Punch Drunk 

Jack the Whistleblower


Generally this column space is used for mindless filler in-between restaurant reviews and Deveron Timberlake's wildly popular Short Order column, and that's OK with me. Breaking news, keeping people informed and generally providing thought-provoking information isn't my cup of tea.

Until today.

I've managed to uncover a massive conspiracy, which if I'm able to properly construe the story, most likely will rock the foundations of Richmond like nothing we've ever seen, except maybe the Civil War. And at the conclusion of this story — much like the end of the Civil War — the mighty James will run red with the blood of guilty men (and a few women).

It all begins in 2009. Former Virginia governor L. Douglas Wilder was ending a disappointing term as Richmond's mayor while the Rev. Dwight Jones was being inaugurated as the city's 79th mayor. Virginia Commonwealth University was hiring Shaka Smart to replace the popular and extremely successful men's basketball coach Anthony Grant. At the same time, Richmond CenterStage opened. Shortly after these events and amid much fanfare, the Richmond Flying Squirrels moved into The Diamond. And a young, handsome Richmonder named Justin French was not yet in prison for a massive real estate tax-credit scam.

Times were different back then. Prostitutes, drug dealers and the Broad Street Bullies ruled the downtown streets through a mixture of fear, sex and cheap liquor. Short Pump was only a shell of the hulking mass of suburbia that it is today. The highfalutin' comfort of eating popcorn with silverware while enjoying a movie in a bistrolike setting was unknown to the people of Richmond. There was nary a food truck to be seen, much less an entire court of them. You couldn't get a cup of premium frozen yogurt anywhere in Carytown. Craft beer in a chain-restaurant setting? At Willow Lawn?! Surely you jest.

In those days, believe it or not, Jackson Ward residents didn't have a single mixologist to call their own. Of course now they have thousands.

You catch my point. Times were tough.

So let's circle back. It was 2009 and the mayor had convinced Lou DiBella to move his minor league baseball team to Richmond, meaning that the 2,000-pound, fiberglass Indian chief who for years stared inquisitively at passersby on the Boulevard for the namesake Richmond Braves, and whom you may recall was named Connecticut, needed to be moved from The Diamond grounds.

Connecticut eventually moved to the Lucky Strike power plant, but it isn't the story of the big chief that I'm here to tell. It's the story of what they found inside of him. A story that was buried until a few weeks ago. Until I came along.

It's a story of intrigue, drugs, Flying Squirrels Vice President Todd "Parney" Parnell's manhood and a hidden Indian burial ground. A story that, once told, will make everyone realize that there never will be a baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom. It's all been a bluff. A massive long con, the likes of which only a few incredibly shady and powerful people know about. Again, until today.

The year? 2014.

There are fewer prostitutes, although the Broad Street Bullies still run the mean streets. Shaka Smart owns the city, while City Council has become a ceremonial entity — like the English throne. Short Pump has become its own city state, its soccer mom panzer division recently having annexed Carytown. There isn't a storefront, anywhere, that doesn't offer some sort of craft cocktail. Food trucks? As far as the eye can see.

Which brings me to the Indian burial ground.

Now we're all aware that some people oppose the downtown ballpark development plan because the ground is where slavery once flourished in Richmond. Opponents feel that a baseball stadium disrespects that struggle.

The question that no one, except for me had asked, is what The Diamond was built upon and why so many people are set against digging it up?

The answer will shock you. It literally will make you shake your fists at the sky and ask why you've been forsaken. It's a story of bloodshed. A story about a carcass-strewn death march that would make Bataan blush, and as previously mentioned, Parney's junk.

And unfortunately, my column's 800-word cap has been met. But just wait. Time will tell this story.

Also, it's April 1.

How's about we get back on Twitter and find out where Boka Truck is. I'm starving.


Connect with bartender Jack Lauterback at bartender@styleweekly.com. Lauterback also is co-host of "Mornings with Melissa and Jack" on 103.7 Play weekdays from 6-9.



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