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Union Station Shuts Down Fox 5

AmtrakGuard.png We reported earlier that photography at Union Station, despite being Carl’s favorite space to take photos, was getting to be a real challenge, even though photography in the incredibly beautiful Union Station is allowed both by Amtrak and by LaSalle Partners who maintains the space. Fox 5 News has gotten involved, and interviewed local photographer Joel Lawson about getting hassled when he pointed out that photography in Union Station was perfectly legal and acceptable.

What was hilarious, though, was Fox 5, while interviewing an Amtrak spokesman, was shut down by Union Station security for conducting an interview at Union Station. The security guard was unable to explain the policy, and refused to answer questions regarding the policy at the facility, and LaSalle Partners, who operate the mall portion of Union Station, wouldn’t respond in any way, shape or form to media inquiries.

It’s really bullshit that we can’t even ask what the rules are, or how they should be construed. How can we be respectful and participatory in our practice of photography if you won’t talk to us about what they want respected and why. This is the kind of thing that gets people up in arms and more than a little upset.

Figure it out, Union Station, and welcome shutterbugs.

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The Spelling Bee

index_01.gifIt’s Spelling Bee time again. It was on the TV at lunch today, and I couldn’t help but watch in shock, horror and awe as the various home-schooled kids hemmed and hawed, asked for definitions and origins, and definitions and origins and “oh, please, could you use it in a sentence.” What was hilarious, though, was watching it with the closed captioning going:

>> [WORD]?
Yes, [WORD]

Can I get a definition please?

*definition is lovingly pasted here*

Okay. [WORD]

And they make the attempt.

Seriously, Deaf people watch this and laugh, I guarantee you.

I wonder what the descriptive video service does for it…

Be sure not to miss DC Sports Bog’s coverage, which is just as funny.

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Because I know you’re all DYING to buy tickets

…an ad on Washingtonpost.com alerts me that the New Kids on the Block Reunion Tour (otherwise known as the “Real estate market is in the toilet so Jon Knight finally agreed” tour) will be coming to our fair city on October 2.

The show will be at the Verizon Center, which seems like an ambitious choice for a flash-in-the-pan boy band that hasn’t toured in at least 15 years, but perhaps there are other 30-somethings out there who are not as embarrassed at their childhood love of Joey McIntyre as I am. They’ve already sold out in Atlantic City, I hear.

In any case, the presale starts on June 2 at LiveNation. If you’re willing to admit that you plan to see this show, chime in in the comments. We promise not to mock you. Much.

New Kids on the Block – 4/4/08

Originally uploaded by nkotbofficial

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FBI Raids Local State Senator’s Home

Ulysses Currie Agents of the FBI today raided the Prince George’s County home of State Senator Ulysses Currie (D-25 MD), as well as the headquarters of SUPERVALU’s Shoppers Food Warehouse in Lanham, MD. NBC 4 says that the raids are related, but can’t show a correlation. I’m sure we’re going to hear a lot about this in the next few days, as Sen. Currie is chairman of the Budget & Taxes committee in the Maryland State Senate. You can also watch WJLA’s coverage via their website.

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Free energy audits for DC residents

Photo courtesy of mbgrigbyThe DC Department of the Environment has a Home Energy Rating System program they call HERS. In a nutshell, they come out to your home and give it the once-over to see where you might be expending more energy than you need to and provide some advice on how you might reduce your output.

Putting aside the fact that we as a region apparently use less environmentally friendly fuels than our friends on the other coast,  DC residents pay 35% more for their power than the national average. Whether that’s bad regulation or the fact that we use less renewable sources doesn’t make much difference when the time comes to write the check.

The DCDOE website makes noises about getting a rating number for when you’re trying to sell your house, and I suppose it couldn’t hurt, but I think the real value is in your own bills. The tv and radio commercials they run for the HERS program indicate you should call (202) 673-6750 to make an appointment, but the website also says you can email Willie Vazquez at willie.vazquez@dc.gov.

Thanks to Greg over at The Daily Compost for finding this one

The image is Energy, courtesy of mbgrigby

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Strawberry desserts

food mattersI dug into my first round of farm share strawberries last night, but if you’re not signed up or prefer to have someone else do the preparations you could get on over to Food Matters on Saturday for their Strawberry Festival.Join us for free samples of strawberry desserts, strawberry-inspired menu items, and strawberry cocktails.”


My darling girlfriend and I went to Food Matters about three weeks ago after they were mentioned in an update mail I got from Local Harvest. She’s good about indulging my Michael Pollan disciple leanings and the promise of good food that is concerned with connecting eaters with origins was enough to interest both of us. Although it’s metro inaccessible and oddly located – just head East from Landmark Mall and turn at the eerily similar townhouses – the experience was not a disappointment.


My dearheart’s amish chicken – named for the origin, not its garb or way of life – was superb and had the subtle but recognizable taste of non-commercial foul. My pasta carbonara was similarly delicious. We sat at the bar and I was delighted to indulge in their Bell’s Oberon on draft, a fact that might be enough to get our Mr Bridge there all by itself.


The decor is on the edge of odd, reflecting the fact that this is a place with some identity issues – they have some cafeteria-type premade food in a walk-up case, as well as some farm fresh items such as eggs, as well as a sit-down restaurant area as well as a sizable bar. On the other hand, the layout includes an open plan kitchen which allows you to stand and watch the goings-ons without being in the middle of a bunch of your fellow eaters. As a bit of a cook voyeur I found this to be a great feature and if it bugged the people working they didn’t give any sign of it.


If you’re an Arlington-ite and possessed of a car I’d say this is a place worth a visit. We’ll be back.

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WaPo & Marc Fisher think you should suffer for the children

Photo courtesy of furryscaly

That’s assuming that ‘you’ are a Marylander – or sometimes drink in Maryland – and like those fruity near-beers. No, when the WaPo ran this annoying editorial last week they called them ‘alcopops,’ which is evocative of popsicle to me, but presumably they mean it in the sense of ‘soda pop.’ “But the truth is that the beverages — Smirnoff Ice, Mike’s Hard Lemonade and the like — are not beer by any reasonable definition,” said the editorial.

Unfortunately they don’t explain exactly what “by any reasonable definition” means. I’ve always known them to be called “near-beer,” a description that hinges on the fact that these products are sold in single-serving containers like beer and have similar alcohol content to regular beer, and are malted beverages, like – wait for it – beer. When Marc Fisher picked up the banner for this anti-adult effort yesterday he claimed that Attorney General Doug Gansler based his decision on a federal study claiming most of the alcohol in these drinks came from distilled spirits, not malted grain. Too bad that’s a 2003 study and in late 2004 the ATTB published a ruling that going forward these drinks would get the majority of their alcohol content from malting. Not to call any of these lobbying groups or editorialists liars – that would imply they’re making these statements out of malice and with full knowledge it’s not true, rather than just ignorance,willful or otherwise.

That aside, most importantly to almost any rational person, the same report makes it clear that the total alcohol content is roughly the same as in beer: 4 to 6%. Unless we’re regulating beer and hard liquor differently for some other reason that nobody’s told me? If it’s all about taste, then I propose we put in place a proper taste tax and bring Guinness and Sam Adams’ Summer Wheat down to 0.01% and mark Coors and Zima up to 150%. Or maybe 1500%, though drinking them is really its own punishment.

Barring that, WaPo and Fisher would both do well to back off from trying to beat up adults who like this swill near-beer and stop penalizing them for having similar tastebuds to the pimple-faced crowd. The morals brigade leading this fight likes to harp on the fact that the alcohol industry’s own data shows that over 40% of the stuff is drunk by the 21 to 27 crowd, the implication being that under 21 folk will like it too. However they seem to be ignoring the fact that those 21 to 27 year olds are of a perfectly legal age to drink and probably lower earners, therefor similarly impacted by this foolish tax proposal.

Fisher and others don’t seem to think that you voting-aged legal drinkers matter in this. “Will the lovers of Smirnoff Ice and its competitors rally to the governor’s side to thank him for keeping their favorite beverages cheap? Hardly likely.” So prove him wrong and make some noise. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be marginally embarrassed to publicly admit you drink this crap, but myself and other people who believe in freedom will stand behind you. With our better drinks.

Hard Times, courtesy of furryscaly

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Tonight on Jonny’s Par-Tay


Unlike what mom said about no internet until 30 minutes after you eat, foodies and techies do mix. See tonight’s episode of Jonny’s Partay and chat with some socially minded foodie techie folks. Dig the description by DC’s very own favorite man about town Jonny Goldstein:

We are pleased to host Sean Shadmand and Isaac Mosquera, the founders of familyoven.com on Jonny’s Par-tay on May 28, 2008. Also on the show Andrew “Batterista” Wright, who will challenge us to pick the best butter out of a dairy-licious selection.

FamilyOven.com is a cooking oriented social network with over 500,000 registered users. Jonny has tried recipes off the site and loved the results. We’ll talk with Sean and Isaac about how they got the idea for Family Oven, and how it is working as a business.

We are also going to have a special bonus feature with Andrew “Batterista” Wright, who besides being a tech entrepreneur, is obsessed with butter. We’ll do a Jonny’s Par-tay Batterista Butter Blind Benchmark.

What: Jonny’s Par-tay, the interactive online TV talk show, with guests Sean Shadmand, Isaac Mosquera, Andrew Wright, and host Jonny Goldstein, with a little Scott Stead magic poured on top.
When: May 28, 9-10PM Eastern
Where: jonnyspartay.com
Interactivity: As always, you are invited to text chat us live. It’s a Par-tay!

Remember – wherever Jonny is, it’s always a par-tay.

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45 Years for Keith Washington

If the full sentence is served, Keith Washington won’t see the inside of his home again until 2053. He was sentenced today for the murder of Brandon Clark and the shooting of Robert White. He’ll be eligible for parole in 2028. Apparently, his attorneys are filing an appeal, but the grounds for it aren’t public at this point. The Post has a good Timeline of Events in the case, if you’re interested in knowing more.

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Cracks in the Ice…


Remember this experience?

Well, I received a phone message last week while I was off gallivanting around Maine; the caller was from CSC’s corporate offices. [I had filled out their online customer comment card, pointing to the previous article so they could see for themselves what was going on. Thanks, by the way, for everyone's comments - hopefully they caught those as well.]

I was assured the matter was being looked into and the franchisee was being notified. Supposedly I should have already received a call from the store (nope) and received a gift certificate notification through the mail (nope).

Now, I’ll state right here and now I didn’t start all this for some form of free anything. I’ve done the retail punishment for over 15 years before I got smart and left; it pains me to see poor customer service, especially in establishments I frequent. I feel it’s my duty to politely let them know when they’re failing the public trust. And yes, also when they’ve gone above and beyond as well. (And yes, I’m an excellent tipper when it’s warranted.)

So while the call back is refreshing, the lack of local follow-up is disappointing. If / when we get those certificates, we’ll head back to the same location, if only to see if anything has changed (and yes, I’ll let everyone here know!). Meantimes, we’ll probably shift to the Hoffman location, unless someone can suggest a great local spot in Alexandria / Kingstowne / Springfield to try. (For the record, not a fan of Kalidescoops or Maggie Moo’s.)

Please, readers, suggest away!

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Rolling Thunder

It was pretty hard to miss all the bikers in town for this past weekend’s Rolling Thunder. We saw a whole bunch through Arlington on Friday and Saturday night, most likely missing Whitey’s that’s been gone a few years from its Washington Boulevard home.

The curb in front of Mexicali Blues was a lineup of some of the most beautifully cared for Harleys and BMWs and Hondas that I’d seen since I moved east from California. Shined up to a mirror finish on their chrome, and with a high gloss coat of wax on their beautiful hulls. The parking lot in front of my in-laws hotel was cram-packed full of bikes as well, parked three and four deep in the parking spaces.

I’ll admit to not understanding the loud factor of bikes, but I know they’re for a good cause this weekend, so roar it up, bikers!

rolling thunder 4 — Originally uploaded by schmiddi

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Staycation (All I Ever Wanted)

My plan was simple. Sacrifice a vacation for a staycation. While almost everyone else went off to a beach house for some R-n-R, I would remain dutifully at home, slavishly sketching to get a headstart on design deadlines. At least, that was the plan.

Thanks to a crippling mental block that led to hours of staring at blank vellum and obsessively sharpening pencils (yes, I need to get Illustrator), the plan failed. However, once I accepted my fate and gave in, my staycation became enjoyable and allowed me to reconnect with life in the city.

A few high points:

Two blissful hours at the National Capital YMCA. Something so relaxing about turning off your brain and focusing on the body. Working hard and then channeling your inner Viking in the sauna. Heaven.

Brunch at The Heights. The glory of the poached egg, the decadence of building your own Bloody Mary, all at a civilized pace on a sunny day. Walking around Columbia Heights was struck by how beautiful the mature trees are that line Kenyon Street, how many “For Sale” signs are out, how radically different the streetlife is from years before.

Grilling in Adams Morgan. A friend’s tranquil backyard, a wood-burning grill, lamb, bottles of red wine followed by homemade limoncello. A perfect evening, topped with smores.

Low point (well, nothing is perfect):

Drinks at Vinoteca. Hot, crowded, loud. I wish they would just give in to the actual wine BAR concept, busting out the bar pennisula to the main dining room and open up the entire space for drinks. Having everyone crammed into the narrow front space is just not appealing. Oh, and adding flamenco in the tiny front alcove, further cramping everyone in the bar while the dining room remained empty and open, not to mention no sight lines at all – pricelessly bad idea. Why not use the upstairs lounge? Mystified.

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Oberon, and the Fruits of the Farm

Some of us need no season to barbeque, and choose to do it year round, but Memorial Day weekend is the official start of the summer and the barbeque season. Yesterday, we fired up the charcoals, cooked burgers and dogs, and toasted our country’s fallen heroes.

This delightful fellow in the photo, though, is the thing I’m happiest about for summer. A mini-keg of Oberon, from Bell’s, now available from all manner of beer suppliers around the area. Went down mighty fine with all the food.

We’ve been working on doing more local eating, and last night’s barbeque was a lot of that. We had Buffalo from Cibola Farms in Culpeper, and pork and chicken sausages from Polyface Farms in the Shenandoah. We also had a ton of persian cucumbers and tomatoes from Toigo Orchards. Dessert was ice cream made with Toigo’s Bourbon Peaches, milk and cream from one of the other stands (I promise you a name next week) and also strawberries from Westmoreland Berry Farm. There are a lot of great local food options that aren’t at Giant or Safeway or any of the major stores. They’re at the farm markets in the region, and there’s very little between you and them.

Oberon. — Originally uploaded by tbridge

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A Very DC Question

From regular commenter Joseph Finn comes this question:

“Does the Librarian of Congress have to resign with each administration?”

Many political appointees to non-political posts do have to resign with each administration, only to be re-appointed by fiat of the new administration, but, as Librarian Billington has served as the Librarian of Congress since the Reagan Administration, I wasn’t sure if his post was “at the pleasure of the President” or some other term.

We’ve sent email to the Librarian’s office hoping to find out, but maybe you know? Answer in the comments!

Main Reading Room Ceiling — Originally uploaded by tbridge

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Violence at 18th St Lounge?

Club violence is always something that kinda gives me the willies, and this example is no exception. Going in for my morning coffee this morning my bariista comrade was looking more forlorn than usual, and related to me that he’d seen the DJ stabbed at 18th Street Lounge last night. Said what had been “a really chill evening” was interrupted by major league violence and a major police response.

While the major media outlets (in my admittedly brief perusal) seem quiet on this, a venue like 18th Street Lounge us not a place I expected to see this kind of tragedy! Damn.

Update: Will the DJ from last night checks in below, entirely unperforated, to our great relief. He does confirm that there was a stabbing at the lounge last night. Our thoughts and well-wishes go out to the actual victim for a speedy recovery, as no one deserves to get stabbed while they’re just trying to have a good time.

Last Call — Originally uploaded by Adriaan Bloem

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Falcon Virgo

I just got a text message from the DC Alerts:

MPD reports / Falcon’s “Virgo” exercise is scheduled for late tonight 5/21/08 beginning at 2345 hours into tomorrow morning 5/22/08 ending at 0600 hours. This exercise comprises a series of training flights held in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Capital Region Command Center, the Joint Air Defense Operations Center, Civil Air Patrol, and NORAD. Residents in the area can expect flights to occur throughout the night

FALCON VIRGO! Could that name sound any more military or DC? It’s the name of the military operation that tests airspace security around DC. So, when the jets buzz out of Andrews at 2am this morning and have you reaching for your emergency response plan and the keys to the car, just shout “FALCON VIRGO!” out the window. It’ll at least make you laugh a bit.

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Recyclables Bins Debut in Bethesda

Bethesda is working with Coca Cola and Honest Tea and the Bethesda Urban District to add street level recycling to their downtown. Sure, there are a bunch of trash cans there all ready, but no recycling options. That was, until yesterday, when Honest Tea President Seth Goldman helped kick off the project that’s been at least nine months in the offing. The Business Gazette first reported on this project back in September of last year:

‘‘People may recycle at home, but there is no place for consumers on the street to recycle,” he said.

Goldman recommended the addition of recycling bins next to trashcans on streets in the central business district.

Bethesda Urban Partnership, a nonprofit that promotes and maintains downtown Bethesda, providing trash pickup and other services, said it would be willing to help.

Nice to see Bethesda picking up some green sense for their downtown!

No Trash. Only Recyclables — Originally uploaded by Baku3

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Vanity theft deterrants?

Photo courtesy of REPRESENT.CO.ZAI get a mailing from Arlington county periodically with a report on crimes that have occurred in the area, and stolen cars are listed in there too, like this section from today’s report:

  • STOLEN AUTO 05/14/08, VA XWR7413, 2007 Honda Odyssey, blue, 1300 block N. Danville Street
  • STOLEN AUTO 05/15/08, DC BF6112, 1996 Mercedes C220, blue, 400 block of S. 18th Street
  • STOLEN AUTO 05/17/08, VA YLX-2805, 1997 Honda Accord, Black (Recovered), 1000 Arlington Boulevard
  • STOLEN AUTO 05/16/08, VA KEH-2906, 2004 GMC Savanna Van, White, 1200 block of S. Clark Street

What I’ve noticed it that it seems like I almost never see vanity plates listed there. In some places this might not be a big deal but with 16% of the cars in Virgina having them it seems like they should show up more often… every 3 out of 20 cars stolen, really.

Am I failing to detect the pattern or do thieves not want to drive off with a more identifiable car?

car theft, courtesy of REPRESENT.CO.ZA

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Friday Pick: The Jones @ The Rock & Roll Hotel


Get ready folks. One of my favorite local bands, The Jones, is headlining at The Rock & Roll Hotel this Friday. Self described as “a kind of bluesy rock and roll”, this solid trio has a unique throwback sound and raw musical talent that is hard to come by nowadays. Think Stones. Think Hendrix. Think The Black Keys. Think The Jones.

I can’t think of a better way to kick off your holiday weekend than with a killer show at one of DC’s best music venues. There’s nothing like seeing local bands before they hit the big leagues, as these guys are sure to do.

The Jones
The Known Unknowns
In Technicolor
No Compromise

Friday, May 23RD @ The Rock & Roll Hotel
1353 H ST NE

Doors @ 8, Show @ 9, $10 cover

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