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Politicizing the baseball game

Not being as big a fan of baseball itself that Tom is, when he and I go to games, I tend to find a whole list of accompanying vignettes to opine about/amuse myself with. As such, I have a list. I rate the quality of the performance of the National Anthem. I scoff in annoyance when people yell “Oh!” on the line “O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,” because it’s tasteless in Baltimore and tasteless AND nonsensical here. I have opinions on the mascot’s interaction with the crowd, the musical choices played out over the PA, etc.

So it should come as a surprise to exactly no one that I have an opinion on the booing of the president as he threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Good heavens, people, can you not just give it a rest for three minutes?

I’m not a Bush fan. I don’t like his policies, I don’t like how he conducts the office of the Presidency, and I have more than a few colorful adjectives I’ve been known to throw his way when he appears on my television screen. But throwing out a ceremonial first pitch at the first baseball game of the season is about as non-controversial as it gets.

Is it really necessary to crap on the excitement of every little kid who came to the game but isn’t yet old enough to comprehend the nuances of foreign policy and statesmanship? Must we turn everything into an opportunity for expressing our impotent disapproval?

For my part, I chose to react with neither applause nor jeers. Instead, as Don suggested, I took a moment to silently reflect on how unique it is to live in a city where the President of the United States can drop by to throw out the first pitch at the beginning of the baseball season.

So on Opening Day 2009, let’s enjoy the start of the season and boo President McClintobama another day.

Politicizing the baseball game

Originally uploaded by tiffany bridge

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Happy Happenstance at King Street Metro

Have you ever been to the George Washington Masonic Memorial? You can get a tour that takes you to the top and from the observation deck you can practically see Europe. Great views. Heck of a building, too, and great displays. Definitely go check it out sometime.

I was just there last week for a meeting and afterward, as I made my way along the platform at the King Street Metro stop, I noticed a gentleman smiling at me as he walked toward me. I returned the friendly gesture, figuring perhaps I just didn’t recognize him – perhaps an old friend or a business acquaintance?

Anyway, as we walked toward each other he started talking about how nice my tie was, asking where I got it and going on about the quality and design.

“My wife got it for me,” I explained. “You can’t trust me with matters of fashion.” The man laughed and went on his way, but not before marveling again at how nice it was.

I find it quite refreshing to be somewhere people would stop someone for a brief conversation and to share such warmth. The last time I had that happen was when I visited my brother back home in Raleigh last year.

When was the last time you slowed down to talk with someone for a few minutes, just to exchange pleasantries? It seems like it’s about time to do it again, don’t you think? More civility, less rudeness – that’s what this area needs.

Photo: George Washington Masonic Memorial Originally uploaded by carlweaver

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Grocery Strike Averted

The UFCW has reached a tentative agreement with Safeway & Giant to keep their employees at work, and the deal has gone to a vote of the union members effective tomorrow. Details at this point aren’t known, but we’ll know more on Wednesday on what, if anything, was lost to the workers or to the corporations.

Good news: No picket lines to cross.
Bad news: You’re still shopping at the surliest store in town.

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This can’t be good: Metro All Lines alert

This just in from the Metro Alert system:

Disruption at All Stations. (Expect delays in the Metrorail system due to a system-wide signaling problem.)

Signaling problem? Yikes… I can’t wait to get on for the ride home!


New alert:

Disruption at All Stations was cleared. Thank you for riding Metro.

I don’t think I feel much better about this. What do you think? Eager to get on a train today?

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Questionable fame

Photo courtesy of Me
But hey, I’ll take what we can get. My picture here from early February has just gone up at the excellent “Blog” of “Unnecessary” quotation marks. Sadly this is not the only time our fair area has appeared on this blog, as unnecessary quotation marks are pretty much an epidemic all over the land. Some other gems that a quick search on the term “DC” turns up there are a terrifying sign from a Quiznos, another that looks to me like the Crystal City Underground advertising a “specialty”a gem from the book fair. Have you seen any good ones?

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Nationals Open New Stadium in Dramatic Fashion

I couldn’t help but think, as Ryan Zimmerman rounded first, his fist triumphantly thrust in the air, that I would not have written the ending quite as well as it had come out. With the remaining crowd on their feet and cheering, despite the bitter cold and wind, the new ballpark became the Nationals new Home.

Left Field Crowd (Tight)

I arrived at the Stadium in 40 minutes today, some hour and twenty minutes more quickly than our Saturday debacle, and after making it through a thorough, yet friendly, search of my person and camera bag, it was onward into the stadium. The Braves were taking batting practice. The concourse was full of Nats Pack handing out game booklets and stadium information, as well as a number of photographers taking fan photos and capturing the new ballpark.

I settled into Section 108 to watch the Braves put on a hitting show. The ball was carrying well into the outfield, and several lucky fans got souvenirs to take home. Around 6, I headed up to get a Kielbasa and a Coke from the stand at the top of our section. There was a bit of a line, but 15 minutes later I had dinner and was a happy guy again. Tiff went for sodas around 6:30 and had a bit of a wait, but everything was happy for the most part. My frustration came at 7:15 when I waited 40 minutes for a Half-smoke All-the-way from the Nats Dogs concession. While the Ben’s Chili Bowl line was horrendous, the other hotdog stands still carry the signature half-smoke with Ben’s Chili, but the line was bad. It moved, sure, but sporadically, and it seemed that concession workers were still getting a feel for their roles, as I saw many people bumping into each other. The only thing they seemed to be short on was popcorn. Tasty as the half-smoke was, it wasn’t worth a 40 minute wait.

I hear the other lines were pretty long as well, but I suspect much will get better as we get further into the season.

The Nationals, despite a solid first inning of offense, went 24 batters out in a row, between their last hit in the 1st and Zimmerman’s homer with 2 outs in the 9th. I was hoping for a bit more offense out of the club. But, the pitching held true, and kept the Braves from doing little to catch up to the 2-0 lead. Lo Duca’s passed ball in the 9th was a real heartbreaker, and at least one guy in our row wondered what Rauch was doing on the mound instead of the Chief. But in the end, it didn’t matter. Part of me wondered, as my friend Ben said to me later, if we weren’t all in some shared hallucination, seeing what our minds wanted to happen, instead of some sadder truth. I’m thankful it was real.

Row of Seats Asking for a Ball Beer Man Darryl Waiting for a Ball

Let Teddy Win! Nats Pack Girl Warehouse Bunting Left Field Concessions

Read on for a status report on the ballpark

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(Pre) Opening Night at Nationals Park

It was cold, but man was it worth it.

My friends and I who share a 20 game package all gathered in the upper level of the outfield seats tonight for the 3-0 exhibition win over the Baltimore Orioles. The whole stadium is such a massive improvement over the decrepit and dilapidated RFK Stadium

Clock (Closeup)

I was amazed, also by the efficient concessions (though they were out of hot chocolate by the fifth inning) and by the wide concourses and the comfy seats. I was not so pleased with my transit experience on the way in to Nationals Park. We had a bear of a time getting down to the new park amidst the Cherry Blossom and Kite Festival traffic. We got to Courthouse about 2:40, had to wait 10 minutes for a train that was packed to the gills. We waited 15 minutes for the next train, which made it as far as Foggy Bottom before some idiot held the doors open and caused the train to break down. Then, once we got to L’Enfant Plaza it was close to a 20 minute wait for a green line train.

I love that people are taking public transit this weekend, it’d just be nice if there was some for us to take.

Once we got to the stadium, though, I do have to say I was floored. There are parts of the stadium I am going to love and love and love and love (I refer, here, to the aforepictured clock, and other photos I took of it…) and the incredible high-def scoreboard that feels more like watching a game on TV (the good parts of course) and the ambience that makes me glad to be paying money for good experiences.

There’ll be more on the ballpark in the coming days, but for a moment, enjoy just some photos of baseball in the Springtime.

Nationals Park Logo Clock (Closeup) Dusk Outfield Toward the Scoreboard

Welcome Home! Opening Week! Getcher Programs! Ben's at Nationals Park

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The Blossoms Cometh

Photo uploaded by Ghost_Bear

It’s that time of year again. Our area’s arguably largest tourist pull, the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

Yes, yes, everyone’s covering it, from Express to DCist. I won’t bore you with a rehash.

Actually, I come with a few questions.

My lovely wife and I have been down every year since we relocated here and frankly, I love it not so much for the blossoms (they’re gorgeous), but moreso to watch and photograph the people. I pick up a lot of great observation vignettes for my own writing; it’s like hitting the writer’s lotto.

This year, we’ve got a couple of good friends headed down from New York City. They’ve never been to the District and will only be here the first weekend of April. So naturally, I got them all excited about the Festival. It helps they’re both photogs, too, so if you see four people (three girls ignoring the one guy with them) wandering around with extensive camera gear, that’d be us. Picture-taking is pretty much a given. So is taking Metro.

Thing is, I’m trying to figure out what else to do on that Saturday before we head over to Old Towne for dinner and staking out a nice patch of marina rail for the fireworks. There’s the photo safaris, but those cost money and we’re decent photo people. So I think that’s out.

I was also considering the Edo Master’s collection at the Sackler. Or possibly the Japanese Cultural Fair, which promises a tea ceremony, origami and calligraphy demonstrations.

So what should I do? Any readers attended these in years prior? Or should I shy away from other Festival events and take them to the standard DC sites we always funnel tourists to? If so, what would you suggest?

Frankly, I’m stumped. It’s the first time we’ve had friends visit who could only stay two days; normally, we have practically a week to show them around or point them somewhere – this is a bit harder.

Oh, and even worse? They’re amateur foodies, like us. So figuring out good spots to eat is also on tap – suggestions for lunch would be appreciated, since none of the ladies have my appreciating taste for the curbside vendors and their cuisine. Dinner’s already planned, so fortunately I don’t look like a total incompetant to our jet-setting New York socialites.

So, anyone have some great suggestions to help a guy out?

Tidal Cherries, uploaded by bhrome

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Photography Exhibit: The Migrant Project

There’s just a few weeks remaining of a photo exhibit at the Mexican Cultural Institute here in Washington, and there’s a special event at the Institute on Monday night, welcoming photographer Rick Nahmias who captured the images of those migrant farmers who probably helped pick what you’re having for dinner tonight.


From the exhibit text:

Though images of migrant farm workers of the 1930s and 40s are now iconic to many, rarely seen are their contemporaries – one of America’s largest invisible and cast-off populations. “The Migrant Project,” an in-depth photo-documentary (with bilingual text), proudly places the faces and stories of those currently working our fields front and center, providing a present day microcosm for numerous issues surrounding the human cost of feeding America.

DC has a fairly large migrant population, as well, and I suspect their roles in our lives are not quite so different: they’re a part of a society we don’t like to talk about, but carry tremendous value for us.

Maybe go check out the exhibit, think a bit more on it.

Photo courtesy of University of New Mexico Press

Mexican Cultural Institute
2829 16th St NW
Washington, DC 20009

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Dramatic Suicide Closes DC Court Lobby

A man leapt to his death from the 4th floor interior balcony at the DC Superior Court building this afternoon around 3:30pm. The lobby of the courthouse is still closed and considered a crime scene. If you have business at the courthouse this afternoon or tomorrow morning, be prepared to use the alternate entrances to the building.

If you’re a potential juror tomorrow, talk with Juror Services to find out if you’ll be needed for duty tomorrow.

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Interactive Memorial

The Vietnam War Memorial is one of those hard icons of DC that I think of when I picture DC in my mind. Today, Footnote.com launched their Annotated Vietnam War Memorial site, which allows people to annotate those loved ones lost in the war.

Picture 10.png

The site is running fairly slow right now, under the load of links from various sites, but when it’s stabilized I suspect that it will be a treasure trove of information from various sources, and a fitting twenty-first century memorial to those who gave their lives at the behest of the country in Vietnam.

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Clang Clang! Clang Clang!

Photo courtesy of Thomas Hawk

Attention, all you Ye Old Towne Alexandria tourists: the King Street Trolley is coming. Announced on the city’s website, the trolley will be running in 15 minute intervals from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on the weekends, motoring between the King Street Metrorail and the waterfront. It will stop at all signed stops along King Street, which are about 2 blocks apart.

Oh, and it will ring a very annoying brass bell for as many times as the driver sees fit.

Here’s the rub, though: it’s not on rails (thank heaven). It’s not tied to an electric wire above. So…is it really a “trolley”? According to the press release, “the trolley sports a black and red exterior, rubber tires for a smooth ride, and adjustable paned windows.”

Don’t know about you folks, but from where I come from, that’s called a BUS.

Which is quite appropriate, actually, as the trolley will replace the DASH bus service that ran free on the weekends. The last DASH run will be discontinued after this Sunday’s service.

So let me get this straight….the city council approved and funded a trolley service for a route that’s sort of covered by an existing bus service, but with more frequent runs in a vehicle that isn’t really a trolley but more like a bus?

The service was approved as part of the city’s National Harbor Initiative and will complement the water taxi service offered from the National Harbor Development across the Mighty P. (That service, incidentally, also begins on April 1.) The City Council is hoping / expecting hundreds of new tourists visiting Old Town from these services and, I suspect, try to make it easier for DC residents to cross the river and dine on the Virginia side of the river. Which isn’t a bad thing, really. The shops and restaurants along King Street and the harbor are actually very nice and present excellent food (if a tad pricey).

We’re taking some friends from NYC down there over the next weekend (they’re here for the obvious DC event, the blossoms), so hopefully I can not only get a few photos of these beasties but maybe see if they do indeed alleviate traffic and cart more people down, as the Council hopes.

As long as that clanging bell doesn’t annoy me, that is…

Ode to Cartier Bresson, courtesy of Thomas Hawk

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Jill Foster and the Karaoke Cab Driver

Local DC Media Maker Jill Foster got serenaded in a cab yesterday on the way to work. Hear the troubadour’s song here. Jill writes:

I got into a cab today where the driver says “Welcome to my karaoke cab miss.”

He then asked my name and began singing – as in sang with portable mic wearing a cowboy
hat – fun songs during the cab fare. I was cackling as he agreed to make a mobile
podcast right there via Utterz.com using my cell phone.

Does it get any better than this? Thanks, Jill, for sharing the joy!

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Wine is for Classy People


If you love wine but only know that it sometimes comes in red and other times in white (and sometimes it comes in a box), you should really think about taking a Wine Class for Beginners at the Whitemore House in Dupont. From the GiraMondo Wine Adventures website:

    This class will cover the following topics:

    - Where do wine flavors and aromas com from

    - How are these aromas categorized

    - How to pair food and wine

    - What are the main differences between old world and new world wines

    - Basic wine etiquette (restaurant, liquor store, party at home)

When it comes to wine etiquette, is there much more than pulling the cork and taking a swig? Well, besides letting the wine breath sometimes? Anyway, tonight’s class has done sold out, but there is another one scheduled for April 16th and 7:00PM. Until then, happy drinking! I know I’m looking forward to the weather warming up so I can crack open my Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. A glass or two of that up on the roof deck, well, it just doesn’t get much better than that.

Photo by F1.4

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Tonight’s Par-tay with Jonny Goldstein: Getting Visual With it With Jesse Thomas and Leslie Bradshaw

Jonny Goldstein has a great line-up tonight. From his web site:

Join us as we talk art, design, web 2.0, branding, business, and love in the age of the interwebs with Jesse Thomas and Leslie Bradshaw.

Just one glimpse at the collage above by Jesse, and you will realize he does not look at the world the way you and I do. And that’s a good thing.

Jesse, or jessesaves as he is known on twitter, is one of those people who combines artistic talent, curiosity, the web, and entrepreneurial instincts to connect to the world in interesting ways. If you live in DC, you probably have seen his artwork on the Busboys and Poets website, in galleries around town, or on a skateboard. He’s also a part owner and creator of allfacebook.com and socialtimes.com with Nick O’Neill. When he’s not in DC creating, Jesse bounces around the globe looking for design inspiration: for example He will be travelling to China with AIGA on a design expedition in May. To find out more about the phenomenon that is Jesse Thomas, check out this article.

His partner in crime, Leslie Bradshaw rocks in her own right. A former producer for the alway entertaining McLaughlin Group TV show, “She currently She currently balances dual roles as a full time Public Affairs Community Manager for New Media Strategies, as well as the President and Operational Director of JESS3.” And special bonus: Leslie spent some of her formative years in Junction City, just miles from where Jonny grew up.

When: 9PM EST, March 26, 2008

Who: Jesse Thomas and Leslie Bradshaw, Jonny Goldstein, Scott Stead, and you.

What: It’s not just an interactive web TV talk show, it’s a Par-tay.

Where: jonnyspartay.com

Photo: pwning my boss’s office while he is out sick Originally uploaded by jonny goldstein

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Kaine Signs Tax Refunds

If you paid a tax to have your car inspected, or for a rental car, or for selling your house, you’re getting it all back. The Supreme Court of Virginia decided that those taxes were unconstitutionally assessed and collected and should be returned to those who paid them. Here’s the skinny on what you’re getting back, when:

- If it was DMV-related, the DMV will be writing you a check (isn’t that a nice turn of events?) some time soon, but the schedule won’t be out until the first of April. This includes the 1% initial registration fee, as well as the $10 regional registration fee.

- If it was related to your house, the Clerks of the Circuit Courts will settle with the settlement agents within 60 days, who will then in turn refund anyone who paid the “congestion relief fee.”

- If it was a 2% vehicle rental tax, a 2% “transient occupancy tax” (I think that’s a hotel tax, it might be also applicable if you put up a hobo at any point and were taxed thereupon.) or a 5% sales tax on motor vehicle repair, or a $10 safety inspection fee, then your money is going to the Unclaimed Property Division of the Department of the Treasury. You can request refunds from them, but there’s a set of guidelines forthcoming on how that’s all going to work.

Sounds complicated? It’s probably intended to be that way, so that the State can keep your money because you won’t go through the hoops.

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Capitol Police say, "Whoopsie Daisies!"

It’s nice to know that in this post 911 world we’re so well protected here in Washington, aka “terrorist target numero uno”. First, CNN reports that we have air marshals on less than 1% of all U.S. flights and now we read that Mr. Michael Gorbey, the samurai sword, shotgun-slinging suspect, had an explosive device in his truck that has taken the Capitol Police three weeks to find. Three. Weeks. Sure, they “used a robotic camera to look inside the vehicle and a powerful water hose to destroy suspicious items inside”, but they completely missed a device “made of a can of gunpowder taped to a box of shotgun shells and a bottle with buckshot or BB pellets”. Maybe they thought it was some new beverage brought to us by the makers of Vitamin Water?

Seriously. Seriously? It’s not like they have many terrorists and criminals walking in their front door, consuming their time and causing them to take shortcuts and their work performance to suffer. They’re usually just patrolling the grounds and telling photographers like me, “Sorry you can’t use a tripod on the Capitol grounds.” Good job fellas. If the fate of the Capitol and the people who work inside rests on your shoulders, it’s no wonder most members of congress never show up to vote.

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Grocery Strike Coming?

There are just five days until the DC United Food and Commercial Workers’ contract with Safeway and Giant expires. Of course, it doesn’t look good, as the month-long negotiations that have been going on without public success. At issue, according to the Post, are concessions concerning the employees’ health benefits (specifically, employees paying for a part of the premium) and wages.

I’ve received emails that many of the local area outlets are advertising hiring in case of a strike, something that at least one of the emails that I’ve received has taken issue with, as a form of “intimidation.” Some have suggested that patrons of these stores support their local grocery workers in response and pledge not to cross picket lines.

Me? I’ll be continuing to shop at non-union shops like Wegman’s and Whole Foods. One thing I’ve found in my years is that the people at each of these stores are always glad to see their patrons, whereas the union shops…not so much. Of course, the Safeway and Giant by me are such shitholes, I wouldn’t buy anything that wasn’t frozen or canned, but I don’t think that’s the fault of the grocery employees.

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A night at the Newseum

I was fortunate enough this evening to get to go see the Newseum as it nears completion. When I tell you it’s nearing completion, you should read it this way: if you have family working on the Newseum, leave them a note telling them you love them and make some plans to do something together… on April 12th, the day after they’ve opened. Because between now and then they are going to be busy.

While they’ve got lots left to do, the space is beautiful. The picture above is from the front page gallery on the top floor. To the left you can see only a portion of the glass cases that line the wall, containing one newspaper front page from one paper in each state – plus the District of Columbia. Jack Hurley was kind enough to chat with us at length, and we talked at one point about the newspapers. When they first opened in their old space across the river they’d sometimes be short of enough front pages to fill the display cases and would have to run out and buy some to scan and put up.

Now they get 500 on a slow day, typically the weekends. During the week the number can exceed 600.

Not at all visible in my picture is the amazing view from the full-length balcony off to the right. At 555 Pennsylvania, the Newseum is just down and up the mall from the Capitol with a southernly view from the balcony. Immediately right next door is the Canadian Embassy, which my darling girlfriend said used to be the best view in DC. Mr Hurley stated that the Newseum has the best public view now, and he said it in a tone that would brook no argument. Which was completely unnecessary, since neither of us were inclined to disagree.

I’ve got more pictures to upload and share with you tomorrow, but the capsule review is this: it looks beautiful and the exhibits are interesting and well done. The place is spacious and it’s going to need to be: this is a museum that’s going to bring people in and keep them there. Put it on your short list of places to visit.

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