Month: December 2013

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Arts & Entertainment, High Notes

Suit Up!

Phish: Wingsuit Halloween is that time of year when we’re allowed to step outside ourselves and pretend to be someone else. As such, in 1994 Phish took on the mantle of donning a “musical costume” for the evening, performing the Beatles’ White Album during the second of a three-set show in Glens Falls, NY.  There have been five further Halloween shows, in 1995, 1996, 1998, 2009, & 2010, where they performed Quadrophenia (The Who), Remain In Light (Talking Heads), Loaded (Velvet Underground), Exile On Main Street (Rolling Stones), and Waiting For Columbus (Little Feat), respectively. Each of those albums were landmarks, and each one signaled a shift in Phish’s future directions. Anticipation for Halloween 2013 was high and the rumor mills were abuzz with everything from Michael Jackson’s Thriller to Genesis’ The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway being bandied about.  Phish has always thrived in the throes of unpredictability but few were expecting what they had in store.  This year, instead of some classic album from the past, the band surprised everyone by performing twelve songs from their upcoming album, none of which had ever been performed by Phish.  Dubbed Wingsuit, they said this time they wanted to play an album from the future. And, folks, the future is bright. The plan was that three days after the show, they would enter the studio with the legendary Bob Ezrin producing (best-known for his work with Pink Floyd).  Over the past year, Phish had been gathering in secret and writing new material.  Over the course of their thirty year career, Phish spent countless hours spontaneously creating new music as a band, but they had never attempted to write songs as a group until now.  These clandestine writing sessions yielded a vast wealth of material that, combined with more traditionally-sourced tracks, formed…

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Beauty & Health, Spiritual Renaissance

Creating Your Legacy in 2014 & Beyond

This has been such a deep year. Hasn’t it? In the world – wars, elections, natural disasters! In the cosmos – eclipses, solar flares and more. And in our lives – births, deaths, marriages, divorces. In these times of social media and instant news it can be hard to remember that these massive shifts are only temporary. They are blips on the screen of your life. Our grandparents had more time to between world events entering their consciousness. They had space to mourn losses and celebrate victories, while you and I are a product of our times – needing to process our deep emotional shifts in what seems like a moment’s notice. I remember when the internet was first “invented” (Thanks Al Gore :)). The ability to access the world-wide-web was a privilege for only a few of the senior folks at my then-office. In fact, I can recall a time when a colleague was fired for using the internet at work! (can you even imagine?!) So when our days are merging one into another and all of our celebrations, defeats and worries are posted for the world to see (or at least our 800 friends on Facebook) it’s hard to slow down and focus on the meaning of life.  Which is why there is such a deep-seated need coming from within to answer the question of “what am I here for?”  The speed of life is causing an internal resistance to the rapid pace and forcing us to seek our own meaning, without the influence of followers and likes. As the year closes, moving into darkness and the envelope of winter we have the capacity to reconnect with our own meaning and the legacy we want to make in the world. What’s the point of living if not an…

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From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, To the Blue Ridge

Local Holiday Shopping

I just love the shop local promotions that have taken hold recently. With the slumping economy, small local businesses struggle to compete with large national chains that can sell items for cheaper than the mom and pop store can get wholesale. While there’s no denying big box stores can help you save money and time, especially for Christmas shopping, there’s something special about a one of a kind gift you discovered at a little shop, perhaps in a small town, for that special someone. So here is a sampling of local businesses in the hunt country to entice you outside the beltway to shop locally. Men’s Custom Clothing We know you ladies can’t resist dressing your man in clothes you like, but how about some custom tailored duds? At Highcliffe Clothiers in Middleburg, you’ll find custom tailoring to be assured of something special you both like that’s fitted especially for him. No middlemen here; customers interact directly with proprietor Mark Metzger, who has 30 years of experience in fitting and designing custom clothing and currently serves as the vice president of the Custom Taylors and Designers Association. 16 S. Madison St., Middleburg, (540)687-5633. Women’s Clothing Christine Fox was a buyer for Neiman Marcus, Lord & Taylor, Gucci and Saks Fifth Avenue before opening her store bearing her name in Warrenton in the early 1990s. She knows fashion, and her store quickly became tremendously popular with the locals. Located in Old Town Warrenton, when you step inside you can find traditional elegance as well as cutting edge high fashion exclusive designs by Project Runway star Wendy Pepper. 47 S. Third St., Warrenton (540)347-3868 Children’s Clothing Dharma & Leopold’s Children’s Chic Boutique in Gainesville is a family owned business named for the family’s chocolate Labrador and Bengal cat, and features a whimsical…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Urban Garden

The Legend of the Poinsettia

A charming story is told of Pepita, a poor Mexican girl who had no gift to present the Christ Child at Christmas Eve Services. As Pepita walked slowly to the chapel with her cousin Pedro, her heart was filled with sadness rather than joy. “I am sure, Pepita, that even the most humble gift, if given in love, will be acceptable in His eyes,” said Pedro consolingly. Not knowing what else to do, Pepita knelt by the roadside and gathered a handful of common weeds, fashioning them into a small bouquet. Looking at the scraggly bunch of weeds, she felt more saddened and embarrassed than ever by the humbleness of her offering. She fought back a tear as she entered the small village chapel. As she approached the altar, she remembered Pedro’s kind words: “Even the most humble gift, if given in love, will be acceptable in His eyes.” She felt her spirit lift as she knelt to lay the bouquet at the foot of the nativity scene. Suddenly, the bouquet of weeds burst into blooms of brilliant red, and all who saw them were certain that they had witnessed a Christmas miracle right before their eyes. From that day on, the bright red flowers were known as the Flores de Noche Buena, or Flowers of the Holy Night, for they bloomed each year during the Christmas season. Today, the common name for this plant is the poinsettia!   Poinsettia Facts -Poinsettias are native to Mexico. -In nature, poinsettias are perennial flowering shrubs that can grow to ten feet tall. -The showy colored parts of poinsettias that most people think are the flowers are actually colored bracts (modified leaves). -Poinsettias are priced according to the number of blooms. The more blooms, the more expensive the plant. -A fresh poinsettia is…

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On the Road, Pets, Places, & Things

On the Road – December 2013

Old Town resident Lori Boyce Foster took the holiday issue of Old Town Crier with her when she visited friends and family in Mobile, Alabama last year. Lori found the lobby of The Battle House Hotel, a member of the Historic Hotels of America, to be the perfect place to catch up on The Crier. Her husband, John Foster, took the photo. They were married on 12/12/12! We wish them a very happy first anniversary this year!!

Arts & Entertainment, Gallery Beat

Gallery Beat – December 2013

Last month I discussed the evolving phenomena of the art fair and the series of predators that have also evolved as a result of the growth of art fairs; this month I will talk about the unethical artist at the art fair. I started to sell other artists’ works while I was an art student at the University of Washington in beautiful Seattle. As I’ve noted many times, while I was there, I sold my own works at the Pike Place Market, helped to start a Student Art Gallery, and helped to connect buyers with some of my fellow artists. Then in 1996, my then wife and I opened the Fraser Gallery in Washington, DC and subsequently a second Fraser Gallery in Bethesda, Maryland. I left the Fraser Galleries in 2006 and the same year Alida Anderson Art Projects, LLC was created in Philadelphia, and in 2009 moved to the DC region, where it remains. In all those years I’ve worked with hundreds and hundreds of artists, and I can count in one hand the number of artists whom I would call unethical due to their behavior in a business gallery relationship. I thank my lucky stars for that, but I also think that the vast majority of artists, for whatever artistic genetic reason, are good people. But we are humans, and in any “industry” there are also bad apples, and my own 2-3 bad experiences with artists, plus the dozens of anecdotal stories from other dealers all add up to the fact that just as there are some unethical galleries, there are some unethical artists. The art fairs’ paradigm gives these artsy deviants a powerful new way to use their lack of decent ethics. As I noted last month, for your average, independently owned, commercial fine arts gallery, signing…

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Behind the Bar, Wining & Dining

Behind the Bar – Bartender Kathleen Coombs

Kathleen Coombs at River Bend serving a River Bend Cocktail How did you get started bartending? In the early 70’s I needed to supplement my income so I took a job waiting table at night. Liquor by the drink was new in Virginia, and people were very enthusiastic about drinking cocktails! I started working behind the bar and fell in love with it. Fine dining was just being introduced to the Washington area, and new restaurants were popping up everywhere. There were so many great opportunities. What is your bartender pet peeve? Someone talking loudly on their cell phone. Ever hear of texting? What’s the best line somebody has used to get a free drink? I won’t buy someone a drink because of a line. You have to earn that privilege. What’s the most memorable pickup line you’ve heard? I’ve never really heard a good pick up line. I’m always amazed when they work. Can you tell me an interesting story? Two gentlemen sat at the bar and I recognized one as a favorite customer that had moved away a year ago. I walked over to greet him not really focusing on the other man. He said “Kathy, so nice to see you again. I’d like you to meet James Gandolfini.” There he was. Tony Soprano Himself! The show was really hot at the time, and I was a huge fan. He was a really charming and funny, and I was thrilled to meet him. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before “Tony” was recognized and had to be moved to a private room. Who would you most like to sit down and have a drink with? Billy Coombs Please list the days and hours you work = M-F 4-12 pm Wednesday, Thursday, Friday = 11:30-5:30 Phone# ( 703) 683-3650   ~ Written by: Chester Simpson

Arts & Entertainment, Last Word

Love, Hate, and Forgiveness: A Conroy Christmas

“I don’t believe in happy families. A family is too frail a vessel to contain the risks of all the warring impulses expressed when such a group meets on common ground. If a family gathers in harmony for a reunion, everyone in attendance will know the entry-ways and exits have been mined with improvised explosive devices.” So says the novelist Pat Conroy. As the holidays are upon us, with dysfunctional family get-togethers gathering like storm clouds on our tinsel-taut, Nutcracker-bedecked horizons, there is no better time to review Conroy’s wrenching and starkly humorous family memoir, The Death of Santini.   Conroy first burst onto bestseller lists in 1976 with The Great Santini, a blazing, thinly veiled roman à clef about his father, a highly-decorated Marine fighter pilot who ruled and abused the Conroy family while deploying to fight in three wars during his military career. Conroy exorcised his childhood demons in vivid detail, revealing the physical abuse and emotional neglect exercised by his father under the guise of depicting turmoil in a fictional family named the Meechams. When the tightly held Conroy family secret was published for the world’s scrutiny, his father disappeared for three days, in denial about his abuse and bewildered after looking in the mirror his son had held up to him. As a novel, The Great Santini has one or two less believable plot points, but these are minor difficulties. The dialogue rings true and the story moves along at a rapid, engrossing pace. In its anger it lobs itself like a hand grenade, but it reveals truth and worth over time. In addition, this early work is an excellent precursor to reading a number of Conroy’s other books, including The Death of Santini. Among these is Conroy’s well-received memoir My Reading Life, published in 2010….

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Pets, Places, & Things, Single Space

A Sunshine Family Christmas

December madness is upon us – holiday hangovers, crowded malls, parking spot wars, canned cranberries.  What’s a girl to do?  Embrace it!  On the flip side of all the ‘bad’ holiday stuff, there’s a bounty of beauty in the form of snowflakes, sweaters, toasty fires and time shared with family and friends. Lord knows I’ve had my share of ‘bah humbug’ holiday moments where I was forced to schlep around to whatever family member was hosting and stake my claim at the kiddy table.  Over the years, I’ve learned to perfect my “Wow, isn’t that awesome” smile when unwrapping polyester teddies and sweaters with appliques and fringe from sister-in-laws who claimed to know me and/or be my friend.  I’ve probably dragged a half ton of dinner rolls (that’s what they always assign to the single people) across state lines by this point in my life, and have purchased and given more scarves and puzzles to my brothers’ girlfriends du jour and their respective kids whom I’ll likely never cross paths with again all in the name of the holiday spirit.  I convinced myself that all my sad, lonely holidays as a thirty-something were payment for all the great holidays I had as a kid.  My family wasn’t rich by any stretch of the imagination – heck, we probably just skimmed the brink of middle class – but my parents always managed to make us feel like we were blessed, especially at Christmas.  My brother Marty and I would fight over the Sears Roebuck catalog the moment it came in the mail.  By the time early December rolled around, those pages in the toy section would be so dog-earred and wrinkled from Kool-Aid spills, it’s a wonder Santa could even read them. I imagine an entire landfill somewhere in Kansas with…

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