For Council: A Last-Minute Change

Me with my Cobb sign.

OK, here goes: My picks for Roanoke City Council in Tuesday’s voting are Democrats Joe Cobb and Djuna Osborne and nobody else.

Initially, I endorsed incumbent Bill Bestpitch by default, but the more I looked into it the less appealing Bill is. I like Bill personally, but I can’t vote for him.

A couple of years ago, Bill voted in favor of selling Huff Lane School so that it could be developed into a hotel and a couple of restaurants. He voted against National College taking over the space and producing workers for the Roanoke Valley. I promised at the time that I would never vote for him again. I had forgotten that vote until I was reminded by my friend Annie Woodford.

I might have considered Robert Jeffrey, publisher of Colors magazine, but I don’t believe a journalist should hold public office while still working as a journalist. His business practices have come under fire of late and a lawsuit is pending that could shed light on them, but it has been re-scheduled until after the election.

I like Joe Cobb a lot and believe both he and Djuna Osborne will serve in much the same capacity as our best council member, John Garland, a guy who understands Roanoke about as well as anybody I know.

Osborne, I suspect, has higher ambitions, given that she ran for the general assembly in the most recent election cycle, losing in her first bid for public office. She would have been a splendid general assembly member, I think.

For what it’s worth, there it is. A woman and a gay man: nice diversity. But that’s not why I’m voting for these two. We have a good chance to create a dynamic council. I hope we take it.


Big-Time Thieves Steal My Headlight

Poor, sweet Daisy lost an eye last night.

I’ve known thieves to steal all manner of inexplicable items (a child’s leg braces was probably the worst), but never in my experience has anybody stolen an automobile headlight. Last night somebody stole mine, off my VW Bug.

The young police officer who investigated, Elizabeth Bradford, says she remembers me from some years ago when she rode her bike by my house occasionally when I lived in Raleigh Court. She was steered into police work, she said, by one of her professors at Mary Baldwin College and she seems well placed. Nice young woman; very professional.

The person broke into Daisy (the locks were locked this a.m. and I remember not locking them when I got in from the theater last night), popped the hood and went to work. The thief is obviously somebody who knows something about cars. It was a clean removal of the entire light and housing.

This is one of several incidents in my neighborhood over the past two weeks: breaking a security light across the street, egging both my car and truck, breaking into a Jeep next door and stealing gym clothes. Nothing really serious or threatening, but certainly it is annoying.

It means I have to file a police report in order for insurance (homeowners or car?) to cover the loss, which will come to about $500. Sigh.

MMT’s ‘Chorus Line’ a Singular Sensation

A Chorus Line takes a bow.

There was a memorable moment following last night’s opening of “A Chorus Line” at Mill Mountain Theatre in Roanoke when five grown men were lined up at the urinals in the MMT bathroom, all humming, whistling or singing “Singular Sensation.”

That, if nothing else, will tell you it was a memorable performance. And, indeed, it was.

Liz Picini in her show-stopping solo.

The jammed house experienced a packed stage of fully energized singers and dancers as diverse as theater professionals and high school seniors (mostly the former) nailing this 1975 Tony and Pulitzer Prize winner to the wall.

When late in the two-hour long, one-act marathon, Lizz Picini (as Cassie) performs her solo, the theater was deathly quiet until her bow, when the audience nearly exploded with appreciation of an extraordinary moment.

And, of course, there is the show-stopping “Singular Sensation,” the production’s trademark, performed several times, including–in full show costume, when the actors take their final bow.

MMT’s “A Chorus Line” (music by Marvin Hamlish and lyrics by Edward Kleban) is ably directed by Alicia Varcoe, assistant artistic director of the theater, and choreographed by New York City-based professional Kristen Brooks Sandler.

“A Chorus Line” looks at a single evening in the lives of nearly 20 struggling would-be Broadway dancers, who have not made it past the bottom level of dance performance. If this were baseball, they’d all be in Class A and at one point in the play, the analogy is made. Baseball is probably the most cruel of professional sports in that Major League teams sign far, far more players than they need each year, assigning them to lower leagues from which the vast majority will not emerge, lingering in the lower leagues for 5, 10 years before finally understanding the truth.

The dancers’ stories are told, one-by-one, most of them sad, some of them desperate. Cassie, for example, is a dancer who at one point appeared to have made it, but slipped back and now just wants to start over, working for a director who was a lover, one who broke her heart.

One interesting note: the play features four Patrick Henry High School students, including senior Cathleen Turner who has been in eight main stage performances. Also featured is Franklin County native Mary Hannah Garber, who performs the risque “Dance: Ten; Looks, Three,” which gets to the heart (or, more precisely, the T&A) of the perceived value of the play’s women performers. You might want to cover your children’s ears during this one.

The language in the play is mature and you may want to consider that some pretty blunt vulgarity is used throughout. Frankly, I’m not sure how good the play would be without that vulgarity, but my guess is that it won a Pulitzer minus the “F” word and a sprinkling of “goddamns” initially. Just a guess, but in 1975, things were a little less expressive.

In any case, the evening was a delight in every sense. One side benefit: you get the opportunity to pick your favorite dancer/singer and follow that actor throughout (mine was was tall, talented Megan Tatum of Chester, VA, and a William & Mary grad. Her day job is as a physical therapist to ballet and theater companies).

(Photos: top, Richard Maddox photography; April Parker Photography, lower.)

Surprise! It’s Your Daughter … Again

Jennie and I at the Carilion cafeteria a little bit ago.

Jennie doing what people do at lunch.

Just got a surprise–like, really, a surprise–visit from my daughter, who lives in North Georgia.

She’s in town taking care of a friend who had a medical procedure done.

Lovely to see her for lunch at Carilion. Second surprise visit recently and it was as welcome as the first.

Stick-Thin and Pretty in Her New Dress

When my daughter-in-law said she had just bought my 13-year-old grandgirl Madeline a new dress–over Maddie’s objections–I was intrigued. I asked for a photo. That was a week ago and I hadn’t received one yet when I called (Facetime) last night.

Maddie was at home with her dad and I asked if he would take a photo for me. He did and here it is. That’s maddie–a stick with broad shoulders and diver’s feet (without the flippers)–looking pretty in her first strapless dress (not quite her first dress, but she rarely wears them). Kinda scary for a grandfather (or dad) to look at the little girl who was, becoming an adult.

But there she is and I’m proud of her.

Roanoke City Library Room To Be Named for John Kern

John Kern with his books.

Sometimes it takes forever for Roanoke City Council to act upon a good suggestion, but here’s one that took almost no time at all: Naming something appropriate after the recently departed John Kern, a noted state historian who served Roanoke quite well over the past number of years.

Here’s councilman John Garland’s note to me this morning, after acting on my suggestion to “name something important after John Kern”:

“I made the request at Council and see what resulted. Thank you for the suggestion. The community room in the Virginia Room at the Main Library will be named in honor of Dr. Kern in recognition to his contribution regarding the history of the area. A dedication of the room will be scheduled in the near future.”

I’m delighted at the recognition and the appropriateness of the site selection.

There’s another suggestion I made about four years ago that’s been simmering and seems on the way to becoming a reality, albeit not because the city is doing it. I’ll let you know what happens.

And thanks, John Garland, a councilman who has always responded in a timely fashion, in my experience.

A Different Hike, and a Friendly Snake

My new buddy the garter snake.

A young family, celebrating the youngest’s first birthday, takes in the Mill Mountain view.

A hint of green through the trees.

Got my head into scanning and editing photos for several hours today and that seemed to lead to the beginnings of (Oh God!) a cold, so I took a couple of Advil and headed out into the sun.

I landed on a hike around Mill Mountain (as opposed to UP Mill Mountain), using the Monument Trail, which in all these years I hadn’t done. It’s a brisk little hike and left me sweaty and feeling a lot less cold-ish. Let’s hope it lasts.

On the way around the mountain, I ran into a lovely little garter snake, sluggishly sunning himself (or herself). I tipped my cap, took a photo and was on my way.

I don’t get tired of taking this photo.

The old man of the mountain in natural non-color.

Tax March Today in Grandin Village

Frankly, I’m not certain marches and petitions from the left have any effect at all on our Republican representatives, but a woman I respect (Freeda Cathcart) asked that I share information on a tax march scheduled at 5:30 today in Grandin Village (Roanoke).

So, here it is (exactly as she wrote it):

Roanoke Tax March
Tuesday April 17
It’s tax time and President Trump still hasn’t released his taxes, #ShowUSYourTaxes! Instead he signed a #TrumpTaxScam to give tax huge tax breaks to the very rich while leaving US 1.5 trillion dollars in debt. Now Republicans are talking about cutting services, social security and medicare to make up the difference. We will gather to remind people about why November’s election matters. We must elect candidates who will vote to #RepealTheTrumpTax!
Please join us in the parking lot at the UUCR church where we will march across the street to the Raleigh Court Library garden courtyard where speakers from Tax March, Moms Demand Action and Represent US will inspire us.
You can use this Tax March Facebook event to help spread the word by inviting your friends and sharing it

Driveway Nearly Fixed–Finally

The finished driveway.

After more than three works of anticipation, irregular work, repeated damage and guys not showing up for work, it looks like–fingers crossed–I’m entering the final quarter of getting my driveway back. The foreman says I’ll have it tomorrow.

He has said that before. But I’ll try to trust him.

He’s promising the driveway. When the street gets repaved–after digging it out to fix a water main–is anybody’s guess. But at this point, I’ll settle for the driveway, so I can park my car and truck somewhere besides on the street. I live in Northwest Roanoke, which is ground zero for vandals damaging cars, almost all of which are parked on the street.

Concrete guys smoothing the surface.

I discovered from an observant neighbor that the initial problem and the one immediately following it occurred because another neighbor–one with a large pickup truck–ran into the fire hydrant twice, the first time causing a major leak, which the city seemed to have fixed (by moving the hydrant) until about three days later when a city crew showed up again and began another, larger, dig.

The fire hydrant had to be moved after being hit by a truck … twice.

This one lingered for a couple of weekdays and over a weekend, a time when I had to park on the street and worry all night about who might ram or egg or steal my vehicles.

As I mentioned earlier in a blog post last week, my car and truck–parked 30 yards apart–were egged over one night.

Anyhow the guys did a nice job today and the driveway looks a great deal better than it did to begin with. So, we can be grateful for small (very small) things.

Big concrete truck makes quick work of a small job.