Apologies again for the blog silence - there has been ever so much going on. Some good, some bad, but the one I want to share with you all is that the Boyfriend is now the Husband! We got married on October 3rd, and in true DC365 form, it was DC-centric and very special to us both. We had the ceremony and a luncheon for our families at The Willard, the cake was from (where else?) Baked & Wired, and afterwards we got beers at Stoney's and ended the night at Amsterdam Falafel. All told, a wonderful and memorable day.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
It turns out, I am really terrible at blogging in August. I've never been particularly good at it, looking back over the last two years, but it seems that this August has been especially hard for me to get it together. Blame it on my entirely new life, or just blame it on humidity and general laziness, but it is time to stop thinking about blogging and start putting fingers to keyboard. Let's go!
Thursday, August 13, 2009
So, pretty much everything in my life is changing right now (all great things though!), and I've been busy trying to make order out of chaos. Which is why you haven't heard a word about my fun trip to Ft. Reno, my amazing baseball game tickets, the baby gorilla at the zoo, or stuffing myself chock full of pupusas and chicharonnes. It's coming -- I promise!
The key word in Keefe's slogan is, of course, the "can." Just ask Francoise Galleto, 27, and David Brown, 26, two Washingtonians whose first Urban Dare in 2007 didn't turn out quite as they'd hoped: They finished sweaty, sore and sunburned after 4 1/2 hours. "The day after, I went back to the gym. It was a wake-up call," Galleto says.
They already had the smarts part down. After all, Galleto bills her blog (at http:/
/) as "an exploration of DC's restaurants, bars, tourist traps, and the places only the locals know about." She organizes an annual birthday scavenger hunt. And as Brown notes, "We're both nerds." www.dc365.blogspot.com
After two years of training, which included running the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler, they entered the Urban Dare event again this spring with a very different result: Conditioned for sprinting and armed with sunscreen, they came in first, finishing in just over two hours.
Monday, July 20, 2009
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Fringe makes DC a better place to live and visit.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Sorry I've disappeared for a bit (getting engaged is incredibly hard work, as it turns out!), but I had to let you all know the latest Screen on the Green news. Ladies and gentleman, for your summer viewing pleasure, I present to you the complete Screen on the Green schedule:
July 20th: Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
The Hillwood Estate One in Ten old movie evening resumed again last Friday, this time showing one of my absolute favorites: How To Marry A Millionaire. Everything I remembered about Hillwood outdoor movies was true: lush lawn, gorgeous grounds, fabulous movies and elaborate picnic setups.
This year, Kate and I brought our A games, after setting up a pretty pathetic picnic last year. This year, after some pretty intensive planning, I think we did pretty well:
And for our trouble, we got an honorable mention! Our prize was a goody bag with some Hillwood-themed items, and two free passes to tour the house and grounds! So we will be back to spend some quality time immersed in Marjorie Merriweather Post's impeccable taste and largesse.
Monday, June 15, 2009
"This fossilized snake in the marble is over 400 million years old -- sorry if there are any Creationists on the tour," our guide, Claude told us. Which seemed like a kind of a weird thing to say, because on a tour of a monastery, at the foot of a statue of Mary, Mother of God, it seems safe to say there will be one or two Creationists around. Does the Pope know there's a 400 million year old fossil in this church? And if so, what does he make of it, exactly?
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
When I was a sophomore in college, I met a local boy who was an artist and into graphic novels. We kinda liked each other and he asked me out on a date. He came to pick me up from Foggy Bottom, and I asked him where we were going. "The waterfront," he replied. "We're going to see an art show."
Friday, June 5, 2009
- In the late 1910s, an anarchist attempted to blow up a member of the Cabinet by strapping explosives to his body and then ringing the doorbell. Unfortunately, on his way up to the house to ring the door bell, the young man tripped on the sidewalk and blew himself up -- and what a powerful explosion it was! Paul, our guide, read us the newspaper account, which was mighty gruesome, including that the man's spinal column flew across the street, broke an upstairs window, and landed by the bed of a student trying to take a nap!
- The Hope Diamond belonged to a woman who lived in Dupont Circle (the house that is now the Indonesian embassy, in fact) -- her family was so rich that seemed to have just bought it on a lark, and there are pictures of her swimming in it, and accounts that she would attach it to her dog's collar before taking him out for a stroll.
- And speaking of diamonds, that lady from the Titanic movie? Rose? Based on a DC resident. She was way ahead of her time, writing and lecturing on how women should be their own people and make their own living. She lived on New Hampshire Avenue, and was coming back from Europe aboard the Titanic. When the Titanic hit the iceberg, she found a lifeboat that was being captained by a very inept male crew member -- she and another woman took it over and steered them towards rescue.
- DC also has its own "Schindler" who saved a bunch of Jews during the war, but didn't get a movie made about him so isn't as famous. And of course, I didn't take notes during this tour, so I am unable to bring his name to light even now. But, if I recall, he saved 60,000 German Jews by getting them US visas in a hurry.
- We stopped along the block of Q Street between 17th & 18th, right in front of a man's house who was just sitting on his front stoop, drinking coffee and reading the Sunday paper. Suddenly, 200 people swarm around his house, as our guide announces to us that this block is famous for murder and mayhem. In fact, in front of this particular house, a man was killed with nothing but a slingshot. Nice relaxing Sunday for that home owner, I imagine.
- DC had its very own slasher -- like Jack the Ripper. This person would break into people's homes, and slash his victims ruthlessly. This went on on and off for six years until he was finally apprehended. How could this go on so long? His victims were sofas, and other pieces of furniture, and so he was pretty low on the police's priority list.
- Dupont Circle originally had a statue of Admiral Dupont in the center of it -- just as Logan or Thomas or Scott circles have statues of Logan or Thomas or Scott. Except apparently, Admiral Dupont was a pretty terrible admiral. His statue was mocked when it stood in the circle, and eventually, his family took it down and moved it to the family estate, and commissioned the now-beloved fountain to stand in its place.
Our tour was led by Paul Williams of Historic Dupont Circle Main Streets, who literally wrote the book on Dupont Circle. He was as surprised as the rest of us by the sheer turnout for the tour, but stayed in good spirits and projected his voice just as much as he could. And he clearly took delight in all the scandals and murder that he told us about, as did the 200 of us listening, and the odd homeowner who might have learned a little something new about his home that day.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
What I found is a highly residential, very diverse, suburban feeling neighborhood, with a mix of houses going back to the early 1900s up to modern architecture. Our guide, Ed, had lived in the neighborhood for seventeen years and was proud to show us the homes of any resident, past or president, who had even a tenuous claim to fame.
We started out tour by seeing the original Brooks mansion, which lent Brookland its name once the property was divided and sold. In the 1840s, the Queen family had built their daughter and her new husband, Mr. Brooks, a mansion on a hill, sitting on a hundred or so acres. In the 1880s, the land was partitioned and sold. Because it was not sold to a developer but rather sold as individual lots, there's no uniform look to the neighborhood -- everyone built whatever kind of house they wanted to. In addition, because the lots were sold individually, it was a more hospitable neighborhood for African Americans, and the neighborhood has a rich history of prominent African Americans as residents.
The neighborhood also has a rich Catholic history. Not only is Catholic University right across the train tracks, but there are numerous Catholic schools and churches in the neighborhood. In addition, there is a Franciscan monastery up the hill that is truly stunning.
Ed led us up the hill (past a park that used to be a Civil Was fort, but now apparently has really excellent sledding terrain in the winter) and once we'd entered the monastery, gave us ten minutes to explore on our own. The monastery is completely breathtaking.
Inside city limits, tucked away in the middle of a residential neighborhood, is a huge monastery, with a gorgeous rose garden, fountains, cloisters lined with vibrant mosaics, and the "Ave Maria" in every language of the world. That's all I had a chance to see in ten minutes, but I already have plans to go back and spend an afternoon there, so I will report back shortly on what else there is there. Ed said there were catacombs, which I'm looking forward to. But the fraction that I did see completely blew me away, and made the trip out to Brookland well worth it.
Two years ago: The smoky goodness that is Rocklands BBQ.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
I learned so much on this tour.
Almost from the get go, Iowa Circle was not a great neighborhood (hence the Hell's Bottom nickname), but then in 1968 it was pretty much burned to ground or otherwise destroyed in the riots following MLK Jr's assassination. After that, it's been on a slow but steady rebuild, that was greatly accelerated once Whole Foods opened up on P Street.
We learned that the Washington Plaza Hotel was designed by the same man who designed the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami (and now that he mentioned it, I do see a strong resemblance), and across the street we learned about the rival Lutheran churches, as well as the history of the N Street Village.
Perhaps most interesting was just up the street from there, where the Mary McLeod Bethune House has been converted into a historic museum that gives tours! (It's on the list now, so keep an eye out for an upcoming Thing.) Apparently, when Mary McLeod Bethune was in DC, she lived in my neighborhood, out of the top floors of house on Vermont Ave, and on the bottom floor were the meeting places of the National Council of Negro Women. Then someone else on the tour group piped in that the enormous house two doors down from Mary McLeod Bethune's had been a rest home for Confederate veterans, and then was converted into a museum of Confederate history, which flew the Confederate flag! They must have made for uneasy neighbors.
We went down to the retail heart of Logan, P Street between 14th & 15th, where we got a peak at the original Shepard Fairey Obama portrait, and then stopped on 14th Street to talk about the Studio Theater, and the old Automobile Row of the 1950s. Have you ever wondered why so many buildings along 14th Street (like Posto, for example) have those enormous, open, first floors? They were automobile showrooms in the 1950s, and the buildings have all been deemed historic buildings since then, so they can't be redeveloped into less awkward spaces.
The tour ended back in Logan Circle, with the career of General Logan himself. General Logan was a staunch anti-abolitionist, until his experience fighting alongside black Union troops changed his mind and he became a strong advocate for civil rights. After the war, he was elected the Senator for Illinois, and had a townhouse actually on Iowa Circle, which would later be named for him. When he was re-elected to the Senate, several thousand black DC residents gathered in the circle to congratulate him, and he invited every single one of them into his home so he could have the honor of shaking their hand. Apparently, it took well into the night.
This is a brief (well, I tried to keep it brief) overview of the tour -- if you're interested in learning more about the neighborhood, I highly recommend taking the tour when WalkingTown DC comes back around next fall, or get in touch with the Logan Circle Community Association.
Coming up, I tour Brookland, and am way impressed by a neighborhood I knew nothing about!
Related: Bike tour of the Anacostia Riverwalk, Before There Was Harlem..., and North by Northwest.
Monday, June 1, 2009
I started my WalkingTown weekend at 9am on Saturday morning at the entrance to the Southwest fish market, bike in tow. I was there for the bike tour of the Anacostia Riverwalk, along with about twenty other early birds. This tour is put on by the DC Department of Transportation (or DDoT, or "d.") and was actually led by the head of DDoT, Gabe Klein. Allow me a moment to geek out, but how cool is that? If you read this website, you'll remember that Gabe Klein was a bold and progressive choice for the job, having come off of a four year stint as regional VP of ZipCar, and as an advocate for transportation that might not necessarily begin and end with the personal car. And now here he was, in bike shorts and bright yellow biking shirt, ready to give the twenty of us his own guided tour of the Anacostia waterfront.
After giving us an introduction and an overview of the plan to rebuild the Southwest Waterfront area, we cycled in a pack down to the Titanic Memorial, and then east to the Nats Stadium. At the stadium, Klein, with help from three other DDoT employees, talked about the transportation issues surrounding the building of the stadium, and also the colossal engineering project that was the lowering of the South Capitol Street Bridge.
We continued on to the new USDoT, which stands next to the Navy Yard, and they spoke about the grand plan to connect the stadium all the way through the Navy Yard and beyond with new bike trails, hopefully easing some of the commuting congestion for the 20,000 expected new federal workers in the area. Klein mentioned that he's also looking at remaking the bridges, adding extra bus lines down M Street, and hopefully extending the upcoming street car system into the area, along with encouraging mixed-used developments so that people can live, work and play all within walking distance.
After this stop, I get a little hazy, geographically speaking, on where we went next. I know that we rode along a trail that took us next to a boat house where there were crew races:
And then over some railroad tracks and around and behind RFK Stadium, to what I think was Benning Road, where there was a farmers' market. We took a ten minute pause here to use restrooms and refuel, as needed.
From there, we crossed the Anacostia to its east bank, and then rode for several miles along the river, past a roller skating rink, past playgrounds and picnics and people fishing, seeing the crew races and the Navy Yard and the Stadium from an angle that I've never seen before. We met up again at Poplar Point, where one of the DDoT employees talked about the huge mixed-use development they envision some years into the future, with plenty of park land and new housing, retail and work space, all a few steps from the Anacostia Metro Station.
And from there, we went over the South Capitol Street bridge, and back to the fish market. In all, the ride took three hours, I saw parts of DC I've never seen before (and frankly, I'm not sure I can find again), and got an inside look at the vision behind a lot of the development projects that will shape the future of DC.
From there, I had to zip back home to shower and eat before heading to the next tour...Historic Logan Circle.
Related: Before There Was Harlem and North by Northwest
Thursday, May 21, 2009
What makes Amsterdam so good? Well, for one thing, they specialize. There are three items on their menu: falafel, fries and brownies. That's it. You can decide if you want a small or regular falafel sandwich, on white or wheat pita, but that's about it. However, if you require options in your life, look no further than the enormous toppings bar to the left of the register. Just as M'Dawg had toppings galore, Amsterdam provides you with a couple dozen options for topping your falafels, all of them tantalizing and delicious.
The only advice I gave to my falafel novices was not to go too crazy at the toppings bar. It's an easy mistake to make -- a little of this, a little of that, and then suddenly you have 12 different flavors, not all of which are going to taste all that when smushed together.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Welcome to nerd paradise. I am right at home.
Politics and Prose is indeed a paradise for bookworms and intellectuals, an oasis in the dry landscape of chain bookstores. This is among the last of the feisty breed known as the independent bookstore, and one of the reasons they stay relevant is by hosting really excellent authors of both fiction and non, on a regular basis. They also have a great, great selection of books (hard for me to not buy everything I lay my eyes on) and a cafe downstairs. I can't speak personally for the coffee or food, but the coffee in the audience smelled amazing, which is a good sign.
I was excited to be there to see Colson Whitehead, and author I much admire, in particular for his first book, The Intuitionist, which I still think about when I'm in an elevator. In a rather slim novel he spun an alternate reality in which elevator inspectors formed a brotherhood, an exclusive clique, and the two competing schools of inspection were at constant odds. It sounds convoluted, even silly, but the end product was a rich and beautiful metaphor for race in America.
Now he read from Sag Harbor, his newest book, and what he calls "autobiographical" (not quite an autobiography, and certainly not a memoir. As he told us in answer to a question I asked "It would be so easy to write a proposal if I was in a plane crash and had to eat the other people I was stranded with...So, when something real happens in my life, I'll write a memoir, but until then, I have to rely on other things."). Dressed in skinny, skinny hipster jeans, a vest and a tie, and long, thin dreadlocks, Whitehead kept us rapt and laughing, alternating between his strong, poetic prose, and his side comments that kept us laughing, especially his "VISUAL AID."
If you caught his piece of short fiction in the New Yorker, that was a chapter excerpted from the book. It's about a group of black teenage boys, who vacation on Long Island during the summer, spending the weeks by themselves while their parents are working in the city. They get into various shenanigans. That's about it. "You may have heard in some reviews," he told us, impishly, "there's not a lot of plot. Not a lot happens. Just like in Ulysses, by James Joyce. Except my book is shorter, so there's that."
He read two sections from the book, one about the glory and progress of frozen foods, the other about the haircuts his main character received from his father. What I was most struck by, which had escaped me when I read The Intuitionist, or Apex Hides the Hurt, or his short fiction, is that Colson Whitehead writes poetry. His words are forceful, each individually chosen for meaning, layers, sound, tone and cadence. When he reads, he reads with the crescendo of a poetry slammer, each line building and then abruptly fading away. Having written it himself, he is uniquely aware of the invisible line breaks, the ones that had to be sacrificed so his novel could be "fiction" and not "poetry." This is what's lost when reading is done silently, and to oneself. The beauty of the book reading is to hear the words spoken out loud, and learn something about the book, and the author in the process.
Related: Tony Bourdain reads from No Reservations and All Aunt Hagar's Children by DC's own Edward P. Jones
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
Well, that was exciting! I upload a quick picture of our gorgeous first lady and mention how much I love having the Obamas in this great city of ours, and next thing I know, I've scooped the Washington Post, DCist, USA Today and Politico. So, if there are any new readers to the blog, I'd like to say, Welcome! You can read a little bit more about what this blog is all about here and here.
How amazing was the weather this weekend? It was perfect picnic weather, and we all know how much I love a picnic. This time, we headed towards Meridian Hill Park, aka Malcolm X Park, a park that I realize I have spent entirely too little time in.
In addition to the lively drum circle and excellent array of dogs to coo over, Meridian Hill Park boasts a thirteen basin cascade fountain, overflowing from one basin into the next and dramatically cascading down. At least, I presume this is what happens, for the fountain was empty yesterday, but was lined in bright yellow daffodils and was nevertheless quite pleasant to look at.
It also home to the only equestrian statue in DC that depicts a woman riding the horse -- Joan of Arc rides proudly on the terrace above the fountain; a gift from "ladies of France in exile in New York."
As for our group, we stuck to usual picnic activities like eating cinnamon swirl bundt cake, joking in the sunshine and playing Uno. We whiled away the afternoon nibbling on potato salad and an huge sandwich, playing skips and reverses, as the drum circle beats drifted down to us.
Related: Cherry Blossom Picnic
Friday, May 8, 2009
I just came back from a visit to the West Coast, and everyone I talked to would say "so, how's Washington these days?" and I would answer "well, we have some pretty hot neighbors, that's for sure."
I'm not back one day when the Michelle Obama took the neighbor thing one step further, by eating lunch at Good Stuff Eatery, across the street from my office. So what did I do? Joined in the growing crowd, whipped out my camera, and waited for the First Lady to exit the building.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Then over to the Jefferson Hotel (which is currently under construction), which was "the hotel where Dick Morris got in trouble for sucking a call girl's toes."
Then a few more blocks down Penn Ave to the memorial for General Winfield Scott Hancock, who was the failed Democratic presidential nominee in 1880. Here we had to do a wheelbarrow dare, so David got on his hands while I held his feet and walked him once around a set of cones.