Archive for the ‘DC’s Gifts’ Category

Free Concert @ Farragut Square 5-7pm

Sounds in the SquareThe Golden Triangle Business Improvement District (or GTBID for short) is having their kick-off in a series of “Sounds in the Square” this evening at 5pm. I’m not sure how much foot traffic of commuters it will draw away from the mass movement of people to and fro as they rush home, but at least it may be an attention getter away from the razing of the building at Connecticut and K Streets Wayan had such fond memories of.

This evening’s affair will star Justin Jones & The Driving Rain, but other concerts will follow from May 22 and June 5, 12, 19, 26 (and a reschedule from last week’s rained out performance on September 4). I’m sure it will be an interesting experiment for GTBID, who were also, if I remember, one of the first areas in downtown D.C. to offer free WiFi in the park a number of years ago. And you know they’re hip and with it, not just because they dress in gold and black, because they have a MySpace page!

You can voice your 1st Amendment rights in D.C., just as long as you’re QUIET!!!!

In the wonderful wisdom that is the D.C. Council taking their lead from the President in trying to *hush* dissent in the Capitol, preliminary approval was given to quiet noisy demonstrations within the city. As WTOP reports, that the measure is aimed at getting demonstrators away from residential neighborhoods and limit “non-commercial public speech” to 80 dB at a distance of 50 feet. The initial ordinance was proposed by Tommy Wells (Ward 6) and supported by Mary Cheh, Kwame Brown and David Catania in 2007, but was now just voted upon for enactment.

So what you’re saying, is that, while folks who decide to at least exercise their right to be heard in a public forum, “non-commercially”, must do so at a whisper, but some “commercial” entity, blaring music and using a loudspeaker, can do so wherever and whenever they want in D.C.? Let’s take a glance at what 80dB’s really gets you. [Note: Contrary to the “quick facts” posted on Councilmemeber Wells’ site, and increase in decibels is not a simple “doubling” but a logarithmic scale increase… which is a much different mathematical consideration… so much for politicians fact checking before trying to enact laws.]

original photo by rev_bri
10dBA – Normal Breathing
20dBA – Mosquito or Rustling Leaves
30dBA – A Whisper
40dBA – A Bubbling Brook, or a Refrigerator
50dBA – Normal Conversation
60dBA – Laugher
70dBA – Vacuum Cleaner or Hairdryer
80dBA – City Traffic or a Garbage Disposal
90dBA – Motorcycle or Lawnmower

So, what they are proposing, is that you can protest in D.C., as long as we can’t hear you above the din of the traffic in D.C.. WTF?! Ice Cream trucks are louder than that… granted other cities are cracking down on those too. Granted, I always wanted the ice cream truck in my neighborhood to play “Helter Skelter” or come around like L.A.’s ice cream truck of satan.

D.C. readers, what’s your view on this… pleasant relief or curb to your Constitutional rights to be a pain in the ass?

DSC_5644.jpg — Originally uploaded by rev_bri

World Malaria Day … or Rock Concert at Work

buttonFor those who do keep their finger on the world pulse, tomorrow is World Malaria Day (April 25th), sponsored by the World Health Organization. While Spring is here, and the standing water from the heavy rains a few days ago will sure spawn our favorite Summer pest, the mosquito, it’s good to remember, that here, in the US, we’re lucky enough not to have the scourge of malaria, one of the largest killers of people, young and old, worldwide. So, as a reminder, since we do get other mosquito borne illness here, notably the West Nile Virus, if you have standing water pooling on your property, in buckets, plastic sheeting, or other places that seem innocuous, tip it out and drain it. (Remember, D.C. used to be a swamp, so it makes sense…)

On the upside, Senegalese singer, Youssou N’Dour is performing at the World Bank in the atrium at 2pm. I’m not sure if it’s fully open to the public, but you can try, given that it’s supposed to raise awareness…it’d be dumb to restrict access.

Best of DC (According to Me)

Anybody who has picked up today’s Washington City Paper has probably seen the ballot for “Best of D.C.: Celebrating the Classics 2008”. They are getting in the game with The Washington Post and The Washingtonian, asking readers to vote on what places, things, and cute bartenders make life in DC special and fun.

This has inspired me to finally launch a new series here that I have been mulling for some time.

Here is how this will work: I will take on the challenge of finding the “best in DC” – one thing at a time. Be it cupcakes, shoe stores, or dj nights, I will solicit recommendations of competitors, do some research, and then go try out those which claim to vie for title of “best”.

In other words – one girl’s highly subjective search to sift through mediocrity and mass-name-recognition (is Potbelly really the best sandwich place in town as it is consistently voted – or just the only one that a majority of the voters have been to?) to bring you what I think are the best bets around.

For this to work, I will need a lot of input from you. I want you to send me on missions that you want to read about. In the comments below, I would love to see suggestions of things you want me to review for you! I also need your suggestions of where to go. Do you think you know about the best beer selection in town? Let me know! Hopefully, other people will have different ideas, and I will try to put them all to the test.

One stipulation: I am not finding out the best fetish club. If you want to know, you will have to wait for the City Paper’s results. (Also, I reserve the right not to be sent on any missions I consider immoral or generally icky. You know.)

Also, we are going to need to think of a name. I thought about calling it “The Decider”, but that seems pretty dated at this point…

photo by erin m on flickr

What is that SMELL?!

C&O Canal

C&O Canal

Originally uploaded by alberto238

Well, with all the traffic woes of this morning, I decided to hang back a bit and delay my entry. Now with the American Legion Bridge work entering it’s supposed final phase, that backed up traffic quite a bit even in the later morning hours… what is a motorcyclist to do, but hit the Cabin John Parkway and the Clara Barton.

Now, I haven’t been on it in a while, and think the tree lined canal area is quite nice and tranquil. Motorcycling in the morning is nice, and in general, you get fresh air, natural air conditioning, and the smells of the day. Normally, the latter is a good thing, except this morning. About C&O lock 8, my nose said to my brain:

“What in the holy mother of christ is that smell?”

Now, I would think, maybe, just maybe, there is the random effluent from DC making it’s way to the Potomac. But, at each successive C&O Canal Lock, as well as some of the closer bits of the canal to the road, my nose caught that scent. The scent of the worst spoilage imaginable… some worse than dead bodies and spoiled milk. (And yes, I’ve even been around a blooming corpse flower)

What’s the deal? I think it’s the last bits of last weeks heat finally releasing the brew of rotting algae, and other garbage that’s in the canal. I would suggest, to the National Park Service, if possible, to try to flush that canal at their earliest convenience, or I fear, if we get another week of heat, that brew in the C&O could turn deadly, knocking bicyclists off their seats, joggers out of their shoes, and us motorcyclists tearing up in our helmets. (Yes, I know it’s supposed to be “natural” in setting, but that’s an “unnatural” smell)

Hey, you can’t expect a baby panda every day you know.

If you’ve got some time to kill on Saturday, consider heading over to the National Zoo. They are debuting their newest baby animal. No it’s not a panda, it’s “Little Schnozzy“, the zoo’s new Giant Anteater. While it may not be as cute as Tai Shan (aka Butterstick), it is the only giant anteater born at the Zoo in the last 120 years. And unlike those bamboo eating beasties, giant anteaters can theoretically provide some value to urban residents. It seems that a full-grown giant anteater can consume up to 30,000 insects a day. Considering the size of some of the cockroaches I’ve seen boldly walking the streets around here, I’m suggesting that the zoo should breed an army of giant anteaters, let them loose, and clean up the city! Until that day however, you’ll have to be stuck seeing the anteaters in captivity. The exhibit is next to “Lemur Island”, and the zoo says the mother and baby are most apt to be seen between 8 and 11 a.m.

The Dirtiest Jobs in DC?

mike-rowe.jpgI’m addicted to Mike Rowe and his Discovery Channel show, Dirty Jobs. They’ve supposedly “searched this great land of ours” for people performing “jobs that make civilized society possible”. He’s hit Baltimore (Glen Burnie – McShane Bell Foundry) for a bell maker and groundskeeper for the Bowie Baysox, but no love for DC?

What do you think is the dirtiest job in DC? Cleaning up the sidewalk in front of Rumors after an overextended night of drinking? Maybe one of the Big Bite munching construction workers and landscape artisans at the local 7-11? How about being a lobbyist to congress for one of the “sin stocks” (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms)? Maybe even filling potholes in DC for the DOT? I could think of a few jobs uniquely “Dirty in DC”, what’s your favorite disgusting, grungy, smelly dirty job in DC?

Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?!

Have We Been Cheated? With those ever so famous words of the Sex Pistols’ Johnny (Lydon) Rotten, you have a chance now to play the Redistricting Game courtesy of the USC Annenberg Center for Communication and the USC Game Innovation Lab.

I think this is an interesting exercise for the general public to understand how the system is now “gamed” for elections and keeping the incumbent in power. I remember just a few years ago when Texas had their own real-life redistricting game with now disgraced Tom DeLay and the Texas Legislature, even going as far as to play “Where In the World is Your Texas Caucus”? For those who care, it’s not too late for 2008 to consider, are we being cheated? (NPR Story)

Washington, DC’s 1st Gift to the World – The Smithsonian Institution

Smithsonian Castle

Originally uploaded by m-t-z.

Throughout the past week, we’ve talked about six other gifts that the DC Area has given to the world. If you’ve not yet read them, we’ve archived them here for you. They include DC’s incredible music scene, to the cherry blossoms, to Marion S. Barry himself. DC’s gifts are legion, and by no means is our list canonical. We seek to highlight some of DC’s unique spots and moments, and this last gift is chief amongst our list.

DC’s Smithsonian Institution, established under a gift from British scientist James Smithson in 1846, was chartered to be “an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.” And so it has been, since that day. Smithson’s gift of over 100,000 gold sovereigns (which was melted into $500,000 of gold) has turned the organization into a monument to human knowledge and will. That gift was the source of significant controversy in the legislature here in DC, with many senators concerned what it would mean to have such a gift given to the nation at large. Some contended to accept it would violate states rights. Others still suggested it would cause other common men and women to do the same, forcing the US to act as executor. Those efforts, though, were overridden by the strong desire for a national university, and so from that was born the Smithsonian Institution under a board of trustees.

The Smithsonian now controls 19 museums outright, and has a partnership with 144 more. 24 million people every year visit the institutions that surround our national mall. The Air & Space Museum and its expansion near Dulles house such aviation achievements as the SR-71 Blackbird, the Space Shuttle Enterprise, the Wright Flyer and one of the Lunar Lander Modules. The Freer, Sackler and Hirshhorn Galleries and Museums, as well as the National Portrait Gallery, contain this nation’s artistic treasures and highlights, as well as visiting exhibits from all over the world. The incredible Museum of Natural History includes such wonders as the Hope Diamond.

The Smithsonian Institution’s indelible mark upon American History in culture is on par with any political event, with any natural event, with any city in this country’s borders. The Smithsonian is almost a rite of passage amongst America’s youth who come to Washington to see it and be educated by it on an annual basis, and no trip to Washington would be complete without seeing it.

Thank you, James Smithson, for your incredible gift.

Tags: Metblogs7Gifts 7Gifts Metroblogging7Gifts

Washington, DC’s 2rd Gift to the World – Marion Barry

Marion Shepilov Barry, Wayan would have you know.

Love this gift or hate it, you can put its inclusion in this list all on me. Our illustrious Cap’n Tom suggested replacements on several occasions but I pushed for keeping him in. It’s not out of some great love for MSB, lord knows, but my belief that some gifts pain the giver as much as they enrich the recipient.

To explain my reasoning for wanting MSB to be in our 7 gifts, let me tell you a story from about a decade ago when I was still living in Miami and my father had taken a job in New Orleans. Every time I spoke to him he’d ask me what fun was going on with the Miami political scene. I finally asked him, “Why do you keep asking about the Miami politics? New Orleans practically invented government corruption. I’d think you’d have better material there.” My father strongly disagreed, and said something on the order of “Watching New Orleans corruption is no fun compared to Miami. Here they’re actually good at it.”

That’s Barry’s primary appeal to me. His scandals aren’t dull stories of influence peddling or shunning firms that don’t have the right makeup of political party allegiances; they’re hotel rooms, drugs and “bitch set me up.” I’ve been here in the DC area just under five years but if you’d come to me on the day I got here and asked me to say the first phrase than came to mind when you said “Marion Barry” that would have been exactly what I’d said: “Bitch set me up.”

On its own that might not make the list but the fact that the hits keep on coming raises it to Art. Barry brings us the thrill of the train wreck where the sound of screeching metal never seems to fade. He’s the energizer bunny of political tomfoolery, and that longevity has made him a national figure rather than just a local one. Do you expect to see Mark Foley back in Congress in two years? No, and nobody’s even made a move to put him in jail at this point as far as I know. Barry went up the river and within 2 years, BAM, he’s back running for city council. And winning. Two years later, mayor again. That’s the gift that keeps on giving, folks. Leno and Letterman ought to send him royalty checks.

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