Archive for the ‘The District’ Category

Congress Falling Short On Inauguration Security Costs

"Police at the United for Peace rally and march on Washington, DC" by Flickr user jcolman

Back in 2005, Congress allocated $17.5 million to cover the District’s security costs for the second Inauguration of George W. Bush. 300,000 people attended those festivities. Fast forward to 2009, January 20th to be exact, and D.C. could potentially face beyond 4 million guests for Inauguration. The only catch is that this time Congress has only allotted $15 million for security.

On an average day, residents and tourists in DC have to worry about the risks of living in a large city with high crime rates; only last night an 18 year old was stabbed in the chest with an ice pick at a Green Line Metro Station of all places and a 14 year old was stabbed as a possible result of MS-13 gang activity.

In the chaos that 4 million people will create by packing on to the National Mall, moving throughout the city, and taking the Metro will cause, security will have to be a priority for a litany of reasons. Simple personal safety, the safety of government officials, and national security only scratch the surface of the policing fiasco that sheer volume of people will usher into Washington.

There are many things that need to be cut back financially, but Inaugural security is not one of them, and Congress should know that.

G20 Summit Brings Two Things To DC: Protesters and Chaos

Bush Addresses G20 as Protesters Assemble Outside

Bush Addresses G20 as Protesters Assemble Outside

 Throughout DC, hundreds of protesters gather in front of the meeting places of the G20 Summit. Authorities have advised tourists as well as DC residents to steer clear of the National Building Museum, where the emergency summit is being held and six blocks have been shut down.

DC Authorities have a lot on their hands as this summit takes place. Delegations from 20 nations, the European Union, the United Nations, the World Bank, and of course the President all require security personnel and motorcades. This is to be provided by the Secret Service and State Department’s Diplomatic Security Bureau. Set aside six blocks being shut down near the Verizon Center, including the Metro at Judiciary Square, sporadically throughout the day and into the evening District residents should expect sirens, traffic jams, groups of protesters, and 16,000 “Highway to Hell” fans figuring out how to get to see AC/DC. Oh, the irony of so many people jamming out to such a tune in light of the subject of discussion for the G20. Just in case anyone was wondering, AC/DC is sold out.

The chaos doesn’t end with the task presented to DC Authorities. Hundreds assemble in front of the various meeting places of the Summit to let their voices be heard on several issues. A large contingent of Tibetan Independence supporters (200) and a smaller group from the spiritual movement Falun Gong are protesting China outside the financial meetings. A couple ANSWER coalition protesters were spotted as well. At Murrow Park and Thomas circle, anti-capitalism picketers have placed signs and marched with phrases like “Bury Capitalism” and “People Over Profit.” I wonder if these people know that the G20 represents 80% of world trade and without capitalism, any progress in the financial crisis would be impossible.

All this chaos is nothing out of the ordinary, but be warned: DC authorities haven’t had to deal with such a large scale task since the 1999 50th Anniversary of NATO.

One Million Expected For Inauguration Day; Tickets At A Premium

One Million People Expected For Obamas Inauguration

One Million People Expected For Obama's Inauguration

With Inauguration Day just around the corner, expectations are that a crowd of about one million will be in attendance. Thousands of tickets are being requested in the District as well as in Congressional Offices throughout the country. Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) alone has received 26,000 requests for tickets.

People are going crazy and offering housing in the District for thousands of dollars. The DC Council has gone berzerk. They are fighting with Mayor Fenty over the 150 Inauguration tickets that he has been given to distribute. Whining is rampant. The juvenile City Council is even threatening to hold up legislation until Fenty splits the tickets 50-50 with them. The question we are left with is: How will January 20, 2009 actually turn out? Will it be a monumental day for a million plus to enjoy, or will it be a cold day that ends up indoors?

Following the election of Barack Obama, more than 10,000 students from The George Washington University charged the White House for an eviction party that got ugly. Can the Inaugural Parade’s designated “free speech” areas hold protesters, especially as such a controversial President-Elect passes by? I personally expect a lot of arrests on January 20th.

But the bottom line is that Inauguration is DC’s big day on the national spotlight. Preparations began the day after the election, and probably were being discussed behind closed doors for months before that. Out of the chaos, a moment in history will be born, and as DC’ers we’ll be in the front row.

D.C. Could Rock The Vote In 2009

Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C. Delegate to U.S. House

Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C. Delegate to U.S. House

With the new Senate and a new President due to take office in January, Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton feels confident that she will finally be able to win voting rights in Congress for the District of Columbia.

According to NBC Washington, Norton estimates that 65 Senators will support her Voting Rights Act of 2009 out of only 60 needed to pass the bill. According to Norton, President-Elect Obama personally told her that he would sign the bill if it reached his desk.

If DC does manage to get the vote, I would hope that it breaks from tradition and elects competent officials to serve in Congress. Eleanor Holmes Norton is a fine example, shadow Senator Paul Strauss is not. At all.

Like Stand Up? Want More? Read This and Help Out

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Stand-Up Comedy hit its boom in the 80’s.  Shows like SNL were bringing sketch comedy to American TVs for a good number of years, and big name acts like  Robin Williams, Eddie Murphy, Jerry Seinfeld, Sam Kinison, and Billy Crystal were both touring to clubs-and thanks to HBO, had specials in constant circulation on TV.

Everyone wanted to be a comedian.  So in the 1990s (when admittedly some great comedy was still happening) there was just…too many.  Cities like DC which had several big name comedy clubs saw demand drizzle and drip-folks weren’t flocking to live shows anymore because, frankly, there was a bit too much exposure and a bit too many people to see.  Now DC has one club, the fabulous Improv which is where I learned how to do some stand up( strong language btw ) and-apart from the occasional appearance at Warner Theater for a mega act like George Carlin-is the only place to see a real headliner in town.

The strange thing is that even though there aren’t a lot of places to play there are a ton of comics in this town-a lot of them very good.  Where are they all you ask?  Well the circuit here in DC is mostly relegated to coffee houses or backrooms in bars once a week.  Open Mic-which is where a schlep like me has to go to learn how to be a good comic-is kind of hard to come by.  Here is a list of the shows available now-you’ll notice a lot of them aren’t in the beltway or even metro accessible making opportunities for a  PT comic such as myself very limited.

Most of the reason I don’t do stand-up anymore is the hassle-Even the guys who do treat you right can only put you on once-tops twice-a month if you are a green like I am:  You’re not filling in the seats with your following yet and its lame to have the same comic come up and do the same thing week in and week out.  Just a few places to play on any given night and an incredible number of comics (one promoter once told me he gets a 150 emails a day looking to get time) makes for long open mic sets (I’ve seen 17 comics do 5-10 minutes each in one night.  Yikes!) and not a lot of opportunity.  No opportunity means no growth as a comic.   No growth as a comic means less and less for you, the audience to see.  So its a problem.

All of this is by way of setting the stage for the punchline-if you will.  John Xereas is Riot Act Entertainment and I’ve always found him to be a pretty good guy.  No longer at HR-57, John has been looking for a new place to open up not just a once a week show-but a full on, 7 nights a week, comedy club. Unfortunately a big box corporation furniture company is also bidding on the place and he fears it isn’t going to go his way.

Now look-I know this is a strange post and some of you might be reading it as “feel bad for my buddy who wants to open a comedy club” but it is a bit more than that.  If you are a person who enjoys comedy, who would like to see more comedy take place or just have a competitor to the Improv in town (and I think this is a situation where competition would help both parties by the way) then I encourage you to read the letter John sent below (after the jump) and help act.  If not-hey, no worries.  I don’t know if it will do any good, but if you would like to give a try, as I am, then I invite you to do so.

Thanks and Happy Halloween everybody!


What Does Washington DC Mean To You?

My pal Molly at the Washington Post recently told me about an essay contest the paper is having. Between now through the end of 2008, the paper wants to know what you think it means to be a Washingtonian. The entries should be no more than 300 words (so this isn’t your college term paper) and the winning entries get $100. You can get complete details at their web site.

As one of many that enjoy writing about The District I encourage everyone to express their viewpoint- after seeing that it’s only a short essay I may even pen an entry- I’m sure my 11th grade English professor would be proud!

New Ocean Hall


image by flickr user jef safi under a CC license

image by flickr user jef safi under a CC license

This weekend is filled with all sorts of events and activities for the adventurous Washingtonian!  If you are feeling outdoors-y and energetic, why not try out BikeDC?  

But if you are not, the Smithsonian’s newly renovated Ocean Hall is having its grand opening celebration on Saturday.  The Aloha Boys and Tlingit Community will perform, before the unveiling.  There’ll be a Q&A with the museum team that worked on the exhibition (I have a friend who worked herself crazy on this project so I am very interested to hear about this!).   In addition, book signings etc will be happening around the museum during the day.  Check out the giant squids or whatever is on display, and maybe stop by and say hi to the Hope Diamond while you’re there.

Football Team Bar Guide

The After Hours blog over at The Washingtonian just updated their list of bars where fans of different NFL teams meet. I didn’t know 18th Amendment was the place to see the Panthers or Pour House was the place to watch the Steelers. As a native Bostonian I wish I found this list earlier! I was wondering what would be a good bar to watch the Patriots season opener (and Tom Brady’s season closer.)

I ended up going over to Buffalo Billiards in Dupont Circle- which ended up being a great place to go. They had all the games up on the numerous screens across the bar and the crowds were manageable. I sure do enjoy watching my favorite team with others but I also enjoy being able to find a table relatively easy. However the service was terribly slow.

Chances are your favorite sports bar will carry the game you want to see- but it’s always fun to watch it with fans of your favorite team. And if you are a local Redskins fan? Check out The Junkies and watch the game wherever they are doing their weekly “Unauthorized Pregame Show”.

The Bear Facts

Bomb Squad Investigating Abandoned Greenpeace Stuffed Bear At Columbia Heights

Bomb Squad Investigating Abandoned Greenpeace Stuffed Bear At Columbia Heights

Not that the topic needs to be dragged through the news any more on the DC blogs, but homeless polar bears holding signs that say “SOS” are not the works of random activists. Ready for the surprise? It’s Greenpeace at it again. Man, those guys are so clever.

It has been an amusing protest of off-shore drilling and we all get the message, but can’t we continue without wasting the valuable resources of DC? On Tuesday a suspicious package shut down the Columbia Heights Metro station during the morning. It turned out to be a gigantic stuffed polar bear that Greenpeace left by a garbage can outside of the Metro without informing authorities. The taxpayers paid to send the bomb squad out, but Greenpeace got their message on the news, so we can be happy about it without complaining.

Yesterday another bear was placed by the Reflection Pool, leaving park rangers to spend their time, energy, and most importantly their attention dealing with the bear and getting Greenpeace on the news again.

Politics are all over Washington, DC. I point to the nuclear proliferation protesters who sit in front of the White House as an example of a good protest. The authorities know that they are there, and they do not leave their protest materials unattended for police to deal with at the taxpayer’s expense.

By all means Greenpeace, get your message out there by putting people in bear costumes on the side of US-50 (see post below by Frank), but don’t think for a moment that Washington will take your message seriously if you delay their Metros and basically use police resources to get press. Not cool.

Homeless Shelter Woes At 13th & K

The possibility that a large homeless shelter may be closed will go before City Council amid accusations by opponents that the homeless are being forced out to make way for developers and the big business that people are used to seeing on K Street.

Watch the Fox5 report here.

Homeless Shelter At 13th & K Streets
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