Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Julien Shapiro of Eat the Rich

Julien Shapiro of Eat the Rich

Julien Shapiro of Eat the Rich

We’re revisiting our Capital Chefs feature with a series by music reporter Mickey McCarter. A lot has been happening recently in kitchens in D.C. restaurants, and Mickey takes a look into them from his usual seat at the bar in this series, which runs weekly on Thursdays.

When Julien Shapiro created the opening menu for Eat the Rich, he consulted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to get some idea of which fish he should use and which to avoid.

The NOAA scientists could not tell him what to do, of course, but they could provide him with data and help him interpret it.

“If you look at the fishing reports, it says the numbers are such, and then you make a conclusion based on what you think is good,” Shapiro told me. “They will say whether it is overfished or underfished or if there is no data.”

To round out his view of the fish available in the mid-Atlantic, Shapiro makes an effort to visit each mid-Atlantic state and check with its Department of Natural Resources to discover local numbers on fish and confirm what is available.

These habits serve Shapiro and Eat the Rich well, as the chef and owners focus on local, sustainable seafood, derived heavily from the Chesapeake Bay.

“We are trying to focus exclusively on Chesapeake seafood. That’s our calling card,” Shapiro said.

Cocktail mogul Derek Brown and oysterman Travis Coxton opened Eat the Rich last year, naming it after a Motorhead song. Coxton is also behind Rappahannock River Oysters, which has expanded locally into Union Market in 2012. Eat the Rich serves those same oysters. Coxton is concerned about being a good steward of the local oyster population, Shapiro said, and the chef applies the same outlook to the rest of the seafood served at Eat the Rich.

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Music, The Features, We Love Music

We Love Music: Retro Futura Tour — 8/22/14

Tom Bailey, voice of the Thompson Twins, performs at The Wilbur in Boston on Aug. 24 (Photo courtesy The  Wilbur)

Tom Bailey, voice of the Thompson Twins, performs at The Wilbur in Boston on Aug. 24 (Photo courtesy The
Wilbur)

Midge Ure, OBE, lead singer of Ultravox and cofounder of the Live Aid music festival, stepped out onto stage in front of a house band.

“Give us this day, all that you showed me/the power and the glory, ‘til my kingdom come!”

He belted out his lyrics a Capella before thundering into the guitar riff that serves as the backbone to “Hymn,” one of the best songs from his sadly absent band Ultravox. The high-minded content of Ure’s pop songs are a bit unusual these days, but his songs fit right in on a concert tour lineup that included a hearty group of romantic optimists—among them Howard Jones and Tom Bailey (formerly of the Thompson Twins).

The mini-festival winding its way across the United States at the moment is called the Retro Futura tour, and unfortunately it did not stop in DC on its way across the country. The closest it got was a suburb of Philadelphia on Friday, Aug. 22. In previous years, the tour had stopped here under its former name, the Regeneration Tour.

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Music, The Features, We Love Music

We Love Music: Robyn & Röyksopp @ Wolf Trap — 8/21/14

Somewhere in synthpop heaven, a match was made. Norwegian duo Royksopp would party with Swedish indie diva Robyn, and beautiful music would be made.

It happened most spectacularly on Royksopp’s 2009 album, Junior, with the disco smash “The Girl and the Robot,” which between Royksopp’s hooky synths and Robyn’s pleading voice captured a perfect crystalized moment in dancefloor history. Nominally, the song is about a woman in love with someone who may not return her affections, or at least is not as warm as she would like. The video fetishes technology and strobe lights.

And introducing the song gave Robyn a perfect opportunity to declare her raison d’etre before its performance by a happily reunited Robyn and Royksopp Thursday night at Wolf Trap.

“Love is a lot of work. Love is hard,” she said.

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The Daily Feed, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Sunday in the Park with George

Brynn O’Malley (Dot) and Claybourne Elder (George) in Sunday in the Park with George at Signature Theatre. Photo by Margot Schulman.

Brynn O’Malley (Dot) and Claybourne Elder (George) in Sunday in the Park with George at Signature Theatre. Photo by Margot Schulman.

For persons wholly unfamiliar with the musical theatre canon of Stephen Sondheim, the Neo-impressionist artist George Seurat and his famous painting A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, or the work of DC-area director Matthew Gardiner, Sunday in the Park with George at Signature Theatre is worth seeing. For fans and admirers of Sondheim, Seurat, or Gardiner, seeing Signature’s production is absolutely essential. In fact, it’s vital. In the 97-year history of the Pulitzer Prize for drama, only eight musicals have won the coveted award and in 1985, Sondheim and book writer James Lapine’s fictionalized story of Seurat and his pointillist creation of A Sunday on La Grande Jatte became the sixth musical to achieve such an honor. Inspired by Seurat’s technique of applying a series of tiny, individual colored dots to form an image, Sondheim not only mimicked the style musically and verbally– through the use of staccato phrases, simple melodies, and clipped conversation—but he even named his female protagonist Dot. More than that, though, Sondheim and Lapine, in studying Seurat’s painting which depicts random people relaxing in a park on an island in the Seine River, wanted to give a voice to the one figure that seemed to be missing from the canvas: the artist himself. Sunday in the Park with George is written as two separate acts, whose individual stories merge at the end of Act II, to complete a thematic journey of art and love. Act I explores Seurat’s creation of the art and his struggle between passion for the work, and passion for his relationships, most notably with his lover, Dot. Three generations later, Act II features Seurat’s great-grandson George, an American artist trying to find his own passion, who eventually visits the island on the Seine River, depicted in Seurat’s painting, for inspiration, and ultimately ends up finding himself through his ancestry. Because the two acts are set nearly one hundred years apart, with completely different characters, styles of music, and seemingly unconnected plots, trying to seamlessly merge the two acts and complexity of the show’s themes is difficult. Particularly challenging is doing this without losing the pointillist nuances and simplicities in the script and musical score, all the while trying to give voice to the artists of the piece. In less than capable hands, Sunday in the Park with George can easily become droll, lackluster, and completely uninspired, rendering audiences bored, confused, and unmoved. Fortunately, Signature Theatre placed their production in the extremely capable hands of director Matthew Gardiner and the end result is breathtaking and awe-inspiring enchantment. Without adding too much unnecessary embellishment or frills to the piece, Gardiner flawlessly leads the audience through the complex world of the show by focusing on the show’s basic theme of allowing one’s passions to come from the heart and using that passion to make something beautiful. Gardiner seems to understand very well that those making this piece are, in essence, their own characters in Sunday in the Park with George and Gardiner’s heart and passion for the work are very evident in every aspect of this show. In fact, one of the reasons why Signature’s production is so beautiful is because everyone involved in the production seems to bring their full heart and passion to it. Claybourne Elder, in the title roles, first as George Seurat and then as 1980s artist George, carries the show gracefully, finding the perfect balances between artist and lover, relative and friend, passion and person, and tormented versus inspired. Never allowing his Georges to become sullen, moody, and unlikable, Elder remains sympathetic and heartfelt, even when his on-stage behaviors are self-destructive and disagreeable. To be able to do that, while creating two separate and distinct Georges, and then find a way to merge them together at the end of Act II is nothing but brilliant when done well and Elder’s portrayal is sheer genius. Similarly, Brynn O’Malley, first as Seurat’s lover, Dot, and then as 1980s George’s grandmother, Marie, (Seurat and Dot’s daughter), is incredible. As Dot, O’Malley remains grounded and keeps it simple, which is imperative for a character who, like the pointillist style she is named after, allows for the audience to see her fuller range of tones, from her solid comedic chops to her fine dramatic work. As the aged Marie in Act II, O’Malley’s transformation into a centenarian Grandmother is spectacular, wonderfully adopting the geriatric behaviors and nuances without allowing herself to become a caricature. No less impressive than Elder and O’Malley is a talented ensemble of actors who, like Gardiner and his team of gifted collaborators, clearly bring their full passion and love to this production. To see a show with such heart from all sides is truly special and rare, which is why Signature’s production of Sunday in the Park with George is so moving and so spectacular. It is the quintessential love letter to Sondheim, Seurat, theatre, and to art. Sunday in the Park with George performs now through September 21, 2014 at Signature Theatre, located at 4200 Campbell Avenue, Arlington VA 22206. Tickets start at $40. For more information, call 703-820-9771.

Featured Photo

Featured Photo

There’s nothing quite like a spectacular sunset. The only problem is the day you go out and set up your tripod hoping to take a sunset photo is the day that the sun just kind of sinks into the horizon in a very blah manner.

You’ve got to have equal parts skill and serendipity to capture an amazing sunset like the one John J Young did here.

One of the most important factors (the most important?) is that you need  clouds in the sky but not just any clouds — you need clouds that sit just above the horizon so that they’ll catch the light as the sun sets. On the evening that John took this picture, a fast moving storm had just swept through the area. The clouds it left behind were amazing.

He wasn’t the only one who got a great picture of the sky Wednesday night. Check out our Flickr pool to see more, including this one and this one.

Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Jesse Miller of Bar Pilar

Jesse Miller of Bar Pilar

Jesse Miller of Bar Pilar

We’re revisiting our Capital Chefs feature with a series by music reporter Mickey McCarter. A lot has been happening recently in kitchens in D.C. restaurants, and Mickey takes a look into them from his usual seat at the bar in this series, which runs weekly on Thursdays.

Out of art school, Jesse Miller sized up his prospects and took a job at the Elkridge Furnace Inn in Elkridge, Md.

The restaurant has one of the best wine programs in Maryland, offering gourmet French food to hungry customers as well as hosting weddings and catering.

At first thankful for a job, Miller ended up staying there for seven years.

“I was lucky enough to get a job there and that’s how this started,” said Miller, now chef at Bar Pilar and its sister establishment Café Saint-Ex. “Otherwise, I would still be trying to paint and living in the street someplace.”

He learned a lot at the Elkridge Furnace Inn that he applies to Bar Pilar, where his friends and customers hail him as an innovative chef.

“I was taught that a chef should accommodate anything at any time for anyone,” Miller said. “If you don’t like our options, we can always do something.

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Music, The Features, We Love Music

We Love Music: Mike Peters (of The Alarm) @ Gypsy Sally’s — 8/7/14

SONY DSCMike Peters and his bandmates met with their new manager one day some 30-odd years ago, and told him they already were done being a supporting act.

“From now on, we only headline shows. We don’t want to be a supporting act,” the members of The Alarm said to their sympathetic manager.

Very soon, however, he called them back with an offer they really might want to consider–opening for U2 on their tour in support of the album October. Gobsmacked, Peters nonetheless reluctantly began to explain the band should stand behind their manifesto. But before they could turn down the deal, drummer Nigel Twist grabbed the phone and shouted, “Of course, we’ll do it!”

The tour was successful, and U2 invited The Alarm to tour with them in America well, introducing their Welch friends to the United States. The bands remained friends through the years, and U2 recorded a cover of The Alarm’s “Blaze of Glory” for a BBC Radio Wales special on the 30th anniversary of The Declaration, the first-full length album from the band, which aired in April.

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Music, Night Life, The Features, We Love Music

We Love Music: Chinese Disco Soft Opening–8/7/14

chinesediscoFrom 1977 to 1986, one of the most infamous places in DC to boogey down was in the basement of an unlikely location—a Chinese restaurant called the Day Lily, then located at 2142 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.

Thursday night, the Chinese Disco, as it was known after dark, returned to DC. With the blessing of the founders of the original night, a bar formerly known as the George has dubbed itself Chinese Disco at 3251 Prospect St. NW, and launched weekend dance parties sure to bring a little more indie dance spirit to Georgetown (a neighborhood sorely long lacking in dance spots).

By any measure, the well-orchestrated soft opening party was a success. More than 700 people signed up for the guest list, which was managed electronically at the door. The large crowd was ready to dance, and dance they did to the likes of Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy,” DJ Snake and Lil Jon’s “Turn Down for What,” and even the Spice Girls.

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Featured Photo

Featured Photo

faith suspect

When you see this photo and think of “faith,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? It’s likely that your own world views and biases will color your response. At its best, street photography provokes your emotions, whether its humor, anger or anything in between. This photo taken a few years ago in Logan Circle by local photographer Chris Suspect is from a new exhibit entitled “Faith” that opens Saturday at the Leica Store gallery, 977 F Street, N.W. The opening reception is from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The exhibit features the work of DC’s very own Strata Collective, a group of DC street photographers (now including members in Brooklyn and Los Angeles) that have been together since 2012. You can read more about the collective and the exhibit here.

We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Stupid Fucking Bird, redux

(l-r) Rick Foucheux, Brad Koed, and Darius Pierce (Photo: Stan Barouh)

(l-r) Rick Foucheux, Brad Koed, and Darius Pierce (Photo: Stan Barouh)

Woolly has restaged Aaron Posner’s take on The Seagull, which since we’re an online outlet we can name without its asterisks: Stupid Fucking Bird. Jenn raved about it last year to anyone who would stand still or walk slower than she could, so I was excited to catch it for myself.

I’m not prepared to part with as many superlatives as she did, but I found it to be a very enjoyable play on its own merits and an interesting attempt to modernize and Americanize a classic piece of Russian literature. I’ll confess, I’m a bit of a sucker for fourth wall shenanigans, so when Brad Koed’s Con says “of course I know I’m in a play,” they are throwing me a bone. On the flip side, I’m more on the “don’t mess with it without a good reason” camp when it comes to adaptations. So how do my warring sides make peace on this?

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Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Amber Bursik of DC9

Amber Bursik of DC9

Amber Bursik of DC9

We’re revisiting our Capital Chefs feature with a series by music reporter Mickey McCarter. A lot has been happening recently in kitchens in D.C. restaurants, and Mickey takes a look into them from his usual seat at the bar in this series, which runs weekly on Thursdays.

When you hang out with a crowd that goes to see a lot of concerts, as I do, you are occasionally going to find yourself eating in a concert hall.

You might do so in the moment, and you might not expect the food to be too good. So you may find it refreshing when the food at your favorite venue is really consistently great.

Things make sense once you look behind the curtain at DC9, however, and find Amber Bursik in the kitchen. After finishing culinary school, Bursik worked at Georgetown fish house Hook for several years and then popular Mediterranean restaurant Palena for several more before going to work at DC9 a few years ago.

“When I came in here, there was a menu in the place and I had to work within the parameters of the menu in place and the size and capabilities of the kitchen,” Bursik told me. “Because of that, I was told I had to have the burgers on the menu. I could change the burgers, but we had to have burgers.”

In her last five months at the now-shuttered Palena, Bursik was working the grill station, where she was responsible for cooking what many called the best burger in DC.

“It was fun and interesting but at the same time, you are working at this fine dining restaurant and you’re cooking burgers!” Bursik said. “So it was funny to come here and cook burgers again. But we have a great burger because of it.”

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Entertainment, Music, The Features, We Love Music

We Love Music: Filligar @ DC9 — 7/26/14

Filligar Live at DC9 - 7/26/14

Filligar Live at DC9 – 7/26/14

When you’ve watched a band evolve over the span of a decade or more, it’s easy to be blinded by your own personal biases. But when it comes to Filligar, I often like to take a step back and remember the story from the beginning.

It’s only fair that I open this story with the fact that I’ve known Filligar – which is comprised of the Mathias brothers Johnny, Pete, and Ted and their life-long friend Casey Gibson – since I was a freshman at the Latin School of Chicago. It was the Fall of 2004 and I had recently started classes when I made friends with the guys who would become the band Filligar.

My first true introduction to them as a rock band was when we shared a billing at a battle of the bands in November 2004. I’ll never forget that day. It was the day George Harrison passed away. We all hung out in our school theater’s green room before the show talking about music and whatever else freshmen in high school talk about (though Johnny was in the 7th grade at the time). They went by the name Flipside back then and I’m pretty sure I have their first disc somewhere in my CD collection stored safely in a Chicago attic. But nostalgia aside, these guys have come a long way since the early days of the band.

Their live show is what makes them standout in an over-saturated music market and, on Saturday July 26, they showed the crowd at DC9 exactly that. Not only did the packed house demand Filligar play one more song before they agreed to a one-song encore but when they ended the show for the night, their devoted fans continued to chant for more music.

Never have I felt the floors of DC9 shake as they did that night. I worried for a moment that the ground beneath my feet was about to collapse while Filligar played their staple set-ending tune “Trepador,” which they’ve recorded a couple times between 2008 and 2013. But the floors didn’t collapse and the show ended on a high note. The sheer amount of energy they expel while performing live is infectious and that’s what the room was left with — energy.

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Food and Drink, The Features, Where We Live

Best Rickey: DC Craft Bartenders Guild @ Jack Rose Dining Saloon–8/3/14

Dustin Beruta of Cashion's Eat Place created a yummy vanilla Rickey.

Dustin Beruta of Cashion’s Eat Place created a yummy vanilla Rickey.

Sunday was a perfect day to stand alongside a bar on a roof and drink a refreshing beverage, maybe something a little sweet, maybe something a little fruity.

Seven of the top bartenders in the city were happy to oblige as they faced off under the auspices of the DC Craft Bartenders Guild for the title of best Rickey at the Jack Rose Dining Saloon in Adams Morgan. The seven Rickeys came in a variety of mixtures, and included recipes made from gin, bourbon or rye.

The arrangement for the 2014 contest was simple and effective. Three bartenders with gin-based Rickeys served their creations upstairs at Jack Rose, while the whiskey-based Rickeys were served by their mixologists downstairs. A reasonable $35 provided unlimited access to all seven Rickeys, allowing the audience ample opportunity to judge their own personal favorite from among the competitors.

The judging panel for the Rickey competition awarded best Rickey to the gin-based “Supafly Rickey,” created by Lukas B. Smith of Daikaya. It consisted of Half Moon Orchard Gin, cured sweet potato soda and a drop of rose water, garnished with a lime and a spray of lemongrass. It was pretty damn easy to drink, and it was probably the freshest and most memorable beverage among an excellent lot. The bartenders ran out of the ingredients for the Supafly Rickey well before the conclusion of the four-hour event.

Daikaya vows to display the Best Rickey Trophy at the bar for the next year, and perhaps they will continue to serve their winning cocktail as well.

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Featured Photo

Featured Photo

It’s always a good idea when enjoying a photograph to let it percolate a little in your mind. You know, let it bounce around a little while you take a moment to savor its goodness. At first glance, you appreciate the way the light wraps around this gentleman’s head in a way that gives him an almost saintly glow.

The light is a harsh, midday sun and strikes our guy slightly from behind. Normally, this kind of light could create unappealing shadows on his face, particularly around his eyes and hairline. In this case, Richie (we’re assuming his name is Richie) is wearing these cool, mirrored sunglasses. And his hairline …well… he doesn’t have that problem.

Richie pulls the mirrored sunglasses, the plastic cross and the 5 o’clock shadow together very well. But what I really like about this shot is the picture-within-the-picture. If you look closely at the sunglasses, you’ll see our intrepid photographer, Miki J. And there standing next to him with an arm on her hip is a …mystery woman! [For a better view, check out the extra-large version of the photo] Those are the little things I love finding in a photo and it’s something we might have missed if we hadn’t taken the time to appreciate this shot. You can see more great photos in our flickr pool.

 

The Features, The Nationals

Nats Drop Series Opener to Phillies 10-4

It was the Washington Nationals’ first game at home since July 20 on Thursday but, unfortunately for them, it didn’t go very well. The Philadelphia Phillies were in town and the night’s starters moved swiftly through the first three innings before the potential pitchers duel took a turn.

Both left-handed starters Cliff Lee and Gio Gonzalez didn’t make it very far in the Phillies’ 10-4 victory over the Nats but they both fled the game early for very different reasons. While a reoccurring strain of a left flexor pronator haunted Lee, Gonzalez was roughed up pretty bad in the fourth inning leading Manager Matt Williams to pull him. Gonzalez lasted 3 and 2/3 innings and gave up eight hits and five runs while walking one and striking out two on 77 pitches (47 strikes). That’s when the night’s game turned into a battle of the bullpens. Continue reading

Food and Drink, The Features

Hot Ticket: International Beer Day @ Piazza Beer Garden, Bethesda, 7/31/14


Tonight’s the evening before International Beer Day, which occurs annually on August 1. To celebrate, Brandon Skall of DC Brau heads to the Piazza Beer Garden, 7401 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda, Md., to discuss the ins and outs of brewing.

Cesco Osteria owner and chef Francesco Ricchi also will be on hand to welcome guests, who will enjoy three world beers for $10. Ticketed guests also take home a platinum-lined DC Brau glass.

Show up and pay at the door!

International Beer Day Celebration
Piazza Beer Garden
7401 Woodmont Ave.
Bethesda, Md.
Thursday, July 31, 2014
6-8pm
$10
21+ to drink

Music, The Features, We Love Music

We Love Music: The Kooks @ 9:30 Club—7/27/14

The Kooks (Photo courtesy Big Hassle)

The Kooks (Photo courtesy Big Hassle)

Celebrating their 10th anniversary, the Kooks shimmied into the 9:30 Club Sunday night with new material and a revitalized stage show that was eaten up by the sold-out crowd.

From the beginning, vocalist Luke Pritchard strutted and slid across the stage, very much looking like he could have sprung whole from the ‘60s music that inspired his lyrical Britpop.

Pritchard, guitarist Hugh Harris, drummer Alexis Nunez, and bassist Peter Denton have been opening their set with lead single “Down,” from a new album Listen, set to be released in the United States on Sept. 2. It’s a catchy pop song of jittery sophistication, and its words are a challenge to a woman seeking to bring our man “down down diggy de down down diggy diggy.”

Just because you’ve got a sad song doesn’t mean you can’t get diggy with it.

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Entertainment, Music, The Features, We Love Music

We Love Music: A Q&A with Erin and The Wildfire

Provided by Red Dust Music

Provided by Red Dust Music

I’ll never forget the first time I heard Erin and The Wildfire live. I’ve always been a firm believer that the live music experience tends to trump any recording (within reason) and this band captured my attention from their very first song of their live set back in March 2014 at Iota Club in Arlington, Va. Since then, the band — featuring vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Erin Lunsford, guitarist Ryan Lipps, bassist Matt Wood, and drummer Nick Quillen — continues to make waves regionally and has a stop at Jammin’ Java planned for this Sunday night, July 27. They’ll be joined by Tim Jones and Zach Broocke as part of a Buncearoo Presents show in Vienna, Va.

Tell us a little bit about yourselves. How did you all get together to start this band and why? There’s got to be a story there!

Met through a student-run musicians’ collective called O Records. Erin needed a band for a frat party so we learned some terrible covers, took our shirts off, and the rest is history.

How would you describe Erin & The Wildfire’s sound to someone who’s trying to decide if they should come to a show?

“It’s a rock show.” Particularly, Irish mellow bog-punk. But seriously, soul + blues + funk. Continue reading

Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Ed Witt of The Partisan

Ed Witt in the kitchen of The Partisan

Ed Witt in the kitchen of The Partisan

We’re revisiting our Capital Chefs feature with a series by music reporter Mickey McCarter. A lot has been happening recently in kitchens in D.C. restaurants, and Mickey takes a look into them from his usual seat at the bar in this series, which runs weekly on Thursdays. This week, Mickey talks to Ed Witt of The Partisan, which is probably the only time he’ll revisit a chef previously profiled!

The best show Ed Witt has seen in recent times was Two Man Advantage, a hockey hardcore band from Long Island, in a concert last summer.

To be clear, it’s a seven-man band that play hockey-themed hardcore punk. They put on quite a show.

That the congenial Mr. Witt has a great appreciation for hardcore isn’t much of surprise considering he looks like he fits right in with the punk rock crowd—he’s thin, bald and covered in tattoos. At the moment, he would rather be watching Ceremony, the California-based hardcore punk band, at the Rock and Roll Hotel. But instead he’s talking to me at a table in the back of The Partisan.

In reality, there is nothing Witt would rather be doing than cooking and spending time in his kitchen. And you can tell by the way his eyes light up when he discusses the food at The Partisan, which he opened a little over four months ago with Nate Anda and Michael Babin. For Witt, the experience harkens back to his time at Italian eatery Il Buco in New York City nearly a decade ago.

“When I worked in Il Buco in New York, I was there for three years. And I always wanted to open a place that was similar to that in that style but more American and not so Italian and Old World. It all came together with that,” Witt told me.

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All Politics is Local, Business and Money, Education, History, People, Scribblings, Sports Fix, The Features

The Football Name Debate: Are We Missing the Point?

“The debate is over about the R-word; it’s now about whether if it’s proper to have a football team in this country carry on using a defined slur.” That was the closing statement by Jacqueline Pata, the Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). Her comment capped off a forum at the Center for American Progress, Missing the Point: The Real Impact of Native Mascots and Team Names on American Indian and Alaska Native Youth. The Center released a new report that examined several bodies of research about the harmful impact of mascot representations on the self-esteem of AI/AN youth, how they create a hostile learning environment, and the decades-long movement to retire them. The report by Erik Stegman and Victoria Phillips looks at recent key findings and incorporates statements from several Native youths, providing context that is relevant today regarding the use of these mascots and imagery.

Sitting on today’s panel was Pata; Travis Waldron, Sports Reporter, ThinkProgress.org; Mark Macarro, Chairman, Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians; Dr. Michael Friedman, Clinical Psychologist; and Erik Stegman, Associate Director, Center for American Progress. The forum started with very poignant remarks by fifteen-year-old Dahkota Franklin Kicking Bear Brown, a student at Argonaut High School in California, and a Champion for Change at the Center for Native American Youth. Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN) also spoke briefly at the event.

Over the last year, the debate over the use of the slur by the Washington professional football team has largely centered on issues of economics and fan nostalgia. The larger issue at hand, however, is beyond the sports soundbites that dominate this discussion. Data and research now shows that the use of such racist and derogatory team names (and by association, ‘traditions’ and fan antics) have real and detrimental effects on Native youth today. With fifty percent of the Native population being of 25 years of age or younger, the danger of perpetuating this practice and continuing the cycle of defeatism, hostile learning environments, and poor self-esteem is all too real. Continue reading