Saturday, October 20, 2007


This shot of Katey and her father was taken by Ernie Brooks at the 20th anniversary reunion party at Twisters on W. Grace St. (the old location of the Back Door) Feb. 9, 1992.

Saturday, May 05, 2007


This year’s Biograph softball reunion, the 28th annual on Derby Day, took place on a damp and almost chilly afternoon. Most of the time it was misting, rather than actually raining. But with the help of some tents and tarps the group had a place to lay out a headquarters with food tables, etc.No softball game was played and I heard no one say they missed it. It’s not the first time the game has been blown off. It surely won’t be the last.

The old Fan District Softball League’s official Hall of Fame plaque, with the 43 names of those who were inducted into the hall engraved on brass plates, reappeared mysteriously. It had been missing for some time, said to have been stolen by unknown agents, perhaps even some sort of fanatics. It looks a little more beat up than the last time I saw it, but perhaps it has more character now.In the past the piece itself has hung in various bars, including the Cary St. Cafe, Soble’s and Poe’s Pub. Hopefully it will find a new and appropriate home soon.New faces at this year’s get-together included John “Big Daddy” Richardson, Howard Awad and Jack deTreville. Well, maybe it’s a stretch to call those guys’ faces “new.” Let’s just say it was nice to see the concept of expanding the party to include players and friends who were associated with other Fan League teams is picking up steam.The party went much as it usually does, ending with the Kentucky Derby being watched on little battery-powered televisions. Unlike some years, no one got hurt today. Not playing the game has its upside.
Photos: SLANT

Thursday, May 03, 2007


Ernie Brooks has been busy scanning some of his pictures of Derby Day reunion parties. Here are three, all taken in the Track on Cary Street after the softball game. In the early days we used to go there to watch the race. The first (above) shows Ernie, Jay (who had just won the pool) and Branch in 1980 (which was the first Biograph softball reunion). I think that is Saz in the tie. The second shot, also from 1980, shows Terry (me), Jack and Stu and maybe Larry? in the print shirt. What was so funny? Who knows?The third shot of the group was taken in 1985.

Saturday, March 31, 2007


1977's Fan District Softball League commissioners Terry Rea and Chuck Wrenn at the postseason awards picnic at Tony Martin's farm.

Chuck gave me a print of this photo, which I had not seen before, on a recent visit to his home. We had a good time looking at a bunch of slides from 1977 he had just found in a box. Chuck even had some shots of Leo Koury umpiring (click here for more on Koury).

Please allow this 30-year-old image to remind those who need reminding that the Derby Day softball reunion party will happen again this year (on May 5th) at the ballfield behind Thompson School (same as last year) on Forest Hill Avenue from noon until 6 p.m., as per usual. This year marks the 28th time this party has been held on the same afternoon as the Kentucky Derby.
According to Larry Rohr, this year more emphasis is being put on having Fan Leaguers from other teams -- such as J.W.Rayle, the Back Door, DeTreville, the Bamboo Cafe, etc. -- to come to the party, which will make it more than just a Biograph Theatre softball reunion.

The hope is to build it up to make it an annual get-together for the league's colorful 20 years (1975-94) of players, fans/friends, and for folks who worked/hung out at the theater, itself. To some extent that has been happening in recent years, already.

Larry also says to bring food, drink and a lawn chair. For more info call him at (804) 233-2295.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


For the Biograph’s 10th anniversary (Feb. 11, 1982) we booked “My Dinner with Andre,” which had been shot in 16mm by director Louis Malle in Richmond’s Jefferson Hotel. It was the film's Virginia premiere.

The art-house picture depicted a conversation over dinner by two old friends, who discussed their opposing philosophies and their conclusions about life. The food used in the scenes in the movie was provided by local chef/caterer Chris Gibbs. He showed up on the set at the hotel, which was closed and undergoing a major renovation, every morning with a fresh batch of Cornish hens and wild rice to be made to look half-eaten and set before the actors. Several locals appeared in small parts and as extras.

For the film’s premiere party at the Biograph, which also served as a $25-a-head fundraiser for VCU's Anderson Gallery, Gibbs served up the same meal as was displayed and consumed in the movie. It went over like Gangbusters.
Photo by Larry Rohr

Sunday, March 18, 2007

films: "Matinee Madcap"

These three stills are from a 16mm film, Matinee Madcap, which was shot during the same month as the Devil Prank, February of 1974. Film professor Trent Nicholas, then one of the theater’s ushers and later an assistant manager, shared the directing credit with yours truly. The rest of the staff and many friends of the Biograph appeared as players.
The plot, calling for a good deal of slapstick chase-scene footage, set the action in the movie theater, itself. A collage of contemporary music was added by Dave DeWitt in post-production.
Later, when our humble homage to the silent comedies of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, etc. played in a DeeCee film festival, it received a semi-favorable review from none other than Tom Shales of the Washington Post. This nine-minute, black and white comedy was surely the most-screened short subject in the Biograph's 15-year history.

Click here to see it at YouTube.