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A lifesaving brother-sister duo may be the closest thing Richmond has to superheroes ... Tiananmen Square sculptor at VCU to finish latest work ... Why is someone trying to dig up dirt on a U.S. District Court judge?

Street Talk

Lifesavers Have Unlikely Link
Tiananmen Square Sculptor Returns VCU Salute
Ad Causes Calls From Clerks
Lifesavers Have Unlikely Link

On May 28, Nicholas Raible, 18, was having dinner with his family at the Richmond Country Club to celebrate his dad's birthday. A few tables away, a woman appeared to be choking, gasping for air. Nicholas, an Eagle Scout with Troop 772, rushed to the table to offer his help. As an assistant scoutmaster trained in first aid, Nicholas knew the Heimlich maneuver and quickly stepped in, putting sudden pressure on the woman's upper abdomen to force the object from her windpipe. "Out it came and she could breathe," exclaims his mom, Sarah A.P., a local real estate agent.

On Sept. 8, her mother's birthday, Evanne Raible, 10, had just returned to the rink where she was competing in a junior ice-skating competition in Lake Placid, N.Y. To her surprise, she heard her name blast out over the PA system, urging her to go at once to the break room. "They stopped the competition. The last thing I remember is hearing Evanne's skates bounding up the steps," says Raible's instructor, Elissa Tatton, who commutes weekly to SkateNation from Charlottesville to coach Evanne.

Tatton suffers from a rare food allergy that often requires immediate shots of Epinephrine and Benadryl. Tatton had eaten what she thought was an oatmeal raisin cookie, but which turned out to have walnuts, a potentially deadly ingredient for Tatton.

Evanne, a Junior Girl Scout with Troop 495 also is trained in first aid. What's more, she had seen her coach suffer before from the rare allergic reaction and asked Tatton to teach her what to do in an emergency. "She always says: 'Be prepared,'" Tatton says, laughing.

In case you haven't guessed, Nicholas and Evanne are brother and sister.

Maybe a quick response to crisis is in the family genes. But Sarah A.P. Raible, Evanne's troop leader, says it's all due to her kids' involvement in scouts.

Both Nicholas, a senior at St. Mary's School; and Evanne, a fourth-grader at Tuckahoe Elementary; are being recognized by their troops for their lifesaving heroism. The siblings also will receive the scouts' national awards for merit and honor.

But for two people who now owe their lives to the Raibles, medals are of little consequence.

"I was blue," says Tatton. "Everyone else was freaking out and here was this 10-year-old, totally in control."

- Brandon Walters

Tiananmen Square Sculptor Returns VCU Salute

e didn't know it in 1989, but while Pan Xing Lei and thousands of other Chinese youths were demonstrating for democracy in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, VCU art students were creating in solidarity a replica of the 30-foot-tall, Styrofoam-white Goddess of Democracy statue Pan had bravely erected half a world away.

Now, 10 years later, Pan is returning the salute by finishing another ambitious work — an eight-figure, floating piece he calls "Rubber Men" — here. (The work will be exhibited next month in New York.) A series of chance encounters brought the world-traveling artist to VCU in October as a visiting lecturer and now as a part-time graduate student.

Pan smiles as he flips from the page of his scrapbook that shows his Tiananmen Square statue to the page with a photocopied picture of the smaller VCU model. But his public works have not always been so admired, or easily understood or copied.

Take the 1996 incident in Hong Kong in which he doused himself and a statue of Queen Victoria with bright red paint, then bashed her nose askew with a hammer. It was an effort "to get Hong Kong people to think about Hong Kong culture" during the transition from colonial British to Chinese rule, he says. (Pan himself got 28 days to think about it, in the solitude of a Hong Kong jail cell on vandalism charges. But he also got a most-promising-artist grant from a French foundation that in 1998 enabled him to travel abroad.)

Last year, he met Richmond sculptor Amie Oliver at an artists' colony in Vermont. She got Pan in touch with friend Ruth Bolduan, who heads the VCU painting department, who got him in touch with Joe Seipel, chairman of the sculpture department, who accepted Pan as a part-time grad student.

Seipel says sculpture students at VCU have hailed from countries as diverse as Spain, Scotland, Korea, Turkey and Norway, but Pan's renown helps raise awareness of the program another few notches internationally. "It also raises the level of awareness of cultural diversity" and exposes students and the community to new perspectives, he adds.

Such internationalism, in fact, has increasingly become a part of Pan's own work and identity. "Rubber Men" features a number of latex body casts the sculptor took of himself and on which he has painted Chinese characters, but they are blurred and the suspended figures seem to tumble in borderless space.

- Rob Morano

Ad Causes Calls From Clerks

Who has a story to share of US District Judge Richard L. Williams' courtroom?

That's what ex-Defense General Supply Center federal worker David Shurland wants to know.

And with the $340 advertisement Shurland placed in the Nov. 30 issue of Style Weekly, he hoped people would spill some beans.

But after five weeks, the ambiguous ad has raised only eyebrows from Richmond's legal community that knows the well-respected judge.

What's up? Could a book be in the works? Or a movie?

According to Shurland, yes, and it wouldn't be glowing.

Judge Williams, on the other hand, merely shakes his head at the fuss.

"All I did was put him in jail for one night to teach him some manners," says Williams, who has served as both a state and federal judge in Virginia for 25 years.

According to Shurland, in January 1999, Judge Williams charged Shurland with trespassing on the property of the DGSC where Shurland recently had been fired from his job in the contracts department.

Shurland contends that he did not receive a fair trial in Williams' court. In the aftermath of the ruling he has begun a dogged and puzzling one-man crusade against Williams.

Shurland claims the case ruined him.

The ad hasn't brought any courtroom stories out of the woodwork — except from Williams' former law clerks, who number more than 40.

According to Williams, his office has been "inundated" with calls, mostly from the former clerks. If anyone has stories to share about Williams' courtroom, it's them, says Williams.

Shurland plans to place more ads in any newspaper he can. He's approached local TV stations, even The New York Times, saying he'd like to sell the movie rights. So far, he's had no takers.

Meanwhile, Shurland waits for response. "I would like to file a class-action lawsuit," he says.

But, Williams isn't worried or even offended: "I thought the whole thing was hilarious."

- Brandon Walters

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