CLAWs out! [with video]

CLAWs out! [with video]

The first two matches of the inaugural Charlottesville Lady Arm Wrestlers tournament end quickly. “Kaity the Harrible” Harr twists her shoulder, flexes her right bicep—the one bearing a tattooed caricature of a boxer—and pounds Margaret “Magellan” Murray’s palm against the table, then switches arms to finish her off with a left hand. Local blogger Wistar Murray, fighting under the name “Debbie ‘The Debutante’ Danger,” peels her white lace gloves off her hands and pulls a black ski mask over her head, then dispatches the lab coat-clad ChemMistress, Lauren Neese, as quickly.

Out of hand: “Dead President” Reagan Greenfield grips her opponent’s mitt during the inaugural Charlottesville Lady Arm Wrestlers tournament.

But when the third match—between “Dead President” Reagan Greenfield and Plum Jam guitarist Sandy “Lefty Red” Goodson, who took her seat to the roar of the 60 to 70 audience members singing the “Bonanza!” theme song inside the Blue Moon Diner—passes the one-minute mark, the noise dies down and the crowd leans in.

“C’mooon, Red!” shouts Goodson’s husband from a spot behind Curtain Calls. Goodson and Greenfield split the first two contests and then, with a mighty shove that nearly knocks the pack of American Spirit cigarettes from her shirt, Goodson puts Greenfield to rest.

Cheers ring out, mixed with a paper rustle of hands foraging for more “CLAW Bucks”—paper money used for bribing the referee (Live Arts regular and Shentai maniac Jude Silveira) and the celebrity judges (local musicians Jim Waive and Sarah White). By the time the tournament is over, Jennifer Hoyt Tidwell—CLAW’s emcee, dubbed “Rose the Wrist-Twister”—holds over $600.

Video from the Charlottesville Lady Arm Wrestlers tournament.

Take out expenses for t-shirts (designed by local artist and musician Thomas Dean) and CLAW has a hefty $450-500 to donate to The Voice Project, a performing arts program at the Fluvanna Correctional Facility for Women that encourages expression and awareness among the inmates. The next event (back at Blue Moon on March 11) will feature a whole new crew of palm-pressing, fake-nail-destroying wrestlers and another local, woman-oriented cause.

Bree Luck, codename “Stiletto Southpaw,” makes her way to the table in a sleek black “Bond girl”-type outfit, collecting CLAW Bucks from the crowd; Luck, the director of The Voice Project, is a favorite tonight (though Goodson wins a trophy from the women of The Voice Project for being the biggest crowd pleaser). Her competition, local artist RosamondCasey “The Sidewinder” , nabs a few dollars of her own, then sits, a snake wrapped around her bicep, ready to rumble.

Surrounded by art

On “Super Tuesday,” February 5, Curt drove out to Just Java, the Fair Trade coffee shop in Lake Monticello—past Katelyn Sack’s painting exhibits that line the bathroom hallway of the Barracks Road Barnes & Noble, the lobby of Play On! Theatre and the at last… hair salon on Ridge/McIntire Road, to meet with the artist herself.

CC has been hard-pressed to find a month where Sack’s images don’t arrive in his mailbox—swooping floral pieces in which the thick paths of her brush bleed over from subject to surroundings, as if the orchids she paints stir the air around them, the type of eye-candy that holds the gaze a bit longer. But Sack’s latest work is different in style and tone—caricatures of prominent figures of the Bush Administration, pocked with shards of glass donated by Elizabeth Breeden.

“The Italian Renaissance painters used powdered glass to achieve that shine on their paintings,” Sack explains to Curt as she leads him to a piece titled “Cheney at Chesapeake.” Breeden didn’t have any powdered glass, but told Sack that she had “a lot of smashed up stuff.” In Sack’s painting, Cheney murderously leers from behind mirrored, cracked glasses; a Guantanamo detainee stands in the corner like a witchy apparition.

Curt’s visit with Sack was a quick one, but if he gleaned anything, it’s this: The gal has an appetite for art, and doesn’t hesitate to put her work on display (check for more paintings, poetry and music). Sack opens two more shows in March, at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church and Vanity, a hair salon in the Frank Ix Building; all of her others (except for Play On!) remain open through March.


CC spent the early part of his time at the Virginia Festival of the Book press breakfast talking with Trey Mitchell, webmaster for Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and bassist for local folk group, Tigerlily, about Friday’s Van Halen concert. Mitchell spoke about how Eddie Van Halen and crew unceremoniously gave bassist Michael Anthony the boot from the reunion tour in a press release, and the conversation reminds Curt about his own feelings towards publicity and giving writers their due at the Book Fest.

Next, Curt chatted with assistant program director Kevin McFadden (formerly a poetry editor at “Meridian,” which publishes the annual Best New Poets anthology; read Erika Howsare’s review of Best New Poets 2007 on here).“Poetry,” McFadden told the crowd of reporters, “could be memoir, it could be nonfiction, it could be people who like the music of words. It’s a gateway.”

No argument from Curt, but until the press conference the gateway seemed a bit blocked by “M*A*S*H”’s Mike Farrell, who the Fest is touting as one of its marquee guests. Fortunately, the conference hyped the names of a few poets (including recent Pulitzer Prize-winner Natasha Trethewey, who edited the latest Best New Poets), a standout in the returning “Crime Wave” mystery series (Washington Post’s David Ignatius) and former Virginian Homer Hickam, whose memoir Rocket Boys was the basis for the film October Sky.

Mitchell mentioned to Curt that the Fest website’s “Book Bag” feature helps the VFH staff plan and publicize their events based on public demand, so it looks like your narrator has nobody to blame for a lack of poetry-related enthusiasm but himself. Hoping to make local literary champ Charles Wright proud, Curt hurried back to the office to add a few events to his collection of Book Fest booty. (The early bird, readers, catches the bookworm. By which Curt means that he has, what, a belly full of worms?)

With a month left until the Fest, CC has plenty of time to check in again with some of the returning writers. Watch this space for more.

Got any arts news? Want to wrestle Curt? E-mail