Sunday, December 28, 2008

Fun With Google Streetview

If there's anyone out there who hasn't yet had an opportunity to test drive Google's "StreetView" application, I'd recommend it as a good way to kill some time at work. Heck, if you're like me it will completely suck you in. It's the next best thing to actually walking through a neighborhood...or driving it...or living in it. But whatever.

Just for fun, I grabbed a few screenshots of some areas around Logan/U Street and though I'd share them here. The pic quality is low-res--I guess they have to be in order for the program to function properly. Once I got over the pseudo-creepiness factor of being able to look into my living room window through this program, I decided that it's pretty darn neat. See for yourself...

1500 block of U Street:

1200 block of U St., showing the Lincoln Theater, Ben's Chili Bowl and the True Reformer Building:

13th St. rowhouses, just north of U St.:

1400 block of P St.:

Pretty houses around Logan Circle:

The corner of 11th and P, looking west towards Logan Circle:

11th and U, looking north towards Bohemian Caverns:

Businesses along 14th St.:

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas from the 14thandYous

The 14thandYous, Lizzie and Spike  (pictured here in festive dress--trust us, no animals were harmed during the shooting of this photo) would like to wish everyone a merry Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Pagan Winterfest and/or December 25 (if you do not celebrate anything at all).  We hope your holiday was enjoyable and relaxing, and that--for one day at least--you were able t tear yourselves away from the neighborhood drama an enjoy some time with friends and family.

The 14thandYous are taking a little holiday time off from the blog due to travel, family obligations and so on.  We'll be back online soon.  In the meantime, we hope everyone has a safe and wonderful New Year.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Even TV Hosts Aren't Immune From DC Street Crime

Normally, something like this involving a semi-celebrity that took place well outside the bounds of our hood would go unnoticed here, but considering the recent spike in murders/stabbings/general street chaos I found this to be interesting.

Seems that Fox MSNBC morning show co-host Mika Brzezinski was mugged this morning outside of the DC hotel where she has been staying. In terms of muggings, this one was pretty tame: a man approached her from across the street and asked her for $20, adding that if she gave him money nothing bad would happen to her. She managed to come up with $6, and the mugger apparently decided that the other $14 could wait and took off. Brzezinski was unharmed.

Now, there is a couple of things worth pointing out here. First, this mugger reminds me a lot of some of the panhandlers I have run into in Baltimore who ask for exact change (sample request: "Hey man, you got 84¢?"). I wonder what this gentleman was planning to purchase with his newly acquired wealth--and I wonder if he would have refused additional cash had Brzezinski had, say, $40 in her wallet? Why not just ask for everything she had on her?

Secondly, this happened on a day when our esteemed mayor was making an appearance on the "Morning Joe" show. At the very least, Fenty could have offered to drive Mika around in his SmartCar to look for the man who took her $6. To further his role as ambassador for the District, the mayor could have also pointed out how friendly some of our muggers can actually be. The mugger stereotype is of someone who behaves callously towards others and is willing to commit acts of violence in order to achieve his goal; this one clearly bucks that stereotype, although he did vaguely threaten violence if Brzezinski didn't comply.

Finally, if a TV personality was going to get mugged in DC, why couldn't it have been O'Reilly? Just askin'.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

One Dead in Shooting at 11th and Q

Edit: The Washington Blade is reporting that the police are focusing on robbery as a motive in the shooting death of Durval Martins. Martins' body was found near the intersection of 11th and Q at 3:30 AM on Tuesday morning, and he was apparently clutching his wallet. Interestingly however his other personal effects--cell phone, watch, etc.--were found on him. It's possible that whoever shot Martins panicked and ran off before robbing him of his other items; alternately, it's possible that robbery was not the intent of the individual who committed this act.

Either way, what a complete tragedy this is. There is a sickening lack of respect for human life by some in this city.


...and the violence continues. DCist chronicles two more murders that occured in northwest last night, including one which occured at around 3:30 AM near the skate park at 11th and Q streets. No details as far as motive are available at the moment. The other murder took place at 4th and V streets, just off the Howard University campus.

We're not thrilled about our blog being taken over by reports of shootings, knifings and murders...but sadly that's just where things are right now.

The two murders give the District 183 for the year, and if the pace of the last week continues unabated we'll be making a strong run at 200 before the end of the year.

Monday, December 15, 2008

More Holiday Happenings

As mentioned in my previous Holiday Happenings post, there are numerous holiday events throughout the month. Below are some events coming up in the next couple of weeks.

For the most part, I've not included family-oriented events or events in Maryland and Virginia, but there are plenty of great things to do. I particularly enjoy the numerous drive-through light displays. For a more extensive listing of fun stuff going on this month, visit the Post's Going Out Guide or the What's On - Washington, DC website.

Throughout the Month:
At Source, the Washington Improv Theater ad-libs Seasonal Disorder hour-long shows about a dysfunctional family's Christmas gathering. The theater company incorporates information from audience members into their show such as worst present received and a family holiday tradition. Shows take place at 8 p.m. on December 19th and 20th and 26th and 27th.

The Audoban Society has an annual Christmas bird count during which birdwatchers help to survey areas all over the Americas. For more information go here.

There are myriad light displays in and around DC. For a fairly comprehensive list, go here.

For more ongoing holiday events, please see my previous post.

Monday the 15th:
At the Washington National Cathedral, an exhibit of creche scenes from around the world goes on display today. The exhibit will remain in place until the end of the Christmas season on January 6th.

AFI Silver Theater in Silver Spring will show the classic It's a Wonderful Life at 5:20 p.m.

Tuesday the 16th:
At 11 a.m. the National Gallery of Art, take an hour-long guided tour exploring artworks in the permanent collection with holiday themes. The free tour begins in the rotunda of the West Building.

December 16th, 17th, and 18th there will be a holiday market at the Navy Yard Metro area from 11:30 a.m. until 6 p.m.

Penn Quarter area workers may want to attend the lunchtime Christmas concert at Church of the Epiphany on G Street.

A Capella performance at the U.S. Botanic Gardens from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Wednesday the 17th
December 16th, 17th, and 18th there will be a holiday market at the Navy Yard Metro area from 11:30 a.m. until 6 p.m.

Bell Wine & Spirits is holding its Grand Champagne Tasting from 5 to 8 p.m. with over 30 champagnes and sparkling wines to enjoy.

The Eric Felton Jazz Orchestra will perform Duke Ellington's Nutcracker Suite at Blues Alley. Tickets are $25 for the 8 and 10 p.m. shows.

Thursday the 18th:

At 11 a.m. at the National Gallery of Art, take an hour-long guided tour exploring artworks in the permanent collection with holiday themes. The free tour begins in the rotunda of the West Building.

December 16th, 17th, and 18th there will be a holiday market at the Navy Yard Metro area from 11:30 a.m. until 6 p.m.

Male a capella singers
will perform at the U.S. Botanic Gardens from 5 to 8 p.m.

Friday the 19th:
At the Kennedy Center's Millenium Stage, take in a performance of Holiday Vaudeville starting at 6 p.m. All Millennium Stage shows are free.

Modern Liquors across from the Convention Center at 9th and M will be holding a tasting of winter cocktails with Macchu Pisco.

Saturday the 20th:
At 2 and 7 p.m., celebrate Kwanza with the Coyaba Dance Theater at the Atlas Performing Arts Center.

Big Bear Cafe, First and R Streets, NW, will host the Bloomingdale Holiday Arts Market from 4 to 9 p.m.

At the Kennedy Center's Millenium Stage, take in a performance of Holiday Vaudeville starting at 6 p.m. All Millennium Stage shows are free.

Pianist Jim Brickman will play Christmas songs in an 8 p.m. performance at the Lisner Auditorium.

Sunday the 21st:
The sweet-toothed of DC may enjoy a holiday chocolate making workshop and tea from 1 to 3 p.m. at Tudor Place.

The National Chanukah Menorah will be lit on the Elipse at 4 p.m.

Hear the National Gallery Orchestra play a Christmas concert accompanied by soprano Alessandra Marc at 6:30 p.m.

Monday the 22nd:
Trumpeter Dave Detwiler will perform "A Prelude to Christmas" at Blues Alley at 8 and 10 p.m.

Tuesday the 23rd:

At 11 a.m. the National Gallery of Art, take an hour-long guided tour exploring artworks in the permanent collection with holiday themes. The free tour begins in the rotunda of the West Building.

Project Natalie will perform jazz at the U.S. Botanic Gardens from 6 to 8 p.m.

The Carol Ringers and the Peace Ringers will play traditional and popular Christmas music on handbells at The Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage.

At Blues Alley, the Redd Brothers play piano and vibes as part of their "A Redd Christmas" show at 8 and 10 p.m. Tickets for adults are $18, with lower prices for seniors and children.

Wednesday the 24th:
Perennial nut, the water-skiing Santa will be doing his thing with knee-boarding reindeer, flying elves, and other water-logged Christmas characters at 1 p.m. by the Wilson Bridge in the National Harbor. If you miss the live event, there are always clips on the NBC 4 evening news.

Let the Ritz Carlton Georgetown cook your Christmas Eve dinner. The four-course prix fixe dinner will be served from 5 to 10 p.m. Go to their website for reservations.

On the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, catch the Monumental Brass Quintet playing a free performance of classical music, jaxx, ragtime, and holiday favorites.

The Society of Yong Jewish Professionals will hold the ever-popular Matzo Ball from 9 p.m. to 2 p.m. at Ultrabar. Tickets are available for $30.

Thursday the 25th:
Get out of the house on Christmas for the All Star Christmas Day Jazz Jam at The Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage.

Friday the 26th:
Golem, a six-piece European funk band, will perform a Jewish Music Celebration at The Kennedy Center's Milennium Stage.

Sunday the 28th:
The Kennedy Center's Milennium Stage continues its celebration of Jewish music with a guitar performance by Vladimir Fridman.

Monday the 29th:
At 11 a.m. the Anacostia Community Museum will host Kwanza: A Musical Tribute. This is a free event. There are also other family-oriented Kwanza events at the Museum; go to their website for details.

In the last Jewish music celebration at The Kennedy Center's Milennium Stage, DeLeon will play Sephardic Judaic melodies in an indie-rock style.

Tuesday the 30th:
The Frederick Chorale will sing at the U.S. Botanic Gardens from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Wednesday the 31st:
Almost every local municipality is having a First Night celebration. Radio station DC 101 has a New Year's bash. Check bar and club websites for other parties. The International Club of Washington holds a spectacular New Year's Eve Grand Ball. There are more events than I could ever list here. Check out the Post's Going Out Guide or What's On - Washington, DC for more ideas.

How the Arts Overlay District Could Stymie 14th Street Development

Those of you who are only casual observers of neighborhood development matters may have only a passing notion of the Arts Overlay District. The District guidelines were put in place in order to help direct development along some of the areas' most popular retail strips, including 14th Street, U Street, P Street, Florida Ave. and 7th Street.

What many people likely don't realize is the extent to which Arts Overlay guidelines affect projects and overall development along neighborhood commercial corridors. For instance, consider the new JBG Cos. proposal for the Whitman-Walker Building at 14th and S streets. According to Arts Overlay guidelines, only 25% of the retail frontage in the district can be businesses classified as restaurants. With the high number of restaurants along U, P and 14th streets, the neighborhood is currently sitting at around 24%--meaning that the W-W development would be precluded from introducing any new restaurants tenants in the development. This is unfortunate, because the restaurants are thriving in the area and are largely responsible for the continued growth and viability of Logan/U Street as a "destination" for others throughout the region.

At a recent Dupont Circle ANC meeting, the commissioners voted to withhold support of the project, due in part to objections from "local business advocate" Andrea Doughty, who voiced concern about the potential for restaurants occupying space in the new development. Ms. Doughty stated her belief that "eating and drinking establishments" have a greater impact in the neighborhood, and assigned to them the blame of "driving up rents" for other businesses.

Well, there are a couple of ways to address this. First of all, I believe it's possible to embrace the spirit of the law ("we don't want 14th street to be overrun with restaurants") while not embracing the letter of the law ("given the current situation, exceeding the 25% restaurant barrier might not be inappropriate"). I would agree to some extent with Doughty's feelings that restaurants have a greater impact on the neighborhood than other businesses, but that works out in both good and bad ways. My guess is that people such as Doughty are focusing largely on the negative impact: increased traffic, parking problems, noise, etc. But the positive impacts--encouragement of development, increasing the vibrancy of the retail corridor, improving the quality of life for area residents--are just as, if not more, important.

The District's zoning laws already largely prohibit the opening of retail establishments like restaurants and bars in residential neighborhoods. Contrast DC with, say, Baltimore, where you'll find numerous restaurants, pubs and markets scattered about residential areas. To then go a step further an make the opening of a restaurant in an area *known* for restaurants and nightlife more burdensome seems antithetical to the spirit of the Arts Overlay.

In addition, the Arts Overlay guidelines specifically address restaurants, but leave other businesses--such as furniture stores--out. Now, nothing against the "furniture row" that has developed along 14th street, but there is something terribly wrong if JBG receives more encouragement from community development voices to introduce another furniture/housewares shop to the 14th street mix, but not a new dining establishment.

Finally, as to restaurants being largely responsible for driving up the cost of rents in the area--I don't buy it. Perhaps some businesses have seen their rents rise as the 14th street corridor has become more popular and filled-out, but any honest assessment of the neighborhood retail scene would lead one to the conclusion that the presence of the restaurants and bars in the neighborhood have done far more to ENCOURAGE the patronization of other neighborhood businesses rather than do drive them out of the neighborhood. (And does anyone honestly want to argue that the arrival of, say, Cafe Salsa will have a greater impact on neighborhood rents than Bang & Olufsen, Mitchell Gold or Room & Board?)

In progress, it's inevitable that some businesses won't make it or will be forced to move elsewhere. This is unfortunate, but should not be an overriding concern when making decisions about developments that will have an impact on the neighborhood for years to come.

Everyone can agree that a diversity of retail establishments is beneficial to the neighborhood's overall health, but adhering to a set of principles for their own sake--or allowing development to be thwarted on the basis of such protests--serves no one.

Teen Stabbed at 13th and U; Proceeds to Board Metro Train

OK, enough already. The Post is reporting this morning that a teenager was stabbed at the 13th Street entrance to the U Street Metro station on Saturday evening, then proceeded to board the train and ride it up to Columbia Heights. Once there, he must have determined that his injury was not "merely a flesh wound", and an ambulance was called for him.

This attack comes on the heels of a fatal stabbing at 14th and Newton on Friday night, the third murder in a week that has occured in the Columbia Heights/Parkview areas.

The article quotes a Metro spokeswoman as saying that the attack was believed to be related to an ongoing feud or beef that has led to the violence we've witnessed the last few days. (Why Metro is speculating on these things and not MPD is anyone's guess.) Regardless, we've definitely got an issue here.

This reminds me of the Shaw gang wars from 2007, where you would see flare-ups every few weeks or so. Inevitably, the outcry over this violence will be tempered with the usual "you only care 'cause it's happening in an area with pricey condos". I know, because we've heard it before. And it's true that the shootings and stabbings that take place on U Street and in Columbia Heights generate more press than one that takes place in Anacostia or Barry Farms. But the persistence of youth violence on this scale is particularly troublesome for two reasons.

First, Mr. 14thandYou, his brother, and a couple of friends happened to find themselves at Ben's Chili Bowl, directly across the street from the location of the stabbing, just a little later that evening. No one likes to see assaults like this happening so close to home.

Secondly, and perhaps more disturbing, we've seen firsthand the efforts being conducted by the MPD in the neighborhood to combat violent crime: more foot patrols, increased police presence, establishing personal relationships with many in the community, and so on. We think they're doing, by and large, a great job. And yet the last week has been evidence of how quickly and easily violence like this can spiral out of control. So the answer isn't "more police" or "more development". (Or "wait for cold weather"--Saturday night was pretty darn chilly, and yet...)

So what is the "solution" here? It's likely a combination of things: continued visible police presence, a renewed focus on the juvenile court system and its penchant for releasing repeat offenders back into the population, continued focus on providing counseling and outlets for kids in the District to do everything possible to ensure that they stay out of trouble, etc.

And to all of you who moved here from Des Moines and thought U Street/Logan looked safe because it has pretty houses and expensive condos: well, it still is largely a safe neighborhood...but keep your head up and your wits about you. Violent crime happens everywhere, unfortunately.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

If You've Missed Dragonfly . . .

Dragonfly Design and Decor, formerly of the 1400 block of Church Street, has set up temporary shop in Reston through December. Those interested should visit the ARTWORKS Gallery at 11411 Sunset Hills Road between 12 and 5 on Tuesdays through Saturdays. You can also make an appointment with owner Kim Hesller (703) 362-9571. If you missed the shop's closing last month, this is a great opportunity to snatch up Asian antiques at a discount.

"Change a Lightbulb" in Columbia Heights this Friday

The District is sponsoring a "light bulb exchange" at the rather inconvenient time of 2 PM this Friday. What is this, you ask?

It seems to be part of the District's efforts to do their part to reduce global warming (and save DC residents a few bucks on their electricity bills) by allowing residents to exchange an incandescent light bulb for a compact flourescent. Under the thinking of "every little bit helps" the 14thandYous support this idea. Under the thinking of "what were they thinking?" we wonder how many people will be able to take time off during a workday to head up to Columbia heights and exchange a light bulb?

Our guess: not many. If you're interested, the details are below.

The District Government wants to help you change a light bulb! Join the District Department of the Environment, the Department of Public Works and the Office of Planning for a FREE light bulb exchange.

Bring an old incandescent light bulb, and we will exchange it for a new, energy-efficient compact fluorescent. You'll save money on your electric bill and help the District meet its goals for reducing global warming.

Free Light Bulb Exchange (limit one per resident)

Friday, December 12, 2:00 p.m.

Columbia Heights Civic Plaza (14th Street, Kenyon Street and Park Road, NW)

The light bulb exchange is part of Local Climate Action Week. For more information on climate change, visit

Monday, December 8, 2008

2008 Christmas Gifts: Gifts for Your Host

For your shopping pleasure, I present gift ideas for your December party hosts. All suggestions can be found in and around Logan Circle.

Food, particularly sweets, is a classic gift to one's host. Fortunately, we have an abundance of treats in the neighborhood.

Chocolate lovers like myself rejoiced when ACKC opened a year ago. If you're looking for a host gift, I recommend the traditional box of truffles. The staff there can suggest selections or you can make your own assortment. Also available are baked goods from cookies to cakes, which you can take as a dessert offering at the next dinner party.

Artfully Chocolate Kingsbury Confections
1529 14th Street, NW

More fine chocolate can be had at Locolat, a Belgian chocolatier unfairly located in the same building as the Mint gym. A delectable menu is available on their website.

1781 Florida Avenue, NW (near the intersection of 18th Street, U Street, and Florida Avenue)

If you prefer your chocolate baked or desserts without any chocolate at all, you may like the ever-popular Cake Love. This bakery has earned cheers and jeers. Cakes and cupcakes are dense -- they even feel heavy when you hold them. The flavor comes out best when they are served at room temperature, but they take almost as long to thaw as the Christmas turkey. The drier cakes are complemented by the butteriest of slightly sweet buttercream frostings that nearly melt as the cakes warm. Cakes are priced from $40 to $175, depending on size. Delivery is available for another $18 to $45 depending on location.

Cake Love
1506 U Street, NW

The couture cupcake trend is apparently alive and well. Skip Krispy Kreme and head across Connecticut Avenue at Dupont Circle to the new Hello Cupcake for your holiday desserts. Each day of the week, Monday through Saturday, the available flavors vary, but there are always 12 to 14 options baked daily, including vegetarian and vegan recipes. Cupcakes I am dying to try include chocolate with peppermint frosting, the peanut butter and banana Velvet Elvis, and the Mexican chocolate inspired cupcake with a cinamon and chili kick.

Hello Cupcake
1351 Connecticut Avenue, NW

Chocolate Moose, a Dupont resident for an age, has a number of good sweet treats. You can get the classics there, such as Leonidas chocolates, but also some fun candies like swirlie lolipops, Swedish fish, and caramel cubes. Moose will put together a gift bag with your guidance and then ship or courier it wherever you please, a good option if you want to send a gift to your host after an event.

Chocolate Moose
1743 L Street, NW

The classic baked goods at Firehook, 1909 Q Street, NW, and Marvelous Market, 1511 Connecticut Avenue are also worth a gander.

Serving Ware:
If you're bring food along to a party, consider bringing it on/in a piece of serving ware given as a gift to your host.

Miss Pixie's Furnishings and Whatnot has had some very attractive crystal items in the window lately. Check in weekly and act quickly to buy your favorites as the inventory changes over rapidly.

Miss Pixie's Furnishings and Whatnot
1626 14th Street, NW

Reincarnations has fabulous serving ware, decorative plates, and barware. The colors are bright and the patterns are fun.

Reincarnations Furniture
1401 14th Street, NW

Home Rule's inventory of kitchen and home goods is fun and affordable. Cheese-lovers may like the three-piece satin finish cheese knife set. Elegant serving platters and bowls in neutral colors are always available. If you prefer something more quirky, bring your food contribution on a plate decorated with a robot.

Home Rule
1807 14th Street, NW

Go Mama Go has an abundance of glazed ceramic dinner plates and sushi accessories. Finishes and patterns range from crackled glazes, floral designs, and subtle matte solids.

Go Mama Go
1809 14th Street, NW

Flowers on 14th makes fantastic arrangements. You can walk in or call ahead for pick up or delivery. The quality is far far better than what you would get if you allowed FTD to farm out your order.

Flowers on 14th
1718 14th Street, NW

Consider a live plant as a gift. Christmas classics include, of course, papperwhite, amaryllis, and poinsettias. If you're an overachiever, grab a small Christmas tree from Garden District and decorate it. (Miss Pixie's has some great glass ornaments in the window.) Plants that will endure past the holidays are also a good idea. Orchids can be easier to keep than you may think and complement many decorating styles. Succulents are as easy to care for as cacti, come in unusual shapes and textures, and look great in a modern home.

Garden District
1520 14th Street, NW

Whole Foods and Trader Joe's also sell seasonal live plants.

Clean Up:
At the end of any event comes the ugly clean up. Make it a little more pleasant with Caldrea's wonderful cleaning products from Home Rule. Available are orignal scents that won't overwhelm pleasant cooking smells. Some of the exotic combinations are ginger pomelo, lavender pine, and basil blue sage. All wrapped up in gorgeous packaging are household basics like dishwashing powder, stainless steel cleaner, and home fragrance.

Home Rule
1807 14th Street, NW

Logan Hardware carries Mrs. Meyers cleaning products, which are unique and upscale without being quite as expensive as the Caldrea line. Scents include basil, lavender, lemon verbena, and geranium. Gifts to consider are dish soap, counter top spray, surface wipes, hand soap, and lotion.

Logan Hardware
1416 P Street, NW

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Where to brunch: Vinoteca

This afternoon, the 14thandYous faced a quandary: where to go for brunch? Mr. 14thandYou's brother had just wrapped up his fall internship here in DC and would soon be headed back to The Heart of It All, Ohio to finish his undergrad work. (For more on unpaid internships, we recommend this.) We wanted to take him out somewhere to celebrate, and determined that Sunday brunch would be the most opportune time.

So we set out into the chilly December air to scope out the usual suspects. Unfortunately, it seemed that we were not the only ones who had the brunch idea today. Every place we walked into was packed to the gills, with wait times ranging from 1/2 - 1 hour for a table. We visited Commissary, Logan Tavern, Bar Pilar, Saint Ex and Ulah Bistro, all without success. (Success being defined as "able to get a table".)

Running out of ideas, we wandered into Vinoteca on 11th Street, not knowing if they even had a brunch menu and, if they did, whether it was worth the cost of admission. We came away with highly positive answers to both questions.

First, the service: pleasant, attentive and thoughtful. We were seated immediately (the place was not full, and presented the relaxing, casual atmosphere we were looking for). Unlike other neighborhood establishments who shall remain nameless, the service was quick and attentive. For anyone who spends a fair amount of time dining out in DC, you no doubt understand how significant that is.

It was the food however that won us over. I ordered prosciutto eggs benedict with a side of home fries, which came with perfectly poached eggs and a lovely hollandaise sauce. Mr. 14thandYou's brother got an omelette which he deemed to be "awesome", and Mrs. 14thand You ordered duck confit crepes which were described as "eyes-roll-back-in-your-head good". Now that's high praise. Couple the wonderful food with good service and a relaxed atmosphere, and you have yourself a winner of a brunch. Which made the dearth of patrons somewhat surprising.

So the Vinoteca brunch gets a hearty recommendation from the 14thandYous. Has anyone else had a surprisingly good brunch/meal in the neighborhood? Any brunch recommendations in the neighborhood that you'd like to share? Please do so in the comments.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Inauguration Madness: Are you planning to rent your condo/apartment?

As you may have heard, we elected a president recently. As you also may have heard, DC is the seat of the nation's government, and the new president is going to be sworn in right here, mere blocks from where many in Logan and surrounding neighborhoods reside.

Estimates on anticipated crowd size for the inauguration range from anywhere between 2 million to 5 million people. Now, unless they're planning to go backcountry camping or have friends/family in the area, they're going to be needing a place to stay while they're here for the festivities. Enter the ever-resourceful DC population.

Most of you have likely heard the stories about homes in Ashburn or wherever fetching upwards of $40,000 for inauguration weekend. That's more than a bit ludicrous, but people who reside within DC, and particularly areas like Logan that are convenient to the White House and Capitol, can still stand to make a few bucks subletting their place for a few days.

A brief Craigslist search turned up a number of condos/apartments in and around Logan going for $1,000-$2,000 per night, as of Tuesday. It's not $40k, but it's not bad either. So we thought we would pose the question: are you planning to lease your place out for the inaugural festivities? if so, what has your experience been?

In breaking with the code requiring anyone subletting their home to obtain a license to do so, DC residents can sublet their place license-free during the inauguration. The District's website even has a sample lease form, which we strongly urge everyone to view before agreeing to let that nice family from Milwaukee take up residence in your place for a few days.

Also, to those who *are* planning to give up their space for a few days, where are you planning to be? Are you going to stay home and make some new friends? Stay with friends/relatives? Or are you getting out of Dodge? The 14thandyous confess to being somewhat intrigued to experience the near-certain apocalyptic nightmare that the District will become for those few days in mid-January, but we can certainly understand if others don't feel likewise.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Holiday Happenings

I've made a listing below of some of the fun holiday (mostly Christmas) themed events in and around our fine city. Later on, I'll try to take the time to enter some events that will be occurring in the latter half of this month. Events are listed in vaguely chronological order. I've made an effort to highlight the event themes in italics. Enjoy!

Throughout December:
A great reason to shop locally: DC is having a sales tax holiday on items totaling under $100 until December 7th.

The Model Train Garden at the U.S. Botanic Gardens winds its way both indoors and out. While you're there do not miss the models of DC landmarks constructed entirely from plant materials (see Thomas Jefferson sculpted with an acorn head and moss hair).

At Union Station take in an impressive model train exhibit and towering tree presented as part of the Norwegian Christmas display.

The National Zoo will be lit up on weekend evenings from 6 to 8:30 p.m. through the 14th for ZooLights. You can also take in the display every night until the 30th with the exception of the 24th and 25th.

December weekends through 14th, you can tour George Washington's home at Mount Vernon by Candlelight between 5 and 8 p.m.

Willard Intercontinental Hotel will have choral concerts in its lobby Mondays through Saturdays until December 23rd. The Hotel, between 14th and 15th Streets on Pennsylvania Avenue, NW is an easy stop to make going to or from the National Christmas Tree.

Take in the classic play, A Christmas Carol, at theater from December 2nd through 28th at the Lansburg Shakespeare Theater in Penn Quarter.

A Christmas classic, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, with the Rockettes will come to 1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore from December 2-7.

The National Christmas Tree will be lit on the 4th and performances will take place nightly from the 6th through the 23rd.

Fans of David Sedaris might enjoy the performance of his essay, The Santaland Diaries, at Warehouse Theater, 1017 7th Street, NW from the 4th through the 24th.

In Upper Marlboro, take in the Gingerbread House Contest and Show on display from December 4th through 7th and again on the 11th through 14th at the Darnall's Chance House and Museum. The competition will feature entries from both children and adults.

The Downtown Holiday Market opens on December 5th and runs through the 23rd. Local artists and craftsmen will show their wares from noon to 8 p.m. daily next to the Portrait Gallery and American Art Museum on F Street between 7th and 8th Streets, NW (Penn Quarter).

At Constitution Hall from Friday the 5th through Sunday the 7th, see the U.S. Air Force Band play its holiday concert.

Anglophiles, take note: The Fairmont Washington Hotel, 2401 M Street, NW, will hold holiday teas on Saturdays and Sunday through the 27th.

Beginning on the 6th, the Newly reopened National Museum of American History will have performances several times a day of Christmas songs from the World War II era. This show will run until the end of the month.

At some time between December 6 and January 1 it is worthwhile to take in the Festival of Lights, a vast display of Christmas lights, and live nativity scene at the Mormon Temple Visitors Center. Another impressive light display can be seen not far from the Temple at the Bishop's House on the corner of North Portal and Birch Drives, NW.

The Christmas Revels combine music, dance, poetry, and storytelling for a performance "in celebration of the winter solstice" at Lisner Auditorium from the 6th through the 14th.

The Washington Ballet will perform the Nutcracker at the Warner Theater from December 11th through 28th.

The Joffrey Ballet will perform the Nutcracker at the Kennedy Center from December 11th through the 14th.

The National Symphony Orchestra Pops will have a Happy Holidays program from December 11th through 14th.

At the Folger Theater on Capitol Hill, take in A Spanish Christmas featuring organ, winds, and strings performing music from Spain's Golden Age from the 13th through the 21st.

As part of the National Gallery of Art concert series, there will be sing-along carols in the West Building rotunda from December 14th through the 21st. Check the website for times.

The Choral Arts Society of Washington presents Christmas music at the Kennedy Center from December 15th through the 24th.

If the National Symphony Orchestra's classical repertoire is more to your liking than pops performances, you may enjoy their presentation of Handel's Messiah from December 18 to 21. If you're feeling like belting out a song or two, there is also a Messiah sign-along on the 23rd.

The Christmas season is a great time for choral concerts. The Washington Chorus will perform music for Christmas at The Kennedy Center on December 20th through 22nd.

The Choral Arts Society of Washington's Annual Holiday Gala and Silent Auction will be held following the Monday, December 15th Christmas music performance.

Host your own event at Longview Gallery at no charge. Call (202) 232-4788 for details.

Wednesday the 3rd:
Pop down to 2401 M Street between 5 and 6:30 p.m. to the Fairmont Hotel to see its fifth annual tree lighting. This event is a great time to hear a capella singing from local high school students and to sip some free hot chocolate. Please also consider bringing an unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots.

Thursday the 4th:
The National Christmas tree at the White House will be lit in a ceremony to begin at 5 (gates open at 3:30). Tickets for this event are snatched up, but there will be a standby line to get in. In past years, those waiting standby have been able to claim seats.

Longview Gallery, 1302 9th Street, NW, is hosting a holiday celebration from 6 to 9 p.m. Visit the gallery to see works large and small from some of its most popular artists.

The Washington National Cathedral is hosting its annual holiday shopping evening. Both the Herb Cottage and the Cathedral Store will be open. Refreshments will also be provided from 5 p.m. onward.

The Anderson House at 2118 Massachusetts Avenue will be hosting “A Gilded Age Christmas: Celebrating Yuletide with the Anderson Family.” During the event, visitors can tour the historic mansion and learn about various Christmas traditions from the "gilded age."

Jazz lovers will like the Jazz Piano Christmas at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater at 9:30 p.m.

Friday the 5th:
Tudor Place, 1644 31st Street, NW, in Georgetown will have a holiday wreath-making workshop at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Shop the Norwegian Christmas Bazaar at Union Station from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

If you enjoy oggling gorgeous homes, consider the St. Albans School Christmas House Tour which runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. View five houses and one pool house in Georgetown by shuttle bus or on foot .

The entirety of Handel's Messiah will be performed at the Washington National Cathedral at 7 p.m. Go to their website for tickets ($20 to $80).

The basilica at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception will be holding a Christmas concert beginning at 7 p.m. It is suggested that you arrive by 7 in order to claim a seat.

Dumbarton House, 2715 Q Street, NW, will host a holiday family open house to feature music, refreshments, and crafts.

From 6 to 9 p.m., catch the prints and greeting cards from local artist Johanna Mueller at the boutique Redeem, 1734 14th Street, NW.

At 7 p.m. join the International Club for A Holiday Party In Paris to include music, dancing, buffet, open bar, and a silent auction hosted at the Embassy of France.

Saturday the 6th:
If you like to ogle gorgeous homes, consider the St. Albans School Christmas House Tour which runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. View five incredible Georgetown houses by shuttle bus or on foot .

Check out ACKC's Alexandria location before or after touring Del Ray's annual holiday market featuring local arts and crafts from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. This event is part of Del Ray's Holiday on the Avenue event with festivities along Mount Vernon Avenue from Nelson to Calvert. At 6 p.m. there will be a tree lighting at Colosanto Park followed by a parade down Mount Vernon Avenue, which will be lit with luminarias. Most retail establishments will be open until 9 p.m.

Shop the Norwegian Christmas Bazaar at Union Station from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

In Old Town Alexandria, catch the annual Scottish Christmas Walk Parade and Concert. The parade begins at 11 at Wilkes and South Asaphs Streets and will end at 1 at King and Royal Streets. The concert will start at 1:30 at King and Royal streets in front of City Hall at Market Square.

Give a charitable gift in honor of someone you care about. At DC Gifts for Good, from 11 am – 3 pm at St. Patrick's Episcopal Day School in the Great Hall, 4700 Whitehaven Parkway, NW, you can learn about many organizations in need of your donations. If you contribute, you will be given a small gift which you can then give to a friend or family member.

Hear "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus" read at the Newseum at 2:30.

At 3 p.m. enjoy a performance by handbell ringers at the Historical Society of Washington, 801 K Street, NW.

Plan B Gallery, 1530 14th Street NW, will host a gallery opening from 6 to 8 p.m. to show off its holiday show which includes many giftable items in addition to the canvasses and sculpture that you usually find in the gallery.

It's worth the 45 minute trip north to Baltimore to see the Parade of Lighted Boats in the Inner Harbor and Fells Point beginning at 6 p.m.

Can't make it to B'more to see lighted boats? There is also a lighted boat parade in the Alexandria Marina from 4 to 6 p.m.

Take advantage of a 20% off jewelry sale at Caramel's Faso Jewelry trunk show, 1603 U Street, NW.

Dumbarton Church in Georgtown will hold A Celtic Christmas holiday concert. Saturday's performances are at 4 and 8 p.m.

Sunday the 7th:
Shop at the DC JCC's Holiday Bazaar from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. for Chanukah items crafted by Jewish artists.

Tudor Place, 1644 31st Street, NW, in Georgetown will have a holiday wreath-making workshop for children and adults at 1 p.m.

The 30th Annual Logan Circle Community Association will hold its house tour from 1 to 5 p.m. Buy your tickets online prior to the event.

Make merry at the Merriment in Georgetown festival from 2 to 6 p.m. The event features a variety of performances, free horse-drawn carriage rides, and special discounts from retailers.

Dumbarton Church in Georgtown will hold holiday concerts. Sunday's performance is at 4 p.m.

The entirety of Handel's Messiah will be performed at the Washington National Cathedral at 4 p.m. Go to their website for tickets ($20 to $80).

Monday the 8th:
Kennedy Center's free Millennium Stage will feature Merry TubaChristmas. If you play tuba, sousaphone, or euphonium, show up at 3 p.m. for the open rehearsal. If you are a spectator only, arrive at 6 for the performance.

At Blues Alley be pleasantly overwhelmed by the Capitol Big Bones Band - with over a dozen horn players - performing a Stan Kenton Christmas. Performances are at 8 and 10 p.m.

Tuesday the 9th:
There will be harp music and singing at the U.S. Botanic Gardens from 5 to 8 p.m.

At Blues Alley be pleasantly overwhelmed by the Capitol Big Bones Band - with over a dozen horn players - performing a Stan Kenton Christmas. Performances are at 8 and 10 p.m.

Wednesday the 10th:
DC is filled with large, attractive historic homes. Explore one such home for free at the Daughters of the American Revolution Christmas Open House, 1776 D Street, NW. From 5:30 to 8:30 view 31 period rooms decorated for Christmas, have some refreshments, and listen to carolers. This event is an easy stop to make going to or from the National Christmas Tree on the ellipse. You can also get some great shopping done at the museum store.

At the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue, attend Rekindling the Chanukah Flames: Infusing New Techniques Into Your Chanukah Festivities at 7 p.m. to learn about new and creative ways to celebrate the holiday.

Thursday the 11th:
From 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., tour McLean homes at the 2008 Holiday Homes Tour and MarketPlace organized by the Woman's Club of McLean. Go to their website for information on how to purchase tickets. The MarketPlace, held in Immanuel Presbyterian Church at 1125 Saville Lane, is free and open to the public.

Have some lox and vodka from 6 to 8 p.m. at the U.S. Botanic Gardens while listening to Klesmer music.

Attend the Santa Jam at The State Theater in Falls Church, VA to help raise money to benefit the Fairfax Battered Women's Shelter and the Arlington Homeless Shelter. The doors open at 7 p.m. and the half dozen musical performances kick off at 8. Be sure to stick around until at least 10:30 for the raffle.

Friday the 12th:
Shop and enjoy some holiday refreshments at the 4NX¢ boutique's Fashionista's Fridays Holiday Party at 1019 U Street, NW. During the festivities you can subtract a holiday discount from your purchases and enjoy a fashion show.

Tudor Place, 1644 31st Street, NW, in Georgetown will have holiday wreath-making workshops at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

At 6 p.m. see a free holiday performance by the DC Youth Orchestra at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage.

Saturday the 13th:
Holiday wreath making workshop at the U.S. Botanic Gardens at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. See the website for cost and registration information.

Hear "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus" read at the Newseum at 2:30.

Dumbarton Church in Georgtown will hold A Celtic Christmas holiday concert. Saturday's performances are at 4 and 8 p.m.

Tour Old Town Alexandria by candlelight. Tours depart from Gadsby's Tavern Museum from 5 to 8 p.m.

The House of Sweden is hosting a St. Lucia Ball for young professionals from 8 p.m. to 1 p.m. Festivities are to include dancing, a holiday buffet, and a rooftop bar.

Sunday the 14th:
Dumbarton Church in Georgtown will hold a Celtic Christmas holiday concert. Sunday's performance is at 4 p.m.

Shop at the DC JCC's Holiday Bazaar from 2:30 to 7 p.m. for Chanukah items crafted by Jewish artists.

Fans of opera may enjoy Music of the Sea: A Norwegian Christmas at the National Gallery of Art's rotunda in the west building, 6:30 p.m.