I’m off to the US Open tonight courtesy a ticket from my boy. I’ve been many times and if you’ve been, you know that a night session can be ELECTRIC. Imagine the pent up energy of players and fans after two days of rain delays?

Arthur Ashe Stadium will be jumping.

Speaking of Ashe, I’ve been toying with developing a documentary about Arthur Ashe. Though its only in preliminary stages, I’d like to concentrate on one key moment out of his life. That’s going to be hard to narrow down when he had so many GREAT moments.

– First black Davis Cup Captain


-Honored by Presidential Medal of Freedom

He was an amazing player, activist, sportsman and black cultural ambassador. His rivalry with Jimmy Connors was legendary. At Wimbledon in 1975 he beat Connors 6–1, 6–1, 5–7, 6–4.

But I’m thinking about a post-humous moment: After his death, Arthur Ashe’s body lay in state at the governor’s mansion in his home state of Virginia. The last time this was allowed was for Stonewall Jackson of the Confederate Army during the Civil War. A statue of him was erected on Monument Avenue among J.E.B. Stuart, Jefferson Davis (President of the Confederacy), and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.

There was a tremendous amount of controversy over the monument because up until his statue’s placement, the recognized icons in stone were all associated with the Confederacy, were all racist whites who never thought blacks in America could achieve the remarkable things that Ashe could. I believe the placement of the monument could make quite the film.

Meanwhile, tonight is a night for joy and passion! If you’ve never been to the US Open, make the pilgrimage and go at night, you won’t regret it.




Seasons Greetings

Merry Christmas (belated), Happy Boxing Day (on-time), Happy New Year (just a bit early).

Spent the last few days in Maryland and Virginia with the family. I recently helped my dad move to Richmond, VA. His new place is in the formerly industrial area of town called “Schockoe Bottom” along a canal on the James river. Its one of the oldest parts of the city dating to the late 1700s. Like any waterway, mills and industrial warehouses populate the area known also as “tobacco row.” The neighborhood jewel is the original Lucky Strike plant which has been renovated by Odell & Associates into a mixed-use studio and living complex. The plant and many buildings sat in disrepair for decades and only recently has the neighborhood come back. Pop is in a former warehouse nearby across the street from the old county courthouse.

Tobacco Row 1948

The historic area feels “salvaged” and could set quite the example for how to reclaim industrial zones in our urban centers. Fishtown in Philadelphia, Williamsburg in Brooklyn, and River North in Chicago spring to mind as successful conversions. Buildings in the area have steadily been renovated since the early 90s. Hopefully they will pay strict attention to the history and do their best to preserve it. One of my favorite features of areas like this is “ghost signs”, advertising for now defunct products from the turn of the century that would have been hand-painted.

100 Word Minimum has done a nice job capturing “ghost signs” from historic Richmond.

We also had time to stop at Need Supply Co, a high-end clothing boutique in the Carytown area.

Some solid brands, A.P.C., Wolverine, Tanner Goods, the Hillside… Personally, I think they’re missing out not stocking at a wider price range–I love Raleigh denim but can’t afford justify it! Still, the selection was well edited and a good choice of American-made goods mixed through-out. Apparently they’ve been around since ’96 so that’s a damn good thing.

Down the street, the local Carytown Cinema, the Byrd, was beautiful and I wish I could have gone in but we were there too early.

"It's a Wonderful Life"

The Byrd reminded me of the Music Box Theater in Chicago, another great movie palace of yesteryear (built in the depression-era and just a year after the Byrd in 1928). Loved that the Byrd was showing “Its A Wonderful Life” on Christmas Eve and Day. I look forward to spending more time in Richmond rooting out the best food, restaurants, and of course, a bit of that Civil War history. As the one-time capital of the confederacy, I’m sure there’s lots to uncover on future visits.

Lastly, you’ll recall I brined my bird on Thanksgiving. Well my brother not only brined his, he smoked it too, and he did it again for Christmas at my brother’s place in Fredericksburg. It was honestly, the best turkey I’ve ever had (pecan and applewood chips imparted a gorgeous bark and flavor). Seriously, next year, I’m getting my license, and I’m going turkey hunting. I’m gonna hunt it, kill it, brine it, and smoke it. How else am I going to compete?