Weekly writers



Take a Message

Since the first cave dwellers plunked a rock against a wall for purely expressive reasons, music has been social—even sometimes political. Like any art form, music offers an individual’s take on the surrounding world, one that is in turn absorbed and cast back into the world by an audience. Every song, no matter the subject, […]

What they don’t tell us

One of the most striking aspects of life in Third World countries is information starvation. Because they’ve learned not to trust their state-controlled media, people in authoritarian backwaters carefully debrief newcomers. What’s going on abroad? What’s going on here? Did you get any foreign newspapers or magazines through customs? News is a component of infrastructure […]

For the record

The first sign of change at Spencer’s 206 is the pert display of DVDs at the register. They’re the right kind of DVDs, of course—Dylan’s Don’t Look Back, the Heads’ Stop Making Sense—but they signal the sort of infusion of new merchandise that says “reinvestment.” Then there’s the tidier aspect of the Water Street shop—actual […]

Making Book

Books and writers certainly get their due starting at about this time of the year as the Virginia Festival of the Book ramps up. Local authors who have been holed away surface to share their year’s work in one way or another, shedding temporary (and sometimes unwanted) light on a solitary process. But there is […]

Lab Rat

I am an open-minded fellow. But when I heard I was going to be interviewing an 18-year-old high school student who had organized poetry readings at Mudhouse and was now hosting events at Live Arts, certain unpleasant associations crowded my head, despite my best efforts to banish them. I knew poets in high school—they wore […]

Keeping race on track

Cindy Stratton grew up more than 30 years ago in Westhaven, the City housing project located in the 10th and Page neighborhood. Raised in a poor and racially segregated environment, Stratton says that, nevertheless, she “had no problem with white children.” But Stratton can’t advance that claim for the black kids growing up in Charlottesville […]

Artistic Choices

Budding art historian Aviva Dove-Viebahn is articulate, attractive, friendly and self-assured. She smiles readily. She makes a good first impression. None of that, of course, is very extraordinary. Unfairly or not, one expects a certain polish from the daughter of Rita Dove, a former United States poet laureate under Bill Clinton, and Fred Viebahn, an […]

Dog eat dog

Five pit bulls were euthanized during the last week of January at the Charlottesville SPCA. The dogs would only respond to their owner, who had just been arrested for murder in connection with a Federal drug charge. “Not only were they trying to kill other dogs,” says SPCA spokeswoman Carolyn Foreman, “but they were trying […]

Science without politics

In his neatly appointed office with its volumes of medical references in the West Wing of the UVA Medical Center, Dr. Jonathan Moreno, director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics, speaks softly while his hands remain folded in his lap. With his slight stature, firmly pressed shirt and perfectly trimmed beard, he sits as an […]

You can’t handle the truth

Did American soldiers commit war crimes during the invasion of Afghanistan? According to eyewitnesses, U.S. Special Forces supervised—some say orchestrated—the systematic murder of more than 3,000 captured Taliban soldiers in November 2001. That charge is the centerpiece of a documentary film, Afghan Massacre: The Convoy of Death, expected to be released in the United States […]

Faded Genes

Seeds…those sleepy little kernels tucked in their winter coats. Not one metabolic quiver until, suddenly and by the millions, they start to move. They travel by ground and by air, from state to state, from December through April. That’s the time of year when discerning growers scour seed catalogues, browsing long lists of plants with […]

Art and Commerce

Economic times are tight in Virginia. And when axes start falling on State budgets, funding for the arts is often the first to be slashed. The Charlottesville-based Piedmont Council of the Arts hopes to dodge the blow by proving that, in Director Nancy Brockman’s words, “The arts are a producing segment of the economy.” That […]

On the right track

Just over the crest of the hill, you see a plume of smoke escape. Instead of the low, familiar, chugging sound, however, you hear infectious music, a sound you haven’t heard before. Slowly Old School Freight Train comes into view—and begins to pick up steam. The band, which is based in Charlottesville, has recently enjoyed […]

Dream Weavers

This little light of mine/I’m gonna let it shine.“ The rehearsal hadn’t officially started yet, but the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Mass Choir was already singing. On a frigid Monday night, January 6, a jumble of people filled the black box theater at Charlottesville High School. Tight clumps of fidgety teenagers waited in line […]

Psycho Analysis

In the wake of last summer’s Enron and WorldCom disasters and other corporate malfeasance along the way, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have been busy trying to restore investors’ confidence. Their reach has extended to Charlottesville, where SNL Financial, a publishing company covering various financial services sectors, […]

Tales from the Gift

Flashlights, GOP handbooks and dirty shirts: very, very costly.   This will not be an O. Henry moment.In what follows you will find no stories of bartered hair and pocket watches. If there is sentimentality in these tales of best and worst gifts, we didn’t put it there. Deploying the sharpest investigative tools, by which […]

Artistic Endeavor

Ice, snow and frigid temperatures be damned, 275 well-heeled patrons and artists pile into the stately University of Virginia Art Museum on Rugby Road on Saturday, December 7. Anticipation, tuxes and formal gowns surround the 55 donated pieces to be silently auctioned at “Seeing Double,” the fete sponsored by the Young Friends of the Museum. […]

Homeland Security

What purpose does a gate serve but to limit access? Depending on the setting, a gate can forbid freedom or promise a new horizon. Or, if you live in Keswick, Glenmore, Lake Monticello or any of the ersatz gated subdivisions around Charlottesville, a gate can rise as a shining symbol of such lifestyle amenities as […]

Return of Pokey Man

Since Andrew Holden went to jail last month for staging a sit-in at a local hotel, he’s often been asked, “Was it worth it?” Despite suffering from what he calls “the worst medical treatment” he’s ever encountered, Holden says he actually found incarceration liberating. He admits most people won’t understand that feeling, but, he says, […]

From Refuse to Refuge

Before long, family vacations may take you to the “redeemed” site of a former toxic dump. The unnatural history of such a park won’t necessarily be posted along the trail, either. More likely, the truth will be trapped beneath “cap and cover” vegetation and other peek-a-boo devices. Landscape architect Julie Bargmann refers to that process […]

Brutality Sells

A serial rapist is on the loose in Charlottesville––police suspect the same man is responsible for at least five sexual assaults in the past six years, including a November 11 attack in the Willoughby subdivision. The violent nature of the attacks has attracted local media, but City and UVA rape counselors say rape, in all its […]

Village People

Two years ago, Charlottesville carpenter Louise Finger packed her tool belt and sized up a new project. She put aside her usual routine of building swanky homes for Central Virginia’s well-to-do and embarked on what she says is a more rewarding path: constructing no-frills public structures for communities in need. Ilove that kind of work, […]

Home Work

Ashlin and Lloyd Smith, like many Charlottesvillians, are no strangers to the clash between developers and residents. The Smiths are also no strangers to “firsts”: Lloyd was among the earliest members of the Downtown Board of Architectural Review in the late 1960s and Ashlin was one of the founding members of Preservation Piedmont in 1993, […]

Assault on Battery

About a year ago, John Coleman noticed that the parking spaces outside his business, Central Battery Specialists on Grady Avenue, had been changed. What had previously been all-day free parking now had two-hour time limits. According to the landlord, Ivy Realty and Management, the City had made the change. So Coleman, who has been in […]

City of Anjlz

The first day of shooting ANJLZ begins on a cold mid-November morning, in a large garage located on an estate in Free Union, just west of Charlottesville. A group of people, most still looking sleepy and clutching cups of coffee, are milling about in two small rooms adjacent to the garages main bay. A few […]

A Touch of the Poet

No doubt the ancient Greeks had something we might call a culture, as did the Persians, Egyptians and Phoenicians. An Appalachian quilt, a plate of spaghetti or a vase is created according to values, principles and traditions; these cannot be proven or disproven. Culture is irrational. To maintain a culture you have to guard it, […]

Men with a Plan

On Friday, November 8, Architect-Mayor Maurice Cox delivered a jargon-heavy lecture on his vision for the future of Charlottesville–something about creating public spaces through the juxtaposition of built form and whatnot. On Saturday, a green cardboard dragon-car trampled picnickers and excreted pavement on the floor of Nature Gallery. The two events had nothing to do […]