News and notes from Reston (tm).

Friday, March 18, 2022

Pour One Out for Another 1960s New Town, Soon To Be Replaced By More Of The Same

Longtime readers and/or aficionados of brutalist concrete abutments may recall that one of Reston's contemporaries, the Glasgow, Scotland "new town" of Cumbernauld, has a fancy concrete Town Center that rivaled any of the feverish dreams of Reston's own planners. It was... something. Somehow, it managed to mix the concrete starkness of Lake Anne with the desolate post-apocalyptic feel of Hunters Woods, all while resembling an inverted Terraset pointing upwards to the sky in a defiant act of concrete hubris. And it inspired the first vision of what our own plastic fantastic Fake Downtown might look like, replacing tree-lined streets with weird, windswept concrete boulevards overseen by giant lookout perches (presumably to watch for those who overstay the 15-minute parking limit).

What could have been.

Alas, that vision wasn't meant to be in Reston, and in Scotland, the dream is coming to an end. Apparently Old Blighty's constant rain and bog-ick has done a number on the poured concrete nirvana. Half of it had already been torn down, and the rest is now slated to be demolished. Soon, cheerful, inspiring vistas like this will be a thing of the past:

Predictably, people are upset about this unique piece of architectural heritage being demolished, which sounds oddly familiar. But fear not! Plans are in the works to replace it with something just as distinct and responsive to Cumbernauld's distinct landscape and culture:

As a wise man once said, no matter where you go, there you are,

So pour a flat, room-temperature ale out for our friends across the pond and give your nearest baffling concrete abutment a hug, the end.

Monday, March 7, 2022

From Reston, With Love: The Moscow-South Reston Propaganda Connection Is Back In The News

It seemed insignificant when we first posted news that a Russian-funded radio station was broadcasting on the FM dial thanks to a Reston company way back in ought-seventeen, but weirdly, current events have caught up to our plastic fantastic planned community and its vibrant media landscape. Give us some Cold War redux blockquote, BFFs at the Washington Post:

For a few seconds every hour, WZHF-AM interrupts its round-the-clock schedule of talk to air a curious disclaimer: “This radio programming is distributed by RM Broadcasting on behalf of the Federal State Unitary Enterprise Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency, Moscow, Russia. Additional information is available at the Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.”
The cryptic notification masks a larger story. WZHF, a former Spanish-language station 11 miles east of the White House in Maryland’s Capitol Heights, is the flagship of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s effort to harness America’s radio airwaves to sell the Kremlin’s point of view. Despite periodic legal and political challenges, and the imposition of sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, the station has stayed on the air, broadcasting its Kremlin-approved message....
Under a separate lease agreement, WZHF’s signal is carried on FM radio in the Washington area by a company called Reston Translator. “I’m a fervent believer in the First Amendment,” John Garziglia, the company’s principal owner, said in an interview. “Under the First Amendment, we should be seeking more information, not less.”
To be fair, as we noted back in more innocent times, literal Reston propaganda was used to demoralize and destabilize the Eastern Block, so we guess... we're even now?

Friday, March 4, 2022

'Advocacy' Group: We Have To Destroy the Golf Course In Order to Save It (From the Scourge of Invasive Plants)

This map of the hordes of invasive species overrunning the Reston National Golf Course that we saw on Facebook this week looks pretty scary. We're not horticulturists or cartographers, but even we know that red = bad. Thank you, Reston National Neighborhood Study Group for providing this helpful Sponsored Content! Wait, what?
A recent proposal to establish a pilot program to remove invasive plant species around Reston National Golf Course is seen by some as a first step to garner support for redeveloping the land. 
Reston National Neighborhood Study Group, which is financed by golf course owners Weller Development Co. and War Horse Cities, began meeting last May with adjacent property owners and homeowner associations to discuss the invasive species problem. 
"This study group was formed and is paid for by the developer-owners of RNGC, whose ultimate goal is to develop all they can of the Reston National Golf Course," [Rescue Reston President Connie Hartke] said. "And the 'environmental experts' studying the tree canopy and invasive species issues also have been hired and are paid by the developers."
That can't be right, according to another piece of Nearly Sponsored Content provided to our BFFs at Reston Patch that says that these property developers just care about the health of Reston's tree canopy!
All of Reston, indeed most of Fairfax County, is facing some threat by non-native invasive plant species. The Reston National Neighborhood, however, has some uncommon characteristics that make it more vulnerable.
"Vulnerable" is one way of putting it, that's for sure. 

The Study Group has been biding its time, meeting with clusters adjoining the golf course for no other reason than its innate, bordering on irrational, hatred of invasive plants. Apparently some English Ivy creeped up and strangled the Study Group's long-time partner on his last day before retiring, and the Study Group vowed to avenge his memory, or something. Can't think of any other reason for this single-minded focus on invasive plans and tree canopy, especially since Hunter Mill Supervisor Walter Alcorn just reiterated that he won't support any changes to the comprehensive plan that would allow redevelopment of RNGC without the support of the neighborhoods that surround it -- the very same neighborhoods that apparently, and totally coincidentally, are about to be encircled and slowly choked off by invasive plants. It would be completely cynical to say that the flat roofs of dozens of mid-rise condominiums would provide a new and improved canopy impervious to the threat of invasive wisteria, but I'm sure someone is thinking it.

Alcorn also said the following:
"The owners are starting a little bit later and they're kind of in the middle of the public outreach... Basically, I want to give the opportunity for the Reston National owners to make their pitch and talk to the community," he said. "But I'm not going to let that go forever."
Anyhoo, if the thought of invasive plans damaging the tree canopy is keeping you up at night, feel free to stop by the group's meeting tonight! We certainly welcome efforts to "methodically eradicate the invasive plant species" and to protect our precious bodily fluids the tree canopy:


Sounds about right for a company named "War Horse," the end.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

We Watch Public Television So You Don't Have To: 'If You Lived Here' Visits Reston, Refuses to Walk Its Bucolic Paths

It should surprise no one that Reston is boring sophisticated enough to be featured on PBS, and our plastic fantastic planned community's moment in the spotlight came on Valentine's Day, of all days. WETA's program If You Lived Here visited Reston, and in case you were drizzling melted chocolate on various baked items (or something else) last night instead of staring slack-jawed at the teevee, you can watch it on your computer machine here.

Like Reston itself, the program was pleasant, inoffensive, and just a little bit awkward. But in a good way! Aside from the hosts, we get to see a familiar cast of Reston characters who serve as the Virgil to the hosts' Dante-like exploration through the multiple rings of Reston real estate.

So, the whole point of this here teevee show is to guess the price of three properties on the market; kind of an upmarket, PBS take on all the slightly more exciting real estate shows on those crass commercial networks. The first two homes -- a townhouse and a single-family home in Less Fashionable South Reston -- both appear to have been tastefully renovated and updated. No sunken conversation pits, no original russet brown appliances, and lots of recessed lighting and newly painted walls in various hues of greige. What's the fun in that?

Surrounded by greige. So much greige.

It's not all sunshine and greiges, though. Multiple times, the dynamic duo joke about how they refuse to walk on all of Reston's fancy paths, etc., and if they wanted to guess the prices of some.... unique properties, they should have walked upstairs while filming all that B-roll at Lake Anne. Factoring in a lack of hot water is definitely a pricing challenge for the most savvy expert!

But all that's forgiven when they visit a penthouse condo at Reston Town Center -- which no one told them is technically not part of Reston, but that's okay! That's where we learn that $2.7 million gets you some pretty amazing views, four parking spaces (presumably app-free)... and this room:

The rich are different than you and me. They apparently love Pepto Bismol.

Also, there's talk about how close this one-percenter aerie is to all of RTC's restaurants. Prospective buyers might want to work up an appetite pretty quickly, the end.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Clydespocalypse Now: Reston's Nautical Themed Ur-Chain Eatery Departs RTC After Three Decades, But Sinking Feeling Persists

V. v. sad news for fans of midscale chain dining and nautical-themed knickknacks: Clyde's of Reston is departing Reston Town Center after more than three decades--literally almost since RTC was first envisioned as a more tree-lined version of Tysons. Give us some semaphore-themed blockquote, BFFs at the Washington Business Journal:
The current Reston outpost of Clyde's Restaurant Group will close May 21, affecting 73 employees. But Clyde's Restaurant Group, a subsidiary of Graham Holdings Co. (NYSE: GHC), plans to retain and relocate its Reston staff to other locations in the region, including its Broadlands and Mark Center restaurants.
"We came to a termination of the lease and an amicable parting with the property owner. Boston Properties has been a good landlord," said Jeff Owens, chief financial and corporate development officer at the D.C.-based restaurant group. "We are still very much excited about the Reston area, because we have a lot of regular customers out there." 
The Reston location, which opened in 1991, wasn't the first Clyde's. That distinction goes to the original Clyde's in Georgetown, which opened in 1963. But the restaurant brand was among the first tenants to sign on at Reston Town Center, and Owens said it has developed a loyal, multigenerational customer base there over the years.
It was a fairly big deal when Clyde's opened in our plastic fantastic fake downtown back at the dawn of the the Naugahyde Nineties. It was a sign that Reston could be as hip and urbane as nearby Tyson's Corner, which at the time also had a Clyde's, which in turn was a sign that that particular shopping mall and office park amalgamation could be as hip as (checks notes) Georgetown... which, in the kind of irony only filthy "web loggers" can appreciate, wound up going through the Commercial Real Estate Singularity and wound up with the same bland midscale chain emporia as both Tysons and RTC.

Suffice it to say it's been a long day for RTC's paid Facebook commenters elite crisis management team, who have a well-rehearsed script when people mention past public relations kerfluffles that may have contributed to the many departures over the past few years -- that the community has "moved on" from the whole paid parking debacle. And sure, we love a confusing app and/or kiosk you have to use to get "free" parking during the day as much as anyone else, and sure, we think COVID probably has as much to do with restaurants struggling as their landlords at this point, but this will be a big loss for what the aforementioned crisis managers would call RTC's "elite" "brand". As awkward announcements go, this is almost as bad as when fellow Georgetown/Tysons/RTC fav Banana Republic closed its RTC location last month as part of a nationwide push to eliminate stores in places with "low foot traffic."

And while Clyde's had nothing but good things to say about Boston Properties in their statement, sometimes actions speak louder than words:
The company is considering opening another location in the Greater Reston area. “We are very excited about the growth and development activity in the area and are eager to share some big news soon,” Jeff Owens, CRG’s chief financial and corporate development officer, said.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

DRB After Dark: There's More to Online RA Meetings Than Inscrutable Pictures of Vents

(For once, this is not one of our arrows. You can tell because it's tasteful and proportional.) 

Can't sleep? Hate enjoying yourself for even one moment of our Live, Work, Play existence? Need to perform emergency surgery but don't have a sedative handy? Well, the Reston Association is Here To Help, with its long-running collection of videos from its various meetings, including the DRB's regular confabs, which often clock in at more than three hours -- plenty of time for that emergency appendectomy or to get halfway through a sleepless night.

You might think these video recordings of meetings are mind-numbingly boring unless you're one of the "affected parties" trying to, wedunno, replace a light fixture that hasn't been manufactured since Nixon was president or still needs to be lit by an old-timey itinerant gas-lighter or something. And you'd be right! But a Confidential Restonian Operative clued us into something important -- the real fun is in the Zoom chats. Check out this screen grab from the chat during a meeting sometime last year (names blurred to protect the innocent, and apparently the horny):


Sadly, it doesn't appear that the RA posts the chat transcripts along with the videos, so for this kind of filth, you have to watch live, presumably with a martini and pipe in hand. But who knew listening to discussions about, wedunno, storm drains and ducts and beams and pipes and shafts could have this effect on people?

If you'll excuse us, we need to take a cold shower, the end.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

In Reston, Shelves Empty You! Soviet-Style Empty Grocery Shelves Perplex Those Without Access to a Newspaper, Teevee

The sight of empty shelves at grocery stores around Reston this weekend shocked and perplexed many. 

We almost feel like a snowstorm that completely shut down major interstates in two states on top of a resurgent pandemic that is leading to record numbers of positive cases and causing underappreciated service workers to reconsider their career trajectories assuming they're not calling in sick as a result of the aforementioned pandemic, all in advance of yet another possible snowstorm that is leading to the usual panic buying, might have a negligible impact on our lives! 

Or maybe... it's lazy workers making excuses?

We couldn't agree more! Why can't they stop making excuses and do what the rest of us "knowledge workers" do and just hold more Zoom meetings to come up with a "waterfall," or whatever, to stock some virtual shelves with some virtual bread, virtual milk, and virtual toilet paper?

In conclusion, let's not blame the people among us who have faced the greatest day-to-day challenges during the pandemic. Instead, let's use the Internet to discuss what God intended us to use it for:

That's more like it. Forgive us if we get a bit emotional.