The Washington Press Club Foundation’s annual Congressional Dinner, now in its 70th year, unofficially kicks off the capital’s season of formal and semi-formal schmooze-fests on Feb. 5 at the Grand Ballroom of the Mandarin Oriental. As any student of D.C. parties knows: This is the fun one.
The foundation, a nonprofit borne of the old Women’s National Press Club, raises awareness of the need for diversity in newsrooms and sponsors internships and educational projects for aspiring journalists. It also recognizes the accomplishments of sometimes underrepresented segments of the media, such as regional reporters in Washington through the David Lynch Memorial Reporting Award.
Plus, it’s a blast. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., will bravely take the mic to hoist a few zingers around the crowd of assembled pols, scribes and power brokers. They even got an early start by cutting a video debating who’s funnier.
Reception is 6:30 p.m., dinner and the program start at 8 p.m.
Wisdom Gin Club
Erik Holzherr, owner of Wisdom Cocktail Parlour, Church and State and Atlas Arcade is a man of many liquors, but there’s a spirit that is closest to his heart and he’s starting up the Wisdom Gin Club to show his love for the clear stuff.
On Feb. 6, he’ll let the world in on why he believes it is first among equals.
Twenty bucks will get you in for a guided tour of nine gins, including Leopold’s Gin, Half Moon Orchard Gin and local boys Green Hat Gin. Holzherr, Dan Searing and other specialists and ambassadors will be your guides. The club’s kickoff gets started at 7:30 p.m. at Wisdom, 1432 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. RSVP at Wisdom’s blog.
Jesse Ferguson Happy Hour
Friends, frenemies and colleagues welcome Jesse Ferguson, deputy executive director and communications director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, back to D.C. on Feb. 7 at the Hawk ‘n’ Dove for an extended happy hour.
“Let’s celebrate Jesse for showing cancer who’s boss the best way we know how: with a happy hour,” USA Today scribe (and Roll Call alumna) Susan Davis, head of the “Jesse Ferguson Return Happy Hour Organizing Committee” implored greater Capitol Hill recently via email.
Ferguson has been shuttling back and forth from his family’s home in Richmond, Va., and the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center since discovering cancer in his cheek and neck. He announced earlier this month on his personal blog that his doctors feel they have nipped the frightful situation in the bud.
The libations in the upstairs bar at 329 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. get under way around 5 p.m.
Ah, scotch. If “Anchorman” and its coming-soon sequel “Anchorman 2″ have done anything, it’s bring the wonders of what Ron Burgundy referred to as scotchy scotch scotch to light.
Whiskey-centric establishment Jack Rose Dining Saloon will be hosting its own Scotchy Scotch Scotch party Monday night “in honor of ‘Anchorman 2′s looming Christmas Day release, according to the bar. “If ‘Anchorman”s Ron Burgundy lived in Washington, DC, Jack Rose Dining Saloon would be his favorite watering hole.”
I smell sequel! Along with peat moss and heatherbrae, and other scotchy scotch scotch things.
Folks are encouraged to come in costume — considering the ’70s and ’80s are so big now, you’ve probably already got something fitting in your vintage-stocked closet. Members of the Channel 4 news team get $2 off cocktails. No cover. Includes a screening of “Anchorman” in the glass-enclosed upstairs bar. From 8 to 11 p.m. at 2007 18th St. NW.
Never mind those predictions of that Mid-Atlantic weather phenomenon, wintry mix. Brave the outside for a couple of cool holiday traditions on both sides of the Potomac: Old Town Alexandria’s Scottish Christmas Walk Parade and the Southwest Waterfront’s Parade of Lights in the District.
On Saturday, rain or shine, a whole mess of Scottish clans in tartans, with bagpipes, will turn Old Town into one big holiday hootenanny. Starting at 11 a.m. at Wilkes and St. Asaph streets and proceeding through the King Street district, it’s a unique celebration of the season. The bars and taverns in the area are more than willing to provide season and culturally appropriate libations.
Later on Saturday night and across the river, the Washington Waterfront Association and the Old Dominion Boat Club will put on the Parade of Lights along the Southwest Waterfront at Water and Seventh streets SW. Things kick off at 6 p.m. with music, a bonfire, some Santa Claus sightings and other holiday this and that. Around 7 p.m., decorated boats from the Alexandria Vote group will start to arrive at the waterfront, and folks can vote for their favorites. Promoters say it’ll all happen rain or snow. Free.
So long, Thanksgiving. Hello, holiday party season! This week the Senate may be away, but the festivities are in play, starting with the lighting of the Capitol Christmas Tree at 5 p.m. Tuesday on the West Front and the Capitol Hill Chanukah Celebration at 5 p.m. Tuesday in the Capitol’s Mansfield Room.
And even if you’re not into indulging your inner Scrooge, there’s still plenty to do around Capitol Hill this week, including taking a look at some of the capital city’s dark secrets through the eyes of its most storied detective, and a concert at the Library of Congress by country royalty Rosanne Cash, daughter of the Man in Black.
Bill Press sits down on Tuesday at Hill Center with Terry Lenzner, arguably the District’s most seasoned private investigator. Lenzner has a memoir out, “The Investigator: Fifty Years of Uncovering the Truth,” which the two will discuss. Lenzner’s seen it all in a long career, including the murders of civil rights workers in the South, Watergate, the Unabomber and any number of high and low crimes. Lenzner will sign copies afterward. At the Hill Center’s Abraham Lincoln Hall at 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, 7-9 p.m. Free, but register at Hill Center’s website.
LOC to Cash In
Roseanne Cash will be at the Library of Congress for a three-day residency that starts Thursday and goes through Sunday, a project that will reveal to the public her new album, “The River and the Thread,” and include a “round robin” with other singer-songwriters and talk with a fellow Southerner, Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey. The eldest child of the late Johnny Cash has a more-than-three-decades-long career and is a country legend in her own right. The fact that she’s kicking off her tour in D.C. at the library speaks to her enduring cultural imprint. On Thursday, Cash will premiere her new album in a concert at the Thomas Jefferson Building’s Coolidge Auditorium at 101 Independence Ave. SE. The tunes start at 8 p.m. The concert is free, sort of: You have to get tickets through Ticketmaster, which will charge a processing fee. The LOC says advance tickets are sold out, but there should be a decent number of “rush” tickets at the door. Friday’s round robin with Cash, John Leventhal, Cory Chisel, Rodney Crowell and Amy Helm is at the Coolidge at 8 p.m. Her Saturday conversation with Trethewey at the Jefferson Building’s Whittall Pavilion is free.
Eat, Drink, Vote, Read
The Roll Call Book Club wraps up its 2013 series with Marion Nestle, who’ll drop by CQ Roll Call HQ at 77 K St. NE on Thursday night to discuss her new book, “Eat Drink Vote: An Illustrated Guide to Food Politics.” Co-hosted by our pals at Hooks Books, drop by at 6 p.m. for a little wine, some cheese and a discussion on what’s on everyone’s mind: What’s to eat?
Come fall, cult bourbon enthusiasts across America give thanks to the handful of establishments fortuitous enough to slide a few bottles of Pappy Van Winkle onto their shelves by proceeding to gleefully drink those places dry.
(Courtesy Redman Communications)
Having scored his annual allotment of old Rip Van Winkle Distillery’s prized product line, Bob Materazzi, owner of Shelly’s Back Room (1331 F St. NW), is not only looking forward to the bourbon purge, he finally gets what all the fuss is about. Full story
“Appearing Nightly BLAZE STAR ‘The Queen of Burlesque’” reads the ad on page 2 of the Nov. 20, 1963, Roll Call.
From the Nov. 20, 1963 Roll Call. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)
It’s a reminder that not all of the advertising that has appeared in Capitol Hill newspapers such as our own came from the Nerve Gas Association of America or some such trade group looking to further a legislative agenda or burnish its credentials. The small partial ad was a fixture in our pages, appearing week after week to tout Star’s performance at The Playgirl Lounge at the corner of 13th and F streets NW. There’s a Starbucks there now.
Of note: This is not the famous exotic dancer who had a long-time affair with Louisiana Gov. Earl Long in the 1950s, which was itself the subject of the 1989 Paul Newman-Lolita Davidovich movie “Blaze” by Ron Shelton. That would be Blaze Starr, with two “r”s.
Good news, Southernphiles: The date for the 2014 Taste of the South has been set, and it comes with a bigger venue.
The next good-time go-round will be March 29, and it will be moving from the classy but slightly snug DAR Constitution Hall to the more spacious Washington Hilton, home to, among others, the White House Correspondents Dinner.
(Courtesy Taste of the South)
It seems like a long time ago the event was held at the D.C. Armory. But the 2010 event, which took place during a sweltering June weekend there, featured a decided lack of air conditioning. Although everyone knows it gets hot in the South, this was a bit of verisimilitude even die-hard Southerners did not need. DAR Hall was the next stop, and now the charity and nosh-festival looks like it’s got itself a new home.
That chill in the air this month is even more reason to stock up on stuff to do around Capitol Hill. Dwindling light doesn’t mean dwindling cool things to do.
Hill Center’s Pre-Code Cinema Series
Hill Center debuts its series looking at the racier side of early Hollywood on Friday night with the 1933 Barbara Stanwyck flick “Baby Face.” Critic Nell Minnow and writer Margaret Talbot will lead discussions of the movies, which represent a tone and time in cinema when the Hays Code guidelines for themes and behavior the movies could portray was for the most part disregarded. Free, but register online at hillcenterdc.org. 7 p.m. at 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE.
The Hillys Are Here
The 2013 Hillys Award Gala, which honors the Capitol Hill area’s favorite businesses, including restaurants, health and beauty services, home and garden services, retailers, nonprofits and art venues, among many categories, are Saturday night at Nationals Park’s Stars and Stripes Club, from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. A production of CHAMPS, Capitol Hill’s Chamber of Commerce, tickets start at $125 for members. For information about attending or to buy tickets, go to champ.memberclicks.net.
Days of D.C. Dining Past
Sure things are hopping in Washington’s restaurant scene right now, a remarkable turn of events for a city that felt somewhat culinarily stagnant in the recent past. But the current boom taking hold in places like 14th Street and Barracks Row is not the first one to take hold in D.C. John DeFerrari is talking about his latest book, “Historic Restaurants of Washington D.C.” at 2 p.m. Sunday at Hill Center. In addition to a fascinating sociological look at Washington’s development, dating back to the 19th century, DeFerrari’s book is a nicely put together document that should be of interest to any dining buff or local historian. Free.
Union Market continues to proceed with what can only be regarded as a plan to take over the world. Need evidence? How about its plans to be open six days a week and having The Walkmen play at the buzzy food and food-stuffs market.
(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Starting Nov. 12, the market will expand from being open five days a week to six. Currently, the market is open Wednesday through Sunday with current hours from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. On Nov. 12, the market will open on Tuesdays from here on out.
But the new hours are just the latest expansion into the D.C. consciousness. They pick people up for lunch with their Roadie shuttle, host a pop-up Toki Underground stall, project drive-in movies, provide a landing zone for Crafty Bastards and are even clearing some space for The Walkmen to help inaugurate the new second-floor performance space, Dock 5, on Nov. 30.
The indie-rock faves, all of whom are D.C. natives, will perform with Sunwolf and DJ Will Eastman.
Tickets start at $25 for the gig and can be purchased at Ticketfly. Doors open at 7 p.m., tunes at 8 p.m.
So, now that the “My word” and “Well, I do declare” reactions to the Nevada Host Committee’s bid to land the 2016 Republican National Convention in Las Vegas have subsided a bit, it’s a good time to take stock of how likely a Vegas-bound GOP might be. And according to All-Nevada Political Journalist Jon Ralston, it’s quite a serious bid indeed.
“Is there so much fear and loathing of Sin City that this move by Nevada’s GOP elite to secure the convention is more like the hallucinations of a Strip drunk at 3 AM than a sober proposition by a smart, committed group of people? I don’t think so,” Ralston wrote in a Ralston Reports post today.
Ralston points out that Vegas patriarchs such as Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn “will open their checkbooks for this” and the city’s experience with conventions and its inventory of hotel rooms would help grease the skids.
And for the record: Even though Roll Call After Dark has cued the Sin City jokes about what such a locale could wrought, it’s worth pointing out that same column extolled the virtues of having such a convention in a prime-time city like Vegas, as opposed to places like Denver, Colo., and Charlotte, N.C., where hotel rooms were sometimes more than hour away from the convention site and transportation systems were lacking. As for the adult entertainment angle, there’s a reason prostitution is referred to as the world’s oldest profession (because it’s everywhere), and last time we were in Tampa, another convention site, there was no real shortage of strip clubs there, either.
And why shouldn’t Vegas feel free to make a bid that places like Kansas City or Cleveland do? Ralston’s headline sums it up well: “GOP 2016 in Las Vegas? Why not?” That harks to one of the best political slogans of all time, from Kinky Friedman’s Texas gubernatorial bid: Why the hell not?
Happy Day of the Dead! There’s no way around it now: We’re firmly in the grip of fall, hurtling toward winter. Before we get to the really cold stuff, there’s time to do some autumn-appropriate stuff right here on Capitol Hill.
An Almighty Drive-In Experience
Union Market continues its fall season drive-in series on Friday with an All Saints Day showing of “Evan Almighty” at the Union Market Drive-In encore series. God, played by Morgan Freeman (no one else is allowed to play the big guy), asks Rep. Evan Baxter (Steve Carell) to build an ark in anticipation of a flood. The congressman obliges. In 2007, when the movie came out, this seemed far-fetched. In 2013, after observing the last few collections of freshman who have been elected, it seems feasible.
Gates open at 6 p.m., and the show starts at 7:30. Free, at 1309 Fifth St. NE.
Pottery on the Hill
Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital is hosting Pottery on the Hill this weekend, starting with a reception on Friday and extending into the weekend. The exhibit will showcase 16 artists, and folks will have the opportunity to both view and buy. Among the potters is former Washington Redskin fan favorite and renaissance man Chris Cooley, who seems to be holding up just fine in his post-NFL life.
Tickets to Friday’s reception are $25 and available here. That shindig starts at 6:30 p.m. at 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Cooley will also be giving talks at noon and 2 p.m. on Saturday about his life as a sportsman and artist.
Street Level View
If you’d like your art in a different medium, check out the new exhibit Above the Radar III at The Fridge on Barracks Row. The exhibit shows off 25 artists from Los Angeles, New York and abroad, starting on Saturday. Curator Luna George brings many facets of the urban art experience, from street art to surrealism and more, for a month-long show. Among the artists showing are Cat Cult, Peeta, Robots Will Kill and XIST. Saturday’s opening reception is from 7 to 11 p.m. and is free; Sunday’s neighborhood reception is from noon to 4 p.m. and is also free, all at 516 1/2 Eighth St. SE.
New Columbia Distillers, the team behind the District’s Green Hat Gin, releases its new gin for the season, “Ginavit,” at the Ivy City distillery at 1832 Fenwick St. NE on Saturday. The portmanteau of two excellent spirits, gin and aquavit, suggests an interesting flavor. “This is a hardy and savory cool weather gin,” John Uselton, the co-owner and distiller said in a release, promising a mix of “Scandinavian aquavit botanicals” and gin botanicals. They’re only making 100 cases, so drink it while you can. Suggested retail is $40, and your first chance to get it is on Saturday. Whatever’s left over heads to restaurants and retailers the next week.
Please, please, please make this happen: the Nevada Host Committee’s effort to bring the 2016 Republican National Convention to Las Vegas.
The group, which trumpets the involvement of Nevada Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki as its figurehead, wants to lure Republicans from across the land to Sin City to nominate the party’s presidential standard-bearer in the next election.
“Las Vegas is the number one convention destination in North America. We do it better than anyone else in the country,” Krolicki said in a release.
They have a point, noting that Vegas hosted more than 21,000 conventions last year and has almost 150,000 hotel rooms. For those of us who have suffered through Charlotte, N.C.; Tampa, Fla.; St. Paul, Minn.; and Denver, the thought of not having to drive 50 miles from a hotel to the convention site is quite appealing.
And, for journalists, at least, what could possibly go wrong when you have public officials that close to gambling, 24-hour drinking opportunities and, ahem, adult entertainment, complete with ready-to-go wedding chapels? If you’ve seen “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” “The Hangover” or “Mars Attacks,” you can rest assured nothing but good can come from a visit to the desert.
Is it a coincidence that both chambers of Congress return for the first time since the shutdown during Halloween week? Trick or treat! Here are a few things to do around Capitol Hill this week in case things just get too scary around the Dome.
Get Arty The Fridge is teaming up with Fantom Comics to throw a “Halloween Arty Party” at the gallery/performance space. This seems like a natural fit to marry the edginess of street art found at The Fridge and the vibe of comic books, which are sure to inspire a few costumes here and there on Halloween. DJ Oso Fresh will spin the tunes. The party’s costume contest is scheduled for 10 p.m., with a $100 Fantom Comics gift card as a top prize. The best part? No cover. Starts at 7 p.m. at 516 Eighth St. SE.
The Witching Hour Rock and Roll Hotel has a full slate of acts and parties all week long culminating in Halloween night’s Halloween Happy Hour Show, presented by Brodown Throwdown and DCPACC. Getting in on the Triple H Show are The Queens of Noise, Accidents and Burn the Ballroom. And how appropriate is it for dress-up night that the headliner is a Runaways cover band? Five bucks to get in at the door, which opens at 7 p.m. for a 7:30 show. Before Halloween, though, the Hotel is hosting Sir Sly on Monday night, along with Magic Man and Bel Heir. Twelve bucks in advance and at the door. Doors at 7 p.m. for an 8 p.m. show.
The Dirty Guv’nahs drop in with the Federal Hillbillies on Wednesday for an 8 p.m. show. Doors at 7 p.m. Twelve dollars in advance and $15 at the door. Nothing like some knucklehead practitioners from the Dirty South to get things going on All Hallow’s Eve Eve! Everything happens at 1353 H St. NE.
Not Your Usual Gala And what to do for All Saints’ Day on Friday? How about head to the Atlas Theater at 1333 H St. NE for the Atlas Underground: Not Your Usual Gala, a fundraiser for the neighborhood anchor that features performances from a host of local D.C. artists such as SynchroniCity; Nistha Raj, Christylez Bacon & Wytold; Akua Allrich; Cheick Hamala Diabaté; Bio Ritmo; Backbeat Underground; Balti Mare; and the No BS! Brass Band. Black tie optional. Tickets start at $225.
Union Station had just reopened, Duke Zeibert’s was one of the most popular “Red-Blooded Macho-Politico” steakhouses and The Monocle kept “legislative diners informed when it’s time to vote.” The year was 1988, and Roll Call was cataloguing “The Fine Art of Political Eating” in its Oct. 23 Fall Dining Guide.
(Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)
Among the dining guide’s most interesting notes is this from long-time food critic Thomas Head in his “Head Table” column, in which he is unimpressed with the fare at Union Station and pines for the kingpin of fast food: Full story
Roll Call After Dark is about what Washington does when it's not at work.
The District of Columbia is a cultural capital where you can you get your kicks from movies projected on the National Mall, lectures on vermouth or Russian avant-garde art. There's always something to do.
Jason Dick is the Hill Life editor for Roll Call and has also worked at Greenwire, CongressDaily and National Journal Daily during his time in Washington. @jasonjdick