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Looking south, the sun sets as traffic moves along I-395 (Staff photo by Jay Westcott)

When we asked last year, just 25% of poll respondents said they were heading out of town for Memorial Day.

That compares to 35% who said they were traveling for Memorial Day in 2013.

With the holiday weekend coming up, and with Covid even less of a factor this year, we wanted to see if the 2023 travel figures would be substantially different than 2022.

At the same time, we were interested to know just how long your Memorial Day trips would be — short jaunts that require no additional weekday time off other than the long weekend, or longer voyages.


Everything bagels (Photo by Ryan DaRin on Unsplash)

Yes, it was part of a big chain, and yes, it might not top many “best of” lists, but the closing of Bruegger’s Bagels in Ballston last month took another Arlington establishment that made bagels fresh and in-house off the board.

One within walking distance of the ARLnow offices, at that.

The closure also got us thinking: which local spot has the best bagels?

Clearly bagel loyalties run deep, and with hot competition now just over the Arlington border — the Call Your Mother trailer at the Chesterbrook Shopping Center in McLean had a large line on Mother’s Day this past weekend — it’s time to do a heat check on Arlington’s local spots.

Which of the following places has your undying bagel love? Feel free to let us know in the comments if we’ve missed an option.

Photo by Ryan DaRin on Unsplash

An airplane takes off from Reagan National Airport (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

A new bill in Congress would result in significant changes at National Airport.

The bill would add more than two dozen additional flights and would allow more long distance flights at the airport, which is limited by a federal perimeter rule.

More from the Washington Post:

Lawmakers from Georgia and Utah introduced a bill Wednesday to increase the number of long-distance flights at Reagan National Airport, a measure that is drawing opposition from local residents, airport officials and members of the D.C.-area congressional delegation.

The bill, sponsored by Reps. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) and Burgess Owens (R-Utah), would allow 28 more flights daily and permit airlines to offer more long-distance service out of National Airport, where federal rules allow only a handful of flights to operate beyond a 1,250-mile perimeter.

“By limiting the number of flights in and out of National Airport, we are squeezing consumers — they are the ones paying the price,” Johnson said in a statement. “Travelers who want to visit the capital region face the most expensive domestic ticket prices compared to other major markets because of limited competition.”

The measure drew opposition from regional lawmakers and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which manages National and Washington Dulles International Airport. The agency has long fought changes to air service at National, arguing the airport is too small to accommodate additional air service.

MWAA said relaxing the perimeter rule would lead to more noise and congestion, as well as reduced service at smaller airports. Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) said the bill would harm the region’s airports.

Last week we established that ARLnow readers much prefer DCA to Dulles or other airports.

So what would you think about a bill that would allow more flight options, albeit over the objections of local lawmakers?

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An airplane taxis after landing at Reagan National Airport (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

National Airport is, arguably, a key perk of living in Arlington.

Being a <15 minute Uber ride (or a short Metro ride) away from a convenient, well-run airport with flights to a wide range of domestic destinations is something few inner suburbs can claim.

Meanwhile, it keeps getting better. Gone is the dreaded Gate 35X, replaced with a brand new concourse in 2021. Plus new restaurants and new stores keep opening.

Of course, DCA is not the only airport option around here.

Dulles International Airport is now accessible via Metro and is itself gaining new restaurant and retail options. Like National, Dulles is also getting a new concourse to replace some not-so-great regional jet boarding facilities. Last year, IAD even garnered a higher passenger satisfaction rating than DCA.

With Metro accessibility no longer a factor, one major complaint remains the distance. It’s a bit of a hike to get out to Dulles, though if you live certain northern sections of Arlington like East Falls Church, it’s more of a toss up in terms of travel time to the two airports.

There is an additional factor when choosing between the two airports, though. While you can get a nonstop flight to some West Coast destinations from DCA, they are limited by federal law. Recently, a group started a new push to ditch the “perimeter rule” and allow more long-distance flights.

From our sister site FFXnow earlier this week:

A proposal for more long-distance flights at Reagan National Airport (DCA) is catching the ire of some of Virginia’s Congressional representatives, who say it could undermine efforts to grow Dulles International Airport (IAD).

Proponents led by Capital Access Alliance argue that current restrictions at Reagan National — an airport owned by the federal government — are outdated and hurt the economy. They want to increase the number of flights that travel beyond 1,250 miles from the airport, allowing as many as 25 daily round trips.

So short of going to BWI — and who wants to do that, really — to avoid connecting flights sometimes Dulles is the choice, even for avowed DCA fans.

Given all of the above, we were wondering where Arlington residents stand in terms of their DCA loyalty. This morning’s poll asks: when booking a flight, to what degree — if any — do you prioritize trying to fly out of National instead of Dulles?

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A Star Wars stormtrooper at Arlington Central Library in 2011 (file photo)

It’s May the 4th, which means this reporter is swooping back to ARLnow like the clones arriving at Geonosis.

Today’s poll addresses one of the all-time great questions: what are your top three favorite Star Wars movies? Since the top two spots are almost guaranteed to be A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back, a “Top 3” poll allows for some third-spot surprises.

Conventional wisdom would hold that Return of the Jedi is, fittingly, the third-best Star Wars movie, but the epic Revenge of the Sith has a claim to the throne as well. Among the newer movies, arguments could also be made for Rogue One, Force Awakens or Last Jedi dethroning the ewok-stuffed Episode VI.

Not to sway the voting or anything.

Meanwhile, for those looking to flex their Star Wars knowledge, Alamo Drafthouse in Crystal City (1660 Crystal Drive) is hosting a Star Wars-themed trivia event today at 7 p.m.

Visitors at the US Air Force Memorial (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

We’re now into the back third of meteorological spring and it’s feeling more like… the beginning?

It has been a notably cool (and wet) end to April and start of May, right around when one might have been expecting some warmer weather to move in.

As this post is being written, the thermometer is sitting at 48 degrees, which sounds more like May in Manitoba than Arlington. (In fact, it’s currently a touch warmer in Winnipeg.)

A relatively modesty warm up is on the way, however. Near-average temperatures are expected to return next week, according to the Capital Weather Gang’s outlook.

With low temperatures frequently dipping into the 40s and highs mostly in the 50s and 60s this week, it will feel more like March than May. But highs should leap into the 70s or warmer next week…

For the second half of May, longer term models project near to slightly below normal temperatures.

What best describes your reaction to the current cool stretch?

Ballston at twilight (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

This past Friday the social media account Eat DC had a hot take: Ballston is nice. But also, it’s not.

The reasoning came down to Ballston’s stores and restaurants being predominantly chains (of various sizes) and the neighborhood — home to the densest census tract in the D.C. area — giving off “sterile” vibes.

From Twitter:

The implication here seems to be that Ballston is a contrast from some D.C. neighborhoods which have, for instance, more homegrown restaurants and less of a sense that someone is actively trying to make a once not-so-nice place nice. Of course, those homegrown restaurants that help to give a neighborhood its organic character often don’t last forever.

So what do you think? Is Ballston a nice place without caveats, or is Eat DC onto something?

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Yorktown High School’s MJ Stewart in 2011 (staff photo)

ARLnow has long avoided covering high school and youth sports, instead deferring to the coverage of the Sun Gazette (now the GazetteLeader) and the Washington Post.

While we’ll link to sports stories of particular note in the Morning Notes, by and large the decision has been to focus on general local news coverage.

There are two main drivers of this: there is a limited audience for high school sports coverage, relative to those who are interested in county government or local business news, and the logistics of covering multiple sports at three high schools is quite challenging, even more so if you add in youth leagues.

The bottom line is that we — like every other local news publication — are resource constrained and choose to use those resources on subjects that have the broadest audience.

While that decision makes all sorts of sense given our current business model, it’s possible that there might be a model that would work for sports coverage.

The audience for high school sports is limited (it seems to mostly be parents, current high school athletes and former athletes) but it’s also passionate. And if that audience would be willing to pay a subscription fee for exclusive sports content — via the ARLnow Press Club, at the current rate of $10/mo — we might be able to make it work.

Specifically, it would take a minimum of 500 ongoing subscribers for us to support the salary of a full-time sports editor. But if we could get there, we should be able to publish at least two original stories per day plus score roundups and a weekly email newsletter.

(For the record, ARLnow’s current local news coverage will always remain free.)

The poll question this morning is: would you join the ARLnow Press Club if it included original high school and youth sports coverage you couldn’t get elsewhere?

Duplexes in Westover (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

An article this week about an arguably historic, 70-year-old mansion in Arlington possibly being set for demolition had a subplot that could have been a story all on its own.

From Charlie Clark, reporting in the Falls-Church News Press (emphasis ours):

The purchasers, Mustaq Hamza and Amanda Maldonado, said in interviews, however, that so far their experience in the neighborhood has been unpleasant, in part because of the county’s current divisions over the just-enacted Missing Middle zoning reform. That has led them to question what they say was their original goal of replacing the old home with their own “forever house.”

Hamza, 38, an entrepreneur who was raised in Fairfax County and is a Muslim of Sri Lankan descent, and wife Malodonado, a Puerto Rican-American currently raising their two children, both say they have encountered “vitriol” and “hostility” from neighbors who cut through the property and ask questions that imply “You owe us an explanation of what you’re going to do with the house.” Hamza interprets at least some of this as a reaction to his skin color, leading him to rethink. “I’m not sure I want to be in a place that doesn’t want me or people who sound like me.” It seems some neighbors, adds Maldonado, assume that he must be an agent or a worker “who couldn’t possibly be the owner.” Some promised to fight his plans.

The article then take another turn, going on to say that Maldonado found anti-Missing Middle housing signage in the neighborhood offensive.

“Maldonado, the daughter of a teacher, said she is ‘offended that some people would be appalled at living next to townhouses for teachers.'” Clark reported.

Putting the rezoning issue aside, ARLnow has previously been made aware of possible profiling incidents in predominantly white Arlington neighborhoods.

There was a Black woman — a new mother — who recently moved to a North Arlington neighborhood. She was pushing a stroller on a walk when someone asked if she was a nanny.

There was a Hispanic man who was out on a walk in his neighborhood while wearing pajamas. Someone emailed the neighborhood listserv in a concerned tone, saying she did not recognize him and implying that his presence was suspicious. She was eventually informed that the man did, in fact, live in the neighborhood.

There have been other scattered reports over the years of people living in Arlington neighborhoods being made to feel unwelcome by off-handed comments from neighbors, postings on Nextdoor, etc. Some of those have been racial in nature, others about having different political or religious beliefs. There might not be ill intent, but the effect is nonetheless felt.

For today’s morning poll, we’re wondering if you have ever been made to feel unwelcome in an Arlington neighborhood for one reason or another.

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Duplexes along Washington Blvd in Westover (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Last week, after years of housing policy discussion, the Arlington County Board made the bold move of rezoning most of the county’s residential areas.

The unanimous final vote did not reflect just how contentious the issue was locally, with multiple groups and County Board candidates opposing the changes, holding rallies and blanketing the county with mailings.

On the other side of the issue, known broadly as “Missing Middle,” some proponents — while celebrating the action — said the rules around allowing smaller-scale multifamily housing in heretofore single-family-only neighborhoods are actually too restrictive. That includes a cap of 58 properties per year for five years.

There was also, perhaps, more of a middle ground to be found, with a lower maximum number of units (4 instead of 6) or even a provision for only allowing duplexes (2) and townhouses (3).

Without rehashing the entire debate in greater detail — you can read more via the links above — how do you feel about the vote?

Shamrocks and Blarney (photo by Cobalt123/Flickr)

St. Patrick’s Day is here and many of you are ready to embrace the Irish spirit.

But how, exactly, is today’s poll question.

With various ways to celebrate around town, we’d like to know how you plan to enjoy the festivities today. Will you be visiting one of Arlington’s Irish bars, attending a St. Paddy’s bash at another local watering hole, or just wearing something green, downing a Shepherd’s Pie at home and calling it a day?

To be honest, this is a pretty straight-forward question, so to fill some extra space we asked ChatGPT to tell us some non-offensive Irish jokes.

Q: Why don’t you iron a four-leaf clover?
A: Because you don’t want to press your luck!

Q: Why did the leprechaun go to school?
A: To improve his “elf”-esteem!

It went on in that vein, ChatGPT apparently being trained on the most groan-worthy dad jokes. We started encouraging it to get edgier, resulting in the following.

An American tourist walks into a pub in Ireland and orders a pint of Guinness. As he’s sipping on his drink, he strikes up a conversation with the old man sitting next to him. “You see this bar?” the old man says, pointing to the wooden counter. “I built it with my own two hands. But do they call me Seamus the Bar Builder? No.”

He takes another sip and continues, “And you see that stone wall outside? I built that too, stone by stone. But do they call me Seamus the Wall Builder? No.”

Seamus pauses, takes a deep breath, and adds with a grin, “But you kiss one goat…”

Okay ChatGPT, now we’re getting somewhere. For the finale, we wanted to incorporate a wee bit of local flair. After a few uninspired iterations, we suggested some characters from the commentariat and here’s what the AI came up with.

One evening at a local pub in Arlington, Virginia, Flood Czar, the Mayor of Arlington, and Dave Schutz were engaged in a heated debate. Dave, as usual, was trying to convince everyone that Arlington should seize and redevelop the local golf course.

Flood Czar, growing tired of Dave’s persistence, decided to put an end to the argument with a witty remark. He leaned in and said, “You know, Dave, I’ve finally figured out why you’re so obsessed with turning the golf course into something else.”

Dave, eager to hear the Mayor’s perspective, asked, “Oh really? Do tell.”

Flood Czar grinned and replied, “It’s because the only time you can hit the green is when you’re wearing it on St. Patrick’s Day!”

The entire pub erupted in laughter.


Without further ado, here’s the poll.

Photo via Cobalt123/Flickr

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