Tag Archives: Virginia

Let’s get Fredericksburg on television!!

And, this time, let it be for something other than a Civil War documentary.

Russell Morgan’s “Next Steps” is a groundbreaking planned television drama that will be set in Fredericksburg, Virginia  … so if it’s your hometown or your college town, then please consider supporting the project.  Russ will be filming on location in Fredericksburg, and plans to continue to do so after the show finds a home with a major network.  He’s currently working with the Virginia Film Office.

Russ just shared some casting news today: “We have cast John Stagnari, Kosta Trifunovic, Camille Moten, and Curt Foy in our main ensemble.  These guys bring so much to this project that it takes what I’ve written and makes it exponentially bigger, better and stronger.

“But we still can’t do it without your help … we have a LOT more to do to do this the right way the first time.  Please check out our Indiegogo page and contribute if you can … every little bit helps, believe me … and then pass it along!  Thank you!!!!”

Check out the project’s Indiegogo page here:


[EDIT: The broken link has been fixed!]

And, please, consider supporting “Next Steps” financially or just help spread the word!!


Photo credit:  “Fredericksburg Dusk” by Bsteckler – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons


“Age appears to be best in four things; old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.”

— Francis Bacon

Certain forward-thinking friends of mine are chopping and stacking wood this summer so that they can burn it in autumn.  They’re even posting pictures of their woodpiles on Facebook.  (You see what rural Virginia does to transplanted New Yorkers?)

Keep at it, I say.  I don’t have a fireplace myself, but one of my favorite things about fall in Virginia is walking down the street and detecting the scent of burning oak.


I was chased by a bull when I was 19.

I was hiking around Locust Grove, Orange County, in the perilous land of VIRGINIA. The Internet, and even DVDs, weren’t a thing yet. In my day, people had to AIMLESSLY WALK LONG DISTANCES just for fun.

It wasn’t pleasant; holy crap. I was even wearing red shorts at the time.

There are two morals to the story:

1) Never trespass, but especially at farms.

2) Hiking is bad for you. Stay home and watch TV.

Friends kept calling me “The Bull Runner” in college.  I made it a point to eat burgers at the school cafeteria every day, because Karma’s a bitch, Baby.


Seen yesterday in Virginia:

1)  Potomac Mills Mall.  Who says Southerners can’t form crowds?

2)  Rush hour traffic on I-95.  DEAR LORD!!!  It’s like Virginia’s answer to the Long Island Expressway!!

3)  Guapo’s!!  They don’t have them in New York!!!  The last time I went to Guapo’s was when I was in my 20’s and was hanging out with Sanjeev Malhotra!!

4)  Nice people.  I will never get over how polite and accommodating the average citizen is here.  I am not this nice — do they see me as an ape by comparison?

5)  A “Smoke Court.”  What is that — a court where smokers are tried?  Or … is it a fancy outdoor area where people can smoke?  Is there also a “Drink Pavilion” or “Toke Arcade?”

America’s Best Small Town.

The following are pictures of Culpeper, Virginia, which I was lucky to see again, even if it was only briefly, on the way to the Blue Ridge Mountains this past Labor Day weekend.  (There was a time I would name Fredericksburg as America’s best small town, of course, but I’m not sure that Fredericksburg meets the definition of a small town any longer — more on that in the future.)

I remember Culpeper fondly indeed.  I found my first job after college here — working as a reporter for the Culpeper Star – Exponent newspaper.  (Third photo.)  I lived right on Main Street, which is pictured in the first two photos.  It wasn’t New York, but it was a warm community of good neighbors that I was lucky to join.

Yes, I did say newsPAPER.  There was time, kids, when news was actually printed in ink on a refined paper product that required hand delivery to your home.  Either that, or you could purchase it from a mechanical metal box on the street corner.

Check out the fourth photo of Mount Pony at the edge of town– this is something my friend pointed out to me.  (I know you can hardly see it — the picture is blurry because taken from a moving car.)

Until nearly the end of the Cold War, this was a 140,00-square-foot, federally operated “continuity of government” facility, housing people underground and designed to keep our government going in the event of a nuclear war. There were dormitories, food supplies and wells, protected from blasts and radiation by steel-reinforced concrete and lead shutters — it even had an indoor pistol-range and a helipad.  There were also just billions of dollars housed there by the Federal Reserve, to jump-start a post-apocalyptic economy.

It was decommissioned in 1992, and was bought in 2007 by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. It’s now a national film archive operated by the Library of Congress, with more than 6 million pieces of original film and television artifacts.  (Apparently old film stock can be dangerous to store, because it’s extremely flammable?)  It’s open to the public, and has its own theater that screens classic films for free  — it even has an organ that ascends to the screen when the theater shows silent films.  The Library of Congress has a running schedule right here:


That sounds pretty damn cool.  I’ve been dying to see a bunch of silent films I’ve never seen (particularly “Nosferatu” and “The Phantom of the Opera.”)  I might try to take a trip out there if they screen any such vintage movies around Halloween.  Because seeing classic horror films in an underground facility designed for the end of the world has got to be a unique experience.





I took a wrong turn on my way to the Mary Washington College Reunion!

And that’s why I wasn’t there.  I should have been concerned when the alums I did connect with in Virginia kept sipping their beers, concealing their laughter and leading me repeatedly to roads that led consistently UP.

Anyway, if you DO live in Virginia, did you see me waving?  I’m pretty sure I could see roughly 65 percent of the state from where I was standing.

Seriously, though — this was my birthday trip to Stony Man Mountain in Shenandoah National Park.  It was unforgettable.  The beauty of the Commonwealth was the perfect balm for the knowledge that I am one year older.

The Stony Man Trail is actually a pretty easy hike, even though the peak is the second highest along the Blue Ridge Mountains’ Skyline Drive.

To clarify some of the content of the below photos:

1)  In the second picture, the ONLY reason that I look so skinny is that the mountains are big by comparison.  It’s physics.  Yeah.

2)  Note the sign at the park visitor center.  One of my friends was totally jonesing for that woefully absent blackberry ice cream, which apparently is part of the park’s fame.  (He was talking about it on the way up.)  It must be good, if the park actually has to post a sign apologizing for running out.  The next time I see the mountains, I am going to have to get some myself just to see what the fuss is about.

3)  Spot the face in the inside of the tree.  And what is it?  A portion of my friends will call “Ent” immediately; others will name Cthulhu or one of his minions.  The inside of a tree can serve as a thematic apperception test.

4)  We met an extremely friendly mountain man in the wilds who was kind enough to let us stay in his home.  (It was surprisingly stately.)  He even had a copy of my book on his mantle, next to a happy, meditating dog statue.  (I see what you did there, man.)

I loved the trip.  If you visit Virginia, treat yourself.  The hike is easier than you think, and you need to experience this at least once.

10675729_550716161699898_8641846377330613157_n (1)











Pic-08312014-001 (1)