29 lists to recap what was great (and not so great) about 2012

Play date: Dan Mahon. Photo: John Robinson

5 people you might find behind the curtain
Certain locals make the news over and over. Here are a few people you met on our pages who are, however quietly, shaping life in Charlottesville and beyond.
1. Since arriving at UVA in 2010, University Director of Innovation Mark Crowell has completely overhauled the way the school handles and develops intellectual property. His push to incentivize faculty patent-seeking is helping put Charlottesville on the map in the world of biotech and other research-centric industries. More ideas than ever are going from the University lab bench to city-based startup space, and Crowell’s team of patent and innovation gurus are making it happen.
2. City Parks and Trails Planner Chris Gensic’s job requires remarkable patience. He’s been working since 2006 to piece together and finagle easements for bike and pedestrian corridors linking city parks and paths, including the 20-mile loop of the Rivanna Trail. It’s slow going—lots of grant applications and waiting for city matching funds—but in another couple of years, when you can bike through greenways from Greenbrier to Pen parks, you’ll have him to thank.
3. Because of Gail Esterman’s dedication as the childcare quality manager at Children, Youth & Family Services, local childcare providers have access to inexpensive trainings, and families have a liaison who can speak to quality and rankings. A lot of her work is behind the scenes, but her quiet, hard work helps shape the area’s childcare industry.
4. Most people associate the Peace Corps with 20-something whippersnappers fresh out of college. But April Muniz served in Senegal with 20 years of business experience under her belt, and is now helping guide UVA students down a similar path.
5. Who wouldn’t love to wear jeans and ride a Gator through the woods every day? Albemarle County Outdoor Recreation Supervisor Dan Mahon has one of the coolest jobs in town, and has spent years maintaining and upgrading the county’s elaborate trail system and making the outdoors more accessible to residents.

5 reasons to dust off your gramophone
1. Sarah White & the Pearls, Red Rattles, and The Fire Tapes all gave us 7″ recordings from the new moguls in the making imprint WarHen records.
2. Local schoolteacher and WTJU DJ Blair Amberly runs SpeakerTree Records, which releases first real material from garage bands around the country with Internet buzz. Now, the Lilys (fronted by Kurt Heasley), who hold dual residences in California and Charlottesville, have put out their first recordings in almost a decade. It’s just one song—the A side of a split 7″ on Amberly’s label—but enough to know we want more.
3. County Wide Music put out releases by Chamomile & Whiskey, Mister Baby, and PantherBurn.
4. Invisible Hand and Borrowed Beams of Light pressed cuts on Harrisonburg-based label Funny/Not Funny.
5. Tea Bazaar’s booking boss Matt Northrup continued to issue small-run obscurities on cassette through a number of labels.

File photo

3 stories that indulged our inner nerd
1. Interviewing Josh Ritter, a brilliant singer-songwriter on whom you have a pretty serious but, ahem, totally intellectual crush? And talking about books with him? And getting to request which song he’d play live on the air? Priceless.
2. As an ag school grad and a history buff, I was thrilled to get a chance to sit down in the spring with Peter Hatch, who recently retired as head of gardens and grounds at Monticello, to talk about his latest book, which focuses on Thomas Jefferson’s abiding love and obsession with vegetables.
3. Geeking out on insects—their evolution and important ecological niche, and the impact that invasive species can have on our crops and native plants—for a story on stink bugs was a treat for this nature geek.—G.B.

7 new ways to expand your waistline
1. Ace Biscuit & Barbecue (711 Henry Ave.): From chicken and waffles to a loaded breakfast biscuit, Ace has been the place for Southern grub since it opened in August.
2. Whiskey Jar (227 W. Main St., Downtown Mall): This Southern eatery from Revolutionary Soup owner Will Richey won Best New Restaurant in this year’s Best of C-VILLE readers’ poll.
3. Citizen Burger Bar (212 E. Main St., Downtown Mall): We’re still saving up for the $24 Executive Burger (with wagyu beef and foie gras), but the sweet potato fries should hold us over until then.
4. Moto Pho Co. (511 W. Main St.): There’ve been mixed reviews on this noodle soup shop, but there’s no dispute over the satisfying veggie version of pho or the finger-licking-good pork belly buns.
5. Song Song’s Zhou & Bing (106 Fifth St. SE): With nothing on the menu more than $2.50 or less than mouth-watering, Song Song’s lunch spot is legit.
6. Glass Haus Kitchen (313 Second St. SE): This new special occasion spot made a quick entrance after the closing of X Lounge in October—and an even quicker entry to the list of top spots to dine Downtown.
7. Caffe Bocce (609 E. Market St.): The once-popular Scottsville eatery was recently resurrected in town and all the old favorites are back.

4 stories that refuse to die
1. The only thing surprising about another story on the planned Route 29 Western Bypass is that we’re still talking about it 33 years after it was first proposed. Some big milestones this year, though: There’s actually an engineering plan and a contractor onboard. The Federal Highway Administration’s decision on whether VDOT needs to do a further environmental impact study is expected any day now.
2. Even two reporters who were new to town knew we’d be talking about McIntire Park and the Meadowcreek Parkway. After months of meetings about golf, trails, soccer fields, wading pools, bridges, and roads, City Council approved a master plan for the park in September, and the parkway
is well on its way—but many people are still not happy. And don’t get us started on the Y.
3. A zoning battle pitting a restaurateur and would-be entertainment provider against neighbors and city officials? Haven’t we heard this story before? Oh, right. First Bel Rio, then Black Market Moto Saloon. Moto owner Matteus Frankovich backed down after losing a bid for a special use permit that would have allowed live music at his Market and Meade location, but he’s since reignited the argument by again hosting live shows—acoustic this time.
4. For some reason, we weren’t entirely surprised when liberally minded residents of Charlottesville began speaking up about decriminalizing marijuana possession. Local attorney Jeff Fogel recommended City Council prohibit marijuana possession, but make it a Class 4 Misdemeanor, not punishable by time in jail.

1 way to supersize your Honey Boo Boo
The Paramount Theater turned a number of T.V. broadcasts into theater events by showing them on its jumbo HD screen. Patrons enjoyed a pore-magnifying view of everything from “Mad Men” and Euro soccer matches to “Downton Abbey” and the (upcoming) New Year’s Eve disco ball drop in Times Square.

1 reason art history professors matter
UVA art history professor Lydia Gasman was a leading expert on Pablo Picasso. When she passed away in 2010, she left manuscripts, papers, and books to two of her former doctoral students. In turn, they are launching a local archive where Picasso prints will be on display alongside notes by the venerable art scholar at the Lydia Csato Gasman Archives for Picasso and Modernist Studies.