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Friday, January 11, 2013

We'll Be Back


Those of you coming to this page to read a new The Prices Do DC blog post will have a wait. Our blog is in hiatus while we travel extensively around South America. We will resume posting when we get back.

However, if you want something to read in the meantime, you might want to check out our blog on our travels to Cuba last year. You can access the Cuba blog by clicking here.

So it's Machu Picchu here we come. Please keep D.C. safe and we'll look forward to entertaining all you  readers again when return.

Peace --- Dave and Judy Price

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Living with Guns

During his decades long career as a foreign correspondent for the New York Times, Craig Whitney found himself time and again being asked 2 questions - how come America has so many shooting deaths and why do Americans feel they need so many guns?

"I couldn't really come up with an answer so I vowed that when I retired I would research the issue," Whitney says.

That research led to Whitney's latest book Living with Guns: A Liberal's Case for the 2nd Amendment, which was released one month before the shooting in Newtown, a tragedy that moved guns and violence to the forefront of national debate.

"The appalling mass murder there makes clear that the decades long stalemate we have had on guns has to end," Whitney told the audience assembled at the Cato Institute to hear the author and 2 attorneys who had argued the last important gun case before the Supreme Court discuss the issue.

Whitney said his book is framed around 2 basic ideas. First, it is clear that the 2nd Amendment mandates that individuals have the right as Americans to possess guns. But that individual right implies a social responsibility to answer the question - how do we keep guns away from violent criminals?

Despite opinions to the contrary, Whitney says he doesn't believe the 2nd Amendment forbids reasonable regulations. The problem becomes what regulations are deemed reasonable and who makes that decision.

"It's ridiculous to claim that any regulation is just the 1st step to seizing all guns," Whitney said. "The NRA (National Rifle Association) is still scaring people to death with the claim you must have a weapon to protect yourself."

"This is not a simplistic problem and I don't think there are any simplistic solutions. We need to reach across the ideological divide and come up with solutions that will work," he added.

Whitney listed several steps he proposed in his book. They include:
  • filling in holes in background checks for guns. (It is estimated that as much as 40% of all legal gun exchanges in America are done without such checks).
  • closing the gun show loophole which allows buyers to purchase guns too easily
  • having states adopt better systems for licensing and registering firearms
  • examine whether such proposals as banning the sale of semi-automatic assault weapons and clips that can hold huge numbers of bullets would be effective in reducing violence and then act accordingly
  • increase penalties for straw purchases where people buy guns for people other than themselves
  • increase state penalties for crimes committed using guns
  • and better determine exactly who should and who shouldn't have the right to posses a gun
"I have a reasonable hope that we will come up with some thoughtful way to reduce gun violence. If not now, after Newtown, then when?," he concluded.

Whitney was joined on the panel by attorneys Alan Gura and Alan Morrison, who were opposing counsels in the landmark 2008 Supreme Court Case District of Columbia vs. Heller. The court held that the 
2nd Amendment protects an individual's right to posses a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. The Heller case was the first Supreme Court case in United States history to decide whether the Second Amendment protects an individuals right to keep and bear arms for self-defense.

Gura, who argued before the Supreme Court on behalf of Heller, indicated that gun ownership has come to symbolize freedom. "The question is - how do we balance freedom with responsibility?, he noted. Gura said that minimizing restrictions shows "we trust ourselves with freedom and we trust ourselves to be responsible."

Morrison, who was counsel for D.C. in the Heller case, said he believes more restrictions are needed, but the focus should be on laws that would prove to be most effective in reducing gun violence. As an example, he cited the current proposal in Congress to re-institute the ban on semi-automatic weapons. "There are already 3 million (such weapons) outstanding. Are we going to confiscate them?," Morrison said. A better approach, Morrison suggested, would be a tightening of background checks on prospective gun buyers, a move that polls show is supported by more than 90% of Americans. "Things like that could make a big difference," he said.

Tales, Tidbits, and Tips
When he speaks, Whitney, who served in the military in Vietnam, makes it clear he is no rabid anti-gun zealot. "I'm convinced we wouldn't have a United States of America without the facility that Americans had with firearms," he says. Obviously, Whitney points out, the 2nd Amendment had a political purpose. "There was a fear that government would be too powerful, too tyrannical, too despotic and would try to suppress American liberties. The militia would be the deterrent," he says. But even in colonial times guns and gun access was restricted. Gun owners had to give their names to local leaders. In fact, restrictions of some type have always been a part of America's gun history. In Dodge City of the Wild West, you were expected to check your guns upon entering town. In the 1930s, appalled by the increasing violence associated with gangsters, Americans agreed with the National Firearms Act, which made sawed-off shotguns and machine guns off limits. In 1968, an America shocked by the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy less than 5 years after Robert's brother John had also been gunned down in Dallas, Americans supported restrictions to prevent the escalating violence. "Now the question is - is Newtown, 2012, a moment like 1968?" Whitney asked.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Pot Policy: Who Should Decide?

When Colorado and Washington voted last November to legalize marijuana in defiance of federal drug laws, those results created a new states/federal government conflict that currently poses many questions, but offers few answers, a Brookings Institute panel agreed this week.

The panel acknowledged that the Constitution clearly rules that federal law supersedes state law. But in the case of  the marijuana issue, the main question becomes how should the federal government respond. After decades of fighting a war on drugs, should federal agencies ignore the drug consumption in the 2 western states? Or should it come down hard on users and sellers there?

"This is a contentious issue that has good and bad effects no matter how it turns out," says Troy Eid, a Denver lawyer, ex-U.S. attorney for Colorado, and a former member of the federal Advisory Committee on Narcotics and Drug Trafficking..

Eid was joined on the panel by Angela Hawken, a Pepperdine University professor who has co-authored the books Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know and Marijuana Legislation: What Everyone Needs to Know; Michael Greave, a George Mason University law professor and visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute; and Jonathan Raush, a guest scholar at the Brookings Institute and one of the leading writers on gay issues, who served as moderator.

As a researcher, Hawken said she hoped the experiments in Colorado and Washington would be allowed to play out. "We're really in an information vacuum," she said. "We have a lot to learn about (legal) marijuana. Right now, we're just guessing."

Hawken presented a number of currently unanswered questions, the answers of which could be determined by studying the 2 states. She cited such questions as:

  • What happens to drug use when you legalize a drug?
  • Will young people start using the drug more or earlier?
  • What happens to the number of cases of driving while under the influence of drugs?
  • What is the relationship between alcohol and drug use when both are legal?
Panel members added several other questions including:
  • How much marijuana tourism will there be?
  • Should out-of-state marijuana advertising be banned?
  • What tax level should be set on the sale of marijuana?
  • How will current drug gangs and international cartels respond to the legal interruption of their lucrative business?
  • Should levels of acceptable potency be established?
  • How should marijuana be dispensed and who should sell it?
  • Will the addiction rates rise? What about crime rates? Will they go up or down?
  • Could state officials and residents be charged under federal aiding and abetting criminal laws?
Eid said Colorado is working to resolve as many questions as it can, but added that he hoped Congress would take clarifying actions. "Cops need clear rules. They are not law professors, nor should they be," he said. "To have them do nothing would be a major shift in direction."

Greave, an admitted staunch Libertarian, said he doubted Congress would take action.  "Congress won't enact a law. Congress is just about impotent. And the federal government can't compel a state to enact or enforce laws," he maintained "The question is how far does - and how far should - federal power extend?"

With tongue-in-cheek, he said he would welcome the outcry of a strong federal reaction. "It would be great if we had swarms of federal officers breaking down the doors of pot smokers," he said. However, he agreed with the rest of the panel that federal agencies have neither the physical nor the fiscal resources to wage combat with every community in Colorado and Washington.

President Barack Obama is on record as saying his administration won't go after recreational marijuana users, telling interviewer Barbara Walters that "we have bigger fish to fry." However, the president admitted that a bigger issue is what the federal government will do about the new Washington and Colorado laws that  allow commercial production and retail sales of marijuana.

"This is a tough problem, because Congress has not yet changed the law," Obama told Walters. "I head up the executive branch; we're supposed to be carrying out laws. And so what we're going to need to have is a conversation about, How do you reconcile a federal law that still says marijuana is a federal offense and state laws that say that it's legal?"

Rausch said that marijuana is just one of many issues on which there is no national consensus and are, or will be causing state/federal conflicts. He added immigration, gay marriage, and Obamacare to that list. "Talk about putting the cat in the middle of the pigeons," he said. "We're in a period of ferment, the likes of which we have not seen since the New Deal."

Hawken concurred. "It's like Betty Davis said, 'Buckle up. It's going to be a bumpy ride,'".

Tales, Tidbits, and Tips
By completely legalizing marijuana, Colorado and Washington became the 1st political entities in the world  to do so. After years of America calling for international actions to halt drugs, that decision may not sit well with other nations. Representatives from the Netherlands, India, and Mexico all questioned the panel about the legalization issue. In an attempt to answer honestly, Eid said. "I don't think when the voters (in Colorado) voted, they were thinking about the Netherlands," he said.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Schoolhouse Rock: Still Rocking at 40

In 1971, jazz pianist and composer Bob Dorough received an odd commission - he was asked to set the multiplication tables to music. The request came from a top New York city advertising executive who was upset that his son could sing the lyrics of countless rock songs, but couldn't comprehend simple math. In a few weeks, Borough returned with a demo of  "3 Is a Magic Number."

With storyboards and music in hand, the agency approached one of its clients ABC television. And thus was born ABC -TV's Schoolhouse Rock!, a series of short educational videos that entertained and instructed youngsters in between Saturday morning cartoons from 1973 until 1985. The songs became burnished into the brains of their listeners. The short animated cartoons returned for 5 more years in the 90s and are now seen by millions on YouTube.

Last night, Dorough and the popular D.C area kids band Rocknoceros celebrated the 40th anniversary of Schoolhouse Rock! by performing songs from the series on the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center.

Dorough, accompanied only by himself on a Steinway piano, opened the show with, as he says, "the song that started it all - 3 Is a Magic Number." He followed up in succession with other favorites such as "Conjunction Junction," "Figure Eight," and "I'm Just a Bill." The crowd, which literally ranged from infants to octogenarians, sang along with their favorites.

After Dorough's half-hour opening, Rocknoceros took the stage to perform a 4-song Schoolhouse Rock set: "Electricity, Electricity," "Energy Blues," "Fireworks," and "Unpack Your Adjectives." Dorough then returned to the stage to join in the finale - "Interjections."

On the way out, the delighted crowd was treated to video versions of "Lolly, Lolly, Lolly Get Your Adverbs Here," "Rufus Xavier Sarsaparilla," and "Verb; That's What's Happening."

Tales, Tidbits, and Tips
If you would like to see the Schoolhouse Rock! concert in its entirety, you can do so by clicking here. You can view the original Schoolhouse Rock! videos on YouTube by clicking here.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The In's and Out's of 2013

Honey Boo-Boo in or out? What about Bilbo Baggins?
Do you know what will be in this year? What about out? If you're not sure, you can always check out the Washington Post's 2013 In/Out List, put together by Post reporters Monica Hesse and Dan Zak. Yesterday, Hesse and Zak appeared at an Inside Media program at the Newseum to talk about the in's and out's of compiling a widely-read in/out list.

Hesse and Zak acknowledge that the idea of a definitive list is silly, but say they take to their task with a sense of seriousness. ""For as stupid a thing as it is, we do put a lot of time into it," Zak said.

While the 2 reporters often filter the entire year through the idea of in and out topics, the process actually begins in earnest around Thanksgiving. Hesse says there is little reason to start any earlier. "Culture moves so fast today," Hesse said. "Something comes out and 3 days later, everyone is sick of it. Everything has to be able to be dead to you."

One of the first steps for the reporters is to head to a local Barnes and Noble book store, sit down, and scan as many magazines as possible. Hesse said the reporters don't buy the magazines,  but added "we figure all the coffee we drink and all the pastries we eat more than makes up for the cost," she said.

That is followed by more research."We then definitely reach out to colleagues and friends for things we don't know anything about," Zak added.

The pair then begin producing a 1st copy of the list. Some things they remove; others are removed by editors; some simply don't work. This year there were 68 paired items in the final article. That meant that more than 100 pairs never saw print.

Both reporters said they are more interested in the in's than the out's "We look at this as a year beginning list that predicts what will happen," Hesse said. Sometimes they are right on the money. Last year, they called Pippa's bum out and Kate's uterus in. In a related pairing this year, they are calling Blue Ivy out, Her Royal Fetus in.

To help the audience feel even more in, Hesse and Zak explained some of the more confusing or obscure of their choices. For example, they called pundits out and psephologists in. Basically, Zak said that was a way of dissing raving Karl Rove and his like and praising Nate Silver, a statistician who accurately called all 50 states during the recent presidential election. "Its kind of our way of saying that pundits don't matter; statistics give you a better grasp on reality," Zak explained.

Some of the items have a deeper meaning than just what appears on the surface. Take calling George Clooney out and Eva Longoria in. "George Clooney will probably never be out," Zak said. "But in context, of political celebrity advocates, this year will be more Eva than George." 

While many of the items are national in scope, some really only appeal to those living inside the Washington beltway. Hesse cited the 54 bus out, the 70 bus in as such an example. "I live on the 50 bus route. It runs through Columbia Heights and U Street and a lot of areas that have been hip. The 70 bus runs to the Southeast and the waterfront, which is becoming a happening place," she said.

The list is always backed up by some support. This year food trucks were deemed on their way out, to be replaced by hair salon trucks. "There is actually one coming to the city," Hesse said. "And if people are too busy to sit down at a restaurant for lunch, they are probably to busy to sit down in a salon for a styling. It makes you wonder what other type of trucks we'll be getting. The broader idea is that culture is becoming much more mobile."  Then there is the call for urban farming to be replaced with urban hunting. Zak said he read an article where Charlotte, North Carolina was being overrun with deer and would be issuing permits to thin out the herd. "Squirrels of the world, watch out," he said.

Zak and Hesse, as evidenced by their repartee at the Inside Media taping, have a lot of fun compiling the list. But they realize that some of their readers take The List, which they have been in charge of  for the past 4 years, much more seriously than they do.  Once published, complaints begin arriving.

"We might want to tweak the cultural nose, but we don't want to make people angry for no reason," Hesse said. "But we're always looking for backlash. That means people are reading (the list) and it is important to them."

Zak agreed. He said his favorite email ever had the subject line Just Quit. "The Washington Post would be better off printing a blank page," the succinct email said.

Tales,Tidbits, and Tips
The Post actually began printing the list in 1978. It was 1st put together by 2 fashion writers about what to wear and not wear and has grown detailed and diverse over the years. You can check out all the 35 copies of the list by clicking here and checking out the archive box at the top of the page. You can view a mockumentary about the list by clicking here.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Ripple Effect: Socially Engaged Art

Miquel Luciano uses photo kites to
call attention to the problems of
a flawed immigration policy
Art can serve many purposes. One of those is to point out social problems in an effort to promote change. That is the focus of the exhibition The Ripple Effect: Currents of Socially Engaged Art now on display at the Art Museum of the Americas.

According to curator Raquel de Anda the exhibition presents artists who "participate in the growing practice of working outside the studio to engage with communities - a genre of art often referred to as Social Practice, Relational Aesthetics, or Dialogical Art."

"The artists advance public awareness of timely issues and expand the the potential of art to engage communities. Their work exposes flaws, experiment with social interactions, and beg for new imagined potentials," de Anda added.

Aschoy Collective's Masked Man
One example is the work of  the Bolivia-based Aschoy Collective which revolves around a public action in La Paz in which a masked performer went through the streets, accompanied by musicians. It was designed to call attention to the condition of about 2,000 shoeshiners -- many of whom wear ski masks to hide that they are professionals brought low by the economy.

A wall of postcards
Another example of this social practice art is Mark Strandquist’s “Write Home Soon.” That began as a series of photographs of encampments abandoned by “Occupy” protesters. But that’s not what you’ll see at the museum. His contribution to “The Ripple Effect” is a wall of handmade postcards, each sent anonymously by people who had seen the artist’s earlier photos when they were temporarily installed on the facades of abandoned D.C. buildings.

These postcards, many of which are heartbreakingly poignant, respond to a prompt: “Have you ever lost access to a place that was important to you? Please include a memory or story from that space.” The result is a commentary on housing access and homelessness.

Tales, Tidbits, and Tips
You can still see the exhibition, but you will have to hurry. It is closing on January 13.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Dining in DC: Ollie's Trolley

It's a debatable claim, but some say that Ollie's Trolley is to DC hamburgers what Ben's Chilli Bowl is to DC half-smokes. But there's no arguing that the hamburgers at Ollie's are popular. In fact, in 2011, the eatery's burger bested those from such renown DC places as Ray's Hellburger, 5 Guys, and the Tune Inn to capture the title of producing Washington's top burger.

And although Ollie's has been in business for 30 years, it still is a place of secrets. First, there is the undisclosed sauce that is slathered over the eatery's flame-grilled signature Ollie burger. And then there are the 26 herbs and spices that are sprinkled over the seasoned fries.

Today, we visited the eatery for the 1st time for a late lunch. Judy opted for the non-seasoned quarter-pound burger with cheese. I chose the Ollie burger dressed the recommended way with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, and mayonnaise. We both got the seasoned fries. I added a chocolate milkshake for a true retro meal.

So how good was the burger? It was definitely tasty, but I would still cast my vote for my reigning favorite Ray's Hellburger. However, the seasoned fries live up to their reputation.

Now some words about Ollie's decor. The walls are light yellow and a trolley/train theme is apparent.  In addition, the windows and the inside hold antique dime games and Victorian merry go round animals. The old timey, kitsch feeling is heightened with the sound system that plays classic tunes from the 1930s and 40s.

Tales, Tidbits, and Tips
What Others Say:

The Prices Do DC Rating:
  • ***^ 3-and-and-1/2 plates out 5 (the seasoned fries added 1/2 plate)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

13 in 2013: Coming to DC This Year


In addition to looking backward, the changing of a year also prompts views forward. So with that in mind, here are 13 things we are looking forward to doing or seeing in 2013 that are already on the calendar.

Art
1. Nam June Paik: Global Visionary at the American Art Museum (open now)
This exhibition offers an unprecedented view into video artist Nam June Paik's creative method.

2. Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art at the American Art Museum (opens Oct. 25) 
More than 70 works will show how Latino artists tackled classic American themes and actively participated in the artistic movements of their day.

3. Pump Me Up: DC Subculture of the 1980s at the Corcoran Gallery (opens Feb. 23)
The first exhibition to explore the thriving underground of Washington, D.C., during the 1980s, giving visual form to the raucous energy of graffiti, Go-Go music, and a world-renowned punk and hardcore scene.

4. Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop at the National Gallery (opens Feb. 17)
In the first major exhibition devoted to the history of manipulated photographs before the digital age, some 200 works will demonstrate that today's digitally altered photographs are part of a tradition that extends back to the beginning of photography.

History/Culture
5. Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and the March on Washington, 1963 at the National Museum of American History (open now)
This exhibition explores the historical context of these two crucial events, their accomplishments and limitations, and their impact on the generations that followed.

6. Washington During the Civil War at the National Portrait Gallery (opening Dec. 13)
Photographs will reveal Civil War activities around the Patent Office Building -- now home to the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum -- and other locations in and around the District of Columbia.

7. Exquisitely Evil: 50 Years of Bond Villains at the International Spy Museum (open now)
Meet Bond's villains, discover their evil schemes, and see their exotic lairs and weapons in this special exhibit commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Bond films.

Theater
8. The Tempest at the Synetic Theater (opens Feb. Feb. 19)
On a water-filled stage, Synetic’s visual poetry will bring Prospero’s magical island to life.

9. The Book of Mormon at the Kennedy Center (opens July 9)
The musical, winner of nine 2011 Tony Award, comes to DC.

10. The Mountaintop at the Arena Stage (opens March 29)
Exhausted from delivering a significant speech, Dr. King rests in his room at the Lorraine Motel when an unexpected visit from a feisty, young maid compels him to confront his own humanity and the fate of our nation.

Music
11. Schoolhouse Rock 40th Anniversary at the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center (Jan. 7)
A celebration of the hit educational television series with legendary songwriter and former musical director Bob Dorough and award-winning D.C. children’s band Rocknoceros.

12. The Rolling Stones at 50 Concert at (to be announced on a date to be determined)
OK. This one hasn't been scheduled yet. But it appears that The Rolling Stones will be touring in 2013 and, if they do, we will be there.

Dining
13. Continuing our President Obama Ate Here and Now The Prices Have Too series of restaurant explorations.

Tales, Tidbits, and Tips
As regular readers of our blog know, we spend a lot of time at book talks, none of which were listed on our looking forward to doing in 2013 list. We will be touring South America for most of January (that's also why the swearing in ceremonies for President Obama are not on our list) and book sites only list their talks for a month in advance. But you can bet we will be attending much of 2013 at these sites:

  • Politics and Prose
  • Busboys and Poets
  • The National Archives
  • The Library of Congress
We love D.C. and are planning on having a great 2013. We hope all our readers do too.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

DC 2012 in Culture, Politics, and History

As the nation's capital, Washington D.C. is obviously a great place to observe politics and history. But it also provides many marvelous cultural experiences, too. Here is the list of our 2012 D.C. favorites in culture, politics, and history.

Favorite Art Exhibition - Major Museum Show
  • Judy - Joan Miro: The Ladder of Escape (National Gallery)
  • Me - The Shock of News (National Gallery)
Favorite Art Exhibition - Small Gallery Show
  • Judy - First Ladies (The Fridge)
  • Me - 13 Days, 13 Nights in 1962 (Civilian Arts Project)
Favorite Social Issues Art Exhibition
  • Judy - Kathryn Cornelius: Save the Date (issues of women's roles and marriage at the Corcoran)
  • Me - Manifest: Armed (issue of guns and violence at the Corcoran)
Favorite Art Talk by Exhibition Curator
  • Judy - The Civil War and American Art (Smithsonian Museum of American Art)
  • Me - Poetic Likeness: Modern American Poets (National Portrait Gallery)
Favorite DC Art Museum 
  • Judy - National Gallery of Art
  • Me - Smithsonian Museum of American Art
Favorite Cultural Exhibition
  • Judy - Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion. Power at the National Museum of Women's Art
  • Me - Pure Land: Inside the Magao Grottoes of China at the S. Dillion Ripley Center
Favorite Ethnic Exhibition
  • Judy - African Cosmos: Stellar Arts at the Museum of African Art
  • Me - The Golden Age of Muslim Civilization at National Geographic
Favorite Smithsonian Museum
  • Judy - The American Art Museum
  • Me - The Museum of American History
Favorite DC Museum (not part of the Smithsonian)
  • Judy - National Archives
  • Me - The Newseum
Favorite 2012 Historical Exhibition
  • Judy - Every Four Years: Presidential Campaigns and the Press at the Newseum
  • Me - On the Brink: JFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis at the National Archives
Favorite History Tour
  • Judy - The White House
  • Me - The Great American Scandal  Tour (all the dirty secrets of  DC)
Favorite Panel Discussion 
  • Judy - Past, Present, and Future of Political Campaigns at the National Archives
  • Me - The 30th Anniversary of Watergate Break-in with Bob Woodward at the Newseum
Favorite Book Store
  • Judy - Barnes and Noble at Potomac Yards
  • Me - Politics and Prose
Favorite Book Talk (non-fiction)
  • Judy - Mrs. Kennedy and Me by Clint Hill, former Secret Service agent
  • Me - Fire in the Ashes by Jonathan Kozol
Favorite Fiction Book Talk (politically related)
  • Judy - Jack, 1939 by Francine Matthews
  • Me - The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln by Stephen Carter
Favorite Book Talk about Presidents and Politics
  • Judy - The Presidents' Club by Michael Duffy and Nancy Gibbs
  • Me - Barack Obama by David Maraniss
Favorite Book Talk about local DC subject
  • Judy - What It Was by George Pelecanos
  • Me - Go-Go Live: The Musical Life and Death of a Chocolate City by Natalie Hopkinson
Favorite Recurring DC Event
  • Judy - The Smithsonian Folkways Festival
  • Me - The National Book Fest
Most Interesting Speaker of 2012
  • Judy - Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia
  • Me - David Simon, creator of The Wire and Treme
Most Fulfilling Political Activity of 2012
  • Judy - working for the campaign to re-elect President Barack Obama
  • Me - same
Most Important Social Protest Activity of 2012
  • Judy - participating in the 1st rally after Newtown against the NRA and its opposition to gun control
  • Me - same
Tales, Tidbits, and Tips
Americans have an obsession with big anniversaries. And several of those were celebrated with multiple events in D.C. in 2012 which we attended. They included the 100th anniversaries of :
  • the sinking of the Titanic
  • The annual DC Cherry Blossom Festival
  • the birth of social protest singer Woody Guthrie
  • the birth of avant garde composer and artist John Cage
There was also a huge 200th anniversary series of events to commemorate the War of 1812.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 in Review: DC Dining and Entertainment

Welcome 2013. The beginning of a new year is always a great time for reflecting on the year that just concluded.  So here we present some highlights and choices in entertainment and dining from 2012.

Favorite Dinner Spot (big bucks)
  • Judy - BLT (steak)
  • Me - Vidalia (southern)
Favorite Dinner Spot (on the cheap)
  • Judy - Florida Avenue Grill (soul food)
  • Me - same
Favorite Lunch Spot
  • Judy - Yo Sushi (at Union Station)
  • me - SUN-de-VITCH (ethnic sandwiches in the Shaw District)
Favorite Iconic DC Eatery
  • Judy - Busboys and Poets  (U Street)
  • Me - Ben's Chili Bowl (U Street)
Favorite Ethnic Restaurant
  • Judy - Rice (Thai)
  • Me - Rasika West End (Indian)
Favorite Restaurant Where the Obamas Dined
  • Judy - Eatonville (soul food) 
  • Me - Art and Soul (southern) 
Favorite Crystal City Neighborhood Dining (attached to our apartment complex)
  • Judy - Neramitra (Thai)
  • Me - King Street Blues (barbeque)
Favorite Hamburger
  • Judy - 5 Guys
  • Me - Ray's Helburger
Favorite Pizza
  • Judy - Comet Ping Pong
  • Me - We, The Pizza
Favorite Concert (large venue)
  • Judy - The Beach Boys (Meriweather Post Pavilion)
  • Me - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (Verizon Center)
Favorite show (small venue)
  • Judy - CTA with Danny Seraphine (original drummer for Chicago at the Hamilton)
  • Me - Joan Osborne (with her band at The Birchmere and with Trigger Hippy at the Hamilton)
Favorite Theater Production (drama)
  • Judy - War Horse (Kennedy Center)
  • Me - Mr. Burns, a Post Electric Play (Wooly Mammoth)
Favorite Musical
  • Judy - The Addams Family (Kennedy Center)
  • Me - This Land is Your Land: A Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebration Concert
Favorite Free Millennium Stage Show at the Kennedy Center
  • Judy - Merry Tuba Christmas
  • Me - The Tone Rangers
Favorite Synetic Theater Production
  • Judy - Jekyll and Hyde
  • Me - Home of the Soldier
Favorite Movie with DC Political Setting
  • Judy - Argo
  • Me - Lincoln
Favorite Documentary Film with DC Political Setting
  • Judy - Electoral Dysfunction (America's broken voting system)
  • Me - The House I Live In (America's failed war on drugs)
Favorite TV Series with DC Political Setting 
  • Judy - The Newsroom
  • Me - Homeland
Favorite DC Holiday Experience
  • Judy - Zoolights at the National Zoo
  • Me - Ronnic Spector's Best Christmas Party Ever (at the Howard Theater)
Tales, Tidbits, and Tips
Obviously, one of the great things about living in the DC area is the chance to see interesting creative people perform. Many times you get a chance to talk personally with them before or after their presentation. Here, in no particular order, are a half-dozen of my favorites that I got a chance to talk with privately in 2012.
  • Jonathan Kozol (author,writes about education, poverty, social issues)
  • Bobby Keys (sax player for The Rolling Stones)
  • Ed Rendell (politician and author)
  • George Pelecanos (writer of DC crime noir fiction)
  • Douglas Brinkley (historian and author)
  • Trevor Potter (political attorney and legal adviser for Stephen Colbert)

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