Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 16, 2014

Posts in "Getting Lit-erary"

April 8, 2014

Larry Pressler Stops by Roll Call Book Club

Former South Dakota Sen. Larry Pressler, who served in the House and Senate as a Republican and trying to return to the Senate as an independent, stopped by Monday night’s Roll Call Book Club at Hill Center, which happened to be discussing Charles Wheelan’s “The Centrist Manifesto,” a book arguing for the need to elect centrists not affiliated with the two major parties to Congress.

“It’s tough running as an independent. You get classified as someone who can’t win,” Pressler said.

 Larry Pressler Stops by Roll Call Book Club

Pressler, second from right, at Monday’s Roll Call Book Club with, from left to right, Adam Yotter, Katie Conley and Kristen Harper. (Photo courtesy Katie Conley).

The match of aspiring lawmaker to book discussion couldn’t have been a better fit. Wheelan’s call for more pragmatic lawmakers hinges on a Senate-first strategy. He argues that with the Electoral College rigged against third-party candidates and the House an ungovernable and gerrymandered mess, centrists should focus on elected a handful or so to the Senate where they could help dictate the agenda in a closely divided body.

“Angus King proved this could be done,” Wheelan said of the Maine independent elected in 2012. “Now he needs some more people to play with.” Wheelan, a Dartmouth professor of public policy, isn’t just theorizing. He’s putting some sweat equity into it with The Centrist Project, a 501 (c) (4) set up to help elect centrists to the Senate.

Pressler wants to be one of those such independents. “I’m enjoying the race,” he said. “My wife is my driver. We’re adding volunteers.” However, he bemoaned the lack of independent polling in South Dakota, which he said would vindicate his desire to run, predicting he would finish ahead in a survey. One example of the challenge facing him, though, is funding. Commissioning a poll, he said, was something he didn’t have the cash for at this point.

One avenue of support available to him, though, might be those inclined to support The Centrist Project. After the event, Wheelan and Pressler headed to dinner on Capitol Hill, at Acqua al 2 near Eastern Market. Perhaps a vetting, perhaps just a friendly dinner.

April 7, 2014

Roll Call Book Club With Mark Halperin (Video)

For political junkies, it was all there — President Barack Obama’s relationship with Congress, the future of Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the 2014 midterm elections, the Republican field for the 2016 presidential race and much more — during our Roll Call Book Club discussion with “Double Down: Game Change 2012″ co-author Mark Halperin on March 26.

Some of the highlights in three minutes include those topics:

Couldn’t attend? Lucky for you, we have video of the full discussion with Halperin, Roll Call Editor-in-Chief Christina Bellantoni, Capitol Hill Editor Jason Dick and a lively and engaged audience at the Hill Center:

April 4, 2014

Calendar: A ‘Naked’ Writer, a ‘Documented’ Filmmaker

A ‘Naked’ Writer’s Manifesto

Charles Wheelan, the scribe behind “Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread From the Data” and “Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science” swings by for Monday’s Roll Call Book Club to talk about his latest offering: “The Centrist Manifesto.” Wheelan, a Dartmouth professor of public policy, is a bit fed up with the gridlocked shenanigans of the Republican and Democratic parties and calls for a centrist third party that can focus on the big issues, instead of just run for re-election and trade partisan snipes. If you think this isn’t exactly a novel idea, hear Wheelan out. He is, after all, the guy who successfully marries nudity and statistics. “The terminology may sound intimidating, but Wheelan handles it well and is a patient teacher. If you’re the kind of reader whose flagging interest can be revived by cracks about the Kardashians or the author’s faux self-deprecation, you’ll enjoy Wheelan’s style,” our own Randolph Walerius wrote of “Naked Statistics” last year.

“People ask me if I put ‘naked’ in the title just to sell books. The answer is, ‘yes!’” Wheelan cracked. He’ll discuss his book at Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital at 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE starting at 6 p.m. We’ll serve snacks and adult beverages, and give out free copies of “The Centrist Manifesto” on a first-come, first-served basis. To register for this free event, click here.

Most Best of D.C.

The Washington City Paper’s Best of D.C. shindig is Wednesday at the historic Carnegie Library at 801 K St. NW, a block-party-worthy soiree of the city’s favorite beer, wine, burgers, oysters, bar, chocolate, gelato — you get the picture. Tickets are $80 for general admission. The $125 Very Important Person tickets are already sold out. Lots of local artists, performers and that admission fee gets you the open bar experience. For more information go to Washington City Paper’s website.

Undocumented Screening, Redux

Former Washington Post reporter Jose Antonio Vargas returns to the District for another screening of his compelling documentary “Undocumented,” which chronicles his uniquely American journey as an undocumented immigrant and his push for an immigration overhaul. On Thursday, he’ll host a screening of “Undocumented,” which has been updated since its initial release last year to reflect current events, at the Newseum at 555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. The movie starts at 7 p.m. and will be followed by a panel discussion with Vargas, executive producer Janet Yang and founder Joe Green. To RSVP, go to Eventfarm.


March 28, 2014

Calendar: Time to Make Outdoor Plans, Finally

Amazing what a couple of days above freezing will do for everyone’s disposition!

Whether it’s planning some fun runs, mussing about among the cherry blossoms or gearing up for the return of the Washington Nationals, it’s nice to be able to go outside without cold weather gear, finally.

Run, Run, Run

One of the biggest outdoor activities of the season brings together not just the Cherry Blossom Festival crowds but members of Congress and the physically fit. April 6 is the annual Congressional Federal Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run, a massive foot race that raises money for charity that contains the Capitol Hill Competition race-within-the-race. Race organizers on April 3 will present the a check to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in Room HVC-200 at the Capitol Visitor Center. Expect current and former members of Congress to attend. Congressional Federal CEO Charles A. Mallon Jr., is touting the 41 senators and 189 House members who are serving as honorary co-chairs of the race, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio. The event starts at 10 a.m. Capitol Hill Competition runners can pick up their race packets from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the same room. Full story

March 25, 2014

Mark Halperin Swings by Roll Call Book Club

Mark Halperin, co-author of “Double Down: Game Change 2012,” swings by the Hill Center (921 Pennsylvania Ave. NE) Wednesday in a rescheduled Roll Call Book Club event that was snowed out last month.

Co-hosted by our partners at Hooks Books, the festivities get under way at 6 p.m. with some adult beverages and nosh, and our discussion with Halperin about the 2012 race, and possibly the 2016 one, will get started around 6:15 p.m. He’ll be on hand to sign some copies of the book until around 7:30 p.m.

Come hungry, thirsty and curious. Free copies of the book are available while supplies last.

March 17, 2014

Taking the Long View on Recess Week

PHOENIX — Monday’s snow is a reminder of why Major League Baseball long ago decamped for Arizona and Florida for its spring training schedule. With snow on the ground in Washington, Opening Day seems a long way away on the East Coast.

Here in the Valley of the Sun, teams are starting to make preparations to return to their home cities — or Australia for the season opener in the case of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers — but there are still plenty of exhibition/tune-up games to go, including at Roll Call After Dark’s favorite locale, Phoenix Municipal Stadium, where the Oakland A’s have long made their springtime home.

But if you’re not fortunate enough to be soaking in the rays in Arizona or Florida, there’s still plenty to do in Washington, even as it throws off the last vestiges of winter storming. Full story

February 27, 2014

After Snow Delay, Frederic Frommer Ready to Talk Baseball Again

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.

reid 040 050412 445x296 After Snow Delay, Frederic Frommer Ready to Talk Baseball Again

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.

February 7, 2014

Calendar: Monuments Men Get Their D.C. Shoutout

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.

The National Gallery of Art, for instance, is unveiling an exhibit on Feb. 11, “The Monuments Men and the National Gallery of Art: Behind the History,” in its West Building Founders Room. The exhibit features photos, documents and other items.

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 Complimentary copies of the book will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

January 3, 2014

Calendar: Gen X Writers, Bands Represent!

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.

December 6, 2013

Calendar: A Guide to Capital Cold-Weather Survival

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

December 5, 2013

Marion Nestle at Roll Call Book Club Tonight

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.

Free, at 77 K St. NE from 6 p.m. to about 8 p.m.

December 2, 2013

Calendar: Holiday Cheer and Some Alternatives

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.

D.C. P.I.

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?

November 18, 2013

Calendar: Spielberg Honored in Big Week for Movies

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.

Narco Cultura

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

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.

November 8, 2013

Weekend Calendar: Winston Groom, Bridesmaids and The Gettysburg Address

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.

November 4, 2013

Calendar: D.C.’s Musical Heritage Gets a Listen

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.

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