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
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.
Movember, the mustachioed moniker affixed to the charity that encourages men to grow mustaches in November to raise awareness about prostate and testicular cancer, as well as mental health, has two big backers this week: Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken, and, of course, fictional newsman Ron Burgundy. What could these two entities possibly have in common? Read on.
Eat Doughnuts for a Cause
Of all the Movember fundraising efforts, this one fits perfectly. Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken unveils its contribution on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. at their Metro Center HQ. The Movember Doughnut is a vanilla-glazed confection with “a chocolate-pipped handlebar mustache,” according to the lucky flack who scored this account. “We want to take doughnuts to the next level,” Astro co-owner Elliot Spaisman told the Washington Flyer for a video segment earlier this year. From Tuesday through the end of the month, 1o percent of all sales of the Movember Doughnut will be donated to the Movember Foundation. To get things started proper, Astro is giving away 200 of the treats starting at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at their 1308 G St. NW store. To get one, you’ll need to put something in the Movember donation kitty. Offer limited to one doughnut per person while supplies last. And after all, what says awesome mustache like doughnut sprinkles in a lip sweater?
Ron Burgundy Exhibits Himself
Perhaps no other creature on Earth has done more for the image of the mustache than Ron Burgundy, the fictional newsman of the film “Anchorman,” a creation of Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. Silly you say? Look no further than the movie industry’s efforts for the Movember awareness world. The Theaters at Mall of America Facebook page, for instance, is publicizing its Movember Movies with, of course, “Anchorman” at the fore, along with mustachioed brotherhood movies such at “Tombstone,” “Smokey and the Bandit” and “The Big Lebowski.” Among others inspired by Burgundy’s ‘stache is the Movember USA blog. Lucky for Washington, D.C., that the Newseum is opening its Anchorman: The Exhibit on Thursday. Cynics might point out that with “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” due in theaters Dec. 20, and the Newseum partnering with Paramount Pictures to bring the exhibit to life, there’s a bit of commerce involved with the whole enterprise. To which we say: So what? The exhibit promises not just props from the “Anchorman” sets but also an exploration of the context of the movies themselves, where local television stations changed to attract more viewers and it really was the wild, wild West, far removed from the corporatized television news programming of the current era. It sounds awesome. The exhibit will be on display through Aug. 31 at 555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
Is it a coincidence that both chambers of Congress return for the first time since the shutdown during Halloween week? Trick or treat! Here are a few things to do around Capitol Hill this week in case things just get too scary around the Dome.
Get Arty The Fridge is teaming up with Fantom Comics to throw a “Halloween Arty Party” at the gallery/performance space. This seems like a natural fit to marry the edginess of street art found at The Fridge and the vibe of comic books, which are sure to inspire a few costumes here and there on Halloween. DJ Oso Fresh will spin the tunes. The party’s costume contest is scheduled for 10 p.m., with a $100 Fantom Comics gift card as a top prize. The best part? No cover. Starts at 7 p.m. at 516 Eighth St. SE.
The Witching Hour Rock and Roll Hotel has a full slate of acts and parties all week long culminating in Halloween night’s Halloween Happy Hour Show, presented by Brodown Throwdown and DCPACC. Getting in on the Triple H Show are The Queens of Noise, Accidents and Burn the Ballroom. And how appropriate is it for dress-up night that the headliner is a Runaways cover band? Five bucks to get in at the door, which opens at 7 p.m. for a 7:30 show. Before Halloween, though, the Hotel is hosting Sir Sly on Monday night, along with Magic Man and Bel Heir. Twelve bucks in advance and at the door. Doors at 7 p.m. for an 8 p.m. show.
The Dirty Guv’nahs drop in with the Federal Hillbillies on Wednesday for an 8 p.m. show. Doors at 7 p.m. Twelve dollars in advance and $15 at the door. Nothing like some knucklehead practitioners from the Dirty South to get things going on All Hallow’s Eve Eve! Everything happens at 1353 H St. NE.
Not Your Usual Gala And what to do for All Saints’ Day on Friday? How about head to the Atlas Theater at 1333 H St. NE for the Atlas Underground: Not Your Usual Gala, a fundraiser for the neighborhood anchor that features performances from a host of local D.C. artists such as SynchroniCity; Nistha Raj, Christylez Bacon & Wytold; Akua Allrich; Cheick Hamala Diabaté; Bio Ritmo; Backbeat Underground; Balti Mare; and the No BS! Brass Band. Black tie optional. Tickets start at $225.
Washington, the capital city that attracts so many student council presidents and public servants, has shown its ugly side these past few weeks, showing how far pique can extend a government shutdown and the frustrations of a public it allegedly serves.
It’s unlikely that Mark Leibovich, author of “This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral — Plus Plenty of Valet Parking — in America’s Gilded Capital” is surprised. The national correspondent for The New York Times Magazine chronicled the outsized egos and petty conflicts that define so much of official Washington’s landed gentry. In the process, the term “this town” has taken on a life of its own, one that now elicits much eye-rolling.
So it’s an interesting time to check out Leibovich as he makes his way to Hill Center on Wednesday as part of its Talk of the Hill with Bill Press series. Free, in Hill Center’s Abraham Lincoln Hall at 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. To register, go here.
How about a little music that has nothing to do with politics? Rock and Roll Hotel on Thursday has a double bill of Lucius and Alpenglow, a trippy little two-off that can take your mind off a lost recess week. Doors open at 1353 H St. NE at 7 p.m. Show starts at 8 p.m. $14 in advance or at the door.
The Boston Red Sox are back to their winning ways, which makes one think about Gus Van Sant’s “Good Will Hunting,” the 1997 film that launched the careers of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, who won an Oscar for their screenplay. Robin Williams won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor as well. And the Red Sox run through the movie, particularly flashes to the 1975 World Series.
Yeah, yeah. The accents and Boston-ness of it all, as well as the mugging of Affleck and Damon, make it ripe for ribbing. But watch it with an open mind and it’s not so bad a movie. This is all by way of saying that Union Market’s DC Drive-In will show “Good Will Hunting” on Friday as part of its continuing series of end-of-the-week night flicks shown on the wall at 1309 Fifth St. NE. The show starts at dusk, which keeps arriving earlier and earlier.
Halloween is approaching, and while our elected officials have done their best to scare the bejesus out of the financial markets, the rest of us might need a little more conventional spookiness. If you’d like to get some chills while also getting a little run in, check out Congressional Cemetery’s Dead Man’s Run 5K on Saturday. It’s hard not to like a race that takes place in a graveyard and where costumes are encouraged. It’s from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. See if you can guess which runner is your Roll Call After Dark columnist.
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.
It’s time, once again, for the shutdown showdown morass we’ve all grown to know and loathe, which means anyone associated with Capitol Hill will likely be on high alert all week.
What better way to cope with the craziness than to check out some local happenings that have nothing to do with fiscal debates?
Václav Havel Lives
The late Václav Havel was one cool dude. An avant-garde playwright and poet who was an imprisoned political dissident in Cold War Czechoslovakia, he went on to lead his country through the Velvet Revolution, helped bring down the Iron Curtain, got elected president and set the stage for the peaceful dissolution of his country into two republics, then became president of the Czech Republic. He died almost two years ago. The Atlas Performing Arts Center is staging the Alliance for New Music-Theatre’s double bill of his plays “Antiwords” and “Unveiling.” Just so you know: They’re weird, but pretty cool. Tuesday and Wednesday at 8 p.m. at 1333 H St NE in the Atlas’s Paul Sprenger Theatre. Tickets are $30 for general admission, $20 for students, educators and seniors. To purchase tickets, go here.
Baseball in Washington
Frederic Frommer talks about his new book, “You Gotta Have Heart,” a history of baseball in Washington that looks at the whole megillah, from 1859 to 2012. CBS newsman Bob Schieffer will lead the discussion at Hill Center DC on Thursday. There’s a lot to discuss, from the early days of play to a World Series championship, Negro League ball, losing the Senators to both Minnesota and Texas, the uber-drama surrounding the Montreal Expos’ relocation here and last year’s playoff run. From 7 p.m.-9 p.m. at 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Free. To register, go here.
Bell (Hip) Hopping
That bass you’re going to be hearing coming from the eastern side of Capitol Hill on Sept. 28-29 will be hip-hop extravaganza Rock the Bells, which has already been setting up for days on the grounds of RFK Stadium. The old school/new school lineup is pretty impressive and features veterans of the game like KRS-One, Big Daddy Kane and Wu-Tang Clan (who will bring alongside a hologram version of the late Old Dirty Bastard) as well as newbies like Kid Cudi and local boy done good Wale. Tickets range from $128 to $338. To purchase, go here. Prices go up at the door.
The venues for the festival are spread out across the region, but tonight it all starts at the E Street Cinema (555 11th St. NW) and the Navy Memorial’s theater at 701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. The short films are bunched together in roughly 90 minute blocks for showcasing. E Street is screening Show 1 at 7 p.m. and Show 2 at 9:30 p.m. The Navy Memorial is screening Show 3 at 6:30 p.m. and Show 4 at 9 p.m.
The festival continues through Sept. 29 at E Street and the Navy Memorial, as well as other venues: The Angelika Film Center at 2911 District Ave. in Fairfax, Va.; The Atlas Performing Arts Center at 1333 H St. NE in D.C.; The Anacostia Arts Center at 1231 Good Hope Rd. SE in D.C., and VisArts Rockville at 155 Gibbs St. in Rockville, Md.
Congress returns from its recess this week, but more importantly for sports fans, so does professional football. And it will be in grand style indeed, with the season premiere of Monday Night Football featuring the Philadelphia Eagles coming to town to take on the Washington Redskins.
So if you notice a little drop-off in attendance in the Senate around, say, 6:55 p.m., it’s likely some of the eyeballs are turning from the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body toward FedEx Field in Landover, Md., where Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III and his rebuilt knee will single-handedly fulfill or dash the Bandwagon Club‘s Super Bowl dreams.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took some time out from the 2009 health care debate to catch up with a Redskins game against the New Orleans Saints. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)
ESPN started its pregame show a few weeks ago, so tune in anytime.
What if football’s not your thing? That’s not a problem Monday night, as the 15th Annual Congressional Basketball Game comes to George Washington University’s Charles E. Smith Center. Tipoff for the double-header, which features some of the more athletically inclined among the city’s lobbying corps taking on members of Congress and their staffers, is set for 6 p.m. with the staff/lobbyist II game. The members/lobbyists game has a 7:30 p.m. tipoff.
Paul A. Miller of Miller/Wenhold Capitol Strategies, one of the organizers and a lobbyist captain, is talking some serious trash, despite the lobbyists’ lack of recent wins. “It’s not even going to be close this year,” he boasted. Full story
As Washington braces for the return of Congress and debate on Syria, another deranged debt ceiling fight and the fun of the appropriations process, it’s worth checking out a few places one can retreat to, relax and allow some tiny bubble thoughts to flit about before the maelstrom begins in earnest.
As a bonus, all these places are free, so even if you only have a few minutes, a quick head-clearing getaway is gratis.
Botanic Garden — Just steps from the Capitol, this garden spot has several distinct ecosystems and a calm environment that is custom-made for anxiety decompression. Benches that line each habitat’s walking path make it easy to pull up a seat and watch the grass — or orchids or palm trees or banana trees — grow. 100 Maryland Ave. SW.
National Postal Museum — The Smithsonian Institution’s perhaps most obscure museum hides in plain sight across the street from Union Station. The grandness of the surrounding structure, the City Post Office Building, with its high ceilings and 90-foot-high atrium, belies a quiet laying out of some pretty cool stuff: air mail planes, mail rail cars, stamp-collecting exhibits. It’s a place to walk around and absorb at your leisure. 2 Massachusetts Ave. NE.
Folger Shakespeare Library — A couple of blocks down East Capitol Street from the Capitol, the Folger is undergoing renovations to its Great Hall that has spread the exhibits into all manner of nook and cranny in the library, as my colleague Hannah Hess reports. As a result, you can browse the Bard’s great works while collecting your thoughts in the Founder’s Room. 201 East Capitol St. SE.
The Great Hall, Jefferson Building, Library of Congress — Located across the street from the Capitol, the LOC’s Great Hall is quite a drawing room for the country’s book collection. It’s hosted everything from Russian figure skaters to the Telephone Pioneers of America. But in the course of a normal day, it’s a majestic place to simply walk around and allow a couple of hundred years of American history to surround you. First Street Southeast, between Independence Avenue and East Capitol Street.
Embassy of Canada in Washington — What better place to chill than the Great White North’s local address? Just down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Senate side, the embassy courtyard, lobby and art gallery are open to the public. The embassy grounds are enormous and palatial, yet the inside areas are positively meditative. Just don’t joke around too much about Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Canada’s newest native son celebrity. It’s too soon. 501 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — President Barack Obama visits Central New York and Northeast Pennsylvania on Thursday and Friday. Good choice. Still in the midst of our August vacation/Minor League Baseball odyssey here, Roll Call After Dark has some suggestions for where to hang out, eat and drink for the chief executive.
Charlie The Butcher’s Kitchen — Obama can avoid the sticky situation of choosing among Buffalo’s many chicken wing emporiums and head to Charlie’s for the sui generis sandwich Calvin Trillin once referred to as the sadly misunderstood Beef on Weck — tender, rare roast beef on a kummelweck roll with au jus and horseradish.(1065 Wehrle Drive, Williamsville, N.Y.)
The Sound Garden — Very few record stores have as much cool, well-priced music, movies and books than this Syracuse institution. In an increasingly digital world, vinyl is doing great business and giving stores that held on through the darkest years, like The Sound Garden, a revitalized cultural presence. While the sister store in Baltimore was named one of the best record stores in the country a few years back by Rolling Stone, the Syracuse store is bigger and a bit grittier. It also did that rarest of things: fought city hall and won. Faced with the prospect of being subject to regulations meant for pawn shops and having to possibly leave the city, a grass-roots movement prevailed upon the Syracuse Common Council to hammer out a compromise. A small-business success story! (310 Jefferson St., Syracuse, N.Y.)
Dinosaur BBQ — This venerable barbecue and honky tonk/biker bar/family restaurant is spreading throughout the Northeast, with locations now as far away as Brooklyn, N.Y. But the original set up shop here in 1988, and its outlawish, kinky vibe makes it a great place to attack a plate of smoked, cured meat. (246 W. Willow St., Syracuse, N.Y.)
Empire Brewing Company — The president has shown his interest in brewing beer. First lady Michelle Obama has shown her intense interest in the locavore movement, getting food from nearby sustainable sources. Empire, located just a few steps from The Sound Garden, is the perfect marriage of the two — local beer and a menu largely derived from ingredients from local farms. (120 Walton St., Syracuse, N.Y.)
Syracuse Chiefs — On the day Obama is scheduled to be here, Aug. 22, the Chiefs, the Washington Nationals’ AAA affiliate, will host the Charlotte Knights at 7 p.m. Yes, it could be a busy time. The New York State Fair opens that day here. But consider Obama’s connections to both teams. The Chiefs are the top affiliate for his current D.C. home’s team. The Knights are the same for the Chicago White Sox, Obama’s favorite team from back home. (1 Tex Simone Drive, Syracuse, N.Y.)
Chiefs Second Baseman Danny Espinosa signs autographs for fans. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)
River Read Books — Downtown Binghamton, N.Y., can be a bit bleak. But this independent bookstore is one of the green shoots of life there. Located along the river walk, with a great selection of New York sports books. (5 Court St., Binghamton, N.Y.)
Sharkey’s Restaurant — Sharkey’s specialty dish, the spiedie, is not to be missed at this Binghamton tavern. The spiedie, grilled kabobs served in Italian bread, goes well with the cheap beer and hearty Central European fare, like stuffed cabbage and pierogies. A favorite of the Roadfood gang, Jane and Michael Stern. (56 Glenwood Ave., Binghamton, N.Y.)
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders — More Minor League Baseball! During Obama’s visit, the New York Yankees’ AAA affiliate will be taking on the Pawtucket Red Sox, the top farm club for the Boston Red Sox. Given how tense the most recent Yanks-Sox series was (playoff jockeying, A-Rod plunking, etc.), it’s a great time to head to PNC Field to take in one of the minor league system’s gleaming new parks and to check out one of its more confounding mascots, the RailRiders’ nutria-like, lightning bolt-adorned rodent. (235 Montage Mountain Rd, Moosic, Pa.)
Glider Diner — Scranton, as we’re often reminded by its native son, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., is a proud, tough town. One of the great measures of such towns is the quality of the diners. The Glider Diner is a great choice. It’s big, has all the classic diner fare, and also does right by local specialties like the porketta sandwich. (890 Providence Road, Scranton, Pa.)
One of my favorite T-shirts says simply “I Like Beer.”
It’s a pretty simple shirt. I bought it in Milwaukee, a city with beer in its veins, from a local vendor called Brew City. It’s one of those shirts that makes people smile.
“I like beer, too, buddy!” a Transportation Security Administration agent once said to me. It’s not a comment you usually expect from airport security, but such are the passions beer brings to people.
Beer. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding it this week. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Maybe that’s why DC Beer Week, now in its fifth year, has people so up. It certainly comes at a good time, when Congress is out of session and during a time in the summer when drinking a cold one is about the most constructive thing to do. Full story
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