Virginia Beach: Paranoia

Aired: September 02, 2019|Length: 140 Minutes

We'll examine "paranoia", the systems this phenomena creates, and the fears it tries to control.

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The city of Virginia Beach is located in the far southeast corner of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Believe it or not, it is the most populated city in the commonwealth. Located where the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean, Virginia Beach is a part of the Hampton Roads metropolitan area.

Virginia Beach is a known vacation town and is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as having the longest pleasure beach in the world. It is connected to the Eastern Shore of Virginia by way of Route 13 and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, the longest bridge-tunnel complex in the world. The bridge spans 17.5 miles across the Chesapeake Bay where it meets the Atlantic Ocean.

In the northeastern corner of the city is Cape Henry, which was the site of the first landing of the English colonists, who eventually settled in Jamestown, on April 26, 1607. The original inhabitants of the area were the indigenous Chesepian people. They and other tribes along the coastal area made up the Powhatan Confederacy, and numbered in the tens of thousands in population.

Settlers named the area New Norfolk when Virginia was divided into counties. Because the area was so large it was later broken into Upper & Lower Norfolk County. The population in Lower Norfolk continued to grow and it was further divided into Norfolk and Princess Anne Counties. That land from the Chesapeake Bay to the border of North Carolina remained as Princess Anne County for 250 years until 1963.

In the early 1900's the County grew into a tourist attraction and the resort area along the shoreline was named Virginia Beach, which later became its own incorporated town. Casinos disappeared for more family oriented entertainment. The Cavalier Hotel was built and was one of the foremost hotels of its time, offering state of the art amenities that are now considered standard. The area continued to grow and the Commonwealth decided it would be in the best interest to merge the two municipalities of Princess Anne and Virginia Beach, making it the largest city in the Commonwealth.

Tarnished Truth Distillery

Whiskey runs in the blood of the great American South. It's an inevitable infusion. It was first created hundreds of years ago, and it's production has never stopped. (Although many have tried.) In 1927, The Virginia Beach night hid the reckless and lawless under the cloaks of shadow and silence. It was a time of midnight runs on no-name roads, cars modified to outrace the law, and drivers drunk on the promise of bootleg money. Deception rolled thick as the salt in the sea air. The moss, like whispers, hung from the Oaks and bald Cypress, as it did across much of the American south. History will recall us.

It began with an idea, when Virginia Beach natives, Andrew Yancey and Josh Canada set out to create a Virginia Beach distillery. Partnering with a fellow Virginia native, Bruce Thompson, led to the renovation and revitalization of the Cavalier Hotel. Tarnished Truth holds the distinction of being the first and only distillery in a hotel in the United States. Legendary master distiller, Larry Ebersold, with more than 40 years of experience, leads the distilling team bringing world class spirits to Virginia Beach.

Tarnished Truth Distilling Company is one of the most unique distilleries in the country. It's located inside of a working, 5-star hotel, and there is simply nothing like it. The distillery sits where the original laundry facility for the hotel once was. There is a 500 gallon hybrid pot still system with a 20' vodka column. All of the equipment was hand made in America by Vendome Copper and Brass works. Vendome has been making distillation equipment out of their Kentucky facility for over 100 years and is considered to be the leading manufacturer of copper stills and distillation equipment in the world. Adjacent to the distillery is an on-site gift shop where you can purchase all of their spirits as well as a huge selection of merchandise from hats, barware, bourbon maple syrup, candles, and much much more. They also have a private tasting room that is available for private parties, corporate events, or dinner with friends. Additionally, once you have taken the tour and done a tasting you can take seat next door at the famous Hunt Room restaurant and watch the distillers at work through the giant window looking into the distillery.

The Witch of Pungo

Grace White Sherwood (1660-1740), also known as the "Witch of Pungo," is the last person to have been convicted of witchcraft in Virginia. Pungo is a section within the former Princess Anne County, which was incorporated into present-day Virginia Beach in 1963. Born in 1660, Sherwood was a farmer and midwife who used "unnatural" herbal healing methods. Her neighbors suspected her of dabbling in the black arts, conjuring storms and putting curses on livestock. She was also said to have turned herself into a cat and cast spells to damage the crops on rival farms.

The existence of witches and demonic forces was not taken for granted by the American colonists—witchcraft was considered the work of the Devil and Colonists believed that witches could be identified by their strange behavior. As early as 1626, nineteen years after the founding of the Jamestown colony, a grand jury in Virginia sat to consider whether a midwife named Joan Wright was a witch—she had supposedly predicted the deaths of three women and had caused illness as revenge for not hiring her as midwife. No record of the outcome for that case can be found. Nevertheless, Virginia did not experience events of mass hysteria such as the Salem, Massachusetts witch trials in 1692 & 1693, in which 19 people were executed on allegations of sorcery, some years before the first accusations against Sherwood. Ecclesiastical influence in the courtroom was much less a factor in Virginia, where the clergy rarely participated in witchcraft trials, than in New England, where ministers took an active part. People's fears of witchcraft in Virginia were not based on their religious beliefs as much as they were rooted in folklore, although the two often intermingled.

New England's Puritans had settled in towns, and community pressure helped contribute to witchcraft convictions. There were few such towns in Virginia, where the population mostly lived on farms and plantations, connected by water transport and scattered over a large area. The southeastern corner of Virginia, around present-day Norfolk and Virginia Beach (where Pungo is located), saw more accusations of witchcraft than other areas in the Commonwealth. Historians believe this may have been due to local poverty as there was no cultural elite to restrain such prosecutions.

The witchcraft allegations against Sherwood began in early 1697. A neighboring farmer accused her of casting a spell on and killing one of his bulls. A year later, another neighbor claimed she enchanted his pigs and cotton crops, causing them both to die. That same year a woman claimed she saw Sherwood morph into a black cat and run through her home. She was frightened because of the possibility of impending bad luck. She later suffered a massive loss of crops. Similar allegations continued over the years but were all unfounded. Sherwood sued for defamation and won a few cases, but the court related costs became too much or her to continue.

By this time, Princess Anne County had grown tired of Sherwood and considered her a general nuisance. The fight she got into with another neighbor in December of 1705 was the last straw. In early 1706 those same neighbors accused Sherwood of witchcraft after the wife had a miscarriage. Sherwood failed to answer to the charges and was picked up by authorities. A jury was gathered to investigate the claims, and the process ranged from searching her home for waxen or baked figures associated with witchcraft to inspecting her naked body for demonic markings. Although there was no specific evidence of sorcery found, the judges deemed there was a "great cause of suspicion".

On July 5th, 1706 the court ordered Sherwood to a trial by "ducking". This is described as bounding the wrists and ankles of the accused, and then tying the right thumb to the left toe and vice versa. Once the knots were secured the person is thrown into a large body of water to check for buoyancy. The colonists believed that since water is pure, it would reject the body of a demonic witch and she would float. If the accused was not a witch, they would sink like a normal person.

On the morning of July 10th the trial was carried out at the end of Witchduck Road by the edge of the Lynnehaven River. Sherwood was stripped of her clothing and bound hands to feet. She was put in a burlap sack and taken by boat out to the middle of the river. Crowds had gathered on the shores and began to yell "duck the witch!" Sherwood was pushed into the river and disappeared from the surface. She quickly floated back up and then the Sheriff tied a 13 lb bible around her neck which caused her to sink again. Moments later she appeared feet from the boat swimming to the shore, as she was somehow able to free her hands and feet. Given the outcome of the "ducking", the townspeople believed Sherwood was indeed a witch because she floated to the top of the water and escaped. Moments later a torrential downpour started and the trail was suspended. Sherwood was held in jail while the Commonwealth determined her fate. A person found guilty of witchcraft in the colonies was to be burned at the stake. This was fairly unknown in Virginia so the authorities were hesitant to do so. As the following years passed, the townspeople felt Sherwood had paid her dues. She was later released on good behavior after paying multiple fines.

Sherwood was able to reclaim her property and she lived out the remainder of her life without incident. She died at the age of 80. According to legend, Sherwood's sons laid her deceased body near the fireplace, and a wind came down the chimney. Her body disappeared amid the embers, and the only remaining clue was a cloven hoofprint. Sherwood's remains are said to be in an unmarked grave under some trees in a field near the intersection of Pungo Ferry Road and Princess Anne Road in Virginia Beach. Stories about the Devil taking her body, unnatural storms, and loitering black cats quickly arose after her death, and local men killed every feline they could find; this widespread killing of cats might have caused the infestation of rats and mice recorded in Princess Anne County in 1743. Her home on Muddy Creek stood for over 200 years. After being burned several times in the 20th century by vandals, all that was left in 2002 were the brick chimneys, which were bulldozed in November 2002. Presently, all that remains are a few bricks and part of the foundation, which is overgrown. The property is now owned by the Federal Government as part of Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

In 2007, then Virginia governor, Tom Kaine, pardoned Sherwood of her "crimes". At that time she was the first person in the Commonwealth to be exonerated after death. Today, a bronze statue in her honor stands on the Sentara Bayside Hospital grounds, near the site of her trial. Locals report occasionally seeing a light flickering above the water, which is thought to be the witch's spirit revisiting the site of her "ducking." There are also reports of sightings at the VA Beach Surf & Rescue Museum, where the witches maniacal laughing can be heard.

Remix (Virginia Julep)

Put a Virginia twist on the classic mint julep by using a Virginia-made whiskey and spearmint infused simple syrup.


1 1/2 oz (44.36 mL) Virginia Highland whisky 1 1/2 oz (44.36 mL) Keep It Simple Syrup Spearmint 1 1/2 oz (44.36 mL) club soda 1 teaspoon lime juice


Stir ingredients in a mixing glass. Pour into a julep glass filled halfway with crushed ice. Garnish with a mint leaf.

"Nightmares" by The Clipse

Clipse is a rap duo, formed by brothers Gene "No Malice" Thornton and Terrence "Pusha T" Thornton, in Virginia Beach, Virginia, in 1992. The Thornton brothers were born in The Bronx and later moved to Virginia Beach. They initially used the name Jarvis for their group and were introduced to the one and only Pharrell Williams, one half of the notorious production team The Neptunes. (Mention Chad Hugo) Impressed with their lyrical talents, Pharrell formed a working relationship with the duo. He eventually helped them secure a recording contract with Elektra in 1996.

Under Elektra, and with The Neptunes handling production, The Clipse recorded their debut album, Exclusive Audio Footage. The group's 1st single, "The Funeral", helped generate fan interest in the album, but it didn't make a major commercial impact. With "The Funeral" deemed a failure, Exclusive Audio Footage itself was shelved. The Clipse were released from Elektra shortly thereafter but promotional CDs of the albums do still exist.

In 2001, Pharrell was able to sign the duo to Arista Records through his recently established Star Trak imprint. Clipse released its commercial debut Lord Willin' on August 20, 2002. The album opened at #1 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-hop Album chart and #4 on the Billboard Hot 200. It was fueled by the strength of the 1st two singles, "Grindin'" and "When the Last Time". In October of 2002—roughly a month after its release—Lord Willin' was certified Gold. Clipse made another dent in the rap music world that year by providing lyrics for Justin Timberlake's first solo single, "Like I Love You," as well as "What Happened to That Boy" with Birdman.

The mid 2000's were trying times for the duo. Although they began working on there second Arista album, "Hell Hath No Fury", label mergers and absorptions found them with Jive Records. They were forced to stay there, even after Star Trak moved to Interscope Records. Frustration set in as Jive began to overlook The Clipse for more pop-infused acts. This pushed the release of "Hell Hath No Fury" further to the background. The group asked for a formal release, which was denied, so they filed a lawsuit against the label. The litigation did not stop The Clipse from making music. They teamed up with Philadelphia rappers Sandman and Ab Liva to form the Re-up Gang, and put out the "We Got it For Cheap" mixtape series to critical acclaim.

In May of 2006, Clipse finally reached an agreement with Jive Records to release "Hell Hath No Fury" through their own label, Re-up Records. The album eventually was released in November of 2006, spawning the hit single, "Mr. Me Too". XXL magazine awarded the album with a XXL rating. Only five albums at that time had previously been given that rating.

The Clipse's release agreement with Jive Records was finalized in May of 2007. After talks with several labels, they came to terms and signed with Columbia records later that year. In 2008 they reached a side agreement with Koch Records and released a self-titled Re-Up Gang album. That same year The Clipse launched a clothing line as well as an album preview mixtape, titled "Road to Til The Casket Drops". The official album was released in 2009 and it featured a different sound, as the duo reached out to additional production teams beyond the Neptunes.

The band temporarily separated in 2010 to focus on their own solo projects. Pusha T did so with GOOD Music and released a mixtape "Fear of God" and the album, "My Name is My Name" (discuss impact of those records). Malice went on to publish Wretched, Pitiful, Poor, Blind & Naked, which was released on Valentine's Day in 2011. The book is a memoir about his life and details his conversion to Christianity. In 2012, Malice changed his stage name to No Malice and collaborated with Christian rapper, Lecrae on his song "Darkest Hour". He felt the need to change his outlook because of depression and lack of self fulfillment. No Malice went on to release his solo album in 2013 titled "Hear Ye Him".

Recently Clipse have talked of a reunion and have even announced a name for a possible album (As God Be My Witness). Although they garnered interest from possible producers, no album was ever released. So here we sit, waiting. Just know that any new Clipse project would be welcome here at Spirits & Lyrics with open arms.

Middle Tennessee: USA
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