The Hook Debuts

Just three weeks after he left C-Ville Weekly, Hawes Spencer’s new publication has hit the stands. The 43-page premiere issue is available at newsstands throughout Charlottesville. Most articles are available on their website, permanently archived, which means that we can link to them from

Full Disclosure: The Hook’s website was developed by Munk & Phyber, Inc., a company owned in part by Waldo Jaquith, who also runs and is currently writing about himself in the third person.

62 thoughts on “The Hook Debuts”

  1. First – nice job on the site. Archiving content – WHAT A CONCEPT.

    Second – I had decided that I would go with whichever paper didn’t lose the bet and end up with Cripsy Duck. The Hook wins. Congratulations! Maybe now we can read about musical performances instead of about how much the reviewer/frustrated musician drank and subsequently spilled on himself or others.

    I give c-ville less than a year. Might be gone by Memorial Day if their advertisers jump ship (and is there any question?).

  2. I give c-ville less than a year. Might be gone by Memorial Day if their advertisers jump ship

    Wow, that’s quite a bold statement. As much as I don’t like the C-Ville, I definitely wouldn’t go that far.

  3. I suppose it really depends on how much jack the current management is prepared to drop on keeping it on life support.

    The way it looks, Spencer has moved c-ville to a new building, leaving behind only the equipment. He gets to tweak his baby, and probably fix some things that really needed fixing anyway, and c-ville suddenly needs a new staff.

    In any case, it’s pretty hard not to admire the extremely fast transition he made from being tossed to starting up a new publication. What was it – 3 weeks? 4? Pretty impressive.

  4. The word on the street is that C-Ville has a hot-shot new designer that will be working with them, in charge of layout and design.

  5. does this new designer have any newspaper experience? where are they from? Are they flying in another crazy texan?

    -anonymous…but curious

  6. Of course, the Mikey guy is no better… last week he seemed to piss off every local musician in town, including Mr. John D’earth… are there any normal people willing to review the local music scene out there?

  7. Mr. D’earth is that last person I would want to piss off. A nice, kind, gentle person who always has time to stop and talk to his fans.

  8. First, I’ll express my amusement at Waldo’s disclosure statement of “currently writing about himself in the third person.” LOL.

    Second, I think this issue of The Hook has better content, editing, proofreading, and layout than any issue of C-Ville Weekly I’ve ever read (and that would be since 1992). No offense, but maybe Hawes should have gotten sacked years ago — quality improves when you have to compete. I hope The Hook keeps up the good work and its articles never take the tone of personal grudge found in far too many C-Ville stories in the past few years. It’s a great chance for a talented team to start fresh and not beat dead horses anymore.

    Third, maybe I’m just getting old (heck, almost 26 and a half now), but I found the 9-point font to be too tiny. Pretty font, but could y’all maybe bump it up a size for us old folks? I couldn’t even attempt to peruse the events listings because I don’t own reading glasses yet.

    Finally, I’m glad to see the return of the “Fearless Consumer” column. I think it’s crucial for the Charlottesville community to have a public forum for consumer recourse.

    Way to go, Hookers! (Er, maybe that came out wrong…?)

  9. does this new designer have any newspaper experience? where are they from? Are they flying in another crazy texan?

    I’ve told you all I know and I can say. :)

  10. FYI: the ‘other’ paper’s font is 8.5 point!

    now that is small.

    Yes, the events were pretty tiny. yikes! my eyes!

    a good read though.

  11. Oh, please. I was that “crazy texan,” and it’s Texan, you oaf. Crazy? Maybe, but you’d better hope this “hot shot” isn’t from Charlottesville.

  12. You know it’s me Waldo. At least you’ve got the “archive” of stories you always wanted.


  13. Waldo: P.S.—The Hook is 44 pages. Newspapers are printed in four-page increments.

    Yours truly,

    The Crazy Texan Designer

  14. I agree about the font. Nice look in general, especially on the headlines, but something about either the width of that font or maybe just the size makes it very hard to read. And on a grey background, like in Hawes’ letter, it’s damn near impossible. Other than that, the best looking publication in town.

  15. OK, time for a reality check. I agree that the premier issue of the Hook looks pretty good. However:

    (1) This town does need a good consumer column. But why, Hawes, oh why did you have to bring back Barbara Nordin from whatever rock she had thankfully crawled under? The woman always comes across as sanctimonious and full of herself, she’s revealed herself to be a total grammar snob, and on top of that, I once read a column in which she slammed a local mother for breastfeeding in public. Amazing. Other than that, the staff at the Hook seems pretty solid.

    (2) The Hook seems to be going after a yuppie/preppy/we’re so hip it hurts/and you should worship us for it kind of feel. Which is fine and dandy, and probably will do well in this town full of yuppies, preppies, hipsters and self-aggrandizers. I know that if I’m ever in the mood for serious, in-depth journalism, though, C-Ville Weekly will probably remain my first recourse. (Let’s just hope that future C-Ville cover stories are a little meatier than this week’s…)

    (3) One happy result of this journalistic schism: hopefully now we won’t have to read any more fawning accounts in C-Ville Weekly about this Matt Farell guy (note to Hawes Spencer: most people in town, including myself, do not know or care who Matt Farell is, and certainly do not understand your obsessive need to report on every detail of his life).

  16. Why in the world would C-ville be where you go for in depth journalism. Based on what? Did you just start to work there as the editor or just the publicity hack.

    You could not be more right about the strange Matthew Farell. I don’t care about him at all and would be quite happy to never see him again.

  17. I, too, got a big laugh from Waldo’s “currently writing about himself in the third person” comment.

    The first issue of The Hook was indeed quite good — and indeed much superior to the current offering from C-Ville. And for The Hook to have done all of this on such short notice!

    I’ll agree with other who have written here: I don’t give a BLEEPING BLIP about Matt Farrell, so I can scarcely see how he warrants a (god-forbid) recurring spot as a (minor-, wannabe- ) celebrity contributor. His contribution to this issue was just pathetic and unintelligible. Is there a word for someone who commits an unsuccessful attempt at pedantry? Perhaps, a “fool”? Or is that those who contiued to read beyond the first paragraph or so?

  18. the only problem with the C’ville and its “personal grudges” is that Hawes hired pretty-much the same staff that he had. What you have is the C’ville with a new title and a different look. I wish the Hook luck though. Way to go Hawes, don’t let ’em keep you down!

  19. Barbara Nordin nails unscrupulous businesses to the wall. Grammar issues aside (yeah, there is some snobbery goin on there), what more do you want from a consumer columnist? I for one am delighted to see she’s back in the saddle, as her infrequent replacement(s) at c-ville never amounted to very much, and sure didn’t accomplish much.

    Go, Barbara, Go!

  20. Interesting to know. Different fonts have different widths at various point sizes (that’s why a document in Times New Roman is always shorter than a document in the same point size of Arial, for instance), so maybe the narrowed Hoefler is actually smaller than the smaller-point-size font in that “other paper” you mentioned.

    Having demonstrated my more-than-is-healthy knowledge on this subject, I’ll shut up now. :-)

  21. I don’t get the Matt Farrell worship, either. I’m sure he’s a fine human being and all, but beyond that, I just end up scratching my head when I see things like that unreadable essay in the first edition Hook. Writers (and good ones, at that) are thick upon the ground in Charlottesville, so why Matt Farrell and Barbara Nordin?

  22. Has this man no champion or is this board in rare agrement?

    Matt Farrell, as a public entity, seems more odd the interesting. Is he related to Hawes?

  23. The first issue of the Hook looked great. But look at the content. Tayloe Emery’s story could hardly be called fair reporting. The story on Joan Woodfolk is two years old…cut and pasted from work the author did for a Live Arts performance. And Hawes wrote a story about the paper’s font, for Pete’s sake.

    Okay, maybe the C-Ville’s cover story on deer was a little weak. But it’s pretty impressive that the C-Ville lost its editor, yet they put out the paper without missing an issue…without even missing a column. The Hook has three weeks to put a paper together, and we get old material and a story on fonts.

    Once the hype dies down, the cream will rise to the top. Anyone care to make some bets?

  24. If memory serves: Farrell came to town and ingratiated himself into the pages of C-Ville; then washed-up and left town in a stink covered by C-Ville; then returned to town, creating a kerfluffle again worthy of C-Ville column-inch. In short, he’s a one-trick pony, a bore, an obviously un-gifted writer (as obvious in the current issue of The Hook) . . .

    I’m upset that memory of this thumbnail bio-sketch takes up a single brain-cell of mine! Be gone!

    Please let The Hook give him his walking papers!

  25. What, no comment on the Long article? I thought it was great. Tayloe’s but oops, they refused! Hwr, he still added nice quotes from them that were in other pubs, and he interviewed Harding and John. How is that NOT fair reporting?

    Your comment that the hook had three weeks to put the issue together is a joke. I guess there was an office, equipment, staff, etc from day one, eh? No running around trying to find space, ordering computers, setting up pay-roll, etc. Last, much of the staff that moved over had to stay at cville for a week or two in transtition, so the last TWO cville issues still had a lot of the hook staff. The real test for cville will be next Tuesday.

    I’ll bet your hairy ass whatever you want.

  26. Jeez — what an ugly set of links and webpags to which that led me. Nothing there but the self-indulgent rantings of exhibitionsitic morons who, notably, described Farrell as their “patron saint”. Nuff said.

  27. interesting point..was there a point?

    OK to respond…your mind just is like an onion. Peeling away it’s layers just makes you want to cry more the closer you get to it’s core

  28. “Tayloe Emery’s story could hardly be called fair reporting.” with the disclosures and attempts to get comment from the other side, why isn’t it fair?

    I think the word your meant was impartial, and to expect that on this subject is most supercilious.

  29. I don’t think Tayloe interviewed John. Why don’t you ask him?

    In a time when big cities have ONE weekly, usually owned by a conglomerate, Charlottesville has TWO independent weeklies. I don’t think the competition should be personal or unfriendly, but it should be real and intense… it’ll be good for both papers and for everyone who reads. Game on…

  30. I don’t think both can survive in this market. There are only so many advertisers around interested in paying for space in a publication that really focuses on Downtown. If one doesn’t win, we could end up with two sub-par publications, and nobody – especially the readers – will win.

  31. John Burgmeyer, or however you spell it. I think the reader will win becuase both pubs are forced to perform better.

  32. That was a wonderful piece on Joan Woodfolk, and finally it has the audience it deserves. Kudos for the editorial team at the hook for being on top of the great material out there. Perfect timing.

  33. You caught me. Jus’ trying to keep things interesting. What good is competition if you can’t talk a little junk? :)

  34. The Hook apparently has the same gang of arts writers — the weakest point of the old C-VILLE. Interesting personalities, all of them, some big last names among them, but that’s no substitute for good writing and professional criticism. The calendar is also still hard to read in the Hook, though maybe there’s a learning curve.

    The impression I get — the Hook is a circle of close friends on a mission, putting out a small attractive paper for hip Downtowners, while C-VILLE will be more of a general interest paper for the community, with better and broader reviews, and most of the syndicated stuff that’s in a paper like the Village Voice.

  35. better and broader reviews…what would those be?

    close circle of friends? art gang? what?

    I thought the piece on the Jefferson school was very good -wished it had been longer- and Deeds is an interesting fellow, are those the articles you classify as “geared towards hip-downtowners”?

  36. I don’t know that much about it, either. But I’ve always thought the “Inside Out” entertainment page writers, now with the Hook, were not very good — provincial, trying to sound better informed than they are. Meanwhile, C-VILLE has hired a lot of professional talent, some former Voice writers, etc. But I may be applying a New York filter to the whole scene that really is unmerited.

  37. if I submit a piece to the voice, have it printed, can I go around and say I wrote for the Voice?

  38. yeah, I hear the Hook’s Bill Ramsey does, and he works for a Voice-owned newspaper in Cleveland!

  39. It will be interesting to see what happens in the face-off between the two weeklys – it seems unlikely that our town could support two such “alternative” papers – but whatever the result, the public will be the winners.

    Spencer’s C-ville was pompous, self-serving and often full-of-sh*t. Much like the hipper-than-thou crowd they seemed to be talking to, that paper was almost always more interested in saying something clever than in actually having something meaningful to say. Having said that, though, that’s exactly why I – and I’m guessing a lot of people – read it. I often disagreed with its comments and rarely liked its attitudes, but it succeeded in providing a breath of fresh – if often hot – air into the local media boredom. The “proudly offending 10% of our readership every week” (or some such quote) was at once funny, true and refreshing.

    The news biz is not an easy one to succeed in, and C-ville’s relative longevity says a lot about Spencer’s vision (Farrell-worshipping though it was and continues to be) and his ability to put out a consistently entertaining – and occasionally provocative – product. Sure, the paper had plenty of faults, but the fact that C-ville could survive as long as it has speaks to Spencer’s brashness and determination.

    When Spencer was shown the door, C-ville was left with a challenge. Could it keep readers entertained without his attitude at the helm? Then, with the appearance of The Hook, and the old C-ville staff’s massive defection, that challenge got that much harder.

    But this is a positive challenge for both papers. If The Hook is going to make it, Spencer needs to somehow come to some difficult realizations, one rather obvious example being the fact that there really aren’t many people in this town who find his little bow-tied friend’s love life newsworthy, or even interesting. If C-ville is to continue, it must find a way to emerge from under its former pomposity to become a thoughtful and serious voice. Either way, the old saying that competition is good for business means that whoever wins will have done so by earning its readership. This little soap opera is one of the best stories our town has seen in the 10 years I’ve lived here, and my guess is that it’s only going to get more interesting…

  40. “while C-VILLE will be more of a general interest paper for the community, with better and broader reviews, and most of the syndicated stuff that’s in a paper like the Village Voice.”

    Good Lord, if you’re not a shill for C-ville, I’ll eat my mouse pad.

  41. P.S.—The Hook is 44 pages. Newspapers are printed in four-page increments.

    I just flipped to the back page (I think Farrell was on it) and read the page number.

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