Tourist With a Typewriter

Oh, Uncle Adrian, I’m in the reservation of my mind.

Tag: Virginia

The Gun Lobby

A look at the Virginia Citizens Defense League. This was cut from the gun story I wrote for C-VILLE.

guns save lives

The Virginia Citizens Defense League’s April 23 membership meeting starts with a potluck dinner at 6:30, mac and cheese, macaroni salad, potato salad, pie, cake, cookies and donuts all spread out and slowly congealing on a picnic table in the windowless, low-ceilinged main room at the Rivanna Rifle & Pistol Club, off of Old Lynchburg road just outside of Charlottesville, Virginia.

After dinner, VCDL president Philip Van Cleave stands in front of 29 people sitting in mismatched chairs at white plastic picnic tables, five of them women and at least five openly wearing pistols, and talks politics and media bias. Behind him, on either side of a big brick fireplace, is an American flag and a Gadsden flag, the yellow banner with a coiled snake and the motto “Don’t tread on me” that’s become the ubiquitous symbol of the Tea Party and their sympathizers. On the wall a poster reads, “Never Disarm. Register to Vote, Your Gun Rights Depend on it.” There is a lot of paranoia in the room, and even more anger; at the press, at New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, at Senator Chuck Shumer, at the general state of things, freedom-wise, in America today.

“Word to the wise,” Van Cleave says, “it’s gonna be a rough four years.” Read the rest of this entry »

The Receding Passion of the NASCAR Fan

Published in C-VILLE Weekly 4/14/09

NASCAR14“Some fans are completely uninhibited, they’ll do whatever the hell they want to have a good time,” Rusty Speidel says over the phone. “They get geared up, they tailgate their brains out, they take the extra time out to travel.” Speidel should know. He’s one of the guys behind, a NASCAR fan site based in Charlottesville. “They’re really loyal to their driver, to the point where I saw a guy and his wife the other day, they had both shaved their heads except for the [number] 88 in the back.”

Eighty-eight is Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s number, and Earnhardt, Jr. is a driver in the National Association for Stock Car Racing. That’s NASCAR, baby, our other national pastime. This is car country, gas and metal and engine-hum country, a nation carved from pavement by men and machines. We’re drunk on fuel and in love with chrome. We drive cars to watch cars drive. Read the rest of this entry »

Mystic Pizza

Printed in C-VILLE Weekly 9/25/07

Crozet pizzaWhen the pizza arrives at the table, it never seems as if there will be enough room, amidst the plates, drinks, napkin dispenser and parmesan cheese, but somehow there always is. This, I think, signifies a good meal: not an elegant and carefully arranged table, but a cluttered and overflowing one. “Mange,” it says. Eat! Dig in! Read the rest of this entry »

My First Gun

Looking for safe ground in the middle of the gun debate

Published in C-VILLE 7/16/13


The decision to buy a gun came suddenly. I was gulping down coffee before work and reading about the latest shooting, when my right to bear arms overwhelmed me. I ran out into the Virginia sunshine, jumped in my Prius, and headed to Walmart. Read the rest of this entry »


How four young black men found their mission to change our city, starting now

Published in C-VILLE 2/19/13

The Tonsler Park Recreation Center is busy at 4:30pm on a Wednesday. The long, L-shaped main room bustles with games of pool and chess, people coming and going past the old school Ms. Pac-Man game and the foosball table. Adults watch the T.V. on the wall, or sit and talk in small groups. You get the sense many are just killing time on a cold evening in the neighborhood. Read the rest of this entry »

Up In Smoke

Published in C-VILLE 3/4/08

Purple_Sticky_Salvia-200x200I am still unable to comprehend that the drug has taken hold. I open my eyes and the colors in the Mexican blanket on my lap seem baked, as if they’re on fire. The furniture is stretched out and far away and my conscious mind bobs just out of reach in the middle of the living room.

“This is the drug,” I think. “That’s what’s happening. I didn’t think it would come on so fast. I didn’t think it would be this intense. Will it ever stop?”

Read the story.

Obama, Where Art Thou?

My coverage of the 2007 Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Richmond, VA, where Obama, who had just announced that he would run for president ten days before, was the guest speaker. This was back when he was seen as a total longshot, before he even had secret service guarding him.

The Virginia Democrats want it bad. Their breathing is becoming heavy and unseemly tendrils of drool are stretching down towards their chests. They are hungry. The Commonwealth, by all rights, should be theirs. Virginia is finally offering herself up to them, and the state donkeys are in heat. Illinois Senator Barack Obama just might be their man, in all his sorta-black, sorta-liberal, Alfred E. Newguy, Don’t-Worry-Let’s-Hope, meet-you-in-the-middle, shining glory. Sweet Virginia, won’t you turn your Red state Blue? Read the rest of the story.

Fear and Viognier

Gonzo Wine Tasting on the Monticello Trail

A version of this was originally published in the Virginia Wine Gazette circa 2007.

To answer your questions: 1. Yes, this is a true story. 2. Yes, I wrote it quickly and while drinking. 3. Yes, it is an homage to the work of James Fenimore Cooper. 

I was somewhere around Crozet on the edge of the parkway when the Viognier began to take hold. The assignment had been simple enough: pick a varietal, sample it at a few local tasting rooms, and write about it. But somehow, in my twisted mind, it became something far stranger and more dangerous. It became a challenge: I had decided to taste every Viognier on the Monticello Wine Trail in one day.

Of course it’s not possible. To paraphrase the movie Cool Hand Luke, nobody can taste 25 Viogniers. But I had to try, I had to experience the tasting room as it really was, if I was going find what I was looking for. But what was I looking for?

The heart of Grapeness, Das Drink an sich, the Virginia Wine Dream. Read the rest of this entry »

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