An exploration of things to do in Arlington

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Clarendon Day Surprises and Art Outlet

Sometimes things don't go exactly as you had planned - and sometimes you stumble across great surprises.

This past Saturday late afternoon / evening, I headed over to Clarendon Day. My day had not gone exactly according to plan and I was running late - in fact, I was afraid I was going to completely miss the festival.

We got there at 6:30 (I wasn't sure if the festival ended at 6 or 7) - a lot of the booths were starting to close down, but the music was still going on. And this was my first pleasant surprise of the night - Soja (or Soldiers of Jah Army) was playing. I had heard about this band and assumed they were pretty good b/c I had heard enough buzz about them, but had never actually seen or heard them. They were awesome. If you like reggae, this is a great band. After enjoying the performance for about a half hour, I bought a CD and got on their mailing list. There were absolutely fabulous. There is something really wonderful and fun about discovering new music that you really enjoy especially local music.

So, I'm in a really good mood because I had just discovered cool new music and we're wandering over to this other thing that I was kind of sort of supposed to go to, but wasn't real excited about, and I stumble upon my second great surprise of the night ...

Art Outlet in the Danville Body Shop right by Whole Foods in Clarendon. Art Outlet is the art exhibition in a body shop. Saturday night there was live music. I think they have that every Saturday night during the exhibition. This was like the definition of the coolest place to hang out I can think of - the art was great, the atmosphere (a body shop) was great, the entertainment was good, there was a couch you could sit and hang out, there were refreshments. It was absolutely fabulous. I can't say enough about it. The exhibit runs through November 12th, but just on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, including till 10 PM on Fridays and 12 PM on Sundays. You really should check this out - there was a small crowd there when I was there - I think this thing should be HUGE! Check it out.

Oh, and that thing I was kind of sort of supposed to go to - I never made it. Sometimes the surprises are the best part of the evening.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I can't keep this secret anymore!

How's that for an attention grabbing title?! OK, so it doesn't really tell you anything useful, but sometimes that's part of the fun. And OK, so my secret isn't that dramatic, but I had a lot of fun writing that title.

So, my big secret ... the CD and DVD collections at Arlington libraries. OK, maybe I should have saved my big title for something more exciting, but seriously there is a lot of good stuff there. They have so much good and new stuff. I'm always so surprised when I go in and browse the collections (especially at Central Library) Maybe it's my background as a D.C. resident (trust me D.C. libraries are nothing to brag about), but Arlington libraries are so impressive. To give you an idea, here's some things I've recently checked out (FYI - When it comes to music and even more so movies, I'm not exactly the harbinger of cool - so if you're not impressed by my choices, I encourage you to check out the library selections yourself and shoot me back a comment)

Movies -- Kinsey, Osama, the Wal-Mart movie (I dont' remember the exact name), the Aviator

CDs - again, I am probably not the best example, but here's some things I've checked out recently, Talking Heads, Linkin Park, Igor Stravinsky, the Eagles, Ray Charles, Rascal Flats, Wicked

The other part of my secret - when I think of something I'd like to see or listen to, I go online to the library catalog - see if they've got it, then place it on hold for pick-up at my closest library (Shirlington in my case). I get an e-mail when it's there and then I walk over and pick it up and the front desk. Browsing is definitely fun (especially at Central), but I've found this to be a great and easy method of hearing lots of music.

Oh, and of course, they have lots of great and new books too. For example, two books I've recently checked out and read from the library - The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell and Inspiration by Wayne Dyer (the guy that's always on PBS lately when they are fundraising)

So happy viewing, listening, reading. My secret is out. My life will never be the same :-)

Friday, October 13, 2006

Thunderbirds and Air Force Memorial Dedication

I'm kind of bummed about this weekend. I am going out of town for a wedding - and one of those family, obligatory don't really want to go to weddings. So, I'm missing out on a lot of fun things going on this weekend - the Air Force Memorial Dedication, featuring the Thunderbirds, and then the Paul Winter concert Saturday night.

Yesterday, however, I did get a little lucky. I went outside for lunch and the Thunderbirds could be seen (and heard!) flying around practicing. It reminded me of when I was a little kid and saw the Blue Angels (the Navy equivalent) at an air show. I was impressed and in awe. I bought a poster (well, my parents bought me a poster) and that poster stayed on my wall for years. Seeing the Thunderbirds yesterday, I was reminded of that feeling. And I still think it's just as cool. And as anyone who knows me will tell you, I'm not someone who is easily excited by big machinery or military things. But there is just something very beautiful and awe inspiring about seeing a flight demonstration team.

So, if you are around this weekend, I highly recommend you check out the Thunderbirds. Even if you're not at the ceremony, there are some great viewing spots in Arlington - including Gravely Point and the Mt. Vernon Trail. The first flyover for the Thunderbirds is scheduled for 2:45.

And if you're looking for some more information and some opinons on the memorial, check out DCist's article.

Opening Night Receptions at Arlington Arts Center

DCIst reports this morning about two receptions for a "basket full of artists" tonight (Friday) at Arlington Arts Center.

While, I don't know much about these particularly exhibits, I can recommend the Arlington Arts Center as a great place to visit - located one block from the Virginia Square Metro.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Latest Issue of What's Up! e-newsletter available

If you're not already a subscriber to the What's Up Arlington! e-newsletter, or I suppose even if you are -- the latest edition is now available online.

In this issue:
  • Clarendon Day, October 21
  • Air Force Memorial Dedication - October 14
  • Paul Winter at Rosslyn Spectrum - October 14
  • Salsa Y Salsa Dance - October 14

To view the issue (and subscribe if you're not already), just visit this link.

Happy reading!

Some Blog Changes

One of the things I've come to realize lately is that not everyone comes to this blog via the What's Up Arlington! e-newsletter -- which is cool.

I've also realized that there are just times when I can't fit everything in the newsletter that I want to and times when I find out things that are cool, but after I've written the newsletter.

Also, since the blog has the ability to be updated and any time and can include an RSS feed (although I'm having issues with that - any experts out there? It seems so simple) whereas the newsletter is only updated every two weeks ...

Gosh, this sounds so formal. Anyway, all this to say that the blog is going to becoming a little more active and a little more of a cross between the newsletter and the current blog. That is, in addition, to just telling you about things I do, I'm going to tell you about some things that are coming up - probably not in super detail, and often just referring you to the newsletter - we'll see, it's a work in progress.

As you might be able to tell, as simple as this sounds, I'm actually finding it an agonizing decision. Too often, we are told what we should do, and too often we don't get real feedback as to how things actually are. That's was the original point of this blog, and one that I still plan to stick to. But I think there is room for both here, and I think that's a good thing.

Any thoughts?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

If you're looking for XY Arlington ...

It has come to my attention that at least a few people are landing on this blog because they read the article in Sunday's Washington Post and are looking for XY Arlington.

You're in the right place ... well, kind of. So, unfortunately, the story came out before all the details of XY Arlington have been worked out. Being a government sponsored program, it's got to jump through a lot of hoops. Those are all have good reasons (I hope!), but it definitely slows things down.

But, you're still in the right place. The best way to stay informed about XY Arlington is to sign-up for the What's Up Arlington! newsletter. Just follow this link or the link on the side. That will keep you in the loop. You can also return to this blog, but just go ahead and sign-up for the newsletter - that way you won't forget! You can also subscribe to the RSS feed for the blog - although I'm not entirely sure that is working correctly yet, so better to sign-up for the newsletter.

Hope to see you out!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Just missed the cut ... but worth knowing about

OK, when I started this blog, I wanted to tell you about things that people (mostly me) actually do in Arlington and what it was like - was it fun? boring? the best day of my life?

There have been times when I've been tempted to tell you about something that I think is worth doing, rather than something I did. So far, I've refrained ... until now.

I just finished putting together the draft for the next What's Up Arlington! newsletter, and there are two things I really, really wanted to put in there, but just didn't have the space. So, with many apologies for straying from the mission of this blog, here they are:

Cross-Cultural Cinema has never disappointed me, and this looks like another good one:
Thursday, Oct 5, 6:30-8:30 PM, Central Library.Cross Cultural Film Series:Justice for My People: Dr. Hector P. Garcia Story.This film traces the rise of the Mexican American civil rights movement through the ideals, choices and actions of Dr. Hector P. Garcia.

This event seems a little quirky, but sounds fun, and super bonus - it supports a good cause:
Scavenger Hunt and Wine Tasting
Part I: Scavenger Hunt – teams of 2-4 individuals in an Arlington neighborhood scavenger hunt. The hunt begins the Greenbrier Learning Center, 5401 S. 7th Rd, and ends at the Arlington Arts Center, 3550 Wilson Boulevard. 2:30 PM – 5:00 PM. $15

Part II: International Wine Tasting and Children’s Art’s AuctionEnjoy wine seminars, lite fare and a children’s art auction at the Arlington Arts Center. 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM. $25 separately or $35 with scavenger hunt registration.

To register, e-mail or call 703-379-6488. All proceeds benefit the Greenbrier Learning Center.

I hope you'll forgive this slightly off target post, and maybe you'll check out one of these fun events.

See you out!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Jennie Dean Park

When I mention Jennie Dean park to people, the first response I generally get is "huh, where's that?"

Granted, Jennie Dean isn't one of the County's marquee parks or one of it's largest and best well-known. But those facts alone make it worth checking out - it's got some cool stuff and is often not crowded.

Where is it? Jennie Dean Park is located just off Four Mile Run Dr. (3630 27th St S), just a hop, skip, and a jump (really just a hop) from all the restaurants in Shirlington. Four Mile Run is one of the more industrial parts of Arlington with car repair, storage and such. For that reason I don't think it stands out as much.

What's it got? The simple answer -- two lighted tennis courts, lighted full-court outdoor basketball, two very nice diamond fields (one youth and one adult), lots of picnic tables in a nice shaded area, and a small grassy area where you can often find a pick-up soccer game.

What's it like? The tennis courts were just resurfaced this summer - they're nice. On the negative side, the last time I was there, there were a couple of lights out which made it difficult to play at night. The basketball court is great. Good surface, good lights, and rarely crowded - in contrast to some of the other outdoor basketball in Arlington, which can be packed. If you' re looking for pick-up soccer, there's a decent chance you'll find it here. And if you're looking for a nice picnic table in a shaded area, it's a good spot too.

Some people who are familiar with Jennie Dean are a little intimidated by it. There is a day laborer pick-up nearby, and I know (and understand) some people find that a bit scary. The truth is if you go there, and do your thing, basketball, tennis, whatever - nobody is going to bother you, and you get the advantage of a nice, and often underused park.

I recommend checking it out.