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December 20, 2014

Posts in "Weekly Calendar"

December 15, 2014

Calendar: ‘Through a Lens Darkly’ Illuminates Screens

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Protesters march in the “Justice for All” march on Dec. 13 in Washington. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Thomas Allen Harris worked on his latest film project, “Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People,” for years, and it was released in Washington on Dec. 12.

The timing, while entirely coincidental, comes during a period of renewed discussion of race as grand jury decisions in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island, N.Y., continue to reverberate and demonstrations sweep through the halls of power, including at Capitol Hill. Full story

December 5, 2014

Hill, K Street: Grab a Drink, Get Your Party On

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Time to sort through your holiday party invites. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If you’ve been stuck in the Capitol cramming on the “cromnibus” and missing the whole holiday mingling circuit, then it’s time to grab a drink and get your party on.

Some of the hottest December shindigs are still to come, offering a rare respite from the partisan vitriol and legislative gridlock. These are opportunities for some serious bipartisan collaboration, though the invites — or lack of — can be challenging to navigate. Full story

November 24, 2014

To Trot or Not to Trot

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Ready for Turkey Day? (CQ Roll Call File Photo.)

Staying put in Washington for the Thanksgiving holiday has its perks. No airport waiting lines. No captivity on I-95. A relaxed, convivial atmosphere. That’s good to keep in mind when arriving amid the forecasted snow and cold at Freedom Plaza for the 2014 Trot for Hunger 5K race.

The footrace, put on by So Others Might Eat, raises money to provide food, health care and clothing for the homeless. The D.C. trot, SOME’s 13th annual, is expecting more than 10,000 runners for an 8:30 a.m. start time for the kids’ 1-mile fun run and 9 a.m. for the 5K. SOME aims to raise $525,000 in its effort to feed the hungry and help the homeless.

To register for the event, go to SOME’s sign-up site at soome.convio.net. It’s $30 for an untimed run and $35 for a timed one. A hyper-competitive environment this is not. Ridiculous costumes are welcome, particularly of the avian variety. Ability is not an issue. Case in point? Your Roll Call After Dark columnist himself will be participating, rehabbing torn MCL and all.

SOME’s downtown D.C.-centered trot is just one of many in the area. Still, there’s something about seeing thousands of people running around in the cold, amid the Capitol Dome. The political world can cast a dark tone on Washington, and given congressional approval ratings, not too many folks view Capitol Hill in a positive light. Showing there’s more to D.C. than Republicans and Democrats trading potshots starts with events like this.

But surely there must be easier ways to get out of helping stuff the turkey on Thursday morning? SOME is more than eager to shoot you in the right direction for volunteer opportunities on Turkey Day and beyond. Drop them a line at some.org.

Among the many other places to volunteer are DC Central Kitchen, Bread for the City, Food & Friends, the Capital Area Food Bank, take your pick. If you want to volunteer, there’s a spot for you.

Something to keep in mind is that while Thanksgiving and the upcoming Christmas holidays are good motivators for community service and volunteerism — and charitable organizations are eager to accept goodwill during such busy times — the need doesn’t end with the holidays.

Roll Call Results Map: Results and District Profiles for Every Seat

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November 19, 2014

Decoding the Sometimes Mystifying Vocabulary of Politics

Have you ever found yourself walking back a dog whistle on the basis of a Washington handshake? Sometimes the political world’s vocabulary is otherworldly. In those cases, “Dog Whistles, Walk-Backs & Washington Handshakes: Decoding the Jargon, Slang and Bluster of American Political Speech,” is here to help.

This new book, the product of veteran political journalists Chuck McCutcheon and David Mark, provides a breezy guide to the arcane shibboleths employed by the lawmakers, journalists, staffers, fixers (defined on p. 13) and other citizens primarily of the Acela Corridor (defined on p. 70). Its fun tone belies its utility, as even the most seasoned D.C. sherpa (p.25) or graybeard (p. 34) may not know the ins and outs of each and every term. Want to know the genesis of some of the budgetese (p. 102) thrown around in the coming weeks? This is the place.

This is no goat choker (p. 189), and given how often, and for how long, some of the terms have been bandied about, will likely be no snowflake (also p. 189). If you can carve a little time out of this week’s lame-duck nut-cutting time (p. 116), McCutcheon and Mark will be discussing their book tonight at the Northeast D.C. Library on Capitol Hill at 330 Seventh St. NE at 7 p.m.

As for the title? Turn to pages 136, 200 and 97, please.

Roll Call Results Map: Results and District Profiles for Every Seat

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November 7, 2014

Party Like It’s 1844

An ambitious Kentucky lawmaker. A president mistrusted by his own party. Texas taking on an outsize role in Congress. Is this 2014, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell  waiting gleefully to seize the majority, President Barack Obama under withering criticism from Democrats marooned in the minority and Lone Star Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz ready to take up spheres of influence in the Senate?

Nope. It’s 1844, when Henry Clay of Kentucky dethroned President John Tyler as standard-bearer for the Whig Party in that year’s presidential contest. It was a year when Tyler bet his political future on annexing the Republic of Texas, risking war not just within Congress; but also with Mexico, which was still smarting from Texas’ secession. It was a year when religious fundamentalism was on the rise, with Mormonism in its ascent and other Christian sects predicting the second coming any day now. It was a time of economic uncertainty and hardened debate about the future of the country.

This journey into Antebellum America is brought to you by John Bicknell, a CQ Roll Call alumnus whose new book, “America 1844: Religious Fervor, Westward Expansion, and the Presidential Election That Transformed the Nation” is the latest selection for Roll Call Book Club. Full story

October 6, 2014

Green Hat Gin’s Cotton Anniversary Party

 Green Hat Gins Cotton Anniversary Party

(JasonDick/CQ Roll Call)

For anyone bummed that the Russians are buying All-American beer Pabst Blue Ribbon, fret not. There’s plenty of home-grown beer and booze right here in the nation’s capital.

It’s even a kind of anniversary season for the growing list of D.C.-based craft alcohol outfits. Atlas Brew Works, which joined the D.C. beeraissance last year, celebrated its one-year anniversary last month with a shindig at its Ivy City brewery. And on Wednesday, local bistro Boundary Road will fete New Columbia Distillers to celebrate the second anniversary of Green Hat Gin, the first legal distiller in Washington since Prohibition.

Boundary Road Owner/Chef Brad Walker and his merry crew focus not just on seasonal and local foods and drinks, but also on local talent and businesses. In this case, the New Columbia folks will trundle over from their Ivy City digs (sensing a trend here), with some of their choicest hooch. That will include some of their seasonal gin batches, such as their memorable “Ginavit” 2013 winter offering, which incorporated spirits genever and aquavit. Full story

October 2, 2014

Take a Trip Down Baseball Memory Lane

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Things weren’t always so merry with Washington baseball. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As the Washington Nationals open the National League Division Series on Friday, their second post-season appearance in three years, it’s easy to forget Washington baseball teams have frequently sucked.

Fred Frommer, author of “You Gotta Have Heart:  A History of Washington Baseball from 1859 to the 2012 National League East Champions,” never forgot. His book will make any Nat fan appreciate what they have now, and he’ll be discussing it at the National Archives on Friday at noon in the William G. McGowan Theater with his frequent discussion sidekick, former Senators announcer Phil Hochberg. It’s a nice way to prepare for the 3:07 p.m. game against the San Francisco Giants at Nationals Park.

Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney wrote about some of the Senators’ woeful ways in today’s Post. The upshot? To be a Senators fan back in the day, one had to have real guts. “In my childhood, the whole point of rooting for the Senators was to affirm one’s fortitude in the face of cellar-dwelling finishes. Show loyalty and optimism despite setbacks and disappointment. ‘We grew up not expecting much. That’s not a bad lesson for life,’ said Hank Thomas, 68, of Arlington, who cheered for the Senators as a child in the late 1950s,” McCartney writes.

And the first few seasons after the Montreal Expos moved here to become the Nationals were no picnic either. Remember when Nook Logan started in center field? It’s best not to.

If you can’t make it to the Archives, Fred and Phil will be live on YouTube.

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

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September 29, 2014

‘Fort Bliss’ — A Grounded Movie Gets Theatrical Run

Call it the little movie that could. “Fort Bliss,” a feature film about an Army medic/single mom returning stateside after a tour in Afghanistan and struggling with re-entry, is enjoying an extended theatrical release in Washington, continuing its rise from festival favorite and video on demand to big screens, thanks largely to grass-roots support.

The movie, directed by Claudia Myers and starring Michelle Monaghan, focuses on the challenges Monaghan’s character, Maggie Swan, has reconnecting with her young son and simply adjusting to not having bullets flying overhead. It’s a timely film, particularly as the country continues to grapple with questions about U.S. troops’ presence in Afghanistan and calls for more investment of blood and treasure in Iraq and possibly Syria get louder.

That doesn’t mean it was an easy sell. Josh Levin, general manager of the West End Cinema, said, “I originally turned it down. I turned it down cold,” when contacted by distributors about a run at his Foggy Bottom theater. He said it was an easy call “without any editorial comment about the films,” because he’s seen over and over again that when it comes to movies about Iraq and Afghanistan, there’s just no audience. “I just dismissed it out of hand.”  Full story

September 5, 2014

A Welcome Back Calendar

Short Cuts

The DC Shorts Film Festival starts on Sept. 11, showcasing an international slate of 150 short-length films in 90-minute blocks through Sept. 21. Close-in venues like the Atlas Performing Arts Center at 1333 H St. NE and Landmark’s E Street Theater at 555 11th St. NW will host shows, but so will further flung ones like the Angelika Film Center and Cafe Mosaic in Fairfax, Va., and the Anacostia Arts Center across the river from Capitol Hill. For a full run-down of films, go to dcshorts.com.

The (Ken) Russell Building

The Library of Congress is in the middle of screening a series of the late Ken Russell’s films, and it’s a great bunch focused on music, laced with Russell’s trademark kinkiness and bathed in the peculiarity of the 1970s. On Sept. 12, the library screens 1970′s “The Music Lovers,” the story of Tchaikovsky’s marriage. A chamber piece this is not, as it focuses on the composer’s attempt to distance himself from his homosexuality, only to have it backfire when he marries a nymphomaniac. It’s a rarely screened part of Russell’s body of work, showing at 7 p.m. at the Pickford Theater on the third floor of the library’s James Madison Building on Independence Avenue. On Sept. 19, the Pickford shows Russell’s 1975 “Tommy,” the filmmaker’s adaptation of The Who’s rock opera starring Roger Daltrey, Jack Nicholson, Ann Margaret, Elton John and just about anyone tripped out from the ’70s music scene.

An Innovative Discussion

Not to jump too far ahead, but Roll Call Book Club returns on Sept. 16 at Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital, where we’ll sit down with Aneesh Chopra to discuss his book “Innovative State: How New Technologies Can Transform Government.” Chopra, the first-ever chief technology officer of the United States, takes a tack most fear to these days: Extolling the good government can do in paving the way for new discoveries that can benefit everyone. From the Pony Express to the Internet, there’s a record. This free event starts at 6 p.m. at 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE and includes a free book, beverages and snacks. To register, go to our spot on Eventbrite.

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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

June 30, 2014

Washington’s Independence Day Patriotic Palooza

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Independence Day in Washington is like Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pa., a patriotic palooza. As if the stakes couldn’t be higher on the grandest stage at the capital of the free world, we could, possibly, be treated to yacht rock legend Michael McDonald singing “Sweet Freedom” with the Muppets as a follow-up act.

Of all the major holidays, D.C. really shines (or smokes, or swelters) on Independence Day, with the capital city coming alive with fireworks, concerts, Major League Baseball and even a fairground with midway rides.

Sure, the National Mall is the big gathering spot in D.C. for watching the fireworks come Friday evening, with the temporary concert venue on the West Front of the Capitol all set to blast tunes from everyone from McDonald to the Muppets to Frankie Valli for the Capitol Fourth celebration. What a fool believes! But the Mall and the Capitol grounds are not the only places to watch the pyrotechnics, not by a long shot.

Any higher ground vantage point, whether it’s Meridian Hill Park or the Iwo Jima Marine Corps Monument in Rosslyn, Va., or the roof of a pal’s apartment building will offer all the views with fewer sweaty souls jostling for precious few spots.

The fireworks and Capitol Fourth are a small component of the festivities, though.

The Washington Nationals, fresh from a Midwestern road swing in Milwaukee and Chicago, are back for a homestead against the Colorado Rockies, Chicago Cubs and Baltimore Orioles. On Friday, the Nats will play the Cubs in an 11:05 a.m. game that will feature lots and lots of flags and many beer cans emblazoned with Old Glory. Fireworks are usually to be had. Such an early game lets everyone get out in plenty of time to find their ways to the Mall, Capitol or that pal’s apartment building.

And let’s not forget about the D.C. Capital Fair at beloved RFK Stadium, which started June 27 and extends through Sunday. We might not be a state or have a vote in Congress, but we’ve got a fair, complete with a ferris wheel, a petting zoo and wolf show (no word on whether Nats outfielder Jayson Werth will be attending) and illusionists, hypnotists and plenty of greasy food. This week through Thursday, the fair runs from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Starting Friday and going through Sunday, it runs from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Yacht rock, baseball, things blowing up in the night sky, fried food and carnies. What’s more American than that?

June 15, 2014

Congressional Women’s Softball Game Highlights a Busy Week

Think it’s going to be a busy week in the Capitol, what with a full legislative calendar and House leadership elections? There’s just as much going on in the outside-work calendar, including a throw-down between members of Congress and the media and a telling of the Koch brothers’ tale.

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Bendery, in a non-trash talking moment. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The 6th Annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game is Wednesday night, and the trash talk is flying, including a radio “Softball Smackdown” featuring Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., and Huffington Post scribe Jennifer Bendery on the Bill Press Show. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at Eventbrite. Proceeds benefit the Young Survival Coalition. The opening pitch is at 7 p.m. at the Watkins Recreation Center at 420 12th Street SE.

One of Washington’s high-profile film festivals, AFI Docs, gets underway Wednesday, with an opening night show at the Newseum of “Holbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey,” by Scott Teems. Actor Hal Holbrook, who has been portraying Mark Twain on stage for more than six decades, will be on hand to introduce the film. The festival, which as a full slate of 84 films, runs through June 22 at various venues in D.C. and Silver Spring, Md. For tickets and showtimes, visit the festival website.

Roll Call Book Club returns Thursday night, when we’ll sit down with Mother Jones Senior Editor Daniel Schulman to discuss his new book, “Sons of Wichita, How the Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful and Private Dynasty.” In case you don’t check in on the Senate floor every once in a while, the Koch brothers are kind of a big deal. However, the K-Bros that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has made into Democrats’ bete noire, Charles and David, are only half of the brood. Schulman’s biography serves up juicy bits on the eldest, Frederick, who’s a patron of the arts, and Bill, David’s fraternal twin, an America’s Cup winner and to this day a bitter rival to Charles and David. This free event, complete with wine, cheese and a book giveaway, starts at 6 p.m. at Hill Center at 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Please register on Hill Center’s website ahead of time.

Friday is the day we wrap the voting for the annual Roll Call Taste of America contest. Pulling for the deep-sea heavyweight, Maine’s lobster rolls? Want to make sure Iowa bacon wraps itself in victory? Trying to make sure Maryland crab cakes scuttle to victory? Then vote at rollcalltasteofamerica.com. The winner will be announced at the following week’s 53rd Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park.

May 27, 2014

Time to Start Hanging Out Outside

The mercury is climbing in Washington, which means it’s time to start scoping out your outdoor lounging sites, including open-air movies right next to Capitol Hill.

On Wednesday, NoMa Summer Screen returns to the Near Northeast neighborhood with a screening of “Back to the Future” to kick off its 2014 Unlikely Friendships theme.

Robert Zemeckis’ 1985 time-travel comedy starring Michael J. Fox as a teenager whipped back to the 1950s in a DeLorean is one of the seminal movies of the 1980s (Huey Lewis and the News! Christopher Lloyd! 1950s nostalgia!) and is always worth another viewing, particularly when shown outside with the benefit of your pals and mobile eating courtesy of this go-round’s food trucks: Popped!Republic, The Big Cheese, TaKorean, Red Hook Lobster and Dangerously Delicious Pies. As always, the movies are free, the food is not.

Full story

May 12, 2014

Calendar: Roll Call Book Club Scours ‘HRC’

Are you or your boss on an enemies list? It’s not as paranoid as you might think to wonder.

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Where do you stand with the Clintons? (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

More than 40 years after President Richard M. Nixon’s list of political opponents and enemies made headlines, political reporters Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes detail an undertaking by aides to then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., to chronicle what they call a “political hit list”  in the aftermath of her defeat in the presidential primary to Barack Obama.

Obama, of course, went on to win the presidency and tap Clinton as his secretary of State, but political battles leave scars, particularly in the halls of power. On Thursday, the Roll Call Book Club will be back in action at the Hill Center to discuss the book, as well as to feed and water the book-hungry political masses.

“There was a special circle of Clinton hell reserved for people who had endorsed Obama or stayed on the fence after Bill and Hillary had raised money for them, appointed them to a political post, or written a recommendation to ice their kid’s application to an elite school,” Allen and Parnes write. The list of people with the highest ranking, compiled by Kris Balderston and Adrienne Elrod, includes such luminaries as the current secretary of State, ex-Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.; the Senate President Pro Tem, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt.; and House Budget ranking member Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.; as well as some senior Democratic elder statesmen like Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.

But that was so 2008! Think so? Just look at whom the Clintons bestowed favors upon in the 2012 election (Howdy, now-Rep. John Delaney, D-Md.!) and take a look at their current political activity. Allen, now Bloomberg News’ Washington bureau chief, and Parnes, White House correspondent for The Hill, look deeply not just at the aftermath of the 2008 election, but Hillary Rodham Clinton’s tenure at Foggy Bottom, with particular attention to the Benghazi, Libya, attacks, where Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three others were killed on Sept. 11, 2012.

Benghazi has popped up again, with Republicans in the House revving up a special committee and prepping lines of attack for 2016. Hillary Rodham Clinton has already testified on the Hill about the attacks. But this party, and the 2016 race, is just getting started, so don’t be surprised if the nascent Democratic frontrunner gets another invitation to go under the microscope again.

So there should be plenty to discuss with Allen and Parnes. Things get started around 6 p.m. on Thursday at 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. It’s free, as always, and we’ll supply the food and libations as well. The authors will be there not just to discuss the book, their reporting and to answer questions, but also to sign free copies of their book on a first-come, first-served basis. To register, see the listing on EventBrite.

April 25, 2014

Calendar: How Will Life After Leibovich Affect the WHCD?

It is the year of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner AL 1, or one year After Leibovich. While he wasn’t the first, Mark Leibovich’s “This Town” skewered the event and its accompanying cocktail parties, brunches and satellite offerings so hard that it’s worth wondering whether life at Nerd Prom will be different.

Will anyone enthusiastically tweet that they can’t believe they just saw Psy? Will the BuzzFeed Bowties and Burgers alterna-dinner at Jack Rose Saloon suffer a sophomore slump? Will Tammy Haddad change the mimosa schedule? Will news organizations now ignore people who had cameos in “House of Cards”? Will any celebrity selfies not be sponsored by Samsung?

We’ll see. While Leibovich’s chronicle certainly cut deep, it’s unlikely it will change much behavior. The spectacle of the WHCD has always been ripe for snark, self-consciousness and self-righteousness. Even the term Nerd Prom is a form of faux self-deprecation, an attempt to show that one understands just how declassé the whole affair is, even while jetting from soiree to soiree, from the French Embassy to David Bradley’s house.

So go forth and enjoy the pre-pre-parties, pre-parties, dinner, alternative parties, post-parties, post-dinner hangover cure brunches and the rest. There’s nothing wrong with having a good time, even as some of the events will seem like a 1970s disaster movie: Lots of talented people who used to be in the spotlight working it hard, waiting for the ship to be hit by a tidal wave.

Meanwhile, if you’d like to opt out of some of the week’s festivities, keep in mind a couple of things happening on Capitol Hill. This is the last week for the venerable Pour House, one of Pennsylvania Avenue’s last legit dive bars, which is pouring its last brew on April 30. There’s even a countdown clock on the Pour House website to show you just many hours and seconds you have for one last round of skeeball. The place that used to be Poli-Tiki will transition yet again, this time to a more upscale venue dreamed up by the folks behind nearby wine bar Sonoma.

On the night of the WHCD itself, local band Typefighter will be playing at the Rock and Roll Hotel at 1353 H St. NE for its “The End of Everything” album release party. Helping the crowd warm up will be another local outfit, Shark Week, which features Roll Call’s own Daniel Newhauser, a House leadership reporter by day, rock and roll drummer by night, with a little DC Ducks fanboy worked in on the side.

Doors open at 7 p.m., with the show starting at 8 p.m. It’s 12 bucks in advance and at the door. No rubber chicken dinner will be served.

And the day after features the Race for Hope Washington, D.C., 5K, which raises money for brain tumor research. For more information, go to braintumorcommunity.org.

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