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Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Museum of the American Indian By the Numbers

DC's Smithsonian museums (there are 17 of them here in the city) are among America's most visited and treasured places. But the Smithsonian also publishes a series of some of the most interesting, fact-filled blogs appearing anywhere on the internet. Each Sunday, The Prices Do DC re-posts an entry either about the Smithsonian or that 1st appeared in 1 of the institution's blogs. Hope you enjoy and maybe we'll see you soon at the Smithsonian.


Anniversaries collide this fall at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, marking the first decade of its distinctive building on the Mall at Fourth Street and Independence Avenue SW.
Celebrations have been occurring nearly every weekend all year, with a big streak coming Sept. 18-21 that includes a new exhibit, a symposium and a gala ball.
Even while the celebrating is happening, keeping all the anniversary numbers straight may take some concentration.
To continue reading this post, which 1st appeared in The Washington Post, click here.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Was DC Really Built on a Swamp?

Each week in our Saturday Supplement we re-post an entry of interest to both residents of the Washington area and visitors to DC that first appeared in another publication's web site.

There’s a story that D.C. residents like to tell young interns whenever the summer weather gets particularly hot or sticky or unbearable.
The city, they say, was built atop a swamp, its location selected by George Washington. Washington wanted to be close to his  beloved Mount Vernon home (about 15 miles away). He cared little about D.C.’s heat index, the intense humidity, the never-ending heat waves.
It’s a great story, like the one about our first president chopping down a cherry tree.
But it isn’t true. At least, it’s not true enough to warrant its prevalence.
To continue reading this post, which 1st appeared in The Washington Post, click here.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Return of the Annual National Book Festival

Welcome to this week's Friday Flashback. Each Friday in the Flashback we offer a post about some part of the past and its relationship to DC. Sometimes, we will write a new entry. Others times, we will showcase articles that previously appeared in The Prices Do DC or some other online publications. But no matter who does the writing, you can trust that you will learn something important from the Flashback.



Tomorrow is the National Book Festival. Although it used to take place over 2 days on the National Mall, this year it be held on a single day in the Walter E. Washongton Convnetion Center. Here is a post from last year's event.

There are probably as many reasons to attend the National Book Festival as there are attendees. However, the avid reading enthusiasts who yearly congregate on the National Mall for one of America's largest book celebrations can loosely be arranged in 1 of 3 categories - some come for a particular type of book, others come for a particular author or authors, and still others come to grab the free reading goodies offered, which includes large, brightly-colored book bags (this year orange) to carry those items home.
Margaret Atwood prepares to take the stage
Take Anne Rhome. The 67-year-old Virginia resident could be found Saturday on the 2nd row of chairs in the Fiction and Mystery tent, where she planned to spend the entire 7 hours of the festival, which is sponsored by the Library of Congress.

"I come here to hear the authors talk about both their new books and their older books," Rhome says. "I've only missed 1 (of the 12) festivals. I stay mostly in the fiction tent because that is what I read."

So how come she wasn't in the 1st row? You could blame her late arrival for not getting the closest seats. On this particular Saturday, the book festival started at 10 a.m.with an appearance by Dom DeLillo, one of America's most acclaimed writers. In 2006, New York Times survey of writers and literary experts chose his novel Underworld as the 2nd best novel of the past 25 years. When Rhome arrived shortly after 9 a.m., she was told the front row had been filled by 8:45.


Rhome says she never tires of the DC festival, which allows her to continue her life-long passion with books and reading. "When I was young, I loved being in the library and being surrounded by books," she said.

Then there are readers like Carolyn Hoy, a high school teacher who had traveled with 2 friends from Lancaster, Pa. for Saturday's programs. There were 2 reasons she was there - one was named Margaret Atwood; the other was Daniel Pink. In fact, we encountered Hoy as she was taking pictures of Pink, who was minutes away from delivering an engaging talk on his newest book entitled To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Persuading, Convincing, and Influencing Others.

"Don't you just love him," Hoy said as she snapped away. As a teacher, she readily agrees with Pink's contention that everyone is a salesmen and therefore should know the best ways to persuade and convince.
"I use all of his books in class," says Hoy, who teaches seminar classes to mixed groups of gifted students in grades 9 through 12. She said Pink's works are ideal for learning concepts of creativity and motivation.

As Pink prowled the stage animatedly distributing the wisdom he had gathered from social scientists around America, you could spot Hoy furiously scribbling down ideas to take back to her classroom.


In the final category you would be hard pressed to find a better example than my wife (and doting grandmother of our 2 grandkids, 5-and-half-year-old Audrey and 4-year-old Owen). Now while Judy did plan to see some authors (her 2 choices for this Saturday were Linda Ronstadt with her new memoir Simple Dreams and Christina Garcia, a Cuban-American writer whose latest book is a darkly comic novel featuring a fictionalized Fidel Castro entitledKing of Cuba) that wasn't her main reason for her attendance.

For much of the day, you could find Judy prowling the tents, filling her bright orange book bag with age-appropriate, reading-related materials for Audrey (who is already reading on her own) and Owen (who still prefers to be read to).

"I love the festival because they have a lot of fun, free, educational things that you can take home for your children or your grandchildren," Judy said. "And a lot of the items you couldn't even buy in stores if you wanted to".

My wife says she can't wait to bring Audrey and Owen (who currently live in suburban Atlanta) to the festival. I support that idea. Maybe then they can carry their own bags. But until that day comes, that is a task for Grandpop. Thank goodness I love books and my grandkids and I look good in orange.

Tales, Tidbits, and Tips
To book lovers, the National Book Festival is like a rock festival. But like the New Orleans Fest or Bonaroo, the multiple-stages setup prompts some tough decisions. Here are some I faced this past weekend ... Linda Ronstadt or Dom DeLillio? .... James McBride or Daniel Pink? ...Terry McMillan or Benjamin Percy? Alfredo Corchado or Joyce Carol Oates? Taylor Branch (whom I have seen before) or lunch? What a wonderful problem to have.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Back to the 60s: Science and Technology

1964. The Beatles had kicked off the musical British Invasion. LBJ was president. The Cold War was heating up in places like Vietnam. A World's Fair in New York City was promising a new tomorrow of technology and wonder.  And on January 23 of that year the Smithsonian opened the Museum of American History.

Today, all of the above are gone with the exception of the History Museum. To celebrate its founding year, the facility is showcasing 3 exhibits dealing with the time of its early 1960s establishment.

Here is a post of 1 of those exhibits including pictures of some of what you will see if you visit.


When the museum first opened it doors, it was called the Museum of History and Technology.

In 1980, the museum was renamed The National Museum of American History to represent its mission of the collection, care, study, and interpretation of objects that reflect the experience of the American people.

However, despite the name change, the museum continues to showcase science, technological, and health advances as they relate to the American experience.

In the early 1960s, we searched the skies as students hid under desks as part of nuclear drills.
In the early 1960s, scientists began making models of DNA and other genetics.
A look at early calculating and computing

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Back to the 60s: History and Culture

1964. The Beatles had kicked off the musical British Invasion. LBJ was president. The Cold War was heating up in places like Vietnam. A World's Fair in New York City was promising a new tomorrow of technology and wonder.  And on January 23 of that year the Smithsonian opened the Museum of American History.

Today, all of the above are gone with the exception of the History Museum. To celebrate its founding year, the facility is showcasing 3 exhibits dealing with the time of its early 1960s establishment.

Here is a post of 1 of those exhibits including pictures of some of what you will see if you visit.


Of course, as a history museum, the Smithsonian Museum of American History deals with ... are you ready for this ... history.

But history is more than just dry facts and forgettable dates that you may have suffered in a boring history class. It is people, and activism, and service, and culture, and the arts and entertainment. It's lunch boxes and LPs. It's signs and sounds. It's from the past and gone, but it still has a life and lives. Sort of like these things:




Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Back to the 60s - Mustang Sally Special

1964. The Beatles had kicked off the musical British Invasion. LBJ was president. The Cold War was heating up in places like Vietnam. A World's Fair in New York City was promising a new tomorrow of technology and wonder.  And on January 23 of that year the Smithsonian opened the Museum of American History.

Today, all of the above are gone with the exception of the History Museum. To celebrate its founding year, the facility is showcasing 3 exhibits dealing with the time of its early 1960s establishment.

Here is a post of 1 of those exhibits including pictures of some of what you will see if you visit.



In April of 1964, the Ford Motor Company debuted its Ford Mustang at its pavilion at the New York World's Fair, 6 months before it normally would. The company promised that this was a new type of car for a new generation.

It had a sporty look, a compact size, and, for the time, a low price. It evoked the spirit and the excitement of the open road. Unlike Ford's actual sports car. the T-Bird, it could seat 4 people.

Immediately the 1964 car seen in the picture above did live up to its trendsetting pledge. By 1966, more than 1 million Mustangs had been sold. It had even become the subject of a top-selling record by Wilson Pickett.



The Mustang was shepherded through production by a young man who himself would become quiet a name in the auto industry. That man was Lee Iacocca.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Abstract Portraiture @The National Portrait Gallery

Welcome to this week's Monday Must-Do-and-See post. On Mondays, The Prices Do DC will offer an entry about some current exhibit, event, or dining experience in DC you should take in. Sometimes, we will write the post. Sometimes, it will be taken from another publication. But no matter who is the writer, we believe it will showcase an something you shouldn't miss. 


The National Portrait Gallery’s impressive new survey of American portraits from 1945 to 1975 is based on denying what it begins by affirming: that “in mid-twentieth century America, everyone seemed to agree that portraiture was finished as a progressive art form.”
Those are the words of Wendy Wick Reaves and Brandon Brame Fortune, who with David Ward are the curators of “Face Value: Portraiture in the Age of Abstraction.”Of course, they wouldn’t have a show if notable American artists hadn’t made portraits in the era during which the form was supposedly moribund.
The Age of Abstraction, if it truly happened, didn’t last long. As Reaves and Fortune note, Larry Rivers started painting figuratively in the early 1950s, less than a decade into the period the show covers. 
To continue reading this post, which 1st appeared in The Washington Post, click here.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Blazing Bright Washington Creates DC's Darkest Days

DC's Smithsonian museums (there are 17 of them here in the city) are among America's most visited and treasured places. But the Smithsonian also publishes a series of some of the most interesting, fact-filled blogs appearing anywhere on the internet. Each Sunday, The Prices Do DC re-posts an entry either about the Smithsonian or that 1st appeared in 1 of the institution's blogs. Hope you enjoy and maybe we'll see you soon at the Smithsonian.



Despite its name, the War of 1812, at least in America, was barely fought in that year. Events in 1813 weren’t that noteworthy either. 

But in the late summer of 1814, the most famous events of the war, apart from the legendary Battle of New Orleans, occurred in a condensed period of just a few short weeks. 

The 200th anniversary of those events begins in just a few short days. Here’s the blow-by-blow of what happened, written by Peter Snow, author of the newly released history, When Britain Burned the White House.

To continue reading this post, which 1st appeared in Smithsonian.Com, click here.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Winding It Up Again for the Godfather of Go-Go

Each week in our Saturday Supplement we re-post an entry of interest to both residents of the Washington area and visitors to DC that first appeared in another publication's web site.

Chick Brown bustin' it loose in DC.
It’s 11 p.m. on a Tuesday in a Capitol Heights, Md., industrial park. An open tire shop seems like the only sign of life among the warehouses. But go around back and there’s the muffled yet undeniable clatter of live drums, congas and horns. This is go-go the way Chuck Brown used to play it. Inside a carpeted rehearsal studio, the Chuck Brown Band is running through the set list for one of its most important gigs.
Two of Brown’s children — son Nekos and daughter Takesa “KK” Donelson — sit comfortably on a black leather couch as the troupe resurrects the spirit of the go-go icon.
“Po-lice-man is on the premises, what is he doing in here?” vocalist Frank Sirius sings on “Run Joe,” in his best Brown inflection.
At other times during the practice, the band tinkers with a few loose grooves that lead to Brown’s “Woody Woodpecker,” a go-go cover of Lorde’s “Royals,” and a playful simulation of the “Happy Days” theme song.
Some songs broke down. Others were more fluid. It’s about the party, after all.
More than two years after the “Godfather of Go-Go” died at age 75, the musician’s family, and the band that supported him, are looking to bring the Chuck Brown sound to more listeners, and to find broader appeal for the affable dignitary of this D.C. sound.
To continue reading this post, which 1st appeared in The Washington Post, click here.

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