Archive for March, 2008

Politicizing the baseball game

Not being as big a fan of baseball itself that Tom is, when he and I go to games, I tend to find a whole list of accompanying vignettes to opine about/amuse myself with. As such, I have a list. I rate the quality of the performance of the National Anthem. I scoff in annoyance when people yell “Oh!” on the line “O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,” because it’s tasteless in Baltimore and tasteless AND nonsensical here. I have opinions on the mascot’s interaction with the crowd, the musical choices played out over the PA, etc.

So it should come as a surprise to exactly no one that I have an opinion on the booing of the president as he threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Good heavens, people, can you not just give it a rest for three minutes?

I’m not a Bush fan. I don’t like his policies, I don’t like how he conducts the office of the Presidency, and I have more than a few colorful adjectives I’ve been known to throw his way when he appears on my television screen. But throwing out a ceremonial first pitch at the first baseball game of the season is about as non-controversial as it gets.

Is it really necessary to crap on the excitement of every little kid who came to the game but isn’t yet old enough to comprehend the nuances of foreign policy and statesmanship? Must we turn everything into an opportunity for expressing our impotent disapproval?

For my part, I chose to react with neither applause nor jeers. Instead, as Don suggested, I took a moment to silently reflect on how unique it is to live in a city where the President of the United States can drop by to throw out the first pitch at the beginning of the baseball season.

So on Opening Day 2009, let’s enjoy the start of the season and boo President McClintobama another day.

Politicizing the baseball game

Originally uploaded by tiffany bridge

Happy Happenstance at King Street Metro

Have you ever been to the George Washington Masonic Memorial? You can get a tour that takes you to the top and from the observation deck you can practically see Europe. Great views. Heck of a building, too, and great displays. Definitely go check it out sometime.

I was just there last week for a meeting and afterward, as I made my way along the platform at the King Street Metro stop, I noticed a gentleman smiling at me as he walked toward me. I returned the friendly gesture, figuring perhaps I just didn’t recognize him – perhaps an old friend or a business acquaintance?

Anyway, as we walked toward each other he started talking about how nice my tie was, asking where I got it and going on about the quality and design.

“My wife got it for me,” I explained. “You can’t trust me with matters of fashion.” The man laughed and went on his way, but not before marveling again at how nice it was.

I find it quite refreshing to be somewhere people would stop someone for a brief conversation and to share such warmth. The last time I had that happen was when I visited my brother back home in Raleigh last year.

When was the last time you slowed down to talk with someone for a few minutes, just to exchange pleasantries? It seems like it’s about time to do it again, don’t you think? More civility, less rudeness – that’s what this area needs.

Photo: George Washington Masonic Memorial Originally uploaded by carlweaver

Grocery Strike Averted

The UFCW has reached a tentative agreement with Safeway & Giant to keep their employees at work, and the deal has gone to a vote of the union members effective tomorrow. Details at this point aren’t known, but we’ll know more on Wednesday on what, if anything, was lost to the workers or to the corporations.

Good news: No picket lines to cross.
Bad news: You’re still shopping at the surliest store in town.

This can’t be good: Metro All Lines alert

This just in from the Metro Alert system:

Disruption at All Stations. (Expect delays in the Metrorail system due to a system-wide signaling problem.)

Signaling problem? Yikes… I can’t wait to get on for the ride home!


New alert:

Disruption at All Stations was cleared. Thank you for riding Metro.

I don’t think I feel much better about this. What do you think? Eager to get on a train today?

Questionable fame

Photo courtesy of Me
But hey, I’ll take what we can get. My picture here from early February has just gone up at the excellent “Blog” of “Unnecessary” quotation marks. Sadly this is not the only time our fair area has appeared on this blog, as unnecessary quotation marks are pretty much an epidemic all over the land. Some other gems that a quick search on the term “DC” turns up there are a terrifying sign from a Quiznos, another that looks to me like the Crystal City Underground advertising a “specialty”a gem from the book fair. Have you seen any good ones?

Nationals Open New Stadium in Dramatic Fashion

I couldn’t help but think, as Ryan Zimmerman rounded first, his fist triumphantly thrust in the air, that I would not have written the ending quite as well as it had come out. With the remaining crowd on their feet and cheering, despite the bitter cold and wind, the new ballpark became the Nationals new Home.

Left Field Crowd (Tight)

I arrived at the Stadium in 40 minutes today, some hour and twenty minutes more quickly than our Saturday debacle, and after making it through a thorough, yet friendly, search of my person and camera bag, it was onward into the stadium. The Braves were taking batting practice. The concourse was full of Nats Pack handing out game booklets and stadium information, as well as a number of photographers taking fan photos and capturing the new ballpark.

I settled into Section 108 to watch the Braves put on a hitting show. The ball was carrying well into the outfield, and several lucky fans got souvenirs to take home. Around 6, I headed up to get a Kielbasa and a Coke from the stand at the top of our section. There was a bit of a line, but 15 minutes later I had dinner and was a happy guy again. Tiff went for sodas around 6:30 and had a bit of a wait, but everything was happy for the most part. My frustration came at 7:15 when I waited 40 minutes for a Half-smoke All-the-way from the Nats Dogs concession. While the Ben’s Chili Bowl line was horrendous, the other hotdog stands still carry the signature half-smoke with Ben’s Chili, but the line was bad. It moved, sure, but sporadically, and it seemed that concession workers were still getting a feel for their roles, as I saw many people bumping into each other. The only thing they seemed to be short on was popcorn. Tasty as the half-smoke was, it wasn’t worth a 40 minute wait.

I hear the other lines were pretty long as well, but I suspect much will get better as we get further into the season.

The Nationals, despite a solid first inning of offense, went 24 batters out in a row, between their last hit in the 1st and Zimmerman’s homer with 2 outs in the 9th. I was hoping for a bit more offense out of the club. But, the pitching held true, and kept the Braves from doing little to catch up to the 2-0 lead. Lo Duca’s passed ball in the 9th was a real heartbreaker, and at least one guy in our row wondered what Rauch was doing on the mound instead of the Chief. But in the end, it didn’t matter. Part of me wondered, as my friend Ben said to me later, if we weren’t all in some shared hallucination, seeing what our minds wanted to happen, instead of some sadder truth. I’m thankful it was real.

Row of Seats Asking for a Ball Beer Man Darryl Waiting for a Ball

Let Teddy Win! Nats Pack Girl Warehouse Bunting Left Field Concessions

Read on for a status report on the ballpark

(Pre) Opening Night at Nationals Park

It was cold, but man was it worth it.

My friends and I who share a 20 game package all gathered in the upper level of the outfield seats tonight for the 3-0 exhibition win over the Baltimore Orioles. The whole stadium is such a massive improvement over the decrepit and dilapidated RFK Stadium

Clock (Closeup)

I was amazed, also by the efficient concessions (though they were out of hot chocolate by the fifth inning) and by the wide concourses and the comfy seats. I was not so pleased with my transit experience on the way in to Nationals Park. We had a bear of a time getting down to the new park amidst the Cherry Blossom and Kite Festival traffic. We got to Courthouse about 2:40, had to wait 10 minutes for a train that was packed to the gills. We waited 15 minutes for the next train, which made it as far as Foggy Bottom before some idiot held the doors open and caused the train to break down. Then, once we got to L’Enfant Plaza it was close to a 20 minute wait for a green line train.

I love that people are taking public transit this weekend, it’d just be nice if there was some for us to take.

Once we got to the stadium, though, I do have to say I was floored. There are parts of the stadium I am going to love and love and love and love (I refer, here, to the aforepictured clock, and other photos I took of it…) and the incredible high-def scoreboard that feels more like watching a game on TV (the good parts of course) and the ambience that makes me glad to be paying money for good experiences.

There’ll be more on the ballpark in the coming days, but for a moment, enjoy just some photos of baseball in the Springtime.

Nationals Park Logo Clock (Closeup) Dusk Outfield Toward the Scoreboard

Welcome Home! Opening Week! Getcher Programs! Ben's at Nationals Park

The Blossoms Cometh

Photo uploaded by Ghost_Bear

It’s that time of year again. Our area’s arguably largest tourist pull, the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

Yes, yes, everyone’s covering it, from Express to DCist. I won’t bore you with a rehash.

Actually, I come with a few questions.

My lovely wife and I have been down every year since we relocated here and frankly, I love it not so much for the blossoms (they’re gorgeous), but moreso to watch and photograph the people. I pick up a lot of great observation vignettes for my own writing; it’s like hitting the writer’s lotto.

This year, we’ve got a couple of good friends headed down from New York City. They’ve never been to the District and will only be here the first weekend of April. So naturally, I got them all excited about the Festival. It helps they’re both photogs, too, so if you see four people (three girls ignoring the one guy with them) wandering around with extensive camera gear, that’d be us. Picture-taking is pretty much a given. So is taking Metro.

Thing is, I’m trying to figure out what else to do on that Saturday before we head over to Old Towne for dinner and staking out a nice patch of marina rail for the fireworks. There’s the photo safaris, but those cost money and we’re decent photo people. So I think that’s out.

I was also considering the Edo Master’s collection at the Sackler. Or possibly the Japanese Cultural Fair, which promises a tea ceremony, origami and calligraphy demonstrations.

So what should I do? Any readers attended these in years prior? Or should I shy away from other Festival events and take them to the standard DC sites we always funnel tourists to? If so, what would you suggest?

Frankly, I’m stumped. It’s the first time we’ve had friends visit who could only stay two days; normally, we have practically a week to show them around or point them somewhere – this is a bit harder.

Oh, and even worse? They’re amateur foodies, like us. So figuring out good spots to eat is also on tap – suggestions for lunch would be appreciated, since none of the ladies have my appreciating taste for the curbside vendors and their cuisine. Dinner’s already planned, so fortunately I don’t look like a total incompetant to our jet-setting New York socialites.

So, anyone have some great suggestions to help a guy out?

Tidal Cherries, uploaded by bhrome

Photography Exhibit: The Migrant Project

There’s just a few weeks remaining of a photo exhibit at the Mexican Cultural Institute here in Washington, and there’s a special event at the Institute on Monday night, welcoming photographer Rick Nahmias who captured the images of those migrant farmers who probably helped pick what you’re having for dinner tonight.


From the exhibit text:

Though images of migrant farm workers of the 1930s and 40s are now iconic to many, rarely seen are their contemporaries – one of America’s largest invisible and cast-off populations. “The Migrant Project,” an in-depth photo-documentary (with bilingual text), proudly places the faces and stories of those currently working our fields front and center, providing a present day microcosm for numerous issues surrounding the human cost of feeding America.

DC has a fairly large migrant population, as well, and I suspect their roles in our lives are not quite so different: they’re a part of a society we don’t like to talk about, but carry tremendous value for us.

Maybe go check out the exhibit, think a bit more on it.

Photo courtesy of University of New Mexico Press

Mexican Cultural Institute
2829 16th St NW
Washington, DC 20009

Dramatic Suicide Closes DC Court Lobby

A man leapt to his death from the 4th floor interior balcony at the DC Superior Court building this afternoon around 3:30pm. The lobby of the courthouse is still closed and considered a crime scene. If you have business at the courthouse this afternoon or tomorrow morning, be prepared to use the alternate entrances to the building.

If you’re a potential juror tomorrow, talk with Juror Services to find out if you’ll be needed for duty tomorrow.

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