Charlottesville Breaking News

Big lessons: Candid Doughty offers sa-sa-something

The man who sings about his reticence in "Na Na Nothing" turns out to have plenty to say– or at least write about. If fans haven't always been privy to intimate stories from Mike Doughty, they've had their chance since the January release of his tell-everything memoir, The Book of Drugs, which examines not only his adventurous lifestyle and experience with addiction, but also the gut-wrenching days of his time in Soul Coughing, the quirky and experimental band noted for Doughty's poetic lyrics.

“People have always felt really close to me because I'm an over-sharer,” Doughty says in a telephone interview in advance of his upcoming solo performance in Charlottesville. “I was on AOL messageboards when I was 23 putting out my first album.”

Now 41, Doughty finds himself in the middle of a tour that emphasizes that openness, mixing readings from the book with songs from his solo career and time for Q&A from the audience.

Doughty says many fans think that "Q&A is code for 'I will tell you gnarly things about Soul Coughing.'" He says he won't speak about his old band, but he will take on strange hypotheticals like the one from a fan who asked if he'd "rather play Twister with Dick Cheney or punch a kitten in the face."

Such questions can be heard on his new live album The Question Jar Show, and much of the book looks at the problems in the band, a revelation w...

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Century of Snow's: Family business hits the big 100

Where's Willard Scott when you need him? Three generations of Snows gathered Thursday at the Snow's Garden Center headquarters on Avon Street to celebrate the 100th birthday of the family business.

"It's amazing to see something that started 100 years ago not only being here but thriving," says a proud Duane Snow at the April 26 event.

He says he passed the landscape business on to his son, Corbin, and to family friend Scott Price back in 2003. It was Duane Snow's grandfather, Leroy H. Snow, who started the operation back in 1912 in Belmont, off Monticello Road near what's now Mas restaurant before relocating to Avon Street in 1978. A century later, Duane Snow says, it's hard to throw a, well, stone in Charlottesville without hitting greenery that Snow's planted.

"We've done whole subdivisions," he says, in addition to planting the trees on the Downtown Mall and performing landscaping work on UVA Grounds. Currently, Snow's employs 50 or 60 people on a full or nearly full-time basis, which means they can do plenty of planting in the next 100 years.

"It's going very strong," says Snow.

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Air apparent: 'History Guys' prep for weekly launch

Seven years after the idea for a radio show featuring "The American History Guys" was first floated in Charlottesville, the "Guys"– a dream team of two UVA history profs and a well-known college president– can boast that their program has beaten the odds in tough economic times, with six stations signed up to carry what is about to become an every-week broadcast.

"It feels really wonderful," says executive producer Andrew Wyndham, who conceived the show back in 2004. He says that Backstory with the American History Guys goes weekly May 11.

For those who haven't heard of the show– which launched as a monthly program on just a single station in 2009 before spreading to 130 public radio stations across the country– the concept is simple, even if the topics are complex.

Sometimes the subjects are "ripped from the headlines" Law & Order-style, including an upcoming episode on American homeownership– history of subprime mortgages, anyone? Another upcomer is "childbirth in the U.S.A.," particularly timely given recent "war against women" headlines. Special guests and callers with questions add spice.

"There are public radio stations all over the country that try to launch shows, and they...

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Slow but fit: What's right about 13-minute miles

Is this a dream? Am I six years old again? It feels as though I’m flying, zooming past fellow passengers in the airport corridor, overtaking travelers dragging suitcases and bewildered toddlers. Vendors offering bottled drinks, gummy muffins, and foreign-language software blur in my peripheral vision. I could be on one of those moving sidewalks, so effortlessly am I running. Heart rate not accelerated, no sweating. It feels easier than walking. Either a dream, or a kind of miracle.

But I’m not a first-grader racing down the school hallway. (I remember the first time a teacher stopped me and yelled, “Don’t run!” I wondered how grownups managed to resist the urge.) At 59, I’m at the outer limit of what can be called “middle aged” with a straight face.

Over the years, it has become a tradition: I hear the announcement that our plane will now begin boarding, and I take off down the corridor, determined to make a last visit to the ladies room before confining myself in a window seat. Sweating, heart pounding, and gasping, I return to the gate and line up for boarding.

Today, all that has changed. I make my s...

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Rotunda works: Magnolias reprieved, but not out of woods yet

When University architect David Neuman recommended last November that the massive, 100-year-old magnolias surrounding the Rotunda should come down to accommodate a $4.7 million project to replace the roof on the World Heritage site, local tree huggers mobilized. Nearly 4,000 people, mostly UVA students, signed an online petition calling for the preservation of the seven Magnolia grandiflora, an icon of the American South.

Neuman asserted that the trees had become a danger to the iconic structure and that their presence would prevent crews from erecting the scaffolding needed for the roof work. What's more, a UVA scholar pointed out that the giant trees marred architect Thomas Jefferson's concept of how the Rotunda should be seen.

But woe to those who would scorn a tree lover.

Almost immediately, President Teresa A. Sullivan stepped in to assure the public that no final decision had been m...

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