Month: June 2015

Notes from the Publisher

Publisher’s Notes: June 2015

About 10 years ago when the Internet and Facebook were making inroads everywhere, I became afraid that print might be dead. Certainly it had an adverse effect on some major daily publications, but for the niche market magazine, it has made it easier and more cost effective. Bill Schanen, publisher of SAILING Magazine stated in his September 2014 issue in an article titled To have and to hold-the enduring appeal of printed magazines. “…a speaker at a recent business conference who opined that You Tube videos had taken the place of magazines in informing enthusiasts like sailors about their sports. He didn’t seem to know the “print is dead” canard is dead itself, even though it keeps hanging around like a slow-witted zombie.” Schanen goes on to say, “There was a time, when Internet publishing was new. When it might have looked like ink-on-paper publications were on the way out. But that time is long past, and print is still here. It’s not just surviving; in many cases it’s thriving. The Internet didn’t kill print; it married it.” “Printed editions of enthusiast magazines, hobby magazines and lifestyle magazines are healthy and popular, even s as their websites and tablet computer editions flourish. The main reason is the save factor. Print magazines are tangible, a physical thing to have and to hold, to read and pore over. This pleases readers and it pleases advertisers.” Indeed…the technology age has made it much easier to publish in print. Digital cameras, scanners, computers themselves and the wealth of programs available just make it simpler. Our thanks to those of you who have, over the past 27 years, read us for our history, people, personality and informative articles as well as the great photography. And a special thanks to those of you who display our…

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Dining Out, Wining & Dining

Mason Social – Modern American Cuisine

With all of the fabulous restaurants in Alexandria, your choices just got more difficult. Opened about two months ago, Mason Social is making a big hit in the newly revitalized Parker-Gray District of Alexandria. The menu is manageable, and very creative. The gray wood tones of the interior would indicate a conservative approach, but this place is pretty hip. Five specialty cocktails, six craft draught beers and another 12 available by bottle or can are available. Craft beers are great, but I still like a cold Budweiser…not! My dining partner disagrees, she isn’t a “real” beer drinker and Miller Lite (they do have that) isn’t on her beer palate either. She may have a point, maybe the addition of a Bud Light or a Coors Light may not be a bad idea. Over the years this particular corner of Madison Street and North Henry Street has been many different establishments, with none ever lasting very long. The recent development of new businesses, apartments, condos and homes has brought this end of town alive (our friends at Bastille have recently opened up about 3 blocks away). The restaurant is the brainchild of four Alexandrians who knew each other through high school. The dining room is slightly separated from the bar area which can be loud at times…a nice touch. The bar area is spacious with high tops for those who wish to order dinner or lunch in a more casual environment. This is the place to meet your friends. We had stopped by for lunch after having dined there before. This menu is very creative. Unfortunately they were out of Spring Onion Soup…in their defense this was the day after Memorial Day weekend; so they should be out of something. I opted for the Marinated Shrimp, a delicious combination of shrimp,…

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Business Profile

Seaport Properties

Around 1750 the town of Alexandria was founded. A young surveyor at the time, George Washington recommended that the Potomac River’s deep water close to shore would make Alexandria an ideal port for trade. Houses were built and the town began to grow. Many of those houses and warehouses are still occupied today. Many of the warehouses have become restaurants and shops, and there has been three generations of folks moving in and moving out…and still do. Thirty years ago Cheryl Monno got her real estate license and proceeded on a course of helping those folks continue to move in and out. This led her to founding Seaport Properties, a property management and real estate services company, in 2011. It was about time! I just met Cheryl for the first time conducting this interview, but her sincerity and warmth made it seem like I was talking to an old friend. As it turns out, we have known many of the same people in this town over the past thirty years. Growing up in Fairfax and graduating from Hayfield High School, Cheryl has seen the development and growth of Alexandria firsthand. Right out of high school, and like many of us, Cheryl was in love, got married and had two children. Unfortunately, like many of us, the marriage did not work out and Cheryl moved on. Cheryl met, who was to become her best friend, John Monno, and a 22-year romance developed with them getting married ten years ago. “John is my friend and he believes in me more than I do,” she says. Today, John is the muscle of the business helping Cheryl with the physical management of the over 200 properties managed by Seaport. Cheryl began her career as an assistant property manager for a local real estate firm….

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From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, National Harbor

National Harbor in June 2015

I was totally drawing a blank when I sat down the first 10 times to write this column and maybe there was a reason for that. It isn’t that there aren’t a ton of things to write about here in the Harbor but I had no inspiration whatsoever until Memorial Day. We entertained a good friend of ours, Clayton Embly, with a day in National Harbor. In order to fully appreciate this story you need to know a bit about Clay. He lived in the Alexandria area for several years until leaving so his wife could pursue her lifelong dream of being an equine vet – about 10 years ago. He now is a resident of Lexington, Kentucky and she is tending to some possible future Derby winners – I may have some inside scoop on a future Triple Crown winner someday! Clayton is a water guy – he runs a car ferry in Lexington, is a Merchant Marine, is the former owner of Potomac Pintail cruise boat, is a tug boat captain and the list goes on. In fact, he is here in the area working on his sailboat in Deale, Maryland. That being said, he has been coming and going between Lexington and Old Town Alexandria to visit and do business ever since he left but it never donned on him to make National Harbor a stop. To be honest, I didn’t realize that he had never been to the Harbor until we had finished our lunch and set out to take a whirl on the Capitol Wheel. Guess I assumed that since he has been in and out of the area so much, he had checked it out. His last experience in the Harbor area was when it was still called “Smoot’s Bay” and it consisted mostly…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Urban Garden

Jimmy and Angie’s Garden of Eatin’!

As many of our Urban Garden column fans know, we have utilized everything from the expertise of professional agronomists to that of our online partners at when coming up with topics each month. This month we are going to start following the progress of a true “Urban” garden right here in the Del Ray area of Alexandria. Welcome to Jimmy and Angie’s “Garden of Eatin’!” Jimmy Deaton, a self-proclaimed “Mother Nature’s Apprentice” and his partner in crime, Angie Napolitano, are embarking on year 4 of creating the ultimate “urban” garden. They have graciously volunteered to let us follow the progression of garden season 2015. During our interview, Angie told me that Jimmy is a “pepper head” and she tends to be the “tomato guru”. In fact, he is producing his own type of pepper – the Del Ray Rojo. He tells its tale below. We are looking forward to trying them. Angie also told me that she is excited for us to taste her favorite tomato – Mr. Stripey. I am definitely looking forward to harvest season. In addition to the peppers and tomatoes, they grow a plethora of vegetables, fruits, melons and edible flowers. They are on a mission to helping bring back the bee population in our fair city. The bee situation has been such that Jimmy has pollenated his plants by hand on several occasions to ensure that they grow to their full potential. This is fantastic that he has the wherewithal to do that but sad that there aren’t enough bees to do the job. We hope you enjoy this new Urban Garden adventure and keep following along through the season. If you have questions for Jimmy, please send them to us at and we will get the message to him. In the meantime,…

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Grapevine & Vintner Profile, Wining & Dining

Views of the Blue Ridge in Every Direction

Blue Valley Vineyard and Winery, Purcellville, Virginia One of Virginia’s newest wineries, Blue Valley in Fauquier County has a spectacular setting with breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah Valley. Blue Valley is owned and operated by the father and son team of John and Stergio Zissios whose family began making wine generations ago in the mountains of the Macedonian area of Greece, one of the world’s oldest winemaking regions. The Zissios continue to draw inspiration from their heritage and have imbued the old-world spirit into their wines. They believe that the key to making good wine is patience and attention to detail, both of which they adhere to daily. The Zissios oversee every aspect of the winery operation with award winning John Levenberg as the Winemaker, assisted by Tyler Henley Situated on 63 acres, Blue Valley includes a state-of-the-art winery and tasting room. Grand wrought iron double doors open to a unique structural design, where rustic meets modern with dramatic high ceilings and contemporary flair. Event rooms with views of the vineyard and mountains can accommodate an intimate small party to a large gathering of several hundred guests. In 2014, the Zissios planted 17,000 vines of a variety of varietals. A few acres of the vineyard had been planted six years ago, and produced the first Blue Valley wines. The list of available wines includes 2013 Rosé, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Chardonnay, Heritage (white blend) and 2013 Tradition (red blend). The Tasting Room is open Monday and Thursday 11 to 6 pm, and Friday through Sunday 11 to 7 pm. After a tasting of Blue Valley’s impressive handcrafted wines, visitors can enjoy a glass of wine on the patio as the sun sets over the Blue Ridge Mountains.   Blue Valley Vineyard and Winery 9402 Justice…

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

Horsing Around In Hunt Country

The drum of hoof beats kick off the unofficial start of summer in the Blue Ridge as racing over fences winds down and horse shows and polo get into full swing in horse country. In fact the oldest horse show in the country is the Upperville Colt & Horse Show, holding its 162nd edition June 1 – 7 under the oaks at the venerable old show grounds at Grafton and Salem Farms on Rt. 50 west of Middleburg. This show, one of the country’s most prestigious, has been held annually since 1853. It was started by a group of locals to improve horse breeding and these days hosts the top hunters and jumpers from all over the country but still holds classes for colts and fillies too young to be ridden. Still an important part of the social fabric of rural Virginia, horse shows are held all over the state every weekend, small and large, English and Western, casual and formal. For every horse and rider, there is a class somewhere at a show somewhere—children too young to ride on their own have “leadline” classes where a parent or adult leads the pony; there are “short stirrup” classes for beginner riders, children’s and adult classes and open classes where anyone, including professionals, can compete. There are classes “in hand” for miniature horses too small to be ridden, young horses and horses being judged on conformation or grooming and presentation; there are trail classes with obstacles the horse and/or rider must navigate; there are equitation classes where the rider is judged, pleasure and hunter classes where the horse is judged on its movement and smoothness, and jumper classes where the horse is penalized for knocking down rails and clear rounds are called back to do a timed jump off. There are…

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From the Bay, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

Art Is In The Air in Solomons

Transcending Picasso: Exhibition of works by Belgium’s Cubist master Marius Zabinski opens at carmen’s gallery on June 13 MARIUS ZABINSKI is an internationally recognized Cubist artist following in the footsteps of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. While those names carry the weight of centuries, this artist brings fresh life to the senescent art form of Cubism. These artists have left seemingly large shoes to fill, and Marius is more than up to the task. As suggested by the exhibition title, his paintings truly transcend the traditional definition of “cubism” and thus Marius defines his own niche within the genre. He has had his work featured at the Louvre in Paris and Galerie l’Entrepot in Monaco as well as in Japan, Luxembourg, China, and his home country of Belgium. Born and educated in Poland, Marius Zabinski was discovered early in his career and sponsored by a French art dealer, who invited him to Paris to pursue his artistic desires in the City of Light. Paris is so-named because in the 18th century it was a place of Enlightenment for artists, educators, and philosophers. It was here that Marius discovered a wealth of untapped possibilities in the Cubist movement. He recognized that the artform had not yet been exploited in its entirety, and endeavored to fill the void with his creativity and energetic style. Based on Paul Cezanne’s three tenets, cubism raced through the art world in the early 20th century to claim its place at the top of the podium. The first tenet, geometricity, is represented in Marius Zabinski’s paintings by strong lines and sharp curves, simplifying figures into their geometrical components. The second tenet, simultaneity, makes one question whether there are three women or four in that painting by Zabinski. The third tenet, “passage” or the overlapping of planes within…

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Arts & Entertainment, Last Word

American Psycho

The instant familiarity I felt with him—this consummate immigrant, this immigrant with a vengeance—was my familiarity with my own culture. Of course he’d fooled me. Of course he’d held me spellbound. He spoke from inside my own American mind. In 2008, a man who called himself Clark Rockefeller was found after a four-day FBI manhunt. He had kidnapped his daughter from her mother with the intention of leaving the country. In the course of events, he was found to be Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, a Bavarian who had moved to the United States, a serial fraud with multiple aliases, including Christian Gerhart, Christopher Chichester, and Chip Smith. After Gerhartsreiter’s arrest, he was also charged with the murder of a man named John Sohus in San Marino, CA in 1985. Among his many acquaintances, he was friends, albeit distanced, with the New Republic national correspondent and New Yorker writer Walter Kirn, who attended the trial and wrote his story as Blood Will Out. This new classic of true crime and memoir tells a tale of American insecurities, our human capacity for denial and how our automatic trust in what we are told overlies an underlying urge take the fantasy over the reality. Kirn met the man he knew as Clark Rockefeller after transporting a rescue dog “Rockefeller” was adopting from Montana to New York, where the German posed as a lesser-known member of the gilt-edged dynasty. Kirn turns the book into an examination not only of the man he thought he knew as an eccentric upper-class phony, like the phonies that might be mentioned in a J.D. Salinger novel, but also of himself as an aspirant to American power and wealth. He admits honestly that he automatically genuflected to a powerful name and looked for a transfusion of some of that power…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Road Trip

Fell’s Point, Inner Harbor and Canton Pride of “Charm City”

The heading for this month’s road trip makes it sound like a lot of driving, but it is not. All three of these thriving communities lie side by side along the Northwest Branch of the Patapsco River giving each community a true waterfront feel. We also thought that a visit to our nautical neighbor to the north would be in order after the recent riots and protests in downtown Baltimore. Where peaceful demonstrations brought down by thugs who looted, stole and burned their own neighborhoods unfortunately brought a dark cloud over the entire city. It ended up blocking out the light of hope for many businesses dependent on tourism, however, Baltimore is a city that will endure and thrive because of their civic leaders and the tenacity of its residents. Kevin Plank, Maryland native and CEO of Under Armour spoke of Freddie Gray at the company’s annual stockholders meeting. “We are one Baltimore and we will work towards positive change with local leaders and groups on and off the sports field in the neighborhoods that drive change throughout the city in any way that we can,” he said. Here is a former special teams captain on the University of Maryland football team that upon graduation and armed with a little cash and some credit cards started Under Armour, Inc. in 1996. Today UA is a 3 billion dollar company with their national headquarters located in an old industrial building in Baltimore. This is what Baltimore is really about. Plank has purchased the historic City Recreation Pier Hotel in Fells Point and is renovating and rebuilding with the goal being to bring it back to its former glory to include a 120 room boutique hotel. Many of you would recognize the current structure as the set for the television series “Homicide:…

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