Charlottesville Breaking News

Scrappy work: Preston recreates '20s in graphic book

If Caroline Preston had a time machine, she'd take it back to the 1920s. Instead, the Charlottesville author has brought the 1920s to today by channelling a lifelong collecting habit into a new book called The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt, which– to use the parlance of the era– is getting a bee's knees roll-out.

"It'll be in the New York Times this weekend, and Women's Wear Daily and the Oprah magazine," Preston tells a reporter recently in her Rugby Road-area home, where vintage bubblegum toys vie with antique dollhouses and the vintage valentines she collected in college.

Little wonder Preston would work as an archivist at Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, and at Harvard's Houghton Library.

"Mark Twain was so avid," she says, as she grabs her great-grandmother's 1870s scrapbook, "that he patented a scrapbook with gummed pages."

Her debutante mother followed in her grandmother's footsteps by detailing South American travels in 1939-40. "I love the way the scrapbook told a story," Preston says. "It was a way to know my mother."

Scrapbooks were such the jazz-era rage that the period's icons, Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald, kept them. (This isn't the first time Preston has visited the Roaring '20s: Scott Fitzgerald was central to h...

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Retread: 'Footloose' remake out of step

There's one thing to be said for a remake of a 1984 movie that uses the original screenplay. This 2011 version is so similar – sometimes song for song and line for line – that I was wickedly tempted to reprint my 1984 review, word for word. But That Would Be Wrong. I think I could have gotten away with it, though. The movies differ in such tiny details (the hero now moves to Tennessee from Boston, not Chicago) that few would have noticed.

Was there then, or is there now, a town in Tennessee or any other state in which the city council has passed a law against "dancing in public"? There may have been a brief period, soon after Elvis first began grinding his pelvis and preachers denounced rock 'n' roll as "the devil's music." But for most young moviegoers this plot point is going to seem so unlikely as to be bizarre.

We again get a plot in which a high school beer party leads to a fatal crash, taking the lives of five teenagers. The city council bans the music, under the influence of Rev. Shaw Moore (Dennis Quaid). Rev. Moore, who seems to be the only preacher in town, acts as the de facto civic moral leader. Full review.

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Halfaday arrested: Ex-candidate charged with falsifying address

Former Democratic City Council candidate James Halfaday was charged October 19 with four felony counts of election fraud for allegedly using a false address to certify his candidacy with the registrar.

"I am not guilty of these charges," says Halfaday in a written statement. "I ask that no one judge me before I have had my day in court. Until the cases are completed, I will have no further comments." Halfaday did not respond to a phone call from the Hook.

A Hook investigation in September discovered that Halfaday did not reside at 2423 Sunset Road, the Charlottesville address he used when filing for Council, according to the occupants currently living there. Another more recent address associated with Halfaday, 1248 Richmond Road, is in Albemarle County.

The Hook also discovered that a number of contributors Halfaday listed as having donated $499 to his campaign said they had never given him money.

"I can't say whether additional charges will be filed," says Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Claude Worrell. "The investigation is still under way."

In an increasingly bizarre series of events after Halfaday placed last in the August 20 Democratic primary, he accused a campaign worker for another candidate of violating an emergency...

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Day five: Abshire expressed marriage regret

Speaking in a soft– at times shaking– voice, Eric Abshire's high school sweetheart, Allison Crawford, testified unwillingly today and revealed that on the night of Justine's death, Abshire, with whom Crawford has two daughters, said he still had feelings for her.

"He asked if there was any chance for our relationship," Crawford recalled under oath of a late-night phone conversation she had with Abshire– one of more than 40 phone calls between the two on November 2, 2006, the last day of Justine Swartz Abshire's life. Crawford also testified that former dump truck operator Abshire, whom she first met at age 12 and began dating as a junior in high school in 1991, expressed regret that night that he'd married Justine.

"I may have made a mistake," Abshire allegedly told her less than two hours before he'd report finding Justine's mangled body on Taylorsville Road.

Crawford, who answered in the affirmative when asked by the prosecution if she'd "prefer not to be here," insisted, however, that the majority of her conversations with Abshire that day centered on the health of his mother, who'd been admitted to Martha Jefferson Hospital earlier and was "not doing well."

She also acknowledged that her relationship with Abshire had been continuous for 10 years, until 2001. Previous testimony has revealed Abshire and Justine began dating in 1999. Crawford said today that she'd met Justine only twice and had learned of Abshire's pl...

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Guilty as charged: Cobbs vows appeal in two-plant pot case

In a decision that sends a strong message that drugs must be rooted out at any cost, the Albemarle citizen recently arrested after a SWAT team found a pair of pot plants in his yard, Philip Cobbs, was convicted Tuesday of misdemeanor possession in Albemarle General District Court.

"The court doesn't find it reasonable that anyone other than Mr. Cobbs planted it," said judge William Barkley as he pronounced Cobbs guilty at the close of the October 18 trial.

While authorities have declined to release an estimate, Constitutional scholar John Whitehead pegs the taxpayer cost of the operation at Cobbs' southeastern Albemarle property at at least $25,000. And having recently called for an end to the routine use of SWAT teams and America's so-called War On Drugs as threats to human rights, Whitehead directed his Rutherford Institute to oversee Cobbs' defense.

That came in the form of Charlottesville attorney Ned Michie, who argued Tuesday that Cobbs– allegedly feeling threatened by as many as ten rifle-equipped, flak jacket-wearing officers– couldn't have reasonably consented to the helicopter-assisted search of his land in late July.

As it turned out, the trial's tipping point turned out to be not the Constitutional search-and-seizure arguments– but something more mundane and yet surprising: deer netting.

Two of the five officers testified that th...

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