DC at Night

DC at Night

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Devil in DC

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. 



Satan has long been a staple of Halloween horror. And there is no greater the-Devil-made-me-do-it classic than The Exorcist, both the terrifying novel by William Blatty and the shocking movie by William Friedkin.

In both the book and film, DC, or more specifically the Georgetown section of the city, plays a major role.

For those who have spent four decades avoiding the story, it centers around the Devil possessing 12-year-old Regan, played in the movie by Linda Blair, and the attempts by Catholic priests to exercise the demon from her.

Blatty,a Georgetown University graduate, based the story on the reported exorcism of a young boy that took place in 1949 in Mount Rainier, Md. That story was written in the Washington Post by staff reporter Bill Brinkley.

A Jesuit at Georgetown told Blatty of the priest that performed the exorcism, which took two months to complete. Blatty was able to contact the priest in St. Louis and Father William Bowdern, whose hair had reportedly turned shock white during the ordeal, said that what he had witnessed was "the real thing." Blatty used only a few details for his novel, which sold 13 million copies in its initial release.

The Exorcist stairs
Blatty wrote the screenplay for Friedkin's film, which was set in the upscale neighborhood of Georgetown. Several scenes were also filmed at Georgetown University. The most famous site was the steep stairs which Karras the priest was propelled down during the exorcism ritual.

Fans of the film still visit the 75 steps at Prospect and 36th Street that lead down to M Street. Other sites still recognizable from the film include:
  • The exterior of the Prospect Street home near the steps
  • the Key Bridge
  • Dahlgren Chapel on the Georgetown campus
  • a bridge over the C&O canal 
The controversial film, during which the possessed Regan cursed, had her head spin completely around, vomited foul green goop, and masturbated with a crucifix, opened exclusively in Washington DC in January of 1974. Film critic Tom Shales of the Post described local police efforts to make sure no one under 17 saw the movie. 

Today, both Blatty and Friedkin appeared at a special screening in Georgetown to discuss the novel, the film, the sequels and the aftermath. Prior to the program, Blatty, now 85, sat down for an interview with Post writer Dan Zak.

Extra! Extra! Read All About It

There's More to the Story
  • The real life accounts that served as the basis for The Exorcist. (from Smithsonian.Com)
  • 30 things you probably didn't know about The Exorcist films. (from Vulture)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Make Mad Scientist Dr. Moreau Part of Your Hallloween


If you haven't yet made your Halloween weekends plans and you would rather observe your horror than participate in it, you will want to consider Synetic Theater's production of The Island of Dr. Moreau.

There are only 3 more performances scheduled for Synetic's reimagining of the classic mad scientist tale conceived by early science fiction master  H. G. Wells, whose major works deal with humanity's inability to cope with technology and the modern world.

There are many reasons to see the production. Here are just 4.

  1. You will get a rare chance to see Synetic's founding artistic director Paata Tsikurishvili perform as actor, as well as director. Tsikurishvili portrays Moreau.
  2. The Synetic performance offers the finest Halloween season movements seen since the rhythmic zombies in Michael Jackson's iconic video "Thriller."
  3. The play will let you ponder some of the great mysteries inherent in Halloween - the nature of good and evil, the difference between man and monster, the relationship between science and morality.
  4. There is blood (a lot of it), as well as the brilliantly choreographed fight scenes which Synetic is deservedly so well known for.
In his director's notes Tsikurishvili calls "the prescience of the story's themes as relevant and troubling today at the beginning of the 21st century as they were at the close of the 19th."

"Stem cell research, genetic manipulation, even plastic surgery - the human need and capacity for relentless, artificial, and accelerated improvement has become seemingly limitless," the director contends. "Wells recognized this capability in use, before it even fully existed, in our compulsion to control, manipulate and master."

"Dr. Moreau attempts this on his island (with his experiments) and its utter futility has a terrible irony since many of  these honest attempts to create, improve, and benefit ultimately cause nothing but destruction. This is the tragedy of Wells' tale. Dr. Moreau is a visionary, but, at the same time, his great intellect is warped by a complete loss of feeling and empathy," he added.

You might argue that since Synetic is located in the underground of Crystal City where we live, we might be biased in calling the company our DC favorite offering continual praise for so many of its productions. If that's the case, here are what others are saying:


"If you are looking for that edgynear-perfect evening out this Halloween season, it doesn't matter whether you've got a date to impress or a feisty teenager who loves gore-you really must check out Synetic Theater's The Island of Dr. Moreau."
- Broadwayworld.com

"[Paata] Tsikurishvili is as mesmerizing as ever." 
- The Washington Post

"Overall, Synetic's Moreau is an island of impeccably rendered terror, a hell house on the sea. Performances and production design work together flawlessly to create this creepy little delight. It's the perfect night of theatre for the Halloween season." 
- DC Theatre Scene

"The Island of Dr. Moreau exhibits both sensational performances and relevant themes. Combined with enthusiastic performances by dancers and actors alike, Synetic's most recent production is a show worth experiencing."
- Maryland Theatre Guide

"Long applause to Synetic for what it continues to do;  at times reaching beyond its past to find new sources of inspiration with words to digest." 
- DC Metro Theatre Arts

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

For Halloween, Spend a Ghoulish Night (or Day) @The Smithsonian


From stiletto daggers and sexy witches to devilish hydras and sea serpents, there's no end of scary stuff to spook yourself and your date silly here at the Smithsonian. 


Costumes are encouraged and if you don't feel safe going out on Halloween, stay home and make a virtual appearance

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




Halloween Highlights Arise from the Museum Vaults

From the decorations in our homes to the sweets we make (or buy), Halloween is a holiday filled with tricks and treats, fun and, sometimes, a little fright. We've embraced All Hallow's Eve as a night to dress up and join with fiends... I mean friends, to celebrate things that go bump in the night. 

Here at the museum, we have a wonderful collection of objects used at Halloween. See if you recognize any of these pieces from years past. 

To continue reading this post, which 1st appeared in the Oh, Say Can You See? blog of the Smithsonian, click here.

From Homemade Halloween Treats 
to Colorfully Packaged Candies



Object Project interns Caitlin Kearney and Kamilah Stinnett explore the origins of packaged candy, a modern convenience that signaled the shift toward Halloween as a widespread commercial holiday. Object Project, opening July 2015, will explore everyday things that transformed daily life.
Did you know that the average jack-o'-lantern bucket holds about 250 pieces of candy? That's 9,000 calories and about three pounds of sugar, according to the California Milk Processor Board. Good grief! No wonder some parents scramble to ration their kids' Halloween haul.

But the treats that fill those grinning plastic pumpkins on Halloween didn't always come in crinkly wrappers with familiar names like Baby Ruth, introduced in 1920, and M&M's, first sold in 1941. During our time at the museum, we've researched packaged, premade food items for Object Project. The exhibition will give visitors a look at—er, taste of—the history behind objects that have changed daily life, including the social demands and technological advances that brought about these changes.

Tp continue reading this post, which 1st appeared in the Oh, Say Can You See? blog of the Smithsonian, click here. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Forget the Halloween Monsters, This Year's Big Fear Is Something That's Able to Lurk Inside Us

2014 will certainly be viewed as one of the most frightening Halloween seasons ever. But it is not ghastly ghosts, goblins, ghouls, and gremlins that are causing outbreaks of crazed, panic fears. Instead, it is something much more real and, in reality, potentially much more deadly.

In many parts of America, the Season of the Witch has been transformed into the Scary Season of Ebola.

Those fears do not surprise former Under Secretary of Science and Technology for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Tara O'Toole. "Epidemics always engender visceral fear," O'Toole says. "This is something that can come into your home and everybody is vulnerable to it. Face it, it's pretty freaky bleeding from your eyes."

But while O'Toole understands that fear can drive a lot of the reaction to an epidemic like Ebola, a calm, reasoned, scientifically- and medically-sound approach is what America now needs.

Dr. O'Toole was one member of a group of distinguished medical and security experts which discussed the current Ebola crisis this week at the Heritage Foundation.

The panel agreed that while the outbreaks in Africa are disconcerting, America will be able to handle problems that arise in this country.

"The rest of the medical system learned a lot from Texas (where the only victim of the disease to die in America was treated)," O'Toole said. "We were probably making a lot of mistakes in infectious diseases all along, but if you make a mistake with Ebola (care) you're going to get in big trouble. We ought to able to protect our health care workers."

For its own safety, American must help the stricken nations combat Ebola on the African continent, the panel concurred. "If we do not contain this in Africa, it will become a part of life and you will wonder every time you get a fever," O'Toole said.

But while she is optimistic about the end of this current crisis, she said the United States must do more to protect itself and others from other future outbreaks of deadly, infectious diseases.

"Our national defense is going to depend on biology is a big way," the doctor maintained. "We're going to have a lot more epidemics."

O'Toole said current world conditions make such events inevitable. For example, 70 million people are being added to the world's population every year, many of them living in mega cities where crowded conditions make it ideal for diseases to rapidly spread. Then there is the ease of modern travel. Unlike days gone by, people can now fly around the world in 24 hours.

"We are going to be more vulnerable to epidemics and we must get better at managing them," she said.

O'Toole said that while early action is crucial to halting epidemics, that is difficult to do, especially in remote areas of the world. ""It's very hard to see the beginning. It's not lights and sirens; it's not like these things explode," she said. "By the time you begin treatment, they are already bigger than you would like to see," she said.

Like the others on the panel, O'Toole believes that a vaccine for Ebola should have been ready by the time of this current outbreak since there were promising results as much as 14 years ago. But she understands the reality of why such a vaccine isn't ready yet.

"We fund heavily when the problem occurs and then the money goes away," she said.

Money also plays a huge role in the fact that an Ebola vaccine hasn't been released by private pharmaceutical companies. "We're not talking about pills you take every day for the rest of your life. This is something you might take for 2 weeks and it's over. You just don't make much money out of it," she noted.

And even though she agreed with the panel consensus that such options as travel bans and unwarranted quarantining would't work (and could actually worsen treatment conditions), she understands why such options are attractive to many people and some politicians.

"We're always looking for someone to blame," she said. "People want to know who they can lock up to make themselves safe."

Extra! Extra! Read All About It

There's More to the Story
  • America's Ebola epidemic currently consists of 1 person with Ebola. (from Think Progress)
  • 4 totally Ebola-free things Americans are terrified will give them Ebola. (from Think Progress)
  • Why outbreaks breed hysteria. (from The Atlantic)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Bring Out the High Heels; DC Drag Race Is Back

Welcome to this week's Monday Must-See, Must-Do post. On Mondays, we 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 Monday Must-See, Must-Do will showcase something you shouldn't miss. 


Each year on the Tuesday before Halloween, the Dupont Circle neighborhood is the site of one of DC's most-fun annual activities - The 17th Street High Heel Race.

Although the actual race doesn't start until 9 p.m., you want to arrive early as crowds of thousands begin arriving by 6 to view the site of almost 100 drag queens in every type of costume sashaying and prancing up and down a blocked-off 17th Street again and again. 

Many of the crowd pour out into the street to get their picture taken with the obliging queens, while others simply hoot, holler, and applaud.

In short, a gay time is had by all. Here are some photos from the last 2 years of the race.







Sunday, October 26, 2014

Creepy Artifacts @The Smithsonian

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.



As Halloween approaches, we asked museum staff to share objects from the Smithsonian collections that evoke the holiday's spooky spirit. 

The result? Some diverse objects that creep us out just a little, which is part of why we love them.

To continue reading this story, which 1st appeared in Oh, Say Can You See in Smithsonian.Com, click here.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

RG3PO, Flattened Zoe Barnes, and More: DC-Centric Halloween Costumes


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.

Now starting on Halloween - at quarterback - RG3PO
Halloween is next weekend, which means you're probably going to spend the weekend frantically trying to gather materials for a last-minute costume. 

If you're still looking for ideas for a costume that only people in D.C. will get, well, you're in luck. We present to you the secondDCist guide to D.C.-centric Halloween costumes.

To continue reading this post, which 1st appeared in the DCist, click here.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Ghosts in the White House

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. 



The most famous address in America–1600 Pennsylvania Avenue–is also perhaps the country’s most famous haunted house.

Presidents, first ladies, White House staff members and guests have reported feeling ghostly presences, hearing unexplained noises and even running into actual apparitions–even on the way out of the bathtub, in one particularly famous case. 

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

Thursday, October 23, 2014

New Documentary Shows Snowden, Scary US Security

Laura Poitras explains her film as Dana Priest listens
In early January, 2013 filmmaker Laura Poitras received an email from someone who identified himself as Citizenfour. The emailer promised to prove that America was using electronic and phone communications intercepts to engage in a level of spying that was almost unimaginable and had long been denied by government agencies.

Over the next 5 months, as she engaged in carefully encrypted conversations with Citizenfour, Poitras, who was already working on a documentary on government spying, exercised extreme caution.

"He didn't seem like a crazy person," she says. "But I did worry about entrapment."

Poitras had reason to worry. She had been detained several times by authorities upon entering the country and questioned about her 2 previous documentaries My Country, My Country and The Oath, both of which examined American post-9/11 foreign policy.

Finally, Citizenfour agreed to meet in Hong Kong with Poitras and fellow journalist Glen Greenwald. It was there, in a Hong Kong hotel room, that Edward Snowden, a private security contractor for the National Security Administration, began revealing shocking disclosures about the reach and extent of NSA's surveillance of private communications.

While Snowden talked and Greenwald scribbled, Poitras kept her camera pointed and created the engaging, engrossing documentary Citizenfour. 
Snowden explaining to reporter Greenwald

One day before the film went into general release, Poitras appeared at a special premier showing at the Landmark Theater here to discuss her latest work.

Poitras said one of her original goals in filming Snowden was "to find out who this person is who had taken things to the point of no return".

"He was calm and articulate. He had made this choice (to come forward), but there really was a palpable sense of fear," Poitras told the theater-filling crowd.

Poitras said as a filmmaker-journalist she realized that while she would be filming in a cinema verite style, she would also need to create something compelling enough "to be watched in 5 years, in 10 years."

"There are probably a lot of (government) people who aren't happy with this film," she said. But asked by an audience remember if the NSA spying made America a low-level police state, Poitras said she didn't believe it was. "I'm able to do the work that I do, so that indicates that we are not. But the dangers are always there," she explained.

Washington Post reporter Dana Priest, who has written extensively on security issues, served as moderator and asked Poitras if Citizenfour will complete her work on post-911 reporting.

"I wish we could all move into something else," Poitras said. "I was hoping the moral drift would move back to what we are supposed to stand for."

And then, of course, there was the big question - was Snowden, who remains in exile in Russia with his girlfriend, a heroic whistleblower or a dangerous traitor to his country?

"He felt that what the government was doing was something the public should have a right to discuss," Poitras said. "I wanted to show his reasoning, his motivations, and his decision. It is up to people to decide."

Extra! Extra! Read All About It

There's More to the Story

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Does Washington's Football Team Need a New Name?

With a 2-5 record, Washington's National Football League team is obviously experiencing difficulties on the field. But there is an equally ominous situation off the field as well.

The problem is the continuing controversy over the team's nickname. Many Native Americans, national and local politicians, and a growing number of sports writers and broadcasters contend the name Redskins is racist and demeaning and must be changed.

Stalwart fans argue that the name is both a tribute to Indian warriors and historical and therefore should remain. Team owner Daniel Snyder agrees with those fans and has vowed never to change the name.

In a recent Newseum Now program, George Solomon, former assistant managing editor for the Washington Post and the current director of the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism at the University of Maryland, and Jacqueline Johnson Pata, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, a nonprofit organization representing American Indian and Alaska tribal governments and communities, talked about the ongoing controversy.

The event came just days after a petition was filed with the Federal Communications Commission, asking that agency to ban the use of the team nickname on radio and TV as indecent and unfit for the nation's public airwaves.

"This is really about basic respect. It (the team nickname) is a racial slur," Pata said. "It is a reminder of a dark piece of (American) history and that is why it is harmful. The word doesn't have a great history with American Indians. It's a term that reminds that there was a bounty and a bidding war on those 'redskins.' It is part of the genocide of the Native Americans."

While there have been legal battles over the name for decades, the issue has come to the forefront in the past few years.

Columnists like Mike Wise of The Washington Post, Dave Zirin of The National Observer, and Christine Brennan of USA Today have all decided not to use the name Redksins when they write about the Washington football team.

Solomon said news organizations "constantly look at changes in society" in deciding proper writing style.

"You can go to the 5th floor (of the Newseum) and see all the history of newspapers. What you see from the mid 1800s is much different than you see today," he added. " I think it is the responsibility of newspapers to look at all aspects of society. That's what news organizations ought to do."

Solomon noted that the editorial board of The Washington Post had decided not to use the controversial nickname, but paper sportswriters are free to decided to use or not use it. "It's like a newspaper separation of church and state," he added.

A recent Sports Illustrated Poll indicated that 75 percent of its responding readers weren't upset with the use of the name.

But Pata said those results shouldn't matter.

"Would we still be dealing with slavery because the polls at the time would have supported it?" she asked. "Does that make it right? If you know what it (the term) really means and that it is harmful, especially to Native American youth, should you use it?"

Extra! Extra! Read All About It

There's Always More to the Story
  • Native Americans planning the largest-ever Redskins name protest at Washington Vikings game next month. (from The Washington Post)
  • Will the Minnesota Vikings violate their contract with the University of Minnesota if the name Redskins is used at the game? (from The Washington Post)
  • Actor and Washington football fan Matthew McConaughey wishes Redskins logo wouldn't change. (from The Huffington Post)
  • Watch The Daily Show with Jon Stewart tackle the Washington controversy. (from The Daily Show)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Getting the Most from The Prices Do DC

Here we are - The Prices Doing DC
Most things change. And that is certainly true of the blog you are now reading.

When we started The Prices Do DC in June of 2011, my wife Judy and I had just retired and moved to Crystal City from South Jersey. We planned the blog as a way to record all we were doing in DC and sharing those things we others. Of course, that is still true. But over the past 3-and-a-half years, the blog has morphed into much more. Here are 6 of the biggest changes we have made.

1) Our DC writing now consists of 4 blogs.
In addition to The Prices Do DC, we now offer 3 companion blogs. They are:

  • Counter Culture in the Capitol (a look at food and great dining spots in DC, with an emphasis on eateries that won't break your budget)
  • DC Book Looks (all things bookish about Washington, its bookstores, and the writers who visit them)
  • DC Screen Scene (what's up with TV shows and movies featuring Washington DC)
2) We now have a Facebook and a Twitter presence.
You can find links to all The Prices Do DC entires, as well as site specific posts and tweets at our social media outreaches.
3) The Prices Do DC now includes a Twitter feed that is updated at least a half dozen times a day.
This is one of 2 reasons where you will always find new content even if you visit the page more than once a day.

4) The Prices Do DC now includes a news-summary powered by Google.
This news summary (located at the top right of the page just above the Twitter feed) is the 2nd reason why there is always new content on the page.

5) We have daily doings links.
You can plan where to go, what to see, and where to eat by using our pages. You can make travel plans if you are living in DC, or in a neighboring state, or coming from another part of the country or the world. You can even tell how to dress by checking our weather widget or which are the best apps to add to your phone for a better DC experience.

6) You can get all the DC news you ever need right from our page.
We have links to the major papers and websites covering the Washington area. We also have links to 7 of the best blogs about DC.

Of course, there is much more to The Prices Do DC. But the above lists the highlights of what we are offering. We encourage you to bookmark our pages and check back frequently. We also urge you to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Currently, we are averaging 1,500 hits a week, but we would love to see that number skyrocket.

We have a lot of fun putting The Prices Do DC together and we hope you have as much enjoyment in reading it.

And to close here's just a sample of the people we've encountered in DC. Some of them are even readers.



And here is my favorite - The Comedy King of Jello himself.


Monday, October 20, 2014

The Boomer List @The Newseum

Welcome to this week's Monday Must-See, Must-Do post. On Mondays, we 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 Monday Must-See, Must-Do will showcase something you shouldn't miss. 



Few generations have been as discussed and analyzed as the Baby Boomers, defined as anyone born between the years 1946 and 1964.  Now you can learn more about  the lives, contributions, and times of the Boomers by viewing The Boomer List exhibition now on display at the Newseum.

For the exhibition, which will be on display until July 5, photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders chose, photographed, and interviewed 1 person born in each of the 19 years of the baby boom.  


In addition to the 19 portraits, a timeline of historic events that defined the baby boom generation will be displayed including newsmagazines from the Newseum collection plus a copy of Dr. Benjamin Spock’s parental advice book, “Baby and Child Care,” an original 1959 Barbie doll, a 1964 G.I. Joe action figure, a transistor radio and a U.S. Army draft card from 1965.
The artifacts illustrate the news events and pop culture moments that defined the baby boom generation, from its start in 1946 until 1982, when the last boomers turned 18. Visitors are invited to add their baby boom memories to the timeline on post-it notes.
In addition, an interactive kiosk will allow visitors to explore exclusive behind-the-scenes images of Greenfield-Sanders’s photo shoots.
The Boomer list also features a scent station with memorable aromas familiar to the baby boom generation. A first for the Newseum, the station will include whiffs of baby powder, to represent the 76 million-plus babies born between 1946 and 1964; fresh-cut grass, a reminder of the boomers’ move to the suburbs; and incense, evoking the musky smell of rebellion, flower power and love-ins.
Here is a sample of what you will see if you visit:







Extra! Extra! Read All About It

There's Always More to the Story

If you are nostalgic for the apex of the Boomer period (the 1950s and 1960s) here is a sample of items you can purchase in the Newseum's gift shop:








Sunday, October 19, 2014

Phantoms of the Museum

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.




As Halloween approaches, I am reminded of a May 13, 1900, article (see the scan at the bottom of this post) on the National Museum in the Washington Post that reported on “Shades of Scientists Who Walk There Nightly,” (shades was an old term for ghosts). 

The U.S. National Museum was then housed in what is now known as the Arts and Industries Building.  The guards and staff who worked late reported that the deceased but devoted scientists of earlier eras continued to walk the halls of the Museum at night, guarding over their collections.  Foremost among these was Spencer Fullerton Baird (1823-1887), the first Smithsonian curator and second Secretary of the Smithsonian.

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

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The 25 Steps to Becoming a Real Washingtonian

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.



Did you move to DC from somewhere else? SHOCKING! 

In a city so full of transplants, what does it mean to be a local? Well, it means you've completed these 25 steps...

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

Friday, October 17, 2014

DC Wasn't Ready for Bob Marley in 1973

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. 



Today, it's common to see people wearing t-shirts emblazoned with Bob Marley's instantly recognizable likeness, and the reggae classics that he recorded with the Wailers are so iconic that they're used in TV commercials.

But back on the afternoon of October 14, 1973, when the then-28-year-old singer with the dreadlocks and whispy beard and his band stepped out onto the stage at the U.S. Naval Academy's Halsey Field House, things were quite different. It's a safe bet that hardly anyone in the audience even knew who Marley and the Wailers were, or had heard their LP Catch A Fire, which Rolling Stone critic Rob Haughton had lauded as filled with "lilting tunes of hypnotic character headed by super-progressive lead guitar work, Motown variations, and cowboy nuances, all backed by the tricky Jamaican beat that serves to keep the decibel level in a moderate range.".

To continue reading this post, which 1st appeared in WETA's Boundary Stone, click here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Covering the Supreme Court

Of all the beats that reporters cover, few are as challenging as the Supreme Court. First, there are the legal complexities of the cases that reach the court. Then there is the fact that discussions are held behind closed doors and decisions are privately written in chambers. Finally, there is the long-standing reluctance of the 9 justices to explain their actions or speak about court matters in public.

"They (the justices) don't need the press the way other public figures do," says Jess Bravin, the Supreme Court correspondent for The Wall Street Journal.

Recently, Bravin joined Maria Coyle, chief Washington correspondent for The National Law Journal, and Garret Epps, constitutional law professor at the University of Baltimore and Supreme Court correspondent for The Atlantic Online for a discussion at the National Archives about covering the highest court in America.

The panel discussion, moderated by Bill Grueskin, a professor at the Columbia Journalism School and an executive editor at Bloomberg News, was entitled Courtroom Drama: Covering the Supreme Court.

"The beat is different in that there is so little contact," Coyle said. "The justices are reluctant to grant interviews or release any personal information. You have to go to the oral arguments and that is where you are going to learn about them."

"The issues are difficult, they are complicated, but they are interesting," she added. "And if you look beyond the legal question, there is someone who has a problem."

Given the secrecy surrounding the court, it takes a long time to develop credibility and acquire sources, all 3 reporters agreed. "If you stay at the court long enough, you begin to see certain patterns. There is a lot of value to staying with it for years to see what is happening," Coyle said.

Of course, just like it has for journalists everywhere, the advent of the internet, social media, and the 24/7 news cycle has changed the way reporters cover the Supreme Court.

"It's made deadline pressure intense," says Coyle. "We used to have time to develop and write in-depth." Now she says, after a day at court, she has to check for soundbite selections from any rulings for fellow broadcasters to use, compose blog entries and tweets, analyze the happenings, write a brief summary and then her story, and then appear live on TV that night to explain cases to viewers.

Epps says the "voracious appetite for content" works in his favor since he doesn't do deadline reporting, but instead writes pieces examining constitutional issues. He gave an example of just how difficult it is to get a non-case story from the court. He wanted to write a feature about the court's legal library, but was told "no employee of the library will talk to you."

The current court, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, has been criticized for issuing rulings strictly along party lines. There are 5 Republican appointees and 4 Democratic appointees on the bench.

"We use the liberal and conservative shorthand, but the justices are all intellectual and have very deeply thought out positions on the issues," Bravin said. "That being said, there is often remarkably little diversity in their lineups."

"It looks very political," Coyle said. "We've had a real run of culture war issues. All the justices will say they never practice politics, but they are the sum of their lives and their experiences."

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

From Dolley to Michelle: A Look at the First Ladies of Fashion

Michelle Obama in a Tracy Reese design.
When a new president assumes his duties at The White House, his wife automatically becomes the First Lady of the land. This means she shares an important political function with her husband.

But in addition to her political stands, she also assumes an unofficial title of First Lady of Fashion. What she wears and her style is followed and commented on. If she uses a particular designer, the popularity of that designer can soar. She can institute new looks or lead others to be discontinued.

The unofficial title of First Lady of Fashion has been thrust upon presidential wives since the 19th century days of the quite-fashionable Dolley Madison. The title holds even greater import today. In some circles, the question of whether Michelle Obama should wear bangs was as debated as the idea of Middle East bombing.

Recently, TV fashion guru Tim Gunn moderated a panel at the National Archives entitled Style and Influence: First Ladies' Fashions. The discussion, co-sponsored by The White House Historical Association, also included:
  • Lisa Graddy, Smithsonian curator of American women's political history which includes the Museum of American History's First Ladies collection.
  • Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of The Museum of the Fashion Institute of Technology
  • Tracy Reese, a designer whose designs have been worn by Mrs. Obama
Gunn, Reese, Steele, and Graddy discuss First Ladies and their fashion 
Gunn began the 90-minute discussion with the question - why do we care so much about what the First Lady wears?

The panel agreed that Americans saw First Ladies as representing the style, stability, and value of a presidential administration. "In a way, the American public is like a jury. The people judge what they like," Graddy said.

Of course, the emphasis changes depending on the person. No First Lady had a bigger impact on fashion and style than Jacqueline Kennedy. "Women's Wear Daily covered her just like a war," Steele said.

Even though she was much admired for her sense of style, Mrs. Kennedy was criticized by some for spending too much on fashion. "A First Lady can't win. There is a thread that runs through American history that fashion is unnecessary and elitist," said Graddy. "When amounts were reported on how much money she was spending (on clothing), Mrs. Kennedy replied 'I would have to be buying sable underwear to spend that much.'"

Graddy noted that the aim of a stylish First Lady should be to choose clothing that is "appropriate for her age and her activity."

Sometimes a fashion statement can have a lasting impact. "Nancy Reagan changed red from the color of the Communist Revolution to the color of the Republican Party," Graddy explained.

Michelle Obama is now the spouse in the spotlight. Reese, who has designed outfits for Mrs. Obama, says most people give the First Lady high marks for style. "She wears what she likes and knows what looks good on her. She's a woman of the moment," Reese said. "She's having a huge impact on the fashion industry. I think people like to see her wearing something they could buy. And she wears clothing beautifully. She's someone people are always excited to see. The fashion block is a really, really tough crowd, but she won them over. She is a modern woman who is fit and active and is trying to help people get fit and active".

Steele believes that there will always be a focus on the fashion of First Ladies. "There is a role (in politics) for emphasizing the things you believe in. Clothing is one way to demonstrate that," she said.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Time Covers the 1960s @The National Portrait Gallery

Welcome to this week's Monday Must-See, Must-Do post. On Mondays, we 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 Monday Must-See, Must-Do will showcase something you shouldn't miss. 




Week in and week out, Time magazine covered the 1960s using all manner of covers created by some of the foremost artists of the day. 

A new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery featuring original cover art from the museum’s Time collection explores a selection of the major newsmakers, trends, and happenings that defined the 1960s.

Chronologically, the 1960s began with the inauguration of John F. Kennedy and ended with “one giant leap for mankind,” as Apollo 11 ferried 3 astronauts people to the moon and back.

In the intervening years, Time covered the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the escalation of the Vietnam War, civil rights, the women’s movement and cultural phenomena such as the Beatles, hippies and the sexual revolution

In addition to the artwork above, here is some more of what you will see if you visit the exhibition. Can you name them?




And if you want to recall or learn more about the 1960s, the NPG gift shop is ready for you.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Tips for Experiencing Latino History @The Museum of American History

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.


Looking to discover Latino history during your museum visit this Hispanic Heritage Month? Christine Miranda, who interned with our Program in Latino History and Culture, has the inside scoop. 
Our museum endeavors to "understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future," and diverse Latino stories are a critical part of that. Here's how to find them across three floors, plenty of exhibitions, and fascinating collections.
To continue reading this post, which 1st appeared in Oh Say Can You See, click here.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Is Reagan National Airport Becoming Too Popular?

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.



Close to D.C., accessible by Metro, expanding low-cost flight options, and a Taylor Gourmet and Ben's Chili Bowl: What's not to like about Reagan National Airport?
That attitude is apparently concerning regional officials, who say National is growing too much at the expense of Dulles.
To continue reading this post, which 1st appeared in The DCist, click here.

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