Thursday, July 31, 2003

Sam Phillips, who made rock-n-roll possible, has died.

I have never been to the Grand Canyon; I've seen the Statue of Liberty only from a plane. But I have been to Sun Records; and that's America.

Monday, July 28, 2003

More Short Reports

Sports: the Yankees fan on the possibility of instant replay in baseball.

Architecture: I could have sworn that both houses under construction on Monument Avenue had websites. I always thought the one at Boulevard looked like it had too-small windows. However, recent placement of lintels and surrounding trim seems to have brought things into proportion. (Sorry, no picture.) Meanwhile, I've always thought the house at Roseneath was Just Right.

Weather: I think we're promised one more day of muggy weather, then rain - just in time for Mitch's visit. Sorry, honey.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

A small act of protest on this muggy Sunday: I cancelled my Dillard's charge card and sent a letter to their headquarters (address here) telling them that if they are not interested in being (nearly) in the city, then I am not interested in them.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Short Reports

At the Byrd: Chicago. Fabulous, fun.

Architecture: Main Street Station still not done.

Restaurant review: comfort. Indeed, they do serve tasty comfort food. We had the worst waitress I’ve had in Capital City in years, though.

R-Braves: beat Indianapolis tonight, 8 – 4. The former college ball player next to whom I sat likes Adam LaRoche (whose homer won the kid in front of us a gift certificate) and thinks outfielder Mike Hessman has much promise -- and wonders what the tall fellow could do on the mound.

Weather: last night’s dramatic thunderstorms lead to cooler, cloudy weather today.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Letter from Suburbia

One of the last farmhouses in Midlothian, the one in between those hills on Route 60, between the village and Huguenot Road, has been demolished. The roof lies there in a heap, and a huge ornamental tree has been pushed over. Beyond the scruffy shrubs and trees lining the shoulder, I glimpsed red clay exposed by earthmovers and a pile of big, fresh, shiny metal culverts. My gaze turned left, today, only because I looked away from the new car dealership going up on the right. The big boxy retail spaces, with towering light fixtures, hover close to the road.

Way back in the 1980s, our high school government teacher, Mr. Dugan, had us attend a handful of meetings of the County Board of Supervisors. I distinctly remember citizens and supervisors agreeing to preserve the look of the Midlothian part of the county by passing zoning ordinaces filled with setbacks and requirements to make new buildings fit the “colonial” character of the area. Clearly somebody threw that out the window when that Wal-Mart went up 8 or 10 years ago. The suburb in which I grew up now officially looks like everywhere else in the county. Sure, it has its quirks (as does “everyplace else”), but you would have to squint hard for local shop names, as you zipped by at 50 m.p.h., or drive all the way out to the old village to see them.

My business concluded, and my being in no particular hurry, I came home all the way along 147. Feeling safely “at home” by Windsor Farms, I decided to go on through Carytown. (Other Options: take a right and zig over to Grayland Ave.; hop on the Downtown Expressway for 45 seconds.) I immediately found myself trapped behind an “Excursion.” I couldn’t see around it or over it, and figured someone ahead was parking or unparking just ahead and I could wait. Finally, the monstrous vehicle moved ahead, and put on its blinker: it wanted the newly vacant space. I was far back enough. I sat and waited. It tried once and failed (actually, I bet the driver’s nerve failed, it looked like a good angle to me) and pulled away in a huff. Cary was clear for the next five blocks and I shot towards home.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Hell, I have to go all the way to the suburbs to buy Clinique and stockings?! RTD: "Willow Lawn losing anchor".

Sunday, July 13, 2003

At the Hipster Pool

Thanks to AG and CH, I got to spend time last week at a little private pool off Forest Hill Avenue, that, at first glance, seemed to be populated by the same skirted-bathing suit wearing women I saw at the swimming pools of my youth. When I looked closer, though, they turned out to be my hip friends and peers. They sport more tattoos and piercings than the moms of our youth. And, look, I see several dads, too, in the middle of the day! I wasn’t the only one getting this week’s New Yorker covered in sunscreen. We have become the adults, but with our own style.

With C and her 4 year old, we spent most of the afternoon poolside, giving me a chance to observe big kids. (Little kids come early.) Boys threw balls into a poolside basketball hoop while girls sized them up. Some younger kids played a version of the old fashioned game “Vegetable Basket.” In this game, one child is “it” and stands at one end of the pool or room; the rest of the group, on the other side, silently picks a vegetable. It then calls out a vegetable, and if it’s your vegetable, you swim or run across the space. If it tags you, you either trade places or join It (like Sharks and Minnows), depending on house rules. It can call “vegetable basket” and everybody runs. The modern version, which I’ve seen girls play before at camp, is “Categories,” allowing the players to pick bands, colors, candy bars, kind of horses, camp counselors, or anything else on their minds as the category. This can make it harder: if it’s horse camp and the girls know lots of breeds, they stump each other too fast by picking obscure ones. No one gets to run or swim.

In this way, a boy at the hipster pool brought their game to a screeching halt by choosing “medicine – no, first aid and medicine!” He started calling out “band aid, a really big band aid, bandage scissors, ice pack, eye patch . . . .” I think they had to make him start over with a new category. At camp, the girls do a good job picking things they will all know – with new friends from across the state, they don’t pick names of Henrico County schools. The friends who go to the cool pool all live in the same world. One girl picked “restaurants,” another "stores at Willow Lawn.” I love it.

I didn’t identify with everyone there, of course. A few women seemed to have conspicuously expensive cover-ups and jewelry. Upon seeing what she took to be too sparse a crowd, one uttered the sentence, “half of Richmond must be on vacation this week.” A couple of women had fat smut novels.

I got a dose of kids and a sunburn, so I’m happy.

Dept. of Good News

Catholic University's School of Library and Information Science accepted me! I'm going to grad school. This time, I will get a degree out of it, damnit.

Capital City weather Overcast and low 80s.

Friday, July 11, 2003

Summer Reading

Richmond Public Library’s catalog is on-line! You can look for your book before leaving home and renew on line. The program is much more powerful and intuitive to use than pokey old “RichCat” -- plus, no more amber screen! You have to set up an account, which I will do after I replace my shredded key card.

As for me, I am still plowing through Baseball and Richmond. It will be a good reference, but it’s not a delightful read. It gives a sense of the ebb and flow of early professional and minor league ball, and of the perpetual struggle between Love of the Game and It’s a Business -- but that's about it. On my nightstand, I have a book on diners, bowling alleys & trailer parks. I’ve read shorter pieces on all of these places and already understand the chronology of their development. This writer goes further by focusing on class. More than I realized, diners were assumed to be the province of the working class man, well into the 1950s. I guess it’s one more change 1950s Teen Culture made to our world.

Yesterday, I read this week’s New Yorker at the hipster pool, with Alex and Felix. A startling number of people I know belong to this modest little club in the subdivision across from Willow Oaks Country Club. A startling number of my peers and friends have become those skirted-bathing suit, tot-toting Moms. Does the butterfly tattoo in the middle of that one’s back cancel out the fact that the bottom of her bikini is a skirt? Was she wearing it ironically? (everything Gen Xers do id ironic, right?); her figure appeared quite respectable. Expecting Alex, of course, looks fab in her skirted maternity suit. Luckily, another family invited me to go today, so I can further my research.

Capital City Weather: 90 and clear.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

From the Dept. of Good News: I heard from the Va. Dept. of Historic Resources that our Preliminary Information Form for Sharon Indian School won a go-ahead for actually consideration for the State and National Registers of Historic Places. In short, I have a whole new batch of forms and research! Yippee. The pictures are small, but do check out all the cool Virginia sites already on the register.

Dan, how is Theater Row not on the register?

Saturday, July 05, 2003

Capital City Weather, according to the National Weather Service: 91 degrees, with a heat index of 105.

Last night, K.G. had the crowd over to her sweet new northside house for a cookout, then we walked to Hermitage to glimpse the Dogwood Dell fireworks and to really enjoy the show from the Diamond. (The R-Braves lost; we're at the bottom of our division. The excellent pitcher I watched last week has turned free agent and may play abroad, where he can earn "six figures" according to the TD.) A good time was had by all.

Houseguest and I enjoyed the nearly-empty Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens yesterday morning: daylilies, pitcher plants, giant koi.