1. The Hall Tree Ladies
"The Attitude." That's what writer Tina Sorensen called the frosty looks and patrician disdain from the employees of The Hall Tree consignment store. In an October 1992 essay, Sorensen described how she and others found themselves -- and their clothing -- rebuffed by the choosey Carytown institution. Staunch defenders of the elite shop and miffed consignors debated whether Sorensen was correct or a crybaby. Sara Fender, now Style's publisher, called the store as a sales representative several years later and recalls hearing one woman tell her, in a refined Southern voice, "You know, honey, you have [nerve] calling me."
In January 1995, critic Sara Macaulay wrote a lukewarm review of the West End darling Melito's. She labeled it "good on value and service, merely adequate on imagination and food," and wondered why every table was filled, night after night. Owner Richard Melito was irate. Four years later, Davis Morton wrote a favorable review of the restaurant -- the wait was still long, he reported, but the food made it worthwhile. We think Melito likes us better now.
3. Former Gov. Jim Gilmore
Style reported in March 2001 that Gilmore's top aides were frustrated by widespread rumors alleging an affair between the governor and a female state delegate. In the story, Gilmore's confidants maintained that the allegations were baseless yet won't die and were circulating on the General Assembly floor: "We just don't know what to do at this point," one said. Never mind that the story said the rumors weren't confirmed. Gilmore decided he knew what to do: stop talking to Style. Forever.
4. Criminal-defense attorney Michael Morchower
"There's good television, there's bad television and there's TV so awful that it teeters on greatness." Thus began writer Meg Medina's April 2001 story about the final days of Richmond's only live, call-in station, BLAB-TV. Some read it as a tribute to the most beloved, and weirdest, shows on local television, from "Cooking with Fat" to a local version of "Cops." But Morchower, who owned BLAB, disagreed. "It was deceitful, misleading, mean-spirited, and most of all lacked objectivity," he wrote of Medina's article. He hasn't talked to us since.
5. Julian's Restaurant
It's the restaurant reviews that always get us in trouble. In February 2002, restaurant critic Randall Stamper wrote a review of the West End version of Julian's, a Richmond institution. Stamper castigated nearly every dish on the menu, calling the marinara a "harbinger of doom" and the clams "salty gray gristle." The torrent of letters that followed, both outraged and supportive, could only be called an artillery barrage.
In the winter of 2002, Style's publisher and general manager met with Punchline's publisher Liz Skrobiszewski and managing editor Pete Humes to explore a possible acquisition by Pilot Media Companies, Style's parent. They seemed interested, traveling to Norfolk to meet with Pilot Media execs. In February, we planted a half-admiring, half-mocking Big Smooch on Punchline in our annual Valentine's Day Issue, in which we congratulated "those crazy kids!" for bringing edgy humor and satire to Richmond since 1997. Shortly after, we got our kiss-off. Skrobiszewski flatly rebuffed the idea of an acquisition (though it was never proffered) in her weekly column, titled, "Dear Style Weekly aka Landmark Corporation, re: Selling Out." The open letter was followed by an April Fool's issue mimicking Style's design and featuring a cover titled "The Strange Life of Crazy White Guys in Suits." We laughed pretty hard. We don't think they like us, though.