Open to Interpretation vs. Subject to Interpretation



Many things happened this week that caused me to go back and research the difference between “open to interpretation” and “subject to interpretation.” These phrases on the surface sound almost identical, but depending on where you are in society and who makes the rules, the nuanced differences can be dramatic. 


Many people argue that art is subjective, meaning that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” For many years, the statues that lined Monument Avenue were revered by some as beautiful pieces of artwork and viewed by others as ugly symbols of a lost cause. Your individual view, based on a variety of factors that may have included when you were born, the education that you received, the color of your skin, your socioeconomic status, and your fundamental worldview, was open to interpretation. When a government official gets involved, things become subject to interpretation. This week, Mayor Stoney, acting on emergency powers and bypassing city council and the courts, decided that statues on Monument Avenue represented “a severe, immediate and growing threat to public safety.” 


Good, bad, or indifferent, it is not my place to offer an opinion on statues, but statues are not statutes. Statutes, or laws, are “subject to interpretation” by the courts. And when the courts do not intervene, it is up to elected leaders and non-elected bureaucrats to interpret the law. The Governor’s Executive Order should also be “subject to interpretation,” but until the courts get involved, I believe they must be “open to interpretation.”


Yesterday started off as a day of celebration. Virginia finally moved into Phase Three and restaurants were allowed to open all over the state at full capacity. In case you didn’t know, I own two restaurants in Lynchburg, Virginia called the Texas Inn. A local Health Department official interpreted the most recent Executive Order by the Governor and declared that my 84-and-a-half-year-old lunch counter was a bar…and “bar seating” is not allowed under Phase Three.


The Texas Inn is NOT a bar. We’ve never served alcohol. We do not have a liquor license. And although I personally believe that Executive Order 67 was “open to interpretation,” the local health inspector subjected us to an erroneous interpretation. Never fear, yours truly never believed the phrase “You can’t fight City Hall,” so that’s what I did. I took off the rubber gloves and put on boxing gloves and metaphorically punched away at local health officials, Virginia’s Secretary of Commerce, the Governor’s staff, the Governor himself, various VDH officials, and even a couple of state attorneys. Long story short, with the help of many allies, such as news reporters, my attorney Henry Jones at CowanGates, State Senator Mark Peake, State Senator Steve Newman, and one helpful unnamed attorney at the Virginia Department of Health, I fought the shutdown of my restaurants…and I won. I cannot tell you how enormously satisfying it is to score one for the little guy. And although my tactics (calling, emailing, yelling, lobbying, coercing, etc.) may be “open to interpretation,” I am thrilled that we are no longer “subject to interpretation” of the Governor’s poorly worded, reactive, illogical, and some might say illegal Executive Order 67. And in the spirit of forgiveness, I would like to invite the honorable Ralph S. Northam, Governor of Virginia, to visit with us at the Texas Inn and I will buy him a Cheesy. Of course, he will have to sit three stools away from me. And I am okay with that.





Monday, June 29 – Steadily Moving The Needle



If you’ve traveled around the Northern Neck recently, there’s a chance you’ve seen the construction of Compass Entertainment Complex and their outdoor attractions. But I’ve got some exciting news to share…they’re rolling along indoors as well. Here is a sneak peek of what’s to come. As they move closer to their grand opening, they are looking to hire team members who are engaged and eager to be a part of something new. If you’re ready to take family fun to the next level, apply online today.








Tuesday, June 30 – VCB FTW 



On Tuesday our creative team was busy designing new handouts, web banners, and buck slips for our wonderful clients at Virginia Commonwealth Bank. They are currently in the runnings for the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s annual “Best Of” award and could use your help. Do me a favor and take a few seconds of your day to nominate VCB for Best Bank of 2020.






Wednesday, July 1 – Toast to Tours & Tastings 



On Wednesday our friends at A. Smith Bowman Distillery safely reopened under Phase Three and are offering complimentary tours and tastings for groups of ten or less. If there’s one thing we can all use after 100+ days of quarantine, it’s bourbon and good company. Before you book your tour online, here are a few ways to plan before you visit


In the afternoon, Creative Director Art “Salt Bae” Webb took some PTO to celebrate his 14th wedding anniversary. He surprised his wife, Linda, with their favorite steaks from Farm Fresh — and he even cooked them. #WellDone





Thursday, July 2 – The Golden Rules



On Thursday we had our fourth episode of Convos with Clients featuring CEO of Dale Carnegie Central and West Virginia JJ White. JJ and I hopped on Facebook Live and took 30 minutes to talk about their online and in-person professional development courses, how his business pivoted during the pandemic, and his infatuation with Ric Flair. Every Madison+Main-iac, including yours truly, has benefitted from Dale Carnegie Training and I highly recommend it for your team. In case you missed the fun conversation, check it out here. #Wooo








Friday, July 3 – Happy Early 4th of July 


Today, the Madison+Main-iacs got a head start to the holiday weekend. Since Independence Day falls on Saturday this year, I decided to give them today off. On a side note, if you know of anywhere showing fireworks in the Commonwealth tomorrow, please shoot me an email and let me know. I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable 4th of July.






A Few of Our Favorite Events


Madison+Main’s “Convos with Clients”

Virtual Event | Richmond, VA

July 9, 2020 | 12 p.m.


We are back with a new weekly series for you! We’re thrilled to announce “Convos with Clients” every Thursday at 12 p.m. Join us on Facebook Live as we talk to our clients and friends about their various industries, businesses, expertise, and lives! On July 9 we will be talking with Founder and Executive Director of Hitting Cancer Below the Belt (HCB2) Mindy Conklin.


Got an upcoming event you want to share? Can we come? Send us the deets!




“Through interpretation, understanding; through understanding, appreciation; through appreciation, protection.”

Freeman Tilden (American Novelist)