Day: November 19, 2006

A night for Mama

111906lazzardos2.jpg 111906lazzardos1.jpgThey packed Mama Lazardos in Floyd Saturday night: Musicians, restaurant owners and friends of Liz (above), the "mama" of Mama Lazardos.

Liz is retiring after a long battle with illness and the retirement party/benefit at her Locust Street eatery brought out the best of Floyd’s musical scene to perform for the packed house.

Tom Ryan brought his crew from Over the Moon to cook up a special menu while musical artists Scott Perry, Sally Walker, John Winnike, Bernie Coveney, Mike Mitchell, Rob Neukirch (who also owns Oddfellas) and Chris Luster played well into the night for the guest of honor. In many ways, the evening displayed what Floyd does best: come together to help one of its own.

People put differences aside, competitors remember that they are friends first and even those who met Liz for the first time Saturday night heeded the call. 111906lazzardos3.jpgLiz says she will be heading for Florida after Christmas to spend a few weeks with family and friends but told the audience that "contrary to rumor, I’m not going anywhere…I will be back."

Evenings like this make Floyd a special place to live. As I sat and listened to Sally Walker (above) sing or Mike Mitchell (right) showcase his mastery of the fiddle or Rob Neukirch (below) belt out a Hank Williams tune, I thought about the many times that friends from other places ask: "Why do you live there?"

This is why. Floyd County is a collection of really good people: locals and newcomers.

Most will do anything in the world for you. They will help their neighbors in time of need.

And they will come together for nights like this: Good music, good food and a lot of love for a friend to the many people in the room.

I watched while the love spread through the room Saturday night but thought also of the outpouring of support for Bernie Coveney, the popular guitarist whose house was ransacked by a relative last month.

Bernie played for Liz Saturday night, coming out to help her much as people have come together to help him. This is Floyd…the real Floyd. Our people make this town what it is. Hopefully, that is something special that will never change. 111906lazzardos4.jpg

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When hate rules

Christian Trejbal, an editorial writer for The Roanoke Times (where I worked for as a reporter and photographer from 1965-69) says recent election returns shape how people view our region and, unfortunately, showcases how too many people here feel.

Writes Trejbal:

Voters’ choices do more than just pick Election Day winners. They shape how the rest of the world views a region.

Friends from across the continent called and e-mailed me Tuesday night and into Wednesday. The conversations mostly went something like this:

“Where the hell do you live?”

I don’t know.

“Allen’s winning” or, on Wednesday, “Allen carried your region and might win.”

I know.

“After ‘macaca’ and ‘nigger.'”

I know.

“The noose and the assault.”

I know.

“And you approved that gay marriage ban that screws over all unmarried people.”

I know!

“Where the hell do you live?”

Those election-night chats reflected an unfortunate but justified perception of Southwest Virginia.

Voters in our region heavily backed Allen and a hateful gay marriage ban that spites their single neighbors and children just to prevent the state from recognizing the unions of loving same-sex couples.

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