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

Downtown, Entertainment, Special Events, The Features, We Love Arts

National Geographic Live: February 2012

Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner; Photo courtesy National Geographic

As spring looms on the horizon, so does National Geographic Live’s new season. For the third year in a row, the National Geographic Museum is offering WeLoveDC readers a monthly chance to enjoy one of their premier events. We’re giving away two pairs of tickets to readers and entering is simple. Look through the great programs coming up in February and pick two you’d like to attend. Then in the comment field, simply enter your choices. (Make sure you use your first name and a valid email address!) Winners for February will be chosen at random in the afternoon on Tuesday, January 31.

All programs (unless otherwise noted) will take place in Grosvenor Auditorium at 1600 M Street, NW.

Tickets may be purchased online at, via telephone at (202) 857-7700, or in person at the National Geographic ticket office between 9 am and 5 pm. Free parking is available in the National Geographic underground garage for all programs that begin after 6 pm.

Uncovering Hidden World ($20)
Tuesday, Feb. 7; 7:30 pm

As a staff photographer with National Geographic, Jodi Cobb has worked in more than 60 countries—celebrating the best of the human spirit and spotlighting some of its worst abuses.

She is best known for lifting the curtain on worlds closed to outsiders, such as Japan’s geisha, Saudi Arabian women, the grim underworld of human trafficking. Experience a retrospective of her most important work as she also shares images and stories from her most recent assignment, a story on twins for the January 2012 issue of National Geographic. Continue reading

Dupont Circle, Real World DC, The Features, Tourism

Laogai Museum – A Dupont Detour

Photo courtesy of
‘Laogai Museum 4’
courtesy of ‘jcm_DC’

The Laogai Museum may be small, but it packs a punch. Tucked away in the old Real World DC house off Dupont Circle, its one-floor exhibit explores the dark underbelly of Chinese labor camps and human rights policies.

“Laogai” means “reform through labor” and refers to oppressive tactics the museum claims China has used to punish political prisoners since 1949. Harry Wu, a survivor of the Laogai camps, founded the museum in 2008 as part of the larger Laogai Research Foundation. The museum moved into its current location last April, where they now offer free admission and guided tours.

Continue reading

Downtown, Special Events, We Love Arts

National Geographic Live: October 2011

Demon Fish; photo courtesy National Geographic

The National Geographic Live series is back for the fall and we here at WeLoveDC want to share their great lineup of programming with you once again. Thanks to the generosity of our friends at NatGeo, we’ll be again offering two pairs of tickets for our readers to go and experience some great talks, lectures, and programs over at the National Geographic Museum.

For October, there’s some amazing photography programs, authors, and speakers – some of whom you’ll see interviewed here on the site in the coming weeks. If you’d like to win a pair of tickets to an October program, simply list the two events you’d like to attend in comments before noon Friday, September 30. Make sure you use a legitimate email address and your first name. We’ll contact two winners (as determined by on Friday afternoon. Note that not all programs are eligible for the drawing.

If you’re interested in attending one of these events, visit NatGeo’s website or their box office (800-647-5463), located at 17th and M Street, NW. Keep in mind that parking in NatGeo’s underground lot is free for any programs beginning after 6 pm.

Here’s October’s offerings… Continue reading

Foggy Bottom, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: 30 Americans at Corcoran Gallery of Art

Kehinde Wiley, Sleep, 2008. Oil on canvas, 132 x 300 inches. Courtesy of Rubell Family Collection, Miami.

At Tuesday night’s preview of 30 Americans, a representative of the Corcoran told the story of how, in 1940, a young, female, African-American artist secretly entered a contest held by the gallery, sending a white friend to drop off the painting because she feared she would not be allowed past the building’s grand front stairs because of the color of her skin. Lois Mailou Jones won the contest and had the prize mailed to her so she would never have to show her face.

Seventy-one years later, Ms. Jones’ painting is held in the Corcoran’s permanent collection and the gallery is hosting a powerful exhibit of contemporary African-American artists which has already generated tremendous excitement in advance of the October 1st public opening.

One of the most-anticipated openings hitting the walls of DC galleries (in a season that is proving to be crowded with buzzed-over exhibits), 30 Americans brings together three decades of influential African-American artists, both household name and lesser-known, in a variety of media. The principle by which they are organized is that all seventy-six works on display (by, in fact, thirty-one American artists) grapple with the concept of identity – particularly but not exclusively race – in modern American life.
Continue reading

The Daily Feed

One less free museum: Building Museum to begin charging admission

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘Paige Weaver’

It’s difficult in this town to compete with the quality and price of the Smithsonian. DC is uniquely blessed with such incredible public museums that private museums often have to compete, and while they often do it incredibly well, it’s tough to see one move from a free model to one supported by admission fees. The National Building Museum announced today that by the end of the month they will be charging an $8 fee for adults, and a $5 fee for children, students, and seniors.

The museum had begun charging for special exhibits in 2010, with the debut of the Lego buildings exhibit running $5 per patron. The NBM joins the Corcoran, the International Spy Museum, the Newseum, and other quality private museums in charging an admission fee. I can’t be too upset, given the incredible quality of the NBM, and the reasonable-ness of the admission fee, that the museum is making the change. Maybe this will mean fewer events like the terrible Late Night Shots party from a few years ago.

Downtown, Education, Special Events, The Features, We Love Arts

National Geographic Live: May 2011

©Sunny Khalsa; courtesy National Geographic

May winds down the Spring 2011 National Geographic Live series of programs. If you’re looking for something to do in the evenings, we highly suggest you check out some of their offerings this season. And to provide further incentive, we are providing two lucky readers with a pair of tickets to an event of their choice this coming month!

To enter the drawing, simply comment below using your first name and a legit email address, listing the two events from the following program list you’d like to attend. (Note that there is one event not eligible and we’ve noted it for you.) Sometime after noon on Wednesday (May 4) we’ll randomly select two winners to receive a pair of tickets (each) to one of their selections.

(For ticket information, visit online or call the box office at (800) 647-5463.)

Music On…Photography Moby ($18) (SOLD OUT)
May 9, 7:30 pm
Moby has sold more than 20 million albums worldwide, played over 3,000 concerts in his career, and has had his music included in hundreds of films, such as Heat and The Beach. He has been taking photographs for as long as he’s been making music. See his riveting images and be among the first to learn about his much-anticipated new project.

Continue reading

Downtown, Entertainment, Fun & Games, Penn Quarter, Special Events, The Features, The Mall, We Love Arts

October’s Best at SAAM & NMAI

Derek A. Bencomo, Hana Valley, First View from the Peaks and Valleys Series, 1997, milowood, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Fleur and Charles Bresler in honor of Kenneth R. Trapp, curator-in-charge of the Renwick Gallery (1995--2003); photo courtesy Smithsonian American Art Museum

Some great stuff’s going on this month at the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum (SAAM) and the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI). While there’s a ton of events and exhibits happening at both locations, I’ve highlighted some of the more interesting things you may want to check out. Got a free afternoon or in need of some weekend inspiration this month? Well, there’s something here for everyone.

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The Daily Feed

Crime & Punishment Museum Free Tonight

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘SWP Moblog’

If you’re a fan of the TV show Southland (formerly of NBC, now re-starting at TNT), drop by the Crime & Punishment Museum tonight over in Penn Quarter and meet actor Michael Cudlitz, who plays Officer John Cooper. He’ll be there from 5:15 to 6:15 tonight, and entry to the Museum is free if you use the password “Southland” at the entry.

News, The Daily Feed

Area Museums Making Cuts

Photo courtesy of
‘Castle silhouette’
courtesy of ‘brianmka’

The Newseum has cut 29 people from its full-time staff, trimming down for the second time since its April 2008 reopening. The cuts came late last month. The floor staff saw only minor cutbacks and the museum president, Kenneth Paulson, has stated that the cuts “should not affect the experience of museum visitors.”

Fundraising seems to be the culprit for the Newseum, which is not a federally subsidized museum. Paulson indicated that the museum had fewer new donors that caused the facility to fall short of its budgeted pledges by about 20 percent.

Across the Mall (relatively speaking), the Smithsonian Institution has received over 150 responses to a voluntary buyout plan it announced in September. The Smithsonian stated earlier this fall that it wanted to trim its staff for economic reasons, especially due to large declines in its endowment. In 2003, when the institution last offered a buyout, 238 employees left. Officials have said that with the tighter operational budget for 2010, no buyouts would be offered next year.

The Daily Feed

Corcoran Cuts and Free Saturdays

Photo courtesy of
‘corcoran gallery of art 7.19.08 – 3496’
courtesy of ‘laura padgett’

The Corcoran Gallery of Art announced yesterday that it would be laying off about 5.6% of its staff and instituting a hiring freeze in attempts to make up a $4 million deficit this year. 18 employees, both entry-level and higher-ups were effected by the layoffs.

While this is another wave of bad news in the realms of both employment and the arts, the uptick is that the museum will offer free admission on Saturdays this summer in order to boost attendance.

The Features, Weekend Flashback

Weekend Flashback: 3/20 – 3/22/09

Photo courtesy of quinnums
They make a big deal about the cherry blossoms and spring here in DC, courtesy of quinnums

In case you had no doubt, spring is finally here in DC. Hope you all were able to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather and the end of winter’s grasp. From the photos I saw in Flickr, there was a lot of hustle and bustle in the area, sampling everything from concerts to the circus to museums to the opening buds of the cherry blossoms.

Fair warning: we’ll be having a lot of cherry blossom photos over the next few weeks, since it is arguably one of the best times to photograph DC. And it never gets old.

Meantimes, enjoy the sampling of shots from our area photogs from this past weekend! Continue reading

Adventures, Entertainment, Essential DC, Food and Drink, Special Events

Extended Weekend: What to Do?

Photo courtesy of F1RSTBORN
Jive Turkey, courtesy of F1RSTBORN

In town for the holidays and not a cook? Looking for some dining options other than wrestling with a big ol’ Butterball and your mom yammering in your ear? Hosting relatives and looking for things to get them out of the house? Or are you an international visitor and don’t celebrate with us Yanks?

We’ve got you covered.

Behold, a quick-and-dirty WeLoveDC look at dining and fun options for the upcoming four-day weekend.

Continue reading

Special Events, The Daily Feed, The Mall, We Love Arts

Opening Tomorrow: Jim Henson’s Fantastic World

Metro Ad for Jim Henson exhibit

Organized by SITES and The Jim Henson Legacy, the traveling exhibit Jim Henson’s Fantastic World opens tomorrow (Saturday July 12th) at the S. Dillon Ripley Center International Gallery, featuring artifacts of the much-missed imagination and visual thinking that brought us the muppets, Yoda, and The Dark Crystal. The Ripley Center can be a bit hard to find if you’ve never been there before, as it’s mostly underground; just look for the copper-domed kiosk sitting between the Castle and the Freer Gallery (map). I’m hoping to see one of my boyhood crushes there, Kira the Gelfling. Rawr.