Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Does This Hat Make Me Look Silly?

Lincoln doesn't have to wear any bloody hat.

He was the first President of the United States of America, the nation's capital is named in his honor, as well as a university that was started by someone else entirely and then renamed after him. And he has a feather boa. Take that, Abe.

George's annual birthday...attire...is allegedly furnished by The George Washington University's not so secret society, The Order of the Hippo. They (or whoever is responsible) also decorate The Hippo.

In front of The Hippo there is a ceremonial plaque that explains the legend of the hippos that used to play in the Potomac. Children would go down to the water and, if they managed to touch a hippo's snout, it would bring them good luck. Rubbish. Local legend says that a previous president of the university bought it for his wife at an auction where there may or may not have been an open bar. What do you do if you are given a large, bronze hippopotamus? Precisely. It was immediately regifted to the Class of 1996. The Hippo has become the unofficial mascot of The George Washington University. It's a beloved feature, not only in front of Lisner Auditorium, but on many a coffee mug and sweatshirt, as well. You'd be surprised at how many people read the plaque and don't get the sarcasm, and, even for those who do, it's still tradition to rub the snout or grip the teeth for good luck.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Weekend Roundup: The Civil Wars and Eastern Market

I set two rules for myself when I started blogging again. The first--never go so long without posting that you have do a "round-up" of
everything you've done in a week/month. The second rule was to never write self-indulgent posts. But let's face it, it's a blog. That's what it's for. So, I might as well break the first rule too.

Last Saturday, I went with a friend, who has the coolest job in the world as a music blogger, to Jammin' Java in Vienna, VA to see the country/ roots/soul/bluegrassy/Americana duoThe Civil Wars. The funny thing about describing them like that is that I actually don't like any of those genres. But they've been on repeat on my pod since their first EP. If you'd like a soundtrack to play along with this post, You can open a new tab with this video(that I didn't record) from the concert. And since everybody likes free music, here's a link to The Civil Wars's (yep, that's grammatically correct.) free EP "Live at Eddie's Attic." You're welcome. I'm probably the only one who found this funny, but I went to see The Civil Wars on Lincoln's birthday.

On Saturday, I went to Eastern Market with another friend. And nothing says self-indulgent like a photo essay of one's day.

The food hall is full of independent grocers, butchers, fromageries, bakers, pasta makers, you name it.

It was the day before Valentine's Day after all.

I took the next two shots on a different day.

The first is of antique architectural elements that
are sold in the flea market outside section of Eastern Market. My apartment is getting
increasingly filled with stuff from the flea market; even my headboard is made of old tin ceiling tiles.

The picture on the right shows the inside of the food halls.

And finally rounding up the day with brunch at Pain Quotidien.

Friday, February 11, 2011

#Egypt #25Jan

In the future, all historic events will be identified by their hashtags. I think it's rather appropriate that we start here--the Twitter Revolution, the Facebook revolution, the Egyptian Revolution. There is a danger with all of this nomenclature, especially the reference to social media. It has several layers of meaning: (1) it is a people's movement, yes, and (2) someone relying to some extent on Twitter and Facebook means that technology, particularly American technology, deserves the credit. It doesn't. Do you think those hundreds of thousands of people in Tahrir Square wouldn't have found another way? They did after the internet and cell phones went down. There's also been a tendency to brand this as an American-esque uprising because, above all other technologies, isn't democracy our greatest export? Rachel Maddow did a great job of warning against Americanizing this revolution, so I'll leave that to her.

Visiting an embassy is a little like world travelling. So I kinda sorta visited Egypt today. It is, after all, a little bit of that country in a foreign land, which reminds me of a rather nationalistic poem by Rupert Brooke. It sounds a lot simpler than it actually is. Of course, it's still the place where crowds were expected to gather to celebrate the resignation of Mubarak. I say "expected" because several hours after the announcement was made, there was still no one gathered at the embassy except journalists, bloggers, and "twits."

Finally, I spotted these really nice guys. Even though they were the only ones there to celebrate, the media were still waiting for the crowds and largely ignored the first arrivals. Crowds get noticed; that's something we've all learned since January 25th. We chatted for a few minutes, and they answered my questions and agreed to pose for the crazy girl with absolutely no press credentials.
Another thing that's bugged me about the coverage of this entire situation is the constant reference to "Yes We Can." It is a phrase of empowerment, and it was used by protestors for just that reason. But this leads to a completely unbalanced comparison. I, like many people in DC, around the nation, and around the world, chanted "Yes We Can!" until our lungs were sore. But 8 years of a Republican president, even one so particularly despised, doesn't compare to 30 years of dictatorial rule and emergency law. Still, there is a familiar air of excitement and possibility, and these guys were clearly overjoyed. So, this video from outside the White House after Obama's victory was declared seems fitting.

To Those We Serve

This is the monument outside of the International Headquarters of the American Red Cross, at E and 20th. I walk by it 3-4 times a week, but I've never really looked at it. That's one reason I keep a blog--to make me stop and really look at things. Because the monument faces the corner, most people passing on the streets don't see this side, or the short surrounding wall that illustates scenes from the organizations history. Instead, most people see this view:

Another reason I started keeping a blog was so that days don't slip away from me. I spend so many days buried in books--or avoiding being buried in books--that Sunday often runs into Saturday. These little snap shops help me remember specific moments and days from my life. Mostly, I'll just remember how damn cold it was yesterday.

Bonus 10 points if you can spot the Starbucks.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Monday, February 7, 2011

Live from the White House! (But really Lisner Auditorium)

From l-r, Mike McCurry (Clinton 94-98), Dana Perino (Bush 07-09), Frank Sesno (moderator), Ari
Fleischer (Bush 01-03), Dee Dee Myers (Clinton 93-94)

One of the great things about living in DC and being a grad student at GW is the amazing opportunities to, according to our slogan, "have a front seat in the theatre of history." A few weeks after I moved to DC, I got the chance to attend an event called the Five Secretaries, which was basically a round table discussion with five recent Secretaries of State. It was one of the best things I've ever done in my life.

Dee Dee Myers--Why, yes, I do have a favorite press secretary. #NerdAlert

Tonight's event, "Live from the White House: Making and Shaping the News," was a similar event that was supposed to be five presidential press secretaries. (Joe Lockhard, Clinton 98-2000, is recovering from surgery and couldn't make the event.) So far, the secretaries theme has worked out pretty good for GW. I'm not sure if I'll attend the day they have the Five Secretaries of Argiculture, but the press secretaries provided an interesting prospective on world events throughout the combined sixteen years of the Clinton and Bush administrations, as well as how social media has changed the job. One statistic from tonight: When Myers became press secretary in January 93, there were 50 web sites. When she left the job in December of 94, there were closer to 5 billion. That sounds crazy to me, but I didn't make it up.

As you can see, I struggled with my camera little bit. I try to adjust the settings without disturbing those around me, but still, some of the photos turned out bad. And by bad, I sometimes mean blurry, like the shot of Dana Perino above, and sometimes I mean bad as in, well, see for yourself.

Hmm.... What do you think she's looking at? Maybe Dana Perino's legs? Whatever it is, Fleischer is still oblivious.

And there we go.

Now, to return to a dignified manner more befitting the occasion, here's a charming picture of Dee Dee Myers shaking hands with Frank Sesno, former CNN White House correspondant, later the CNN Washington Bureau Chief, and now the Director of GW's School of Media and Public Affairs, as Ari Fleischer looks on.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Kung Hei Fat Choi!

Happy Year of the Rabbit, everyone!

The Friendship Archway was funded by Beijing, which, believe it or not, is DC's sister city. It has 7 roofs, 300 dragons, and is the largest single-span Chinese arch in the world.

If you're in DC this weekend and looking for a good time--wait, let me start over and sound like like a restroom stall--This weekend is DC's Chinese New Year Celebration, and you should go!! Every year, there's a big parade, a food and crafts market, and a giant firecracker. I should mention that it's actually lots of regular-sized firecrackers strung together, lest you think they have a rocket in the street. It's going to be Sunday afternoon from 2-5 on H St. between 6th and 8th. These pictures were taken at the celebration in 2009.

I could give you a long, socially-conscious diatribe about DC'st EPCOTesque Chinatown, the corporate domination of 7th St., the Chinese population being pushed into the periphery by the escalating costs of gentrification...but that would be (a) boring, and (b) hypocritical, since I frequent many of those chain stores and restaurants, as well as benefiting from the decrease in crime rates in my neighborhood. Instead, I'll give way to the less cerebral part of my brain and say look at all the pretty, shiny colors!!

Chinatown Express I still don't know what that orange thing is.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

One Hell of a Burger

Tonight, I finally got around to trying Ray's Hell Burger. I know, right? I've been in DC for two and a half years. Obama would be ashamed of me.

After hearing chants of "Ray's! Ray's!" all day from my friends/ co-worker and boss, I finally get it. "Ray's hunger" really is "different from other hungers."

What you see before you is the Soul Burger Number One, with Applewood smoked bacon, Swiss cheese, Sherry and Congac mushrooms and grilled red onions. I added Gruyere because... it was on the menu, and why wouldn't you? Apparently, the Commander in Chief prefers the basic Cheddar burger. Bore-Ring.

I was the wimp of the evening that didn't finish their hamburger. But somewhere around midnight, when I'm feeling Ray's hunger, I'll have the other half of my meat-juice soaked burger and fries and mac n' cheese. And he who heckled will be stuck with a 7-Eleven Slurpee.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Just the View from My Street

No big deal.

One of my favorite things about my neighborhood is that this view is about 30 steps from my door. I see the U.S. Capitol Building every time I leave my house. For a girl from the sticks, that's pretty special.