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Since 1988 • Priceless

From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

Happy Valentine's Day!

February` 2021

oldtowncrier oldtowncrier.com


Setting the Standard In Old Town Since 1979


january’21 A Division of Crier Media Group OTC Media LLC PO Box 320386 Alexandria, VA 22320 571-257-5437 office@oldtowncrier.com oldtowncrier.com Published the first week of every month. Worth waiting for! PUBLISHER Bob Tagert MARKETING & ADVERTISING Lani Gering Bob Tagert Meg Mullery SOCIAL MEDIA & WEBSITE Ashley Schultz DESIGN & PRODUCTION Electronic Ink 9 Royal Street, SE Leesburg, VA 20175 703. 669. 5502 Sarah Becker Cheryl Burns F. Lennox Campello Steve Chaconas Scott Dicken Doug Fabbioli Matt Fitzsimmons Nicole Flanagan Lani Gering Miriam Kramer Genevieve LeFranc Sarah Liu Cindy McGovern

CONTRIBUTORS Meg Mullery Melinda Myers Billy Phibbs Ron Powers Kim Putens Julie Reardon Ashley Schultz Jaime Stephens Bob Tagert Aaron Tallent Carl Trevisan Ryan Unverzagt Lori Welch Brown

© 2020 Crier Media Group, Inc. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher. The Old Town Crier is published monthly and distributed to select Alexandria residents, hotels, restaurants and retail shops. Also distributed in the Annapolis, Fredericksburg, Blue Ridge and Washington, DC areas and St. John, USVI.

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44

A Bit of History................................................................ 9

From the Bay...................................................................24

Pets of the Month.........................................................21

After Hours.......................................................................13

From the Trainer............................................................40

Points on Pets.................................................................20

Alexandria Events............................................................ 3

Gallery Beat.....................................................................14

Arts & Antiques..............................................................15

Go Fish...............................................................................42

Business Profile................................................................. 4

Grapevine.........................................................................36

Caribbean Connection...............................................22

High Notes.......................................................................12

Social Media Message................................................... 2

Dining Guide...................................................................34

Let’s Eat..............................................................................32

Take Photos, Leave Footprints.................................18

Dining Out.......................................................................30

Local Farmers Markets................................................... 3

Exploring Virginia Wines............................................37

National Harbor.............................................................44

Financial Focus.................................................................. 8

On the Road with OTC................................................... 1

First Blush.........................................................................41

Open Space.....................................................................43

Urban Garden.................................................................16

Fitness................................................................................39

Personality Profile............................................................ 6

Valentine’s Day Special...............................................17

Publisher’s Notes.............................................................. 2 Road Trip...........................................................................26

The Last Word.................................................................11 To the Blue Ridge......................................................... 28

It’s never a bad time to read the OTC – in fact it’s gone ‘Viral’

On the road with OTC Old Town Crier subscriber, retired attorney and former National Harbor resident, Jeffrey Fisher, carried the good news from home with him on his appointment to get “the” vaccine. Jeffrey and his lovely wife Joanne made the move to sunny Florida this summer and are now official “Floridians”. From all accounts, it appears that they fit in well.

about the cover It's all about the Romance at Shadow Mountain Escape. Photo by Karen Riddle

Old Town Crier

With the travel restrictions in force due to the pandemic we haven't had many current submissions from our readers with their OTC's in hand while they are "On the Road". Until things get better, we would like you to send a photo of you and yours (including your furry family members) checking out the publication in the comfort of your own home/patio/pool or man cave or doing something fun and submitting it for publication. We can always create some fun captions! If you would like to see your photo in this space, take a high resolution shot and email it with a description for the caption to office@oldtowncrier.com.

February 2021 | 1


PUBLISHER’S NOTES

BOB TAGERT

Here we are into the second month of 2021 and our 33rd year without missing an issue. Some things have changed while some remain the same. We have a new administration running this country while the pandemic is still raging. Hopefully this year will see the end of COVID-19. At least the Old Town Crier has been consistent. As we all struggle with the hardships imposed by the pandemic, we have learned to cope with the situation and are amazed at how others in the community have adapted as best they can. The City and the ACVA are doing what they can to celebrate George Washington’s birthday. The parade will be missed but there are other happenings to participate in. See the calendar. Let’s see what’s in store in this issue. The Personality Profile is about our pal Al Green aka Kaimbr a local guy who is loving life. He is the quintessential Renaissance Man. His humor and side gigs help him cope. In To the Blue Ridge, Julie Reardon remembers Bill LaMar and her Chesapeake Retriever Usher. In From the Bay, we learn about the effect the pandemic has put on the oyster business; major problems with supply and demand - bumper crops vs low demand. Road Trip took us to Shadow Mountain Escape outside of Luray, VA. This is THE place for a romantic stay. Their Lady Bug cabin is featured on our cover. Winemaker and proprietor, Doug Fabbioli gives us an insider view of the bottling and packaging of Virginia wines in Exploring VA Wines. In the Caribbean Connection Billy Phibbs gives us an “islanders” view of the pandemic and its effects on St. John. We learn how to make the changes necessary to create a healthy year in the Fitness column. In High Notes, Ron Powers introduces us to The Matlock Twins. A Bit of History has a guest author, Parker Poodle takes us on a fur balls view of poetry and the pandemic. As usual, Lori Welch Brown hits it out of the park in Open Space with a retro view of Valentine’s Day. If it were not for our advertisers, the Old Town Crier would not exist. With that in mind, we have given a shout out and a salute to those folks who make this possible. We encourage you to patronize these establishments. We are all in it together! One of Old Town’s originals celebrates their 40th anniversary of making folks look good. Congratulations to Donna Windsor and her son Steve and all the stylists at Windsor of Old Town. Here’s to another 40. Do what makes you happy on Valentine’s Day on the 14th and celebrate Presidents Day on the 15th! Stay safe this month and whether you have gotten the vaccine or not...wear that mask!

SOCIAL MEDIA MESSAGE

Enjoying the wood burning stove in the Lady Bug cabin at Shadow Mountain Escape!

ASHLEY ROSSON

Positive Social Media Stories

L

ately, a lot of negativity has been posted on Social Media, but there are good deeds being done by ordinary people online daily. Here are some heartwarming tales from social media over the past few years.

A Heroic SeeingEye Dog Gets a Second Chance Cecil Williams lost consciousness and fell onto subway tracks in New York in 2013. He was saved by his seeing-eye dog 2 | February 2021

Orlando, who jumped down and licked his face until he woke up. Unfortunately, Cecil and Orlando were too late to avoid the train but a subway employee was able to give Cecil instructions to get in the middle of the tracks. As a result, they both survived as the train passed over them. When Cecil was in the hospital, he revealed to the press that he couldn’t afford to keep his heroic Image Courtesy NYDailyNews.com

dog because Orlando was at retirement age and insurance would only pay for a working service dog. Cecil stated that if he had the money, he would keep Orlando. When Grant Kirsh, a law student in Indiana, saw Orlando and Cecil’s story on the news, he was touched and decided to start an Indiegogo campaign for them. Their story was shared on social media and people donated their Christmas money to cover the expense of keeping Orlando. The campaign raised over $50,000 in less than a day and resulted in the two being kept together, along with a new service dog. The Indiegogo

campaign has raised over $103,000 for Cecil and his family to date.

Woman Saves an Injured Hawk with Help From Social Media Madeleine Weatherhead was walking to work, when she saw a stunned hawk on a New York city street. Madeleine called the Animal Care Center of New York, but her call went to voicemail. She had to go to work but wanted to help. So she snapped a photograph of the bird on her phone and posted it to Twitter, asking her followers to help the injured hawk.

Shortly after she posted the photograph, Special Operations Officers Maxwell Outsen and Joseph Bellomo arrived on the scene and carefully captured the redtailed hawk. He was taken to an animal sanctuary where he made a full recovery and had a safe place to stay.

A Special Birthday for Charlie The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a Charlie Manning’s birthday party being canceled. The sixyear-old girl, who is from SOCIAL MEDIA > PAGE 5

Old Town Crier


Alexandria EVENTS & INFORMATION

COVID-19 UPDATE

With the current situation with the COVID-19 virus all schedules events have been cancelled. We will post as we get information, in the meantime we encourage you to connect with the Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association at:

VisitAlexandriaVA.com Blog.VisitAlexandriaVA.com Facebook.com/VisitAlexandriaVA Twitter.com/AlexandriaVA Instagram.com/VisitAlexVA Hashtags: #visitALX Ramsey House Visitors Center at the corner of King and Fairfax is now open.

LOCAL FARMERS MARKETS OLD TOWN FARMERS MARKET

ANNUAL PARADE HAS BEEN CANCELLED FOR 2021 George Washington’s adopted hometown and home to the largest George Washington birthday celebration in the country, announces new and adapted events and tours throughout February in honor of the 289th anniversary of the first president’s birth. While the city’s annual George Washington Birthday Parade has been cancelled for the health and safety of the community, you can join a variety of virtual and physically distanced events to celebrate one of Alexandria’s most legendary citizens. For complete event information, visit WashingtonBirthday.com.

Celebrate George Washington’s Birthday with New and Adapted Events and Tours THROUGH FEB. 28TH The 13th Annual “Cherry Challenge”  In honor of George Washington’s birthday, participating Alexandria restaurants will create unique, cherry-centric dishes in celebration of one of the most cherished legends surrounding our first president. Each restaurant will develop its own cherry cocktail, appetizer, entrée, and/or dessert, in honor of our distinguished native son. The competing restaurants and their entries will be listed on WashingtonBirthday.com. Patrons can digitally rate their favorite dishes and winners will be announced on the website and Facebook page. For more information, visit WashingtonBirthday.com.

“Hunt for Washington”

Washington. The hunt, which should take about 6090 minutes to complete, will take you to places in Old Town Alexandria associated with the General. Start by printing a clue sheet at home and bring it with you as you traverse the heart of Old Town and then use your sleuthing skills to find answers to the clues. By February 28, submit your findings to GWBirthdayEvents@gmail.com. There are prizes and mementos associated with this event. For more information, visit WashingtonBirthday.com. FREE

OTHER EVENTS “The Great Theater of Action: The Life of George Washington in Four Acts”: Virtual Every Friday in February, 7 p.m. Join George Washington every Friday in February

“Hunt for Washington” is a fun and challenging game to uncover clues about Alexandria and George

CALENDAR > PAGE 7

Connect with us!

VisitAlexandriaVA.com • #visitALX • #ALXRestaurantWeek Blog: blog.VisitAlexandriaVA.com 

VisitAlexandriaVA Old Town Crier

AlexandriaVA

VisitAlexVA

Market Square 301 King Street Saturdays, 7 am – 12 Noon Year Round The Old Town Market is thought to be the one of nation’s oldest continuing markets operating since 1753. It is said that George Washington sent his products from Mount Vernon to be sold here. Today the plaza is a mecca for farmers and artists to sell their wares. The Market is a primary source for meats, dairy, fish, fruits, vegetables and flowers for all those who visit.

DEL RAY FARMERS MARKET Corner of Mt. Vernon and Oxford Avenues Saturdays, 8 am to Noon Year Round This market is strictly a producer grown market. Lots of fresh vegetables, fruits, fish and salmon, fresh mushrooms, baked goods, hard cider.  Farmers are within a 150 mile radius of Alexandria.  A non-profit is featured each weekend.

OLD TOWN NORTH FARMERS & ARTISANS MARKET Montgomery Park 901 North Royal Street Thursdays, 3 pm – 7 pm Year Round Alexandria’s favorite dog friendly market! The Old Town North Thursday Market is a growers only market with a focus on produce from small family farms and local artisans. Products sold at the market include fresh fruits and veggies from Virginia’s Northern Neck, Micro Greens from an urban farm, Empanadas, Fresh baked pastries with a European flair and much more.

FOUR MILE RUN FARMERS & ARTISANS MARKET 4109 Mount Vernon Avenue Sundays, 9 am – 1 pm Year Round This market offers fresh, nutritious food to people of all income levels and strives to reflect the diversity of Alexandria’s community. Local artisans display their arts and crafts as well Due to the restrictions of the pandemic, all guidelines suggested by the CDC, the Virginia Department of Health and the City of Alexandria are followed by the market managers and the vendors at these markets. February 2021 | 3


BUSINESS PROFILE

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e are now one year into the Corona Virus pandemic. When everything went south a year ago most businesses in our area were greatly impacted. Tourism related businesses took the greatest hit— Conventions, Association Annual Meetings, Athletic Events, Concerts, Festivals and no tourists. The model for the Old Town Crier was a heavy saturation of the hospitality business...local towns, attractions and restaurants in the region. We lost over half of our business as did these other enterprises. We led the charge to encourage folks to patronize these impacted businesses as best they could with the restrictions. Everyone made adjustments in order to survive the storm, and we were no different. The Old Town Crier is a 33 year-old, well respected publication that people read, therefore we can “get the word out” through our print magazine, our online version and on Facebook. There is NO ONE to get the word out about us. A handful of local and regional businesses have stayed the course with us and it is here that we want to celebrate their continued support of the Old Town Crier during this difficult time. I would like to highlight those corporations and regional businesses in this space.

BOB TAGERT

Wasmunds single malt whiskey. Today they have added a distillery in Williamsburg and rye, bourbon and gin to their inventory and is rated one of the best small distilleries in America. Checkout their ad on the inside back cover.

their customer service is top notch. Valentine’s Day is coming up……

visit the dentist on a regular basis and that is major accomplishment. Her manner and compassion almost make you “want” to go to the dentist. This has become one of the most popular dental practices in Alexandria.

IMAGINE ARTWEAR CRAFTMARK HOMES The fine folks at Craftmark Homes have been advertising on our back cover for almost two years now and it has been mutually rewarding to both parties. Craftmark is a family owned company who prides themselves on giving back to the communities that they build in. They don’t answer to shareholders, only to their customers. The third property that they advertised recently sold out so we hope to move to another project. We are proud of the working relationship we have with this company. We have made personal friends with many of them as well.

Carol Supplee bought her business about the time I started the Old Town Crier. Originally called Fiber Design she revamped her model and changed the name to Imagine Artwear in the early 1990’s. She has advertised with us from day one and I told her I would never raise her rate. As it turns out, we haven’t raised our rates since 2006. Imagine Artwear is literally a gallery of original one of a kind clothing and accessories. There are one of a kind items for everyone’s taste – from conservative to eccentric. A trip to Imagine is worth it if only to admire her wares.

TEN THOUSAND VILLAGES Ten Thousand Villages has been an advertising partner for the almost 10 years. This place is more than a retail store. They support a global “makerto-market” movement - a way for you to shop for ethically-sourced wares and contribute to the well-being of the artisans at the same time. As a pioneer of fair trade, they put people and the planet first. Every purchase directly impacts the community of its maker in a developing country.

O OLD TOWN DENTISTRY KINGS JEWELRY COPPER FOX DISTILLERY We first wrote about Rick Wasmund and Copper Fox Distillery some 14 years ago. At the time he and his partner, Sean McCaskey, had just started Copper Fox a few years earlier and were located in an old apple warehouse in Sperryville, Virginia. Besides the spirits (akin to moonshine) that they produced, they had launched their signature 4 | February 2021

Brad and Kathy Bradford at Kings Jewelry have been advertisers of ours for over 25 years. They are true team players as they advertise with other local publications as well. Being a part of this community sometimes requires sacrifice but always requires cooperation. Kings is one of the oldest continuous businesses in Old Town and one of the best. Not only do they have a premier selection of jewelry,

Dr. Frinet Kasper was new to Old Town when she bought Old Town Dentistry – a longtime dental practice located in the 1200 block of Prince Street - in the mid 2000’s. Looking for information about her new community, she called our office to inquire about our business model and asked for rates and the rest is history. We became personal friends and today she has advertised her fine practice almost since the day she took over. She has been instrumental in getting me to

PAW SPA LUXURY PET GROOMING Paw Spa Luxury Pet Grooming is a new store in Old Town and is making new friends every day...the four legged, furry type of friends. This is a luxury grooming salon for the furry members of your family with services including ear cleaning, nails, paw trim, bath and cuts. This place is next to my office and I get my dog fix with the beautiful animals that enjoy this spa. BUSINESS PROFILE > PAGE 5

Old Town Crier


BUSINESS PROFILE| FROM PG 4

Van’s Hairstylists

JOHN CROUCH TOBACCONIST John Crouch Tobacconist is the original tobacconist in Old Town Alexandria. Over the last 30 years they have occupied three different store fronts on King Street. Great prices and a huge selection of cigars as well as hand crafted pipe tobacco are their specialties. The new smoking area is a nice respite for those who like a good cigar and some lively conversation.

TOPS SERVICES TOPS is the culmination of three businesses occupying the corner of South Alfred and King Streets. Old Town Pack & Ship, Old Town Shoe & Luggage and the brand new Old Town Mini-Mart. TOPS is the go to place in Old Town for any of your mailing and shipping needs, shoe and luggage repair and a Mini-Mart for food stuffs and staples and your weekly Virginia Lottery tickets. The corner of Alfred and King is where you can find it and get it done.

CALVERT MARINA

VANS HAIRSTYLISTS

Calvert Marina in Solomons, Maryland is the perfect place to keep your boat both long-term and just for a few nights. It is a short 55 minute drive from Alexandria and minutes away from the Chesapeake Bay and the Patuxent River. A visit to Solomons Island is a bit like a mini trek to Key West. If you are lucky enough to be a boat owner, Calvert Marina is one of the best places to tie up on the water. With a swimming pool, picnic tables and grills and one of the areas dining gems, the Hidden Harbor, you can’t go wrong.

When my hair got very long in the back and my favorite stylist moved south 8 years ago, I decided to forgo the high dollar salons and stopped in to Van’s Hairstylists for a trim. I know several men in the area that have been Van’s customers for years and now I regret I didn’t patronize them sooner. For $15 I get as good as or better cut than I did for the $45 I paid for many years. Fun people with huge smiles and a no-nonsense approach are the norm at Van’s. It just feels good to go there. Ladies, you might want to give it a try as well. Think of the money you will save!

ADVERTISE WITH US office@oldtowncrier.com for inquiries Ocean Spray cranberry juice, and Kamloops, Canada, was very rode to work. sad about not being able to During the celebrate her special day with trip, he her extended family in the recorded United States. Charlie’s aunt a video of made a post on Facebook, himself asking that people make her skating, birthday a day to remember. The post was shared on social drinking his juice, and lip-syncing to media and the response was the 1980s song “Dreams” by immediate and immense. Fleetwood Mac. Originally, Charlie’s grandparents, Nathan wasn’t going to post who she lives with, were overwhelmed by the 173 cards the video to the social media platform TikTok, but he and 15 parcels she received decided to share it. It went from total strangers. It made Charlie’s birthday extra special. viral with over 40 million views. Ocean Spray saw the video and delivered a truck full of Nathan’s favorite drink to him--and he got to keep the truck too! Ocean Spray has posted the video of the truck handover with Nathan on its Instagram account, and it is a must-see. Millions Image Courtesy TikTok/Nathan Apodaca of people, including the drummer of Fleetwood Mac, An Ocean Spray Fan are recreating the video and Receives a Muchposting the results on TikTok.

Like us on Facebook! @oldtowncrier

SOCIAL MEDIA | FROM PG 2

Deserved Reward

A KFC Proposal Leads Nathan Apodaca’s truck a Dream Wedding broke down on the way to his job at a potato plant. He When Hector Mkansi decided to make the best of a proposed to Nonhlanhla bad situation, so he got out his Soldaat while eating a meal at skateboard, grabbed a bottle of KFC, they never knew the Old Town Crier

to

As I mentioned before, there is no group out there telling folks that they should advertise in the Old Town Crier or other local publications who are struggling because times are tough. I am not sure what they think, but I do know this, thousands of folks from “The Bay to the Blue Ridge” read us, believe in us and love our covers. I also know advertising with us works... so do these people. Thank you for patronizing our advertisers.

TRANSFORM YOUR BATH OR SHOWER IN AS LITTLE AS ONE DAY Image Courtesy twitter.com/KFCSA

offbeat proposal would lead to their dream wedding. Hector decided to propose to Nonhlanhla at KFC because it was her favorite place to eat. The special proposal was captured on video by a bystander and posted on Twitter, where KFC South Africa asked its followers to find the couple. The video ended up with 25,000 retweets and people located the couple. The video was so popular that the fast-food chain paid for the couple’s wedding planner. Car companies like Audi offered to provide transportation for the couple on their destination honeymoon and the airlines Kulula and Mango volunteered to pay for their flights. The pair enjoyed a dream wedding at the end of the year and an allexpenses-paid honeymoon thanks to all the donations from brands, celebrities, and online strangers.

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February 2021 | 5


PERSONALITY PROFILE

LANI GERING

Restaurateur Al with fellow Bond 45 Manager John Edwards (Right) Copius Amounts AL

Kaimbr the Rapper

W

ho remembers the 1957 Joanne Woodward movie “The Three Faces of Eve”? If you aren’t an old movie buff or of a certain age, you probably don’t know that the subject matter of this movie is about a woman who has multiple personalities. While Al Green doesn’t have the serious baggage that Eve had, he does have three pretty distinct personalities. He is more than just a Renaissance Man. He has three very distinct loves – Restaurants, Rap and being a Rad (an excellent person or thing) Dad!

Restaurateur Al Green I met Al when he was managing the newly opened sister restaurant to Bond 45 Fiorella’s Italian Kitchen - in National Harbor about 10 or so years ago. He is now the Managing Director for the Fireman Group in National Harbor. Al has spent a good portion of his life in the restaurant business doing just about everything one can do and he still does to this day. When we sat down for this interview he was expediting food and making drinks 6 | February 2021

Rad Dad with his twin boys, daughter and nephew on the Copius Amounts Set

The Three Faces of Al Green Restaurateur, Rapper & Rad Dad at Fiorella’s. The pandemic and all of its protocols have certainly changed the way eateries have to do business and manage employees. Speaking of the pandemic, one really good thing to come out of it was the creation of Copious Amounts, Al Green’s new cooking show. During the time that the restaurants were closed he had to do something with his restaurant and cooking skills and he had access to a nice commercial kitchen so….Copious Amounts was born. Copious is a “from start to finish” show featuring several dishes being prepared at the same time. He incorporates local Rap celebs as well as family members and friends. They produced 18 episodes in 18 weeks and finished the final episode a couple of weeks ago. He is hoping to get it syndicated

at some point. Check out the link to an episode here. https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=-QJT1Pxph94Al

Rapper Al aka Kaimbr While he was enrolled in school at Gallaudet University to study sign language and working part time in the kitchen, Al started his rapping career at the ripe old age of 18. Didn’t take long until he decided that Rap was what he wanted to pursue, so he dropped his interpreter aspirations and morphed himself into “Kaimbr” – pronounced came-ber. I just found out about Kaimbr when we became Facebook friends a year or so ago and while I am no big fan of Rap, it appears that he’s sort of a big deal in the Rap world. In fact, he is known to most of his friends and acquaintances as Kaimbr.

He tells me that a good portion of them have no idea how involved in the restaurant business he is. His record label is Humble Monarch and he currently has several albums on the market - Share the Shelter, Bronze Horse and The Alexander Green Project as well as Black Earth with more to come in 2021.

Rad Dad Al Al’s beautiful hazel/green eyes light up when he talks about his kids. His 20 year old daughter Cheyenne, who is a sophomore at Frostburg State College, and his 15 year old twin boys Nathanial and Noah are the light of his life. He told me about his Cotillion experience with Cheyenne and it made me laugh. He says he didn’t know what a great “waltzer” he was until he hit the dance floor with her. I’ve

seen photos of them and she is beautiful and it is evident that he is very proud of her. The boys are active in all things 15 year old boys like to do. He tells me they have two very different personalities so there is a good balance in the family. Family is very important to Al and he spends a lot of time with them all. He says that they love to tease and poke fun at each other but in the end it’s all about the laughing that they do when they are together. His family will be welcoming a new member this year. Al Green is getting married Unlike Woodward’s character Eve, Al Green’s three faces morph into each other. His love of people, food, music and hospitality transcend to each phase of his life. When he is at the restaurants he treats the customers like family, when he is making music he treats his people like family, when he’s filming Copious Amounts he treats his guests like family and when he’s with his family he is a combination of all three. If you have the pleasure of meeting Al, you will be in good hands. Old Town Crier


CALENDAR | FROM PAGE 3

as he discusses various periods of his life and engages the audience. The first week will be about his youth; the second week will delve into the American War for Independence; the third week will cover his postwar retirement at Mount Vernon and his time presiding over the Constitutional Convention and the last installment will cover his presidency and final retirement years. $20 admission per event or $60 for admission for all events. Visit WashingtonBirthday.com for the full program. 

Christ Church Churchyard Tours Every Saturday in February, 12-2 p.m.

George Washington’s church has one of the oldest graveyards in Alexandria, dating back to 1766. Hear from Christ Church docents about the churchyard’s unique history, Washington’s connection with Christ Church and other presidents who worshipped there. 15-minute tours will be given every Saturday in February (6th, 13th, 20th & 27th) from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. For more information, visit WashingtonBirthday.com. FREE

“George Washington’s Alexandria” Tours

Every Sunday in February, 2 to 3:30 p.m. Explore historic Old Town Alexandria as George Washington knew it! This 90-minute guided walking tour will visit sites associated with Washington and his closest colleagues, including John Fitzgerald’s warehouse, Captain’s Row, Gentry Row, the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary shop, Ramsay House, Market Square, the Carlyle House, Wise’s Tavern, Duvall Tavern, Gadsby’s Tavern and George Washington’s town house. The tour begins

behind the Torpedo Factory’s south entrance and in front of Vola’s Dockside Grill at 101 N. Union Street. Physical distancing, masks and reservations required. Reserve your slot on Facebook or Eventbrite at WashingtonBirthdayEvents. eventbrite.com. FREE

Birthnight Banquet & Ball: Virtual February 13, 7 p.m. You are invited to a virtual recreation of the famous celebration of Washington’s birthnight (birthday) held annually at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum. We look forward to sharing all the most important parts of the event - General Washington, a banquet and a ball. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to AlexandriaVA.gov/Shop.

Q & A with Officers of the First Virginia Regiment and an Officer of the Opposing Force: Virtua February 14, 2 p.m. Company officers of the First Virginia Regiment of the Continental Line, under a flag of truce, will meet with the loyal opposition to take questions from the audience on the War for Independence. Questions can be asked relating to their uniforms and accoutrements, how the troops are formed up and move about the battlefield as well as other questions related to American war. Please attend this webinar to have fun and learn about history of the time!

the Sons of the American Revolution as they honor the soldiers of the Revolution. For location information, please visit WashingtonBirthday.com. FREE

OLD TOWN Mini-Mart

George Washington National Birthday Celebration: Virtual February 22, 7 p.m. Join Americans across the nation to celebrate Washington’s 289th birthday with a special virtual birthday party hosted by Mount Vernon. In February, patriots from across the country will gather in the comfort of their own homes to salute General Washington with an online program featuring performances and stories from actors, musicians, and historians. A highlight of the celebration includes a birthday toast to General Washington. $5 recommended donation. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to MountVernon.org/ gwbirthday. George Washington Birthday events and tours are organized by the George Washington Birthday Celebration Committee of the City of Alexandria, Virginia in cooperation with local historic sites and organizations. Learn more at WashingtonBirthday.com.

NOW OPEN! 822 King Street Old Town Alexandria, Virginia 703.549.7167 Open 5:00 am-Midnight

Visit WashingtonBirthday.com for virtual link information. $5 admission.

Wreath Laying Ceremony to honor the Soldiers of the American Revolution February 15, 11 a.m. Join the Daughters of the American Revolution and

ABOUT ALEXANDRIA, VA Named a Top 5 Best Small City in the U.S. 2020 for three consecutive years by the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards and one of the South’s Best Cities 2020 by Southern Living, Alexandria hums with a cosmopolitan feel and a walkable lifestyle—a welcoming weekend escape next to our nation’s capital. A nationally designated historic district founded in 1749, Old Town Alexandria is home to more than 200 independent restaurants and boutiques alongside intimate historic museums and new happenings at the waterfront. At the heart of it all is bustling King Street, a walkable mile recognized as one of the “Great Streets” of America. New restaurants tucked into 18thand 19th-century architecture still intact from the city’s days as George Washington’s hometown ignite historic and off-thebeaten-path neighborhoods as the waterfront district evolves with new energy. Learn more at VisitAlexandriaVA.com. Old Town Crier

February 2021 | 7


FINANCIAL FOCUS

CARL TREVISAN, CFP© & STEPHEN BEARCE

The Importance of Planning

B

etween the COVID-19 pandemic, widespread social protest, various natural disasters, and several hotly contested elections, the year 2020 was one pretty much impossible to even begin to predict. Such a volatile and uncertain environment may make setting and sticking to an investment plan seem like an exercise in futility. Yet the best investment plans are usually precisely the ones that have anticipated in advance how to adapt to changing conditions. It all starts with planning.

Why planning can make a difference In its 2019 Retirement Study, Wells Fargo found that investors with a planning mindset felt they had greater personal control over such matters as personal debt, investment performance, career, and their overall financial life. The planning mindset was defined according to four key components: 1. “I am able to work diligently toward a longterm goal.” 2. “In the last six months, I have set and achieved a goal or set of goals to 8 | February 2021

support my financial life.” 3. “I prefer saving for retirement now to ensure I have a better life in retirement.” 4. “It makes me feel better to have my finances planned out in the next 1–2 years.” According to the study, approximately one-third of workers 1 have the planning mindset. Those workers are nearly twice as satisfied with their overall financial life as those without a planning mindset, nearly twice as confident that they’ll have enough money saved for retirement, and five times more likely to have a plan for dealing with the unexpected.

Steps to becoming a better planner The good news is that all investors have the ability to develop or strengthen planning skills that can help them improve their financial outlook. The first step is to obtain general financial education, which could include reading books or listening to podcasts on personal investment planning, taking a course online or at a local college, or talking with a financial

advisor. Next come the simple (although not always easy) steps to spend less and save more. Financial apps can help with tasks such as budgeting and tracking spending. Automated nudges—such as a yearly increase in the 401(k) savings rate—can help keep savings plans on track. Just remember that it can take time and practice to change financial habits. Beginning with smaller steps can reinforce the new habits and build confidence to move to the next level. Then focus on developing a long-term investment plan, including contingency plans to help deal with the unexpected. Tools such as vision boards – a collage of images that represent future desires – can help investors flesh out goals such as home ownership or retirement preferences. Once the basic plan is in place, continual updates allow investors to adapt to changes in the economy and their own circumstances. A plan should be documented and should be living and breathing – not something you create and forget. Life changes and your plan should keep pace.

In particular, tax changes could trigger updates. Recent years have brought several changes to tax and estate law, including the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act of 2019, and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020. The acts collectively brought changes to IRA withdrawal policies and the estate tax exemption, as well as other changes that could significantly alter how an investor will manage their investment plan. With education and effort, investors can use a planning mindset to help achieve longterm financial health and the life that they desire the most. Now is the time to review your plan and make necessary adjustments to strengthen your efforts toward achieving your ultimate goal. Wells Fargo Advisors is not a tax or legal advisor. 1. Workers refers to working adults who participated in the survey. On behalf of Wells Fargo, The Harris Poll conducted 3,918 online interviews of 2,708 working

Americans 18-75 or older and 1,004 retired Americans, surveying attitudes and behaviors around planning, saving and investing for retirement. Working Americans are age 18-75 or older and working full-time (or at least 20 hours if they are working part-time) or are selfemployed. Retired Americans self-identified as retired regardless of age. This article was written by/ for Wells Fargo Advisors and provided courtesy of Carl M. Trevisan, Managing DirectorInvestments `and Stephen M. Bearce, First Vice PresidentInvestments in Alexandria, VA at 800-247-8602. Investments in securities and insurance products are: NOT FDIC-INSURED/NOT BANKGUARANTEED/MAY LOSE VALUE Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member SIPC, a registered broker-dealer and non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company. © 2020 Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC. All rights reserved. Old Town Crier


PARKER A. POODLE ™

A BIT OF HISTORY Copyright ©2021 Sarah Becker

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n this parent fatigued pandemic I, Parker A. Poodle, a reading education assistance dog, have been asked to help you “Spin your imagination a little faster.” To assure children “The shallowest breath will generate/ a haiku, limerick or wellpruned lyric.” Hospice nurses now write lyrics to help them cope with the Covid crisis; write poetry to process their ICU experiences. As of January 14 the total number of U.S. Covid-19 cases was 23,214,472. The number continues to climb. Covid-19 has taken a measurable toll. We have fought its spread for months and all are tired. Of social distancing, virtual distancing; stay at home orders and remote learning. School and library facilities are mostly closed and school test scores have declined. Home confinement is hard, I know! “I stare at the page, waiting for my wattage,/ wondering if it’s time to invest in/subsidized solar scripting,” British poet and pal Elisabeth Rowe penned. “Time rolls over/ like a puppy in the sunshine/ things I am paying attention to/ become weightless,” Rowe wrote In the Garden. Not so now. Most humans—it seems— feel weighed down, pandemic plagued, and overloaded. How can I, a canine assist? I encourage you to express your feelings in writing; to use poetry to explain the day’s exploits. To maybe cure what ails. A narrative poem is one that tells a tale, a story. A historical story perhaps, or— in the case of the pandemic— home life. Elise Paschen, editor of Poetry Speaks to Children, describes poetry as a “journey

Old Town Crier

of

discovery…filled with range— historically, poetically, and visually. Poetry is like a diving board, a place from which to plunge into [life’s] depths.” Poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) wrote To Flush, My Dog in the 1840s. Her cocker spaniel was a Loving friend. “But of thee it will be said,/ This dog watched beside a bed/ Day and night unweary—.” Walt Whitman described

Fireside poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) “as a universal poet, of women and young people.” The Civil War (1861-1865) loomed and Longfellow called “for courage.” He published the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere in 1861. “Listen my children, and you shall hear/ Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,/ On the eighteenth of April, in SeventyFive:/ Hardly a man in now alive/ Who now remembers that famous day and year./ He said to a friend, “If the British march/ By land or sea from the tower to-night,/ Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry-arch/ Of the Old North-Church-tower, as a signal light,/ One if by land,

and two if by sea;/ And I on the opposite shore will be,/ Ready to ride and spread the alarm/ Through every Middlesex village and farm,/ For the country-folk to be up and to arm… You know the rest./ In the books you have read,/ How the British Regulars fired and fled—,/ How the farmers gave them ball for ball,/ From behind each fence and farmyard-wall,/ Chasing the red-coats down the lane,/ Then crossing the fields to emerge again/… So through the night rode Paul Revere;/ And so through the night went his cry of alarm/ To every Middlesex village and farm,—/ A cry of defiance and not of fear,/ A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,/ And a word that shall echo forevermore!/…”

Republican President Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809-April 15, 1865) wrote his first poem in his youth. “Abraham Lincoln/his hand and his pen/he will be good but/god knows When.” Lincoln emancipated most of America’s slaves on January 1, 1863. Poet and Civil War hospital volunteer Walt Whitman (1819-1892) wrote Chants Democratic 6 closer to his death. Described as America’s “most influential poet,” Whitman was bent on democracy. “You just maturing youth! You male or female!/ Remember the organic compact of These States,/ Remember the pledge of the Old Thirteen thenceforward to the rights, life, liberty, equality of man,/ Remember what was promulgated by the founders, ratified by the States, signed in black and white by the Commissioners, and read by Washington at the head of the army,/ Remember the purposes of the founders,--Remember Washington;/…. Remember, government is to subserve individuals,/ Not any, not the President, is to have one jot more than you or me,/ Not any habitan of America is to have one jot less than you or me./ Anticipate when the thirty or fifty millions, are to become the hundred, or two hundred millions, of equal freemen and freewomen, amicably joined./ Recall ages—One age is but a part—ages are but a part;/ Recall the angers, bickerings, delusions, superstitions, of the idea of caste,/ Recall the bloody cruelties and crimes./ Anticipate the best women; I say an unnumbered new A BIT OF HISTORY > PAGE 10

February 2021 | 9


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A BIT OF HISTORY | FROM PAGE 9

race of hardy and well-defined women are to spread through all These States,/ I say a girl fit for These States must be free, capable, dauntless, just the same as a boy. Anticipate your own life— retract with merciless power,/ Shirk nothing—retract in time—Do you see those errors, diseases, weaknesses, lies, thefts?/ Do you see that lost character?”… Character is often defined as the “collective qualities or characteristics, especially mental and moral that distinguish a person or thing.” Who cannot “see that lost character” especially after the January 6 Trump-inspired attack on the U.S. Capitol? The siege cost five people their lives including Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick. The preceding January 5 rally (NPS permit #21-0274) included two former Trump employees: pardoned felons and toadies George Papadoupolis (campaign staff) and Roger Stone (Advisor). Still Trump-45’s second impeachment continues. “Patriotism means to stand by country,” President Theodore Roosevelt (18581919) wrote. “To announce that there must be no criticism of the President or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or anyone else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about anyone else.” Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes (1902-1967) wrote The Negro Speaks of Rivers at age 18. “I’ve known rivers:/ I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and/ older than the flow of human blood in human veins./ My soul has grown deep like the rivers./… I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln/ went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy/ bosom turn all golden in the sunset./ I’ve known rivers./ Ancient, dusky rivers./ My soul has grown deep like the rivers.” The Oxford American Dictionary defines soul as the “moral, or emotional, or intellectual nature of a person or animal.” Wrote Walt Whitman in My Canary Bird: “Did we count great, O Soul, to penetrate the themes of mighty books,/ Absorbing deep and full from thoughts, plays and speculations?/ But now from

thee to me, caged bird, to feel thy joyous warble,/ Filling the air, the lonesome room, the longsome forenoon,/ Is it not just as great, O Soul?” The pandemic has led to “an unprecedented surge in pet adoptions.” Perhaps you would like to celebrate your pet pal or teacher; a special place or outdoor adventure with a poem? If so, then let’s begin. To write well, we first need an idea. Good ideas take imagination. And, as poets Elisabeth Rowe and Paul B. Janeczko suggest, a word turbine or word bank. Tad Hills’ “earnest dog” Rocket recommends a word tree. How do we grow our tree? We start with a few key words. In my case I focused on what I know well, myself. I associated the first words that came to mind with the spelling of my name. PARKER: Poodle Arthritis Read Kids Education Rhyme. My narrative: I am an older dog who enjoys reading with children. Who knows poems have rhythm even if every second line does not always rhyme. “My name is Parker A. Poodle/I neither dawdle nor doodle/I like to write/Not paint or draw/So write a poem I will try.” Next I asked my lady to brainstorm the word dog. Her answer…DOG: Delightful Old Goat. I stopped counting the years when I reached Sweet Sixteen. Our mix of themes: animals, aging, agility and grace, canine cognition and knowledge. Also: pandemic, isolation, school and home, together and alone. If the method suggested above does not suit, try using an adjective—a word used to describe a person, place, or thing—as the subject. Words like happy, blue, interesting, boring, masked or exposed. Concluded children’s poet Nikki Giovanni in The Reason I Like Chocolate: “The reason I like chocolate/ is I can lick my fingers/ and nobody tells me I am not polite/ I especially like scary movies/ ‘cause I can snuggle with my mommy/ or my big sister and they don’t laugh/ I like to cry sometimes ‘cause/ everybody says, “What’s the matter/ don’t cry”/ and I like books/ for all those reasons/ but mostly ‘cause they just make me/ happy/ and I really like/ to be happy.” No one has impressed this old dog more in recent years than America’s inaugural Youth Poet Laureate. Said Amanda Gorman of the pandemic: “I thought I’d awaken to a world in mourning./

Heavy clouds crowding, a society storming./ But there’s something different on this golden morning./ Something magical in the sunlight, wide and warming./ I see a dad with a stroller taking a jog./ Across the street, a bright-eyed girl chases her dog./… While we may feel small, separate, and all alone,/ Our people have never been more closely tethered./ The question isn’t if we will weather this unknown,/ But how we will weather this unknown together./ So on this meaningful morn, we mourn and mend./ Like light, we can’t be broken, even when we bend./ As one we will defeat both despair and disease. We ignite not in the light, but in lack thereof,/ For it is in loss that we truly learn to love./ In this chaos, we will discover clarity,/ In suffering we must find solidarity./ Know that this distance will make our hearts grow fonder,/ From a wave of woes our world will emerge stronger. We’ll observe how the burdens braved by humankind/ Are also the moments that make us humans kind;/ Let every dawn find us courageous, brought closer;/ Heeding the light before the fight is over./ When this ends, we’ll smile sweetly, finally seeing/ In testing times, we became the best of beings.” To Amanda, teachers, and all I end with a four-paw salute. To the generation of poets I watch from afar I ask. Pick up your pencils and write, give poetry a try. If I promise you’ll not only learn, but also feel better? World Poetry Day is celebrated on March 21; National Poetry Day on October 1. Sarah Becker started writing for The Economist while a graduate student in England. Similar publications followed. She joined the Crier in 1996 while serving on the Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association Board. Her interest in antiquities began as a World Bank hire, with Indonesia’s need to generate hard currency. Balinese history, i.e. tourism provided the means. The New York Times describes Becker’s book, Off Your Duffs & Up the Assets, as “a blueprint for thousands of nonprofit managers.” A former museum director, SLAM’s saving grace Sarah received Alexandria’s Salute to Women Award in 2007. Email: abitofhistory53@ gmail.com Old Town Crier


THE LAST WORD

MIRIAM R. KRAMER

Stephen King: Things That Go Bump, Eek, and Ook in the Night

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ince officially beginning his career with a short story sold in 1967, the extraordinarily prolific author Stephen King has written more than 60 novels, not to mention multiple screenplays, five non-fiction books, and approximately 200 short stories. His first published book, Carrie, was released in 1973 when he was in his twenties, giving him enough money to write fulltime. Since then, he’s left a legacy inextricably intertwined with pop culture in books and movies. His writing comprises horror, science fiction, fantasy, and straight fiction genres, with those genres often overlapping. He has referred to himself as the writer’s equivalent of a Big Mac and Fries, which does not tell even part of the story of his enduring popularity, despite showing that he understands his common-man touch. Even as an omnivorous reader, I put King aside for a long time. What I did read I found to be propulsive and very engaging, but I do not like horror as a genre, and perhaps unfairly stayed away. Also, I read The Shining when I was eleven, and stayed up all night long as a result. In my early teens Cujo had me closing my closet doors at night. Therefore, I moved on to other authors. Yet even I dabbled my toes in the King paddling pool, if not the deep end, in my later teens. Written under his then-pseudonym, Richard Bachman, The Bachman Books, comprising four novellas, intrigued me in high school. They were not horror, albeit often horrific. Two tales stood out for me then. In Rage, a high-school student kills his teacher and holds the class hostage. As a high school student, I could understand and feel in my gut, as many teenagers might, the feelings of alienation in the main character. (After several school Old Town Crier

shooters were found to have referenced Rage or used it as inspiration, King let its copyright expire and wrote an essay on gun violence.) In The Long Walk, teenage boys submit their names in a lottery. A hundred names are drawn, and each contestant must keep walking to the death until only one is left, granted anything in life he desires from an authoritarian, rightwing government. I see echoes of it in The Hunger Games trilogy released by Suzanne Collins, although that is postapocalyptic action-adventure. Another tale that struck me forcefully in high school was Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, the story of Andy Dufresne, an unjustly convicted man sent to Shawshank Prison in Maine. The Shawshank Redemption, one of the most highly respected and beloved films ever made, has maintained the highest overall rating on the Internet Movie Database (IMDB.com) for many years, above even The Godfather and The Godfather II. It is a classic story of perseverance and redemption that anyone might find worthwhile. I have had no way to even begin to review the stories, novellas, and novels that have shot from King’s imaginationfueled fingertips on to the typed page. In the past month, however, I did a deep dive into some of his recent and classic works, one that kept going as I grabbed a box of Chicken McNuggets here, a Big Mac there, or a Quarter-Pounder with Cheese, depending on my appetite. I read more of his books than ever before. I needed all that reading to escape during the month before the inauguration, taking a particular break from the outrageous events that took place on January 6 at the Capitol Building in Washington, DC. In the

process, I took a drifting, scattershot approach. One that often comes up on the “Ten Best Stephen King Books” lists is The Stand, a novel about a postapocalyptic America in which most people have died from a government-engineered super flu. It drew my eye because we are still in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic. At approximately 1300 pages, it was a commitment, but one I was willing to make. I zoomed through it as fast as I could. This cinematic story features violence and cringe-worthy moments aplenty. A King characteristic I noticed in this book first released in 1978 was to display violence with cartoonish glee and sometimes have characters emit sounds like “RAT-ATAT!” or “POW!” to bring a slightly surreal edge to an already surreal story. His onomatopoeia is a touch gonzo, as his style of writing can often be. King released his own “Writer’s Cut” of the novel ten years later, since he had been asked to edit down the pages to keep the published book a reasonable price. By then it was a classic, but the longer 1988 version is now considered the standard. In The Stand the few human survivors divide into camps of good and evil, separated by the Rocky Mountains, as they defend themselves on their long trek from other parts of the United States. The largerthan-life Satanic figure of Randall Flagg musters forces in the Western half of the former United States to attack forces east of the Rockies. If you’re looking for an absorbing, quick, escapist read, look no further. Is this the best Stephen King book written? Perhaps not for me, although I enjoyed it. I read Dolores Claiborne some years ago. It is a gripping, straightforward fiction story about a woman, her deadbeat

husband, and her trial for his murder. I would recommend it for its absorbing and satisfying examination of the relationship between mother and daughter, employer and employee, and abusive husband and wife. The film, starring Kathy Bates, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and David Strathairn, is also well worth watching. In this swoop through King’s oeuvre, I went through some of his most recent fiction. I perused the Bill Hodges trilogy, comprising Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers, and End of Watch. He introduces a number of recurring characters, including Bill Hodges, a retired

police detective brought back into action by a working-class serial killer, Brady Hartsfield; Holly Gibney, a neurotic, OCD, film-loving computer guru; and two middle-class African American teens, Jerome and Barbara

THE LAST WORD > PAGE 13

February 2021 | 11


HIGH NOTES

RON POWERS

Hate To Be Amazed

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’m a sucker for clever band names. So, when one of my colleagues recently introduced me to a new band called “The Matlock Twins”, I just had to investigate. Once I heard the tunes, the case was closed. This band was guilty... of making great music that is. Their self-titled debut EP consists of four well-constructed songs that have a dreamy new wave meats jam band feel to them. For me, the standout track is “Hate To Be Amazed” and I’d like to share my experience with the song here. The track starts with a swaying groove laid down with drums and bass. This is quickly followed with a layer of FenderRhodes-style keys and guitar with the reverb cranked up. The mood of the song starts to take root as the topline is introduced. With an aching and melodic sweetness, singer Alex Levene delivers the poignant lines, “In time I’ll find my one / and she’ll have met someone.” Lines like these elevate the emotional impact of the song and offer a vulnerability that most listeners appreciate. For the pre-chorus the band switch things up, introducing a driving rhythm with guitar and bass. This creates a

12 | February 2021

BY THE MATLOCK TWINS

building tension while moving toward the chorus. There is also a cool chord transition in this section that reminds of The Beatles’ “Octopus’s Garden”. The prechorus finishes nicely, led by the vocal melody which provides the culminating emotion needed to lift the song into its chorus. Although a lament, the chorus has a serene beauty to it. I am particularly struck by the vocal performance. The authenticity in the delivery and distinct timbre and tonal quality of Lavene’s voice gives “Hate To Be Amazed” a rare and original shine. Combined with excellent performances on drums, bass, keys, guitar, and lead guitar, The Matlock Twins make a compelling case as to why they are a band that stands out on today’s musical landscape. I also enjoyed the production quality of this song. There is an organic vibe to the sound in that everything you are hearing feels like real people in a real recording studio playing music. Although big productions can be fun, I most enjoy listening to music that does not have too many recording tricks between the artist and listener. For me this helps with

connecting to an artist. The drum sound is particularly enjoyable on this song. There is just the right amount of bite and body on the snare and the kick has power and impact without being overbearing. The bass guitar works nicely with the drums to establish a stable ground which allows for the effects-soaked guitars to float and swirl around. All this provides the perfect musical filigree for the vocals to sit in the midst of. With just four songs under their belt, The Matlock Twins are off to a great start. And if a song like “Hate To Be Amazed” is any indication as to what is to come, big things are undoubtably on the horizon for this bright new act. If you would like to learn more about The Matlock Twins you can find them on Instagram. If you’d like to listen to their music, head over to Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, or most any platform where digital music is streamed or sold. Ron Powers is an independent A&R specialist and music industry consultant, and is constantly searching for, discovering and writing about new talent. Old Town Crier


THE LAST WORD | FROM PAGE 11

Robinson. Together they make up a team that vehemently combats the real, gruesome, and increasingly paranormal serial killers they find along the way. Holly Gibney, owner of the skip-tracing firm Finders Keepers, a de facto private investigator, appears in two more tales. Among the characters in my recent reads, she is one of the more fully realized and endearing. She appears also in the recent novel The Outsider. At the beginning of the Outsider, a man is arrested for murdering and sexually assaulting a boy. The police have found enough concrete forensic proof to convict him. Then they discover a perfect alibi corroborated by others, with the man even caught on camera at the time of the murder. In reconciling the two, the element of the supernatural begins to creep in, making this a uniquely King type of mystery. Detective Ralph Andersen must find who is committing these murders and inducing suicides in roughly the same way as Brady Hartsfield, the murderer Bill Hodges and Holly Gibney had pitted themselves against earlier. King’s most recent story collection, Let It Bleed, is a quick-reading collection of stories that features Holly Gibney in identifying another murderer with supernatural powers who feeds off violence and misery, along with other paranormally touched stories. Perhaps my favorite recent Stephen King read is a fastpaced thriller, The Institute. A fired police detective, Tim Jamieson, hitches his way up the East Coast on a whim and decides to stop in the small town of Dupray, South Carolina, to become a night knocker, walking the street at night to check on its security. In another part of the country, a government agency kidnaps children with special telepathic or telekinetic abilities, killing their parents and bringing them to an institute in the Maine woods where the top-secret program can harness their paranormal powers for national security purposes. It remains for one very academically brilliant and socially skilled child, Luke Ellis, to make friends with the other kids, figure out how to escape the Institute, and make his way far enough away to gain allies, such as the former police detective in Dupray, as the chase after him ensues. I really Old Town Crier

enjoyed this book’s emphasis on kids: their resourcefulness and the way they form friendships. It is also a fast, fun read. In taking this piecemeal tour of King’s writing, I notice his constant use of tangy, slangy phrases aimed at keeping his writing hyperbolic. That makes his books fun but often over-the-top. The attitudes of his characters towards each other sometimes do not show subtlety or nuance. Occasionally he can be hamhanded, although luckily never high-handed, and create dialogue that’s exaggeratedly creepy among characters who might not exist in real life. Many would say, “Well, that’s the point.” I would rather have very convincing dialogue that makes it easier for me to suspend my disbelief for paranormal or horrific characters or plot points. For example, in the aforementioned Bill Hodges trilogy, there is some frankly clumsy dialogue written for Jerome Robinson, minstrel-style drivel meant to be done in fun but probably not something a young, intelligent, Black man would ever say to an older, white ex-cop whose lawn he mows. King’s hyperdriven, cartoonish approach provides enjoyment, but it can make his writing erratic. Sometimes you can even see the welded seams of the machine, which creak when he emphasizes a minor plot point that you know will have to be crucial later. He also does not always keep in touch with the times. Kids in The Institute sometimes wisecrack like a Baby Boomer rather than a kid of today. Currentday characters have names that would have been more popular for people their ages in the Fifties, Sixties, or Seventies than now. King’s editors tread lightly. He writes fast, moves on, and does not apologize. King sometimes touches on the provocative theme of literary obsession, with characters such as Annie Wilkes from Misery or Morris Bellamy from Finders Keepers valuing the books they love, the ones against which they define themselves, much more than the authors themselves. In that way he is writing a love letter to the power of literature and the mysteriousness of the creative imagination, albeit in some rather psychologically perverted settings. Regardless of critiques, he grabs you with his propulsive plots and Everyman approach. He is bighearted, unsentimental, and never

snobbish. Also, he shows a genuine sense of humor. You would want to know him as a person and probably as a friend. King’s book On Writing, a nonfiction account of his time as a writer, is a wonderful book about the writing life and how best to tell a story, focusing on Stephen King’s personal story in particular. I read when it came out and then once more recently. If I had to pick one book of his above any other, this would be it. It recently celebrated its twentieth anniversary and has become a classic. On Writing is equally fascinating for writers and non-writers alike who are interested in what makes this highly successful, down-toearth writer tick. It is also very well-written, as one would hope, and more literary than any other book of his that I have read. Here he shows how much he cares about language, and here he explains why and how he approaches his craft. It provides a wonderful introduction to any subsequent King books but is equally as good for long-time fans who want to see how the goresplattered sausage is made.

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February 2021 | 13


GALLERY BEAT

F. LENNOX CAMPELLO

Photo: M.V. Jantzen

A fire dance performance at Artomatic 2008.

DEAR ARTOMATIC… PLEASE come back in 2021!

T

hat would be the best DMV sign that things are getting back to normal and the end of The Covidian Age. If you are an artist or art lover reading this post, then chances are that you already know what ARTOMATIC is and all about this amazing spectacle. But just in case, a little review. Over the last few decades, about once a year or so, under the guiding hand of a board of hardworking artists and volunteers, a large, unoccupied building in the Greater Washington, DC area is identified, and eventually filled with hundreds of artists’ works, loads of theatre and dance performances, panels, and everything associated with breathing a powerful breath of energy into the Greater DC art scene. Let’s review: The idea behind ARTOMATIC is simple: find a large, empty building somewhere in the city; work with the building owners, and then allow any artist who wants to show their work help with staging the show, pay a small fee and work a few hours 14 | February 2021

assisting with the show itself. Any artist. Artists love ARTOMATIC, but most DC area art critics hate it. Why? I think that in order to write a proper, ethical review of ARTOMATIC, a writer must spend hours walking several floors of art, jam-packed into hundreds of rooms, bathrooms, closets and stairs. And I think that this is one of the main reasons that most art critics love to hate this show. It overwhelms them with visual offerings and forces them to develop a “glance and judge” attitude towards the artwork. It’s a lot easier to carpet bomb a huge show like this than to do a surgical strike to try to find the great art buried by the overwhelming majority that constitutes the great democratic pile of so-so artwork and really bad artwork. Add on top of that, an outdated, but “alive and kicking” elitist attitude towards an open show, where anyone and everyone who calls him or herself an artist can exhibit, sans the sanitizing and allknowing eye of the latest trendy curator, and you have a perfect

formula for elitist dismissing of this show, without really looking at it. Practically every art critic and every art writer that I know is a liberal in nearly everything that faces them… except when it comes to an “open” show. This harsh and elitist attitude towards art is not new or even modern. It was the same attitude that caused the emergence of the salons of the 19th century, where only artists that the academic intelligentsia deemed good enough were exhibited. As every art student who almost flunked art history knows, towards the latter half of that century, the artists who had been rejected from the salons (because they didn’t fit the formula of good art) organized their own Salon Des Refuses, sort of a 19th century Parisian Art-O-Matique. And a lot, in fact most of the work in the Salon Des Refuses was quite feh! but amongst the dreck there were also pearls like Manet’s Le Dejeuner sur ‘Herbe (Luncheon in the Grass), Monet’s Impression: Sunrise, (and we all know what art “ism” that title gave birth to) and an odd and memorable

looking portrait of a young lady in white (The White Girl, Symphony in White, No. 1) by an American upstart by the name of James McNeill Whistler. Everyone who was anyone in the art world hated and dismissed this anti-salon exhibition; except for the only one that really counts: Art

Photos: David Baker

History. But how does a writer cover an arts extravaganza of the size of ARTOMATIC once the eyes and mind become numb after the 200th artist, or the 400th or the 1,000th? As an art critic, I once started a review of a past

GALLERY BEAT > `PAGE 15

Old Town Crier


ART&ANTIQUES ANTIQUES

ArtOMatic-Arteology GALLERY BEAT | FROM PAGE 14

ARTOMATIC by complaining how much my feet hurt after my 5th or 6th visit to the show, in a futile attempt to gather as much visual information as possible in order to write a fair review of the artwork. Over the years I have discovered that it is impossible to see everything and to be fair about anyone; the sheer size and evolving nature of the show itself makes sure of the impossibility of this task. But ARTOMATIC is not just about the artwork. As a gallerist, I also have visited ARTOMATIC looking for new talent amongst the vast numbers of artists who come together under one roof. Over the years, together with my fellow DC area gallerists, we have plucked many artists from the ranks and files of ARTOMATIC. Artists who since their first appearance at past ARTOMATICs have now joined the collections of museums and Biennials and have been picked up by galleries nationwide. Names like Tim Tate, the Dumbacher Brothers, Kelly Towles, Michael Janis, Kathryn Cornelius, Richard Chartier Robin Bell, and that amazing worldwide phenomenon and bestselling author Frank Warren of PostSecret fame. But ARTOMATIC is not just about

the emerging superstar artist. As an artist, one year I decided to participate in ARTOMATIC, just to see what the guts of the machine looked like. “I know the monster well,” wrote the poet Jose Marti, “for I have lived in its entrails.” My volunteer hours patrolling the halls on a Wednesday night at midnight, and still seeing people come in and out, and explore art on the wee hours of the morning, also left a footprint on the public impact of the exhibition. Dealing with prima donna artists, recharging my own artistic batteries from hundreds of fellow artists, many of them in their first public exposure, also left an impression. But ARTOMATIC is not just about the public. ARTOMATIC is two things to me: It is perhaps the nation’s most powerful incarnation of what it means to be a creative community of hundreds of working creative hands all aligned to not only create artwork, but also put together a spectacular extravaganza that re-charges the regional art scene as no museum or gallery show can. ARTOMATIC is a community of artists employing the most liberal of approaches to art that there exists: the artists are in charge, and the artists make it work,

and the artists charge the city with energy and zeal. And these descendants of those brave souls who challenged the academic salons of the 19th century face the same negative eye from the traditional art critics and curators of our museums, who challenge not just the art, but the concept of an open, non-juried, most democratic of art shows: a community of artists in charge of energizing the community at large. All good group shows must be curated! shout these chained critical voices. And Artomatic is certainly the easiest and most comprehensive way to discover contemporary art at its battlefront lines, right at the birth of many artists, paradoxically showcasing the area’s artworld’s deepest and also its newest roots. This is where both the savvy collector, and the beginning collector, and the aspiring curator, and the sharp-eyed gallerist can come to one place with a sense of discovery in mind. And the ones that I missed in the past, and who were discovered by others, are ample evidence of the subjectivity of a 1,000+ group art show. Artomatic… please come back in 2021!

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Potomac Fiber Arts Gallery 105 N. Union Street St. George Gallery 105 N. Alfred Street The Art League 105 Union Street Local Colour Old Town 218 N. Lee Street Icon Galleria 101 N. Union Street B&B Art Gallery 215 King Street Gallery West 1213 King Street Enamelist’s Gallery 105 N. Union Street Printmakers, Inc. 105 N. Union Street Kelly’s Art & Frame 510 N. Washington Street Oerth Gallery 420 S. Washington Street Jeffrey Winter Fine Arts 110A S. Columbus Street Johnston Matthew 105 N. Union Street Huddy Studio 105 N. Union Street Mezzanine Multiples 105 N. Union Street Silverman Galleries 110 N. St. Asaph Street Cochran David 105 N. Union Street Betty Grisham Studio 105 N. Union Street Imagine Artwear 112 King Street

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“ONE OF THE MOST INTERESTING PEOPLE OF WASHINGTON, DC” Syreni Caledonii (Northern Atlantic Mermaid). Watercolor, charcoal and Conte. 2019, 12x36 inches.

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February 2021 | 15


URBAN GARDEN

ROSE COLOR MEANINGS:

LANI GERING

RED True love

WHITE I love you not

— Scottish bard, Robbie Burns

W

hile we realize that this column is normally dedicated to what we all should be doing during the month of February to ensure a beautiful garden during the rest of the year, we are stepping outside the box with a piece about the meaning of many of the flowers that you have growing or plan to grow this season. In the spirit of the season, we all recognize the red rose as the ultimate flower symbol of love. A red rose is the traditional romantic gift given to your love on Valentine’s Day, however, different rose colors can send other messages. The information in this column was garnered from several sources that may be a bit subjective since not all of the “experts” tend to agree on some of the meanings; however, we hope you find the information entertaining and enlightening in some fashion. For hundreds of years flowers have held hidden meanings, derived from mythology, folklore, religious and historical symbolism. The floral bouquet you send or receive also brings a special coded message, depending on the flowers you choose. The study of the meaning of flowers is an actual science known as floriography, and it reveals an extra underlying meaning to sending or receiving flowers - subtle and secret messages can be passed through the different blooms. During the 18th century sending flower messages based on a Turkish secret language of flowers became popular. This was known as 16 | February 2021

sending a ‘Persian Selam’ a coded bouquet to reveal your feelings of love or attraction. The Victorians became very knowledgeable in flower language and chose their bouquets carefully. Flowers gave them a secret language that enabled them to communicate feelings that the propriety of the times would not allow; there were strict restraints on courtship and any displays of emotion. Think about the following when ordering your Valentine’s Day, birthday, anniversary, Mother’s day or any other occasion you plan to send flowers to make sure you don’t send the wrong message. Even the way you hand over the bouquet sends a message flowers held in your right hand mean ‘yes’, whereas flowers held in the left hand mean ‘no’. Anemone - dying love derived from the Greek for ‘windflower’, mythology relates the anemone sprung from the tears of Aphrodite as she mourned the death of her love, Adonis. In folklore the anemone is believed to bring luck and protection against evil. The flower was said to foretell rain by closing its petals, and fairies were believed to sleep beneath the petals of the wood anemone during the night after they closed at sunset Bluebell - constancy and everlasting love - believed to call the fairies when rung, and thought to be unlucky to walk through a mass of bluebells, because it was full of spells. It is also considered an unlucky flower to pick or bring into the house. The Latin name for this flower is Endymion who

was the lover of the moon Goddess, Selene. The goddess put Endymion into an eternal sleep, so she alone could enjoy his beauty. Bluebells were said by herbalists to help prevent nightmares, and used as a remedy against leprosy, spiderbites and tuberculosis, but the bluebell is poisonous. Carnation - betrothal, love and fertility - this flower was believed to be an aphrodisiac, hence its popular use at weddings and because of the association with love it was widely used in wreaths. Gentlemen began to wear carnations as a buttonhole, Oscar Wilde developed the fashion with a dyed green carnation. The various carnation colors can mean different things: white - love; yellow - rejection; pink - I’ll never forget you; red - aching heart; Forget-me-nots - true love and remembrance - mythology describes this as the flower chosen by a brave knight as a posy for his sweetheart before going to battle, as he knelt to gather the tiny blue flowers he fell into a river and was swept away, calling to his love to ‘forget me not’. Honeysuckle - devoted love - said to protect your garden from evil. It is known as the ‘love bind’ - symbolizing a lover’s embrace in its clinging growing habits. The heady fragrance of the flowers was believed to induce dreams of love and passion. If the bloom is brought into the house a wedding is said to follow within the year. The honeysuckle’s berries are poisonous.

Lily of the Valley - return to happiness - a beautifully scented, but highly poisonous flower. It is believed that Lily of the valley protects your gardens from evil spirits. These fragrant blooms supposedly sprang from Eve’s tears when she was cast out of the garden of Eden. Moss - symbolic of maternal love - soft and comforting used widely by birds in nesting. Narcissus - self-love and vanity - the flower name derives from Greek mythology and the tale of the beautiful Narcissus. He ignored the lovely nymph, Echo, and so was punished by falling in love with his own reflection in a pool. The gods believed Narcissus would die of starvation, so they transformed him into the delicate form of scented narcissi, so he could stay there forever. Pansy - loving thoughts and attraction - known also as ‘heartsease’, this pretty flower was believed to heal love problems. Anyone wanting to ensure they were loved by their sweethearts would carry a pansy Primrose - first love - from the Latin ‘primus’ - meaning first, due to their early spring flowering. The primrose is the sacred flower of Freya, the Norse goddess of love and was used in rituals giving honor to her. While this is just a small sample of the flowers that grow in your garden and comprise many an arrangement, I will bet that many of you will consult with your favorite florist, the next time you send a bouquet! Happy Valentine’s Day to all!

YELLOW Jealousy

PINK Innocent love and happiness

ORANGE I love you vigorously

PURPLE I will love you forever

WILD ROSE Uncontrollable desire

MOSS ROSE I admire you from afar Old Town Crier


Make It Personal This Valentine’s Day!!

This year may be a good one to make your own Valentine cards. While we are sure that the good portion of our readership is full of wit and wisdom, maybe the following quips and quotes may be of some use for those who draw a blank when it comes to the perfect saying!!

Must, bid the Morn awake! Sad Winter now declines, Each bird doth choose a mate; This day’s Saint Valentine’s. For that good bishop’s sake Get up and let us see What beauty it shall be That Fortune us assigns.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach.

~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

~Michael Drayton

etter fate b a e r a kissesthan wisdom. s mming ~e.e. cu

KEEP YOUR DISTANCE • WASH YOUR HANDS THROW PROTECTIVE ITEMS AWAY IN THE TRASH YOURSELF! AND PLEASE... WEAR THAT MASK!

I’ve fallen in many time love always wit s... h you. ~Author Un known

For you see, each day I love you Anyone can catch more Today more than yesterday your eye, but it and less than takes someone tomorrow. special to catch ~Rosemonde Gerard your heart.

~Author Unknown

A hundred hearts would be too few To carry all my love for you. ~Author Unknown

Old Town Crier

~Author Unknown

ROSES ARE RED VIOLETS ARE BLUE I WEAR MY MASK BECAUSE I LOVE YOU!

If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular?

Who, being loved, is poor? ~Oscar Wilde

February 2021 | 17


TAKE PHOTOS, LEAVE FOOTPRINTS

SCOTT DICKEN

Photos: Scott Dickens

Valentine’s Day Special:

ROMANTIC TRAVEL DESTINATIONS

W

hile romantic getaways for Valentine’s day are likely confined to our immediate surroundings this year, the time will soon come when we’re ready to hit the road again with our significant others. And, after a year (or more) of cabin fever, what better way to shake the shackles of quarantine than to indulge in a romantic international getaway?

In honor of Valentine’s day, this month I explore some of the most romantic destinations you may wish to consider and rather than focus on some of the more obvious, but no less romantic, choices (such as Venice, Paris, or the Maldives), I explore four lesser chosen romantic gems.

Bruges, Belgium

Bruges is Belgium’s most famous tourist “attraction” - and for good reason. Tourist hordes flock to this picturesque city for its romantic canals, cobbled streets and medieval architecture. During the summer, the old town is filled with visitors enjoying ice-cold Belgian Beer and watching the world go by. The perfect weekend destination, Bruges has something for everyone; from boat rides along its canals to world-class museums. Top all of that off with enough beer, chocolate, waffles and moule-frites to sink a battleship and you have something that represents the perfect European romantic getaway.

Your Romantic Activity One of the most photographed spots in all of Bruges, and the point at which the Groenerei and Dijver canals meet, Rozenhoedkaai is a postcard picture perfect spot that you can’t miss. Come rain or shine the area is lined by small boats waiting to transport visitors along the city’s canals. Find a seat with your loved-one at the Little Venice café, order up a glass of wine or a Belgian beer, and sit and watch the world go by. Bruges’ famous Rozenhoedkaai The classic African safari naturally conjures images of romantic rugged wilderness and vast open savannah teeming with wildlife. The good news is that gone are the days of glamourous elites donning their safari suits and pith helmets to hunt big game with a blunderbuss. Instead, the last few decades have seen the rise of the classic African Safari for even the most budget-conscious of romance seeking tourists. Whilst you might not be able (or willing) to afford the five-star, allinclusive, safari lodge you’ve seen on TV, there are a myriad of budget options in pretty much all of the major game reserves across sub-Saharan Africa.

Kenya, Safari

Your Romantic Activity The Masai Mara is probably the first destination that comes to mind for first-time safari-goers; and therein can lie the problem for those seeking romantic solitude. The Park is undoubtedly one of the best African safari experiences, and the game-viewing opportunities are near second-to-none. But chances are that on a standard game drive you might be viewing that game alongside a gaggle of mini-buses and overland trucks topped off with some 4x4 self-drivers who might well scare any wildlife off. If snarled traffic doesn’t sound like your idea of a romantic experience, then take to the air on a romantic champagne hot air balloon ride. Typically departing in the early morning, you’ll have the opportunity to soar above the savannah as the sun rises. Keep a look out for grazing elephants and packs of lions as you descend for a private champagne breakfast in the bush surround by the sounds of the wild. 18 | February 2021

Take a sunrise balloon ride across the Savannah

Old Town Crier


Above: The blue-domed churches of Oia Right: Explore Oia’s cobbled pathways

Santorini, Greece The Greek island of Santorini is a romance-seekers dream! Its blue-domed churches, iconic windmills, pastel houses and jaw-dropping sunsets mean that even couples who have spent the last 12-months arguing over which Netflix series to binge-watch next can’t fail to rekindle the romance. There’s a real danger that you’ll spend your entire visit seeing Santorini through a camera viewfinder, so make sure you take the time to put the camera back in the bag for long enough to enjoy the island’s fantastic restaurants and wineries, explore the island on ATVs and head out on to the water for fantastic sunset views of the island’s volcanic caldera.

Your Romantic Activity: The town of Oia is the highlight of a trip to Santorini; a hodge-podge of alleyways and romantic restaurant outlooks over the Mediterranean. My advice is simply to spend time wandering, stopping off in the smalls shops and cafes and exploring down quiet cliff-side paths. If you fancy a spot of lunch then head down from Oia to Amoudi Bay; where you’ll find quaint fish restaurants, a slower pace, and fewer tourists! Hang around into the evening and book a table for sunset dinner with a view back up the cliffside to Oia.

A labyrinth of temples, tombs, Corinthian columns, and intricate stonework are hand-carved into the rust-red, pink and orange mountainside; 2,000 years of history pouring out across the desert landscape. An advanced civilization fueled by the wealth of regional trade in incense produced engineering feats well beyond their years. The “Rose City of Petra”, also known as Ramqu, is a sight to behold. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and undoubtedly the crowning jewel of Jordan’s tourist industry, Petra was the impressive capital of the Nabataean Kingdom and is believed to have been founded around the 6th Century BC.

Your Romantic Activity For a night of romance under Jordan’s desert stars, look no further than ‘Petra By Night’. Beginning with an atmospheric walk along the Siq, a narrow canyon which historically served as the fortified entrance to the Kingdom, you emerge to the sight of Petra’s centerpiece Treasury Building framed by the light of 1,500 candles. The event is a magical and romantic way to experience the rock city and occurs three nights a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday).

Petra, Jordan Old Town Crier

Explore Petra’s Treasury Building by candlelight

Looking for more romantic travel inspiration this Valentine’s Day? Make sure to head on over to takephotosleavefootprints.com. February 2021 | 19


POINTS ON PETS

AARON TALLENT

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his Presidents’ Day, we have First Dogs back in the White House since President Joe Biden has brought his two German shepherds, Champ and Major. President Donald Trump was the only Commander in Chief other than James K. Polk to not have presidential pets while in office and Vice President Mike Pence’s rabbit, Marlon Bundo, “served” in that role in a de-facto capacity. While their pets began receiving national attention in the 20th Century, presidents have owned animals that range from dogs to cats to grizzly bears. Here is a brief history of presidents and their pets.

Andrew Jackson: Old Hickory owned fighting gamecocks and Polly, a grey parrot who learned swear words. She attended Jackson’s funeral, but had to be removed because of excessive profanity.

Woodrow Wilson: While some of Wilson’s policies, such as the League of Nations, were highly controversial, everyone could get behind his practice of keeping sheep on the White House grounds. They kept the lawn trimmed and he donated the proceeds from selling their wool to the American Red Cross.

Martin Van Buren: Omani ruler Said bin Sultan gave Van Buren two tiger cubs. He wanted to keep them, but Congress insisted that they belonged to the people and forced him to donate them to a zoo.

George Washington: Our first president owned a variety of horses and hound dogs. One was a greyhound named Cornwallis after British General Charles Cornwallis, whom he defeated at the Siege of Yorktown. Thomas Jefferson: Jefferson received two grizzly bear cubs as a gift from explorer Zebulon Pike, which he donated to the Philadelphia Museum. His most memorable pet was Dick the Mockingbird, who is believed to be the first animal to actually live in the White House.

20 | February 2021

Abraham Lincoln: Honest Abe’s most famous pet was a yellow mongrel dog named Fido who stayed at the Lincolns’ home in Springfield, Ill., because he was frightened by crowds and loud noises. Sadly, he was stabbed by a drunk man a few months after Lincoln’s assassination. Hence the name “Fido” becoming a generic name for dogs. Theodore Roosevelt: Roosevelt had a variety of pets that included a hyena, badger, pig, and a garter snake named Emily Spinach. His daughter, Alice, gave it the name because she said it was “as green as spinach and as thin as my Aunt Emily.”

virtual zoo with no less than 40 animals. These included two lion cubs named Tax Reduction and Budget Bureau, a pygmy hippopotamus named William Johnson Hippopotamus, and a raccoon named Rebecca, which was intended be served at Thanksgiving dinner in 1926. However, the Coolidges decided to keep her as a pet.

Franklin D. Roosevelt: FDR’s most famous pet was a Scottish Terrier named Fala, who frequently sat by his side. A statue of Fala with Roosevelt is included in FDR’s memorial in Washington, DC.

Warren G. Harding: Laddie Boy, Harding’s Airedale Terrier, was the first pet to receive national media attention because he fetched golf balls for the president and sat in his own carved chair at Cabinet meetings. First Lady Florence also used him as a poster child for promoting animal rights issues.

John F. Kennedy: The Kennedys had many pets, including two hamsters named Billy and Debbie who were cared for by daughter Caroline. They escaped from their cage their second night in the White House, but were later found hiding under JFK’s bed.

Gerald Ford: Legend has it that Ford would end conversations in the Oval Office by calling for his Golden Retriever, Liberty, who would run up to the desk and create a break in the discussion.

Ronald Reagan: In 1985, Reagan bought an unruly Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Rex as a Christmas present for his wife Nancy. Some of Rex’s shenanigans included pulling on the First Lady as she spoke to the media and barking outside the Lincoln Bedroom. Lyndon B. Johnson: One of the more famous photos of LBJ is of him sitting in the Oval Office howling with his mongrel dog, Yuki.

Calvin Coolidge: Coolidge and his wife, Grace, had a

Richard Nixon: In September of 1952, Vice Presidential candidate Nixon gave a nationally televised speech to defend allegations of having a secret slush fund, but said “there is one thing that I did get as a gift that I’m not going to give back.” He then introduced the country to his Cocker Spaniel, Checkers. The “Checkers Speech” swayed public opinion and kept Nixon on the ticket. Unfortunately, Checkers passed away before Nixon was elected President in 1969.

POINTS ON PETS > PAGE 21

Aaron Tallent is a volunteer for King Street Cats, where he adopted LuLu, first mate to his other cat, Coop. Old Town Crier


President Vladimir Putin introduced Bush to Konni, his Labrador Retriever, he reportedly said that she was “(b)igger, tougher, stronger, faster, meaner, than Barney.”

POINTS ON PETS | FROM PAGE 20

George W. Bush: W.’s Scottish Terrier Barney may be the only pet to be insulted by a foreign leader. When Russian George H.W. Bush: Few pets on this list received as a much attention as the Bushes’ English Springer Spaniel, Millie, who had her own children’s book and was portrayed on four sitcoms. When running against Bill Clinton and Al Gore in 1992, Bush said “My dog Millie knows more about foreign affairs than these two bozos.”

Bill Clinton: The Clintons’ two pets, a domestic shorthaired cat named Socks and a Labrador Retriever named Buddy, famously did not get along. Clinton once joked, “I did better with the Palestinians and the Israelis than I’ve done with Socks and Buddy.”

Barack Obama: Because Malia Obama’s allergies required a hypoallergenic breed of dog, the Obamas

adopted two Portuguese Water Dogs named Bo and Sonny. Both are still alive. Only time will tell the stories Champ and Major will generate in the Biden White House, but people of all beliefs and backgrounds have a soft spot for pets. In a time of such political upheaval, that could be very refreshing.

Celebrate Valentine’s with a new love

By Adopting a Furry Friend!

Meet former King Street Cats Alumnus

Peppercorn She now resides in the office of The Old Town Crier and it has been rumored that she is quite helpful with the paperwork.

Bath & Primp • Nail Trim & file • Full Haircut Deshed • Theraclean Treatment • Teeth Brushing Hair Coloring • Exotic Grooming Gianna Schjang, Gabriella Brown • Paw Spa LLC 315 South Washington Street, Alexandria 22314 703-517-4428 • www.thepawspava.com

Love. Brush. Groom. Repeat.

PETS

OF THE MONTH

XANDRA

4101 Eisenhower Avenue Alexandria, VA 703-746-4774 alexandriaanimals.org Mon-Fri, 1-8 pm Closed Wed Sat & Sun, 12-5 pm

SAILOR

Adult, Female, Calico Domestic Shorthair

Adult, Male, Tricolor Treeing Walker Coonhound

Xandra is a shy girl who is hoping to meet her best friend who will help her feel comfortable and loved. She’s a sweet bunny at heart and just needs that certain someone who can help her show that. Xandra loves treats and playing with her toys and would love to enjoy both of those things with you! Schedule an appointment to meet Xandra at AlexandriaAnimals. org/Adopt-By-Appointment.

Sailor is one sweet girl! She greets her friends with purrs and loving head nudges and loves to be rubbed behind the ears. She also loves to play. Sailor could play all day! Until it’s time for a nap at least. Miss Sailor is looking for a family who knows when it’s play time and when she’s ready for a little space and quiet. Could it be you? Schedule an appointment to meet Sailor at AlexandriaAnimals.org/Adopt-ByAppointment.

Hi there! My name is Sammy and I am the cutest thing on three legs you have ever seen! That’s right - I said three legs. I recently had surgery to remove one of my front legs but am all healed up now and ready to go! And go I do! I am a very active guy who loves to run and play and can keep up with the best of them. Because I am so active, though, I would do best in a home with children over the age of 12. I am very social and love everyone I meet. I am also very loyal and affectionate. At the end of a long day of playing, I would like nothing better than to settle down with my favorite person. So if you think you have room in your heart and home for a guy like me, make an appointment today to come see me. I will be waiting! Schedule an appointment to meet me at AlexandriaAnimals.org/Adopt-By-Appointment.

Xandra’s Photo courtesy of Dirty Paw Photography

Sailor’s Photo Courtesy of AWLA

Adopt by appointment at the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria! In-shelter and virtual appointments are available at AlexandriaAnimals.org/Adopt-By-Appointment. View all of our adoptable animals at AlexandriaAnimals.org/Adopt. Old Town Crier

SAMMY

Adult, Female, Brown Cottontail Rabbit

Sammy’s Photo courtesy of DeSilva Studios, LLC

February 2021 | 21


CARIBBEAN CONNECTION BILLY PHIBBS

CONSPIRACIES, POLITICAL HIJINKS, SOCIAL DISORDER...

COVID-19

T

he pandemic has been and still is the uncrowned king of 2020’s epic reign of disaster and disorder. This prickly shaped little microbe of pestilence has made mask wearing both fashionable and argumentative, trapped millions in their homes, and has forced a world filled with eager travelers to hold fast in their respective homes, shackled to their couches, dreaming of adventure. Here on St. John, we suffered as well. Exiled on an island with stay at home orders, we were forced to seek socially distanced entertainment at one of the many bland and uninspiring beaches. As the days merged into weeks, all we could do was lay in the sun and count clouds or take a dip in the turquoise bath water of the Caribbean Sea. It was truly awful... Then something happened. The desolate streets once again began to fill as travel restrictions were lifted. What was once a ghost town populated by very tan, slightly bored (but cheerful) community members was once again bustling with tourism. We were thankful. Our economy is based mostly on tourism and small businesses were thirsty for monetary support. But something was strange about these new tourists. The usual mesmerizing euphoria and doughy eyed amazement 22 | February 2021

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. . . As for 2020, it was pretty much the worst. . . all the time. . . of our beautiful island wasn’t captivating them. Smiles were half covered by poorly worn Covid masks. Their manners and actions had gone feral while locked in captivity causing them to dart around erratically in a ravenous state. Store closures, half capacity restaurant dining, no bar service, and pandemic signs listing rules and regulations for public safety caused untapped months of aggression for authority to erupt into episodes of entitled rage. Who could blame them. They were wild with Covid cabin fever. After months of being forced to hang out with their family members they were ready to cut loose like wild pirates landing on the shores of an uncharted territory. We get it, you left your home hankering for a face melting good time and St. John is a tourism hotspot. Some community members have even referred to it as a “Disneyland for Adults”. While this is a fun moniker, it does have a dark side, especially after months of house arrest. I witnessed one inebriated

traveler (who pretty much defined the mantra of this disorderly demographic of pandemic prisoners) shouting “I’m from Texas, we already done did Covid” as she stumbled from her rental jeep, freeing herself from the serpent like seat belt that had ensnared her. Gathering herself, she snorted at me then marched into a local restaurant, using her mask as a sweat cloth to wipe her brow. True story... St. John and the USVI collectively are small communities with roots that span generations of time. Their history here far outstretches the bounds of its visitor’s 7 day excursions. The islands have become, in one form or another, a sort of “best friend’s couch with a view... and a pool.” Most find it to be a proverbial fantasy island while some use it as playground for debauchery and indulgence. All the islands ask when you visit is to be cordial, respectful, and act like civilized human beings, not half masked marauders rambling about “imaginary” fears and screaming about social indecencies. We are not

the creators nor the authors of these new institutions for a safer vacation experience, just cast members trying to make you feel welcome while stinking of hand sanitizer and Lysol from a socially acceptable 6 foot distance. We don’t like wearing the masks either but when you have a small, close knit community with only one hospital, limited rooms and equipment, on an island, in the middle of the ocean, the word pandemic is absolutely terrifying. I like to use real world perspectives to help illustrate my points of view: You move to a new town. In an attempt to break bread with your new neighbors you arrange an evening of dinner and dialogue as an icebreaker. Before the rendezvous your significant other administers a list of “do’s and don’t’s” to help lubricate this new and possibly uncomfortable social interaction. He or she tells you to smile, be pleasant, and not talk too much. You are warned that they do not allow shoes in their house and instructed to wear socks without holes in them. Don’t drink too much, keep your

mouth closed when they are speaking and above all, don’t tell them that you have been relocated next door due to top secret legal purposes. You show up wearing dirty flip flops that you refuse to take off, new socks (check), drunk, and instantly spill the beans on the crime family you used to be a hitman for and are hiding from. Dinner is ruined, police are called, and you wake up in your front yard naked with only your previously new (now soiled) socks on. I hope you get my point. Whether house guest or globetrotter, abiding by the rules of new places sets a standard, something a bit of research can make easy. The internet provides a wealth of information about island “do’s and don’t’s” and rather than list them, I like to shed light on some of the ‘rebels without a clue’ as a learning example. Truth is, the majority of our visitors have been wonderful and overall a delight to share the majestic beauty of the islands with. So before you get all jacked up on vodka shooters and energy drinks while flying here for your long awaited Covid 19 release party, take a moment and educate yourself on the importance of things like island mannerisms, Covid regulations, the importance of water conservation, reef safe sunscreen, recycling, etc. Who knows, you might learn a thing or two. At the CARRIBEAN CONNECTION PAGE 23

Old Town Crier


CARIBBEAN CONNECTION FROM PAGE 20

very least you won’t end up drunk and naked with new socks on being chased by a crime syndicate. About the Author: Phibbs is a Rutgers Graduate originally

hailing from NJ. He now lives in St. John with his island wife Cory Emerson and Renfield. his nefarious cat. An English Major during college and an avid dabbler in the black art of creative writing over the last 20 years, Billy and Cory also run a grocery provisioning service, Landlubber Logistics. Having

spawned this service amidst the Covid 19 pandemic, it was designed to help community members and flourished into a luxury service for villas. Using social media as his platform, he seeks to educate himself as well as adventurers to all the magic St. John has to offer...and bring them groceries.

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February 2021 | 23


FROM THE BAY

JEREMY COX & TIMOTHY B.WHEELER

Oyster Prices Plummet Amid Pandemic-Help Is On the Way!

Bill Huber and Jason Robbins hoist a bushel of oysters into the back of a pickup truck on Hooper’s Island, MD, in December 2020. Bay watermen are having little trouble reaching their state-imposed bivalve quotas each day but are fetching lower prices than last year. (Bay Journal photo by Jeremy Cox)

W

ith several hours of daylight to spare, Ronnie Robbins and his son, Jason, had already docked their 36-foot deadrise workboat on Hooper’s Island and started unloading their briny cargo. Into the bed of a waiting pickup, went 20 bushels of oysters dredged from the bottom of the Honga River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Once again, they’d handily harvested all they were allowed by the state to take in a day. “It’s better than it’s been in years before, that’s for sure,” the elder Robbins said. Even so, he and others who make a living off the Chesapeake Bay’s oysters have been struggling this fall and winter. It isn’t a supply problem. Watermen in Maryland and Virginia alike say they are having no trouble landing their daily wild oyster quotas. Oyster farmers in both states also say they’ve raised bumper crops of the bivalves in leased patches of the Bay and its tributaries. “We’ve got lots of oysters, and they’re excellent quality,” said Bill Sieling, executive vice president of the Chesapeake Bay Seafood Industries Association, representing Maryland crab and oyster processors. “I’ve bought two bushels this fall, and I’ve never seen oysters this fat.” The problem is decreased demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The wild oyster harvest ended abruptly a couple of weeks before the official March 31 close of the 2019– 20 season, as the first wave of COVID-19 hit and seafood wholesalers stopped buying watermen’s catches. Oyster farmers, likewise, saw their markets practically vanish 24 | February 2021

overnight, with restaurants shut down and people being urged to stay home to slow the spread of the disease. Aquaculture-raised oyster sales picked up a little in late spring and summer, as restaurants reopened in limited ways. But demand remained soft and decreased further when the 2020–21 wild harvest season opened Oct. 1, flooding the markets with even more bivalves. A wild-caught bushel that had fetched $50 dockside in the fall of 2019 got only $30 this year. Then COVID-19 cases surged again, bringing renewed restrictions on dining at restaurants. Demand plummeted once more for both shucked and half-shell oysters. “Come Oct. 1, the bottom just fell out of the market,” said Fred Tull, who raises oysters on 10 acres in the Little Annemessex River by Crisfield, MD. In midDecember, when holiday demand for shellfish is usually strong, he said, “I’ve got oysters to sell and no market.” At Mobjack Bay Seafood, a family-run wholesaler in Ware Neck, VA, sales are down as much as 70% this season, owner John Vigliotta said.

Struggling and Innovating The swoon in sales couldn’t have come at a worse time. Before COVID-19 showed up, the Bay’s oysters appeared to be rebounding from two years of woe. Heavy rains in 2018 and the first half of 2019 had diluted salinity in the Chesapeake with freshwater, hampering wild bivalves’ reproduction and growth, even killing some. Hatcheries that supplied oyster farmers had

problems as well. But weather conditions turned favorable in the latter half of 2019. Last season, Maryland watermen raked in 270,000 bushels of oysters, nearly doubling the previous year’s landings, despite a reduction in the number of days they could work. With traditional buyers limited, some watermen are taking steps to find new ways to sell their oysters, including direct sales to consumers through farmers markets and other means. Rachel Dean, a Calvert County resident who harvests wild oysters and raises oysters on leased bottom with her husband, Simon, is installing a refrigerated box on the back of one of their trucks to deliver oysters to homes in the area. “I guess they call it farm to table, but this would be more boat to table,” she said. Some oyster farmers have also begun selling directly to consumers. In Crisfield, though, Fred Tull said he’s not set up to offer his farmed oysters online. He estimated his 2020 sales were about 30% below what they were in 2019. “The industry is kind of just limping along right now,” said Mike Oesterling, executive director of the Shellfish Growers of Virginia. Until restaurants can reopen, he said, “It’s going to be quite some time before the industry recovers.”

Financial help The beginning of the year is a crucial period for many oyster farmers, because that’s when they place orders for baby “seed” oysters to plant months later. Most hatcheries want a deposit to hold the order, Tull noted, so lack of

cash could undercut future production. Some relief may be on the way. Congress included $300 million in nationwide fisheries assistance funding in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act it passed in March. Maryland’s share of CARES funding was $4.1 million, and the DNR allocated $3 million to make direct payments to commercial and charter fishing, aquaculture and seafood processing operations that could document a 2020 revenue loss of 35% or more because of COVID-19. The rest is to go to individual workers in seafood processing and marketing. The DNR began taking applications for financial relief Nov. 4, with a Feb. 28 cutoff. By late December, officials said they had received more than 440 applications, approved about 340 and paid out more than $330,000. Another round of likely larger payments is to be made in the spring. Virginia got $4.5 million in CARES Act funding, an amount that state officials complained was woefully inadequate for its seafood industry, which produces more oysters than any other state on the East Coast. The Virginia Marine Resources Commission distributed the funds more quickly than Maryland, paying out $3.9 million in the fall to 618 qualified holders of fishing or aquaculture licenses, or about $6,300 per applicant. Applications for the remainder of Virginia’s CARES Act funds, which were reserved for unlicensed seafood industry workers, were still being reviewed in December, according to deputy VMRC commissioner Ellen Bolen. Mobjack Bay Seafood was among those qualifying for CARES financial help in Virginia. “It didn’t make us whole, but it helped us from really being clobbered,” owner John Vigliotta said. Tull and 19 other Maryland oyster growers are in line to get economic relief from a different source. The Nature Conservancy announced in October that it would buy 5 million “surplus” oysters from aquaculture operators in seven states, from Maine to Maryland, and use them in oyster restoration projects. “We’re looking particularly to buy some of the larger oysters

that growers wouldn’t be able to sell into the market,” said Mark Bryer, the conservancy’s Chesapeake Bay program director. On Jan. 19, with logistical help from the nonprofit Oyster Recovery Partnership, the conservancy took delivery of the first batch of oysters from three aquaculture companies and two individual shellfish growers and placed them in an oyster sanctuary in Prospect Bay, in the northern end of Eastern Bay. Weather permitting, the group also plans over the next month to buy from Southern Maryland growers for planting in a sanctuary in the nearby St. Mary’s River, followed by a similar purchase from lower Eastern Shore growers for placement in a sanctuary in the Nanticoke River. Growers were offered a price about 20% below what they got in 2019, before the pandemic hit, Bryer said. “We know this program isn’t going to solve all their problems,” Bryer explained. But he said that the groups see this as a first step and hope to continue and expand their efforts to help aquaculture. Tull figured in late December that he’d have as many as 50,000 oysters ready to sell by now. He said he’d been told that, depending on the weather and other factors, the conservancy could buy that many, though maybe as few as 10,000. “It will definitely be a big help,” he said, “and it will get the cash flow going so I’ll have cash to buy seed.” Despite all the difficulties, Tull said he still believes aquaculture holds promise. “If we can get through the next six months, or even four months, if that’s possible,” he said, “I think things will start straightening out.” About the Authors: Jeremy Cox is a Bay Journal staff writer based in Maryland. You can reach him at jcox@bayjournal. com. Tim Wheeler is the Bay Journal’s associate editor and senior writer, based in Maryland. You can reach him at 410-4093469 or twheeler@bayjournal. com. This article first appeared in the Bay Journal and was distributed by the Bay Journal News Service. Note this column has been edited for space. Old Town Crier


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T

his month’s Road Trip took us across Skyline Drive to Shadow Mountain Escape (SME), the dream and brainchild of owners Karen and Ralph Riddle. As stated on their website, SME is “An all season Romantic Couple’s Escape in authentic timber frame cabins located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia bordering the Shenandoah National Park.” You will find Shadow Mountain about two miles on the Luray side of the Thornton Gap entrance to Skyline Drive on Jewell Hollow Road. The name “Shadow Mountain Escape” comes from the name of the tracts (Shadow Mountain tracts) of land that were originally subdivided within Jewell Hollow from large parcels that once belonged to several of the pioneering families of the county (the Jewell and Sours family among them). The Riddles added the term “Escape” to invoke a sense of the underlying purpose behind their effort. In an attempt to provide an environment conducive to happiness and

26 | February 2021

fulfillment, they focused on exposing the beauty and spirit of the natural landscape and the remarkable life that flourishes there. The use of *Timber Frame construction in all of the buildings adds to that theme. Ralph wanted to create the “Old World” charm that comes from his German heritage so, after retiring from the Army, the couple spent several years living and discovering the wonders of the “Old World”. Many thousands of dollars were spent sourcing and importing authentic furnishings from family members and shops while on their trek. All of the SME structures and landscapes were designed by Ralph who has a passion for design and history. He holds a degree from Virginia Tech in Landscape Architecture. The couple began their project in 1994 and first opened in 2002. The history of the project is fascinating and worth hearing but would take up too much room here. Be sure to ask him about the stone work and most importantly the “Gothic Tower” and Max and Moritz. He constructed

BOB TAGERT

WHAT IS TIMBER FRAMING? Timber framing is a distinctive style of building construction in which heavy timbers frame the structure instead of more slender dimensional lumber (for example, 2 x 6 in.). Timber framing was a building practice used throughout the world until roughly 1900 when the demand for cheap, fast housing brought dimensional lumber to the construction forefront. In the 1970’s, craftsmen revived the timber framing tradition in the United States and have ushered the design style into the modern era. * Timber Framers Guild

it himself with stones from the property. It is impressive. There are four cabins located on the fifteen acre property. In celebration of the abundant wild life, all of the cabins were given indigenous “bug names”. The SME Bear Dance Lodge was the first rental built on the property and the two cabins were named the Dragon Fly and Bumble Bee. The Butterfly loft was opened in 2003 and the final rental, the Ladybug, was completed in 2011. For added adventure the couple incorporated “La Cantina” in the basement of the Bear Dance Lodge which was inspired by their many visits to Europe. Their intent was to capture the special atmosphere for their guests that they found only in the authentic settings of a German “Stube” or a Tuscan “Cantina”! Guests receive a private entry code upon check in. Conversely, the “Timber Frame Tower” tops off ROAD TRIP > PAGE 27

Old Town Crier


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Karen and Ralph >

ROAD TRIP | FROM PAGE 26

the Lodge and is open to all guests. The construction and history of the décor are worth looking into as well. The accommodations are exceptional. After what you just read you might be thinking a very rustic decor...not so. Remember, the furnishings have all been hand-picked and the majority have been imported from Europe. We were lucky to score a night in the Ladybug. As stated earlier, it is the newest and smallest of SME’s charming timber frame (no nails) structures. Although the Ladybug’s design is inspired by “Old World” Europe, it incorporates an advanced climate control system and the highest quality materials. We will start at the top with the bedroom that is under the exposed timber frame roof. There is an Argentinian forged iron Artisan queen size bed, a small seating area with a balcony, a small TV (you probably won’t bother to turn it on) and an inviting bathroom and shower. An iron spiral staircase descends to the lower/main floor could be described as a large sitting room complete with two red leather wingback chairs. The room has a large antique oak cabinet which contains a small refrigerator and microwave. There is a circular table in the middle of the room that sits between the chairs. The table was adorned with a silk flower arrangement, a delicious mini apple Bundt cake and Karen’s famous heart shaped brownies! Every attention to detail is made at SME. There is also a wood burning stove for use during the colder months that is a delight. There is central heat and air if you don’t trust yourself with the fire. A Keurig coffee maker with complimentary K-Cups for that coffee fix is very handy in the mornings. When I first entered, my thought was ‘how small’ but when it comes to usage...it is perfect, especially when you are looking for the wood burning stove to heat the place on a cold winter night. Perfect. It needs to be mentioned here that the other three cabins are bigger than Ladybug and have full baths, fireplaces and full, furnished kitchens and grills for outdoor cooking. Each of Old Town Crier

them has a very distinct personality. While many of their regulars come to hike in the Shenandoah, there is a ½ mile Nature Trail on the SME property. Very cleverly named “The Rabbit Chase” this ½ mile trek is marked with 25 iron “bunnies” pointing you in the right direction. The terrain is rough but flat and a major portion of it follows one of the creeks that run through the property. There are 25 markers that are outlined in a guide in your room that you can take and follow along with the descriptions of the flora and fauna as well as wild life you may encounter. My partner did the trek and said it was very relaxing but you need to have on decent footwear. Keep watch for the several Cairns (Stone Stacks) that guests have created along the stream. You are encouraged to add your own. We were lucky enough to be invited to a private dinner with our hosts and another couple who are personal friends of the Riddle’s. We were socially distanced in the best way possible - in the courtyard beside their residence that just happens to be connected by decking to the Lady Bug. This area has one of the coolest wood burning stoves/fire features we have ever encountered. The atmosphere, the company, adult beverages and the good food (Ralph cooked the salmon in the stove) made for a fantastic evening. The courtyard is available until 9 pm to guests as is the Gothic Tower adjacent to the courtyard. If you are lucky and the Riddle’s are home, they may start a fire for you and Ralph might just treat you to an authentic German beverage. Ralph and Karen are great folks and know what they are doing. Karen has made sure that the property exudes Romance. Couples can be totally by themselves or they can cavort with other guests if they like. There is a campfire for guests on Saturday nights complete with s’mores that are delivered to your door. They offer several packages that include food stuffs (Karen’s sweets are amazing) and wine but you are encouraged to bring provisions for

meals if you don’t feel like leaving the property in search of an eatery. Although SME is in a beautiful wooded area bordering the Shenandoah National Park, you are still only 20 minutes from attractions and things to do. On the east side of Thornton Gap and five miles down the mountain is the cool town of Sperryville. On the other side of the mountain is the town of Luray that not only has a number of restaurants and shops but also the spectacular Luray Caverns. The Caverns are worth a trip for sure. For a true SME adventure, consider taking the Blue Ridge Whiskey Wine Loop –discovershenandoah. com – that takes you to the areas hot spots including Copper Fox Distillery (see their ad in this issue) and the wineries, breweries and eateries that spot the countryside. Noteworthy: Shadow Mountain Escape has been certified Virginia Green. They even have an on-site recycling center. February 2021 | 27


TO THE BLUE RIDGE

JULIE REARDON

Usher Inset: 7 week old Usher

Remembering Bill LaMar and Usher

I

n any sport involving animals, there are certain people, and certain animals, that leave an indelible impression on us. Some of these because they’re so freakishly outstanding, they dominate competition and are remembered for years to come. Others are people who mentor, and encourage, and some are the actual animals we own and compete with. Of these latter, often the difficult among them have a profound influence because of the lessons we learn from them. In January, we lost a man and a dog that were hugely influential on my participation and love of field trial retrievers. Bill LaMar of Culpeper, 95, and my old male Chesapeake Bay Retriever Usher (aka HR Hope Springs Hush Hush MH WDQ), 14, died within days of each other. William F. “Bill” LaMar (Feb. 21, 1925 - Jan. 5, 2021) began competing in field trials in Long Island NY with Golden retrievers. He and his wife Martha moved to Culpeper from Long Island not long after he retired some 35 years ago. He trained and ran his own dogs, and on their small farm southwest of Culpeper, they developed and maintained a first class training facility. In a tough sport dominated by professionals, LaMar did very well with his Goldens, including putting an Amateur Field Champion title on one and getting good placements with several others. Upon his move to Virginia, LaMar also competed with Labradors and Chesapeakes and until development closed in, hosted 28 | February 2021

several trials at his and adjacent properties. He and Martha were very active in the local retriever club. He competed actively in field trials and later, retriever hunting tests into his 90s, and was very generous with mentoring those new to trials and tests and letting them train on his property. Although not many knew it, LaMar was a World War II Army veteran. Like so many of that generation, he never spoke of his service during that conflict. He was far happier talking about his dogs and the many people he’d met through his travels to trials up and down the East Coast. Outside of his dogs, he and Martha maintained their tidy 30-acre farm, besides the dogs including a lake set up for retriever training, a large garden and a pen full of ducks. He was a man not afraid of hard work nor to speak his mind, especially when it came to dog training. Usher (HR Hope Springs Hush Hush MH WDQ), Apr. 4, 2006 - Jan. 14, 2021) was a homebred Chesapeake Bay retriever, and my first try at owning a male competition dog. Prior to his birth in 2006, I’d only owned females. Although it likely had nothing to do with his sex, he was a timid, late-maturing puppy. I waited a few extra months before sending him off for formal retriever training and even so, he seemed very immature for his age and size. The professional trainer and I both agreed after two months of training, he was not going to

be a likely field trial candidate because he could not handle the pressure of advanced training. If he was confused or feeling pressured, he’d shut down, not just mentally but physically. In words I’ve never forgotten, he suggested I finish his training myself. “It’s just going to be a grind if I do it,” he explained. “But he—and most dogs like him—will take more pressure and try harder for the owner than for a pro.” He was right and Usher did try harder and became more confident, but I sold him shortly after he got out and sired an accidental litter out of his half-sister. He was 16 months; most retriever owners wait until a dog is 2 before breeding as they cannot get their hip and elbow evaluations done until they’re 24 months and both hip and elbow dysplasia are fairly common in retrievers. Nor was Usher anyone’s idea of a desirable stud dog. So he went off to what would end up being the first of four different homes, a few of which were downright abusive. A few weeks after he left, the half-sister whelped 9 puppies, one of which became my best working dog. When he was almost five, I ended up buying him back from the fourth of the homes after getting word via the Chesapeake community that he was with a particularly heavy-handed abusive trainer, and back to Virginia he came. However, this was not the timid quitter that I’d sold 3 years earlier. Usher was older, smarter and willing to put up with practically anything if it

Bill and Ceilie Mae

Bill and Timber meant he’d get a bird. But he resented what he considered unfair corrections and had a take no prisoners attitude. I’d like to say Usher’s superior early training was so good that he retained it all, and to an extent that was true, but he was no longer a submissive puppy—he was a dominant, challenging dog and he would test you. I enlisted the help of local pro trainer Neil Selby of Shady Grove Kennels and Hunting Preserve in Fauquier County and Usher earned first his AKC Senior Hunter then his Master Hunter titles. He also learned to be a team player and gradually, to become as accepting of strangers as he’d been when a young dog. “Slow down,” LaMar would admonish in our training group: “Fast on the whistle, slow on the cast.” I learned that if I was rushed and in a hurry, the dog, especially Usher, would pick up on that

nervous energy. Later, when he was almost 10, we switched from the non-competitive hunt test venue and tackled the more competitive AKC field trial qualifying stake, where Usher held his own despite his late start. He competed actively until almost 12, when deafness prevented him from hearing the whistle well enough to take hand signals on blind retrieves. In retirement, his good disposition and kind nature made him a perfect puppy nanny and he retrieved sticks as enthusiastically as he’d once retrieved ducks and geese. Shortly after LaMar’s passing at age 95 in January, Usher, who’d never had a sick day in his life, began to have trouble walking. He let us know he was tired. A week after his old friend LaMar died, we laid him to rest at age 14 and 10 months. Rest in peace guys and thanks for the memories. Old Town Crier


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February 2021 | 29


DINING OUT

BOB TAGERT

Every Day is Valentine’s Day at Our Restaurant Partners! We wanted to take this opportunity to highlight our loyal restaurant advertisers and give you some ideas for your Valentine’s Day dining plans. All of these establishments follow strict pandemic restrictions and protocols. All offer delivery, curbside pickup and take out and most of them have heated outdoor dining. They are doing everything they can to make your experience a good one. We encourage you to do your best to support them. Please let us know about your experience(s) with these fine establishments by posting on our Facebook page @ oldtdowncrier or send us an email at office@oldtowncrier.com.

FISH MARKET RESTAURANT & RAW BAR I have a special place in my heart for the Fish Market Restaurant & Raw Bar as I bartended there in the late 80’s. Back then, Old Town was only about 6 blocks long and most of the restaurants were clustered around 100 King Street and Union Street. Back then, because Old Town was relatively new and gaining traction, Friday and Saturday nights were very busy and it was not uncommon to see lines waiting for entrance on the weekends. The Fish Market is famous for their clam chowder, sandwiches and seafood dinners. Their spiced shrimp is the absolute best. It is a great spot for some of the coldest draft beer in town and they still serve up those signature 32 ounce schooners!

RIVER BEND BISTRO River Bend Bistro is the culmination of owner/chef Caroline Bruder-Ross’ many years working the kitchen of some of Washington’s most notable restaurants. Located in Hollin Hall, this restaurant is classy, casual dining with a seasonal menu. This has become a very popular restaurant for the folks of the Mount Vernon area as well as those of us from Old Town. The menu is basic by design with dishes that you don’t find in many other restaurants. In the past few years Caroline has won the Cherry Challenge for best of Alexandria three times. First time for Entree, second time for appetizer and third time for appetizer and dessert. Plenty of free parking is a bonus at this location. 30 | February 2021

THE WAREHOUSE BAR & GRILL Located in the 200 block of King Street, The Warehouse Bar& Grill is one of the area’s most popular restaurants specializing in prime aged steaks and fresh seafood with a Cajun flair. The dining room is elegant white table cloth dining that features caricatures of the local gentry on the walls of the historic building. The intimate bar is a popular gathering for some of Alexandria’s locals, although that has been curtailed recently because of the pandemic. The backbone of the Warehouse menu is American Creole and Cajun dishes. Enjoy their Steak “Pontchartrain” or their famous lump crab cakes as well as their very popular Sunday brunch.

LANDINI BROTHERS RESTAURANT Landini Brothers is one of the oldest and best restaurants in Old Town Alexandria. They have been with us for over thirty years. Ownership and staff have become part of our family and we have made many good friends there over the last 37 years. Since 1979, Landini’s has been the go-to restaurant in Old Town for a traditional Tuscan style dinner, a corporate party or just to see who might be at the bar on any evening. Owners Franco and Noe Landini have been serving their customers with style and grace for years. Old Town Crier


BASTILLE BRASSERIE & BAR “A little bit of France in the heart of Alexandria, Virginia” is a perfect description of Bastille Brasserie & Bar. Like the other restaurants that are not in Old Town, the locals seem to flock to Bastille for the fare and to avoid the crowds. The French inspired cuisine is light and tasty. They offer a pre-fix menu that makes a three course dinner very affordable. Their wine list is exceptional and watching the action in the open kitchen is always a treat. Bastille prides themselves on their craft cocktails. If you are lucky enough to be dining when Jacob Sunny is behind the bar, he will be happy to let you in on a couple of his secrets!

UNION STREET PUBLIC HOUSE

STONEY’S KINGFISHERS SEAFOOD BAR & GRILL Taking a step out of Alexandria we want to include Stoney’s Kingfishers Bar & Grill on Solomons Island, Maryland. Kingfisher is a popular local gathering spot on Solomons and draws a good amount of tourists year round. Stoney’s signature crab cake is served here and has been voted best crab cake by the Washington Post many times. The food and drinks are the first reason to go, the second is the people...Eric Faughnan and his staff are an amazing group.

STONEY’S CLARKE’S LANDING

Union Street Public House is one of those restaurants that are really two in one. Old Town’s historic charm and gracious hospitality is always on tap at Union Street. They serve exceptional American cuisine crafted with a Southern twist in their beautifully renovated 1790 warehouse. Not only is their food very good...there is a lot of it. Union Street is also one of the most popular places to gather for a party or special event. Before the pandemic, Union Street was party central for New Years, Halloween and other events throughout the year. Union Street offers their Whiskey Bar as a place to escape the maddening crowd and enjoy the largest selection of Spirits in Old Town as well as special appearances by craft distillers.

Everything I said about Kingfishers can also be applied to Stoney’s Clarke’s Landing, the only difference is that Clarke’s is on the St. Mary’s County side of the Patuxent River near Hollywood, MD. The food and beverage at Clarke’s is top notch and you won’t leave hungry. Jeannie Stone and her staff make you feel like a part of the family on every visit. Experiencing Clarke’s Landing is well worth the drive!

VILLAGE BRAUHAUS TEMPO In the West End area of Alexandria at 4231 Duke Street you will find Tempo Restaurant. Tempo is truly one of Alexandria’s best kept secrets. Elegant, yet unpretentious, it is a neighborhood restaurant where the locals dine. Tempo’s menu features a blend of Northern Italian and French cuisine featuring fresh seafood. Tempo is a well-established restaurant and has been serving Alexandria as long, or longer, than the Old Town Crier has been in print. Like The Inn at Little Washington, the building is a converted gas station turned into a beautiful and comfortable establishment. Old Town Crier

Village Brauhaus is one of the newer restaurants to locate in Alexandria. The restaurant, offering German, Austrian and Bavarian cuisine, opened in 2018. Business boomed as folks came for their warm pretzels, bratwurst and their interpretations of classic dishes and daring new ventures into the uncharted territories of food and drink. The restaurant is very large so social distancing is no problem and their selection of Bavarian and German beers is extensive. I am partial to their Best of the Wurst. With this entree I can get a Bratwurst and a choice of seven different wursts so I can experience the differences. Located in the 700 block of King Street, Village Brauhaus offers dine in, carry out and outdoor seating on nice winter days which is perfect for a brat and a beer.

MACKIE’S BAR & GRILL Mackie’s Bar and Grill is probably the closest you can get to a classic local bar since Tiffany Tavern closed many years ago. The bar out front is an eclectic group of locals practicing social distancing and a few in the Ruby Lounge. The dining room is in the back room that is roomy and comfortable. Mackie’s is noted for their steaks, bacon wrapped shrimp and burgers. Their burger has been voted the Best Burger in Town. If you enjoy watching a sporting event in a “your living room” setting, Mackie’s is the place for you. There are four large screen TV’s in the bar area showing different sports and the dining room has a number of TV’s as well so you never miss a play of the Super Bowl. February 2021 | 31


LET’S EAT

W

CHARLES OPPMAN

ith Mardi Gras fast approaching on the 16th, we thought it only fitting to publish the recipe for a Nawlin’s favorite. Every so often a marvelous dish is created, one that is so special, so memorable it becomes a classic. The famous New Orleans’ po boy is one such creation. But what is a po boy exactly? Let’s start with what it isn’t. It isn’t a hoagie, a sub or a grinder. Those are northern creations made with soft, gummy bread. Po boys are made with baguettes that have a crunchy crust and a soft, tender crumb. Po boys are uniquely New Orleans. They symbolize the city’s social and cultural heritage. Po boys have an interesting history. Bennie and Clovis Martin left their Raceland, Louisiana, home in Cajun country in the mid-1910s for New Orleans. Both worked as streetcar conductors until they opened

6 Plump, raw oysters 1/2 C all-purpose flour 1/2 C corn meal 1 Egg, lg., beaten 1/2 C milk 1 C peanut oil

Martin Brothers’ Coffee Stand and Restaurant in the French Market in 1922. The years they had spent working as streetcar operators and members of the street railway employees’ union would eventually lead to their hole-in-thewall coffee stand. The streetcar workers’ strike began on July1, 1929. It was a protracted and vicious labor dispute. The sympathetic Martins provided large French bread sandwiches to the strikers. Bennie Martin said, “We fed those men free of charge until the strike ended. Whenever we saw one of the striking men coming, one of us would say, “Here comes another poor boy.” The name stuck, but was quickly shortened to “po boy.” Also called an “Oyster Loaf ”, the oyster po boy is one of the most popular varieties of this legendary New Orleans’ sandwich. Po Boys can have a variety of fillings; seafood, roast beef,

turkey, ham, chicken or egg salad…my favorite is the fried oyster one. Beyond the unparalleled flavor, the texture of the crunchy oysters takes this sandwich to another level. An oyster po boy should be “fully dressed” meaning it has to be filled with shredded lettuce and tomato and basted with melted butter or mayo. Mayo may be substituted with tartar sauce or New Orleans’ style roumalade sauce — doctored up tartar sauce really. The foundation of this work of sandwich art is the bread. Common sandwich bread won’t do. Any respectable po boy must be made with an ample length of a crunchy French baguette. Preferably, the loaf should be toasted prior to building the sandwich. The crunchiness of the oysters and warm bread are significant because they impart a perfect texture and mouth feel.

8” French baguette, sliced long ways Mayonnaise or melted butter Lettuce and tomato Salt and pepper, to taste Old Bay seasoning

Combine flour and corn meal and add Old Bay, salt and pepper, to taste, to make seasoned coating blend. Whisk egg and milk in a separate bowl. Thoroughly coat moist oysters in seasoned dry mixture then immerse in egg and milk mixture. One by one recoat each oyster and drop in hot peanut oil of 350F. If oil is not deep enough for oysters to submerge turn them over when golden brown. If oysters are submerged they will float when done. This should only take about 2 minutes. DO NOT overcook the oysters. Oysters are mostly water and will rapidly lose moisture when cooked too long. Drain on paper towel. Spread mayo or melted butter on toasted baguette. Finally, arrange oysters, lettuce and tomato in baguette and enjoy this uniquely American sandwich. Oysters may be replaced with shrimp or fish fillet. 32 | February 2021

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February 2021 | 33


DINING GUIDE AMERICAN

ADA'S ON THE RIVER 3 Pioneer Mill Way 703-638-1400 AUGIE’S MUSSEL HOUSE 1106 King Street 703.721.3970

LORI'S TABLE 1028 King Street 703-549-5545 LOST DOG CAFE 808 North Henry St. 571-970-6511

BLACKWALL HITCH 5 Cameron St. 703-739-6090

MACKIE’S BAR AND GRILL 907 King St. 703-684-3288 mackiesbarandgrill.com

CAFE 44 44 Canal Center 571-800-6644 CHADWICKS 203 Strand St. 703-836-4442 CHART HOUSE One Cameron St. 703-684-5080 CITY KITCHEN 330 South Pickett St. 703-685-9172 fatcitykitchen.com COLUMBIA FIREHOUSE 109 S. St. Asaph St. 703-683-1776 EVENING STAR CAFÉ 2000 Mt. Vernon Ave. 703-549-5051 EXECUTIVE DINER & CAFE 1400 Duke Street 703-299-0894 FIVE GUYS 725 King St. 703-549-7991 FOSTERS GRILLE 2004 Eisenhower Ave. 703-725-1342 GADSBYS TAVERN 138 N. Royal St. 703-548-1288 GRATEFUL KITCHEN 727 N. Henry Street HARD TIMES CAFE 1404 King St. 703-837-0050 HEN QUARTER 1404 King St. 703-684-6969 HOPS 'N SHINE 3410 Mount Vernon Ave. 703-566-1509 HUMMINGBIRD 220 South Union Street 703-566-1355 JACKS PLACE 222 North Lee St. 703-684-0372 JOE THEISMANNS 1800 Diagonal Rd. 703-739-0777 JUNCTION BAKERY & BISTRO 1508 Mount Vernon Avenue Alexandria 703-436-0025 LAPORTAS 1600 Duke St. 703-683-6313 THE LIGHT HORSE 715 King Street 703-549-0533

34 | February 2021

MAGNOLIA’S ON KING 703 King St. 703-838-9090 MAJESTIC CAFÉ 911 King St. 703-837-9117 MASON SOCIAL 728 Henry Street 703-548-8800 mason-social.com MURPHYS IRISH PUB 713 King St. 703-548-1717 murphyspub.com NORTHSIDE 1O 10 East Glebe Rd. 703-888-0032 OAK STEAKHOUSE 901 N. St. Asaph St. 703-840-3395 OCONNELLS RESTAURANT & BAR 112 King St. 703-739-1124 PORK BARREL BBQ 2312 Mount Vernon Ave. 703-822-5699 THE PEOPLES DRUG 103 N. Alfred Street 571-257-8851 RAMPARTS 1700 Fern St. 703-998-6616 rampartstavern.com RIVER BEND BISTRO 7966 Fort Hunt Rd. Hollin Hall Shopping Center 703-347-7545 riverbendbistro.com ROCK IT GRILL 1319 King St. 703-739-2274 RT's RESTAURANT 3804 Mt. Vernon Ave. 703-684-6010 rtsrestaurant.com SHOOTER MCGEES 5239 Duke St. 703-751-9266 SLATERS MARKET 1552 Potomac Greens Dr. 703-548-3807 SMOKING KOW BBQ 3250 Duke Sttreet 703-888-2649 SONOMA CELLAR 207 King St. 703-966-3550 SOUTH BLOCK 106 N. Lee Street 703-465-8423 SOUTHSIDE 815 815 S. Washington St. 703-836-6222

Please Contact your favorite restaurants for updates on their "Social Distancing" policies. SWEETGREEN 823 King St. 571-319-0192 SWEET FIRE DONNA'S BBQ & HOPS 510 John Carlyle Street 571-312-7960 T.J. STONES GRILL HOUSE & TAP ROOM 608 Montgomery St. 703-548-1004 tjstones.com TOASTIQUE GOURMET TOAST & JUICE BAR 1605 King Street 571-312-1909 UNION STREET PUBLIC HOUSE 121 South Union St. 703-548-1785 unionstreetpublichouse.com VERMILLION 1120 King St. 703-684-9669 VIRTUE GRAIN & FEED 106 South Union St. 571-970-3669 VOLA’S DOCKSIDE GRILL & THE HI-TIDE LOUNGE 101 North Union St. 703-935-8890 THE WAREHOUSE BAR & GRILL 214 King St. 703-683-6868 warehouseoldtown.com ASIAN

ASIAN BISTRO 809 King St. 703-836-1515 KINGS RANSOM 728 King Street 571-319-0794 KISSO ASIAN BISTRO 300 King Street 703-888-1513 MALAYA 1019 King St. 703-519-3710 MAI THAI 9 King St. 703-548-0600 NASIME 1209 King St. 703-548-1848 SIGNATURE THAI 722 King Street 707-888-2458 STREETS MARKET AND CAFE 3108 Mt. Vernon Ave. 571-431-6810 THAILAND ROYAL 801 N. Fairfax St. 703 535-6622 TOKYO JAPANESE STEAKHOUSE 66 Canal Center Plaza 703-683-8878 CAPHE BANH MI VIETNAMESE 407 Cameron St. 703-549-0800 KAI ZEN TAVERN 1901 Mt. Vernon Ave. 703-836-1212 SISTERS THAI 503 Montgomery St. 571-777-8154

THE SUSHI BAR 2312 Mount Vernon Avenue 571-257-3232 CONTINENTAL

BRABO by Robert Weidmaier 1600 King St. 703-894-3440 CEDAR KNOLL GW Parkway at Lucia Ln. 703-780-3665 OLD HOUSE COSMOPOLITAN 1024 Cameron Street 703-717-9361 TEMPO 4231 Duke St. 703-370-7900 temporestaurant.com VILLAGE BRAUHAUS 710 King Street 703-888-1951 villagebrauhaus.com FRENCH

BASTILLE 606 N. Fayette St. 703-519-3776 bastillerestaurant.com BISTRO SANCERRE FRENCH 1755 Duke Street LE REFUGE 127 N. Washington St. 703-548-4661 FONTAINES CAFFE & CREPERIE 119 S. Royal St. 703-535-8151 LA MADELEINE 500 King St. 703-729-2854 TWO NINETEEN RESTAURANT 219 King St. 703-549-1141 ITALIAN

BUGSYS PIZZA RESTAURANT 111 King St. 703-683-0313 FACCIA LUNA 823 S. Washington St. 703-838-5998 HANK & MIMI'S PIZZA AND PASTA 600 Montgomery Ave. 571-312-4117 IL PORTO RESTAURANT 121 King St. 703-836-8833 LANDINI BROTHERS 115 King St. 703-836-8404 landinibrothers.com LENA’S WOOD-FIRED PIZZA & TAP 401 East Braddock Rd. 703-960-1086 MIA'S ITALIAN KITCHEN 100 King Street 703-997-5300 MICHAEL’S LITTLE ITALY 305 S. Washington St. 703-548-9338 RED ROCKS FIREBRICK PIZZA 904 King St. 703-717-9873

MEDITERRANEAN

TAVERNA CRETEKOU 818 King St. 703-548-8688 tavernacretekou.com PITA HOUSE 719 King St. 703-684-9194 DELIAS MEDITERRANEAN GRILL 209 Swamp Fox Rd. 703-329-0006 VASO'S MEDITERRANEAN BISTRO 1118 King Street 703-566-2720 VASO'S KITCHEN 1225 Powhatan Street 703-548-2747 SEAFOOD

HANKS OYSTER BAR 1026 King St. 703-739-HANK FISH MARKET-OLD TOWN 105 King St. 703-836-5676 fishmarketoldva.com ERNIES ORGINIAL CRABHOUSE 1743 King St. 703-836-0046 THE WHARF 119 King St. 703-836-2834 WHISKEY & OYSTER 301 John Carlyle 703-567-1533 INDIAN

DISHES OF INDIA 1510A Bellview Blvd. 703-660-6085 DIYA 218 North Lee, 2nd Floor 703-706-5338 NAMASTE 1504 King St. 703-970-0615 MEXICAN LATIN SOUTHWESTERN

CASA TEQUILA (next to Crate & Barrel) 1701 Duke 703-518-5312 CHOP SHOP TACO 1008 Madison Street 571-970-6438 DON TACO TEQUILA BAR 808 King St. 703-988-3144 LOS CUATES RESTAURANT 1116 King Street 703-548-2918 LOS TIOS GRILL 2615 Mt. Vernon Ave. 703-299-9290 LOS TOLTECOS 4111 Duke St. 703-823-1167 TAQUERIA POBLANO 2400-B Mt. Vernon Ave. 703-548-TACO (8226) TEQUILA & TACO 540 John Carlyle Street 703-721-3203 URBANO 116 116 King Street 571-970-5148 Old Town Crier


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February 2021 | 35


GRAPEVINE

MATT FITZSIMMONS

Map provided by freevectormaps.com

A

ll bottle art is designed to grab your attention, but the best ones convey a message. Some highlight a good cause. Others explain the winery’s heritage. A few just want to make you laugh. Regardless, if the art causes you to say “I MUST have that bottle,” then it did its job. As Virginia has nearly 300 wineries - each offering up to a dozen bottles each – there’s a lot of bottle art to choose from. But here are some of the best.

The Cameo Collection was released in February, 2020 as part of the centennial celebration of the passage of the 19th Amendment. The art includes portraits of luminaries from Virginia’s history such as Ella Fitzgerald and Martha Washington, plus a description of their contributions in areas ranging from the arts, business, medicine, or historical significance.

Iron Heart Winery Iron Heart’s name is double-edged; it’s in honor of the location’s history as a steel mill, and the strength of character of the women who once owned the farm. But their wine labels are some of the most unique in the state – Iron Heart uses friends, employees & family members as models.

Blenheim Vineyard’s “On The Line” This limited release white blend of Viognier, Chasseas Doré, and Rkatsiteli has perhaps the most timely bottle art you can ask for. The Dave Matthews designed label features a medical professional in full mask, in honor of those who are on the proverbial front lines fighting against COVID-19.

To date around 30 labels have been made, but one recent favorite is their Jackpot. $20 of every $30 bottle will go to the New River Community College Access to Community College Education (ACCE) program. It’s a great label for a great cause, but the artwork on every bottle is a home run.

By itself, this is a great tribute. But what makes it extra special is part of the proceeds are donated to Frontline Foods and the World Central Kitchen, known around the globe as “Food First Responders”.

Jefferson Vineyards

Forever Farm’s Boykin Blend The story of the Boykin Blend is both sad and uplifting. George was a Boykin Spaniel who accompanied his human parents Bob and Teri Riggs when they moved to Virginia in 2016. Unfortunately, George crossed over the rainbow bridge the following year.

The Cameo Collection (Effingham Manor, Pearmund Cellars, Philip Carter Winery, and Vint Hill Winery) This collection doesn’t stop with one label – it has twelve. 36 | February 2021

Yet George’s memory lives on. Bob named his first wine in honor of George, even picturing him on the label. Not only that, $1 of every bottle is donated to the Boykin Spaniel Rescue foundation.

Wine geeks are familiar with the story of a ‘secret stash’ of French wines that were (allegedly) owned by President and wine aficionado Thomas Jefferson, based on the initials “Th. J.” ascribed on the bottles. Unfortunately (for the buyer), these bottles were later judged to be fakes. Even worse (for the seller), billionaire William Koch had purchased one of them…and Koch was not forgiving for having been

duped. Koch would have been better off buying a bottle from Jefferson Vineyards, located adjacent to Jefferson’s home of Monticello. Unlike the infamous bottle of 1787 Lafite, Jefferson Vineyard’s bottles can boast they actually utilize a copy of Thomas Jefferson’s signature.

GRAPEVINE | FROM PAGE 36

Old Town Crier


EXPLORING VA WINES

DOUG FABBIOLI

A Nice Package

I

n these writings I sometimes make an attempt at explaining a few of the different parts of my job, sharing insider tidbits and hoping to make it interesting to both the wine geeks and the non-wine geek consumers. This month I want to get a little deeper into the bottling and packaging of wines. Wine has been stored in many different vessels over the centuries. Oxygen is not a friend to a finished wine, so storing it in smaller vessels, always full, is an important part of the planning. If you were quenching the thirst of an army in Roman times, drawing wine right from the barrel into pitchers to fill mugs worked just fine and barrels were the best way to store it. Those soldiers drank a lot and drank

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email us at info@fabbioliwines.com 15669 Limestone School Rd • Leesburg, VA 20176 703.771.1197 • fabbioliwines.com Old Town Crier

it fast. Finer wines are usually consumed in much smaller quantities than a legion of Roman soldiers might put away, so bottles make more sense. Although wine bottles have been around for ages, it is still an evolving process: when we consider consumption, cost, and perception, some winemakers are changing things up quite a bit. Canning wine has become popular but I found that our volumes are such that I could not make the numbers work. Even with the ciders, I would spend more on the package than on the product inside. We have been using the three liter pouches for some of our wines, and that seems to be working out well. As the pouch empties, air does not enter so the wine can stay fresh for months. This method will not work for the ciders, though, as the effervescence will dissipate as the pressure of the pouch drops. We have been using kegs for the ciders as well as for a couple of our wines. The keg is pressurized with CO2 in order to push out the product, preventing oxygen from entering. This system is working well for us in a number of local restaurants. Our main method of packaging our wine is in a 750ml bottle. We do fill some of our specialty bottles by hand, but most of the time our wines are bottled by a mobile bottling line service. This large box truck has an assembly line built inside it with specific equipment made to process a wide variety of bottles, labels, and wine types. A typical bottling run for me usually involves bottling seven different wines into as many

as five bottle types, some with a screw cap and some with a cork finish. We can do a run like this, totaling about 1500 cases, in one day. I usually have them scheduled up to five times during the year so I can have time and space between bottlings to get the next round of wines ready. I also make some wines for other wineries, so this adds to the number of wines I make per year and the changeover needs during the bottling run.   The process preparing for the bottling date is the key to success. Blending and filtering the wines so they are high quality and ready is the base for all of this, but not the only part. Getting the labels designed, approved, and printed is a time consuming and tedious part of the process, and the bottles, capsules and corks need to be ordered ahead of time based on the volume of wine. Multiply the process by seven to cover each wine in the run, and then multiply that number by five over the course of a year to get all the wines in the bottle properly! Each wine needs individual attention to make sure the quality and distinctiveness is what it should be, and every detail needs to be in place to make sure the day goes without a hitch. Time for me to double check my latest order so we have what we need for the next bottling. Be sure to appreciate the craftsmanship in each of your local craft beverages. Each one of them goes through a similar intricate process and reflects the care and passion put into it. Cheers! February 2021 | 37


The artwork is drawn in a way that any woman could see herself depicted, with “What Will The Women Drink?” labeled prominently. Part of its proceeds goes to the Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter.

GRAPEVINE FROM PAGE 36

Well Hung Vineyards The bottle art of Well Hung is a cheeky rebuttal to the sexualized imagery women often see in the advertising world. It started as a joke between two friends, when one held up some grapes and asked “What does this remind you of?” eliciting the response “Well hung!”. A third later recognized the potential of a brand name, and together this trio made their first

Lightwell Survey Lightwell Survey is a small venture based in Waynesboro, VA, made by Early Mountain Vineyards winemaker Ben Jordan. It prides itself on ‘being weird’, and it’s not just because of the crazy blends. Seriously, who thought a Blaufränkisch & Riesling blend would be so delicious? The illustrations are creative and moody, ranging from werewolves in trench coats to wine-making clowns. Perhaps unique amongst Virginia bottle art, each vintage’s label continues the story from the previous year. Looking at a collection of different vintage labels feels like you’re reading a neo-punk comic book.

Pearmund Cellars Black Ops One look at this pitch-black bottle and you’ll know you’re dealing with a badass wine. Only a handful of people know the composition of this Bordeaux-blend, made as a tribute to the U.S. Special Operations community. Owner Chris Pearmund explained he named one of his best wines after the most elite in our military. He also donates part of the proceeds to the Code of Support Foundation, which provides essential assistance to struggling service members, veterans and their families.

` Walsh Family Wine’s What Will The Women Drink? “WWTWD” has perhaps the most empowering story on this list. It came about when a customer proceeded to mansplain to co-owner Sarah Walsh how she could make improvements to her winery. When Sarah tried to explain how wine slushies really weren’t their thing, he asked “But what will the women drink”? Needless to say, Sarah wasn’t having any of that – and an idea was born.

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get Vint Hill traces its lineage to a World War II signal intelligence station which picked up radio traffic as far away as Germany and the Pacific. The tasting room stands on the same grounds, shared by the Cold War Museum. Many of Vint Hill’s wine labels are based on wartime ‘nose art’, which often decorated American aircraft as a symbol of good luck, remembering loved ones, or a way of building morale. Now, this art is used to maintain a connection to that time.

38 | February 2021

Matthew Fitzsimmons is a wine blogger well on his way to visiting every one of Virginia’s nearly 300 wineries. Track his progress on https://winetrailsandwanderlust. com/.

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vintage in 2009. The label is based on a photo of three men standing behind a row of vines with grapes hung at…strategic locations. It’s since been featured by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in their exhibition “How Wine Became Modern: Design & Wine 1976 to Now”.

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FITNESS

NICOLE FLANAGAN

HEALTHY HABITS ARE THE KEY

N

ow that the New Year is in full swing and we have all climbed back on the treadmills and weight machines, it’s time to make sure we can keep going. The most difficult part of changing your habits is the change itself. The best way to make a lasting difference in your life is to change things a little bit at a time. Even when you have the workout part down to a science it’s what you do outside the gym that counts as well. We all know that exercise is not the only answer to solving our weight loss problems. With a wellbalanced exercise and nutrition plan you will get much more out of your workout and your everyday life. It is not your imagination, sitting at your desk (at home or at the office) all day can really make your behind as wide as the chair that you sit in. Many people who work in an office building don’t get much of a chance to be active throughout the day. As a result, that nine to five job just gave them an extra 10 to 20 pounds. Those of you who are working from home have the opportunity to move around between Zoom meetings. Here are some ways to whittle that waistline while you’re hard at work. Reduce those rolls: Replace that ordinary desk chair with a ball. By trading your chair in for an exercise ball you will help your posture and strengthen your core improving your stability and burning calories. Old Town Crier

Walk and talk: If you tend to take a lot of calls during the day get headset and walk while you talk. Get a pedometer or FitBit and track how many extra steps you take in a day. An Extra 500 steps per day burns about 25 calories. Over the course of a whole year that can mean a weight loss of up to two pounds without even changing your diet.

Schedule snack time: An American Dietetic Association report found that 75 percent of workers ate lunch at their desks at least two to three times per week. Instead of trying to multitask, minimize mindless eating by making time to step away from your desk for snacks. If you are aware of what you eat you’ll be less likely to nibble all day. Go Green: Drink green tea! A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who drank tea that was fortified with green tea extracts every day for three months lost 2.4 more pounds than those who drank plain tea. Also antioxidants found in green tea may stimulate the body to burn fat and increase metabolism. Keep the Candy away: Give your willpower some help and keep that candy in an opaque jar. If you can’t see it you won’t want it. If you have a sweet tooth try hard candies rather than chocolates. Hard candies last longer and have fewer calories.

Make your fitness a group effort: when you go out to lunch with your coworkers walk instead of drive. Better yet get some of them to take up a class with you at the local gym after work. If you have neighbors working from home, ask them to walk with you. Working out with a partner helps to keep the commitment for you and your friend(s). Changing your habits at your desk can help you to burn a few extra calories and save you from consuming a few hundred. So what can you eat that isn’t going to add too many calories and still leave you feeling satisfied until your next meal? A small hundredcalorie snack can stave off hunger but sometimes that exact amount can be hard to eyeball. You could pay more at the grocery store for those pre-measured hundred calorie packs, or you could just make your own. Here are a few snack ideas that will keep your waistline and your wallet in check:

• Starbucks tall skinny latte: Get that caffeine fix you crave along with 10g of protein and about a third of your daily calcium needs. • Quaker instant oatmeal (regular style): high in fiber and protein its good for breakfast or a snack • Yoplait light yogurt: packed with calcium and vitamin D • Banana: quick, easy and filling plus the potassium in bananas will help prevent muscle cramps later on • 3 cups air popped popcorn: light fluffy and filling go ahead and nibble mindlessly • 1 cup of baby carrots with 2tbsp hummus: this snack is healthy and energizing which will help you keep going through your six o clock spin class. • 1 cup of raspberries with 2tbsp of plain yogurt and 1tsp of honey: this snack mix satisfies your sweet tooth without hurting your diet. • 18 fat free Rold Gold Tiny

Pretzel Twists: kill a carb and salt craving in a single snacking. While working from home it will be easy to have these snacks on hand. If you have gone back to the office to work, trade some of these snacks for those vending machine packs for a more energizing and satisfying break from your work. To make it easier pack your snacks ahead of time. Make enough for the week and just grab them as you go for work. Things like popcorn and oatmeal can be stashed in a desk drawer for a quick and healthy pick me up if you are feeling hungry between meals. Eating more often will keep your feeling full so you will be less likely to snag a snickers for the drive home. Keep your cravings controlled and your commitment on the top of your list and you will stay on the right track to a healthy lifestyle. Remember that the little changes you make each day will have a lasting impact. February 2021 | 39


FROM THE TRAINER RYAN UNVERZAGT

Get Yourself a Kettlebell and Squat!

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ow are your fitness resolutions working out? It’s common by the second month that your wellintentioned lifestyle changes might be disintegrating earlier than anticipated. Don’t be discouraged if you find yourself less than enthusiastic. As I have mentioned in previous articles, find a reason to stay motivated. Make it personal. Something like, “I want to lose weight because…….” Instead of “I need to lose weight.” Applying true meaning to your fitness goals will make exercise a little easier to tolerate. Keep the momentum going into February because this month will cruise by. This month’s exercise is called the Kettlebell Wall-Sit. It’s an isometric exercise, meaning there is no movement even though your muscles are working. A typical wall-sit is designed to target the quadriceps femoris muscle group (front of the thigh). The goal is to “sit” in an imaginary chair against the wall for a predetermined amount of time. To reap the full benefits of this exercise,

you must establish a 90 degree knee angle. Anything less does not challenge the quads appropriately. Another mistake is to grab the thighs and push off using your arms. This maneuver, along with leaning forward to “rest” your forearms on top of the thighs is considered cheating. The reason for using the kettlebell (or dumbbell) is to eliminate these cheat moves. First, your hands are occupied holding the kettlebell. Second, holding it with straight arms directly overhead prevents leaning forward. Your shoulder blades should always stay in contact with the wall. Third, it adds more resistance than just your body weight. Keep your feet hip-width apart and avoid lifting the heels. You don’t want your toes crammed into the front of the shoes. Push through the heels to maintain your position and evade slippage on the floor. Try to hold the wall-sit for at least 20 seconds, and then progress to 90 seconds using 10 second intervals. This is a great exercise to utilize in a lowerbody routine. Enjoy!

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Unverzagt holds Bachelor of Science degree in Wellness Management from Black Hills State University. He is a certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength & Conditioning Association and a Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography. 40 | February 2021

Old Town Crier


GENIVIEVE LEFRANC

FIRST BLUSH

C

oco Chanel once said, “A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future.” While this pearl of wisdom may be true, I believe a woman who skips her scent spritz is missing out on one of the joys and mysteries of femininity. Perfume is one of the easiest ways to instantly feel sexy and beautiful, and is the perfect gift for both men and women, whether you’re treating yourself or being gifted by your valentine. Perfume has the power to add sophistication, femininity, and flair with a simple spray. The options for fragrance are ever-expanding, which makes it easy to find something Haircuts $15 Shampoo, Cut & Blow Dry $18 (extra charge for long hair) Scissors Cut $17+up Color $43+up Permanent $45+up (including haircut & conditioner)

for everyone—from herbs and essential oils for Mother Nature types, to body mists and lotions for more reserved girls, to designer fragrances for those fierce fashionistas on top of trends. However, there are a few tricks to remember to ensure you smell like a meadow of flowers, not a closet filled with old ladies and fur coats. The ultimate commandment when wearing perfume is less is more. You want to attract others with your enticing scent, not clear the room! There is a very fine line between just right and too much, and an overpowering douse of perfume ruins the notes of even the most

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beautiful, delicate fragrance. Apply to your neck or décolletage, behind the ears, on your wrists, or all three! Contrary to common wisdom, do not rub your wrists together! This muddles the various top notes in a fragrance and can alter the scent. For Valentine’s Day (or night!) mix it up and get creative where you spray your sexiest bottle of perfume. Mist your undergarments, lingerie, sheets, or brush through your hair. Just remember the alcohol in perfume can be drying to your locks, so walk through a misty cloud of your fragrance instead of spraying directly onto hair. Some women rely on a signature fragrance to carry them faithfully through the years while some girls collect perfume like art. Whether you have an unwavering dedication to Chanel No. 5 or not, it’s always fun to explore new scents, and there are tricks to picking them out. Don’t be afraid to break the standard fragrance rules of wearing citruses and florals in the summer and musk and vanillas in the winter. Wear what you like and what works for you! If there is a certain perfume you have in mind, spray it on your wrist and wear it around all day. That way you’ll know whether your love at first smell actually

ends up making you sick to your stomach by the end of day. There are hundreds of other scents mingling in the department store air, so take your sample stick away from the perfume counter to appreciate its true aroma. And remember, different fragrances smell different on different people, so allow the perfume time to mingle with your own body chemistry. Posh designer fragrances may make you feel fierce and fabulous, but these are not for everyone. If a crystal vile of Dior just isn’t your style or seems too overpowering, there are lots of great, lighter alternatives to perfume. Many designer fragrances are offered in bath gel, lotions, creams, and body wash versions. Even some scented deodorants can be so yummy smelling that they can act as a light form of fragrance for even the most perfume-averse woman. Body mists are light and refreshing, or after your bath, stand and spray the perfume in front of you and just walk through! Whichever option you choose, leave the sugary-smelling Bath and Body Works products to preteens perusing the mall. If I wanted to smell like “Midnight Pomegranate” or “Juniper Breeze” I’d order a cocktail! For those of you—like me— who are die-hard for donning

designer fragrances, my favorite way to wear perfume now is in my accessories! Many designer scents are offered in solid or roll-on versions, perfect for travel, the office, or your purse. Recently, designers have been taking this convenience one step further by making your togo fragrance as solid perfume rings, necklaces, and key chains. These are a fun way to accessorize and keep you smelling as pretty as you look, and the adorable packaging make these gems excellent conversation pieces. Beyonce’s fragrance, Heat, and Michael Kors’s Very Hollywood rings are bedecked with big, glam jewels while Marc Jacob’s Daisy (also offered as a necklace) and Lola perfume rings are quirky, cool, cocktail options. Coach offers a solid perfume keychain charm perfect for preppies and Kat Von D has a black rose ring for your inner bad ass. No matter your style, they all have the same effect as a roll-on fragrance: convenience. Christian Dior put it best when he said, “A woman’s perfume tells more about her than her handwriting.” Yet in a world where most things can be described by their appearance or taste or sound, the scent of a woman is often indescribable—magical, mysterious, and powerful. February 2021 | 41


GO FISH

STEVE CHACONAS

Bringing Fish into View

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ishfinders” don’t find fish as much as they find locations where fish might live, however they require angler interpretation. Subsequent generations with computers interpret sonar signals and provide views beyond the boat bottom to hundreds of feet around the boat. It’s been 5 years since Garmin electronics released their game-changing LiveScope technology. It provides a new view of underwater fish hangouts with more than just a spec, blob or arch. Fish shapes in motion, including their position on cover and the lure presented to them, are easily identified. Improvements and tournament wins are making this a must-have for pros and weekend anglers alike. Many pros are covertly using LiveScope to avoid conflicts with other sponsors. Pros not crossing that line lamented at seasons’ end they need to find a way to come on board or fall behind the fishtronics curve. How good is the new Garmin? Falcon Boat Mercury pro angler Troy Morrow was hanging in against top pros. But Garmin’s LiveScope turned his career around in the last 2 years when he helped to pioneer the new LiveScope system. There was a learning curve as these units are much more effective when making frequent tweaks. Morrow, a quick study, demonstrated his prowess on 42 | February 2021

the Potomac River in 2019. Fishing was tough for the pro field in a series of three events a week or so apart during the heat of the summer. While anglers targeted thick river grasses, Morrow relied on LiveScope to find and catch fish on rocks, docks and submerged wrecks. “I like to fish hard targets. That narrows down what to hit. Seeing cover, a broken post or stump, I don’t have to make 10 casts to find it.” Morrow sees underwater targets with LiveScope and with one cast, he’s in the strike zone, not just close, making each cast more effective. He says casting around cover makes fish more reluctant to bite, so dropping a bait in front a fish makes them strike. “If not in the right spot fish will swim to the bait and not eat it.” The best casts drop directly to the fish and only LiveScope makes that happen. First casts provide the best shot to get bites. Once he covered a spot, he left, but came back to allow them to refresh. Approaching a dock, most anglers fish every piling or certain pilings based on tides or weather conditions. Not Morrow. Approaching a dock, he lowered Power Pole Shallow Water Anchors to look at each piling. Only then making a cast, certain every presentation went to a fish. Once a fish was caught, he kept the Power Poles down to fish that spot. Morrow noticed how fish reacted to his baits. Some came over, took a look and then left, indicating he

needed to change his Zoom soft plastic bait, color or size. Now he was making changes for a reason, not just a gut reaction. LiveScope revealed additional less obvious targets on docks like wash outs or spots just out from the dock. He even identified schools of catfish to avoid. Results speak for themselves, two top ten and a second place finish in what many consider to be the most challenging events in the country. The Bass Fishing League and the FLW Costas Series attract top national pros, regional pros and local hot sticks. Morrow is one of the most knowledgeable in operating these systems and an expert

installer. He says installation is the first step in getting the most out of these units, including wiring and battery source. Today he’s still learning, trying to stay ahead of the curve and spending hours to realize LiveScope’s full potential. “Now I’m using it in every aspect of bass fishing, fishing spots normally overlooked. Fish are always moving and a nothing bank can produce bonus fish.” LiveScope has changed how Morrow fishes and practices. He locates fish and where specifically they’re relating to cover and type of cover. LiveScope also reveals how they react to baits, helping him to dial in lure presentation, cadence,

and color. It must be working as Morrow recently won a Toyota Series on Lake Norman and back to back 2 day BFL events on Lake Hartwell. Purists say surveilling fish with electronic devices doesn’t give fish much of a chance. No matter the relative advantage, fish are the final and largest variable. LiveScope is the vision of the future and it’s here now, coming soon to the rest of the industries’ fish finders. Author Capt. Steve Chaconas is Potomac bass fishing guide. Potomac River reports: nationalbass.com. Book trips/ purchase gift certificates: info@ NationalBass.com.

Potomac River Bassing in February Water is in the 40s. Slight warm up on hard cover during the heat of the day. Fish are still on drops in bays with less current. Silver Buddy lures are the best bet on 10 pound test Gamma Edge fluorocarbon, burp the ½ ounce silver bait down drops without overworking. A Quantum Smoke casting reel on a medium action 7 foot rod is stiff enough to keep fish hooked. Also working are small grubs in ¼ ounce ball head jigs. Tie these to 15 pound test Gamma torque braid with 8 pound test GAMMA Copoly leaders. Crawl along the bottom with frequent stops. Faster Quantum Smoke spinning reels can take up line quickly to make other casts. Use the same line system for drop shot and split shot rigs. Small worms can be threaded on 1/0 Mustad Mega Bite hooks with 3/16 ounce Water Gremlin BullShot weights. Keep baits horizontal with slow movements and pauses. Punisher hair jigs are also a good choice with small craws or chunks. Use the same line. Allow the jigs to sit so hair opens to create bites. As water warms a slightly larger profile Mizmo tube with a ¼ ounce insert head from Mud Puppy Custom Baits are made with Mustad hooks and will penetrate with a load and pull set.

Old Town Crier


OPEN SPACE

LORI WELCH BROWN

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his year calls for shaking things up, and I’m starting with Valentine’s Day. Why should the day of love be reserved for weak-kneed, liver-quivering adolescents desperate to get the attention of their first crushes? Or twentysomethings who finally have an excuse to shower the object of their affections with emojis? Or marrieds jockeying for overpriced dinner reservations? No—we need to go retro. We need to go old school. And, we need to go BIG. Given the sh#t show of a year that was 2020 and the fact that it is finally in our rearview mirror, I’m petitioning to make 2021 the year of L-O-V-E. So who’s ready to shine their light of love onto some deserving souls? There are a million ways to show love, and Hallmark and CVS started shoving red hearts down our throats on December 26. I know—it’s a made up holiday, but I do love those cute old-school Valentine’s wrapped in their tiny envelopes. Just the memory of walking the aisle clutching my allowance, looking for the perfect-themed box is enough to make my heart melt. Mickey and Minnie? Too love sick? Winnie-the Pooh? Too juvenile? Hong Kong Phooey? Too crazy? Maybe Care Bears? Too gimmicky? Cinderella? Too clingy/desperate? Ahhh. The decisions. But the best part? Decorating the receptacle for your Valentines. Brown bag or shoe box? I’m a brown bag kinda girl, myself. But, a box is nice too. Who will be the lucky Old Town Crier

recipients? The UPS driver who has diligently delivered all my packages. The mailman who is the recipient of Dozer’s daily siren barks. My beloved neighbors who are always at the ready to lend me some almond milk, stand around our fire pit, or share a meal delivery. The vet who takes such good care of our babies. The list of people deserving of love is endless and full of possibilities. I am in love—with all the good, kind people out there risking their lives to make us food, deliver our mail and take care of our sick. The question to be asking ourselves may be not who do you love, but who don’t you love? And really, really trying to feel the love for everyone. Who are you ready to forgive? Who have you been holding a grudge against? Are you holding onto any long-standing resentments? Is there someone you could be more accepting of at work? Is there a family member you haven’t spoken with for reasons you can no longer remember? Forgiveness. Letting go of judgements, hurts, grudges, etc. That’s where the juicy love hides. It may be time to bring it out into the light. Or, maybe you’re not ready to be all hearts and butterflies. That’s fine also as long as you create space for forgiveness in your own heart and carve out any dark, lingering pain. Give yourself the gift of forgiveness and expand your capacity for love in other ways that don’t involve the person who caused you pain and/or trauma. Let’s show LOVE in big ways this year. While we are at it, why

restrict it to just February 14? What about writing random acts of love notes every week. Make a list of 2-3 people to send some snail mail too. Who doesn’t love seeing something other than a bill or ValPak in their mailbox? How about going old school and picking up the phone to actually call someone real time? Call your aunt in Wyoming. Call your college friend on the West Coast. Call your daughter-inlaw just because. If you can afford it, send an inspirational book to someone who might need some uplifting words. Or better yet, write him/ her a poem. Get creative. Buy a watercolor pad and paint away. Send your art out into the world via your friends. Bring a smile to their faces by showing them your artistic love. Buy a bouquet of sunflowers. Drop one stem off at each of your neighbors with a note, “Sending you some sunshine today.” Make some “Hug Coupons” and distribute them to everyone you’ve been yearning to wrap your arms around this past year. Let them know they can be redeemed multiple times and don’t include an expiration date. There are lots of ways to show BIG love. Get creative. Broaden your circle. Think out of the box. There are no boundaries when it comes to love. Express yourself wildly and imaginatively. And then stand back and see what happens. Love is like a boomerang. Be ready for it to come back to you in spades. Happy Valentine’s Day! February 2021 | 43


NATIONAL HARBOR

2021 is a year of the Ox, starting from February 12th, 2021 (Chinese lunar New Year Day) and lasting until January 31st, 2022. It will be a Metal Ox year. The recent zodiac years of the Ox sign are: 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021. An Ox year occurs every 12 years.

44 | February 2021

LANI GERING

Let’s Celebrate the Year of the Ox at the MGM

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egular readers of this column know how fond I am of the décor in the Conservatory and the MGM Grand in the Harbor. The holiday display was featured in the December issue and I try to post information about them as they change during the season. As has been the norm, Chinese New Year is the winter theme and 2021 is the Year of the Ox – the display does not disappoint. The photos don’t do it justice since you can’t really tell how massive it is. Keep in mind that it is two stories tall. According to the Chinese, for those born in the Year of the Ox, 2021 promises to be a highly fruitful year with a lot of cheer and power. Professionals will be rewarded financially for their diligence and skills. The family will play a significant role in his life. Single persons will marry, while the married can welcome a new member to the family. People in business can start

new partnership ventures. Normal life will be disturbed with useless travel and additional social activities. Even though there has been plenty of consternation concerning China’s role in the current pandemic, one has to admit that, besides really good food, this zodiac custom has brought much entertainment to us over the years. Let’s hope that the Ox horoscope transcends into everyone’s life this year. We can all use a little cheer and power and who doesn’t want to do a little bit of “useless” travel and attend some social activities!?! The last time I was at the MGM was just to revel in the glory of the holiday décor in the Conservatory but I took a trek through the casino this time. It was around 8 pm on a Monday evening and there were more people than I thought there would be – all trying to hit the jackpot. I confess that I did entertain myself for a while with my $20 and a few points on my rewards card (that I left in the slot machine like a dope). I was impressed with the way that MGM has put the social distancing protocol in place. The acrylic dividers between table game players and the every other slot machine availability seems to work well. It was sad not to be able to have a cocktail in the Cherry Blossom lounge on this trip but by the time this issue comes out the indoor dining

ban will be lifted and table service will be back. There were a few retail shops open in The District but very few eateries open in National Market due to the ban on indoor dining that was in effect when I was there. They do have heated tents on the area adjacent to the market and there were a few people eating to-go food. By now, however, the restaurants have reopened to indoor diners - all following the pandemic protocols. If you are looking for something a bit different to do this month, take a drive to the Harbor and the MGM Grand, park in the free parking, play a few slots, grab something to eat and check out the Conservatory! While you are in that neck of the woods, go on into National Harbor and see what adventures you can get up to there. Fooduary – Harbor to Table…. Yours or Ours! will be taking place through Valentine’s Day. This is their take on Restaurant Week this winter and there are some excellent dining options available. You might want to try something you normally wouldn’t! Details available at nationalharbor. com/FOODUARY. After you have dinner treat yourself to a ride on the Capital Wheel and have a beverage under the heaters on the Flight Deck. They are open Friday-Sunday from 2 – 9 pm. Old Town Crier


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