Family, This weekend was amazing. I married the love of my life and now we are taking a brief break to recover from all the epic activities of the weekend However, have no fear. The Cheats Movement Blog (and family) is growing stronger and upon our return will be even more dedicated to promoting the positive aspects of RVA to the fullest. There is so much epicness ahead. It is my prayer that all of you will continue and share in the crazy ride with us. This blog may be hosted by me but it’s truly a shared activity. Words cannot express how much both Aria and I love RVA – the people that make greatest place for us to be. We Love You! WE SEE IT!
I have to give full credit where credit is due, my good friend Matt Newman from the Coalition Theater tipped me to an amazing online comic strip that reviews the lineage of hip hop. He sent me the link to Ed Piskor’s Hip Hop Family Tree and I was hooked. I have to admit – Hip Hop Family Tree is the best comic strip I have read since the run of The Boondocks. Not just the for the history lessons (and there are several), Ed Piskor is an amazing artist. He visually captures the grittiness of NYC in the late 70s and early 80s. He has worked with giants in the industry and has an impressive run of projects himself. Hip Hop Family Tree is solid on so many levels and I set out to find out some background and details about the comic. Lucky for us, Ed is not hard to track down and was willing to be interviewed for The Cheats Movement. Huge shout to Ed for taking the time. WE SEE IT!
Cheats: Hip Hop Family Tree is amazing. As a hip hop fan, I can’t stop reading it. How did it all come about?
Ed Piskor: It started by accident really. I’ve wanted to do a comic where old school Hip Hop would be an aesthetic backdrop for years. Even as far back as high school. I couldn’t figure out what the story would be. A crime story? A Love and Rockets slice of life tale? Ultimately just doing a straight-up narrative about the history of Hip Hop was the way to go.
When were you introduced to hip hop and how has hip hop culture made an impression on your life?
Ed Piskor: I grew up in Pittsburgh in the 80s and Hip Hop was everywhere I looked. My house was nestled in between 3 major parks in my neighborhood and at any given time you would see breakdancing or you’d see guys in a circle rapping while they waited their turn to play basketball. The fliest drug dealers looked like Eric B and Rakim. There were old-ass pimps who still dressed the part and talked with that rap patter.
Hip Hop Family Tree serves as a true history lesson. How do you determine the stories you want to tell and in what order?
I literally don’t know exactly how the strips will flow from week to week. I have to keep it fun for myself. I have a basic structure of things thanks to the release of the records so that’s how I keep my linearity. Other than that, each Sunday and/or Monday I sit around reading everything I can to unearth some really cool, hopefully visually interesting anecdotes. It is best when dealing with a situation that involves a group because you can find interviews with sometimes five people recalling events in different ways and I almost have to go by consensus at times.
Have you worked directly with any hip hop pioneers in making the comic?
Not really, though many people have reached out to express appreciation. Lots of rappers have tweeted and retweeted strips, etc. I’ll get wild phone calls every now and again.
What is the strangest response/reaction you have received regarding the comic?
There was one lame-o who didn’t like the comic and had a million reasons for it. He is one of those computer science professors from Carnegie Mellon University who also happens to be white. I told him that I would sacrifice every one of him as a reader if it continues to mean that DMC, Chuck D, Grandmaster Flash, DJ Kool Herc, Biz Markie, MC Shan, The Furious Five, etc continue to promote the work by sharing it on their Facebook accounts and twitter pages.
You do a great job at capturing the vibrancy and grittiness of NYC during the birth of hip hop. Is there any part of you that wishes that time could come back?
Not really. We should constantly move forward but it doesn’t hurt to look back and learn from history.
What is next for you and Hip Hop Family Tree?
I’ve really been thinking a lot about doing another Wizzywig comic. This is the computer hacker comic I did before HHFT. There’s so much insane shit going on with Whistleblowers, Wikileaks, Snowden, Manning, etc. That’s years away though. I’m doing the HHFT comics as at least a 5 book series. Book 1 will be available in October/November. Book 2 is almost done and will be out next Summer. Then the rest of the books will stabilize and be released annually or so.
How can we keep up with your work moving forward?
All the Hip Hop comics are online starting with strip 1 here: http://boingboing.net/2012/01/10/brain-rot-hip-hop-family-tree.html
Twitter.com/edpiskor would probably be a good place to keep updated. Edpiskor on tumblr too.
Thanks Ed. Please support his work!
20 YEARS STRONG: THE HAROLD M. MARSH, SR. CONNECTIONS INSTITUTE CONTINUES TO CHANGE LIVES IN RVA AND BEYOND
Over the course of of my life there have been a handful of moments/decisions/experiences that I credit as life changing; a single experience that influenced how I see the world and the values I hold dear. Of course, there are factors that I had no control over – the character and values of my parents and siblings – the loving and supportive environment I was born into – I was just blessed and fortunate in those regards – but there were other decisions, some I knew would be significant – like enlisting in the Marine Corps after high school – and others that I had no clue would still have a strong hold on me today – like attending a four day summer camp when I was 14 years old called Metrotown Institute. Twenty years later Metrotown is now called the Harold M. Marsh, Sr. Connections Institute and I can say – without a doubt – that being a part of that experience, from very first camp held at St. Christopher School in 1993, to today that it has been one of the most life changing and powerful experiences of my life. It has helped shape my values and character, and along the way I have met some great friends and life-long mentors.
The Harold M. Marsh, Sr. Connections Institute teaches high school student leaders about diversity and inclusion. It sounds simple but trust me it’s hard work. I remember being 14 years old, the last thing I was thinking about during the summer of my freshman and sophomore year was how I could make my high school more inclusive and tolerant. Through Connections, I learned community building skills and values that are still with me today – values I apply in every aspect of my life – including The Cheats Movement Blog. The most principled being: unity and inclusion will always triumph over division and exclusion.
Over the next few days, I will post message from other fellow Connections Institute graduates reflecting on their experience and 20 years of the program in an effort to raise awareness for our “20/20 Campaign: A Vision for a More Inclusive Virginia”. I will lead this effort with a message from Jonathan Zur, the President and CEO of the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communicates. Please take a look at the VCIC website and get familiar with not just Connections Institute but all the amazing programs done throughout the year. It really is life changing. WE SEE IT!
Jonathan Zur, President and CEO of the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities
Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Harold M. Marsh, Sr. Connections Institute
It has been described by program graduates as “life changing,” “powerful,” and “the most meaningful experience of their lives.”
Back in 1993, community leaders in Richmond launched a new effort to help high school students learn about the diversity around them and build skills to foster inclusion in their schools. Program leaders promoted it as more than just another camp or summer learning experience. By all accounts, they were right.
For twenty years, the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities’ Harold M. Marsh, Sr. Connections Institute (known in its early years as the Metrotown Institute) has helped students to break barriers, learn effective strategies to deal with biased behavior, and develop action plans to reduce prejudice in their schools. What started as a weeklong experience in Richmond has developed into a body of programming that reaches thousands of students and adults across Virginia each year. And program alumni are sharing what they have learned locally, nationally, and around the world.
Indeed, this program has been a catalyst for twenty years, helping participants move from awareness to action as they continue on their journeys through life. To celebrate this anniversary, alumni and friends are participating in the “20/20 Campaign: A Vision for a More Inclusive Virginia” to raise funds to sustain the program’s future.
The Cheats Movement and VCIC invited program alumni from the Richmond area to share their reflections. Over the next few days you will see these reflections on The Cheats Movement Blog.
Thanks to Michael Jordan and all the Nike Basketball ads that followed during that era – it is safe to say I grew up in the golden age of Nike basketball commercials from the MJ X Spike Lee classic collaborations of “It’s gotta be the shoes” to Charles Barkley’s “I’m not a role model” to David Robinson’s Neighborhood to my all-time favorite Penny Hardaway X Lil Penny, played by Chris Rock. These commercials were great because while they were shoe commercials, they had little to do with the actual shoes. The next day all my friends were talking about were the characters, imagery, celebrity cameos, just about everything but the shoe (which were dope by the way).
As a basketball fan, I do feel we are finally moving into a new golden age of hoops. Thanks to King James and more importantly because of time. The younger generation of basketball fans are finally getting to the age where the don’t remember MJ with the Bulls – I know right – we are getting that old. And so they don’t realize that MJ was the greatest player ever to lace up the sneakers (don’t get me started on MJ vs. Kobe vs. Lebron). They don’t understand that MJ (in his prime) was better than Lebron, Kobe, Magic, Bird, Wilt or any other person that could name. Okay – I’ve lost focus BUT my point. While we have moved into a new golden age of hoops – the shoe commercials have not been as plentiful or as awesome as back in the Jordan era.
Lebron had a good run with The Lebrons a few years ago. But there really hasn’t been a commercial that keeps people talking like back when Lil Penny was hitting on Tyra Banks. However, there is hope. Earlier this week I was introduced to Drain – Blake Griffin’s sidekick who is always ready for a run, talks trash, dresses like Mars Blackmon, and never misses a jumper. Blake and Drain are a throwback for Nike and I loved it. Check it out and let me know what had been your favorite Nike Hoops commercial over the years. WE SEE IT – The Cheats Movement Blog.
There are no words to explain how excited I am about the open of the new Coalition Theater on 8 West Broad Street (Arts District). While the Grand Opening is set for August 1st – August 3rd. You don’t have to wait to see awesome comedy in RVA. The Coalition Theater will be doing a “Soft Opening” this weekend with four show (two on both Friday and Saturday) at the new theater:
Friday, 7/26, 8:00pm
The Craigslist Show, $10
Friday, 7/26, 10pm
The Jam, Pay What You Can
Saturday, 7/27, 8pm
HOUSE TEAM SAMPLER: UNO
(Da Vinci + Dollar Machine), $5
Saturday, 7/27, 9:30pm
HOUSE TEAM SAMPLER: DOS
(The Johnsons + Pigeon), $5
Visit the RCC website: RVAComedy.com for all the information!
In his legendary 1996 HBO stand-up comedy classic, “Bring the Pain,” Chris Rock gave his comedic commentary on the polarizing O.J. Simpson verdict by saying, “black people are too happy, white people are too mad…black people were like, we won – we won! What exactly did we win? Every day I look in the mail for my O.J. prize and nothing.” I’ve thought about the nation’s reaction to the O. J. verdict a little as I’ve been processing the latest polarizing jury verdict – that of Trayvon Martin.
While I understand the emotion and anger in the wake of George Zimmerman’s “not guilty” verdict – and make no mistake, I too am sadden and disappointed that a life has been cut short. But I must say that I was not surprised by the verdict. Were you? Most people I spoke to are not. My friends are sad and disappointed, more than a few are angry, but when I challenged them, “Were you surprised?” most of them – no matter their race – leveled with me and said, “No, they were not surprised.” That alone may be a sad reality of being mid-30 and growing up in Richmond, but I will leave that for another discussion.
So, I was not surprised by the verdict. Nor was I surprised by the outpouring of angry status updates and twitter comments expressing anger with the verdict, the judicial system and the country. While, I do raise an eyebrow at some of our celebrity friends calling for revolution – yes Miley Cyrus, I read your, “No Justice, No Peace” tweet. Even in the midst of all of this anger and outrage – I still find myself optimistic – yes – optimistic about the future of my culture, community, and city, and beyond (though it does get tougher at the top end – Virginia and country).
What Cheats? How can you sit at your computer and write any form of positive commentary regarding this event? Again, don’t get me wrong – the fact that Trayvon Martin is dead is horrible and tragic. I can’t begin to imagine what his family and friends are going through. And because of this case, I find myself taking the time to ask, where exactly are we as a country and culture in 2013? Should I consider this verdict a major step backward for justice? For race relations? For America?
Is the Zimmerman verdict more devastating than last month’s Supreme Court’s decision that struck down part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act? Is the decision more important to our culture than the current murder rate and incarceration rate among black males? As a black male, I wonder about these questions often.
Should I be more concern with this verdict than Richmond’s poverty rate, which is nearly double the national average (according to Mayor’s Anti-poverty Commission Report, released earlier this year)? Should I be more outraged by the death of Trayvon Martin than the death of Brendon Mackey, the 7 year old boy killed by the stray bullet of a handgun while he was walking with his father from 4th of July fireworks right here in Midlothian? Don’t get me started on VA’s gun laws (again that’s a discussion for another time). I don’t have the answers to these questions and that disturbs me.
Yet, instead of stewing in my own anger and confusion, I decided to take some time and try to put the knee-jerk reactions of the last 48 hours into some form of perspective in regards to the future. In spite of this entire tragedy, I’m reminded through my friends and family that we live in extraordinary times. We all have the ability to do things that were simply unimagined by my own parents and grandmother (who’s over 80 and still lives on 4th Ave. in Highland Park). And yet, it is up to us, as individuals, as a culture, and as a community, how we write our future.
Saturday afternoon, before the verdict was released, I hosted the 2nd annual Cheats Movement Family photo. The photo is a fun opportunity to bring RVA’s creative community together in one place, to meet each other, visit, and take a photo. Despite the down pouring of rain, for the second year in a row (I’ve really got to pick a better time), this year’s photo nearly doubled the inaugural photo in all ways imaginable. There were more artists, more musicians, more poets, more designers, more writers, more creatives, and more babies (Cheats loves the kids). While there were more people, the underlying theme remained the same: This is Our Richmond and we are all doing our part to make RVA the place we want it to be – the place we know it can be.
As I looked around at my rain-soaked friends, standing in 90 degree heat (I really need to pick a better time), I thought to myself, this is the future of RVA. We may not be able to change everything but we can change our community. And that’s how it starts – make no mistake – that’s how all change starts. There are no homeruns when it comes to this type of change, there are walks, there are singles, we’re really lucky if we get a double – but no homeruns and honestly no closer either…because this particular ballgame never ends. Though it would be cool to see a Mariano Rivera of positive change come out of the bullpen just to let the world know that change is here – the game is over and we’re going to win.
Last week, I was asked about the next generation of Richmond leaders, more directly he asked me if I ever thought I would run for public office. I quickly told him, I can’t see myself doing that any time soon because my friends and I can make more change from the outside without the hassle of being a politician in this day of “gotcha” media and tear down politics. He responded by saying, “Really, well why haven’t you guys started doing that,” I said, “Who’s to say we haven’t.”
I know it’s a Jay-Z line but we really are living in the era of new rules. While wealth, education, gender, and race still play the dominate role in how individuals are defined in America, the definition of words like culture and community are being transformed right before us. In many ways, the internet is the new church. Picnics are being replaced by Meet-Ups – Elk lodges with chat rooms. The Richmond Times dispatch is being replaced by The Cheats Movement (not really but you get the point). I do get more of my news alerts from Facebook and online sources – much more than I do from paying one dollar for the daily newspaper.
I write this to emphasize the point that while we may never live in a country or a city that is 100% fair; we are living in a time where we can directly impact our culture, community, and future through direct action. I know the family photo represents that sentiment for each person that joined us Saturday; and so many that could not make it out.
Whether it’s working for better elementary schools on Richmond’s Southside, or working with great non-profits like Art 180, or the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, or bringing people together for laughter like the Richmond Comedy Coalition, or teaching hip hop to students at Sabot at Stony Point (S/O Black Liq and RT), or hosting amazing community spaces like The Shop, we can make the impact that we want to see throughout RVA and for that I remain hopeful and optimistic.
To wrap this up, I would like to issue a gentleman’s challenge to those who just can’t see my level of optimism. I know that there are many people who are more than angry – they are fed up – and really can’t see what I see when it comes to the future of RVA or America. I challenge you to do something small – something kind – for someone else in your world. You don’t have to make a public ceremony about it – you don’t even have to tell the person you’re doing it for – but do it – complete a random act of kindness and when you do, say a prayer for Trayvon Martin and his family. My good friend P reminds me often that kindness can change world. I believe that and I believe that it’s up to us – little by little – to continue the hard work of positive change in our culture and community.
Last July, we pulled off the first ever Cheats Movement Epic Group Photo: A Good Day in Richmond, with about 7 days notice and in between Saturday afternoon thunderstorms. All and all it was an amazing turn out featuring some of RVA’s most creative people hanging in one place. On July 13, 2013, we hope to do it even bigger!
What is the Cheats Movement Family Photo? Really it’s just another excuses to get family, friends, readers of the blog, and lovers of RVA all in the same place. I got the idea from the famous Jazz musician photo: A Good Day in Harlem, taken on the streets of Harlem in 1958. I think it cool to have a photo representing RVA’s creative community.
Who’s invited? Everyone! I don’t care if you’ve never been featured on the blog – anything like that. If you are making positive move in the Greater Richmond area – you are family. Also bring kids – we love the kids!
What to bring? Not much (if anything). I’m guessing there will be some people that you haven’t met there before or normally chat with, I hope you take a moment to meet new people. Also, a camera is always cool to bring.
This photo is about bringing the family together, building community, and having fun. I hope to see you there. July 13, 2013 at 2 PM. We will meet on the steps of Brown’s Island (leading to the Friday Cheers Stage).
My friend Jason Lefton has a BIG thing for lasers. And he has manifested his fascination with lasers into a very creative business called BIG SECRET, located at 308 N. Adams Street, in Jackson Ward. I’ve gotten to know Jason over the last year from his improv work at the Coalition Theater. Jason is helping to transform RVA’s creative culture with his unique approach to design, his desire (and willingness) to collaborate with other RVA businesses, and the unlimited potential of his laser. I sat down with Jason last week to talk about his laser-etching business, and the changing creative culture of RVA.
What’s the best thing about BIG SECRET?
I would say the best thing about BIG SECRET is how easy it is to get people excited about what we are doing. As soon as someone sees our work, it clicks that we are using a beam of light to disintegrate material – to etch it, or cut it, or mark it. They are instantly hooked. It makes it very easy to get people excited and I love sharing the excitement of what we are doing. Most people are not exposed to this type of work on a daily basis.
What’s the deal with you and lasers?
I fell in love with lasers about two and a half years ago when I took my own laptop to be lasered. I took it to someone who didn’t normally laser laptops, but had a laser, and I convinced them to let me put my laptop in their laser. And as soon as I saw it start to work, I realized that I had to research lasers. I had to find out how much they cost and what they are capable of doing. And something clicked, as far as being able to use this tool in a creative way. I thought this would be a cool tool to bring to people in the creative industry that might not have access to one or who have never heard of a laser before. After that, I did so research and saved (money) for about 6 months and bought a laser. It was really on a whim.
When you explain to people the capability of lasers, what is the most surprising response that you hear?
The most surprising, or random, response is the objects people ask me have I tried to put in my laser. For example, have you ever tried to put any of your body parts in the laser – have you tried to laser your own flesh? The answer is no, but I have seen youtube videos (don’t try it at home). And that is part of what excites me about lasers, the wide variety of material that you can experiment with. When you screen-print, you are putting ink on paper or ink on fabric. You can put ink on other things but when using a laser you can use such a wide variety of material: wood, paper, glass, metals, plastics, cardboard, and lots of non-traditional materials: leaves, food, grip tape , etc. And it’s in those experimental stages that I really love figuring out what’s next, what else is this machine capable of doing. There is a very short list of things that you cannot laser.
What’s the one thing that you haven’t lasered yet that you are dying to laser?
I’m really excited to laser a cake. I’m doing it this summer for a nearby gallery called Candela (Books and Gallery).
It’s an edible cake?
It’s an edible sheet cake. And lasering food is perfectly safe. People do it a lot: grill lines on a steak or their name in chocolate. I’m excited about it. I’ve never done it before. It’s for a fundraising event they are doing in August called, “Unbound!”
You moved to the Arts District (Jackson Ward) in October of 2012, what is it about being in Richmond, Jackson Ward, and the Arts District, that gets you excited?
Being here gets me excited because change seems to be happening virtually every week. Art 180 just moved in down the street. There is a new restaurant and bar coming directly across the street owned by the owner of Tarrant’s Cafe. The neighborhood has Gallery 5, 1708 Gallery, Quirk Gallery, Candella, ADA, all within walking distance. And we are right in the middle of First Fridays, which we want to be more involved with in the future. Everything is moving so fast and it feels great to be located right in the middle of it. The other major thing is the new Coalition Theater is opening later this month. That is such an awesome project to be a part of, both as someone who does improv and being involved in the new branding. The new Coalition Theater will be a half a block away.
The new Coalition Theater is schedule to open later this month, a block away from BIG SECRET
When you’re not putting things in your laser and running your own business, how do you like to spend your time in RVA?
I use improv as a big extracurricular activity to unwind from a business day. It’s a lot of fun. The Coalition Theater is where I started taking classes. They have taught me everything I know about improv and I love performing with them. Other than that, my wife Bird and I love to go to the movies, in particular the new Criterion Theater to see independent films. We eat out in town a lot. My wife just started a new food website: Block and Bar. It’s a fantastic site and it’s received a great response so far.
What’s the one Richmond restaurant you can’t live without?
If I could only go to one restaurant in Richmond for the rest of my life, I would be content with going to Edo’s Squid (411 N. Harrison Street, RVA). It’s an old standby for me. I love their Italian food, and I’ve been all over Italy. Edo’s Squid does it right.
What about music, what is the one CD you can’t live without?
You’d Prefer An Astronaut by HUM.
Anthony Bourdain at the Landmark Theater in RVA last night.
Check out this KickStarter video from my family at the Richmond Comedy Coalition. If you have followed The Cheats Movement Blog than you know the RCC is very special to me and to the new wave of positivity happening in Greater Richmond. They have worked very hard since their debut in 2009 to present a platform of improv comedy that had almost completely faded away in RVA. In addition to the amazing shows they create, they teach classes for inspiring improver (like myself), host workshops, and partner with other positive movements in RVA to foster a new wave of community. Check out the video and please do what you can to help them move into their brand new home in the Arts District. Click HERE to check out the Kickstarter.
Last Saturday night, the Cheats Movement Blog joined a sold-out crowd at Baliceaux for the first ever RCC’s Battledecks. Battledecks is a comedic presentation using never seen before slides by daring and hilarious presenters; improv at its finest. I knew from the time the first slide was reveled, “Raving in your 30′s” it was going to be a great night. Congrats to the nine brave souls that took the stage (2 were selected randomly from the audience). The night was a massive success. Scott Beckett was the winner of Battledecks and also a new laser-etched iPad Mini. The night was hosted by the owner of BIG SECRET Jason Lefton with slide presentation assistance from his good friends at the Richmond Comedy Coalition. The slides along with comedic courage of each presenter made the night fantastic. I look forward to many more Battledecks at Balliceaux. CLICK HERE FOR ALL THE PHOTOS FROM LAST SATURDAY NIGHT
CLICK HERE for all the photos from Battledecks and make sure to follow: the Richmond Comedy Coalition, BIG SECRET, and the Cheats Movement Blog on Facebook.
Last night, my homegirl, Patience Salgado AKA Kindness Girl did an amazing job as the special guest for the Richmond Comedy Coalition’s Richmond Famous show at Gallery 5. But Patience was not alone, she called on her good friend Jennifer Lemons-Driskell AKA The Checkout Girl to rock a ukulele sing along. It was a great time. Below are some of the photos. I’m so excited about the things The Cheats Movement Family has in store for 2013 and it was a real family affair last night. If you don’t know already the Richmond Comedy Coalition is in process of opening their new theater on Broad Street. Support them as best you can. Patience and The Cheats Movement Blog (along with so many others) are always working on projects to bridge the gap in this city. RVA, good things are happening. #WESEEIT
It has become very clear that the goal of The Cheats Movement Blog in 2013 is to do something bigger for the RVA community. What do I mean by, “bigger?” I mean the blog, myself, the entire Cheats Movement Family will deliberately take on the task of creating and presenting the type of Richmond community that we want see spread throughout this city. I think that has always been the underling goal of the blog, to present RVA as the positive, diverse, creative community that I see daily but is not reported in the RVA media. With the growth of the blog it has become clear, or should I say even more real, that this blog (with the help of a lot of amazing friends and supporters) can be a driving force to bring Richmond’s community together. If you were not there last month at Gallery 5 when Photosythesizers, JPS, and Glows in the Dark performed on the same stage, you missed the very best of what I’m talking about. The most diverse audenice in the city coming together to enjoy Cheats Movement Family, The Richmond Comedy Coalition and these bands, that may not have been billed together if it wasn’t for a platform like the one we created together.
It happened again last night at WRIR’s Party for the Rest of Us. Seeing such a diverse crowd, in a small room, grooving to the music of Ohbliv, and then turning it up with YFD and The New Juice Crew gives me a feeling that I can’t explain but I know I want to duplicate over and over again. Immediately following the showcase last night, as well as the Richmond Famous show at Gallery 5, and even follow the RVA HOT SAUCE show nearly 2 years ago, strangers come up to me wondering when are we going to do “that” again. How can we get that vibe again. I feel the same way.
HEAR IS THE POINT – I can’t do it – WE can’t do it without everyone playing their part. Step 1 – if you are not following the Cheats Movement Facebook Page – Click HERE and follow, share it with your friends. We need to spread what is happening in the city. Step 2 – If you see that The Cheats Movement Blog is hosting/supporting a event or cause – rest assured that it will be one that is worth attending or supporting. I am very clear that this blog is about positivity, creativity, diversity, and anything that lift up RVA. Feel comfortable knowing that while you may not feel every blog post, it all serves a goal. Step 3 – if you see something that this blog “should” be supporting, send me an email (CheatsMWC@gmail.com) and let me know. If it is positive and good for the RVA community, you have a friend in me.
I strongly believe that celebrating Richmond’s creative diversity will go a long way in healing some of the lasting bitterness of the past. It’s not the only answer but I can’t solve every problem with a blog post or event. I can take action to create a better city. We can together. I need you to be a part – will you help?
Tonight is the night! WRIR Party for the Rest of Us 8 at The Renaissance, 107 West Broad Street # 300, Richmond, Virginia. Doors open at 7 PM. Get there early – The Cheats Movement Blog is bringing some of the best RVA Hip Hop – we will be in one of the separate ballrooms – not the main state. Starting with the one and only Mad Genius Ohbliv at 9:15 PM. We then have the entire YFD Clothing camp featuring: Artik Phreeze, Ms. Proper, Chris Haskins and Doe, and Flight Crew, then closing out the hour is The New Juice Crew: Black Liq, BC Music 1st, Corey Starks, RT, Emphasys, Lord Slugg, and truly the man of the hour Bandolero, who will be holding down the djing all night. The rest of the night is going to be amazing as well. I’m a fan of both Wolf//Goat and Dead Fame. And Cheats Movement Family the Richmond Comedy Coalition will be holding it down in the same separate ballroom as us. This should be a great night. $10 suggested donation at the door. Cheats Movement Stickers will be on deck and free!
There it is…is that definitive enough. I always shy away from making such bold statement simply because when I do there is something out there that proves me wrong — some unturned rock in RVA that I’ve yet to find that makes me reevaluate such a declarative statements BUT, in this case, all I can say is: good luck proving me wrong. Tuesday Verses is the truth and has been for 11 years now. I was first made aware of Tuesday Verses a few years ago – Yes, I said years ago – when it was operating out of Tropical Soul on 2nd street. I went as far as trying to attend one night and remember showing up only to see a line spiraling around the building. At that point, I turned away thinking I would make it another time. Well, months, even years passed before I had the opportunity to meet Lorna “L-Boogie” Pinckney last year at the Happily Natural Day/Tuesday Verses Anniversary concert featuring Phonte. It was there that we first got a chance to talk and I told her I would love to bring the Cheats Movement camera through in 2013.
So what exactly happens at Tuesday Verses? Well, the thing is – you never know. Every week is different but you will ultimately see and combination of spoken word, talented singing (not your weekly karaoke talent – much better), live musicians, and if your lucky something special. Last week that something special was violist Eric Stanley who blessed the crowd with a few gems. In addition to JeRoyd Dyore Strother, Narrator, Nickey McMullen, the list could go on an on.
Eric Stanley was in the building last Tuesday night.
I would say equal to the Verses talent, what makes it the best open mic in RVA is the family atmosphere. Once you walk in – you are no longer a stranger. As someone that prides this blog as Cheats Movement family – I can tell you Tuesday Verses is a family atmosphere that is inviting and supporting. Lorna and her team gets a lot of credit for that – they set that warm mood from the jump.
Tuesday Verses vet Narrator blessed the crowd last Tuesday.
Tuesday Verses is every Tuesday at Addis Ethiopian restaurant 9 N. 17th St, Richmond, VA. Doors open at 8 PM – Open mic from 9 PM to midnight. Make sure you support Tuesday Verses on Facebook and of course The Cheats Movement Blog on Facebook. Without those followers on social media we may not have to opportunity to do what we do. It’s very important to like both our pages to keep this momentum going.
When you really think about it, there are only a few days in life that you know you will remember forever. For me, Saturday was that one of those magical days.
I woke up carrying a secret that only four people, my immediate family, knew: I was planning to propose to my amazing girlfriend Aria. And I was planning to propose to her in front of a live audience, including a lot of our family and friends during the Richmond Comedy Coalitions’ Richmond Famous show at Gallery 5.
The morning started with my nerves in knots. I woke up slightly anxious about the proposal but in absolute terror about the attendance of the Richmond Famous show. I was honestly worried that no one would show up that night at Gallery 5. I was worrying Aria sick by asking her, “Babe, what happens if no one comes,” I would ask her every 20 minutes.
ARIA: He was so worried that only 6 people would show up. I constantly assured him that people would show. He is insanely modest; he didn’t understand how much of an impact he had made in the community. I kept telling him that people would come out to support him and RCC.
That morning, I started sharing the secret. I called Aria’s mother and let her know my intentions and, of course, asked for her blessing. Her excitement gave me not only ease but confidence that I was proceeding in the right direction.
ARIA: Who knew I could be so gullible. All of a sudden he had an urgent need to go pull the trash can in from the driveway. It was 8:30 in the morning; most would have thought something was up. Little did I know, he was in full master plan mode.
The next challenge was waiting. I needed to keep my emotions in check and not tip off Aria that I was a little more “worked up” than normal. I was helped by some very quality Starz on Demand, I played, “Beat Rhymes and Life,” the documentary movie featuring A Tribe Called Quest. Aria watched most of it with me and just being with her on the couch further cemented, for me, that I was 100% doing the right thing.
Then the phone rang. It was David, from the RCC, letting me know that we would not be alone tonight, if fact the presales were on their way to 100 and he anticipated a sold out show. It’s a strange emotion to feel relieved and excited at the same time – I was honestly relieved that the night was going to be populated – if not historic.
ARIA: While I had no idea he was planning a proposal, during those few hours on the couch watching the Tribe documentary and then Fade to Black I kept thinking of how amazing it felt to be so connected to him.
So when I was telling my mother “the plan”, I could see the utter panic on her face about the “surprise” element of the proposal. It gave her more than “hesitation.” I have always relied on my mother’s advice and Aria’s personality often reminds me of what, I think, my mom was like before she raised me and my siblings. My mother looked at me and immediately said, “Marc, you can’t do that to a women, you have to give her some time to digest what is happening and you don’t want to do that in front of a lot of people.” I thought about it and agreed with her. So I retooled the plan and adjusted to propose in Church Hill right before our planned dinner at Proper Pie.
Fast forward a bit to the car ride to Church Hill, I can’t remember if we even talked. ARIA: He was a bit quiet in the car, but I just assumed he was nervous about the show. I just let him be with his thoughts. The ring was in my pocket and I convinced her we had to go to take a few photos of the city for the blog. I really didn’t think that anyone would be at my planned proposal spot, a wonderful view of the city near Richmond Hill, but as we were pulling up, I saw a few people at the spot. As we got closer, it turned out to be a small wedding. A good sign indeed but I was not thinking about that – I was thinking, “Yo! Where am I going to propose?” ARIA: After seeing the wedding at that particular spot, I was thinking cool, maybe we can just go to dinner, I was starving. Luckily I just continued to go with the flow. I made a quick audible to the park with the statue and the great view of the Lucky Strike building. I asked her to take a few photos and then I pulled out the ring. I waited for what felt like a year before she was able to answer; she was too busy being shocked and smiling. ARIA: I honestly have not been more surprised in my entire life. For a split second, I didn’t want to yell out yes, thinking maybe there were just earrings in the box and I’d be embarrassed. Then I quickly realized of course it was a ring and he was proposing; I was so shocked. I didn’t even realize I hadn’t said yes. Once she said, “Yes,” and I can’t really tell you exactly how I felt. It’s not overconfidence when you’re on the same page with the person you love – you just know it’s going to be cool. I knew we were on the same page and asking was bit of a formality to me.
ARIA: I was ecstatic; I was so excited and nervous at the same time. I wanted to tell everyone we encountered that I just got engaged! I loved the man, I loved the ring. It was amazing!
Once the proposal was done, I had to convince Aria to put her, “poker face,” on because no one knew about the proposal but our families and a very special friend, who may or may not, be back in town from Washington D.C. in time for the show.
Just because the “actual” proposal was done, it strangely didn’t make me feel relief about proposing on stage. I – once again – had the ring in my pocket and it hadn’t really registered that she’s just said yes. Once Gallery 5 started filling up with our friends, I started to get distracted – speaking with friends and running around – that took my mind a bit off the show. Aria left her phone at my house in the West End so she drove back to get it – I’m sure the car ride helped her collect her emotions. When she came back the show, she was almost calm.
I got word that the show was sold out around the same time our “special guests” arrived at Gallery 5. I blocked out most emotions immediately before the show and took solace in RCC cast members telling me, “I got your back,” it was awesome.
The moment I pulled out the ring, my world was a flash. I am so grateful for the people quick enough to break out their phones and, of course, my good friends with cameras because I got so many great photos of my on 1 knee. I honestly don’t even remember doing it. ARIA: I think I was just as nervous as he was, I knew it was coming and I had to sit in my seat for about an hour waiting for it to happen. As he went through the story and then pulled out the ring box, I didn’t have to feign excitement or surprise. I was still so excited and probably still a little stunned. Looking back, I am so thankful that I made it up to the stage without falling. As I stood there as he proposed again, it was still amazing. I just focused on him. Plus I got to see my ring again, and this time I got to keep it!
The rest of the night was easily one of the best nights of my life with Just Plain Sounds, Glows in the Dark, and Photosynthesizers. I smiled, hugged, dance, loved and just had the best night. ARIA: It was a great night. We essentially had our engagement party right there. It was so amazing to have been able to share the experience with so many of our friends and family. It was great to get so many well wishes from people I didn’t even know. Everyone was so happy for us and there was just a lot of love and positivity in the air. I loved both of my proposals and I couldn’t have planned it better myself. I am so blessed to have such an amazing and thoughtful fiancé. He aight!
All I can say is, “Thank you RVA,” I love this place some much – but, to me, when I think of, “RVA” I think of more than geography, I think of family and home. I love my Cheats Movement Family and it was such a unreal experience to share this night with you.
My family was in the front row with those “special guest”
Glows in the Dark killed it – I can’t thank them enough.
The RCC was amazing Saturday night! Please check out one of their shows.
Well in 2012 the world did not end and though we are a bit over the fiscal cliff, it looks like we may survive total doom.That’s great news because Saturday night is sure to be one of the best nights in Richmond (so far). Join me, The Richmond Comedy Coalition and the entire Cheats Movement Family for “Richmond Famous” at Gallery 5.
I’m very excited and honored to be a part of the show, the RCC is amazing and well worth the $5 dollar (advance ticket) on their own BUT we are not stopping with just improv comedy, we are showcasing some of RVA’s best bands: Photosynthesizers, who I’ve called on this blog, “The best live band in RVA,” is playing live following the show. Also, Glows in the Dark, one of the most talented and diverse sounds in RVA, will bring their dope style to the night, Wolf//Goat made one of the best records to hit RVA scene in 2012 and is looking to skyrocket in 2013, and the brothers from Just Plain Sounds had an amazing 2012 with records from The Honorable Sleaze, Just Plain Ant, Drano, Damaged Andy, and don’t forget that MF DOOM inspired Mixtape, Weekends in Latveria (James Dangle went hard on that). Also, a good ol’ Cheats Movement cyphers (You know how it goes down). So if you’re a emcee…come out for the show. I hope to see all of Richmond at Gallery 5 Saturday night. I hope YOU (reading this) will join us. It’s going to be a really fun, positive and diverse night – a night that truly represents what this blog and RVA is all about.
The show is Saturday, January 5, 2013 at Gallery 5 (200 W. Marshall Street, Richmond, VA). Doors open at 7 PM – show starts at 8 PM. Music starts around 10 PM. Advance tickets are just $5 ($10 at the door) so get them early. RSVP BY CLICKING HERE!
Check out the Richmond Famous Poster for January 5th. This will be a really fun night – please come out and support. It’s the Richmond Comedy Coalition – Cheats Movement – Photosynthesizers – Glows in the Dark – Wolf//Goat – and Just Plain Sounds. What more can you ask for…
Poster by David Pijor
The entire HOT SAUCE VIBE will be in Gallery 5 on January 5th – come out and support RVA! (Photo by Marc Schmidt)
I’m so happy to get the ball rolling on this EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT – Friends please save the date: Saturday, January 5, 2013. It is sure to go down as one of the best nights of early 2013. My friends at the Richmond Comedy Coalition has asked me to be their guest for their Richmond Famous improv show. If you’re not familiar with Richmond Famous, the RCC selects someone in RVA that’s doing good things and making a name in the community and they have that guest tell stories about their life, the RCC then does live improv based off the stories told. It’s such a fun show and such an honor to be asked to be their guest (joining a great group of host like: Brian McDaniel, NO BS BRASS, Young House Love, and Ryan Nobles). I’m very excited about it. However, I did not stop there – since RCC is truly family to me – I feel I have to bring something very speical to the table on January 5th. They have supported The Cheats Movement Blog since the beginning and have been some of my best friends over the last two years. So we are bringing the entire HOT SAUCE VIBE to the show with live performances from 4 amazing Richmond bands: Photosynthesizers, Glows in the Dark, Wolf//Goat, and Just Plain Sounds. There will also be a Hardywood Beer takeover which means Hardywood will be selling their locally brewed beers at Gallery 5 that night. I really hope that every friend of the blog and of these great bands comes out and supports this night. Again here are the details.
Saturday, January 5, 2013 at Gallery 5 (200 West Marshall Street, Richmond, VA)
Richmond Comedy Coalition Richmond Famous: RVA HOT SAUCE EDITION featuring Cheats of the Cheats Movement Blog
Following the live improv – Live performances by: Photosynthesizers, Glows in the Dark, Wolf//Goat and Just Plain Sounds
Doors will open around 8 PM
WE SEE IT!
AARON GRANT BEFORE HIS FIRST MURDER
I was a sixteen-year-old violinist whose only friend was an overgrown merit-badge-hungry eight-year-old. Together we shared a summer full of dead counselors, horny bunkmates and one jamboree-loving psycho killer.
Well I mean, we did onstage, last Thursday, during SLASHER! The Improv Comedy Horror Show at Kingdom presented by my crew, The Richmond Comedy Coalition. First of all, we were so stoked to be playing Kingdom for the first time; some of us were born and raised in RVA and remember Kingdom (formerly Alley Katz) as an institution for live music shows. Doubly exciting, it was a firstie for them too; hosting improv comedy. Personally, I think they liked it. I mean, what we do is pretty rad. Just think of it this way- you’re watching grown adults walk a high-wire onstage at all times, where everything they say and do is totally spontaneous, meaning you’re equally as likely to watch someone stride into comedic genius as you are to watch them fall, fall, fall…and that’s pretty thrilling, admit it.
KATIE AND EIGHT YEAR OLD BLU
Basically in SLASHER what we do is this: take one suggestion from the audience (in this case “jamboree”) and use it to inspire 45 minutes of comedy that follows all the rules of a classic horror movie, we’re just making it all up as we go along. That one word suggestion becomes a jump-off point for everything: the killer, the victims, and all the events that surround them. How else could we have ended up with our Jason Voorheesian killer whose backstory included self-hating backwoods parents, insistent on changing the image “Deliverance” had created for them? Or the hapless counselor, desperate only for the young girls to stop leaving their stink trails wherever they go.
ARRON SLASHING DAVID
Mocking horror flicks is a Halloween tradition we’ve done every year for the past 3 years, and is definitely one I look forward to as a scary movie nerd. But this time we added some new elements in the way of a live soundtrack provided by our good friend Kevin Lamb of the Legless Ascent, and live special effects from a dude running around the stage dressed like Leather Man from American Horror Story. Creepy.
POOR PATRICK WAS THE MOST BLOODY VICTIM
It was gory, it was bloody, and it was STILL funny enough to be a comedy show. But here’s the catch about what we do: you kinda just have to be there. Seriously! I’m serious, you’re reading this blog and saying to yourself “Well that sounds nice.” And it’s more than that, it’s pretty much the funniest thing you can see live. There’s magic is in the fact that you’re watching something that you’ll only be able to watch once.
JOEY BECAME A DEAD BANJO
Wanna check us out? We’ve got regular shows at Gallery5, find out about what’s coming up on www.rvacomedy.com. Can’t wait to see you there!
THE RCC CREW GETTING READY FOR SLASHER
Katie Holcomb has been improvising since 2000, and is the current Artistic Director of the RCC. She loves what she does an unbearable amount.
Clearly one of the best RCC shows that I have ever seen. Last Saturday, Richmond’s own NO BS Brass took the Richmond Comedy Coalition’s Richmond Famous stage at Gallery 5. But this was not your average show – NO BS played some of their amazing tunes to inspire some of the most hilarious improv that I have seen in a long time. The night even ended with an imprompu dance party sparked by NO BS covering Michael Jackson’s Thriller. I have video but I’m not sure how it came out just yet – too busy dancing. For now, check out these photos of the show. And check out NO BS this Friday night at the Camel.
This week has been great for RVA comedy. It started on Wednesday with Midnight Suggestion featuring my friend The Checkout Girl, Jeff (Jeph) Kelly and Kenny Wingle. The show was already going well and then it got even better when they announced that Sara Schaefer had just showed up and was going to tell a few jokes. I’d never met Sara before but growing up here in RVA, I had heard of her success working in NYC and of course, being the Head Blogger for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. She took the mic and told some really funny, detailed, and explicit jokes. Not only was I pointed out for having a camera – I was also the only black person in the room (of about 14 people) – so Sara’s bit about ending racism went over great with this guy :). I loved every minute of it. So much in fact, that she won a fan for her tour Stop at Gallery 5 Thursday night. My good friends from the RCC Katie Holcomb and David Pijor AKA Middle Management opened for Scott Moran and Sara at Gallery 5. They were great! The show had great energy because earlier in the day it was made public that Sara and her comedy partner Nikki Glaser would host a new late night show on MTV! I’m so happy for Sara!
The great comedy continues tonight as the Richmond Comedy Coalition is presenting their 3 year anniversary show at Gallery 5. Trust me…they are not the best comedy group in RVA for nothing. Make sure you check it out.
Sara Schaefer crashed Midnight Suggestion at Steady Sounds.
Jeff Kelly, The Check Out Girl, Kenny Wingle, and Sara at Midnight Suggestion.