Archive for October, 2013|Monthly archive page

Celebrity Watching

Went to the opening night of Betrayal:

Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz have caused a stampede to the box office by theatregoers keen to keen to see the husband and wife acting powerhouse in Harold Pinter’s Betrayal.

The show opened on Sunday, in front of a star-studded audience including director Steven Spielberg, musician Bruce Springsteen and US Vogue editor Anna Wintour at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre who were among the lucky ticketholders.

Others I saw included actor Ian McKellen and his husband. Playwright Tony Kushner and his husband, actress Ellen Barkin, actress Patricia Clarkson, actress Candice Bergen, newsperson Chris Matthews, and of course since Mike Nichols was the director, newsperson Diane Sawyer.

But others desperate to see the show have seen theatre lovers pay $2,500 on the black market to see the new adaptation, directed by ten-time Tony Award winner Mike Nichols.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2478075/Daniel-Craig-Rachel-Weisz-star-Broadway-Betrayal-Steven-Spielberg–tickets-sell-figure-sums-black-market.html#ixzz2j7UHUaSp

Celtic, Laker Great Dies

Sadly, one of the NBA’s top scorers and a great coach, Bill Sharman, died yesterday. The shooting guard for the champion Boston Celtics during the 1950s, After leaving the Celtics, Sharman went on to coach pro basketball in the American Basketball League started by Harlem Globetrotters leader, Abe Saperstein. Sharman won a championship in that league before moving on to the ABA. Finally, he became coach of the Celtics old nemesis, the Los Angeles Lakers. The LA Lakers had never won an NBA championship until Sharman guided them to a win over the New York Knicks in 1971-72.

Bill Sharman

 

 

I discuss him in the book, The Bullets, The Wizards and Washington, DC Basketball, because he started his career playing in Washington, DC for the Washington Capitols during 1950-51. If the team had been able to draw crowds to Uline Arena, Sharman might have made his pro career here in Washington.

The Bullets, the Wizards, and Washington, DC, Basketball flyer_rev

While the winning is a sign of a champion, the best story I’ve heard about Sharman appears in Earl Lloyd’s biography. Lloyd would be the first African-American player to play in the NBA for the Washington Capitols in 1950. Sharman befriended him and helped him during his time in Washington.

Adoption at Little Goblins

The Humane Society took over a small area near a large patch of pumpkins for an annual children’s costume walk in DC. The path for this Halloween event takes children and their parents down P Street to Logan Circle.

We had three dogs, a beagle mix, a poodle mix and a dachshund. They dressed in costume and greeted the kids.

Canine Captain America

 

 

Bones Dog

 

 

100_1878

District Development

A new proposal for the development of a historic treasure of the city is receiving a lot of attention recently. Uline Arena, built in 1941, has long been in poor condition, you can still see the bleachers in areas along with the broken glass and old press box and concession stand.

Uline was one of the first places in DC to become desegregated along a long fight by national and local community groups in 1948. It hosted some great boxing and wrestling matches and was the home of Washington’s first NBA team during the late 1940s and early 1950s. It hosted the city’s only American Basketball Association team during 1969-1970.

A new article on the development appears below:

Uline Arena, get ready for your next phase

RACHEL KAUFMAN | TUESDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2013
1964: The Beatles play the arena just two days after their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. This ticket sold by Heritage Auctions in 2011 for $1500

1964: The Beatles play the arena just two days after their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. This ticket sold by Heritage Auctions in 2011 for $1500

2008

COURTESY JOSH HOWELL
Uline Arena is making a comeback.Douglas Development, known in the Washington region for buying and holding onto properties for years, a few months ago began selective demolition at the site in preparation to turn the fabled arena, now a parking lot, into a 200,000-square-foot mixed-use property.

And fabled it was. It was built by ice supplier Miguel Uline to capitalize on the popularity of skating rinks in the 1940s, says historian Brett Abrams, author of “Capital Sporting Grounds: A History of Stadium and Ballpark Construction in Washington, DC.” But it also hosted the Beatles’ first U.S. concert ever, the Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan, served as home court for the Washington Capitols, led by legendary coach Red Auerbach (and the team that drafted Earl Lloyd, the first African-American basketball player).

Pro boxers fought in the arena, some of the only events African-Americans were allowed to attend in the early years of the stadium. “Uline said, ‘Why should I be the pioneer? I’m a businessman,'” Abrams says. Eventually, after intense protests from the African-American community, the arena was integrated.

In the 70s, the arena hosted roller derby. In the ’80s, go-go bands rocked the house.

In the ’90s, it became a trash transfer station. Now, it’s a parking lot—ironic, Abrams says, because a 1970’s basketball team failed when it couldn’t attract crowds, partially due to a lack of parking.

That was the end of the arena’s legacy. But for a while, “It was Washington’s location,” Abrams says. “It allowed Washington entry into professional sports.”

In 2011, the coliseum became the venue for a theatre production called Swampoodle!, by contemporary Irish arts companies Solas Nua (based here) and The Performance Corporation (based outside Dublin). The play’s short run arguably did more to catapult the Uline Arena back into modern D.C.’s consciousness than much else.

It also exposed Washingtonians to a building many didn’t even realize was still standing. Swampoodle! actor Jason McCool perhaps said it best  on the play’s blog: “I believe the first three words I spoke in the place, even after having spent a week studying it, were ‘No. Effing. Way.’ (Seriously, folks, you have never been in a building like this. It’s like being in the Titanic without the danger of drowning.)”

Union Station, less than a mile away, reopened in 1988, and the NoMa metro station opened in 2004. The rapid development in the area has brought thousands of new residents and a stunning appreciation in property values for those lucky enough to have owned buildings.

Douglas Development has owned Uline since 2003, when city records show the company paid $6,000,000 for it. Representatives from the company did not return repeated requests to comment by press time, but according to the developer’s website, current plans call for the building to be renamed “The Coliseum” and include over 50,000 square feet of retail and 150,000 square feet of office space. There will be a 175-car parking garage. And the building will keep its iconic shape.

For historian Abrams, that’s enough. “I like the proposal,” he says. “It keeps some of the–if not literally the same material, it keeps some of the resonance of it.”

Below: see our photo gallery of Uline Arena/Washington Coliseum’s past, present, and future.
1941: Architect’s sketch of Uline Arena

1948: Picket signs protesting the segregation at Uline
1964: The Beatles play the arena just two days after their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. This ticket sold by Heritage Auctions in 2011 for $1500
20082011: Solas Nua and The Performance Corporation put on Swampoodle! in the arenaPresent day: seen better daysFuture: The Coliseum will become offices and retail
Future: The Coliseum references the famed Beatles concert
Do you remember Uline in its glory days? Tell us in the comments.

Photo credits, in order: DCPL, Washingtoniana Division; Henderson Family Collection;Heritage Auctions; Josh Howell;Solas Nua; Jennifer Reid; Jennifer Reid; Douglas Development/Antunovich Associates; Douglas Development/Antunovich Associates.

Read more articles by Rachel Kaufman.

Rachel is a tech, business and science journalist passionate about her adopted hometown of Washington, D.C. She lives in Brookland.

 

National Football League Violence

Like several people I know, I taped the documentary on the NFL and its concussion issue that aired on PBS’s superior program Frontline. This excellent journalism made one think about the violence inherent in the sport, the issue of parenting and allowing your child to play a game that could not only harm his development but play a role in an early death. It also made me think about boxing and how many fighters knew what the sport was doing to their body and mind but they were poor and saw no better way out of their poverty.

One interesting take came from a long-time sportswriter:

For too long, sports journalists glossed over football’s violence. I was one of them.

John McDonnell/The Washington Post – Washington’s quarterback Robert Griffin III on the ground after getting a concussion in the 3rd quarter of a game against the Atlanta Falcons at FedEx Field in October 2012.

By

Leonard Shapiro is a retired sportswriter, editor and columnist at The Washington Post.

Early in the 1977 NFL season, after Washington Redskins running back Bob Brunet suffered a serious neck contusion when the knee of Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Randy White hit him in the helmet, I visited him at Georgetown University Hospital.

Brunet, who grew up poor in Louisiana’s Cajun country, was playing at a time when the average NFL salary was about $55,000 a year. I asked him that evening if the hit, which could have left him permanently paralyzed — it did end his career — had in any way made him rethink his decision to play professional football.

Absolutely not, he said.“You’re damned right I’d do it all over again,” he told me at the time. “I was a poor kid from the backwoods of Louisiana, and now I’ve given my wife and kids security for the rest of their lives. I know I’m going to have problems from football. But I accept that. I have no regrets. None whatsoever.”The game had allowed him to graduate from Louisiana Tech, earn a good living and escape the destitution of his native Lafourche Parish. After football, he moved to Baton Rouge, opened a successful seafood restaurant — the Galley — and raised his family. Most former players I’ve spoken to over the years view their playing days in the same way.I covered the NFL over four decades dating back to 1972. Now semi-retired myself and five years removed from day-to-day football coverage, I have one main regret: not focusing more of my reporting and writing on the absolute brutality of the sport, particularly the painful post-football lives of so many players.

Instead, like many other sports journalists, I spent much of my career writing positive pieces about the league and its players — puffy features and breathless accounts of thrilling victories and agonizing defeats. I certainly covered my share of serious NFL warts: mounting injuries; the use of steroids and amphetamines; team doctors prescribing far too many painkilling pills and injections; the derogatory Redskins name; and, for many years, the dearth of African American quarterbacks, head coaches and ­front-office personnel. But until the past decade or so, most of us glossed over the brutality of the sport. Shame on us.

Some believe that a CBS documentary, “The Violent World of Sam Huff,” first aired in 1960, may have sparked the popularity of professional football. Huff was a celebrated New York Giants linebacker halfway through a Hall of Fame career at the time, and the documentary gave viewers an up-close look at the sound and fury of the pro game, using mini-microphones to pick up trash talk and the high-decibel thump of body against body, helmet against helmet.

Half a century later, a highlight-driven sports culture, fueled by ESPN’s “SportsCenter” and YouTube clips, has increased the emphasis on Big Hits — the wicked shots heard ’round the football world.

“I think that may have been true six to eight years ago,” ESPN coordinating producer Dwayne Bray said of this culture during a public forum in August on violence in the game. “I think we’ve been very restrained on the issue. If there are hard hits, we report the news. . . . I think even as the NFL and the parents are being educated, ESPN and other media entities are being educated.”

Surely sports television plays up the contact of the game. Certainly, the stations and the league are aware of the money that is tied to keeping the game entertaining and exciting to the most people that they can.

Adoption Event

 First dog I walked around the Washington Animal Rescue League adoption event today now has a wonderful owner. The second dog is this beautiful unique two year old Australian Shepard-Dutch Sheepdog mix.
This second dog that I spent most of my time with is a two-year-old Australian Shepard, Dutch Sheepdog mix named Dutchess of Cambridge is still available.
The Dutchess

What an amazing, alert, intelligent dog. We went running and she has such an amazing stride when we ran to get some exercise.

ESPN Forgets

Repost from Mike F.

 

ESPN’s feature of NBA players at Great Wall of China forgot Washington Bullets’ trip in 1979

October 17, 2013

I had to mention that ESPN’s piece on NBA players visiting the Great Wall of China failed to mention that the Washington Bullets were the first team to do so back in 1979, which was very significant at the time. If any other NBA team had been there, ESPN would have mentioned it. It’s a shame that they have forgotten the Washington Bullets.

Never been busier in my life but I felt I had to post this.

This was the Bullets second trip to a foreign country to play basketball. One year earlier, after winning the NBA Championship, the Bullets traveled to Israel. These trips appear in the book, The Bullets, The Wizards and Washington, DC Basketball.

Cats and Humans: Our Relationship

A great new article for those of us in the feline family: Below is our black cat demonstrating her sense of holiday spirit during Halloween Eve

Lila During Last Halloween

( Nestle Purina Petcare via Associated Press ) – ’Cats seem to be incapable of sustaining a large number of friendly relationships,’ writes John Bradshaw. It’s unknown whether this personality trait applies to Grumpy Cat, the ’spokescat’ for a Friskies brand of cat food.

By John Bradshaw, Published: October 14 E-mail the writer

Cats are the world’s most popular pets, outnumbering dogs by as many as three to one. This popularity is undoubtedly helped by the fact that cats are simultaneously affectionate and self-reliant: They need virtually no training; they groom themselves; they can be left alone without pining for their owners, but most nonetheless greet us affectionately when we get home.In a word, they are convenient.

They’re the world’s most popular pets, but how much do these independent aminals like humans
Even so, cats remain aloof and inscrutable. Dogs tend to be open, honest and biddable. Cats, on the other hand, demand we accept them on their terms but never quite reveal what those terms might be.I’ve studied cats for years and shared my home with quite a few, but I don’t feel that this has taught me very much about what they are really like. But science has begun to provide some answers, especially about their relationship to humans. Why are cats so choosy about their objects of affection? And what does it mean when they hold their tail straight up? Read on.

The cat-human connection

Cats and humans go back a long way. DNA evidence identifies the pet cat’s ancestor as the Arabian wildcat Felis silvestris lybicaand places its origins between 10,000 and 15,000 years ago in the Middle East.

It is likely that the first people to tame wildcats were the Natu­fians, who inhabited the Levant from about 13,000 to 10,000 years ago and are widely regarded as the inventors of agriculture. As such, they were also the first people to be bedeviled by a new pest: the grain-loving house mouse. Wildcats probably moved in to exploit this new resource. Realizing how useful this was — cats, after all, had no interest in eating grain — people probably encouraged them to hang around.

These were not pet cats as we know them. They would have been more like today’s urban foxes, able to adapt to a human environment while retaining their essential wildness.

Of course, the cat’s other qualities probably did not go unnoticed. Their appealing features, soft fur and ability to learn to become affectionate toward us led to their adoption as pets. Yet cats still have three paws firmly planted in the wild.

In contrast to almost every other domestic animal, cats retain remarkable control over their own lives. Most go where they please and when they please and, crucially, choose their own mates. Unlike dogs, only a small minority of cats has ever been intentionally bred by people. No one has bred cats to guard houses, herd livestock or assist hunters.

Cats can be very affectionate, but they are choosy. This stems from their evolutionary past: Wildcats are largely solitary and regard most other cats as rivals. Domestic cats’ default position on other cats remains one of suspicion, even fear.

However, the demands of domestication — the need to live with other cats, and then the forming of bonds with people — extended cats’ social repertoire.

Social behavior probably started to evolve as soon as cats began to congregate around granaries. Any cat that maintained its antagonism toward other cats would have put itself at a disadvantage when exploiting this resource.

Even today, wherever there is a regular source of food, a colony of feral cats will spring up, assuming local people allow it. Colonies can build up until several hundred cats are living close to one another.In these colonies, society tends to be based on cooperation between genetically related females. Mothers often drive away their male offspring after a few months to avoid inbreeding, leaving them to lead solitary lives.

Where colonies consist of more than one family, these groups compete with one another. Cats seem to be incapable of sustaining a large number of friendly relationships or of forming alliances between family groups in the way that primates do; negotiation skills this sophisticated lie beyond their capabilities.The switch to social living required a quantum leap in communication as cats became domesticated. For an animal as well-armored as a cat, a tiff might escalate into a dangerous fight unless a system of signaling evolved that allows cats to assess others’ moods and intentions. And this is precisely what happened.

The straight-up tail

For domestic cats, my research has shown that the key signal is the straight-up tail. In colonies, when two cats are working out whether to approach each other, one usually raises its tail; if the other is happy to approach, it raises its tail, too. The tail-up signal almost certainly evolved during domestication, arising from a posture wildcat kittens use when greeting their mothers. Adult wildcats do not raise their tails to each other.

Once an exchange of tail-ups has been established, one of two things occurs. Either the cats rub heads, flanks and sometimes still-raised tails before separating, or they engage in mutual grooming, which has profound social significance in many animals. Both rubbing and grooming are probably a way of cementing an amicable relationship.

The most important social skill a cat must learn in order to become a pet is, of course, how to interact with people. Even at the earliest stage of domestication, cats needed humans to protect and feed them when mice were in short supply. The cats that thrived were those that were able to reward people with their company. Yet cats are not born attached to people. They are born with an inclination to trust people only during a brief period when they are tiny.

Studies of dogs in the 1950s established the notion of a “primary socialization period,” when puppies are especially sensitive to learning how to interact with people. For dogs, this is between 7 and 14 weeks of age. The concept also applies to cats, but it starts earlier. A kitten that is handled regularly between 4 and 8 weeks generally develops a powerful attraction to people. One that does not meet a human until 10 weeks or later is likely to fear people for the rest of its life.

Do cats exposed early enough to humans have an emotional attachment to their people, as dogs do? We know that they have the capacity to feel affection for other cats, and so it is probable that their attachment to their people is an emotional one.

Most owners would say that their cat displays contentment by purring. Purring clearly does occur when a cat is contented, but a purring cat also may just be hungry, or mildly anxious. Some continue to purr even when their body language indicates they are angry. Occasionally, cats have also been heard purring when they were in distress or even during the moments before death.

Purring, then, does not necessarily reveal a cat’s emotional state. Instead, it seems to be what behavioral ecologists refer to as a manipulative signal, conveying a general request: “Please settle down next to me.”

However, other signals, may be more genuine displays of affection. Relationships between adult cats seem to be sustained mainly through mutual licking and rubbing. Many cats lick their owners regularly, but scientists have not yet investigated whether this represents affection. We know that cats that do not like each other never groom each other.

Cat owners also engage in a tactile ritual with their pets when they stroke them. Most owners stroke their cats simply because it gives them pleasure and because the cat also seems to enjoy it. But stroking may also have symbolic meaning for the cat. Most prefer to be stroked on their heads, the area toward which cats direct their grooming.

Many cats do not simply accept stroking passively; they invite people to stroke them by jumping on their laps or rolling over. They also indicate where they wish to be stroked by offering that part of their body or shifting position. By accepting stroking, cats are engaging in a social ritual that is reinforcing the bond with their owner.

While touch is very important, the upright tail is probably the clearest way cats show their affection for us. A cat approaching its owner with a raised tail will often rub on its owner’s legs. The form that the rub takes seems to vary from cat to cat: Some rub just with the side of their head, others rub down their flank, some make contact with their tail. Many walk past without making any contact or perform their rubs on an object nearby.

Because many cats rub most intensely when they are about to be fed, they have been accused of showing nothing more than cupboard love. However, few cats confine their rubbing to mealtimes, and when two cats rub, they exchange no additional reward. So an exchange of rubs is a declaration of affection.

The sound of mewsic

Another way cats attract our attention, of course, is by meowing. The meow is part of the cat’s natural repertoire, but they rarely use it to communicate with each other. Feral cats are generally rather silent. While all cats are apparently born knowing how to meow, each has to learn how to use this most effectively.

Once cats have learned that their owners respond to meows, many develop a range of sounds that, by trial and error, they find are effective in specific circumstances. In this way, many cats and their owners gradually develop an individual “language” that they both understand but that is not shared by other cats or owners.

So cats demonstrate great flexibility in how they communicate with us, which rather contradicts their reputation for aloofness. We could consider some of this behavior manipulative, but only to the extent that two friends negotiate the details of their relationship. The underlying emotion on both sides is undoubtedly affection.

Bradshaw is the director of the Anthrozoology Institute at the University of Bristol School of Clinical Veterinary Science in Britain. He has studied cat behavior for more than 30 years. This article, published in New Scientist, is based on Bradshaw’s new book, “Cat Sense” (Allen Lane/Basic Books).

Fashion Today and Yesterday

Visited Fashion Institute of Technology to see the new exhibit, A Queer History of Fashion: From the Closet to the Catwalk. This show is really enjoyable and worth seeing. Many people don’t know that they have a lot of museum space in the school and they frequently put together challenging shows.

The key element to this exhibit is the understanding that sexuality had an important role in the creativity of many of fashions biggest names. From Christian Dior to Yves Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen, gay men had an outsized role as fashion designers in the twentieth century. Rather than falling into an essentialist trap of saying that because the men were gay they had some kind of sensitivity to women, the arguments the show makes fit with the argument I made about fashion designers in Hollywood in my book, Hollywood Bohemians: Transgressive Sexuality and the Selling of the Movieland Dream, that the fashion world provided a location where gay men could be comfortable at work and were often surrounded by other gay men in the field and worked with women who were comfortable with these mens’ sexuality. Of course, that was sometimes because these actresses, such as Marlene Dietrich, were both bisexual themselves but were also interested in pushing the boundaries of fashion.

Marlene Dietrich pushing fashion boundaries

I thought the exhibit could have focused more on the role of fashion designers in the movie industry. In Hollywood Bohemians, I note that Warner Brothers main designer in the 1930s Orry Kelly was a gay man and a good friend of Cary Grant.Orry Kelly

There were many others in the ranks, so many that novels and movies about the industry featured gay males as fashion directors. Below, the actor Curt Bois plays a gay fashion designer in Hollywood Hotel from 193

Fashion Designer in Hollywood Hotel

The show has fascinating looks at the clothes worn by Mollies in the 1700s while working in taverns in England and by Dandies who adopted the style of Aesthetic dress that Oscar Wilde advocated in the late 1800s.

More recent vogue includes a whole section on the styles of men who died of AIDS, the out there works of Jean Paul Gaultier and the high-fashion looks of Gianni Versace, drawing on queer sub-cultural styles like leather and uniforms. The other major sub-cultural contributor to fashion is of course, drag. Clothes include an outfit worn by the most famous of all drag queens, Ru Paul.

Red Speedo: Class Athletics

Studio Theater in Washington, DC is showing, Red Speedo, a play that sparked thoughts of David Mamet’s best works. Like Mamet, the play looks at people from the lower rungs of American society who are trying to reach the American Dream. They have limited talents and few assets and need to maximize their chances at success in the one shot that they have.

The title character has that shot in the swimming pool. He is attempting to qualify as an Olympic swimmer and he knows the limits of his talents. He has chosen to take a path of performance enhancing drugs that raises questions about his morals and his talents. What will his brother, who has been his sponsor, and representative think about his choices and what will he do? More significantly, he has a coach who is struggling to keep the swim club financially afloat. Will he discover this indiscretion? The lead’s love interest also has an intriguing back history and perspective to be taken into account as well.

We’ve had many of these athletes who has crossed this line, beginning with the Oakland A’s Bash Brothers to San Francisco Giants Barry Bonds. Most notably were cultural icons, like cyclist and philanthropist Lance Armstrong and Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees. All deny the activity, worse they fight their accusers to the point of ruining them financially and their reputations, all while knowing that they did take the drugs.

What’s more compelling about the job that playwright Lucas Hnath and director Lila Neugebauer have done is that they have shown how the thinking of the athlete works to justify the taking of the drugs. They have shown how others surrounding the athlete come to terms with tacitly and knowingly accepting this behavior.

The set was sharp, you could smell chlorine when you walked up the staircase. The performances by Frank Boyd, Harry Winter, and Laura C. Harris were strong. Of particularly note was Thomas Jay Ryan, as the older brother.

What made this play powerful was the inclusion of today’s class system in the U.S. Though warped, the older brother’s disquisition on the need to be rich in the US was worth the price of admission.