Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
On The YouTubes: Strange Lights in the Sky, A Superhero in the Making, and Some Unalarming Hurricane Footage
As if earthquakes and hurricanes weren't enough, this fancy video of "a bizarre light pattern" in the night sky shot in Reston earlier in the month has surfaced on YouTube. Our favorite correspondent, The Peasant From Less Sought After South Reston, is quick to note that none of the colors are DRB-approved, so we must conclude that the source is from a Real Estate Development Far, Far Away (or at least Herndon). He surmises:
Not sure what to make of it, unless is is A) ET's mother ship, or B) The Rapture, which was delayed because it took the Fairfax Connector to get here.Turns out the person who shot the video came up with an explanation for the strange phenomenon:
The source of the light is most likely from the uplights on the One Dulles Corridor building on Parkridge Ave.Which fits perfectly with our Not Of This DRB Theory. The truth is out there.
If your YouTubes tastes gravitate more towards nuanced character studies, please to be enjoying this "joint" called The Origin Story of SuperBob. Much as Woody Allen considered Manhattan his muse in his early work, we'd say these young filmmakers were equally moved by Lake Anne's brutalist splendor:
And finally, here's a duo of shocking videos of the power of Hurricane Irene as it passed Reston, because who isn't tired of reminiscing about that time it rained and got a little windy and the power went out in some places for a while, the end.
Monday, August 29, 2011
The DeLong Bowman House, the fancy white mansion in the office townhouse complex off Reston Parkway that was one home to liquor tycoons, then Bob Simon, and now a bunch of offices, isn't the oldest house in Reston. Instead, as readers of the most recent issue of Reston: The Magazine know, it was used by Bob and Anne Simon as a part-time home and a place to entertain prospective investors in Reston, before bundling them into a bus to see the muddy sinews and whatnot that would soon become our favorite earth-toned community. But there was something we didn't know about one of the darker chapters in the 1940s-era home's storied history.
When Gulf Oil
staged its bloodless coup informed Mr. Simon that a new management team was coming in to run Reston's development in 1967, the Simons vacated the house, leaving only one personal belonging behind -- a copy of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. The symbolism's admittedly a bit more muddled than this, but it's exactly why we love Bob Simon.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
A member of the RESTONIAN STORM WATCH TEAM sent us this shocking photo of the devastation following what appears to have been a massive tidal surge along a tributary feeding into Lake Anne. What must have been a massive wall of water appears to have lifted paddleboats like so many... paddleboats and deposited them neatly several feet from the shores of the now deceptively placid lake. "If I didn't know better, it almost appears if they had been moved there as a precaution before the storm started," surmised RESTONIAN STORM WATCH TEAM's chief meteorologist. Such is the awesome power of nature, the end.
Friday, August 26, 2011
Thursday, August 25, 2011
What better way to pass the sleepless, nerve-wracking hours after being jolted awake in the middle of the night by an 4.5-magnitude earthquake aftershock than solving this fancy word-search in the latest edition of Reston: The Magazine? Just make sure to do it in pencil, in case you have to erase it and do it all over again once Hurricane Irene knocks out power this weekend and your fancy iPhone battery dies.
Either way, it's a great reminder of all the fun fall activities we have to look forward to, including energy audits and cluster association reserve studies. Can't wait to break out the turtlenecks and adding machine!
What else is in this issue of Reston: The Magazine? Glad you asked, so we can justify the time we spent leafing through it while looking for the word search:
- Dear Leader pens a column about biking, where we wonders why he doesn't see many kids biking Reston paths. They're probably busy "web logging" or something.
- More hawtt truck-on-dirt action at Wiehle Station.
- Some nice pictures of the Sunrise Valley Wetland Nature Park, which is apparently not our basement after heavy rain. Seriously, it looks nice. We'll have to check it out sometime.
- An interesting profile of legitimately interesting Juliette Rossant titled "Reston Royalty." Funny, I thought we were living in an autonomous collective.
- A cautionary tale of the foreign army that's currently headquartered in Occupied Reston, also known as Sunrise Valley Drive.
If you haven't received your copy of Reston: The Magazine in the mail yet, be sure to ask your nearest uniformed federal agent if it's sitting in his truck, the end.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
The Washington Post "news paper" runs this retro nostalgia section called "Real Estate," which hearkens back to the days when people would pick up said "news paper" to look for printed listings of homes for sale, rather than scan the Craigslist giveaways section for serviceable used appliance boxes. Anyhoo, the Post decided to feature Lake Anne Village in its weekly "Where We Live" section, and the article has a major factual error. See if you can find it!
The plaza’s gray-concrete-and-tan-brick 1960s architecture is striking — the modern buildings were designed by James Rossant, a student of Walter Gropius at Harvard. But many commenters on the popular local blog Restonian, and elsewhere, complain that the plaza could use a facelift.You guessed it -- this blog has never been popular.
Other than that, the article reliably covers the bases -- it mentions the ukulele festival, the jet-age air conditioning, and something called ROMEOS -- Reston Older Men Enjoying Outdoor Sports, which itself sounds like something you'd find on Craigslist, albeit in a slightly different category than real estate. It also touches on recent redevelopment issues:
Lake Anne is one of seven areas on which the Fairfax County Office of Community Revitalization and Reinvestment has chosen to concentrate its efforts. Consultants working with the office recently released a report suggesting that Lake Anne position itself as a dining destination and centralize its management to deal with issues such as updating infrastructure and coordinating business hours.All true, sadly -- and something that will have to be addressed if Lake Anne is ever to reach its full potential.
Some planners also say the area would benefit from more density — Simon’s original plan called for several high-rises, but only Heron House was built. In 2009, Fairfax County approved rezoning that would allow more residential and commercial buildings to be built on what is now the plaza’s parking lot, but developers have yet to sign on.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Behold the scene of carnage at Restonian World Headquarters after a 5.8 magnitude earthquake centered between Richmond and Charlottesville hit shortly before 2 this afternoon. By some miracle, this "web log's" Atari 400-powered server survived the catastrophe and is still churning along.
A smaller pre-dawn earthquake centered in Maryland hit the region last July. Fairfax County officials have already tweeted that there's no known infrastructure damage in the region, though this apparently will be delaying happy hour at Restonian World Headquarters. Share your stories in the comments.
Update: The damage reports are streaming in:
And here is some video of buildings being evacuated in Reston Town Center, if you can see it between the annoying pop-up ads:
And from the Twitter machine, a shocking image of the devastation at the South Lakes Safeway:
Monday, August 22, 2011
Take a look at the two neighborhoods below -- which is more appealing to you? To paraphrase America's Greatest Comedian, if you answered "the top one, duh, because I see enclosed courtyards that retain pools of mosquito-breeding rainwater and maybe a swank jet-age communal carport or two," you just might be a Restonian:
This helpful comparison between clustered and conventional housing from Reston's original promotional brochure points out how all that "otherwise useless land space" (translation: yards) is shifted into "large open areas." It goes into more detail about Reston's zoning plan, which "took more than a year to create," and allows architects to follow the "contours of the land" and avoid endless rows of
The brochure also helpfully explains the genesis of another concept that's caused some headaches of late: the humble sinew.
Instead of the usual pattern -- a crowded city center surrounded by row on row of houses -- Reston's concentration of urban housing and shopping is arranged in sinews which wind from one end of the city to the other.What better place for a Texas donut than a sinew, right?
Friday, August 19, 2011
Thanks to our Facebook BFFs at the Reston Association, please to be enjoying this very nice photo album of pictures from the giant 9/11 tribute procession of motorcyclists that was supposed to snarl traffic this afternoon, but apparently didn't. Nice to see people cheer them on, and a nice tribute by and for the Reston firefighters who stood at attention as the procession rumbled past.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
One sentence captures the zeitgeist of this August offering of fancy video news from the Reston Association: dulcet-toned Andy Sigle in a hardhat and reflective safety vest. Gather the small children in the house around the computer, because they'll love watching the dump trucks cruising around the giant pit that will soon become a wondrous field of parallelograms.
We have to admit that there's some pretty sweet cinematography and borer-on-ground action while a Comstock PR person rattles off a long series of Fun Facts about the project: the garage will be the equivalent of 27 football fields (but still be full by 6:59 each morning) and require 100,000 cubic yards of concrete that will necessitate the construction of "batch concrete plants" on site. Awesome!
Then abruptly, Andy's poolside, fortunately without the hardhat, to talk about the RA lifeguard olympics. There's footage of a synchronized swimming demonstration that reminded us a little of this. And finally, to prove that Reston Today isn't afraid to tackle the tough subjects that us craven "web loggers" steer clear of for fear of reprisals, Andy explores a burning question: Was a good time had by all at the Reston Festival? Signs point to yes!
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
The big "for lease/sale" sign in the window of what was going to be Maria’s Passion Paradise makes it look like the lingerie store isn't going to open, ever. So much for it opening at the beginning of the month. Guess we'll just have to go look for a dog-eared copy of Looking for Mr. Goodbar at the bookstore and then maybe take a hit off a hookah when we want to let our hair down. Two doors down, a similar sign is up in what used to be G Sushi, one of just a handful of Official Restonian Recommended Restaurants (the Macaroni Grill, naturally, being another on the list). G Sushi closed earlier this month when it couldn't agree on lease terms with the property owner; scuttlebutt has it that the owner wanted to double the lease on the tiny storefront. Now both places are empty, as is the vintage clothing store on the other side of the plaza that shut its doors a few months back. Who knows what new establishments will take their place? Based on the current retail trajectory, we'd guess a Penguin Feather, but they've been out of business for more than a decade.
We love Lake Anne and want to see it succeed, but the ongoing turnover is troubling. The fancy report on Lake Anne retail done by the county earlier this year hints at a couple of reasons for the problems: multiple commercial landlords, lease structures that don't match up with commiserate sales volumes, and low expectations by propertyholders. Too bad the consultants who did the report weren't prescient enough to foretell the rise and fall of Reston's first (and only) sex shop, unless you count the scandalous undergarments section at Target, the end.
Update: A Confidential Restonian Operative tells us that the FOR LEASE/SALE sign disappeared from Maria's Passion Paradise shortly after this "web log post" was posted. Might this not be the last mention of Maria's unmentionables?
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Oh, the Humanity: Reston Again Snubbed in 'Best Places to Live' List; Apparently Just Not as Awesome as Herndon.... and Manassas Park?
Once again, the listicle-generating fools at Money magazine have snubbed our beloved earth-toned community in its annual list of the best places to live. On the bright side, our Maryland doppelganger Columbia, which was ranked #2 last year, has fallen off the list completely. Maybe a Money factchecker discovered the truth about its satanic past.
However, our tolerant neighbor to the west made the list-- Herndon was ranked 34th. Here's what the Money chart monkeys had to say about the town:
This diverse little town was named for Commander William Lewis Herndon, an American naval explorer, in 1858. Today it provides a great base to explore the many jobs in the area. Herndon sits right near the so-called Dulles Technology Corridor, where companies such as AOL, Microsoft, and Verizon are big employers. Alternatively, residents can make the commute to Washington D.C., 22 miles away. The public schools here are a big draw for many: Newsweek consistently ranks Herndon High in the top 5% of the country. --D.B.Can we point out that said naval explorer never set foot in the town named for him?
But we're willing to be the bigger persons and let that go. Especially since there's another, far more painful snub on the list. Last year, sprawly cloverleaf intersection Centreville was inexplicably placed on the list. This year, the real head-scratcher is Manassas Park. Not Manassas, Manassas Park, the red-headed stepchild of Manassas proper. Seriously?
In the interest of fairness, let's visit "the MP," as the kids like to say, courtesy of the Google Machine, and see if we're wrong about the place. Here's a lovely picture of the town sign:
And in case you're keeping score at home, "Great" Falls was at the top of the list of "top-earning towns," which, you know, shocker, especially when you consider it's essentially a magnet for government welfare recipients, also known as "contractors," the end.
Monday, August 15, 2011
As it continues to sail towards approval by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, the Fairways Apartments redevelopment proposal is facing a new challenge: an online petition.
The petition drive is sponsored by Sustainable Reston, a project of the Fairfax Coalition for Smarter Growth, which calls the Fairways redevelopment proposal "a knife in the back of true Transit Oriented Development." Tammi Petrine writes in a letter to Lake Anne residents:
Where common sense would dictate that this dense a development should not be built at this location, unfortunately there are "sinews" running throughout the Reston community that loosely connect the village centers that have been zoned HIGH DENSITY PRC (Planned Residential Community).All we know is that "sinews" sound a lot less appetizing than a good old Texas donut. But there's more!
In most areas of residential Reston, high density was not built but nonetheless the zoning remains intact. Because Virginia is a "Dillon Rule" state, the owner of any property can build to the top zoning allowed despite the inappropriateness of this development to the rest of the "as built" community and despite the fact that infrastructure does not exit to support the population that the new development will bring to the community.That last point is critical, especially given the potential for a court challenge affecting Reston's ability to have a say in projects of this nature, as the letter points out. As of Monday morning, the petition has 34 signatures.
Now the proposal will be put before the Fairfax Board of Supervisors for vote in Sept. With the approval of its P & Z Com. in hand, it is highly likely that this project will be approved. Next the project will come back to the RA DRB for approval. As you can see, this puts the DRB between us and disaster not only in this instance but for all of the "sinews" properties in Reston on both sides of the toll way. If the DRB denies the plans formally, the developer may quite possibly file a court case against the DRB.
This would be very costly for all of us as the financiers of RA but also, with the courts propensity in VA to protect landowners under the Dillon Rule, the verdict may well go against RA meaning that our community deed would be broken.
Fairway is the first of many possible breaches of our sensibly planned community and is a test case for developers who want to cash in on our beautiful Reston. To prevent floods of developers from coming in to purchase any underdeveloped "sinews" high density zoned property and upset our planned community's balance, it is imperative that you support this and other protests to influence the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to deny its approval and end the process there before it can come to the local RA level.
Four years ago -- on a Friday the 13th, no less -- we launched this filthy "web log" with a humble poem. Now, like most four-year-olds we know, this "web log" has a childish sense of humor, likes shiny things, bright colors, cheerful music, and cute animals, is occasionally prone to tantrums, is alternately excited and scared about growing up, isn't great with math, and remains obsessed with the gooey, carb-heavy menu of the Macaroni Grill. So, um, yay us, or something, only 93 years to go until we have the gravitas of our community's founder, the end.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
It's that time of year, so we're jumping the non-existent fence that surrounds our earth-toned community and going walkabout for a while. Document the atrocities in the comments, and be excellent to each other.
In retrospect, though, maybe this wasn't the best week to schedule the IPO for Restonian Web Logs and Extruded Pork Products Inc. (NASDAQ: MAUVE)
Monday, August 8, 2011
If you've spent the last week stuck in traffic on the Hunter Mill/Lawyers Road Overland Passage to Vienna as bridge work was (slowly) completed, here's your reward: a hilarious prank involving the portable sign, courtesy of our BFFs at Oakton Patch. Please to be noting that this is what people are seeing as they drive towards Reston this morning, so don't be surprised if you see people looking at the sky or perhaps winking lasciviously, the end.
Friday, August 5, 2011
ZOMG, someone roust Kasey Kasem from his cryogenic sleep chamber, as we've unearthed a song that's sure to rocket to the top of all the charts. Called "Reston, Virginia," this little ditty by an outfit called the Culture Wars Band seems on the surface like a happy tribute to our favorite earth-toned community, what with the opening images of bike trails and animated presents and gingerbread men falling in front of Lake Anne. But first impressions often deceive, and in the guise of a pop song, we have a complex, challenging work that will take years to "unpack," as semioticians like to say.
"Reston, Virginia, this is my gangster song for you," the uncharacteristically somber vocalist intones -- part shaman, part troubadour, all Cassandra as the lyrics abruptly shift to the menacing: "The gangsters are coming for you." All of the sudden, it's clear we're not dealing with a mere pop trifle, but a deeply felt and imagined Nobokovian fever dream that alludes to tragedy, struggle, and land use policies.
As we further deconstruct this sprawling, ambitious work, consider the following lyrics:
The roses were gone from Lake AnneNot since Don McLean's "American Pie," or perhaps the Archies' "Yummy Yummy Yummy," have lyrics had meaning upon meaning spool in on themselves. Clearly a coded reference to Gulf Oil's ouster of Dear Leader early in Reston's history, the following lyrics make the author's intent even more clear:
When the queen married the oil man.
The king was upset but he still had some land.
Man was born with a silver bowl in his handIt goes on from there, complete with lots of stock footage of gangsters and crappy midrise architecture and whatnot, until we get to the thrilling denouement, where the poet-cum-prophet expounds on the "mighty Dulles Access road" and in a fugue-like, near trance, prophesies that it's "not too late to become a world-class community," followed by an image of an atom bomb and a final parting cry, lambasting Reston for "charging me another toll/Bike paths going through your empty soul."
Something called Carnegie Hall,
But he had additional plans.
In other words, it's no "Hey Soul Sister," but you could probably still dance to it, the end.
Thursday, August 4, 2011
- Man oh man, we love us some schematic drawrings, and this new earth-toned hawtness represents the new $18 million Reston police station and governmental center, which is slated to rise from the parking lot behind the current, considerably blockier building. At a meeting Wednesday, architects explained that the police section of the building is the part that's solid and built into the ground, while the offices for the Hunter Mill District Supervisor and her staff are the glassy bits, symbolizing transparency in government or something awesome like that. The site is in the midst of prime property targeted for development, but there are no plans yet for the land that surround it. Who knows? Maybe they can move the hookah parlor and
sex shoplingerie boutique next to the police station; they seem like what urban planners would call "complementary uses."
- Our BFFs at Reston 2020 read a fancy study on Toll Road rate pricing commissioned by the airports authority and learned a "fun" fact, assuming you find hoarding quarters "fun": Rates could rise to $7 now -- and up to $12 in 2023 -- and revenue would still increase, as even with the fancy Silver Line, some folks will have no recourse but to take our favorite multilane slice of gridlock. Um, yay?
- Following in the footsteps of an awesome report that solved all of the Lake Anne Village Center's problems forever, a meeting was held last week to discuss new ways to attract businesses and visitors. We'd say something about one new buisiness attracting some attention for the Plaza, but we already used that joke in the first item.
- Colin Mills is the new president of the Reston Citizens Association. He's also involved in the Master Plan Task Force With An Interminably Long Acronym (MPTFWAILA), so it's good that the group that's been paying the most attention to the Task Force's work is well-represented. Meanwhile, given the slow speed of its work, John Lovaas wonders if the aforementioned Task Force is "trapped in a time warp," though presumably one bereft of good showtunes.
- The Reston Association Board will allow a Buckthorn Lane resident to once again hunt deer on his property. Let the deerpocalypse begin!
- Boeing has acquired Reston-based Solutions Made Simple, a cybersecurity contractor for the government involved in, we dunno, strapping encrypted files to dolphins.
- Finally, some good news: After winning the state Little League championship, the Reston Nationals go to Georgia this weekend, where they will play South Carolina, Florida and West Virginia teams in hopes of making it to the national semifinals. Please to be enjoying this fancy video -- and wish the Nationals luck.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
More than a month late but preserved forever thanks to the splendor of the Internets, please to be enjoying this year's video of a wreck during June's Reston Grand Prix cycling race. It's not as dramatic as a similar crash two years back, but there's real replay value in hearing the announcer's cry of "rider down!" in the requisite slow-motion replays. It's actually pretty amazing that the rider didn't get hit by the rest of the peloton once he splayed out on the Reston Town Center pavement, so at least there's a happy ending.
(Shout out to our favorite correspondent, The Peasant From Less Sought After South Reston, for the find.)
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
When Reston's future traffic woes are explained this simply, everything makes total sense! Poindexters, please to be checking our math on this fancy equation, part of a presentation on the traffic impact of Metro development by Fairfax County planning staff. Whoops! We forgot to carry the fanciful concrete bollards and subtract the loaded potato skins. No wonder we're still waiting for our Ph.D. in quantitative analysis from one of the Caribbean's most prestigious correspondence schools to come in the mail.
Anyhoo, the results of all this math and whatnot? Traffic. A lot of traffic -- even if a much-needed bridge across the Toll Road at Soapstone gets built. Check out this fancy map:
Better get used to red lights. So what's the good news? County planners have, as they say in the movies (and in their own job titles), a plan:
Reston Master Plan Special Task Force members heard from county traffic experts on possible options to stem highly congested intersections near the future Wiehle Avenue station. The county plans to revisit zoning in the Reston area in preparation for Metrorail’s arrival at Wiehle in late 2013. The task force is studying predicted residential and commercial density levels in an effort to make a land-use recommendation for the county.Those improvements mostly involve multiple turn lanes and things of that ilk, all of which will definitely be needed.
“We’re well aware of the fact that there is a big menu for mitigations,” said county Senior Transportation Planner Dan Southworth during Tuesday’s meeting at the Reston Community Center Lake Anne.
Discussion focused on possible improvements to five intersections: Wiehle Avenue and Sunrise Valley Drive; Wiehle Avenue and Sunset Hills Road; Reston Parkway and Sunrise Valley Drive; Reston Parkway and Sunset Hills; and Fairfax County Parkway and Sunrise Valley.
Meanwhile, our BFFs at Reston 2020 have done their own analysis of traffic patterns. They argue that emphasizing more residential development, as opposed to just trapezoidal office space, in areas near Metro stations will result in just 1/8 of the additional traffic projected by the county and give developers nearly as much economic return on their bollardy investments. Read their fancy report here.
Monday, August 1, 2011
This fancy map shows the growth of the Washington D.C. suburbs by 2000, as envisioned by the National Capital Planning Commission and the National Capital Regional Planning Council for the Washington Area back in the 1960s. And you can see how prescient it was, given that if you drive west of Reston, you're soon enveloped by virgin forest that extends all the way to the West Virginia line. Right?
Well, maybe not. But back in the 1960s, these optimistic planners labelled Reston as a "Satellite City," calling it an
Unplanned, uncontrolled growth has blurred the boundary between city and country, while people search in vain for open space, convenient recreation and natural beauty.We'd actually take a couple of "hot dog stands" over cupcakeries, but otherwise this was dead on. Of course, what the planners couldn't have foreseen is that instead of "satellite cities" -- places that integrated housing, business, and
The malady of urban sprawl -- gas stations, hot dog stands, and dreary rows of "look-alike" houses -- has created an all too familiar blight on the American landscape,
These problems confront Washington, D.C. Its area population will jump from two million to five million by the year 2000. Where will these people live? What can be done to preserve the surrounding countryside and woodlands?