Sean Singletary has been a franchise player ever since the six-footer from Philadelphia picked UVA over basketball powerhouse Kansas. As the 2004 ACC Freshman of the Year, he was the only Cavalier to start every game. Last year, Singletary played through sometimes excruciating hip pain to help the Wahoos beat preseason predictions that they would finish dead last in the conference.
Next year the Cavaliers face far higher expectations. Head coach Dave Leitao will introduce his first Virginia recruits, and he’ll be looking to Singletary, a junior, to lead the team in their inaugural season at the $130 million, 15,000-seat John Paul Jones Arena, scheduled to open in August. UVA officials, competing in a conference populated with perennial Final Four contenders like Duke, North Carolina, Boston College and Maryland, may worry that fans won’t buy as much “premium seating” in the skyboxes if the Cavs stink it up in the cellar.
But for all their investment and sidelines coaching, the alumni donors, the administrators, the fans and Leitao can only watch as the players take the shots. Fortunately, that’s where Singletary comes in: He’s the kind of player who elevates his game to match the challenge. Need proof? Look at his 35-point game on the road against No. 10 Gonzaga last year, described as one of the greatest individual performances ever for UVA. In March, Singletary became the first Cavalier since 1992 to earn first-team all-ACC honors.
The Cavs spent last year rebuilding its entire basketball franchise, readying a fresh start that will bring a new team, new arena and new expectations. Even Singletary himself will be rebuilt, having undergone arthroscopic hip surgery in late March to allow him to play without pain. As the budding superstar takes his game to the next level, fans hope the rest of UVA’s program can keep up.—J.B.
We could just as easily dub him and his wife, Renee, “The Glitterati” for the style and glamour they lend to these parts with their friends in high places, charming manners and impeccable wardrobes—or we could dub John Grisham “The Reference Point” for the overwhelming number of times his name shows up in articles and blogs that have nothing to do with him (“…it’s like something out of a John Grisham novel”). But we’ve grown so accustomed to having his incredible star power in our midst (he’s got more than 100 million books in print worldwide, don’tcha know), that we barely notice these things anymore.
What really gets our attention, though, is Grisham’s clear call to action. In September 2005, he and Renee wrote a check for $5 million to establish the Rebuild the Coast Fund in the days immediately following Hurricane Katrina, jumpstarting a rush of donations that, by February, totaled more than $9 million. What’s more, with 100 percent of all donations being used to help families directly, it was the kind of charity you could give to without reservations, knowing that your gift was helping those that needed it most.
But, even before Katrina, the Grishams were certainly no strangers to philanthropy. Locally, the Legal Aid Justice Center and county Little League lovers, among others, have plenty to thank them for. But in the face of intense devastation, the Grishams’ quick leadership to aid the region they originally called home provided a welcome focus for many who wanted to help. Indeed, the Grisham fund gave $312,000 to Charlottesville’s Habitat for Humanity chapter to assist the building of six homes for Gulf Coast families. Another $50,000 went to Charlottesville’s Building Good-ness Foundation to construct 25 emergency shelters in Pearlington, Mississippi.
Grisham was characteristically humble in describing his no-nonsense response to the country’s most devastating natural disaster: “When you make charitable contributions, you realize you can’t save the world,” he told CBS News at the time, “so you find a small area you can go into and hopefully do some good, and do it with your own money and your own sweat and you see the results. You can’t spread yourself too thin.”—C.H.
Every year, Bill Crutchfield gives a lecture at UVA’s Darden School on the joys and pitfalls of starting a small business. The highlight of the talk comes when Crutchfield—whose namesake company is now one of the nation’s largest consumer electronics retailers—pulls out the hand-typed list of radio parts he whipped up on an IBM Selectric in his mother’s basement in 1974. The journey from that yellowed sheaf of paper to the massively successful catalog and Internet behemoth Crutchfield has become is one of the great American business stories. And it’s made all the more impressive by the sheer amount of innovation that was required to make it happen.
Consider this: When that first catalog failed to catch fire, Bill Crutchfield invented the “magalog”—adding articles on car-radio installation and speaker placement—instantly creating an entirely new sales tool (one that is now hugely popular) out of thin air. Crutchfield was one of the very first electronics retailers on the Internet, launching its website less than a year after Amazon.com. (Last year, Con-sumer Reports ranked Crutchfield.com as the top online consumer electronics retailer in the nation.) Recently, Crutchfield launched a splash-screen-to-checkout Span-ish-language version of its website—the first such effort by a major online retailer. And, most impressively, Bill Crutchfield has done all of this without once considering moving his multimillion dollar business out of Charlottesville, the town where he was born and where, by his own estimation, he has employed around 5,000 people over the years.
And yet, when you talk to the man himself, you get the distinct impression that he’s still hunkered over that typewriter, plotting his next big move. If you mention Crutchfield’s having reached an almost unheard-of 100 percent satisfaction rate on Bizrate.com, he says, “Well, we can always do better.” If you commend him on his partnership program (with Toshiba and Universal Studios) to provide DVD and MP3 players to soldiers in Iraq, he replies, with the sort of forthright honesty of which the Ken Lays of this world can only dream, “To be perfectly honest, that whole program hasn’t progressed as fast as I’d like. I’d like to extend that to our military throughout the word, not just in Iraq.”
There it is again: that self-effacing, unrelentingly enthusiastic attitude that has made Bill Crutchfield one of the most respected men in retail.—D.C.
When Democrats Dave Norris and Julian Taliaferro handily ousted incumbent Republican Rob Schilling and swept the City Council election on May 2, back-patting and self-congratulatory postgame analysis abounded among the party faithful. But when pressed on who the victorious candidates really had to thank for lighting the fire under local Dems to get out and vote, universal acclaim went to “the young people.”
Brian Bills, the 17-year-old Charlottes-ville High School student who co-chaired the Dems’ Get Out the Vote campaign for the City Council election, is the fresh face of liberal activism in this town. He’s young. He’s smart. He knows his stuff. (We were impressed when, in March, he informed C-VILLE that “it’s all about voter turnout. No candidate has ever lost City Council who’s gotten 3,900 votes.” With Norris edging to victory with 3,835 votes, it seems that Bills knows of what he speaks.) Funny thing is, the kid’s not even old enough to vote yet.
“Brian has a lot to show the rest of the Democratic Party about how to get people excited about elections, and candidates, and canvassing, and whatever needs to be done to win elections,” says Becky Reid, Bills’ co-chair during the Get Out the Vote Campaign. (At 23, she’s not exactly an elder herself!)
Not only did Bills lead the charge for Taliaferro and Norris, he is founder and president of the Young Liberals, a group of over 100 Charlottesville High School students who, among other things, campaigned heavily for Tim Kaine in the gubernatorial race. According to the Kaine campaign, in the two and a half months leading up to his victory in November, the Young Liberals made 26,000 phone calls. The weekend before the election, they dropped campaign literature at more than 6,000 homes in the area.
So what makes this young man tick? “It’s the political process that excites me,” he says. “It’s a basic state that people can affect change and people can help each other. That’s what really excites me about politics: the possibility to help people.”—N.B.
Johnny St. Ours
With his fedora and unfiltered cigarettes, he cuts a singular figure, Johnny St. Ours does—a cross between a swashbuckler and a railcar troubadour. But behind the Tom Waits exterior lies a character that may surprise some: St. Ours is the man who can make even the most jaded commercial-hater put down the remote. Indeed, his arty work is so captivating that it even transforms local TV ads (those cheesy, much-derided interruptions) into something worth watching. That’s because, with his Piræus Picture Co., St. Ours creates narrative-style 30-second spots—easily the most imaginative in local television. Long a radical filmmaker (he also runs a summer moviemaking program, the imaginatively named Guerilla Film Unit’s Self-Taught Boot Camp), he seized an open opportunity when three new TV stations came to town at the end of 2004. With spots for bohemian stores and services like Bittersweet (vintage clothing), Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar and Starlight Express (luxe bus service to New York City), he helps local businesses stand out from the pack.
Explaining the approach of Piræus Picture Co., St. Ours—who is also a welder responsible for such projects as the front work on the Glass Building at the corner of Second and Garrett streets—has written, “Film is essentially haiku. Like the three lines of poetry which form a single cohesive message, so too do the elements of story, picture and sound.”
In his ad for Bittersweet, for instance, St. Ours quickly achieves a film-noir mood that fits perfectly with the throwback apparel, focusing on a sassy blonde (his wife, actress Mendy St. Ours) as she snaps her way through an impatient office encounter with a couple of copy men. In the last second, Bittersweet’s rose insignia flutters onto her bare shoulder—literally branding the store with sex appeal. It’s not exactly the kind of ad you’d expect from JC Penney—and that’s exactly the point.
“Even though the ad is not airing now, people still comment on it,” says Bittersweet co-owner Shannon Iaculli. “I’d recommend Johnny’s work to anyone. They’ll get an ad that’s not the norm, and one that everyone is going to see.
“To tell you the truth,” Iaculli continues, “I was drop-jawed the first time I saw it—I did not feel worthy. It was national ad quality from a local guy.”—C.H.
Kate Collier and Eric Gertner
Charlottesville foodies are generally pretty happy to be here: a thriving City Market, restaurants aplenty and a budding wine industry. And there’s Feast. The brainchild of Kate Collier and Eric Gertner, and one of the largest tenants in the Main Street Market, Feast is a gourmet grocery with a killer cheese counter (one of America’s 20 Best, according to Saveur magazine), a produce section stocked by local farms, and a café run by respected chefs. It’s also a symbol for all that’s changed in Charlottesville over the last decade. Collier and Gertner have tapped a sophisticated, moneyed current that’s flowing in from big cities. With tremendous savvy, they’ve successfully merged that channel with a more earthy interest
The pair started Feast in 2002, one of the first tenants to occupy space in Gabe Silverman’s converted industrial space on W. Main Street. After a pre-law career at UVA that, she says, “wasn’t as interesting as going to Foods of All Nations,” Collier worked as a buyer for two San Francisco specialty food importers, then took a “self-designed food tour” through France, Spain and Italy. Gertner, meanwhile, bounced between a tech job and UVA’s Ph.D. program in music. After the two met in May of 2001, the Feast concept took shape along with their relationship.
The two are now married, and have an infant son. As for Feast, it’s well beyond its baby stage—having more than doubled in size and grown to 14 employees from the original two. And it’s ringing up over $1 million in annual sales.
At one of her San Francisco jobs, Collier says, she learned that “it’s not about price competition. It’s service, ambience and vibe.” Feast certainly evidences this sensibility, appealing to browsers with world music, reclaimed wood flooring, and free samples around every corner—a far cry from your typical fluorescent-lighted supermarket. Gertner describes Collier’s taste, and the atmosphere she’s created, as “elegant without being arrogant.” Collier herself credits the synergy of Main Street Market’s European-style format, with espresso drinkers wandering over for some cookies and bakery-goers hunting for pimiento cheese spread.
“It’s as if it’s a covered weekly market, or daily market that you would find in another part of the world,” says Ann Haskell, leader of the Central Virginia convivium of Slow Food, an international group promoting the use of local, seasonal and artisanal foods. “[Collier] really knows her stuff.”
Meanwhile, Gertner and Collier offer a double rationale for their approach: They’re developing relationships with local growers that not only satisfy discerning customers, but support an imperiled small-farm economy. “If we buy produce from local farmers at a good price,” says Collier, “they can have a farm, as opposed to selling their land to developers.”—E.H.
Abby Bellows is not what you’d call your typical UVA student: the kind that seems more concerned with the economics of keggers and kitten-heeled flip-flops than the plight of the working poor. Instead, throughout the spring, Bellows, along with co-activist Todd Rosenbaum, exemplified the kind of front-office-storming, bullhorn-wielding firebrands you’d expect to find at UC-Berkeley. As the public face of the “living wage” campaign—a gradually escalating protest that culminated in a 17-student, four-day sit-in outside President John Casteen’s office—Bellows and her agitating posse dominated coffee-shop conversations and newspaper headlines for months, and was both cheered and jeered for her efforts.
But she got the word out—which was her job, after all. Accounts of the campaign to force the University to raise its minimum hourly wage to $10.72 made it into such disparate publications as the Los Angeles Times, The Nation and The Washington Post.
It had some practical effect, too: In March, Casteen and the Board of Visitors, UVA’s governing body, announced that starting pay would go up by 49 cents to $9.37. That figure is $4.22 above statewide minimum wage requirements (as of April 2006, there were 332 salaried employees, out of a total of 4,730, earning between $9.37 and $10.72 an hour). But Bellows and company were still not satisfied—thus the protracted sit-in.
Casteen continues to insist that his hands are tied when it comes to raising the minimum pay of employees hired by firms that contract with UVA. He says that the ultimate arbiter of these wages is the State government. Given the tenacity of this crop of protestors, however, it seems probable that we’ll see another round of activism come fall—even if Abby Bellows isn’t around to help lead it.
“Abby and Todd have been instrumental to this campaign,” says senior Sean Butterfield, who will take over as one of the media contacts for the campaign in the fall. “We wouldn‘t have done nearly as well talking to you guys if it wasn’t for them.”—N.B.
Here are a few things you might not know about the Charlottesville-Albemarle Rescue Squad: It boasts 120 active members, who are paid not even one thin dime for their Herculean efforts; these members run over 16,000 calls a year, making them one of the busiest all-volunteer rescue squads in the country; they respond to more than 2,000 car-accident calls a year—and, while the national average for vehicle extrication is 30 minutes, CARS’ average time is under 10.
Amazingly, this is just the tip of the iceberg for these men and women. The amount of good that the Rescue Squad does on a given day is truly incalculable—it can only be measured in lives saved, injuries treated and accidents averted. And if there is one person who best exemplifies the hard-driving, selfless esprit de corps of the squad, it would have to be Deputy Chief of Special Operations John Burruss. A volunteer since 1980 (when he sought out and joined the nascent organization after watching “one too many episodes of ‘Emergency,’” he says), Burruss has been in the thick of more harrowing rescues, unstable trenches and building collapses than he can possibly count.
“I’m here every day I’m not working,” he admits. And when he’s not out running calls, he’s instructing other units on the intricacies of building collapse, or teaching a “Super” EMT course to UVA students. Although Burruss is quick to point out that every rescue is a group effort, and that no single rescue volunteer is truly a “superhero,” his fellow Squad members (including CARS Chief Dayton Haugh) readily admit that Burruss is first among equals. Among those who would heartily concur is the family of the 40-year-old heart-attack victim Burruss helped resuscitate during a PVCC softball game in July 2005. As the patient’s sister testified at a Board of Supervisors recognition ceremony, “even though the people involved thought they were just doing their job… they did more than just save a life that day. They all worked together to save a family from the debilitating grief that a stunningly sudden death can inflict.”
Sure sounds like a superhero to us.—D.C.
Sean Tubbs doesn’t want to hear any complaining about how you were too busy to go to this lecture or that meeting. From political debates to school board meetings to interviews with development dweebs, Tubbs collects an incredible array of event recordings on his year-old website www.cvillepodcast.com. Anyone can download the MP3-encoded audio from there and listen to it on a computer or an iPod, joining the ranks of the more than 6 million Americans who, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, have downloaded podcasts since 2004 (and, in the process, getting one step closer to that much-coveted distinction, “most informed local nerd”). Not that Tubbs serves good-for-you governmental medicine only. He sweetens the digital pot with podcasts on everything from wine tasting to film reviews to live music.
A radio producer by trade (he tended bar at Court Square, too), Tubbs started the website simply as a way for him to produce longer stories. Before long, he saw the bigger picture.
“I realized there was all this great audio around here,” he says, “and it’s impossible to attend all [the events]. So if there’s a way to capture that for people, that’s something that I wanted to help facilitate.”
To date Tubbs has posted more than 300 podcasts, and his site now gets at least 1,000 hits daily. A good podcast for Tubbs gets around 100 downloads. A recent forum on the war in Iraq got 250 and a WINA program on autism got 375 downloads from across the country (Tubbs’ site regularly features podcasts of the AM station’s afternoon call-in program “Charlottesville Right Now”).
And it doesn’t end there for lovers of public policy debates: Tubbs’ audio is an integral part of the popular local development website Charlottesville Tomorrow. So even when you can’t make it to an important community event in person, rest assured that there’s one local techie who’s doing his darndest to make sure that you can catch up later. It’s democracy served on a convenience platter—and Sean Tubbs is your waiter.—N.B.
Jay and Barbara Kessler
In the past 15 years, as increasing numbers of high school graduates look for ways to further their educations, community college enrollment has skyrocketed. Locally, the University of Virginia got into the act when, on the heels of a bashing by The New York Times for being a bastion of the wealthy and elite, it announced that students from the state’s community colleges would be guaranteed admission provided they had a grade point average of 3.4 or better and 54 transferable credit hours. Now, more than ever, all eyes are on Virginia’s community colleges.
Having just completed a $10 million capital campaign to spruce up their facilities, Piedmont Virginia Community College is getting ready for its close-up. And the school, with around 4,500 students, a thriving and popular theater program, and a growing reputation for excellence, is more than ready.
As co-chairs of PVCC’s capital campaign (which actually exceeded its goal), local philanthropists Jay and Barbara Kessler made it happen for the 34-year-old school. For two and a half years the couple devoted themselves to the fundraising effort because, as Barbara puts it, “We just believe in education, and the community college is definitely the community’s college.” Plus, both Kesslers have ties to the school: Barbara has worked there for 10 years, and Jay is a member of the Educational Foundation Board of PVCC.
All told, the Kesslers helped raise $11.3 million for the school. Earlier this year, the feat earned them statewide recognition from the Virginia Community College System, which honored the couple with one of its inaugural Chancellor’s Awards for Leadership in Philanthropy. They earned the Medallion Award from PVCC itself, which recognizes extraordinary service to the college and is given by the president and college board. The money will be used for a new science building, for improvements to existing facilities, and for funding more scholarships.
Still, with the State slashing education funding, the $11.3 million is just a fragment of PVCC’s future needs. As Barbara says, it’s “a foundation for ongoing and bigger goals to be set.”—N.B.
Around here, few topics inflame more passions than real estate development.
Homebuilders and environmentalists just can’t seem to stop bickering over growth—caricaturing each other as greedy land looters or dippy hippies. For most of us, however, development is a more complex issue: Sensible people are appalled that development claims more than 45,000 acres of Virginia’s forest and farmland each year, yet who among us would really pass up a chance to get rich on a sweet land deal?
So when word gets out that a new project is in the works, developers know to expect lots of curiosity and concern from the public. And it’s not just an idle concern, on either side—intense public opposition, after all, can stall or kill a project once it gets to the political approval process. So it becomes imperative, from a builder’s point of view, that new developments are ushered into public view with a smooth escort.
Enter real estate attorney Steven Blaine.
Here’s a classic case: Last fall developer Hunter Craig announced that he had purchased the sprawling Biscuit Run property southwest of Charlottesville for a whopping $46.2 million, and had plans to put up to 5,000 homes on nearly 900 acres. Blaine, of course, was the guy who Craig put on the hot seat. He went before government officials, concerned citizens and neighborhood groups, touting the project’s conformity with County rules and citing traffic studies. A seasoned pro, Blaine enlisted all the right buzzwords: “neighborhood centers,” “walk-able communities,” “diverse uses.”
As seemingly unflappable as the well-tailored suits that are his custom, Blaine is invariably well prepared. And he’s a study in consistency, always bringing the discussion back to how development can work for everyone. Even if you’re not buying what Blaine is selling, he brings a calm spirit of communication to the debate.
So the next time you marvel at just how much Charlottesville has grown—and how much more growth seems to be lurking right around the corner—don’t just blame (or thank) the developers. When it comes to turning a building plan into reality, it’s Steven Blaine, the developer’s ambassador, who is truly making it happen.—J.B.
The Rabble Rouser
Some lawyers are in it for the money. Some lawyers are in it to win. But for local defense attorney Debbie Wyatt, it’s all about sticking it to The Man. Over the course of her 20-plus-year career, Wyatt has crusaded against both UVA and the local police department many times.
Last year, however, Wyatt was ubiquitous. She represented UVA employee Dena Bowers, who courted controversy when she spoke out against the University’s “charter initiative” from her UVA e-mail account (Bowers was subsequently canned).
But it was Wyatt’s representation of Chris Matthew that really got tongues wagging. Here’s the background: In September, a law student was raped by a young black man. Just hours after the attack, the victim pointed to Matthew, a local man whom police had picked up, and identified him as her attacker. With a serial rapist still on the loose, City police wanted to take no chances, so Matthew was immediately locked up, and denied bail. But, as it turned out, Matthew was not the wanted man. He sat in jail for five days before a DNA test exonerated him, pointing instead to a convicted felon named John Henry Agee.
A cleared name, however, was apparently not enough for Matthew. Enlisting Wyatt as his lawyer, Matthew subsequently filed a civil suit seeking $850,000 in damages—not against the police for jumping to conclusions, but against the victim for pointing her finger too quickly. While the legal community has been up in arms over this lawsuit (Charlottesville Com-monwealth’s Attorney Dave Chapman, for one, warned, “This lawsuit will have a chilling effect…on the willingness of women to report to police when they are sexually assaulted”), Wyatt has staunchly defended her client—and her rationale in representing him.
Wyatt claims rape victims should be held accountable for who they accuse, regardless of their mental state after an attack. Black men, she says, are victims just as surely as women who have been raped. “The [perpetrators] of these misidentifications—why should they not be held accountable?” she asks. “Do we say ‘That’s life. Get over it,’ to the victims of rape? Well, we say that to the accused.” As far as anyone knows, this is the first time such an argument has been presented in the state. And, like it or loathe it, there’s no doubt that Wyatt will continue to spark controversy until Matthew’s case comes to trial in Charlottesville Circuit Court.
Meanwhile, Wyatt’s argument has prompted Republican Delegate Rob Bell to introduce a bill to the General Assembly that would protect victims of rape from such suits. The bill is currently pending.
Clearly, no matter how the Matthew case unfolds, Wyatt will have made her mark. Again. And we’re betting it won’t be the last time we’ll hear from her, either.—N.B.
“This. Is. Not. A. Test.” Richelle Claiborne belts out those words in her trademark throaty, love-mama style on the homepage of Soul Sledge, the metal band she fronts. They could well serve as the motto for Claiborne herself, a multitalented artist who in the past year has made it clear that her dress rehearsal is over.
Singer, songwriter, poet, actress, director, producer, teacher, costume designer—Claiborne has that multihyphenate thing working overtime. She is, as Ronda Hewitt likes to say, a “force of nature.”
As Live Arts’ marketing director, Hewitt’s in a good position to judge; Claiborne has made the most she possibly can of her Live Arts ties, especially over the past year. She performed leading roles there in Raisin in the Sun and Our Lady of 121st Street; she directed Having Our Say; and lately she’s been involved in teaching teens through Live Arts’ education programs. Claiborne first got involved with the community theater group with 2002’s production of The Wiz, but her ascending presence at Live Arts is about more than just plumping her professional credentials.
And it’s not just a matter of staying busy, either. Live Arts, in particular, espouses an ideal for artists—to harmonize their community ideals with a command of the stage and stagecraft. Claiborne has emerged as a shining example of how meaningful that connection can be to both the performer and the public. Throughout May, Soul Sledge put on a “Rock for Kids” benefit at Outback Lodge, enlisting musicians from around the area to donate their services, with all proceeds going to the UVA Children’s Hospital.
“I love watching her expand,” says Hewitt, “as she goes off in yet another direction. It’s the joy I get from watching her. She’s someone that is inspiring, not aloft. Richelle is very accessible.”
Few are the artists who could find the thread connecting hard-driving metal with philanthropy and mainstream mid-century American drama. Claiborne has not only discovered that thread, she’s begun to weave an entire quilt of creativity and outreach. She’s so good, in fact, that it might just be a matter of time before the brighter lights of the big city lure Claiborne from here. But for now, as she comes into her own, Charlottesville can count itself lucky that ours is her stage.—C.H.
While some of us are addicted to cigarettes or Spudnuts, Lloyd Burruss is addicted to motivating people. A personal trainer at mega-gym ACAC, Burruss comes in at 5:30 every morning and pushes people around. And they pay as much as $72 an hour to put up with it! For Burruss—an intensely fit man whose massive biceps provide more than enough inspiration for most clients—flexing his knowledge of various training techniques is the juice that keeps him going.
Burruss knows where he’s coming from when it comes to maxing out the body’s potential. He’s a former NFL starting safety and Pro-Bowler who had 628 career tackles for the Kansas City Chiefs. He retired from the game in 1992, and two years later got into personal training with ACAC. The organization’s popularity has since exploded, with an average of 2,000 people a day now utilizing its various facilities (growth has been so great that they’re in the process of constructing a 20,000 square foot Downtown facility). Burruss says that he was surprised to discover just how much he enjoys working to make others fit, no matter what the condition or age of his clients when they come to him. He’s had clients as young as 13, and as old as 73. “I know how to use the mind to get you places,” says Burruss, whose nametag bears the legend “I can!”
“Training with Lloyd is the best investment I’ve ever made in myself, physically,” says Fred Gignoux, a client who has been with Burruss for five years. “He senses your energy level, and inspires you to do a little more than your capabilites.”
Like many trainers these days, Burruss stresses practical total body conditioning, including exercises to build the “core”—the abs and muscles surrounding the spinal column. “It’s not about making someone sore every second. It’s about having someone, whether young or old, move through life efficiently,” he says.
A Charlottesville native (and CHS alum), Burruss credits people here with being “very educated” on the fitness front. But if you want to get your workout in with Burruss, you better act now. He says he’s been exploring coaching options, having interned last summer with the Indianapolis Colts, where he dropped some of his famous motivational skills on current NFL players.—W.G.
JacLynn Dunkle said it was “pure ignorance” that drove her to quit a good 9-to-5 job and leap into the perilous restaurant business. “I’ve never owned a restaurant,” she says. “I didn’t want to be 60 years old and think ‘why didn’t I do that?’”
She’s doing it now. In December 2004 Dunkle reopened Fellini’s #9, the longtime Charlottesville institution at the corner of Second and Market streets that had closed 10 years earlier. While it sat vacant, it reminded Downtown Mall denizens of Charlottes-ville’s days as a reputed party town in the 1980s, when Fellini’s was the hot hipster spot. In the meantime, bigger venues opened and brought with them an enhanced out-of-town vibe to the music scene.
As far as the wild partying goes, times are tamer now—but, thanks to Dunkle, you can once again find a scene at Fellini’s (and there’s one less empty building to mar the Downtown vibe). Extensive renovations give the new Fellini’s a pub feel that’s comfortably relaxed, at least compared to some other Downtown restaurants that strain to be cooler-than-thou. Dunkle’s personal touch is a diverse menu of musical options throughout the week—for which local musicians are openly thankful. There are Celtic jams, piano players during dinner and, in the evening, local stars like Las Gitanas, American Dump-ster, George Melvin and Eli Cook.
In a sign that Fellini’s has truly come full circle, last month the Hogwaller Ram-blers—who used to hootenanny at Fellini’s back in the day—took a regular gig there once again. In fact, Hogs’ drummer (and C-VILLE music columnist) Spencer Lathrop was explicit in his appreciation for Dunkle, urging entertainment fans to head out to a place that “still supports live music.”—J.B.
Father Paul Brant, who ministers to a mostly Hispanic congregation at Church of the Incarnation, doesn’t like to put himself out front. But when a Congressional anti-immigration bill stirred nationwide protest rallies, someone had to organize locally. So Padre Pablo, as Brant is known to his Catholic flock, stepped up.
Brant had only four days to organize a group of largely undocumented immigrants who, for obvious reasons, are generally reluctant to draw public attention (who wants to face deportation?). Mostly going it alone, and without much organized support from other Charlottesville groups beyond the Legal Aid Justice Center, Brant helped bring out about 350 people for a May 1 rally at the Albemarle County Office Building.
Each week Brant leads the Spanish Mass at Church of the Incarnation. As if that’s not enough, he is working to jumpstart an Institute on Migration, Culture and Ministry for Loyola College in Maryland. The idea is to instill a spiritual connection in potential Latino leaders. “What we’ve found is that the leadership frequently doesn’t have the spiritual foundation in order to put up with the trials and tribulations of the job,” he says. Indeed, if some in Congress (including Charlottesville Representative Virgil Goode) have their way, the trials and tribulations of working with undocumented Latino workers could intensify in what promises to be one of the year’s most contentious issues.
Though he’s passionate about his work, Brant didn’t set out to become Padre Pablo. Working in Chicago in the 1980s with a heavily Latino congregation, Brant requested a Spanish-speaking priest from the Archdiocese of Chicago, only to find out there wasn’t one. So, after an intensive Spanish course, Brant filled the role, learning firsthand about the problems faced by immigrants from Central and South America. Later, while working in North Carolina, Brant became the de facto legal counsel for many undocumented workers who had nowhere else to turn. And his work got noticed in high places: North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt appointed him to his advisory council on immigration. He was the only non-Latino on the board.
Brant came to Charlottesville in 2005 specifically to work with a Latino community that has grown almost 30 percent since 2000. Assuming the border isn’t sealed off anytime soon (and deportations remain just a controlling threat), Charlottesville should certainly keep Padre Pablo busy for a long time to come.—W.G.
On a recent Monday, the Legal Aid Justice Center on Preston Avenue hosted a light luncheon for visitors. The catered sandwiches were popular, but not as popular as the featured speaker. Daniel Bluestone, a UVA professor of architectural history, spoke about the recent renovation of Legal Aid’s Rock House to a crowd that clearly broadcast polite approval for Bluestone’s message.
Dedicated in April, the Rock House is a preservation project that’s easy to love. Built in 1926 by Charles B. Holt, an African-American carpenter who carved out a suburban haven despite Jim Crow-era barriers, the house is notable for its stonework and arts-and-crafts style. Bluestone, who’s on the board with Preservation Piedmont, got involved on the research front, aiding inquiries into both the house and Holt. Bluestone’s lunchtime presentation reflected his passion for history from the little guy’s point of view: Until recently, he said, a building such as the Rock House wouldn’t have been considered “an object of preservation desire.”
Bluestone’s preservationist agenda is not always met with such ready approval, though. A decision with a much larger reach (and more controversial) is City Council’s January vote to create a historic district in the so-called University Precinct, encompassing the Venable, Rugby Road and University Circle neighborhoods northeast of UVA. The historic designation means that the Board of Architectural Review has a say over demolition and new construction. Especially peeved by the decision are developers who say that a 2003 high-density rezoning in the area was a signal to build big student apartment buildings—a signal, they say, that now seems very mixed.
In the months leading up to the historic designation, Bluestone was an audible voice for preservation during planning commission and neighborhood meetings. “Not only did he come to all of them,” says Dan Friedman, past president of the University Circle Neighborhood Associa-tion, “he brought his students with him. He’s a very good speaker; he would galvanize us and help organize and energize us in that fashion.” Bluestone says that he spoke merely as a citizen, but acknowledges that he’s become a go-to guy around town for credible research and outspoken advocacy.
To some extent, Bluestone himself has actively fashioned this niche, largely through the hands-on approach he encourages in his students—researching Charlottesville neighborhoods and architecture using primary sources like deeds and census records. A project on historical student housing around the University informed his support of the historic designation, which he states in no uncertain terms: “We felt very strongly that [the neighborhood] provides the context and setting for the University. It’s a setting in terms of materials and scale that’s much more compatible than the projects we’ve seen proposed for this area for the next decade and the half.”
Not that Bluestone advocates a no-change policy when it comes to the heavily populated student area. Like any good teacher, he has an alternative up his sleeve. Backyards and alleys, he says, are “places where we could increase the density of the district, without disturbing the fronts of lots.”—E.H.
If you’re a Charlottesville realtor—even if you’re at the very top of your game—you were probably involved in far fewer than 100 sales last year. Eighty would be a very respectable number—unless, of course, you’re Greg Slater. In 2005, Slater recorded the highest number of individual sales of any realtor in the Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors—a cool 271. That’s nearly 3 percent of the total “sides” CAAR recorded last year (a side is half of one sale—either buyer or seller. If the realtor represents both sides, he essentially gets paid twice). Overall, Slater was involved in more than three times as many transactions as most of his nearest competitors.
Part of Slater’s secret is working both sides of the aisle: In 33 sales, he represented both buyer and seller. But even without that neat trick, the guy had a blockbuster year. He did it by tapping into two niches that have driven the Charlottesville market to break volume records over seven consecutive years—condo conversions and new-home construction.
Previously, Slater was a brokerage and business manager at Lake Monticello, but he left in 2003 to pursue sales through Church Hill Homes, a homebuilding company. He found himself involved in a condo conversion project at Webland Park off Hydraulic Road, which in turn put him in position to sell converted condos at Hessian Hills, off Barracks Road. Between the two, he spent 2005 moving condos in quantity. “The stars aligned,” Slater says. “Hessian Hills [went on the market in] January 2005, and we just ripped through all of them in one year”—in part by selling condos to investors in blocks of four.
Condos, Slater says, have a built-in market in Charlottesville (UVA grad students, specifically). “UVA’s not getting any smaller,” Slater says. “There’s a long line of buyers there.” He points out other condo-conversion projects sprouting up around town: 1800 Jefferson Park Ave., Walker Square on W. Main Street, and Riverbend near Pantops, to name a few. “Our success at Hessian got everybody’s attention,” Slater says.
These days, Slater is hitching his wagon to a different star, selling newly built homes in Church Hill developments in Crozet and Charlottesville, which he says is “more than enough business for me.”—E.H.
Witty, intelligent, sparkling, artistic, generous, homegrown—why hasn’t Shannon Worrell, the founding director of Light House, made it onto the C-VILLE 20 before now? The simple (and no longer convincing) answer: anti-nepotism.
Well, you know what? It doesn’t matter that she’s married to our boss: Shannon Worrell is a force in her own right, and as Light House, the youth media education center that she helped establish, rounds its fifth year there are many besides her fans at C-VILLE who recognize her contributions. There’s the crop of kids who have learned to find their voices through movie-making workshops at Light House—and along the way have come to recognize the power and contrivances of the medium (maybe “reality TV” isn’t so real, after all). There are the parents who embrace Light House as a small antidote to the paucity of cool places to occupy their kids during the awkward years. There are the audiences—at the annual Youth Media Festival, as well as satellite locations throughout the year (the library, Whole Foods, Mudhouse)—that get a peek at what’s on kids’ minds these days by watching their short documentaries and other movies.
Lately, local historians have something to thank her for, too, as Light House has just finished the first in a three-year project to document and celebrate the points of view of kids who live in some of the tougher parts of town—places that, due to the forces of economic and social change, probably won’t be what they are for long. Over the past year, Worrell and her Light House team have put cameras into the hands of kids from Westhaven, the city’s oldest (currently dilapidated) public housing project, as well as kids who live in Woolen Mills’ Sunrise Trailer Court, which is now slated for rehabilitation after Habitat for Humanity saved it from the clutches of a potentially less sympathetic developer. With those kids, Worrell embraced a “roving camera” technique, giving viewers a rare glimpse through the eyes of our youngest city dwellers.
But even before she opened Light House, Worrell, who hails from a prominent media family, was in the express-yourself business. She was a musician from the age of 15, eventually releasing two solo CDs and another with her band, September 67. The story goes that her first complete sentence was actually sung: “Hey, hey little one.” Worrell discounts it a little bit, calling the story “suspiciously too perfect”—but from what we see of how fully realized her sound and vision is these days, we’re buying it.—C.H.
The Lifetime Achiever
It is impossible to consider a list of 20 of Charlottesville’s movers and shakers without thinking of Coran Capshaw. The man is in a category all his own, and he launches new scene-defining projects with the same regularity that Dave Matthews Band (his long-time clients) sell out summer concerts. Accord-ingly, Capshaw has earned our first-ever C-VILLE 20 Lifetime Achievement Award.
Though the fortune he has earned as DMB’s manager could be a passport to anywhere, Capshaw has decided to kick it here in Charlottesville, pouring his money into businesses and charity while trying to keep his name out of the limelight. Rolling Stone may not keep up with Capshaw, but we do—outside of UVA, he’s arguably the single most important force in our city’s local life.
First of all, he’s an employer. As founder of Red Light Management, Capshaw employs dozens of locals while serving clients as big as Trey Anastasio, Robert Randolph and the Family Band and O.A.R. Then there’s MusicToday, his merch- and ticket-selling empire, which at last count provided jobs to at least 200 people locally. He’s the money behind cool nightspots like Blue Light Grill and Starr Hill, and, as C-VILLE reported two years ago, his local commercial and residential real estate holdings “are almost” $50 million. Through BamaWorks, DMB’s charity arm, Capshaw and the band have funneled millions in charity into the Charlottesville-Albemarle Community Foundation for projects as diverse as Meals on Wheels and the Music Resource Center. Capshaw is also the brains behind the Charlottesville Pavilion, which has brought the likes of Wilco and James Brown to a Mall once best-known for its conveniently located post office.
Oh, and how could we forget to mention the restaurants—now numbering six? (Besides Blue Light and Starr Hill, there’s Mono Loco, Three Notch’d Grill, Mas and Northern Exposure.)
Yes, as we’ve said before, Charlottesville truly is Capshaw’s world—we just live in it. But hey, we’re not complaining—at least the man’s got great musical taste.—J.B