Friday, January 23, 2015

Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get

Not everyone's taste ranges from vintage funk to retro cartoons like mine does. A fragrant white rose to anyone whose taste does.

Tonight, I began by giving my all to "Back Story with the American History Guys" at the Library of Virginia. The public radio podcast was performing live so we could watch them bring historical perspective to current events.

What a popular event it was, with a sold-out crowd including General Assembly types down in front. The woman next to me explained that her husband was in Atlanta, so she was a lone wolf tonight. Good for you, honey.

First we had to sit through the Lieutenant Governor (who pronounced "ideas" as "ideers") and the recently-hospitalized governor giving us a robust greeting that belied his recuperation.

Ed Ayers, Peter Onuf and Brian Balogh took on the '60s TV program "The Jetsons" as a cultural reference point for the current happenings that may (or may not) define our future. Clearly, what we had thought was going to the future did not come true and their goal was to provide historical context for that.

Balogh began by sharing that he'd gone to Perly's before the radio broadcast and now had indigestion, as any good Jewish deli reliably provides, he said.

From there, they addressed the relevance of St. John's Church, Broad Street Station, drones and online cirriculum, knitting together the past and the future, making it hilarious every step along the way. Balogh was self-deprecating, Onuf made his share of oldster jokes and Ayers was the glue that held it all together.

It's no wonder their podcast has gotten close to six million views. They may have radio faces, but their banter is terrific.

From there, it was on to the Valentine Museum to see "Made in Church Hill," an exhibit about the people who have lived in and shaped Church Hill. The exhibit was mobbed with people related to the exhibit, although the ones I found most interesting were the people who had actually shaped "the new" Church Hill, people who'd gotten in early before it was the cool place to be. You know, back when houses were $10,000.

Making my way through the very crowded show, I ran into all kinds of familiar faces - the film queen, the bridge visionary, the beekeeper - all, like me, admiring the variety of objects in the Richmond portion of the museum.

There, I admired a Chuckwagon menu from Oregon Hill, a picture of Catherine Street in Carver (where I walk so often) and a mourning dress (so much black fabric!). The bugle, sofa and man's bathing costume were just gravy.

Keeping to the old-timey theme, my last stop was Garnett's for a Cobb salad and some Moldovian Chardonnay while the soundtrack delivered strong woman's voices: Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, Garbage, all the best female sounds.

All around, the restaurant filled up with people, albeit not anyone I had seen at the Library of Virginia or the Valentine. Apparently, not everyone spends their Thursday evening digging into local history.

Which probably makes me the biggest geek of all. If you need more proof, my evening ended with Pandora set to the Curtis Mayfield station, a wonderfully funky mixture of L.T.D., the Dramatics and Donny Hathaway.

As fabulous as the music was, it's also key to have someone to enjoy it with and some things are much harder to find than a good Pandora station.

History is fascinating, but future is key. Any geek knows that.


  1. don't know about the menu, but if you weren't from Oregon Hill the Chuckwagon could be a little scarey..


  2. Never went in, although a friend kept insisting I'd do just fine in there.