Charlottesville Breaking News

Brennan's 223: County planner turns historic image-finder

At 34, historical preservationist and UVA grad Eryn Brennan knows Charlottesville almost as intimately as a decades-long resident. As co-author of Images of America: Charlottesville, Brennan’s research was beyond thorough.

“We searched through over 15,000 images from 30 different collections over a period of about four months,” Brennan says, who wrote the book with Margaret Maliszewski. “We then spent the next three months researching information for the 223 images we chose for the book.”

Her involvement with Charlottesville wasn’t just archival— she actually helped shape Central Virginia in her former job as a senior planner with Albemarle County. For three years, she headed the Agricultural and Forestal Districts program, which tries to preserve rural land through tax breaks. She also served on the staff of the County’s Planning Commission, and was a design planner on Albemarle and Charlottesville’s architectural review boards.

“So I had a unique perspective," she says, "on the area’s changes, growth, and future development."

In 2009, as president of local group Preservation Piedmont, she co-organized Preservation Week, where major preservationists lectured, and her cause raised $18,000.

“The focus,” she explains, “was to raise awareness about the mutually beneficial goals of preservation and sustainability in fostering dynamic urban places that embrace the past while creating space for the present and...

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eSuccess: How Jenny Gardiner bypassed the publishers

When we wrote about Jenny Gardiner back in 2008, she'd just published her first book, Sleeping with Ward Cleaver, a chick-lit title that she marketed like mad. For all her efforts, and despite a pair of print runs that she thinks topped 30,000 copies, Gardiner received a grand total of $165 in royalties from Dorchester Publishing before the company filed for bankruptcy.

"In the past seven or eight years, publishing has changed, and succeeding in making ends meet is almost impossible," says Gardiner, whose latest print offering is the anthology about man's best friend, I'm Not the Biggest Bitch in this Relationship.

For as many authors as there are in Charlottesville, the number who have had their publisher fund a book tour is minuscule. (Though Chad Harbach, also interviewed in this issue, stands out as the object of a bidding war, for crying out loud!) More typical is someone like Gardiner, sitting for TV appearances, trekking to conferences, and holding book signings— all on her own dime.

"I wasn't expecting to make a killing," says Gardiner, "but I was hoping to make money on it."

In debt and with two college tuitions to pay, the author started taking side jobs that left little time...

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Bar talk: Happily-divorced relationship cartoonist tells all

In the middle of a phone interview, Nick Galifianakis suddenly tells a reporter to hold on, and he starts speaking in Greek— to his mom, who's visiting from Greece.

Family is ever-present with this guy. In North Carolina, the name Nick Galifianakis is well known as a former U.S. congressman. That would be our subject's namesake uncle. And throughout cinema-going America, the comedic talents of Zach Galifianakis also are well known. That would be Nick's cousin.

But for readers of the Washington Post, the go-to Galifianakis is Nick, the cartoonist for Carolyn Hax's relationship advice column, a collaboration that has gone beyond professional, as the two were married for eight years.

"She's frighteningly bright," says Galifianakis, still speaking highly of his ex-wife and current colleague. "I edit the column, not for spelling or grammar— heaven forbid— but for soundness of advice, male point of view, and to guard her unique voice. I know it very well."

When Hax's boss at the Post pitched the idea of her doing an advice column, Galifianakis, who'd previously worked at USA Today, was invited to pen something for the proposed column.

"Instead of drawing an icon, as was suggested," he says, "I created a fully realized cartoon that was connected to the column but also stood alone. We became a team."

Sixteen years later, he and Hax still collaborate on the column, which is now syndicated to a few hundred...

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What remains...

Oaks in East McIntire Park.

Two groups I'm involved with, the Charlottesville Tree Commission and the Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards, will celebrate Arbor Day in Forest Hill Park at 10am on April 27 by placing the city's first Landmark Tree sign on a big old Quercus alba (a white oak).
Commentator Bill Emory puts up a new photo nearly every day at

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Alt approach: Sons throw a change-up in Sirens

For a band rooted in tradition, Charlottesville-based alt-country act Sons of Bill have taken an unusual path to their new album and upcoming set of shows. Not only did they change their approach to writing and recording, they also found a new way to work outside the usual music label system.

The Charlottesville-based alt-country act— which features brothers James, Sam, and Abe Wilson— used the Kickstarter crowd-funding website to fund Sirens, due out March 27. It's an approach that avoids the typical business model, and band members say they were encouraged to see fans responding quickly and generously. The grassroots contributions allowed them to take their time recording the album, their first since 2009.

In a more surprising move, the group will play six free concerts in the commonwealth for its Virginia Calling tour. Seats for the Charlottesville show can be reserved with an advance purchase of the CD. The plan is somewhat reversed from the sort most acts would employ, given that ticket sales can frequently generate more revenue than album sales.

“We wanted to keep the tour free,” says vocalist/guitarist James Wilson, calling the shows “a genuine thank-you and a celebration for the home state.”

He says the band saw the arrangement less as a marketing tool and more as a way to make sure that fans could get tickets and make plans, especially with people coming from Russia and the United Kingdom to see the...

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Editor's Note
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Editor's Note