Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 2, 2014

July 31, 2014

Roll Call After Dark Tunes of the Week: Farewell to the Leader

The art of the mix-tape lives, particularly when it’s so useful in wishing a fond fare-the-well to outgoing House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. Brother blog Heard on the Hill compiled a Spotify list that could be used as a substitute soundtrack for the tribute video Republicans prepared for Cantor. We present the play list here as our tunes of the week, with our personal favorites coming from two disparate films: “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and “The Sound of Music.”

By Jason Dick Posted at 5:55 p.m.
Music

July 30, 2014

Roll Call After Dark Book of the Week: ‘The Final Days’ by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein

 Roll Call After Dark Book of the Week: The Final Days by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein

(Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

If “All The President’s Men” is about the chase, the follow-up by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, “The Final Days” is about the long, slow, bleeding out and death of the hunted. A denser, complicated, multi-layered, sad descent into resignation, both literal and figurative, the recounting of the last few months of President Richard M. Nixon’s presidency is a master telling of the slog of a White House staff who knows that time is running out.

“[Press Secretary Ronald Ziegler] was exasperated. He only wanted the President to understand how dire things were, to recognize the hard choices fast closing in on him. But the President would not even accept the meaning of the words on the tapes and refused to believe that his lawyers were acting in his interest,” they write.

It’s just one of scores of examples of the sclerotic intransigence that gripped the Nixon White House in its final days. At the center of it is White House Chief of Staff Alexander Haig, the man in charge of the sinking ship, and White House special counsels for Watergate James D. St. Clair and J. Fred Buzhardt.

It’s a fascinating read, and an important, if quirky and somewhat neglected, part of the Watergate canon.

 

July 29, 2014

Roll Call After Dark Nosh of the Week: Chocolate Chip Cookies From Batter Bowl Bakery

 Roll Call After Dark Nosh of the Week: Chocolate Chip Cookies From Batter Bowl Bakery

Batter Bowl Bakery has the goods. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

Try as we might, it’s difficult to think of a better snack than the humble chocolate chip cookie. There’s something about the combo of chocolate chips, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, butter and the like that satisfies that most basic instinct to nosh.

Batter Bowl Bakery at 403 H St. NE makes a chocolate chip cookie for the ages. Whether it’s BBB’s obvious flaunting of the butter threshold, the cookie’s balance of bitter and sweet or its weighty appearance, this nosh is one for the ages.

By Jason Dick Posted at 3:35 p.m.
Eat

July 28, 2014

Roll Call After Dark Documentary of the Week: ‘Nixon by Nixon’ (Video)

“Sometimes, I regret …,” President Richard M. Nixon intones at the beginning of the documentary “Nixon by Nixon: In His Own Words.” The voice trails off, leaving the viewer, or Nixon himself perhaps, to fill in the rest.

How does one mark the 40th anniversary of Nixon’s Aug. 9 resignation? One way is by watching Peter Kunhardt’s movie, which makes its debut on HBO on Aug. 4. Kunhardt uses recordings from Nixon’s secret taping system from 1971 through 1973 to form the base of the movie, along with images from news footage and other vintage sources from the era.

The strength of this documentary is letting Nixon do the talking, with an assist from senior aides such H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman and Henry Kissinger. The range of topics swings from Nixon’s attitude toward the press — “The press is the enemy. Write that down on a blackboard 100 times” — to the pandas he helped convince the Chinese to send to the National Zoo. “Oh, they’re just darling!” Pat Nixon tells her husband.

Let Nixon be your Virgil in this guided tour through Watergate’s back passages.

 

By Jason Dick Posted at 4:21 p.m.
Movies

July 25, 2014

The Before Recess D.C. Bucket List

As recess approaches, it’s always useful to have a list of only-in-D.C. activities at the ready as one faces the prospect of time away from the capital, whether spent on the campaign trail, the beach or otherwise.  So here you have it, the sample Roll Call After Dark before-recess bucket list.

Monday: Screen on the Green

The capital city’s ultimate outdoor cinema experience shows “Lover Come Back,” Delbert Mann’s 1961 rom-com with Rock Hudson, Doris Day and Tony Randall. Watch and learn, Hollywood. Movies could be this light and good again if you tried. National Mall. Sundown.

Tuesday: March on Washington

The National Archives partners with the 2014 March on Washington Film Festival to show Robert Drew’s 1963 documentary “Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment,” at the William G. McGowan Theater at the Archives. The 52-minute movie is about the Kennedy administration’s clash with Alabama Gov. George Wallace over integrating the University of Alabama. NPR’s Michele Norris leads a panel afterward with Dan Rather, Peggy Wallace, Sharon Malone, Jill Drew and Charlayne Hunter-Gault. The screening is sold out, but it’s being simulcast on YouTube. 7 p.m.

Wednesday: D.C. United vs. Toronto FC

Washington’s Major League Soccer franchise takes on Toronto’s at 7 p.m. at RFK Stadium. Despite some hiccups at the D.C. City Council level, professional soccer’s days at RFK are, sadly, numbered, so going to a game to see the bouncy stands and La Barra Brava and the Screaming Eagles root on United should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Thursday: Beer and Smoked Meat

DGS Delicatessen and 3 Stars Brewing Company team up starting at 5 p.m. for their very special Schmutz and Schmaltz, featuring a classic meat and three plates (brisket or chicken, plus pastrami burnt ends, grilled corn, braised greens and the like) accompanied by 3 Stars beers such as Citra Lemon Saison, Samsquanch White IPA and Ebony and Ivory Brown Ale in the Cask. To make a reservation at DGS’s 1317 Connecticut Ave. NW digs, go to dgsdelicatessen.com.

Thursday: Washington Nationals Homestead

The Nationals return from the road for a homestead starting Thursday against the loathed Philadelphia Phillies and continuing against the Baltimore Orioles and New York Mets. It concludes on Aug. 7.

Friday: Jazz in the Garden

Jazz violinist Miles Stiebel provides the tunes for Friday’s National Sculpture Garden end-of-week chill-and-picnic time. It’s a nice way to wind up the last hectic week in D.C. until after Labor Day.

By Jason Dick Posted at 3:19 p.m.
Weekly Calendar

Roll Call After Dark Quaff of the Week: 3 Stars Danny Greene

 Roll Call After Dark Quaff of the Week: 3 Stars Danny Greene

A glass of the 3 Stars Danny Greene, here with its friend, Boundary Road’s cheesesteak lunch. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

Cleveland has certainly gotten its props lately, scoring the 2016 Republican National Convention and the return of LeBron James to the Cavaliers. If one is looking for further evidence of Cleveland Rising, look no further than D.C.-based 3 Stars Brewing Company’s Danny Greene, an American Double/Imperial IPA.

Greene, an Irish-American mobster in Cleveland in the 1970s, has enjoyed a mini-boomlet of fame himself, even though he’s been dead since the Disco Era. Partial credit must be due to 3 Stars co-owner Dave Coleman, a Cleveland native.

As far as the beer goes, I’m happy to report it’s good for all occasions, whether at a leisurely weekday lunch accompanied by a cheesesteak and fries at Boundary Road or on a weekend bender at a 3 Stars summer jam.

For context on Greene and his time, Cleveland Magazine has a great treatment from 1978 in the wake of Greene’s murder. There’s also a gritty crime movie from 2011 by Jonathan Hensleigh, “Kill The Irishman,” starring Ray Stevenson, Vincent D’Onofrio, Val Kilmer and Christopher Walken.

By Jason Dick Posted at 9:30 a.m.
Drink

July 24, 2014

Roll Call After Dark Tunes of the Week: ‘The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou’ Soundtrack

Portugese renditions of David Bowie, Ennio Morricone, Sven Libaek — the soundtrack of Wes Anderson’s 2004 film “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” has its own unique vibe.

Some of the most memorable scenes in the film feature music that didn’t make it onto the 20-song, one-hour album, including the Sigur Ros wonder Staralfur.

If you want to hear some of the soundtrack, as well as its Icelandic outtakes, you could always head over to the Union Market drive-in movie summer session this Friday, which will feature “Life Aquatic” and all its Anderson- and Bill Murray-ness.

By Jason Dick Posted at 9:30 a.m.
Music

July 23, 2014

Roll Call After Dark Book of the Week: ‘Overwhelmed’ by Brigid Schulte

 Roll Call After Dark Book of the Week: Overwhelmed by Brigid Schulte

Amid the clutter, try not to get “Overwhelmed.” (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

“I’m a work in progress myself,” Bridgid Schulte, the author of “Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has The Time,” says. The Washington Post scribe is well aware of the pressure people are under, because she lives the same D.C. vida loca.

“Different groups want to talk about different things. But the big things, everyone wants to talk about,” she says, singling out that “busyness is a huge thing people want to talk about.”

Schulte is quick to point out her book is not all doom and gloom, with busy people all ending up with smaller brains because they’re stressing themselves to death. She details bright spots both domestic and foreign, whether it’s flex-time at the Pentagon or a cultural watershed in Denmark.

She says the biggest change between the time she began the book and when she finished were her own expectations about what she could accomplish, what she could blow off and what she could share. “I’m still working on it,” she says.

What about life in Washington, D.C., where what she dubs the cycle of responsiveness is particularly acute? She encourages people to do their best to change the culture of where they work and how they live. If it’s not a situation where the culture can readily change, to consider changing oneself. This might mean some emails don’t get returned late at night, which is probably OK. Consider what’s a priority and what isn’t. Most of the time, expectations come from within, not a boss or spouse.

Perhaps we could all benefit from taking a page from another book, Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” Rule No. 1, you may recall is simple: Don’t panic.

“I do take time to step out of the craziness,” Schulte says. “I really try to just be where I am.”

Sounds like a good Rule No. 2.

Schulte drops by the Roll Call Book Club on Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital at 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Complimentary copies of the book are available first-come, first-served. Register for the event, sponsored by Hooks Books Events and Sprint, at roll.cl/schultebookclub.

July 22, 2014

Roll Call After Dark Nosh of the Week: Jamaican Patties at Sunrise Caribbean Cuisine

Jpats 445x333 Roll Call After Dark Nosh of the Week: Jamaican Patties at Sunrise Caribbean Cuisine

(Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

Bring us your beef, chicken or vegetable Jamaican patty at Sunshine Caribbean Cuisine.

Located in the basement of Washington’s Union Station, tucked away in a corner that was probably at one point a train tunnel, Sunshine serves up pan-Caribbean cuisine, such as oxtail or goat lunch plates, pholourie and cocoa bread. Its simple Jamaican patties, though, are the perfect, and cheap, grab-and-go nosh. Two bucks gets you one of these caloric pastries.

These Hot Pocket/empanada/what-have-you cousins contain a little something for everyone. The vegetable patty, a sort of succotash pie, is a creamy delight with a little kick to it. The beef is the spiciest of the bunch, and the humble chicken patty starts off like chicken salad and ends like hot sauce.

By Jason Dick Posted at 3:23 p.m.
Eat

July 21, 2014

Roll Call After Dark Documentary of the Week: ‘Code Black’

Not for the faint of heart, “Code Black” by Ryan McGarry is a documentary about Los Angeles County’s emergency trauma center. Right off the bat it plunges the viewer into the most graphic elements of health care, as well as doctors’ concerns about how they can balance the optimism that led them to their profession with the brutal reality they face on a daily basis. McGarry, who was in his residency at County while he was filming the movie, is just one of the many doctors who make the movie hum along.

“Someone is suffering. What are you going to do?” asks Jamie Eng, a senior resident physician says after a series of scenes that makes the goriest episode of “ER” look like kid’s stuff. The staff’s narration revolves around the role that emergency rooms fulfill in the American health care system, an out-sized and expensive one that goes beyond treating gunshot wounds and reaches to primary care for the most vulnerable members of society.

“When we started this, it seemed so simple. We were going to be doctors. We were going to help people. But what if those ideals can die? I mean, what if those hopes can fade into the failure of the system. If you’re a young doctor, you have to ask yourself, ‘how do I protect the ideals I came here for?” McGarry says early on in the film.

Amid the depressing polarization of the health care debate in Washington, the fact that they’re even continuing to ask questions like that is a minor miracle. This movie shows why people go into medicine, and how tough that choice can be, however rewarding it may be.

“Code Black” is playing at the Angelika Pop-Up at Union Market at 550 Penn St. NE.

By Jason Dick Posted at 6:27 p.m.
Movies

Segs in the City: They’re Just Not That Into You

 

There are things worse than being small, electric and self-balancing in Washington. Such as: Being small, electric and self-balancing and having your tour guide’s speech regulated in Washington.

Lucky for the city of monuments and tour guides, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit recently struck down silly requirements that tour guides pass a test and pay a fee to see if they know Teddy Roosevelt from Franklin Roosevelt. I wonder, isn’t life hard enough without regulations? If journalists have freedom of speech, why not Segs in the City?

Is it that Washingtonians had an innate aversion to Segways, or was it more than that? I wondered: In a city such as D.C., with its infinite possibilities, had Segway tours become too much to endure? The answer is no, thanks to Segs in the City and their friends forever at the Institute of Justice, who sued to get rid of that D.C. rite of passage. Full story

July 18, 2014

Roll Call Book Club: We’re Here to Make Sure You’re Not ‘Overwhelmed’

Theoretically, we still have the same 24 hours in a day our grandparents and their grandparents had. But it sure doesn’t feel like it. We’re “busy, busy, busy,” as the late, great Kurt Vonnegut Jr., wrote.

A city such as Washington is filled with strivers and striving, filling every conceivable moment with constructive, career-related activity. But that sense of compressed time is not just the purview of places like Washington. People have their hair on fire in Fargo, N.D., too, as Brigid Schulte tells it in her new book “Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time.” The problem, she writes, is spreading as we divvy up our days into a thousand pieces.

So what’s a person to do if they’d like to live a fulfilling life but still feel like they have enough time to shower in the morning and read the occasional book? Schulte will discuss just that, and her book and the research and, ahem, time that went into it on Wednesday at the latest Roll Call Book Club.

Some of the more eye-opening nuggets from Schulte’s book include studies that show that being pressed for time can actually make us dumber, by shrinking the prefrontal cortex of our brain; that Pat Buchanan, after helping sink a universal child care bill while in the Nixon White House, never had kids, and that “rough-and-tumble play” can actually make us smarter. She also delves into why — far from there being something rotten in the state of Denmark — the Danes are the happiest people on the planet.

One big note of appreciation for the book is its embrace of the finite nature of our lives. This isn’t always the cheeriest of topics, and you could probably hear book agents and publicists thinking to themselves, “can’t she lay off the we’re-all-going-to-die stuff?” — but it’s a necessary, bracing reminder of what’s a stake in our busy-busy-business.

“Whey we die, the e-mail in-box will still be full. The to-do list will still be there. But you won’t,” Schulte quotes Terry Monaghan, a time management and organizational expert, as telling a group of people looking to find a way out of what Schulte dubs “The Overwhelm.”

Things get under way at 6 p.m. and will run until about 7:30 at the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital at 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Complimentary copies of the book will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis, and Schulte will be on hand to sign them. Heck, we’ll even feed you and provide something to drink. To register, go to roll.cl/schultebookclub.

Roll Call After Dark Quaff of the Week: Dead Rise Summer Ale

 Roll Call After Dark Quaff of the Week: Dead Rise Summer Ale

(Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

If it’s summer in the capital region, it’s time for beer, crabs and Old Bay. And sometimes, it’s good to combine as many as possible in one package, such as Flying Dog Brewery’s Dead Rise Summer Ale.

The Frederick, Md.-based brewer’s latest mad scientist concoction, complete with Ralph Steadman bottle art, has been popping up more and more in Washington. I purchased my latest six pack at Hayden’s Liquor Store at Eastern Market, and partook of a flowing tap at Kelly’s Irish Times on Thursday.

For those counting themselves at Old Bay skeptics, give it a whirl. The celery salt brininess makes a nice baseline in the peppy ale. For those who can’t get enough Old Bay, you won’t need Roll Call After Dark’s encouragement to potentially overdo it with your table full of steamed blue crab by adding Dead Rise as your beverage of choice.

And if you’d like to go to the source, you’re in luck! This Saturday, Flying Dog is hosting its outdoor music/beer drinking session at its Frederick facility, with musical guests Lucero.

Questions? Flying Dog has an FAQ page for all your Old Bay-laced beer curiosity.

By Jason Dick Posted at 2:01 p.m.
Drink, Eat

July 17, 2014

Roll Call After Dark Tunes of the Week: ‘Women & Work’ by Lucero

“Come on out tonight,” could be the unofficial motto for good-timing Memphis band Lucero, a band dedicated equally to touring and defying easy classification. Country? Sure. Punk? Why not. Roadhouse? Yeah.

You can fulfill their request — words from the “Downtown” track of their “Women & Work” album — a couple of different ways this weekend. On Saturday, Lucero plays at Saturday’s Summer Sessions at Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick, Md. General admission is $25. If you can’t make that, head over to Dewey Beach, Del., where they’ll be playing at the Bottle & Cork on Sunday.

Notice a theme in the venues? That’s right, my friend — fermented spirits!

July 16, 2014

Roll Call After Dark Book of the Week: ‘National Pastime’ by Barry Svrluga

 Roll Call After Dark Book of the Week: National Pastime by Barry Svrluga

(Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

Baseball’s All-Star Game break provides us with a respite from the churn of the 162-game regular season, as well as an opportunity to check out a great baseball book, Barry Svrluga’s “National Pastime.”

The Washington Nationals are in first place in the National League East at the break, a nice position for a team that was up-and-down and replete with injuries at the beginning of the season. Amid a so-far successful current season, last year’s winning season (which saw the team miss the playoffs) and 2012′s dynamic division-winning team, it’s worth remembering that the Nats’ first year in the District was anything but auspicious.

There was no owner. The team’s transitional home, RFK Stadium, was barely ready for prime time. The team was a collection of injured or unproven or washed-up players. The staff had almost completely turned over from the team’s previous year iteration in Montreal as the Expos. The manager was a crank. And yet, the team finished 51-30 at the halfway point and contended for a playoff spot deep in September before ending the season 81-81.

Svrluga, a Washington Post sports reporter, was there from soup to nuts, covering the last-minute glitch in negotiations with the District Council that almost caused the deal to move the Expos to D.C. to crater, all the way to the last homestead against the Philadelphia Phillies. The writing is briskly paced and has an eye toward the human story that went with the business story.

It’s also a great reminder that the Nationals’ current success on the field and with the city — as the area around Nationals Park fills up with breweries, condos and bike lanes — were never guaranteed in those rough-hewn first days at RFK.

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