DC at Night

DC at Night

Saturday, November 30, 2013

High Tea Time in DC

The writing staff of The Prices Do DC is on holiday break. For the next few days, we will be running posts from other sources about interesting subjects geared to both residents and visitors. Original posts will resume after our break.

With all the uncertainty surrounding D.C. these days, afternoon tea is one tradition that has survived the test of time, remaining a pastime both locals and tourists can enjoy.
The traditions associated with afternoon tea have remained largely the same over the years. When looking for the quintessential D.C. afternoon tea experience, it's difficult to compete with Peacock Alley at TheWillard InterContinental ...
Continue reading the post from The Eater DC.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thriving Restaurant Scene Faces Worker Shortage

The writing staff of The Prices Do DC is on holiday break. For the next few days, we will be running posts from other sources about interesting subjects geared to both residents and visitors. Original posts will resume after our break.

Longtime Washingtonians may remember that once upon a time, you could find some French restaurants in the city, some Italian, maybe some Chinese. Then you had steakhouses like Blackey's, and cafeterias like Sholl's.
But fast-forward to the present, and in 2011, the District boasted more than 2,100 eateries, of all culinary stripes. That was nearly a 5 percent increase from 2010. And if you look at this year, in spring alone we saw roughly 50 new restaurants open their doors around town.
"There's been a huge influx of restaurants from established chefs in D.C. as well as an influx of chefs from other parts of the country and other parts of the world," says Omar Hishmeh, general manager of Woodward Table, the 300-seat restaurant that opened near McPherson Square last fall.
"But if you have a finite amount of labor in D.C., it makes it a little bit difficult to kind of spread it out, thin as it is," he adds ... 

Continue reading post from WAMU (American University Community Radio)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Glory Days @The National Gallery

A scene from the film Glory
If you have seen the movie Glory, then you will be familiar with the exhibition Tell It with Pride: The 54th Massachusetts Regiment and the Augustus Saint-Gaudens Shaw Memorial now on display at the National Gallery.

The Saint-Gaudens creation, which celebrates the legacy of the all-black Civil War regiment and its 27-year-old military leader Robert Shaw (portrayed by Matthew Broderick in Glory), is considered by many to be one of the finest examples of 19th-century American sculpture.

The centerpiece of the exhibit is the gilded plate model of the original bronze monument that is on display in Boston. That monument was dedicated on Memorial Day, 1897.

The 54th Massachusetts, one of the first all African-American regiment formed by the Union in the Civil War, rose to fame at the 1863 storming of Fort Wagner in Charleston, South Carolina. Although the 54th was defeated in that bloody battle and one-third of its members including Colonel Shaw were killed or seriously wounded, the conflict was seen as a turning point in the war. The valiant effort of the vanquished soldiers proved that African Americans' bravery and dedication to their country clearly equaled that of their white counterparts.

In addition to the huge model of the sculpture, the exhibit also features likenesses of some of the members of the 54th, as well as the famous African-Americans such as Frederick Douglas and Sojourner Truth who traveled the country recruiting members for the special unit.  A poster in the exhibit displays that each member received a $100 bounty for enlisting and were paid $13 a month for their service.

When he created his sculpture, Saint-Gaudens used actual photographs of Shaw, but hired African-American men to pose in his studio for his depiction of the soldiers seen marching alongside their horse-mounted leader.

National Gallery exhibition expert Will Scott says Saint-Gaudens strongly believed that "real African-American men should be represented in the sculpture. He took pains to make sure the marching soldiers in the monument had recognizable faces."

Scott said the inclusion of the old photos of actual 54th Massachusetts members "completes the picture" that Saint-Gaudens was trying to achieve.

"Not a whole lot of men (at that mid-19th century time) had an image made of them," Scott said. "But these images can tell a whole lot about how they felt about themselves at the time of their service."

The Saint-Gaudens model was housed for 38 years at the artist's residence in New Hampshire. However, the National Park Service asked the National Gallery to restore and display the work, which in itself is quite masterful. The full exhibition, which also features works by other artists celebrating the Glory regiment, will be on display until Jan. 20.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Need to Know More About JFK, Turn to the Newseum

The shirt Lee Harvey Oswald was wearing when he was captured for shooting President Kennedy
If, despite the November-long media blitz, you still need to know more about the life and death of John F. Kennedy, then you want to head to the Newseum, where the museum of news is featuring three major exhibitions on the former president, as well as several other JFK artifacts.

The most comprehensive exhibit is titled Three Shots Were Fired. That extensive display chronicles the events that began in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, when a United Press International bulletin broke the news that President Kennedy had been shot.

Items on display include the jacket and shirt that Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald wore that day, as well as the contents of his wallet and the blanket which he used to conceal the rifle used in the fatal shooting. The movie camera that William Zapruder used to capture the only film of the killing is presented, as are the drum, the drumsticks, and an Army dress uniform hat, which were used by a member of the military drum corps that accompanied President Kennedy's casket during his funeral possession. You can also view a series of front pages portraying the tragedy, typical TV newsroom equipment used that day, videos of live broadcasts, and a signed script of Walter Cronkite's famous CBS reportage.

A second exhibition, titled Creating Camelot, showcases images of public and private moments by Kennedy's personal photographer, Jacques Lowe.

Interestingly, the original negatives of nearly all 70 images displayed were lost in a World Trade Center bank vault on Sept. 11, 2001. The only existing images from the lost negatives were on Lowe's contact sheets and prints, which had been stored in another facility. Working closely with the Lowe estate, the Newseum was able to digitally restore the images to museum quality for the exhibit.

Finally, the original Newseum documentary JFK: A Thousand Days is showing on the institution's 100-foot wide big screen. The film recounts JFK's time in the White House and highlights many of Kennedy's most newsworthy moments.

In addition to the 3 major JFK features, other historic artifacts on display in other parts of the Newseum include:

  • front pages from key events in Kennedy's presidency such as his election, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the rise of the Berlin Wall, and the space race.
  • Kennedy's handwritten notes from the famous first-ever televised presidential debate with Republican candidate Richard Nixon. 
  • reporter Ike Pappas' notes and scripts from his coverage of the JFK assassination and the shooting death of Oswald.
The Kennedy exhibition continues until Jan. 5

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Saturday Supplement: Holiday Happenings

National Christmas tree at the Capitol
Even though Thanksgiving is still a few days away, it's now OK to begin preparing for the holiday season in DC. Here's a day-by-day look at holiday happenings sure to appeal to residents and visitors.

So whether you're planning to wear your funky Christmas sweater from now until Dec. 25 or bury your head in the snow until the holiday season is all over, The Washington Post has put together a seasonal best-things-to-do guide from the first day of Hanukkah until Christmas.

You can follow along day-by-day or pick and choose as the spirit of the season suits you. Just click here. 

Santa skips the reindeer and grabs his water skis for the Inner Harbor

Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday Flashback: A Look Back at JFK

This entry, which contains links to several previous posts from The Prices Do DC, originally appeared in The Lantern Lit.

It is said that everyone who was alive in 1963 remembers exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard that President John F. Kennedy had been shot and killed. And while all may have memories, some memories are more dramatic than others. Take those of former PBS news anchors Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer. At the time, MacNeil was a young NBC TV reporter covering the presidential trip to Dallas. Lehrer was a young staffer for one of Dallas' local newspapers. Here is what they remember about that fateful Dallas day 50 years ago that changed their lives and all of America forever. What follows is a series of articles offering a look at JFK's life, death, legacy, and legend.

Before That Fateful Day in Dallas
The Election
The Cuban Missile Crisis
JFK and the Early 60s

November 22, 1963
Unfinished Business
The Immediate Aftermath

Let the Conspiracy Theories Commence

Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday Flashback: TV Detective Tackles JFK Mystery

This article 1st appeared on May 7, 2013
Richard Beltzer and Dick Gregory confer
For 20 years, actor Richard Beltzer, as his character Detective John Munch, has been employing his fictional investigative skills, 1st on Homicide Life on the Streets for 7 years and then on Law and Order: Special  Victims Unit for the past 13 years. In fact, Beltzer holds a TV record for portraying the same Munch character on 11 different shows ranging fromSesame Street to The Wire.

But Beltzer has been using his real-life investigative skills for twice that long, spending the past 40 years trying to unravel the truth behind the assassination of President John Kennedy and the cover-up that Beltzer believes began long before the shots that killed JFK were fired on that sad November, 1963 day in Dallas, Texas.

Last night, Beltzer appeared at the National Press Club to discuss the latest book he co-authored with David Wayne entitled Hit List: An In-Depth Look at the Mysterious Deaths of Witnesses to the JFK Assassination.

Beltzer contends that the JFK hit list contains more than 50 witnesses who died under mysterious circumstances ranging from accused murderer Lee Harvey Oswald (whom Beltzer believes was just a pasty set up by the American government. "He was there, but he didn't fire a shot.") to a Dallas stripper with the stage name Delilah, to national correspondent Dorothy Kilgallen, to U.S. Congressman Hale Boggs. "Anyone who had any knowledge was eventually murdered," Beltzer said. "The sheer number forces us to ask whether their deaths were coincidence?" 

"This is the greatest murder mystery of all time," Beltzer added. "It's Sherlock Holmes on speed."

So how did the cover-up that Beltzer alleges begin? "It was the height of the Cold War. People said 'Holy shit! Somebody in government killed our president. We have to cover up." he contends. "I don't think there is one great big conspiracy, but there are a lot of sharks in the water."

So who did plot and carry out the Kennedy assassination? "The real question is who didn't kill him. I know that is glib but there were elements in our government and elements in the mob. President Kennedy was planning many changes," Beltzer maintains. "But it was 50 years ago. It just goes on and on. There is no reason not to tell the full story now. It's only the ongoing contempt for the American people and that to me is very, very disturbing."

Beltzer said that leaders in authority have been able to link the words conspiracy and theory and delusional together. "It's easy to marginalize people who question authority," Beltzer said.

Beltzer's Press Club talk came on the same day Hit List made the New York Times best seller list. This came despite the fact the The Times regularly refuses to review Beltzer's books on the JFK murder. "The New York Times doesn't review my books, so, if I may, I say fuck the New York Times," Beltzer said. "Certain people don't want people to know what I am saying because it is the truth."

Tales, Tips, and Tidbits

Beltzer was joined last night by his surprise special guest, comedian, social activist, and, like Beltzer, active informal investigator into Kennedy's death Dick Gregory. "Just to see Greg alone is worth the price of admission," Beltzer, who began in entertainment as a social comedian said. "He and Mort Sahl and Lenny Bruce redefined for us what comedy can do: it can inform us, it can educate us, and it can make us think about who we are. Dick Gregory inspired me early on. I remember when he told an audience 'if you don't laugh, I may move in next to you.' He told the truth. He made us laugh and he made us think." Several times during his hour-long presentation Beltzer employed his comedic skills. For example, he convulsed the crowd when in response to the question if he feared for his own life because of his continued probing, he said no and then immediately collapsed to the floor in a quite convincing, sustained death scene. And then there was his closing remark. When presented with a National Press Club coffee mug he replied. "Hey, I'll put this on the set on my desk. And I want you to know, of all the rewards I've received, this is the latest."

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tuesday's Take: 11 Local Shops DC Loves

This post 1st appeared in The DCist

Let's be real: There are quite a few chain stores in D.C. From the dozens of Starbucks to the downtown mammoths with big names, shopping local isn't always easy or even an option

As some little guys and institutions have been pushed out of D.C. in recent years, some notable exceptions still stand after decades. Here are 11 more classic Washington stores that DCist writers love.

POLITICS & PROSE: At the beginning of last year, married duo Bradley Graham and Lissa Muscatine were named by GQ magazine on their “50 Most Powerful People in Washington” list. Not because of Graham and Muscatine’s careers at the Washington Post, nor because Muscatine at one point wrote speeches for Hillary Clinton. Nay. They were on there because they now own a bookstore called Politics and Prose.
Way up Connecticut Avenue, almost in Maryland, P&P was founded in 1984 by Barbara Meade and Carla Cohen, who died of cancer in 2010. When Meade and Cohen’s husband put the store up for sale, it inspired this piece in theNew Yorker
P&P has a diverse and interesting shelf selection. Not just politics and prose, as the title suggests, but also travel, poetry, kid’s books in all shapes and sizes, etc.
But their real calling is as a promoter of writers in person: from the famous (like JK Rowling) to the local (like George Pelecanos, who OK is also famous). For the bigger names, like Malcolm Gladwell on Oct. 16, they use Sixth and I as a venue. But they've got something of interest every night of the week— Alexis Hauk
Politics and Prose is located at 5015 Connecticut Avenue NW.
Continue reading ...

Monday, November 11, 2013

High Art Takes Flight @Air and Space

The title of the High Art: A Decade of Collecting exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of Air and Space takes on multiple meanings. You have the concept of high art as meaningful, quality work. But, of course, the title is also a play on the idea of high art as works representing humankind's enduring fascination with flight.

The exhibit, which is on display until Dec.1, features 50 works from the Smithsonian institution's 7,000-piece collection. It is divided into 3 categories.

Visions of Flight
Flight has always been a subject of art. The Egyptians created hieroglyphics that portrayed birdmen. Leonard DaVinci drew flying machines. Michelangelo envisioned flying angels. This section captures flight in the imagination. Below is an imaginative painting titled Conscious Evolution: The World as One inspired by the Earth views from space and conversations from astronauts.

Faces of Flight
Here you will find depictions of the famous associated with flight from Douglas "Wrong Way" Corrigan to astronauts John Glenn and Eileen Collins. The picture below is of French World War II ace George Guyneman, who disappeared on Sept. 11, 1917.

Looking Back
This section features posters from the first air shows and noted movies about flight. Below is the poster for John Wayne in Jet Pilot.


Friday, November 8, 2013

Friday Flashback: Touring DC in the Steps of JFK

This post originally appeared on July 3, 2013
This year, 4 historic anniversaries are being celebrated in the nation's capital: the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream speech, and the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. To commemorate the 4 events, The Prices Do DC has designed a full-day tour featuring monuments and museum exhibitions selected to help you know more about the people and events of the times. Today's tour: The Life and Times of President John F. Kennedy


Kennedy Grave Site at Arlington National Cemetery
Pay your respects to the slain President. To learn more, click here.  Free. (Metro - Arlington Cemetery - Blue Line.)

It has been 50 years since President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas and to commemorate JFK's life the Newseum is displaying 3 special exhibitions: A Thousand Days, Creating Camelot, and Three Shots Were Fired. To learn more, click here. Admission charge. (Metro - Archives - Yellow and Green Lines.)


Smithsonian Museum of Air and Space
In 1961, President Kennedy pledged that America would send a man to the moon by the end of the decade. Although he did not live to see it, America made the deadline. The story is detailed in the exhibition From Apollo to the Moon. To learn more, click here. Free. (Metro - Smithsonian Station - Blue and Orange Lines or L'Enfant Station - Yellow or Green Lines.)

International Spy Museum
The 1960's was the time of the Cold War and one of President Kennedy's favorite authors was Ian Fleming, the creator of 007 James Bond. Check out the exhibition Exquisitely Evil: 50 Years of Bond Villains. To learn more, click here. Admission charge. ( Metro - Gallery Place/Chinatown Station - Yellow, Green, and Red Lines.)


The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
There are electronic kiosks here where you can learn more about JFK. The building itself is impressive and worth a visit. Also, every night of the year at 6 p.m. there is a free 1-hour show on The Millennium Stage. To learn more, click here. Free. (Metro - Foggy Bottom Station - Blue Line - then take the free shuttle bus to the Kennedy Center.)

Related Dining Experiences for Lunch or Dinner

  • Martin's Tavern (This 78-year-old Georgetown eatery is where John Kennedy proposed to Jackie) 
  • Mrs. Kennedy loved elegant dining and French food. Try one of DC's French restaurants. Click here for some suggestions from Yelp. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Snowden, Security and Spying @the Newseum

Gellman and Leen discuss Snowden and spying
No matter how you feel about NSA spying and the leaks that security worker Edward Snowden provided revealing a massive secret government surveillance program, one fact is incontrovertible says the Washington Post reporter who broke the story - Snowden's disclosures enabled a worldwide debate on the controversial issue.

"There is no probable route to the debate without the road that Edward Snowden disclosed," contends Bart Gellman, the reporter who initially reported the story in the Post and has continued to use information provided by Snowden to publish a five-month series of articles that show the huge scope of the National Security Administration's spying operations.

Gellmann was joined by his investigative section editor Jeff Leen this week at the Newseum at a forum where they discussed the ongoing story with communications students from American University.

The reporter said he was initially attracted to the story because it captures the balance of power between government and its citizens. "It is about the relationship between a government and its people," Gellman said. "This is the most complex knot of national security questions I have ever encountered . It is a very sensitive story. There is no precedent. We're making up part of the process as we go along. But we now know there was government surveillance to a far greater degree than anyone understood."

Snowden speaks out
Snowden's disclosures, verified by careful reporting, have shown that the NSA was obtaining information from "the front door and the back door," as Gellman describes it. For example, the PRISM program, in which the NSA obtained massive amounts of  data from phone records, was apparently legal under the broad guidelines established after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. However, the Post recently reported that the NSA was hacking the supposedly private overseas servers of internet giants Google and Yahoo. In between those bookend revelations, the Post also disclosed that the NSA was eavesdropping on conversations of political leaders around the world.

Gellman said he was not shocked by the NSA's actions. The agency receives a $10 billion budget for its surveillance operations, which are supposed to keep Americans safer from any type of attacks. "There was 9/11 and then you tell the agency, 'we don't want to have anything like that happen again'. It (the NSA) is a closed group and has no oppositional  force. So it's a question - where do we draw the boundaries?"

All contacts between Snowden and Gellman were accomplished electronically.  "He used encryption to keep things private. He would only convey (information) in the most private, secure channels. He was blowing the whistle on the surveillance state while not trying to be surveilled," Gellman said.

Asked what he believed was Snowden's motivation for illegally disclosing details from the highly classified program, Gellman said Snowden told him "only a few lines of (computer) code stands between the NSA and all kinds of abuses."

Currently, the comparisons between Big Brother and the NSA program are "quite imperfect," Gellman contends. "This is not a Nixonian use of surveillance. These were people trying to do their job and protect America. Intelligence can't be entirely transparent, but is hard for any body to govern itself."

Leen, who has been working with Gellman during the entire investigative  process, acknowledged that the continuing series of stories has been unique. "It has unfolded in a way none of us imagined or gamed in advanced," he said.

The editor was asked if he was concerned that the paper's revelations were endangering national security? "This is a question we think about all the time and agonize over. It is not our purpose just to wantonly throw stuff out there. There has to be a purpose. It's not our goal to harm," Leen said

"They (the NSA and many in government) would argue that they followed the law and acted responsibly. Others would argue that there needs to be more transparency in the debate. It's a balancing act between freedom and security. The debate was waiting to happen and it needed to happen," he added. "This is one of those threshold stories that leads to a paradigm shift. We'll be figuring out this issue for a long time."

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tuesday's Take - Oliver Stone Talks JFK, Conspiracy

This post originally appeared in The Lantern Lit

Stone makes a point with Newseum Vice Chairman Shelby Coffey III
When film director Oliver Stone speaks about his controversial film JFK, he wants it understood that he was not depicting absolute truth. Instead, he was making what he calls a countermyth to contrast with what he calls the myth of the Warren Commission Report, a voluminous compendium of information that maintains Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone when he killed President John F. Kennedy 50 years ago.

"We were not making a documentary, we were dramatizing," Stone says. "I thought the Warren Commission was fiction and I still do today."

Stone appeared at the Newseum in Washington, DC to discuss his film, which was released 22 years ago and is enjoying a resurgence because of the timeliness of the 50th anniversary this month of that dark day in Dallas.

"The (Kennedy) investigation was badly handled from the beginning," Stone said as he detailed his belief in both a conspiracy and a cover-up. "A major medical fraud took place. He should have been autopsied in Parkland (the Dallas hospital where Kennedy died). A doctor there says for 18 minutes he saw brains emerging from the back of President Kennedy's head. A shot from the front was the kill shot and that is a shot that Lee Harvey Oswald couldn't have made."

Of course, if the Warren Commission is wrong and Oswald didn't act alone, the question becomes - who is responsible for killing JFK?  "Look at the people who had the power," Stone contends.

In Stones' view, the military/industrial/intelligence complex was highly disturbed about Kennedy actions that they believed were wrong for an America which, at the time, was engaged in a Cold War with the Soviet Union and the idea of Communism.  "Kennedy was moving toward detente and the end of the Cold War. The generals wanted to blow up the Soviet Union because they could. They wanted a war because they knew they could win it. But Kennedy realized we were facing the end of the world as we knew it and he said no. They were furious and didn't want him to win re-election in 1964. Kennedy took them head-on and paid a price for it ," Stone said.

The director said he began to question the Oswald-only position after reading On The Trail of the Assassin by New Orleans attorney Jim Garrison in 1989. Garrison's book detailed his investigation of a Kennedy conspiracy. Kevin Costner portrayed Garrison in Stone's film.

Stone said he had always admired the 1969 film Z, by Greek director Costa-Gavras, a thinly fictionalized account of the events surrounding the assassination of a Greek politician and the outrage at the military dictatorship which hatched the killing plot. "I wanted to do something similar on an American level," Stone said. "I wanted to give a reason why he (Kennedy) must be removed from office."

"In drama, you have the right to interpret history as you want. Shakespeare proved that," Stone said. "Even documentaries aren't objective. But I think the facts of JFK hold up to me."

Friday, November 1, 2013

Friday Flashback - From DC to Russia with Love

This post 1st appeared in The Prices Do DC on Nov. 1, 2012
The Synetic cast of a previous production of King Lear
For Paata Tsikurushvill and his wife, Irina, it will be a grand homecoming. Paata, founding artistic director of the Synetic Theater, and Irina, choreographer and cast star, have not been back to their native country of the Republic of Georgia (formerly part of the Soviet Union) for 2 decades. Now, not only are they going home, but they will taking almost 20 members of their award-winning theater company with them.

Synetic will be performing 2 shows in Georgia. The first is their silent adaptation of William Shakespeare's classic King Lear. The second is Host and Guest, a play based on an epic Georgia poem written by Vazha Pshavela.

Recently, Synetic hosted a special rehearsal of selected scenes from both productions for season subscribers at the Crystal City theater. Afterward, cast members discussed the upcoming 2-week tour.

"It's scary to be performing an actual Georgian play in front of a Georgian audience, but it's exciting, too," said actor and fight choreographer Ben Kunis. "Ever since I joined the company, we have been talking about going to Georgia and now we are actually going to do it."

Irina expanded on Kunis' enthusiasm. "Host and Guest is a traditional [show] about the Georgians’ roots,” she said “I know the Georgian audience is going to be so emotional to see Americans performing something Georgian, with Georgian blood. And it’s a huge responsibility in front of my people for me. It’s kind of nerve-racking!”

"My friends and family will be there. My ballet teacher will be there, It's like I am going back to school and this is my final exam,' Irina said.

Synetic will be the 1st American Theater troupe to perform in Georgia. The performances are scheduled for the Rustaveli State Theater, which is the national dramatic theater of Georgia. The facility seats 800 people and has 5 balconies, making it much larger than the intimate space Synetic occupies in the Crystal City Underground. Even though the troupe has performed both plays before, the immense size of the Rusteveli stage caused several of the scenes to be reworked and the dancing expanded.

Synetic, which annually captures several Helen Hayes awards (DC's equivalent of Broadway's Tonys) calls its brand of theater, which minimizes, and, in many cases, entirely eliminates dialogue, physical theater. They combine movement, dance, music, video, and mime to propel their innovative storytelling.

Tales, Tidbits, and Tips
As I've said before, it is difficult to describe Syntetic's unique brand of theater with words. So here are 2 additional images, one from Lear and one from Host and Guest,  that will give you a glimpse of what the productions might look like to the Georgian audiences.

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