Archive for the ‘Old Town Alexandria’ Category

Hot Pads

Perhaps if Wayan’s couch guest is still looking for a place to stay, he should take a gander at HotPads appears to be a mash-up between google maps and wikipedia, offering a user-friendly at-a-glance look at available housing options inside the beltway.

Users can customize their search requirements by zip code, city, county or state, using a variety of variables. A quick Georgetown search turned up not a whole lot, whereas a quick search of my home zip code turned up two rental possibilities.

Looking for a roommate? You apparently can use that feature too, although it turned up zilch for me. This appears to be a great tool for relocation professionals who know naught about the new city they’ll call home. Doing a quick search of cities such as Seattle and Boston turned up a whole lot of useful information.

These three Notre Dame former college roommates moved to the D.C. area and created HotPads in early ’05, relaunching the site last month. The best thing about HotPads? It’s totally free.

Between HotPads and The D.C. Crime Map newcomers to D.C. can learn much more about prospective neighbours before they even put down a deposit. Say ‘sayonara’ to moving in sight unseen, suckers.

virginia candidates for senate face-off tonight

Virginia Senator George Allen (R) and challenger James "Jim" Webb (D) will face-off in Richmond tonight. The 8 p.m. debate will be moderated be moderated by Russ Mitchell, an anchor on The Early Show and Sunday Evening News on CBS. Viewers in Northern Virginia will be able to watch the debate live on WETA (local channel 26).

So far, both candidates have spent a considerable amount of time issuing and responding to personal questions or attacks. For Allen, the central issues have revolved around his (supposedly hidden) Jewish heritage, his use of the word "macaca," and his office’s showcase of a Confederate flag and rope tied into a noose. Webb has been questioned about a 1979 article on women in combat. Although I am hoping the debate will provide a showcase for both of these candidates to present clearly distinguishable platforms – I’m afraid that most of the debate will end up focused on questions of character…



Allen is predicted to say "Well shucks, you know that I was a bit of a rebel in my younger days, so I’ve always liked having a Confederate flag and noose ready for when the South will rise again."

Webb will think "…jackass," while stretching his hands in anticipation of the vicious pimp slap he is about to lay down.


PX Blue Light

Ever since prohibition ended I’ve always felt that bars haven’t been illicit enough. I mean, bars will pretty much let anybody in these days, the booze isn’t made in bathtubs, and and they usually don’t get raided by the ‘coppers’. And really, who wants to drink in a club that lets just anybody in and never gets raided by the coppers?

That’s why my new favorite bar is the PX Blue Light that opened in Alexandria last week. It’s a real honest-to-goodness speakeasy. It’s purposely hard to find, but I’ll let you in on how to get in. It’s at 728 King Street above Eamonn’s Dublin Chippery. You’ll know it’s open (and it’s not open every night) by the pirate flag flying above Eamonn’s. Go around the corner to the alley and look for the door next to a “blue light”. It’ll be locked. Knock on the door and a little window will open up. Tell them you have a reservation (you did remember to make a reservation right? 703-299-8384 though not required) If you are properly dressed and not a copper they’ll let you in.

Inside they are very tiny but kinda swanky, kinda like your rich friend’s living room. Except for the front door, the place didn’t really feel like a speakeasy to me (the waitress had more of a 60s go-go dancer look to her). The drinks are pretty pricey ($11-$16), but it’s worth it to bask in the exclusivity of the place. I mean, c’mon what kinda bar takes reservations?!? I’m not sure that their business model of not advertising and keeping the door locked is all that sound, but it makes for a great place to take a date when you want to show how well connected you are with the Alexandria nightlife scene. And tell ’em Metroblog sent ya!

I Want To Go To The Festival!

This weekend there are a pair of festivals hitting the area, meaning the beginnings of the summer fair season are upon us again. Take advantage of this weekend’s less-awful weather and head out to either the Alexandria Irish Festival or the U St “Dog Days” sidewalk festival.

The Irish Festival runs all day on Saturday in Waterfront Park in Alexandria (within a good walk of the King St. Metro) and will feature all manner of Gaelic things including music, crafts, and things that will make you want to pick right up and go to Ireland for your next vacation. Pro-Tip? Stop at Murphy’s on the way home for a Guinness or ten.

The Dog Days Sidewalk Sale features a ton of great shopping (part of the DC Tax Holiday, too!) and events in the U St. neighborhood. Starting at 8am Saturday, there’s a dog show at the African American Civil War Memorial, incredible discounts from businesses throughout the area including Boundless Yoga, Cakelove, Home Rule, Pop, Viridian, Simply Home, Millenium and Meeps Village. That’s not the whole list, so check the main schedule page on the MidCityLive website.

Are you going to the festival? What are you up to?

Godspeed sails into Alexandria

Starting today, a replica of the Godspeed, one of three ships to carry settlers to Jamestown in 1607, will be anchored in Alexandria.

Godspeed, one of the three original ships that in 1607 brought America’s first permanent English colonists to Jamestown, our nation’s birthplace, will serve as a floating museum for families, students and tens of thousands of visitors. We invite you to come and explore a sampling of 17th -century America … 21st century style!

Join in the excitement of the “Landing Party” – featuring live musical performances, family entertainment, historical and cultural displays highlighting the legacies of Jamestown and the growth of America — all free to the public, at a port near you.

The Landing Party will take place 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. on weekends and holidays and 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. during the week. Events are scheduled at Founders Park, Waterfront Park, and the Torpedo Factory area. More about the Godspeed’s arrival and Virginia tribes quest for recognition from The Post which supplied the photograph above.

Flag at Half-Assed

Either the staff at the Route 1 Mcdonald’s entering Old Town are lazy or I am totally out of the loop because I am at a loss as to why their flag has been at half-mast for the last several days. Has their been any major tragic event in the last few days to warrant the flag being lowered that I haven’t been made aware of?

I get the impression that they lowered it back when Coretta Scott King passed and have failed to restore it to its postion ever since. I found this interesting discussion of the flag’s pole position which explains that half-mast is regulated by law and I don’t see any justification in this thread for that McDonald’s flag’s status other than laziness.

If anyone knows otherwise, please correct my ignorance.

Alexandria Arms Dealer

A few years ago I read the novel Run by Douglas Winter – it was a gripping yarn about illegal Arms Dealers, the CIA, and East Coast gangs. In the novel Winter claimed that Alexandria, Virginia was the epi-center of the world’s legal and illegal Arms and Munitions trade. I always wondered if that was true or if Winter just pulled it out of his imagination.

I’ve been doing a little digging lately and I have stumbled across this interesting little Alexandria based firm called Wye Oak Technology (named of course after Maryland’s state tree the Wye Oak).

If you go to Wye Oak’s corporate web site they offer themselves out as a group of “engineering professionals” who offer various tech solutions to businesses. If you follow their offered services links you get the usual but then you get this.

Here’s an idea of the kinds of special projects this innocent looking tech solutions firm does for their various clients.

Seems Wye Oak is doing a little more than developing tacky websites for churches and supermarkets. Seems Wye Oak is an Alexandria VA based cover operation doing more than a little arms dealing.

In fact Wye Oak’s founder Dale C. Stoffel was murdered in Iraq last December after hinting at a kick-back scheme in the Iraqi Defense Ministry in which Wye Oak was contracted to refurbish old Soviet Era tanks for the new government. You can read all about the Stoffel mystery at this great blog or this independent media site that I stumbled upon in my research.

Or you can go to this other independent media site where they have Insurgent Communiques claiming that Stoffel was murdered for being the unofficial CIA Director in Iraq.

Either way you shake it, there is something fishy about Wye Oak. All it took was a good novel and a little curiosity to discover a front company for an arms dealer in my own backyard. I wonder what other Old Town secrets I can dig up?

UPDATE: Since the writing of this article two days ago Wye Oak Technology have taken their website offline. You can go to a cached version of it here.

Firebase Omega Tango Alpha

Is it just me or does partying in Old Town Alexandria sometimes feel exactly like you’re drinking on leave in Saigon with a bunch of grunts on 3 day pass?

Of the three bars I went to tonight – all of them were packed with high-and-tight space-monkeys – filling the bars with so much drunken testosterone that I was constantly expecting a good old cross-Armed Services branch fist-fight to break out.

I have nothing against our boys in uniform but their massive numbers and obnoxious behaviour got old real fast tonight. And then there were the women who followed these G.I.”s from bar to bar like medieval camp-followers waiting with beer and puke mingled breath to provide god knows what service at the end of the night – biding their time by stumbling overly-drunk around the dance-floor or creating make-shift melodramas by screaming “We have to leave NOW!” (seriously this happened at all three places).

Of all the places I went tonight the best was the Laughing Lizard which was little more than a small room with a pool table. It felt like a make-shift Officer’s club in there – which was kindof cool after the first two bars. The crowd in there were much more sophisticated drunks, saving their cheers, jeers, and hoo-ah’s! for pool table victories and dart board combat as opposed to hooting every time Billy “the new guy” burped.


An open letter to the managers of the AMC Hoffman center complex:

If you don’t get your bass-ackwards parking lot figured out I am going to boycott you until you do. While your theater is my favorite multi-plex in the area, each time I have gone there in the last month it seems you have closed off yet another signifigant portion of your parking lot for the mysterious construction project under the Metro tracks. I can tolerate some fencing and some closures, I can put up with it taking a few minutes to find a parking spot. But when you decided to close the back lot, effectively seperating the north and south lots, that was the final straw.

The south lot is miniscule as it is. And now, with the new fence you have erected the only way to get from the south lot to the larger north lot is to drive all the way back out to Eisenhower and go up through 2 traffic lights! This takes about 10 minutes, added on to the time already wasted in the south lot and then wasted finding a spot in the north lot.

I am not one of the many complainers about movies being too expensive, or concessions being over-priced (not that I particularlly enjoy the prices either) but when you start making it difficut to even park at your theater, I start to wonder why do I put up with all of this? Hoyt’s Potomac Yards is right down the street.

If all of that construction is being forced on you by the town, at the very least you should be able to defend your patrons’ rights to park. I mean come on, we pay that ridiculous “entertainment tax”. Couldn’t you fineagle a deal here?

Until this situation improves, I am going to boycott you. I’m going to urge all of my friends to boycott you. I am going to urge them to urge all of their friends. I am going to post this boycott call on the internet. In short until you re-open the back parking lot, you will be losing my movie dollars and Alexandria will be losing my “entertainment tax” revenue.

Mad Max at the Multi-Plex

Good Guys Wear Black

On my way to school to take my “History of American Spying” final exam, I decided to grab a quick burrito at Chipotle in Old Town. So there I was walking down the sidewalk at a quick clip, trying to keep the CIA’s early Soviet infiltration operations straight in my head, when I round the corner and slam into this short guy.

For a split second I think, “Damn this guy’s a brick-wall”, then I look and realize that I have bumped into none other than Chuck Norris! Mr. Walker Texas Ranger himself! Stunned I eeked out a meager “oh excuse me.” He replied “no problem” and we kept on walking.

As I wolfed down my burrito a few minutes later, I thought back to that Chuck Norris movie “Good Guys Wear Black” and remembered what a shitty movie it was. Here is Chuck Norris in the 1970’s trying to be all cutting edge by making a movie about the big old crooked CIA, right in the midsts of the Church Commission inquiries, Helm’s perjury, and Carter’s antagonism toward Covert Action.

In “Good Guys…” Chuck was a former member of Operation Phoenix – a CIA assassination program designed to weed out VC leaders in South Vietnam. He ends up back stateside wearing black-turtlenecks, breaking necks and doing flying death-kicks through car windshields.

What does all this have to do with the DC area? Well nothing other than I bumped into Chuck Norris here. But I did find it funny that my random encounter and his bad movie gave me a nice little review for my Spying exam.

PS- If anyone is curious the three CIA infiltration programs were:

REDSOX: Sending recent Russian emigres back into the USSR through clandestine night-drops.
REDSKIN: Turning American tourists going to the USSR into spies.
REDCAP: Encouraging Soviet officials to defect while they are abroad.

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