Howdy, Hampton Roads! Sorry, didn’t mean to yell, guess we’re all still nursing hangovers from the long weekend. It’s just that we’re so excited about the news this week: Paul Fraim takes on the Gov, DIY Mexican demon summoning, more beer in Ghent, fake cadavers, flag shenanigans, and of course, Tay. Read on!
Norfolk’s Democratic Mayor, Paul Fraim, will be headlining a fundraiser for GOP state Senator Frank Wagner (whose district contains portions of Norfolk) tomorrow, despite the fact that a Democrat is running to unseat Wagner in the November election. Governor Terry McAuliffe has made taking back the state Senate a priority for Democrats and targeted Wagner’s seat specifically. The chamber is currently held by the GOP, but a shift of just one seat would put the deciding vote in the hands of Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat. Fraim, who has served as Mayor of Norfolk for more than 20 years and is a well-known figure in local Democratic circles, professed to be unaware that his party would be fielding a candidate in November. That candidate, Cox Communications executive Gary McCollum, raised over $250,000 in the first quarter of this year, the second most of any state Senate candidate this year.
Starting off, it’s a bit hard to believe that Fraim, a well-known Democrat, would have no idea that there was a Democrat planning on running for Wagner’s seat, especially with the state Senate so closely divided, and the state party apparatus already gearing up to target Wagner. A quick phone call to Richmond would have cleared it up. It’s more likely that Fraim, having worked together for years with Wagner in politics and elsewhere, simply chose to bet on the horse he knows instead of against him and risk whatever might come should Wagner be reelected—an outcome that could help Norfolk, or Fraim, or both. Or maybe, it’s less political—maybe it’s just that they’re friends. Either of those are perfectly acceptable reasons to support a candidate, especially in a place like Norfolk, where city leaders aren’t elected as partisans. But it’s just disingenuous to pretend that, despite his access to state leaders, he simply wouldn’t have known about a Democratic challenger.
And that kind of thing should be eye-opening for Norfolk voters, regardless of party. We can take him at face value, but with a little thought, that points to either a dangerous naiveté about state-level politics, or to Fraim being shut out of decisions being made in Richmond that might impact Norfolk—both of which are terrible for Norfolk. Or, if we put it in context of other back-room dealing that seem to happen in City Hall, it’s symptomatic of Fraim’s governing style, which tends towards making a decision with a few interested parties, and then presenting it to the public as an optimal outcome for the City, regardless of what residents (or outside experts) might actually think of it. (See also: the amazing shrinking Downtown convention hotel, the bad neighbor Lake Wright outlet mall, the St. Paul’s Quadrant deal that was nixed when people found out about it, etc.)
When we think about this on a state level, it’s clear that Virginia’s Democrats need Norfolk. Without the solid backing of a large majority of Norfolk’s voters, it’s hard to imagine either the election of Governor McAuliffe in 2013 or the re-election of Senator Warner in 2014, or even Virginia going for President Obama in either 2008 or 2012 by the margin that it did. Similarly, Norfolk plays an important part in the plans the state Democratic party is making to take back the Senate. No matter what happens on November 3rd, Terry McAuliffe will still be Governor on November 4th, and may have won back the state Senate even without Fraim’s help. And while Virginia Democrats will definitely still need Norfolk for the foreseeable future, it’s harder and harder to see why Virginia Democrats need Paul Fraim.
#Teens! They’re forever smoking pot drugs, or making sex with their scarcely developed organs, or summoning Mexican demons from the blistering quarries of the underworld because it would make a “totally gnarly and radical” Snapchat.
Young people across the nation are taking part in the Charlie Charlie Challenge on social media, an “ancient Mexican tradition” (side-eye) that, as the Mirror explains, is essentially a cross between the Ouija board and four square:
“The dubious rite involves placing two pencils on a piece of paper in the shape of a cross, before writing the words yes and no inside the four squares formed by the pencils.
Brave (or gullible) participants must then repeat the words ‘Charlie, Charlie are you here’.
If the pencil moves and points to yes, Charlie is in the house and you can draw upon his demonic life experience and ask him for guidance in the form of yes/no questions.”
DRAW UPON HIS DEMONIC LIFE EXPERIENCE. I guess Charlie is like the satanic version of Mr. Miyagi? Kids are so mollycoddled these days! When we summoned Bloody Mary, we didn’t ask her for shit. Scaring the one homeschooled girl at the slumber party was enough for us, you know?
So anyway, there are all these rules to the Charlie Charlie Challenge, like if you fail to properly close the channels of communication when you’re done necromancing Pat Morita, it will leave the portal to the underworld open to evil spirits, and George Lopez will be able to gain entry into your house whenever he pleases.
Yessssssssss. I am a well-known beer enthusiast, and Norfolk is a well-known drinking town, so the news that not one, but maybe as many as three (or four!) growler filling stations are coming to Ghent and environs is awesome news.
From the sound of it, these entrepreneurs have similar ideas in mind—basically, a place to bring your growler (aka, 32- or 40-ounce container) and have it filled full of delightful malty hoppy golden goodness from a variety of taps. Some will be fresh from local breweries, others will be out-of-town specials. I hope that each of these places, which sound like they’ll be close together, will develop distinctive specialties and sensibilities so that they can complement each other, like we see now with O’Connor and Smartmouth. Add in the coming-soon Coelacanth and Rip Rap breweries and we’ve got a respectable Ghent/Chelsea Beer Trail springing up. Let’s officialize this thing with hash-house runs, or a bike trail, or a brewery shuttle line, or something awesome like that.
At the end of the day though, don’t forget: Norfolk, it’s on you to drink up all this beer. Are you up for the challenge?
Despite HuffPo’s shamey headline, this is pretty cool: artificial cadavers, made of synthetic tissue, replaceable bones, muscles, organs and vessels, all of which do a pretty darn good job of matching the real thing. Some models (“the Cadillac of synthetic cadavers”) can even breathe and bleed.
SynDaver Labs’ “Synthetic Human” cost a cool $40,000, but for colleges, it’s a small price to pay for the thousands of Weekend at Bernie’s-style selfies students and faculty will inevitably take with it throughout the school year. Also it’s a great cost alternative for universities that can’t afford a full-on cadaver lab. Plus people just aren’t donating their bodies to science like they used to. Everybody wants to lie in state like they’re Charlemagne.
As snazzy as this new technology seems, some people are still skeptical. Dr. Paulette Bernd, a professor at Columbia University Medical Center, called the models “inadequate” for learning anatomy. Way harsh, Tai.
Westboro Baptist: Can You Just Not for a Second? [Warning: Nasty epithets in article]
Ireland voted overwhelmingly last week to allow same-sex marriages, and Westboro Baptist Church just hates that (along with basically everything else in the world). To show their ire (get it?), they shared a Vine of one of their members flipping the Irish flag over, which is the nautical signal for a vessel in distress. They were doing it to show the supposed distress Ireland is now facing, having decided democratically that people who love each other should be able to get married, regardless of their gender, but because they are dummies, they didn’t realize that they just turned the Irish flag into the flag of Ivory Coast.
It’s not exactly “Springtime for Hitler,” but it’s the same idea: the best way to show the world what buffoons these clowns are is to hoist them with their own petards.
But on the lighter side, Chris says:
This isn’t local news, but it still makes me happy. David Rockefeller Sr , turning 100 next month, this weekend announced the donation of 1,000 acres of land on Mount Desert Island in Maine to a private conservation organization. This organization will preserve the land and continue to allow the public access to it in perpetuity. The land abuts Acadia National Park, which was founded and developed in large part from gifts of land made by Rockefeller’s father, John D. Rockefeller Jr.
I spend part of my summer every year on Mount Desert Island (above), and am inspired not just by the natural beauty of Acadia, but by the generosity of the Rockefeller family in laying the groundwork for the National Park there. It takes courage and vision to use your family’s fortune to take something that could be a commercial asset—wide ocean vistas, fertile woodlands, mountains made of pink granite—and turn that into a place for every American to own in common and share and enjoy forever. The character of Mount Desert Island is the conservation and preservation of that spot, not the vacation houses and logging and quarrying that could have overrun it instead. Let’s not forget that lesson as we rush to build up every available open space we have left in our own area.
Oh, and also? It’s summer time now, so make sure you get out and find your National Park. You already own them, get out and use them
And finally in the Swiftbeat, a Montana world history teacher named Colter Pierce has made the ultimate commitment to education by offering to cancel finals if his students can get Taylor Swift to call him. YES. This is what we need! More kids showing real initiative. Who cares if they end up completely ignorant of who the Visigoths were (nomadic Germanic tribe; super into Bauhaus)?
“Pretty much all semester, I’ve been talking about Taylor Swift,” said Pierce.
A photo of the iron-clad contract is making its way around social media. Also Mr. Pierce is a total dreamboat and he and T-Swift should date. Just my take.
Long ago, a prophesy foretold of two great ones who would alter the course of history with their unmatched witticisms about the world around them. But until they arrive, Chris O’ Brien and Laura Watkins are filling in. Sharing a love of tacos, cats, justice, as well as an overarching ambition to perform history’s greatest karaoke duet of “Lightning Crashes,” and last but not least, a common ancestor in Charlemagne, Chris and Laura excel at beer drinking, trivia, and giving the Price side-eye to the patriarchy. They’re also pretty sure they were orphaned Russian siblings in another life, but that’s a story for another time.