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Beer Fight, shot in Richmond, VA at Slaughterrama 2010 by Nick Ghobashi, April 2010.

RVA #1 / SPRING 2010 / RICHMOND, VA

SLAUGHTERAMA 2010 FAT JOE DRAG BRUNCH ISUPK REEF CLEM RANDY BLYTHE & TONY FORESTA RECORDS WIL LOYAL STUNTKID & LIZZELLIZZEL KEVIN GREENE JESSE SMITH UNCONDITIONAL FAITH FASHION FLASHBACK FEAR NO BEER! RICHMOND IS A PROCESS RVA MAGAZINE ARTICLES ARE AVAILABLE ONLINE AT RVAMAG.COM. SLAUGHTERAMA COVER PHOTO by NICK GHOBASHI RANDY BLYTHE & TONY FORESTA COVER PHOTO by DAVID KENEDY


CHICKEN FIGHT PHOTOS TAKEN AT SL AUGHTER AMA 2010 by NICK GHOBASHI


EAT SHIT


SHREDDIN’


A FEW WORDS WITH FAT JOE WORDS and PHOTO by SHAHAN JAFRI


ISR AELITE SCHOOL OF UNIVERSAL PR ACTICAL KNOWLEDGE WORDS and PHOTO by DAVID KENEDY


REEF “THE CHIEF” CLEM WORDS by S. PRESTON DUNCAN PHOTO by IAN M. GR AHAM


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RANDY: And we are rolling, here. We are at City Dogs in Richmond, Virginia. TONY: Glorious City Dogs! RANDY: Glorious City Dogs. TONY: All right, I’ll kick this one off. RANDY: It’sTONY:

SHUT UP! SHUT

THE F**K UP! What was your first introduction to the Richmond music scene? RANDY: My first introduction to the Richmond music scene—I really owe my familiarity with Richmond musicians, Richmond bands, and the Richmond sound, to a guy named Scott Hudgens, who is now the guitar player in Hex Machine, and he’s also in Tulsa Drone. I moved here under the excuse I was going to go to college, you know, but really it was to go to shows, because I’d come up from the Tidewater area to see shows up here. I had a class my freshman year with Scott Hudgens, and we’d start talking about music, because I was this insane punk rock kid who thought I was the coolest dude ever—I wasn’t. He was like, “Well, my band’s playing,” his first band—well, I don’t know if it was his first band, but his band at the time—Brain Flower, and I went to go see them. If you weren’t on drugs when you went to the show, by the end of the show you felt like you were. They were just really intense. Kepone wrote a song about them. TONY: Oh, wow. RANDY: Called “Brain Flowers”, an instrumental. And Scott later went on to be in, most notably, in Sliang Laos. TONY: Oh, shit. RANDY: Which is one the most intense bands I’ve ever seen anywhere. And he was really, really nice to me, to a dumb, goofy kid with a mohawk who thought he was from England or something. I was a little shit. And he was really cool to me, and turned me on to some local stuff, and to this day he still gives me music if I pester him about it. Great dude. TONY: That’s good, that’s real good. Shit, my first experience was an Action Patrol show. RANDY: What was his name? The guy with glasses? TONY: Nappy? RANDY: Nappy, Nappy, yeah. TONY: I just moved here you know from Florida, and one of my best friends, Matt Mills, fucking dragged me up. “Ah, we gotta go see this band, they’re amazing!” and they were. BACKGROUND [There he is.] TONY: Hey! RANDY: Hi everybody, world-famous Ward, owner of Chop Suey. Come on over, we’re interviewing. WARD: Let’s talk about Randy coming into Chop Suey Books all the time. RANDY: Where’d my picture go?

PHOTO by DAVID KENEDY

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RECORDS by ANDREW NECCI

Alkaline Trio This Addiction

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club Beat The Devil’s Tattoo

(Heart And Skull/Epitaph)

(Abstract Dragon/Vagrant)

Balaclava Shame EP

Cloak/Dagger Lost Art

This Addiction is no Maybe I’ll Catch Fire, but it’d be unrealistic to expect that anyway. And considering how bad they were two years ago, this solid album of gothic-tinged pop-punk qualifies as a comeback. If you gave up on these guys in 2005, it’s time to tune back in.

BRMC have gone from ripping off Jesus And Mary Chain to hazy psych-folk to shoegaze and biker rock. This album throws all of those phases into a blender, and the result, while still a bit patchy, is their most interesting album yet. Blaze up and bliss out.

Four Year Strong Enemy Of The World

Jonsi Go

(Decaydance/Universal)

(XL/Parlophone)

Frightened Rabbit The Winter Of Mixed Drinks

Hardcore song structures and metal guitar riffs mix with pop-punk chorus hooks and melodic vocals to create undeniably catchy bubblegum brilliance. The American Apparel hipsters will enjoy this one just as much as the Hot Topic teens do (if they can stand to let themselves).

On his first solo album, Sigur Ros frontman Jonsi Birgisson explores a warmer, more song-oriented style than that of his notoriously bombastic group. He even forsakes his usual falsetto for a clear tenor. The results should both please fans and win over those who usually find Sigur Ros boring.

(Jade Tree)

(Fat Cat)

Hole Nobody’s Daughter (Universal)

Andrew W.K.

Broken Social Scene

Fucked Up Couple Tracks

Ke$ha Animal

W.K. goes epic. Two CDs, bombastic intros, ambient interludes, huge production-it’s all here. Where his previous records (other than the solo piano one) were just about partying, this one is about ambition. And also partying, of course. Don’t go to bed, stay up and rock out with Andrew W.K.!

I’m not sure what I’m missing, but I’ve never been as excited about this band as most people. Sure, their new album is a pleasant enough example of epic-tinged melodic indie, but I still can’t get into it. The hype train will have to roll without me this time.

(Forcefield)

Balaclava’s original route to brutality was slow, doom-like tempos, but they’ve learned to vary them with much faster thrash riffs, which makes the breakdowns hit that much harder. This EP is excellent downtuned hardcore with resemblances to His Hero Is Gone and early Neurosis. Play it loud!

Close Calls With Brick Walls (Universal)

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Cloak/Dagger have slowed down a bit, and the reduced tempos make their riffs sound more garage rock than hardcore. Jason’s singing rather than yelling and Colin’s guitar leads have more melody than ever. The result is music better suited to doing the twist than to moshing, and I fully approve.

Forgiveness Rock Record (Arts & Crafts)

Ah, Scotland, where people drink too much and wear their hearts on their sleeves. Frightened Rabbit bring the character of their native land to emotionally-driven melodies that start off quiet but build towards powerful catharsis. Essential listening for the nights when your existential crises keep you awake.

(Matador)

This collection of non-LP tracks is far from comprehensive, but presents a thematic unity uncommon to singles comps. The songs are shorter and faster than those on their last album, which will please the hardcore kids, but they’re catchy enough to keep the indie kids happy as well. Everyone wins!

Courtney Love and a bunch of people you’ve never heard of spent five years making this, so of course I thought it would suck. Imagine my surprise. Dark, passionate, and full of memorable choruses, Nobody’s Daughter is the best thing Courtney’s done since Live Through This. Give it a shot.

(RCA)

Drunk party girl babbles through Autotune about how much fun it is to be a drunk party girl and barf in Paris Hilton’s closet. Hilarious as a concept, grating as actual music, especially with the jackhammer electro beats that back it up. The ladies will dance to it, though. Trust.


RECORDS

Serena Maneesh S-M 2: Abyss In B Minor

(Perpetual Motion Machine)

Los Campesinos Romance Is Boring (Wichita)

(4AD)

Japandroids No Singles (Polyvinyl)

Ted Leo And The Pharmacists The Brutalist Bricks

Motion City Soundtrack My Dinosaur Life

Spoon Transference

Vampire Weekend Contra

Kowloon Walled City Gambling On The Richter Scale A cross between the epic, apocalyptic doom of Neurosis and the dirt-encrusted gutter screams of Cavity, Kowloon Walled City’s debut LP uses crawling tempos and thick, distorted riffs to bludgeon you mercilessly. The lo-fi recording quality only adds to this album’s intense, foreboding atmosphere.

(Matador)

Leo’s solo stuff started out somewhat like the Clash, but he’s mellowed since then, and these days I hear all sorts of different influences, from postpunk to Jersey heartland rock and traditional folk music. What’s most important, though, is that the songs are still great. And they are, never fear.

MGMT Congratulations (Columbia)

This excellent album of trippy psychedelic pop calls forth the same sort of bizarre, color-saturated visions as the one that appears on its cover. Musical reference points include Sgt. Pepper era Beatles, XTC, and Elephant 6 bands like Of Montreal and Apples In Stereo. Dive in.

Generating a ramshackle wall of sound reminiscent of British postpunkers like The Raincoats or Huggy Bear, Los Campesinos improve on their already excellent previous work. Lyrics give voice to the innermost thoughts of shy, artsy nerds (like, uh, me), all of whom should rush right out and pick this up.

(Columbia)

Over their first three albums, these guys established a formula: bouncy, happy poppunk music with depressing emo lyrics. The lyrical mood seems finally to have affected the music, as this album is darker and more intense than its predecessors. Don’t worry, though--the catchy melodies haven’t gone anywhere.

Joanna Newsom Have One On Me (Drag City)

Newsom’s strange voice is an acquired taste, but on her new triple(!) LP, she’s making her least-difficult music yet. She often trades her trademark harp for piano and backing band, resulting in tunes reminiscent of Astral Weeks-era Van Morrison. Lots to take in here, but it’s all awesome.

Serena Maneesh are part of the current shoegaze revival, and their second album moves through many different versions of the shoegaze sound. Slowdive-ish ambience, hypnotic techno-drone a la Primal Scream, Lush-like female-vocal pop, JAMC-style buzzsaw guitar--it’s all here. Blast off into an effects-pedal wonderland.

(Merge)

While their basic songwriting style stays the same, Spoon seem to go through a sonic reinvention on every new album they release. Transference dabbles in lo-fi samples and tape degradation as well as the spare instrumentation that marked their classic Kill The Moonlight. The result is haunting, but infectious. Recommended.

Strike Anywhere Iron Front (Bridge Nine)

These guys are still extremely sincere, but musically speaking, they’re on the decline. This album improves as it goes on, but there are some less-than-catchy tracks grouped right at the beginning that make it hard to get into. I’d like it better if it were shorter.

This is a reissue of the two EPs they released before their first album. They’re pretty decent, but none of the songs are as memorable as the best tracks from the LP. The Mclusky cover strengthens their cred, but doesn’t add anything to the original. For completists only.

(XL)

I never liked Paul Simon’s Graceland, so I can’t embrace the music of these wellto-do Cape Codders. Their indie Afropop is bland, not terrible, but sometimes inoffensiveness is the most offensive thing of all. “Cousins” is a catchy exception, indicating that they’d be better if only they had more energy.

Titus Andronicus The Monitor (XL)

Noisy, impassioned rock n’ roll with tons of New Jersey pride, Titus Andronicus come across like a Leatherface/Bruce Springsteen hybrid. Buzzing organ and guitars, hoarse shouting, and plenty of wry wit combine to create barroom singalongs for 21st century punks with no future. Crank it up and shout along. 25


STRENGTH

GATHERED FROM THE

DARKNESS An Interview with Wil Loyal

by Shannon Cleary photo by Adrienne Brown


WIL LOYAL their own sentiments and thoughts concerning the release. It put into effect a new precedent for what one’s musical imagination could come up with.

ingenuity by showing that despite obvious production differences, all it takes is flawless songwriting to fully encapsulate an emotion.

When I had a chance to sit down with the release, I was awestruck by its beautiful musings of heartache and it’s ruminations of what it means to simply exist. I have since bought numerous copies from Plan 9 and given them to many of my closest friends and acquaintances. In many ways, upon meeting a stranger, if we don’t relate based on a mutual adoration of this band and this release, it’s a good indication that we might be destined for failure in friendship.

Around this time would mark the departure of bassist McLennan from the group. An increasing focus on his painting career had begun to take up much of his time. With an incredible bevy of work and an astute professional ethic, he had to make a tough decision, and left the band. Homemade Knives found itself in search of a new bass player, and that is how Nathan Joyce came into the fold.

SHANNON CLEARY: How did the experience of creating Industrial Parks differ from that of No One Doubts the Darkness? In the case of No One Doubts The Darkness, was there a more meticulous process involved? WIL LOYAL: The biggest difference is that with Industrial Parks we were writing songs, but with No One Doubts the Darkness we were writing a record. We spent months and months writing the music for No One Doubts the Darkness. We wrote and recorded every piece of every track except for the vocals. “Hold On” I wrote on piano, but everything else was written the same way. Shane would record one bar of guitar into a Loop Station. It would play over and over for hours while Shane, Ryan and Chris worked out secondary melodies. I just listened. When a player is working out melodies, sometimes they can’t see the woods for the trees. I would let them know when to pursue a good idea and when to move on from a bad one. I’d sing melodies into a guitar tuner and jot down the notation for them to become piano or cello or bass lines. The initial guitar loop plays from beginning to end each song, but the additional instrumentation stacks in a way that the harmonies and internal rhythms change the shape of it into peaks and valleys that become choruses and bridges. With all ten songs completely structured and recorded on our 8-track, I put them in order and wrote the vocals from start to finish. The record is one story. It’s conceptual, but also chronological. I am much more comfortable writing this way. Most people need ten good ideas for ten good songs. I’m never gonna have ten good ideas. This way I only need one good idea for a whole record. After its release, Jenkins and Loyal were drained. They were taking a break from writing yet they still desired have new music to toy around with. That’s when they began to embrace the idea of taking a cover and toying around with how to manipulate it into sounding more like Homemade Knives than the original artist. One particularly successful experiment in this was their take on Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark”. The brooding instrumentation, lifted by the optimism of a young heart wanting nothing more than to fall in love, would act as the setting. Loyal has always expressed adoration for the Boss’ storytelling. The reinterpretation of this song came from the idea of taking something off of the seminal record Born in the USA and making it feel like it could exist in the world of Nebraska. In doing so, they constructed a testament to Springsteen as much as to their own musical 28

SHANNON CLEARY: After Ryan left the group, how did Nathan Joyce become a part of Homemade Knives? WIL LOYAL: After No One Doubts the Darkness Ryan was becoming a much more dedicated painter. His work is incredible, and so is his work ethic. He no longer had the time to play bass in Homemade Knives. I only knew Nathan Joyce as an acquaintance, but I knew that he played bass, and that he was a fan of our music. After speaking with him I knew he would be a great fit, and we set up a practice for him to start playing bass for us. When he didn’t show up for the practice I was a little confused. I called him. His sister returned my call and let me know he was in the hospital. He had “some kind of spell”. It was later diagnosed as Cavernous Angioma. His spinal fluid wasn’t draining correctly. This caused pressure in his brain, messed up his vision, and did some damage to the mobility of his arms and legs. Somehow, after a month or so, he was ready to play bass. He had a very short time to learn the songs and we left for a two-week tour. His first show with us was in New York and his last show was in Maine. He never got the chance to play with us in Richmond. We never even finished the tour. This was the moment at which the band stopped playing. It happened unexpectedly, and the rumor mills started spinning. It’s an understatement to say that the number of stories explaining why Homemade Knives dissolved range from realistic to modest to absurd. In every rumor though, there is some semblance of truth. The truth always unveils itself by the voices of those who were there to watch it all go down. SHANNON CLEARY: What prompted the end of the group? WIL LOYAL: We were in Boston to play with our goods friends from Brown Bird, but we didn’t play that night. Eighteen hours later I was in the waiting room of a hospital in some small, snowy, Massachusetts town. Shane had been fighting depression and anxiety for years and it had finally gotten the best of him. I couldn’t help but feel twelve-years-old and to think about my father’s decisions and my mother’s regrets. Chris and Nathan took the van back to Richmond. I stayed in a motel near the hospital for next few days. I wanted to do everything right, say all the right things. Didn’t have ‘em in me. Chris and Nathan had taken everything home with them, so I bought Shane a Kmart guitar and spent the next couple of years trying to get him to play it. They were the hardest years of my life. As we were trying to get Shane better, Nathan was getting worse. One of them

wanting nothing more than to go on living, the other wanting nothing more than to stop. And neither one of them getting their way. On September 1, 2008 Nathan died from melanoma. He was so strong and so optimistic. He lived every minute of his life. He was such a good man that just being around him made you a better one. I miss him. Eventually Chris moved to Boston for grad school. Shane moved back to Roanoke and started over. All that was left of Homemade Knives was me and Richmond. Although his condition wasn’t improving, Joyce’s departure from this world was still a surprise. A tremendous sadness burrowed its way into all of our hearts. To this day, I still see pins baring his initials on hoodies, guitar straps and baseball caps across the city. Joyce was a great friend of mine and he would be one of the first people I had the opportunity to share a stage with. Each show was a delight, and his growing confidence as a songwriter was not only a treat to witness, but an inspiration. Though with a heavy heart, this city refused to forget about our friend. The best way to celebrate his life and the love that we all shared for him would be represented in a tribute show that was hosted at Gallery 5. On this particular evening, a remarkable roster of Richmond’s musical elite took the stage to cover his songs and share stories about their lost companion. I was fortunate enough to be able to participate in this event. In the company of these individuals, we were all able to express what Joyce meant to us, and offer a proper memorial. The event would also prove to be the first time Loyal and Carroll had shared a stage since the band’s sudden break-up. Jonathan Vassar and Loyal’s wife, Anousheh Khalili, accompanied them as part of a repertoire covering three of Joyce’s songs. This would be the first time that Loyal would play guitar in front of an audience and the first glimpse we all get of the potential future of Homemade Knives. A glimpse of what was in store. SHANNON CLEARY: When did you decide to pick up a guitar? What inspired this decision? WIL LOYAL: I don’t do much of anything I don’t have to. But with Shane no longer in Richmond, at twenty-eight years old, I bought my first guitar and I had to learn to play the damn thing. I’m not excited about learning something new. I’m sad and a little pissed off that I have to. My fingers hurt, it doesn’t sound like it should, I don’t know fuck about nothing. The one good thing about picking up guitar this late in life is that I knew what kind of guitarist I wanted to be long before I started playing. It’s been two years now, and I’ve never even held a guitar pick in my hand. I don’t strum the guitar. Couldn’t if I wanted to. Everything is finger picking, because that’s what Shane would do. I do the very best I can to write things he would approve of. SHANNON CLEARY: Your first performance with a guitar was at the Nathan Joyce Tribute Show. Was there something about the event that made you feel comfortable trying something completely foreign for the first time?


PHOTO by PJ SYKES

WIL LOYAL: No. I was terrified. I did it because I knew it was something Nathan would have loved. I was asked to do one song. But me and Anousheh, Jonathan Vassar and Chris thought it would be nice to all work together on three songs. During the song Jonathan sang, I looked down and my hands weren’t moving anymore. I didn’t even realize I wasn’t playing anything.

sailing downstream with holes in my boat. Sometimes the less you have the more you make of it, and I’m kinda hoping that’s what happens with this.

SHANNON CLEARY: Now that you are playing a role in the group besides vocalist, how has the process of songwriting changed for you and the group in general? WIL LOYAL: It’s hard. Now that I’m playing SHANNON CLEARY: How did the perforguitar, the songs start with me. I structure mance at this show inspire what would them in my head with no vocals or acsoon become the next musical endeavor companiment. I’m running the whole fuckfor you? ing show, and it scares the hell out of me. WIL LOYAL: It didn’t really. The new line up I’m not good enough to write what I want for Homemade Knives is Anousheh Khalili, Jonathan Vassar, Chris Carroll, Ryan McLen- to, or to play a specific style. Whatever nan, and me. It doesn’t make a lot sense for comes out is what I get. I look to everyone else to make the most of it. I record everyany of them to be in the band. Chris is in Boston, Ryan is a very busy artist, Anousheh thing as we go, then I move things around and Jonathan have their own music to tend to find the holes, and fill ‘em. to. They are in the band because I won’t do SHANNON CLEARY: What were your first exit on my own, and they all love me. periences encountering the written word in the context of a song? In the time spent away from Homemade WIL LOYAL: I’ve never been much for readKnives, a lot has changed for Loyal. He has gotten married and bought a home. He has ing, but I hang on every word of song. My favorite writers aren’t Salinger, Bukowski or lost a few of his closest friends and found Burroughs. I like Jeff Mangum from Neutral a few new ones. He has held several different jobs and he hasn’t written a single word Milk Hotel, Jonathan Vassar and Tom Waits, and my brother is the best writer I know. down in four years. With the reformation of this project, his acquirement of a guitar was He is the first person to read anything I write, and if he likes it, a reviewer’s opinwith the purpose of writing a record. While ion ain’t worth the blog it’s written on. But hard at work, he was written the music for ten songs and invited his collaborators in to I couldn’t tell you when listening to lyrics became so important to me. It probably help flesh the songs out. While in the midst of sequencing the compositions, he is now wasn’t until I started writing them myself. And that’s all I write. No journals kept, no prepared to begin putting words to paper short stories. And even with lyrics, no rough drafts. Every line I’ve ever written has been SHANNON CLEARY: What inspired you to recorded. want to start this new project? WIL LOYAL: I never gave up on the old one. This isn’t a new project for me. This is me sim- SHANNON CLEARY: When I did an interview with Vassar about a year or so ago, ply gathering up all the remaining pieces, putting it back together as best I can, and he mentioned this idea about the com-

pression of a short story into the form of a song. As you have mentioned, a lot of the context of your lyrics is based around incredible honesty. There is obviously a level of mutual respect shared between the two of you. What do you two share as far as storytelling is concerned and what obvious differences are there as well? WIL LOYAL: Jonathan Vassar writes great fiction. But he also has the ability to tell you things you already know, in the best way possible. He could rewrite the weather report, sing it to you, and break your heart. I can’t do that. Love, fear, death, and forgiveness are the only things I find interesting enough to write a song about. I’m not a fictional storyteller. I don’t think fiction and metaphor are the same. When I was younger I wrote songs that were straight and personal. Intensely honest. They made a lot people uncomfortable. Not everyone wants to know me. What I do now is try to find an appropriate metaphor and dwell there so long it overwhelms the true story. When I talk, I say exactly what I mean. When I write, I never do.” On May 25th, Homemade Knives will pick up where they left off. Playing alongside Brown Bird, this will be the show that was meant to happen in Boston in March of 2007. Loyal promises that he will be arriving via time machine. It’s been a long time coming and the excitement stretching across the city is insurmountable. It’s appropriate to consider the last lines from No One Doubts the Darkness when discussing the current state of the band. It is true that all is well that ends well, but thankfully this is just not the case. For Wil Loyal, this is a new beginning for Homemade Knives, a band that refuses to give up the ghost. 29


STUNTKID & LIZZELIZZEL MARRIED WITH BENEFITS

30

by Anna Cox


STUNTKID & LIZZELLIZZEL

32


STUNTKID & LIZZELLIZZEL


37


KEVIN GREENE

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OLD & STRONG Trees grow to be old and strong For us to see That is the correct way for us to live And us to be. Who wouldn’t want to live To be old as a tree, Standing tall and strong, Old and bold, Strong enough to withstand the summer heat And winter cold. I would love to be strong as a tree A thousand years old.

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JESSE SMITH: WARPED PERSPECTIVE 40

INTERVIEW by J. REINHOLD PHOTOS courtesy of JESSE SMITH


JESSE SMITH

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CAMEL


THE LAST WORD

RICHMOND HAS BEEN A PROCESS WORDS by LONNIE JONES ILLUSTR ATION by ADAM JURESKO

manifestation of de facto segregation of socioeconomic status in contemporary America. But Richmond arrived at this with more conscious action.

Any city is a conversation in asphalt and mortar. A record of how we citizens negotiate sharing a space and history. Its borders are settlements and surrenders in this dialogue. When we think of a city we tend to imagine it in skylines, not the way we truly navigate through it. How all of us move through this city is not solely the work of city planners, nor is what we see merely people going about their day. This city was a historical process that imprints itself on the manner in which we travel and where we live. Richmond’s history announces itself to anyone who walks its streets. More than anything its conflicted past defines who we all are as citizens. The city’s legacy is a hushed voice or an earsplitting scream, and this all depends upon which block you are standing. At the bus stop between 9th and 10th streets Richmond stands in microcosm. City Hall stands next to the glass and metal of the Virginia State Library. Across Broad you can see the state legislature as the Governor’s mansion peeks from behind a building that may have dropped out of a gothic novel. The sirens blare from ambulances going to MCV. And just on the periphery of all this, not far beyond the new federal courthouse are pawnshops and fish markets. The bus stop stands as the gathering place. After the work day ends it could be the only instance where one sees a true melting pot. Black, white , Latino, mayoral assistant and Walgreen’s late night stocker stand waiting to go somewhere. In the mundane act of stepping onto a bus is our history made concrete. Groups separate into race to go home. This, on the surface, is the 58

Like all states in the south after Brown vs. Board of Education, integration was slow. Separate but equal policies lingered in more subtle ways. The wording of the decision and subsequent federal action made it possible for southern states to accomplish no more than taking down signs. Protests continued to be held as stores such as Thalhimer’s refused to comply. To further integration and assure balance, more court intervention was needed. Where Brown was an indicator of the changing times and celebrated for what it did for civil rights, 1969’s Alexander v Holmes County Board of Education was the swift kick that “made” the states comply immediately. This decision struck down the

passive legal resistance of cities like Richmond. The response was massive resistance. Prince Edward County shut down its entire school system rather than integrate. Special schools were set up in homes, in churches to avoid integration. It could be argued that avoiding desegregation was the genesis of the charter school . These decisions and a few others began rapidly changing the city. In situations where massive resistance was not apparent white flight intensified. This was more than a gentle moving, this was an Exodus from the city. Richmond hemorrhaged white residents like it had a hole in its chest during the 1970s. By 1975 white students made up 21 percent of the student population, down from 45 before the Alexander decision. Judges ordered bussing and other stop-gap measures to enforce integration. The city of Richmond attempted to annex parts of Chesterfield and Henrico County. White citizens moved deeper into them.

The cause and effect of this slow grind towards integration isn’t initially clear. The make-up of an educational system represents the movement of families. A flow of money. In Richmond a substantial portion of the economic base was vacuumed out and nothing filled the void. As blacks patronized white establishments and whites fled the scene, Richmond was left with the commercial husk of Jackson Ward and Broad Street’s dwindling stores. Factor in a steady stream of new residents, and the property cost rose in the counties. Black residents were forced to move to the city where, in certain areas only, rent was lower, and whites moved to the counties where there were fewer blacks. The tax base of the city grew smaller. The population of the city dwindles a little more each year to this day. The same systems of separate but equal that were state sanctioned reasserted themselves through economic evolution. As a recently retired teacher stated, “We were right back were we started from.” Richmond grew in respect to these new lines. We move through its streets not even realizing what the boundaries mean. Until recently if you lived in Richmond without a car you couldn’t go to the movies. Sidewalks end here along racial lines. They are the passive aggressive dismissal of what might migrate on foot from the city. The bus stop between 9th and 10th becomes a magical nexus. This diverse group of waiting do not talk about the weather but stand looking far down the road for completely different signs. Where exactly are the men in suits going? To the condos by the river? Or the houses in the Fan? Surely there is no enclave of men in suits and the people that love them on Brookland Park Boulevard. This is no indictment of suits or how detached we denizens of the South’s capitol are, but we were given this. Our walks on a sunny Saturday were predetermined by a time most of us cannot experientially understand. At 4 p.m. the city shows us its history and our future, as new buildings, art galleries and restaurants populate Broad Street. Richmond is its conflicted road of monuments. Stark and naked in its division and constantly reminding us indeed nothing has changed.


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