m excited to introduce myself to you as the new Editor-in-Chief of this magazine. Welcome to RVA #31, our last issue of a tumultuous year marked by the rise of white nationalism, public violence, and a few hints of hope. The rise of the #MeToo movement and the surge of women elected to office this November are two welcome signs that people are finally being heard in a society that has long ignored them. We are proud of our efforts to provide a platform for under-reported voices throughout the year, and of our coverage and reporting on these complex times. This October, the double-killing in Shockoe Bottom brought gun fire to a city block that hosts cafes, nightlife, and a farmer’s market. Staff writer Madelyne Ashworth provides a minute-by-minute account from the bystanders and first responders to the tragic shooting in Anatomy of a Shooting. It’s a companion piece of sorts to my feature, Straight From The Chief, a profile of Chief Alfred Durham that provides his perspective on a very tough year in the River City.

Photographer Jason Lappa and our Editorial Director, Landon Shroder, tell an under-reported story in our own backyard with Refugee, about the Congolese families who relocated to suburban Henrico. When the Republican candidate for Governor campaigns on immigration fears, it’s more important than ever to hear the stories of people who gave up everything to seek shelter in our city.

Hip Hop Henry from the Cheats Movement joins RVA Mag with this issue to bring his perspective on rap and hip-hop from all over Virginia. This time around, he profiled local rhymesmith Chance Fischer, his recent forays into the gladiatorial battle-rap scene, and his upcoming EP, Whisky Neat, in The Evolution of Chance Fischer.

It’s never been easy to be an indie creator outside of the comfort of financial backers, but the duo We are proud to share a submission from Abu behind Crystal Pistol Records is continuing to al-Sayyab, an Iraqi journalist who fled political grow and thrive. They tell their story to music and sectarian violence to come to Richmond. writer Davy Jones in The Crystal (Pistol) Method. His short prose work, When Dreams Leak, is a narrative of growing up amid the constant war Inside you will find all of our regular columns, and unrest of the Middle East. features, and more, including the first print piece from our partner publication, GayRVA, From Cochiti Pueblo, New Mexico comes Virgil with a profile on prolific musician Aerica Lauren. Ortiz, who we met this October at the Virginia We close out this issue with an end of the year Museum of Fine Arts. Ortiz was on the Hear address from Rev Yearwood of the Hip Hop Our Voices panel, speaking about art from the Caucus, Hope for 2018!, on the role that he hopes people of the First Nations. His internationally- young people will continue to play in politics known series, Revolt 1680/2180, tells the next year. overlooked story of his people and their 17thcentury rebellion against Spanish oppressors. As always, we look forward to your feedback, The work remixes traditional Cochiti ceramics and to providing you with the very best writing with the sci-fi imagery of Star Wars, a childhood on culture, political lifestyle, music, and arts in obsession, to bring a 337-year old story to a Richmond and Virginia. Thank you for reading, and please stay in touch. modern generation and beyond.


FOUNDERS R. Anthony Harris + Jeremy Parker PUBLISHER Inkwell PRESIDENT John Reinhold PARTNER LANDON SHRODER PRINT EDITOR DAVID STREEVER DESIGN R. Anthony Harris WEB EDITOR, RVAMAG.COM Amy David Web editor, GAYRVA.com Marilyn Drew Necci SALEs MANAGER JOE VANDERHOFF ADVERTISING Steven Anderson WRITERS Landon Shroder, Doug Nunnally, Cody Endres, MEGAN WILSON, Davy Jones, Marilyn Drew Necci, Amy David, HIP HOP HENRY, ABU AL-SAYYAB, Kiara M.P. , Rev. Yearwood , Christopher Alan McDaniel & Madelyne Ashworth

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PHOTOGRAPHY jason lappa, Landon shroder, Branden Wilson, Chris Boarts Larson


INTERNS Malik Hall, Christopher McDaniel, Caitlin Barbieri, Nidhi Sharma, Ryan Persaud

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RVA Magazine is printed locally by Conquest Graphics cover by VIRGIL ORTIZ Credits page by ash edmonds SPECIAL THANKS to King of The North HUNTER HAGLUND


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WHEN DREAMS LEAK written by Abu al-Sayyab Translated by Elham Khairi

This was a long time ago. I’m with my friend from elementary school. His hobby is collecting bottles and breaking them. “What’s the benefit of this?” I asked him. “I hide my dreams in bottles and after a dream comes true, I break the bottle. Those that don’t come true I break too.” He laughed. “There is pleasure in the sound of the breaking bottles.” I admire the idea, and try to experience it. I get a bottle of glass, and I write my first dream: My mother will stop crying over my brother who was killed in the war. My dream doesn’t come true. My mother remained crying; I broke the bottle. I started looking for other dreams and there are so many. I put my dreams in cans and decide not to break them, to hold onto my dreams; my closet fills with cans. A new war started and I wrote a new dream, that my brother will come back safe from the war, and another one, of the disappearance of the War Ghost. Then they took me, too, and I couldn’t write any of my dreams. They vanished with the sounds of missiles. This short prose was written by a refugee from Iraq under an Arabic nome de plume, for security reasons. Before leaving Iraq and relocating to Richmond he worked as a journalist.



Gallery 5, 1708 Gallery, Turnstyle, Velocity Comics, max's on broad, Monument, Utmost, Round Two, Steady Sounds/Bare Bones Vintage, Lift Coffee, Quirk Hotel, rider boots


Plan 9 Records, Agee’s Bicycles, New York Deli, Best friend's forever, Chop Suey Books, Heroes & Ghosts, Weezie’s Kitchen, Ellwoood Thompsons, Need Supply Co., burger bach, mellow mushroom, World of Mirth, Bits N Pixels, Tobacco Club & Gifts, Venue Skateboards


Pasture, Barcode, Tobacco Company Bottom’s Up, Kulture, Alamo BBQ, kabana rooftop, society social club, Plant Zero Cafe, Cha Cha’s Cantina, Urban Farmhouse, Union Market, the nile ethiopian restaurant


Plant zero cafe, Manchester Market, moto richmond, legend brewing company


VMFA, Bandito’s Burrito Lounge, The Franklin Inn, little saint, sheppard street tavern, Patterson Express


The MIll, Stir Crazy Coffee, blackhand coffee


The Broadberry, En Su Boca, Buz & Ned’s BBQ, sabai, Lunch Supper, Ardent ales, Hardywood craft brewery, The Veil, fat dragon, boulevard burger & brews


Beuvine burger concept, Commerical Taphouse, FW Sullivan’s, Lady Nawlins, Foo Dog, Commercial taphouse, Star-lite Lounge, Deep Grooves, Capitol Mac, Katra Gala, Sticky Rice, Joe’s Inn, Strawberry Street Market, Little Mexico, Lamplighter, Balliceaux, Helen’s, Metro Grill, Yesterday’s Heroes, pik nik, social 52, cary street cafe, city beach


ALB Tech, Strange Matter, Lamplighter VCU, Kulture, 821 Cafe, Fan Guitar & Ukulele, Ipanema, The Village, Mojo’s, Rumors boutique, my noodle bar, The Camel, tap 20


NIssan Of Richmond, Mekong, Taboo, The Answer brewpub, Diamonds Direct, Guitar Center



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Follow us @RVAmag OPPOSITE PAGE Top left: #poolshark, The work of Nancy Kubale, tiny book at black swan books (@radio_tokyo) 2nd row: The work of @niqko, Raging bull, kamAla harris (@radio_tokyo) 3rd row: pickle rick at hardywood (@thereinholder), candy shop w/ noah-o, terracotta warrior (@thekwazimodo) 4th row: Happy Halloween (@visualsbybenjah_), michael millions 'sirens', lost bowl bryce THIS PAGE TOP: elephante at kabana, Broad street (@truedanyelle) 2nd row: sammi lanzetta (@joey_wharton) 3rd row: Treasure Boutique with yoseph, fish aye shaw by young flexico, gotcha. DON’T SLEEP -- tag us @RVAmag




WU-TANG CLAN, “IF TIME IS MONEY (FLY NAVIGATION)” THE SAGA CONTINUES, (EONE) When I got word of a new Wu-Tang album, I was nervous. I was a HUGE fan growing up. They could do no wrong, until that second crop of solos (minus Ghostface) hit. At 25 years in the game, the Clan returns with The Saga Continues, and it's pretty good! The standout track, "If Time Is Money (Fly Navigation),” is basically a Method Man showcase, backed by a soulful beat by Wu producer and DJ, Mathematics. Meth spits line after line nonstop, without singing or "skrrt skrrt" adlibs. Wu-Tang still ain’t nuthing ta 'F' wit. -- Hip Hop Henry

HAVE MERCY, "SMOKE AND LACE" MAKE THE BEST OF IT, HOPELESS RECORDS I never really caught on to Baltimore's Have Mercy before their latest album, but considering that singer/guitarist Brian Swindle is the only remaining member from previous incarnations, I'm not sure it matters. The leadoff track from Make The Best Of It shows that the current lineup is as capable of tugging your heartstrings as the best groups from the fading "emo revival.” In particular, this song's evocative lyrical imagery meshes incredibly well with the pensive guitar arpeggios and dramatic choruses, which will connect perfectly with fans of Into It. Over It. and Manchester Orchestra, among others. -- Marilyn Drew Necci


The first single from Loma's self-titled debut is a moody track made hypnotic by dual vocalists, a mesmerizing beat, and a fuzzy humming guaranteed to induce your ASMR. Lomo is a collaboration between Emily Cross and Dan Duszynski, the formerly married duo behind Cross Record, and Shearwater's Jonathan Meiburg. The song is tightly-focused on rebirth and transformation, reminding the listener that the fairy-like marriage of Cross and Dusynski ended during the writing of Loma. Thankfully, the trio have continued their working relationship, and plan future releases. -- David Streever

JONATHAN VASSAR, "STAY DOWN” NOTHING EVER WAS, JONATHAN-VASSAR.BANDCAMP.COM Jonathan Vassar has such a distinctive narrative voice, adept at channeling nature's beauty via evocative imagery and intricate arrangements. His Nothing Ever Was EP caught me by surprise, both in the sudden way it was released and in the way opening track, “Stay Down,” turns his powers of observation inward. Accompaniment is sparse -- guitar, pedal steel, harmonica -- and the tone is light, even though lyrics describe being burdened emotionally: “There’s a part of me that says stay down.” A John Prine-like marriage of major-key music and minor-key words. --Davy Jones



STUDIO NEWS Houdan The Mystic have returned to action after a quiet few years with the split-LP format that's worked for them once before, on 2014's Where's My Shakespeare? That LP matched them up with locals Fight Cloud, but this one brings in a partner from farther afield--recent Richmond arrivals Colin Phils, who originally hailed from South Korea. The band arrived in Richmond and soon, Houdan guitarist Reid LaPierre started running into Colin Phils guitarist Ben Tiner at almost every show. "I saw him all over the Richmond music posting sites, he started setting up gigs and bringing in touring acts immediately when he got here," LaPierre said. "Dude's super active and inspired." This positive relationship soon inspired a collaboration. Fight Cloud's Mitch Clem recorded Colin Phils' side of the split in Northern Virginia, while Houdan The Mystic camped out at LaPierre's parents house in Powhatan to record theirs, with Michael Eldred manning the boards. LaPierre explains that this recording was a more indepth process than any of the group's previous releases. "We did a few live demos for the first time. Really studied our parts before the recording," he said. "Also took way more time tracking guitar; layered a lot more tracks on guitar. We wrote a lot of the vocals after we sat back and listened to the first round of mixes." Sure enough, the band looks at the finished product as a big improvement on previous work. "It was the same team on mixing, tracking, and mastering as last time, but we think it sounds way better," said LaPierre. "Everybody seems like they’ve stepped up their game." The Houdan The Mystic/ Colin Phils split, Star Charts, is out this month on cassette and CD.

Only months after recording his fourth album with Gritter, vocalist Ryan Kent returned to the studio to track another release, this time with his thrash metal band, Murdersome. As with Gritter and Kent's third project, BLK LLC, Murdersome also recorded at The Ward. "I seem to live there," Kent noted wryly. The Murdersome session, which was overseen by Rusty Scott, is designated for an EP on Luray, VA's Lost Apparitions Records. Laying down three songs to tape was not without complications this time around. "I had an upper respiratory infection, so I don't think that my vocals were as good as they could've been," Kent admitted. "But the fellas all loved what I did, so I can't argue with that!" Murdersome, a band that brings Kent together with current and former members of Humungus, Hypokalypse, and Abandon Earth, attempts to balance speed and heaviness with memorable riffs. "I'm not afraid of hooks. Instead of just making some EP that is just brutal, I wanted to make it infectious and vicious," Kent said. "With Ian [Dishman] writing the riffs, Ramzi [Aboulhosn] capturing flawless solos, and Joe [Adams] and Zack [Clements] thundering the rythmn section, I feel that we've achieved that." You'll be able to judge for yourself when Murdersome's debut EP is released in early 2018.

Doom metal has haunting, hollow vocals with thick, distorted guitar and driving rhythm, a sound Windhand has consistently redefined over its years as a band. The hypnotic track “Old Evil” is the first single from the Virginia doom group’s split LP with fellow doom group Satan’s Satyrs, and it is pure hallucinogenic sludge with a guitar solo. Dorthia Cottrell’s beckoning siren wails coexist with every covering layer of distorted, grungy sound laid down by the other members, creating the feeling of calmly wandering without getting -- Marilyn Drew Necci helplessly lost. --Christopher Alan McDaniel

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Collections of old songs rerecorded can be a risky move--it may do little more than spotlight the fact that the now-middle-aged members have lost a step. That said, Ann Beretta are lucky enough to retain a vitality that makes the past 20 years seem like the blink of an eye. This one’s worth it even if you have the old records. (MN)

Fine zooms in and out in an incredible way. The EP’s lyrics focus on super-specific circumstances -- burning your tongue, going into anaphylactic shock because of a nut allergy -- yet the music gradually opens up via savvy guitar work and countermelody, resulting in big, inviting moments. In that way, Fine manages to be personal and universal at the same time. (DJ)

With seven tracks giving us a good sample of what’s to come, Virginia Beach native Ashanti Bragg makes her debut almost two years after dropping the video for opener “My Love.” Featuring a variety of songs showing her musical versatility, the confidence that oozes through her music makes for a fun and energetic experience that leaves the listener wanting more. (KMP)




Two words: Unfiltered. Observation.Black Liquid’s obstinate attitude and sharp public commentary on ANTi challenge local perception and opinion through a conversational approach. His poignant flow found on title track “ANTi” is relentless, barraging the listener with anecdotes that highlight the MC’s natural inclination for hip-hop as an art form. (CM)

Make room, Donny Hathaway--this is one for the ages. Live at Vagabond captures the energy of the crowd and the virtuosity of individual instrumentalists with remarkable clarity, giving listeners a taste of Devonne Harris’ compositional gifts, adventurous approach to keys, and the ensemble’s knack for seizing the moment. This is the Butcher Brown sound at its most cohesive and dominant. (DJ)

What happens when a ragtag group of metal veterans want to rock? They form a thrash band. Buzzard Dust’s eponymous debut is a 24-minute adrenaline burst of wicked dive bombs, breakneck blast beats, and guttural profanities that recalls the feeling of a dark, sweaty mosh pit. I dare you to not headbang during “Have You Seen Me.” (CM)

Doll Baby blesses listeners with yet another phenomenal demonstration of their artistic prowess. Hell Block is a mere five songs, but holds the sustainability of a traditional fulllength album. The four-piece’s jam tracks scratch a deeper itch, bringing everyone to their feet. Singer Julie Storey has the most pleasingly unique punk vocals you’ll ever hear. (CM)








More hardcore, boombap hip hop from the Southside’s own Fly Anakin & Koncept Jack$on, this time with fellow Mutant Academy brethren Tuamie handling the production. Hearing the duo spitting over one producer’s sound gives this project a different, more cohesive feel from their last full length, but if you’re expecting a drop off in quality, you won’t find that here. (HH)

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Bouncing back and forth over each track, Goldin & Duce have a great chemistry, with Duce’s laid back flow paired on “Lolo” along with Gold’s more hype flow. The songs feel like these two have been a working partnership for years already. If you need a quick musical boost in your work day, give this a spin. (HH)





Gritter aren't necessarily reinventing the (steel) wheel on their fourth album, but then again, if it ain't broke, why fix it? Their brand of harsh, caustic metal has some clear NOLA influences but gives it their own muddy James River flavor. This music will give you strength to face life's frustrations. Don't leave home without it. (MN)



Presenting itself as an ambitious and experimental project, Get Over Yourself is vast. One second, the structured sound is airy and poppy, and then the next, it begins to wax into blues. Big No has made it obvious that their strongest musical asset is their instrumentation; Heather Jerabeck owns that piano. (CM)




Fully-formed narrative writing, steady-handed production, and killer performances from top-notch players provide many reasons to disbelieve that Odessa is a debut release. It plays like an expertly crafted survey of styles from the last 60 years, from Stones riffs and heartland rock to country waltzing and soul not unlike Matthew E. White’s. Well-worn and world-class, right out of the gate. (DJ) RVA MAGAZINE 24 | SPRING 2016 RVA MAGAZINE 31 | WINTER 2017



With this monster of a debut full-length, the duo Keep has etched its name among the city’s growing list of musicians on the rise. The group’s sound is diverse and evocative, being deeply rooted in their appreciation of grunge and industrial predecessors. For Your Joy embellishes an introspective atmosphere that lets one track roll right into the next. (CM)



Long Arms began as James Menefee's altcountry project, but with their latest album, they've left those touches behind in favor of the punk-influenced heartland rock that feels like Menefee's natural mode. It suits him; skipping genre tropes in favor of excellent heartfelt tunes with a heavy Replacements influence makes Young Life is a career highlight. (MN)




An intense, heartfelt slab of pure emotion delivered with power and melody, Goodbye And Other Lies is a worthy contribution to the field of melodic punk rock from a group of veterans who've paid plenty of dues. This is music for remembering past struggles and appreciating where you are. With this EP, Mistaker carve out a distinctive niche for themselves. (MN)

This VA-based metalcore crew draws a lot of influence from angst-ridden early 00's nu-metallers like Slipknot and Mudvayne, interjecting melodic choruses and moody breaks into a stew of pounding downtuned riffage and brutal breakdowns. The result is an invigorating, gleefully profane blast that brings me back to my youth. If this is what today’s kids are into, sign me up. (MN)





This RVA quartet definitely brought the fire this time, cranking up the energy to deliver a louder, more distorted follow-up to debut LP Glossa. The 90s alternative and indie-rock influences that fundamentally inform Positive No's sound are still dominant, but their punk past is much closer to the surface here--and that's definitely a good thing. (MN) 10 YEARS YEARS OF OF RVA RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2015 2005-2017 12 MAGAZINE



This combo sees Municipal Waste drumpounder Dave Witte reuniting with his Burnt By The Sun bandmates, John Adubato (guitar) and Mike Olender (vocals), to carry on that band's brutal, politically-driven metal rampage. Doom-infused metallic hardcore riffs meet grinding blast beats and double-bass mayhem to create an unstoppable steamroller of a record. (MN)

Punk rock is the kind of scene that wears a person out. This might sound ridiculous to the kids singing along to “Young Til I Die” covers at the allages show, but by the time you’re 29 with two full sleeves of tattoos, sitting at the end of the bar because you don’t have the energy for the pit anymore, you learn the truth. Perhaps it’s not too surprising that Tim Barry, who once led 90s punk heroes Avail, is a decade deep into a solo career as a folk-country artist and shows no signs of looking back. High On 95 is his sixth solo album, and it shows him settling ever more comfortably into the acoustic troubadour role. He only sang in Avail, but his proficiency on acoustic guitar here sees him creating some excellent melodies on songs like “Gumshoe Andy” and “O & DP.” The minimal instrumental backing (slide guitar, violin, the occasional percussion) gives these tunes a rootsy feel and allows you to crank up the volume without bugging the neighbors. The DIY veterans will see the appeal immediately. The kids might not get it yet, but rest assured, their time will come soon enough. (MN)



Some fun, speedy punk with a tendency toward retro stylings. The first song has a borderlinehardcore intensity, but the others get more melodic in a manner reminiscent of early 80s SoCal punk--Agent Orange, first-LP Bad Religion, that kind of thing. The furious antiwhite-nationalism lyrics on "Inglorious Bastards" are a particularly nice touch. (MN)

Can music be simultaneously comforting and unsettling? Deep. Honey. makes a pretty strong case in the affirmative. Warm synth sounds and layered guitars lay down pillowy sonic padding, yet Danny Bozella’s singing is manipulated throughout, coming across as uncanny. “I put effects around my voice to hide what I write,” he sings on “Charms,” ringing with a beautifully ironic honesty. (DJ)



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called ‘30 Day Songwriting Challenge’ that was supposed to get artists to find inspiration to write music every day,” Lauren explains. “I think I took it way more seriously than anyone expected. I wrote and recorded 30 songs for the entire month of April. My work schedule was 7:30 A.M. to 5:30 P.M. and I have a roommate, so I only really had time during my lunch breaks to record anything. Sometimes I would try to record two songs just in case I didn’t have time to do one another day.”

With album pre-production going on in the background of this, it was a great time for Lauren to examine her creative muscles, and challenge By DOUG NUNNALLY herself to do something new as much as possible. photo by Chris Boarts Larson “The most successful part of the month was seeing exactly how much I could think outside whose songwriting styles continuously evolved the box regarding my typical songwriting,” she while still remaining true to their own unique recounts, “and how deep I could dig to create sound that their fans love them for. And of course interesting songs without getting repetitive or their lyrics are pure poetry.” boring.” Of course, writing music is one thing, but performing it live is another. Many fruitful songwriters struggle with this in their career, including Lauren. “[First performing live] was nerve wracking,” she exclaims. “My friend Andy and I had been jamming together my freshman year of high school. There was an open mic at my school, and Andy and I were going to play ‘Hear You Me’ by Jimmy Eat World together. I messed the guitar up a few times, but afterwards I felt so energized. I was instantly addicted. After that, I Featuring delicate vocals, sparse instrumentation, tried to find as many opportunities as possible and lo-fi command, the music of Aerica Lauren to perform live, whether it was original songs or isn't easy to overlook. Though quiet and restrained covers, solo or with some of my musician friends.” in volume, there’s a pull in her voice and words that most will feel when they come across her And Lauren has definitely done just that, live as music, whether it be on her prolific Bandcamp well as recorded, with plenty of collaborations page or in any of the coffee shops or breweries (like 2014’s split EP with Billy Bacci) and covers she frequently performs in around Richmond. (2013’s Under The Covers) to back up her own Like Frankie Cosmos and Car Seat Headrest before her, Aerica Lauren’s output isn’t something you can really quantify, especially when you consider all of the social media teases and fragments she frequently posts. Her “Song A Day” challenge in April alone would stump most competent musicians, but it’s nothing for the young songwriter who’s been honing her craft for quite some time now. “I learned guitar when I was 13 and immediately started writing songs,” Lauren says. “I’ve always kept a journal, and songwriting is like a much more rewarding form of journaling.” Now 27, Lauren has almost 15 years of songwriting under her belt, with enough material to dwarf the songbooks of Greta Kline and Will Toledo, if she had the inclination.

staggering list of originals. Releasing this music has never been a challenge for Lauren, who has found a steady following through performances and online engagement. “I’m all over social media and I play out in Richmond pretty frequently,” she notes. “That’s been my approach up until recently, just because I didn’t really need to do much more than that for what I was releasing (all home-recorded EPs). I was successful with that approach, but with my new project I want to do a lot more.”

This new project is a solo record Lauren is currently finalizing, her first full-length, which will be welcome news for those often left wanting more from her brief, yet compact releases. Though her approach has done well for her in the past, she admits it’s time to shake things up, adding some music videos, merchandise, and even tour dates Lauren explains how her songwriting is inspired to really push the new record as best as she can. and molded by a variety of sources. “I grew up listening to a lot of artists like Joni Mitchell, This record comes on the heels of a busy 2017 for Crosby Stills Nash & Young, The Cranberries, Lauren, in which she participated in a daunting Harry Nilsson, and Wilson Phillips,” she says. “But April challenge that saw her create a new song I also loved Jimmy Eat World, Eisley, Deftones, each day. “My [album] producer and another and Tegan & Sara. To me, those are all bands of his clients started a Facebook group in April 20 20

Creatively, 2017 has been a rewarding year for her, something she’s achieved without diving too much into the muddy politics that dominate the news cycle. For Lauren, a musician who identifies as LGBTQ, there’s always a sense of apprehension with what’s going on in Washington, no matter how you label yourself. "If I have to pick a label, I usually say I’m queer or gay," Lauren says. "Lesbian works too, but I typically don’t like to associate my biological sex with my gender identity." Still, just because Lauren isn’t overt in her music about issues within the community, she’s certainly seen plenty of bigotry and ignorance, as could be expected for someone who plays as many outdoor, public gigs as her. Venues around the country have definitely taken steps to be more inclusive, but there are still plenty that offer situations that can be anxious, if not terrifying for artists who identify as LGBTQ, something Lauren is well aware of. "I’ve never been worried about a venue having an issue with me, but I am always aware of the possibility of homophobic patrons," she remarks. "I’ve experienced my fair share of ignorance regarding my appearance and sexual orientation, but I can only hope that my music speaks for itself and inspires people to let go of their prejudices." Though her music, quiet and powerful, does speak for itself, Lauren admits that there is still more she hopes to do. "I’ve definitely felt a pull to be more politically active," she notes. "I’m a preschool teacher and a school-age care counselor, so I’m reminded every day why it’s important to speak out about social issues that directly affect my loved ones and me. My songwriting has definitely become stronger, but mostly I think I’m all the more inspired to have my voice heard by more people so that I can potentially have a positive influence on a wider audience." AERICALAUREN.BANDCAMP.COM RVA MAGAZINE RVA MAGAZINE 31 | WINTER 24 | SPRING2017 2016




Virgil Ortiz is a Pueblo artist inspired by two loves: the traditional figurative ceramic style he learned from his mother, and Star Wars. These influences resulted in Revolt 1680/2180, a solo exhibition Ortiz originally premiered in 2015, best described as a sci-fi remix of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, complete with laser blasters and an ancient astronauts vibe.

You still live and work in your birthplace, Cochiti Pueblo. You’ve travelled the world to exhibit your work, but I’m curious how it’s received back home.

Sadly, creating pottery using traditional methods & materials is a dying art form; there aren’t many masters still living in my community at Cochiti We spoke to this internationally-renowned artist after his appearance Pueblo, NM. I believe my mentors, teachers and community view my at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts this past October as part of the clay works as innovative, when in fact, I am reviving the original style, Hear My Voice: Native American Art of the Past and Present exhibition. In subject matter and social commentary that was used in the 1800's. I have this exclusive interview, we talked about his work, his process, and his dedicated my life to revive these significant pieces and art form, and give collaborations with fashion designers like Donna Karan. voice back to the clay that was once destroyed by the non-Natives. Once they understood where my inspiration was coming from, and by examining photographs of historic pieces, I gained their support. 22 22




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Your work is like nothing I’ve ever seen; but it This historical event is not taught in schools, or has familiar elements, too, drawing from pop included in textbooks; it has been swept under culture and other influences. Would you call it the carpet for far too long. traditional? What makes your work so original? By utilizing the mediums I work with, I’ve been I am inspired by all types of cultures, non-Native able to create a storyline using my art to make included. I am fortunate to be able to continue it more interesting and relevant to the next and use the same methods and materials that generation. The Revolt storyline takes place have been used for a very long time. The only in 1680 and [is] simultaneously happening in thing different are my subjects. Cochiti figurative the year 2180. This allows me to incorporate clay works from the 1800's were based on social fantastic versions of the original characters and commentary, so that itself provides me with a introduce a sci-fi point of view. vast array of subjects to work with, [which] transcend to what is considered Native art today, It reflects the impact I want to have on the world around me through art, education, yet [are] very traditional at the same time. and information. It is a foundation for a new Can you talk a little bit about Revolt 1680/2180, revolution in the artistic expression that has your exhibit at the Denver Art Museum? I love been part of my history for hundreds of years. the way you bring an event that happened over 300 years ago into the future. What’s it about? In your talk at the VMFA, you identified Star Wars as a major influence on Revolt. I’m For the past 15 years, I have sought tell the story curious, how personal is that influence? Was of the 1680 Pueblo Revolt, also referred to as the Star Wars just a useful creative vehicle, or is First American Revolution. The Revolt of 1680 is this something close to you? a historic event that hovers somewhere between the unknown, insignificant, and ignored by most, I have loved the saga since the first film. I learned unless they live in certain areas of the Southwest. every character, where they came from, their language, and their costumes/wardrobe when 26 26

I was 7 years old. As a teen, I realized how fast I learned every detail about the storyline and then was inspired to write a script about our own history, in hopes the next generation and public in general would be interested and inspired to learn about our people and Pueblo history. I chose the 1680 Pueblo Revolt, the First American Revolution, as the foundation of my storytelling. I use every medium I work with to tell our story. The events of the Pueblo Revolt are little known among most Americans today; however, it is an important and vital part of Pueblo history. It is my mission to continue to create global awareness that Pueblo communities are very much alive and have a level of vitality that speaks to generations of strength, persistence and endurance. Are there many books about the Pueblo Revolt? How can our readers learn more? There are only a handful of books written about the revolt. The book Po’Pay, Leader of the First American Revolution, by the late Herman Agoyo, my mentor--[Agoyo] spent much of his life recounting the history of the revolt. The RVA MAGAZINE RVA MAGAZINE 31 | WINTER 24 | SPRING2017 2016

People are finally talking about the damage that cultural appropriation does. What can be done to stop the practice?

impact and the remembrance of the revolt has not wavered over time for the Pueblo people. As a way to honor his importance, a statue of Po’Pay has been placed in the National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The statue represents the man, but it also symbolizes the strength and determination of Pueblo culture, religion, and history. Revolt confronts an historic atrocity that has had long-term effects. What other causes or social issues do you explore in your work? This year, I created a new series entitled Taboo. It’s an ongoing series that focuses on controversial and forbidden subjects that one might deem challenging and or difficult to discuss. Placing an art object in front of pieces from the 1800s that were based off those the viewer makes it easier to talk about and circus sideshows, the Mexican circuses that encourage participation. would travel this way. It’s really cool to see those historic pieces that have tattooed bodies, Subjects such as cancer, cyber bullying, siamese twins, everything that you’d see in an inequality, sexual assault, LGBTQ, gun control old school circus. They look very contemporary and political mores, just to name a few, not for that time. only affect Natives, but all humankind. These pieces and subjects are important to me and That whole idea, the social commentary, died they remind us that we have to join together out because of non-Native attitudes when they and create a conversation of connection. We found caricatures of themselves. That put an need to engage, educate, participate, support, end to the social commentary. What I’m doing enlighten and heal. right now with my artwork is to bring that whole Would you say the current political climate gives your work extra significance? Yes, absolutely. My Taboo series touches on the subject, and there is a specific body of work I created entitled Rise Up. I call it my prediction piece; I completed it in December 2016. If you recall, the Dakota Access Pipeline protest was in full form [at that time]. If you view all angles of the vessel, it tells a story of heartbreak, turbulence and corruption that will eventually eat away at politicians from the inside out. This piece speaks volumes for all to rise up and empower ourselves for the greater good.

Well, using Native Americans as logos or for teams is pretty racist. There are laws that prevent some of that, and people need to be aware that they can’t just do that. There are laws that say there are original, authentic Native American work, and trademarks offer protection too. Spend the money to protect yourself and your intellectual property before you start posting things online, because once it’s online, it’s fair game, even though it might be your family designs. If your family designs are sacred, don’t expose it, keep them at home where they’re supposed to be. In a lot of work I do, there are family designs, but I tweak them to make them my own and keep the original art here at Cochiti where it belongs. What do you tell people who want to work with First People in collaboration? You worked with Donna Karan, for instance. Are there any lessons from that work you can share?

I collaborated with her in 2002 and 2003. She approached me personally asking to place my design work on her garment. That was admirable idea and style of what they did in clay to touch because she took the time to ask permission to cooperate, and I hope that goes on a lot more. on current subjects. That shows respect, and it’s a good way to get Was that the first time that Europeans censored designs out into the world. or destroyed the work of the Pueblo? How do outsiders see the work of First Peoples? No. When the first non-Natives arrived to the I hadn’t been aware of contemporary artwork area, a lot of the artwork was destroyed because by First People until I saw your presentation. they were conquering in the name of the Church Are there other artists we should be paying and everything. They were looking for wealth, of attention to? Is there a movement right now?

course, and when they came into contact with the Natives, they destroyed a lot of the artwork A lot of Native art is looked at as arts and crafts. and accused people of witchcraft and sorcery. Sitting next to a contemporary ceramicist, though, our work is fine art. That’s what it is. I What I’m trying to do is give voice back to the have to teach that to people. There are specific clay that was broken, and to let the world know museums and galleries for Native art, but I’m Does Rise Up have a thematic link to your that we’re still here, thriving, creating, and living. trying to jump that line into galleries that don’t traditional Cochiti Pueblo work, too? What normally feature Native art. about the process? Artists from minority communities can be burdened by an expectation that they represent A couple of fellow Native artists come to mind: It falls in line with the historic pieces that were a monolithic culture or identity. Do you ever Kent Monkman (Canadian First Nations) and created in Cochiti; they were all based on social feel like you have to find a way to speak for all Rose Simpson (Santa Clara Pueblo, NM). commentary. I still use the same methods and of the First Peoples? I’m not sure if this is a movement per se, but materials. We dig our own clay, we make our own there are hundreds of Native artists creating paints, clay slips, everything. The only thing that Not at all, but I do try and place my work into important work. I believe there are a lot more has changed is that the social commentary had non-Native venues and galleries so I can open platforms available, social media, new outlets died out, and this brings it back. doors and present opportunities to the next and publications, some Native-owned, that have generation of Native artists. Teaching them helped Native artists introduce/share their work How’d that dying out happen? how to present their portfolios, communicate and voices worldwide - and that’s momentous. with galleries or museums, and overall [giving] The album takes place in a fictional world Back in the 1800s, the Native people made general advice and guidance should they desire/ called “God’s Land” and focuses on black issues caricatures of people who were being brought choose to live their life as an artist. Basically primarily from a male perspective. Dixon said into the area, by way of the new railroad system giving them support and resources to help them he wanted to be able to tell these stories in an and everything that came with it. Operas, along the way. imaginative space in order to have more creative circus sideshows, performances, the Natives freedom with recurring characters and stories commented on it through their artwork. Like that illustrate a picture much bigger than himself. the figurative pottery. You see these really cool 10 STREEVER YEARS OF RVA MADE MAGAZINE ME 2005-2015 CHANGE THIS LINE OF TEXT. 27


RVA MAGAZINE 30 | FALL 2017 27




Inka Essenhigh, FairyFairy Procession , 2016. 78x80 inches, oiloiland ofthe theArtist Artistand andMiles Miles McEnery Gallery, Inka Essenhigh, Procession , 2016. 78x80 inches, andenamel enamelon on panel. panel. Courtesy Courtesy of McEnery Gallery, NewNew York,York, NY NY

OPENINGRECEPTION RECEPTION OPENING MARCH 2018 MARCH16, 16, 2018 Inka AA Fine Line InkaEssenhigh: Essenhigh: Fine Line New 2018* NewWaves Waves 2018*

*Accepting submissions fromfrom *Accepting submissions Virginia artists through Jan 8

Virginia artists through Jan 8


VirginiaMOCA.org | 757-425-0000 | Virginia Beach 29

VirginiaMOCA.org | 757-425-0000 | Virginia Bea



The mechanical snarl of the coal fire engine keeps pace with the scream of the steam whistle as the locomotive leaves the station. The benches in the train car are wood and worn, smoothed after years of occupancy. The grain in the surface of the wood spreads out in patterns that are elongated, rugged, and oblong. They are cut at a perfect ninetydegree angle, providing a sense of formality and decorum for the passengers sharing in this journey. Because of this, the passenger taking the seat across from you becomes less of a stranger and more of an intimate acquaintance. You share a knowing glance. He is not like you though and disguises his visage by wearing a mask. His eyes are hollow and recede into black portals that become lost to a vacuous and endless space. A smile is etched into the material of the mask which runs east to west along a slight ingress which poses for a mouth. Carved teeth flank both sides of an imperious smile. He wears a white dress shirt tucked into beige trousers rolled to the knee. “The species we take for granted are actually everywhere,” he says, as the locomotive shudders into motion. Your journey has begun.

The locomotive you have boarded is traversing

In the Drowning World, the collection of

new lands, and distant shores. This behemoth

wayfarers, traveling nomads, and performing

of steel and iron will take you from the world

wanderers are all revered, worshipped even.

of known things and into the Drowning World.

Not only for their virtue, but for their form,

“You float away to wherever it is going to take

their beauty, and the recklessness of their

you,” said the stranger, acknowledging my

spirit. In this place, all things have become

curiosity in what is happening just beyond

possible. Even so, you hear the stranger

the tinted glass window. He continued, “It is

whisper under his breath, “the desire to fly

a strange kind of network…the routes that are

and be more like a god, has brought our fall.”

interconnected,” before going silent again. These routes and this destination exists right under the surface; a territory beneath the waking dreams of our shared invention. In this last outpost, our collapse gives way to rebirth, and from it a new ecology emerges. A collective which is free from the conventions of known providence; a carnival at the end of the world.




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In your hand you hold a guide to this new

The landscape is green and rolling and in the

“This is almost like a fugitive marginal land,

land, a travelogue to help you navigate a

distance water glimmers against a clear blue

between land and water,” said the stranger,

place not yet explored by those from the

sky, but that’s not all. Just on the horizon

before returning his gaze back to the moving

known world. It is not so much a book, as

something appears, distant at first before

countryside. Curiosity finally gets the best of

it is a collection of images, sheets, and

coming into focus. A man wearing a mask,

you and you ask about his mask. Why in this

ephemera bound together by a map of the

not dissimilar from the stranger’s has taken

place, he needs to cover his face. When he

railway; an anthology of nonsensical places.

flight on a creature resembling a bat. He has

answers, he looks away. You can feel his voice

Yet each stop is a reflection of somewhere

a human form, but is far from human. The

though; filling the physical space between

that you once might have been: London, Cape

rider holds the reigns firmly in his left hand as

you both, taking a form that is abundant and

Cod, Lubeck, Somerst. As you review this

he looks over his shoulder. In his right hand,

generous. You can feel a smile behind the

travelogue, something outside the window

he holds his hat high in acknowledgment,

smile of his mask.

catches your eye.

for his achievement is inexplicable. “White nose fungus affects all the bats,” said the

He reveals something about himself. He is

stranger, in an all knowing voice. There was

part of a wandering theatrical troupe that

reservation too, “All of the species are going

performs in carnivals throughout this place,

away due to man.”

the drowning world. “You always have a character that represents death,” he says.

As the landscape passes, we see dunes

When I ask about the character on the vista,

and marshlands, and meadow sprung with

the ones who eventually make their way unto

luminous wildflowers. Characters adorns

the pages of the travelogue, he responds with,

these vistas at infrequent intervals. Some

“It is a way for two people to become as many

are solitary figures who toil against the

other people as possible.” With an elongated

elements, while some are made of the

finger, he points outside. Keeping astride

elements themselves. Each has a story that

with the pace of the locomotive is a traveling

is individual to the moment of discovery.

menagerie. Inside are hanging masks, like the

And each discovery is a portend of what has

one he wears. “Within the carnival there is

already been witnessed in the pages of your

the idea that the roles are fluid.”

travelogue. Emerging from this landscape is a figure shaped like a man, but also shaped against the surrounding environment. Flesh colored hands emerge from his webbing of green moss and weed, the only anatomy which remains human. His posture is stoic and hieroglyphic; a cautionary tale of man’s hubris when trying to conquer nature.

34 34 34


Everything in the drowning world seems

Nevertheless, all journeys must come to their

The Drowning World is a volume of mixed media

fleeting. Reality becomes an illusion based on inevitable end. You wait with anxiety as the artworks created by Richard Selesnick and circumstances that are ever present, but ever locomotive pulls in to the next station, where Nicholas Khan and published by Candela Books changing. The stranger senses my hesitancy you will disembark. New faces and characters

out of Richmond. Selesnick and Khan, have been

and comments that the world has, “turned scurry about the platform in a frenzy of

collaborating since college, where they were

upside down”. He tells me that the world is movement and activity. Before you get up both finalists in a scholarship competition at a feast of fools, where one can be whatever the stranger places his hand on your arm and Washington University in St. Louis. According they so conjure; a priest, a performer, a

removes his mask. His eyes are dark and his to Selesnick, their collection of around 400

burlesque, “all things you were not allowed beard is matted, he is weary from travel. In images and their accompanying essays took to do” in the space just above this one. As you his hand he holds a wildflower, the same ones over five years to create, “four years to create shuffle through the catalogued pages of the you saw on the vista.

the world, and a year working on the book.” The

travelogue, you eventually see an image of a

title of this piece came from something they

woman in silhouette. In the foreground, she Handing it to me, he says there is no finality said to the author when asked about the usage stands alone on a plane of weathered grass. only “a mix of meticulous planning and happy

of masks in their work. They simply said, “We

You know her, even though you cannot see accidents.” I take my leave of the locomotive conceived it that we were members of a fictional her face. You have been waiting a millennia to

and rejoin the world of known things.

theatrical troupe. So there is a strong element

see her. She walks with with grace and poise

of carnival...it is the notion of a carnival at the

through the same woodlands the locomotive

end of the world”.

is now speeding through. Around her waist


is a red sash, her head crowned with a spire

The conversation by “the stranger”, which was

of antlers. She is the queen of a destination

used to narrate this story were direct quotes

you will never reach.

from the interview conducted by the author. Given the world that Selesnick and Khan have created and the meticulous way in which they have put the viewer in the middle, there was little choice but to take the journey into the drowning world with them. The words in this story represent the author’s experience traveling through that place with the stranger, his theatrical troupe, his menagerie, and all the characters still living on the vista.



35 35





Ezekiel Gakunzi and Esther Nyirarwaka

“You run for your own life, you spread out.” Esther’s village was attacked by a militia known as the mai-mai, a kind of civil defense force formed to resist the militia that fled into DRC after committing the genocide in Rwanda. The history of the conflict in DRC goes back to the time of colonization by the Belgians, but since 1994, the country has been in a state of war and de-facto instability. That year, Ugandan and Rwandan forces invaded the landlocked country, engaging the Rwandan génocidaire and overthrowing the long-running authoritarian regime of Mobutu Sese Seko in the process. Since then, almost 5 million people have died, either through war, disease, or starvation--making the conflict in DRC one of the most devastating since World War 2. Ezekiel Gakunzi is Esther’s husband. A thin man with a steely gaze, he was caught in the same attack, and got separated from Esther when they fled into the bush. “Some of our people were shot and killed,” he said, when describing the experience. “But there was a place where other people fled, like a camp.” After being separated from Esther, Ezekiel ended up in Gatumba, on the border of DRC and Burundi, yet the violence only ended when they reached the border. The mai-mai harassed and killed the people he was fleeing with right up until they crossed over. “I had three children with me,” he said. The violence experienced by the people in DRC and throughout Central Africa represents some of the worst excesses of human nature. According to human rights monitoring organizations, during the years of Esther and Ezekiel’s displacement, at least 2,500 civilians were murdered, 7,000 woman sexually assaulted, and over one million people were displaced from their homes in North and East DRC. And in some instances, the maimai militias tortured and killed civilians in public rituals and ceremonies as a way to terrorize the local population.

REFUGEE by LANDON SHRODER photos by jason lappa Imagine a scenario where armed militia come to your neighborhood. They indiscriminately shoot, kill, and rape as a tactic of war. They are hardened men who have been living and fighting in the bush for years on end. There is no compassion in their cause, only cruelty. Some of them are children, recruited to kill by men looking to control vast resources like cattle, gold, and coltan--a mineral used in smartphones and everyday electronics. To these men, material goods are worth more than the lives they are taking.


Try to imagine having to flee into the lush undergrowth of the Great Rift Valley while bullets fly overhead, snapping branches and bones as they find their targets. Imagine losing your family in the process. Not knowing which direction your husband ran, which direction your children ran, only knowing that running means surviving, and surviving spares you a fate worse than death. Then you feel the burning sensation, and the loss of control as blood spills out from where the bullet entered your leg. Most Americans will never be able to imagine this scenario, but for the people of Central Africa, it is all too familiar. “As soon as we saw people killing and people dying we ran into the bush,” said Esther Nyirarwaka, in her native language, Kinyarwanda, one day at her home in Henrico. “We went in the bush to hide.” Esther, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), told me this story while she peeled potatoes and relaxed with a few other women who had experienced similar circumstances in DRC.

While Ezekiel was able to make it to Burundi, Esther was not so lucky. “The reason why I was left out in the bush was that I was shot in the leg,” she recollected. The scars of her ordeal are still visible; as we talked, I could see the wound that ran from the bottom of her leg down to the top of her foot. “Some people saw me and helped me out of the bush.” Those same people eventually took her to a hospital where she stayed for almost one year, in 2010. “After I got better, I stayed with those people [who helped me] for another year in 2011. But then the war started again.” While she was recovering, Esther had no idea where her husband was, or what the fate of her children had been. As hostilities escalated in the DRC, the family she was living with arranged for her to travel with some merchants to Kenya, who were accepting refugees at the time. When she got to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, other refugees assisted her in finding a hospital that could tend to her injuries. “My foot was not healed, so I was taken to another hospital in Nairobi.” RVA MAGAZINE RVA MAGAZINE 31 | WINTER 24 | SPRING2017 2016

Gorette Mukankaka, Josue Tuyishime, Adeline Tuyisenge, Mariane Nyirahabineza, Sandrine Muhorakeye, & Jonathan Igirimbabazi

During this time, Ezekiel was working on the border of Burundi as a farm hand with his three children. When he heard that refugees were also being received in Kenya, he saved up enough money to make the journey. “Because I was by myself, I decided that I should just go there and get help with my three kids, so I went.” Once in Kenya he set about finding other refugees from DRC, describing the situation as not being dissimilar from living in Virginia. Making some casual hand gestures, he matter of factly said, “You hear so and so is here, so and so is over there… You talk to each other.” This method eventually led to him finding his wife Esther.

Elise Intsinzi, Elie Mugiraneza, Karen, & Israel

Much to my surprise, when I asked what it was like to find each other after such a harrowing experience, the entire room erupted in laughter. “It was just hard to believe,” said Ezekiel, a small grin forming on one side of his mouth. Our interpreter, Antoinette, took a moment to segue from the interview and explain the laughter, “You know, in our culture, we get happy but we don’t show it… We hug, but we don’t show excitement.” Ezekiel and Esther were separated from October 2009 to March 2013 - almost four years. “Once we found each other, the church rented us a house in Nairobi,” said Ezekiel. From there, they started the process that eventually led them to the US. Ezekiel put this into motion by officially registering as refugees with the United Nations. “We went to the [UN] office; it took us three years from 2013.” Their family finally arrived in the US on October 2016. But according to Stephen Allen-the Site Manager for the International Rescue Committee, who assists refugee resettlement in Virginia--the average time from displacement to resettlement for families arriving in the US can be up to 16 years. “The vetting process just to get to the US takes between two and three years alone, after registering as a refugee,” said Allen.

Scholastique Mukagatare, Innocent Karemera, Fabrice, Sandrine, & Alexandrine

Being a refugee anywhere in the world, let alone in Virginia, is almost impossible to conceive. For those who have experienced the worst depravities of war and conflict, there is no motivation or ambition other than finding sanctuary. Only in America could the word “refugee” be corrupted as a means of instilling fear for political expediency. That lack of shared humanity and fellowship for those we perceive as “the other” has become a defining characteristic of our current political age. The story of Esther and Ezekiel is not unique--it is a story shared by almost 23 million refugees globally. It is one that connects the best and worst aspects of the human condition; the best of which can be found in a tiny patch of Henrico, where refugee families from Rwanda, Uganda, and Afghanistan have finally found sanctuary.








It’s a conversation that includes the bartender, who’s having fun talking spirits with us on a slow night. We’re not talking about Fischer’s new EP, or the rap battle scene he’s been in this year-not yet. First, he wants to talk spirits. "Is that Wasmund's single malt back there?” he asks the bartender. “Let's do two of the Wasmund's single By angie huckstep malt, neat. This is coming from Sperryville Virginia. by HIP HOP HENRY PHOTOs by Branden Wilson Rick Wasmund does that; he also does the Copper Fox stuff. He has a gin called Virgin, which is pretty It's been awhile since we last received a project After a few missed appointments and conflicting cool, but this stuff is kind of like a cross between from RVA rhyme-smith Chance Fischer. So when schedules, we meet at a bar in downtown Richmond a bourbon and a single malt scotch, with this nice I heard he was about to release the Whisky Neat on Broad St on a rainy Sunday afternoon. After deep chocolate toffee notes and tobacco. It's real EP, I knew I had to catch up with him, preferably describing a particular drink to me, the RVA emcee good." over the libations that inspired the title. exclaims, "This is the stuff I want to talk about! People asking me random questions like, ‘So what you doing next?’ Like, come on, yo!" 42 42


Talk of bourbon and scotch sparks a memory for me of a Japanese whisky named Yamazaki. When I mention it to Fischer, he already knows about it, and gives me the quick back story. "All Japanese whisky, for the most part, is modeled after Highland scotch. Crazy thing that I found out the other day is that the actual leading whisky market is India. They sold 20 million cases of Jack Daniels last year, and their Indian whisky is technically--since they don't have any laws for it--it’s actually closest to rum. They make it out of sugar cane and molasses. I had some of their stuff the other day and it was actually pretty good. We were smoking cigars with this dude, and he bought me some stuff." Both the bartender and I are amazed, and we want to hear more from Fischer about these bottles. You can hear the passion in his tone as we get farther from the topic of his music and deeper into our cups. I had to know how he got so into the flavors, different styles, and origins of all these drinks. "I guess I’ve kinda always been into this. The restaurant enhanced it, definitely,” he says, referencing his other job as the assistant manager of a restaurant. “My dad's a chef. I was in the kitchen since I was four years old. [I’ve] just always been around stuff, always making weird stuff in the house and making my dad try it--sometimes it would turn out well, sometimes it didn't." When it comes to his preferred spirit, he reveals some dope insight into his mind and how he works. "Scotch particularly, my love [of spirits] started with scotch. I started drinking scotch to actually level the playing field between me and very rich people,” he explains. “Then I started smoking cigars and being able to pair it, and I really took a liking to it. It wasn't for show--I really want to understand this thing. I'm fascinated. When you start finding out the stories behind these bottles, the histories, it's really fun. I mean, these names aren't there for no reason." Fischer has always had a love for knowledge, and he's more about the history of a brand than any status boost it might confer. For example, he’s a fan of Samsonite over Gucci, because Gucci started as a leather goods company, not with luggage-making. His wide-ranging interests come partially from his reading, which has always leaned heavily toward philosophy and magazine articles over fiction, even as a child. "I grew up literally reading GQ, Architecture Digest, even Playboys when I got a chance,” he says. “Not even looking through [the pictures]-literally reading the articles. Which is crazy; people don't even understand. Playboy was putting out some of the best articles at it's time." Hearing him talk about his childhood gives me an even deeper impression of the man, which I previously summed up as “the relatable, bougie rapper.” Still sipping on the Wasmund's from earlier, Fischer doesn’t disagree with the assessment, but is also clear that he doesn’t dwell on the ways people perceive him. "A lot of people have their whatever perceptions of me, about what 10 YEARS OF RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2015

“...I didn't know any battlerappers that were making good music at the time. I didn't want to be pigeonholed into this, and I stopped. I took a year and I only wrote hooks--I didn't even write verses. Battle rap comes from some of the punchlines, so how can I take these bar setups and turn them into hooks?"

it is, you know. But I don't care.... As long as you don't threaten me or my family, then we good." By the time we finish the single malt--and I finish my third cup of water--the conversation has gone from the history of whisky to talking about Chance, the rapper (no pun intended), and hip hop stories. I first got wind of Chance Fischer around 2009 when he was working with legendary Richmond producer Kleph Dollaz. This triggers a funny memory from my old record store days, where I first met and worked with Kleph. A customer called to ask about a Master P tape, and Kleph’s reaction was hilarious and over-the-top: “YOU BETTER GET SOME BEATNUTS!" he yelled, then hung up. Fischer laughs before explaining the musical differences between him and Kleph. "I was listening to Cash Money and No Limit, that was my thing. I was a Turk fan too,” he says. “For a minute I didn't know the difference between Wayne and Turk. Me saying that now seems crazy, but at the time… I ain't think Wayne was that fire. Turk and Juvenile, I thought those was the dudes. Master P was my Jay-Z, the way people look up to Jay-Z as far as hustling, getting money and investing in Black [culture]. You got these dudes that are out here really hustling, selling units literally out of their car… Those were my guys when I was coming up." In the “underground vs jiggy” wars of the late 90s, Fischer was on the underground side. I was more on the jiggy, listening to many of the commercial hits 43 43

of the day. I tell him this, but I also let it be known that I listened to De La Soul's Stakes Is High, along with Nas's It Was Written. Holding his empty glass, Fischer discusses Nas’s second opus. "I'm one of those guys that thinks It Was Written was better than Illmatic. There are songs that I actually don't like on Illmatic, but ‘It Ain't Hard To Tell’ makes up for all that." What about “One Time For Your Mind”? His response is immediate. "I hate ‘One Time For Your Mind’." We might not like the same Nas songs, but it’s good to get into the history of the music as we come to our main topic. As we both move to glasses of water, the talk shifts from how our tastes evolve to how Fischer’s own style has evolved. What brought him from his performance art style to the gladiatorial arena of the battle rap world? "Battle rap is how I seriously started rapping,” he says. “I started writing when I was like seven, then around 12 I started watching all that [battle] stuff. In high school I used to battle all the time, I met Fair [of Slapdash]. Battling against Fair over the phone--that's how that happened. Of course I knew about Nick[elus F] and Radio B back in the day, because they were out there doing their stuff and whatnot. For me, [battling]--that's what it was. You know, if you rapped, you battled too, and had to have bars. We all were freestyling, so you would be right there and just had to go. And that was my thing, like, I could just go on you, right in front of you, using my environment. It made my mind real quick and sharp."

“After being able to get something catchy and fun, then I just started making music from there. Now I know the type of music that I make,” he says, describing his evolution as a journey of self-discovery. “I can do an easy separation here, because my music now isn't focused on being bar heavy. It’s focused on making sure that the lyrics are written in a way that take very complex situations and make them easily understandable.” Fischer explains that he’s not rapping to tell stories, except when he’s got one that really matters to him. “My shit is more about, what is life about, and the themes that sew everything together,” he says. “Since I'm not so focused on being bar heavy He gives a fair assessment of how he did in his in my music, battle rap is just the outlet for me to latest battle, at Legends Never Die 3. "The battle have all them crazy bars and all that aggression was cool, yo. Sonny [Kolfax of League of Champions that I have pinned up.” Battle League] definitely won the room on that one. We're going to see when the footage comes,” Now that battling is in the rearview along with our he says. “I still was dumping on that boy, but he bourbon, we finally get around to talking about was dumping on me too. Like no games, I'm out that new EP. "I've just been spending so much here in these streets.” It was the third battle in a time like, really just living my life, enjoying my life. series that’s only grown since it started, created by Like, I'd been waking up every day, but I wasn't upstart Richmond battle rap league the Southpaw actively enjoying it," he says. He doesn’t sound Battle Coalition. melancholy, just busy. Fischer talks about his many obligations--rapping, running a restaurant, dining Fischer first returned to battling when he was with Richmond political bigwigs--and how that invited to a local battle earlier this year by one workload inspired the EP. of the league owners, Radio B. It wasn’t an easy decision. "I was like, man, you know, this could be "The idea behind it was that everything in my crazy, this could be a lot, maybe I shouldn't do it, life was just very tumultuous, everything was this could be bad for the brand,” he explains. But changing, everything was kind of like whirling eventually, he decided he was in. “I was like, ‘Nah, around,” he explains. “One of the only things I wanna eat’." that stayed constant was my drink of choice. Like, that was it. And that's crazy. That's saying a lot, "I stopped battling because I changed the way I because the only thing that I can actually be like, started writing,” he says. “When I was battling, I ‘Damn, this has always stayed the same’ [about]; didn't know any battle rappers that were making what's in my glass. Outside of that everything was good music at the time. I didn't want to be questionable." pigeonholed into this, and I stopped. I took a year and I only wrote hooks--I didn't even write verses. Fischer has released plenty of singles over the Battle rap comes from some of the punchlines, years. Some gained traction on Spotify and even so how can I take these bar setups and turn them on the Smoking Section, a site featuring the best into hooks?” new hip-hop and rap. Most of these songs, such 44 44

as "Souffle" and "Candles" were originally part of larger projects that were never released. "It's not for a lack of connections or any of that stuff,” he says. “If I wanted to press the button and have stuff out there, I could do that. My thing is, am I happy with where I am overall as a human being? There are certain goals that I want to accomplish as a man before making music. I feel like I can always make music and love music, and I will always write music. I always got shit down.” Life sometimes gets in the way. “I was actually supposed to put out Whisky Neat in October. I was looking at getting everything done, doing the [release party] at Vagabond, but Vagabond had changed ownership and I didn't have my same connect with everybody,” he says. “That’s like its own thing, I can't go too much into what we were going to do for the promo for it, but it's some fun stuff. I had the opportunity of pairing with some people in the spirits world. I wanted it to be like, I'm not just putting out music, I'm putting out experiences for people--a world that you can dive into and really understand me." While we've been talking about battle rap and the prospect of new music, the check is now on the bar, and Chance Fischer has gone through some central themes that help make up his musical DNA. We still have to wait for Whisky Neat to drop, but now we have a better understanding of the man behind the bars and suits, and what really matters to him. "All of this bourbon and wine and cigars and clothes and all that, how it connects to the things that I talk about--at the end of it all, it’s still kind of fucking worthless,” he says. “Of course I can come in here and talk to you [about] how much shit is worth and blah blah, all that's cool. But if I go home today and my girl is upset, I could give a fuck what I'm wearing.” @MRCHANCEFISCHER




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ANATOMY OF A SHOOTING “...It’s just sad. Two people are dead. That’s the saddest part. It’s sad we had to experience something like that, but at the end of the day, there are two human lives that were taken." By Madelyne Ashworth STREET PHOTOS by LANDON SHRODER

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Chad Painter, the owner of Wonderland, had told all his door guys that if there was ever any trouble in the street, they should take pictures in case it would help police. Clint had seen a fight break out down the street, but also saw a Deputy arrive and break it up. The situation seemed to have de-escalated, but within a few moments, they would find it hadn’t.

Within seconds, an ambulance was called and responding officers began putting crime scene tape around the entire 1700 block of Main Street.

Ryan hadn’t planned on going out that night. Hanging out at home seemed just as viable of an option, but after being visited by a friend, he was convinced. His friend’s band, Torino Death Ride, was playing at the classic Richmond haunt for metal and hardcore rock: Wonderland. It’s not just another Saturday night in the Bottom.


Now, as mannequin heads hang from the ceiling 1:16 AM, 18TH & MAIN STREET and purple lights illuminate the walls, decorated Lt. Erlan Marshall was making his usual rounds with spiders, deer heads, clowns and skulls, post- in Shockoe Bottom. He has worked with the hardcore rock floods the room. Richmond Police Department (RPD) for over 20 years, and assumed his current role as head of He hadn’t planned on going out that night. Yet here operations in Shockoe Bottom about four years he is, standing at the bar, drinking a beer, talking ago. Working overnight shifts in the Bottom is to friends he’s known for years and listening to overtime for most officers, but for Lt. Marshall-the band close their set in the charmingly creepy this was his usual Friday and Saturday night. He and irresistibly weird Shockoe Bottom bar. manages the 10th to 19th street blocks of Shockoe Bottom and likes to keep around 11 officers on The streets are quiet right now, as most of patrol in the area. Shockoe Bottom patrons have made their way inside the bars and clubs. Between 30 and 40 “We basically are all assigned to zones,” Marshall people occupy Wonderland tonight, all enjoying a said. “Officers try to stay close to areas that could space that many have come to call a second home. have a potential for violence, merely because of

Julia Veres was standing at the end of the bar, side furthest from the window when she heard that popping sound. After hearing it five or six more times, she realized it wasn’t an amp or a firecracker, but actual gunshots.


It’s another Saturday night in the Bottom.


The band is just finishing up and are beginning to load their things into their car–drums, amps, instruments–before the late-night crowds flood the streets and police close in to ensure another night of safe fun on Main Street. The air conditioning unit in Wonderland hasn’t been working correctly, and this early in October the last dredges of a Virginia summer feel oppressively humid. The front windows of Wonderland are wide open to allow air flow. The person manning the front door is Clint, who’s just helped the band load their equipment into the car. Crowds from neighboring bars and clubs are filtering into the streets–some headed for a latenight snack like wings or pizza, others finding their way to cars or waiting for Ubers. The sidewalks buzz with life.



“It sounded just like popping. You know those snappy things you throw as a kid on the ground that pop? It sounded like that, but a hundred times louder. The window was open as well, so the sound came right in.”

“I dropped like gravity didn’t fucking exist,” Veres said. “I was right at the end of the bar and I was like boom. We were all on the ground in at least a minute, maybe two minutes.” The bartender, Brian, had yelled at everyone to get on the ground. Clint was still outside and pushed anyone lingering on the sidewalk back into the bar, including the band members who were still loading their equipment.

the fact that there are clubs, there’s alcohol, and there are lots of young people. We show a strong “I thought it was the speakers, like the snare presence in order to try and deter crime.” drum, or some percussion instrument going off on the speakers,” Ryan said. “Then I just saw some While walking up 18th street, Lt. Marshall hears motion out of the corner of my eye. I was talking gunfire. An officer sends a message over the to somebody, and I just glanced and they were radio, “Shots fired.” Two officers in reflective vests all piling towards the door. I heard, ‘Get down! were just a half block away from the sound of the Get the fuck down!’ And I heard more gunshots. shooting, but their presence was not enough to Then I knew. Then I dropped and everybody in deter this gunfire. here dropped.” “Our challenge was try to figure out who was shooting, because by the time I rounded the corner and came into the zone, there were no shots being fired,” Marshall explained. “But what was happening, it was like a wild stampede, because people are running in all directions. From the officer’s point of view, we don’t know what’s going on, we don’t know who’s shooting, who has the gun, whatever. All we see is people who are running towards officers in all directions.”

Painter, the bar owner, was walking into the bar from the back office when the shots were fired. When he realized what was happening, he quickly made his way to the front to make sure the doors were secure and everyone was on the ground. “[Clint] was crouched down in the doorway looking towards the stuff, and there is a bullet hole in the wall not even a foot above where his head would have been if he were standing up,” said Painter. 49

Lt. Erlan Marshall


Brian threw the keys to the front door to Clint, who locked the door. Chad shut the front windows, killed the music and worked with Brian and Clint to push everyone towards the back of the bar, into the kitchen, staying low.

“[Detectives] believe it was a retaliation,” Marshall said, referring to an earlier shooting dispute that summer he believed involved the two victims.

“We had a couple people who were outside and a friend of mine, Ace, who was coming back from getting pizza. The bullets went right by his head,” Chad said. “He took off running, he ran out back and got underneath the air conditioning unit in the back because he didn’t know what was going on. We let him in the back, and he was completely shaken up the rest of the night.” Seconds pass as everyone crowds together on the floor. Then minutes.


The first people police allow into a crime scene are medical emergency responders. By 1:30, the ambulance had arrived, and EMTs had examined the two victims. Deonte M. Bullock, 19, and Oscar W. Lewis II, 25, were found fatally wounded in the 1700 block of East Main Street, just outside Wonderland. The boys were known to be best friends since childhood. While Bullock was transported by ambulance to the hospital, Lewis was pronounced dead at the scene. His friend would be pronounced dead that afternoon. “After we have that part covered, detectives then come in and start working the case,” Lt. Marshall explained. “They collect the evidence, interviewing any witnesses that we might have, and they don’t normally do the interview on scene. Usually they ask the witness to go to police headquarters where they can be interviewed and recorded, and then they go from there. That same night, they had warrants on the shooter.” Detectives were able to find a reliable witness. A young woman who said she was the girlfriend of one of the victims was taken to police headquarters and interviewed. Her descriptions, along with eyewitnesses at the scene, were able to identify the offender as Dominique D. Brockenbrough, 40. 50

Oscar Lewis II & Deonte Bullock

he closed the front window and everyone got in the back, she walked past me, just crying. It’s just sad. Two people are dead. That’s the saddest part. It’s sad we had to experience something like that, but at the end of the day, there are two human According to the police record, Brockenbrough lives that were taken.” is wanted on charges of “aggravated malicious wounding, possessing and transporting a firearm Most patrons stay in the bar for the next hour by a convicted felon, and use of a firearm in the after the incident, consoling one another, talking to each other, waiting for news. “To be completely commission of a felony.” honest with you, I had a beer after that,” Ryan “I think I was there until 3:30, but if I remember said. “I had to sit down.” correctly someone told me that they cleared the scene around 6 o’clock in the morning,” Lt. There are two bullet holes in Wonderland’s Marshall said. “People might not understand building. One is just to the left of the front door. why they’re out there that long, but they have to remember that it’s preserving evidence and “Clint said he went home and had to wash his hair pictures, measurements, things like that become three or four times because when the bullet hit, very important when you go into court for a there was still the dust from the plaster,” Painter murder trial. You can’t just come, scoop up the said. “He had to wash his hair three or four times person and leave. You have to show consistent just to get it out, to not feel like that was there. He was back the next night.” evidence.” Because of this process, the body of 25-year-old Oscar Lewis remained on the sidewalk for nearly five hours.


There is another bullet hole that goes through the window in Sumo San, the restaurant just next door. Sumo San had been long closed before the shooting, but the bullet went straight through to the wall.

“I saw the hand,” Veres said. “I just wanted to know in my own head just how close this was to our front door. I just went to the window, I just leaned forward just a little bit, and I just saw the hand and I thought, ‘That’s really, really fucking close.’ But I didn’t want to see him.”

“I had to look,” Ryan said. “I stood out there and I looked at the kid. Then a couple times after that, I went and looked through the window and he was in the same spot. You keep hoping, or wanting, or expecting that next time you go and look, that they’ve rolled or that they’re talking to Painter and the other employees work to keep somebody. I didn’t know who this guy was, but I everyone secure inside. A group of about 15 think inherently in every human being you don’t college-aged kids can’t wait, and leave out the want to see anyone else suffer or be in pain. I feel back shortly after police block off the sidewalk bad about the fact that I needed to go look. What out front. Although the heavy police presence did I need to go see a dead man for?” suggests no imminent danger, Painter tries to keep everyone else inside until police gave an 3:30 AM, 1700 BLOCK OF MAIN STREET The only officers needed now are patrol officers all-clear. to secure the crime scene while forensics and “There was one girl, actually,” Veres said. “She detectives finish their work. They’re stationed was just inconsolable, crying. I was shaking, but I at different points to ensure no one accidentally was okay. She was in this booth toward the back, wanders into the crime scene or disturbs the she wasn’t near the window. I would say she had evidence. Lt. Marshall can go home. to be under 25. Right after everyone got down and RVA MAGAZINE 31 | WINTER RVA MAGAZINE 24 | SPRING2017 2016

“...there were two officers maybe half a block away, and this person still decided to pull out a gun knowing very well there was a potential for him to be confronted by the police." Dominique D. Brockenbrough “Seeing as how I’ve been working the overtime down there for four years, this is the first shooting that’s happened while I was working,” Marshall said. “Historically, over the past years when there was violence there, it happened in that general area. Not to say that can’t happen on Cary Street, because there are clubs over there, too. They have had incidents over there, but not to the extreme as those that happen on Main Street.” Marshall ticked off proactive steps the police took for Main Street. “We decided to actually shut the streets down a little bit earlier, enforce a little bit harder parking regulation, basically keep cars away from a club where they might have easy access to a gun. Basically do little things to deter crime from happening.”

Marshall said that there are plans in motion to set up video cameras in the street that would connect to a police office in Main Street Station, offering officers live feed of this area of the Bottom. In addition to this project, the reconstruction of the Shockoe Bottom Farmer’s Market promises to install its own set of video cameras, further providing tools to gather evidence if another instance like this should ever occur.

“I don’t know that there’s any answer for how you stop people from committing crimes, because as I said before, there were two officers maybe half a block away, and this person still decided to pull out a gun knowing very well there was a potential for him to be confronted by the police,” Marshall said. “I don’t know that there’s an answer for how you stop crime because some people are just bent Other than one incident near the Farmer’s Market on doing crime, and they’re going to do it, and not this past July, there hasn’t been a shooting like this really consider the consequences.” in Shockoe Bottom since 2011. Things are much more quiet in the Bottom under Lt. Marshall’s MORNING AT WONDERLAND watch, and crime has been steadily decreasing in “It’s difficult not to break down,” Painter said. the area. But according to Marshall, crime on the “Fuck the business. I almost lost several very close whole isn’t down, it’s simply moved elsewhere. friends. People who are like my brothers. Again, money is money, it’s whatever it is. Further on the There were 61 homicides in the city of Richmond in back end, obviously this is going to affect business 2016. In the first 36 days of 2017, violent crime had for everybody down here. But the number one increased by 25 percent. Unfortunately, the areas thing was I almost lost a lot of really good friends, where crime is occurring is often in government and I broke down a little bit once I got home. But housing areas, according to Marshall. It’s why when you’re the leader, so to speak, you have to the public sees such high spikes in Richmond be strong for everyone. It’s very difficult. Thank crimes rates. More than 130 people have been God everybody is safe.” shot in Richmond this year, and as of November 17 there have been 62 deaths by gunshot in 2017, Painter was still in his bar with Julia Veres, Ace, and a few others come morning. Several people according to the database. couldn’t leave because their cars were part of the “When I first moved here and I lived in the crime scene, which wasn’t cleared until 6 a.m. Richmond area apartments, I worked at Alley They stayed, talked, and processed what they Katz,” Ryan said. “I loved coming to Shockoe had just witnessed. It was a long night. Bottom. There was a group of us and we called ourselves ‘Bottom Rats.’ We loved it. And now, I Painter believes one of the reasons crime is don’t like coming down here. It’s a fucking shame more likely to happen in the Bottom is due to because this bar is the shit. McCormacks is the presence of large-capacity clubs, like Plush awesome. It’s just like on certain nights of the and Image. Having such large groups of people week, it’s like a war zone. You don’t know what’s together in one place, then mixing in alcohol, can going to go down.” create conflict between patrons and situations that are hard to control for bouncers and business owners. Although there are frequent 12 YEARS OF MAGAZINE RVA MAGAZINE 10 YEARS OF RVA 2005-2015 2005-2017

meetings between other business owners in Shockoe Bottom, as well as the Shockoe Bottom Neighborhood Association, Painter finds that these discussions often fail to produce results or bolster neighborhood cooperation. “You can’t control 500 people,” Painter said. “Period. It’s like one bad apple screws it up for everyone. We’ve been to the meetings, we’ve sat there, we’ve talked.” Although there is strong police presence in this section of Shockoe Bottom, Painter believes business owners should take on their own sense of responsibility when policing their own business and portion of the neighborhood, since opening a new business in Shockoe Bottom may mean bringing a new or varied demographic of people to that business. “[Being a responsible business owner] just means you don’t let people get away with shit, inside or outside,” Painter said. “You walk in that door, whatever problem you have with whoever it is, that shit’s out the fucking door. You’re on my time. I’ve worked too hard at this for too long, and I’ve sacrificed too many aspects of my own life, beit relationships or friendships.” Because of that sacrifice, Painter’s business continues to attract customers in spite of whatever may happen in the Bottom, whether they wander down the rabbit hole into Wonderland for the first time or they’ve been coming back every weekend for years. “It’s the sense of camaraderie,” Painter said. “The pyramid effect of everybody who’s worked for me or been with me through the years; they still come back, regardless of what happens. They keep coming back. I’m still here because this is like an oasis or an escape for people. People come here for years. They go away, they come back, they’ve got stories. Once you get in, you never leave. It’s a sense of community, our own little family. I guess they feel like they belong to something.”


Quickness RVA is not just Richmond’s only bicycle-based delivery service. It’s a network that connects you to over 30 locally-owned restaurants and retailers, inviting you to become part of the community of independent businesses that make our city a great place to live. When 52 you keep it local, you keep it quick! 52







It was the end of 2014 when the future founders together. “We were starting to feel like we had of Crystal Pistol Records realized they might never to do something to have agency over ourselves,” get their music released. Curry said. “To create some kind of institution. ‘We’ll sign ourselves.’” The two men, Justin Black and Pete Curry, had become good friends after playing local shows with Or as Black put it, “I’ll put out your record, you put some of the same bands. They were spending a lot out my record.” If the labels wouldn’t talk to them, of time together comparing notes on their personal they’d build their own. attempts to release music. In less than three years, Curry and Black have come “Both of us had been sending stuff to labels,” from that blank slate conversation to build a label remembered Black, who is now known more that keeps putting out albums. They’ve made vinyl, commonly around the Richmond music community CDs, and cassettes. They’ve worked with bands in as Saw Black. “That’s what you do, from the first genres ranging from the thrash punk of the You Go time you make any recordings. ‘Oh this is awesome, Girls and the surf rock of Death Birds Surf Club to there are so many labels that would love to have the Appalachian Dixieland of Dharma Bombs. And this!’ Which isn’t true. You send it to all these they’ve done it all while writing, recording, and people and never get a response. We [asked] ‘Why releasing their own music. are we doing this?’” They attribute their hard work as musicians to their That willingness to rethink their efforts completely success with the label. “Maybe people trust us would become the foundation of their work because they know we’re constantly busy working

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on our own music,” Curry said, contrasting them with better-funded operations focused on profits and money. “Both of us are working really hard on our own music constantly, and trying to do what we can for our friends and people who ask us for help.” I recently sat down for a conversation with Black and Curry at The Paulie, a Philly-style sandwich pop-up serving weekday lunches out of Comfort on Broad Street. It was fitting fare, given that Curry hails from the Philadelphia area and lived in that city before moving to Richmond to study music at VCU. Curry’s full-length album, Advice on Love, was Crystal Pistol’s first release. It was a risky opening salvo, given the decision to spend most of their budget on vinyl over marketing. “We could have released it on Bandcamp and Spotify and dumped all that money into a PR campaign,” Curry said. “Maybe we would be somewhere else entirely, but that’s not how we did it. We were really serious RVA MAGAZINE 31 | WINTER RVA MAGAZINE 24 | SPRING2017 2016

about it. We were pooling money, we were working extra one-off jobs together just to make this thing happen, because we wanted to make a big splash and [say] ‘Here we are. We’re Crystal Pistol Records.’” Ten months of planning ended with an October 2015 release. Curry remembered the thrill when the physical records arrived. “This huge freight truck pulls up outside of my house on Pine Street and unloads this enormous pallet of boxes onto my sidewalk. It was wild. I was really excited. And we sold a lot of them right away, mostly in Richmond… I remember I sent one to France one time. I had no idea why, or how they heard about it.” The release was foundational in more than one way, as brainstorming for the album’s cover art led to the label’s instantly recognizable logo. While Black is typically more involved with layouts for Crystal Pistol releases, leveraging his time studying art at UVa, it was Curry who first outlined the insignia. “[Black] had this idea of me in a leather jacket somewhere, and he [said] ‘Maybe you’ve got an emblem with a crystal on it, or something like that.’ I went home and drew it, and that was the first and only idea. We scanned it, and it’s been interesting. We’ve made hats and shirts, and I see them [on] our friends who have supported us… It’s fun that we matter to people enough that they want to be wearing that around.” The logo recently made an appearance onstage at the Carpenter Theatre, thanks to Clair Morgan bassist Shannon Cleary’s hat and the Richmond Symphony’s “RVA Live!” pops concert. It also graced the torso of singer-songwriter and comic book artist Jeffrey Lewis at a show he and Black shared in New York City. “I gave him a shirt,” Black recalled, “and [he said] ‘This is awesome!’ And he’s an illustrator. He took off his shirt immediately and put it on and played a set with the shirt on. That was really cool. I ran into him six months later, and he [said] ‘Dude, thanks so much for that shirt! I love that shirt!’” That kind of enthusiasm is music to the Crystal Pistol founders’ ears, given their drive to build awareness around what they have to offer. “We’re not pulling in a ton of money right now,” Black confessed, “but we are building what I think is a really good brand. Our goal is not to sell out or anything, but I feel like a lot of our value is in the logo. And the attitude, and the people we put out, and the word of mouth.” Word spread so quickly that Black had to delay his own release, an ironic twist considering it was part of the motivation to start the label. That release, the excellent autumnal Azalea Days LP, came out last February as the eleventh album from Crystal Pistols. Black’s willingness to set aside his own music shows just how deeply he and Curry have committed to the approach that led to the label.


“If somebody’s a really fucking good songwriter,” Black asserted, “they don’t need to know how to do Photoshop layouts. It should be enough, I think, to write badass songs. You shouldn’t have to know how to do 30 different things to release something. That’s why big labels have art directors “Each band is treated differently with what they and professional photographers and really nice want, what they’re after,” Black affirmed. “Some printing houses. So we’re trying to fill that gap bands want to play local shows and have a tape for people.” and a CD. [Some] just want help with the layout and ordering. And they want it to look cool, and By working within each band’s means, the Crystal they want us to post about it on our social media. Pistol model folds budgeting into the creative process, allowing artists to truly be themselves. Some bands want to tour.” When asked about advice for artists just starting Black pointed to The Nude Party as representative out, one of Black’s recommendations was of the latter. “It’s cool to be able to prop bands up “following who you are, even if that is embarrassing [who] then go to another label. A band that we or something.” The label’s reactivity means each put out very early on was The Nude Party. They release takes shape as naturally as possible, like were originally from Boone [North Carolina]. We liquid taking the form of whatever it’s poured into. put out their first tape. And now they’re about Black called it the “local, micro-label level.” to sign to a really big Nashville label, and they’re full-time professional touring artists now, living in “We can’t offer bands a budget, and, to be honest, a lot of bands aren’t ready,” he said. “If you sign to Upstate New York.” a big label, they’re giving you a $10,000 advance The flexibility extends to the recording process or something, right? That’s not free money. You’re too. Black has an 8-track tape recording setup not going to get paid until they make that money in his basement, providing an economical option back. A lot of bands that we work with — they don’t for bands who want to make a long player on a want to be in debt to a label. You kind of come to this new model: Let’s just try to both be square short budget. when it comes out. Nobody’s owed any money.” “A lot of bands [say], ‘We have $500, maybe, and we want to make a full length record.’ ‘OK fine, What’s remarkable is that the label has stayed can you guys play it live? Cool, we’ll do it live, full out of debt while continuing to grow. The coming bleed in all the microphones, [and] we’ll do it in year promises to be a busy one, starting with Saw Black’s sophomore full-length due out in February; my basement.’” followed with an album by Harrisonburg’s Dogwood That’s the approach Death Birds Surf Club took Tales, with whom Black plans to hit the road. And when they tracked Transmission of Stoke, released they’re projecting a big year for Wester Green, digitally and on cassette at the start of 2017. It’s whose dreamily layered debut Black Creek LP, also how Dharma Bombs laid down their Bird Dog released on cassette in November, helped close Basement Tapes EP, to which Black lent his hand out Crystal Pistol’s productive 2017. as producer. The EP sold more than 500 copies, and for the full-length that followed, Old Time “All of our artists are coming up, they’re starting to Romance, the group tracked at Montrose Recording have budgets, starting to have higher profiles. I’ve started touring a lot, [and] I’ve built a lot of outStudio, keeping Black on as producer. of-town connections that way,” Black said. “We’re “They’re a great example of [how] we’re not a trying to be homegrown and grow at a steady genre label,” Black pointed out. “We just like people and realistic pace, and ideally one day be able to that — first and foremost — we’re friends with and operate more and more as a full-time business.” want to hang out with, but also that write good songs. Dharma Bombs have been really killing it One area they've targeted for expansion is their in their own way. They played FloydFest last year, media offerings. They've gained part of their they’re playing FloydFest this year. They’re doing following from their music videos, which grew like the label, from a small experiment into mature, really well in this niche, in their own world.” highly anticipated works. Valuing a group’s unique strengths is at the core of the Crystal Pistol model. DIY artists have more Still, even when looking at goals for the future, tools at their disposal than ever, and while that’s they recognize that adaptability is key. “We can’t clearly a net positive, the ability to do everything operate like a big label -- but at the same time, big labels are wishing they didn’t have to operate the alone tempts musicians to become generalists. way that they are,” Black said. “We’re still trying “Somebody made this post [that said] it’s possible to figure a lot of things out, but I think the further to misconstrue what DIY means,” Curry recounted. we get into it, the more we realize that’s kind of “The ‘Yourself’ part — it should really be thought what everybody’s doing.” of as ‘Do It Yourselves.’ You have to have a network @CRYSTALPISTOLRECORDS of people.” In practice, it starts with big-picture questions. “What is this, really? Where does it belong? Is this a demo, or is a bedroom lo-fi pop classic? Is this the masterpiece? Can these things be rereleased?” said Curry, giving some examples.

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Between an epidemic of shooting deaths and fears of a Charlottesville-like riot, 2017 was a tough year for the city, and posed a unique challenge for Police Chief Alfred Durham. As of Dec 1, 57 Richmonders have lost their lives to gun violence, and the city spent $570,000 to respond to the tiny rally organized by a ragtag group of promonument activists from Georgia and Florida. Other challenges included controversy around both a parking policy aimed at curbing crime in city housing projects, and a statement linking marijuana to the homicide rate. Our political director, Landon Shroder, and I sat down with Durham to hear his take, in a candid, far-ranging discussion in his office at police headquarters. In person, Durham was as blunt and straightforward as he is at the podium. “I’m just a straight shooter. I’ve always been,” he said, describing it as part of the job. “You have to be direct, and you have to tell the truth. My integrity is all I have. If people don’t have trust in the chief, the department is going to fail.” Durham seeks to build Integrity and trust through a dual approach of increasing community policing initiatives, and systemic reform targeting

When he asked people why they wouldn’t give him, a new chief, a chance to address the complaints, it came down to the difficult filing “I was adamant about [addressing misconduct] process that required the complainant to drive coming in,” Durham said. He describes the to a precinct and sit around waiting to give a shooting of Michael Brown as a catalyst for statement. He enacted a new policy immediately. necessary reforms. “August 9th changed the “If you feel that you’ve been mistreated by a police way policing is done in the United States. That officer or did not receive the service you deserved, was the incident that woke the sleeping dragon.” you call a supervisor to the scene right there.” misconduct. The later was a top concern before he agreed to take the position back in 2015.

His approach started with a focus on transparency and outlining a clear vision for the department. “I made it clear, we’re going to treat people with fairness and respect. We work for them, they don’t work for us,” he said. One of the first policy changes he implemented was a requirement that employees report any policy violations they are aware of before clocking out.

He credits the new policy with a reduction in citizen complaints, from 99 incidents under investigation in 2014, to only 37 as of Nov. 15 in 2017.

It was data that first suggested the issue. When Durham reviewed the 2014 numbers from internal affairs, he said he “saw a disparity in the number of citizen complaints versus the internal Requiring everyone from dispatchers to officers to [reports]. Internal [reports are] our recognizing file reports helped, but he had to convince citizens that there has been some type of violation or to complain, too. “When I go to meetings, I ask misconduct.” When internal reports are low and folks, you say this happened, why didn’t you file citizen complaints are high, it can be an indicator a complaint?” The response he kept getting was that misconduct isn’t being addressed, he said. cynical. “[They say] well, you’re not going to do anything anyway.” “Today, our numbers have flipped,” he said, pointing to metrics that suggest the policy changes worked. “Almost 75-80% of the time, the


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"Marijuana is what's driving our violent crimes--not heroin."


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situation was resolved [on the scene],” he said, Now they pick kids up and bring them in on referring back to the policy of calling a supervisor Saturday morning to prevent conflicts with school at the scene when a citizen has a complaint. schedules. They follow-up at home and postgraduation. “I’ve hired a caseworker, and now In a city with 200,000 or more calls for service we have all these service providers. We sit down per year, 37 seems like a low number, but Durham with the parents. What do you need? And after said there was still work to do. “We don't always they leave [the program] we keep tracking. We get it right because even when we stop somebody bring them in, we make them interns.” in a contact or even on a traffic stop we have to tell them why we stopped them,“ he said, giving They use social media to reach youth, something an example of a type of minor conduct violation they were praised for by the International that generates complaints. Association of Chiefs of Police back in 2012. For Durham, it’s all part of community policing. The big decrease may also be part of his pivot Officers use social media apps like Nextdoor to to cover the changing role of the police. “We’ve talk directly to residents, and broadcast notices trained almost 85% of our officers to be what over Facebook and Twitter. They used the latter we call crisis intervention teams. We’re teaching app as a primary point of contact during the neode-escalation,” he said, referring to the increasing Confederate rally last September. role police play in responding to people with mental health issues, juveniles in school systems, Neighbors initially praised the response, but recoiled a little from sticker shock when the and even just someone having a bad day. roughly $570,000 price tag was revealed. Durham For some crime, he thinks an arrest may cause stands by the cost as necessary. more problems, he said. “For a minor offense, you have somebody who has a job, not making a lot “It was worth every dime spent,” he said, of money, and then they can’t go to work, they’re identifying the event as uniquely challenging going to be fired. It impacts society, because if to plan for. they’re not working, people still have to survive. They’re going to do whatever they have to do to The problem was the unknown. “Right after survive.” Charlottesville, we knew that the next event was going to be here,” he said, but police had no idea He’s already tackled the arrest problem with who or how many. “Nobody applied for a permit. students, motivated by a Center for Public We were in conversations with these folks, trying integrity report released shortly after he took to [figure out the scope].” this job, in April 2015. The report documented the school to prison pipeline, when students end up The conversation leads him back to his time in in chronic imprisonment after minor infractions D.C., where he worked for most of his career, in classrooms. including 8 years as an assistant chief for the Metropolitan Police Department. “Every day there “When I got that report I called my school staff was a protest, [from] one person standing in front and I said, how many kids have we locked up of the White House with a sign to hundreds of since Sept. 2014 to the day of that report? It was thousands,” he said. over 150-something kids,” he said. They weren’t violent offenders, either. “We were locking kids up He supplemented his experience with research for not sitting down in class, using profanity, and of similar recent rallies. One thing stood out to being disruptive. We were doing administrative him right away. “In all those other jurisdictions duties for the school. That’s not our job, but we -- Charlottesville, Boston, and Berkeley -- they were put right in the middle.” were in public parks. We were talking about a residential neighborhood. Monument Avenue. He acted quickly, and came up with 14 categories Million dollar homes,” he said, highlighting the of minor crimes that students can’t be arrested unique venue in Richmond. for. He says he might not be where he is today if police arrested students for the categories he’s One of the key lessons he took from videos was identified. “I wasn’t sitting down in class. I was a that banning armor, helmets, melee weapons, knucklehead, but I didn’t get arrested.” and pepper spray could reduce injuries. It was a move that led to some criticism from activists, They try to help teenagers who routinely get especially at the pre-rally public safety meeting, referred to them with a 9-week program. “We where neighbors and residents asked how they teach everything from social skills, the use of could defend themselves. “My response was, social media, conflict resolution,” he said, listing it’s our job to defend you,” he said, recalling the components of the latest iteration of the program. debate. It wasn’t always successful; they found that for many, the schedule conflicted with school and Part of defending the citizens meant dealing family needs, and transportation was an issue. with a lack of equipment and training in a city that doesn’t have the level of protests D.C. has. $84,280.85 went toward 75 body cameras. Nearly $25,000 went to in-ear communicators, 60 60

necessary for keeping officers in contact over the half-mile zone that most of the activities would happen in. Roughly $250,000 went to officer overtime for the 678-person police force, which has shrunk due to budget cuts. They needed training for protest situations, and, in the second consecutive year of a high homicide rate, officers available during the protest to handle regular crime. “I think it’s unfair to criticize police departments if this is the first time that they’ve experienced this,” he said, noting that these protests aren’t common in smaller jurisdictions. “It’s on the job training.” While Charlottesville is still handling the aftermath of an event that claimed three lives and is the subject of multiple lawsuits, Richmond had a fairly calm event that dispersed peacefully, with no injuries and only a few arrests, primarily for wearing masks in public. “You plan for the worst, and the best happened,” Durham said. The rally captivated headlines, but pales in comparison to the 57 murders committed with firearms this year. It’s a slight dip from the 61 murders last year, the highest in a decade, and seems to be following a national trend. Durham still identified marijuana as the major cause. “Marijuana is the nexus,” he said, offering dozens of evidence photos showing scoped AR-15s, tactical shotguns, body armor, and in nearly every photo, bags and bags of weed. “That’s what’s driving our violent crimes, not heroin.” Like his assessments on protests and community policing, he goes to the data. It’s less Reefer Madness, more The Wire, focused on the economics and policies behind crime. That data shows that police seized over 180,000 grams of marijuana in 2016, a four-fold increase over 2015, and twenty-times the amount of heroin, cocaine, meth, and hallucinogens combined. “A lot of folks are being shot and murdered, because either one, they are going to purchase marijuana and they’re being shot and killed, or [two] they are are looking to rip off drug dealers. So it’s a lose-lose situation for those folks,” he said. Suspect statements and text message records from cell phones recovered at crime scenes support his claim. He wouldn’t offer an opinion on legalization. “That’s above my pay grade,” he said, before he shifted to decriminalization. “I think we have to look at the possession piece, because a lot of our young folks, that’s what we’re locking them up for. That has a disproportionate impact on people.” He touched back on his concerns around criminal records. “We have young African-Americans smoking marijuana, then they get arrested for it. In DC, they decriminalized it. That will reduce the number of folks that we’re giving criminal records.” RVA MAGAZINE 31 | WINTER RVA MAGAZINE 24 | SPRING2017 2016

The impact of drug-related violence has hit some communities harder than others. The six public housing properties administered by the Richmond housing authority, known as “courts” (Gilpin, Whitcomb, etc), are where most of the murders are perpetrated. One of the proposals to address the problem, the controversial parking decal policy that would limit parking at the courts by requiring residents to apply for a limited number of decals, has been implemented in other cities. The plan, a collaboration between police and the housing authority, has been suspended by the new chair of that authority. “The drug dealers come and set up shop in the public housing community for two or three days. You have these vehicles that come in and stay there, residents can’t even park, they’ve got to park blocks away from their home, and folks said, we’re tired of this,” Durham said, talking about the process. The other factor behind the plan was support from the tenant councils, bodies of elected residents meant to represent their community. Durham was supportive of his partners in the effort, but acknowledged that the process didn’t bring in enough stakeholders, and expressed sympathy for the critics. “The messaging was not there, and when you just throw this up on people, hell yeah they’re going to be mad.” YEARS OFMAGAZINE RVA MAGAZINE 1012YEARS OF RVA 2005-2015 2005-2017

Durham’s efforts against violence have a personal basis, too; he lost his younger brother to a senseless shooting in 2005. He’s fluent in the language of grief and tragedy, and has expanded departmental work with families of victims, even when the victim was a perpetrator shot by an officer.

round of neighborhood-specific walking beat officers in July. “Crime has gone down because of that.”

The numbers suggest his plan is working, but it’s little solace to Durham when talking about human lives. “Even today, our crime is down 2%, but that means nothing,” he said, noting that the “I do things that are unconventional. Whenever homicide rate would be lower except for a few we have a use of force, I bring the families in, and multiple-victim cases. “Last year we had a 16% I offer my condolences. Even the day of,” he said, increase, now we’re negative 2, but that means talking about what sets the department apart. nothing to those 50 families of those 55 victims, “If we have video [from a] bodyarmor camera, I or those 255 folks that have been shot.” show it to them. Good, bad, or indifferent. I have compassion, I have empathy, and we’re not the Research suggests that national trends and same police department you see everywhere income inequality are prime drivers of crime, making it unlikely that any police chief can prevent else.” murders. Durham realizes this, but he knows he The department organizes dinners, social get- can still make a difference for the families of togethers, and field trips for families of victims; victims. “When [you lose someone], everybody’s all part of the community policing initiatives that there for you at first, for the funeral service, for began back in 2005 under his mentor, then-Chief a couple days after, they call you, [ask] how you of Police Rodney Monroe. Durham served under doing. But after that, you’re not getting those Monroe as Assistant Chief from 2005 to 2007. calls. You’re still living it.” Monroe’s policies were credited with reducing a high homicide rate, and Durham’s 5-year plan, He often cited numbers but, by the end of the with a focus on community policing, seems to interview, it’s clear that what really drives Durham is a deep sense of compassion for his neighbors, be working too. and a desire to be there for them on what might “One of the things I’ve committed to is walking be the worst day of their lives. beats,” he said, referring to the neighborhood resource officers program, which placed its first #RICHMONDCITYPOLICE 61 61


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A new cocktail bar is slated to shake its way into Carytown later this year. No, Tom Cruise won’t be dazzling patrons with his flair and tricks, but two well-known, award-winning Richmond bartenders and one restaurateur have joined “Luckily, somebody had already compiled every together to sling drinks at their own joint, The mention of food in the books [online], which Jasper. was great,” she said. “My friend and I decided The Broken Tulip Social Eatery opened its doors to make historically accurate lemon cakes… It Shagbark’s Mattias Hägglund, The Roosevelt’s for dinner Nov. 17. Sariann Lehrer and Chef David took off and went crazy.” Thomas Leggett, and Kevin Liu, owner of the Crabtree-Logan, the husband and wife team Tin-Pan and Carytown Cupcakes, are behind the behind the restaurant, have been dreaming of Her blog was published into a 50-page cookbook, new late-night bar, slated to go in the old Carey a place of their own since meeting at a country A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Game of Burke Carpets location. “We’re very aware that Thrones Companion Cookbook, in 2012, and Carytown appeals to a very wide demographic pub in England years ago. from there she went on to pursue her culinary of people,” said Hägglund. “So we’re working It wasn’t until after multiple restaurant gigs, a career in England. hard to try to be a bar that has something to cookbook based on the food in Game Of Thrones, The cozy, intimate space is rustic and inviting. offer everyone.” and a few years of underground supper clubs in Three large communal farm tables, topped with their Portland home that they decided to take mason jars of wildflowers, offer seating for 24 The Jasper’s menu will feature everything from the leap and open their own place. To expand with a small bar in the back. specialty cocktails to canned domestic beers, as on their supper club idea, the couple scouted well as local drafts, and curated wines and spirits. potential spots in the South to open their first “Hopefully what we do here is a synthesis of Hägglund is a whiskey man himself, while Liu endeavor and ultimately, landed on Richmond. attention to detail, the quality of product, and the prefers a good Negroni--a cocktail made with focus on the customer that you get in a fine dining one part gin, one part vermouth rosso, one part “We’d been living in Connecticut for the past year. restaurant, but without all the faff,” Crabtree- Campari, and garnished with orange peel--so And we knew we wanted to open a restaurant Logan said. “We want this place to feel place expect to see at least those two drinks served farther south, to have a longer growing season, you’re at a really good dinner party, with really at the upcoming spot. because what we wanted to do was so tied with interesting people.” the farmers in the region,” said Lehrer. “We Small plates will be also served to fill thirsty really liked the area and it really reminds us of Not wanting to stick to a rigid nightly menu, imbibers, and the full menu will be available Chef Crabtree-Logan will switch it up weekly, until closing time. Menu specifics are still under Portland.” depending on what farmers and other local wraps, but will be revealed closer to the opening The Broken Tulip can’t really be pigeonholed as producers have available. The week I visited, date. one type of restaurant, as it serves a six-course, the menu featured parsnip soup, tile fish, duck ever-changing “tasting” menu. But the owners breast, and pumpkin layer cake with cream The owners will pour some life back into the are sourcing mostly from Virginia farmers and cheese filling. The couple also plan to feature closed storefront with the help of interior fishermen along the East Coast. Right now, menus that pull dishes from places they’ve designers Campfire and Co., architect Johannas The Broken Tulip works with Tricycle Gardens, travelled, like the Middle East, but source Design Group, and construction by WillHouse Polyface Farms, Goats R Us, and Whippoorwill ingredients locally. Construction. “The landlord, owner of Carey Farm, and they’re looking to grow that list. Burke Carpets, was retiring; he told Kevin about “People don’t need to look at a menu and decide the space becoming available and things took off “We are trying to, in our own small way, what they’re going to eat,” he said. “If you give from there,” said Hägglund. change the food system in this state,” said them the best that you can, then they’re going to CrabtreeLogan. “We very strongly believe in love it. People want to eat something delicious, The cocktail bar is named in honor of Jasper buying directly from farmers and supporting and for me, the best meals I’ve eaten in my life… Crouch, a Richmonder who became a bartender you never look at a menu. You’re looked after, it’s and caterer after being freed from slavery. He farmers year-round.” welcoming, and if the food is good, then you’re rose to prominence while mixing drinks at Crabtree-Logan has a pretty extensive culinary going to be happy. So that’s our ethos here.” Richmond's historic Quoit club, where famous resume. A Scotland native, the chef his first gig individuals like Chief Justice John Marshall at Susie’s Wholefood Diner in Edinburgh. He The Broken Tulip runs two seatings for dinner, at played the namesake game (a formalized version worked his way up to Michelin-starred places 6 pm and 8:30 pm Thursday through Saturday. of horseshoes). like The Kitchin and The Plumed Horse, and Dinner is $50 for the six-course menu, and $42 cooked his way through Ireland, Yorkshire and to add wine. Sunday Brunch costs $35. “He’s who you went to see when you wanted other parts of the world, all which influence his guaranteed hospitality and quality drinks,” said cooking style. Hägglund of Crouch. “Since we’re a bar being 3129 W. CARY STREET built by bartenders, we hope to honor and carry THEBROKENTULIP.COM Lehrer, on the other hand, didn’t immediately on with that.” reach for the chef hat when she set out for a 3113 W. CARY ST. career. Raised in Connecticut, she earned her JASPERBARRVA.COM degree in Animal Science from the University of Vermont, but instead, worked stints at a plastic After seven years, Carytown French eatery Amour Wine Bistro closed this summer. Now a new business has sprung up in its place, and between the food, the charm, and the passion of the owners, it’s destined to work its way into Richmond food lovers’ hearts.


surgeon’s office and an investment bank before launching a Game of Thrones food-inspired blog with a friend on a whim.


CRAFT BEER AND VINTAGE GAMES POWER UP THE CIRCUIT ARCADE BAR IN SCOTT’S ADDITION Tucked away on West Leigh Street in Scott’s Addition lies a place where you can travel back to a simpler time, encounter the glow of neon lights, and relive a favorite childhood pastime -- but with beer. Near the end of October, Robert Lupica opened The Circuit Arcade Bar, a 5,700 square-foot venue filled with over 60 throwback arcade games, pinball machines, and other vintage classics like skee-ball and air hockey. A self-serve bar wall with 50 taps flows with craft beer, cider, and wine. With the touch of a few buttons on your phone or kiosk, you can even have food delivered to you. Nostalgia overwhelms the minute you walk into this new, yet retro place decked out with wall art of C-3PO, E.T., Jason, Rocky, and the Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em Robots. It’s a strong hook in a competitive neighborhood bursting with breweries, cideries, distilleries, and restaurants. From coin-operated cabinets like Ms. Pac-Man to the original Nintendo games like Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, Street Fighter, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Mortal Kombat, and Tetris, to even older machines like Dig Dug (thank you Stranger Things for reviving that gem), and Star Trek and Jurassic Park pinball games, The Circuit is an ‘80s video game nerd’s dream. Lupica is a longtime Richmond entrepreneur who’s behind several companies. His latest project was launched after a year and a half of tinkering and looking at similar models. “A friend of mine has a barcade in a different state,” he said. “That’s what gave me the {idea for the} concept, but this is the first of its kind [here] with a self-service beer wall.” The golden age of the arcade sparked in the late ‘70s with the release of Space Invaders, and arcades began popping up in strip malls, restaurants, bars, and movie theaters all over the United States. The trend started to fade in the late ‘80s and early 90s when video game consoles and, you know, the internet began to take over. The addition of beer has brought the trend back to life in the last few years, though, 64

with “barcades” opening in Los Angeles, Detroit, “We already have them, just haven’t implemented Philadelphia, and Brooklyn. them yet, because people do steal cartridges,” he said. “Some of the ones we bought are not cheap Seeing the Richmond market was lacking a because they’re classic, so it’s a whole staffing barcade, Lupica jumped at the chance to bring thing to watch.” one to Scott’s Addition and take the neighborhood Once they work the logistics out, expect original to the next level. Nintendo, Atari, and other popular console games “It’s up and coming, it’s the beer capital right at the venue for you and your friends to talk smack now in Richmond, and [where] I felt my target while you compete in Madden, or try to knock your customer was going to be,” he said. opponent out with a turtle shell or banana peel. After purchasing game tokens for a quarter or two, dropping them into the slot, and hearing that ever-satisfying clink, players from 21 to 50 have been seen at Circuit trying to earn the high score, joystick-in hand as they slay dragons, save the princess, and gobble up fruit while dodging ghosts.

“We’re actually thinking of bringing an eight-player Mario Kart game in here, and do competitions and tournaments,” he said. Circuit’s focus is not on the food, but you can fill up and revive with a small selection of paninis, flatbreads, and other snacks.

“They want to go back and play the ‘80s games--a As for the booze selection, it spans from local lot of the people, like me, to feel young again,” staples like Hardywood and Isley to regional Lupica said. breweries, and even brews from across the country like Anderson Valley, Boulder Beer Company, and Galaga, a Japanese shoot-‘em-up game that came California’s Ace Cider. To quench your thirst before out in 1981, was one of Lupica’s favorites growing a quest, you simply purchase a card for the selfup, along with Street Fighter and Pac-Man, all of serve beer wall, where you pay per ounce. which are playable at Circuit. “You have a beer card and it has to shut off at 32 Despite his target market of older generations ounces,” Lupica said. “They open a tab and get coming back to relive their childhood years, their beer card, and we have two or three people Lupica said he does see the occasional younger at the beer wall who renew their card.” crowd drop in to play the games, even if they can’t imbibe at the booze wall. Circuit has recently added skee-ball and pinball leagues on Monday nights, which award winners “Not a ton, but on a Saturday or Sunday, parents with a trophy, beer card, and a plaque hung on will come in with some kids,” he said. the wall for all to see. A scoreboard display will also track those holding the high scores for each While the vintage games may be a hit, tracking game, since games are powered down each night. down worthy, functioning cabinets is what kept Lupica said he plans to add more games in the near Lupica from opening sooner than he did. future and rotate games in and out depending on popularity and what he can find. “It was a nine-month hunt,” he said. “My friend who lives in another state actually helped me “We’ll be adding another eight to ten games to find the games. And they came from all over the keep it fresh,” he said. “It will be based on how place. A lot of your older classics that work well games perform, probably every month.” are hard to find… We go to auctions, go online, but mainly I rely on my friend to hunt them down.” Circuit Arcade Bar is open Tuesdays-Sundays He’s still trying to get his hands on a Marvel vs Capcom machine and a few classic gun games 3121 W. LEIGH ST. THECIRCUITARCADEBAR.COM for the barcade. ‘90s kids and digital gamers need not despair at the emphasis on arcade games; Lupica has a room in the space that will be dedicated to console video games.








RVA ontap BREWS. Follow us @RVAmag top row: LICKINGHOLE CREEK PINT GLASS, Tiramisu Stout by Steam Bell 2nd row: HARDYWOOD HOLIDAY BREW OFFERINGS, Legend Brewing Company TRIPEl & BROWN ALE BOTTLES 3rd row: GARDEN GROVE BREWING & URBAN WINERY, Fine Creek Brewing Company 4th row: TRIPLE CROSSING OFFERINGS, Goodwater Brewpub tag us @RVAmag WITH BEER NEWS

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Chesterfield’s STEAM BELL is expanding into the Fan, albeit under a different name: CANON & DRAW BREWING COMPANY. Although the brewery was originally scheduled to open in late summer or early fall of 2017, construction did not begin until mid-October. Canon & Draw is now scheduled to open down the street from Foo Dog and Heritage in January of 2018, and will launch with ten different beers, as well as a variety of craft sodas also produced by Steam Bell. Steam Bell’s Trussings Craft Fizz craft soda brand, which produces intriguingly flavored fizzes like Berry Basil and Apple Sage, recently received a Made in Virginia award from Virginia Living magazine. The brewery has plans to begin canning the sodas in early 2018, and distributing them to local grocery stores and other retail locations. On the Steam Bell beer side of things, the brewery has some exciting releases planned for the early part of next year as well. Tiramisu Stout, one of the brewery’s flagships, recently saw a bottle release. The coffee- and vanilla bean-aged imperial milk stout proved quite popular, selling out on release day. While the brewery already bottled two variants in November, one with coconut, and one aged in rum barrels, there are still plans to keep releasing variants in the early part of 2018, although details on those variants haven’t been hashed out quite yet. Also, be sure to keep an eye out for Elliebell, Steam Bell’s collaboration with Ellwood Thompson’s. Elliebell is a lightbodied saison made with local red beets, which lend an earthy sweetness to the beer; and local turmeric, which adds a zesty bite. @CANONANDDRAW

GARDEN GROVE ADDS WINE TO THEIR ALREADY IMPRESSIVE BREW OFFERINGS Richmond’s first winery opened on Oct. 21, when the rebranded GARDEN GROVE BREWING & URBAN WINERY launched in the Carytown neighborhood. Joining their diverse beer selection are a wide range of wines, from the traditional chardonnay and petit verdot to sparkling and still honey wines and even pyments, a grape and honey hybrid. Some of the wines will be available in bottles, but most will be served by glass, an approach shared with their beer offerings.


If the move seems unusual, it’s worth noting that co-owner Mike Brandt is a studied viticulturist and winemaker, who previously worked at Naked Mountain and Linden Vineyards before starting Garden Grove with Ryan Mitchell three years ago. The grapes are grown on a half acre leased from Arterra Wines in Fauquier county before they use them for wine -- and the occasional beer, such as Death, a Belgian-Style Quad made with petit verdot grapes. @ GARDENGROVEBREWING

FINE CREEK BREWING COMPANY In the last few years, Richmond has seen breweries crop up and flourish beyond its city limits. Goochland’s farm brewery Lickinghole Creek, fellow Goochlanders Kindred Spirit Brewing, Midnight Brewery in Rockville, and Steam Bell Beer Works in Chesterfield County, just to name a few, have made a name for themselves with unique beers, drawing the craft beer lover out of their comfort zone. One that’s managed to fly under the radar a bit is FINE CREEK BREWING COMPANY, Powhatan’s first brewery. Located off Huguenot Trail, the brewery is operated by the folks that own The Mill at Fine Creek, a Southern wedding venue that opened in 2004. Co-owner/manager Mark Benusa and his family, along with Head Brewer Gabe Slagle, decided to expand with a farmhouse brewery, taproom, and beer garden on a separate fiveacre property back in May. Fine Creek launched with a solid lineup of brews like Tractor Juice, a DIPA fermented with Fine Creek's house saison; a tart farmhouse ale Grisette; a Pale Ale; and Tiger Yum Yum, a Thai Tea Milk Stout which blends flavors of a creamy Thai iced tea with roasted chocolate and vanilla notes. They’ve quickly expanded with their weekly beer releases, regular live music, and a seasonal, locally-sourced menu including the new addition of brunch, gaining support and appealing to local residents as well as city dwellers. The brewery has eight beers constantly rotating, and their most recent draft lift included the Sweet Potato Old Ale, made with sweet potatoes grown on their property; Fresh Pots! Breakfast Stout, made with Blanchard’s Dark As Dark Cold-Brew Coffee; the Turf and Twig Brown Ale; and Game Winner, a juicy, hazy IPA made with Citra and Amarillo hops.

including a dark saison, brewed with dates. Their Imperial version of Tiger Yum Yum Thai Tea Milk Stout and Powhatan Mimosa, a Belgian beer with Citra hops and orange juice, made their debuts recently, and be on the lookout for an imperial peated porter and an imperial stout made with molasses, both aged in whiskey barrels, which are slated to drop soon. Plans are also in the works this winter to start bottling some of their sour and wild ales, along with the whiskey barrel stouts and porters. Expect to see a limited amount of each on draft each weekend starting in the late winter and early spring. FACEBOOK.COM/FINECREEKBREWING

OTHER BEER NEWS LICKINGHOLE CREEK CRAFT BREWERY is celebrating Black Friday with the opening of their GOODWATER BREWPUB in Shockoe Bottom. Unlike Lickinghole Creek, which is known for saisons and big beers, Goodwater is serving up more accessible, lower-ABV beers, such as the Maidens Blonde Ale, Scarlet Honey hoppy red, and 9 Mile Goodwater IPA. Across town in Newtowne West, HARDYWOOD is heading into the holiday season with multiple variations on their popular Gingerbread Stout. The first two variations are Christmas Morning, a coffee-conditioned version, and Rye Whiskey Barrel-Aged GBS. On Dec. 9 they’ll release Kentucky Christmas, a Kentucky Whiskey barrel-aged version of Christmas Morning, followed by Double Barrel GBS, a mix of rum barrel- and bourbon barrel-aged Gingerbread Stout, on Dec. 16. This last release is timed to coincide with a public art project where visitors will be invited to paint on four barrels. The winter seasonal at LEGEND BREWING COMPANY is an English-Style Amber, named Ember Ale. They also have a limited variant of their flagship Brown Ale for Jan. 16. In keeping with the name, TRIPLE CROSSING BREWING COMPANY is issuing three releases for the beginning of 2018. The line-up consists of Interstellar Burst Double IPA, Clever Girl IPA, and a new fruited variant of their Waxing Poetic Berliner Weisse. This will be the first appearance of Interstellar Burst since it was awarded second place in Paste Magazine’s taste test of 176 IPAs from 170 different breweries.

And don’t sleep on them this winter because Fine Creek is stocked to go with new brews, as well as more releases in the coming months. The Powhatan brewery has added some darker styles and more IPAs to its diverse lineup 1012YEARS YEARS OF RVA OFMAGAZINE RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2015 2005-2017

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There weren’t any local breweries pouring an IPA-free menu when Väsen opened with its mix of farmhouse ales, sours, and Flemish reds. The Scandinavian-inspired brewery is a novel development in Scott’s Addition’s burgeoning beer scene. I sat down with the founders, cousins Tony Giordano and Joey Darragh, to learn how they got their start, what they do differently, and what they plan for the future. What gave you the idea to start a brewery? TONY GIORDANO This whole thing started eight years ago, on a day with our grandfather, drinking some Oskar Blues from a can. We were like, “Dude, we could totally open a brewery.” It took us this long to get it up and rolling, and learn everything we actually needed to know. You grew up together in Northern Virginia, but then you went out to Boulder to get your feet wet with big beer production, right? TG Yeah, [Boulder Beer is] still a craft brewery, because it’s under a certain number of barrels, but I was out there to cover all the bases, learn the machinery, bottling lines, canning, keg lines.


It’s harder to make a sour, right? What’s the turnaround difference? TG A lot harder. It takes 5 weeks. For an IPA, we do 3 or 2 weeks. JD Our beers are more dependent on yeast and bacteria, which is a lot harder to control. They are living creatures, you have to understand how to keep them happy. What’s your growth goal? Are there plans to to expand out of state? TG At max capacity, we'll be able to produce 16,000 barrels of beer a year, and that doesn't include our sours. So we'll be able to cover the entire state of Virginia and parts of D.C. probably. We don't want to leave the state. Where did your different beer styles come from?

TG At Boulder Beer we made a lot of traditional beers, ales, IPAs, porters, stouts, a lot of cask beer on a large scale. But [that] wasn't the type of beer “Come check out Richmond.” [We looked here we wanted to make. So we travelled to Germany, and] Charlottesville, and we were like, we want Belgium, England, and finally Sweden, looking for to be in Richmond. traditional styles of beer that we could make here.

It’s a great beer scene, but people outside the And your sour program is amazing. industry sometimes think there’s almost too TG I don’t want to call them all sours, they cover TG I was a U.S. Army Ranger from 2003 to 2007. much. Is that a real concern? I got out, got accepted to University of Colorado a wide gamut. Right now we've got a golden sour, for a degree in environmental science. I went out JD No, not coming from Boulder, Denver, and the a flemish red, a Bière de Garde, even a Bière de there and just fell in love with the craft scene; San Francisco Bay. Even though Richmond is kind Miel that we made with Bill from Blackheath. it was booming. I got to meet a whole lot of of unique, a smaller city, and actual density of And the farmhouse beer! Everybody made the people from the industry, and started working breweries per capita is high, the overall numbers jump from IPAs to sours but there's this awesome are still relatively low given that there’s a lot of middle ground, and that's going to be our biggest on a bottling line for like, $9 an hour. tourism here and surrounding counties outside push in bottles. We’re bottle conditioning to start of Richmond. What about you, Joey? What’s releasing in January or February. your background? TG We’re still not even relatively close to other How do you set yourself apart, outside of your JOEY DARRAGH Around the same time he moved metropolitan areas. beers? to Colorado I moved to California to go to grad school at Stanford for mechanical engineering. What brought you to Scott’s Addition? JD It’s important to us to engage with the After I graduated, I got a job at Tesla. broader Richmond community, the outdoors, JD It was in our top three neighborhoods, but it the environment, non-profits. We’ve met athletes, was this building. We had very specific needs, non-profits that are doing things like clean-ups. That’s a dream job. Why’d you leave? like tall ceilings for these tanks. They had to be We’re trying to support them through time and JD Well, I was there for six years. At the time at least 20 feet tall. money, but also in getting them together to build I started they had just started developing the a bigger community. Model S, and that was my main project. Lots of TG Because this building is so large, it had sat on the market for two and a half years. It was What’s the long-term goal? Start-up, build, then testing and tool development. just such a huge space. We were the first ones sell? When I started, the company was about 500 to rent here. We walked in and I just saw this people. When I left, it was over 15,000. It had long, beautiful hallway, with all this natural light. TG No way. We made this to start a family transformed a lot while I was there and my business. We consider John [our lab guy] family, interest is in smaller companies, startups. To What were your biggest challenges? my brother might start working here, and honestly wear a lot of hats and just do a lot of experiments, I think the days of those deals are done anyway. JD Fundraising and legal red tape. We had a For us, we're just going to build out on our own. make mistakes, learn along the way. seed to start with, but when it came time to put our money where out mouth is and start buying VASENBREWING.COM Why did you come to Richmond? equipment, we had to look into loans. It was a slog. TG We decided it would be best to head home; we have all our family here. And Virginia hadn’t TG Beer-wise, it was trying to get people in been represented by a strong sour or farmhouse Richmond, a really IPA-heavy town, to come to our presence yet. Northern Virginia is great, but we place, where we had no IPAs on the menu. We’re trying to change people’s palates. Strangeways wanted somewhere that was a little laid back. had sours, but we do our sours in a different My brother was at VCU at the time. He was like, manner. The response we’ve seen so far has been super positive. What did you two do before this?

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MASS APPEAL FIRE emoji. Follow us @RVAmag top row: Alqemy, Handyma'am 2nd row: Addison Handmade & Vintage 3rd row: Nine Roses Jewelers, Nighthawks Vintage 4th row: Our Wander Life mass appeal RVA -- tag us @RVAmag

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ALQEMY DEBUTS ON BET’S TALES FEMINIST LABEL HANDYMA’AM NINE ROSES IS MAKING IN SYNC WITH RELAUNCH LAUNCHES NEW WORK CLOTHES FINE JEWELRY MODERN FOR WOMEN IN TRADES It was a Tuesday night after 9 PM when Brendon James first heard that his streetwear label had made it on TV. The news came after a hard year of marketing for a relaunch of the label, but it wasn’t a relief. “I was annoyed, excited, confused,” he said, talking about his reaction to the vague message from his sister. “She was at work, and she texts me just, ‘I think I saw one of your shirts on TV!’” He wanted to know more, but the two wouldn’t be able to talk until the next afternoon, at which time they had a conversation that still didn’t answer his questions. “She didn’t remember the name of the show, just that it was on BET, and she kept saying it was a white shirt with my logo. I didn’t make a white shirt,” he said. A little web research provided some encouragement. The timeslot on BET was for Tales, an original series by Irv Gotti that tells new stories based on classic hip-hop tracks. Gotti was one of the many influencers James had tried to reach during his marketing campaign, but he didn’t know if he’d gotten through. He finally got to enjoy the news when he saw a web highlight of the episode, which featured Moonlight star Jharrel Jerome wearing an Alqemy shirt. “The episode was in black and white. The shirt isn’t white, but it just looked like it was,” he said. “It was like Christmas morning.” ALQEMY’s September relaunch was James’s second attempt with the company, one which came after a lot of reflection on an earlier, unsuccessful attempt in 2015. “That didn’t go so well, because I put the cart in front of the horse,” he said. “I had done no real marketing, and I had no quality control in terms of my manufacturers.” His earlier experience made him want to start smaller and closer to home. Haberdash, located in the Fan, prints his shirts and tags. “I love being able to pop in and talk with them whenever I need to,” he said. “At some point, we may outgrow them, so it’s a big learning experience working with Haberdash. When we work on larger production, I’ll know a lot about what things to do and what not to do.” The name Alqemy comes from James’s fascination with the science of bringing things together. As a metaphor, it spoke to the concept behind his clothing. “Now more than ever, we need to band together as one people,” he said. “If I can use whatever platform to promote that, I’ll do that as much as possible.” @ALQEMY_APPAREL

Amid the onslaught of last-minute election ads, HANDYMA'AM founder Bella Weinstein was carefully watching two dates: the 7th and the 21st. The first marked the end of a historic campaign for Virginia women running for political office, the second the end of a successful fundraising period for her feminist clothing line. Weinstein raised $50,000 through crowdfunding, netting $10,000 over her goal, to fund production of a new and improved version of the coverall she designed as part of her burgeoning clothing line. Handyma’am’s focus is on garments for women who work, inspired by the long history of women in trade work and the need for functional, wellfitting clothes for tough jobs.

The creative couple behind NINE ROSES JEWELERS is trying to make fine jewelry a little more approachable. In a well-lit space with hardwood floors and sleek glass cases, Eliza Spell and Nick DeRosa talk jewelry, sketch customer ideas, and sometimes bring their dogs to work. “Some people are so freaked out about going into a stuffy jewelry store,” said Spell, the Creative Director of Nine Roses, describing the vision behind the boutique decor.

The collection is modern--imagine delicately crafted skull-shaped gold rings and dainty precious gems set in curvy, nature-inspired “They’re meant to empower,” she said of her designs--but the materials are traditional and latest garments. “Whether you are a painter or the results high end. Prices start around $100 welder as a living, or if you work in an office but for earrings and run as high as $3,000 for you are interested in doing something on the engagement rings and custom pieces. side, I want you to feel like a superwoman when you put on the coverall. I know I do.” Engagements are a big part of the business. To make a potentially-stressful time more Weinstein personally wears, washes and dries accessible, the wife and husband team work each garment she creates for Handyma’am before with couples on custom pieces, running the they hit the market. She also sends items like coveralls and the “Drapron” out to farmers and gamut from original work to placing heirloom other women who get dirty professionally, or gems into modern, trendy settings. They also offer an online blog for proposal-ready men as a hobby. and women covering style basics and details “I was driven by a combination of loving jumpsuits, on diamonds. working with my hands, and being unable to find quality, durable clothing for women,” she said. They carry a number of designers in store and “I didn’t have experience in fashion, but I had online; the selection is thoughtfully curated. a community of women I knew and wanted to “We won’t do business with people who do support, and I had drive.” things the wrong way,” Spell said. “We prefer Weinstein works with technical designer Shaeffer to work with small businesses.” Hatisma to bring her ideas to life. Features include cinching at the waist, pockets, and slimming silhouettes, all in thick, durable fabrics. The durability made it a challenge to find reliable production in the United States, but this is a problem Weinstein has recently solved.

This will be their third year in business, a milestone Spell credits to connecting with customers and being transparent. “There’s a different level of trust that goes into the relationship you have with a jeweler,” she said.

“This year, we’re making it real,” she said, @NINEROSES referring to a US-only production strategy that includes women-owned textile shops in Portland, Maine and New York City. She often travels north to check-in on the New York production, but loves being based in Richmond, where she lives with her husband, James Lum, co-owner of JM Stock Provisions. Weinstein plan to grow and expand her business, citing a need to support other trades and body types. She also wants to do more philanthropy. She's not looking to open a storefront, though; her focus is on national growth, aided by pop-up shops and online sales, without the distraction of running a physical space. it feels like it was meant to be Sun & Selene all along,” she remarked. WWW.HANDYMAAMGOODS.COM




provide customer service that engenders trust. This is important, she says, because vintage is often a very personal purchase. Items are oneof-a-kind, require special care, and come with their own histories.

Addison Handmade & Vintage co-owner Lauren O’Connor waited four years to take her storefront business to the web, looking to connect with new From monuments to restaurants, Richmonders customers all over the country. crave the new, yet remain mesmerized by the old. The dichotomy between old and new comes into The business may be online, but O’Connor says focus in the fashion community here, including she still works directly with customers. “They still want that personal attention and touch,” how we shop and what we buy. she said, noting that customers frequently call For starters, like much of America, we’re heading her personal cell phone number, which is listed to the mall much less often. For the first time on the website. Other questions come in over in history, American shoppers will spend more social media channels, focusing on fit, feel, and online than in-store during the 2017 holiday true color. season, according to research firm Deloitte. Much of the spending will be at fast fashion The website has broadened their national stores like Forever 21 and Shopbop, driven customer base, but O’Connor notes that it has by social media, a top factor for the clothing also helped them reach local customers, who decisions of more than 35% of millennial women, might not have schedules that allow free time to browse. However, the transition, completed according to research by Mintel. this past summer, had some challenges. “With As trends circulate in and out of style faster vintage, all items are one-of-a-kind,” she said. than ever, old trends become new. Shoppers “While we are taking photos of an item and aren’t just looking for the newest boots, they’re uploading them with descriptions to the web, looking to recreate trends from decades and that item could have sold in the shop and become even centuries ago. Only now, instead of unavailable.” heading to the thrift store to hunt for vintage items, shoppers are searching for them online. She and her team would have to take the item Richmond-based businesses OUR WANDER down from the website and relinquish the effort LIFE, ADDISON HANDMADE & VINTAGE, and they made. For a small business, that takes up NIGHTHAWKS VINTAGE are just a few bringing valuable time and money. O’Connor was also vintage to online shoppers. Their owners use a concerned about maintaining her brick-andvariety of new and changing channels to reach mortar shop’s aesthetic online. customers online, and have learned lessons “A lot of people really like the physical space of along the way. the store, which is a priority to us,” O’Connor Our Wander Life owner Victoria McGovern has said. “It’s how we started. I love curating the always been a collector, especially of clothing, store and I think a lot of the draw is in the store.” trinkets, and household items from the Victorian Era. The floors of her home in Church Hill are She recreates the same nostalgic 60s and 70s lined with estate sale rugs with ripped edges aesthetic of the shop--warm tones, rich fabrics, and elaborate patterns. She serves lavender and high-waisted everything--when creating and rose water in vintage crystal from an aged images for the website and social media. “We silver tray to guests. Her outfits, which include want the website to let people know that we vintage dresses with high necklines and doily have your back if you can’t make it in,” she said. collars, are sometimes mistaken for costumes. Learning to maintain websites and online shops She sells everything from vintage curio music is another challenging and demanding part of boxes to velvet blazers and pleated skirts, but the business. Jessica Lemmer of Nighthawks also works as a photographer, and carries other Vintage has been selling vintage clothing online jobs with Richmond Region Tourism and Lewis since 2010. She’s always been a thrifter, drawn to Ginter Botanical Garden. She moved to Richmond Art Nouveau’s vibrant patterns and rich fabrics after a visit to the well-preserved Victorian Era as well as the nylon, denim, and vinyl textures mansion at Maymont, bringing her personal from the 60s and 70s. She not only sells vintage collection along from South Florida. As she items, but repurposes old fabrics and clothing to settled in, her collection began to grow, and she more modern silhouettes, including crop tops. started her online business to manage it. While she takes in-house appointments, she’s able to “I fall in love with each piece when I immediately bring her vintage finds to more people via her visualize its potential, whether I keep it intact, website and social media. As she’s made this alter it, or repurpose it completely,” she said. transition to selling her collection online, she’s “And I want that experience to translate to the grown to love the relationships she develops new owner.” with customers. For Lemmer, Etsy was an effective way to meet “They’re kindred spirits,” she said. “They’re and connect with new customers. For years, the drawn to these items for different reasons, and platform only allowed vintage and handmade they always want to know more about the clothes items. It provided its own marketing mechanisms and stories behind them.” She works hard to and brought the customers to her. Now, she says, it’s become oversaturated.


“It’s basically like eBay now, which is also how a lot of online vintage sellers made it big,” she said. “It’s a dying platform. It’s hard to get found, and maintain a relationship with customers.” While she still has an Etsy shop, Lemmer has turned to Instagram to share her curated collection. Here, she has more control over her visuals and how she interacts with future customers. Like O’Connor, she works hard to maintain a specific aesthetic. “I do everything, because I want it all to be a very certain way,” she said. “It takes so much time to create item descriptions, take photos of the models, choose and edit the photos to create the feel I want.” While the challenges of online retail will continue to change and adjust, Lemmer’s eyes still light up when she talks about vintage clothing and textiles. “Luxurious materials are my favorite things to find,” she said, citing old curtains with Art Nouveau patterns as an example. “They’re coming back in a really timeless way.” While vintage items may be timeless, the market still has trends and rhythms with the rest of fashion. The minimalist movement featuring stripped down neutral colors and oversized shirts and dresses is going to slowly fade away, Lemmer said. Details like embroidery, buttons, patterns and more will draw customers in the coming year. “High waisted anything isn’t going anywhere any time soon, either,” she added. “People try to tell me crop tops are going out of style, too, and I say, ‘No way.’” O’Connor also agreed that high-waisted items, especially denim, are going to continue to be her best sellers. She carries a large selection in the store and online. Vintage coats are also popular and a good investment, she said. “Delicate things are making their way back into mainstream,” she said. “Romantic pieces, soft textures and dreamy kind of stuff are going to be popular this year.” As O’Connor adds more silky blouses and lacetrim items to her shop, McGovern emphasizes heavy fabrics, including velvet. The texture has enjoyed a comeback this fall. She hadn’t meant to collect a “trendy” item, but she’s glad people are investing in velvet and other rich fabrics. They’re ideal for fall layering and holiday party wear, she said. “Doesn’t make sense to buy things because they’re in style,” McGovern advised. “It will always go out of style, so you should buy what speaks to your soul.” She’s right. We should buy what we love, which always has a tendency to change. As the ebb and flow of trends push vintage to the forefront of fashion, we’ll be glad shop owners like her are doing all the heavy lifting to bring older styles to our fingertips so we can click “Add to Cart” when we discover the perfect crushed velvet blazer just in time for New Years. OURWANDERLIFE.COM ETSY.COM/SHOP/NIGHTHAWKSVINTAGE ADDISONHANDMADEVINTAGE.COM WRITTEN RVA MAGAZINE BY MEGAN 24 | SPRING WILSON 2016




The Virginia 2017 elections showed us what we already knew: Whenever young people show up, progressive values win. Those afraid of progressive values want to keep young people at home, in the dark, and out of touch with our democratic process. 2017 should be a warning sign to those who try and get in the way of the passion and power of young people. And they shouldn’t be surprised when young voters show up in droves next year to make the change we believe in. August 12, 2017, was a tough day. For me personally, my Uncle Jerome Gilchrist passed away. He was a Lieutenant in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department and he had been dealing with cancer. While his passing wasn't unexpected, it was still very painful. I heard about my Uncle Jerome’s passing while witnessing racism and hate at levels I had never seen before. August 12 was the same day Nazis walked the street and white supremacist carried guns with the intentions of intimidation in front of my eyes in Charlottesville. It was the day Heather Heyer was killed, and two first responders also died trying to help the dozens of others that were injured in the chaos. What played out in Virginia was heartbreaking. In many ways it also seemed like similar chaos had become commonplace on Main Street America in 2017. Some numb from all the horrific actions by the Trump Administrations, others beaten down and burnt out from resisting so hard. But it was as if our country was losing grips with what it meant to be American – hope. My remaining hope was that we could salvage the year with a strong turnout in the 2017 Virginia elections in November. It seemed like the only thing that would either correct or send us over the edge. So it made sense, in a higher power kind of way, that Hip Hop Caucus’ voter engagement efforts in Virginia would be led by someone named “No Malice”. Respect My Vote!, our award winning voter education and mobilization program, was poised to engage thousands of young people and encourage them to make their voices heard on November 7th. No Malice, formerly of the acclaimed rap duo The Clipse and Virginia Beach native, led a team of over 20 artists and activists from different communities throughout the Commonwealth to register young people, ensure they knew the issues, and prepare them for Election Day. When the dust settled, our team had led multiple online engagement sessions, participated in multiple radio interviews with some of the hottest DJs in VA, showed up at homecoming parties, and met face to face with hundreds of students on campuses to talk about why their voice and vote matter in our democracy.


Virginia 2017 was an important test for our team, but more importantly, an important test for our country. It was a sweeping success for progressive values that marked a point in time when the momentum began to shift from the 2016 elections. During a seemingly dismal year and exceedingly dark time for progressive values, people showed that their passion for the issues and understanding of the importance of their vote in order to drive change. One group in particular showed up at the ballot box to impact the results: young people. Despite only 34% of young people between the ages of 1829 turning out, young people in Virginia managed to blow the traditionally low turnout numbers for off-year presidential elections out of the water. They made the difference in the election. Heading into next year, it’s as important as ever to energize young people and make sure that they know just how important their voice is in our democracy. While the constant stream of bad news out of Washington D.C. might be exhausting, and social media memes and soundbites of Trump are starting to get old, it’s crucial young people stay engaged and focused on their opportunity to make change at the ballot box. The issues we care about – like healthcare, social and criminal justice, climate change, affordable education, civil and human rights, good paying jobs – are too important and all at stake. There are a lot of bad things that keep me up at night, but one of the good things is the sheer opportunity at igniting all the young people who don’t exercise their right to vote. Imagine if the other 66% of young people voted in Virginia 2017. Now think about igniting that kind of power and come to grips with the fact that more Millennials will be eligible to vote than baby boomers in 2018. Can you imagine why I’m hopeful for 2018? REV YEARWOOD, PRESIDENT & CEO, HIP HOP CAUCUS @REVYEARWOOD