Unrelated thoughts on LeRoi Moore, the new RLC venue, and Charlottesville blogging

August 20th, 2008 · 14 Comments · By

I was sad to hear that LeRoi Moore, famous saxophonist and former Charlottesville musician, passed away yesterday.

Surely you’ve read it elsewhere by now — Nailgun is probably the absolute last Cville blog to post about this — but it seemed strange not to mention it. We send our condolences to his friends and family.

——

Here’s an update on RedLight’s proposed new venue on Preston Ave; those plans seem to be a little up in the air at the moment; apparently the proposal was met with an exceptionally frosty reception at the City Planning Commission meeting last week. Many people showed up in protest against the new venue, not least among them the 10th&Page Neighborhood association. {I meant to write about this sooner, but I waiting for more information — however, my contact never recieved any further updates, so there you go; that’s all I know at the moment.}

I have some conflicted feelings about this new venue. On the one hand, it would be great to have a medium-sized music venue in Charlottesville again, and I’d love for Danny Shea to be able to continue bringing great bands to town, in a place that is well-suited for them.

On the other hand, Preston Ave hardly seems like the ideal spot, and I’m very sympathetic to the concerns of that community; it seems like the 10th&Page / Westhaven area is one of the few areas in Charlottesville that has been revitalized and improved without being gentrified. I rode that bus route all through middle school, and I can remember how ghetto-ized it was in the early 1990’s; boarded up houses, fire-damaged buildings that didn’t get replaced or repaired; there were just tons of signs of urban neglect. Now it’s much cleaner, safer, and has better access to the city’s resources, yet the community is still made up largely of working-class black families, as it has been since the 1960’s. It’s a thing that gives me hope for the future of this city whenever I start to get really depressed about things like the shameful Vinegar Hill displacement.

Anyhow, do we really think that neighborhood is going to be best served by a venue owned by RedLight? I’m told that Coran Capshaw has said he “doesn’t want to build the venue in a neighborhood that doesn’t want him there” [that’s a secondhand paraphrase, not a direct quote.] — well, I for one would certainly like to see him put his money where his mouth is. Or not put his money there, as the case may be. The guy’s certainly entitled to build a venue wherever the city will let him, but it would certainly be nice to some local developers show more of a consideration for the existing communities in the neighborhoods they “develop.”

——

The Hook has launched a new arts blog, run by the insightful Laura Parsons — check it out. Of course there aren’t too many posts yet, since the blog started yesterday, but everyone’s gotta start somewhere and I’m glad to see they’re keeping on top of things.

And speaking of our alt-weeklies and local blogs, this week’s C-Ville has an “expose” (though it’s really more of a business profile) of the notorious cvillain blog, including an “unmasking” (but not fully) of the blog’s contributors.

I should mention here that I despise Cvillain; that site has routinely been an echo chamber of aloof snobbishness and unwarranted, venomous snark. In my experience, the writing consists of nothing so much as vicious mockery, inarticulate cruelty, and uninformed conjecture, all of which can only be poisonous to the fabric of the community, in the service of stroking the authors’ own egos behind a pseudononymous curtain of dismissive irony. On those rare occasions when the authors can stoop so low as to praise something, those praises are laden with alarming sexism and a stunning sense of yuppie entitlement.

That’s why I was surprised to learn that Kate Malay started the blog; I’ve worked with Kate in the past (briefly and tangentially), and although we’re only mildly acquainted, she always came across as a totally kind and sincere person. I’m guessing, from the write-up, that it’s pretty clear she wasn’t an ideal fit with the site’s current authors or owners; I don’t believe I’ve met Kyle Redinger (or any of the blogs other still-anonymous contributors), but they seem like yet another group of self-made enfant-terribles who threw some money around, complained about how the world wasn’t suited exactly to their tastes, and called it a new business strategy. (Apparently they’re cooler than not only the entirety of print media, but also all other blogs as well!)

Tags: news

14 responses so far ↓

  • 1 In a Nutshell: Bad Idea at cvillenews.com // Aug 20, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    […] Nailgun on Red Light’s proposed musical venue on Preston. […]

  • 2 shennot // Aug 20, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    Cool website. I agree with your view of cvillain but still think it’s kind of funny. Perhaps it’s because my ox isn’t be gored. I think it’s like a grade school lunch hour.

    However I think that Laura Parson has many of the very qualities you take cvillain to task for as well. You can clearly tell she has an axe to grind when it comes to UVa. I have found writing to be aloof and pretentious – for the life of me I can’t figure out why she is still has a job at the hook.

  • 3 echo // Aug 20, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    in the service of stroking the author’s authors’ own egos

    Fixed that for you.

    /grammar police strike again

  • 4 John // Aug 21, 2008 at 12:17 am

    It’s comments like echo’s above that make me feel like pretty much any time I spend perusing cvillain is wasted on reading inane nitpicking and insipid inside jokes.

    Cvillemuse, on the other hand, is something I enjoy checking out, as it’s got information I actually care about and even interesting stuff that’s outside the scope of Nailgun.

  • 5 mike_parisi // Aug 21, 2008 at 12:21 am

    Damn James, spot on about the Preston venue. I’m glad that someone can cop to being ambivalent about this thing, instead of acting like it’s our right to pay $18 to go see shows when/wherever we want to, consequences and context be damned. There’s an unspoken (and sometimes spoken–a cvilleMUSE comment about this not being a nice neighborhood made my skin crawl) assumption going around that this venue either exists in a vacuum, or that the people who live around it might as well not exist. It’s inspiring to me that they care enough about their community to have come out and said words on it before the planning commission. The video of the meeting (looooong) is here; it’s the best thing I’ve seen/read/listened to all week:

    http://charlottesville.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=249

  • 6 a villain // Aug 21, 2008 at 12:59 am

    Well said about the Preston venue, particularly concerning the fabric of the neighborhood. That’s the kind of community insight I come to nailgun for and I appreciate it. I’m always more informed about the local scene after coming here.

    I read both nailgun and cVillain daily, and enjoy the flipsides of charlottesville you each portray. Can’t say you’re wrong about yuppie douchebag culture dominating the villain blog. It’s an element I try to avoid in real life, but there are some truly awesome people commenting over there if you can stomach the bitchy trolling. It attracts all types. You surely know some of the frequent commenters, even if you don’t realize it.

    Even though she’s gone, Lilith/Kate’s continued popularity on that site is testament that there’s a desire within the villain ranks for higher quality posting and a return to cVillain civility, naturally with a dose of snark. For better or worse, it’s the internet’s comedy currency and cVillain hardly has a monopoly.

  • 7 emily // Aug 21, 2008 at 8:40 am

    Mike seems to think that this is the first time people have admitted to ambivalence regarding the new venue. It seems to me like the entire history of this issue has been nothing but ambivalent, with discussions and debates all over the place. While I agree with James and Mike (to some degree- I’m not as anti-venue as he is), concerning the sensitivity surrounding the venue location, I wonder about the true threat of this proposed “gentrification” of the area. I’d like to talk about it.

    The neighborhood association, as I understand it, is concerned that the venue will result in an increase in trash and crime- and considering that they look to Outback as the model for venues in their neighborhood, I understand why they feel this way. I also think a couple of houses in nearest proximity to the site are concerned about noise from shows. I find it somewhat absurd and comical that we are blogging about our conceptual concerns while the arguments of the neighborhood association are about real actual tangible things. What has not happened up to this point is what I consider most necessary: a dialogue, with members of the 10th and Page community, about their perceptions of the proposed venue. We can hem and haw around the sensitive racial lines we’ve defined, but until we discuss our opinions and concerns with the people who will actually be affected by this proposition, this is all a pretty empty argument.

    About the concerns, both actual and theoretical: Will a new venue far down Preston Avenue bring an increase in trash and crime? I would say no. A venue that is run properly, as hopefully this one would be, should not cause these problems. Especially if the developers are sensitive to the issues. Will the venue cause gentrification? A trickier question, and I would say Not Necessarily. If people from outside a neighborhood come into a neighborhood, for one night, for a few hours, and then leave, this is not gentrification. If they come into a neighborhood, say wow I’m going to change this environment and make it more my style and displace the culture that is already existing, well then That’s Gentrification. Do I see this happening on Preston? No. I don’t think that hipsters/UVa students/downtowners are suddenly going to start congregating there on a regular basis, and then demand a coffee shop, a record store and a preppy clothes store. I think folks will make it over to that side of town for the shows that they Really want to see, the end. And if gentrification is the issue that threatens to topple the venue, which remember would serve as a temporary site (therefore weakening the argument of gentrification), then would it be possible to negotiate with RLM? For example, yes you can put a venue here but nothing else? I don’t know, maybe that wouldn’t work but it’s a thought.

    I, like others, am excited to see a vigorous neighborhood association. I would like to see a venue in this town that hosts bands that I love. If these two entities can be united then hooray for everyone. I don’t personally have an axe to grind with RLM so I’m not opposed to the venue purely because of its geneology. I’d just like to see this dialogue extend beyond our blogging borders and connect our communities. One of the most dangerous (and common) mistakes of development is that nobody bothers to ask the locals what they actually want and need. Small scale, large scale, it happens all the time. Hopefully these discussions will help avoid this trap.

  • 8 James // Aug 21, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    On the venue:

    I think everyone here is making valid points.

    Emily – I agree that more discussion with the neighborhood association would be great; but, given how the crowds in the alleyway outside Satellite usually acted, I could totally understand why nearby houses might not want that in their neighborhood. But more discussion is clearly necessary. You’ve obviously followed this thing a lot more closely than I have, and I’d really like to hear the full argument from everyone involved; for starters, I’ll try to watch that video that Mike linked to when I have the time.

    Mike – it’s not so much that I’m ambivalent; it’s more like I have a lot of strong feelings about it that contradict each other. I would like for us to have a new music venue, but I would prefer for it to happen in a more fitting location and be owned somebody other than the person who already owns 49% of the venues in town.

    Thank you both for your insights and comments.

  • 9 James // Aug 21, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    on the subject of cVillain and the Hook:

    I’ve always found Laura Parsons to be very thoughtful and direct; she may criticize things, but those criticisms are often well-founded and informed. Plus, she’s exceptionally insightful about the stuff she reviews. I’d much rather have someone like her doing local art reviews, instead of someone who’s afraid of speaking her mind or stepping on anyone’s toes. When she gives somebody a good review, you know that she really means it, and that it’s not just an attempt to be diplomatic and stay on everyone’s guest-list.

    The comparison of cVillain to “grade school lunch hour” made me laugh aloud, mostly because I was thinking the exact same thing after I wrote this post yesterday. It’s an extremely apt comparison; a table full of obnoxious people who spend their time coming up with cruel and pseudo-witty put-downs of everyone who isn’t in their group so they can make themselves look “cool.”

    The social dynamics of middle school lunch hour constitute some of the most bleak and depressing episodes of my childhood, ones I was more than glad to leave behind, and I have some really uncomfortable flashbacks every time I read cVillain. The difference is that when I was 12, the comments of the self-elected elite made me feel really depressed and horrible about myself. At 25, I pretty much just don’t give a shit. Still, it’s a thing I’d prefer not to re-visit.

    CvilleMuse (owned by the same folks) has a lot more going for it, though; not least because of the contributions of people like Jordan and Nick (the Radio Freedonians). I’m always glad to have more smart, well-intentioned people writing about local music, whatever the forum.

    echo – thanks for the correction. I am badly in need of a copy editor.

  • 10 Law G // Aug 21, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    cVillain is nothing but a HARD attempt to THINK its own POINTLESS worldview. It started out like HOTAIR.COM, but quickly decended to the level of TMZ.COM. The posters are FUNNY COMPUTERs who just want the world to worship their LUMPY ANKLES. It is ANCIENT to the TOP HAT of the community and I never read it except for every day when I am supposed to be HOPing.

  • 11 Vijith Assar // Aug 21, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    I can’t claim to know anything about what it takes to launch or run a music venue, but it occurs to me that since summers at the Jefferson have been rented out to the Ash Lawn Opera folks for the next twenty years, it might be smarter to look for a solid long-term solution rather than rushing into a temporary venue which is at odds with its neighborhood.

  • 12 shaun // Aug 21, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    A bunch of thoughts really but I’ll make every attempt to keep it brief. I’m sure to the end I’ll probably fail miserably. For any numbers of reasons, I’m sort of the unknown factor at cvilleMUSE. With the recent cover story about Spicy Bear Media and in particular the expose (for lack of a better word) on cVillain, there’s seems to be an increase in interest in all of Spicy Bear’s media properties, including the one in which I find myself deeply involved.

    First off, let me say that there is no end to the quality of people involved in the local music scene. As I have said in other outlets, it is a true embarrasment of riches. Which makes the job of writing about it all equally rewarding and challenging. I will be the first to admit that there are many things that I can improve upon and that there have been many times I’ve dropped the ball or made mistakes. As James knows first hand, it ain’t always easy. But the one thing that I am most proud of to this point is trying to carve out an independent identity that celebrates music of a local nature while keeping an eye on the bigger, broader stage. I’ve also tried to elevate the conversation or at the very least the discussion and presentation. I approached the fellas at WTJU about jumping on board and it has been one of the best decisions I’ve made to this point. Those folks not only know their music, they care about it. My kind of people. I’m glad readers are taking notice.

    The other point I will quickly address is this. I stop by nailgun every day that I’m in front of my computer. It is a vital part of the music scene. There will always be moments when we (nailgun and MUSE) take on similar subjects be they concerts, artists, or general news but I firmly believe that there is room in this crazy music scene for us both. There are niches that are always going to be uniquely our own and personally I kind of think that Charlottesville, the music scene, and our readers are better off for it. Keep up the great work.

    Lastly, my thought on the Red Light project. If in the end the current situation creates a richer dialogue between the community, one of the principal business movers and shakers, and music fans, then good things will result. I still hold to the belief that C’ville in some ways remains a victim of its own success and as a result the likelihood of an individual coming along to open the kind of venue that will serve as a suitable replacement for Satellite or Starr Hill is unlikely though not impossible. It’s all about $$$$ and it isn’t an inexpensive endeavor. If something is going to happen from someone outside of the RLM business, I can’t see how it will happen over night. High rents, limited locations, and the like are huge hurdles to have to deal with. My question is this then: Where exactly is a suitable location? There aren’t a lot of options. In the end, there’s just going to have to be compromise on all sides. Give and take.

    Have I said enough yet? Sweet baby Jesus. Apologies to all. I will now retreat back to my hermit hole.

  • 13 James // Aug 22, 2008 at 1:01 am

    Shaun,
    I totally agree, a plurality of voices on local music is always a good thing. One person or blog can’t possibly represent all of the Charlottesville community… heck, I have a hard enough time representing my own views coherently.

    It’s also true that in a community with a bunch of assholes in it, some of those voices are going to be the voices of assholes (like many of the writers for cVillain) — and I feel it’s my social responsibility to call them out on it when I see it happen.

    I’ve heard plenty of people have voiced their disgust, in various forums, since the cVillain expose came out — and strikingly few words in their defense, I might add. It’s refreshingly clear there are lots of people in town who do want to take a positive, inclusive attitude towards their community, and I’m glad cvilleMuse is giving them another forum in which to have their voices heard.

  • 14 On cVillain « A party of one. // Aug 22, 2008 at 11:15 am

    […] Unrelated thoughts by James on nailgunmedia.com, August 20, 2008 […]