The Features

Mock the “Dear Leader” with Song Byeok

Song Byeok - Take Off Your Clothes - acrylic on hanji; courtesy of

When Korean contemporary artist Song Byeok exhibits his work, he uses a pseudonym. That’s because he’s actually North Korean: his satirical paintings of the “Dear Leader” could result in execution or lifelong sentences in a gulag for the relatives he’s left behind.

This weekend, “The Departure” – an exhibit of his work at The Dunes – brings that dangerous satire to DC.

North Korea selected Song to be a state propaganda artist when he was only 24. According to an interview with Reuters, Song practically worshiped Kim Jong-il at the time, although he never met the dictator during his duties. Instead, he was handed a sketch every morning of daily propaganda to paint.

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Downtown, Food and Drink, Foodie Roundup, The Features, The Hill

Restaurants Here and On The Way

Courtesy of Tricia Barba

It seems like there’s never a shortage of restaurants opening up in DC.

To finish out 2011, Xavier Cervera plans to open his fifth Capitol Hill restaurant, Boxcar Tavern, located in the old Petite Gourmetspace on 7th St. SE right next to Tunnicliffs. The staff is currently in training mode, and it sounds like the plan is still to open by the end of the month. The Eastern Market Metro Community Association has a pic of the inside.

Places that are open 24 hours a day always excite me. Case in point: The Hamilton located in downtown DC (same block as another Clyde’s Restaurant group favorite, Old Ebbitt Grill) opened up to the public just this week. The restaurant and live music venue comes to us from Clyde’s Restaurant Group. The 37,000 square foot space has two floors, four bars and four dining rooms. Where else can you get sushi, charcuterie, and seasonal and regional American fare? For more information and a slide show check out Washingtonian’s Best Bites. Continue reading

Food and Drink, Night Life, Special Events, The Daily Feed

Southampton Beer Dinner

Photo courtesy of
‘Southampton Cuvée des Fleurs’
courtesy of ‘Bernt Rostad’

I’m a sucker for beer dinners.  Call me a fan boy, but I’m a genuine believer that beer and food were made to be paired.  That’s why I pass on to you, dear reader, any scoop I get on one that’s happening in the near future.  I happen to have such a scoop, now. Commonwealth Gastropub in Columbia Heights is hosting a dinner highlighting the beers of New York based Southampton Publik House. Southampton is a fairly recent addition to the DC beer scene and makes a wide variety of regional styles.  Commonwealth is featuring their IPA, Double White, Altbier and Cuvee de Fleurs.  I’m particularly excited about the Double White, a Belgian Wit, that is supposed to be one of Southampton’s best offerings.  Along with the beer, Commonwealth is offering a four course meal to compliment each beer.  The menu includes a red grapefruit salad, mussels, grilled pork, and ricotta in honey.  The event is tomorrow at 6:30 and will run you $45.

The Daily Feed, We Green DC

Columbia Heights Farmers Market Opens Tomorrow

Photo courtesy of
‘Dreamy Creamy Chocolate’
courtesy of ‘Hoffmann’

Even the mayor will be on hand to welcome a new farmers market to the city tomorrow. The Columbia Heights Community Marketplace kicks off at 9 a.m. and runs until 2 p.m. at 14th and Park, across from Giant, Target, and Tivoli Theater.

At 11 a.m., Mayor Adrian Fenty, Chairman Vincent Gray, and Councilmembers Jim Graham and Kwame Brown will kick off opening ceremonies. Dancers and actors from the Dance Institute and Gala Theatre will perform; live entertainment will take place the first Saturday of each month and include activities like tai chi and cooking demonstrations.

Come every Saturday for fresh veggies and fruit (it’s berry season, you know), meats, breads, cheeses, flowers and beat-the-heat gelato–all grown and raised within 150 miles of DC.

Thrive DC, Miriam’s Kitchen and Christ House, three local homeless services, will be gleaning leftover produce to make meals for the homeless.

Featured Photo

Featured Photo

Pizza Bagel
by Chris DiGiamo

Ah, times sure have changed haven’t they?  This photo immediately reminded me of a modern day Normal Rockwell painting.  Rockwell often based his historic paintings on photographs, manipulating the scene with his brush however he saw fit.  So I wonder, how would he have treated this subject?  Surely the boy’s checkered shirt and overalls would stay, but how about the ugly American cars in the background?  I’m guessing those would be replaced by classic buggies or removed altogether.  The three dollar yuppie juice would likely have its place taken by an old fashioned bottle of Coca-Cola or perhaps a cherry-topped chocolate malt.  And the vegan pizza bagel?  Well I don’t think vegans existed back in Rockwell’s day, so instead I’d guess the boy’s face would shine with grease from a delicious burger.  Alas, for better or for worse, America as we once knew it is long gone.

The Daily Feed

Attention Local Artists

Photo courtesy of
‘Colorful Jewelry’
courtesy of ‘kimberlyfaye’

The future Columbia Heights Community Marketplace needs a logo!

Go crazy – be creative.  The only stipulation for the logo is that it should include the text “Columbia Heights Community Marketplace”, otherwise, its all up to you.  Your logo could be featured on sandwich boards, lamp post signs, canvas bags, t-shirts, and market stall banners.  How awesome is that?

Please send your logo design to  Submissions will be accepted through Tuesday, March 16th.

Fashionable DC, The District, The Features

Fashionable DC: Stylish and Warm

Photo courtesy of Kelly Collis Fredrick

Winter has arrived in D.C. and if you have lived in Washington for a while you know we are not real pros at surviving the cold and not to mention dealing with snow! I find it is more of challenge to stay stylish during the winter months.

Here are a few items that will keep you warm and looking stylish this winter.  So ditch those Uggs!

Hats and Scarfs

Anthropologie in Georgetown has a great selection of knit hats in a variety of colors and styles that range from $38-$42, they are loose fitting so it will not mess up your hair completely.  And on the flip side if you are having a bad hair day, they are super cute and you can wear them all day.

Another great item is a spin on a classic  – a ruffled scarf.  Anthropologie sells them a bunch of different colors for $98 and I have also spotted some at Bloomingdale’s in Chevy Chase for a lot less at around $40. Continue reading

The Features, Where We Live

Where We Live: Columbia Heights

Photo courtesy of
’11th Street NW Rowhouses’
courtesy of ‘Mr. T in DC’

Another Friday, another neighborhood.  This week’s Where We Live focuses on a neighborhood that has reinvented itself over the past ten years, Columbia Heights. Columbia Heights has a lot to offer, from beautiful residential areas to the massive new DC USA development, and it’s got a pretty neat history too.  Read on to learn all about Columbia Heights.

History: Columbia Heights was originally a horse track and farmland directly outside the boundary of the City of Washington, and it was also the original home of Columbian College (which eventually became George Washington University).  In 1881, Senator John Sherman purchased a whole bunch of land in the area and named the development Columbia Heights, in honor of Columbian College.  In 1904, the college moved down to Foggy Bottom.  The federal government purchased some land and built Meridian Hill Park, and the area became an upscale neighborhood that attracted federal workers and military officers.  In the early 1900s Columbia Heights was one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the city, and attracted a number of notable residents.  By 1914, four streetcar lines connected Columbia Heights to downtown DC.

The neighborhood began to transform from a suburban neighborhood to an urban center in the early part of the twentieth century, with the construction of larger apartment buildings and the Tivoli Theater in 1924.  Columbia Heights was adjacent to the thriving black communities of Shaw and U Street, and became home to more African Americans during the first half of the twentieth century.  Then, of course, the 1968 riots happened.  Residents moved out, stores remained vacant for decades, and Columbia Heights lost its luster.

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Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Room 11

"The patio at Room 11" by squidpants, on Flickr

"The patio at Room 11" by squidpants, on Flickr

I’m not precisely sure why, but something about Room 11 reminds me of New Orleans. Not the crazy raucous Bourbon Street tourist madness that immediately comes to mind, but the lazy corner bar where the locals go.

Maybe because the actual space is so tiny, just a bar with an outside patio that dwarfs the inside. Maybe because the first night I was there, the clientele was such a fascinating mix of local characters. On one side, I could eavesdrop on the brothers Brown concocting their latest cocktail bar, on the other, a courtly group of GI Generationers enjoying the vino. The next visit it was the after-work young professionals crowd, enlivened by a dandy with a dog.

A complete cross-section of the Columbia Heights neighborhood? Well, not entirely. “You enjoying that wine and cheese?” a man sneered as he passed by.

But, no social commentary today. Let’s talk about that wine and cheese instead. Continue reading

The Daily Feed

This Just In: Columbia Heights No Longer Cool

Photo courtesy of
‘Target entrance @ Columbia Heights’
courtesy of ‘spiggycat’

In a somewhat interesting and mildly thought provoking (yet mildly silly) piece of journalism, the Washington Post has written an article on how the now one year old Target of Columbia Heights has changed the hipster culture and the neighborhood’s appeal. You see, Columbia Heights is no longer cool because Target doesn’t lock-up it’s deodorant. In fact, it offers a much larger variety than the local CVS and features it in a brightly lighted aisle! SO not hip.

If you are a true hipster, you’ll move to Anacostia. That’s what the dude quoted in the article did. And he got out before the Target. Now that’s hip.

I’m all for local neighborhood character. D.C. has a lot of it and is a big reason why I love it here. But can we please move past this whole “hip” thing? Neighborhoods don’t have to be dangerous and sketchy in order to be a cool place to live, with or without a Target.

Stay hip, Washington.

(Disclaimer: I am not an actual hipster)

The Daily Feed, The District

Retrofitting Strip Malls on the Kojo Nnamdi Show

Photo courtesy of
‘Tivoli Square Streetscape’
courtesy of ‘Mr. T in DC’

For every active, vibrant public space in DC, there’s another lifeless, auto-oriented public space right down the street.   Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown is an urban designer’s dream, while a few miles north on Wisconsin Avenue there are parking lots and gas stations lining the streets.  New York Avenue north of Chinatown is a developing hub, while New York Avenue on the eastern edge of the city is a car-oriented paradise of fast food and motels.  The reason is simple: the closer-in areas developed when walking or streetcars were the primary mode of transportation (so everything is close to the street, compact, and walkable), while the outer areas developed in the car era (with plenty of room for parking and a focus on convenience).  Now we know that, for the most part, strip malls don’t provide the public space and active streets that we urban planners love. Continue reading

Food and Drink, Night Life, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Commonwealth


"Commonwealth" by Jenn Larsen, on Flickr

It isn’t Commonwealth’s fault that it has the single-most worst view of any bar in the city. Entirely fronted in high glass walls, it overlooks the ghastly architectural blight of DC USA, the single-most worst looking development in the city. Billed as a “gastropub,” that British trend of sexing up the old-school pub with better food than the usual slop, it splits the gastro to one side and the pub to the other, making for a bar area that seems an afterthought. However, even with those three design strikes against it, so far I quite like Commonwealth

As far as the pub section goes, once you get over the view it’s quite cosy, with small tables and a long leather-bound banquette. It’s been an accommodating space for both large groups and small duets. The beer list has selections from the U.S. commonwealths of Pennsylvania, Virginia and Massachusetts in addition to United Kingdom brews. This makes for seemingly strange bedfellows for the eleven drafts, like Michelob and Bellhaven Twisted Thistle, but I suppose it does make it easier for groups of friends with disparate tastes. There are also beer flights and nightly specials, and you can get a U.S. or a U.K. pint (one dollar more). The bottled selection offers about twenty U.K. and fourteen U.S., and so far friendly servers have been knowledgeable and helpful in navigating the choices. As I’ve said before, I know nothing about beer, so this is a plus for me. To date I’ve tried Samuel Smith’s Lager, Black Sheep Yorkshire Ale, and the reliable Smithwick’s Irish Ale to good success.

If you’re looking to nosh, the pub grub is interesting as well. Continue reading