Month: September 2022

Arts & Entertainment, Gallery Beat

Connected Spaces

Exhibit through October 2nd Artist Talk, Sunday, September 11th at 2 pm The Athenaeum 201 Prince Street Connections are integral to the human experience. We are connected beings – driven to seek attachment and belonging, community and engagement. During the normal course of a day, our joys and challenges are sustained by connections near and far, physically present and internalized. Elizabeth Casqueiro, A Sudden Change in Direction (detail), Acrylic and ink on canvas, 40” x 30” In this exhibition, Elizabeth Casqueiro and Jean Sausele-Knodt explore in different ways the meaning of connection as it pertains to space and sense of being. Casqueiro’s paintings bring together architecture, nature, and culture in a deconstructed, collage-like approach that echoes the universal yearning for connection to the fragmented places we are defined by. Sausele-Knodt addresses the realities of abundance and fragmentation in our world by studying spaces, creating various parts and pieces, and building newly personalized and animated gatherings in her wall relief sculptures.  Jean Sausele-Knodt, Wishful Thinking, oil on walnut, birch plywood, 19” x 21” x 12” Both artists strive to create connected spaces as areas of balance and harmony, joy and possibility. Their work presents these common characteristics through a spirited palette, overlapping elements, constructed compositions, and painstaking craftsmanship. “Orb with Moon,” 41″ x  30″, rust print on archival paper Chemical Reactions, Rust Create Beautiful Prints in Brian Kirk’s “Natural Reaction“ Exhibit dates: September 6–October 7, 2018 Opening reception: Thursday, September 13, 6:30–8:00 pm The Art League – Studio 21 Torpedo Factory 105 North Union Street Sculptor and printmaker Brian Kirk courts chemical reactions to create ephemeral, phantom-like prints from rusting metal. A marriage of art and science, Kirk’s rust prints bloom in hues of lush amber, ochre, and apricot. Born of rigid metal, from saw blades to steel wool, the prints that emerge are organic, almost cellular. “Rust…

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From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, National Harbor

Harbor Social – The Place To Be!

By Lani Gering Let me tell you my people, it has been a long time since I have been impressed with a new concept in the hospitality realm – most specially in the sports bar arena – and I have experienced quite a few during my 28 years with the Old Town Crier. Remember when the multiple TV’s with every sport in the realm on screen came on the scene? That was pretty cool since you could watch rugby when your pals were glued to football or golf but Harbor Social (HS) has taken the sports bar experience to a whole other level. Located on the ground floor in the Gaylord – former home of National Pastime – Harbor Social has incorporated the wall of televisions for NP (don’t mess with something that isn’t broken) into an amazing interactive experience. Interactive is the key word here. The concept of HS is to get patrons to put down their communicating devices long enough to interact with each other via eye contact and actual spoken words. The drink coasters even get into the act with fun questions that can engage the group. While we were there I got into a conversation with a couple of people of different generations regarding “Favorite Saturday Morning Cartoon?”. Mine was the Jetsons, one guy loved Thunder Cats (????) and the really old guy’s was Mighty Mouse. We had a fun conversation about things in our generations while sipping on an adult beverage and discussing the merits of duck pin bowling. This sports bar brings people together through nine interactive games including duckpin bowling, bocce ball, darts, shuffleboard, pool, air hockey (this is my game and I can’t wait to go back), corn hole and numerous games like a table top version of the popular “islandy” hook…

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Personality Profile

What Makes Sherrie Beckstead Happy?

By Lani Gering In the 30 years that I have been living in Alexandria and the almost 28 years that I have been associated with the Old Town Crier, I have met literally hundreds of people who have peaked my interest in one way or another enough to think others in my realm should know about them. Sherrie Beckstead is one of those people. Like many others we have profiled, I met her at an informal social engagement. We exchanged pleasantries as all civil people do but this polite gesture turned into a very interesting conversation that ranged from soup to nuts. We just clicked. And….we are two totally different personalities. She is very professional and reserved and me…not so much. She is a very humble person and we didn’t really talk about what she did for a living or the social circles that she travels in. When we decided that Sherrie would make a great personality profile, we met again, and I did my due diligence and discovered the depth and scope of her work and a few of her passions. In addition to her role as a partner in one of areas premier jewelry companies, there isn’t enough room in this column to print the many philanthropic boards she now serves on and has served on in the past. And…she has been profiled in pretty much every high profile magazine in the DMV and we are very happy that she agreed to being profiled in this space. Sherrie keeps her personal life very close to her vest but I do know that she misses her late husband, Sid Beckstead, very much and she occupies much of her time carrying on causes I believe they supported together. Her  new position on the Board of Directors and work the Cloverleaf…

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History, History Column

A Brief History of Guns, Politics and the NRA

by ©2022 Sarah Becker “We’ve all seen how quickly and creatively Texas can act when it wants to protect the unborn embryo,” CNN Anchor Alisyn Camerota said on May 25, 2022. “Why not act with that alacrity to protect a living, breathing 10-year old child?” Camerota was referring to Uvalde’s Robb Elementary mass shooting. Nineteen school children and two teachers were killed; 17 others were wounded. More than 311,000 students have experienced a school shooting since 1999. A mass shooting is defined as “a gun crime in which four or more people excluding the shooter are killed.” Should returning students learn the particulars of school safety? Absolutely, including vocabulary words like shots fired, active shooter, dangerous someone; inform, counter, and evacuate. On May 24, 2022, children were confined to two Robb Elementary classrooms; held at gunpoint, either dead or pretending death while calling #911 for help. The deceased gunman, age 18, purchased his AR-15 assault style semiautomatic rifle, a rifle akin to the military’s automatic M-16, one day after his May 17 birthday. Texas makes it easy to buy and carry guns. Why, the gun lobby is famous for its generosity. “Gun rights groups including the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Gun Owners of America spent $15.8 million—a record amount—on lobbying in 2021,” Open Secrets explained. “Senator Ted Cruz [R-TX] has received more funding…than any other politician since 2012.” According to Brady United the NRA’s top career grossing Senators are, in descending order: Mitt Romney (R-UT) #1@$13,647,676, Richard Burr (R-NC) #2, Roy Blunt (R-MO) #3, Thom Tillis (R-NC) #4, Marco Rubio (R-FL) #5@$3,303,355, Joni Ernst (R-IA) #6, Rob Portman (R-OH) #7, Todd Young (R-IN) #8, Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) #9, Tom Cotton (R-AR) #10@$1,971,214, Pat Toomey (R-PA) #11, Josh Hawley (R-MO) #12, Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) #13, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) #14@$1,283,515,…

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From the Bay, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

The Skinny on Shallow Water: Protected but Vulnerable

By Dave Secor Kayaking is such a simple and therapeutic pleasure. Shallow waters abound in the Chesapeake Bay, and car roof racks attest to its popularity. In tidal creeks, rivers and protected bays, passive glides bring nature’s envelopment. Arms work against wind and tide. Immersion and exertion shed worries in the kayak’s wake. These skinny waters are also therapeutic for the Bay itself. They are its highest-functioning habitats: nurseries for fish, beds for reefs and underwater grasses, and incubators for the forage species that sustain oysters, crabs, fish and wildlife. Little wonder then that these shallow waters receive the government’s highest safeguards. The Chesapeake Bay Program applies its most stringent water quality standards to two classes of habitats: skinny tidal waters, including shoreline waters less than 2 meters deep, and migratory spawning reaches and nurseries, which are mostly shallow, upper estuarine waters where striped bass, perch, shad and other fish reproduce. Twenty years ago, I worked with a team to develop these protections, and they have stood up well. Still, left in the wake of that effort are larger perils to skinny waters: climate change, invasive species and development in coastal rural counties. Along the shores of the Potomac River, we summertime paddlers share skinny waters with countless 2-inch juvenile striped bass. Their numbers vary wildly year-to-year, depending on springtime egg and larval survival. Upriver to Nice Bridge, large females cast billions of eggs to the whims of spring weather. Early mortality is brutal, and bass have adapted by spawning repeatedly over long lifespans. A 30-year-old striped bass has more than 20 times at bat to replace herself. Enter climate change. Spring is now a less predictable transition between seasons, narrowing the window of favorable conditions. Combined with recent overfishing and disease, most females get only one or two times at bat. Protecting the nursery function of skinny…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Urban Garden

Refresh, Research & Carry Over!

By Jacqueline Murphy It’s September already and your garden may be looking a little fatigued, which is entirely natural. Soon it will be time to put it to bed for its winter rest. This does not mean, however, that you should toss aside your tools and put up your feet for the season. Whether your garden consists of a window box or two or a spacious yard, there is work to be done yet. If you must take a rest before starting on the more arduous tasks to hand, use that quiet time to cast a discerning eye upon the fruits of your labor to date. I like to assess the previous growing season and mentally catalog what worked well, what didn’t, what needs to be divided, pruned, etc., and start thinking about what I want to accomplish next year. Refresh worn-out plantings. September is also a good time to consider sprucing up a tired design with some late season color, either by adding some annuals (pansies, snapdragons, stock, ornamental kale) perennials (asters, mums, ornamental grasses), or woody plants that will offer some structure and visual interest into the winter months (camellia, beautyberry, hypericum, oakleaf hydrangea). Do your research. No idea what these plants look like, you say? Looking at photos in books and on the Internet is nice but it’s so much better to see the plants in situ in a well-tended garden. If you live in Alexandria, you won’t have far to go. Chances are very good that there are some fabulous gardens on your street. Most gardeners I know are delighted to show off their handiwork and discuss their triumphs with admirers so trot over and chat them up. If you’re too shy to quiz your neighbors about their horticultural endeavors, head to the nearest garden center…

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

Northern Italy – Asti & Alba

By Scott Dicken Rolling landscapes framed by the Alps, viniculture to rival anywhere on earth and gastronomical delights of such quality that it prompted the birth of the Slow Food Movement; Northern Italy may not draw the same number of visitors that descend upon Tuscany but spending a few days in the fertile hills between Turin and Milan doesn’t disappoint. Best get there soon though as the secret is now well and truly out! The Piedmont Region The Piedmont Region of Northern Italy is the country’s second largest of twenty regions but could easily be described as the forgotten child – particularly when compared to Italy’s other notable tourist regions of Tuscany, Venice, Rome, Sicily, Lombardy and Puglia. Its comparatively lowly tourist status belies the wealth of riches the region has to offer: from Lake Maggiore in the north and Olympic grade ski resorts in the Alpine west to the culture of its largest city, Turin. All of this lies nestled at the very foot of the Alps which frames views of rolling hills and vineyards saturated with colours that change throughout the seasons and are coated with snow and fog in the winter. Even more importantly, Piedmont is world renowned for its acclaimed grapes and wines and is a major producer of luxury cheese and chocolate (Nutella and Ferrero Roche both coming from the region). Food aficionados are drawn from all across the globe to feast on Alba’s white truffles at the annual October Truffle Festival (Tartufi Bianchi) and to sample the “king of Italian red wine”, Barolo. Wash all of that down with sparkling white wines from the neighboring village of Asti (a mere 30km from Alba) and you’ll soon find yourself in a glorious food and wine haze from which you’ll never wish to emerge. On a…

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Business Profile

Eric McNair – Insurance Broker, Athlete, Adventurer….

By Bob Tagert ….and all around really nice guy. After thirty five years of publishing the Old Town Crier it is always nice when I encounter an experience like meeting Eric. Not only did I meet an impressive young man but he reduced my insurance premium on my two vehicles by almost 70% percent! Let me explain. I had just had my insurance premium with a well-advertised company double two months ago. Luckily, one evening I went over to National Harbor to visit friends at The Irish Whisper. As I was sitting on the terrace enjoying a cigar, a nice young man sat next to me and we engaged in a conversation. When I discovered that he was an insurance agent and handled property and casualty coverage I asked him about my vehicle insurance. When I told him what my premium jumped to he was shocked. After he obtained a couple of quotes from companies he represented, I made my choice and for much less money and I got more comprehensive coverage. Needless to say, I thought that this young man would make a great business profile. Eric is originally from Washington D.C. but when he was very young his military dad was transferred to Texas, so the whole family moved to the Lone Star State. In 2016 at the age of 25, the family returned to Maryland. Eric’s first introduction to insurance was when his mom, who is a financial advisor introduced him to an Allstate insurance agent that she worked with. “I worked for him for two years and made him so much money that I decided to go into the business myself,” Eric tells me. Eric shortly established himself as an Allstate insurance agent but after three years he didn’t like being a captive agent (an agent…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Single Space

Dancin’ in September

By Lori Welch Brown Do you remember the “21st night of September”?  Love was changing the minds of pretenders while chasin’ the clouds away… Lucky for you, you don’t have to remember the 21st night of September, only the 20th…my birthday!  And, you’re welcome for that ear bug brought to you by Earth, Wind & Fire.  It’s one of my faves. Speaking of faves, I do love September.  Not just because it’s my birthday month, but also mine and XXL’s wedding anniversary. We are celebrating lucky number eight this year. Our hearts were ringin’ In the key that our souls were singin’ As we danced in the night, remember How the stars stole the night away I’m always grateful for things to celebrate, and try never to miss an opportunity to commemorate a milestone no matter how big or small. Celebrations equal memories, and memories with our loved ones are life’s currency. I am, however, amazed by how quickly time seems to be passing. Feels like just yesterday we were planning our wedding. Actually, it seems like just yesterday I was donning a cap and gown while walking across a stage to accept my diploma. Traditional gifts for year eight are bronze and pottery. Bronze is formed by combing two metals—copper and tin—which is thought to be symbolic of the union of marriage. Will see what XXL comes up with.  I’m good as long as it’s not a copper plumbing pipe. My love language is gifts, but XXL shows his love with acts of service. Cleaning my car or doing the dishes are his way of saying, “I love you.” All good stuff, and I remind him that nothing says love like diamonds. He also loves words of affirmation so I thought I’d take this opportunity to reinforce some things…

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On the Road, Pets, Places, & Things

On the Road

The OTC made it all the way North to Alaska and all the way South to Key West last month! Both of these places are on our personal bucket lists! Former DMV residents and world travelers Jeffrey and Joanne Fisher are so good about taking their copy of the OTC with them on their treks we should give them OTC “Ambassador” status. This last trek took them to the most southern point in the USA in Key West.   Checking out the OTC aboard M/V Constellation in the waters of Glacier Bay in southeastern Alaska are Alexandria resident and longtime friend Michael Lucker with his sisters-in-law Sue Linnett (San Diego, CA) and Marti Bradford (Andersonville, CA). Michael accompanied his wife Catherine, the sisters and their spouses on a cruise to see the likes of whales, eagles, otters, moose, glaciers, waterfalls and amazing mountains. If you would like to see your photo in this space in print and online, take an OTC with you, snap a couple of shots of someone reading it in a fun place and send it to Be sure to include information for the caption and your mailing address so we can get you a hard copy for your scrap book.

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