Wednesday, November 14, 2007

HeraldTrib Today, Nov. 14, 2007

It’s the art issue of the HeraldTrib this week. Completely by happenstance, I must add.

It started last Wednesday evening when the kids and I went to see “Peter and the Wolf” at Thomas Jefferson Middle School. It was a “Family Literacy Night,” giving families whose children go to “Title 1” schools the chance to see live theatre. Lots of fun; the review is below.

Also below is today’s big story on the sculptures that will not be a part of the Glebe Road and Pershing Drive intersection renovation.

I had been thinking about that story for months when I was out to breakfast Friday morning with Vic Socotra at RinConCito Chapin (literally translated that name is “The tiny bowlegged place.” I’m guessing it means something closer to “The little sitting spot.” I think “chaps,” which one wears sitting in the saddle somehow is related to Chapin, but I digress—they have great refried black beans and fried plantains).

He and I got talking about the neighborhood (he has a long, at times odd, history with the place that he’s trying to put into a book) and about the house on Glebe Road, just a little south of Henderson Road. It’s one that is historic and could not be significantly renovated into a community center, so AHC, Inc., which owns the Gates of Ballston and that little house, does not know what to do with it.

The Buckingham Museum
Now, they may have already made plans, but I’ll be on the phone later today to figure it out. If they have not, however, Vic and I were saying it would be perfect for a Buckingham Museum. Think about it; it could be historical, but also could have space for neighborhood artists (such as Ubaldo Sanchez who helped the Buckingham Brigade kids paint the mural on the side of the Glebe Market), or artists with ties (culturally, ethinically, what have you) to the people of Buckingham.

Maybe there would be space for readings, or a writer’s group, or something similar. The county library already offers events at the Buckingham Center on N. 4th Street, why not shift some of the activities to a space in our own museum when that center closes?

Once that flood-gate opened, I thought, Sheesh, let’s go whole hog on this. When will Buckingham have a better chance to offer arts and cultural spaces to the neighborhood than now? Think about it for a second. Go on, think:

Georgetown Strategic Capital is planning to redevelop the corners of the N. Glebe Road and N. Pershing Drive intersection. The earliest ideas that have been bandied about include knocking down the CVS and Glebe Market buildings (and possibly the El Paso/Popeye’s building) and putting in four-storey buildings of mixed use retail and housing with an affordable component.

Bring Back the Buckingham Theatre, Baby!
So this is my idea: Move the post office across the street into one of the new buildings. At one time, the post office was where El Paso Restaurant is, and the post office was a theatre. Let’s bring it back! (The owner of Georgetown Strategic once told me that he saw a Daniel Boone flick at that theatre.)

Instead of movies, though, I am picturing a small, black box type theatre that could show the “-tets,” octets and smaller (I don’t really know what kind of space they have inside that building). Or show one-person acts. Blues nights. Jazz Nights. Bolivian dancers. Ecuadorian bands. Ritmo Latino! High school garage hip-hop bands (I know the county used to have a contest for garage bands).

Maybe it would seat 80 people. I don’t know. But it would also house the offices of a local troupe, maybe the Arlington Philharmonic Orchestra? Most likely, the space would not be big enough for a full orchestra, but why not have it full of offices with a space for a Chamber or, as I said, a “-tet.”

Come on, dream a little!
What would it say about Arlington that we’re investing in the arts not where the rich people are, but where the lower-middle-class people are? What sort of inspiration would we be putting into the heads of kids in the neighborhood? Hell, I feel inspired just writing about it!

Buckingham is going to be, for at least another 30 years, a low- to moderate-income neighborhood. Most likely it will be an immigrant community, too. What better way for those of us who have lived in the States all our lives to get to know those people who are new here than to have us share in cultural activities? This could be a chance for high art without gentrification!

So that’s my big idea; you may have others…
I just think that having some cultural connection with all this redevelopment would be grand. What do you think? Feel free to comment below, or send emails to

As always, you can scroll down to see all the recent stories, or simply click the links below (if the link doesn't work, scroll down to find the story, and email to tell me what's busted: Thurston).

Today's Headlines:

  • What Will Happen with Art at Glebe and Pershing
  • Police Notes for Buckingham

  • Headlines from Earlier in the Week:

  • Pilfered Papers on N. Thos. St.
  • Peter and the Wolf Delightful
  • Letter: Pat Hope Deserves Credit
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