Local Commentary

Our Man in Arlington

We abandoned Arlington last weekend for the Shenandoah Valley.


It was a magnificent weekend; the temperature was pleasant, the humidity low, the blue sky dotted with fleecy white clouds, the foliage rich and verdant.

Jean was attending an annual “camp” at the mountain home of former Arlingtonians. It was an all-woman affair, at which men were strictly verboten.

Two of us guys decided to make our own weekend of it. We checked into a motel in New Market, cruised around the lovely towns in the valley – New Market, Mt. Jackson, Edinburgh, and Woodstock – checking out the quaint stores, old architecture (these towns were founded many years before the revolution), and cafes.

Ever political, we discussed the burning issues of the area – which are largely centered on urban interlopers coming in and building houses where the locals don’t want them built. I could sympathize with them.

We would be driving along a country road, taking in the pastures and corn fields, when suddenly would appear a small townhouse development in the middle of a field. People like my friend bought fairly large acreage more than thirty years ago and built discretely in the forest. They are among the locals who are fighting the creeping urban blight.

This is a strongly conservative Republican stronghold. The fact that many of the interlopers are urban, liberal, and Democratic does not help matters.

The strong issue of the weekend was, however, the new and huge “fees” attached to traffic offenses enacted our Republican General Assembly. We would drop into a store, and the clerks would talk to us about this outrage. They were incensed not only by the size of the fees, but also by the fact that they would only be levied on Virginians. There is going to be some political fallout over the fees, but I am not quite sure where it is going to land.

The highlight of the weekend for us guys, however, was the Shenandoah Valley Music Festival. The evening was glorious. The festival is held in a large field next to the beautiful and historic retreat buildings of the Virginia Episcopal Diocese.

We plopped down our lawn chairs in front of the covered area, picked up some great sandwiches and desserts, and settled in for an evening of fun and great music. Two of the groups, Trout Fishing in America and The Arrogant Worms were very funny and very musical at the same time. The featured singer, Susan Werner, sang a lovely pastiche of gospel-like songs, all of which she had written. I say “gospel-like” like because she is a passionate agnostic (if there is such a thing) who uses the gospel style to raise religious questions. She was excellent, as were the other two groups.

I strongly recommend the Shenandoah Valley Music Festival to those of you who hanker after a relaxing weekend. This coming weekend, the festival is featuring the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra with the conductor and performers from Arlington’s Signature Theater and songs from Cole Porter and George Gershwin. The one I am really hankering after, though, is Arlo Guthrie in his “Solo Reunion Tour – Together at Last” on Friday evening, August 10. I’ll see you there.

Check www.musicfest.org for complete information about the festival programs through Labor Day Weekend.