Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Protest Outside Westover Post Office — About 15 protesters held a “Save the U.S. Postal Service” rally outside the Post Office at 5877 Washington Blvd in Westover yesterday. The two-hour lunchtime demonstration was organized as part of the American Postal Worker Union National Day of Action. [@KalinaNewman/Twitter]

Historic Review Board Likes Shirlington Plan — “The Arlington County government’s historic-preservation advisory body seems generally satisfied that retention of historic features will be seen as an important component of the redevelopment of the Village at Shirlington. In particular, the low-slung storefronts along Campbell Avenue are expected to be protected from the wrecking ball, even as taller and more dense development likely will be allowed immediately behind them.” [InsideNova]

New BBQ Restaurant Opens Patio — “Smokecraft Modern Barbecue is excited to debut its much-anticipated patio, now open daily for outdoor dining and drinking. Arlington residents and visitors can now enjoy Smokecraft’s award-winning barbecue outside on a socially distant patio, consisting of 38 seats.” [Press Release]

TTT in Clarendon to Host Virtual DJUpdated at 9:30 a.m. — “Beginning Friday, September 4… TTT (Tacos, Tortas & Tequila) known for its casual Mexican-influenced fare is adding an exciting bit of fun on Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons with virtual DJs. Guests dining on the first floor and on the third floor TTT Rooftop, which seats 82 and offers wonderful views on the city, will enjoy watching and listening to live streaming DJ performances via large screen projection.” [Press Release]

Family Pushing for Arlington House Change — “Descendants of Charles Syphax have been courting lawmakers for the past few months to make the change, said Syphax family historian Steve Hammond, who lives in Sterling, Va. The family’s effort is motivated as much by a desire to accurately honor the full history of the property and the enslaved people who lived there as it is by any antipathy toward Lee.” [Washington Post]

Nearby: Back to School in Falls Church — Students have started the fall semester, virtually, in Falls Church. A TV news segment shows teachers conducting their virtual classes from their actual, physical classrooms. [NBC 4]

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A local cellist recently went viral on TikTok for his classical covers of pop songs.

Musician Andrew Savoia began posting TikToks under the username @savoiboi earlier this month. Each day, Savoia’s content continues to gain more traction. Arlingtonians may recognize several outdoor spaces around town as filming locations for the short-form music videos.

@savoiboiYou might be Supalonely sometimes but your Kings and Queens are out there ##TikTokTaughtMe ##foryoupage ##fyp ##music ##cello ##supalonely♬ original sound – savoiboi

Savoia’s recent cello cover of the song “Come Get Her,” originally by hip-hop artist Rae Sremmurd, has more than 1.5 million views and counting. According to his profile, the page currently has roughly 92,000 followers and 646 “likes.”

In recent months, TikTok made headlines as a social media platform for politically active youth but the app is moreso used as a platform for comedy and entertainment.

In a post from July 12 (above), which featured a cover of “Supalonely,” viewers can spot the Washington Monument and portions of Arlington’s Rosslyn-Ballston corridor in the background. Savoia said he and his friend filmed it on the rooftop of his mom’s apartment building in Ballston.

Other filming locations include public open spaces around town and a bridge near Navy Yard in D.C.

“What I’ve been doing is choosing a song that I really want to play and picking a background that fits with that song,” he told ARLnow.

So far, four out of Savoia’s eight viral videos have been filmed in Arlington.

Other covers by Savoia include “Roses” by SAINt JHN, “Blinding Lights” by The Weeknd and other songs topping charts globally. Many of the hits that Savoia chooses to cover come from memes and other TikToks sent to him by friends, he said.

“Some of those tunes are really catchy and they get stuck in my head,” he said, adding that he’ll experiment with the song before deciding that he wants to post a video.

Boosting his popularity further, other TikTok users are now using his music to compose their own posts. Savoia said he loves to see fans interacting with his music because it encourages them to pick up an instrument and revive their passion for classical music.

On the app, TikTok offers a “duet” feature, which lets users record their own content side-by-side with another post — as if the two accounts were performing at the same time. Going forward, Savoia said that he would love to see more collaboration like this.

Inspiration for the project first came to him after he bought recording equipment to do a full-length, four-minute cover of a Weeknd song but didn’t like the final result — and instead decided to stick to a 30-second clip, which he and friends later posted on TikTok.

“The response was really positive and that just made me want to do it more,” Savoia said.

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This column is written and sponsored by Arlington Arts/Arlington Cultural Affairs, a division of Arlington Economic Development.

The COVID-19 pandemic has influenced a return to ‘The Basics’ and the simple pleasures of some ‘retro’ technologies.

Thanks to the old-school medium of radio, Arlington Arts is able to forge ahead with Lubber Run Live on WERA 96.7 FM –LIVE performances and discussions broadcast weekly with host Ken Avis (The Antidote), Saturdays at 5 p.m., July 11 through August 8 (live streaming on wera.fm ).

Lubber Run Amphitheater is a summertime tradition for Arlington residents. But during the pandemic, the shoulder-to-shoulder audiences that we’re accustomed to at this sylvan venue located just off of Route 50 in the Arlington Forrest neighborhood, just aren’t possible. Through the magic of radio, audiences can still enjoy a range of music, with no threat of ‘rain-outs’: Jazz and Go Go, Roots Rock, Soul and Blues are all part of the mix.

This partnership between Arlington Arts and WERA was a natural. Arlington’s only radio station, WERA’s mission is to enlighten, enrich and entertain Arlington’s diverse community by promoting and facilitating independent radio. A project of Arlington Independent Media, WERA’s programming is produced by and for the community.

The lineup for Lubber Run LIVE is brimming with a mixture of toe-tapping Amphitheater favorites, and a splash of new talent, including:

July 11: The Jogo Project

The JoGo Project is a fusion ensemble with Jazz and Go-Go at the core. Founded in 2014 by D.C. native Elijah Jamal Balbed, the band is dedicated to keeping Go-Go music alive while also exploring new sounds.

July 18: Nkula

Ethiopian-born “Ras Abel” Mekonnen’s band Nkula features a unique blend of foundational reggae with infusions of African influence (e.g. zouk and soukous riddims). Their high-energy groove exposes audiences to musical styles that broaden horizons.

July 25: Caz Gardiner

A 2019 Wammie (Washington DC Area Music Association) nominee for best Soul Artist/Group, Caz Gardiner is a high energy performer who writes songs of overcoming struggles and celebrating life with a Soul Rock and Reggae sound that is as diverse and driving as she is.

August 1: Justin Jones

A native Virginian, Jones started playing open mic nights in Charlottesville in his early teens, and has appeared at the Virgin Mobile Festival and the Floyd Festival. At the 2012 Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL), Speakers in Code named his one of the Event’s top-ten performances, and Bob Boilen of NPR’s All Songs Considered lists Justin Jones “as one of the top performances of the year.”

August 8: Lauren Calve

Washington, D.C. area singer-songwriter, guitar and lap steel player Lauren Calve has brought a vital new energy to the Americana scene. On her latest EP, Wildfire, Calve delves into complex issues ranging from the increased polarization and divisiveness prevalent in the U.S. and around the world, corporate greed and their role in both the climate crisis and gun violence, women’s’ stories that are dominating public consciousness, and even the precarity of online dating.

So tune-in for Lubber Run LIVE on WERA 96.7. Bookmark their website to listen to the live-stream. Create your own Live Listening Experience when you fire up the car radio or pull the speakers onto the porch! Listeners are encouraged to recreate their own Lubber Run picnic experience and order take-out and beverages from local restaurants.

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He’s performed at the Kennedy Center, at the Columbia Pike Blues Festival, and overseas for the troops.

And now — in lieu of his usual concerts and club gigs — Chester Chandler, better known as Memphis Gold, is performing from his apartment balcony in Ballston every Friday night from 8-9 p.m.

The informal outdoor concerts, near the intersection of N. Randolph Street and 9th Street N., have started attracting dozens of onlookers — socially distanced on the sidewalk, for the most part. From his 8th floor perch, Chandler and his guitar give the neighborhood an hour-long musical respite from the stress of life during the pandemic.

Chandler tells ARLnow that he got the idea from seeing locked-down residents in cities around the world opening their windows at 8 p.m. to bang pots and pans and make noise.

“I saw some people come out on their balcony, I said well this would be a good time to play some music, have a good time, and be happy we’re alive,” he said. One Friday night, with little fanfare and no public announcements, Chandler went outside and started playing. He’s kept it up every Friday night since.

“It turned out to be a good thing,” he said, “now people chant for more.”

Chandler doesn’t do much self-promotion during the concerts, to the point that many don’t even know who’s playing on the starkly lighted, distant balcony. But Chandler’s humility belies his musical resume.

He is a native of Memphis, Tennessee, who grew up on the famous Beale Street blues corridor. He is a Vietnam veteran who has toured internationally, playing blues festivals and concerts for U.S. troops. He also claims to be the first musical act at Whitlow’s, when it moved to Clarendon in 1995.

Chandler’s musical career started after nearly four years of homelessness in the early 90s. While living on the streets of D.C., he visited a pawn shop and saw a guitar on sale for $600. He convinced the shopkeeper to set it aside for him and eventually saved up enough from doing yard work for “little old ladies” to buy it. After that, he was able to support himself through his music.

Chandler, 65, has lived in the Randolph Towers apartment building for nearly two decades, and says there’s no place he’d rather be.

“Arlington has been my home for the last 20 years, and I tell you, I’ve love every minute of it,” he said. “I love my neighbors… I’m centrally located, and I’m an old man in a sea of yuppies around here.”

Chandler said he’ll keep playing on Friday nights until he can resume paying gigs. The loss of income has been tough, he said, but he’s been able to get by on veteran benefits and online donations from fans. And whenever he can, he gives what he can to support first responders and homeless vets.

One welcome side effect of Chandler’s playing and the pandemic? All of those passersby who are getting to hear his soulful guitar playing potentially becoming fans of the genre.

“I like it when the younger kids discover blues music,” he said.

A Friday night balcony concert in Ballston…

Posted by Arlington Now on Friday, April 17, 2020

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People singing and playing music from their balconies has been something of a trend during the quarantine, and the Crystal City Business Improvement District (BID) wants to get it started in Arlington.

The Crystal City BID is starting Front Porch Fridays tomorrow (Friday) afternoon.

“We may not all have a front porch — we may not all even have a balcony — but what we do have is our community,” the Crystal City BID said on the event page. “Music has always brought people together and now is no different. We can still gather together to listen (virtually)!”

The BID is encouraging residents to open their windows or bring a radio to their porch or balcony, tune to the same station and crank up the volume.

This week, the station is Hot 99.5 at 4:20 p.m. Next week it’s DC 101.1 at noon.

“The station will change each week, but the party atmosphere stays the same,” the BID said. “And best of all — we want you to select the playlist! Visit our Facebook page each week Monday-Wednesday to vote on the songs you want to hear. Then listen in on Friday to see if your pick made the cut!”

The music will be commercial-free, courtesy of the BID.

Videos of people singing in the streets went viral early on in the pandemic, though results to replicate that have sometimes been mixed.

Separately, the BID announced Thursday that it would be donating $100,000 to Arlington’s small business grant fund.

“Small businesses throughout National Landing have adjusted their operations to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Just as they have supported us, we are focusing our efforts on ways to assist and enhance the long-term viability of these businesses,” Crystal City BID President Tracy Sayegh Gabriel said in a statement. “We are pleased to contribute to Arlington County’s GRANT Program, which will enable countless small businesses to stay afloat, retain their staff and continue to serve the community.”

File photo

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Morning Notes

Local Business Owners Still Waiting for Loans — “Like many business owners across Northern Virginia, Cyrille Brenac is still waiting to hear back from his bank about his application to the Paycheck Protection Program… For Brenac, who lives in the Cherrydale neighborhood of Arlington, the money would help him rehire about 50 employees of his two French restaurants he laid off when the economy abruptly shut down as the result of the global COVID-19 pandemic.” [Connection Newspapers]

County Board Salary Raise Unlikely — “The COVID-19 health pandemic and resulting economic downturn have snagged another victim – big pay raises for Arlington County Board members. Raises totaling more than $50,000 spread across the five board positions, which were included in County Manager Mark Schwartz’s pre-virus budget proposal in February, have been red-lined out.” [InsideNova]

Bearded Goat Barber Dies During Home Isolation — “We’ve already had quite a tragedy of our own — a barber who was in recovery from heroin addiction. He told us a couple times in the first few weeks, ‘It’s not good for me not being busy like this… not being able to work.’ We didn’t know just how bad it would be for him. He relapsed and got a bad batch and died.” [InsideHook, Facebook]

Campaign to Help Nurses, Restaurants Raises $30k — “The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO) began its ‘Buy a Nurse Lunch’ initiative several weeks ago to raise money for restaurants along Columbia Pike in Arlington, while simultaneously providing meals for nurses and medical staff at the Virginia Hospital Center. In just two weeks, the organization says that over $30 thousand was raised, providing much-needed revenue for small, locally-owned restaurant.” [WJLA]

County to Consider More Retail Conversions — “For many years, county officials were insistent that retail be placed in office and residential buildings in certain areas. The problem – as developers apparently knew but county leaders seemed to miss – is that retail spaces are dependent on visibility and foot traffic, which each can vary widely even within the same building. (At one business-organization meeting years back, developers simply shrugged their shoulders, saying they often penciled in ‘zero’ for the expected revenue.)” [InsideNova]

Local Man Recounts Coronavirus Experience — “He had been in the hospital for seven days when doctors declared he might not make it out alive. His blood oxygen levels sank. His lungs struggled. The ventilator helping him breathe, doctors at Virginia Hospital Center said, did not seem to be doing much good. Nurses called his family. His family called a priest. They wanted to make sure Francis Wilson, 29, received last rites before the end.” [Washington Post]

Raccoons Rescued from Trash Can — “Officer Cameron got a surprise yesterday when she responded to a call about a raccoon stuck inside a bag inside a trash can. After she ‘unstuck’ the raccoon, she found 2 raccoon kits with her! Officer Cameron made sure they were all safe, releasing them to a quiet place nearby.” [Animal Welfare League of Arlington]

Arlington Musicians Play Mozart From Self-Isolation — A group of Arlington musicians joined those from elsewhere to perform Mozart: Serenade No. 13 in G Major, K. 525 ‘Eine Kleine Nachtmusik’ (1st movement) remotely. [YouTube]

Falls Church Senior Care Centers Face Outbreaks — “Three Falls Church area senior homes are now confirmed to be fighting outbreaks of the coronavirus, with Chesterbrook Residences telling the News-Press today that a total of 17 of its residents and staff have tested positive for COVID-19.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Flickr pool photo by P Ranfone

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Morning Notes

Amazon Not Giving Up on HQ2 Helipad — “The list of nongovernmental aircraft the Transportation Security Administration permits to fly inside the [Flight Restricted Zone], besides commercial fights to and from Reagan National, is basically nonexistent… In a statement, Amazon suggested it hasn’t given up. ‘We recognize there are several layers of approval for such a feature, and will continue to work with Arlington County and other relevant stakeholders as we determine its feasibility for our Arlington HQ,” the statement read.” [Washington Business Journal]

Pentagon Helipad to Get New Tower — “The Department of Defense has designs on building a permanent air traffic control tower to help guide aircraft landing at the Pentagon and is seeking a contractor to carry them out.” [Washington Business Journal]

County Concerned About Peak Trail Usage — “We’ve noticed the trails are pretty crowded between 3pm-6pm. To help stop the spread of COVID-19, we suggest finding a less busy time to walk, bike, or run on the trails or to find an alternate route.” [Twitter]

Mexicali Blues Closed, For Now — Clarendon mainstay Mexicali Blues has shut down its carryout business and is closing temporarily. [Twitter]

Candidate Blasts County’s Coronavirus Response — “Audrey Clement, who has been running campaigns for elected office for more than a decade, said last week that the County Board failed to use its powers to force restaurants to close in the earliest days of the crisis.” [InsideNova]

Va. Senators Seek Local News Funding — “U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined their Senate colleagues in a letter calling for funding to support local journalism and media to be included in any future COVID-19 relief package.” [Press Release]

Video: YHS Orchestra Plays Remotely — “Vivaldi: Concerto for Strings in D Major, RV 121 (1st movement) by the members of the Yorktown High School Chamber Orchestra during the COVID-19 pandemic.” [YouTube]

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Morning Notes

VHC Has Supplies, Extra Beds — “Virginia Hospital Center officials said not all of their 394 beds are full at the moment and that the hospital could expand above 400 in the case of a surge… Melody Dickerson, chief nursing officer at VHC, said thanks to changes such as extending the life of personal protective equipment (PPE), under new CDC guidelines, they expect to have enough for at least next month, assuming shipments continue as expected.” [Washington Post]

Bayou Bakery Owner on CNBC — While working to give away food to those in need, Bayou Bakery is facing its own challenges. Chef and owner David Guas appeared on CNBC’s Squawk Box Tuesday morning and discussed his decision to close and lay off all of his staff, while also working to apply for loans and eventually reopen. [CNBC]

Pile Driving Starting Soon at HQ2 Site — “Clark Construction Group, the lead HQ2 contractor, is planning to start a particularly noisy bit of work this week… It does have a solution, of sorts, for those nonessential workers who are sheltering in place. ‘They have provided us with ear plugs to help us deal with the noise, knowing that many of you are working from home,’ Aura management wrote.” [Washington Business Journal]

New Grocery Store Changes — Harris Teeter and Giant stores will be limiting the number of shoppers in their stores, in the interest of social distancing. Giant is also implementing one-way aisles. [Washington Business Journal, WTOP]

Beyer Wants Temperature Checks at Airports — “Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) today wrote to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf urging the adoption of stricter measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at American airports… such as enforcing social distancing, implementing temperature checks for travelers, providing guidance on how to self-quarantine for exiting travelers, and protective equipment for staff.” [Press Release]

‘Virus Vigilantes’ on the Lookout — ARLnow has been getting a deluge of emails, tips and tweets from locals concerned about other people not maintaining social distancing. Surreptitious photos of teens on sidewalks, construction workers at jobs sites, and even unsuspecting people in parks have been sent our way. It’s apparently part of a national trend of “virus vigilantism,” as people take it upon themselves to enforce health guidelines.

Glebe Elementary Choir Performs Online — Barrett Elementary got a shout out from Sir Elton himself for its staff dance video, but Barrett is not the only Arlington school creating music videos. Glebe Elementary made its own video recently, featuring the school’s fifth grade choir together performing “We Want to Sing” from their homes. [YouTube]

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Morning Notes

Three COVID Cases at Pentagon City Apartment — “Three residents of the largest apartment building in Arlington — The Bartlett owned by JBG Smith Properties — have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, according to messages sent to Bartlett tenants.” [Washington Business Journal]

Elton John Tweets About Barrett Elementary Video — “The staff at @BarrettAPS recorded their own music video to @TaronEgerton’s version of ‘I’m Still Standing’ and it’s so much fun!” [Twitter]

Library Launches ‘Quaranzine’ — “Liz Laribee, the programs and partnerships librarian at Arlington Public Library, says she thinks in puns. So, when the word ‘quaranzine’ popped into her head a little over a week ago, it gave her an idea. On April 3, the library published the first issue of Quaranzine, a weekly online collection of works by local artists responding to the coronavirus pandemic.” [DCist, Arlington Public Library]

Dems See Few Refund Requests After Event Cancelled — “Arlington County Democratic Committee leaders say the party did not take a big financial hit due to the cancellation of its Blue Victory Dinner, which traditionally brings in about a third of operating revenue for county Democrats each year. ‘We had very few folks ask for refunds,’ party chair Jill Caiazzo said… Democratic leaders offered those, who were willing to let the party keep the ticket prices, access to an online event.” [InsideNova]

ACFD Accepting Donations of Food But Not Supplies — “Thank you all for the generosity. You are amazing!! We have have been getting a lot of questions about donating PPE (masks, gloves, respirators, etc). At this time we are NOT collecting any supplies.” [Twitter, Arlington County]

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Editor’s note: In lieu of Chris Slatt’s Modern Mobility column today, ARLnow is running an edited version of a press release issued today by the small, Arlington-based business he and his wife run.

Perfect Pointe Music & Dance Studios, with locations in the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center in North Arlington and the Saratoga Shopping Center in Springfield/Fort Belvoir has acted quickly to respond to the needs of its community amidst COVID-19 closures and concerns, moving all of its over 250 weekly classes, lessons and rehearsals to an online platform, plus offering bonus content to keep students and families active and engaged while social distancing, and offering full scholarships to those whose finances have been adversely affected by the crisis.

“Now more than ever, we know how important it is for us to offer our community the connections and positivity our studio is known for,” says founder and CEO, Kendra Slatt. “We all need some sense of normalcy and routine. The last thing we all want is for our children to play video games and watch YouTube all day, or to become depressed because of lack of social interactions, lack of goals, or lack of positive activities to look forward to. We need them to be active, use their mind and still interact socially with their peers. This is exactly what our online platform is providing during the closure of our physical location, and no students will be turned away due to inability to pay.”

  • The online platform uses private Zoom links to facilitate live classes with teachers and students on their normal weekly schedule.
  • In addition to weekly classes, students are encouraged to take advantage of bonus content, tailored to their specific age and level including coloring and activity sheets, dance history and nutrition lessons, recommended playlists, extra practice videos, and much more.
  • Community building activities and events like virtual dance parties, story times, social media challenges, photo sharing, parent meet-ups and more keep community relationships strong and morale up while maintaining safe social distancing

Parent Feedback:

  • “THANK YOU Mr. Philip and all of our amazing dance teachers at Perfect Pointe Dance Studio, Arlington, VA for bringing rays of sunshine and at least part of our ‘normal’ routine into our living room during this unprecedented time of physical distancing! Your enthusiasm is infectious and the Zoom sessions are producing a lot of laughter along with the conditioning. So grateful for all of you! #LiveLoveDance #PerfectPointePride”
  • “You all are great! I really appreciate you working hard to keep the students moving. Katy is enjoying tuning in to her classes. Great job on pulling this all together.”
  • “I just want to thank you (and Mr. Chris) for so quickly switching classes to Zoom. And all the teachers for using it so well. It is amazing!!!! It has made this crazy (and scary) time so much better. Both kids love being able to take their classes. So it’s trifold — exercise, regular routine and social.   Such a wonderful way to stay connected to our dance family. I can’t say enough positive things. Thank you!!!”

Perfect Pointe Dance Studio was founded in Arlington in 2007 and expanded to Springfield, adding music to its offerings in 2016. Throughout that time, they have become known as a leader in high-quality arts education with a strong focus on community and customer service, as well as health and positivity for their students, families and staff.

For more information, see Perfect Pointe’s website or its Facebook and Instagram pages.

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Virginia schools may be closed for the rest of the academic year, but Barrett Elementary staff members haven’t gone anywhere.

That’s the message from a new music video uploaded to YouTube last night, featuring teachers dancing in their homes and yards to a cover of Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing.”

“Check out this amazing video that our music teacher put together to bring some smiles to our students and their families,” Marissa Mulholland, a special education teacher at the school, told ARLnow. “It was so fun to be a part of this video… almost like music therapy for us teachers!”

Arlington’s public schools are still educating students via online distance learning, though curriculums have been pared back and standardized tests cancelled.

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