Archive for the ‘Old Categories’ Category

Capitol Hill Craigslist Ad Considered One Of The Weirdest By Consumerist

I’ll let the ad speak for itself- my apologies if you know the guy looking for a roommate/specimen:

h/t Consumerist

The More The Merrier

Hey, all you classic film buffs out there! Hey, all you folks who enjoy seeing films set in our very own city! Tomorrow’s TCM “Road to Hollywood” event is made just for you.

As companion events to its Classic Film Festival that’s taking place in Hollywood, Turner Classic Movies has organized several one-night-only screenings around the country, with each city showing a film set there. So, Bostonians can watch The Verdict, or Chicagoans can watch The Lady from Shanghai.

But we here in DC might be the luckiest of all! Tomorrow night at the Avalon Theatre, TCM will be showing The More The Merrier (1943). This classic of the screwball comedy genre stars the always hilarious Jean Arthur (whom you’ll recognize from that other DC-based classic, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington) and Joel McCrea, and features an Oscar-winning performance by Charles Coburn. They’re all jammed together in one tiny apartment, when DC was stuffed full to the gills with war workers and soldiers during World War II. Naturally, hijinks ensue!  If you’ve ever lived in those thousands of housing units that popped up all over the District and its immediate environs during the war, you’ll have a special appreciation.

The More The Merrier is hilarious, but it’s all in service of a great love story. It’s famous for one of the most romantic and sexy scenes in all of classic cinema:

We’ve all had a moment like that, right?  When you don’t want to say goodbye, or hang up the phone, or close the door at the end of the night.

The screening will be hosted by TCM’s weekend host, Ben Mankiewicz and George Stevens, Jr. Tickets can be downloaded for free here, but seating is limited and first-come, first served so get there early! I know I won’t miss it.

Tai Shan to Leave DC

This morning the National Zoo announced the sad news that Tai Shan, DC’s beloved baby Giant Panda, will be returned to China early next year.  Most in DC have loved the little guy since before he was even born.  We helped to name him (remember?  Tai Shan, meaning “Peaceful Mountain,” was chosen — “Butterstick” wasn’t a choice), and have thoroughly enjoyed cooing and awww-ing at his antics for the past four years.  He certainly learned early on how to please a crowd!  It’s always great to watch him react to crowds reacting to him.  The Zoo has, let’s face it, made quite a bit of dough out of this love affair, but they’ve also done a lot to make them more accessible and give them a better habitat to live in.

Now that winter’s coming on, the pandas’ activity level will be increasing (please let it snow!  they’re supercharged-adorable in the snow!) — and “early next year” is only a few short weeks away — so it’s a great time to squeeze in one last visit.

Tai Shan and Mei Xiang, 2006 (courtesy Bernardo Piereck)

Tai Shan and Mei Xiang, 2006 (courtesy Bernardo Piereck)

We love you, Tai Shan, and we’ll miss you!

Now, Tian Tian, Mei Xiang, let’s get busy working on another baby before you have to move back to China too!

Ben Ali, 1927-2009

Today we got the sad news that Ben Ali, founder of DC institution Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street, passed away Wednesday night of congestive heart failure.   Ben and his wife Virginia opened the restaurant in 1958 and it quickly became a fixture.  Its casual atmosphere and unforgettable chili half-smokes have been a favorite of visiting entertainers, DC luminaries, and everyone else in the city for more than fifty years.  It’s been an attention-getter for decades, and was the only business to remain open through the 1968 riots — and has remained a force in the neighborhood, non-stop, through all the changes U Street has seen over the years.  One thing that hadn’t changed for the past twenty-plus years was the sign behind the counter that read:  “List of Who Eats Free At Ben’s:  Bill Cosby.  No One Else”; that is, until the sign was changed to add the Obama Family (with the notation “but he paid”).

Ben’s has been featured in just about every travelogue related to DC that one can think of!   Recent expansions include the new Nationals Ballpark and Ben’s Next Door.

We at DC Metblogs want to express our heartfelt condolences to the Ali family.  Rest in peace, Ben, and thanks for creating such a great place for us Washingtonians to love.

Bens on U Street (wikimedia).  Thanks for everything!

Ben's on U Street (wikimedia). Thanks for everything!

DC to Be Dan Browned-And What to Do About It

Lost Symbol cover

With the advent of Dan Brown’s “The Lost Symbol” this coming  Tuesday, the secret societies of the DC area are bracing for a sudden onrush of tourists to their places of…secrecy, I guess?  As early as Tuesday night (Seriously-how long does it take to read a Dan Brown book?) throngs of Dan Brown devotees could be showing up at your local Masonic lodge asking if they could just “poke around a bit.”  This story in yesterday’s WaPo (while taking shot after shot at Dan Brown and his audience) details how even little places like Rosslyn Chapel Trust see an explosion in tourism based on their supposed (and by supposed I mean created for a work of fiction by a writer of fiction, but it sounds real) connection to the lost mysteries of Christ.  Where Professor Robert Langdon goes, so go the masses.

No doubt, there will be an increase to some of these probable locales (THANKS Matt Lauer!) and you’re likely to get some folks bugging you with stupid half right facts about secret societies for the next two years (just in time for a movie to come out and start it all over again), it doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun.  For your entertainment, here are some ideas for how to deal with tourists in search of a “Secret Washington:

1.) Stage an argument near one of these likely destination.   Have one person imploring desperately for help from another.  Just as it reaches a fever pitch, and just as your target is in ear shot, say “Will no one help the Widow’s Son?”   Then cast shifty looks all around, and sneak off together to go do something Masonic-y.

2.) Go on one of the inevitable tours that will blossom from this, and while looking at something old and mysterious (there is bound to be something), bend over and mutter “Oh my God..” just loud enough for others to hear.  Bring a little make-up brush and start dusting something carefully and say “Oh…it just can’t be!”  Feel free to exclaim “I found it” (specify it if you have read the above book and know something that could have been found) as you rush away from the tour.  Bonus:  Have two friends ready, dressed very neatly in suits, come “collect” you when you make your discovery.  Be sure to protest the entire time you are being escorted out-especially that the others “have a right to know!”

3.) Striking up a conversation with one of these folks, start to mention some of the “rumors” you’ve heard of hidden places in DC, full of “mystery” and “wonder.”  When they inquire as to where these places are, say you’ve only heard rumor (and maybe, saw on a map just once) of places tourists never get to see-places only referred to “NorthEast” and “SouthEast”…or was it “SouthWest”, you can’t really remember.  (And let’s face it, most of NE and SE are hidden, mysterious places for tourists despite some of the neat things they offer).

4.) When a Fan-Tourist (Foorist?) tells you something that is clearly wrong or made up from the novel, but wants to pass it off as half truth, say “pfft.  That’s not how it happened in National Treasure.”  If they press you that National Treasure was “just a movie”, well, I think you can figure out what to do from there.  (Side Note:  Why didn’t National Treasure create this kind of fervor?  Those movies were pretty fun!)

5.) Get some sidewalk chalk and just start writing stuff that sounds mysterious on the sidewalk like or “AOFACFSOA FSZWBEIC EIOA ZOHSFWQWOA OQQSDW” other things from the book’s twitter page. (note:  that might actually be illegal or considered defacing property-so be warned).

6.)  Introduce them to the people still in line at Five Guy’s and Ray’s Hell Burger from when President Obama went there.  Have them exchange stories of obsessiveness.

7.) Tell them “Walk left, Stand Right.”  Nothing to do with the book, but they are likely to be tourists.

Other suggestions?

Hope Diamond Gets A Facelift

A girls best friend?

A girl's best friend? (wikimedia)

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, as you probably know, is the home of the infamous Hope Diamond.  This huge, beautiful  blue diamond came into the museum’s possession in 1958, after it was donated by Harry Winston, Inc.  It’s famous for its size (45.52 carats), its color (“fancy dark grayish-blue”), and its “curse”.

But now, the Smithsonian wants to jazz things up a bit.  They are planning to put the diamond in a brand-new setting, one of three possibilities designed by the aforementioned Winston jewellers.  Which one?  Well, that depends on you!  You can vote for your favorite of the three settings,  on the Smithsonian Channel website.

The good news is, that while the winning setting is being made, the diamond will be shown on its own, outside of any setting.  According to the museum, it’s never been publicly shown that way before.  Cool!

The bad news is, we’ve only got three settings to choose from, and to my eye none of them are really a “Dynasty was cancelled in 1989, so vote for this elegant new classic” version.  What do you think, DC?  Am I too conservative?

So, click on over and vote for your favorite, before the deadline on Monday, September 7!  Then plan your visits to the museum to see the Hope Diamond has been up till now, as it is by itself, and as it will be, in its new setting.  (I hear there are cool dinosaurs and some recent ocean-related thingy over there, too.)

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


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!

Tattoos, But Not on Your Skin

Lastnight a friend and I went to the Twilight Tattoo given by the Third Infantry Division (the “Old Guard”) at Fort McNair in Southwest DC.  Fort McNair itself is nestled along the Potomac just south of the Waterfront Metro stop, and the parade ground in front of the old War College building provided a wonderful setting.  The weather was gorgeous, the soldiering was precise, and the crowd was enthusiastic.  There were lots of students from schools all over the country – we figured the loudest ones were those from Texas.  We learned that 2009 is the Army’s year of the NCO (who knew), “otherwise known as the backbone of the Army,” as the announcer made sure to tell us.  He took special care to introduce all the platoon sergeants taking part in the tattoo – most were Sergeants First Class.  Along with some hokey patriotic songs, we were treated to great demonstrations of skill and talent by the Army Drill Team, the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, and the Pershing’s Own Army Band.  But I think that my favorite part of the evening was at the end, when the soldiers were treated like rock stars by the visiting students on school trips.  They were walking up to rope lines and shaking the outstretched hands of nervous middle-schoolers, as if they were Madonna!  It was awesome and really got me in the mood for Fourth of July (which is my favorite day of the year to live in DC).


Since DC is in the middle of its own Military District, there are always lots of things to do and see if you’re interested in military affairs, or pageantry, at all.  There are several units which perform tattoos or sunset parades around town during the summer, and all of the armed forces’ vocal and instrumental groups give concerts all season long; mostly outdoors, and almost all free.  I’ve listed just a few choices below.  Check them out!

  • Twilight Tattoo – 3rd I.D., U.S. Army.  Fort McNair, 410 P Street, SW.  Wednesdays, 7 PM.  Free.  (Last tattoo is next Wednesday, July 1!)
  • Sunsets with a Soundtrack – West Steps of the U.S. Capitol, Washington, DC.  Free.  Most Fridays at 8 PM.
  • U.S. NAVY Band – US Navy Memorial – 701 PENNSYLVANIA AVE., N.W. – TUESDAYS, JUNE 2 – AUGUST 25 AT 8 P.M. Free
  • U.S. Navy Band – U.S. CAPITOL (WEST SIDE) MONDAYS, JUNE 1 – AUGUST 31 AT 8 P.M. Free.
  • Air Force Summer Concert SeriesWednesday and Friday nights at 8 p.m., from June 3 through Aug. 28 at the Air Force Memorial in Arlington, Va. Free.
  • Marine Barracks Washington – Sunset Parade, Iwo Jima Memorial.  Tuesdays, 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. 2 June – 11 August 200.  Free.
  • And finally, the “President’s Own” Marine Band is playing tonight (June 25) at the Sylvan Theatre (Washington Monument) at 8 PM.

Smithsonian Offers Extended Summer Hours

SS-20 on display at NASM*

SS-20 at NASM*

The three most popular museums on the Mall are now open from 10:00 AM through 7:30 PM daily (except when there’s a special event scheduled).  Hours apply at the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of American History, and the National Museum of Natural History until Labor day!  If you, like me, have still not been to visit the newfangled Star-Spangled Banner exhibit, or the Einstein Planetarium, or the new Ocean Hall, because you’re just too tired after a hard week’s work to fight the crowds on the weekend – now is your chance!

I have taken full advantage of the later hours (11:30 AM – 7:00 PM daily) at the National Portrait Gallery/American Art Museum on 8th Street.  It’s thisclose to my Metro stop, Gallery Place, so I visit quite often in the winter when I commute on the bus and train.  In the summer, I bike commute, and my ride takes me down the Mall past the three biggies each workday.  Now, when I’m overcome by the urge to visit the SS20 missile at the Air and Space Museum, I’ll be able to stop in on the way home.

So, DC, take advantage of your free museums, and if you’ve got any touristy visitors coming this summer, be sure to let them know!

*photo by flickr user ptufts, used under a Creative Commons license

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