Adventures, Entertainment, Essential DC, Get Out & About, History, Life in the Capital, The District, Throwback Thursday

We Love Throwback Thursdays: 04/03/14

Washington Navy Yard circa 1950

With the groundbreaking of The Wharf, this week’s We Love Throwback Thursday takes a gander back at this rapidly developing Southwest corner of DC. The above photo captures Navy Yard as it existed circa 1950, and looking at the Google, things really haven’t change much from the exterior which, as a fan of refurbished buildings, I’m digging. If you haven’t been down to Navy Yard recently, definitely get there, as a ton is going on.

  1. Get the history behind this neighborhood, learn about its character and see how it’s changed since Shannon covered it back in 2009 with We Where Live: Southwest Waterfront.
  2. Exposed DC is up and running until April 6th at the Longview Gallery. Tom has the details in We Love Arts: Exposed DC Opens Tonight.
  3. Yards Park is on the top of Katie’s Best Picnic Spots in DC. Check that spot and others out for weekend picnic plans.
  4. Been to Bluejacket Brewery? Get to know their Beer Director in Fashion Plate: Greg Engert of Neighborhood Restaurant Group.
  5. Break your gym rut, challenge your core and cure your fear of heights with Trapeze School in DC: What More Can I Say?

Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Eric Brannon of Ted’s Bulletin (Part 2)

Photo courtesy of
‘Walk of shame burrito from Ted’s Bulletin’
courtesy of ‘bonappetitfoodie’

We’ve all had a Saturday morning where we’ve woken up parched, head throbbing and stomach gurgling for something heavy and delicious to cure a bad hangover. Granted I tried Eric Brannon’s breakfast burrito for dinner (who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner?), but I’d imagine on a weekend morning hungover or not, this burrito would really hit the spot. It’s easy enough to make, and certainly don’t feel obligated to eat it before noon. You’ll find the full recipe after the jump.
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Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Eric Brannon of Ted’s Bulletin (Part 1)

Photo courtesy of
‘Eric Brannon of Ted’s Bulletin’
courtesy of ‘bonappetitfoodie’

Eric Brannon serves up more than your average meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Since Ted’s opened a little more than a year ago, the chef has been serving up comfort food reminiscent of mom’s cooking but with more flair at Ted’s Bulletin in Eastern Market.

“I’m cooking food that gives you memories,” he says. “It’s so rewarding to have people come up to you and say, ‘This is like how my mom made it.’ It pays homage to folks at home.” For Brannon, his cooking is about revamping the simple and attainable classics, which is still a challenge.

The restaurant’s homemade pop tarts and adult (read: liquor-laced) milkshakes have generated worthy buzz around the city. This year the restaurant was nominated for a RAMMY as one of 2011′s Best Neighborhood Gathering Places, one of the few public vote categories. And he says new milkshakes, pop tarts and some fun entrées such as a Texas style brisket will be making their debut on the menu this spring.
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Entertainment, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Cyrano

(L-R) Eric Hissom, Chris Genebach, Todd Scofield, Richard Ruiz, and Dan Crane in Cyrano at Folger Theatre, through June 5, 2011. Photo credit: Carol Pratt

If you’re expecting to see Folger Theatre do the traditional over-three-hours-five-acts-cast-of-hundreds production of Cyrano (and yes, having been brought up on Derek Jacobi’s brilliant RSC Cyrano, I was), forget it. You don’t need the caffeine, it’s already built into this lightning fast adaptation by Michael Hollinger and director Aaron Posner. Nine actors play multiple roles over two acts in a translation that may lose some of the poetry but none of the verve.

Or rather, the panache.

Thanks to its constant reinvention in popular culture ever since its debut in 1897, the plot of Edmond Rostand’s play about the swashbuckling 17th-century soldier with an enormous nose and a heart to match is well known enough that slicing and dicing the text isn’t viewed as too sacrilegious. Hollinger’s new translation tosses the Alexandrine couplets in favor of a less formal tone, and the cuts he and Posner made streamline the action to its most essential elements. Sure, I missed a few of my favorite bits and the lusciousness of the Anthony Burgess translation, but that didn’t mar my enjoyment. This adaptation is whistling sharp, like a rapier. Or as a friend put it afterwards, “It’s the Cliff Notes version… if Cliff Notes were actually really good.”

What is the beating, raging heart of this production? Eric Hissom’s Cyrano de Bergerac. Completely believable as both a scathing poet and a dashing fighter, his self-loathing whips him on to acts of self-destructive bravery and selfless love. Battling a hundred knights on the bridge? I bet he could’ve handled a thousand.  Continue reading

Entertainment, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: The Comedy of Errors

(L-R) Dromio of Syracuse (Nathan Keepers) and his master, Antipholus of Syracuse (Darragh Kennan), in The Comedy of Errors, on stage at Folger Theatre through March 6, 2011. Photo: Carol Pratt.

Life can get far too serious sometimes. So can theater. Whatever happened to pratfalls? How about seeing a guy get a wet willy? Who doesn’t love a clown?

If you’re at all down lately, The Comedy of Errors at the Folger Theatre will perk you right up. It’s full of the childish pleasures of old-fashioned clowning and mercifully uncomplicated (apart from Shakespeare’s pesky plot concerning two sets of identical twins, of course!). I actually debated writing a review that would consist of just three words: “Sweet. Simple. Good.”

The first thing you notice upon entering the theater is Tony Cisek’s gorgeous set, like the waiting hall of a Victorian train station seen through the eyes of a passenger on the Yellow Submarine. Its antic colors instantly telegraph that you’re in the circus world of comedy, and thankfully, that’s just what we need. Next up is director Aaron Posner’s framing device – the presentation by British director Timothy Tushingham (Bruce Nelson) of a rough-cut documentary on his dysfunctional players, the Worcestershire Mask & Wig Society, earnestly touring the States. This preamble doesn’t really do much other than put you in the proper frame of mind to laugh, and to accept the British accents and anachronisms the actors use throughout the rest of the production.

But it’s sweet, and funny, and again – isn’t that what you need right now? I’m tired of being jaded. I enjoyed my time in Ephesus, where everyone knows your name but has no idea exactly who you really are…  Continue reading

Food and Drink, The Features, The Hill, We Love Food

We Love Food: Ted’s Bulletin

Photo courtesy of
‘Dine-In At Ted’s Bulletin’
courtesy of ‘[F]oxymoron’
Growing up on the mean streets of suburban Maryland, I ate at my fair share of diners. Silver Diner, Broadway Diner, Hoffberg’s Deli…the list goes on. There are obvious benefits to diner eating – major portions, the food you wish your mom made all the time (and made well), and breakfast all day. One thing that diners didn’t necessarily do for me was always taste good. They can be great, or they can be plastic cup of coleslaw on the side bad. I think we call that inconsistency. Now that I’m a big girl living in the big city, I’ve graduated from the diners of greater Rockville Pike to Ted’s Bulletin. Though it may not be a traditional diner, it’s the diner of my dreams.

Much like the diners of my youth, Ted’s is a fantastic fall back restaurant. Not to say that it’s not a destination unto itself, it just works as my go-to place when nothing else excites me. And in this dreary time of year, I’m uninspired and therefore eating at Ted’s a whole lot. And it’s really working out well for me. Continue reading

Adventures, Business and Money, Downtown, Entertainment, Fun & Games, The Features

Playing in the District: Labyrinth Game Shop


It’s a rare event when a few of my mutual interests collide these days. Happily, my WeLoveDC self collided with my gamer self earlier this month when I managed to make it out to the grand opening of Labyrinth Games in downtown DC. Specifically, right near Eastern Market in Southeast.

Typically today, if you mention “game store” to someone, you’ll most likely get a response directing you to the nearest Game Stop or Toys ‘R Us. That’s because most people tend to think of games in one of two ways – on a console system or other electronic device, or one of those popular box games you find stashed on a shelf in one of the superstore retailers. While that’s just fine and dandy for those looking for the latest release of Madden Eleventy-one or the newest “collector’s edition” of Monopoly, such stores lack the breadth and character of a dedicated game store retailer. And such a store is a rare gem, when one can find it. Especially if they’re independently owned and operated.

Fortunately, DC has finally received such a gem. Continue reading

Food and Drink, The Features, The Hill

First Look: Ba Bay

Photo courtesy of
‘Ba Bay, Sunday Night’
courtesy of ‘Madame Meow’

Ever since Locanda abruptly closed last summer, I’ve been anxious to see what would open up in its place. I would walk by the giant picture window every few weeks and there Locanda would sit, fully made up for service knowing full well it wouldn’t be serving anyone anytime soon. It was like a shrine to pasta plates of time gone by.

And then just as unexpectedly as it closed, one day a year later the ghost place settings were gone and work was in progress for a new restaurant. Enter: Ba Bay.

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Food and Drink, The Features, The Hill

First Look: DC-3

Photo courtesy of
‘Hot Dogs’
courtesy of ‘vpickering’
Before I go in to the specifics of my trip to DC-3, I need to confess something about myself: I come from a family of carnival people. We’re not all carnival people, but there definitely is a branch of the family tree that knows a lot about freak shows, overpriced games and convincing everyone if they just try one more time they’ll be able to throw the ring around the bottle. Carnivale it is not (we don’t have supernatural powers, at least that I know of) but it is still a dark past that I’m usually not offering up to strangers. But it plays a crucial role in my ability to dissect DC-3, since I obviously know plenty about hot dogs and cotton candy.

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Adventures, Business and Money, Entertainment, Essential DC, Fun & Games, Life in the Capital, Special Events, The Daily Feed, The District, The Hill

The Pearl Lady Arrives

Photo courtesy of
‘All dressed up’
courtesy of ‘Blinkofanaye’

Capitol Hill staffers have been keeping a very appealing, little secret from the rest of DCers and her name is “The Pearl Lady”. Apparently every year around the holidays, The Pearl Lady who owns a pearl shop in Beijing, visits DC to sell her pearls at ridiculous low prices. According to a WLDC author, The Pearl Lady usually operates out of a townhouse and the scene is a total madhouse with Congressional staffers waiting in line for hours and departing with strands and strands of beautiful, opulent pearls.

According to The Pearl Lady’s website ( she’s got some serious VIP clientele including Laura Bush, Madeleine Albright, Condolezza Rice, and Bill Clinton (cue pearl necklace jokes.)

The Pearl Lady opens shop today at 446 New Jersey Ave, SE from 10am to 6pm and will be opened everyday until November 16.

Entertainment, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Courage

The cast of "Courage," a dog and pony dc production. Photo credit: C. Stanley Photography

The cast of "Courage," a dog & pony dc production. Photo credit: C. Stanley Photography

Entering the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop black box theater for a performance of Courage: A Political Theatre Revival is a bit like crashing your neighbor’s weekend-long house party. The place is a mess, you don’t know anyone, but everyone seems to be having crazy fun so you jump right in, why not? If you aren’t the sort who likes the fourth wall being broken repeatedly as actors address you directly and encourage you to participate, this isn’t the production for you. But if you love party-crashing, you’ll get along.

Maybe you shouldn’t trust my opinion, after all, I was handed a beer shortly upon arrival. It’s a new strategy, getting your reviewer tipsy, but everyone else was doing it too (so yes, I caved to peer pressure). In addition to free beer, you’ll be recruited into the army with a hilarious questionnaire. This raucous atmosphere before the show even begins puts you both at ease and on edge at the same time – the perfect mood for a work that’s actually based on Bertolt Brecht’s classic anti-war play Mother Courage and Her Children.

This production by dog & pony dc uses the very colloquial David Hare version as a starting point, accented by a live band with original music by John Milosich and directed (or rather, “radically re-imagined”) by Rachel Grossman, who describes the action as “NASCAR punk political theatre mosh-pit.” Apt. It closes June 26, so race on over – performances are Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30pm.

Now that you’re prepared for the preamble, what about the production itself? Continue reading

The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Hamlet

Laertes (Justin Adams) and Hamlet (Graham Michael Hamilton) in "Hamlet" at Folger Theatre. Photo credit: Carol Pratt.

For many of us, Hamlet was our first introduction to Shakespeare. We come to any performance marked by the ghosts of favorite actors and concepts, never able to fully be open to the play. Enter the clean, refined vision of director Joseph Haj to help you see the play fresh. From the very first moments, fast-paced and full of danger, to the wrenching final image, we know something is different in this state of Denmark. It’s a decidedly contemporary jewel-box of a production, and one I highly recommend.

Playing now through June 6 at the Folger Theatre, this Hamlet is highlighted by the stunning set design of James Kronzer and a heartbreaking lead performance by Graham Michael Hamilton. Your first sight of the all-white set’s striking modernity contrasted with the Elizabethean background of the Folger is a beacon of the director’s mission – let the simplicity of the text shine through. Everything is laid bare here, in grim tones of neutrals and grey, just as Hamlet bares his inner thoughts to us in the famous monologues detailing his struggle to avenge his father’s death.

And it’s fast. I don’t think I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a more effectively streamlined Hamlet (definitely not the four-hour Branagh version I sat through at the RSC years ago!). Purists may be upset at some of the cuts, but it serves the purpose well here to do some judicious snipping. But it’s not just the cuts that drive the action – Haj allows the ensemble few moments of rest, setting a pace that doesn’t labor but flies. Too often productions of Hamlet take the view that the prince is waffling, procrastinating – here, he’s moving briskly along on his search for truth, battering at the roadblocks in his way. Continue reading

The Features, The Hill, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Evolve Urban Arts Project

Evolve at the Pierce School. Photo courtesy Eric Hope.

Evolve at the Pierce School. Photo courtesy Eric Hope.

Arts organizations tend to get hit the hardest in times of economic distress or, let’s face it, the current weather crisis. When galleries and theaters have to shutter their doors for even one night, it can be devastating. So consider this your PSA for Arts today: once we’re out of this mess, hit a play, see an exhibit, get out there and help the arts as much as you can. They’re really going to need it.

And there are so many worthy arts centers here in DC that go beyond the typical; we are truly lucky! One such unassuming place is Evolve Urban Arts Project in the H Street Arts District, with a special mission to promote local artists. Basically, says curator Eric Hope, “I’m trying to take some chances and give exposure to up-and-coming artists.” The recent exhibit by Dana Ellyn in December was one of the best I’ve seen in a long time, and upcoming shows look to match that intensity. Let’s take a closer look at one of DC’s pioneering galleries.

Evolve Urban Arts Project came about when Chris Swanson and Jeff Printz bought the Pierce School in 2000 and renovated it to include a home for themselves and several loft units. A few years later, they started arts exhibits in the main foyer and throughout the public spaces of the building. Curator Eric Hope came on board in April 2009 and saw the potential to expand their profile in the DC arts community. The only steadfast rule, strongly encouraged by Swanson, is the promotion of local talent, and the exhibition space is free to the artists.

“Lowkey really describes us,” Eric explains, “I’m happy to have the freedom to work with artists who push boundaries and take chances.”

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The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Much Ado About Nothing


Howard W. Overshown and Rachel Leslie as Beatrice and Benedick in Folger Theatre’s Much Ado About Nothing. Photo Credit: Carol Pratt.

I can’t think of a better antidote to losing the sunshine when you leave work than to head to the Folger to see its vibrant production of “Much Ado About Nothing.” Once inside the theater you’ll feel instantly transported back to summer.

Setting Shakespeare’s “Much Ado” during our own DC Caribbean Carnival may at first seem like a random decision, but it’s hardly that. The play’s core theme revolves around masking and unmasking identity. Characters intentionally hide their true selves and motives from others, mistaking the identity of others both figuratively and literally. Perhaps not in such an obvious way as other Shakespeare plays – but “Much Ado” is more mature, tackling the complexities of relationships. Despite plumbing these depths, it also manages to have some hysterical fun.

Former lovers Benedick and Beatrice fight out their mistrust and pain with biting sarcasm and wit. Their knowledge of each other’s faults is stronger at first than of each other’s strengths, and it’s their journey of mutual discovery to love and respect that makes this one of the most loved Shakespearean comedies. Contrast their relationship with the callow puppy love of the younger Claudio, Benedick’s protege, and Hero, Beatrice’s cousin – two lovers whose lack of knowledge about each other’s natures is the catalyst for some dirty dealing by villian Don John. Add in some well-meaning friends and relatives who manage to stir the pot for both good and bad, and you have a journey to teach everyone a little bit about love.

But does the setting work? Absolutely. The minute Claudio came in as a DC bike cop, I was sold.

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The Features, We Love Food

We Love Food: Belga Cafe

Photo courtesy of
‘Brunch at Belga Cafe’
courtesy of ‘InspirationDC’

You guys, I’m torn here. On one hand, I genuinely like Belga Cafe. On the other hand, I’m unimpressed by Belga. Here’s the thing – whenever you say “I’m going to Belga” to someone they all oooh and ahhh. It’s got a fantastic reputation, and some of the food lives up to that reputation. But some of the food is worse than what I’d find on the line at the local Holiday Inn breakfast buffet. It’s a conundrum. But let me explain…

Belga Cafe is situated on 8th Street in the heart of Barracks Row. It’s a great location with foot traffic from Eastern Market and the surrounding neighborhoods and shops. Belga has a small but cozy patio, the outdoor seating complete with table cloths, and a slightly cramped long interior dining room. The kitchen is quasi-open, and the bar is usually full of diners. The place has a neighborhood feel, though I would say it’s known throughout the city as a brunch destination. And unfortunately, brunch is where I get tripped up with Belga. Continue reading

Entertainment, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Measure for Measure

Taffety Punk's Measure for Measure: Esther Williamson as Isabella, and Kimberly Gilbert as Angelo

Esther Williamson as Isabella, and Kimberly Gilbert as Angelo
Photo by Kristin Holodak

“Measure for Measure” could be described in simplest terms as a “he said, she said” kind of play. When fellow author Don shared his thoughts on Taffety Punk’s current production with me, it fascinated me that we had two disparate views. So why not mimic the play’s conceit and split the review?

Before we go into it, plot please? The leader of the free world gives it all up temporarily for some meditation practice, leaving a stuck-up prig in charge as a test. The prig goes to town cleaning up the junkies and whores, jailing a reprobate with a hot virgin as a sister. Virgin begs for her brother’s life, prig will give it if she sleeps with him. All hell breaks loose with the leader working the marionette strings behind the scenes.

At least, that was how my professor described it.

So here goes, our little gender joint review experiment… Continue reading

The Features, We Love Arts

Artomatic 2009 Opens!

Photo courtesy of
‘Twirling Fire at Artomatic’
courtesy of ‘starbuck77′

The building at 55 M St SE, right above the Nationals Park entrance of Navy Yard Metro still hasn’t become much. With area development on hold due to the economy, the completed, but unoccupied, monolith along the Capitol Riverfront is a perfect host for this year’s Artomatic. This the tenth anniversary of the roving art show that takes place in the District’s most ad-hoc gallery. This year, it covers 8 floors of the building, with several performance artist spaces, as well as the traditional art-mounted-on-plywood.

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Essential DC, History, Life in the Capital, The District, The Features, Where We Live

Where We Live: Capitol Hill

Photo courtesy of
‘The Shape of Colors in DC’
courtesy of ‘Gen Jones (Gen-esis Photography)’

This week we’ll be looking at the Capitol Hill neighborhood. This neighborhood could probably be called the largest in DC, since essentially anything east of the Capitol, north/west of the Anacostia River, and south of Union Station is generally known as Capitol Hill.  The area is home to so many great places, from Eastern Market to Barracks Row to Union Station, and it also has some of the best historic architecture in the city.

History: The hill that the Capitol sits on was originally called Jenkins Hill (or was it?).  Pierre L’Enfant decided that it would be a good location for the “Congress House”, and before you knew it, it became the center of residential development in our fair city.  Because it was so close to the Capitol, congressmen lived in Capitol Hill boarding houses, and because it was so close to the Navy Yard, it was also home to craftsmen and laborers.  The neighborhood continued to grow throughout the nineteenth century, and many historic rowhouses in the area date from this era.  It was mostly a mixed-income neighborhood for the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  However, the fringes of Capitol Hill were hit hard by drugs in the 1980s, and as recently as 2000 crime was out of control in Hill East (if you get a chance, check out Jim Myers’ description of that time in The Atlantic).  Most of the area has bounced back, and Capitol Hill is now the city’s largest historic district and one of the city’s greatest neighborhoods.

Neighborhood Character:  The neighborhood is certainly one of the District’s most diverse.  You’ve got empty-nesters, long-time residents, recent college grads, families with small children, and Hill staffers all mixed together in a few square miles.  Hill East resident Shaun says, “My fiance and I live in a condo that’s home to Georgetown law students, Hill staffers and a retired woman who’s lived at our intersection for so long, she remembers when the new condo around the corner was a crack house.” Historic rowhouses make up the majority of the housing in the area, with a few apartment buildings and condominiums throughout the area.  Commercial development is mostly located along Pennsylvania Avenue, 8th Street SE (Barracks Row), and around Metro stations.  The area is quite pleasant to walk around, with brick sidewalks and mature trees and beautiful views of the Capitol.

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Food and Drink, Night Life, The Features, The Hill, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Wisdom

"Wealthy Missionary" cocktail, Wisdom

"Wealthy Missionary cocktail, Wisdom" by Jenn Larsen, on Flickr

When Wisdom owner Erik Holzherr’s Tortoise and the Bare cocktail won the 2009 Artini competition, it took a lot of people by surprise (as in, who is this guy and where exactly is his bar??). I knew I had to get over to sample his concoctions as quickly as I could get someone to venture into the wilds of Pennsylvania Avenue SE with me. 

Inside Wisdom’s shopworn exterior is an enveloping dark and shabbily elegant space, with cosy curtained nooks featuring tin ceiling plates on the walls. Moroccan glass lanterns abound. It’s all very Victorian professor’s idea of a medieval tower by way of the harem.

First up to try was the Wealthy Missionary – with a name like that, how could it not be? It turned out to be a luscious mix of Surreal Ginger Peach Vodka and Stone’s Original Ginger. My metaphors went into overdrive – “it’s a southern summer, a debutante’s ball!” Seriously, this cocktail is off the charts good.

But then I had a sip of my friend’s Pears of Wisdom and couldn’t decide which I liked better. This cocktail, featuring vodka and pear cognac (they make pear cognac??) with elderflower, was just like slipping on a vintage French silk slip and lolling around in a field of flowers…

I warned you about my metaphor overdrive. Continue reading

Technology, The Daily Feed

Ignite Comes to DC on 14 May 09


Ignite DC will be hosting their first meeting on 14 May 09 at the new Artomatic Location at 55 M St SE right across from the Navy Yard Metro. So, get your five minutes and twenty slides in order, and work on what you want to tell DC. Tell us about your art project. Or maybe about your idea for a great new website. How about a new approach to lobbying the government. Great way to meet all kinds of cool folks. We’ll see you there!

55 M St SE
Washington DC 20003