Arlington, VA

Arlington County Board Communications Manager Mary Curtius was a journalist when the reporters wrote drunk and sometimes edited sober, and when the editors ashed their cigarettes on reporters’ desks if they were lucky.

She started writing when “cut-and-paste” literally meant cutting sections of type out and sticking paragraphs together with rubber cement glue.

“We probably went home high every day, we were inhaling so much rubber cement,” she said. (On that note, the photographers, stuck in dark rooms all day, were probably loopy from the developer and fixer chemicals.)

Curtius reported from Los Angeles, Jerusalem and Capitol Hill. She was the Middle East bureau chief for the Boston Globe and Christian Science Monitor. She covered Congress for the LA Times and before that was the paper’s National Security Editor. To have more time with her kids, she switched tracks 11 years ago and started handling communications for Arlington County.

Today is Curtius’ last day as Communications Manager for the County Board before she retires. After five decades of working — she started cleaning homes at 13 — she says she looks forward to visiting friends and family now that she is fully vaccinated, traveling and volunteering. And rest. She looks forward to rest.

“I don’t think there are a lot of people who can say they never had a bad job and never got to do anything fun,” she said. “I’m lucky. I’m really lucky. It’s been a great ride.”

And sometimes, the ride was dangerous. She remembers taking a road trip out of Jerusalem with two male reporters, and when she got into the car, she saw they were working through a bottle of whisky. The two polished it off over the five-hour drive.

“It was completely terrifying,” she said. “That was how they lived… I was always ‘the good girl.'”

She had to be, to get ahead in a male-dominated field.

But her distinguished journalism career took a toll on her family life. So Curtius joined the county 11 years ago to be home more with her kids. During her tenure, Curtius said the changing media landscape and the dawn of social media caused her job to morph too. She has been part of a few major crises — Snowmageddon and the Derecho storm and now the coronavirus — and has helped Arlington prepare for Amazon’s arrival.

“It was a great job,” she said. “It’s a great county — God’s truth — it’s a great county. It was an amazing experience to be doing something that directly related to my community.”

Curtius remembers spending 18 months documenting how Arlington transformed from a sleepy town to a bedroom community for Pentagon workers to a bustling metropolitan area. She found all the Board members and county managers who were still alive and put together plans in the 60s and 70s to accommodate the Metro and concentrate development around stations.

“That video captured the ‘Greatest Generation’ — people who had these ideas and laid the foundation of modern Arlington,” she said. “I really enjoyed meeting those people. Almost all of them are dead now.”

Over the last decade, she said local media coverage has waned. Before joining the County Board in 2006, she said TV stations would set up cameras to get clips from County Board meetings. No longer, except for major news like Amazon’s arrival.

“It seems incredible to think about that,” she said.

Since then, the Washington Post has pulled back on local coverage, and there are not as many news outlets focused on county government — the Sun Gazette and present company excluded, she added.

“Of course, it is happening across the country,” she said. “It’s really distressing, just as a reporter, that there’s not a lot of local coverage.”

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James Moore at his barber shop on Lee Highway (Staff Photo by Jay Westcott)

A short, sweet, secret note handed to an Arlington barber earlier this week may perfectly encapsulate the hope that the pandemic could be nearing its end.

James Moore of Moore’s Barber Shop at 4807 Lee Highway posted on social media Thursday morning a note handed to him by a fully-vaccinated, 91-year-old client named Warren upon walking into the barber shop for the first time in more than a year. Moore’s Twitter post has since garnered nearly a thousand likes and retweets.

The note was written by Warren’s wife, Maria, and it was presented to Moore in a sealed envelope without Warren knowing its contents.

The note reads:

Hi JT,

I’m so happy to be relinquishing my barber duties — you have no idea! I don’t know what was worse — having to learn on the fly or taking instructions from my client! I’m having a celebration on this day! Here’s a little something so you can have a celebration too. I wish we could celebrate together but COVID still reigns.

Thankful,

Maria

Moore tells ARLnow that Maria wasn’t the only one thankful.

“[Warren] told me ‘Please, don’t tell my wife that you did a better job than her. She’ll be mad,'” he said laughing.

Moore says he opened the card when Warren had left and it came with a “substantial tip” as a thank you, for which he was grateful.

Moore immediately called Maria to thank her.

“She got choked up,” he says. “She explained how difficult it was to cut his hair… [Warren] wanted everything so particular, he made her a nervous wreck. She used YouTube to learn, but there were a lot of anxious moments.”

Moore says Warren has been a long-time customer, whose kids and grandkids have also come to the shop for hair cuts.

Husband and wife were both very much looking forward to the return to the barber shop, but they waited to be vaccinated.

“He got it, waited a few weeks, and got his wife’s permission. Then, he came in,” says Moore, who recently received his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as well.

The customer relationship with the couple extends beyond the barbershop. Moore helped the couple pre-COVID with a few tasks around the house, like re-installing smoke detectors, when they lived in Rosslyn. They no longer live in Arlington, but Warren remains a loyal client.

Moore worked at the Arlington Fire Department for 32 years before retiring this past summer. He inherited the barber shop from his dad, who opened it as Arlington’s first integrated barbershop in 1960.

Moore says that business remains slow due to the pandemic, but he’s been getting customers from D.C. and Maryland due to his shop’s strict COVID protocols — like checking customers’ oxygen saturation levels.

The hope is that with more and more people getting vaccinated, come summer, things will return to normal.

“People still aren’t going to work, so getting haircuts is more about looking and feeling good for people they live with,” Moore said.

Or, in Maria’s case, no longer having to cut her husband’s hair.

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Morning Notes

Rent Falling in Arlington — “The median rental price in Arlington for a two-bedroom apartment of $2,032 at the end of the year was down 14.8 percent from March, when the pandemic hit, according to the analysis. Arlington is among of 12 major urban communities that have seen rents fall by more than 10 percent since COVID’s arrival.” [InsideNova, WTOP]

Hotel Guest Arrested for Punching Cop — “Hotel management requested police stand by while they removed individuals from a room for violation of hotel policies. Management advised the guests they would need to leave, and while two of the occupants began to collect their belongings, an argument ensued between them. The dispute continued outside of the room and began to escalate, at which point officers separated the parties. The suspect then allegedly threw an unknown object into the elevator and rushed towards an officer, striking them with a closed fist.” [ACPD]

Compass Apologizes for Rogue Social Post — D.C.-based cafe chain Compass Coffee is apologizing for posting a screenshot of a tweet that said “Republicans are not our countrymen. They are terrorists…” on its Instagram account. “Sorry about this!” Compass said about the post. “Absolutely not what we believe or in line with our values. Currently investigating what / who posted this.” [Twitter]

Bishop Reflects on Capitol Riot — Writes Diocese of Arlington Bishop Michael Burbidge: “The mutual respect we must have for law and order was disregarded. Rather than being treated with respect for the inherently noble work with which they are entrusted, police officers and federal agents in and around the Capitol buildings were, in many cases, attacked, injured and harassed in the line of duty. We should all thank them for their courage and service.” [Arlington Catholic Herald]

Local Nonprofit Has New Leader — “Diana Ortiz, who has more than two decades in the social-safety-net world, has been tapped as president of Doorways, the non-profit safety-net provider. She succeeds Caroline Jones, who departed earlier this year to take a post with the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing.” [InsideNova]

Beyer Staffer Tapped for White House Role — “Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) today congratulated his departing Chief of Staff, Tanya Bradsher, who was appointed by President-elect Joe Biden to serve as Senior Director for Partnerships and Global Engagement on the National Security Council… Beyer announced that his Acting Chief of Staff Zach Cafritz, who had previously served as Deputy Chief of Staff and Legislative Director, would take over as Chief of Staff.” [Press Release]

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Morning Notes

Schools Closed, Federal Gov’t on Delay — Due to anticipated icy conditions this morning, Arlington Public Schools has closed schools, though distance learning is still on. Federal government offices have a 10 a.m. delayed opening. [Twitter, Twitter]

Arlington Xmas Decorations Go Viral — Two Arlington homes, next door to one another, have very different approaches to holiday decorating, as seen in a tweet that went viral. [Twitter]

Might Mayor Pete Live in Arlington? — “Pete and Chasten have an affinity for airports — Pete proposed to Chasten at O’Hare in Chicago and Chasten proposed to Pete at an airport in Berlin — so why not live walking distance from DCA? Besides having a great beer bar and Synetic Theater, the area also known as Crystal City is a major transportation hub, which could work in Pete’s favor as he starts his new role.” [Washingtonian, Twitter]

Bill Would Strip Lee’s Name from Arlington House — Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s name is likely to soon be removed from Lee Highway in Arlington, and potentially from his former home in Arlington National Cemetery as well. Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) has introduced legislation that would rename what’s currently known as “Arlington House: The Robert E. Lee Memorial” as just “Arlington House.” Arlington County is in the process of removing an illustration of the house, which critics say is a symbol of slavery, from its logo and seal. [Press Release, Twitter]

Wreaths on the Way — The wreaths for this weekend’s Wreaths Across America event at Arlington National Cemetery are currently making their way to Arlington from Maine via convoy. [Twitter, Facebook]

Funeral for Vietnam War Hero — “Despite the winter elements that hit the [D.C. area] Wednesday morning, Medal of Honor recipient Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins was given modified military funeral honors at Arlington National Cemetery. Adkins died from COVID-19 earlier this year in April at the age of 86.” [WJLA]

Local Nonprofit Gets Grant — “The Arlington-based nonprofit organization, Latinas Leading Tomorrow (LLT) announced their latest financial contribution from the Arlington Women’s Civic Alliance (AWCA) to support LLT’s leadership training and college readiness programs. ” [Press Release]

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Euphoria, a flea market that has drawn huge crowds to Arlington’s normally quiet Barcroft neighborhood, went so viral on the social media app TikTok that it’s now on hold here while its founder figures out how to handle the newfound popularity.

The market was launched by Washington-Lee (now Washington-Liberty) High School graduate Fabricio Gamarra and features vintage sneakers, t-shirts and other carefully-curated items.

For four consecutive months, 20-year-old Gamarra got away with hosting Euphoria, which he describes as a “pop-up vintage market,” with his friend and business partner Chris Claure out of a parking lot on S. Buchanan Street in Barcroft. The market features Gamarra’s own vintage brand, Forbiidden Vintage, along with roughly a dozen local sellers selling everything from high-end streetwear to vintage sunglasses. And between the third and fourth event, he says, Euphoria’s popularity exploded.

“I woke up one morning to my friends texting me to check my phone, and I couldn’t believe it,” Gamarra said. “I thought, ‘Is this really happening?”

As it turns out, a friend of Claure who attended the Sept. 6 flea market posted about it on the popular short-form video app. The video has so far attracted more than 100,000 likes, in addition to thousands of comments like “Hold up Virginia? I’m going right now!” and “Finally something good in the DMV area.”

As of today, the video has more than 360,000 views.

Word caught on by the next Euphoria market, on Oct. 4.  According to Gamarra, the line to enter stretched a mile long and people were lining up to enter all day. The crowd size and increased traffic also attracted the attention of the neighbors. Even though social distancing was in place and face masks were required, Gamarra says the Arlington County Police Department was alerted to the event.

“There are some safety issues we need to make sure are taken care of before we can have another market in Arlington, yeah,” Gamarra said. “We’re talking to the county to figure out what we can do. I’ve lived in Arlington since I was three and I believe it’s a great market to attract people from both Maryland, D.C., and Virginia. I want to make sure these events can continue here.”

A video of the October market, showing off the long lines and the collection of unique clothing, also went viral on TikTok. It has received nearly 40,000 likes since it was posted.

For now, Gamarra says the next market is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 15 in Silver Spring, Maryland, but he hopes to make it back to Arlington soon.

“Fingers are crossed we can do something bigger and better in Arlington, but of course, safety has to be the first priority,” he said.

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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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Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Dan Sullivan (R-AK) are not the only ones to have mistakenly posted photos of the late Elijah Cummings while trying to honor John Lewis, who died on Friday.

Local state Sen. Barbara Favola (D) posted a photo on Facebook over the weekend that she said was Lewis, the civil rights leader and Georgia congressman, at her house four years ago.

“I had the honor of hosting John Lewis for a fundraiser at my home in 2016,” wrote Favola, who represents a portion of Arlington in the state Senate. “Congress must restore the Voting Rights Act and each of us must uphold John Lewis’ legacy each and every election by casting a ballot.”

The problem: the photo actually showed Cummings, the former Maryland congressman who died in October.

The mistake was pointed out in a comment by Julius Spain, Sr., the head of the Arlington chapter of the NAACP. The post was subsequently taken down.

Spain said he spoke to Favola about the error Saturday night.

“She apologized stating it was a mistake,” he told ARLnow.

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Morning Notes

Hundreds Protest Along George Mason Drive — Hundreds of people lined George Mason Drive Monday evening to protest racism and support Black Lives Matter. The protest was organized by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington. [Twitter, Twitter]

Break-in at Claremont Elementary — “At approximately 12:30 a.m. on May 31, police were dispatched to the report of a burglary alarm. Arriving officers observed four suspects inside of a building and established a perimeter. While clearing the building, the four suspects were located on the roof and taken into custody without incident.” [Arlington County]

Local GOP Amps Up Social Media Presence — “The Arlington County Republican Committee often has a hard time competing with its Democratic counterpart at the ballot box. But the local GOP is working to win the battle of social media. Local Republicans recently announced that Taylor Jack, a rising senior at James Madison University, has joined the party’s public-relations team.” [InsideNova]

Beyer’s GOP Challenger Selected — “The candidate who positioned himself as the more conservative in the field emerged the victor and will become the Republican challenger in a decidedly uphill battle to unseat U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th). Jeff Jordan defeated Mark Ellmore in the 8th District Republican Committee convention.” [InsideNova]

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Arlington County Board member Katie Cristol says she was wrong to suggest that a local beer garden should be shut down over the weekend.

Cristol retweeted a photo posted by Democratic strategist Adam Parkhomenko on Friday night, which showed a large crowd — none wearing masks — outdoors at The Lot beer garden near Clarendon.

“A bunch of selfish a**holes in Arlington, VA this evening,” Parkhomenko said in his tweet, which went viral and racked up thousands of likes and retweets. Many of those sharing the post decried how such crowding could exacerbate the pandemic.

“Well, this sucks,” Cristol wrote in her response to the tweet. “We’re in this together, and are going to have a hard time continuing to move forward if folks/establishments won’t do the basics of masks & distancing. All: Please help us follow up (and shut this stuff down) by reporting.”

Cristol also shared a link to a “non-compliance of social distancing practices” reporting form created by the county.

In response, however, The Lot said in a social media post on Saturday that it followed “all CDC, state, and local guidelines,” noting that it has “a large patio so naturally there will be more people, attention, and visibility.”

While The Lot posted a sign encouraging mask usage, Virginia’s new mask requirement only requires it for indoor public spaces.

A huge thank you to all our amazing patrons for the support and patience last night. We’d also like to thank the county…

Posted by The Lot VA on Saturday, May 30, 2020

On Sunday, Crisol posted an apology, acknowledging that Arlington police and fire personnel had visited The Lot and verified that it was following all of the requirements. She added, however, that “too many ppl = an administrative problem the County needs to fix.”

The risk of coronavirus transmission outdoors is considered to be low, though extended exposure and close proximity to someone with the virus — particularly if they’re talking and not wearing a mask — can result in infections even outdoors.

Photo via Twitter

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The popular Best of Nextdoor Twitter account, which highlights “quality neighborhood drama” on the hyperlocal social networking site, has taken aim at the Taco Bell on Lee Highway.

Last night the account posted a screenshot of a post by a High View Park resident who says she was reprimanded by the owner of the recently-renovated Taco Bell at 4923 Lee Highway for taking “15-20 sauce packets” for a take-out meal for her family.

“Suddenly a man sitting and eating yells at me to leave sauces for other customers and that I’ve taken too much,” she writes. “He yells and says he’s the owner and that I have too many sauces. “It tell him it’s not like I’m stealing I just bought a bunch of food!”

“Neighbors beware, don’t take too many sauces or you will be yelled at and berated at Taco Bell,” she concludes.

Comments on the post show split reactions.

“No offense but 20 sauce packets is taking more than your fair share,” said a Leeway Overlee resident.

“What’s the proper fair share, according to the taco sauce police?” retorted a Waycroft-Woodlawn resident.

As of this morning, the Best of Nextdoor post about the Taco Bell had more than 1,800 likes and 100 replies, ranging from “you need all that sauce so you don’t have to actually taste the Taco Bell” to “if you’re going to grab 20 individual hot sauce packets, maybe just bring your own bottle of hot sauce.”

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Classes are expected to go on as usual at Washington-Liberty High School on Monday after a threatening message on social media prompted a police investigation over the weekend.

A tipster tells ARLnow.com that the social media message in question was an Instagram account that said “don’t come to school on Monday.” That tip could not be immediately confirmed.

In an email to parents Sunday night, school officials said that Arlington County Police “determined there is and was no direct threat to the safety of the students and employees of Washington-Liberty High School.”

The full email is below.

Earlier today (Oct. 6, 2019), Wshington-Liberty High School and Arlington Public Schools became aware of and alerted Arlington County Police Department to a social media account that contained concerning language. The Police Department has investigated the post, identified the individuals involved and determined there is and was no direct threat to the safety of the students and employees of Washington-Liberty High School.

Arlington Public Schools takes the report of threats and concerning language/behavior seriously. Students who make concerning comments of a threatening nature can face disciplinary action to include suspension, alternative school placement, and up to a recommendation for expulsion. The safety of our students, employees, and visitors is always a top priority and we want to remind all families that if they “see something, say something.”

We encourage all families to also review our webpage dedicated to threat assessment located at https://www.apsva.us/emergency-management/threat-assessment/. Students and families can take in a 15 minute training from the University of Virginia Curry School of Education as part of the Youth Violence Project. This training program is designed for all students ages 12 and up and parents to learn about the threat assessment process, what are concerning behaviors and how using threat assessment can help prevent violence in our schools.

In the event that your student raises questions about the social media account, we wanted to share this information with you. If you have any concerns or questions about the incident, please feel free to contact Principal Dr. Gregg Robertson during normal school hours at [email protected]

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