Week in Review

Week In Review: 5/28-5/30

And the sun is setting on this short four day week…metaphorically speaking, of course. We do still have a good amount of daylight left. I expect you all know that. Anyways…

Check out photos from this short week. Even though they only had four days to work in, our excellent photography contributors still used their time well to work their magic. And everyone gets to benefit from them honing their craft; so enjoy! Continue reading

Life in the Capital

So I Thought I Could Spell: Annual Adult Spelling Bee

I didn’t always take spelling for granted.  There was a time when I craved consonant clusters and reveled in vowel blends.  But somehow, over the years, I’ve become completely reliant on spell check to correct my spelling errors and leave me with blemish free writing, for which I’d shamelessly take credit.

In an attempt to rekindle my affection for the English alphabet, I signed up to compete in “So U Think U Can Spell?” — the second annual adult spelling bee hosted by Politics and Prose Bookstore and the SPACIOUS Community.  Two nights before the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee, members and non-members of the spell check generation came together at Politics and Prose Bookstore for what will surely go down in the annals of lexicography as an epic battle for the ages.

The ever-humorous Stefan Fatsis, author of Word Freak, and renowned lexicographer and editor and Merriam-Webster, Peter Sokolowski, emceed the evening.  I took the very first seat in the first row of contestants and tried to remind myself that this was merely a simple bee filled with run-of-the-mill vocabulary words intended for the common man.  As long as I could spell under pressure, this evening was going to be a piece of cake.  Comforted by my naïve confidence, I took a deep breath, repeated “I before E except after C” in my head, and stepped up to the microphone to face my inevitable doom.

“Your word is Rapport.

The next minute of my life was a blur.  Continue reading

Fun & Games, Life in the Capital

DC Strokes Stonewall Regatta XX

DC Strokes at Stonewall Regatta 2009 / Credit: M.V. Jantzen

DC Strokes at Stonewall Regatta 2009 / Credit: M.V. Jantzen

This weekend local rowing group DC Strokes will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Stonewall Regatta, which runs Sunday from 8:30am-5:00pm at the Anacostia Community Boathouse.

The event will bring over 400 rowers from across the US to compete in high-intensity races on the Anacostia River. Admission is free, with music included and food trucks expected in abundance.

DC Strokes is the oldest LGBT club in the world and 1 of 4 independent, self-sustaining LGBT and ally rowing teams internationally. It was founded in 1991 by 8 members of DC Front Runners (a gay running group) looking for a cross training activity.

I spoke with team member and coach Elisabeth Morgan Fondriest – a founding member of the Gay and Lesbian Rowing Federation (GLRF) and an active part of the Stonewall Regatta since its opening year – about the event and why it’s a great thing for DC.

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We Love Weekends

We Love Weekends – May 31 – June 2

Rebecca:  Friday I’m doing a little painting and sipping at LivingSocial to celebrate a friend’s birthday. After that we’re headed over to Eden nightclub to the Fall Out Boy after concert party where we’ll catch a DJ set by Pete Wentz and sip on Belvedere vodka cocktails. Saturday I’ve got to get some heavy gardening to do, before I head off to my last WAWSL match of the spring season. Sunday it’s off to RFK where the US Men’s Soccer Team will take on Germany in a friendly. USA! USA! USA!

Jenn: Friday late afternoon I’m going to get on a recent resolution to eat more veggies and hit the Petworth Farmers Market. I may also be shopping there for interesting ingredients to make shrubs for cocktails. Ok, forget the veggies, that may be my actual goal. Saturday is the opening of the Ward 8 Farmers Market at THEARC, with a tour of their Organic Teaching Garden’s brand new Hoop House. Plus, a Gospel Brunch at Union Market. With all that marketing, by the end of the weekend I should be surrounded by mason jars full of multi-colored sweet and tart syrupy goodness. Come on over. Or, wander among roses and peonies admiring how the diplomatic corps lives, as this weekend is also the 30th Annual Dupont Kalorama Museum Walk. Nine museums are open free of charge for family-friendly fun on Saturday and Sunday (with shuttle buses, if you don’t feel like hoofing it), a scavenger hunt, and a photo contest. Sweet. But not tart.

Tom: How is it June already? How did I get here? This is not my beautiful house. Okay, well, it is a beautiful house in my neighborhood at least. This Sunday’s Brookland House & Garden Tour is one of my favorite events in my part of DC. $12 gets you into some of the most amazing houses in Brookland and a tour of their garden, as well as a nice party at the end of the walk. It’s also the start of proper farm season, so catch me out at Great Country Farms on Saturday for their incredible strawberries, as well as a drop down to Market Salamander in Middleburg to remind me that the country has great food, too.

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Music, The Features, We Love Music

The Winning Ticket: Cute Is What We Aim For @ 9:30 Club, 6/9/13


As a way to say thanks to our loyal readers, We Love DC will be giving away a pair of tickets to a 9:30 Club concert to one lucky reader periodically. Keep your eyes open for opportunities at 9am once a week or so to find out what tickets we’re giving away and leave a comment for your chance to be the lucky winner!

Today we are giving away a pair of tickets to see Cute Is What We Aim for at the 9:30 Club on Sunday, June 9. The emo pop trio appears in an early show with The Dangerous Summer and Made Violent.

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Featured Photo

Featured Photo

Macro photography can open up a whole new world. While the macro level of measurement is simply what we can see, when used to describe photography the word describes an extreme close-up of very small item. And as you can see from Kim’s picture, it can show an amazing amount of detail that is nearly invisible to the casual observer. I’m not even sure what type of flower this is, but from this perspective it looks like something that evolved on another world.

A photographer can do macro photography using a number of different tools and techniques. The simplest and most direct way is to use specialty macro lenses. The draw back of these lenses are they are very expensive. A simpler way is to use close-up filters (basically magnifying glasses that screw onto the camera lens) to magnify a zoom lens. While this way is significantly cheaper, it’s also reduces the quality of the image. Yet another way is to achieve macro photographs is to reverse a zoom lens on the camera; think of it like looking the wrong way through a pair of binoculars. This is obviously very cheap as you are using a readily available lens, but it is complicated to get everything working right. These are just a few ways, so if you’re interested in trying this, check out the link at the start of the paragraph. It can open a whole new world of photography to you!

People, She/He Loves DC, The Features

He Loves DC: Zia Hassan


Photo Courtesy of Zia Hassan

She/He Loves DC is a series highlighting the people who love this city just as much as we do.

Zia Hassan is a storyteller. He likes to ask questions and seek honest answers from (and about) a vast array of subjects. This passion of his is the catalyst for multiple creative projects including a podcast series, original music, (viral) videos, photography, insightful blog posts, and more.

He’s a guy who keeps a pen and paper on him at all times just to make sure a new idea doesn’t get away. It’s his observation skills coupled with a genuine sense of childlike wonder that brings Zia’s creative endeavors to life.

What is it about DC that makes it home to you?

The duration of my stay, which is almost 25 out of 28 years (in the DMV area). Every city is a collection of people, experiences, imagery, and history. The place that I call home is a place where those stories are the deepest and the amount of time I’ve lived here has allowed for a lot of depth. Home is the place that you can leave for an indefinite amount of time, and when you come back, you pick up where you left off.  Some of the people in my life are “home” for me, in that sense.

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The Daily Feed

Nats Struggling Offense Clobbers Orioles 9-3

Photo courtesy of oddlittlebird.
courtesy of oddlittlebird.

As a baseball fan there are a lot of feelings you become accustomed to, but many you never get use to. One of those is that sinking feeling when your team is struggling to score runs, has scored three runs in the first inning in what feels like forever, and then two innings later lets it all slip away. That is what the Nationals did tonight.

After Karns quickly mowed through the Orioles first three batters on three quick ground outs the Nationals came to bat. Span ripped the first pitch he saw down the first base line, but Chris Davis scooped it and took it to the bag himself. Lombardozzi and Zimmerman then put the ball in play with authority but not to fielders, and to cap it off LaRoche hit a long homerun to right field to spot Karns and the Nats to a three run lead.

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Weekend Flashback

Weekend Flashback: 5/24-5/27

Well, that Memorial Day weekend went by way too fast. And it was definitely not the beginning of the hot, hot summer that we are normally use to. But it’s sounding like the heat is just days away, so get ready to sweat.

Today’s Weekend Flashback is one of our larger ones, because of the three day weekend and the abundance of great photos. So, sit back and enjoy the photos before enjoying the second best thing about a three day weekend: a four day work week. Continue reading

The Daily Feed

Strasburg Dominates, Nats Down Phils 6-1

Photo courtesy of MudflapDC
courtesy of MudflapDC

Want to start a debate? ask a baseball fan what Strasburg’s best pitch is. Is it the fastball that averages the highest velocity in the majors at 95.4 MPH or on average 1.8 MPH faster than Justin Verlander’s. Or is it his 90 MPH change-up that darts, dodges, and dives away from bats at times looking more like a knuckle ball than a traditional change. Perhaps it is the curve ball that has locked up more than a few hitters and since his debut in 2010 the league has only managed a .164 batting average against. There is a case to be made for all of Strasburg’s three main pitches, but there is no debate that when he has them all working he is close to unhittable.

Just ask the Phillies batter who managed only five hits and one run off of Strasburg who walked none, struck out nine, and hit a batter in a dazzle start on a pleasant Sunday afternoon at Nats Park. Strasburg displayed the art of pitching in such a manner that it is hard to think of him as a pitcher or a hurler and much easier to think of him in the old time terminology of a twirler, and on Sunday he had batters spinning and twirler in confusion at his fastball, curve, and change.

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Music, The Features, We Love Music

Q&A: Dave Hartley of Nightlands (@DC9, 5/30/13)

Dave Hartley of Nightlands (photo courtesy of Nightlands)

Dave Hartley of Nightlands (photo courtesy of Nightlands)

The band Nightlands is the brainchild of Philadelphian Dave Hartley, who actually grew up nearby in Frederick, Md. The band last came through DC in June 2011 after the release of their first album, supporting Sondre Lerche at the 9:30 Club in June 2011.

With second album Oak Island released in January, Nightlands is returning to DC to play at DC9 on Thursday, May 30. Tracks like “Born to Love” suggest lush progressive rock of the 70s, with the tone set by buoyant vocals instead of guitar solos.

Hartley talked to We Love DC about growing to love touring and being a perfectionist in his songwriting.

Mickey: You’re going on the road to support a new album! Can you tell us about it?

Dave Hartley: The tour starts Wednesday in New York. This will be our second tour, supporting Oak Island, which is the second record from Nightlands.

It’s a record that came out in January. We went on tour for a month. This is a shorter tour; it’s like a week and a half. DC is the second stop. We are looking forward to playing there!

We will have my four-piece band. We’ll be singing some beautiful harmonies and playing the songs from the record and some older songs and some new stuff I’ve been writing.

I’m really proud of the band and the way we are playing together right now. I think we are really good. It makes me look forward to the tour.

I didn’t always look forward to tours. Sometimes I make these records and they are very complex recordings, and I didn’t know how to play them live. I would get real stressed out about it. But we’ve gotten to the point now where the band is really good.

I’m really proud of the way it sounds, and I get excited about the tour. I never thought I would be excited to tour.

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Week in Review

Week In Review: 5/20-5/23

Here’s the most thing you need for this weekend: a weather report. To summarize: it’s looking like a cool, yet mostly sunny, weekend.

Assuming I still have your attention, if I had it to begin with, I’d recommend spending the last hour or two in the office this week checking out these photos. Our contributors will appreciate it. And have a fun Memorial Day! Continue reading

We Love Weekends

We Love Weekends: May 24 to 27 (probably)

I guess it depends on whether you get the day off, no? Most of us do and for the most part we’re going to enjoy the city while so many others flee. What have you got on tap? Whatever it is, pour me a tall one.

Fedward:  The Social Chair and I already have a three day reservation on a Zipcar so we can visit our friends outside Front Royal.  This means pretty much the same plans as our trips in September 2011 and February 2012.  We usually try to get to Chester Gap Cellars, although with the holiday weekend the visit might not be as peaceful as it normally is. On the other end of the scale we’ll definitely make time for burgers and custard at Spelunkers. We might also take our Zipcar down Skyline Drive.

Joanna: We’re getting out of Dodge for the weekend, and completely unplugging while we’re at it. Come rain or come shine, who cares? My books sure don’t, as long as we get some quality time together – and I’m starting Malone’s Jefferson and His Time series, so quality time is looking likely. If I were staying here I’d probably check out the first of Free Summer Saturdays at The Corcoran and make a bone (you read that right) through the One Million Bones workshop. The bones will be installed on the National Mall in June to raise awareness for genocide happening around the world. For Memorial Day I’d visit the Women in Military Service for America Memorial before a small(ish) town parade – perhaps Falls Church?

Mosley: Memorial Day Weekend!  I always consider this weekend to be the official start to summer.  And with summer comes trips to movie theaters!  The AFI in Silver Spring is showing the Mel Brooks classic History of World Part I this weekend; one of my favorite movies from one of my favorite comedians.  Other than that, I’m hoping to get to at least one Nationals game this weekend, as they are taking on the hated Phillies and the equally hated  (to me at least) Orioles.  Beyond that, I might head out to the Cheverly Pool at some point, as this is their big opening weekend.  In Cheverly, during the summer, this is the place to be.

Jenn: I’ve been having some trouble re-entering the swing of things after several weeks of travel. So Memorial Day Weekend has completely crept up on me, it seems. In years past, the city empties out and I wander around enjoying the lack of lines and the luxury of no reservations. We’ll see if this year is any different. While I was away I missed a ton of theater openings: Synetic’s Three Musketeers, Constellation’s Gilgamesh, and STC’s The Winter’s Tale are among others I need to catch up on. Saturday night I’ll want to dance to the Brazilian funk of Alma Tropicalia, at Tropicalia (the club’s been killing it lately and it’s still my favorite place to dance). Sunday sees a special event celebrating the music of Sierra Leone with the bubu king, Janka Nabay — always a fantastic performance. Other than that, I’m looking forward to all the things you can’t plan for: impromptu grill parties, backyard fireworks, and surprising encounters.


Get Out & About

Florida Avenue (9th to 15th Streets) in Photographs

Washington DC is a great city. It’s a place where dense, immutable history is intersected with a whirling landscape of constant urban change. Restaurants open and close, green spaces appear and recede, events are inaugurated and ended, and this constant movement is threaded around a city bursting with social, architectural, and historical significance. It’s overwhelming at times, but it’s also what makes DC great. The old and the new collide. Cracks are opened. And within these cracks, residents can lose themselves in an endless space of exploration.

I’ve lived in the DC area for almost my entire life, and I’m perpetually finding new places to explore. It’s one of my favorite things to do. I’ll pick something – a neighborhood, a restaurant, a landmark, it doesn’t matter how large or small – and set out on an expedition. I don’t always stumble into the unforgettable, as I did along Florida Avenue, but more often than not, I see something new. These little exploratory experiences refresh me, and remind me that when you live in a city as diverse and expansive as DC, you can always find something you haven’t seen before.

The bell shaped stretch of Florida Avenue, between 9th and 15th streets NW, was recently the subject of my exploration. It’s a beautiful and meaningful strip of road, wedged between U Street and Columbia Heights, with a story to tell about the history of the city, the diversity of its population, and the speed of its change. My westward route started at the 9:30 Club, took me past The Blind Dog Cafe and the Florida Avenue Grill, stopped off at Pica Taco, and ended at Meridian Hill Park. I took a camera with me. Click below to see what I saw.

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Featured Photo

Featured Photo

I am a sucker for a good bird photo, and A. Drauglis has this sweet one of a Pink Flamingo at the National Zoo. The fine detail is amazing, with the thin, wispy white feathers contrasting beautifully with the solid pink feathers on the bird’s head. And then there is the focusing on the eye; a key ingredient in a great bird or wildlife photo. You can wander your eye all over this shot, but you will constantly bring it back to that eye; it’s almost mesmerizing.

Interviews, People, She/He Loves DC, The Features

She Loves DC: Jennifer Vinson

Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Vinson

Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Vinson

She/He Loves DC is a series highlighting the people who love this city as much as we do.

Jennifer Vinson loves music. She loves watching street performers in Dupont Circle. She loves supporting up-and-coming artists on the local level here in her hometown whether it’s at The Dunes, The Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, Comet Ping Pong, or elsewhere. She loves promoting live performances she’s passionate about. But most of all, she loves getting to genuinely know the people who make the music she loves listening to.

Her passion for music (and the people behind making it) led her toward creating content for DC Setlist  (a site that, ” [...] exists to discover and discuss all things MUSIC in DC and around the world. So get in the mix, join the conversation & help us build a community around the DC music scene & beyond!”) and into a life working with some of DC’s finest venues including The Hamilton Live and currently The Howard Theatre.

What is it about DC that makes it home to you? 

Well I was born here.  I’m third generation Washingtonian.  My mother, my grandmother and I all went to the same all girls high school, Holy Cross Academy. Old friends & family are what make it home to me.

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Entertainment, Music, The Features, We Love Music

We Love Music: Honor By August


Photo Courtesy of Honor By August

It’s hard to coordinate schedules with Honor By August these days. They’re busy guys. The DC-based band is currently on the road promoting their new album “Monuments To Progress” while playing to audiences all over the country. Next Up: They’ll be spending the summer on tour in support of The Voice’s Season Two finalist Tony Lucca. But before that, Honor By August will playing a big CD release celebration show at the 9:30 Club this Friday (May 24).

Lead singer Michael Pearsall took a few minutes to talk to We Love DC via e-mail about the bands’ recent success on a national level and how that all feels in anticipation of their big hometown show.

Rachel: Tell me about this new album. I’m sure there’s a certain sense of accomplishment having gone the Kickstarter route. How does it feel to have it released?

Michael: It feels incredible to be able to put out an album that was funded by our fans. We were truly humbled by the amount of support we received from people through Kickstarter. Monuments To Progress is a great representation of Honor By August that showcases out diversity. There are moments where we really rock out but there are also moments where we dial it back and hopefully draw the listener in. It’s a complete album that explores the depths of different emotions lyrically and reaches new heights for us sonically. It’s an effort that we’re all very proud of.

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Weekend Flashback

Weekend Flashback: 5/17-5/19

Memorial Day Weekend is in five days. Memorial Day Weekend is in five days. Memorial Day Weekend is in five days…well, come on, repeat it with me and it will get here faster. Wait, wait…I’m being told that actually does not work. Shucks. Well, I’m out of ideas. I guess we have to just wait for this week to get itself done.

Despite a dreary weekend, our photo contributors got some great shots. So ignore that work on your desk, just like everyone else in your office this week, and enjoy some sights from the weekend. Continue reading

We Love Arts

We Love Arts: The Winter’s Tale

Hannah Yelland as Hermione and Sean Arbuckle as Polixenes in the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s production of The Winter’s Tale, directed by Rebecca Taichman. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.Mark Harelik at Leontes, Hannah Yelland as Hermione and Sean Arbuckle as Polixenes in the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s production of The Winter’s Tale, directed by Rebecca Taichman. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

When you’re doing a “problem play” like The Winter’s Tale – where the first half is exclusively dramatic and high-stakes and the second half is mostly light, funny, and redemptive – how do you handle the balance? Well, if you’re Shakespeare Theatre Company and Director Rebecca Taichman you crank it all up to 11 and earn yourself the first time I can recall using the term “batcrap crazy” in a review here. The first half is the theatrical equivalent of being beaten with a sock with a bar of soap in it. The second reaches points of lunacy that Puck would be proud of.

I’m tempted to call this “as good as can be expected, given the unevenness of the source material,” but that seems lazy and unfair to both Shakespeare and this production. It’s also a blank check to do whatever you want for Taichman and her cast, which I’m not sure I think they earn. All told the show is an enjoyable experience with talented actors but some parts feel more like an endurance than an entertainment.

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