As I followed Alison Miller Barber, owner of Taboo for the last decade, to her office to sit and chat about the effects of technology on her business, we passed aisles of product, arranged by type and fetish—a sexual candy store for adults that has exactly what the customer came for, and endless opportunities for exploration. As customers lingered about, picking up products and asking the Taboo Girls at the counter for advice, we walked to the back of the store, where Alison paused to acknowledge my surprise at the rooms and rooms stuffed with pornographic DVD offerings. “Over 7,000 titles,” she smiled proudly at the store’s collection.
We entered into her office, winding past towers of retail overstock, and took a seat at her desk, surrounded by the latest in sexy wearables and fetish gear. “Sorry about the mess,” she said. “We’re getting ready to expand again, and stuff is just everywhere right now.” With that comment, it’s obvious that Alison isn’t concerned much with the need to downsize due to the current economic trends. She kicked back in her chair, and we began.
It’s appropriate, perhaps, that it’s been raining all week in Richmond. One of our most forward thinking, locally oriented establishments has been forced to close it’s doors. I am writing, of course, about Sprout. It’s hard to find a single negative review of Sprout online- in fact, google results show 4 or more stars from most reviewing sites. And I can personally attest to amazing sammiches (despite not being vegetarian, their Tempeh Po Boy was my favorite) and a great beer selection.
Sprout focused on local sourcing more than any restaurant I know. 90% of their food was sourced from Virginia, focusing on farmers, butchers, artesian crafters and tofu makers. They also kept Blue Mountain (from Afton Mountain / Crozet, barely 100 miles away from RVA) on tap, and local Virginia wines. Their cocktails were named after local bands (Canary Oh Canary, The Diamond Center, Antlers, The Hotdamns...), which was only appropriate as Sprout was a remarkable local venue, as well.
Sprout, you were too good for us.
CAPS (Community Assisted Public Safety), the well-intended but poorly utilized task force who brought an end to live music at Rumors Boutique and threatened to close down Gallery 5 two years ago, have popped up again in the Richmond arts community. Last week, city officials and Richmond police officers paid a visit to the most recent in a series of attempted warehouse show spaces, The Hospital.
Police didn’t specify where they received information about the former animal hospital turned show space, but told the space’s manager (who politely asked that his name did not appear in print) that they had been “watching them.” A story published in this week’s Style Weekly listed the Hospital’s address, and given that Style reported two years ago that CAPS likes to use them as tip-sheets for show spaces, I would have liked to see a little more discretion about printing addresses without the permission of a space. That being said, there is no way of knowing how the police got their information, and ultimately, it doesn’t matter. The manager is being charged with three misdemeanors and the space could be shut down. The charges are failure to pay the admissions tax, operating a business without a license, and improper zoning. City officials told him that they were optimistic about his chances at getting the proper permits.
The First Friday Art Walk has been a tradition in the Richmond arts community for most of the past decade. Along with the intention to spread awareness and participation in the Richmond art scene, one of its original goals was to help revitalize Richmond and bring business and tourism back to the downtown area. Its steady growth over the last eight years has made First Friday a Richmond success story, and has built the event into one of the pillars of the vibrant cultural scene that is RVA.
In some ways, the recent troubles that have plagued First Friday are unintended side effects of its own success. The event’s continued growth was bound to eventually create interest even outside its target demographic. However, the tensions that have arisen as new faces have appeared at recent events are an unfortunate reflection of a problem that is much bigger than the First Friday Art Walk, and point to an ongoing problem in our city.
AND, you probably live in Richmond.
Did everyone have a nice hurricane? We here at RVA Magazine hope that your post-hurricane hangover wasn’t as bad as ours. Because ours was BAD. Now, is your power still out? And is it still out because of hurricane damage, and not because you haven’t squared up with Dominion in three months? Okay.
Prepare yourself for a discrepancy.
VA Dominion Power serves about 800,000 people in the northern virginia area, and as of this afternoon, they have a grand total of twenty-three people who are still without power. They serve a little over half of that- 490,000 customers- in the Richmond area, and of those, 80,000 people are still without power (source). All in all, about eight out of ten people without power in Virginia are in Richmond.
Why? That’s more complicated. Yes, Richmond was harder hit than Northern VA. And customers west of us weren’t hit nearly as hard. But if the severity of the storm is the major factor, why did customers east of us have less outages, and why is their power coming back on quicker?
When I was a teenager, my friends and I would take monthly trips to our nearest record store—a mere 40 miles away at the closest mall to where we lived in West Central Pennsylvania. We would pile into my old rusty grey Buick Century, everyone crammed in hip to hip in the back and front seats, and we would roar down the curving farms roads until we hit the highway, headed for Johnstown.
As I pushed the Buick’s pedal to the floorboard, allowing my youthful belief in total immortality to take charge, my best friend would pull out a few of his cassette tape holders, complete with travel straps and zippers, and begin to DJ. With the factory stereo system blasting until the back speakers crackled, teetering on the edge of surrender, he jammed in cassette after cassette, slamming down the fast forward and rewind buttons every few minutes until he landed on the perfect song for that perfect day.
Once we hit the mall parking lot, I’d slam my grey boat into the closest spot, and we’d run to the escalator, joking with excitement as we anticipated getting our hands on the latest releases, spending hours digging through the store’s mediocre stock.
When I first came to Richmond, I was in awe at the music selection that was available at the stores. I discovered genres I never knew existed. Having that music selection available to me definitely impacted my life. Recently, when my best friend came down from Pennsylvania for Record Store Day, we patiently waited in the winding check out line at Plan 9 together, just as we had done in high school. Now an adult with disposable income, his arms bulged with obscure CD’s and odd vinyl. “The perfect day,” he said, making sure to pick up a button at the register to commemorate the experience.
The experience of purchasing music has changed drastically since the days of my first record store outings. Now we have the convenience of sitting at our laptop and never venturing out. Like so many others of my generation, even I have a Pandora account. Hit download for instant satisfaction. What then?
I thought I’d pay a visit to Jim Bland, owner of Plan 9 Music in Carytown, to get his perspective on the effects of technology on the music industry, and his place in it.
Within every social interaction that I have had this past year, someone always brings up a movie that they have recently viewed. And when they talk about that movie, there is always a person who says, “Cool, I’m totally going to add that to my queue.”
And, of course we all know that means: the Netflix queue. Streaming media technology has dug its heels into the mainstream so deeply that its jargon has created its own rhetoric. Now we can add movies to our queue from our smart phones and download them immediately--instantly gratified. The power of the on-demand queue is obvious, as we see almost every brick and mortar video rental store in Richmond close its doors. What were once vibrant storefronts of home entertainment selections are now just gutted skeletons filled with abandoned gondola shelving units. The hazy, weatherworn outline of the store’s exterior signage, its remnants long since been taken to the landfill, is the only indicator that a business was once there.
As I firmly believe that we cast our vote every day through where we choose to spend our money, I prefer to keep my dollars feeding into the local versus the global economy. With that in mind, I figured I would pay a visit to the Video Fan. Never having met the owner prior to the interview, I spent the week beforehand attempting to guess which one of the iconic store folks it might be. I was surprised to find that all of my guesses were absolutely rubbish when I walked into the 25-year old Richmond business, bustling with patrons asking obscure movie questions, to find Doug McDonald, the owner of the Video Fan, standing behind the counter. He chuckled with his staff members as they locked their eyes on a 70’s action flick, which was playing on the television mounted high above the new releases.
As I shook his hand, preparing for the interview, he asked, “You wouldn’t mind if we just take a few minutes to watch this, would you? The best part is coming up.” His eyes drifted back to the screen in hungry anticipation. “No problem,” I said, hanging back to watch as an actor, primly dressed in his white polyester leisure suit, slowly scaled down a building, preparing to engage in action-based hijinks.
A few minutes later, we found ourselves sitting at a small metal table outside of 8 1/2, with my audio recorder between us. As he began to shed some truth on the evolution of his business and how it has been affected by growing technological advances, the smells of homemade eggplant parmesan and the tweeting of summer birds surrounded us.
A 5.9 magnitude earthquake has just hit the Richmond, Virginia area, prompting thousands to report to facebook that they were not hurt at all by the slight wobbling.
It's many Richmonders' favorite holiday, and for damn good reasons. If there's one thing this town loves, it's soaking itself in music, friends, and yes, beer; glorious, delicious beer. But while the daytime party at Hadad's Lake is amazing--what's better than a day at a water park with world-class bands--Best Friends Day has plenty more to offer than being able to ignore the rule about waiting thirty minutes before swimming after gorging yourself on vegan hot dogs and suds.
Playing at the lake tomorrow are:
No BS Brass Band
The day at Hadad's doesn't sell out, so don't worry about trying to get advance tickets. DO worry, however, about driving there if you're going to get drunk. As in, don't fucking drive. Take the 2BNB bus, FOR FREE, to the lake and back.
Tonight's show is completely sold out, so too bad for you if you don't have a ticket! Converge, Strike Anywhere, and Pg.99 headline. But Sunday's show at The Bike Lot isn't, and it's going to kick ass. Playing at the bike lot, starting at 1PM ($10) are:
Go and have some fun, dammit!
While searching for a particular book upstairs at Chop Suey several months ago, an idea entered my mind. Standing alone amidst the quiet whispers of hundreds of well-loved titles, I paused to appreciate the sensations that surrounded me--the smell of the pages mixed with the vibrant artwork of the hundreds of book jackets, the sunlight streaming into the room as it lingered across the old worn hardwood floor. “You’d never get this on Amazon.com, nor in the West End,” I thought to myself, and then dove back into the stacks to find more treasures to take back home with me.
Over the next few months, I weighed the convenience of technological innovations vs. the tangible essence of the small business. I reflected back on my afternoon at Chop Suey; the delight I had experienced when I stumbled across exactly what I needed, as well as the joy of finding more wonderful books that I didn’t know I needed until I found them. I realized that this magical feeling was not entirely coincidence, but rather the result of the long hours that the Chop Suey folks dedicate to intentionally creating this spark of virtue at a very reasonable price.
My quiet pondering led me to notice other iconic Richmond small businesses that are still conducting business as usual while others around them throw in the towel, blaming their demise on “the internet” in “this economy.” My curiosity got the best of me, so I decided to visit the actual owners of these small businesses to get the truth on how technology affects their operations, if it does at all.
The most logical place to start is always at the beginning, so, I reached out to Ward Tefft, the owner of Chop Suey Tuey. As he was traveling, we both agreed to communicate through the technology of email:
Within the past five years, the public transportation situation here in Richmond has really begun to thrive. A few nights ago, I actually saw someone hail a cab. Hail a cab? Where are we again? This luxury has not always existed to this level, and yet now I can no longer keep track of the many cab varieties occupying the streets. This is fantastic not only for the sake of convenience, but also for the safety of those who've had perhaps a few too many (as well as others sharing the road with them).
Among the cabs that are roaming around, one company that particularly stands out is Bio Taxi, which utilizes bio-diesel to fuel their vehicles. I was happy to take a joyride and gain the experience of what its like to ride in a “green” vehicle. I couldn't actually tell a difference as far as the replacement of fuels. But the actual car itself was pretty classy. Bio Taxi currently has a Mercedes-Benz and a Volkswagen Jetta. Whoever is riding in the back has control of the music, as there is a Sirius Satellite radio fixed in the passenger side head rest. A sampling of water bottles conveniently placed in the back seat is a surprising touch. With a nicely clad driver in front and extremely comfortable seating in the bargain, I was quite impressed, and completely unable to tell that the vehicle runs on kitchen grease. I had the opportunity to meet with the twenty-something brothers and owners of Bio Taxi, Jeff and Joey Anderson, as well as drivers Tom and Scott Racette, to get the full story about Bio Taxi.
This Sunday, August 7 at 7PM at The Richmond Triangle Players Theater, the “Grab My Junk” tour, starring Jo “Boobs” Weldon, head and founder of New York School of Burlesque, and host Jonny Porkpie “Burlesque Mayor of NYC” will be bringing a very “touching” experience to Richmond’s burlesque community. By combining a variety of saucy performances and a very naughty and interactive game show, Grab My Junk will provide some of the best kind of inappropriate adult behavior that Richmond can offer! The show will also be featuring RVA’s very own Deanna Danger, Skye Sinclaire, Parker Galore, and Kiki Von Kitsch! Email firstname.lastname@example.org for the chance to win a free ticket and two dirty little fun-havers will be chosen at random!
WHAT: Grab My Junk Summer Tour Hits RICHMOND! (And it's Jo Boobs' Birthday!)
WHERE: Richmond Triangle Players Theatre (1300 Altamont Ave.)
WHEN: Sunday August 7, 7 PM
And for the rare opportunity to learn from the stars of the show, click this link!
In this episode, Evan Howard and Kevin Bleakley of Be Sharp Duo joined us in Ashland, VA for some sub-par radio fun.
Our friends at NLV are helping us all cool down with a massive pool party. I would say "expect the unexpected" but you probably expect us to super hype this up, but we won't. *Jedi mind trick* Look at that poster, you know what's going down. Its going to be a good time and with the tagline "As Much As You Can Eat, As Much as You Can Drink," you know this is serious party time.
Expect shenanigans! Expect a little craziness! Probably some nakedness.... jus saying.
Anyway, we have passes to give out, so hit us up on twitter and give us a reason to give them to you. Only 10 available! So hit us up with the quickness. ----- > http://www.twitter.com/rvamag
For more information, contact Chris Malo at Nightlife Virginia www.nightlifevirginia.com
Susann Cokal, author of the acclaimed novels Mirabilis (2002) and Breath and Bones (2005), has lived in regions of vastly diverse nature. She was born and raised in California, visited family in Copenhagen, went to school in New York, and studied in France. Now, as Director of VCU’s Creative Writing Program, Susann calls Richmond home. Susann has been published in many journals: Prairie Schooner, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Bellevue Literary Review, to name a few. She has reviewed fiction for The New York Times Book Review, and is currently at work on a novel set in Richmond.
There’s recently been a lot of noise about Richmond’s artistic potential; just a few weeks ago, Mayor Dwight C. Jones spoke at a downtown creative festival, “I.E.,” spouting such platitudes as: “We need to embrace the creative energy, and the city needs to create a platform for the energy to be released.” As politicians, pundits, and pollsters become interested in the city’s artistic endeavors, it becomes less clear whether “creative energy” is grandstanding or genuine. With this in mind, Susann discusses her life of writing, and answers my questions about the importance of location, region, and environment to a writer’s work. Is Richmond a creative city after all?
Boom! This week The Trillions brought a van full of gear to Ashland to shred-pop and rock your faces off. All week, Dan would not shut up about their Flux EP (Available on their website!) leading up to the show and Charles, Joe, Chris and Robbie did not disappoint. The Trillions made some of the best guests we've had and this made for one of our best shows to date. Derrick was away on vacation but still called in for the 2nd hour and started cursing up a storm like a drunken sailor. The guys didn't miss Derrick one iota being that Ryan Crenshaw from NO DICE made an excellent replacement. One would assume that it's hard to make great music sound bad, but not when Dan's behind the boards. In his defense, he only had two minutes before the show to do a sound check, so he replaced two of the songs with studio recordings. As promised, we had plenty of new material.1 Skit and 4 Product Parodies...You'll just have to listen to find out!
This week RVALUTION gets lots of LAZERS & HEAVY BASS!! Last weeks Underwater RVALUTION was amazing so if you missed it you should check out the pics and video below and see the craziness that ensued. For updates on RVALUTION check here at The Hat Factory. And join the official RVALUTION facebook page HERE!
RVALUTION: LAZER CRUNK!
WHO: DJ MTK - (LFO-RVA, ECE, RVA) / Mr. Jennings - (RVA, PLF) / Akasha - (RVA,PLF) / JessFx - (Wicked)
WHAT: RVALution: Lazer Crunk
WHEN: Tuesday, July 19th, 2011, 9:30PM
WHERE: Hat Factory -
TICKET LINK: LAZER CRUNK
PROMO CODE: RVA
Also, a big thanks to all the amazing photographers that come out each week. Thanks to you we get great coverage and amazing photos each week!
PHOTO's ABOVE BY: B West. & Trace Chiles Wicked 6, KC Johnson, and Daniel Lin.
Video by Todd Raviotta
Black Girls were voted Best Rock Band of 2011, so you can imagine how excited we were when they joined us to talk music, play some original tunes and get goofy live with the