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February 9, 2016

Posts in "The Sights"

March 5, 2015

Rolling With the DC Brew Crew

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

“By the end of the day, we’ll all be drinking buddies,” DC Brew Tour Guide Max Moline pledged as he pulled away from the curb and began inundating those of us who’d signed on for a mid-day swing through the various beer-making operations that have bubbled up across the area with trivia about barley- and hops-related beverages.

Moline’s curious career was made possible by visionary Chad Brodsky, the founder and CEO of a budding tourism experience that caters to folks who never balk at a chance to bend the elbow.

“D.C. has incredible breweries and we love to showcase them in different ways,” the entrepreneur said. Brodsky began shuttling beer fans around Burlington, Vt., in 2008, and later expanded to Boston. He set up shop in the nation’s capital last fall.

At the heart of each five-plus hour pleasure cruise is beer — a dozen (or so) tastings, to be exact — plus a custom designed meal pairing conducted at a participating location. Full story

February 24, 2015

The Democrats’ Lost Opportunity in Birmingham

Wallace and Bentley adorn booth B-4 at Carlile's BBQ. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

Wallace and Bentley adorn booth B-4 at Carlile’s BBQ. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Walk into any barbecue place in the South and you’re pretty certain to find walls of fame and photos of the area’s local sports heroes. Dine at Carlile’s BBQ here in Magic City and you’ll see prominent politicians, mostly rock-ribbed Republicans, interspersed among the likes of Joe Namath, Bart Starr and Bear Bryant.

Booth B-4 provides the most vivid illustration of Carlile’s political tone. A contemporary photo of the current governor, Republican Robert Bentley, hangs just below a black and white photo of the late Democratic Gov. George Wallace, the long-time segregationist who recanted his views late in life but was for years a symbol, along with Police Chief Eugene “Bull” Connor, of white resistance to civil rights. (Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” immortalized Wallace’s status for fraternity party singalongs with the lyrics, “In Birmingham they love the governor.”)

By the cashier counter, former GOP Rep. Spencer Bachus gets a place of honor, next to a photo of singer Lyle Lovett, a Texan.

The city once dubbed “Bombingham” because of its Civil Rights Era violence was passed over last year in its bid to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Alas. And Carlile’s isn’t on the list of many Democrats here — “It’s usually not in my repertoire of where I take my visitors,” Rep. Terri A. Sewell, D-Ala., told CQ Roll Call recently, rattling off other ‘cue joints such as Dreamland and Jim ‘n Nick’s and Lannie’s in Selma. But imagine a gaggle of Democratic activists descending upon Carlile’s to eat pork butt and lemon ice box pie among the mugs of Wallace, Bentley and Bachus. Bipartisan barbecue!

The 114th: CQ Roll Call’s Guide to the New Congress

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By Jason Dick Posted at 4:54 p.m.
Eat, Museums, The Sights

January 30, 2015

Kojo, Will and Roll Call on the Hill

The Folger will host Kojo at the Capitol (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Folger will host Kojo at the Capitol: In Partnership with Roll Call, WAMU’s Metro Connection, and the Folger Shakespeare Library. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If the voice of Kojo Nnamdi sounds different starting Monday, it could because be he’s channeling the Bard.

Kojo, who once upon a time covered Capitol Hill for WHUR, will helm Kojo at the Capitol: In Partnership with Roll Call, WAMU’s Metro Connection, and the Folger Shakespeare Library amid the Folger’s dark wood, thousands of manuscripts, vivid oil paintings and stained glass. Full story

November 18, 2014

Hiking Arizona’s Gabe Zimmerman Trail

A memorial to Zimmerman stands at the entrance to the trailhead. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

A memorial to Zimmerman stands at the entrance to the trailhead. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

DAVIDSON CANYON, Ariz. — The bike rack at the Gabe Zimmerman Trailhead here is a twisted oxidized metal coil molded to look like a rattlesnake. It’s a small bit of whimsy amid a majestic part of the 800-plus-mile Arizona Trail dedicated to the victims of a dark chapter in the Grand Canyon State’s history.

That would be the Jan. 8, 2011, shooting at the Casas Adobes Safeway in Tucson, where Zimmerman and five others were killed, and 13 others were injured, including Zimmerman’s boss, then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her congressional successor, Ron Barber.

A sculpted tile-work monument of Zimmerman stands at the trailhead’s entrance. This portion of the path was a favorite for Zimmerman, who was an avid outdoorsman. The monument also shows a side of the legislative staffer different than the one dedicated to him thousands of miles away in the Capitol Visitor Center. Full story

By Jason Dick Posted at 5 a.m.
The Sights

September 23, 2014

A Plea to Reject ‘Brutal Imperial Arrogance’ in Wake of White House Breach


Recent security breaches shouldn't compromise basic civil rights, argues Philip Kennicott. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Recent security breaches shouldn’t compromise basic civil rights, argues Philip Kennicott. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

One of the nation’s foremost architecture critics says Washington has already given up too much of its openness and beauty as a city and that the recent security lapse at the White House “is an institutional, organizational problem; it does not require an architectural solution.”

The argument that Philip Kennicott lays out in the Washington Post is not merely an aesthetic one, though. Rather, he notes that in cutting off access to the Supreme Court, the West Terrace of the Capitol and the White House in recent years, all in the name of security, the very pillars of representative democracy are being compromised. “The loss of public space and the intrusion of the security apparatus into daily life are not merely inconveniences. Among the most cherished symbols of democracy is openness, including direct access to our leaders. … It is not reasonable to ask a free people to continually submit to police control; doing so becomes ingrained, and when we freely submit to unreasonable searches, we lose the all-important reflexive distrust of authority that helps keep us free,” the Pulitzer Prize winning writer asserts.

Kennicott’s plea that the nation’s leaders think before stringing up barbed wire and more bollards is one that goes against the one-way trend of increasing levels of lockdown in the seat of government. Monday’s White House press briefing suggests the executive mansion’s staff is leaving things to the Secret Service, who were responsible for the breach in the first place, to decide. Kennicott reaches back to ancient Greece for his closing argument: “‘We throw open our city to the world,’ Pericles said in his Funeral Oration. We, alas, have become the descendants not of that fine and fundamental sentiment of democracy, but of the brutal imperial arrogance that corrupted the Athenian state in later years.”

If people, staffers, tourists, citizens alike, can’t literally see the beauty and good things around them in Washington, at the Supreme Court, at the Capitol, at the White House, should anyone be surprised there is distrust and disdain for the place?

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May 19, 2014

Georgetown Cupcake; or, the Wait

Call me cupcake skeptical. Some days ago — never mind how long precisely — having little or nothing to do on a Saturday, and nothing particular to interest me otherwise, I thought I would stand in line at the original Georgetown Cupcake.

“Do you have an out of town guest with you?” a friend tweeted at me.

No, but therein lies the nature of my quest — to visit the intersection of Washington tourism and pop culture and to do the things that no self-respecting Washingtonian would do, but perhaps has been tempted to.

“I’m guessing 22 minutes,” my companion, self-described disgruntled Washingtonian (and former Roll Call scribe) Amanda Becker predicted as we took our place in The Line.

The Line. It’s the first thing one notices about Georgetown Cupcake at the intersection of 33rd and M streets Northwest. The corner storefront itself is quaint. The Line, though, is anything but.

Uphill 33rd Street it goes, 50 or so deep.

I ask, “Is that 22 minutes to the door? Or 22 minutes from our place here to custody of cupcakes?”

“Cupcakes,” Becker said.

Becker is not someone I would describe as an optimist, but she seemed fairly certain of her outlook. In addition, her professional life as a journalist requires her to make cool-headed judgements on a range of tricky topics. Either that, or the The Line at Georgetown Cupcake was a test of Spartan mettle and hellish endurance she could not have imagined in even her most analytical calculations.

Full story

April 30, 2014

Air and Space Museum Shows Off New Planetarium Projection System

Something new, something old. The Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum on the National Mall has both at its newly renovated planetarium.

The Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum has a new toy: a brand spanking new digital projection system for its Einstein Planetarium: an 8K Full Dome Digital System. As part of its soft launch, it’s showing off what it can do with showings of “Dark Universe,” a 24-minute film narrated by new “Cosmos” host Neil deGrasse Tyson.

That’s 8K as in 8,000 pixels, or roughly twice as many pixels as the last-generation digital projection system the planetarium has had in place since 2002. The new system’s six digital projectors provide a neck-cranking and high-definition experience, as Tyson’s narration of the Carter Emmart flick illuminates the more than 90-percent dark “stuff” the universe is made of.

Smithsonian geoscientist Andrew Johnston gushed about the new system’s ability to also customize night sky and our own solar system’s orbital idiosyncrasies. Sean O’Brien, the Einstein Planetarium technician who made things go for a Wednesday screening, was able to show what the Earth’s artificial satellite ring looks like, as well as the trajectories of Saturn’s many moons, for instance.

And then there was the Zeiss Mark 6A projector, the original gangster of the planetarium. Located in the middle of the renovated Einstein theater, the old-school projector is a mechanical nostalgist’s delight, a contraption that looks like a combination of a mad scientist’s laser, Robby the Robot and Captain Nemo’s lifepod. It hums to life like a steam-powered tiger, rising up and projecting a night sky with the best of them.

The Zeiss Mark6A (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

The Zeiss Mark6A (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

A gift from the government of West Germany in 1976 for the U.S. bicentennial, the projector has been with the museum since it opened in 1976. The planetarium folks break it out a few times a week to show a different view of the night sky. It’s old, and most planetariums used versions of it for years, but have since all moved on to digital projection. Thankfully, the Smithsonian has kept its version, if nothing else than as a point of comparison. “It’s built like a tank,” Johnston said.

German ingenuity (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

German ingenuity (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

Johnston, whose affection for the Zeiss is obvious, says he frequently seeks out old, retired models for spare parts to make sure Air and Space can continue operating its own. While extolling the virtues of the new system and its abilities, Johnston says the Zeiss does something no digital projector is capable of just yet: “Nothing can get things as dark,” as the Zeiss he said.

In addition, it’s just kind of cool to have such stuff, especially in a museum. “It’s terribly important to keep such equipment,” Johnston said.

Ticketed presentations of “Dark Universe” are under way now and run throughout the day. Come for the new toy. Stay for the old one.

By Jason Dick Posted at 3:42 p.m.
Movies, Museums, The Sights

April 28, 2014

Tourism Most Fowl: DC Ducks

The journey begins at Union Station. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

The journey begins at Union Station. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

I have never met a self-respecting Washingtonian who has taken a DC Ducks tour.

This was no deal breaker.

The people who make their lives in Washington exist in sometimes uneasy concert with the tourists who journey here year-round to see the nation’s capital and its attendant attractions: museums, monuments, government edifices.

In places such as the Capitol or the National Mall, these two tribes occupy the same space. But on ventures like the DC Ducks tour, never the twain shall meet.

But what if they did?

Full story

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