Archive for August, 2009

The Last Kennedy Brother

Last Wednesday, we all woke up to the news that Senator Ted Kennedy had passed away.  He’d been in the Senate since the age of 30, serving the Bay State for 47 years.

Saturday, we all woke up to news-channel remembrances and the funeral being broadcast from the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Boston before his internment at Arlington National Cemetery, next to two of his three brothers (the fourth, and eldest, Joe Jr. was killed in WWII and never recovered).  While I was watching, I decided to head down to view the procession as it went down Memorial Drive to the cemetery. I’d seen the Reagan and Ford funeral processions so making the trip down to ANC would just be keeping up my own little tradition. (Story continues after the jump.)

Waiting for the procession

Waiting for the procession


Taco Bell Truck In Rosslyn Today

Photo courtesy New York Times

Photo courtesy New York Times

Thank goodness I live in Clarendon and work in Court House. I don’t think I would be in good shape if I was any closer to the truck.

What truck you may say? Why the Taco Bell truck that’s giving away free food today in Rosslyn. Just make sure you check out it’s Twitter feed to get the latest info on where it is and line up to get a free taco- no base stealing required!

The Taco Bell truck appears to be a myth to some, reality to residents of Huntington Beach, CA. So if you are up to it, get down to Rosslyn and get on the hunt for the truck, there aren’t that many places it could hide- unless it’s pulling a shady “deep throat” like exchange.

UPDATE: It looks like the truck will be in Foggy Bottom until 3:30- however don’t go there expecting Chicken, they are fresh out.

Restaurant Week Is A Good Thing

I love Restaurant Week!  My former coworker GW doesn’t mess around when it comes to his food, so each time RW is announced he is right on top of reminding everyone and we organize an outing, usually composed of employees and ex-employees of The Firm.  It’s a nice excuse for me to go over and visit old friends, but trust me, sometimes the grass really is greener.

Occidental Restaurant (
Occidental Restaurant (

Anyway…we went to The Occidental, which is one of those places that’s stereotypically Washingtonian (walls covered with politicians’ photos, luxe banquettes hiding the fat cats as they wheel and deal) and which I have always wanted to visit.  It is also, however, located in the Willard and is one of the more expensive places in town, so naturally I haven’t been there.  So, Restaurant Week is the perfect time to check it out.  This year’s price point, $35.09 for three courses, is lower than the price of several entrees on the regular menu, so that is what I call a bargain!

The place is, of course, beautiful; our server was crisp, friendly, and fast, and the food was omnomnom delicious.  Reasonable portion sizes, beautifully presented.  I had risotto, steak, and a chocolate dessert.  All of which was fabulous!  My companions each had different appetizers and one of them had a different entree, and we each tried a bit of the other.  I can tell you that everything which came to the table was wonderful.  The plating was nice, the aromas were terrific, and the flavors were great.  Our cocktails were even mixed well.

Now, Occidental is one of the best places around.  It’s not surprising that the food and drink were thoroughly enjoyable.  What was especially pleasant for me, was that the service was just as wonderful as if we were running up a $500 check.  Folks who complain about RW often complain that the service is bad because the places are so busy.  I’ve been RW-ing for long enough, though, to realize that the best bargains are at the best places.  Occidental, 701, Tosca, etc.  They know how to run their dining room, and they know that the real purpose of RW is to give a person like me a wonderful experience, so that I will go back and pay full price.

Which I will.

Bravo, Occidental!

DC Restaurant Week, August 24 – 30.  Don’t despair, many restaurants (including Occidental) are extending their RW offerings.  Book your table!

Thrifty DC: Five Ways To Enjoy DC On The Cheap

Photo courtesy of Flickr user incandenzafied

Photo courtesy of Flickr user incandenzafied

Have you been spending money like there’s no recession? Earlier this year I realized I have to get my act together on spending, so I thought I’d share with you five ways to have some fun on the cheap around DC:

1. Take Advantage Of Deal Websites

There are a few sites out there that can cut you deals on things around DC. What’s The Deal DC is a new start-up source of bargains around The District, and is currently offering half off prices for Salon Roi, just in case you just HAVE to get that mani and pedi… Groupon is another site looking to tell you of great deals on stuff. I personally enjoy using Shop It To Me, a website that sends you customized e-mails telling you when certain stores or brands are having sales.

2. See The Neweum Before September

For the rest of August, you can get into the Newseum for only half of the pricey admission cost. Thank WTOP’s celebration of 40 years in DC for the deal.

3. Screen It On The Green

Even though summer is coming to a close the area’s many outdoor film festivals give you a great chance to relax and watch a movie outdoors- all for free. The Crystal City Film Festival goes into September.

4. Keep Track Of Free And Easy Events With Going Out Gurus

I always read The Going Out Guru‘s Free and Easy Events blog posts which they put up weekly, it’s a great way to help plan your social calendar.

5. Dumpster Dive For Your Goods (Well Not Really)

While I am not actually endorsing dumpster diving, I am going to be checking out Freecycle and Craigslist Free Items for the few furniture items I’d like to add to my place. If you are willing to put up with what you get- nothing beats free.

Other Cell Providers To Gain Service In Metro

No longer needed for Non-Verizon users (photo courtesy Flickr user brownpau)

No longer needed for Non-Verizon users (photo courtesy Flickr user brownpau)

When my high school pal David asked if he should get an iPhone or Blackberry, I gave him my DC opinion.

While I’d love to have an iPhone, the AT&T exclusivity has always been a barrier for me taking the plunge. When I moved into the area three years ago, I sported a Motorola Razr and a Cingular cell phone plan. However I noticed that my service was lacking around my Clarendon neighborhood and at the office. So I switched to Verizon.

One of the added benefits of Verizon was it’s service underground on the Metro system. To this day I enjoy checking e-mails on my blackberry as I zoom (or wait) along the Orange line.

Of course my friend Dave doesn’t have this problem since he’s still in Boston but now I won’t have that problem as WMATA recently unveiled plans to phase in cell service from other major providers.

Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel, AT&T and T-Mobile will work together to install service in the follow stations: Ballston, Bethesda, Columbia Heights, Crystal City, Dupont Circle, Farragut North, Farragut West, Federal Triangle, Foggy Bottom-GWU, Friendship Heights, Gallery Pl-Chinatown, Judiciary Square, L’Enfant Plaza, McPherson Square, Metro Center, Pentagon, Pentagon City, Rosslyn, Smithsonian and Union Station. The goal is to have wireless access up and running by Mid-October, and complete system-wide service by Fall 2010.

It’s too bad I recently re-upped my Verizon plan for two more years, otherwise I’d be thinking about making the jump. How about you? Will the expanded service in Metro make you think about changing cell phone plans?

Chinatown Coffee Company A Welcome Perk

Photo courtesy Chinatown Coffee Company

Photo courtesy Chinatown Coffee Company

Earlier this week I met with the big man himself, Sean Bonner (the father of Metblogs and all around mysterious person.) We talked about all sorts of business and other matters over a coffee at Chinatown Coffee Comapny. I learned while I was there that it’s operated by former Murky Coffee owner Nick Cho. I’m happy to see that their operations and some of the baristas found a new home in DC after they left Clarendon.

The coffee is definitely top notch and the baristas make sure that your special cup is perfect before they hand it off, all hallmarks of Murky, and from my view the experience was rather drama free. I didn’t know how expressive Chinatown Coffee Company’s current Coffee guru was until I read the write-up on WCP’s Young & Hungry.

Besides great coffee I was intrigued by the environment. Fans of Murky would remember a hodge-podge of second-hand couches and chairs. For Chinatown Coffee, owners Max & Katie Brown enlisted Robert Gurney to create a space that is both minimalistic and modern. When you walk in you’ll see an undecorated orange wall on the right side of the store and exposed brick on the left. Don’t write off the design as lacking however, I thought the metallic finishes and bare lights above the prep areas tell you that the design was thought out- not unfinished.

I walked in to see the typical crowd of laptops, indicating that the store’s Wi-Fi was alive and kicking; and I was happy to have been able to grab a street parking spot right next to the store- however the easy parking was probably more because the store’s location is on the fringes of Chinatown. Despite it’s somewhat odd location, Chinatown Coffee Company should be a hit to those in the neighborhood looking to escape the corporate chain brews and environments.

Chinatown Coffee Company
475 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 559-7656

Find Love Over Board Games At Play Date DC

Photo courtesy Play Date Austin

Photo courtesy Play Date Austin

Speed dating, online dating, craigslist dating, when it comes to one of the biggest cities in America for singles we’ve tried it tall to find that special someone.

Well tonight there’s a new way to meet people in town. Play Date DC opens up shop with a different approach: bringing people together through “play dates” that feature all the games we loved as kids from Connect 4 to Twister. Already established in cities across the nation, Play Date organizes monthly game nights where anywhere from hundreds to thousands will come together to enjoy some drinks, food, and games. The site also boasts a social network called The Playground.

Clearly the company is working to create something to fill the void between getting dressed up for a night in a club, to sticking at home watching a movie in your PJs. I think it’s an interesting approach: the games are sure to be nostalgic and classic; the environment is perfect for singles, couples, or groups; and it makes sense when you think about how games from darts to shuffleboard make any bar that much better.

Play Date DC launches tonight at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, Virginia from 8 p.m.-1 a.m. with an advance pre-sale ticket admission of $20. A portion of the proceeds from the event will be benefiting KaBOOM!

And for those that want another option for tonight, it happens to be the last night of the Strathmore Film Festival or catch tonight’s Nationals game for $1!

The Real World DC: Jumping The DC Shark?

Lifestyles of the Real World (photo courtesy Metromix DC)

Lifestyles of the Real World (photo courtesy Metromix DC)

Things finally got rowdy for The Real DC cast. While they easily lived up to the partying expectations with daily trips to bars around DC and make-out sessions with anyone and everyone; there was finally a fight worthy enough to make the MTV cut. On Tuesday night, there was apparently a fight between the girls outside Nellie’s. Tears were shed, crowds formed, and the producers had to intervene (but not before a few photos got leaked.)

Before this The Real World Cast has been relatively drama-free to the eyes of the many stalkers and fans. In fact the Real World DC cast has managed to assimilate themselves into young DC culture as best they can. They are shopping at Urban Outfitters, eating at CalTor (and Subway too), even taking a break from the many nightclubs to visit a divvy haunt like The Big Hunt.

They all have internships and jobs with NPO’s and media outlets and I guess you can say they participate in the random mass gatherings that sprout out from time to time.

I think the crowning achievement is their participation in a DC Kickball league, I think I have to admit it- they are doing all the things that are typical of young Washingtonians.

However they do live in a much nicer place, get access to all sorts of events and parties, and become instant celebrities everywhere they go. But besides all that they have jumped the DC shark.

But what are they missing? What else do they need to do to convince us they are becoming “regular young professionals” like us?

Haunting Up A Good Time With Alexandria Ghost Tours


Photo courtesy of Flickr user dave_7

This past weekend I was invited out to join some of my friends on a Ghost and Graveyard Tour of Old Town Alexandria. Run by Alexandria Colonial Tours, the one-hour walk is guided by a costumed guide (complete with candle-lit lantern) and covers six-blocks around historic Old Town around King Street. Just as advertised, “your guide will abandon you in a graveyard!” My friends joked that the walk was pretty much a tourist trap but even as locals we learned a thing or two about some of the culture and traditions of 18th century America. I was intrigued that hand fans used back in the day actually conveyed more than a cool breeze. Some of the more notable stops along our South route tour included Gadsby’s Tavern and the historic Christ Church, who’s graveyard served as the final point in our tour.

Besides our tour guide, we ran into quite a few costumed actors along the route which added to the atmosphere of the story-telling whether they were placed on purpose or by coincidence. Our group did have a laugh when we saw one of the actor’s answer his cell phone and give directions to the tavern.

If you are interested in ghosts, history, or people dressed up in 18th century garb, then Old Town Alexandria should be your next stop.

Tours run through November 28th with tickets priced at $10 for adults, $5 for children 7-17. Check out their website for complete times and details.

The Strasburg Deal: A Washington Historical Perspective.


In 1907, a young farm boy from Kansas took the field in for the Washington Nationals (although everyone called them the Senators) and began the greatest career a pitcher has ever had in baseball history.  Over 5,900 innings pitched and just over 2 runs earned per game.  417 wins, 110 shutouts and 531 complete games.  3,508 strikeouts.  Twice he was the American League MVP, and near his seventeenth year in the league, he won a World Series (the only one Washington has ever known).

Walter Johnson is a member of the inaugural class of the Baseball Hall of Fame and  is considered by many to be the most dominant pitcher ever.  And, according to this article from the NY Times 1914, he was offered the incredibly rich sum of $20,000 a year over three years to play in Chicago.  Now Clark Griffin, owner of the Nationals/Senators fought this with Johnson who didn’t honor his contract with Chicago-returning to Washington for the sum of $12,500.

Adjusting for inflation, the far more generous sum of $20,000 works out to $430,702.  Assuming his twenty year career earned him $20,000 a year (which it certainly did not) he would have made $400,000 dollars all told (That’s $8.6 million converting from 1914 to 2009 money).

Last night, Stephen Strasburg signed a 4 year $15 million dollar deal including a $7.5 million dollar bonus.  In one fell swoop, a 21 year old pitcher who has never taken a major league field has already surpassed the career earnings of one of the game’s (and certainly Washington’s) greatest sports legends.  By the end of next year, whether he does well or not, he will have earned more than the Big Train’s adjusted career earnings as well.

Of course this isn’t a particularly fair comparison-baseball at the turn of the century is a completely different animal than baseball today.  And to put Walter Johnson’s career in front of a young guy like Strasburg and say “Do this”-well you might as well ask a flashlight to out perform the sun.  That said, this deal is done.  Boras and Co. have made this young man very rich, and expectations will be (and should be) high even without comparing him to Johnson.

As unfair as it is, I am making the comparison anyway-and I will be expecting monumental things from Mr. Strasburg.  Or at least $15 million worth of pitching over the next four years.

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