Archive for March, 2008

Interactive Memorial

The Vietnam War Memorial is one of those hard icons of DC that I think of when I picture DC in my mind. Today, launched their Annotated Vietnam War Memorial site, which allows people to annotate those loved ones lost in the war.

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The site is running fairly slow right now, under the load of links from various sites, but when it’s stabilized I suspect that it will be a treasure trove of information from various sources, and a fitting twenty-first century memorial to those who gave their lives at the behest of the country in Vietnam.

Clang Clang! Clang Clang!

Photo courtesy of Thomas Hawk

Attention, all you Ye Old Towne Alexandria tourists: the King Street Trolley is coming. Announced on the city’s website, the trolley will be running in 15 minute intervals from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on the weekends, motoring between the King Street Metrorail and the waterfront. It will stop at all signed stops along King Street, which are about 2 blocks apart.

Oh, and it will ring a very annoying brass bell for as many times as the driver sees fit.

Here’s the rub, though: it’s not on rails (thank heaven). It’s not tied to an electric wire above. So…is it really a “trolley”? According to the press release, “the trolley sports a black and red exterior, rubber tires for a smooth ride, and adjustable paned windows.”

Don’t know about you folks, but from where I come from, that’s called a BUS.

Which is quite appropriate, actually, as the trolley will replace the DASH bus service that ran free on the weekends. The last DASH run will be discontinued after this Sunday’s service.

So let me get this straight….the city council approved and funded a trolley service for a route that’s sort of covered by an existing bus service, but with more frequent runs in a vehicle that isn’t really a trolley but more like a bus?

The service was approved as part of the city’s National Harbor Initiative and will complement the water taxi service offered from the National Harbor Development across the Mighty P. (That service, incidentally, also begins on April 1.) The City Council is hoping / expecting hundreds of new tourists visiting Old Town from these services and, I suspect, try to make it easier for DC residents to cross the river and dine on the Virginia side of the river. Which isn’t a bad thing, really. The shops and restaurants along King Street and the harbor are actually very nice and present excellent food (if a tad pricey).

We’re taking some friends from NYC down there over the next weekend (they’re here for the obvious DC event, the blossoms), so hopefully I can not only get a few photos of these beasties but maybe see if they do indeed alleviate traffic and cart more people down, as the Council hopes.

As long as that clanging bell doesn’t annoy me, that is…

Ode to Cartier Bresson, courtesy of Thomas Hawk

Jill Foster and the Karaoke Cab Driver

Local DC Media Maker Jill Foster got serenaded in a cab yesterday on the way to work. Hear the troubadour’s song here. Jill writes:

I got into a cab today where the driver says “Welcome to my karaoke cab miss.”

He then asked my name and began singing – as in sang with portable mic wearing a cowboy
hat – fun songs during the cab fare. I was cackling as he agreed to make a mobile
podcast right there via using my cell phone.

Does it get any better than this? Thanks, Jill, for sharing the joy!

Wine is for Classy People


If you love wine but only know that it sometimes comes in red and other times in white (and sometimes it comes in a box), you should really think about taking a Wine Class for Beginners at the Whitemore House in Dupont. From the GiraMondo Wine Adventures website:

    This class will cover the following topics:

    – Where do wine flavors and aromas com from

    – How are these aromas categorized

    – How to pair food and wine

    – What are the main differences between old world and new world wines

    – Basic wine etiquette (restaurant, liquor store, party at home)

When it comes to wine etiquette, is there much more than pulling the cork and taking a swig? Well, besides letting the wine breath sometimes? Anyway, tonight’s class has done sold out, but there is another one scheduled for April 16th and 7:00PM. Until then, happy drinking! I know I’m looking forward to the weather warming up so I can crack open my Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. A glass or two of that up on the roof deck, well, it just doesn’t get much better than that.

Photo by F1.4

Tonight’s Par-tay with Jonny Goldstein: Getting Visual With it With Jesse Thomas and Leslie Bradshaw

Jonny Goldstein has a great line-up tonight. From his web site:

Join us as we talk art, design, web 2.0, branding, business, and love in the age of the interwebs with Jesse Thomas and Leslie Bradshaw.

Just one glimpse at the collage above by Jesse, and you will realize he does not look at the world the way you and I do. And that’s a good thing.

Jesse, or jessesaves as he is known on twitter, is one of those people who combines artistic talent, curiosity, the web, and entrepreneurial instincts to connect to the world in interesting ways. If you live in DC, you probably have seen his artwork on the Busboys and Poets website, in galleries around town, or on a skateboard. He’s also a part owner and creator of and with Nick O’Neill. When he’s not in DC creating, Jesse bounces around the globe looking for design inspiration: for example He will be travelling to China with AIGA on a design expedition in May. To find out more about the phenomenon that is Jesse Thomas, check out this article.

His partner in crime, Leslie Bradshaw rocks in her own right. A former producer for the alway entertaining McLaughlin Group TV show, “She currently She currently balances dual roles as a full time Public Affairs Community Manager for New Media Strategies, as well as the President and Operational Director of JESS3.” And special bonus: Leslie spent some of her formative years in Junction City, just miles from where Jonny grew up.

When: 9PM EST, March 26, 2008

Who: Jesse Thomas and Leslie Bradshaw, Jonny Goldstein, Scott Stead, and you.

What: It’s not just an interactive web TV talk show, it’s a Par-tay.


Photo: pwning my boss’s office while he is out sick Originally uploaded by jonny goldstein

Kaine Signs Tax Refunds

If you paid a tax to have your car inspected, or for a rental car, or for selling your house, you’re getting it all back. The Supreme Court of Virginia decided that those taxes were unconstitutionally assessed and collected and should be returned to those who paid them. Here’s the skinny on what you’re getting back, when:

– If it was DMV-related, the DMV will be writing you a check (isn’t that a nice turn of events?) some time soon, but the schedule won’t be out until the first of April. This includes the 1% initial registration fee, as well as the $10 regional registration fee.

– If it was related to your house, the Clerks of the Circuit Courts will settle with the settlement agents within 60 days, who will then in turn refund anyone who paid the “congestion relief fee.”

– If it was a 2% vehicle rental tax, a 2% “transient occupancy tax” (I think that’s a hotel tax, it might be also applicable if you put up a hobo at any point and were taxed thereupon.) or a 5% sales tax on motor vehicle repair, or a $10 safety inspection fee, then your money is going to the Unclaimed Property Division of the Department of the Treasury. You can request refunds from them, but there’s a set of guidelines forthcoming on how that’s all going to work.

Sounds complicated? It’s probably intended to be that way, so that the State can keep your money because you won’t go through the hoops.

Capitol Police say, "Whoopsie Daisies!"

It’s nice to know that in this post 911 world we’re so well protected here in Washington, aka “terrorist target numero uno”. First, CNN reports that we have air marshals on less than 1% of all U.S. flights and now we read that Mr. Michael Gorbey, the samurai sword, shotgun-slinging suspect, had an explosive device in his truck that has taken the Capitol Police three weeks to find. Three. Weeks. Sure, they “used a robotic camera to look inside the vehicle and a powerful water hose to destroy suspicious items inside”, but they completely missed a device “made of a can of gunpowder taped to a box of shotgun shells and a bottle with buckshot or BB pellets”. Maybe they thought it was some new beverage brought to us by the makers of Vitamin Water?

Seriously. Seriously? It’s not like they have many terrorists and criminals walking in their front door, consuming their time and causing them to take shortcuts and their work performance to suffer. They’re usually just patrolling the grounds and telling photographers like me, “Sorry you can’t use a tripod on the Capitol grounds.” Good job fellas. If the fate of the Capitol and the people who work inside rests on your shoulders, it’s no wonder most members of congress never show up to vote.

Grocery Strike Coming?

There are just five days until the DC United Food and Commercial Workers’ contract with Safeway and Giant expires. Of course, it doesn’t look good, as the month-long negotiations that have been going on without public success. At issue, according to the Post, are concessions concerning the employees’ health benefits (specifically, employees paying for a part of the premium) and wages.

I’ve received emails that many of the local area outlets are advertising hiring in case of a strike, something that at least one of the emails that I’ve received has taken issue with, as a form of “intimidation.” Some have suggested that patrons of these stores support their local grocery workers in response and pledge not to cross picket lines.

Me? I’ll be continuing to shop at non-union shops like Wegman’s and Whole Foods. One thing I’ve found in my years is that the people at each of these stores are always glad to see their patrons, whereas the union shops…not so much. Of course, the Safeway and Giant by me are such shitholes, I wouldn’t buy anything that wasn’t frozen or canned, but I don’t think that’s the fault of the grocery employees.

A night at the Newseum

I was fortunate enough this evening to get to go see the Newseum as it nears completion. When I tell you it’s nearing completion, you should read it this way: if you have family working on the Newseum, leave them a note telling them you love them and make some plans to do something together… on April 12th, the day after they’ve opened. Because between now and then they are going to be busy.

While they’ve got lots left to do, the space is beautiful. The picture above is from the front page gallery on the top floor. To the left you can see only a portion of the glass cases that line the wall, containing one newspaper front page from one paper in each state – plus the District of Columbia. Jack Hurley was kind enough to chat with us at length, and we talked at one point about the newspapers. When they first opened in their old space across the river they’d sometimes be short of enough front pages to fill the display cases and would have to run out and buy some to scan and put up.

Now they get 500 on a slow day, typically the weekends. During the week the number can exceed 600.

Not at all visible in my picture is the amazing view from the full-length balcony off to the right. At 555 Pennsylvania, the Newseum is just down and up the mall from the Capitol with a southernly view from the balcony. Immediately right next door is the Canadian Embassy, which my darling girlfriend said used to be the best view in DC. Mr Hurley stated that the Newseum has the best public view now, and he said it in a tone that would brook no argument. Which was completely unnecessary, since neither of us were inclined to disagree.

I’ve got more pictures to upload and share with you tomorrow, but the capsule review is this: it looks beautiful and the exhibits are interesting and well done. The place is spacious and it’s going to need to be: this is a museum that’s going to bring people in and keep them there. Put it on your short list of places to visit.

Leash Laws

For crying out loud! I don’t see a leash on this thing. If you have a dog without a leash, you could get arrested. Elephants? That’s just fine. And think of the mess they make. Dog poop? Big fine. Elephant poop? The city will clean it up for you.

Photo: DSC_1826 Originally uploaded by afagen

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