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Ah, the DMV. Gotta love it.

There are DMV stories, and then there are DMV Stories. I love this part best:

“The DMV worker got up from her stool, and paused a minute before yelling back at her: “MA’AM! TAKE a look around you. There are only three white folks in this entire building! This is NORTHEAST! It’s not because you’re black, it’s because you’re DRUNK!””

It’s a classic read. Thanks much to Thomas for writing it!

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Helen Thomas to Speak at Arlington Library on Sunday

from Arlington web site

Long-time journalist Helen Thomas will be speaking at Arlington’s Centeral Library at 1015 North Quincy Street on Sunday at 2:00. From the Arlington Web page:

Often called “The First Lady of the Press,” veteran White House reporter, author and Hearst Newspapers columnist Helen Thomas looks back as an eyewitness to history and delves into her story when she sits for a conversation with Arlington Public Library Director Diane Kresh. This event is in recognition of National Women’s History Month. A book signing will follow the remarks.

Come on down and meet a true legend in the world of journalists.

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Weekend Art

Many of you know that I’m not one to toot my own horn (I’m sure Carl will leave a joke in the comments about that one), but I wanted to let you all know about an incredible photography show going on now at H&F Fine Arts. Curated by J.T. Kirkland, “black and white and…all over” features an eclectic mix of over 100 black and white photographs from experienced veterans as well as up and coming local photographers. From the press release (PDF):

    To highlight the joint articulation of the various works, the identities
    of individual artists will be subordinated; the price of each piece and the initials of its creator will be
    presented on a brightly colored sticker meant to contrast with the dominant black and white palette.
    With the names and reputations of the artists subtracted from the exhibition, the work of seasoned
    veterans will hang alongside that of newcomers just finding their footing in the art world. The curator
    challenges viewers to try and tell the difference while posing the question of whether the distinction is
    even significant.

I took part in hanging the photos last weekend and was amazed by how different each artist is from one another and how amazing each piece is. In fact, if I was independently loaded, I would probably buy half of the photographs hanging in the exhibit. This show hosts quite a line up of photographers:

    Erin Antognoli, James W. Bailey, Danny Conant, Max Cook, Stephen Crowley, Justin Hoffmann, Michael Dax Iacovone, Nick Jbara, Jane Jeffers, J.T. Kirkland, Angela Kleis, Prescott Lassman, Thomas Paradis, Aleksei Pechnikov, Susana Raab, Alexandra Silverthorne, Jim Tetro, Bryan Whitson, Lloyd Wolf

I invite you all to join me at the Artist’s Reception tomorrow, Saturday March 1st, from 5 to 8PM. The exhibit runs until March 29th, and please note that the gallery will be closed between March 21-25.

H&F Fine Arts
3311 Rhode Island Avenue
Mount Rainier, MD 20712

(Don’t let the Maryland address scare you – it’s about one block across the DC/MD border)

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The Morning News: Leap Day Edition

Happy Leap Day, that day that comes around once each four years to prolong the suck that is February!

District Property Assessments up 7% in 2007

Congratulations DC! Despite the mortgage lender crises, housing starts on the decline and all manner of other market-depressing factors, your assessed values according to the Revenue office went up 7% last year! Be sure to pay your property tax online promptly to help overcome the $96M deficit we talked about earlier this week.

Maryland Cuts Blue Crab Harvest

There will be less of your amazingly tasty blue crabs harvested this year, so expect prices to take a hike at area crab shacks for a bushel of these tasty crustaceans. Please also take a moment to chuckle politely at the headline writer at WJLA.com, who forgot that it’s “because”. Not “becuase”. Go on. Feel superior.

Wait, that’s against the law? I thought it was a perq!

Turns out the deputy director of the Prince George’s County Department of Corrections has been fired for impersonating a Fairfax County law enforcement officer. She’s been charged in Fairfax County for the infraction. Seriously, what situation makes you feel that’s appropriate?

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Working Hard for a Parking Spot

I worked damn hard for this parking spot at 10th and F Street tonight.

First, I helped a flustered woman figure out how to open her super fancy car. Then, when we realized her issue was a dead battery, not being blonde, I jumped started her car.

My reward for doing good deed? A one-hour parking zone till 9pm and it was only 6pm. A night of meter feeding then ensued.

No good deed goes unpunished, eh?

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Today’s the 28th, which means there’s but 6 more performances of Zimmerman’s Argonautika at the Shakespeare Theater Company. Tonight, tomorrow, and two shows each on Saturday and Sunday. If you’re trying to remember whether I recommended the show or not, well, good luck with that – despite getting to see it opening week I never did a writeup.

Perversely, that’s not because I didn’t like it – I did – or because I had nothing to say about it. In fact, I had too much to say about it and couldn’t decide on an effective tack. So I’ll tell you in short: if you think you might like to see it, you should go – I suspect you probably will.

If you’re interested in a few of the tidbits that made me so conflicted, look below the fold.

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Are You There Library of Congress? It’s Me, Max

Everyone got excited early last month when The Library of Congress created their very own Flickr account, aimed at sharing some old public domain photos with us. I think we all agree that this was and still is a very cool idea on their part, but come on! Don’t they know what Flickr is all about? You can’t just post 3,115 photos in the course of a week and then completely stop for two months. Their last photo (featured above) was posted on January 8th, has 48,430 views at the time of this writing, and 306 favorites. Am I missing something? Is there a strike going on over there at the Library Grande?

Obviously there is an interest in their photos by Joe Q. Public so come on, give us some more! I want to see a photo of a dude driving a tractor through a field wearing some grungy overalls and chewing on a piece of hay. I want to see some Confederate soldiers with their muskets in one hand and a tin cup full of battlefield coffee in the other. You know, cool old photos. What would you like to see?

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Hands-free hijab

I see a fair amount of women wearing the hijab, but last night was an amusing first for me. Coming the other direction down the sidewalk was a woman having a conversation with someone on a cellphone using a hands-free device. Said hands-free device being her snug headscarf, into which she’d stuck the tongue of her flip-open phone, where it was being held snugly against her face so that she could talk into it without holding it up. Darn clever when the wind is whipping by and making your fingers numb.

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The Morning News: Winter’s Last Gasp Edition

Yeah, it’s cold this morning, but this could well be the end of the evil winter cold snaps, as the weather on Monday may reach 60°, more in line with March temperatures. Hold on, winter-haters, the end is near.

Remember Those Firings at the CFS Agency? Yeah, Not Fired.

An administrative officer has recommended those fired by the Mayor in the wake of the Banita Jacks tragedy be rehired. The hearing officer wrote that their due process rights had been violated by the mayor. Now, this isn’t a final case yet, so there’s still hope that someone who gets fired can actually remain fired, should the head of the agency accept the Mayor’s choice and reject the administrative officer’s choice. After that, further appeals go to the courts system.

If You Go To Nationals Park: Take Metro. Really. Don’t Drive.

The District yesterday has announced plans to limit parking on streets near the stadium by the use of 1- and 2-hour meters, and Zone 6 parking permit areas. Parking in the area around the stadium is going to be restricted to Season Ticket Holders, mostly, for the first season or two until new construction in the area, with garages underground, are complete. So take Metro to Navy Yard. You won’t regret it.

The Funniest DC Celeb is…

I’m not exactly who Marc Sterne is, but he was crowned the funniest DC Celebrity at the DC Improv last night. No word who else was up on stage, but it seems Sterne is the funniest celeb that would come to their contest. Congratulations?

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Receipt, We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Receipt

Now, I’ve been reading about a number of these incidents over the past year, where the compulsory showing of receipts at the door, of well, almost every store, as a way to prove the junk in your shopping bag you just paid for 12 feet away was, um, well paid for. One of my favorite blog haunts, Boing Boing, has posted about the latest in the consumer representing their rights not to be detained (and not to be presumed guilty of a crime) by an establishment for having done nothing wrong.

Home Depot customer detained by DC police for not showing receipt
from Boing Boing by Xeni Jardin

A DC man was recently detained, in violation of his fourth amendment rights, by a DC Metropolitan Police officer who was present at the time the customer didn’t stop to show a receipt to a Home Depot security guard. He’s posted an open letter to Home Depot’s CEO (the illegal detainment was the straw that broke the camel’s back) as well as a copy of his official complaint to the police department.
Similar summaries from other cities have been posted to Boing Boing before involve Tiger Direct, and Circuit City.

Now I’ve been incited to stand up for my rights, but my wife always asks me to pipe down whenever I want to say “no thank you” to the old guy at the Costco, but, I’m sure some of you, fair readers, have stories to share about this practice (which may actually be illegal in some areas in MD, DC, and VA) to detain shoppers and force them to show a receipt. I’d be curious to see if anyone can post here from both sides of the story…

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DC Quarter Rejected

quarterfail.jpg DCist is reporting that the U.S. Mint has rejected the 3 presented designs for the DC “State” Quarter on the grounds that it does not comply with the law that commissioned the 50 State Quarter program. Apparently, at the root of the violating matter is the presence not of Benjamin Banneker, or of the DC Flag, but rather the unofficial DC Motto: “Taxation Without Representation”.

So, that leaves us with a choice. Do we go with “From Many, One” or its alternate “Justitia Omnius” ? Or maybe something more like, “We put up with all your shitty, batshit crazy politicians, just give us a fucking quarter already”?

Too damn silly, maybe.

How about “Come see the Cherry Blossoms, but stand to the right on the escalator.”

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Did I say $75M? I meant $96M.

Turns out the $75M estimate that WTOP went with as part of this morning’s news update is really more like $96M… City CFO Natwar Gandhi attributes much of this shortfall to the drop in commercial value from $1.85 per $100 of assessed value down to just under a dollar per $100. Now, $100M out of a $5.5B budget isn’t a huge shortfall, but that’s still a decent sized hit for the city to have to make up.

So the council has a choice at this point: repeal the tax cut they just gave to companies that operate out of DC, or find a new source of $96M to make up for the shortfall. Or, they need to raise taxes elswhere. Or, they need to find $96M to cut from the budget for 2009.

Not an easy choice.

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Lost in The Pizza Triangle

Just Give Me a Pizza

I’ll admit it. I’m a sucker for Pizza Hut’s stuffed crust pizza. You know, the one that packs as much cheese as possible into every crevice of the pizza pie? Wait – are there crevices on a pizza? That’s a little disgusting. Anyway, about once a year I find myself in the mood for some of this cheesy goodness and immediately reach for the phone to have one delivered pronto. My annual craving reared its greasy little head last week so I set off on what I thought would be an easy mission: find my local Pizza Hut.

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The Morning News: Just Three More Days Edition

Three more days in this quadrennial joke that is Leap Year February. Just three days and we’re through the worst of winter and Spring will be just around the cusp. For those of us who are seasonally-affected, making it through February is like making it through mile 20 of a marathon, or seeing the light at the end of tunnel is not, in fact, an on-coming train. Just three more days.

Cab Drivers Whine to DC Council Committee

Taxi drives spent time complaining to the DC Council yesterday that the new meter system will impoverish them to level unbeknownst to cab drivers since the D.C. Cab era. One driver remarked that he “pities the fool” who thinks meters are a good idea. There was also a strange remark about “jibber jabber.”

DC Can’t Handle Naked Statues

Never mind that they’re in various stages of grief and anger at the loss of their loved ones, the Capital Memorials Advisory Commission said that the naked figures could be offensive. I guess the taboo of nakedness far outweighs the artist’s judgment that we all stand naked and unprotected against the grief of the loss of loved ones, and against the unexpected violence of terrorists. But there’s boobies. So, no statues.

$75M Budget Gap in DC

WTOP is reporting that there’s a $75M Budget Gap in the city’s bottom line. Income and Sales Tax receipts are down this year, which was not expected, and as a result, the city will have to find some creative new ways of sealing the rift in the budget.

Another Great Success Story at DC Childrens’ Services

The Examiner has a chilling story of failure by the DC Childrens Services department in which a local elementary school principal was told that she doesn’t have the tools or experience to identify child abuse, all the while a little girl was getting abused by her male relatives. Nice work, DC.

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Want a Wagon?

Now when was the last time you went cross town in a wagon?

I do not mean a little red wagon either, but a full sized, horse-drawn wagon from the wild west days.

From the looks of this carriage wagon just off Florida Avenue, it went cross town somewhat recently. I wonder why and how.

If you had a horse-drawn carriage wagon out front, where would you go? I think I would race through Rock Creek Park morning rush hour traffic with a grin.

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Caps Rob Columbus, Con Montreal


So the NHL trading deadline came and went today. Think the Caps did anything noteworthy?

Well, they didn’t trade away Kolzig.

Instead, they sorta replaced him. Somehow, McPhee snookered the Canadiens and swiped their best goalie – Cristobal Huet – from them, giving the Habs a very large gamble in net….and in a very tight playoff race, to boot.

Oh, that’s not all the robbery your Caps got away with. I’m nearly ready to call the cops, they practically got away with murder by hockey stick!

Fans of Pettinger, say good bye. He’s packing his stuff for Vancouver. In the air, he’ll pass your new enforcer, Matt Cooke. Not a bad deal.

By far and away the most interesting and possibly the most troublesome trade (to me, a Penguins fan) is the acquisition of Sergei Fedorov from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Might want to frisk McPhee, he may have taken Ken Hitchcock’s wallet while he was stealing the venerable Russian forward.

Some may say it’s not the greatest grab – Fedorov’s on the back end of his career, no doubt. And he’s likely to end up again in Motor City next year (he’s an Unrestricted Free Agent come July 1). But I think this was a steal, honestly. And a scary, scary move. Pair up this Russian with That One? Yeah, an Ovie-Sergei pairing is about as scary as Crosby-Malkin two states over. (Shameless plug – did you hear what magic Ray Shero did up there? NICE!)

After today’s to-the-wire excitement, I’m fairly sure now the Caps are serious about a playoff run. Only five points behind the Hurricanes (and sitting in the 11th slot), McPhee’s putting the screws to the team. These moves – if they land the suddenly-more-than-lukewarm Caps into the playoffs – might go down as one of the more brilliant deadline con jobs of the century, or I forsee a lynch mob outside the Verizon Center come mid-April.

Who knows? I’ll say this, if the Caps vault into the playoffs, I may actually buy playoff tickets from them this year.


It’s still the Caps. Now if they faced down Pittsburgh in the Conference Finals….

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My brethren

Just because I’m feeling a little zombielike myself today, though more of the sleep deprivation style than the brain-seeking type. Also because I came across this picture while looking for something else. It’s from October’s zombie lurch and is by James Calder, the same fellow who provided the excellent ‘suspicious package‘ photo from pants optional Friday no-pants day on the Metro.

Calder has a lot of neat shots out there that are on his own site (hosted by SmugMug) rather the Flickr, including some fun DC Rollergirls ones. It’s a great way to spend some time when you’re feeling a bit out of it. If you’re not in the mood to surf, at least take a gander at this one.

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Justice sort of prevails

Luckily for everyone who inhabits the world, and particularly for people who might have occassion to knock on his door, Keith Washington has been convicted and will be spending some time behind bars. It’s not perfect – the jury couldn’t bring themselves to convict him of second degree murder – but they did agree on two counts of first degree assault and two of using a handgun in a crime of violence. With no mandatory time on the assault charges we can only be sure of 5 years for each of the handgun counts. WaPo didn’t make it clear if the minimums could run concurrently.

It’s a great relief, I think, that the jury convicted. I’d become worried that this clown was going to skate because each not-yet-punished bits of whacko behavior wasn’t going to be tried in a vacuum, despite them clearly providing plausibility when taken together. WaPo had earlier reported that this jury wouldn’t hear about Washington being indicted for waving a gun at someone who said they’d simply knocked on his door by mistake, something that certainly makes the shooting victims in this case a lot more believable when they said Washington simply flipped his shit and started shooting.

Sentencing is in late April; here’s hoping they land near the maximums of 25 and 10 years per count.

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Can Plz Have….Hot Dog?

One of my secret guilty pleasures about DC is the hot dogs – specifically, the vendor carts out on every appreciable corner where tourists walk. It never fails – when out with Mysterious M doing a photo jaunt or museum run, I *have* to stop to get a hot dog. Or, if my stomach hankers, a brat.

There’s just something very American-y about hot dogs and vendors: be it at a ballpark or sporting event, on the streets surrounding the Mall, or on a backyard grill, they’re like kryptonite to me. And you can talk all you want about what’s in them and how much fat and calories they have – I’ll just put my hands over my ears and ‘lalalalalalala’ you. They taste good (especially with dill pickle, French’s mustard and a nice bit of sauerkraut) and that’s all I need to enter gastric heaven.

So when I saw this article in today’s online express, I immediately began lobbying for our building to have one. Despite the fact we have no vending machines whatsoever, nor are they “allowed” by building management.

I suppose I’ll make it a point to suggest some weekend activities in town, conveniently near one of these contraptions. Anyone want to help me out and let me know where they’re located in the District? My wife doesn’t read this, so you can put it in the comments section.

It’ll be our little secret.

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A Tour of the New Ballpark

Nationals Signs This weekend, as part of the Super Flush, I got an excellent tour of the new stadium under construction. Nationals Park (which I hope it remains) is truly a wonder to behold. The concrete and glass exterior was the part I was most concerned about when the initial HOK designs were released. I was worried that it wouldn’t look as good as Oriole Park in its red-brick, or any of the other new stadiums that have been built over the past couple years, as when I think cast concrete, I think of any of the various ugly ass buildings downtown that have all the personality of a washed-up tax accountant. Nationals Park has found a way, though, to make concrete sexy in a way that I didn’t think was possible.

We were led around the insides of the stadium, and the aura is of a still unfinished construction site, with building materials crowding the halls and various craftsmen hard at work on all the details. The seats are in place, the main structures complete and the scoreboard up and lit for all to see. The dugouts and locker rooms are very near completion, and the stadium’s plumbing is, as of this weekend greenlit. The beer lines are in and all lead down to the two condo-sized beer coolers that will pipe icy-cold deliciousness to taps throughout the stadium. And, as of this afternoon, you can enjoy a nice half-smoke from the Ben’s Chili Bowl stand that’s going into the stadium. No word on which labels will be on the tap handles just yet, though.

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