Essential DC, People, The Features, Where We Live, Why I Still Love DC

Why I (Still) Love DC: Ben

Full disclosure: I really wanted to title this article “Why I (Still) Love DC: Take Two (or Ten)” but Jenn wouldn’t let me. (Something about ruining the pattern or other such reasonable editorial argument.) If you’re a long-time follower of We Love DC, you’ll know I wrote a similarly titled piece back in 2013 after this site’s fifth anniversary.

And then suddenly, here we are not two years later and the party’s over.

Back in the fall, when it was discussed about putting the old gal to rest, I didn’t really want to let it go. I’d hoped that a fresh generation, newer (or older) blood would pick up our baton, and sally forth. But alas–and unlike our lovely Congressmen and Senators on the Hill–our grand lady would not blather on about nothing, limping towards digital obscurity.

And I’m okay with that.

This will be my 647th and final post here at We Love DC. (And, for giggles, that’s about half-a-million words.) I never thought I’d be saying good bye, both to our readers and to the site.

It’s a bittersweet milestone for me, particularly.

2015 marks ten years -half my married life!- since I moved to the Metro DC area. My wife and I escaped a wretched employment outlook in Pittsburgh when the International Spy Museum took a chance and hired me to help run their retail shop. Brenda Young, my manager at the time (and she’s still there, I believe), was a true District resident from Capitol Heights and during our downtime in the office, would tell me all about this city and its secrets. Actually, considering where I worked and who I rubbed shoulders with on a frequent basis, I learned about a lot of secrets in the District…

Anyway, it was during my time there that I stumbled over Tom and his merry band of Metrobloggers. I applied to write, figuring I could bring a ‘fresh-behind-the-ears’ view to the team (only having been here two years at that point). I showed my bona fides and I was in.

And plunged straight into the depths of rebellion. Continue reading

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

Adventures, Education, Essential DC, History, Life in the Capital, The District, Throwback Thursday

We Love Throwback Thursday: 04/24/14

3c02388r-1This week’s throwback photo illustrates that even tall people (6′+) can get the short end of the stick. Before 1925 men 6′+ couldn’t join the President’s police force, but eventually were allowed to protect our POTUS despite their “giant-ness.”

With the great weekend weather, let’s get you out of your neighborhood rut and exploring the neighborhoods you’ve heard of but for some particular reason haven’t made it to. And bless WeLoveDC alum, Shannon, for doing the hard work for you with her Where We Live series.

  1. Did you know Takoma Park got its start back in 1883 as a commuter rail suburb of Washington? Me neither! There’s so much more to this awesome, quaint hood. So hop on metro and check it out in Where We Live: Takoma Park.
  2. Step back in the past and see how U Street has changed since Shannon profiled it back in 2010. Where We Live: U Street Definitely worth reading before you
  3. In my weekly Sunday jaunts to the Palisades Farmers market I have some to love the neighborhood, and you’ll understand why with Where We Live: The Palisades.
  4. If you think U Street has changed, then check Where We Live: H Street from 2009 for a complete blast from the past on this transformed DC neighborhood.
  5. Generally speaking, I try to avoid the West End because, cough college students, but it’s rich with history, intrigue and non-college shenanigan awesomeness, Where We Live: West End.
Adventures, Education, Essential DC, Get Out & About, Life in the Capital, The District, The Mall, Throwback Thursday

We Love Throwback Thursday: 03/20/14

Senate Majority Leader crowns Cherry Blossom Queen.

courtesy of the Library of Congress

In honor of the first day of the 2014 Cherry Blossom Festival, I’ve pulled the above photo from 1939 of then Senate Majority Leader Alben W. Barkley placing festival the crown on the head of Peggy Townsend, Cherry Blossom Queen. Super retro. Super cool. Ah, the good old days. Now let’s reach back to this week in bygone WeLoveDC years to surface five oldie, but goodie articles that will make your week sing.

  1. Get edumacated on the history behind the cherry blossoms with Monumental: Cherry Blossoms 
  2. Learn how Katie (a non-runner) learned to love it by training for the Cherry Blossom 10-miler. On Running and Falling In Love. 
  3. Psst…the Tidal Basin isn’t the only spot for cherry blossom viewing. The Insider’s Guide: Cherry Blossom Bliss. 
  4. Farmer’s markets are about to explode with produce and fare as we emerge from winter. Here’s your to-go guide: We Love Food: Farmer’s Market Tips
  5. There’s just something right about spring and poetry. Check out Acacia’s serenade to DC with “I Love DC: An Ode”
History, Sports Fix, The Features, WTF?!

What’s In a Football Name? Snyder Thinks He Knows – And He’s Wrong

So this popped out the other day.

It’s no secret how I feel about the whole name thing with the Washington football team. I oppose it. I think it’s racist. I have several personal issues with the name. But that’s not why I decided to post something about it.

The letter is a poor public relations attempt, mostly to mollify diehard team fans who will, unto the bitter end, support the racist moniker. Not out of reason, but blind emotion.

Hey, I get it. I understand why. Team fandom is a complicated, deep, personal thing that involves a lot of emotional investment and history. It’s difficult to hear that your beloved franchise is doing something wrong – simply by using a name (and by extension, mascot and other fan accoutrements).

The problem comes when that moniker is unveiled to be racist. The Washington issue isn’t anything new; it’s been around for decades. The movement today has found new momentum and has begun to find rightful traction in righting a wrong. (Just like the Civil Rights Movement began finding traction nearly one hundred years after Emancipation.)

The first third of Snyder’s letter is a play on his loyal fanbase’s emotional strings. “I still remember…the passion of the fans…the ground beneath me seemed to move and shake…he’s been gone for 10 years now…” All phrases and words evoking emotions and certainly causing the reader to recall their own cherished memories. Setting them into their defensive stance, so that the rest of the letter, which uses standard PR spin and deft deflection, only ratchets up the emotional volume for their impassioned – and misguided – defense.

Oh, and then there’s the trite “Our past isn’t just where we came from–it’s who we are” phrase. Bolded and italicized, even. Because it’s important!  Continue reading

All Politics is Local, Food and Drink, History, The Daily Feed, The District

On This Day in 1934 …

Photo courtesy of daveinshaw
Faith and Insurance
courtesy of daveinshaw

As you might know by now, we’re big fans of the DC Craft Bartenders Guild’s annual Repeal Day Ball, which celebrates the national repeal of Prohibition. What you might not know is that DC’s local prohibition law remained on the books for a few more months after the national repeal.

Today is the anniversary of the repeal of prohibition in DC. According to Garrett Peck’s book Prohibition in Washington, DC, DC’s repeal went into effect just after midnight on March 1, with some 200 licenses hand-delivered by police and other DC officials. The first recipients? The National Press Club, who still have license ABRA-000001 [PDF].

Know of any official or unofficial celebrations? Post ‘em in the comments.

Life in the Capital, The District

Census: 48% of DC Households Are Single-Occupant

Major cities with single-occupant households, from Fortune

DC has more single-occupant households than any other city, including Manhattan

From Fortune, based on data from the 2010 Census: DC has more single-occupant households than any other major US city. DC’s 48% of households is even higher than Manhattan’s 46%.

Are you the 48%?

Opinion, The District

Why I Love DC: Joanna Castle Miller

Photo courtesy of ekelly80
353/365
courtesy of ekelly80

I moved to DC (okay, NoVa to be exact) from New York via my hometown of Memphis, and love the fact that here I can get moonshine and fried pickles but still have winter sports and a subway system.

I love that DC is misunderstood and can play the victim. The city as a whole doesn’t deserve the conniving (or worse! boring) name it gets in the debates. On the same avenues as the “Washington elite” you’ll meet incredible actors, vocalists, writers and some of the most innovative designers and techies in the business – not political elites, just gifted go-getters who are passionate about their work and more creative than 10 Congresses.

I love that DC is filled with activists who volunteer their rare free time to stand up for things that matter; and I love that people come to DC from all over the world to make their voices heard.

Continue reading

The District

Why I Love DC: Michael T. Ruhl

Birds of a Feather
‘Birds of a Feather’

You want to know why I love DC? Well, take a look through my lens and see how I view this beautiful city. I don’t claim to be a great photographer – I’m just a guy who likes to shoot. Washington is my arena, my subject, and my muse. DC, my darling, smile for the camera.

I first came to DC to report on Congress. That was kind of like drinking from a fire hose, and the Capitol building quickly became my favorite place in the world. This shot elicits the collectivism of the House of Representatives, a subject of endless fascination for me.

Continue reading

We Love Arts

Seeing Through the Lens of Award-Winning Photographer Carol Guzy

Carol Guzy with her Dog Trixie, who was rescued from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

Carol Guzy with her Dog Trixie, who was rescued from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, photo by Will Dolive

By Michael T. Ruhl

You wouldn’t know just casually talking to Carol Guzy that she’s a world class photographer who works for the Washington Post. The humble four-time Pulitzer Prize winner sits quietly in her Arlington home, tending to her dogs, two of which she rescued from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Her living room walls stand largely devoid of her photos, and she doesn’t even display her Pulitzer Prizes. The only indicators of a photographer in that room are a few old cameras sitting on the shelves. Her passion isn’t advertised, but poke her and she bleeds. Continue reading

Crime & Punishment, History, Life in the Capital, The District, We Love Drinks

Breakin’ the Law: Prohibition in DC

Garrett Peck
Garret Peck (photos by the author)

Wednesday night I attended a talk on Prohibition in DC by local author Garrett Peck. He’s got a new book on the subject, developed as a result of his research for his first book, along with the knowledge he’s amassed leading the Temperance Tour. Much as it is now, DC was a playground for politicians who wanted to try out new rules. Prohibition was thus imposed on the District in 1917 by politicians who, privately (and sometimes publicly) didn’t themselves care much for or about the law.

Continue reading

The Daily Feed, We Love Drinks

We Love Books About Drinks

Photo courtesy of
‘Temperance Fountain’
courtesy of ‘NCinDC’

It may come as a surprise to you that I have time to read in between all those trips to the Passenger for brunch, but it’s true. It probably won’t come as a surprise, though, that I’ve been reading a lot about drinking and prohibition lately. Two DC area authors have new books on those subjects.

Continue reading

Essential DC, Life in the Capital, The District, Tourism

It’s Tourist Season: Share the Love

Silhouettes
All photos by the author

A couple years ago the Social Chair and I were sitting at a bar when the couple next to us asked us a question. They said they’d overheard our conversation with the bartender and were looking for a restaurant recommendation, since they were visiting from out of town and wanted to try something other than their usual haunts. We got to talking about where they were from (“Outside Toronto”), and we mentioned that we were leaving in a week to go visit family and friends both in and outside Toronto. It was at this point in a conversation with a Canadian that I would usually get to play my trump card, since my sister lives in a town even most Ontario natives haven’t heard of. But when we told them the name of the town (West Montrose), they got a little wide-eyed. And then they asked, “which house?”

It turned out that these strangers, from “Outside Toronto,” had almost bought that very house, and after they didn’t buy it their friends did. Their friends, in fact, were the couple who sold the house to my sister and brother-in-law (and since my sister’s family is moving to The Hague, it’s for sale again). In this city you never know who you might meet.

Judging by what I’ve seen on Twitter, and a stale rant that has been making the rounds again (which I won’t dignify by linking here), tourist season has fallen hard on some of you (the fact that it arrives at the same time as allergy season also doesn’t help, I’m sure). But I ask your patience as I make this heartfelt plea: please be nice to tourists.

Continue reading

Entertainment, Interviews, Music, People

Q&A with Henry Rollins


courtesy of Henry Rollins.

At this point does Henry Rollins really require an introduction? Since the hardcore punk era Rollins has been a jack-of-all-trades entertainer and thought-provoker with his bands, books, acting gigs, radio shows, spoken word tours, stand-up comedy, and most recently two National Geographic television specials about ‘the warrior gene’ and about snakes! Rollins grew-up in DC and to celebrate his 50th birthday on Sunday (50th!? We’re getting old!) he is coming home to put on two sold out shows at National Geographic’s Grosvenor Auditorium. I recently caught up with the notoriously tight-lipped Rollins and wrestled a few answers out of him.

Continue reading

The Features

Giveaway: Worn Magazine is Back!

All Photographs by Max Cook for We Love DC.

People say that bigger does not always mean better.   However, in the case of Worn Magazine’s second issue – this statement could not be any less true.  With 52 pages of glossy, DC-centric fashion, 60-plus original photographs, and the introduction of contributing writers, Worn magazine is bigger, better, and, most definitely, brighter than ever.

With the success of the inaugural issue, Worn Magazine has continued to deliver on their promise – “to bring greater awareness of local fashion and art to the District and to the nation” – by making the focus of their fall/winter 2010/2011 issue to be on the artists who are trying to make it in DC.   Nicole Aguirre, Worn’s Editor-in-Chief explains it best in her editor’s letter.

Continue reading

Entertainment, Music, We Love Music

We Love Music: Gorillaz @ Susquehanna Bank Center (NJ) 10/10/10 & Patriot Center (VA) 10/11/10

IMG_2318.jpg
all photos by Andrew Markowitz.*

Pop-music mad scientist Damon Albarn is currently touring his ever-evolving collaborative group and multimedia extravaganza, Gorillaz, across the United States. After Gorillaz climbed around New York City like King Kong at the end of last week, they took their road-show down the Turnpike to play an incredible show in Camden, New Jersey on Sunday night, and then down I-95 to perform at George Mason University’s Patriot Center on Monday. Having previewed the 2010 Gorillaz live show at this year’s Coachella Music Festival, I was determined to catch at least one of their national tour dates. As it turns out I was fortunate enough to catch two of them.

Everyone that I talk to who hasn’t seen Gorillaz live seems to have the misconception that their concerts are fully-animated affairs, with the real band hidden behind screens. If you are reading this and are skipping your area’s Gorillaz tour date because of a similar thought, let me tell you that 2010 is the year Gorillaz have come out from behind their rather silly veil to stage an extravagant stage show that features upwards of 25 people on stage at once. The live show is a head-spinning cavalcade of guest-stars and top-notch musicians with so many moving musical parts that every inch of the stage is packed with something interesting for the eyes and the ears. With the latest Gorillaz release, a concept album entitled “Plastic Beach”, and this massive tour, Albarn has finally realized the full musical potential of the novelty Hip-Hop meets Brit-Pop group that he and cartoonist Jamie Hewlett conceived nearly a decade ago. “Escape to Plastic Beach” tour is one of the most unique entertainment events of this year or any other.

Continue reading

The Daily Feed

NYU DC?

NYU-DC, Facade Rendering.  Courtesy of Hickock Cole Architects.

A lot of universities’ have academic hubs in D.C., but none have one quite like this.  This month, Hickock Cole Architects will break ground on a brand new academic center for New York University on L Street, NW.  NYU’s new Constance Milstein and Family Academic Center, also known as NYU-DC, will be a 12-story building with academic space and six floors of dormitories.

The new building is also aiming for LEED Gold.

NYU-DC will be located at 1307 L St, NW.

The Daily Feed

Spa Week is Back!

Photo courtesy of
’81/365: And My Flippy Floppies 3/22/10′
courtesy of ‘@heylovedc’

Most people have a favorite time of year.  Maybe you love the week of Thanksgiving, or, perhaps that sweet space between Christmas and New Years Eve.  But for me, nothing quite compares to Spa Week.  Yes friends, you heard me, Spa Week.  An entire seven days dedicated to simply giving  people (me) the opportunity to relax at a discounted price.

Spa Week in D.C. will be celebrated October 11-17 and you will need an appointment to join in the fun (hence why I am sharing this news with you now, leaving plenty of time to make your calls).  Participating D.C. spas are listed here and all treatments will cost $50.

The 60-min pedicure at Elizabeth Arden’s Red Door Spa in the Willard is calling my name.

Interviews, Life in the Capital, People, The Features

Living in DC: The Nationals’ Perspective


Nationals Park / Photo by Max Cook

If you’re an outsider looking in then it’s easy to paint each resident of the greater D.C. metropolitan area with a political brush. People living in Maryland, Virginia or D.C. know the District is widely regarded as being the epicenter of the American political spectrum.

In anticipation of Glen Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally at the end of August, We Love DC author Ben H. Rome emphasized that Washington’s culture remains as diverse as its people. The interests of people who live here go beyond day jobs and politics. Living in D.C. is a catalyst for an active and intellectually stimulating lifestyle. Not only do the Washington Nationals know this, but they embrace it.

When they’re not at Nationals Park or on the road, Nationals players take advantage of their new home.

“It’s definitely a fun place to be. There’s always a lot going on in this place whether it’s professional teams or politically. There’s always something you can pay attention to in the news. It’s kind of the center of a lot of things so you always feel like you’re in an important place,” Nationals pitcher Craig Stammen said. Continue reading

The Daily Feed

Parking Ticket from Hell, Anyone?

Photo courtesy of
‘Only in DC’
courtesy of ‘thetejon’

Last winter, I got in the mail a love letter from DC Division of Motor Vehicles. It said that because I hadn’t paid a parking ticket, the fine had automatically doubled and I owed them $50.

This was news to me for two reasons. One, my parking was paid up for an hour past the time they say they wrote the ticket, and I still have the receipt to prove it. Two, they hadn’t left me a ticket.

So I sent Adjudication this pertinent info, and the receipt, and asked that they write me when they dropped the matter. I know they got it, because they quickly sent me a form letter saying they’d review it and respond, maybe up to six months later (they must be very busy over there).

That was all I heard. Until this week’s letter, which says that I did not respond at all, thereby deeming admission of the crime, and that if I don’t fork over the money within 10 days, they’ll send me to collections.

SERIOUSLY, people?!??

I can’t tell if this is a scam, or if they’re just that screwed up. Readers, what do you think? Are they crooked, or inept? And has this happened to you?