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A national media outlet has shed some light on a mysterious FBI raid in Arlington earlier this year.

Rolling Stone reports that the raid on a Columbia Pike apartment building, which ARLnow first reported in April, targeted a well-known ABC News producer, James Gordon Meek.

Meek, an Emmy award winner who often broke investigative stories on the topic of national security for the TV network, has reportedly not been seen or heard from publically since the raid. His formerly active Twitter feed’s last tweet was 5 a.m. the morning of the raid, which targeted his apartment on the top floor of the Siena Park apartments at 2301 Columbia Pike, according to Rolling Stone.

From our reporting on April 27:

Photos show several unmarked federal law enforcement vehicles, including a Lenco BearCat armored SWAT vehicle, in front of the Siena Park Apartments on the 2300 block of the Pike.

An agent in camouflage and tactical gear could be seen holding a shield inside the open doors of the moving BearCat.

Arlington County police deferred comment, noting that “the police activity is part of an active FBI investigation.” The FBI, in turn, confirmed the activity but said little else.

“The FBI is present at the 2300 block of Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA, conducting court authorized law enforcement activity,” Washington Field Office spokesperson Samantha Shero tells ARLnow. “The FBI cannot comment further due to an ongoing investigation.”

More details about the investigation are unlikely to be released today or tomorrow, Shero noted.

The raid was initially brought to ARLnow’s attention by local resident John Antonelli, who is quoted in the magazine’s article.

… self-described police-vehicle historian Antonelli was about to grab a coffee at a Starbucks before embarking on his daily three-mile walk. He inched closer to get a better vantage, when he saw an olive-green Lenco BearCat G2, an armored tactical vehicle often employed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, among other law-enforcement agencies. A few Arlington County cruisers surrounded the jaw-dropping scene, but all of the other vehicles were unmarked, including the BearCat. […]

“They didn’t stick around. They took off pretty quickly and headed west on Columbia Pike towards Fairfax County,” Antonelli recalls.

So far, according to Rolling Stone, Meek has not been charged, documents related to the case remain sealed, and it’s unclear why exactly he’s under investion.

It is unusual for federal law enforcement to target a journalist, the magazine noted.

Meek has been charged with no crime. But independent observers believe the raid is among the first — and quite possibly, the first — to be carried out on a journalist by the Biden administration. A federal magistrate judge in the Virginia Eastern District Court signed off on the search warrant the day before the raid. If the raid was for Meek’s records, U.S. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco would have had to give her blessing; a new policy enacted last year prohibits federal prosecutors from seizing journalists’ documents. Any exception requires the deputy AG’s approval. (Gabe Rottman at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press says, “To my knowledge, there hasn’t been a case [since January 2021].”)

Meek’s attorney released a statement to Rolling Stone responding to one particular detail of the story.

“Mr. Meek is unaware of what allegations anonymous sources are making about his possession of classified documents,” the attorney wrote.

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The logo for ‘It’s Academic’ (via YouTube)

After 61 years with D.C.’s local NBC station, the teen quiz show “It’s Academic” has a new broadcast home: WETA-TV in Arlington.

And the inaugural episode on the public TV station will feature a team of three Arlington students from Washington-Liberty High School, who will face teams from Herndon High School and W.T. Woodson High School in Fairfax County.

As early as fall 2024, the show could be produced at the local PBS station’s headquarters in Shirlington, at 3939 Campbell Ave, which are currently being renovated. But for now — due to the pandemic — students are participating via Zoom.

For Senior Vice President and General Manager Miguel Monteverde, Jr., bringing the show to WETA was an obvious decision.

“It was a no-brainer,” he tells ARLnow. “There’s no show more local than one that features… 240 of frankly some of our brightest kids, our future leaders, in an education themed quiz show.”

The last few years have been rocky for the independently produced show, which has aired on WRC-TV (NBC 4) since it started in 1961 and holds the Guinness Book of World Records title for the longest-running TV quiz show.

“It’s Academic” was previously filmed in WRC-TV’s historic Studio A in upper Northwest D.C., near the American University campus, until renovations started on that building. The show then bounced around filming locations while still airing on NBC 4.

Then, the show lost its longtime sponsor Giant, which decided to focus on food-related philanthropy. Finally, the pandemic hit, and filming pivoted to Zoom.

Major funding for the show is now provided by McLean-based MITRE. And now, having a new broadcaster — and eventually a new filming location — provides “It’s Academic” with even more security, Monteverde says.

“I’m glad that all the stars were aligned and that we could work out a deal and keep that show going and bring it to the WETA audience,” he said.

For now, kids will still use Zoom to appear on the show, but as early as the spring, the show could be in-person at a yet-undetermined location.

“The kids are just as smart on Zoom as they are in the studio, but they’re eager for the show to be in the studio,” Monteverde said. “You’ve got the parents and family members in the seats, the team mascot. Schools will bring cheer squads. It’s a more visually interesting, festive experience.”

Washington-Liberty High School students on an episode of “It’s Academic” that premiered April 30, 2022 (via YouTube)

Although renovations to the WETA building could be finished next year, the studio won’t be ready for filming “It’s Academic” until the 2024-25 school year, he said.

“When we’re able to finally get the show in the new WETA studios in a couple of years, it will start to look a little different,” he said. “It’ll still be the quiz show format, but it’ll be in a new studio, so we have an opportunity to give it a fresh look.”

Monteverde approached the producers of “It’s Academic” about switching homes to add to the station’s stock of local shows. He says WETA is investing in local programming to distinguish itself from streaming services and cable television.

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A local chainsaw artist made his buzzy debut on a new reality TV show last night.

Ashton Heights native Andrew Mallon is a contestant on the Discovery competition show “A Cut Above,” in which some of the best chainsaw wood carvers in the world compete against one another.

“The competition will test contestants’ artistry, stamina, and carving skills. Each week, the carvers will compete in Quick and Master Carve challenges while racing against the clock in hopes of avoiding elimination,” reads a description of the show. “At the end of the grueling twelve-week competition, the artist who out-carves the rest will win a cash prize and be named ‘A Cut Above.'”

The show debuted last night at 10 p.m. on the Discovery Channel and, yes, Mallon did make it to the next round, so he will continue to carve in the weeks ahead.

Mallon was contacted to be on the show a few years ago, pre-Covid, by the show’s producers, he told ARLnow. They shot the show earlier this year.

Mallon is known locally for his playful tree carving in Oak Grove Park near Washington-Liberty High School as well as carvings at a number of private residences in Arlington. That includes a bear, an owl, a dragon, and a scene from Greek mythology. He first started carving about a decade ago while working as a carpenter and remodeling houses in Arlington.

“And I just started whittling on pencils. From there, I learned [how] to do it,” Mallon told ARLnow. “Then, I started whittling on some pieces of wood. But I thought that it took too long and… really wanted to do it faster. And I saw some people on tv doing it with a chainsaw and thought ‘Hey, I could do that.'”

A majority of his work is commissioned by private citizens, including many Arlington residents, who have trees that may have fallen or died in their yards. He calls these “stump jobs” and they typically take about four days to complete.

Like a lot of wood carvers, Mallon often finds himself creating “critters” that live in the area like foxes, raccoons, owls, and hawks.

“You’d be surprised by how much detail I can get with a chainsaw,” he said. “I can put hair on a horse and fur on a bear.”

Recently, he’s been doing more “abstract” carvings — a style that has been more in vogue locally.

“I take it to another level where I carve it really far with a chainsaw and then I come back with a sander and sand it really smooth. It makes a lot of my pieces really elegant,” he said. “Most of what I use are large trees… it just lends itself to a beautiful product.”

For those who want to see the newly-minted television star in action, Mallon is currently working on a carving at a private residence near the intersection of N. Pershing Drive and N. Monroe Street in his home neighborhood of Ashton Heights. He says folks are welcome to stop by to watch him work. Mallon is also in the midst of planning a potential new sculpture in Lyon Park.

For those who may want to take up the art of chainsaw wood carving, Mallon’s advice is to “just go for it.”

“Chainsaw is just another tool in the hand,” he said. “Just learn the rules of the tool and… give it a shot.”

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Luigi de Guzman (photo courtesy Jeopardy Productions, Inc.)

An Arlington man is the returning champion to kick off the 39th season of Jeopardy! tonight.

We last saw attorney Luigi de Guzman on the TV quiz show about a month and a half ago, when he won $23,401 by beating out an associate professor from Southern California and the then-returning champ, a nonprofit professional from Alexandria.

Tonight he’ll take on a “paperboy” from Michigan and a financial risk manager from the Chicago area, according to the show’s website.

Jeopardy! airs locally at 7:30 p.m. on WJLA (ABC 7).

Arlington residents have appeared regularly on the long-running show, which is now hosted by legendary former contestant Ken Jennings and actress Mayim Bialik.

Among the Arlingtonians to win at least one episode of the show are journalist Roey Hadar, social worker Blair Moorhead, and foreign service officer Liz Murphy, who also appeared on the show’s Tournament of Champions in 2010 after racking up $121,302 in winnings.

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If you want to be transported into the dystopian, violent world featured in Netflix’s “Squid Game,” head to Ballston starting next month.

The “immersive group gaming” experience Immersive Gamebox (formerly Electric Gamebox) at Ballston Quarter is set to debut its newest game on September 21 and it’s one based on Netflix’s popular streaming series.

“Groups of two to six players will navigate challenges inspired by the series including Red Light Green Light, Marbles, and the ‘Squid Game’ itself, among others,” reads a press release. “Players will use the company’s proprietary motion-sensing technology and touch screens surrounding the interactive digital smart rooms, or Gameboxes, where players must test their reflexes and skills to advance — all without the need for headsets.”

The full-scale game is only for players 16 years and older and will become part of Immersive Gamebox’s permanent collection, a company spokesperson told ARLnow.

Squid Game” is a fictional South Korean show about hundreds of vulnerable people manipulated into playing deadly children’s games to win cash. The series on Netflix premiered last year and is nominated for an Emmy.

“People are constantly seeking new and different ways to remain invested in their favorite content,” Immersive Gambox CEO Will Dean said in a press release. “To reimagine Netflix’s most popular show in an entirely new format offers customers more ways to stay connected to Squid Game.”

The London-based Immersive Gamebox opened its 2,217 square-foot space in Suite 2233 of Ballston Quarter (4238 Wilson Blvd) back in March. There are now 13 locations in both the U.K. and the United States, including the recently-opened one in New York City.

Dean told ARLnow earlier this year that the company chose Arlington as a spot of one of its locations because of “its reputation as a young, vibrant, family friendly community.”

Inside the facility, players will find a series of rooms that can host two to six players for games that last 30 minutes or an hour. Players don motion-tracking visors to play games projected onto the four walls of their “gamebox” room.

Besides Squid Game starting in September, players can also choose games involving aliens, a trip to Mars, and Angry Birds. Ticket prices range from $20 to $40, depending on age and game. The Ballston location is open until 9 p.m. every night.

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Morning Notes

The Italian Store and Westover after sunset (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

House Fire Near Columbia Pike — From ACFD last night: “Units are on the scene of a working structure fire in the 3100 BLK of 15th St S. Avoid the area.” [Twitter]

Will ‘NaLa’ Catch On?  — “At first, it showed up on freebie water bottles. Then it made its way onto rainbow shirts for Pride Month. In June, it popped up on Instagram as a hashtag, and in July, it was suddenly plastered on the surfboard and silver Airstream set up in a grassy patch of Arlington, declaring to the commuters, dog walkers and joggers strutting by that their neighborhood had earned a new nickname: NaLa.” [Washington Post]

Will Home Prices Fall? — “The real-estate industry’s equivalent of the ‘f-word’ – ‘falling,’ as in ‘falling prices’ – is beginning to be used across the nation even by some who earlier felt that the homes market would withstand economic pressures without seeing declines in sales prices. But in the local area, one expert believes that localities remain largely insulated from the prospect of dropping prices over the near term.” [Sun Gazette]

Latin Masses Curtailed — “Thirteen parishes in the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, must stop offering Traditional Latin Masses come Sept. 8 under new rules issued Friday by Bishop Michael J. Burbidge to conform with Pope Francis’ liturgical directives. Under the rules, eight other parishes may continue to offer Masses in what is called the Extraordinary Form, but five of those may only do so in other locations besides their churches, including school buildings and a former church.” [Catholic News Agency]

Arlington Man Wins Jeopardy! — Luigi de Guzman, an attorney from Arlington, won Friday’s episode of TV quiz show Jeopardy! with a final score of $23,401. [J! Archive]

Summer School Success — “There were the inevitable glitches, but it appears Arlington Public Schools’ soon-to-wrap-up summer-school program was a relatively smooth endeavor. ‘We’re really excited about all of the great learning,’ Superintendent Francisco Durán said in an update to School Board members on the effort, which attracted 3,152 students, ‘the vast majority’ in person, Durán said.” [Sun Gazette]

Monday Was Dark Star Park Day — From the Rosslyn BID: “While the clouds parted a little later than 9:32AM, we were glad to watch this year’s Dark Star Park Day alignment with all of you!” [Twitter]

It’s Tuesday — Humid throughout the day. High of 89 and low of 75. Sunrise at 6:12 am and sunset at 8:20 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Commodes over Courthouse (courtesy Curt Cultice)

Another Arlington Resident on Jeopardy! — Local attorney Luigi de Guzman will be a contestant on Jeopardy! on Friday, with host Ken Jennings. He’s the latest in a line of Arlington residents who have appeared on the long-running TV quiz show. [Instagram]

County May Be Sued By Contractor — “It looks like a raging dispute over payment for a now-completed major upgrade to Arlington’s Benjamin Banneker Park will be headed to court. Arlington County Board members on July 19 rejected a claim from McDonnell Landscape Inc., seeking reimbursement for costs totaling just under $995,000 for work it says was done as part of its contract to upgrade the park but it has not received. County Manager Mark Schwartz earlier had offered to settle the matter for $272,000, an attorney for the firm said, but that was turned down.” [Sun Gazette]

Baseball Tourney Now Underway — “Led by host team Arlington Post 139, the eight-team American Legion Virginia state baseball tournament is scheduled to begin this afternoon, July 26 in Arlington, with games at Barcroft Park’s Tucker field and Wakefield High School… Those eight teams all are scheduled to play again on July 27 at the two fields. The tournament continues through Friday, July 29, with the championship game scheduled for 4 p.m.” [Sun Gazette]

Local Man Charged in Alexandria Abduction — “A 29-year-old Arlington man faces a jury trial next month for allegedly robbing and assaulting his disabled ex-girlfriend in her West End apartment. The suspect has been held without bond in the Alexandria jail since his arrest on February 8. On February 1, a week before his arrest, the suspect allegedly forced his way into the woman’s apartment and removed her from her wheelchair, according to a search warrant affidavit.” [ALXnow]

It’s Wednesday — Rain early in the morning then cloudy throughout the day. High of 85 and low of 72. Sunrise at 6:07 am and sunset at 8:26 pm. [Weather.gov]

Photo courtesy Curt Cultice

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Morning Notes

Raining Crystal City (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Arlington Medic Saves Man at Nats Game — “The Clements were sitting in the front row of section 209 when John suffered a heart attack. He thought he was going to die… Jamie Jill, an Arlington County EMT, and Lindy Prevatt, an emergency room nurse, were sitting in different sections when they saw something was wrong and jumped into action.” [NBC 4]

Arlington Soccer Players on National TV — A group of Arlington Soccer players were prominently featured last night on an NBC Nightly News segment on the 50th anniversary of Title IX. [Twitter]

Would-Be Candidate Changes Mind — “Brandon Clark is officially off the Nov. 8 ballot for School Board after he decided not to make the run. Clark, a public-school teacher, initially announced plans to seek the Democratic endorsement for the School Board seat being vacated by Barbara Kanninen. But he later dropped that bid, saying he instead would run as an independent in the general election. Then he changed his mind again, getting out of the race entirely.” [Sun Gazette]

Rail Bridge Proposal Advancing — “For now, a single rail bridge carries millions of Amtrak and Virginia Railway Express passengers and freight trains between Virginia and D.C. each year. But a $1.8 billion expansion plan to ease that congestion and add a new bridge for pedestrians and cyclists spanning the Potomac River is picking up steam… The National Capital Planning Commission is scheduled to vote July 7 on the project’s preliminary site development plans.” [Washington Business Journal]

May Home Sales Stayed Strong — “It’s an admittedly lagging indicator in a fast-evolving market, but Arlington home sales held up strong in May, according to new data, overcoming inventory challenges and a more complex economic environment. A total of 313 properties went to closing during the month, down just 6 (or 1.9%) from a year before.” [Sun Gazette]

It’s Thursday — Rain in the morning and afternoon. High of 74 and low of 64. Sunrise at 5:45 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Around Rosslyn before the storms (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Yorktown High Jumper Sets Record — “Led by two individual champions, the Yorktown Patriots finished third in the recent Virginia High School League’s Class 6 girls outdoor state track and field championships… The Patriots’ individual-event winners were Viktorie Klepetkova in the high jump for the second year in a row, but this time with a school and meet-record leap of 5-feet, 11-inches, and Anna Corcoran in the 800-meters.” [Sun Gazette]

Arlington on CBS Evening News — “The ‘walking school bus’ is helping both kids and senior citizens start the day off right. Once a week, seniors walk with students to school in Arlington, Virginia. Jan Crawford shares more.” [CBS News]

Born on Bridge, Straddled Still — “You’ve known folks born in Arlington, and you’ve known some born in D.C. But have you known anyone born in between? That is to say, born on Key Bridge? Paul Mclain, 65, recently retired as an academic assistant in the Duke University Slavic and Eurasian Studies Department, can claim such citizenship limbo. And it has caused him hassles as an adult.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Barrelling Through the I-395 Barrels — From Dave Statter: “Watch: Bad day for the barrels. At 9:40 this morning one driver decided to blaze their own trail right through them.” [Twitter]

It’s Monday — Humid and partly cloudy throughout the day. Storms possible later in the afternoon and overnight. High of 86 and low of 71. Sunrise at 5:44 am and sunset at 8:36 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

A Washington City Paper box sits by itself near a crosswalk in Ballston, after the announcement that the paper would be ending its print edition (staff photo)

Concern Growing for Missing Man — “Arlington County, Va., police are seeking help from the public in locating gay Pentagon City resident Shaun M. Spaulding, 39, who police say was last seen on the afternoon of March 15, 2022, at his residence by his roommate. Princess Melissa, Spaulding’s cousin, reached out to the LGBTQ community in a Facebook message last week urging anyone who may have seen Spaulding to contact the police.” [Washington Blade]

Arlingtonian on Jeopardy! Tonight — Tonight’s episode of the long-running TV quiz show is set to feature Kathleen Snyder, a government contractor from Arlington. [Jeopardy!]

Overturned Vehicle Last Night — From Dave Statter: “One car overturned at the intersection of S. Carlin Springs Road & Ardley Court. Person out of the car. #Police, fire & #EMS on scene.” [Twitter]

Misbehavior at Local Middle School — “Parents in Arlington are concerned after students were caught bringing weapons to a middle school and being inappropriate in the restrooms. They’ve been contacting FOX 5 about a number of incidents that have taken place at Swanson Middle School.” [Fox 5]

APS Homework Debate Rages — “Rarely have I received reaction to a column as vigorous — and as negative — as the flood of emails from teachers appalled by my opposition to a plan in Arlington, Va., to strike down traditional homework and grading systems.” [Washington Post]

New Coach for New Marymount Sport — “Roy Hill has been hired to be the head coach and start the men’s wrestling program at Marymount University. The first season for the Division III Saints will be the 2022-23 winter season… ‘Northern Virginia deserves to have a top-notch Division III option for the large number of quality wrestlers who want to get a quality education while being in the business hub of the nation,’ Hill said.” [Sun Gazette]

Video: Coyote Terrorizes Fox Family — From a reader: “A coyote came to my Arlington backyard to try to feast on my fox family who live under my shed. There’s a mama and a papa and four kits. The foxes did their best to lure him away for now. This happened Friday night. We hope he doesn’t come back.” [YouTube]

It’s Tuesday — Rain throughout the day. High of 62 and low of 48. Sunrise at 6:48 am and sunset at 7:37 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

An artist paints inside Palette 22 in Shirlington (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Fallon Sings About Pentagon Chicken — “That stroke of social media brilliance was followed by even more exposure as ‘The Tonight Show’ host Jimmy Fallon wrote a song for the bold bird. It began with the lyrics ‘Are you just a clucker or an undercover spy?’ We do not expect the Pentagon to answer.” [WTOP, Twitter, Facebook]

WBJ Calls Out Crystal City Erasure — “On Jan. 18, JBG Smith Properties announced it has started construction on a pair of multifamily towers at 2000 and 2001 S. Bell St., a block south of the Crystal City Metro station. In, I dare say, the heart of Crystal City. But in that 750-word press release, “Crystal City” does not appear. Not once. ‘National Landing,’ meanwhile, appears seven times.” [Washington Business Journal]

More on School Mask Judge — “The Arlington judge who dealt a blow Friday to Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s executive order making masks optional in schools is married to an Arlington teacher, but attorneys for Youngkin (R) and the school boards did not believe she should have recused herself.” [Washington Post]

More On Eyeglass Smash and Grabs — “Five men with hoods and heavy coats cased the store for about five minutes, Abbasi said, then smashed open the display cases holding Cartier, Gucci and Dior glass frames and made off with about $60,000 worth of merchandise. Surveillance video shows the five bandits rapidly shoveling the high-dollar frames into plastic bags while Abbasi is yelling at them and calling police, leaving a patina of shattered glass chunks in their wake.” [Washington Post]

‘Mental Health Crisis’ at County Jail — “Sheriff Beth Arthur said the man, Paul Thompson, should not have been there, pointing out he had no criminal history. But she admits he did suffer from mental illness like most of the county’s inmates… Of the 280 current inmates, some 170 have mental health challenges; 66 of them are serious. Even the longtime sheriff wants to know why the county is ‘dumping these people in jail when they need serious care.'” [WTOP]

Metro Budget Meeting Tonight in Courthouse — “Beginning Monday, February 7, Metro will hold the first of three public hearings for people to weigh in on Metro’s Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) budget. Hearings will be held next week and will provide for both virtual and in person public participation options.” [WMATA]

Beyer Challenger Launches Primary Bid — “An intra-party challenger to U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th) kicked off her campaign Feb. 2 with a singular plea to Arlington Democrats. ‘Give me a chance,’ Victoria Virasingh asked during a kickoff speech… An Arlington native, Virasingh – who did not level any criticism at Beyer or even mention him by name in her remarks – said her goal was to create ‘a community that is rich and thriving and has opportunity for all of us.'” [Sun Gazette]

It’s Monday — A slight chance of snow and freezing rain today before 9 a.m., then a slight chance of rain and snow after that. Otherwise partly sunny, with a high near 45. Sunrise at 7:07 a.m. and sunset at 5:37 p.m. Mostly sunny tomorrow, with a high near 43. [Weather.gov]

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