Go Big or Go Home

Trivia question:  Last Saturday night, did you waste $100 on the glorified pillow fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao — or did you spend your money on real entertainment, namely the production of “Big” at Fairfax High School.

You remember “Big,” the iconic Eighties movie starring Tom Hanks as a kid who inhabits a man’s body and is hired by a toy company to help them connect with young customers.

The FHS production stars off with the young Josh Baskin who wants to “be big.”  He gets his wish and is transported to the adult world.  The best scene of the show (like the movie) is when he connects with the toy company impresario, Mr. MacMillan, who joins him for the epic scene playing “Chopsticks” and other tunes on a full-body piano.  That scene just never gets old.

The high school show had some other fun numbers.  My favorites were “Let’s Not Move Too Fast” with Josh and his femme fatale, Susan, and “Cross the Line” with the whole Toy Company ensemble.  Most of all I liked the narrative which was fun, romantic and yet always focused on letting kids be kids.

The male leads of Doug Klain and Zion Jang really captured the spirit of the musical, as did  the female lead Molly Berry.   (Naturally I spent most the time following my daughter Eva who was in the singing and dancing ensemble).  The FX Players are directed by Erich (“Mr. D”) DiCenzo, who will also be directing the City of Fairfax Theater Company this summer in their production of “Hairspray.”  (Stay tuned for more info on that).

The show continues on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at Fairfax High School.  Tickets are available.

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If You Build It, They Will Eventually Come

This morning, after slogging through the  hilly CASA 8K (41 minutes), I attended the ribbon cutting of the new Old Town Square in downtown Fairfax City.

The Square is an acre parcel at the corner of University and North Street, the former home of the stylistically tragic “Weight Watchers” building.  A former bomb shelter, the WWB single-handedly destroyed the architectural flow of Old Town for generations, by hiding the classic lines and Doric columns of Old Town Hall.

Anyway, the City Council bought the WWB in 2004 and took it down.  After a brief hiatus as a parking lot, the Council finally funded the square with park benches, stone work and an interactive water fountain.   After six months of construction, it opened this a.m.

The Plaza was a vision for many people, including multiple mayors and Council members.  It also had a peculiar connection with my mother’s family.

My great-grandmother Mary Legrand (Donohoe) McCandlish was born and lived her whole life (1888-1986) within a stone’s throw of the Plaza.  Her father, Rozsel Donohoe, was the youngest son from a Loudoun County family which sent four older boys to ride with JEB Stuart.  He was the editor of the Fairfax Herald and, later, the State Senator for Fairfax and Loudoun Couny.

Mary Legrand’s mother, Susan Lindsay Moore, was the daughter of Thomas Moore, a prominent Fairfax citizen.  Her older brother Walton also practiced law, served in the State Senate and, years later, served in the U.S. Congress.  Unfortunately, she died soon after her daughter’s death.  Mary LeGrand then moved in with her Uncle Walton and his three sisters, Margaret, Helen and Jenny, at 3950 Chain Bridge Road.  They became her de facto parents for the balance of her life.

Mary Legrand lived at the Moore House all her life, except for a thirty-year period, when she and her husband, Fairfax Sheild McCandlish, built their own house at 3820 Chain Bridge Road.  He died of cancer in 1934, leaving her as a widow with three children, including my grandmother Mary Walton.

Mary Legrand, nicknamed “Bam” by her grandchildren, moved back to the Moore House in 1950.  She lived there for nearly the balance of her life, including during my youth next door at 3936 Chain Bridge Road.  During her life, she was the consummate Southern lady — never driving a car or working outside the house.  She kept a growing family intact.  As of her death, she had nine grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren.  (My sister is Mary Legrand is #1).  Most of us still live locally.

Why am I mentioning this?  Because our family chipped in to donate a “Mary McCandlish” garden at the Old Town Plaza.   It’s memorialized by a large stone (we call it the “Bam Rock”) which  notes her long life in Old Town.

Today represented a final step in the makeover of Old Town Fairfax.  From a collection of empty lots and gas stations in the Eighties, it’s developed into handsome brick buildings, including the best public library in Virginia, restaurants, and retail shops.   There’s still some leasing work to do but the architectural pieces are finally in place.

It’s fun to see that the Town has come back to where it was in 1901, when the Old Town Hall opened.  Fairfax City proud!

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I just found out a few minutes ago that SB 965 was vetoed, after being unanimously approved during the 2015 session.

I like the Governor and support his policies on economic development, which have brought thousands of new jobs to Virginia.  I also consider him a friend, and sometimes friends disagree, especially when they are both Democrats.

Having said that, he’s getting some very bad advice here.  And the talking points don’t match reality.

This bill was not “rushed through.”  The issue has been pending since March 2013, when the former Attorney General ruled that police could not use License Plate Readers, except in criminal investigations.  Certain police departments refused to follow that opinion.

Delegate Anderson and myself filed our legislation in January 2014, after a series of Washington Post articles on the unauthorized use of LPR’s.  We continued our bills for a year to get the maximum possible input from all sides of the debate

We pre-filed our respective bills (again) before the 2015 session.  There were at least four Committee hearings on our bills, as well as multiple floor debates.  The final product of SB 965 was reached by a bipartisan consensus and unanimously approved by the House and Senate in late February — after a deliberative process of over a year.

The bill is not “bad legislation.”  It was carefully written to only impact “surveillance technologies” which scan and upload personal information.  On its face, it applies to random data collection – not data collected pursuant to a specific investigation or from a specific encounter.  Contrary to the exaggerated claims of opponents, it had no effect on cameras focused on government property or personnel.

Here’s the bottom line — there is no need for the Commonwealth to be collecting private information on its own citizens, without a warrant or investigation. It is time for that Patriot Act mentality to end.

Law enforcement in this state does a great job.  I’m proud to support them.  But they only have those powers delegated by the Constitution and state law. It is not unlimited.

Today’s veto sends just the opposite message.

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Caps and the Draft — a Brilliant Combination

Last night, we had our first annual “Draft Night” party at Brion’s Grill in Fairfax.  Thanks to the good folks at Brion’s for accommodating our crowd of sports fans.  Thanks also to the Redskins for donating prizes, including tickets to the opening tilt against the Dolphins.

The selection of Brandon Scherff (Iowa) was a mild surprise but fits with the new regime and its emphasis on physically dominating the line of scrimmage.  That’s good news to the “old school” Redskins fans from the glory years.

Of course, the real drama last night was the Caps and their brilliant win at the buzzer against the dreaded Rangers.  The Ovechkin-Backstrom-Ward line is killing it right now. They never let up all night.

We had a group of stalwarts that stayed late at the bar and went crazy for the final goal.  One of the great nights in D.C. sports history.

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Why is No One Speaking Out on Sweet Briar?

It’s been nearly two months since the President and Board of Sweet Briar College announced plans to close at the end of the school year, thus shutting down a historic women’s college which had existed for over 100 years.

Since that time, the alumna of the school have organized, hired attorneys and raised millions of dollars to save the school. Significant questions have been raised over how a nonprofit entity which was actively seeking (and banking) donations and TAG grants until just recently is suddenly beyond salvation.  Further questions have been raised over the timing of the announcement, the refusal to involve interested parties, and the apparent destruction of key records.

The whole thing is suspect in the extreme.

Yet, oddly, the reaction among Virginia politicians to this outrage has been tepid, except among a few oddball Assembly members.  Statewide officials, who are quick to express outrage on “women’s issues,” are muted.

The Attorney General, whose support for same-sex marriage is not equaled by a similar passion for same-sex education, has not only failed to intervene in a case uniquely within his jurisdiction — he has tried to use his inaction to bar the Amherst County Attorney’s attempts to save the school.

All in all, it’s a very bizarre circumstance.  You would think that statewide officials would be actively supporting the students, the faculty and a historic institution developing women leaders in the Commonwealth.  You would think.

Am I missing something?

[Update -- I missed the Governor speaking on WTOP about this issue on Wednesday.  Maybe there's a chance at life yet.]

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