Entertainment, Life in the Capital, The Daily Feed, The District

An Evening with Fred Armisen @ The Black Cat

The show was sold out.  A packed mainstage concert room  full of hipsters, preppies, middle age couples and the like mixed it up, awaiting Fred Armisen of SNL and more recently, Portlandia, fame to take the stage. Taking place at the Black Cat, and heavily promoted by Brightest Young Things, the show was simply described as “An Evening With Fred Armisen,” and the event details were simply two YouTube clips of Armisen’s sketch work.

Given the billing and the performer, the audience was primed for a comedic show that would likely (and I say likely, because given the vagueness of the event’s details, we were all unsure of the performance’s format) include stand up comedy, skits, impersonations and, with Armisen’s background, some form of comedic musical accompaniment.

Unfortunately, when Armisen took the stage, the vast majority — if not the entirety — of his show was uninspired, lacked creativity and did not live up to his billing.   Continue reading

News, WTF?!

TBD.com handed to WJLA GM

Photo courtesy of
‘ABC 7 WJLA-TV Sign’
courtesy of ‘Mr. T in DC’

TBD.com announced today (okay,  the Post announced, and TBD admitted) that their operations have been placed under the management of Bill Lord, general manager of WJLA (also owned by Allbritton Communications). Coincidentally, it’s exactly six months after TBD’s launch. Way to let the new business model percolate, Allbritton!

The move seems to be designed to bring TBD more directly under Allbritton’s established management team, rather than under Erik Wemple, the Editor-in-Chief who had been recruited to TBD specifically from the Washington City Paper. While there’s no particular indication that Wemple is out at TBD, I’ll just point out that his entire team has just been placed under another manager, and ask whether you would be looking to stick around in that situation.

Right now there are no public plans for staff cuts. While TBD staff emphasize that this is just some internal reorganization, TBD founder Jim Brady, who left the company three months ago over disagreements with Allbritton management about the direction of the venture, is fairly vocal that this is not a positive development. Continue reading

Business and Money, Crime & Punishment, The Daily Feed, Ward 5, WTF?!

Dispatches from Ward 5

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘mediaslave’

The Ward 5 lists were active this week, with several things going on to talk about.

Numerous discussions ensued across both the Eckington and Ward 5 lists after the Truxton Circle murder of Billy Mitchell, who was on his way home from the theater when he was shot at the corner of North Capitol and Florida NW while trying to help a woman involved in a conflict with a man, who in turn was the shooter.

In addition to the typical point-scoring and debates about gun control and concealed-carry, there were numerous calls for additional steps to make that specific area safer, including neighborhood watch groups, coordinated dog-walking groups, a surveillance camera, etc. There will be a vigil held for Mitchell at the site of the shooting at 6PM tonight, followed by an emergency public safety meeting with the Fifth District police and Ward 5 Council Member Harry Thomas at Wesley AME Zion Church at 1712 North Capitol Street. Continue reading

capitals hockey, Sports Fix, The Features

Road to the Winter Classic (Part II)


The 2011 Winter Classic has come and gone, showcasing the best of the league in one very unique experience.

And what an experience it was.

As I’d mentioned in Part I, I was in quite a state before the game. A mix of both my fanboyism for my beloved Penguins and my more observational respect for the Capitals, the team of my home city, the entire experience was shaping up to be one of personal epic proportions.

My entire experience was not mine alone, however. I had several participants in my weekend drama, making it one of the most convoluted and awesome events I’ve ever attended. Continue reading

Crime & Punishment, The Daily Feed, The District, WTF?!

Heavyweight DC lawyer vs. the DC judicial system

Photo courtesy of
‘Nacho #19’
courtesy of ‘Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie’

Via Legal Times comes this story about a DC lawyer who was arrested for “disorderly conduct” (after insulting a police officer), was asked to pay $35 at the station and forfeit the right to a hearing or be taken to the District’s central cellblock. He did so in order to avoid being taken, as they say, downtown, but is now suing the DC government, and the specific officers personally, on the basis that the “post and forfeit” procedure is neither bail nor fine and is therefore unconstitutional. The suit demands $1.2 million in damages for the lawyer and an additional $700,000 for his wife.

According to the most recently-available statistics, about 95 percent of pending lawsuits end in a pre-trial settlement. This means that just one in 20 personal injury cases is resolved in a court of law by a judge or jury.  If you re in a tough spot, consider Connecticut Bailbonds Group services.

You might be rolling your eyes at this point at the idea of a lawyer kicking up that kind of a fuss over a $35 fee; this is the town that brought us the Infamous Pants Lawsuit, after all. But when I read the LT item, the lawyer’s name, Hamilton P. Fox III, sounded familiar, so I did what any self-respecting web writer would do: I Googled.

Hamilton Fox was an assistant prosecutor on the Watergate Special Prosecution Force. He was an investigator on the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct in the 1983 Congressional page scandal. He was a defense attorney on appeal for Jonathan Pollard, the naval intelligence employee convicted of spying for Israel. My point is: this guy actually DOES have better things to do than sue the District over $35. And this IS the risk one takes as a police officer in the District: that the guy you arrest under broad discretionary authority that may or may not stand up to judicial scrutiny might actually have the legal chops to call you on it. Continue reading

The Daily Feed

Your house was probably not a meth lab

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘speedypete312’

As a recent homebuyer, the story of the Bristol, PA couple who bought their first home only to discover that it had previously been a meth lab is my personal nightmare. They discovered only too late that the DEA maintains a registry of former “clandestine laboratories,” reported by local law enforcement agencies, that lists their house as a place where a lab had been found.

Tom and I weren’t too worried about our house- it had been gutted and renovated before we moved in, and our neighbors have been honest (though still respectful) about the difficulties of the previous occupant. We’re pretty certain if “she cooked meth in the basement” had been one of them, they’d have mentioned it by now, just as the Bristol couple’s neighbor did. But in the midst of home inspection, appraisal, and all the other hoops to jump through to buy a house, it had never occurred to us that this is something buyers should be concerned about. Continue reading

Business and Money, Essential DC, Food and Drink, Life in the Capital, The District, The Features, They Make DC

They Make DC: Dolcezza

Dolcezza Robb and Violeta

This They Make DC marks the first entry in a series that will profile the various small businesses manufacturing their products in the DC Metro area. In these features, we’ll tour the facilities and shops where these goods are made and sold, with the ultimate goal to gain a deeper understanding of what it’s like to own, run and operate a business in our beloved capital city. So without further adieu, let’s kick this bad boy off.

Robb Duncan and his Argentinian wife Violeta met by chance in 2000 at a conference in Brazil. Two weeks later Robb flew back to Portland, Oregon, sold everything he had and moved down to Buenos Aires and they were married. While living in Buenos Aires, Robb fell in love with gelaterias. Having toured Italy, Duncan was very familiar with Italian gelato, and while he liked it, he was never blown away by it. So he was surprised when he discovered that Argentinian gelato, made by Italian immigrants and their descendants, tasted a lot better to him.  When Argentina’s economy crashed in the early 2000s, Robb and Violeta moved to DC, where he could get a job as a software engineer for the federal government and where Violeta could finish up her degree at American University. Continue reading

Interviews, People, The Features, We Love Arts

Theater Spotlight: Rick Foucheux

Rick Foucheux in Theater J’s “The Odd Couple.” Photo credit: Stan Barouh

Second in a series of interviews with the many theater professionals who call DC their artistic home.

There comes a crossroads in every theater professional’s life, where you have to answer the question – should I try my luck in New York or LA? After two decades as a beloved actor of the DC scene, Rick Foucheux hit that point. So he spent last year “pounding the pavement” in NYC.

But, luckily for us, he returned to DC when the year was out. As exciting as the Big Apple was, and despite his doing well there, its energy just didn’t suit him. “New York has a charge, but it’s like a frayed electrical cord,” he joked, “DC has a more regular current.”

Foucheux got his start in DC theater when he came here in 1982 to host a TV show called “Good Morning Washington” on Channel 7 – it lasted a year. Having studied theater in college in his home state of Louisiana, he thought he’d try his hand at freelancing and made a decent living acting in industrial films. But when the “theater explosion” burst upon DC in the mid-1980’s, he took a chance and got back on the boards. Suddenly it seemed the area was filled with “strong small companies, and as they grew, I grew too.”

In speaking with Foucheux about his background and thoughts on DC theater, it’s obvious that he’s a gracious gentleman, putting you instantly at ease. Displaying equal doses of humor and humility, he’s happiest as a collaborator, enjoying his work with the current crop of playwrights and feeling privileged to be a part of the process. “I like having the opportunity to make some comment,” he says, though then quick to point out he feels his is a small contribution. During our interview, his smooth voice reminded me of a old-school radio announcer, no doubt a result both of his training for TV and his Louisiana background. It’s a welcome respite from the days of mumblecore.

He knows he is lucky too. Continue reading

Entertainment, Special Events, The Features

We Love Rallies: Our Reactions to Rally To Restore Sanity

Photo courtesy of
‘Rally to Restore Sanity’
courtesy of ‘vpickering’

As the tourists head back home and the porta potties make their way off The Mall, a few We Love DC writers and I look back at yesterday’s event and offer our experiences and instant reactions. Be sure to also catch Karl’s reaction and discussion of the attendance numbers as well.

Tom: When it became clear at 10am that crowds were already streaming into the grounds on the Mall, we decided that our best bet was to watch the events from a bar. As reports streamed in citing capacity metro trains and overfull metro buses, we decided to risk driving to Church Key, figuring that parking would be possible where mass transit was not. We arrived just after noon as Church Key opened, taking a center booth while the Roots and John Legend warmed up the crowd. As soon as we saw the wide shots, we knew that we were much happier with some tater tots and Aventinus beer than we would be, unable to hear or see at 11th street.

Continue reading

History, Interviews, Penn Quarter, Special Events, Technology, The Features

OXCART: CIA Innovation and a Cool Spy Plane

Photo courtesy of
‘Oxcart Belly’
courtesy of ‘MrGuilt’

In the late 1950s, during the heyday of aviation and the dawning of space flight, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) approached Lockheed to develop a new aircraft that could overfly the Soviet Union. The CIA’s current plane (at the time) was the U-2, which served admirably in its role as a high-flying reconnaissance plane but was still susceptible to being shot down by high-altitude Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAM). Such an incident did occur in 1960, when Gary Powers was shot down while conducting an overflight over the U.S.S.R.

The result was the A-12, code name OXCART, which ended up in a different role as the Vietnam war broke out. The CIA’s spy plane flew several black missions during the war before being phased out and replaced by the U.S. Air Force’s SR-71 Blackbird. On Thursday evening at the International Spy Museum, many aspects of the A-12 Oxcart program will be discussed by several experts, including CIA chief historian David Robarge, J-58 engine inventor Robert B. Abernethy, flight specialist Thornton D. Barnes, CIA officer S. Eugene Poteat, and pilot Kenneth Collins.

For a taste of the discussion, we managed to pin down CIA chief historian David Robarge for a few minutes to discuss the Oxcart and BLACK SHIELD programs. Continue reading

Downtown, Essential DC, Life in the Capital, News, People, Special Events, The District, The Features, The Mall

DC: We Are More Than What Others Say We Are

Fire and Ice
‘Fire and Ice’
courtesy of ‘bhrome’

To the Tea Party tourists visiting this weekend:

We’d like to welcome you to the nation’s capital.

Please note that despite some serious misunderstanding and outrageous assumptions made beyond the Beltway, DC really is a safe city to visit. We do recommend, however, that you just avoid Baltimore completely. Think of it as our certifiably insane sibling to the north, with delusions of class. (And yes, I am kidding. We DCites do have a sense of humor, especially at Baltimore’s expense. And Philadelphia’s.)

Despite some ramblings of various cantankerous individuals, the District does have a lot to offer you on your visit. We bust a lot of myths about our fair city here on this site; please take a moment to see if we’ve answered any of the ones you’ve heard. We also showcase a lot of amazing arts, theater, restaurants, individuals, and other great things about the DC area here; I invite you to check out what else lies beyond the Mall and maybe sample some of our wares. Continue reading

Sports Fix, The Features

Capitals vs Penguins: Rivalry of the Ages

Photo courtesy of
‘Ovechkin and Crosby – New Best Friends Forever’
courtesy of ‘clydeorama’

So did you see the big game on NBC yesterday?

You heard me right.

Yesterday’s big game wasn’t played in Miami, aired on CBS, filled with cheesy, stupid commercials. It was right here in DC, in the heart of snowmageddon. It was the Pittsburgh Penguins against the Washington Capitals. And yesterday, that game lived up to every fan’s dream, regardless which side of center ice they were on.

Seriously. Four times a year these two rivals meet – and I wouldn’t be presumptuous at all to claim that both the Pens and the Caps see it as an archrivalry. It’s probably one of the most intense regular-season contest series in all of hockey, and yesterday was no exception. (To drive home the point – I climbed up on my roof to clear it of snow just so my DirecTV dish could receive the game. No AM radio for me!) Continue reading

Essential DC, Special Events, The Features, We Love Arts

The Strange Comfort of Brian Jungen

People's Flag

Opening today at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) is a new exhibition that will run through August 8, 2010. Brian Jungen: Strange Comfort is a major exhibit showcasing the critically acclaimed works of the Canadian-based artist and is his first exhibition organized by a Native American museum. Jungen’s work has been on display around the world, including the Casey Kaplan Gallery in New York, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal in Quebec, and the Witte de With in the Netherlands.

The NMAI’s first solo exhibition since its opening in 2004, Strange Comfort is exactly that. The stunning “Crux” is your first view of Jungen’s work – recognizable from the crocodile piece show in the recent ads around town – and only continues to intrigue and inspire when you visit the main gallery on the third floor.

Jungen, of Dunne-za First Nations and Swiss-Canadian ancestry, explores several themes through his art. The use of every-day objects to create Indian cultural icons is something very different, born from Native ingenuity of crafting one object out of another, a common practice with many First Nation people. Jungen commented in the NMAI’s press release that he grew up watching his Dunne-za relatives recycle everything from car parts to shoe boxes. “It was a kind of salvaging born out of practical and economic necessity, and it greatly influenced how I see the world as an artist.”

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Entertainment, Music, The Features

We Love Music: Vampire Weekend @ 930 Club – 12/08/08

If Vampire Weekend fans had a case of the Mondays at the 9:30 Club the past two nights, then they were delighted out of that funk and transported to, well, brace for cliché…the weekend.

Taking the stage Monday night against a large canvas banner of their January 2008 self titled album “Vampire Weekend,” the four band members looked shockingly youthful. Dressed in their trademark prepster style, there was tremendous display of plaid, three of four musicians donned tartan shirts, and the drummer, always edgy, rocked a tie dye shirt.

The band’s two night stint at the 9:30 Club marked their first DC performance since a February concert at the Rock and Roll Hotel. This DC performance gap is particularly ironic given keyboardist Rostam Batmanglij’s metro area roots; for Batmanglij, who had strong crowd support, playing this venue must have been surreal, as one of his first concerts, Sigur Ros, was at the 9:30. In one of the brief set pauses Batmanglij admitted that he had seen another act prior to Sigur Ros but was too embarrassed to share the name with the crowd. Hanson, perhaps?
Continue reading