25 August 2010

It Has To Start Somewhere

I've lived in the D.C. Metropolitan area my entire life. I was born in the city. I've spent most of my adult life in the city. I remember when Penn Quarter/Chinatown/Gallery Place was a dangerous wasteland of shadows, crumbling buildings, drug dealers, hookers, and various other unpleasantness.

And I remember when the art galleries came. They were the first wave of development to this forgotten part of the city. They were a beacon of hope that business and beauty can survive and thrive amongst the hulls and shells and devastation. Then came a sit-down eatery or two. Then came more businesses. Then came The Verizon Center. Then came development in earnest. Now look at the neighborhood and how far they've come.

Some people are hoping that history can repeat itself in the most desolate of desolate places. It's true that "the arts aren't the 'be all and end all'" and that there will still be plenty of work to do. But with these art-related businesses opening and the Department of Homeland Security moving in relatively soon, one can't help but see a reenactment of "The Rebuilding Of Penn Quarter" right here in SE DC.

I, for one, am very excited for my Ward.

How Much Does A Few Minutes Cost?

Quite possibly an election.

There's been talk, mostly from the pro-Fenty base, that none of this really matters. Dr. Angelou and Mrs. Height weren't residents of our fair city so what does it matter what they had to talk to the mayor about, they say. The mayor is too busy doing the business of the people, they say. The days of kow-towing to special interests are over, they say.

Except these two women weren't special interests. They are pillars of the black community. They are cultural icons. It would have taken the mayor an hour of his time at most to speak with them. The political reward would have been great. The support he would have received from the District's black population would have been enormous. But most importantly, the boost it would have given his image ... the smoothing of those rough edges, the "humanification" of that aloof personality ... would have been priceless. And the mayor probably wouldn't find himself in the fight for his political life.

That missed meeting may well have been the beginning of the end for Mayor Fenty. Black district residents, especially those of the fairer sex, began to look at the mayor through different eyes and they started to see a man who didn't care about them.

Whether that perception is true or not is moot. In politics, perception is everything.

24 August 2010

A New Tool For Accountability (UPDATED)

Do you ride Metro? Are you frustrated with all of the issues Metro has? Do you wish that you could give Metro a visual aid to show its failings? Well, TBD.com is launching a new map tool that will do just that ... provided you give the details. So the next time your station escalator isn't working, or the train is late, or that stupid ticket machine keeps eating your hard-earned cash, don't be timid -- go to the map and lodge your complaint.

Ah, but sorry Metrobus riders. It doesn't seem that you have a voice on this new mapping tool. At least not yet, anyway.

UPDATE: 08/23/2010 12:12: Okay, it so it isn't a map. But it is a step in the right direction for the lower-profiled Metrobus riders.

20 August 2010

And This Is Bad How?

There are those leaders who seek consensus and take forever because of endless meetings, in the effort to appear to be doing something when nothing is getting done. Then there are those leaders who seek consensus and get it in a timely manner because the voice of the people is important in governing.

Mr. Gray has been one of the most effective City Council chairmen. He has accomplished this by getting all voices heard and moving toward a resolution that benefits the whole, not just a few. I see no reason why he wouldn't govern as mayor in the same manner. Being deliberative and thoughtful are not bad attributes to have, and Mr. Gray has them in spades ... yet he has also shown that he is not crippled by them. I expect that, if elected mayor, Mr. Gray will bring "order and civility and decorum" to the entire of D.C. government. And wouldn't that be a nice change?

Git Yer Junk Out

The Antiques Roadshow is coming to the Washington Convention Center tomorrow! Unfortunately, if you don't already have a ticket, you can't go. Bummer.


The work week is over. The sun is out. It's a beautiful morning. And I feel like music. So here are the greatest names of popular rock and roll in the fall of 1992, at the height of their musical powers. While there is always the possibility, I doubt that we will ever again see such a collection of talent together on the same stage sharing the same song. Enjoy!

19 August 2010

Yes, But Will It Star Tom Cruise?

I own an iPhone. It is my Brain. It is also my main source of entertainment, especially with game ... especially with Angry Birds. I have completed all of the levels that are currently available with the highest 3-star rating. I have unlocked all of the currently available easter eggs. Simply stated, I love this game. So imagine my excitement when I read that Rovio is fishing for a studio to make this wildly entertaining game into a movie.

I'm all behind this idea. The game has a basic plot - birds have eggs, pigs steal eggs, birds rain avian vengeance on pigs - which lends itself to multiple story directions. Seriously ... this would be hard to screw up. I mean, you'd have to be a talent of epic proportions to make a mess of an Angry Birds movie.

If you haven't played the game or even heard of it before (and if that's the case, what cave do you live in?), here is the official game trailer.

Tasty Crow, Or "Look! Up In The Sky!"

Okay, okay, remember when I said very loudly and clearly that D.C. was lacking its own super contingent?

I was wrong. So very wrong.

18 August 2010

The Hump Day Mehs

It's a dreary, rainy, busy Wednesday and nothing in the news excites me. So, to perk us all up, I offer this ...

17 August 2010

EFN Lounge & Motley Bar Shutters Its Doors

I ran across a blog post last night with news that I honestly couldn't believe.
It seems that EFN Lounge and Motley Bar, legally known as Wami, LLC, is the latest DC gay bar to bite the dust.
A quick trip to EFN's webpage results in a page load error. This could mean one of two things ... either the webmaster is asleep at the wheel or the blog post is true. So I did some searching around online and found corroboration of the story. Just to be certain, I then went onto Facebook to check the statuses of people I know who work for EFN Lounge. The status update on 16 August 2010 around 8pm of a friend who bartends there stated, "OWNERS EMAILED STAFF: MOTLEY BAR IS CLOSED!!!"

So it's official. EFN Lounge & Motley Bar is dead.

The bar, then known as BeBar, engaged in a bitter fight with a church that didn't even occupy the same ANC at the bar. After the six month struggle, BeBar opened to much fanfare and hoopla back in September of 2006. The pre-launch party was wall-to-wall people with hardly room to breath, much less move. The gay bar was a pioneer, opening in a part of the city that was much farther east than any of its competition. Some in the city thought that this would bring traffic and business to an area that desperately needed both while others considered the neighborhood too unsafe for such late night activities. Eventually, the critics appeared to be right as attacks against gays patronizing the bar began to increase. One of my best friends was almost a victim of a brutal attack after leaving the bar; only his quick wits and quicker legs potentially saved his life.

In May of 2009, the bar underwent a dramatic reinvention under new ownership and emerged as EFN Lounge & Motley Bar. Several new events (such at Bear Happy Hour, ActiveDuty, fashion shows, jello wrestling, and POZ) were introduced as a way to bring patrons back. But, it seems, the patrons just couldn't be bothered to keep coming back.

Perhaps the neighborhood is still perceived to be too unsafe to risk the visit. Perhaps the rumors of underage patrons kept legal-aged patrons away. Perhaps the vibe just wasn't right. Whatever the reason(s), the District has lost a gay establishment that tried to cater to parts of the gay community that were too often overlooked.

Now, with the reporting part out of the way, I'd like to give you my thoughts. I was never a fan of the bar. It was too expensive, too pretentious, too full of itself to be enjoyable. I would go from time to time because I had friends who worked there. Once the new ownership took over, things took a nosedive. The attitude was nasty. The bar made underhanded and shady moves on other gay establishments' business (*coughBearHappyHourcough*). The general manager of Cobalt suffered multiple personal attacks on his character and reputation at the hands of EFN Lounge management.

Disclaimer: I work at Cobalt as the host of the long-running Wednesday Night Karaoke.

I'm a firm believer that what goes around comes around. While I feel for the people who are now out of work, I do not lament the closing of this bar. To any ownership that informs its employees that they are unemployed effective immediately via email, I say "stay classy". And to any business that is so insecure of itself that it needs to make personal attacks on another bar's manager and secure patronage through shady moves, I say "good riddance".

UPDATE: 08/17/2010 11:45: Metro Weekly has more on this story. It's sad that, even in closing, the place is still dysfunctional.

16 August 2010

Fenty Brings The Big Guns

The Washington City Paper is reporting today that Mayor Fenty is getting some major campaigning help tomorrow in his bid for re-election. The problem is ... nobody in D.C. really cares about the person coming to town.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is coming to D.C. tomorrow to help support Mayor Adrian Fenty’s re-election bid, according to a Fenty campaign source.
C'mon now. I mean really. What kind of sway is NYC Mayor Bloomberg going to have here in Our Nation's Capital? He has no ties here. He has no say, direct or indirect, about how our city runs. His only very loose connection is that Mayor Fenty idolizes him.

This reeks of desperation. It's the equivalent of a faltering television show relying on a special guest star appearance to help bolster ratings.

Mr. Mayor, you will have to do much better than this.

Mr. Fenty Insists On Hearing Bad News Immediately

I learned from Tiffany Bridge of We Love DC that City Council Chairman Vince Gray came home Thursday night to a “threatening display of magazines". Tiffany calls the stunt "cartoonish" and I have to agree. I mean, if you're going to send a message to someone, send a real message!

Am I right? Hello?

13 August 2010

New Music Venue In Downtown D.C.?

The Washington Post has a fascinating tidbit in today's online webpage.

First, it's in a sweet location - within walking distance to several Metro stations, in the heart of Tourist Land, and in a very safe part of the city. (You'll notice the Treasury Building at the end of F Street NW.)

Second, there's this:
Meyer envisions a "more adult" music club with a general focus on singer-songwriters. He hopes to book country acts and gospel artists. He hopes to curate free lunchtime concerts. He hopes to host local up-and-comers and marquee veterans.
That's a big deal. Other than an occasional coffee shop, there really aren't any places for singer-songwriters, especially those of the local up-and-comer types, to perform. Which leads us to my next point.

Third, because it sounds like it will be a more intimate space focused on music that may sit just outside of the mainstream, acts such as one of my favorite unheard bands or one of my favorite mostly unheard solo acts might come to D.C. for more than one gig every year or so.

And fourth, pardon my egotistical musings, it could very well get me to get off my tookus and back onto the stage where I belong.

Please, oh please, oh please ... Powers of Righteousness, Keepers of Light, Protectors of Goodliness ... let Mr. Meyer open this venue!

"Georgetown Cupcakes Take Over 33rd Street"

"I can't take zee cahpcakes anymorah. C'ya!"

Neither can we, sir. Neither can we.

"Never Found One Person" Means You Didn't Look Hard Enough

I'm glad Pee-Wee Herman is back.

I enjoyed his way bizarre Saturday morning show when I was younger. I saw the beginnings of several long careers, though I couldn't have known it at the time. And this has forever been burned into my brain.

I loved his first movie. It's highly quotable. It was Tim Burton's first full-length movie. And this has forever been burned into my brain.

So I'm glad Pee-Wee's back.

Mr. Reubens, unfortunately, can't let go of the past. True, those of us old enough to remember will always remember that infamous event. But this new generation of kids ... well, they may know about it, really. But they probably wouldn't at all if Mr. Rubens would stop talking about it.

Look, I get it. He feels wronged. And for all we know, he was incorrectly fingered out. Mr. Reubens, I'm gathering from the article, wishes it had gone to trial. He believes that he would have gotten off because of the evidence. From the article:
"Had we gone to trial, we had ready an expert from the Masters and Johnson Institute who was going to testify that in 30 years of research on masturbation the institute had never found one person who masturbated with his or her non-dominant hand," Reubens divulges in the latest issue of Playboy (which hits newsstands Friday). "I’m right-handed, and the police report said I was jerking off with my left hand. That would have been the end of the case right there, proof it couldn’t have been me."
Okay. Here is what I really wanted to post about. Let's look at that quote again, shall we?
... in 30 years of research on masturbation the institute had never found one person who masturbated with his or her non-dominant hand ...
I'm going to call shenanigans here.

All those who masturbate with their non-dominant hand, raise your dominant hand. (I'd love to, but I'm typing this blog post right now.) I'm certain at least one person raised his (or her) hand. (I would have, but I was typing.)

I'm sorry, Mr. Reubens, but just because your institute couldn't find one person in 30 years doesn't mean he (or she) doesn't exist. I'd guarantee you that the plaintiff's attorney would have found one.

Look, Pee-Wee. Just drop it. It was a stupid crime. Hardly anyone thought it was worth the hoopla. We certainly don't think any less of you now. Let it go.

Just. Let. It. Go.

(And get back to making that new movie. I totally can't wait!)

12 August 2010

Here I Come To Save The Day!

I once offered a prayer.

It was not answered.

So I rethought my position. No one has been hurt (as far as I can tell from scouring the Interwebs). The cat is out of the bag and this seems to be something that is going to stay around, regardless of what sane people may think. So I looked at the RLSHs registered on the official website and crunched some numbers. This is what I came up with.

D.C. does not have any superheroes.

Now, if this is going to be a thing, then the greatest city in the world needs at least one RLSH. Utah has four, for Pete's sake! So maybe the District could use an extra hand or two in curbing non-violent crimes.

Not that I'm advocating such a thing.

Must-Have Smartphone Apps For Drivers

Do you own a car? If you live in the D.C. Metro area, the answer is "most likely". Do you drive? If you live in the D.C. Metro area, the answer is also "most likely". Do you own a smartphone? Here the numbers may start dropping off a little.

If you do own a smartphone and you do spend a considerable amount of time behind the wheel of an automobile, you may have wondered to yourself, Self, how can I make this constant commuting easier on myself?

The answer to that rhetoric question is apps! And MSN Autos has done a decent job of rounding up ten smartphone apps that can help you in your quest of better, smarter, safer driving.

I have a couple of the apps on their list and they work pretty well. No one app is going to be the "silver bullet" so you'd want to have two or three of each type then pick and choose as the situation warrants it. (At least that's how I roll.) I'd also recommend to use free apps when you can. It's not that I'm a cheapskate (though I am) but I'm finding that the free apps are quickly closing the functionality gap with the for-pay apps.

Check out their list. Remember that it's not the be-all-end-all of available apps, but it should get you started. Don't be afraid to try out additional apps on your own, especially the free ones. And be safe out there!

Wicked Awful Storm (UPDATED)

I live in the city but I work in NoVA. The storm that ravaged Montgomery County and NW DC this morning hadn't hit River East when I left for work this morning. But if my experience driving in it is any indication, it wasn't a fun storm by any means.

I expect that we'll see plenty of news stories today about how many people lost power this morning and how horrible the morning rush hour was, especially north of the city. Gauging by the radar image at weather.com, this particular storm cell should be out of the area by 08:30. This afternoon should be interesting.

Here's to hoping that this storm wasn't too rough on the D.C. Metro area.

UPDATE: 08/12/2010 11:57: I suppose I was being a bit too optimistic in my hopes that the D.C. area would be mostly spared by this morning's storm.

11 August 2010

More Mayoral Election Coverage! (Sort Of.) (UPDATED)

TBD.com, the link to which you can find in my Additional Reading section, hosted a live streamed debate between the two front-running Democratic candidates for District mayor, so the odds are that you won't find video on it (I couldn't). It was also liveblogged, which is kind of like being promised a steak but getting a plate rubbed with steak sauce. Anyway, check out the liveblogging.

While we're all here, I seriously have some serious gripes against my city and the way major elections are handled. First, in case you weren't aware, there are more than two Democratic candidates running for mayor. Every election year it seems to be the same thing: incumbent mayor versus City Council chairperson. It's like no one else has a chance, so why even bother?

Second, there are more political parties than the Democratic Party in the District of Columbia and some of them have candidates for mayor as well. I'm not certain if District residents are even aware of this fact since, as it has been since Home Rule was enacted, whoever wins the Democratic Primary wins the General Election. Why should anyone who isn't a registered Democrat be rustled to vote at all?

Finally, what with all the local media we have in this city, you would think that you'd know my first two points already. But the odds are that you don't. And that is a major failing of our local media. All candidates should have equal coverage. (Okay, maybe not all candidates should get equal coverage. How about all serious candidates?) We have Independent, Statehood, and, in past elections, Republican candidates that the general public know nothing about. How difficult would it be to run stories on these candidates? We could have Democratic Mondays, Republican Tuesdays, Independent Wednesdays, Statehood Thursdays, and Everyone Else Fridays. Seriously, see how easy that was? And I'm not even a newsroom editor!

As I've griped before, I believe our city would be much better run, much better represented, much better ... better ... if more parties were part of our city government. I think the monopoly that the Democratic Party has isn't a good thing for our city. The Democrats have erected a wall that is almost impossible for any other party to scale. And that is a disservice to us, the people of Washington, D.C. It's up to us to right this wrong and make our government more inclusive, more diverse, and more functional.

Washington D.C., tear down this wall!

UPDATE: 08/11/2010 12:26: DCist steals my thunder. Bastards.

UPDATE: 08/11/2010 18:05: Check out the comment section for a comment from Many Jenkins with a link to the video of the debate. Thanks, Mandy!

And I Thought Only Congress Came Up With Bad Ideas

If Broadway isn't dead yet, it should be soon. Unless, of course, this is actually light opera and not the piece of sanctimonious, overwrought, cacophonous dreck I'm expecting based on the names of those involved with the songwriting.
The production, which will feature the music of the two U2 members most people can name -- yes, Bono and the Edge -- has been scuffling about in the creative stages for several years.
All I have to say about this is, well ... Spidey, take it away!

10 August 2010

You Say I'm Crazy?

I got your crazy!

I debated about posting this, but ... and let's be honest here ... we've all known alcoholic uncles who make more sense than this man. Seriously, what was his point?

We can haz term limitz now pleez?

09 August 2010

Happy Birthday To Me!

Yes, today is my birthday. It was exactly 38 years ago that I entered the world and ushered in a new age ... an age of enlightenment ... an age of love ... an age of peace ... an age of Terrestrial healing ... an age of ME!

(Okay, so there's a bit of embellishment there. But if President Obama can make such claims, why can't I?)

"Happy birthday" to me and "you're welcome" to the rest of you!

Another "Muppet Show" Legend Dies

Jim Henson got his start right here in D.C. so I think it's fair for us to consider the whole Henson family as our family, regardless of where they might be. So it is with sad heart that I read that Jack Parnell, real-life bandleader of "The Muppet Show", passed away yesterday.

Mr. Parnell, for all of the joy you brought me as a child, this one's for you.

Shouldn't There Be A Background Check?

I've never thought of this before, but recent news about yet another failure has me wondering if, perhaps, nationally-televised shows should do a bit more research on their contestants first.

Don't get me wrong, I do understand that the restaurant business is a difficult business. An Ohio State University study in 2003 found that roughly 60% of restaurants fail within the first three years, and that number might even be a bit high. So four failed restaurants within a ten year period seems a bit above the average.

Or maybe that's just me.

Still, I think that these reality shows should have some level of responsibility when it comes to vetting potential contestants. They should field the best of the best of whoever is auditioning. And they should look at the whole picture.

Or maybe that's just me, as well.

An Unfortunate Situation, A Broken Unspoken Rule

I've been a Metro rider (Metrorail and Metrobus) both during peak and off-peak hours. Never was I ever concerned about safety while on (or in) the Metro system. That is because there has always been an unspoken rule about the Washington D.C. Metro System ... crime stays on the streets and out of public transportation. We, the law-abiding public and the criminal underground, have always had a truce on the rails and in the buses.

Until Friday night.

These kids ... and they were kids, not "young adults" ... broke that truce. They abused the trust of everyone. And they reinforced the reason that D.C. has a curfew law.

They should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and made an example of. Their "parents" need to whoop their asses. This new generation of thugs and bangers need to learn to respect the truce on the Metro system and keep their ghetto actions on the streets.

04 August 2010

Enough With The Fads Already!

First it was burgers. Then it was cupcakes. Now popsicles? Dear God/Jesus/Mary/Joseph/and-all-the-Saints-in-heaven NO-O-O-O-O-O!

But, Diarist, popsicles are wonderful!

Yes, they are. And here is why I'm completely against this newest of District stupidity:
Every day, the Dairy Godmother sells seven flavors, each priced at $2.36.


Milk and cream come from the Trickling Springs Creamery in Pennsylvania; its fruit comes from the Mount Pleasant Farmers Market, where Horowitz and Sykora began hawking their $2.50 pops on July 3.


Potenza offers a $5 pop made with limoncello, grappa and a dash of lemon bitters, and Saint-Ex has an elderflower "poptail."
$2.36 ... $2.50 ... 5$ for a popsicle? C'mon, people, some things just aren't supposed to be gourmet. And frozen flavored water on a stick is definitely one of them.

03 August 2010

Please Fix The Format Next Time Around

I'll admit up front that I watched all six episodes of D.C. Cupcakes. I was excited to see that a small bakery business in the District would have its own show, like other bakeries in other cities. I couldn't wait to see the trials of starting a business, of meeting the crush of customers, of handling staffing, of making the monthly bottom line.

Instead we got the most scripted "reality" show I've ever seen. With a couple scene exceptions, everything seemed to be set up and "performed" with a loose script. The show seemed to be a slight parody of the reality baking shows that came before it.

Color me disappointed.

To my chagrin, TLC has signed the girls on to another season. I wasn't quite sure why the network would possibly do that until I read this:
About 1.1 million people watched the debut at 10 p.m. on July 16; the second week the audience grew a tick, and by last Friday, 1.5 million were watching the first-season finale in which a local fireman asked for baking lessons -- really? -- which somehow led to a sister vs. sister bake-off at the firehouse.
I guess people like their reality shows the way they like their cupcakes ... saccharine, fluffy, and with a load of icing on top.

If they want to continue down the path on which they've started, then play the parody up and stop being so coy. Otherwise, show us the real drama ... the drama of trying to survive as a small business owner.

Shark Week!

I love Shark Week. I love tuning in to the Discovery Channel to watch shows about sharks. I'm not the only one. Shark Week has become a big deal since it was introduced back in 1987. But some people don't seem to understand why it's such a draw. No, it's not because of this:
It's not about sharks, man. Like Snakes on a Plane, Piranhas 3-D, or any other over-the-top animal-attack fest with a blunt, obvious name, Shark Week has bite—albeit the self-conscious, meticulously styled, trying-so-hard-to-be-cool kind.
It is about the sharks, man! Sharks are awesome, in the most traditional sense of the word. Sharks are frightening in that primal way that bees and snakes and dentists are frightening. Sharks are the misunderstood kid in the playground.

I'm going to give you a few reasons why Shark Week is so friggin' awesome.
  1. Sure, Christmas has all the lights and stars and whatnot. But Shark Week has friggin' sharks! Take that Santa Claus!

  2. Craig Ferguson loves Shark Week, too. And he will be hosting Shark Week this year!

  3. Sharks are responsible for one of the greatest movies ever made. And though none of them could ever touch the success of that iconic film, sharks are also responsible for some fairly respectable films ... and some utter crap.

So, in the end, why is it that people like Shark Week? I know why I do (as you've just read). But what about you? Do you like Shark Week? What are your reasons?

02 August 2010

A True Shocker

It appears that The Night Owl didn't break any laws when he awarded his then-girlfriend a city contract. While innocent of criminal charges, the man is still sketchy.
Cecily E. Collier-Montgomery, director of the campaign finance office, wrote in an order dated Friday that Barry failed to follow the city's regulations for employee conduct, which should have guided him but that he did not violate the city's laws.
I can forgive an occasional and unintentional lapse in ethics, but Mr. Barry has made a career out of unethical behavior. If he truly wanted the best for his constituents, he would step down and out of the way.

Today's Most Non-Newsworthy Story!

Other than having the opportunity to type "Snowpocalypse" and "Snowmageddon" one last time, I honestly don't see the point of this Washington Post article.

Can you say "slow news day"? I knew you could.

The Antiques Road Show Would Have Picked This Out

Here's yet another problem with our 24-hour, must-report-now, fact-checking-what's-that news cycle. Seriously. How difficult would it have been to dig around a bit more (or not report it at all without conclusive evidence)?

Though, it begs the question ... if Ansel Adams' pictures are worth so much, why doesn't Uncle Earle's (arguably artistically equal) work command the same price?

(Via Gizmodo.)

Try Driving In D.C. Rush Hour

Boring? Really? I've never considered driving to be boring (except for that trek to/from Lexington Park, MD).

UPDATE 08/02/2010 11:05: Just because ...