Archive for the ‘D.C.’ Tag

Readers and Writers in DC

Coming up in May will be the second annual LiteraryHill Bookfest in Washington, DC.

Find out more at:

http://www.literaryhillbookfest.org/

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Our Block’s Progressive Party

A few of us talked about it last month. Five people met ten days ago and figured out the host houses and their part of the meal. Using Evite, people responded if they were coming and what kind of food they would be contributing on Sunday.

Fourth Street in Washington, D.C.’s Shaw and Truxton Circle neighborhood is part of Old City II. The group of twenty four houses on one side of the street dates from the early 1870s and are a number of small houses, ranging from 1200 to 1500 sq. feet on two to three floors. The other side has bigger houses of three stories, erected near the beginning of the last century.

Our house would be the second stop: appetizers. We saw who planned on bringing appetizers from a glance at the list. My husband made stuffed mushrooms and stuffed grape leaves. I waited until the last minute to grill chicken sausages so that they would be as fresh and hot as possible. Starting at 2 o’clock people came from around the street to drop off their appetizers. We laid them on our circular dining table.

Washington had ice and a little snow the evening before. We’d gotten rid of most of it but a chill remained. At 4 in the afternoon, the party started up the street in one of the larger of the smaller houses. The open floor plan enabled guests to stand around in the living room and dining room. Drinks and cocktails sat on a long table in the dining room. Two of the children made name tags for the guests as they walked in. Around 35 people enjoyed their drinks and conversations. I found our Dutch host’s art very interesting. She made one photo collage of a bull licking his private parts in different colors that gave me a smile. I asked where her cats were and discovered she put them in a room upstairs because the big one might have wanted to lay in the middle of the party.

I left early to get to my house and finalize preparations. Then as the appointed time to arrive past I grew nervous. Our cat Lila, a 16-year-old all-black domestic short hair, gave me a few meows as if anticipating something. My husband came home first and told me to relax. The first crew came in and I took their coats upstairs. Our cat remained downstairs to the joy of an 18 month old girl who couldn’t wait to pet her.

As more and more people came we piled the coats on the upstairs bed. I announced that the AFC Championship Game was on upstairs in our office. However, almost all the people crowded around our kitchen. Downstairs is only 400 square feet so all these people somehow found a space and could communicate.

As we showed people around, highlighting our African safari pictures of a leopard in a tree and a baby hyena to some of the other children who came, Lila needed to get away. She moved outside but as it got colder I wanted her to come in. I showed the children how Lila eats shrimp out of my hand then let her try to escape.

The football game between the Patriots and Ravens came down to one final drive in the fourth quarter. I announced to people who had an interest the circumstances and all eight of us squeezed inside the office to watch the Ravens’ final drive. One of the our good neighbors announced that the partiers intended to move across the street for the dinner. I said fine, thanks we’re watching the game. She laughed. We watched until the missed field goal.

Before I left I looked for Lila. As owners know, when the cat does not want to be found, you will struggle to find her. I made sure that she was not outside the house and went across the street to enjoy the dinner. The family had done a ton of the organizing of the event.

The feast included three sets of chicken, vegetarian dishes, assorted other specialties. The family dog waited under the table. Good, quiet but hopeful.  The walls contained a nice collage of family photographs. While some people watched football and mingled in the kitchen, groups clustered all around the sofa, series of chairs near the dining table and the hallway. I discussed trips, my books, people told me about their relationships, children, interests.

On the way to desert and coffee back across the street and down to the end of the block, I checked in on our cat. Lila felt relaxed and ate from her bowl. The newlywed hosts for the last stage have a house close to ours in size. Their settee proved comfortable for many on this last leg. The central table near the kitchen counter bar area held towers of cupcakes, a cheery cobbler, ice cream, chocolate pudding and chocolate chip cookies. Urns with drinks filled most of the counter space. Many of us clustered around the table and kitchen finishing conversations, or adding new elements, or maybe trying to meet someone new until groups went off home one by one.

Navy Again Bests Army

The Naval Academy won the big game of the year defeating the Army yesterday afternoon.

Navy won a down to the wire game 27-21 at Fed Ex Field, in suburban Maryland.

Different takes include this complaint by fans of New England Patriots who play the Washington Redskins at Fed Ex Field today. The White House offers this one as President Obama attended the game.

Washington, D.C. is the biggest winner. The city has tried for over 1oo years to get the Army-Navy game played in its area and failed. Back in the early 1900s they offered to build a stadium in Potomac Park.

The one hundred years of effort is in the book, Capital Sporting Grounds.

Potomac Park Army Navy Stadium

Washington Coliseum, Uline Arena

Been writing a book about the professional basketball teams that played in Washington, DC. One of the best did after World War II, in an area near the railroad yards and Union Station.

Today and tomorrow, an Irish theater company is playing at the old arena.

Here’s this show.

http://swampoodledc.com/

Tennis and Economic Development

How many promises are made about building an area when a new Major League Baseball team, a National Football League team or a National Basketball Association team wants the city to put in a ton of money for a new stadium or arena? Tons.

Authors like Andrew Zimbalast  conclude that sports teams and facilities are not a source of local economic growth and employment; second, the magnitude of the net subsidy exceeds the financial benefit of a new stadium to a team.

The Brookings Institution say the promises are usually not met.

Washington, DC tried this with the Nationals Park as a part of the office buildings and condominiums that sprang up all across the Navy Yard and parts of southeast.

Now the southwest waterfront is the next development area.

The city poured $200 million for infrastructure improvements and a developer began the process of building condominiums. The new tennis stadium is one of the drawing cards to this part of the city.

The team says on its website that the new location will enhance the viewing experience for fans who already consider the Kastles’ home one of the most intimate, exciting tennis venues in the country.

The developers PN Hoffman and Madison Marquette hope and think this 3,000-seat tennis stadium will jump-start a nearly $2 billion, 10-year redevelopment project. The stadium will serve to lure area residents to a waterfront development of hotels, restaurants, shops, a marina with 600 new boat slips and dockside apartments.

World Television

Ever wonder what programs other countries enjoy on television? What makes a nation’s shows unique or particular to England, France, Germany, Brazil?

INPUT-tv is in Washington, DC this week hosting evenings of teleivsion from countries around the world.  The Film series, Best of INPUT 2010 shows the winners from the conference the international public television group held last year.

These provacative programs started with a documentary done from the perspective of the rabbits living behind the Berlin Wall. This funny and insightful look, nominated for an Oscar, featured the rabbits who found a peaceful home in the so-called “death strip” along the wall surrounding West Berlin. Without any suspicion, they tell of a heavenly life in the midst of lush greenery and with virtually no enemies, well protected by an impenetrable wall.

Tuesday is a Swiss program called Taboo.

Wednesday at the American Film Institute are two looks at native peoples. One features Ecuador, the other Australia.

Thursday is at the Goethe-Institut Washington and features television from Brazil. A comedy, an adventure show and a game show.

Jobs, Justice, Equality

Today’s March brought out more people than Glen Beck’s March did. The unions, churches, gay and lesbian rights groups, and political organizations filled the Mall around the Reflecting Pool and the grass leading up to the Lincoln Memorial.

The speakers were not very skillful orators. Many of the same old same old speakers, including Jesse Jackson, took the podium and were frankly dull.

I got tired of all the simple mantras, like we need to fight for education for everybody, and most of the chants did not generate audience chanting it back in response.

Evoking Martin Luther King Jr. in your talk does not automatically generate enthusiasm in the crowd. Fighting for economic justice was dame tough for King too and they did not succeed like they did with the Civil Rights fight.

The best thing were the homemade signs like:

Wall Street has two parties, the people deserve one too!

Go out and vote, then hold the Democrats to helping the everyday person make their live better!

End of Summer

Who wondered about summer’s end as the weather turned cooler the last few days?

Another summer series ran its course last night. The DC Renaissance Hotel’s Independent Film Series showed Fish Out of Water and Black Over White last night as the last two movies for the year. The series included a wide variety of movies and different and unusual documentaries and fiction works.

The comfortable surroundings offer food and the proximity of people provided plenty of chaces to hold interesting and intriguing conversations about movies, travel, books, food and Washington, DC.

DC’s Great Dance Week

Two live shows and representing on So You Think You Can Dance; can we hear it for DC dance!

Carter Barron Ampitheatre hosted Metro DC Dance on Friday. On Saturday, Culture Shock DC filled the place. East Coast Dance Community Concert 2010 featured hip hopers and troupes ranging in ages from 7 to mid-age. Groups came down from Philadelphia and New York City and over from Germany, bringing lots of percision and  and high energy along with individual breakout skills.

They will be holding the free event again next summer so be ready.

The finale of So You Think You Can Dance for 2010 crowned Lauren as the top dancer. It showed us the top dance numbers for the year and, of course, featured Ellen De Generes getting down. The show also put DC dance on the map. Luke came out and showed his tap dance chops. During the DC Hip Hop festival, my partner and I saw Luke come out of the audience to put on his show at Dance Place. Here’s how one reporter saw Luke: Then a 7-year-old kid, Luke, came out to take his place. And by god, can that kid dance. No offense to Melinda (…OK, offense to Melinda), but THAT is what I think of when I think of tap. The kid had rhythm, variation, and style to spare. She always just seemed so messy when she did tap. The other styles she was great on, but tap? I never got it. This kid was great.

Then the Manzari Brothers followed with a tap routine. The two performed in Arena Stage’s Sophisticated Ladies this spring.

Everybody’s Seeing Passing Strange

Studio Theatre has a major hit.

Their production of Stew’s autobiographical show that started at the Public Theater in NYC and played over 150 shows on Broadway is drawing huge crowds to their 4th Stage.

Originally planned as the last week of the run, the Studio turned away people for the last two nights. Most of the crowd is young and it is ethnically mixed.

We saw the NYC show and look forward to seeing how the DC world handles the story of a black rock musician growing up as he travels the world.