Archive for December, 2008

In Which We Say Goodbye To 2008

Fireworks 2008 by Flicker user afagen

"Fireworks 2008" by Flicker user afagen


“Drop the last year into the silent limbo of the past.

Let it go, for it was imperfect, and thank God that it can go.” -Brooks Atkinson


As we turn the page on the year 2008, we reflect on the past as much as we look forward to the future. That got me thinking about the turbulent year we’ve had here at the DC Metblog, all captured in this edition of the Year in Review.

January 1, 2008: Wayan wishes DC a happy New Year, winning sports teams, and voting rights. Oh well, maybe next year.

January 7, 2008: Tom Bridge supports Governor Tim Kahne’s push to ban smoking in Virginia bars and restaraunts. This would later be killed by the House of Delegates.

January 10, 2008: Alex Ovechkin signs with the Capitals for 13 years and $124MM, the wealthiest contract in DC sports history. Outraged commuters ride the Metro without pants to protest an increase in fares. One had a suspicious package. Hah.

January 28, 2008: Barack Obama draws 12,000 for a rally in DC. Little did he know that he was less than a year away from his Inauguration.

Anonymous v Co$ by Flickr user irrezolut

February 11, 2008: Anonymous brings its war against Scientology to the streets of DC. In the meantime The George Washington University finalizes its massive development plan for Square 54.

February 12, 2008: The Potomac Primary. Obama and McCain sweep races in VA, MD, and DC.

March 10, 2008: NY Governor Elliot Spitzer is disgraced by his infamous prostitution scandal. Tom Bridge views it as a good ad for the Mayflower Hotel; it could corner the “places to bring your $5,500/hour prostitute” market?Metblogger Carl Weaver is accosted by a Secret Service officer when he attempts to photograph a free Tibet rally at the Chinese Embassy.

Metblogger Carl Weaver is accosted by a Secret Service officer when he attempts to photograph a free Tibet rally at the Chinese Embassy.

March 16, 2008: Metblogger Carl Weaver is accosted by a Secret Service officer when he attempts to photograph a free Tibet rally at the Chinese Embassy.

March 24, 2008: Tom Bridge predicts that the Nationals will finish over .500. For more information fast-forward to September 25th.

March 31, 2008: The Washington Nationals open their new stadium.

April 7, 2008: The Washington Post wins 6 Pulitzer Prizes, the best performance by any paper since The New York Times in 2002.

April 16, 2008: DC gets Popemania and hosts more than a million tourists. Some get anti-Popemania.

April 22, 2008: The Capitals are eliminated from the NHL playoffs by the Flyers.

May 6, 2008: Explosion in Falls Church, VA, scares the shit out of everyone in the DC area and rocks the internets. Turns out it was an earthquake centered in Annandale.

May 15, 2008: DC Council pisses off smokers everywhere by entering a tie for highest national cigarette tax, increasing it to $2/pack to make up for their horribly mismanaged budget.

May 31, 2008: LaSalle Partners, who run Union Station, attempt to stop photographers and implement several odd security policies. Eleanor Holmes Norton opens a can of whoop-ass.

June 26, 2008: The Supreme Court kills the DC law banning handguns.

July 4, 2008: Aside from lots of fireworks and patriotism, the entire DC Metblogs team announces out of nowhere that they are leaving to start their own blog. Tom Bridge, Don Whiteside, Tiffany Bridge, Ben H. Rome, and Wayan Vota post goodbye messages almost simultaneously, catching everyone at Metblogs HQ off guard.

September 11, 2008: 9/11 memorials held throughout DC, including speeches by Rumsfeld and Bush at The Pentagon.

Bomb Squad Investigating Abandoned Greenpeace Stuffed Bear At Columbia Heights

Bomb Squad Investigating Abandoned Greenpeace Stuffed Bear At Columbia Heights

September 18, 2008: Greenpeace places life size polar bears throughout DC to raise awareness for global warming. Several bomb scares and shutdowns ensue.

September 25, 2008: Nationals lose the race to 100 losses. .500 would have been nice.

October 1, 2008: Live grenade found and removed in Rock Creek Park. DC collectively sighs in relief.

October 15, 2008: Patrick Pho runs a hugely successful live blog of the final Presidential debate.

October 19, 2008: Chancellor of Schools Michelle Rhee announces a program to pay middle-schoolers for good grades.

October 27, 2008: Metro police begin controversial random bag search program in stations.

November 2, 2008: Shadow Senator Paul Strauss nailed with a DUI two days before the election. Strauss would go on to take over 80% of the vote in DC.

November 15, 2008: Metbloggers go live with Inauguration Central. Emergency G20 Summit shuts down parts of DC.

December 15, 2008: The George Washington University enters the Inaugural Parade for the first time since 1949. They are the only university in the country with a float in the parade.

December 31, 2008: So as we turn the page on 2008, I just want to wish everyone the best. In the words of Oprah Winfrey, “Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” Thanks for being loyal readers through thick and thin, and all of us here at Metblogs look forward to giving you a great 2009!

Inauguration 2009: Inauguration Estimates Cut In Half

"Clinton_inauguration_1993_crowds" courtesy of Flickr user dpape

Did estimates of up to 5 million people scare you from coming out to see the Obama Inauguration?

Well how about 2-3 million? Does that number sound more appealing to you?

Inauguration officials are now revising earlier estimates of Inaugural attendees by half. According to the Washington Post, “turnout could easily reach 2 million, officials said, far outstripping the 400,000 who attended the 2005 inauguration of President Bush.

It doesn’t surprise me that only 400,000 people came out to see Bush swearing in again. I wonder how many of them were protesters.

The WP article notes that 5 million people may come into the DC Metro area, but it seems unlikely that the entire 5 million will actually make it to The Mall and parade route. So does that mean that a fallback plan of watching the festivities at a local pub may not be smart? Trying to fight through the other 2 million that came into town but didn’t want to go the extra mile to be there in person may make leaving my house a nightmare no matter what I do.

I also wonder if this story will entice even more people to try and see the events in-person. Next thing you know we really do have 5 million people in DC because they thought, “5 million people? No way! But 2 million people… maybe I will try and make it in…”

Now for some more Inaugural news.

Obama’s playing the part of Lincoln very well

"Lincoln Bible" courtesy of the Presidential Inaugural Committee

So the Obama’s got the Lincoln train ride thing down. He’s also kicking off Inaugurapalooza with a concert at the Lincoln memorial. And of course we all know Obama’s from the “land of Lincoln.”

He wants to make sure we get the whole Lincoln metaphor down with his decision to use the Lincoln bible to take his Inaugural oath. The bible hasn’t been used in over 150 yearsm since- you guessed it- Abe Lincoln used it. With the announcement the Lincoln bible came out for a little photo op and CBS has some video of it on display.

More Inaugural Weekend Details

It looks like the Inaugural committee has released some more details on the events that weekend, here’s the latest details from the Presidential Inaugural Committee:

Sunday, January 18th
No new details on the welcome event on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial except that it will be in the afternoon

Monday, January 19th – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
The President-elect, Vice President-elect, and their families are going to honor Dr. King through various community service activities. The earlier reported youth concert at the Verizon Center will be held that evening.

Tuesday, January 20th – Inauguration Day

"the president's own" courtesy of Flickr user happy via

The festivities will start at 10 A.M. but officials say that if you have tickets that you should try and get into the areas around 9. Remember that there’s no overnight camping on The Mall and that you can’t stake a parade spot til 7 AM.

Musical groups to perform include The United States Marine Band, Aretha Franklin, The United States Navy Band “Sea Chanters”, The San Francisco Boys Chorus, and The San Francisco Girls Chorus. John Williams will conduct an ensemble including Itzhak PerlmanYo-Yo Ma, Gabriela Montero, and Anthony McGill.

Here’s a the current rundown of the ceremony:

  • Call to Order and Welcoming Remarks: Senator Dianne Feinstein
  • Invocation: Dr. Rick Warren
  • Musical Selection: Aretha Franklin
  • Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden, Jr. will be sworn into office by Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, the Honorable John Paul Stevens
  • Musical Selection: John Williams, composer/arranger with Itzhak Perlman, (violin), Yo-Yo Ma  (cello), Gabriela Montero (piano) and Anthony McGill (clarinet)
  • President-elect Barack H. Obama will take the Oath of Office, using President Lincoln’s Inaugural Bible, administered by the Chief Justice of the United States, the Honorable John G. Roberts, Jr.
  • Inaugural Address
  • Poem: Elizabeth Alexander
  • Benediction: The Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery
  • The National Anthem: The United States Navy Band “Sea Chanters”

President Obama will escort President Bush to a departure ceremony then attend a luncheon in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall.

The Inaugural Parade will march down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House. Here’s a preliminary list of parade participants that have been invited.

Wednesday, January 21st
No new news on the prayer service that will take place that day.

How cushy is an Honorary Co-Chair role?

The committee has also announced their Honorary Co-Chairs which include former President Carter, Clinton, and Bush (the first one.)  Mayor Adrian Fenty and Colin Powell are also on the list. While I don’t know what exactly an Honorary Co-Chair does at the Inauguration- I bet he/she will have really good seats.

Talking about seats I was showing a friend around DC last night and we visited the White House where we saw the VIP Grandstand still under construction.

The work looks top notch and there’s a round frame at the top- probably for the Presidential Seal. I also noticed glass partitions installed in the front and center rows. I bet those are probably bullet-proof. There’s also another grandstand structure opposite of this one. That’s probably as close as  I’m going to get to the parade- or anything Inaugural for that matter.

More Inauguration Links

The Inauguration Committee on Twitter:

Volunteer for the Inauguration:

Baking as Transformation

Chocolate Crumble Cake Bread Pudding

Memo to anyone who bought the Double Chocolate Crumble Cake from Whole Foods this weekend.  If you were as disappointed as we were with this, consider following this Paula Deen recipe and transform it into yummela bread pudding!

The unseasonably warm weather has almost put me off baking and soup-making, both traditional activities for me this time of year.  I’m looking forward to a drop in temperature next week — and more baking adventures.

Hilarious Yankees/Teixeira Post @ L.A. Metblog

Seeing as the holiday spirit is beginning to wear off, I don’t feel ashamed directing you to the Los Angeles Metblog, where Jason Burns, one of my favorite Metrobloggers, has written a hilarious entry about the Yankees’ massive offseason. Many in DC, especially Tom Bridge, are still upset that the Nats missed out on Teixeira thanks to the Yankees, so this is appropriate fuel to add to the fire. Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays Washingtonians

Christmas DC at dusk from Flickr user Shane Bee

"Christmas DC at dusk" from Flickr user Shane Bee, Creative Commons

Hello from my stomping ground in North Haven, Connecticut. I knew I was home when two little girls ages four and 18 months woke me up yelling that Santa had come. 4:07am. My stomach was still grumbling from the massive 7 inch Santa cookie I ate while playing Saint Nick only a couple hours before. Living in DC makes coming home to a small suburban town like North Haven almost surreal. There is something to be said for spending time with family and old friends, but going from Inauguration fever in DC to “are all the roads going to get plowed?” fever in No.H. is nothing short of unnerving.

Today is at once a day of celebration and a day of sobering reality for the families of those folks who fell victim to the mayhem of Christmas Eve. Millions of families nationwide had to make cutbacks and sacrifices in light of tough economic times, but some resorted to theft and violence. NBC Washington reports 5 robberies in 90 minutes in wealthier Northwest neighborhoods in DC, an elderly man who was beaten to death near the Watergate Hotel, and a shooting occurred at Westfield Mall in Wheaton. These incidents only represent the tip of the iceberg. Here in Connecticut, my sister reported from her job at Burlington Coat Factory that dozens of people attempted petty theft during the day yesterday. It is a desperate time and many are suffering for it.

Today we would be right to spend a few minutes counting our blessings and thinking about the other families who will be struggling to put food on the table after pushing budgets to the limit for Christmas. We should reflect upon the family who will not have a grandfather at the holiday table today, and who will never look at the Watergate Hotel the same way again. And then we can celebrate; this is, after all, a holiday. We should enjoy being with those whom we don’t see often enough. We should enjoy the good food and gifts.

I set out to write a happy and upbeat Christmas post, but I guess it is a good thing that it is tempered by the reality of our current state of affairs. Holidays are not an escape from reality. If anything, they get us closer in touch with the realities of the economy, a culture of crime, and continually strained family values. Yet that understanding allows us to celebrate good fortune and togetherness, and therein lies the true meaning of Christmas.

Happy Holidays!

Inauguration 2009: Jim Webb’s Early Lump Of Coal For Me

On this Christmas Eve let me I got an e-mail from my local senator, Jim Webb. It wasn’t a holiday greetings or a solicitation for money but a response to my earlier request for Inauguration tickets:

Thank you for contacting Senator Webb’s office regarding Inauguration tickets.  As you may know, the Senator’s office has received more than 35,000 total ticket requests and has been allotted only a few hundred tickets.   Unfortunately, at this time, we are unable to accommodate your request for tickets to the Inaugural Swearing-In Ceremony on the West Lawn of the United States Capitol. However, please note that the remaining sections of the National Mall will be open to members of the public who were unable to obtain the limited tickets available.  These areas will have large screens to ensure that the general public can easily view the ceremony and festivities.

We wanted to give you this status update well in advance of Inauguration Day so that you can plan accordingly. Please also be aware that in addition to the public viewing area on the National Mall, there are a number of events during the week, including the Inaugural Parade, that do not require tickets.

Due to the extraordinarily high interest in the Swearing-In Ceremony, Senator Webb has sent a letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, requesting additional tickets to account for Virginia’s proximity to Washington D.C.   Should Senator Webb receive additional tickets from the Inaugural Committee or any other source and be able to accommodate your request, we will be sure to let you know.

The Swearing-In Ceremony is the only Inaugural event to which our office has received tickets.   Please see the links below for updated information on other Inaugural events that may interest you:

Thank you again for your interest.


Kathryn Wilmoth

Administrative Director

Office of Senator Jim Webb

I’m not surprised that I didn’t get any tickets, but it’s a bit of a bummer to get on Christmas Eve. If his office sent it on Boxing Day- then it’s another story. I wonder if thousands of others got the same e-mail on Christmas Eve.

"Jim Webb Speaks 2" courtesy of Flickr user kalexnova

There are some tidbits to glean from the letter. We know that the tickets will be impossible to get and that Virginia, Maryland, and DC are already trying to a bigger slice of the ticket pie. We also know that even without tickets we can expect people to flock to The Mall so they can say, “Hey I was there!”

However there has only been speculation about possible accommodations for the general public and now this is the first “official” word on having screens on The Mall. Of course no further details on how many and where.

Well I hope everybody has a happy holidays- I’ll be checking my inbox to see if any of the other members of congress I requested tickets from come through. It would be a Merry Christmas indeed if I was one of the lucky ones.

Teixeira Rejects Nats, Signs With Yankees

Teixeira from Flickr user Texas Photo Wrangler, Creative Commons

"A Memory: Teixeira" from Flickr user Texas Photo Wrangler, Creative Commons

Stud free agent first baseman Mark Teixeira has rejected an 8 year, $180MM offer from the Nationals for an 8 year, $180MM offer from the Yankees. I don’t blame him, frankly. Former Metblogger and DC City Captain Tom Bridge (We Love DC) = >wicked pissed. And I quote:

[expletive deleted] you, New York, and [expletive deleted] your precious [expletive deleted] [expletive deleted] panda-raping [expletive deleted] [expletive deleted] grandmother-shoving [expletive deleted] Blagojevich-fondling [expletive deleted] [expletive deleted] [expletive deleted] [expletive deleted]-gargling [expletive deleted]-punching Yankees. Oh, and Steinbrenner? Cancer. CANCER, I say!

Tom and I had an interesting exchange on the Twitters re: whether or not this is a good thing for the Nationals. Tom says bad; he wanted Teixeira. I think the answer for the Nats is Manny, so I’m happy with this development. You make the call.

If you ask me, the Nats need the attention that Manny would garner for them in the next three years. They need an established big market guy in order to grow into their big market. Then they can worry about signing long-term guys like Teixeira. In the meantime, there are Teixeiras scattered throughout the Nats line-up who are only a couple of years from blooming, some sooner. In the meantime, let’s get the Nats on the leaderboard. For the love of God.

Tom Bridge can be found on Twitter here and I can be found here.

Inauguration 2009: The Inaugural Rush-Hour On Metro

"dc united fans" courtesy of Flickr user jamescalder

Mass transit- it’s transportation for the masses.

The very definition of the word is going to be realized during Inaugural Day weekend when the millions of people that is expected to come out will try out the city’s Metrorail system to get to and from places. It goes without saying that you might experience some delays. I’m not talking about delays that happen when there’s a Nationals game and a Wizards game occurring at the same time- I mean delays that may just may make you dodge the Metro system altogether.

While preparations are being made which includes rush hour service for 17 hours (4 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Inauguration Day) lines are expected to be long. General advice includes spending more time around the city so everyone isn’t rushing the system at once; and if you live within 2 miles- just walk. Doesn’t it sound scary when mass transit advises you not to use mass transit?

Well for those that are planning to take the Metro should prepare for fees- WMATA has announced that they will be charging rush-hour rates while providing extended rush hour service. For those that want to park can expect a $4 fee. Typically fares are reduced and parking is free on Federal holidays- however this is clearly not a typical Federal holiday. WMATA is raising the fees in order to cope with increased costs that will be expected with Inauguration.

In other news my excitement over DC’s decision to extend bar serving hours to 5 AM has waned with the D.C. Council’s decision to roll it back to 4 AM. The amended bill now only extends the alcohol serving hours to match similar hours done during New Years. Also the law does not supersede agreements bars may have with local neighborhoods– so that means not every bar will be able to stay open late if they have a deal to close sooner with the neighbors.

I’m not too too disappointed- I mean who is really going to be out drinking til 5 AM? I think those that are should be able to cope with the extra hour of sleep this bill now gives them. I can see myself going out til 3 AM- then getting out of there before things get too dodgy.

Earlier I wrote about the Newseum being open for Inauguration and noting it’s advantageous location. Well it appears that now word has spread and the Newseum is now sold out of tickets for Inauguration Day. Looks like you going to have to find another museum to haunt before your 12 hours of drinking.

"DC: Lincoln Memorial" courtesy of Flickr user wallyg

Another item I wrote about earlier was the Inaugural Kick-Off which is now revealed to be a concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. There will also be a Children’s concert at the Verizon Center. Both events will be free- check out the Committee website for more information.

With all these events shaping up- where will you go to the bathroom? Well it looks like that there will be over 5,000 Porta-Potties on the mall ready to relieve the masses. While most people would be worried about bathrooms on The Mall- I want to let everyone know that WMATA has also decided to close all their bathrooms during the Inauguration and will also be setting up Porta-Potties where it can outside stations.

I don’t know what will be more chanllenging- finding a way to get there or finding a place to pee?

DC welcomes 636 new citizens

636 unpronounceable names, raised in unison

636 people swearing all at once!

The Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton, Gordon Peterson from WJLA, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the League of Women Voters, the US Citizenship and Immigration Service, WAMU, and about a thousand other people were on hand today to witness the swearing in of 636 new U.S. citizens in the District of Columbia.

This ceremony normally takes place in a courtroom and is a small affair with perhaps 80 or 100 people.  But then ICE doubled the fee to apply in July 2007, resulting in a bulge in the system and a huge backlog for DC.  In an effort to catch up, a megaceremony — the largest ever, according to the presiding Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth — was held today in Room 146 at the Washington Convention Center.

It was gleefully disorganized, though the federal marshals did an outstanding job keeping order in the crowd of people, kids, a zillion cameras and half a zillion little American flags provided by the DAR.  Hearing the clerks practice their pronunciation skills on 636 names from 104 different countries was also quite a treat.

There was a bit of controversy, too, when Ms. Norton observed that new citizens in Maryland and Virginia are sworn in by a member of the state administration as soon as they pass their exam.  DC, on the other hand, “likes to have a judge preside”, and has traditionally only scheduled the swearings in on the first Tuesday of the month (according to a clerk I talked with in September).  What this means is that at least 636 people applied in June 2007 and passed their exams a year later — yet could not vote in the November 2008 elections.  Ms. Norton promised to look into the issue.

I know that 636 votes in DC couldn’t swing an election, but I know every one of those people would have cast a ballot.  Including my newly-minted, and very dear, husband.

NGA Half-Open for Inauguration

Lansdowne Portrait*

The Post‘s Inauguration Central has been posting regular updates on building openings and closings on and around the Mall for the big day, January 20.  Today they’ve got the news that the National Gallery of Art will be half-open and half-closed for Inauguration.  This will, no doubt, have serious repercussions on the restroom strategy of thousands of visitors!

The East (modern) Building, all shops and restaurants, and Sculpture Garden including the  skating rink will be closed, but the West Building’s Constitution Avenue entrance will be open.   The West Building is worth a visit anyway:  its Rotunda is decked out beautifully for the holidays!  Plus, they’ve got special Inaugural-type exhibits, including my favorite piece of Presidential art, Gilbert Stuart’s Lansdowne portrait of Washington (usually on display at the National Museum of American Art just up the street from NGA).  

Speaking of restroom strategy, or educational opportunities, most Smithsonian museums will be open on Jan. 20, although the Smithsonian Metro stop will be closed.

*Photo by Flickr user cliff1066, used under a Creative Commons License.

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