Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Master Of The Mighty Wurlitzer

The piece below was published on Jan, 27, 2000, by Richmond.com. When the news broke that Eddie Weaver had died, I was asked to do the necessary research and write a remembrance of a sort. Then hit send in two-and-a-half hours, or so. In those days I was still nimble enough to do what it took. 

Note: The Weaver art to the right I borrowed today from the Internet.  

"Eddie Weaver at the mighty Wurlitzer" was a trademark phrase that was once a well-known part of Richmond's show business milieu. And for good reason; Weaver played the Wurlitzer pipe organ to the delight of Richmond audiences for over 50 years.

On January 27, [2000] Eddie Weaver died. He was 92. My memory of Eddie Weaver blurs his three main gigs in Richmond - the Loew's Theater, the Miller and Rhoads Tea Room, and the Byrd Theater - into one persona.

"Eddie Weaver at the mighty Wurlitzer" was a trademark phrase that was once a well-known part of Richmond's show business milieu. And for good reason; Weaver played the Wurlitzer pipe organ to the delight of Richmond audiences for over 50 years.

However, the picture I saw of him when I got the news of his death was of him rising up out of the stage at the Byrd, arms flying as he demonstrated his enthusiastic mastery of the huge pipe organ. The audience would hear the organ before they saw it. Then it would slowly ascend into view, all the while with Weaver playing furiously at the keyboard. 

As an impatient teenager in the '60s, I must admit I sometimes viewed his performances as corny. But I never ceased to be amazed at his mastery of the instrument he played. By pushing buttons and levers, he could make it sound like a harp, a piano, drums, you name it. The Wurlitzer was much more than a keyboard: It was a throwback to the days of silent movies, when they were an essential element of movie palaces, such as the Byrd and the Loew's. 

From my view, looking at Eddie Weaver's back, it looked to me like he was flying a spaceship as much as playing music. Not only did it seem to have hundreds of gadgets to push or pull, but there was a 15-horsepower engine pumping air into three rooms full of pipes and literally miles of wiring.

In those days, a trip to the Byrd was more than just a matter of catching a flick. There was the time the show started and the feature time. The show included short subjects such as cartoons, travelogues, one- or two-reel comedies, and Eddie Weaver. Thus, the show time might be 7 p.m. and the feature time would be 7:50 p.m. So, sandwiched between trailers for upcoming features and a cartoon, Eddie Weaver would play two or three familiar tunes and then be lowered back beneath the stage.

Weaver's first performance in Richmond was in 1937 at the Loew's. His last was in the same theater, now called the Carpenter Center For The Performing Arts, in 1992. His peppy performances in movie theaters and for white-gloved ladies at luncheons entertained generations of Richmonders.

Now Eddie Weaver, a native of Allentown, Pa., is gone. His passing will no doubt cause the many thousands of us who grew up in Richmond to pause to remember the magic of going to the movies in a time when people dressed up for the occasion.

We will remember following the bouncing ball on the screen and singing along with Eddie Weaver at the mighty Wurlitzer.

Weaver's family will receive visitors at the Parham Chapel Woody Funeral Home, 1771 Parham Rd., Saturday Jan. 29 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. His graveside service will be private.


 -- Illustration from Soundcloud 


Friday, November 26, 2021

UConn 70, VCU 63 (OT); Rams finish 1-2 in Battle 4 Atlantis

Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis

Final Score: #22 UConn 70, VCU 63 (OT)

Location: Paradise Island, Bahamas (Atlantis Resort)

Current Records: VCU 3-4, UConn 6-1


The short story: Freshman point guard Jayden Nunn scored a career-high 21 points, but 22nd -ranked UConn made big plays at the end of regulation and controlled the early stages of overtime to withstand VCU Friday.



·      Nunn finished 6-of-14 from the field and 7-of-9 at the line for the Rams. He also grabbed eight rebounds and collected four steals

·      Senior forward Vince Williams added nine points, four rebounds and a pair of blocks for VCU, while graduate forward Levi Stockard and senior guard KeShawn Curry supplied eight points apiece

·      R.J. Cole led all players with 26 points for UConn



·      VCU led by as many as eight points in the game and held at 56-53 advantage following a pair of Williams free throws with 2:32 left. But UConn’s Isaiah Whaley connected on a 3-pointer from the left corner with 1:05 remaining to tie the game. Both teams had a crack at the win in the closing moments, but neither could convert

·      Whaley scored six points in overtime, including a 3-pointer from the wing to kick off OT, as well as a breakaway dunk with four seconds left to seal the win

·      The Huskies owned a 52-35 advantage on the glass and turned 19 offensive rebounds into 17 points

·      VCU forced 22 UConn turnovers, but was only able to convert those miscues into 10 points



·      Nunn’s 21 points are tied with Bones Hyland and Terry Larrier for the most by a VCU true freshman since Rob Brandenberg dropped 23 on Georgia State on Jan. 19, 2011

·      VCU limited opponents to 34-percent (61-of-179) shooting in three games in Atlantis, including 26 percent (17-of-62) from 3-point range



VCU will return home, where it will host Campbell at the Stuart C. Siegel Center on Saturday, Dec. 4, at 4 p.m. That game can be seen on MASN and ESPN+. 

Chris Kowalczyk, VCU Assistant A.D.

Bears Outlast Rams

Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis

Final Score: #6 Baylor 69, VCU 61

Location: Paradise Island, Bahamas (Atlantis Resort)

Current Records: Baylor 6-0, VCU 3-3


The short story: Seniors Vince Williams and Levi Stockard combined for 30 points, as VCU battled sixth-ranked Baylor to the wire Thursday. But the 6th ranked Bears outlasted the Rams in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.



·      Williams scored 12 of his game-high 17 points in the second half to keep VCU afloat. He knocked down 7-of-15 attempts from the floor, including 3-of-8 from 3-point range. The 6-foot-6 forward added five assists, three rebounds and two steals

·      Stockard turned in his second straight double-digit performance with 13 points for the Black and Gold. He connected on 5-of-7 from the field, as well as 3-of-4 from the line. He also provided six rebounds and three steals

·      Junior forward Hason Ward chipped in with six points, six rebounds, three assists and a blocked shot for VCU

·      Matt Mayer led a trio of Bears in double figures with 15 points. Freshman Kendall Brown scored all 14 of his points in the second half



·      Baylor owned a 41-33 advantage on the glass, and used 17 offensive rebounds to claim a 15-3 margin in second-chance points

·      The Bears opened the second half with a 9-0 run, capped by a traditional three-point play by Mo Thamba, to extend their lead to 38-27 with 18:25 remaining. The rest of the game was a tug-of-war. VCU rallied to within 45-42 on back-to-back 3-pointers by Williams and junior guard Marcus Tsohonis, but Baylor promptly scored six straight points. The Rams narrowed the lead back to four on two occasions, but could get no closer

·      Baylor connected on 18-of-24 free throws, while VCU made seven in 13 trips. The Bears also outscored the Rams 20-14 off turnovers



·      This was the fifth all-time meeting between Baylor and VCU, and the second straight in the series to take place at the Battle 4 Atlantis. The Bears lead the series 3-2

·      VCU is 4-4 all-time at the Battle 4 Atlantis



VCU will face 22nd-ranked UConn on Friday, Nov. 26 at 1:30 p.m. on ESPN2 to conclude play in the Bahamas. 

-- Info from Chris Kowalczyk, VCU Assistant A.D

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Thanks for the Truth

The fourth Thursday of November is the day for Americans (and those in a few other countries) to celebrate Thanksgiving.  For hundreds of years it's been a day for special feasts. And, for those who are blessed with having family and friends (who are vaccinated), once again, it's a day for the gatherings of such.  

It's a traditional day for pausing to count our blessings. Perhaps for some of us, it's a good time to smile and remember some of the bullets we've dodged. Moreover, today, I'm thankful for folks who learned from their own experience to overcome the falsehoods they were taught as children, then they influenced me. 

So, as a 74-year-old Virginian, I'm particularly thankful to the family members, the friends, the teachers, the writers, the artists, the musicians, the filmmakers, and many others who have helped me along my own meandering path through the maze of pickled history and bullshit. A journey to find what matters to me, now, more than ever -- the truth. 


Wednesday, November 24, 2021

VCU's second half surge tops Syracuse

Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis

Final Score: VCU 67, Syracuse 55

Location: Paradise Island, Bahamas (Atlantis Resort)

Current Records: VCU 3-2, Syracuse 2-2


The short story: Graduate forward Levi Stockard led three Rams in double figures with 15 points, and VCU held Syracuse to 29-percent shooting (18-of-62) on the opening day of the Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis.



·      Stockard connected on 5-of-10 attempts from the field, as well as 5-of-5 from the free throw line. He also corralled four rebounds

·      Junior guard Marcus Tsohonis enjoyed his best game as a Ram with 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting. He buried 3-of-4 attempts from beyond the 3-point arc

·      Senior guard KeShawn Curry provided blanket on-ball defense and supplied 11 points and five rebounds for the Black and Gold

·      Junior forward Hason Ward added six points, four rebounds, three blocks and two steals for VCU

·      Buddy Boeheim scored 20 points to lead Syracuse but was just 6-of-17 from the field, including 2-of-10 from 3-point range



·      VCU’s defense was exceptional. The Rams held the Orange to 5-of-23 shooting from 3-point range and forced 16 turnovers

·      The Rams erased a four-point halftime deficit with a 9-2 burst, kicked off by a 3-pointer from Curry, to take a 32-29 lead with 16:31 remaining. The teams battled back and forth until Tsohonis buried his third 3-pointer of the night, and Ward slammed home a lob from Stockard to push the Black and Gold back in front 41-38 with 13:31 left. VCU would not trail again

·      VCU shot .567 (17-of-30) from the field in the second half, including 5-of-10 from 3-point range. The Rams scored a season-high 44 points in that period



·      This is VCU’s first win over Syracuse in four tries. It was the first meeting between the two schools since 1992

·      The Rams improved to 4-3 overall in three appearances at the Battle 4 Atlantis

·      VCU’s bench outscored Syracuse’s 23-0



VCU will take on the undefeated defending National Champion Baylor on Thursday, Nov. 25 at 5 p.m. on ESPN or ESPN2. 

-- Info from Chris Kowalczyk, VCU Assistant A.D.

Freeze Frame: A Remembrance of Carole Kass

As I watched the clever "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" on TV and polished off my lunch, I thought of Carole Kass, a friend who was the longtime movie critic at the Richmond Times-Dispatch. She died at the age of 73 in 2000. In the photo (by Gary Fisher), Alan Rubin (one of the Biograph’s owners from D.C.) is seen with Carole Kass in the theater's lobby at the second anniversary party, Feb. 11, 1974. 

Part 1 of the remembrance piece that follows was written shortly after Carole's death in 2000 and published by Richmond.com. Part Two continues the story of paying tribute to a good friend. It's about a scene put together in 1998, hoping to lift her spirits. 


Part 1

"Freeze Frame" by F.T. Rea, Mar. 30, 2000

After enlivening this city with her presence and influence for nearly 40 years - 25 of which she served as the film critic at the Richmond Times-Dispatch - Carole Kass died Wednesday. She was 73.

Carole Kass brought a genuine enthusiasm and warmth to her work as a film critic and entertainment columnist that was uncommon. Those same traits were evidenced in everything she touched. Whether she was helping out a little independent movie theater with her printed words, or teaching cinema history to undergraduates at Virginia Commonwealth University, or teaching film production to inmates at the Virginia State Penitentiary, Carole always cared so much about the people she interacted with that it was startling at times.

I met Carole in 1971. Like so many others in love with movies, I began sitting in on her class at VCU. Of the sometimes hundreds in attendance at one of her screenings in those days, at least a third were probably not registered in the class. Carole didn't worry about that. When there were no more seats, we sat on the floor, or stood in the back.

From 1972 through 1983 (my stint as manager of the Biograph Theatre on W. Grace St), I talked with Carole every week; sometimes it was several times. Carole was different from most of the people who write about film, or who make their living in the motion picture industry. There was no hidden agenda with her. She was not jealous of the filmmakers or actors she wrote about. The snide attitude that so many critics affect was not a part of the Kass style.

Furthermore, if there was an unsung benefactor in the story of the Biograph's 15-year-run, it was most certainly Carole Kass. She tilted her coverage of the local cinema scene to the Biograph's advantage in so many ways I won't attempt to recount them.

Carole simply loved good movies. She understood the power that film has to lift people from their everyday pain and depression, if only for a few sweet moments.

My last show-biz encounter with Carole took place nearly two years ago. She was a part of the Jewish Community Center's presentation of a live Joan Rivers show at the Carpenter Center. My job was to record the performance on videotape for the sponsors.

Rivers' topic was surviving tragedy. And in spite of the serious subject, she was very funny. After her prepared remarks, Joan answered written questions submitted by the audience and asked by Carole. Their impromptu performance together was at least as funny as what had gone before.

At that time, I knew that Carole was battling cancer. She joked with me about her worry over whether she would live long enough to do the show for the JCC. Well, not only did she live up to her promise but she pulled it off with aplomb.

After that show I went out to her home in the West End for a visit. I wanted to tell her how much she had meant to the Biograph's survival and to the film community in Richmond. Typically, she was her modest self. In her view, she was only a background artist, helping out - we were the ones who had accomplished something.

I chose the title for this piece - "Freeze Frame" - for a reason I'd like to explain. When I searched my grieving consciousness for a cinematic phrase, "fade-to-black" came to mind. Then I immediately rejected it.

Instead I chose the now familiar device that ends the 1959 French New Wave classic "The 400 Blows." It was that movie that put the freeze frame on the map as a way to end a film. I know Carole was particularly fond of that early Truffaut picture, as am I.

And, with the French Film Festival in town this weekend, it is particularly appropriate to remember that for so many in Richmond, it was Carole Kass who taught them to look beyond their provincial tastes in movies.

There's a direct line that flows from that VCU French Film Festival at the Byrd Theater, back through many people, film societies, venues large and small, straight to Carole Kass - and a freeze frame of her warm smile.


Part 2

A week or so later, [after  my first visit] I delivered a video tape to her at her home. It included Rivers’ talk to the audience and what followed. At the end of the tape there was a tribute to Carole that I had staged, shot and edited without her knowledge. While I was there, we chatted briefly, but I didn’t let on about the surprise.

Here’s what Carole didn’t know as she watched the tape: The R-TD’s then-executive editor, Bill Millsaps, had helped me out by asking all the writers to come outside for about 20 minutes to be the performers in a tribute to Carole. Others from Richmond's film buff community, including former staff members at the Biograph, were also asked to be on hand to be in the main scene.

At the shoot the assembled cast was directed to walk around for a while, then stand applauding in front of 333 W. Grace St., an entrance to the newspaper’s building that no longer exists. I had help shooting the scene from Jerry Williams and Ted Salins. They manned two of three cameras used.

Later I edited the footage from the three tapes into a short piece, using music from the movie “8½” for sound; the imagery also imitated scenes in the movie, somewhat. That particular Fellini flick was one of her favorites. In the time that had passed, no one had told Carole a word about it; it had been beautiful teamwork.

When she saw the tribute footage, watching it with pain as her only companion, Carole couldn’t fathom that all those people had actually been assembled, just to give her a standing ovation. When she called, she told me she had assumed I found the footage, somewhere, and spliced it onto end of the tape. 

Where had I found it? she asked.

With a measure of satisfaction I chuckled and informed her how the scene was actually set up. She didn’t buy it!

Carole thanked me warmly, but added a gentle, facetious scolding for my trying to fool her about the mysterious last scene, shot in front of the old entrance to 333. She reminded me of my reputation as a trickster.

Later Carole telephoned then-television critic Douglas Durden, only to hear from her old friend (they sat at desks next to one another for years) that it all had been just as I said.

After talking with others at the newspaper, to gather the whole story Carole called me back to laugh, to cry and to apologize for not believing me. She went on to say that what had started out as a rather “bad day” for her — coping with the indignities of her medical situation — had been changed into a “good day.”

As my mother died of cancer in 1984, I could grasp what Carole might have meant by “good days” and “bad days.” Carole thanked me for that good day. I told her I’d had a lot of help.

It began with an idea for a gesture to lift an old friend’s spirits and let her know how much her colleagues and the rest of us appreciated her. The finished product, with Carole’s double-take reaction actually turned out better than I had envisioned. 

Which is somewhat unusual for one of my stunts. Back in the summer of 1998, I also gave a print of the tape to Saps, to say, “Thanks.” Naturally, the JCC got a tape.

And, dear reader, a good day is wished to you and yours.

Note: What is shown in the YouTube video above is just the 90-minute tape’s last two minutes and 39 seconds. Unfortunately, owing to the half-ass transfer process used the look of it is rough, but hopefully it's better than nothing.

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Sunday, November 21, 2021

Single Bullet Theory?

Camelot at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave lasted 1,036 days. In particular, for the children in school on Nov. 22, 1963, the murder of President John F. Kennedy was stunning in a way nothing has been since.

Two days later, on Nov. 24, 1963, a live national television audience witnessed the murder of the assassination’s prime suspect, Lee Harvey Oswald. Consequently, there was no doubt that Jack Ruby, a Dallas nightclub operator, was the trigger-man. What made him do it is still being questioned.

Shortly after JFK’s death, columnist Mary McGrory expressed her dark feelings to Daniel Patrick Moynihan: “We’ll never laugh again.”

Moynihan, who was an Assistant Secretary of Labor then, famously replied, “Heavens, Mary, we’ll laugh again. It’s just that we’ll never be young again.”

The cynicism spawned by the cloaked-in-secrecy aftermath of the JFK assassination has tinted everything the aforementioned children have seen since those dark days. Especially, everything to do with political investigations.

However, I’m not at all convinced there must have been a far-flung and complicated conspiracy to kill the president and cover up the tracks. Furthermore, after he was dead, just because some people deliberately obscured related information, we don't necessarily know why they did it. In some cases it was probably people trying to cover asses for a myriad of reasons. 
So, for now, let's skip past the argument over whether, or not, Oswald acted alone. For the moment, let's not speculate about whether Oswald was a dupe, or one of the greatest marksmen who ever lived. The point of this piece is to recognize that the secrecy that rushed in obscured the truth about what happened in November of 1963 and poisoned the American culture in a way that is still being felt. 

The President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, known as the Warren Commission, published its report on Sept. 24, 1964: Essentially, Oswald was found to have been a lone wolf assassin. Which immediately unleashed the questioning of the Commission’s findings.

Perhaps its famous “single bullet theory,” which had one projectile traveling circuitously through two victims was great sleuthing. Or maybe it was just an unbelievable reach.


In 1965 unknown gunmen murdered Malcolm X in an auditorium in Manhattan. I say "unknown" because the two men convicted of that assassination were exonerated last week. So Muhammad A. Aziz, 83, and the late Khalil Islam have had their names cleared. Too bad about all the time they served in prison.
Three years after the murder of Malcolm X, Rev. Martin Luther King was killed on a motel balcony in Memphis by a sniper. Only two months later, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy's presidential run ended when he was shot to death in a Los Angeles hotel. It was a shock, but in the crazy year of violence 1968 was, it was not such a surprise.

Unfortunately, at the time the official stories on those three shootings were widely doubted, even disbelieved. In the ‘60s more public scrutiny of how those assassination probes were conducted might have led to different conclusions. More importantly, even if more sunlight into those investigations failed to produce different outcomes, at least Americans might have felt better about the good faith of the processes.

Instead, it seemed then the authorities generally believed the American people didn't really have a right to see the whole truth and nothing-but. Too often it seems to have been decided on high that the public was better off not knowing some things, as if we were all children.

Of course, secrecy of that sort can hide everyday malfeasance, as well. Shielding the citizenry from such information is the sort of thinking that went during world wars, with spies lucking about. In the 1960s, perhaps as part of the Cold War, the public more or less expected its government to routinely withhold all sorts of secrets.

That, whether the public like it, or not. Eventually, it took a series of brutal revelations to snap many Americans out of blithely tolerating an over-abundance of secrecy:
  • The My Lai Massacre horrors.
  • The publishing of the Pentagon Papers.
  • The Watergate Scandal hearings.
  • The Iran-Contra Scandal hearings.
  • The bogus justification for invading Iraq. 
As those events paraded by, America steadily morphed into a nation of cynics. Now, those of us who recognize the damage that's been done by official lies know better. We were wrong to ever have accepted such skullduggery in the name of keeping America safe.


In 1997 Sen. Moynihan’s book, “Secrecy: The American Experience,” was published. In the opening chapter he wrote:
In the United States, secrecy is an institution of the administrative state that developed during the great conflicts of the twentieth century. It is distinctive primarily in that it is all but unexamined. There is a formidable literature on regulation of the public mode, virtually none on secrecy. Rather, there is a considerable literature, but it is mostly secret. Indeed, the modes of secrecy remain for the most part -- well, secret.
On inquiry there are regularities: patterns that fit well enough with what we have learned about other forms of regulation. But there has been so little inquiry that the actors involved seem hardly to know the set roles they play. Most important, they seem never to know the damage they can do. This is something more than inconveniencing to the citizen. At times, in the name of national security, secrecy has put that very security in harm's way.
Fifty-eight years after the murder of JFK, it’s high time to stop tolerating unnecessary secrecy in government at all levels. After all, secrets that invite speculation and provoke conspiracy theories serve a nefarious agenda just as well as a lie. 

Justice Louis D. Brandeis wrote: 
"Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman."
Today, to trust official conclusions, we need plenty of Brandeis' sunlight. We not only need investigations, we need to be able to see into the investigations. So televised expert testimony at Congressional hearings is a good thing.

So while I hope for the best, when it comes to the process and the findings of the Select Committee in the House of Representatives investigating the January 6th riot and insurrection, history tells me there are a lot of reasons it can all go wrong. The Republicans in that chamber seem determined to sabotage the process.

Lastly, for democracy to have a chance of working properly and delivering good government, we the voters need to know whose money is behind every politician's ploy. Knowing who paid for what always helps. Brandeis was spot on about the power of sunlight. 

Taking it home: Single bullet theory, you say?

Great name for a punk era band.
-- 30 --

Rams Offense Missing in Action, Again

Final Score: Chattanooga 56, VCU 54 

Location: Richmond, Va. (Siegel Center)

Current Records: VCU 2-2, Chattanooga 4-0


The short story: Chattanooga’s Malachi Smith hit a short jumper with 0.4 seconds remaining to lift the Mocs past VCU in a tough, back-and-forth contest.



      Vince Williams led all scorers with a career-high 21 points and six rebounds. He connected on 7-of-10 attempts, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range

      Freshman guard Jayden Nunn tallied 10 points on 5-of-10 shooting, and added a pair of assists for the Black and Gold

      Senior guard KeShawn Curry contributed nine points in the contest for VCU

      In addition to the game-winning shot, Malachi Smith paced Chattanooga with 20 points and five rebounds



      Chattanooga owned a 30-26 edge on the glass. The Mocs corralled 11 offensive boards, which produced nine second-chance points

      Williams scored seven of VCU’s final 10 points and tied the game twice in the last 65 seconds, once on a pair of free throws with 1:05 remaining (52-52) and again with a lefty floater in the lane with 25 seconds on the clock (54-54)

      VCU trailed by as many as nine points, at 44-35 with 9:22 left, but the Rams embarked on a 9-0 run, capped by a Williams 3-pointer, to tie the game at 44-all



·      The game featured 10 ties, including six in the second half, and three lead changes

·      VCU shot a season-high .478 (22-of-46) in the game, including .571 (12-of-21) in the second half



VCU travels to Paradise, Bahamas to face Syracuse in the Battle 4 Atlantis at 5 p.m. on Wednesday Nov. 24. The game will air on ESPN2.

-- Information provided by Chris Kowalczyk, VCU Assistant A.D.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Rams Defense Smothers Commodores

Final Score: VCU 48, Vanderbilt 37 

Location: Nashville, Tenn. (Memorial Gymnasium)

Current Records: VCU 2-1, Vanderbilt 2-1


The short story: Senior forward Vince Williams scored a team-high 14 points and VCU tied a program record by allowing just 12 field goals. VCU notched its first SEC road victory Wednesday night.



·      Williams buried 4-of-8 three-pointers and grabbed six rebounds. It was just enough offense for the Rams, who turned in a crushing defensive effort

·      Freshman point guard Jayden Nunn added a season-high 11 points off the bench, while classmate Nick Kern added eight

·      Junior forward Hason Ward blocked five shots and grabbed eight rebounds to aid VCU’s defensive attack

·      The Rams also limited SEC Preseason Player of the Year Scottie Pippen Jr. to eight points on 2-of-10 shooting

·      Jordan Wright led the Commodores with 15 points



·      VCU held Vandy to 12-of-53 (.226) shooting from the floor, including 2-of-25 from 3-point range. That performance tied a record, set twice previously for fewest field goals allowed. Vanderbilt was 4-of-25 from the floor in the second half

·      The Rams forced 21 turnovers and blocked seven shots

·      VCU opened the second half with a 19-6 run over the first 13 minutes to build a 44-28 lead the Commodores could not overcome



·      The win was VCU’s first over Vanderbilt in three tries

·      The 37 points allowed by the Rams narrowly missed the school record for fewest points allowed (36), set in 2019 at George Mason

·      VCU’s bench outscored the Commodores 26-8



VCU will return home to host Chattanooga at the Stuart C. Siegel Center on Saturday, Nov. 20 at 4 p.m. That game will be broadcast on MASN and ESPN+.


-- Information supplied by Chris Kowalczyk, VCU Assistant A.D.


Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Our Dinner With Andre

After the Biograph’s second anniversary "Devil" prank in 1974, it became a ritual on each February 11th for the staff and friends to observe the occasion with a reunion get-together at the theater. Then came the 10th anniversary party, during which the lobby was bathed in red neon light. The huge hallway collage leading from the lobby to the larger auditorium received a makeover. 

Caviar was dished out, both red and black. Thirsts were quenched with wine or beer. To attend the party's screening it cost $25 a head. The proceeds went to VCU's Anderson Gallery; Ed Slipek played a key role in that aspect of the occasion. 

With the party underway on February 11, 1982, Channel 8 showed up to document the proceedings and interview me about an art film premiering in the same city in which most of the movie's footage was shot. The film runs 111 minutes.

Directed by Louis Malle (1932-95), the screenplay for “My Dinner With Andre” (1981) was written by its two stars: Andre Gregory and Wally Shawn.

 About "Dinner," in 1999 film critic Roger Ebert (1942-2013) wrote: 

Someone asked me the other day if I could name a movie that was entirely devoid of clich├ęs. I thought for a moment, and then answered, ‘My Dinner With Andre’ … I am impressed once more by how wonderfully odd this movie is, how there is nothing else like it. It should be unwatchable, and yet those who love it return time and again, enchanted.

In “My Dinner With Andre” the two main characters have a long talk over dinner in a posh restaurant that's supposed to be in Manhattan. Their discussion asked and attempted to answer: Is it better to spend your life searching the world over, to find universal truths? Or, is it best to know one city, perhaps a particular neighborhood, inside and out?

But the scenes in the restaurant were actually staged inside Richmond's Jefferson Hotel. At the time, the old hotel itself was closed and undergoing a massive renovation. The movie set was built in the hotel’s ballroom.  

The food seen in the movie was prepared by Chris Gibbs, a prominent Richmond restaurant-owner and caterer. Each day of shooting Gibbs showed up with a fresh batch of Cornish hens, wild rice and whatnot to be used in that day's shoot. The continuity people on the set had to then pick apart Gibbs’ work to make the looks of the plates in front of the two actors match the point in the film in which the scene would appear. 

A couple of times I went along with my friend, Chris, when he delivered the hens, so I could catch a glimpse of the set and what was going on. That experience planted a seed for what became the Biograph’s 10th anniversary party, with “Dinner” at the center of it.

For the one-of-a-kind event, the house was packed. And to top it off, Chef Gibbs served the lucky attendees the same meal Andre and Wally had enjoyed in the movie. 

Note: To see "Dinner" online at YouTube click here

-- 30 --