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Lee Mural May Rise Again

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Lee Mural May Rise AgainRichmond May Turn Off Channel OneTwo Decades Later, Throttle DeceleratesHarper's Has Sen. Warner E-Mail HijinxNothing Says "Puree" Like A Naked ChefLee Mural May Rise Again


Richmond Rising: An index of stories on the controversy and celebration surrounding the Canal Walk

Talk Back: What do you think about the removal of the Lee mural?

Gen. Robert E. Lee is still fighting from beyond the grave it seems, but if Richmond City Councilman Bill Johnson has his way, Lee won't lose his most recent battle.

Johnson says there is "a chance" that City Council may take action to put a controversial mural of the Confederate general back on the city's floodwall: "I don't want to spill the beans before it happens, but the mayor and I have talked and as far as I am concerned, I say put the general back."

Richmond Riverfront officials ordered the Lee mural to be taken down from a display with 28 other images of Richmond history, following angry protests led by Councilman Sa'ad El-Amin, who likened Lee to Hitler. El-Amin, who is black, maintains Lee is "offensive" to the black community because he stood for slavery.

However, Johnson, who is also black, defends Lee's role in Virginia history. "I believe the general deserves his spot [on the floodwall], and I pretty much agree that he is a very important part of our history and he deserves to be recognized," Johnson says.

He knows what he says will be controversial to some blacks, Johnson says, but "it doesn't matter. It's not about me being an Uncle Tom. It's about me not being able to really project my history if I'm in the habit of suppressing others' [history]."

Johnson says the decision to take down Lee's image should have been discussed by Council and shouldn't have been done on the eve of the Canal Walk opening, when all eyes would be on the city and the hard work that went into creating the canal district.

"Lee made a tremendous contribution, and he is a native son and he deserves his place in history," Johnson adds. "I think one of the most precious resources the state of Virginia has is its history, and Richmond has a wealth of it within its borders, and the true economic prosperity we could be experiencing is to be found in our historical significance. We should be benefiting from it and he played a significant part."

— Richard Foster

Richmond May Turn Off Channel One

Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Albert J. Williams may be switching off the controversial Channel One in city classrooms.

Williams has asked all principals when their contracts with Channel One expire and "I think probably it will be canceled next year," says school system spokesman Jim Bynum.

Channel One was the subject of a contentious U.S. Senate Subcommittee hearing last month as well as a Style Weekly story last week. The hip, MTV-like news service for kids loans schools free televisions for every classroom. But critics, including Ralph Nader, accuse Channel One of being nothing more than a Trojan Horse for bringing ads for everything from soda pop and fast food to movies and video games into the classroom.

According to Nader's research, kids spend the equivalent of one school week a year watching Channel One and the equivalent of an entire school day just watching commercials.

Henrico and Chesterfield do not participate in Channel One and Hanover County got rid of the service and bought its own televisions to receive ad-free programming.

Bynum could not say whether or not Richmond would replace the televisions it will be losing in classrooms in six of its seven middle schools and five of its seven high schools.

Roger Gray, president of the Richmond Education Association, meets the news with mixed emotions. "One of the librarians I talked to today was kind of upset because she said if they canceled the contract [with Channel One], all of the TVs will go out of the school and she won't be able to send programming into the classroom," Gray says.

"You've got this situation where they're tight on resources and they don't seem to be able to afford to replace all those televisions and keep up with technology so they sell themselves to Channel One, but then if you remove Channel One, you deprive kids of a valuable resource. It's a two-edged sword."

— R.F.

Two Decades Later, Throttle Decelerates

After 18 years, Throttle Magazine, the once-ubiquitous artsy and alternative Fan newspaper, is braking to a halt.

The edgy volunteer-run free publication will publish its final issue later this month or in early July, says its executive editor, Ann Henderson.

"It's folding mainly because I'm finally getting sort of burnt out on doing this in my spare time," says a weary Henderson, who has been Throttle's editor since 1988 and works as a marketing coordinator for The Glave Firm.

"Nobody's really come along who's had the time or the inclination to really take it over," she says, "[and] I didn't want to turn it over to somebody who would play with it for six months and then let it die."

Throttle was founded in 1981, two years before Style Weekly, by two former editors of the Virginia Commonwealth University student newspaper, The Commonwealth Times. "Style wasn't around yet and there weren't any other free weeklies around town so there really was a good need for it at the time," says Henderson.

A monthly paper throughout much of the 1980s, Throttle stopped publishing for about a year in the early 1990s, then was reincarnated as a bimonthly. In recent years it's gone from being published five times a year to quarterly. Its most recent issue came out late last year. Its current circulation is about 5,000.

"It really has been kind of low key" in recent years, Henderson says. "A lot of people remember Throttle from earlier days, but maybe they don't get into town as much as they used to, and they don't think it's around anymore. ... It's almost like a well-kept secret of people in town."

— R.F.

Harper's Has Sen. Warner E-Mail Hijinx

It's almost 2000, and we can say it: E-mail is fun.

Fun, yes, but perhaps not the best way to make one's views known to one's elected representatives in Washington.

The proof is in the May, 1999, issue of Harper's Magazine. On Jan 30, 1999, Richard Bausch, a novelist, wrote Virginia Sen. John Warner an e-mail urging him to work toward a speedy conclusion to the Clinton impeachment scandal. Warner responded on Feb. 1 with a rather general e-mail thanking Bausch for his comments and assuring him that Warner is acting in the best interests of his constituents and the nation.

Bausch then writes again, elaborating on points from his first letter he felt weren't sufficiently addressed, and Warner returns with the same response, which Bausch recognizes as a form letter. Bausch writes another letter calling Warner on the form response, and a third time, the same letter comes back.

That's when the fun starts.

Bausch writes, "our country badda bing badda boom badda ling ling ling, ... and the good thing is that ordinary citizens can actually get the pring that you have their fandaglee doodily in mind as you press forward with the concerns of government."

Warner, true to form, comes back with his same letter.

Bausch responds again, telling Sen. Warner that their correspondence must come to a close. "One concerned citizen to a clambake; one Virginian to a baked Alaska. I remain ever faithful, ever the liver and onions, my lover, my poppyseed, my darling," Bausch writes, signing off with, "sweat socks and deep appreciation."

A Style Weekly e-mail to Warner's office was answered with a different form letter, and the press people in Warner's Washington office were unavailable for comment.

— Mark Stroh

Nothing Says "Puree" Like A Naked Chef

The ads are nothing if not eye-catching.

There you are, thumbing through your copy of Food Arts Magazine, and all of a sudden you see renowned chef Jean-Louis Palladin staring out at you stark naked, with only a strategically placed blender between you and his altogether.

What's going on?

"The greatest ad campaign in the history of the culinary world," raves Jimmy Sneed, the Frog and the Redneck chef who also happens to be the national spokesperson for Vita-Mix, the company that makes the blender.

The ads are Sneed's brainchild. A huge fan of Vita-Mix blenders ("It'll puree anything. Marbles, gravel, Nikes, it'll absolutely puree anything," Sneed says.), Sneed wasn't a fan of their advertising, which featured families happily pureeing healthy blended snacks and treats. He thought he could do better.

Sneed approached Dave King of the King Agency in Shockoe Bottom, and told him he wanted to do a new Vita-Mix campaign aimed solely at chefs, who Sneed says tend to be smart and jaded, with short attention spans.

They came up with the "naked chefs with their blender" campaign, and Sneed persuaded his mentor, Palladin, to pose for the first ad, which comes out this week in Food Arts. More chefs will follow, including Eric Ripert, chef at New York City's Le Bernardin.

"It accomplishes everything I want it to accomplish," Sneed says. "When another chef looks you in the eye and says, 'You must buy one,' you're going to buy one. End of story."

— M.S.

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