Gooze Views

Peter Galuszka



10 Annoying Things About Virginia


Sure, we're smart and prosperous, but some things still turn my crank.


There’s a New Old Dominion afoot. As evidence, Barack Obama is using the state as an economic model for the rest of the country. Virginians, thanks partly to federal money and nudges, are smarter, more prosperous and more productive than ever before. And, they are becoming politically bluer and more moderate than ever before.


Wonderful, but there are still some things that really bug me. For your amusement and just to keep us modest, here’s a list:


Barbecue sandwiches. In Virginia , BBQ isn’t on the level of, say, Eastern North Carolina , but it is perfectly OK. The problem is the buns. They always use these cheap, white hamburger buns that disintegrate when you pick them up. BBQ slops all over your lap. If you have an important meeting after lunch, you end up looking like an incontinent derelict.


Court costs. Have you ever given in to temptation while driving alone in Northern Virginia and gone onto the HOV-3 lanes when it isn’t the legal time yet? At the roadblock, the State Policeman cheerfully hands you the ticket as if you have just won the State Lottery. Of the $120 penalty, most goes to “court costs.” What are those, exactly?


The new state capitol building. After all those millions, the new underground part of Thomas Jefferson’s masterpiece has all the style of an airport terminal. The old amenities are gone, such as Chickens snack bar where you could get hand-squeezed limeades and good Brunswick stew. Gone is the Old South ambience where you could almost hear those seersucker-clad ghosts proclaim that God has a special place for Negroes and that Massive Resistance is a great idea.


Ed Risse’s matrixes. If anyone out there understands them, please give me a call.


Salt water fishing licenses. This shameless money grab by the General Assembly and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is blasphemous because salt water fish are beholden to no state.


State sealWhile we’re at it, let’s change the state emblem and slogan. Instead of a pointless Roman Centurion (what’s he all about, anyway?) and “Thus Ever to Tyrants!” how about a rockfish saying “Swim Free or Die."


Overweening Anglophilia. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a place that is so in love with England -- not even England. If you aren’t of English descent, as I am not, this becomes annoying. No other ethnic group (dare I call it that?) supposedly contributed anywhere near what the English did, the thinking goes. Forget the French and Poles who helped save the Revolution, the Irish, Italian, German and Jewish immigrants who developed the cities and the African-Americans, slave or free, who built the plantations and just about everything else. Forget that the Spanish founded St. Augustine a full 44 years before the first indolent English lawn bowler set foot at Jamestown . Forget the more recent immigrants from Vietnam , India and Pakistan who fuel the state’s High Tech boom. If it isn’t “English,” it doesn’t matter.


Declining print news media. Facing circulation and advertising slides, newspapers are in a sorry state. The Washington Post suffers a brain drain from so many experienced pros taking buy-outs. The Virginian-Pilot, facing a possible new owner, is adrift. Once merely mediocre, the Richmond Times-Dispatch has morphed into something truly awful.


Anglo-speak. Speaking of anglophilia and the RTD, I hate it when its editorial writers ape “British Upper Class” speech and writing. Doing so is as phony as a three dollar bill. My real Brit friends and colleagues here, in the U.K. , and the rest of Europe , Asia and Africa don’t talk or write that way. Even my sister, who likes to remind me that she completed graduate school at Oxford, doesn’t talk that way.


Birthplace fetish. Aren’t you sick of the “Virginia-born” moniker? I’m going to croak next time I hear some minor politician cite as his qualifications that he happened to plop down in Ole Virginny or that his great-great-great-great grandfather owned a farm in Augusta or Amelia. You don’t get to choose where you are born or who your ancestors were. I was born in Philadelphia because my Dad, a Navy doctor, happened to be stationed there at a time. I have no memories of the place since we were transferred to Camp Lejeune , N.C. 18 months later. Does this still make me a “Pennsylvanian?”


-- August 25, 2008


















Peter Galuszka is a veteran journalist living in Chesterfield County. View his profile here.


(Photo credit: Maria Galuszka.)