5 Things

If you’re like me and have been out of the country for the last week, you’re probably itching to get the taste of Americana back in your mouth (grossest statement of the week?). This week there are 5 Things that are happening in Richmond that are as American as a Norman Rockwell painting of Robocop eating a slice of apple pie.

I was recently overseas visiting Ireland for about a week. Among the many things that I learned (aside from the fact that Leprechauns don’t exist, wtf???) was the origin of the Irish coffee. In the 1940’s, the Irish Department of Defense built an airport in Shannon. Visiting American military, freezing from the lack of heat on their planes (and also the fact that Ireland isn’t exactly Bermuda either), were served coffee with the addition of whiskey to help warm them up. These Americans then went home and told their buddies: “Hey, you gotta try this Irish coffee that they make over there!” Word traveled fast and now when you say “Irish coffee” throughout the world, people know what you’re talking about.

Just because Richmond doesn’t have its own claim to coffee fame (at least yet) that doesn’t mean there isn’t cool stuff happening around town. If you’re into things that are a thing, then here is a weekly collection of things we call 5 Things.

1. First Fridays Art Walk

Alright, I know what you’re thinking. Why the H-E- double hockey sticks would I want to walk around outside in the cold…when the effing sun is down!?! Try this reason on for size: This Friday marks the first First Fridays Art Walk of the new year. Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean that art hibernates, people. Gallery5 has new exhibits planned, and the usual surfeit of artful skill will be on display in the countless other galleries that is Richmond’s Arts District. Drink some Irish coffee if you must, but make sure you don’t miss out on this event.

2. “My Fair Lady”

Now, you know a theater is old when the name is spelled with “theatre” and not “theater” (it seems that the latter didn’t really hit it’s stride in common language until the 1980s, IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING). Way back in 1911, Richmond’s Empire Theatre opened. That makes the Empire Theatre over 100 years old, people. Pygmalion, the play on which My Fair Lady is based, was written in 1912–100 years ago! The latest run of the famous play will end this Sunday. Watch a classic while sitting in a classic. If you haven’t had a chance to see it, then run, don’t walk, to get tickets.

  • Through Sun., Jan. 8 • various 2pm and 8pm showtimes
  • Empire Theatre, 114 W. Broad St.
  • $24 – $48

3. “Jezebel” with Bette Davis

Speaking of classics, the 1938 film Jezebel is regarded as having the first fully nude sex scene between a man and a woman in American cinema history. KIDDING! It’s definitely a family-friendly film starring Bette Davis and Peter Fonda about “a haughty headstrong Southern Belle in Antebellum Louisiana loses her fiancé due to her stubborn vanity and pride and vows to get him back.” You go, girlfriend! This classic will be this week’s “Movies and Mimosas” special at Bow Tie. You can watch a movie while drinking a mimosa? The future is now, folks!

  • Sat., Jan. 7 – Sun., Jan. 8 • 11am
  • Bow Tie Movieland, 1301 N. Boulevard
  • $5.50

4. Elvis Birthday Celebration

I’m going to level with you. I think Elvis is kinda ‘meh.’ I mean, I get the whole “he was the first HUGE rockstar and helped define music for years, even well after his death” thing. I get it. What I don’t get are the troves of people imitating him and wanting to be married by one of his look-alikes. Having said that, however, the Elvis-related event happening this Sunday is kinda cool.

As you may or may not know (or as you will come to find out in the next few seconds as I will explicitly tell you, wait for it…), the VMFA has the “Elvis at 21” exhibit now. Elvis’s birthday just so happens to be this Sunday. To coordinate the two events, the VMFA will host Barbara Gray. Who the heck is that, you ask? Well. She’s the woman in this famous 1956 photo taken by Alfred Wertheimer. No one, not even Wertheimer, knew who the woman was. The “mystery woman,” as she was known, remained mysterious until 2011 when Vanity Fair exposed her to the world. Why did the King give her a smooch before heading on stage to perform? Barbara Gray speculates that “I was very thin and very stacked.”

  • Sun., Jan. 8 • 1pm – 3pm
  • Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 200 N. Boulevard
  • FREE

5. GardenFest of Lights

Christmas is long gone and 2012 is in full swing. But just because the holiday season is a thing of the past doesn’t mean that luminous decorations need to fall by the wayside. If you haven’t had a chance to take in the sights at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s GardenFest of Lights, I recommend that you do so. This coming Monday will be the last day to see half a million bulbs in strands that, if stretched out, would extend about 40 miles. Whoa dang, y’all. Whoa dang.

  • Through Mon, Jan. 9th • 5pm – 10pm
  • Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, 1800 Lakeside Avenue
  • $4 – $11

photo by jovino

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Nathan Cushing

Nathan Cushing is a writer, journalist, and RVANews Editor.

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