Month: April 2020

Arts & Entertainment, Last Word

American Dirt

By Miriam R. Kramer American Dirt Recently Oprah Winfrey and Barnes & Noble Bookstores selected the book American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins, a novel about migrants trying to make their way to a new life in the United States, as a timely choice for their respective book clubs. In doing so they unwittingly made a controversial choice. Many Latinx writers protested the pick, with several accusing the white writer of spreading stereotypes about Mexicans and other Central Americans while attempting to write a story that was not hers to write. As pundits and other cultural figures argued about the story, Cummins’ book tour was canceled because of threats of violence. This tumult raised the book’s profile but also obscured what she wrote: a profound and moving work about maternal love, human resilience, and the evil and kindness that emerge during the worst of human circumstances. Her story about migrants searching for the best among terrible choices gives names, faces, and humanity to the brown hordes clamoring for a piece of the North American dream at the border to el norte.    American Dirt sprints off the starting line as a middle-class Mexican mother, Lydia, and her son, Luca, hide in a bathroom when bullets start flying at a family birthday party in Acapulco. Emerging to find their extended family killed, along with their husband and father, Sebastián, Lydia finds a note pinned to her husband. It says “My whole family is dead because of me.” As a journalist writing about the cartels, Sebastián has penned a locally published profile of local kingpin Javier Crespo Fuentes, known as La Lechuza (The Owl), the head of the cartel Los Jardineros. Before knowing who he was, Lydia had befriended La Lechuza at the bookstore she owns, growing close to him because of their…

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Arts & Entertainment, High Notes

Dead Weight by PVRIS

By Ron Powers Dead Weight by PVRIS PVRIS (pronounced “Paris”) is back with a smashing single called “Dead Weight”. The new song is the first single off the band’s upcoming album (“Use Me”) which is set for release May 1st. “Dead Weight” engages the listener on multiple levels, holding appeal for fans of both EDM and rock music. The song has a lush pop sound mixed with aggressive rock tones and is sure to please everyone from modern-day pop fans to 90s grunge rock lovers. My favorite thing about this song is Lynn Gunn’s vocal performance. The emotion and energy she conveys knocked me out. The verse melody is a mix of hard rock with hip-hop undertones and staccato pop hooks. Gunn introduces dark and serene vibes on the pre-chorus which adds an enjoyable twist to the song. And for the chorus she gets aggressive, implementing a driving rhythm which makes the song the hard hitter that it is. “Dead Weight” is about getting rid of what doesn’t serve you. It’s about standing up for yourself when others are taking from you. Gunn expresses what it feels like to constantly give and get nothing back. She’s noticing that something has to give. She talks about how if she starts “cracking at the center”, everything she’s working for will go away. A difficult choice emerges. Does she let all this dead weight crush her or does she get in touch with her merciless side and cut the dead weight out of her life? The song expresses the difficulty of being caught between two tough choices. The production of this track is another highlight. It sizzles with saturation and fuzz yet has a slickness and shine to it. “Dead Weight” is somehow smooth and chaotic at the same time. For the verses,…

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Business Profile

Do You Know Where Your Water’s Been?

By Lani Gering Do You Know Where Your Water’s Been? I’ve lived in Alexandria, both in Old Town and Del Ray, since 1992 and never actually gave any thought to what we are actually paying for when I write out the check that pays for the water that we use several times every day. I guess I just chalked it up to another “utility” that we couldn’t live without. Now that I know that it is actually more of an “investment’ in protecting our drinking water as well local water resources, I will grumble less about getting another bill. In the spirit of celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we thought it would be a good idea to write about a local entity that takes care of Mother Earth’s most precious resource, water. Alexandria Renew Enterprises aka AlexRenew is that entity. Located amazingly close to Old Town out in the Eisenhower Avenue corridor, this facility is surprisingly non-descript – meaning that it blends well into the landscape – for a facility that basically turns 13 billion – yes, billion – gallons of waste water into clean, healthy water for around 320,000 end users every year. While talking and corresponding with Monica Billger, Community Outreach & Education Specialist at AlexRenew, I was given permission to use information from their website for some basics. I don’t have enough space available to give you all of the facts and figures and the long history of how AlexRenew got to where they are today so I encourage you to read all of that at your leisure at It really is pretty amazing when you think about how far we’ve come just in the last 25-30 years in making our local waterways what they are today. I do, however, want to give you…

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Dining Out, Wining & Dining

Dining In!

By Bob Tagert Dining In! Wow, how things can change in thirty days. Last month we wrote about a new Irish restaurant for our March issue. At the beginning of March we had already been to our next restaurant, Sweetbay, in Leonardtown, Maryland, and then all hell broke loose. The Coronavirus came on the scene and – according to some, was to only last a few days – our whole world changed. In that short time, all restaurants have been instructed to close with only delivery and curbside pickup allowed. In some cases the restaurants realized that staying open under these conditions would not work in the long run. They would just lose more money. This is the case with two of the most successful restaurants in Old Town – Landini Brothers and the Fish Market. They have chosen to close until this is over. They are not only two of the most popular but are also two of the largest restaurants in town and it would be prohibitive to remain open considering the costs of doing so.  River Bend Bistro on Fort Hunt Road provided carry out until inventory ran out. Union Street Public House has closed in hopes of being able to open in mid-May. Our friend and advertiser, Eric Faughnan who owns Kingfisher Restaurant in Solomons, Maryland closed a few weeks ago considering that pickup service “was a slow death!” Some restaurants have closed for the same reasons but are also looking to preserve cash for their hourly and tip employees. They have established GoFundMe efforts for their employees. A patron brought the idea to Stephen Mann of Fat City Restaurant Group, owners of Ramparts, Shooter McGee’s, City Kitchen and T.J. Stones, that “we are all in this together” so a GoFund Me effort was created for…

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Notes from the Publisher

Publisher’s Notes

Here’s to a Happy Easter! Lani and Bob Publishers Notes April 2020 In January of 1988, I wrote my first publishers notes for the very first issue of the Old Town Crier. Although we paid for the first issue with a credit card, we were full of hope and excited about growing our publication with the exploding economy of Alexandria, Virginia. The restaurants were crowded with lines forming on weekends. The future certainly looked bright. Then 2020 arrived with the Coronavirus and the bright, eternal outlook on the world fell apart and was gone. We were lucky to have good advertising representation from the hospitality business here in Alexandria. Everyone was busy and that little pot of money kept passing from hand to hand with a little taken out each time. Until the government stimulus kicks in, that little pot of money has dried up. Survival for many small business, including the Old Town Crier, are not looking too bright, but with a little bit of luck and short term planning, we may all come out of this just slightly scarred. As you will notice, this issue is about 2/3 the usual size of our publication. Due to the loss of advertising revenue (the only thing that feeds the engine of the OTC) and the fact that we can’t publish any upcoming events, this is by design to help reduce costs in an effort to survive. Your favorite articles are still in this issue and I hope that you enjoy reading them and maybe find a little slice of normalcy in your day. While you are social distancing, dreaming of the Caribbean you can check out the Caribbean Connection and make some island cocktails…at least the ABC store is open. If you need a break from your home prison, take…

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From the Bay, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

Remember the Terrapin!

Remember the Terrapin! Photos from the MD Dept of Natural Resource “Remember the terrapin, when you set out crab pots this year,” says Dr. Chris Rowe, Associate Professor and Terrapin Researcher with the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory (CBL) of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science located on Solomons Island. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources receives reports every year of diamondback terrapins trapped in crab pots.  Dr. Rowe explained, “The terrapins are enticed by the bait, but when they try to come up for air, they can’t, so they drown.”  He recommends a Turtle Excluder Device (TED).  “If recreational crabbers would put a TED on the crab pot, it would keep the turtles from entering the trap, but crabs can still get in.” Abandoned crab pots have been found with dozens of drowned terrapins, deaths that can seriously hurt terrapin populations.  TED devices are simple to make, and many stores have ready-made TEDS that are easy to attach to the crab pot.  “This small adjustment can make a big difference,” adds Rowe.  Recreational crabbing season begins April 1, 2020. The TED’s can be purchased at hardware stores, fishing tackle stores and some crabbers craft them themselves or they can be ordered online. If you want to see exactly how a TED works check out this Maryland Department of Natural Resources Video more information about where to buy and how to apply turtle excluder devices log on to: About the Laboratory: For more than 90 years, CBL has been a national leader in fisheries, estuarine ecology, environmental chemistry and toxicology. CBL scientists are developing new scientific approaches to solving the major environmental problems facing our world.  For more about CBL and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science  To support students and programs at CBL go to


COVID-19 and the April Issue

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: Web: Blog: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Hashtags: #visitALX Named the #1 Best Value U.S. Travel Destination 2018 by Money magazine, a Top 3 Best Small City in the U.S. 2019 by the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards and one of the South’s Prettiest Cities 2018 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 in to 18th- and 19th-century architecture still intact from the city’s days as George Washington’s hometown ignite historic and off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods as the waterfront district evolves with new energy.

From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, Take Photos Leave Footprints

Malawi: Africa’s Best Kept Secret

Take Photos, Leave Footprints By Scott Dicken Photos by Scott Dicken Malawi: Africa’s Best Kept Secret Malawi is, in my opinion, one of Africa’s best kept secrets. Despite a concerted effort by the Government of Malawi, and plenty of international press opining its virtues, the relatively small, land-locked Southeast African country seems to have remained largely off the average tourist’s radar. Whilst this is obviously disappointing for a country that could really use the cash injection that tourism has brought to other East and Southern African countries, it means those of us willing to tread off the beaten path and visit Malawi will be blessed with all the country has to offer without the excessive crowds. That’s why, in this month’s issue of Take Photos Leave Footprints, I’ve decided to explore five great reasons why you should add Malawi to your travel bucket list. Reason 1: Word-Class Wildlife Malawi has had its fair share of problems with wildlife crime. But, over the past few years Malawi’s government, together with the Lilongwe Wildlife Foundation, has created a wildlife crime investigation unit and passed a Wildlife Act. For the nation’s wildlife, which has historically been under huge pressure, these important changes are happening alongside carefully managed wildlife rehabilitation, park and reserve management programs, conservation education, and the trans-location of animals. The result is a resurgence of wildlife and, ultimately, the return of the ‘Big 5’ (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, and buffalo). Two of the most popular safari destinations in Malawi are Liwonde and Majete; with the former offering spectacular opportunities for both land and water-based safaris. Other parks worthy of consideration are Kasunga, Nkhotakota, Kuti and Nyika, although the tourist infrastructure at these less frequented parks is significantly underdeveloped. Reason 2: Beachfront Bliss There aren’t many landlocked countries in which you can…

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Grapevine & Vintner Profile, Wining & Dining

Eco-Friendly Virginia Wineries To Visit On Earth Day

Eco-Friendly Virginia Wineries To Visit On Earth Day Most people think of Earth Day as a celebration of fresh air, clean water, and the goodness of a healthy environment. To others, it’s a time to reflect on the importance of being good stewards of the land. I like to think of it as a time to appreciate the bounty of the earth…and more specifically…the fruit that makes my weekends a lot more fun than they otherwise would be. I’m talking about wine grapes, of course. Talk to anyone who works at a Virginia winery and they’ll explain that great wine starts in the vineyard, where winegrowers do everything they can to convince their vines to grow ripe clusters of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and all their other friends. To them, EVERY day is Earth Day. But there are several wineries that set themselves apart when it comes to sustainable practices. They take measures ranging from building their tasting rooms out of recycled material, using solar energy, and practicing environmentally-friendly farming techniques. Lots of wineries take these steps…but these places go the distance. So here’s a salute to several Virginia wineries who go above and beyond. Remember them when spring comes and we can (hopefully) enjoy an excursion outside! DuCard Vineyards DuCard (Photo credit: Matthew Fitzsimmons) I often wonder if a winery’s convenience is inversely proportional to the quality of its wine. It makes sense – if it was super easy to visit, then wineries would have little incentive to provide a high quality product. The fact that DuCard inspires such loyalty despite being nestled in the Shenandoah Mountains demonstrates they are serving something special. “Off the beaten trail” isn’t a euphemism; it’s the literal truth. DuCard is along the same road that takes you to Old Rag Mountain and White Oak…

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Caribbean Connection, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

From Cancun to Turks and Caicos, 7 Cocktails to Make Right Now

By Alexander Britell and the Caribbean Journal Staff From Cancun to Turks and Caicos, 7 Cocktails to Make Right Now If you’re at home right now, you’re probably still dreaming about the Caribbean. And for those of us who can’t be in the region right now, there are still some ways to rediscover the Caribbean in your own home. One particularly delicious way is by making a cocktail — and some of the Caribbean’s top hotels have you covered. We’ve collected a series of recipes from top places to stay in destinations ranging from Cancun to Turks and Caicos, offering up a slice of the Caribbean to take a little bit of the edge off. Here are some Caribbean cocktails to make right now. Mezcalina This exotic cocktail straight from JW Marriott Cancun Resort and Spa’s 150 Margaritas Menu strikes the perfect balance between the smoky notes of mezcal and the refreshing and tropical hints of orange. Ingredients: • 1 ½ oz Tequila (Preferably Tierra Noble Reposado) • 1 oz Cointreau • 1 oz Mezcal • ½ oz Simple syrup • 1 oz Orange juice • ¾ oz Lemon juice • Tajin seasoning for rim Directions: Pour all ingredients in a shaker glass and muddle together. Add ice and shake. Line the glass rim with Tajin seasoning (if available). Pour ingredients into the glass, and garnish with an orange slice. Enjoy. ¡Oye! Juanjo Transport your taste buds to the tropical Dutch island of Curaçao with this refreshing pineapple and tequila infusion from the Caña Bar + Kitchen. Ingredients: • 1 ¾ oz Blanco Tequila (preferably Don Julio Blanco) • 1 ½ oz Fresh Pineapple Juice • 1 oz Fresh Lime Juice • ⅓ oz Fresh Ginger Juice • ½ oz Agave Nectar Directions: Add all ingredients to a shaker. Shake and…

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