Distressed out

Distressed out

It recently came to my attention that landowner Terry Vassalos intends to replace three local businesses on the Corner—the Satellite Ballroom, Just Curry, and Higher Grounds—with the national pharmacy chain CVS [“CVS near deal for Plan 9, Satellite space,” Development News, April 22, 2008]. I am writing to express my concern about the removal of these three local businesses, and my particular concern over the decision to close the Satellite Ballroom.
The Satellite Ballroom is not just a music venue, but also a vital element of Charlottesville culture. Since its opening, musical groups that did not previously have an opportunity to visit our community have been lining up to play for our residents. Because of Satellite, Charlottesville has become an important stop on the itineraries of countless touring bands as they travel the East Coast. I have personally visited the venue on countless occasions (most recently to see Colin Meloy), and because of how much I enjoy going to Satellite, I have become upset and distressed by the news that it might close.

Charlottesville is a small town that prides itself on having a great deal of culture to offer its residents, and the Satellite Ballroom has become a large and important part of this town’s culture. With the recent closing of Starr Hill, Satellite is the only venue of its kind in town, and for those of us who enjoy music that is not as mainstream as the acts featured at the Paramount or the Charlottesville Pavilion, the Satellite Ballroom has provided many people like myself with an outlet to enjoy a completely different collection of bands, including lesser-known favorites, and new bands that most of us have never before experienced. In turn, the Satellite Ballroom has also provided an opportunity for up-and-coming and local musicians to share their music with new and larger audiences.

Given its importance to myself and countless other residents of Charlottesville, I sincerely hope that Mr. Vassalos reconsiders his decision and decides to allow the Satellite Ballroom and the other businesses to remain on the corner. As it is an important cultural venue in Charlottesville, closing Satellite would be a true loss for our community.

Vanessa LoBue
Albemarle County

For more on Satellite Ballroom and CVS, read this week’s Feedback column.

Think locally, act boldly

I just read the opinion piece [“Sisyphus or Hercules?”] from the April 8, 2008, edition of the C-VILLE. This is an interesting take on the direction we should chart in fighting global warming at the state level, but one that, in my opinion, ignores the opportunities available and has already admitted defeat.

The eight warmest years on record have all occurred since 1998, and we are seeing the early signs of global warming worldwide. In Virginia, global warming threatens to raise sea levels, inundating our coasts, as well as increasing the intensity and duration of the droughts that have plagued the region in recent years.

To protect future generations from the worst effects of global warming, our leaders at the state and federal levels must act boldly and decisively to reduce global warming pollution from cars, coal-fired power plants, and other sources, while jumpstarting the transition to a clean energy economy.

If anything, the Virginia Climate Commission’s charge to reduce global warming emissions by 30 percent by the year 2025, does not go far enough. We need science-based solutions to global warming. Virginia should join the more than 20 states that have called for a 20 percent reduction by 2020, followed by an 80 percent reduction by 2050.

At the federal level, environmental supporters in the House of Representatives are circulating a letter asking members to endorse a statement of principle on global warming that calls for reducing emissions quickly, ensuring that polluters pay, and investing in the clean energy economy. Representative Virgil Goode should sign these strong principles.

J.R. Tolbert
Virginia Field Organizer, Environment America

Safe to swim

Recently, your paper has reported on the payday lending industry, particularly Advance America, in a negative light [“Caught!” March 25, 2008]. It’s important to note that while some people, like the ones you interviewed, have had bad experiences with these loans, there are thousands of Virginians using them responsibly and successfully. Your newspaper’s relentless criticism of these loans is clearly made without an understanding of the flexibility that they provide many customers.

If an unbudgeted cost arises that I cannot cover until the next payday, I appreciate that I can turn to these loans and a single fee based on the amount I withdraw. This financial option lets me easily pay off my expense without worrying that my credit will be tarnished or that I’ll be charged sky-high interest over the coming months. I repay the loans within the allotted two weeks, and I get back on track. I have never experienced harassment from store employees that your article places such heavy emphasis on. Instead, I have only been treated with respect and friendliness.

The terms of these loans are easy to understand, and when used correctly, give customers some cushion for tight financial binds. Your paper should understand that these services can often be life-savers—and the companies providing them, including Advance America, are not the “loan sharks” that your article makes them out to be.

Karen Williams


Regarding your insolent “Washed Up” segment from “We’re With the Bands” [April 15, 2008], I have to say that for all of Charlottesville’s good qualities, hearing this kind of pretentious, elitist bullshit constantly coming from your rag is the one reason I sometimes wish I didn’t live in Charlottesville. You’re certainly entitled to your opinion about those dumb, old, blue-haired bands, but when you state, “Be not afraid of the actual artists, those with something left to tell us,” it’s obvious to me that the joke is on you; not the artists that you think you are so far above. And it’s interesting how you didn’t lump Springsteen in with the fogies, as if he is somehow more socially or politically relevant than some of the others you mentioned.

But, oh, that’s right. C-VILLE loves to fawn over artists that you and six other people in the world know about. Promulgating their greatness to whoever will listen, already scheduling their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction for 2039, though, to date, they haven’t sold a single unit. By the way, should you think to ask these young guns about their musical influences, you might just be surprised by some of their answers.

Let me clue you in on something, Mr. Fitzgerald. When artists such as the ones you so smugly mock sell 50 or 60 or 70 million albums in their careers, that means people like them. A lot of people. People far less intelligent than you and the C-VILLE music critics admittedly, but nevertheless.

In closing, I’d like to leave you with a few verses from a song:
We’re being treated to the wisdom
Of some puffed up little fart
Doing exactly what I used to do
Pretentions to anarchy and art
—Don Henley
How’s that for an actual artist with something left to tell you?
John Dove

Competitive spirit

I hadn’t read a C-VILLE Weekly in years. That’s partly because I live in Richmond now, and partly because when I am in town, I usually pick up, ahem, a competitive weekly instead. Yesterday, a co-worker brought C-VILLE Weekly back from a meeting there, and I decided to flip through it over coffee. Regarding your brief piece under News From This Just In, April 15 issue [“Couric Cancer Center going up”], about the Couric Cancer Center groundbreaking. Here’s some news: The event was about Emily Couric, the hospital, the Cancer Center, the people who worked tirelessly to make it a reality. The event had nothing to do with Katie Couric or the “rumors of her departure from CBS.” She was there because her entire family was there, and because they, like so many of us, loved Emily beyond expression and know how important the Cancer Center is and will be to people throughout Virginia. Katie Couric would never want the event or the coverage to be about her, and the event wasn’t. No one was mobbing her or asking for autographs, etc. She was not recognized from the podium as the famous sister. I have the utmost respect for Katie Couric as a journalist and a fellow UVA alum, and I happen to know that she was/is a wonderful sister. But I learned from, respected, loved and greatly miss Emily every day. The 300 or so people there on Saturday would probably say they feel the same; they cared about Emily and the important work she left behind for us to do. Don’t make light of it or turn it into gossip column fodder. And maybe mention her name, beyond just the name of the building. Maybe I’ll just have to stick with your competition.

Moira Coughlin Holdren

The customer is always right

In the vein of full disclosure, our family is a Lynchburg shareowner of Horse & Buggy and has been for the past two years [“Trouble in paradise,” April 1, 2008]. If truth be known, my wife was the impetus behind our membership and the one doing most of the legwork. My experience with H & B has been occasionally serving as the pickup for our family share. On my few opportunities to do this I have observed the following:

•    They provide the products we enjoy in quantities we can use and the quality is better than what we can get through commercial sources.

•    We have a thriving local farmers market but the offerings are generally very seasonal (which you would expect with a very local market) and one can only buy but so much greens and tomatoes.

•    Trust is certainly an important element in our continuing to buy shares year after year. This is reinforced by the presence of Mr. Wilson, whose smiling face and witty repartee is always evident on delivery day, available to answer any and all questions and listen to our complaints however few.  Although my contacts have been rare, I can tell you I have conversed with him on those occasions many more times than I have with the manager of our grocery store (which by the way is half a block from our home) in a year.

•    Horse & Buggy is growing and successful because of a few basic good  business principles: Treat your customers honestly (I really don’t care if the produce came from 100 or 150 miles away as long as it is the quality I expect); give them a good value for their money (I can pick and weigh my own produce—no fingers but mine on the scale); always do what is best for your customer and it will end up being the best for your business.

I am sorry you felt it necessary in your article to create controversy and discontent. But I guess that is what grabs readers’ interest. Rather than focusing on the competitive aspect of the business, why wasn’t more attention given to the customers to gauge their satisfaction?

Tom Antonelli