Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 21, 2014

Posts in "Where Roll Call Dares"

September 15, 2014

A Hard Rock Day’s Night

Elvis 251x335 A Hard Rock Days Night

(Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

If there is an epicenter of the Washington Tourist-Industrial Complex, it may very well be the Hard Rock Cafe in Penn Quarter.

At the peak of tourism season, during the warm spring and summer months, the self-styled “Embassy of Rock and Roll” caters to an audience that is 90 percent visitor and 10 percent local, according to the establishment’s management team. In business at 999 E St. NW since 1990, the embassy is strategically located next to Ford’s Theater, the (for now) FBI headquarters, the Washington Welcome Center and, of course, a Cosi.

“People come to Hard Rock for an experience,” said A.J. Laban III, general manager of the D.C. outpost of the 43-year-old international hospitality provider. Laban was speaking at a recent dinner touting the Hard Rock Cafe’s new menu. “This is the biggest overhaul of the menu since we opened in London in 1971,” he said, citing the deleting of some 17 items, including such customer favorites as the Rock Your World chicken pineapple quesadilla and the Haystack Chicken Salad, all for the good of the enterprise. Full story

July 21, 2014

Segs in the City: They’re Just Not That Into You

 

There are things worse than being small, electric and self-balancing in Washington. Such as: Being small, electric and self-balancing and having your tour guide’s speech regulated in Washington.

Lucky for the city of monuments and tour guides, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit recently struck down silly requirements that tour guides pass a test and pay a fee to see if they know Teddy Roosevelt from Franklin Roosevelt. I wonder, isn’t life hard enough without regulations? If journalists have freedom of speech, why not Segs in the City?

Is it that Washingtonians had an innate aversion to Segways, or was it more than that? I wondered: In a city such as D.C., with its infinite possibilities, had Segway tours become too much to endure? The answer is no, thanks to Segs in the City and their friends forever at the Institute of Justice, who sued to get rid of that D.C. rite of passage. Full story

June 23, 2014

Madame Tussauds’ Terrifying D.C. Presence

 Madame Tussauds Terrifying D.C. Presence

Greatness and Gilbert. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

The most terrifying thing about the Madame Tussauds D.C. wax museum outpost is the fact that designers grouped ex-Washington Wizard Gilbert Arenas with Babe Ruth and Jesse Owens. Of all the indignities to endure, the Sultan of Swat and the man who showed up Adolf Hitler at the 1936 Olympic Games have to share a platform with a guy whose claim to fame is bringing a gun to the Wizards’ locker room.

Madame Tussauds is an international tourist attraction, branching out from its original 19th century London location to far-flung locales such as Las Vegas; Bangkok; Orlando, Fla.; and Washington. The D.C. branch is a mash of American pop culture and politics, with a twist of Washington-specific history. Marilyn Monroe greets you at the entrance, followed by Richard M. Nixon and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, a neat encapsulation of what, or whom, people want to see. Full story

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 28, 2014

Tourism Most Fowl: DC Ducks

rd1 445x333 Tourism Most Fowl: DC Ducks

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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