Once upon a time I ran a news site, now I just have opinions on the news. 

Good morning, RVA: VDOE denial, Chamberlayne Avenue renovations, and goodbye Strange Matter

Good morning, RVA! It's 35 °F, and rain dominates the forecast again. Expect temperatures in the 50s this morning, but rain to show up this afternoon and cool things down a bit. Bring your umbrella, of course.

Water cooler

Late last week, police reported a murder that occurred on the 3300 block of Decatur Street. On Wednesday morning officers arrived and found Dawn S. Dutcher, 50, dead.

Remember a while back when we found out that Richmond Public Schools had erroneously awarded high school credit to a bunch of students for a bunch of different reasons over the past few years? The new Superintendent has put a stop to that, of course, and had requested a waiver from the state Department of Education to hold the impacted students harmless. VDOE has denied that request, and now RPS will dig in and adjust students’ transcripts as necessary. You can read the Superintendent’s brief comments on the RPS website as well as the full text of the letter sent by VDOE. One silver lining (I guess?) is that VDOE believe that “to date, there is no evidence that any student identified as having received additional, inappropriate credits cannot graduate on-time with the desired diploma.” As always, you can and should subscribe to the Superintendent’s newsletter, which is where I learned about all this.

I’ve talked about how much promise I think Chamberlayne Avenue holds—it’s a dense and (currently) affordable place to live that’s served with good transit. It has, however, been allowed to deteriorate and is in need of some TLC. Tammie Smith at the Richmond Times-Dispatch says that a new developer has completed their purchase of a bunch of the units (528) north of Westwood and say they are “going to make this corridor awesome again.” Those sound like gentrifying words, right?, but so far the new owners have worked to replace air conditioners, add lighting to exteriors, and fix leaky roofs. This all sounds great, but it will be important to keep this area as a source of naturally occurring affordable housing.

Mike Platania at Richmond BizSense has some ominous sounding news about the forever-ago planned Stone Bistro. Late last week, Stone sent a letter to Council asking for a delay on the vote to change to their agreement with the brewery. This delay originally kicked off many months ago because Stone no longer thought renovating the Intermediate Terminal building an option and wanted, instead, to demolish and build their restaurant from scratch. Platania ends the story with this spooky quote from Stone, spooky emphasis my own: “We will invest in our world-class production facility, the local beer scene, and the community at large while we determine next steps for the possibility of a bistro experience in Richmond.”

Pretty huge bummer: WTVR reports that local venue Strange Matter is closing. After hosting a bunch of now-famous bands in the 90s as Twisters, the location went through a bunch of names and iterations until finally landing on Strange Matter and has been there for the better part of ten years. I hope that the spot stays a charmingly dirty punk venue but wouldn’t be surprised if the irresistible tide of VCU expansion claims yet another victim. Related, here’s a gallery of old hardcore flyers featuring a bunch from the early 2000s Twisters era. If anyone has any older flyers laying around, I’d love to see them.

Here is a very important thread on /r/rva about where in town you can get a homemade “super gooey, big, and warm” cinnamon roll.

Note that today is “Veterans Day (observed)” so some things may be closed (City government, for instance) or their hours may be weird. Probably worth your time to check a website before planning a big outting.

This morning's longread

The Gulp War

It’s another article about drinking water! Who knew there were so many out there to read?

After a while, though, it became nearly impossible to tell the waters apart. There was no difference in color. They were all odorless. They were all, on first sip, nearly identical. When the goal is absolute purity and tastelessness, any distinguishing factor becomes a distraction, a cause for demerits. But stripped of all the marketing, all the gimmickry, the flashy bottle – it was impossible to identify anything. After all, how would I know if I was drinking European iceberg water or bottled tap water from Ohio if I couldn’t see a price tag? In a blind test, luxury water tastes just like a commodity.

If you’d like your longread to show up here, go chip in a couple bucks on the ol’ Patreon.

Good morning, RVA: City Council, Social Services, and Claire Danes

Good morning, RVA: Equitable access to services, the Richmond Marathon, and Veterans Day