” … a Richmond mayoral candidate in third place.” Washpost


"The stakes are especially high given that Richmond’s political and business establishment fear that Morrissey’s election would embarrass the city. Morrissey attained international notoriety several years ago because of his involvement with Myrna Warren, then his 17-year-old employee.

Morrissey, who was 55 at the time, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and spent three months in jail, during which he won reelection to the House of Delegates.

Morrissey married Myrna, now 20, four months ago, after she gave birth to the second of their two children.

His past misdeeds — he was disbarred and was twice convicted of assault — have become a rallying cry for his opponents. On Friday, Stoney sent out a mass mailing with the headline, “Joe Morrissey was indicted on a charge of bribery multiple times,” a reference to a case from which he was acquitted 23 years ago. The mailing’s tag­line read: “Vote No to Joe Morrissey, Richmond Can’t Trust Him.” Mosby, who is black, aired a radio ad in which she addressed African American voters and said she would not trust Morrissey to be alone with her daughter."  Washpost


And now for something different …

The man in the picture is Stoney, now in third place for mayor and the beneficiary of Governor McCauliffe's devoted fundraising.  His background seems to consist of having driven McCauliffe around the Commonwealth during the governor's successful run for office.   McCauliffe's accession to power brought several appointed jobs for Stoney and then, this …

The man in first place in the race for mayor is Joe Morrisey.  He has what is sometimes described as a colorful past.  As described he served some time for "contributing to the delinquency of a minor" after he impregnated his 17 year old secretary.  They are now married and have two children.  That is she in the picture. 


 Morrisey is probably going to win.  This will be yet one more political defeat for McCauliffe.  pl  



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46 Responses to ” … a Richmond mayoral candidate in third place.” Washpost

  1. rakesh wahi says:

    he is nuts- going to be 65 when his kid is 10, will have to work in his old age to send the kid to school, that will teach him

  2. TV says:

    Just looked up Morrissey on Wiki.
    This guy’s a real piece of work.
    Electing him would put Richmond right down there with Wash., DC, Detroit and Chicago.

  3. Babak Makkinejad says:

    He is doing his very best for improving inter-racial concord in the United States.
    At least he did not import his mistress-to-wife from Eastern Europe or South America; strictly supporting Made-in-America.

  4. turcopolier says:

    Richmond is 50% Black and there are a lot of university students. The Blacks have reason to believe that Joe M actually does like them unlike McCauliffe whom they see as just another White Yankee politician. pl

  5. Fred says:

    will have to work in his old age to send the kid to school.
    No he won’t, there’s a separate standard for such kids:

  6. Erik says:

    The contributing to the delinquency charge and sex charges are part of the fakery of our times where the legal threshold of childhood as regards sexual matters has been raised to unrealistic levels due to the attitude of “moral panic” relating to such things. I had some prior experience in working for Juvenile&Domestic relations courts back in the 70s mostly. The age of consent was no higher than 16 in any state back then and was 15, even 14 in some cases. Those earlier statutes reflected the realities of sexual coming of age, especially for girls.
    Back then there would be no criminal statute applicable to his involvement with a 17 year old, who was a woman already, albeit a young one. At most, there would have some raised eyebrows and some disapproving clucking for such an old fox getting into the henhouse.
    As to whether Morrissey is weighed in the balance and found lacking in other respects, I have no position.

  7. Babak Makkinejad says:

    That too.
    Did John Edwards ever marry his?

  8. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Let’s not be envious now…

  9. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I agree.
    Many people’s grandmothers where 15 when married.
    Also: they likely would have to put many in jail in Germany (North of the Rhine river) or in France for this sort of thing…

  10. turcopolier says:

    Self referential, but, my paternal grandmother was married at 16 and pregnant. Her father’s half-section and that of my Lang great grandfather met at their shared corner on the west Minnesota prairie. Lots of high grass out there and Fred Lang (grandpa) was a handsome fellow. She, by the way was the one with all the puritan grandee ancestors. pl

  11. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_consent
    interestingly enough from my studies of European & Asian World History, written historical marriage records/licenses show that the average age of FIRST marriage for females worldwide until the 20th century was 14 to 16 (for males, it was 18 to 26, once they were finacially stable having finished their apprenticeships, estlablished acareer, or inherited their fortune)
    Even in the in the US right now, majority of states have age of consent at age 16.. only about 10 states have age of consent at 18 .. 8 states have age of consent at 17
    Most of Europe, age of consent is 15 to 16 .. same as in most of Asia .. Shakespeare wrote of Romeo & Juilet as 13-14 yr olds (typical age marriages of their era) who were already engaged to other people but married each other anyways

  12. One of my best friends was vice-president of Kraft & he said his mother married his father in Poland when she was 14 & he said that was common Poland at the time (1950-60s)..
    my own mother married my father when she was 15 & my father 26 in Asia(1970), typical of that era

  13. also a little bit of history that Old Microbiologist can attest to,
    Keep in mind that before modern 20th century medicine, life & marriage was usually risky & short because historical birth/death records show that about 20% of women died in child birth,
    because about 20% of all births require a C-section, which usually meant infection & death
    because lack of use of anti-septics (despite in 1847, Austrian gov doctor Dr. Semmwelweiss’s heretical scientific research proving antiseptics reduced death rates by 90%, the rest of the medical community refused to use antiseptics & didn’t believe that bacteria/viruses caused infection/death until Pastuer proved it near the end of the 19th century)
    Also, infetion usually meant death because antibiotics were not discovered yet –the government doctor Dr. Fleming in England didn’t discove antibiotics until in 1928
    it remained rare & secret until the massive ‘deficit spending’ (aka money creation) by the US gov during WW2 to fund the mass production of antibiotics that really saved the day in fighting infections

  14. Augustin L says:

    New York mafia tactics, while Trump and the GOP tell their fanatics to look the other way. Indiana seizes 45,000 Voter Registration Ballots most of African Americans. This is minority vote suppression and real election rigging. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/mike-pence-voter-suppression_us_58027076e4b0e8c198a87ffb

  15. jerseycityjoan says:

    Where I might agree with you is when the one person is reasonably close in age to the underage one.
    But with 55 to 16, how isn’t that some kind of exploitation?
    That these things “work out” at times isn’t a justification for allowing them.

  16. Will says:

    nope, but they didn’t terminate until last feb. their child is now about 10 years old. I’ve actually met him. I was on the town council when he was a senator, and he did a beach walk in a bathing suit greeting beachgoers on the beach strand as he walked. I was his escort. his hair was so fine looking, i was tempted to reach out and touch it. I am not gay.
    He was a hell of a plaintiff’s attorney and is still practicing. He has won some huge personal injury awards ($60 million or such). My biggest jury award was $50k (sigh)
    What a waste of talent and expectations. He disappointed in the Iraq vote, but on social issues, his heart was in the right place, or so is my opinion.

  17. turcopolier says:

    Mommyism. My father and mother were 17 years apart. He was a master sergeant and she was a mill worker. She became a lady of leisure with their marriage. She would not have thought herself oppressed and would not have discussed this with her house maid. pl

  18. Fred says:

    You mean the Prime Minister of Canada was exploiting a young woman all those years ago when at 52 he married that 20 yo in 1971? How’d their son turn out?

  19. So Joe Morrissey has a colorful past. That’s not his most egregious transgression. He’s running for political office without the approval of either of the two political parties. The Democratic Party needs his support in the Virginia Senate, but just can’t stand him. He’s constituent-centric and quite liberal, but not an obedient member of a political club. Clearly this barbarian doesn’t know how the game is supposed to be played.

  20. Harry says:

    Good looking young lady. I’m not sure about her taste in men.

  21. DavidKNZ says:

    The Internet Dating Equation: ½(your age) + 7
    Worked well for me 🙂

  22. Babak Makkinejad says:

    As is said in Persian: “It is the goat that needs to like the grass.”

  23. Henry J. says:

    I think this is disgusting. And creepy. Any man, especially in his 50’s, attracted to a teenage female is a sexual predator IMO. Btw, was he married when he had this illicit relationship?

  24. Babak Makkinejad says:

    +9 – but who is counting.

  25. Green Zone Cafe says:

    I agree. That young woman is exploiting Mayor Morrisey’s power and status, possibly wealth.

  26. rjj says:

    who is more vulnerable, the 55 yo male or the young woman? You seem to forget the dynamics of the DNA imperative: that girls in nesting mode are as driven, as calculating, and as ruthless as adolescent boys in musth.

  27. turcopolier says:

    Henry J
    Oh, c’mon. SWMBO is 2 years my junior but that was kind of an accidental meeting in which I saw what I wanted. But, really, the biology of Homo Sapiens makes nonsense of what you say of men in their 50s nd girls past puberty. The girls are biologically ready to be mommies and men that age are secure enough to be able to care for them and their children. Having lived among people whose culture recognized those facts I am not sympathetic to the fantasy that middle class Americans inflict on actual humans. pl

  28. Harry says:

    Yes indeed, men are sexual predators. And many young ladies are gold diggers. But surely is better to give people what they want rather than force them to have what you think they should want?
    Divorce laws are generally favorable enough to ladies now to protect foolish young ladies or mistreated wives. Sadly there is no such protection for foolish old “sexual predators”.

  29. Babak Makkinejad says:

    And he is enjoying every little bit of that exploitation.

  30. Fred says:

    Augustin L,
    “The advertisements will air on black radio stations, online and in print with black newspapers in the state,….”
    “The Indiana Voter Registration Project was created in May…”
    The democrats have had years to get citizens registered to vote. They have also had years to get citizens valid IDs – which are needed to buy cigarettes or beer, but can’t possibly be required for voting. I wonder why they focused on getting IDs for non-citizens in Michigan but can’t figure out how to get them for black citizens……..

  31. Ulenspiegel says:

    “…they likely would have to put many in jail in Germany”
    Why, if the girl is 16 years old, there would have been no problems with German law.
    But you are correct that in many rural districts girls often married young (with 16-18 years) and in some parts of Frisia it was ususlly a shot-gun wedding. This made sense, because a family who was responsible for parts of a dyke would have lost their farm without male in the household. A pregnant bride reduced this risk considerably.

  32. Will says:

    I had a relative that married a 24 year old when he was 60. They had three beautiful, successful children, one of whom is a physician. The offspring all got married in their 20’s and 30’s. There is calendar age, then again, there is biological age. So, how old are we really? I’m 66 and diabetic, so i figure i may have 10 good years left, if i’m lucky- b/ nobody knows the day or the hour!
    The big hack now is trying to retard telomere shortening. Telomeres are like string that are tied around the end of a rope to keep it from unraveling, except in this case the rope is chromosomes. Somebody is selling a pill. Just don’t think it has enough juice in it. Also, just b/c you ingest something, it doesn’t mean it’s bioavailable or effective.
    My take on all this life extension is that if we are not already living in a matrix type simulation, we are all headed that way. According to Professor Tipler, the laws of physics demand it. I have his book. i’ve got a BS in Physics and Masters in EE, but i couldn’t follow all his stuff. Maybe Babak can- I think he’s a phd physicist?

  33. Tidewater says:

    Tidewater to All,
    When she went to work for Morrissey she signed documents that gave her age as being older than seventeen, as I recall. On paper, she was legal. Prosecutors, however, argued that he knew how old she was. She was from a broken family. Her mother approved of Joe Morrissey. Her alienated father set up the ambush. (Which the media were in on as it went down.) Maybe she could see Joe as ‘Daddy’ after her real father blew it. Morrissey is covered to a point on Wiki.
    He caused a Richmond judge, Judge Nance, to call a mistrial after Morrissey got into a quick little dust-up in a hall of the Marshall Street Courthouse during trial with a black lawyer named David Baugh. At the time, Morrissey was the city’s Commonwealth Attorney. I don’t know how much that cost the city but it could have been more than you might think. Baugh and Morrissey, as far as I am concerned, are a kind of a famous Richmond unit because of this. This happened in December of 1991. I know Morrissey went to jail for five days. I thought Baugh did too. This was just the beginning for Morrissey.
    Almost ten years earlier I spent a day or so listening to this black man, David Baugh, defend my insurance agent after he took my money via a fake policy. It was the first time I had seen a black lawyer. Baugh was earning his fees. I was a witness, had been there a week, waiting to testify. I was released suddenly. I had suffered no loss. I hung around a day or so to hear some of the trial. I still remember an old waterman from Mathews, whose wife had been in the hospital, testify that he was being brought to ruin by the insurance agent’s fraud. The agent’s wife sat behind him the whole time all dressed up. Very middle Richmond. Day after day the agent and his family had been hearing about the wreckage he had made of people’s lives. The guy had been small, but a respectable part of the Richmond business community. He had been so for years. He had been recommended to me by an old friend I had grown up with. My first policy with him had gone for more than ten years, and was only a catastrophe policy. It had paid out when I needed it. A small amount. Not the second. I had phoned the agent arguing about the new policy. Maybe the old one would be just as good. At that point, over the phone, the insurance agent’s voice changed, and he went into a controlled fury. It was eerie. I was stunned. I blamed myself at the time. I think there was somethng mental going on in the agent. It sounded like hatred. I had only met him once. Been a small time, good client. The whole trial was about personal disgrace and personal failure.
    There came a point when Baugh just stood up and completely reversed course. The agent had surrendered. Maybe his wife couldn’t take any more. Maybe he took what they call an Alford plea.
    Years later I saw Baugh in court at Bedford. Baugh had young people with him. They may have been paralegals. What struck me was that they seemed to admire him a lot. They sat around him in a group. I think both Baugh and Morrissey both had groupies. I was surprised to see this. Later, Baugh had some problems of his own.
    Morrissey has a good education. Georgetown Law after UVA. Then, during his exile from Richmond, he earned a Masters in Law from Trinity College, Dublin.
    In Australia he didn’t tell a friend who backed him that he had been disbarred.
    I wouldn’t want Morrisey as a lawyer. Or as a Commonwealth’s Attorney. He got into trouble at the Federal level with a Federal Judge Payne. Findlaw has “in re Joseph D. Morrissey, Appellant No. 02-1105.” This was before the Fourth Circuit. It was decided September 11, 2002. There are some interesting, even amusing things in it.
    In the meantime, I have to go to Richmond. I am on a little job,doing some outdoor physical work, and it is a fine day! I was just given till Tuesday, November 1, when the dumpster comes in, to get my little nut finished.
    If Morrissey wins, good. He is a smart guy, has a young, wife who seems to adore him, and has every incentive to do a good job. He got his law license back in Richmond, but he can’t practice in Federal Courts, maybe for a long, long time, if ever.

  34. turcopolier says:

    A friend introduced me once in Gulfport, MS to a group of locals (in a saloon of course) with “Pat understands the complexity of our situation.” There was a noticeable sigh of relief. We continue to live in Faulkner’s world in the Essential South. Perhaps you could explain to the crowd here what “very middle Richmond” means? pl (writing from occupied Alexandria)

  35. Lefty says:

    Morrissey is a dirtbag plain and simple. All the other remarks about him plus he ran to the other side of the earth to escape his misdeeds. The Aussies threw him out when they discovered his past and lies to them. He ran a home and center in Richmond for people with severe disabilities, mostly intellectual. He employed two men there who were on the Virginia sexual offender registry. The State Police hauled one off the front porch in cuffs.
    He has a fan base in black Richmond, largely northside. That base has elected him to the House of Delegates and seems likely to put him in office as mayor. He was enough reason by himself to quit the DPVA, and McAuliffe, and Hillary and and and. Too many requirements to defend the indefensible.
    Levar isn’t a bad sort, but nothing distinguishes him. He was a mediocre Director of DPVA and made a hash of the 2008 state convention. He hooked up with McAuliffe after the DPVA gig went south and has ridden his coattails. Secretary of the Commonwealth is a ceremonial job so that’s not much of a chop. Seems the run at Richmond mayor was to get his feet wet in elected politics and hopefully to follow Kaine’s path. Don’t think he’ll make it this time.

  36. Tidewater says:

    Tidewater to Turcopolier and Lefty,
    I see that Lefty knows whereof he writes about recent Richmond. Probably more than I. I have just gotten my subscription to the Richmond Times-Dispatch tossed onto my driveway here in the Ville just like the old days in Richmond. I find I read a newspaper in an entirely different way than I read a digital newspaper on the internet. In fact, there could be an interesting argument about that. Which way is better? I think I notice more, in areas I am not interested in, when I read a real newspaper. Including a lot of the little ads. I am also not in a hurry. I am glad I did this.
    Boom! There was Morrissey on the top of the front page. Again! (Like a London ‘Redtop.’) “Allegations of sexual impropriety.” (Saturday, October 29, 2016.)
    He’s got a lawyer from his office who will swear he was never alone with Kanika Shani Morris, and he can swear a prior relationship, but, amazingly, he sent text messages. Rather rough ones. (Which might be argued as evidence of a prior relationship.) For a lawyer and a politician he seems kind of careless about what he puts out there on the internet. Dumb.
    I am a great fan of Mark Holmberg. He has come down on Joe for giving Richmond a bad rep at a time when Richmond needs not only savvy leadership but also a little “propriety”. He notes that the folks in Toronto are gleeful to be passing along their rep problems to Richmond. Holmberg, the only example I know of Newspaperman as Superhero (and I stand in awe!), seems to have mellowed with age, and grown a beard. He once wrote a long article about Oregon Hill which I know raised a few eyebrows in the West End. Richmond is said to have been built on seven hills, and the Richmond Expressway that became I-95 took one of them out, I think, Navy Hill. Noone knows which are or were the others, at least, I don’t. Oregon Hill is not one of them. Why is it called Oregon Hill, anyway? What does Richmond have to do with Oregon? I once made the connection with the Outer Banks, where a federal warship, the USS Oregon, bored out an inlet with its propeller wash. Oregon Inlet. After The War a lot of men came to Richmond from the Outer Banks, North Carolina, and Eastern North Carolina to get in on the construction boom, rebuilding the industrial part of the city. (Basically, contrary to the Brady photos, Richmond got off light, I think.) So, maybe that was where they lived. Then later, I was told that when the Richmond Cathedral was being built–this is the Cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Virginia–and it must have been a huge job. I was told that a lot of Irish came down from Boston or even immigrated, to build it, a job that would last for years. They had a tradition of hard drinking and the rough stuff, street fighting etc., and still do. Oregon Hill is like a N.C. God’s Little Acre or Columbia’s Olympia. Could be a very rough place, but over the years artists have moved in there too. My brother was in real estate and came to hate some of the inhabitants of Oregon Hill.
    Thing is, Holmberg once wrote a great story about the match there between two famous bare knuckle street fighters. Did it happen back in the 70’s? (Sub rosa, of course.) Maybe one was from out of town. The other was an Oregon Hill homeboy. I think the Oregon Hill homeboy sent out the word to the other street fighter that he “wanted him bad.” The other fighter, maybe a Yankee, that would make it better, obliged him. I need to find that article now that I am back on the subscriber list. This must have been the greatest bare knuckle fight in modern Richmond history. A lot of Richmond would say that kind of thing doesn’t need to be memorialized. Or doesn’t even happen. Etc. I’d like to know more about it.
    The first murder case I ever heard part of in court was an Oregon Hill murder case. I’ve thought about it from time to time ever since. A man with the same name came up a few years back as an important witness to something else. But different, I think. The defendant was sent to prison for shooting a man outside his house. He was not backed to the wall. But the houses are small, not shotgun houses, being two stories. There was only a screen door between the invading neighbor, which meant the defendant–who was a very young man, I remember– faced the choice of shooting from upstairs down towards the sidewalk, or of waiting till the rifleman was inside his house on the downstairs floor. Interesting choice. He may have made the right decision.
    In light of Mark Holmberg’s little whinge about “propriety” after what he wrote, here is something remarkable about Joe Morrissey. He claims to be descended from “Smoking John” Morrissey. (Please see Wiki,if interested.) Whether this is true or not, could be checked out fairly easily, via Antiquity.com. Of course, all Morrisseys could be said to be related, I guess.
    When I was a teenager I had some books I picked up at the St. Stephen’s book fair. One was about the gangs of New York. This was the beginning of a life long occasional total immersion (by book) into New York City crime in all its many deviantly interesting forms. Then later, via Virginia DOC, I heard a true story (verified and worth being written down) about ‘Tony the Greek’ (Donald Frangos) while he was in the County at Westchester.
    What I remember as a teenager was noting very well, indeed, that a boat at anchor in New York Harbor say, is more vulnerable than you might think. (Slocum remedied this at Tierra del Fuego by putting tacks on his deck and then shooting through the deck and hatchway slides, etc.) The gang Dead Rabbits at that time were at war with the Bowery Boys. For some reason something happened out in the harbor on a schooner. The harbor police went aboard carrying lanterns and looked around. They were met by very calm men on board with credentials who reassured them that nothing had happened. (This was contrary to another schooner’s captain’s police report of horrible shrieks, pleas, shouts,thuds, gunshots, splashes etc.) The harbor police were preparing to board their rowboat and depart when one of them glanced at the schooner’s stern. There, on the lower rail, were four finger tips, that had been neatly nipped off with something heavy and sharp. Case closed. About three or four times many years later I have been on board a boat at anchor and hearing something, or awakened for some reason, perhaps by an unfamiliar movement of the boat as of an added weight on one side, or was it caused by a passing boat’s wake, and have gotten up and looked around very carefully. Something read can be sometimes be taken to heart, contrary to New York Mayor Jimmy (or was it Johnny?) Walker’s skeptical remark about book learning that as far as he knew ‘no girl was ever ruined by a book’.
    When at length, many years later, we were actually boarded, my father, who was from time to time quietly mad by then, mistook the Coast Guard for some dredgers we had run past three hours earlier. We had just departed St. Simon’s Island on the ICW. and were out in the sound. (I was very tired, there were only two of us, we had been going since about seven in the morning, this was our destination, and he now decided (like Ahab) to keep on going, which meant offshore, into the night, hours more.) It was not possible that it could be the dredgers. He was franticaly throwing open the starboard side bunk, mattress etc. Beneath which was the Mossberg which I doubt had ever been cleaned. And was it loaded? I asked him to let me see it once and he refused. I finally noticed and understood what was happening as in a flash and got between the two Coast Guardsmen and their line of sight into the cabin, getting into the hatchway and finally scrambling down. They never did know what had been coming down. (They were wearing the new double-action Italian pistols, the Beretta.) I shouted and shouted till he came to his senses.
    ‘Smoking John’ Morrissey was involved with the Dead Rabbits!
    He also fought ‘Yankee’ Sullivan (an Australian) up in Maryland on the Eastern shore in a fight that was slated to be held on Poole’s Island, which is well north of Annapolis off a river called the Gunpowder river (gunpowder used for curing beef of maggots?), where the Chesapeake Bay starts to narrow and comes soon the turnoff to the Delaware Canal. I have been by Poole Island four times, I now remember, and never noticed it!
    This is an amazing story. There were steam packets full of deputized vigilantes and police to stop the fight. After some entertaining close calls the fighters got to the eastern shore and the match took place instead at a location identified by a creek’s name. There are several old lithographs I have always coveted. One is the Currier and Ives litho of Richmond burning. A real one would cost a fortune. A rich cousin had one. The lithograph of the Morrissey-Sullivan fight was put out by the New York times, I think. It is quite striking. To me it shows a different kind of terrain by Chesapeake Bay. There seem to be some gentle rises and falls in the landscape. This one, too, would cost a small fortune. In the foreground are the gathered fight crowd and the fighters, who are in the hastily constructed ring of tree limbs and nautical ropes. Incredibly, there is snow on the ground. There is a magnificent winter panorama of the Chesapeake Bay in the background. A scholar made a study of the crowd and identified some of the most famous fighters of the era carefully delineated. Brutal, battered faces beneath their beaver hats, they look worse than Stubb’s horse handlers, slightly sinister, actually. Sullivan was said to be good with a knife back in Sydney. Princes in their realm.
    It has been written that all this may have something to do with Morrissey’s DNA. I lean towards a Personality Disorder. However, I greet him cordially should he become Richmond’s new mayor. This new woman is out of the past. Come on Joe, time to get your act together.

  37. turcopolier says:

    Did you explain what “very middle Richmond” means? pl

  38. Tidewater,
    Good on you for reading a daily newspaper. As far as I’m concerned, the act of reading a local newspaper is elixir for the soul. Way better than watching any amount of cable news or listening to any amount of talk radio. That article on Morrissey was in today’s Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star. My younger son lives just southeast of Richmond proper in the Midlands Farm area. He works for the Martin Agency in Shockoe Bottom. With the bike path and the Stone Brewing biergarten going in soon, he’s got it made.

  39. Tidewater says:

    Tidewater to turcopolier,
    No sir, I did not. I am now going to make a try at that, and at the larger question, how does Richmond work? And also, of course, what I meant by ‘middle Richmond.’
    First of all, I find this very interesting. I went off into a long, long reverie for many hours thinking about your question in the company of a bottle of Portuguese wine, called “Douro” after the river, also a Spanish river, important in the Spanish Civil War. ($8.99 with Kroger card.) I have had two very good days in Richmond recently, working with sharp implements on the top of ladders. So far, so good. I might add, from what I have just seen of the West End, including that very expensive grocery store, Elwood Thompson’s (named for the two streets that intersect there), the place looks vibrant, and that grocery story was jam-packed with very nice young women, all confident, alert (as to Bidenesque stares of appreciation) in imaginative clothing, buying the kind of organic stuff we grew up with, and obviously in possession of real money, possibly earned all by themselves.
    At this point I need to state my bias, which is as one who grew up in the West End. My school (St.C., I think you knew some of my school mates at VMI) had had football rivalries with the big public schools, Thomas Jefferson “T.J.” and John Marshall, once upon a time, but not for the longest time when I was getting off the JVs. Now it took me a while to figure some things out. The last great victories one or two of our masters had had as young men, when they had also been line coaches, when they were just starting out, against TJ and John Marshall, were when they had two great players, one of whom went to West Point. Maybe the other to Annapolis? We had now reached a point where our school was not capable of contending against most of our schedule. We were a bad team for a number of reasons, one, because they had brought in, in my view, a boarder who was a ringer (from NC) who liked to kill cats in his spare time. (He is dead now, died a long time ago in a car wreck, and I once watched him eyeing the little cat that was a mascot of VES, and at that point I decided I was going to hurt him badly if he made even a move. I knew what that meant for me, ruin. He didn’t walk towards the little cat. Someone else spoke to him, and he walked away. We were in their locker room.
    There came an occasion when our Master, former coach now advanced into seniority, needed to get up at the meetings in the upper school morning chapel (also a study hall) to rebuke us as a lousy football team and for some unfortunate things that happened after a lost game. He began to speak of the Golden Team. Later on, reading James Joye’s ‘Ivy Day in the Committee Room’, I thought I saw a parallel. I was intrigued, guiltily listening to this man, and was sliding down slightly in my seat. (I had real affection and respect for my coaches and teachers, and still do. We knew them for some many years I could tell you how they dressed, even now. They were like uncles.)
    Hawkins, as I inferred, was about defeat turned into victory. I also inferred that we shouldn’t have been playing TJ even then, back in the late 40s. Still, there was something he was telling us, right from the heart. It was elegaic.
    Anway, soon enough he bitterly got around to the point. And now look at what it has all come down to. You! Sorry we. He meant it.
    As a result of this Ivy Day in the Committee Room talk and elegaic tone of things I developed a quiet hangup, part of my bit of autism, maybe even tribal hatred, for the TJ and other powerful big city school guys, like Freeman. They hated us more.
    We once had a scrimmage with John Marshall, and I remember first of all that we were in a real stadium with real grass, with a real loudspeaker and my number got mentioned when I got a tackle. Then my name. There were about ten spectators and some were THEIR GIRLS. Maybe they were cheerleaders. We had no girls. This was heady stuff. I got a lot of tackles that scrimmage. I realized I would do a lot of head tackling if I could hear my number over the PA system. Stars in my eyes, and it was OK.
    Anyway, this golden age of our football team with tragic overtones also led to some dustups at the hamburger/ milkshake driveins. There was an element of preppy v townie, or something like VMI v W&L. But more, when you are dealing with someone like me. My brother was a Gang-of-One but I have run my own little resistance movement for many years as well.
    I’ve avoided the middle. I have never had a boss sit on me for long, the way they can. As a matter of fact, I have lived a remarkably free life. Enough said. I had a conversation with an attractive woman at Krogers of a certain age some time back about ‘life’. She was not the one who said about her side: “The good looking ones do OK.” But she might have. However, she pointed something else out. Peanuts have gotten really very much better.
    My comment about the insurance agent being middle Richmond, I think now was in part based on why he didn’t get a lawyer from a white-shoe firm, which is what a West Ender would have done. A black lawyer? God. I know this violent New York racist in Columbia, S.C. who moved there I think out of twisted idealism, who would say, “Ya want a black brain surgeon?” I once pointed out to him that black folks knew how to shoot. Since it was his cinderblock bar, I had to get out for a while. So why was there a black lawyer? Was it because the agent shrewdly (if against the West End tribal code) expected there to be black members of the jury? As there were. One of whom was about 21 it seemed and seemed to be groggy and sometimes asleep. Or was there more to it? Times had changed and this was after all, criminal law. Frankly, in this particular case, I am guessing, and I have been looking for the name of the agent, because I suspect that after he got out of a few years in prison he went back to his middle Richmond life (the FBI analyst said that the signs were all there that he had stashed away a good deal of dough) and made sure later on that he had a good Baptist obituary. His wife and family would have stuck by him. The middle is tenacious. (The criminal conviction would be simply overlooked in the obit.) And in that obit you would find mention of his devotion to his church.
    Middle, even much of upper, Richmond, is church-going. Now that I think about it, did Babbit attend church a lot? Every member canvas, vestry, all that?
    On this last run to Richmond I spoke with an old gay neighbor who has a condo on the other side of the wooden fences that form a nice alle between back yards with some beautiful mimosas if they would only let them grow. You can use any trash can, so he dropped a tidy little package in my neighbor’s on my side. I had already filled up a lot of them with huge contractor’s bags of cuttings, but later changed my mind and pried them out. The dumpster, Tuesday. (That little tied up package. That right there, suggests the restricted horizons of the Middle.) I found out from him that he had worked for the US government for thirty or more years, helped his branch move into the new building. No doubt in “middle management.” He spoke about his church, which had gotten him another light job. He had retired after a serious illness. True to form, he combined a kind of stiff formality with probing questions. He really talked old Richmond. He “sirred” me this time, as he departed. What could happen to him in the near future could also happen to me, I reflected.
    Richmond has a West End and an East End. (Also a north side and a south side.) I once read that cities that have these ‘ends’ have a prevailing wind. It is a westerly. That is certainly Berlin. The westerly blew the smoke from the factories to the east, and the owners lived upwind to the west. Dahlem is upwind of Mitte and points east. In Richmond that would have been mostly tobacco smoke, I assume, though there was ,after all, the Tredgar Iron works. However, in Richmond, there is more. The black community that exists in the Leigh Street, Marshall Street neighborhoods in one part of town east of what is Route one, runs right by the Prestwould, and by the War Memorial and over the Lee Bridge. (I grew up in Richmond so I don’t need to remember street names.) But there is the far larger, famously black neighborhood further to the east, where the original city began, on Church Hill and to its north. This would be in the neighborhood (also) of Chimborazo Park/Hill where I think William Byrd looked to the east at the James (now rust belt industrial) and named the place for Richmond on the Thames. There are some serious hills in Richmond. When I first began to drive around these areas on weekend night police, I realized that I had never been at or seen some of these places in my city. Once I was amazed. It looked like parts of Washington’s Capitol Hill, where a number of streets came together on one end and formed a large open cobbled space in the middle with avenues running off in several directions out the other side. I have just been looking at a Google map for it. There is nothing like it in the Fan or West End.
    I once lived on Linden Row south of the Leigh Street/Marshall Street black neighborhoods. On a cold winter night, when the wind blew hard from the north, you got a real idea how Richmond is different from any European city. In those days the black folk used a lot of bagged coal for heating, and you would see the bags neatly piled up high by the stove in the living rooms of what had been very handsome Eighteenth Century living rooms, now for a bit, at that moment, crime scenes. The smell that heaved up into the wind that blew south across Broad to West Franklin practically right through the walls was a pungent heavy mix of coal smoke, kerosene, cooking food, gaoline fumes, aged damp things, old wet bricks, ancient mouldy basements, standing water, sewer and septic, and whatever else, I know not, but something more. It was powerful. Black poverty. I just read what Dubois said about the real bottom of life is being the impoverished race “in a land of dollars.” To me, it smelled of NEGRO. Sorry to have to put it that way. Not fair either. The first time I smelled it I was amazed. It didn’t happen all that often, and it didn’t bother me much. The sense was, though: Wow! RICHMOND is AFRICA!
    And so it is. And I’m OK with that, by the way. I get along better with the High and the Low, than I do with the Middle. How can you have a true middle class in Africa?
    In South Carolina that part of the coast was so black African that Ambrose Gonzales wrote a little classic called The Black Border. So, if you’re fifty per cent black, it has to mean something, doesn’t it? It affects the way things work. In Richmond, and in the south, the middle used to have to be white. Class was a white man’s game. Cash talks about the white upper crust always cajoling the yeomen and poor whites. (And there was that moment when Wade Hampton had some tense moments with Wheeler’s Cavalry. His own team. And Faulkner’s Barn Burning.) Class was a white game. This means, that in a city like Richmond, the blacks don’t or didn’t exactly count. And one thing the southern white middle has been very capable of doing, and this is mentioned in Rice’s ‘I Came Out of the 18th Century’ is ruthlessly cheating the black man. I have seen it more than once. And that is additional to some basic questions you would think have been long settled. I was once travelling with my off and on friend ‘So Glad’, who might have once had a family background in Ethiopia, taking him back to South Carolina. He had done some work for me. It usually began about eleven in the morning, but he liked working at night alone, and so do I. (He had a genuine, remarkable skill as a painter which encompasses far more than one would think, as for example caulking, types of brush work, and color mixing.) He should have been pulling in fifty thousand a year and probably sometimes did. But it all went fast. We stopped at a restaurant just south of Lynchburg, sat for a while, and I realized we were not going to be served. This surprised me. He said it didn’t matter he’d rather eat at a Hardee’s he had spotted and so we did.
    To try to sum up a little about what I mean about the agent being middle Richmond, well, certainly, it’s always about the money, and he was simply a white Richmonder who must have gotten in over his income. He had less capital than most people in the West End, and you can see this in the architecture of the city as one moves east from the west end down into the Fan. My guess would be that the Middle in Richmond has a good deal less education as well. And a very narrow view of things. I wonder if he went to fucking TJ. 🙂
    For years there was a contest which played on the line “You are very Richmond if…” A few I remember are, “You begin a conversation with someone you meet at a cocktail party by asking who was their mother.” Another: “It’s nice to be in a city where there’s just one degree of separation.” Another: “She just planted a boxbush that will take forty-five years to come into maturity. She’s willing to wait.” Another: “You live each day with a special joy because tomorrow you know it’s going to be the Past.”
    As for the old families who are not of the middle. I remember a young woman from an old Virginia family who I helped clean up after her cocktail party. She told me to gather up all the drinks and put them on a table. I took the cigarette butts out of some and did as told. I found her pouring them all through a funnel into a crystal carafe. It didn’t matter as long as it was whisky, I suppose. People in Richmond drank bourbon mostly, until for health reasons, they would switch to scotch. I asked her what she was doing. She said she was saving it for the next party.
    Another young lady from an old family was driving a friend down to the river on a winding country road. She kept passing against the solid double yellow lines on curve after curve. After a while my friend, who was very polite, but was becoming panicked, exclaimed: “What are you doing?!! You keep on passing on curves against the yellow lines!” She didn’t say anything. She was frowning. He pointed out ahead of them as they careened into another curve, “See, that line is broken but now it’s double! No! No! You can’t pass!”
    She said: “Oh, I always wondered what those were for.”

  40. Tidewater says:

    Tidewater to TTG,
    Thanks for your comment. I just looked up the Martin Agency, I have heard of it. It seems to me that that’s an example of a local business that suddenly has become a national business. That’s an exciting website. It reminds me of something I have heard from some of the younger members of my family, that Richmond now has a reputation on the East Coast as a place where things are happening.
    Richmond is a very interesting subject for me. I tend to clown around sometimes and feel a little hungover when I let fly and realize afterwards how things must be rewritten, rewritten and then weighed out soberly.
    One thing about the Free-Lance Star. I am interested in old-fashioned information retrieval from say, a University Reference Room, microfiche and particularly microfilm. But the Free-Lance Star lets you go back into their archives for free. Almost anything that ever made the news in Virginia most likely can be found. You are simply looking at a microfilm of the original newspaper, I assume, and I do have trouble printing things out. But it’s very helpful. A fine newspaper. There was a murder case in the Northern Neck recently they were all over, I recall. Another one of these digital cases, where cell phone towers played a role. Made the case.
    I think I just subscribed to USN Proceedings as well. I need to double check. It’s still pretty hard to beat the New York Times archives, so I’ve got to resubscribe there, as well.
    By the way, there is going to be big news from C-Ville this week in that Rolling Stone case. I have been following it some on Twitter for the first time. I think Twitter is fascinating. And elegant. I
    think it is simply something additional that will now become a part of any reporter’s quiver of arrows, as it were. I love how the young reporters back each other.
    I have been scrambling to read up a little on China. Did you know that one of the most important ways that the news is published in China is now by text message? The Chinese government sits heavily on the internet and can control Twitter as well, I assume. But how do they control text messaging? They can’t. (Though there could be reprisals.) And there is now a private news/media industry which needs to entertain its customers (in part) so they find corruption that is not covered by the “Umbrella” and it becomes big news. This means that there is actual public opinion in China. They are angry about corruption. This is a threat to the Communist Party and government. China could go like West Germany was pre-wall-fall and GDR. Federalism! And equally interesting, people have simply lost all interest in, what do they call it, Marxist Dialectic? Nobody wants to study this junk. This means that Chinese Communism, it seems to me, is like one of those gigantic tires on vehicles used in the open pit copper mining industry. That the air is leaking slowly out of. (Assuming those tires have air in them.) They are already talking about the next phase. Will it be socialism? There are millions who are not covered by any kind of government protection. . It’s like 19th century capitalism for people from the country who have moved to the big coastal cities. Deng did this. Amazing. And sixty per cent of the water table–the ground water, aquifers — has been permanently destroyed. Heavy metals and much more. Chinese farmers now grow one crop for market and one for themselves.

  41. Tidewater,
    Of course. But the collapse of Communist rule could produce a bizarre mixture, as it did in the former Soviet Union – liberation in some respects, but also, immeasurable suffering in others.
    It is difficult to try to explain these complexities to almost everyone here in Britain. In part because we are in such a muddle as to what political terms – including ‘conservative’ – any longer mean, in part because we are no longer a culture in which historical understanding is prized.
    (As to Americans, when I first came across the ‘American Conservative’ magazine, an instinctive whimsical reaction was: ‘There is one?’ But I now know I this this was, while not altogether wrong, somewhat glib.)
    The – very British – Catholic apologist G.K. Chesterton was a strange man, who mixed whimsy and wisdom in very odd ways – something he was clearly very well aware of himself.
    A poem he wrote, ‘Oh God of Earth and Altar’, was set to music, and became one of the hymns we used to have to sing in school assembly.
    Lines that are imprinted on my memory:
    ‘From all that terror teaches,/From lies of tongue and pen,/From all the easy speeches/That comfort cruel men,/From sale and profanation/Of honour and the sword,/From sleep and from damnation,/Deliver us, good Lord.’
    (See http://www.chesterton.org/a-hymn-o-god-of-earth-and-altar/ )

  42. Tidewater says:

    Tidewater to David Habakkuk,
    When I read your Chesterton hymn I got up and searched my piled high sofa for the New Oxford Book of English Light Verse. There I found, marked by a torn bit of paper towel, something I have just been reading, Chesterton’s “Variations on an Air composed on having to appear in a pageant as Old King Cole.”
    Old King Cole was a merry old soul,
    And a merry old soul was he;
    He called for his pipe,
    He called for his bowl,
    And he called for his fiddlers three.
    After Lord Tennyson
    Cole, that unwearied prince of Colchester,
    Growing more gay with age and with long days
    Deeper in laughter and desire of life,
    As that Virginian climber on our walls
    Flames scarlet with the fading of the year;
    Called for his wassail and that other weed
    Virginian also, from the western woods
    Where English Raleigh checked the boast of Spain,
    And lighting joy with joy, and piling up
    Pleasure as crown for pleasure, bade men bring
    Those three, the minstrels whose emblazoned coats
    Shone with the oyster-shells of Colchester;
    And these three played, and playing grew more fain
    Of mirth and music; till the heathen came,
    And the King slept beside the northern sea.
    After W.B. Yeats
    Of an old King in a story
    From the grey sea-folk I have heard,
    Whose heart was no more broken
    Than the wings of a bird.
    As soon as the moon was silver
    And the thin stars began,
    He took his pipe and his tankard,
    Like an old peasant man.
    And three tall shadows were with him
    And came at his command;
    And played before him for ever
    The fiddles of fairyland.
    And he died in the young summer
    Of the world’s desire;
    Before our hearts were broken
    Like sticks in a fire.
    After Robert Browning
    Who smoke-snorts toasts o’ My Lady Nicotine,
    Kicks stuffing out of Pussyfoot, bids his trio
    Stick up their Stradivarii (that’s the plural)
    Or near enough, my fatheads; nimium
    Vicina Cremonae (that’s a bit too near).
    Is there some stockfish fails to understand?
    Catch hold o’the notion, bellow and blurt back ‘Cole’?
    Must I bawl lessons from a horn-book, howl,
    Cat-call the cat-gut ‘fiddles’? Fiddlesticks!
    After Walt Whitman
    Me clairvoyant,
    Me conscious of you, old camarado,
    Needing no telescope,lorgnette, field-glass, opera glass, myopic
    Me piercing two thousand years with eye naked and not ashamed;
    The crown cannot hide you from me;
    Musty old feudal-heraldic trappings cannot hide you from me,
    I perceive that you drink.
    (I am drinking with you. I am as drunk as you are.)
    I see that you are inhaling tobacco, puffing, smoking, spitting
    (I do not object to your spitting),
    You prophetic of American largeness,
    You anticipating the broad masculine manners of these States;
    I see in you also there are movements,tremors,tears,desire for the melodious,
    I salute your three violinists, endlessy making vibrations,
    Rigid, relentless, capable of going on forever;
    They play my accompaniment; but I shall take no notice of any
    I myself am a complete orchestra.
    So long.
    After Swinburne
    In the time of old sin without sadness
    And golden with wastage of gold,
    Like the gods that grow old in their gladness
    Was the king that was glad, growing old;
    And with sounds of loud lyres from his palace
    The voices of his oracles spoke,
    And the lips that were red from his chalice
    Were splendid with smoke.
    When the weed was as flame for a token
    And the wine was as blood for a sign;
    And upheld in his hands and unbroken
    The fountains of fire and of wine.
    And a song without speech, without singer,
    Stung the soul of a thousand in three
    As the flesh of the earth has to sting her,
    The soul of the sea.

  43. Thanks for that – I enjoyed it.
    I do think that the best of Chesterton remains very interesting and relevant.
    Almost a decade ago now, Colonel Lang posted some remarks of mine which quoted extensively from the opening chapter of his 1922 book ‘What I saw in America’.
    (See http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2007/02/habbakuk_on_ide.html .)
    The link I gave is now dead, but the whole book is now online, at http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mward/gkc/books/27250-h.htm
    Much of what he had to say seems to me if anything even more relevant now than a decade ago.
    It is easy to see how, in the light of the convulsions of the decades that followed, some of the ideas expressed in Chesterton’s 1904 novella ‘The Napoleon of Notting Hill’ look questionable, if not dangerous.
    But I still think that, besides being beautifully written, it gives food for thought.

  44. Tidewater says:

    Tidewater to David Habakkuk,
    Thank you for what is for me, in effect, an introduction to Chesterton. I have just ordered ‘What I saw in America’ and the novella from Amazon. It occurred to me that in February of 2007 I was in London, and had walked through Notting Hill.
    I get what you are saying, I think, though I need to relax, at moment, and take my time. What you are cautioning about is very depressing, I am afraid. I glanced at Babak’s remark about your comments and had a thought that a lot of those founding fathers, like Jefferson, were not quite as Protestant as one might assume. There was the whole Deist thing. Jefferson’s interpretation of the Bible took the religion right out of it. (Very 18th Century rational.) I have always thought a lot of the founding fathers could be considered to be more than cautious about religion in its relation to the state. Even anti-religious to some; to the religious. The new constitution gutted the Episcopal church financially. It took away the glebe lands, which were given for the support of a minister and his family. The new constitution did not institute an established Protestant church. Obviously, far from it. It’s a fascinating story. None of the Protestants wanted the state to have anything to do with any of their sects.
    I don’t think Babak is entirely aware that there is a class structure to American Protestantism. (British, too.) The folks with the most vociferous personal relationship with the Diety are Middle Class! Or lower Middle Class. There is a lot of agnosticism in the upper class Episcopalian church. I once went to a very low-class Protestant church where people were talking in tongues. They were laying them out in pews when they passed out. Then there are the snake handlers up in the mountains…
    It is the establishment of the Jewish state that has committed the United States to doing an end run around its own established basic laws and fundamental religious principles. America now whole-heartedly supports a fanatical, racist, Israeli religious enclave. Americans seem now to be permanently committed as a belligerant in the war between Judaism and Islam. This is the greatest religious war in history. It has only barely begun. This is going to wreck America.
    My comments about what is happening in China were based in part on Mike Davis’s ‘Planet of Slums.’ I hope to have something to say about this later on.

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