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Short Pump

Restaurant Review – Fast Eddie’s Jukebox Cafe

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I had the opportunity to check out Fast Eddie’s Jukebox Cafe last night with Allie. It’s located on Broad Street in Centerville (somewhat across from Bogey’s Sports Park). It’s basically an old house converted into a restaurant. It’s had a bunch of other names in the past few years, such as The Bungalow Grill, Diner 250, and most recently, Grandpa Eddie’s BBQ. The last time I went it was The Bungalow Grill. I’m not sure if the place has changed hands or not, but I couldn’t believe how much better it was. The first thing I noticed was the friendly staff. We were greeted and seated by the very friendly owner, and our waitress was one of the nicest I’ve encountered in a long, long time. The next thing was the decor. The place has been totally redone and looks like an old-time diner. It’s a small place, but still open and inviting.

One unique thing about Fast Eddie’s is what they serve before the meal. While most places will bring out rolls or some other kind of bread, they serve you a basket of buttered popcorn! Very unusual, but what a cool idea. It was a little too salty, but props for the uniqueness. Allie and I both started with a cup of chicken noodle soup. There’s nothing better on one of the coldest days of Winter. I ordered meatloaf for my entree. This had to be the best meatloaf I think I’ve had in years. It was encrusted in what I think was brown sugar, giving it just a hint of sweetness. The macaroni and cheese was delectable, and the green beans were seasoned to perfection. Allie got a chop steak covered in gravy much in the style of Salisbury steak and enjoyed her meal as well.

The bill was pretty reasonable for all the food we ordered, coming out to about $15 a person for soup, entrees, sides, and drinks. The portions are pretty generous, too. I love places like Fast Eddie’s because all I ever go to is chain restaurants with cookie-cutter menus, less than friendly staff, and mediocre service. All three were extraordinary here. If you’re looking for something different and unique in the Short Pump area and would appreciate some home-style cooking and friendly service, definitely check out Fast Eddie’s Jukebox Cafe.

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Short Pump House Demolition

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Everyone remember the house across from Barnes & Noble on Broad Street? It was the last one on that stretch of road in Short Pump. Well, the owner, Raymond Haithcock, decided it was time to move on, and is leasing the land for a new development. I don’t know what it is, but I love seeing heavy machinery tear things down. I was able to capture the entire house demolition start to finish, on September 13. I just now figured out how to export the file to fit on YouTube. I had two cameras, one in hand used to walk around the perimeter of the house as it was being demolished and capture it from different angles, and one fixed in the median of Broad Street on a tripod to get a time-lapse shot of the entire thing (shown at the end). The video is set to Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer,” quite appropriately. I love this stuff. I hope you have as much fun watching it as I did making it!

Across The Universe – Review

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I went to see Across The Universe with a big group of friends last night at the Byrd Theater. I can summarize it best simply in one word: trippy. Of course I don’t do drugs, but I think that watching that movie shows you what it’s like to be on an acid trip in the same way drunk goggles show you what it looks like to be completely wasted. The plot of the movie is built around the most popular songs of The Beetles. While the songs are great and the singers’ renditions were very good, I (along with most people in our group of about eight) had a hard time following the story. I got bored and a little restless about half way through, and when I was finally able to pick the plot up again (after an extremely odd scene of someone throwing strawberries all over the walls while the song “Strawberry Fields Forever” played), I found it dry and uninteresting for the most part. The best part about this movie? It was at the Byrd so it was only two dollars. Glad I didn’t waste ten bucks on it at Short Pump when it was playing there. Nice try, but you guys lost me.

Overall rating: No stars.

Shopping = DEATH!

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So our family friend from Charlottesville, Sue, stayed with us last night and the night before after coming down for our Christmas party. As you could imagine, there’s not a whole lot of places to shop in Charlottesville. It’s not the boondocks, but there’s a lot more places in Short Pump. So naturally, Sue wanted to do some Christmas shopping while she was down here. Her and my mom were going to go, but I decided to go along too because I really hadn’t bought much of anything for the people I planned on buying for this year.

As a side note, it’s important to realize that guys don’t shop. We hunt, we gather, we buy. If we must enter the doors of a retail building, we are there on a mission and know exactly what we want. We’re not there to leisurely browse through aisle after aisle looking for “cute shoes” or a “trendy top.” Don’t get in our way because we’re making a beeline for the thing we want to purchase and then we’re getting out and going forth with our lives.

Anyway, I could almost feel my soul being sucked right out of my body after hours of this thing they call shopping. I think it’s some kind of natural reaction you hear about from caveman days where your body just shuts itself down as a preventative measure when you are exposed to such preposterous things as “buy one get one free” sales and “blue light specials.”

Where did we go? Well, here’s the complete rundown: Ben Franklin, Grapevine II for lunch, Men’s Wearhouse, CompUSA, Kohl’s, Dollar Tree, Barnes & Noble, Hallmark, H&M, American Eagle, New York & Company, Urban Outfitters, Firebird’s for dinner, Circuit City, and Starbucks.

Yes, I made the best of it and got a good amount of stuff for friends and family, and yes, it was good to see Sue and spend the day with her and my mom, but I was worn out by the end of the day. I do feel good that I actually put some time and thought into my gifts this year and didn’t opt for the typical present of gift cards that I often get.

Is Circuit City Short Circuiting?

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Circuit City, based here in Richmond, has done something interesting with the store right up the road from its headquarters, at Gaskins and Broad. The big “outlet plug” that used to adorn the front of the store is gone, and the entire store has been remodeled on the inside and out to look more like the newer store in Short Pump. However, it’s not just the look that’s changed. Take a closer look and you’ll notice a new name- “The City.” Although company executives are tight-lipped about it, this location seems to be a concept design of sorts. It’s big and open, and has a layout similar to that of Best Buy. Not surprising, considering how much market share they, their fiercest competitor, has taken from them in the past decade. The company is overhauling many of it’s operations and restructuring their business on the corporate level as well.

Short Pump Sprawl Rant

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Any of you that know me pretty well know I run a local history website (I’m in the process of revamping it now, and it looks so bad at the moment I don’t even want to link it right now). I’ve watched the development of Short Pump from a tiny rural village eleven years ago to the sprawling suburban hot spot it now is. Sure, it’s great that those of us who live in the Far West End have pretty much everything we could want and need within a few miles of us, but it’s just gotten ridiculous lately.

Take for example the shopping center that’s opening up this weekend, Short Pump Station. It’s the one that was just completed across the street from Target. Next time you’re driving down West Broad Street, take a look at it. Notice how there’s ten or fifteen retail spaces for lease in the center, and only four are leased as of now. Why are developers building these shopping centers when there is no demand? Obviously, as the old saying goes, if you build it, they will come. Yes, this is true, they will eventually fill up the entire place with tenants, but look at what’s there thus far:

1) A Verizon Wireless store. Are you kidding me? There are five (count them… FOUR) Verizon stores within a one mile radius of this new store! There’s one in Best Buy, Circuit City, Short Pump Town Center, and on Broad next to For Eyes. I can somewhat understand when Starbucks puts a store on every corner, but a cell phone store? That’s insane.

2) Petco. I like animals… shoot, I have four cats. But what’s the need? I know we have a PetSmart right down the road, so it’s only natural that their competition would move in, but seriously.

3) Five Below. I’ve been to one of these stores up at Patomac Mills in Northern Virginia. What is it, you ask? Basically take the Made-In-China crap they sell at Dollar Tree and add a few “nicer” items, up to five bucks. There you have it. It’s geared towards teens and young people on a tight budget, but it’s still crap. We already have a Wal-Mart across the street for that.

The empty shopping center trend continues as you go west of the mall to Towne Center West, which opened this summer (pictured at top, left).

Next to Short Pump Station, West Broad Village is now under construction. Despite “planned traffic improvements” that Henrico County talks about all the time, it’s still going to be even more of a nightmare than ever to drive through Short Pump when it’s all completed.

But rest assured, all you Verizon customers, you’ll always have five cell phone stores within walking distance of each other that you can stroll between when you get stuck in gridlock traffic for three hours and abandon your car on Broad Street.

Two Weeks Of Random Blurbs

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Wow… I haven’t updated in almost two weeks. A lot’s gone on in that time. Let me get everyone up to speed on what’s happening in my life, with a few quick blurbs.First off, last weekend I went to Field Day of the Past out in Goochland. I’m usually an exhibitor out there, taking my history exhibition out there, displaying old pictures of Short Pump and the three-dimensional model and whatnot. I decided to take this year off, however. But I still went out to see everything, and one of the highlights of my visit was getting to see the choir of Springfield Baptist Church perform at their relocated church building on the show grounds. In a joint effort initiated by myself and others in the Henrico Historical Society and officials with the County, Springfield Baptist Church was moved from its original home on Brookriver Drive behind Best Buy in Short Pump, to the Field Day grounds in Goochland. It was really moving to see how incredibly happy the congregation was that their circa 1880 church was saved from the bulldozer and preserved for everyone to see and enjoy. I filmed the entire move from a pickup truck directly in front of the church as it made its way westward on Broad Street. I’ll edit and post it up here someday soon. Here’s a video of the choir’s performance that I filmed last weekend:[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCfeY3coHig]Speaking of music, I also went to the Jon McLaughlin concert at the Canal Club with Megan and Tori. It was amazing. Jon was awesome, but I’ve gotta say, Sara Bareilles stole the show… well at least in my mind. She is absolutely incredible. Her vocal style, unique music composition, and overall aura were just mind-boggling. She is so extremely talented. Here’s a video I took of her song “Long Song” (for the rest of the videos, visit my YouTube site… just click on the link in the video):[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqKwxqNxNX4]This past weekend has been a mixed bag, I guess you could say. It started out great. Friday night, Tori and I worked on video production stuff at church, then went to dinner at Max & Erma’s. It was great to just chill out for once and talk about life. Yesterday, I went to Casa Grande with two of my friends from high school, Sarah and Becca. It was awesome getting to catch up with them because we never really see each other anymore. They’re always a lot of fun to hang with and definitely keep me laughing. The fun kind of got cut short, though, because somehow, while at lunch, I was rewetting the contact lens in my left eye when all of a sudden it felt like I had an eyelash in my eye, or something of that nature. I got up and went to the bathroom to see if I could get my contact out and see what was in my eye. I couldn’t see anything. I even got Becca to look and still nothing. So after lunch, we went cruising in my mom’s new convertible (She just got a new Toyota Solara… it’s pretty fun to drive!). It was a lot of fun, but my eye got increasingly worse.By the time I got back home after dropping them off, I could barely keep it open anymore. So as I laid on the sofa with a cold compress, my best friend Jen called me and asked what time we were going to dinner (we had planned to a couple of days ago).  I explained the situation, and said I should probably go to Patient First (the only medical place open on a Saturday afternoon) and get it checked out. At this point it was hurting whether or not I had it open or closed. So she offered to drive me up there, and we had to have been in there an hour or more. It turns out I scratched my cornea. I know that sounds really bad, and I thought it was, but it actually heals within 24 hours in most situations, and now, about 36 hours afterwards, I’m feeling a lot better. But last night, I was in a lot of pain and kept the eye shut for the most part. Jen took really good care of me, though. Not only did she wait patiently with me at Patient First, but (after we grabbed dinner at Tara Thai) she drove me to get my prescription, back home to get the South Side campus hard drive to take to church, and to Blockbuster to get a movie, which we took back and Jen pretty much just watched, seeing that I really felt more like closing my eyes. But I just wanted to post this to let her know just how much taking care of me like that means to me and how much I love her.So it’s been an eventful couple of weeks. I’m chilling out for a little while in preparation for another busy week ahead. I’ve got a lot more to post on, coming in the next couple of days!

A Media Revival

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Sorry for the big gap in posting, I’ve been extremely busy between college, work, and volunteering at church this past week. I just wanted to give an update about some media-related things I’ve done before that I want to revive in the not-so-distant future.

 The first is my podcast. I had a podcast for a while, entitled “Evolution of Thought,” a show that was co-hosted by my friend Alex Legum. We were actually on a roll, averaging 350+ steady listeners each week. After a while, though, I just let it slip away and recorded the show less and less. They can still be found in the iTunes Music Store, so take a listen if you want. I’m bringing the show back, this time with a new name, new direction, and some exciting new guests that I’ll announce at a later date as they’re confirmed. Anyway, the show is now entitled “Complex Simplicity,” just as my blog is. At first, I thought this would work because it was just a cool name that incorporated an oxymoron, but when I thought about it more, it perfectly describes myself! A simple mind talking about complex issues! But all joking aside, I’m really excited to bring it back bigger and better than ever and really get some interesting topics and guests on. About a month ago, I contacted Jason Paige, the former Program Director for Q94, (WRVQ) who does voiceover work in many of the commercials you hear on the radio in Richmond on any and all stations. He’s the voice you hear in a lot of the nightclub commercials as well as for the King’s Dominion ones. I asked if he would do a voiceover for the music intro I already made. It sounds really professional and I can’t wait to use it. Stay tuned, I’ll post more details about the podcast in the coming days.

Another endeavor I’m aiming for is starting a community newsletter and distributing it freely across the Short Pump area. I actually did this a long time ago back when I was about thirteen years old, and it was called the Glen Allen Observer. I want to bring it back in a much bigger and obviously a much more mature and professional manner. It’s going to be called “Short Pump Panorama,” and I’ll have some advertisements to offset the cost of printing and make a little bit of extra money hopefully. If you’d like to write a column or just a one-time article for it, please let me know- I’d be happy to give you some space in there to share just about anything you want! The newsletter will compliment the website I started last year, (needs to be updated) www.downtownshortpump.com. The site is intended to be a mini Richmond.com of sorts, featuring a shopping guide, restaurant listings, movie times, etc. just in and around the Short Pump area. I’ve gotten one advertiser for the site thus far but plan to grow it in leaps and bounds in the next couple of months. I actually get a lot of traffic to the site because I have free advertising. It’s really a funny story. About two years ago I was driving along Broad Street and noticed www.downtownshortpump.com printed on the Downtown Short Pump entertainment complex sign in front of the movie theater. For some reason, I went to the site when I got home, and noticed it was no longer up. I proceeded to register the name for only eight bucks because the developer, who used the site for promotional purposes, let it expire!

So anyway, that’s what I’m up to lately. Comments? Suggestions? Want to be a guest on the show or write for the newsletter? Let me know!