5/25/2007

Friday Night Relaxation Writing

It's Friday night! We just got back from the Pavilion, and Atomic Burrito. My eyes are burning and I'm listening to Davie Bowie's "Life on Mars" through Rhapsody, as I'm all nostalgic for the show I've only just finished for the first time.

"Life on Mars" is simply the best show I've watched in a very long time. It confirms what is my emerging theory that television shows today should be compared to more like novels than television shows of days gone by. It's a very puzzling show, in that the ending really doesn't satisfy on the first view-round.

The show is about a Detective Chief Inspector for the Manchester Police who gets hit by a car, and wakes up back in 1973. He's not sure if he's time-traveled or if he's in a coma and dreaming the whole thing. But, everything is completely alive for him, and it doesn't stop. Over the course of 16 episodes, Sam Tyler tries to understand what's happening, and helps introduce 21st century crime-fighting techniques to the seventies.

In this show, the past of England is drawn so vividly. My wife told me that the England she saw in the show was the England she remembered from when she was a child living in London. Run-down, not nearly as slick as the place is now.

My point really in saying that is that I'm missing the program, as I'm missing many of the shows I watch. It's a Friday night, and I'm so tired of screens, having sat in front of one all week. And yet, here I am at the moment, trying to put a few words down because it's kind of a relaxing thing to do.

I had hoped that Court Square Tavern would have been open for the evening tonight, but they could not staff the place. I would have loved to have done it, but I'm not going to work there for now. It's way too hard to do that as well as a full-time job. But, there was a sign on the door that says the place will be smoke-free. That's an amazing thing, and I think will make the difference in terms of their success. They're hiring right now, and it's a fun job. Drop me an e-mail if you're interested. I will certainly miss the money I made there in the past.

But, Fridays are way too important to me now, as I really like going downtown after work. I worked until 6:30 tonight after writing a story about the Albemarle County Service Authority meeting from yesterday, as well as posting a link to a fascinating discussion about sustainable growth. That one will be posted soon.

I'm always amazed at how many people live here, or at least, how many people show up on Friday's, especially for a Dead cover band. I'm amazed at how many people I just don't recognize, and don't come into contact with. What percentage of the population around us do we actually know and recognize? A woman I interviewed today for a Live Arts podcast (Streetcar preview here!) said that she's amazed at how she doesn't really know anyone in town anymore. Does this mean there are too many people here, or does it just mean that we don't have a media culture in place that truly lets people discuss in a civil way, both offline and online. Think about how many cvillebloggers know each other now.

But, what about the people we don't know, the ones who have never read a blog, who have never downloaded a podcast? But, I'm also amazed at how many people who are listening to content when they want to, where they want to. It's happening, slowly.

(Anyway, just a few minutes writing, to prime me, to get me going. Now that I am off the air, away from radio, I am hoping to get back to writing. I certainly am doing this with Charlottesville Tomorrow, but now it's time to do more writing, about things, in the hopes of reaching other people again.)

5/24/2007

The Original Point of the Internet

Waldo Jaquith posted a neat article today about the early history of the Internet, back in the days when you would find out what's new in the world by clicking What's New here and there. At the height of the dot-com boom, I was the editor of an online What's New page that kept people up to date on the latest changes in government positions across the U.S. I worked for a publishing company that maintained directories of local, state and federal officials. They still keep the page up to date.

This was my first real job after college. I went from an intern at WVTF to an intern at New Hampshire Public Radio, and then surfed around in restaurants up there for a while, as well as a stint where I worked in Lynchburg for my father's company, trying to learn how to become a manufacturing kind of guy. When I was there, I used the web to surf for music, as this was in the days before WNRN took over Sweet Briar's radio station. You could get great concerts intact, like I'm sure you can now.

But, it seemed less connected. You would surf more because it was harder to do. You would find yourself finding all kinds of great stuff. I created my own journal page, and felt a lot more free because it didn't really feel like the entire world knew how to access the thing, even though all it ever took back then was one link.

The difference, though, is that links didn't count like they do now. There wasn't quite the same interconnectivity that there was now. I would create each new page in notepad using HTML, and would have to change all of the other frames. I didn't really know what I was doing. All I wanted to do was write and publish. As I've written about before, Geocities helped me attract other similar minded people. It was a great little organic community in which you could meet folks from all over the world.

And then it changed. Geocities got bought by Yahoo!, which destroyed the sense of community, as they added inconveniences to the user experience in the name of branding. They changed their rules in order to claim ownership of content, driving away a lot of people. What seemed like the forming of a real community collided with other people's desire to make untold riches in the Gold Rush of '99.

Now, everyone is on the Internet. People even know what podcasts are now, and the audience is definitely growing. I'm glad I live in a community where something like cvilleblogs.com has been introduced. I'm also glad that I have recently made the decision to leave radio behind almost completely in favor of being an online-only journalist.

One of my job's at Carroll's was to phone up city governments and ask them if there had been any changes in the main staff and legislative positions in city government. I think when I phoned Charlottesville, Blake Caravati was Mayor. I learned a lot through osmosis about how city governments worked. Two key positions that our clients wanted to know: budget analyst and purchasing agent.

And now, I'm suddenly faced with the need to assimilate a lot of intricate data about how our city and county governments work. As a reporter for WVTF, I never had to deal with this level of detail. Broadcast writing is about giving broad sketches. The writing I'm doing now is much more involved, and it's exhilarating.

When I started at WNRN a year ago, I was similarly exhilarated. I'd never done live radio before, and suddenly I was thrust onto the airwaves in a way that my canned-radio self had never had to deal with before.

Sadly, I can't continue on at WNRN, but now the challenge is how to work in a medium that is new to me professionally. I've been online since the late 80's. Should I really expect to be in any other field?

Now, for an odd fun-fact: On the same day I step down as news director at WNRN, I will go and have my first beer at the new Court Square Tavern!

5/22/2007

Court Square Tavern opens this week!

They said it couldn't be done.

Or, maybe they didn't say that. But they could have if they had wanted to.

But, Court Square Tavern has risen from the ashes and opens this week in its new, shiny form. There's a brand new kitchen, two LCD televisions, a new standing bar in the back, a revamped menu, wi-fi access, eight taps of beer, more than a hundred kind of bottled beer, and a very different look and feel.

In short, to my eyes it is absolutely gorgeous. I can't wait until it's really open for good.

Right now, hours are limited. It opens for lunch tomorrow (call first to confirm) and will be open in the evenings beginning later this week.

And, possibly best of all - there is a petition to make the entire place non-smoking. I think this will be a good thing, and if you feel the same, make sure you sign the petition. Bill Curtis joked that he would abide by the petition if it gets more than 50 signatures. I predict that it will.

This is such a good thing for Charlottesville. An institution that could have gone away did not.

So, when I posted about the fire in March of last year, a lot of people promised to buy a beer there. I think very soon we'll need to start making that happen, right? I'm looking at you, Bill Emory! :)

5/13/2007

C-Ville Riot? What do you know?

Outskirts last night reported on a riot or some sort of a disturbance downtown.


BREAKING NEWS: Seems as if a large number of youth are running around in the village this evening raising some havoc. At least three police cars and a police bike are involved in pursuit. Loud noises that may have been gunshots or firecrackers were heard in the Belmont/downtown areas.


My wife was with friends at MAS last night, sitting outside. This morning she told me she saw something odd.

She described a "lot of people," mostly African-American pre-teens and teenagers on foot, being led down Hinton Avenue in the heart of Belmont Street by three police cars with their lights flashing, sirens off.

"They seemed jubilant," says my wife.

I can't find any other information for this online. Nothing on any of the "major" sites. Did you hear or see this?

5/12/2007

City Council Candidates Forum video on Charlottesville Tomorrow

I'm glad I took the job at Charlottesville Tomorrow. I'm getting the chance to play with new tools. This past Thursday, I recorded the Democratic City Council Candidates forum in video and audio. Go and see the results here.

5/04/2007

Signs of life at Court Square Tavern

I meant to post this on Wednesday. A Coors Light truck pulled up in Court Square. When I walked to Live Arts to conduct an interview, I saw the driver carrying an empty dolly out of the Tavern's front door. This couple with the glasses in the sink, visible through the window, imply that we're very very very close to re-opening day.

I can't wait.

Also, here's a cool tidbit for cvillebloggers - there will be wi-fi in the Tavern!

5/01/2007

Enjoying the Genius of Charlottesville

I may be a loser, yes. But, I'm a hard-working loser.

Why loser? I'm sitting at Miller's while finishing up work after my first two jobs finished up. I'm away from home, and I hate that, but I have all of these projects that I have to finish up so I can really get going with the new job at Charlottesville Tomorrow. So, I'm cleaning up a lecture on nanotechnology while having a beer that is not a Stella Artois, even though that's what I ordered. It's a pale ale, which I really don't mind either.

I once swore I would never come back to Miller's, but it's too easy to be here. It's too easy to sit here and order beers. They have the fountain turned on now, and it's very peaceful to hear the whooshing and the whirring while this man talks about the future technology.

If it were two weeks from now, I would be having this post-work work session at Court Square Tavern, which is just about to about. As I walked past today, I noticed they even have glasses ready to go in the new three-sink unit. I'm scared to look in too much, because I want it to be open as soon as it can be open. When it is, my return to downtown Charlottesville will be complete.

I'm working, but I'm relaxing at the same time. I love what I do, and I've been lucky enough and pig-headed enough to keep my business and my website going for the past two years. More than that, now. When I was younger, I would have poured my desire to work into a restaurant. Either the Tavern, or any of the other dozen places I worked in my life.

Tonight I attended a joint meeting of the Board of Architectural Review and the Planning Commission. I'll write an article about that tomorrow on the Charlottesville Tomorrow blog, and I'll post a podcast as well. This new role is incredibly interesting to me, as now I have to think like a real writer, as opposed to a broadcast writer.

Which means I'm going to see this place in a whole new light. As I walked down from my office to lovely old Miller's, I kept looking up at the buildings all around me, trying to understand the new terminology. I'm not going to pretend I know it all, but of course, I am learning.

When I'm ready to go home (when my battery dies) I'll hop on the trolley. That's the beauty of it. I live in a place where I can get to work on a bus, and I can spend all of my time in one place with lots of options, and then go home to a cool house. Is it cheap? No. It's pretty damned expensive. But, that's why I work hard.

On the ramble-tron, this post merits a 10.