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by Bridget Reed Morawski March 15, 2018 at 10:00 am 0

(Updated at 8:30 p.m.) An older office building in Crystal City may be converted into apartments, and developer JBG Smith is soliciting public feedback on the project.

JBG Smith is looking to convert a 12-story office building at 1750 Crystal Drive into a 21-story residential building. The building, across from the Crystal City Water Park, would be 257 feet in height.

In the first phase of the “Central District” project, a new 74,000 square foot, street facing retail area would be built, reportedly anchored by an Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. The retail area may also include a smaller-format grocery store, like a Trader Joe’s.

A JBG Smith presentation says the project would include “delivery of nine screen Alamo Drafthouse Theater that shows first run and art house films as well as dining, entertainment, and event space hosting.” According to the feedback website, JBG is hoping to start construction in the fall and to have the theater open by the spring of 2020.

As part of the project, a two story, 16,000 square foot retail building would be built at the corner of 18th Street S. and Crystal Drive — next to a proposed second Crystal City Metro entrance — with renderings showing an sizable outdoor dining area adjacent to it.

Feedback from JBG’s online portal is helping to shape the development, said a representative for the company that created the portal.

“It’s a new approach for the developer, which added online outreach to the traditional process involving community meetings,” said the rep. “Over 1,600 people have interacted with the Central District at Crystal City website… Based on the feedback, JBG Smith has committed to providing seating, plantings, and seasonal events in the plaza.”

“The developer is also recruiting a full-service grocery store, which online voters said was the most important element to make the spot a neighborhood destination,” he added.

An open house on the Crystal City Block Plan “G” and Metro Market Square, which will plan open space and retail around the existing and new Metro entrances, is scheduled for Wednesday, March 21.

by ARLnow.com February 20, 2018 at 8:15 am 0

Vigil for Parkland — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) was among those to speak at a candlelight vigil last night in Falls Church for the victims of the Parkland, Florida high school shooting. Beyer spoke in favor of stricter gun control measures. [Blue Virginia]

Police Investigate Sound of Gunshots — Arlington County Police investigated a report of shots fired near the intersection of Lee Highway and Glebe Road Friday night. No injuries were reported. [Twitter]

Fmr. Arlington Resident Convicted of Murder — “A jury found a man guilty of multiple counts related to an execution-style shooting that killed three people in a D.C. park in 1991. Benito Valdez, 47, formerly of Arlington, Virginia, was found guilty of first-degree murder while armed.” [WTOP]

Theater’s Pre-Oscar Deal — With the Academy Awards now less than two weeks away, the Regal cinema in Ballston is offering a special deal: a $35 pass to see all nine films nominated for Best Picture. [Patch]

Flyover This Morning — A military flyover is scheduled just after 11 a.m. this morning for a funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

by Anna Merod February 8, 2018 at 4:15 pm 0

(Updated at 6 p.m.) A free movie series is returning to Columbia Pike this summer, with a showing of a music-oriented film every weekend from June 1 through Sept. 1.

The series, called “The Music of the Movies: Oscar Scores and Classic Musicals,” will screen the films outdoors on Fridays at the Arlington Mill Community Center and Saturdays at Penrose Square.

The film series is sponsored by the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO) and the Signature Theatre.

Signature is thrilled to support the 2018 Columbia Pike Movie Nights, which will bring the magic of great classic musicals to the big screen for free to the Arlington community this summer,” said Eric Schaeffer, the Signature Theatre’s artistic director, through a CPRO press release.

Several movies will be classics like Grease, West Side Story, and The Sound of Music, but movies as recently-released as the Pixar-produced Coco will be screened as well.

Here’s the 2018 movie series schedule:

  • June 1 — Grease (Arlington Mill)
  • June 2 — Hairspray (Penrose Square)
  • June 8 — Chicago (Arlington Mill)
  • June 9 — The Color Purple (Penrose Square)
  • June 15 — Into the Woods (Arlington Mill)
  • June 16 — Dreamgirls (Penrose Square)
  • June 22 — Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (Arlington Mill)
  • June 23 — O Brother, Where Art Thou? (Penrose Square)
  • June 29 — Batman (1999) (Arlington Mill)
  • June 30 — Batman (1989) (Penrose Square)
  • July 6 — Mary Poppins (Arlington Mill)
  • July 7 — Dick Tracy (Penrose Square)
  • July 13 — The Sound of Music (Arlington Mill)
  • July 14 — The Sound of Music (Penrose Square)
  • July 20 — Toy Story (Arlington Mill)
  • July 21 — Singin’ in the Rain (Penrose Square)
  • July 27 — Coco (Arlington Mill)
  • July 28 — Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (Penrose Square)
  • Aug. 3 — Jailhouse Rock (Arlington Mill)
  • Aug. 4 — The Music Man (Penrose Square)
  • Aug. 10 — Beauty and The Beast (1991) (Arlington Mill)
  • Aug. 11 — Beauty and The Beast (1991) (Penrose Square)
  • Aug. 17 — Young Frankenstein (Arlington Mill)
  • Aug. 18 — Young Frankenstein (Penrose Square)
  • Aug. 24 — West Side Story (Arlington Mill)
  • Aug. 25 — West Side Story (Penrose Square)
  • Aug. 31 — The Wizard of Oz (Arlington Mill)
  • Sept. 1 — The Wizard of Oz (Penrose Square)

Photo via Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization

by Anna Merod February 6, 2018 at 12:45 pm 0

Next week the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse will be hosting an alternative to the traditional Valentine’s Day sit-down dinner: stand-up comedy and a showing of “The Princess Bride”

There will be two showings of both on Wednesday, Feb. 14. Doors will first open at 6 p.m., with the stand-up starting at 7 p.m. and the movie beginning at 7:30 p.m. For the second showing, doors will open at 9:30 p.m., the stand-up will start at 9:45 p.m. and the screening will begin at 10:15 p.m.

Tickets are value-priced, according to the Drafthouse’s website.

“Only $10 — inconceivable!” the website says.

by Anna Merod January 24, 2018 at 4:45 pm 0

The Rosebud Film Festival, which honors the “innovative, unusual, experimental, and deeply personal” in film, will run Friday (January 26) through Sunday (January 28).

The festival, put on by Arlington Independent Media, will screen 34 films across three different showings — Friday at 7:15 p.m. and Saturday at 8:15 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Tickets for one film screening block cost $15, or viewers can pay $40 for the whole weekend. The screenings will be held at the Miracle Theater in Washington, D.C. (535 8th Street SE).

On Sunday, AIM will host two free panel discussions, entitled “Student Filmmaking: From the Classroom to the Real World!” at 12 p.m. and “What Critics Look For?” at 2 p.m. An awards ceremony at the Clarendon Ballroom will follow that day, with the top five films set to each receive a $1,000 cash prize.

This year was a bit different for the festival as it expanded accepted entries from the world. Before, it only accepted films from people living in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

As a result, festival director Kevin Sampson said the submissions nearly doubled. Some of the themes in this year’s films include politics, identity, gender and sexuality.

One film titled “A Name that I Admire” follows a seventh-generation dairy farmer in Virginia as he decides who to vote for in 2016 election. An animated film also reflects on today’s politics in a project titled “Trump’s Got No Tact.”

Another film “Spectrum” is a documentary focusing on the social, political and spiritual world of 10 transgender people living in Israel.

Sampson said one of the best things about Rosebud is that it’s different from other mainstream festivals and movie viewings.

“Coming out to Rosebud you really get to hear from these artists that are speaking from their hearts,” he said. “I think if people want to be entertained as well as challenged that Rosebud is the perfect fit in terms as a festival to come out to and check out.”

Photo via Rosebud Film Festival

by ARLnow.com Sponsor December 12, 2017 at 12:45 pm 0

By Greg Godbout

37 years ago the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse opened as a second-run movie theater (1 to 3 months old) and has never played first-run movies (released in the first week). Until now! Next week — we are proud to present Star Wars: The Last Jedi. At the same release date as other theaters. Although it almost didn’t happen.

A year ago this month, we made the decision to become a first-run movie theater, because online streaming of films has cut out the second-run theater window. Our style of showing films vanished from the industry. The switch to first-run was made this summer (May 2017), and the timing was bad. This was the worst summer for the entire movie industry in 25 years. We could have done without that.

While suffering through a tragic summer movie season we experimented with arthouse films and top box office films. The top box office films performed better. The goal was to also try some first-run films in their first week of release — unfortunately, the studios wouldn’t give us early access to films. It was a difficult uphill battle. Many studios insisted that we pick between movies or live comedy. Fox Studios and Warner Brothers were the most difficult.

For the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse to thrive, we need both movies and live comedy. We are the only theater in the country to balance top national release films and top national touring comics. Our unique balance puts us at odds with the large corporate movie studios, even though we depend on them.

Disney came to our rescue. After politely declining our request to play Star Wars a couple of times, Disney ultimately agreed. They too wanted to see how we could do with a first-release blockbuster. After months of experimentation — the largest and most dominant studio helped us out.

Our experiment with Star Wars will inform many programing decisions as we move forward. So please join us and let us know what you think. This winter our programing will center on national live comedy and Oscar nominated films. If Star Wars does well, we will add stretches of movies to our line up in the summer — that are true first-run films.

Based on current pre-sales for Star Wars, it is going to be a successful experiment for us. We provide an amazing social movie experience and can’t wait to see you here. We will have Star Wars drink specials and, as always, full tableside service. Tickets will be $10 with $8 matinees.

Please help us out by purchasing tickets in advance and plan on watching Star Wars at the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse this holiday season. We do not show ads or trailers so the movie start time is the actual start time. Please arrive early.

by Chris Teale November 22, 2017 at 3:45 pm 0

The Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike) is expanding its Christmas Movie Festival for the first time this year.

The festival usually takes place on one day, but instead will last for three weeks, starting on Friday, November 24 with showings of Elf and It’s a Wonderful Life. It wraps up on December 13 with Gremlins.

Paying for one $10 ticket will get attendees unlimited admission to all the scheduled festival movies across all three weeks, depending on space.

Dates for each movie screening are as follows:

Flickr pool photo by Bekah Richards

by Chris Teale November 20, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

The Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike) will show the new Star Wars movie next month in what is being described as a first for the theater.

The iconic local business will show “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” from December 14 until January 11. Customers are being asked to buy tickets in advance due to high anticipated demand.

Due to what organizers called the “special screening nature” of the film, tickets cost $10 in the evening and $8 for matinees.

It comes as part of the Drafthouse’s decision to shift to playing movies on a first-run basis, meaning it has quicker access to films.

Owner Greg Godbout has said that the rise of video on-demand services has hurt its previous business model of showing mainstream movies several months after the initial release.

Income from the movie could be small for the Drafthouse, however, as like all movie theaters it reportedly must turn over at least 65 percent of revenue generated by ticket sales to Disney, which owns the Star Wars franchise.

The Drafthouse is making the most of its Star Wars deal, holding dozens of screenings and even offering the chance to host Star Wars-themed parties for businesses. Via a Drafthouse email forwarded to ARLnow.com:

Host a STAR WARS PARTY!!!  Is your company looking for a fun alternative holiday party? The Drafthouse can accommodate your group with our restaurant style seating, giant screen, no hassle buffet style catering options as well as our FULL BAR!! Give your employee’s the gift of a private screening.

Availability: Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm.  December 15th – January 11th.

Contact us: [email protected] for a full offering of catering, bar and rental options.

by Chris Teale September 15, 2017 at 1:45 pm 0

Central Place Plaza (1800 N. Lynn Street) in Rosslyn will host a harvest festival next month during Halloween weekend, the neighborhood’s first.

On Friday, October 27 from 4-10 p.m. and Saturday, October 28 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., more than 20 vendors will sell various crafts and gifts, while there will be live entertainment and activities including a pie eating contest, cornhole, a pumpkin toss, costumes contests for children and pets.

The event is part of a series of autumnal happenings in Rosslyn.

The neighborhood’s Business Improvement District is hosting Cinema & Pub in the Park at Gateway Park (1300 Lee Highway) tonight — extending its summer film festival into September.

From 6-11 p.m. for the next three Fridays, beer, wine and sangria will be on offer, with food available from on-site food trucks. September 22 will be a family night, with activities beginning at 5 p.m.

The movie schedule is as follows:

  • September 15: “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy”
  • September 22: “Lego Batman”
  • September 29: “Golden Eye”

On Tuesdays beginning September 19, Gateway Park will host Yoga in the Park, a yoga class for all experience levels from 6-7:30 p.m. The entire session of five classes costs $20 per person, and attendees should bring a yoga mat.

And on Thursday evenings from 6-8 p.m. starting September 21, Gateway Park will host Bonfire Concerts around its bonfire pit. Seasonal beers, ciders and wines will be available for purchase, with a different fashion truck on site each week as well as donuts from Mama’s Donut Bites and s’mores from Capital Candy Jar.

The following acts will perform:

Photos via Rosslyn BID.

by ARLnow.com June 22, 2017 at 8:55 am 0

Alamo Drafthouse Coming to Crystal City — An Alamo Drafthouse Cinema will be coming to Crystal City to anchor a residential redevelopment by the JBG Smith. The redevelopment will convert the aging office building at 1750 Crystal Drive to a gleaming glass-and-metal residential building while topping it with a six-story addition. Also planned is an as-yet unsigned “specialty grocer” — think: Trader Joe’s or something similar. [Washington Business Journal]

Home Prices Rise in Arlington — “Long & Foster Real Estate Inc. says the median selling price in Arlington County last month was $613,500, up 15 percent from May of 2016. The change was based on 350 closed sales in Arlington in May.” [WTOP]

County Looking for More Tech Grant Recipients — Arlington Economic Development is looking for more tech companies to lure to Arlington with its $1 million “Gazelle Grant” program. AED is seeking another 8-13 companies that are growing by at least 30 percent over a three year period and are willing to commit to at least a three year lease. [Technical.ly DC]

Yorktown Principal Says GoodbyeRetiring Yorktown High School principal Dr. Ray Pasi received a standing ovation from the Class of 2017 at YHS’s graduation ceremony yesterday. [Twitter]

It’s Still There — For those who were wondering, the now-famous stick of deodorant atop a Clarendon bus stop is still there two weeks later, despite wind, rain and publicity. [Twitter]

by ARLnow.com May 3, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

Rosslyn’s annual outdoor summer cinema series is set to kick off one month from now.

The free Friday night movies in Gateway Park (1300 Lee Highway) will begin June 2 and run through Aug. 25.

There will be food trucks on site to serve dinner and popcorn, while a “Pub in the Park” will offer beer, wine, mocktails and movie-themed cocktails. On five nights — June 2, June 16, July 7, July 28 and Aug. 18 — a DJ will perform before the film.

The films on the docket for 2017 are:

  • June 2 — Grease
  • June 9 — Frozen
  • June 16 — Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
  • June 23 — National Lampoon’s European Vacation
  • June 30 — Some Like It Hot
  • July 7 — GoldenEye
  • July 14 — The Father of the Bride
  • July 21 — Moana
  • July 28 — The Wizard of Oz
  • August 4 — When Harry Met Sally
  • August 11 — Lego Batman
  • August 18 — The Avengers
  • August 25 — Mary Poppins

The films generally start shortly after sundown. The event is sponsored by the Rosslyn Business Improvement District.

Another local BID, Crystal City, decided to discontinue its usual summer movie nights this year, citing a crowded marketplace of similar events around the area.

by Chris Teale April 26, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

As it prepares to begin showing first-run and art-house movies, the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse announced a price hike and a series of other upgrades.

The iconic local business at 2903 Columbia Pike is about to shift to playing movies on a first-run basis, meaning it has quicker access to films. Owner Greg Godbout has said previously that showing mainstream movies several months after the initial release has hurt business given the rise of video on-demand services.

But to show first-run films, the Drafthouse will need to increase its ticket prices to meet the requirements of its film distributors. In an email sent to customers Tuesday, Godbout said tickets will now cost $8 for matinee screenings, and for students and other discounted groups like children and seniors, and $10 for screenings after 6 p.m.

The Drafthouse will also no longer offer $2 discount films on Mondays and Tuesdays. Instead, Mondays will be a “discount day,” with $8 evening showings, while Tuesdays will be the full $10 price.

“While this is a low price considering the average ticket prices in our area ($12 – $16), it is still a significant increase for our customers,” Godbout wrote. “By agreeing to the studio’s terms on pricing we will get access to films earlier than normal. We are doing this because the ‘Second Run; market has vanished — and we are struggling to compete with streaming at home released, before we get access to films.”

But the cinema will also receive several upgrades. The outside marquee will be revamped at some point in the future, while “The Green Room” — adjacent to the cinema entrance — has been closed to make way for a soon-to-be-announced new tenant. A new food menu will also be introduced, as well as some new furniture over time.

In the email, Godbout also criticized the Kennedy Center for establishing itself as a “commercial entertainment entity and local competitor” that now has stand-up comics. He said the center’s “unfair advantage” of being underwritten by federal taxes will cost the Drafthouse at least $150,000 in revenue this year.

More from Godbout on competition with the Kennedy Center, after the jump.

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by Katie Pyzyk December 29, 2016 at 11:15 am 0

So many notable people died in 2016 that the losses have contributed to some Twitter users dubbing this the #WorstYearEver. Now the Arlington Public Library has compiled a list of its books, DVDs, and music files that users can borrow to find out what made some of these people stand out from the crowd.

The list is not comprehensive because the library does not own items relating to every single notable person who died this year. It does, however, include items related to 67 well-known authors, performers, activists, scientists, and public figures.

Some of the items on the list are:

  • All You Need Is Ears by George Martin: An autobiography of the record producer and composer best known for his work with The Beatles.
  • "Starman" by Paul TrynkaDavid Bowie: Starman by Paul Trynka: The book examines Bowie’s many artistic reinventions and broad influence on the entertainment world.
  • Heimlich’s Maneuvers: My Seventy Years of Lifesaving Innovations by Henry J. Heimlich: An autobiography of the thoracic surgeon best known for inventing the technique to stop choking.
  • Arnold Palmer: Memories, Stories, and Memorabilia by Arnold Palmer: An autobiography of the professional golfer who many consider the greatest player in the sport’s history.
  • The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama by Gwen Ifill: The Peabody-Award winning journalist’s continuation of her long-time coverage of America’s race issues.
  • "I'm Your Man" by Leonard CohenI’m Your Man by Leonard Cohen (DVD): The documentary covers Cohen’s life and work and includes interviews with artists he inspired.
  • Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope (DVD): The sci-fi film features Carrie Fisher in her iconic role as Princess Leia.
  • Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story by Robyn Doolittle: The biography covers the life of the controversial former Toronto mayor known for his drug- and alcohol-fueled antics.
  • 40 Greatest Hits by Merle Haggard (eMusic): The music file includes songs spanning the country legend’s career.

by ARLnow.com December 5, 2016 at 11:55 am 0

Arlington Cinema and DrafthouseThe Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike) will shift to an art-house movie model and away from showing mainstream films several months after their initial release.

The change will be formally announced in an email to customers this afternoon, Drafthouse owner Greg Godbout said.

The announcement comes three weeks after the Drafthouse began surveying customers on proposed changes to the theater’s business model, floating the idea of showing first-run movies during the summer, at a time when live comedy audiences — the Drafthouse’s bread and butter — are down.

Otherwise, when comedy acts and special events are not booked, the Drafthouse has been showing “sub-run” movies, which are movies that have been playing at the multiplexes for several months and which are, typically, close to being released to home viewers via Video on Demand.

Earlier VOD release dates have been cutting into the audience for sub-run movies, Godbout said, so he was thinking of showing blockbuster movies for a week at a time over the summer — a model many other single-screen theaters adopt (studio rules prohibit showing multiple first-run films on the same screen).

The feedback from customers, however, pointed him to indie and art-house style films rather than the typical big-budget mainstream popcorn flick.

Starting with certain movies in January, until the change is complete in May, the Drafthouse will begin showing sub-run art-house films in winter, spring and fall, while the Drafthouse continues to focus on hosting big-name national comedy acts on weekends. Then, in the summer, the Drafthouse will switch to a three week cycle of two weeks of first-run art-house and indie films and one week of older art-house films or film festivals.

The theater will continue to offer family-friendly movies and entertainment, particularly during matinee times, but the $2 discount movies on Monday and Tuesday nights will either go away completely or the price will be raised, said Godbout.

Another change in the works: the replacement of the Drafthouse’s aging seats with new office chairs.

At the Drafthouse’s new D.C. location, meanwhile, more changes: local and national standup comedy acts will continue to perform, but there will be a new focus on hosting Esports competitions — live videogame tournaments, which are gaining in popularity.

The full letter from Godbout, after the jump.

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by ARLnow.com November 15, 2016 at 3:30 pm 0

Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse by BrianMKAAn iconic local business may be making some major changes next year.

The Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse, at 2903 Columbia Pike, sent an email to customers on Sunday night, seeking feedback on a proposal that would change the way it books entertainment options.

Currently, the Drafthouse hosts national comedy acts, periodic special events and “sub-run” movies year-round.

Historically, sub-run movies are movies that have been out a few months but are not yet on home video or on-demand. But that has been changing — now such movies make it to on-demand and home video faster, which has led to a slump in the sub-run movie model, says Drafthouse owner Greg Godbout.

Godbout, who runs the venue with his wife Colleen, said the business of showing sub-run movies for discounted prices has been in decline for years, with fewer people finding a reason to pay to go out to a movie that they can just watch at home.

“The studios have no interest in keeping the sub-run model alive,” he said. “This has been something that has been trending for some time and we now have to do something about it.”

The proposal, as presented to customers, would bring first-run movies to the Drafthouse, but only for part of the year. In the summer, when comedy attendance is down, the Drafthouse would exclusively show new Hollywood releases. The rest of the year, the same mix of comedy, events and sub-run movies would return.

Studio rules dictate that the Drafthouse can’t show new releases and other entertainment on the same screen or stage. So if the change were to be made the Drafthouse would, during the summer, follow roughly the same model as the Uptown Theater in D.C., showing one first-run movie exclusively for a couple of weeks before moving on to another.

“As we make this decision, it’s a significant change — trying to figure out how we change our model to fit the movie industry, so we can continue to do movies,” said Godbout. “We’ve had so many internal discussions about this, but we’ve never opened it up and said, ‘hey customers, what do you think about this?'”

He said the response to his email has been overwhelming: less than 24 hours after he sent it Sunday night, more than 1,600 people had already filled out a survey that he linked to in the email.

“We’re so fortunate, we have a very passionate fan base,” Godbout said. “This is the best type of market research you can imagine. People have also been emailing privately, I can barely keep up with it.”

Godbout said a final decision needs to be made by February, to give the Drafthouse enough time to book movies in advance for the summer. The decision, he hinted, may be different than what was proposed in the email, in response to feedback.

“That proposal, while still in tact, is changing significantly based on responses,” he said. “People are saying, remain unique, don’t be like everything else.”

But change is likely either way.

“When you run a small business, nothing is permanent, you have to adapt,” said Godbout.

The change took on a bit more urgency this year because so-called “disposable income venues” — entertainment venues, restaurants, etc. — in the area are experiencing a downturn that Godbout attributed to election anxiety.

Despite that, the Drafthouse is investing in its future with planned maintenance to its neon “ARLINGTON” sign and the replacement of its more worn-out chairs.

Godbout said certain things about the Drafthouse, which he and Colleen first took over in 2005, are not changing. The new chairs, for instance, will still be office chairs. And the shows will go on.

“We’re not shutting our doors,” he said. “This will still be the comfortable place to come to enjoy world class entertainment.”

The full email, after the jump.

Flickr pool photo by Brian MKA

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