R E I S F 5 F O L IVA
T HE CARN
Gallery5’s most highly attended and extravagant event of the year, will be held this Halloween weekend. Featuring fire performers, burlesque, puppeteers, magicians, side-show freaks, vaudeville performers, and internationally- known visual artists, this three night event will rattle the senses and be the event to talk about for the entire year. “Gallery5’s Carnival of 5 Fires, has been one of the most impressive and exciting Richmond events.” —Magic Hat Brewing Company, 2008
image PJ Sykes
image Ian M. Graham
image S. Preston Duncan
WRITINGS Parker, Jon Headlee, Shannon Cleary, S. Preston Duncan, Lauren Vincelli, Landis Wine, Carl Atley, Ian Graham
ILLUSTRATIONS Brandon Peck Burnt Offerings Volume 5 Issue 7 cover courtesy of Archedream
Publisher / R. Anthony Harris Editor in Chief / Parker Branding / Christian Detres
PHOTOGRAPHY PJ Sykes, David Kenedy, Ian Graham
DESIGN Anthony Harris, Brandon Peck
Advertising / John Reinhold Managing Editor / S. Preston Duncan
Ombudsman / Adam Sledd New Media / Ian M. Graham Music Editor / Landis Wine Fashion / Casey Longyear RVA TV / Ben Muri, Jon Headlee Baylen Forcier, Elliot Robinson Trusty Interns / Grant Shuler, Matt Ference, Anna Whittel, Alex Barrett
CONTENTS KRIS KUKSI, AN OPERA FOR THE APOCALYPSE “...my emphasis would have been more towards death imagery and skulls and skeletons.”
ARCHEDREAM FOR HUMANKIND “....awe-inspired, totally mind boggled with beauty and the idea of hope, and the realization that everyone has a hand in the future of our society.”
NO REST FOR THE WEARY THE HAUNTS OF HOLLYWOOD CEMETERY “..witnesses saw a man covered in blood, with jagged teeth and flesh hanging from his body...”
THE GHOULS AND GHOSTS OF HAUNTED RICHMOND “Richmond is haunted. Richmond is disturbed by the injustices of its past , the tragedies that litter its history books, and the many cemeteries filled wi th whispers of anguish and despair.”
THE DEATH OF TIME “Max is a crystal skull. His story is the stuff of bad fiction...”
HOPE RIDES ALONE AN INTERVIEW WITH THE PROTOMEN I cry nightly because my brother, Demon Barber, is no longer of this earth..’
EFFIGY, ENTROPY & EUPHORIA “You might be a burner, and not know it.”
ART AND ADORNMENT THE ONETRIBE WORLDVIEW “...defies the common stereotypes of misfit youth and hardcore posturing.”
PULP TONES: SHAKING HELL “...there’s a certain sort of comedy in this desolation....”
MY LIFE WITH POE “Poe was well known for his gothic works, but there was much more to him.”
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Kris Kuksi Performs An
Opera For The
By Parker You’d be lying to yourself if you claimed that you didn’t have a dark side. Everyone does, to some degree. Some people are really good at keeping their shadow self hidden beneath the surface, and some people have invited the demons over for dinner, discussed how the relationship is going to work, and sent out a press release announcing the marriage. Kris Kuksi’s sculptures elegantly display the darker side of creativity with nightmarish landscapes that transport you to a realm where chaos reigns free. The chaos has a message, though; his work forces you to inspect and embrace the reality of beauty in violence, madness, death, and decay. It’s all around us and part of us all.
How has your work evolved over the What are some of the materials that years? you use in making sculptures? It has always had an underlying tone of dark and strange, but I guess in college is when my work reached a sophisticated level that still evolves to this day. Right now, I am in my neoclassical realm, so to speak. But a few years ago, my emphasis would have been more towards death imagery and skulls and skeletons. So I have really enjoyed looking back on how things have changed and morphed into what it is today.
Mostly a ‘kitbashed’ method of combining many highly detailed model kits with others. However, I build all the frames and shelves on which they are affixed to with various crown moldings and/or ceiling medallions. I also use some very small brass etched parts for extra fine detailing, just like you would find in the fine-scale modeling hobbies. But in the vaguest way possible, I simply call this method ‘mixed media assemblages’.
What is your process for constr ucting your sculptures? How much is What’s your first memory of making planned and how much evolves while artwork? creating the piece?
You also create drawings and paintings that are very different from your three-dimensional work. How do these relate (or not) to your sculpture work?
Kris Kuksi: I still have my earliest drawing that I can remember and it was on the side of a drawer of this little night stand. It doesn’t look like much, just a stick person and a sun and I think it might be me depicted. But my grandmother always had old stationery laying around that I would draw on, but I never really knew that I was good until the first grade and I could outdraw all the other students. But I was always interested in the macabre and the bizarre; I guess those subjects seemed more fun than anything else. I always drew anatomical things in grade school, which always grossed out the other kids.
I get an idea at any random moment, but mostly I would say in that dreamy half-awake moment just before getting out of bed is when I get great ideas. It is sort of like getting a transmission from something, like my mind is a radio. Regardless of that, I work with some sketches, especially if it is going to be a major work. So there is some planning, but most of the time it is a greatly improvised method of creation. In other words, I’m just concerned with what looks good, is the visual balance right, what else needs to be added. And once all the building is done, I paint it all the same color to give it the faux appearance that it is all made of the same material.
I would say they don’t relate at all. I would have to say I am at least two or even three separate artists in one soul. I can appreciate the beauty in an iris or an orchid and relate the fine details and textures in the petals, which have more to do with the simple joy of aesthetic things. Yet I can turn completely around and produce very lively and explosively colorful paintings with translucent anatomically exposed animals or humans with many layers of geometric and linear elements. And of course create wildly fascinating 3D sculptures with all sorts of satire and metaphorical meaning. I do think that my drawings, however, re-
late to the sculptures more than any of the paintings. Perhaps someday I will showcase more drawings along with the sculptures in an exhibit.
You just created your first kinetic piece for the Car nival of 5 Fires show at Gallery5. How did this come about? Well, I was in Norman, Oklahoma, of all places, in a little café, wondering what I could do for the carnival show. I kept thinking about what could be fitting for this show and perhaps something I’ve never done before. And suddenly I thought about these little kinetic merry-go-round sort of things at this local art store. It dawned on me that I could really make a satirical dark humor sort of piece that even moves and has sound! So I quickly drove over and got one that seemed very fitting and about three days later I had produced “AWOL Go-Round”, a piece about the insanity associated with war and conflict. There are eight spinning chairs with a white ghostly soldier seated in each, as well as audio of laughing children and carnival music. In the end it was very fitting for the whole effect.
You deal with the darker side of life in your work. Why do you feel the need to go this route with your creativity? Well, yes, with the sculptures I do. The paintings fit more with the beautiful side of life, but I think for now in my life I am obsessed with getting these ‘darker side of life’ feelings out and sharing them with the world. I just feel fortunate that I have been given the chance to do this sort of thing now in life with my youth and energy not letting up anytime soon. Perhaps later in life I’ll sit around in my nice small castle painting flowers and nude women and forget about the troubles in the world...that sounds like a good retirement!
What other artists, musicians, or people inspire you and why? Drum and bass music really helps to calm my mind, if you can believe it. Something about very fast and insanely progressive but not necessarily heavy music seems to calm my intense
thought waves. The music sort of cancels these thought waves out in the same frequency, if that makes any sense – kinda meditative, in other words. Other than that, history really inspires me, and it all has to do with how I present my work, wanting to show a timeless message that we will repeat our history if we don’t learn from it, as Lincoln said.
What are you plans for the rest of 2009 and 2010? What shows and projects do you have lined up? I have a major solo show in NYC at Joshua Liner Gallery, and I am working on that literally as I type this interview. But once that is over, I’ll jump over to the other side of the ocean to Europe where my heart lives, where historical structures and culture still exists. This time I’ll be in Portugal along the coast watching the ocean and pondering what to do next with myself.
To check out more of Kuksi’s work go to www.kuksi.com.
HUMANKIND Interview by Parker | Images courtesy of ArcheDream
On my yearly trek across the country to attend the Bur ning Man festival, I was filled with a year ning excitement and curiosity as to what my experience would be. During the weeklong event, one is fully immersed in the sensory overload of sights, sounds, and masses of people while striving to reconnect with old friends, see favorite art pieces of the past, and visit recurring theme camps. There’s an increasingly comforting familiarity that settles into the soul while making the trip through the Sierra Nevada Mountains toward the Black Rock Desert destination. There’s also the building exhilaration of the unexpected that promises something vastly new and transfor mative. What exactly was the “new” going to bring me this time? How would I be transfor med? The beauty of Bur ning Man is keeping yourself open to the ever-changing exploration inspired by almost everything and everyone you stumble across. The jour ney never stops, even when your body does. During this jour ney there are certain occurrences that reach out and grab your attention, that beckon you to come closer, that bur n through your retinas to become forever ingrained in your brain. For me one of this year’s highlights was the perfor mance group ArcheDream for HUMANKIND. With a giant smile and wide eyes I soaked up the seamless movements, smooth timing of interactions, and the intricate details of glowing costumes. ArcheDream transfixed us all with their storytelling magic and transported our minds to another dimension that night. I knew I had to further investigate the process, the people, and the creativity behind such an intensely beautiful display of expression.
How was ArcheDream bor n? Alan Bell, founder and artist who paints all of ArcheDream’s masks and costumes, is from South Africa and grew up there during apartheid. He fled to Holland because he didn’t want to be a part of the racial war separating his home country. He wanted to create an art form that would unite people. When he moved to America he met cofounder and executive director Glenn Weikert, an American college student with creativity and a business mind; and ArcheDream for HUMANKIND was born.
How has the company evolved over the years? Where do you see it going? ArcheDream’s evolution has been a steady progression. From day one the basis has remained the same: collaboration with different musicians and artists and bringing in talented performers to do our shows. The company has gotten bigger and better because there are more people involved now and the members are more dedicated than ever before. Over the past ten years we’ve gained experience and as a result the choreography has become more dynamic, and the overall production and performances have become tighter. People are starting to take notice. Within the past year we’ve collaborated with the Disco Biscuits and Shpon-
gle, and performed at the Democratic National Convention in D.C. and the TED convention in L.A., to name a few. The talent and vision of ArcheDream has always been there. We’re just expanding to incorporate more magic, bigger props, puppetry, better dance routines, visuals, and original music. We continue to grow and remain dedicated to upholding our mission statement and staying true to our values that have been ArcheDream’s foundation since the beginning. Holding workshops in our community and the communities we visit only adds to this. We will continue to tour the county and strive to make our shows more innovative and bigger and better than the last.
ArcheDream integrates costumes, props, dancing, and technology. How is the marriage of these elements different in ArcheDream, as opposed to other theatre companies? What makes ArcheDream stand apart from other theatre companies is that our productions are done in 100% black-light! All of our masks, costumes and props literally glow brightly from the stage, into the audiences’ eyes and straight to their hearts. Our artistic director, Alan Bell, chose this medium of black-light theatre because the visual beauty of black-light blows people away. You can’t take your eyes off the stage! Our shows always deal with some social issue, and black-light is perfect to present our themes because no matter what the conflict, you can’t look away from it, you can’t deny it, and people leave our shows with a feeling of “Wow!” It’s beautiful and powerful.
ArcheDream is also unique in that our dancers perform highly choreographed pieces in full costume, masks, gloves, shoes, headpieces, the works, in the dark! All that we see is the glowing black-light paint through small eye holes in the masks. That fact really says something about the talent of our performers.
How do you guys go about constructing a new show? Creating a show is hard. There’s so much work to do that it feels impossible to pull off sometimes. But we work hard and get it done. Because ArcheDream is so highly collaborative, getting all the people on board and on the same page is challenging. For example, when “Chorus of Dreams” was in its conception, we collaborated with composer Eric “E.O.” Oberthaler and the music group Gamelon X. They are based in San Francisco, and here we are in Philadelphia; that’s a bicoastal collaboration! We flew out to California for the initial meeting to brainstorm and create what we call “idea soup”. The rest of the interaction took place over telephone and Skype. He would send us mu-
sic and we’d call him back to change this or change that. The process can be pretty stressful on everybody. But the final result is worth it! Basically, someone has an idea for a show and a script outline gets written. Then it’s presented to everyone and members get to give their input. Once the script is done, we start workshopping the movement while the music and costumes and masks and props are being made. Shows really evolve during the rehearsal process. Ideas come and are added, things that aren’t working get thrown out. The creation of a show is really fun because everyone’s ideas are expressed and considered. Whether it’s choreography, painting props and costumes, or talking with the composers, everyone helps out so everyone feels like they are a part of the creative process, which is so important to us, that our artists feel fulfilled.
What is your favorite production out of all of your shows and why? Every member has a show they hold close to their hearts for different reasons. Many of us feel a strong connection to “Jessica’s
Story” because we all relate in some way to the show’s target audience. The show takes such a tragic event and turns it into a work of art that provides healing. It’s inspiring and empowering. It encompasses everything our company is out to do, reveal humanity, the good and the bad, as a way to open communication on topics otherwise hard to confront. And we do it in black-light. We take something horrible and make it beautiful. Everyone loves “Chorus of Dreams” because it’s such a massive show! There is so much going on, huge props, a lot of black-light magic, high energy dance scenes, projection screens, a live band and singer. The show excites people, they leave awe-inspired, totally mind boggled with beauty and the idea of hope, and the realization that everyone has a hand in the future of our society.
Any new productions in the works? Yes! We are working on our brand new show “Inside, Out”. This show is debuting in Taiwan in April 2010. We are really raising the bar with this one. The masks and costumes are larger than life and we have puppets and other “out there” props. It’s like a bedtime story where the main character deals with her internal fantasies and her outside reality. She meets crazy characters and each character represents an internal conflict she must overcome to grow up. We are also touring “Deep Blue” again. It’s an older show but with a different cast. Different performers will inevitably produce a slightly different show.
I finally got to see you this year at Burning Man. Why do you think Burning Man and other “burn” events are important to our society? Society and the individuals within it can learn a lot from Burning Man and other burns - self-reliance, especially! If everyone does their part, we truly have the power to make the world a better place. Being responsible for yourself, your garbage, your actions. Being creative and resourceful, and helping others where you can. Instead of sitting back, just being a witness of the world, actually taking part in the issues that are going on. It’s what needs to be recognized now if we are ever going to make a positive impact on the future of our planet and the society we live in. People need to stop blaming others for the shape we’re in and step up, stop being so greedy and selfish, and do something about it. Being open-minded and respectful of other’s life styles and ideals, it’s what this country was built for, and we’ve lost that somewhere. Most people now are focused on “I” and “me” and “mine” instead of the “us”, each a part of the next in the greater humanity. We are never going to move forward or change if we stay isolated from each other. We need to come together, and it starts with each person making the choice to do the best they can in every moment. Pick up your trash - the right to free speech is also the right to listen, take part in your world, and of course, recycle! Special thanks to Tara McCann, Jessica Kroboth, Melissa Ayres, Spit, and Glen Weikert from ArcheDream for assisting in getting this all together. To learn more, go to www.adhk.org.
Haunts of Hollywood CemeterY Words by Lauren Vincelli | Photos by PJ Sykes
If you’ve lived in Richmond for a while, or even for just this past semester, chances are you’ve seen peaceful Hollywood Cemetery overlooking the James River on your way across the Belvidere Bridge. Hollywood Cemetery is a working cemetery that honors the Richmond residents buried within as much as it honors the history of the city of Richmond. Named for the Holly trees scattered across the property, Hollywood Cemetery was designed in 1847. Its winding paths and rolling hills are sometimes easy to get lost in, but were designed to avoid the monotony of grid-like cemeteries. Construction wasn’t finished at Hollywood until 1850, but the first grave was purchased there in 1849. Since then, Hollywood Cemetery has become the eternal resting place for three presidents, 18,000 Confederate soldiers, 25 Confederate generals, a number of other military officers, and a slew of notable judges, politicians, journalists, writers, activists, and artists, not to mention one of the best views of the Richmond skyline. The cemetery is also the subject of many of the city’s most fantastical urban legends and ghost stories. Imaginative tourists and paranormal researchers alike claim that the cemetery is a hot bed of ethereal activity. Rumors of cold spots, energy drains, eerie voices, and disembodied spirits shroud the cemetery. Here are a few of the legends of Hollywood Cemetery.
CAST IRON DOG This wonderful cast iron statue of a dog is located in the Rees family plot. Legend has it that the statue was put there to protect the grave of a young Florence Rees, (d. 1862). The statue once stood outside a general store in Richmond where Mr. Rees’s daughter, Florence, would visit the statue while her father was in town. It was allegedly placed there when the girl died. The city of Richmond was in the midst of the Civil War and scrap metal, particularly iron, was being collected to be melted down and turned into weapons. Most likely the iron dog was put in the family plot to be preserved as a work of art and kept out of the melting pot. People travel from all over to tour Hollywood Cemetery and visit the iron dog. Many visitors have said that it has come to life or changed positions. (Section: C, Lot: 1)
PET CEMETERY Ellen Glasgow (d.1945), a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer from Richmond, died at her home in her sleep after suffering from heart disease for several years. Legend has it that Glasgow stipulated in her will that her dogs (who preceded her in death) should be exhumed from her backyard in Richmond and be reburied with her in Hollywood Cemetery. (Section: DE, Lot: 15).
RICHMOND VAMPIRE The legend of the Richmond Vampire starts with the collapse of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad’s Church Hill train tunnel on October 2, 1925, and ends in Hollywood Cemetery. Legend has it that witnesses saw a man covered in blood, with jagged teeth and flesh hanging from his body, emerge from the rubble of the collapsed tunnel and chased by a group of men. Supposedly the creature took cover inside a mausoleum belonging to W.W. (William Wortham) Pool (d. 1922). (Section: D, Lot: 26).
The legend has since been disproved. Investigators from the Virginia Ghosts & Haunting Research Society, and Night Shift urban legend historians found evidence that the figure escaping from the wreckage was actually Benjamin F. Mosby, who had been working in the train when the tunnel collapsed. Mosby died from his serious injuries at Grace Hospital (401 W. Grace St) and was also buried in Hollywood Cemetery (Section: 26, Lot: 42) Still, the tomb of W.W. Pool remains an attraction to seekers of the occult. An associate of the Virginia Ghosts & Haunting Research Society wrote that his uncle Mike, a former security guard at the cemetery, noted the tomb as a popular place for goths and Satanists to perform rituals and that allegedly the tomb had been broken into several times. So much for eternal rest, huh? Since Mike’s time at the cemetery, Pool’s remains have been secured and the tomb has been welded shut.
CONFEDERATE PYRAMID This 90-foot granite pyramid was completed in 1869 to honor the 18,000 confederate soldiers buried within the cemetery gates. I’ve heard lots of tales about the ghosts of confederate soldiers at Hollywood. The best story I’ve heard so far is that the Eye of Providence will appear at the top of the pyramid to watch over the soldiers. I like that one. It’s like a big dollar bill in the city.
OTHER NOTABLE GRAVES James Branch Cabell , American fantasy fiction novelist for whom the VCU library is named. (Section: AA, Lot: 14) Margaret M. Dashiell , artist and writer (Section: I, Lot: 83) Jefferson Davis , President of the Confederate States of America (Section: Lawn, Lot: 1) and his wife Varina. Mary Johnston , American novelist and women’s rights activist (Section: 16, Lot: 126/128) Major William Mayo , a colonial civil engineer who laid out the streets of Richmond under the commission of William Byrd II, and built the first bridge across the James. James Monroe , two-time Governor of Virginia and fifth President of the United States and his wife Elizabeth (Section: Mt Lot: 1-2-3) Dr. Robert Ryland , Founder of Richmond College (now University of Richmond) and civil rights advocate. (Section: B, Lot: 143/144) John Tyler , two time Governor of Virginia and tenth President of the United States, and his wife Julia (Section: Presidents Circle)
Edward Virginius Valentine , American sculptor (Section: I, Lot: 92) Lila Meade Valentine , suffragette and founder of the Visiting Nurses Association. (Section: I, Lot: 92)
Grave with the epitaph: “She always said her feet were killing her, but nobody believed her.” Hollywood Cemetery 412 South Cherry St Richmond, VA 23220 http://www.hollywoodcemetery.org/ Hollywood Cemetery Public Visiting Hours 8:00 am - 5:00 pm daily year round *Open until 6:00 pm during Daylight Savings Time Historical Walking Tours April-October Monday through Saturday at 10:00 AM The tour focuses on the history of the cemetery and the famous personalities buried there. Meet your guide at the cemetery entrance at Cherry and Albermarle Streets. For more information on tour reservations call the Valentine Richmond History Center at (804) 649-0711 Ext. 334
â€œThe most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of tr ue art and tr ue science.â€? -Albert Einstein
The Death Of Time
Crystal Skulls and Mayan Fire Ceremonies Words and photos by S. Preston Duncan
Have you ever had déjà vu? Have you ever been struck by an inexplicably potent feeling that you’ve been here, in this definable moment, with certain sounds and aromas, with this particular level of alertness and these specific peripheral thoughts drawing tangents in the background of this remarkably familiar foreground? Can you ever shake or explain it with reason?
in prophesized lakes, that drains through waterfalls and ruins, these are called upon. The life that pulsates in planets and the space between, the balance of things, the importance of a thousand civilizations, these are incanted. We face each direction until we have called to the corners of the world, and, wrapping them around us, turn back to the fire.
When I arrive, dusk is a whisper beneath the sun-draped leaves. Two fire pits are built. One large, one small, forming two points on the line to a table. Max sits on the table.
Max is a crystal skull. His story is the stuff of bad fiction, too outrageous to be bullshit. He is believed to be 36,000 years old. With all our technology, we can’t explain how he was made; there are no tooling marks. Major museums have inspected Max, responding with “no comment” instead of insight. He was given to Joanne Parks, his current guardian, by Norbu Chen, an American-born Red Hat Llama (the highest order of Tibetan healers) and ex-undercover agent for the CIA. Parks is a short woman with deep, dark eyes and a shock of white hair. She wears a necklace made of skull shaped beads and a shawl. She speaks with a Texan drawl. Parks met Chen when her husband was hired to do some cabinetry work for him, and she ended up working as his assistant. Her daughter was dying of cancer and was given three months to live. Chen’s work extended her life by three years.
Don Carlos Barrios, a Mayan Ajq’ij, or shaman, from Guatemala and member of the Elders Council, begins to speak. He speaks in Spanish, translated by John Oliver, owner of the Aquarian Bookshop, which planned the ceremony. He explains the designs made of chocolate and sugar and herbs he is making on the cleared circular ground of the fire sites: a cross with arrows North, South, East, West, each with relations to elements, races, Light and Dark. The larger fire, further from Max, is stacked with wood, and as night settles into the grass, started with candles. Don Carlos invokes the spirits of sacred places, Mayan deities and The Light. The wind that moves through mountains and continents, that settles in canyons, the water that swirls
Chen had received the skull from Guatemalan shamans in Central America as a gift. He used it as a healing tool and claimed to communicate with it. Before he died, he gave it to Parks, telling her that she would know what it was for one day. Parks put it in a box in her closet. For seven years. Max speaks to Parks. Literally. He started speaking to her in dreams, and then while she was awake. He said there was a
man she was supposed to find. One day she turned on the television to find this man speaking on a talk show about the legends surrounding crystal skulls. She called the TV station and has spent the rest of her life taking Max to various indigenous ceremonies and hosting talks and private sessions with him. Parks used to call him “The Skull” until “The Skull” said to her “My name is not ‘The Skull’, it’s Max.” She was “normal” once. This was not the life she had planned. The Mayan legend of the crystal skulls (not to be confused with that of Indiana Jones) explains that 52 of them will be placed around a sacred lake in America sometime close to 2012. A master skull will then activate the rest, revealing significant knowledge to humanity. Don Carlos tells us that it is impossible to imagine the importance of taking part in such a ritual at this point in time. He says that we are at a critical juncture, that the balance of Light and Dark must be restored, not good and evil, Light and Dark. Not victory, balance. He says the time for action is now.
The Mayans believe that we are not the first instance of humanity. There have been previous humanities that have cycled through thousands of years, humanities who attained great states of being, connections with other dimensions and planes of existence, spiritual and technological achievements incomprehensible to us now.
The Mayans are incredible timekeepers. Their calendars track astrological movements, cosmic energies, and the pathways of these energies through vast stretches of time. They are astonishingly accurate, and have been since long before western civilization could close to compare its sciences. Because of their unified perspective on the universe, this attunement to the macro- and microcosmic cycles has allowed them great insight into the destinies of individuals and humanity alike. To them, we are all a part of the cosmos. If this sounds “New-Agey”, it’s because in a literal sense, it is. They believe in, amongst other cycles, 5,200-year periods, or Suns, governed by different prevailing energies, some masculine, some feminine, and the elements: air, water, fire and earth. These periods guide the physical and evolutionary consciousness of humanity. Past humanities have reached the Fifth Sun. This age is marked by a return to a way of life that is in tune with the Natural Order, an elevation of human consciousness, and is a time in which the transcendence of Najt, or space-time is possible. It is defined by neither masculine nor feminine energies, but the balance of the two. This era carries with it the transmission of great knowledge and wisdom, and enables extreme advancements in scientific and metaphysical capacities. It was during this time that they say past humanities failed. Unenlightened and unbalanced, they allowed ego and vanity to turn to violence and corruption. Their newly attained power proved to be the power to selfdestruct. And so the cycle started again. And again. Sunrise on December 21st, 2012, will mark the beginning of the Fifth Sun for our humanity. Fire ceremonies are one
way in which the Mayan Elder’s Council is trying to help prepare us for this transition. The fire grows larger, the flames are unlike anything I have ever seen. They are sharp, strobing, spaced in strange ways. Don Carlos carries Max to the fire, bends over, and whispering a prayer in a language I have not heard, begins to circle the skull through the flames, around and around, the fire licking the smooth surfaces like a reunited companion. Then back and forth and back and forth, then side to side. He calls another Mayan priest to stand facing him as he lifts the skull into the air, his headdress dangling knotted cords down his back. He asks us to hold hands in a circle, up to the feminine, down towards the masculine, and we kneel and kiss the ground. We all do.
They say that as we near the new aeon, more and more souls will awaken to their purpose on this earth. Souls that have existed in the threshold of this transition before, returning to prepare the world, to help people open themselves to a more enlightened state of being, are becoming conscious of their destiny. They say that now is a time to find traditions of great roots, that there are many Paths of Light. Too many people believe themselves to be following the one true way. According to tradition, this is an era of spiritual significance equitable to biblical times, the times of the prophets. All around mystical teachings historically reserved for those devoting their lives to the practice of a religion
are being authorized by elders and devoured with voracity by the populace. Across the religious spectrum you can see preparations being made: The popularization of eastern philosophy in western culture, the spread of Kabbalism (Jewish mysticism, not the new-age commercial version) readying the earth for the coming of Messiah, those few genuine Christians acting in selfless charity to ensure the return of Christ. Quantum physics is discovering more about the nature of substance, the constant disappearing and reappearing of matter, indicating the existence of other dimensions, the motion of subatomic particles influenced by physically insubstantial forces, corroborating the power of thought and ancient mysticism. Knowledge, because of technologies like the internet, is being disseminated with unprecedented rapidity. Events like Burning Man increase in popularity, the notions of freedom, radical self expression and reliance, and of decommodification all indicate an interest in a higher, less materialistic and rigid, more interconnected worldview. We are becoming more conscious of our relationship with the Earth, and therefore of that with the cosmos. The spiritual blindness caused by our avid materialism, our addiction to ceaseless and empty entertainment and distraction, prescription drugs, manipulated religion, and false political dualities is starting to be lifted by the unfulfilled souls residing behind the expressionless façade of our day-to-day routine.
The upheaval of our times is natural. It was expected. It was prophesized. These are times of evolution, the death of old ways, the rebirth of still older ones. We’ve been here before. In this moment. It’s like a movie I’ve seen a hundred times and I just can’t remember what happens next. And then it happens, like I always knew it would. One by one the participants are called before the smaller fire, Max’s fire. They stand facing the flames, their back to the shaman. He places Max on their heads, they turn and he presses their foreheads to the skull, he lowers Max to their hearts. He alternates male and female. The onlookers take unlit white candles and speak into them before giving them to the fire. I wait for nearly all the men to pass before me. It’s my turn. I remove my hat and turn to face the fire. The flames are bright and hot, burning the wax wishes and prayers and regrets and gratitude of the crowd. I feel his arms close, and then the weight. It’s not on my body. My eyes slam shut. Space. Silence. Incredible vibrations. Lights streak, I move through them, galaxies and stars, decades and centuries. The connection between time and space shakes and stretches, swirling in the speeding eternities of existence. Slam. Back
at the fire. I hear the shaman whispering an ancient language intensely behind me, into me. Slam. Into the earth now, trembling with the movement of planets, folding through histories, human emotions, desires, memories forgotten and not mine. The entirety of nature birthing and dying and living. Slam. Back at the fire. And… easy now. A light white and pure and silent and soft, brilliant, engulfing. We are inside each other, the light and I. The weight lifts, I turn. Max faces me, pushing into me. Slower now, like time and space are racing around me the way I sped through them before. I feel the harmony of cellular vibrations, melodies of speech, the entire lifespan of a single flame rising from a tree reuniting with the air and aether. The shaman lowers Max to my heart, pushing hard. He falls silent and my focus is drawn to his eyes. He is looking into the skull. He looks up at me, the firelight and shadows make paceless arches through the lines in his face. His eyes look ancient, like the fire is ancient. I remember now. This is why I came. They see more of me than I have ever seen. I wait for him to tell me why I saw what I just saw, what I felt. He glances back at Max, then stares into my eyes. And then he speaks to me. He speaks in perfect English.
Hope Ri d e s Alone An Interview with the Protomen
“You have heard me tell the story many times before you sleep. This time, listen carefully.” -The Protomen, from “Unrest In The House Of Light”
If you have yet to hear the Protomen tell their tale, it’s time to listen up. They are coming back to Richmond on October 28th at Plaza Bowl, and every time they visit their support gets stronger. It’s easy to understand why. The premise alone - a Mega Man rock opera - is enough to sell most people on this band. But then you listen to them. The Protomen play a blistering, dirty style of rock-and-roll that is reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen at times, if “The Boss” had been singing about the oppression of an Orwellian society, in which one man rules all mankind under the tyranny of his army of robots, and all hope seems to be lost, until one man, a true hero, rises from the ranks and begins to fight back. Which really isn’t so far off from what Springsteen is singing about in the first place.
What is your codename? What do you contribute to the Protomen?
My name is Commander B. Hawkins, and I play the American Synthesizer (Made in Japan) and tend to make up a bunch of shit as we go along.
Interview by Carl Athey Photos courtesy of The Protomen
How did the Protomen come to be? Who woke up one day and thought, “you know what? The world needs another rock opera. A rock opera about mega man.” Or was it more of a, “I can’t believe we killed three bottles of whiskey that quickly! Do you want to start a band?” Situation? Was this one person’s vision or a collaborative effort? Subquestion: how much whiskey was involved in the creation of this band? Some people would have you believe that this band was borne of some great and powerful wizard’s spell, but in reality, it mostly started as a result of being in a recording industry program and hearing a bunch of terrible pop- country and bad rock recording projects, and then realizing that we just wanted to beat the everliving shit out of modern pop music. That being said, if you’re reading this right now, and you want to help us beat that ass.... support the effort... come to our shows... buy our stuff. As for the whiskey, I got off that stuff when I was thirteen. The real thing that got us going in the early days was Dodge’s Spicy Chicken Wings. That’s how we paid the session players for the pristine recording of our very first song: “Fade To Phil/ Due Vendetta.” Some people may say that it was “recorded poorly,” or that it “sounds like a badger is crawling into my ear,” but that’s where the whiskey comes in handy. Drink a bunch of it, and that song starts sounding like the smoothest
Steely Dan track you’ve ever heard. We really aim to bring about that type of dynamic listening experience. Lightning in a bottle, man, lightning in a bottle.
The first album focuses on the rise of Mega Man and his struggle with his brother, Proto Man, and with the unwillingness of men to fight for themselves. Now that Proto Man has fallen, what can we expect from the new album? You mean the recently released Act II: The Father of Death? This album acts as a prequel/flashback that comes at the end of the self titled/Act I. It tells the story of how things came to be the way they were in our debut record. It’s not nearly as convoluted as it may sound. On the other hand, it is a rock opera, so it has to be somewhat convoluted. You know, for art’s sake. As for Act III...you’ll just have to wait for that one.
If certain videos on YouTube are accurate, the loss of Scartoe has had quite an impact on both the band and your fanbase. He isn’t the first original member to leave the band. Are some people just deranged? Or was his departure much tougher than other lineup changes?
As with everyone we’ve lost while walking the long hard road, Scartoe wasn’t easy to let go, but it seems some people took it harder than others. Different people affect different people in different ways. If I were more at ease with my masculinity, I would let you know that I cry nightly because my brother, Demon Barber, is no longer of this earth. That being said, we are a band of survivors, except for the ones who don’t survive. But in the end, the ones that do survive tend to get stronger from all of these trials and tribulations. LCD Soundsystem had a song called “Tribulations.” It was a tough jam. I hope that answers your question.
What is your favorite game in the Mega Man saga? Ohhh, I really love the one about Jaws. I know, I know, it’s really about Jaws 4, but I think it really adds to the overall Jaws experience. Any game where I could be playing as Mario Van Peebles is okay in my book. Too bad they didn’t let you play as Lorraine Gary or Michael Caine. That would have been something special.
Are there heroes left in man? As far as you know, we’ve already answered that question, but if you come to our show at Plaza Bowl on the 28th, I’ll consider you a hero. Or a creepy asshole who stalks us and tries to sell us crabs when we come to town. Either way, we all win! WAIT... THEY DO LET YOU PLAY AS MICHAEL CAINE!!! HE FLIES THE PLANE!
entropy & euphoria Words and photos by Ian M. Graham
You might be a burner, and not know it. Have you been to Burning Man? That’s a trick question. Many “Playa veterans” (people who have been to Burning Man) tell me that even if you haven’t been to the big burn itself, you can still be a burner. I’ve been going to burns for several years now, and before I knew about
or any of the smaller regional
go on, my friends and I had been hiking off into the woods to do whatever we damn well pleased and not leave any signs that we were there for a long time. Burns are a celebration of creativity. The basic principles are easy: radical self-expression, radical self-reliance, and Leave No Trace. You do whatever you
You do whatever you want. You take care of yourself. And when you leave, no one should be able to tell that you were there, at all. want. You take care of yourself. And when you leave, no one should be able to tell that you were there, at all. It only makes sense that these ideals, which seem so intrinsic to many of us, would be such a deviation from society at large. Society is bound by rules, mores, regulations, stigmas and stipulations, and at a burn, all but a scant few of these go out the window.
I donâ€™t know if
there is any way for this cosm of alternate society to exist outside of the confines of a burn, and although the subject is nice to ruminate over whilst sipping coffee-infused tequila at sunrise, at the end of the day, month, year, I don’t care. This is who we are, this is what we do, and its worth might be determined by its scarcity. This is the burn that I have attended the most: Transformus. It takes place in the beautiful hills outside of Asheville, North Carolina. It isn’t my first burn, but if I could have my way, it would eventually be my last. As a semi-native of North Carolina, I spent plenty of time hiking the mountains of the Blue Ridge, in particular, the Pisgah National Forest that’s just a stone’s throw away from where Transformus is held. There’s a quality there that I simply have not found elsewhere, and although I am not a religious man, there is something special about these hills, dare I say holy.
Art And Adornment
The OneTribe WOrldvieW Words by S. Preston Duncan | Photos by David Kenedy
Outside the neatly divided rooms of the media, where angst parades its outrageousness for the narrow hallways of identity, pushing the metal studs of empty rebellions through the self-healing cartilage of consumerism, there is still jewelry in flesh. Outside the competitive, where tattoos race up forceps and needles speed towards desperate eyebrows, there is still stone and wood and bone in the stretched lobes of history. Outside of a warehouse in the ever-evolving district of Manchester, there’s a sign that doesn’t quite fit the area’s industrial past or the easy classification of “art gallery”, though it is both a workshop and house of art. The sign says Onetribe, and is painted above the door to the Richmond studio and showroom. Onetribe is a body modification jewelry company, but one that defies the common stereotypes of misfit youth and hardcore posturing. There is a balance cultivated here, one of pristine design and contemporary urban style laid out against the exaltation of tribal ritual, cultural respect, and the organic. There is a sense of consciousness, of reverence for individuality and recognition of social and ecological impact. A map on the wall has numbered pins dotting the world, and
a corresponding sheet denotes the various cultures from which they have attained the studs, hoops, plugs, spikes, tusks, spirals, coils, earlets and tunnels filling their cases. In the adjacent room local artists hunch over bright lights and chisel designs into various materials, their wares destined for juxtaposition against those of the cultures that inspired them. “ Onetribe really started as a hobby ,” says Jared Karnes, owner and artisan jeweler of the company. Being into body modification, I started looking around for interesting jewelry that wasn’t just metal or this mass produced stuff. I was running into some organic stuff here and there, but by and large it was all questionable quality, and the price wasn’t where it needed to be. So I got the bright idea to start making the stuff myself.
Since then it has evolved, not just into its present manifestation in Manchester, but into an international body modification company based on principles of ecological and social responsibil-
I flew down to Indonesia for the first time and met the artist that we continue to work with to this day personally. I started learning the language, started learning about the culture, so that I could really understand who they were, where they were coming from. And seven years later, we’re still working with the same guys. It’s pretty rad. It feels really good to say that we met these guys and we’ve been working with them the whole time. We get inquiries all the time, both when I’m there and just here, people email us and say “Hey, I make this jewelry, I can sell it to you.” But we’re dedicated to this team because they’re amazing at what they do. I play with his kids, he invited me to his brother’s funeral recently. So they’re really just part of our extended Onetribe family.
ity, and retaining the small, independent business structure that it was created through. It’s just a lot easier to maneuver when you’re small. It’s got a lot to do with personality, and you get to take the things that you believe in and that your staff believes in, and find a way to press those through. So a business becomes a great outlet, almost, almost a teaching tool in some respects, for getting those kinds of ideas out to people.
The Onetribe vision was brought to substantial fruition with the addition of a workshop in Bali, which Jared visits several times a year, and cultivates a genuinely familial, fair-trade relationship with the artists he employs there.
Onetribe is also about a return to a more genuine relationship, not just with the earth and those around us, but with ourselves. Stretching your lobes, for example, is an involved process that takes time, and requires a level of dedication to cultivating a self expression that stands at odds with the prevalent notions of instant gratification that underpin much of our society. It is a return to a level of self-understanding that has been lost beneath the barrage of transient culture in which we struggle to find our place and acceptance, but that utterly distracts us from the true nature of who we are. One of the most important things that we set out to do when we opened the showroom was just that we’re acknowledging that there is this lack of ponderance of one’s self and where we stand individually, in our thoughts, in our convictions, and how we look, if that’s one of the ways that we choose to reinforce ourselves to ourselves, to take a step back and look at what you’re doing and how it affects you and the people
around you and the things around you. It spirals outward from all of us, and this is so hippie, but the spirals meld and they come together and grow apart. I think that our present state is one of full throttle in one direction without really taking a step back and looking at where we’re going. We’ve got science flying at full pace towards the next cure, technology, it’s got to be bigger, faster, smarter, more efficient. I think that a lot of the interest that not just myself and the people that we deal with from a business aspect, but people in general are waking up one day and going “I don’t know where I am. I don’t know who I am. I don’t know where I
stand. What am I connected to?â€? And I think that there are a lot of falsities, a lot of false comfort and connectedness because of technology. We can now pick up the phone and talk to anybody around the world at any time. We can email them. We can chat with them online. We can discover anything that we need, information wise, on the internet. And at the same time, itâ€™s not really a very full experience. And I think thatâ€™s a really important part, is a concrete experience in your interactions with other people, in your interactions with the environment.
It is that acknowledgment that shares relevance with the modern and ancient, with Richmond and Bali, with self and humanity, that makes Onetribe not just a lofty concept or branding slogan, but a demonstrable step towards a more fulfilling existence, an old lesson in a new form, and one that has the capacity to connect us all. The Onetribe showroom is located at 403 Stockton St, suite 101, and hosts monthly art openings as well as its regular jewelry displays. For more information visit www.onetribe.nu
WRIR 97.3 fm Presents
An Afternoon With
Harry Shearer followed by a 25th anniversary screening of
Sunday, November 22, 2009 3:30 p.m. at the Byrd Theatre rated
Tickets are available at WWW.WRIR.oRg and
at Plan 9 in Carytown.
We are radio for the rest of us.
By Landis Wine Image by Brandon Peck
My favorite Halloween memory involves me standing in a cramped venue in a shitty corner of DC watching Providence, RI, noise specialists Wolf Eyes construct the sort of face-melting howl that sends your mind into the yawning gap of sensory overload. After we left we found my girlfriend’s car smashed, and were left stranded with ringing ears on the cold streets of DC at two AM. To me, there’s a certain sort of comedy in this desolation, and that’s partly the reason why I find Halloween to be such an awesome holiday for music. Sure, there’s a place for extreme music throughout the rest of the year, but October creates multiple opportunities to foist it upon your friends. It’s the same seasonal logic that allows for Hellraiser and Wishmaster marathons. For me, this means more intense focus on noise, black metal, and the fringe avant-garde. As a kid, I was never really swayed by Marilyn Manson or the swaths of bands who, while perfectly enjoyable, didn’t seem very scary or odd to me at all. These groups seemed to have a unifying call to arms; they wanted you to be a part of something larger, to say “Fuck Your System”. It was alienating to plenty, yes, but it felt like too much of a commodity. I
wanted something extreme that I could claim kinship with. This came to me in the form of Throbbing Gristle and Wolf Eyes. For those who are unfamiliar, Throbbing Gristle helped to pioneer a good chunk of what now rests under the blanket of industrial music, though at the time this tag had drastically different connotations. Genesis P. Orridge (now a pan-gendered person who looks suspiciously like a soccer mom) and Throbbing Gristle made their name making and performing on the fringes of accepted taste. Orridge used to inject fluid from his testicles into black eggs and throw them at the audience as part of their stage show. Their discography consists of music that is alienating, vile, and all the other great things that make noise such a frightening and intriguing genre. Wolf Eyes, while being much less confrontational, still manage to channel a cathartic intensity through mauled instruments, contact microphones, and howling vocals. Their live performances are the equivalent of stepping into a haunted house. The rhythms, when they’re present at all, run the spectrum of a demon’s breath against your neck and a knife wound to the chest. Artists like Merzbow, Kevin Drumm, Whitehouse, Prurient, and a host of others all create sounds that, while existing in a community, howls out the sort of nihilism that’s found in very few other sectors of music. The elements of western music are melted down to their core, and expressed in a molten attack that gives the listener the feeling that they are in the midst of the collapse, rather than simply anticipating it. Black metal, while having a lot of the same lynchpins
as noise, has been creeping closer and closer to kitsch lately. Thanks to documentaries, books, and the general lore centered on the church burnings and murders that first made them infamous, the genre has taken on an almost comic veneer. I don’t claim to be an expert on it by any stretch of the imagination, but records by bands such as Xasthur, Markduk, Absu, Mayhem, and others project a sort of desolation and anger that’s seldom found outside of the genre. The interesting thing about black metal is that unlike some corners of the genre of pure noise, it isn’t as afraid of seeming camp at times. This doesn’t mean they’ll mistaken for Frankie Goes To Hollywood anytime soon, but I find it hard to believe that a person can sit through a relentlessly serious selection from the genre without cracking a smile. Because you won’t want to spend your entire holiday season howling into the abyss, you’ll need to lighten the mood ever so slightly with the grandfathers of a genre which has also garnered quite a bit of press attention lately: horrorcore. Granted, most of this attention has been because of Syko Syd, the rapper who recently murdered four people in Farmville, VA. It’s easy to forget through the haze of media scrutiny and shudder-worthy Insane Clown Posse comparisons that the Geto Boys were one of the originators of the genre, which had its roots in horror movie shtick and the seamier side of urban life, as opposed to the trials and tribulations of being white and dumb. “My Mind Playing Tricks On Me” is a fan-
tastic bit of down tempo hip-hop that manages to straddle the line between sedated and utterly creepy. The lyrics center around vague paranoia and unholy visions that aren’t the sort of ham-fisted clichés you would expect. Scarface exhibits a vulnerability that you rarely see in hip-hop, much less in the genre that came in its wake: “I know the Lord is looking at me, but yet and still it’s hard for me to feel happy. I often drift while I drive, havin’ fatal thoughts of suicide.” As is the case with any genre dealing with horror and psychological terror, it’s the nuance and suggestion that makes things scary. Now, the genre mainly deals in cheap shock and cheap turns of phrase that come off sounding like a shitty draft to another installment of Saw . Even so, it’s not too hard to cull tracks by Eminem, Pharcyde, Ice-T, and yes, even a couple ICP tracks, and end up with a hell of a mix for a Halloween party. Nothing says “holiday” quite like indulging in the fringes of evil and the occult!
My Life with Poe Words by Shannon Cleary
I was first introduced to Edgar Allan Poe through The Simpsons . In 1990, the television series decided to embrace the Halloween special with their series of episodes entitled “Treehouse of Horror”. In its first installment, the writers decided to adapt one of Poe’s most famous works, “The Raven”. The tone is far more comical, especially given the usage of the familiar faces of Springfield. Regardless, I was intrigued with how the source material compared. It wouldn’t be until I entered my junior year at VCU that I began to feel as if I understood Poe. Beyond my awareness of his poetry, I discovered his work as a literary critic and a foray into the world of detective fiction. I would learn about his history in this city and the bizarre nature that he carried with him during his final days. Of course, Poe was well known for his gothic works, but there was much more to him. Now on the 200th anniversary of his birth, it seems like a more than appropriate time to reintroduce ourselves to Poe. This is certainly the case when it’s easy to see correlations between the life and work of Poe and the city of Richmond as it exists presently. Images courtesy of the Edgar Allan Poe Museum, Richmond, Virginia
A little-known fact about Poe is that he was one of the first writers to attempt making a living off of his art. In an even more remarkable fashion, he was pursuing this career during the Panic of 1837. For those unfamiliar, this was the start of an intense depression that the country faced in the middle of the 19th century. Along with record-high unemployment levels and unavailable funds from practically every bank, it becomes apparent how this relates to the present. As peculiar and absurd as it may seem, each century encounters its own economic depression. The Great Depression of the 20th century is infamous for its devastation of the United States economy. The 21st century’s depression hit quite early, but the members of each class know its effects. Its greatest effects may be felt the most by the working class elite that inhabits a good portion of the populace in this city. In this economic environment, it seems almost impossible to consider a career in the arts as a suitable way to afford the expenses of living. Yet, in ways very much akin to the struggle Poe faced, the artists of this city continue to pave the way for ambition and creative merit. Whether it’s the musicians who are
unfamiliar with the idea of just deciding to stop making music, or the photographers who could never imagine putting their cameras away to gather dust in their closets, or the writers who channel excitement through the use of their respective vernaculars, we are all bred from the same cloth. Even with a separation of almost two centuries, some things never change. It would be a crime to ignore Poe’s gothic tales, particularly those told from the perspectives of the murderers. Upon examining the aesthetics of several Richmond bands, a direct influence from this style of literature becomes apparent. If you take groups like GWAR and Bloody Crackdown, there’s an appreciation for the grotesque at play. In several of Poe’s works, the main antagonists are corrupted by a sense of inhumanity. In some cases, these characters are monsters in the guise of an everyday person. These two bands take these internal incarnations and bring them to the forefront. With GWAR, they take the monsters that inhabit our nightmares and bring that primitive fear to light. With Bloody Crackdown, they have created a stage show that bases itself around the idea of fallen and wounded veterans of war. These are stark, disturbing images that could evoke several reactions from its audience, intended or otherwise. They project the terror from within and by doing
so; they create a visual spectacle that at the very least is stimulating. On the other hand, a more visceral way of capturing this spirit can be through the traditions of “murder ballads.” In the folk scene alone, there are constant allusions made to this style of songwriting. It takes a certain mastery to truly encapsulate the emotive tones in these songs. To truly convince your audience that these tales of fiction are your darkest retellings is yet another incredible feat. A prime example of this style of songwriting is Wil Loyal, of Homemade Knives. With the simplest inflections of his voice and a confidence that enabled him to construct the darkest of tales, audiences were left spellbound. Loyal examines the human fabric at its most vulnerable, and in those instances, anyone is capable of anything. It’s quite reaffirming of his talent when you compare him to Poe and see that both laureates excelled in this during their respective times. You don’t have to go much further than Loyal to find other artists that embrace this tradition. Two great examples are Josh Small, with “Knife in My Belly”, and Jonathan Vassar with “Catch Me If You Can.” The tale Small tells is simple, but the idea of an encoun-
ter with a blade has never felt or sounded so honest and beautiful at the same time. Vassar’s tale of a man on the run from the law lets him add a tone of desperation to his seasoned vocals. Both Small and Vassar excel and revel in their abilities to distinguish themselves with their craft. In doing so, each individual artist takes on these perspectives and really runs with them. It should also be duly noted that Richmond even shows love to the greatest murder ballad songwriter of all time. The legacy of Johnny Cash is kept alive and well by the cover act Black Cash and the Bad Trips. Now, two hundred years after his birth, on October 11th, Poe was finally given a proper burial in Baltimore with thousands of people celebrating his legacy. His legend is also celebrated throughout this city at the Poe Museum, as well as other establishments. Most importantly though, a city like Richmond wouldn’t be the same without the distinct influence of the late, great Edgar Allan Poe and the ideals he helped apply to the arts that still remain strong to this day.
The Ghouls and GhosTs of haunTed Richmond By Jon Headlee
L e t’s face i t - R i ch m o n d i s h a u n t e d . R i chmond i s d i s t u r b e d b y t h e i n j u st i ces of its p a s t , t h e t r a ge d i e s t h a t l i t t e r its hi s t o r y b o o k s , a n d t h e m a ny c e meterie s f i l l e d w i t h w h i s p e r s o f a n g u ish and d e s p a i r. O f c o u r s e , i n t y p ic a l Richm o n d fa s h i o n , we ’ ve t r i e d o u r b e st to b u i l d o ve r, e n c a s e i n fe n c e s , o r f lat-ou t i g n o r e o u r h a u n t e d s p a ce s and th e fa c e s p i e r c i n g t h e ve i l o f t i me. Yet , d e s p i t e o u r e f fo r t s t o avo i d t h em, the s p i r i t s o f R i ch m o n d ’ s t w i s te d past ar e s t i l l d e m a n d i n g o u r a t t e n t i on. He r e a r e a fe w o f R i ch m o n d ’ s g hastly d e n i z e n s .
The Governor’s Mansion For over a hundred years, there have been tales of haunts in the Governor’s Mansion. In fact, the governors are regularly asked to report any supernatural experiences, no matter how absurd they are (an odd requirement for those dealing with the politics of the living). These ghastly stories range from African-American butlers serving tea long past their time to a prankster ghoul known only as the “Grey Lady.” Some believe that this transparent lady is the spirit of a visitor who died leaving the mansion. I believe, however, it is the spirit of Governor George Smith’s wife, still waiting for him to return from the tragic fire that consumed the Richmond Theatre (Monumental Church was built over the remains, as a granite tome to the dead and a tomb for their tortured souls).
photo Jim Bowen
The sTaTe CapiTol
ChurCh hill Tunnel
Perhaps the reason political movements take forever in Virginia is because the politicians are always on the lookout for ghastly ghouls instead of frivolous fools. Not only must the Governor contend with the phenomena, but also there have been several instances of hauntings on the Capitol grounds. Former security guards returning to their posts from beyond the coffin and Confederate soldiers marching in a parade of aether. Perhaps the scratching on the walls are the remnants of those tortured souls still trying to cling to the falling railings during the catastrophic collapse of the second-floor courtroom in 1870. Perhaps the debris still muffles their agonizing screams for help. Perhaps that’s why Virginia politicians take so long to listen to their people; they’ve got otherworldly constituents crying for their attention.
The Church Hill Tunnel was built during the Reconstruction years to bolster C&O’s east-west shipping lines, at the cost of about a dozen lives. At the start of the twentieth century, the tunnel had already been abandoned in favor of other routes, but following the First World War and America’s subsequent period of growth, it was decided that the tunnel should be revamped and utilized once more. Tragedy struck in 1925 when the tunnel collapsed on a work crew attempting to reinforce and renovate it. It’s unknown exactly how many people died, but the sounds of unfortunate souls digging for freedom can still be heard in Jefferson Hill Park, and there are those who still hear the buried locomotive whistling through the tunnel in the eerie hours of the night.
The poe MuseuM The Poe Museum resides in the oldest surviving building in the city, “The Old Stone House”, dated to as early as 1737. Numerous historical figures from Washington, Jefferson, and Monroe to Edgar Allan Poe have been attached to the story of this house, with varying degrees of truth. With such history, and now utilized as an ode to one of America’s most haunted writers, it’s no wonder that two childish ghosts have taken the house’s enchanted rear garden as a personal playground. They have been seen elsewhere on the grounds, but for the most part, they prefer the tranquility of the rear garden. Take a walk through the garden alone, and you’ll swear that there’s more than just running water, insects, and birds filling the ambience of this enchanted spot. You might just hear the laughter of children.
shoCkoe BoTToM The Byrd When the Byrd Theatre opened in 1928, Robert Coulter, son of one of the builders, Walter Coulter, managed the theatre from opening day until his death in 1971. Since his death, there have been numerous reports from almost all of the employees of a helpful ghost attempting to help with closing duties, checking on the projectors, and sometimes catching a show from his favorite seat on the balcony. So the next time you check out a $2 show at the Byrd, tip your hat to the balcony and the moviegoer who gets in for free.
The Shockoe region, being one of the oldest areas in Richmond, is a logical place for a haunted house or two. Unfortunately for the easily spooked, most of the buildings in Shockoe have a haunted story or three. Richbrau is believed to have once been the home of a nineteenth century brothel, and the ladies of the night still make their business calls in the ears of patrons and play tricks on the workers. The venue Fallout used to be a stable, and is rumored to be haunted by a ghoul of the equestrian variety. The Laser Quest building was once a Civil War hospital, and some of the patients never left. Late-night workers at the Main Street Terminal report hearing more than the whistles of trains and screeching of brakes in the twilight hours. These are just a few of the stories hidden in the depths of Shockoe.
R E I S F 5 F O L A V I N R T HE CA FE
200 W MARSHALL ST Richmond, VA 23220 www.gallery5arts.org 804 | 644 0005
Oct. 31st 7PM $10 $8 admission w/costume Circus of Lost Souls:
M $12 Oct. 30th 7P urlesque Presents B k ac Sh Sugar oir: ueen's Boud Q rk a D The ow h ty S e Varie
s by: Perfor mance t gh Eerie Twili r ge an D Deanna r ou ej Deepa D Bailey lin Boo Boo Dar und Sue ro A un R Miss lle Lilly Vaudevi a n co S y Lad Lonesome Liz
The Halloween Party
Costume contest with prizes! Performances by: Lonesome Liz’s Mojo Sideshow Sweet Tease Burlesque Horror Show Hot Club The Hotdamned PunkSinatra NoBS G5 Fire PLF
Nov. 1st 7PM $1 5 Gumb o and G Dinner h osts: Th Perfor m eater and Séa nce ances b y: Loneso me Liz’s Mojo S Alison S ideshow elf Sweet T ease Bu rlesque Nightsh ad Horror S e h Annota ow Hot Club ted Zom bie Strin gband
A darker RVA Magazine for this issue.