You’ve heard of rain delays in baseball, but Frederic Frommer, author of “You Gotta Have Heart: A History of Washington Baseball From 1859 to the 2012 National League East Champions,” got to experience that rarest of things, a snow delay.
Frommer, an Associated Press scribe who chronicles the trials and tribulations of Washington baseball, was all set to discuss his book with former Senators announcer Phil Hochberg at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library on Dec. 10. But then the heavens opened up, if you’ll recall, and the library called the whole thing off.
Will this be the year the Nationals deliver a championship to Washington? Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, left, and Nats’ outfield Bryce Harper want to know. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose and sometimes it rains, the saying goes. In December in D.C., it snows, so there you go.
Lucky for Frommer, Hochberg and baseball fans, the snow delay has resulted in a make-up book talk and signing in the midst of spring training. So come on down the MLK library on March 4 at 6:30 p.m. The event will be held in room 307 of the library at 901 G St. NW. It is free to attend and is presented in partnership with the Historical Society of Washington, D. C.
When you think about it, “The Monuments Men” is the perfect movie for Washington: Educated nerds defeat the Nazis, save crown jewels of Western civilization.
George Clooney’s old-school World War II flick about the military’s Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program was released in theaters on Friday, including at the District’s great Uptown Theater. The city’s other cultural institutions, meanwhile, have geared up exhibits to provide some context for the real-life heroes that made the monuments men so monumental.
Down the street, the National Archives has on display “The ‘Hitler Albums’ — Meticulously Documented Plunder,” a record of the Nazi’s Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, or ERR, the point agency for the Third Reich’s efforts to loot art in occupied countries.
The “Hitler Albums” were documents that catalogued the most priceless of the art for a planned museum dedicated to the Nazi leader. Thirty-nine of the albums were discovered by U.S. forces at the Nazis’ Neuschwanstein Castle and turned over to the MFAA. They’re on display until Feb. 19 in the Archives’ East Rotunda Gallery. Also on Feb. 19, Richard Edsel, author of ”The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History,” the primary source for Clooney’s movie, will be part of a panel discussion at the Archives’ William McGowan Theater at 7 p.m., that will cover his books, the real-life MFAA, the film and his foundation, the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art. A book signing will follow the discussion.
Roll Call Book Club Continues
Roll Call’s book club is back on Feb. 13, and in a new venue. Time Magazine’s Mark Halperin discusses his new book (co-written with New York Magazine’s John Heilemann) about the 2012 presidential election, “Double Down.”
A sequel to the duo’s “Game Change,” one of the definitive chronicles of the 2008 presidential race, “Double Down” weaves a complicated tapestry that reveals the humor and humanity of its principals, the people laying it on the line for a shot at the most important elected office in the world.
The event starts at 6 p.m. at Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital at 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. It’s free, but please register at cqrcbooks-halperin.eventbrite.com. Complimentary copies of the book will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
As official Washington begins to trickle back to work in this new year, the city’s cultural institutions are getting back into the swing of things, too.
American Letters From Abroad
Politics and Prose bookstore is hosting a couple of American literature’s heaviest hitters on back-to-back days: Chang-rae Lee and Gary Shteyngart. Lee, a Korean-American, and Shteyngart, a Russian-American, present vivid and weird representations of the American experience. Both were born abroad (in Seoul and Leningrad, respectively) and are tied closely to their respective immigrant communities. They are also thoroughly American, having come to the United States at young ages and having succeeded in a profession among the most difficult to break into: writing novels. And, as they are both 40-something and firmly in Generation X, there’s a bit of desperation, humor and sadness in their writing. Perfect for the times.
Lee, the author of such books as “Aloft,” will read from his latest novel, “On Such a Full Sea,” on Jan. 8 at 7 p.m. Shteyngart, the author of “The Russian Debutante’s Handbook” and the more recent “Super Sad True Love Story,” will read from his forthcoming memoir, “Little Failure,” on Jan. 9 at 7 p.m. Both events are free at the Politics and Prose flagship at 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW.
Hill Center’s Packed Schedule
Hill Center here on Capitol Hill has a dense set of upcoming events. On Jan. 7, the cultural center at 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE will partner with ITVS Community Cinema to present a free screening of “Las Marthas,” a documentary about the monthlong (!) annual debutante ball in Laredo, Texas. The Society of Martha Washington’s coming-out ceremonies are quite a sight to see, and provide a look at American culture that will be news indeed for many. The film starts at 7 p.m.
The National Symphony Orchestra fills up the calendar later in the week, with its NSO in Your Neighborhood program. On Jan. 9, the NSO will present a chamber performance featuring flautist Aaron Goldman, clarinetist Eugene Mondie and bassoonist Sue Heineman, starting at 7:30 p.m. and going until 9:30 p.m. On Jan. 10, the NSO brings in its “Jazz Night Club,” featuring several musicians including violinists Glenn Donnellan, Terri Lee and Jan Chong, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Both events are free, but those interested are encouraged to register at Hill Center’s website.
Cracker, Camper Check In
If you don’t get your fill of Gen X signifiers from Lee and Shteyngart, you’re in luck: Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven are playing the 9:30 Club on Jan. 11. Cracker, which initially grew out of the disbanding of Camper, headlines. Perhaps to show how all of us Gen Xers roll these days, it’s an early, 6 p.m. show at 815 V St. NW. Twenty-five bucks to get in.
Eat, read, drink and watch movies. Sounds like a pretty good week.
Eat for a Cause
A quartet of deliciousness is teaming up on Monday to feed not just D.C.’s discriminating palates, but the needy as well. Toki Underground, Maketto, Buffalo & Bergen and Rappahannock DC have put together a nice four-course meal at Rappahannock Oyster Bar at Union Market, with proceeds going to benefit Miriam’s Kitchen. Full story
Writer and public health activist Marion Nestle drops by CQ Roll Call HQ tonight for the finale of 2013′s Roll Call Book Club. She’ll be discussing her latest book, “Eat Drink Vote,” a brisk and funny read about food politics that helps make its message with political cartoons.
So drop by for some wine, some cheese and a free copy of the book. Roll Call resident food maven Warren Rojas will introduce Nestle, who apparently has a few things to say about how, why and what we stuff in our mouths.
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?
The movie awards season is upon us. And while it’s not exactly the Academy Awards, there will certainly be a red carpet at the National Archives this week when Steven Spielberg is honored for his contribution to American culture. And that’s not all for a week that has every aspect of cinema represented.
From Private Ryan to Abe Lincoln
The Foundation for the National Archives is giving Spielberg its Records of Achievement Award on Tuesday for the film icon’s cinematic legacy. Leading up to the Tuesday award reception, the Archives has been showing some of Spielberg’s classic work, starting with “Saving Private Ryan” last week and culminating with a screening Monday of 2012′s “Lincoln,” a movie that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., arranged for senators to see on the Capitol grounds earlier this year. “Lincoln,” which scored Daniel Day-Lewis another best actor Oscar for his titular role, starts at 7 p.m. Free (first come, first served) at the William G. McGowan Theater at 700 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
For something completely different, the folks over at Atlantic Exchange are showing the new documentary “Narco Cultura” at the West End Cinema at 2301 M St. NW on Tuesday. This film, about the musical subculture of the drug trade in North America’s borderlands, looks kind of harrowing. Director Shaul Schwarz will be there to discuss the film with Atlantic Editor-at-Large Steve Clemons. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., with the show starting at 7 p.m. Discussion to follow. RSVP at email@example.com.
The Printed Word Strikes Back
If you find the need to break from the moving image, Politics and Prose and the National Press Club are sponsoring the 36th annual Book Fair and Author Night at the Press Club (529 14th St. NW) on Tuesday night from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. More than 90 scribes will be on hand to hobnob and talk about their books, including Alice McDermott, David Wiesner, Mark Leibovich, Joe Yonan and even a public official or two — Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, D-Ill., former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, we’re looking at you. All books need to be purchased at the fair. The event helps support the NPC’s journalism institute. Tickets are $10 for the public, $5 for members of Politics and Prose or the Press Club.
A Virtuous End to the Week
To round out the week, how about stopping by Hill Center at 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE on Friday for the latest in its Pre-Code Film Screenings series. For this week’s journey into the land of giddily wicked flicks, Hill Center will show “Virtue,” a gritty 1932 urban thriller starring Carole Lombard as a street-smart gal in New York City who befriends a cabbie and gets involved in a murder.
It’s a long weekend, but there’s plenty to do around Capitol Hill, starting tonight with the Roll Call Book Club and continuing through the weekend, when visitors to the Library of Congress can see a copy of the Gettysburg Address.
Winston Groom’s ‘Aviators’
“Forrest Gump” author Winston Groom’s latest book, “The Aviators,” came out Nov. 5, and the author himself is dropping by the Roll Call Book Club on Friday to discuss it and sign his books at CQ Roll Call, 77 K St. NE at 6 p.m. For this nonfiction book, he tells the story of the early years of aviation, focusing on how Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle and Charles Lindbergh helped shape things. The event is sold out, but keep checking Eventbrite’s listing, as some folks have had to beg off, leaving a couple spots here and there for the taking.
Mothers, Lock Up Your Sons
The Union Market Drive-In wraps up its fall Encore Series season Friday night with a screening of “Bridesmaids,” which was chosen by patrons via social media. And what does that say that the popular choice is rated R? That we love comedies about Gen X slackers who are afraid of commitment and drink too much! As Union Market says on its website, the film is “not recommended for children.” Hey, they might as well know what life has in store, no? Free. Gates open at 6 p.m., show starts at 7:30 p.m.
Four Score and …
The Nicolay copy of the Gettysburg Address, which many historians presume to be the first draft, will be displayed at the Library of Congress’ Jefferson Building’s Great Hall, starting Friday through Nov. 19, the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s delivery of the address in Gettysburg, Pa. On Nov. 20, the Nicolay copy will head to the LOC’s Civil War in America exhibit on the second floor of the Jefferson Building. First Street and Independence Avenue SE. Free.
Jury Notice for an Art Show
The first annual EMULSION: East City Art regional juried show opens on Nov. 9 at Gallery O on H, at 1354 H St. NE. The opening reception is at the gallery from 7 to 10 p.m. the same day. The exhibition runs through Jan. 18. With so many neighborhoods opening up for artists in the eastern part of the District, this could be a landmark event.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Washington has long been an epicenter for bluegrass and jazz. If you’re interested in checking out both proud genres on Capitol Hill, Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital is hosting some fine performers in its Abraham Lincoln Hall this week.
Bluegrass on Pennsylvania Avenue
First up is Jim Hurst, a performer who has been shortlisted for the 2013 International Bluegrass Music Association’s Guitarist of the Year, who will play at Hill Center on Monday at 7 p.m. To prime the pump, Hurst will be on local station WAMU’s bluegrass program at 9 a.m. with Katy Daley (which can be found at 105.5 FM in D.C.) It’s $15 in advance and $20 at the door at 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. To get tickets, go to Hill Center’s website.
Jazz Things Up
On Wednesday, bassist Eric Wheeler will perform a variety of jazz styles at Hill Center that show the range of the form — particularly how it relates to jazz musicians in the District, such as Duke Ellington, Billy Taylor and many more. Wheeler is a District native who leads the Hill Center Jazz Ensemble and is a fixture at such jazz venues at Bohemian Caverns on U Street.
Winston Groom Stops By
Winston Groom is set to helm the latest installment of the Roll Call Book Club on Friday at 6 p.m. The author of “Forrest Gump” has a new book out this week, “The Aviators,” which takes a look at the early years of aviation and three men who helped define it: Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle and Charles Lindbergh. The event, at the CQ Roll Call offices at 77 K St. NE, is sold out and bulging at the seams, so if you’ve RSVP’d “yes” but know you won’t be able to make it, please let the folks at Eventbrite know so that others can come see Groom and get their book signed.
The Last Picture Show
Friday is the last show of the season for Union Market’s fall drive-in movie series. The summer series was so popular that the folks at 1309 Fifth St. NE arranged an autumn go-round, and gave us free outdoor showings of “Caddyshack,” “Julie and Julia,” “Good Will Hunting” and “Evan Almighty.” So what’s on tap for Friday? That’s up to you. Union Market is hosting a people’s choice vote for the flick — you can cast your ballot via their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Gates open at 6 p.m. and the show, whichever it is, begins at 7:30 p.m.
Political journalist Jeff Greenfield gets a nice one-two punch for his most recent creative ventures today, with the release of his book “If Kennedy Lived: The First and Second Terms of President John F. Kennedy: An Alternate History” and the world premiere of “What If …? Armageddon 1962″ on the Military Channel.
President John F. Kennedy, left, Speaker Sam Rayburn, center and Vice President Lyndon Johnson in 1961. (CQ Roll Call File Photo.)
“In the case of John Kennedy, there were so many possible turning points that would have ended either his life or his political life before Dallas,” Greenfield said, ticking off the multiple times JFK almost bought it, whether by scarlet fever as a youth or his near miss in World War II in the Solomon Islands.
Heck, “maybe [Richard Nixon] has a better make-up man” during the 1960 presidential debates, Greenfield said. That sentiment of “what if?” infuses both the new book and the documentary, which is based on a chapter from Greenfield’s previous book of alternate history, “Then Everything Changed.” Full story
As the Capitol continues to tie itself into knots, some things, thankfully, don’t change. This week, reality television’s hottest stars team up with the world’s most famous X-Man, there are some good reads to pursue and Friday brings another movie under the stars.
Call Him ‘Al the Pal’
Former Sen. Alan Dixon, D-Ill., who served two terms to cap off several decades in public service, is touring Washington with his new memoir, “The Gentleman from Illinois,” a rollicking re-telling of the senator’s favorite stories from over the years. Dixon will be at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies (640 Massachusetts Ave. NW) at 5 p.m. Monday for a lecture and book signing. On Tuesday, Dixon heads to a Senate-side favorite, The Monocle (107 D St. NE) from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. to sign his book. Rumor has it Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., will attend with her father, Gene Callahan, who was an aide to Dixon back in the day.
Roll Call Book Club!
Pultizer Prize-winning historian Rick Atkinson comes over to CQ Roll Call HQ on Wednesday to discuss his latest book, “The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945,” the final volume of his Liberation Trilogy about World War II. The book, the culmination of 15 years of work, is a masterful telling of D-Day and the fighting that followed, resulting in the fall of the Third Reich and the end of the European side of fighting. Free, at 77 K St. NE, from 6 to 8 p.m. To register for the event, go here.
Ducks Meet Wolverine
Wednesday produces the moment we’ve all been waiting for, when we find out who has more star power: the Ducks or the Wolverine. “Duck Dynasty” stars Willie and Korie Robertson and Hugh Jackman, the man who plays the slicing, dicing Wolverine will be among the celebvocates at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center (1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW) for the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute Angels in Adoption Gala. Oh, yeah. Some members of Congress will attend, too. The Robertson folks do know the fine art of listening to nonsense, so they should be good when members come to chat them up.
They probably shouldn’t get too close to Wolverine, though. He doesn’t have much patience for their type.
What Cooking’s All About
Union Market’s DC Drive-In continues its fall series on Friday with “Julie & Julia,” Nora Ephron’s adaptation of Julie Powell’s attempt to follow in Julia Child’s cookbook chef-steps. Meryl Streep plays Child with glee, and Amy Adams portrays Powell. Union Market’s shops are the perfect place to stock up after the cooking scenes make you hungry. To get in the mood, check out PBS Digital Studio’s “Julia Child Remixed” and see if you don’t laugh. Bon appetit! Free, at 1309 Fifth St. NE, gates open at 6 p.m., movie starts at 8 p.m.
World War II veterans were not about to be denied on their visit to D.C. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call.)
“Well, I think if you’re going to put up barricades, you’d better remember that these are the guys who managed to storm Omaha Beach and Tarawa and Iwo Jima. So the odds are that few Park Service barricades, even if they are octogenarians and older at this point, aren’t going to do much to thwart them,” Atkinson told CQ Roll Call.
Atkinson, whose final part of the trilogy, “The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945,” was released in May, will be reading from his latest and discussing it as part of the Roll Call Book Club on Oct. 9 at 77 K St. NE. Free, from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. To register for the event, go here.
The baseball season is almost over for the Washington Nationals, and it’s been a bit of a disappointment for those who were expecting a nonchalant walk to the World Series. For a bit of long-term perspective on baseball in the nation’s capital, Hill Center DC is hosting Frederic J. Frommer tonight, who will talk about his new book, “You Gotta Have Heart,” a history of baseball in Washington that stretches from 1859 to 2012.
CBS newsman Bob Schieffer will lead the discussion with Frommer. Perhaps this year’s season, a winning one but without a playoff berth, will hurt a little less when stacked up against history. From 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Free. To register, go here.
For a nice pre-event read, Thomas Boswell’s column in the Washington Post today sums up the Nats’ season pretty well: Not too shabby, but not good enough, and what’s next? Such reads are a nice way to even out some of the disappointment and face the fact that expectations were set a wee bit high this year.
Ripley’s book stacks up the research about how U.S. kids stack up against their industrialized world peers and also follows three American teens as they embark on foreign exchange programs in Finland, South Korea and Poland. For anyone puzzled by the U.S. education system, or concerned about how their own kids fit into it, it sounds like an interesting read.
Ripley will sign copies of her book. It, as well as beer, wine and snacks, will be on sale in Hill Center’s Abraham Lincoln Hall at 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Sponsored by the folks at Young Education Professionals-DC, it all starts at 7 p.m. and lasts until about 8:30 p.m. Five bucks gets you in. You’re on your own for a book or beer. To purchase tickets, go to Eventbrite.
There is the Great American Novel, and there is the Great Washington Novel.
Washington’s place in the literary fiction canon sometimes gets overshadowed by the heavyweight nonfiction accounts that have come to define the city and its politics.
Nonfiction works such as “All the President’s Men” by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, Robert Caro’s series on Lyndon Johnson and, more recently, Robert Draper’s “Do Not Ask What Good We Do” and Mark Leibovich’s “This Town” are must-reads that inform and help to form the experiences of those in and around the nation’s capital.
Novels, though, tell the stories of Washington in a way that can sometimes be truer than biography or journalistic accounts. Their narratives also signal that history has a way of coming around again, even if the cast of characters changes regularly in D.C., and that fate sometimes has a great sense of humor.
The following list is by no means exhaustive, but it provides a start for someone looking to pick up a good read during this August recess.
“Watergate” by Thomas Mallon — Mallon tells the story of one of Washington’s most exhaustively covered scandals as a tragic, dark comedy, recounting the early 1970s in Washington as a compromised, lucid platform for palace intrigue and human failings. A finalist for the 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and a mainstay of top 10 lists for 2012.
“Democracy: An American Novel” by Henry Adams — Adams published this novel anonymously in 1880. He had to. It was scathing satire for the day, telling the story of Washington power brokers whose grasp for influence made people such as the president of the United States somewhat of an afterthought. Few people were as plugged-in to Washington’s Gilded Age scene as Adams, and it shows.
“Echo House” by Ward Just — Just tells the story of the American 20th century through the lives of three generations of the Behl family and their ascent and descent in the political world. From public service to military service, from campaigns to lobbying, the novel traces a decline and fall that is uniquely American and uniquely Washington.
“The Columnist” by Jeffrey Frank — Frank’s acid-tipped, black comedy tale of Washington political columnist Brandon Sladder is a priceless takedown of the self-important, semi-informed and sometimes dangerous Beltway media creature who speaks less than truth to power. As close as any American author has come to Evelyn Waugh’s immortal “Scoop.”
“The Turnaround” by George Pelecanos — Pelecanos tells a story of decadeslong sweep, encompassing some of Washington’s most difficult years with a tale rooted in what he does best: a neighborhood crime. In this case, it’s a crime that casts a shadow over an entire city and its political and demographic changes.
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