Local Commentary

Guest Commentary: The City of Falls Church Has No Limits

I’m in a Falls Church state of mind.

Please allow me to introduce myself, I’m a man of moderate wealth and fame. I’ve been around Falls Church for about five years and I now live in McLean. Pleased to meet you, hope you note my name. I had a one-man-show at Art and Frame about two and a half years ago. I’ve been involved with Falls Church Arts and Creative Cauldron designing posters for their shows. I’ve written letters to Falls Church News-Press, and was published every now and then. I’ve even been on Jeopardy!, lost by a dollar but that was way back when.

But what’s puzzling you is the nature of my game.

I’m a graphic designer, fine artist, humorist, educator, problem solver and observer who is trying to accomplish with words what I’ve done in the past with iconic images. When Nicholas Benton invited me to write this column I was surprised by my reply; after all, I only had three days to meet his deadline and had no idea what I would write about. But I took the challenge. Since most of the short pieces I’ve written are about personal experiences, it only seemed that I should talk about my short time here in Northern Virginia, the time since I crossed the Potomac in 2006 and wondering why it took me so long to get to this wonderful community.

The city’s pluses are not just the mix of cultures, the convenience of services, the range of activities, its location and access to the world inside the beltway and more importantly, also include the individuals who live here and influence it (Tom Gittins, David Snyder, Barbara Cram and Jon Wiant, just to name a few).

The City of Falls Church and its adjacent neighborhoods offer me opportunities not available in a large metropolitan area, and I know metropolitan areas having lived in New York, Cincinnati, San Francisco, Boston and the District of Columbia.

We are not insolated in a ‘bubble’ like the inhabitants of M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘The Village.’

What I’ve observed here is a group of individuals that function as a symbiotic organism. They are a group of “characters” who give this community its character. They have their differences and preferences and yet come together when there is a greater problem or pleasure to be shared, for example, the pleasure of enjoying a Thursday evening summer concert on the lawn at Cherry Hill. While exhibiting my work as featured artist one recent evening, I was transfixed by the family experience going on while the music was playing. Children eating ice cream while running themselves into exhaustion to the delight of their parents who would have no trouble putting them to bed that night. Young couples enjoying their relationship with each other, while older couples seemed to being enjoying their satisfaction of living in this community. It was almost a scene out of a 1950s television show. “Hey isn’t that Ozzie, Harriet and the Nelson boys over there?”

But make no mistake about this place that we call home. It is not perfect and has problems which have shocked and troubled its citizens. We are not insolated in a “bubble” like the inhabitants of M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Village.” Outside influences are always around us. We do, however have the courage to face them head on and without fear so that these problems can be solved and the future success of our lives ensured.

This All-American city has been created by a variety of cultures so as not to give us one point of view or one distinctive language. Recently I was in a mid west city seated on a park bench when two young men of foreign extraction walked by speaking a language other than English. Another gentleman sitting in earshot commented disgustedly to me, “The least they could do was learn to speak English.” I asked him where his family originated from and how long it took them to learn the language of our country. He realized that a new generation was reinventing the way we live life.

I see and embrace that reinvention every day here in Falls Church. As the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote, “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world,” and in our community there are so many languages which means that Falls Church has no limits. I am encouraged and re-energized by the day-to-day new experiences and am very happy to be living here.

So back to the beginning of my story. Other than liking the Rolling Stones, just who is Paul M. Levy? I’m having another one-man-show opening on September 2 from 6 – 8 p.m. called, typARTgraphy, which will be held at Art and Frame of Falls Church, 111 Park Avenue. It’s a part of the wonderful Firstfriday celebrations.
Hope to see and meet you there so together we can expand our limits.