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December 22, 1999

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas in themail, December 22, 1999

Dear Celebrants:

We sure do like those DC movies. Be sure to watch a movie or TV show set in Washington over the holiday, and let us know what you see.

In the spirit of the season, I shall not tell you what I think of the rationale that Dr. Abdusalam Omer, the mayor's chief of staff, gave for Tony Williams's appointment of Reverend Willie Wilson to the board of trustees of the University of the District of Columbia. “We think,” Dr. Omer said, “he's a leader who offers a unique perspective to the community, and he will bring that perspective to the university — the perspective of how to build a community, how to care for the poor and motivate those left behind.” Does UDC really lack and need the perspective of a loud-mouthed racist demagogue? Are Mayor Williams and Dr. Omer announcing that they respect and endorse that perspective? Is Dr. Omer signaling that the Mayor's repeated failures over the past year to confront and address racial demagoguery — from the attacks on David Howard last January, to Reverend H. Beecher Hicks's tirade over the Garrison School playground, to Robert Moore's and Lawrence Guyot's manipulations of the corrupt Columbia Heights land deal — stem not from timidity and fear and lack of leadership, but from sharing those sentiments?

Gary Imhoff


When the Public Trust is Violated
Nick Keenan, Shaw,

The Police Department now has a service where you can get crime reports for your district every day via E-mail. While it is always upsetting to read about crime in my community, the other day I received a report that was particularly disturbing: “Victim reports that he was involved in a car accident & when transported his small travel bag was stolen and later found in the back of the ambulance #19. Credit card was later charged by unknown suspect(s). Property: Money/Master Card/Master Card Card/.” The implication is clear — an accident victim was robbed by an ambulance attendant. This is a shocking violation of public trust.

This is eerily reminiscent of something that happened to my wife a few years ago. While she was on jury duty her credit card was stolen out of a locked jury room by a court employee. The police wouldn't even take a report, saying there was “no evidence a crime had been committed.” The employee was later arrested in Virginia using the credit card. The treatment of a case like this is a good indicator as to whether anything has actually changed within the MPD. Will this violation of public trust be aggressively pursued, or will the MPD decide that it was a mistake to take a report in the first place and a bigger mistake to make that report public?


Street Cleaning and Parking Tickets
Malcolm L. Wiseman, Jr.,

Mr. Mayor, I'm sick and tired of the the way we are being treated over here on Crittenden St., NW. Here in the 1200 block we have signs for alternate side parking to accommodate street cleaning. This “service” has been spotty from its inception. For the last 5 or 6 weeks no sweeping has been going on over here at all. So we get tired of the shuffle of cars back and forth when we know that no sweeping crew is going to show up.

Today they did come by and right behind them was the ticket writer. When we complain, they say they are not a part of the cleaning operation, they're “just doing their jobs.” Well, I wish everybody would. Then we'd all get into the swing and stop wasting time and money! We should be writing tickets to DPW when they don't show up to sweep the street or at least we should submit the tickets to DPW. What say you, Sir?


Teachers’ Pay Checks
Bill Starrels, Georgetown,

It is time for the Mayor to show some true leadership and get the teachers' pay roll system solved. As a parent and PTA Board Member at Hyde Elementary, it is frustrating to hear of the ongoing problems the teachers are having. It is insulting to see the Mayor put such energy into bonus money for union workers and at the same time show almost no public concern about the inexcusable situation of the teachers' pay roll. It is time for the Mayor to show some serious leadership on behalf of our teachers, the students and parents.


In George Washington’s Honor (1732-December 1799)
Mark David Richards,

The Federal City was Washington's birth child, and most of his final days were spent not in retirement, but navigating between crazed interests in the beautiful forested area between the Potomac and Anacostia which he envisioned as the seat of Empire for the nation he had led in Revolution — a place for the nation to grow strong and united. In March 1791, at the home of Georgetown Mayor Uriah Forrest (3350 M St. NW — go look), Washington pitched his idea of building the federal city between Georgetown and Carrollsburg to 17 major land-owners. Soon after, they agreed to support his effort — Washington was loved and trusted, a hero. Washington City — 3,000 residents, George Town — 5,000, Alexandria City — 5,000, would become part of a federal district. On Dec. 20, 1798, as Christmas drew near, Washington was focused on DC. He wrote William Thorton, enclosing $500 to lay the materials for his buildings, saying: “I saw a building in Philadelphia of about the same dimension in front and elevation that are to be given to my two houses, — which pleased me. — It consisted also of two houses, united Doors in the center, a Pediment in the Roof and dormer windows on each side of it in front, skylight in the rear. — If this is not incongruous with rules of Architecture, I should be glad to have my two houses executed in this style.” On Christmas day, Washington wrote Geo. W. Lafayette: “I recollect no material change that has taken place in men, or things, since you left America. Alexandria continues to thrive, and the Public buildings in the federal City go on well.” Ever the optimist. Contrast that to Oliver Wolcott: “The people are poor, as far as I can judge, they live like fishes, by eating each other.”

Just before the “Federal City” was ready to receive the “Grand Council of the Nation” (106 Reps, 32 Senators) and its 131 federal employees, George Washington, “model citizen-soldier,” died at Mount Vernon (Dec. 14, 1799). Over two decades, Washington and colleagues had radically altered the history and fortunes of their heirs by declaring their freedom, establishing a federal structure to unite feuding and disparate states under a Constitution designed to keep a free people free (and feuding in a civil manner, one might add). In November 1800, President Adams addressed Congress (State of the Union): “In this city may ... self-government which adorned the great character whose name it bears be forever held in veneration.... It is with you, gentlemen, to consider whether the local powers over the District of Columbia vested by the Constitution in the Congress of the United States, shall be immediately exercised.”

In December, Congress assumed exclusive legislative authority. Residents of Washington City were stunned — Congress made no provision for a local government or national voting rights! They urged prompt adoption of an Amendment giving the right to vote for President, elect Senators and Representatives, and suggested creating a Territory of Columbia with an elected legislature. “Epaminondas,” (i.e., Agustus Woodward) wrote in the National Intelligencer, “No policy can be worse than to mingle great and small concerns. The latter become absorbed in the former; are neglected and forgotten. . . . It will impair the dignity of the national legislature, executive, and judicial authorities to be occupied with all the local concerns of the Territory of Columbia.” He derided Congress for failing to specify what part of District expenses would be borne by the federal government, which part by local taxpayers. He told Congress: "We are legislating for posterity as well as for ourselves . . . the interest of millions unborn is confided in our hands.” Jump ahead 161 years — the U.S. is a mighty Superpower, engaged in a Cold War — 1961, Congress grants DC citizens the right to vote for President (electoral votes equal to smallest state — no greater) because Khrushchev filmed DC alley houses and announced to the world that US ideals were more imaginary than true); in 1968 — after assassinations and riots, Congress grants DC the right to elect a School Board; in 1970 the right to elect a non-voting Delegate to the House of Representatives; 1973 the right to have a limited Home Rule government without budgetary control. Dec. 1999 — DC citizens are still segregated from the US, excluded from apportionment (a claim of made in Adams v. Clinton lawsuit). The single most important indicator of democracy — the right to vote in ones national legislature — died with George Washington. 'Tis the season to celebrate DC's accomplishments over the past few decades, and renew our determination to achieve our birthright. George Washington did not lead a Revolution against exclusive legislative control by the English Parliament to replicate the problem in the city of his honor.


Old Washington Preserved on Film
Richard Steacy,

Movies that have preserved bits of what this city was like “years ago” are “Broadcast News” for “saving” Whitlow's Restaurant; “Watch on the Rhine” for briefly seeing the Washington Monument when cars could park on the circle around it; and “Born Yesterday” (1950) for having William Holden as a tour guide as he shows Judy Holliday around. “Advice and Consent” is probably the best overall view of Cold War D.C. I'm nostalgic about Jimmy Stewart's first view of the Capitol as he exits the pre-shopping mall Union Station in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” — that was my first view of it too. And finally, “The Thief” starring Ray Milland, another Cold War gem that challenges “Advice and Consent” for its preservation of 1950s Washington (and New York as well).


Washington Movie Moments
Karen Anderson,

My favorite Washington movie moments have taken place in recent films for which Hollywood movie makers apparently didn't bother to do any research in Washington. For example, in “The American President,” Michael Douglas finds it so charming and unique that Annette Bening is from Virginia that he gives her a Virginia ham to win her heart. Poor guy, no one bothered to tell him that probably 50% of his staff lives in Virginia. Or, in “Broadcast News,” every time Holly Hunter jumps into a cab, she starts giving the cab driver elaborate directions for her preferred route, except that she clearly has no idea of DC geography and gives directions that are physically impossible. (Was that supposed to be an in-joke, or did the filmmakers think that so few Washingtonians go to the movies that it wasn't worth it to try to get our streets right?) I also loved that old Cary Grant-Sophia Loren film in which his children's bedroom had a view of the Capitol, and there was a great outdoor party taking place on the banks of the Potomac, at what seemed to be the current site of the Watergate.


Old Movies, Old Washington
Lea Adams,

themail's movie faves bring back a wellspring of good memories. Just the mention of the Town Theater (omigosh! REAL butter on FRESH hot popcorn) makes my mouth water for the Biograph, RKO Keith's, the Tivoli (I saw Roman Polanski's “Repulsion” there and had nightmares for two weeks!), the original Circle (remember when PT Barnum's moved next door, the place with sawdust on the floor, peanuts on the tables, and a model train running on an overhead track that looped all over the restaurant?), and all the other great houses that have gone the way of small-business America and small-town DC. I just drove past the SW waterfront, by the way, only to discover that the Flagship restaurant has been replaced by the Odyssey. So much for sitting in the Crow's Nest with other genuine Washingtonians. Is it really all going, going, gone? Do we HAVE to get rid of every sign of a slower, more familiar, human sized DC in order to meet the millennium head on? By the way, I'll cast my vote for Spike Lee's “Get On the Bus.” Even though much of it was shot in Virginia, the story line was set in DC during the Million Man March. And a whole lot of DC people, including myself, got a few days work on a major motion picture, and actually got to see our names in the credits!


Being Here and There
Greg Jones,

Peter Sellers as “Chauncy Gardner” (“Chance the Gardener”) walking along the median strip of either North Capitol or South Capitol Street (the former I think) with the US Capitol dome in the background in one of the opening scenes in “Being There.” (Some of the later scenes, which I assume were supposed to have been around DC somewhere, were filmed at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC.)


Bob Summersgill,

If memory serves, the boarding house in “The Day The Earth Stood Still” was at 1213 Harvard Street, NW. Last time I checked, many years ago, it was an empty lot. This movie has some of the worst piecing together of DC landmarks in the rear view of an impossible cab ride. My favorite scene in this 1951 movie, is the alien, Carpenter, explaining to the puzzled doctors that his longevity (120+ years) and good health is not a result of alien physiology, but of improved nutrition and reduction of harmful environmental factors. The doctors sigh as Carpenter leaves, and both take long drags on their cigarettes.


Favorite DC Movie
Austin Kelly,

Someone mentioned “The Day the Earth Stood Still” as having great scenes of an older Washington. “Seven Days in May” also has some great scenes of the plotters and counter-plotters cruising DuPont Circle and other parts of town, in early 60's Detroit big iron and glorious black and white. One poster also mentioned “Mars Attacks.” I loved the part at the end, showing the post-attack clean-up and the apartment building at 5th and Massachusetts, NW, with the front end torn off. Anyone know how long that building was allowed to stand in that condition? I know it was still there, still torn up, more than a year after the shoot ended.


Oldies but Goodies
Martin Lynds,

Two other movies that I didn't see mentioned: 1) “Houseboat,” with Cary Grant and Sophia Loren, has a wonderful depiction of a Watergate concert, complete with the orchestra on the barge and attendees in rowboats. Not sure if this was the way traffic flowed then, but there's an aerial shot of Grant crossing Memorial Bridge from Virginia and hanging a left in front of the Lincoln Memorial. 2) “Strangers on a Train,” Hitchcock, has some really nice shots of Union Station and the oldest Diamond Cab I've ever seen. Plus, it's a great film.


D.C. in The Movies
Pat Hahn (remove rangers for e-mail address),

Is it too late for additional nominations? Some of us who spend much too much time watching old movies remember the original (1950) version of “Born Yesterday,” which included Judy Holliday and William Holden listening to a concert played by an orchestra on a river barge floating across from the original Watergate, a/k/a the stairs that go nowhere (except for into the Potomac) down near the Lincoln Memorial. Those concerts were a regular thing in the prehistoric days before air conditioners became standard issue. My dad, who passed away a few years ago, grew up in D.C. and used to talk about going down to the river with his family to listen to those concerts.


Favorite Washington Movies
Stacey Kornegay,

Two of my favorite movies that were filmed (or appeared to have been filmed) in DC are “True Lies” and “D.C. Cab.”


Movies in D.C.
Dave Nuttycombe,

For a time, I worked as a PA on big Hollywood movies and New York commercials that would film in D.C. “PA” is production assistant, as in, “Hey, get me more cigarettes!” Anyway, almost without exception, when the call came in that a big film was in town the location was the Lincoln Memorial. It got so you'd just ask what time, since you knew where you'd be going.

I spent a week at the Memorial working on “Thunderheart,” a crappy Val Kilmer flick. None of it made the final cut. Also, one of my jobs was crowd control, that is, making sure that the hundreds of tourists from across the country, and around the globe, who had come to stand on their tax supported Memorial steps and stare at one of the grandest views in the world — across the Mall, the Washington Monument, and Capitol — would not do so. Amazingly, no one argued, being more interested in staring at Val Kilmer and a bunch of cameras.


Not Quite Right
Agate Tilmanis,

There are two movies I recall where things just don't seem right. One is “Seduction of Joe Tynan.” The senator may be walking through the halls of the Capitol in the film, but Alan Alda walked through the halls of the Library of Congress' Jefferson Building while filming the scene. I don't recall the title of the other movie, but the star is Katherine Hepburn. Perhaps one of 30's movies. She and her professor father live in DC. The hero at the beginning of the movie offers Katherine a ride home. She gives a low number on Connecticut Avenue, maybe 403. They arrive at a lovely cottage with a garden and a beautiful verandah.


DC in the Movies and on TV
Gene Hoffman,

How about the way the city and its surroundings are depicted on TV? For example, I'm still looking for the Memorial Bridge in Bethesda (X-Files) and the Navy JAG HQ in Falls Church (JAG). I think that JAG is down at the Navy Yard.


Movies and Food
John Whiteside,

Movies: I can't believe the nobody mentioned “Slam,” which came out in the last year or so and is set in the real DC.

Food: Trader Joe's is great, but their stores are not only in “wealthy suburbs,” as someone suggested, unless Bailey's Crossroads is the new McLean. And for a good grocery store in the city, you'd be better off with Harris-Teeter, a chain from NC expanding into the area. They carry a full range of regular products (similar to Safeway or Giant). The big difference is that — if their new Arlington store is typical — it's clean, it's big enough, it has enough cashiers that you don't end up in an endless line, the staff is friendly and helpful, and the prices are very good. Oh, and there's a wine shop, card shop, cafe, and pharmacy located right in the store. I haven't been back to Safeway since they opened. They'd be a great addition to any DC neighborhood.


Trader Joe’s in DC
Sheila Willet,

If and when it ever arrives, let's hope its location is near a Metro for those of us who use public transportation.


The Phantom Station
Mark Jenkins,

Ah, the Georgetown Metro station. This is one of those Washington myths that will apparently never die. If Jack Evans ever succeeds in getting a station built in his neighborhood, the myth will probably just mutate into a different form. There is no Georgetown Metro station because one was never planned. It doesn't appear on any of the proposed route maps, the first of which dates to 1959. At that time, of course, Georgetown was not a major retail area and had none of the office buildings that were subsequently built south of M Street. In addition, a Georgetown station didn't fit into of the planned lines. In fact, what is now the Foggy Bottom-GWU was originally planned for a location even further from Georgetown than where it was ultimately located.

Although the 1959 plan included only 33 miles of the more than 100 in the final system, the routes of today's inner Red and Blue/Orange lines are quite similar to what was proposed then. Subsequent plans merely added the Yellow/Green Lines and pushed further into the suburbs. The phantom Georgetown Metro station has long been an issue. In fact, a paper on the subject was prepared for the Metro board in 1989. I have a copy of it, if anyone really wants to read it.


Why No Metro Stop in Georgetown?
Stephen Kurzman,

Metro planning never contemplated a stop in Georgetown, I was told when I was president of the Citizens Association of Georgetown from 1994 to 1996. I haven't researched it myself, but I understand from those who were active on the issue at the time that Metro planners wanted the easiest route on the blue/orange line from Foggy Bottom to Rosslyn, which meant tunneling under the Potomac directly and not through Georgetown. I was also told that there was one Georgetown historic preservation activist at the time who was quoted as opposing a stop in Georgetown because blasting through the rock base under Georgetown would damage the structures above. Apparently the Citizens Association and other organizations never took a position on it because the planning didn't contemplate a Georgetown stop. But the one quote has apparently fueled the myth, which has over the years been further embellished with a racist motivation. Now I would guess Georgetowners would welcome a Metro stop. Parking and traffic congestion have become major problems, as they have in other DC neighborhoods. And all Georgetown organizations are supporting the plan of our Business Improvement District, The Georgetown Partnership, to start a shuttle bus system to the Foggy Bottom Metro stop.


Walking to Rosslyn
Rebecca Sinderbrand,

I used to be an advisory neighborhood commissioner in Georgetown, so I've heard the perennial urban legend about a Metro stop not coming to the area for less than legitimate reasons (residents not wanting to give “the masses” easy access to the area, etc.) But after EXTENSIVE discussion on the issue (and if you've ever been to a Georgetown ANC meeting, you know what I mean), it appears that the main reason Georgetown residents never said yes to Metro is because Metro apparently never popped the question, so to speak. The prospect of digging through layers of solid rock may have been one reason for Metro's reticence (Georgetown sits square on top of the second-highest hill in D.C.; only the Capitol is higher.) 30-year residents say they would have been only too happy to have a stop, but were never approached.

Not having been alive at the time, I can't speak personally as to the accuracy of their statements, but suffice it to say, residents definitely want one now. Who knows? Like all urban legends, the one about the aborted Georgetown Metro station may contain a grain of truth, but there is apparently some sort of documentary evidence to support long-time residents' claims, though I've never tried to get a look at it, myself. Too busy walking all the way to Rosslyn.


DCPS Correction
Matthew Gilmore,

As of December 22, 1999 all public photocopiers will be equipped with coin boxes. The use of vend cards will be discontinued after that date. Coins (quarters, nickels, dimes) and dollars and $5 will be accepted. Customers should take cards to the Circulation Desk and fill out form PL242, “Request for refund to be mailed to patron.” Value on vend card will be verified by Circulation staff. If less that $2.00 customer will be given cash. Amounts of $2.00 or more will be mailed to the customer within 30 days. I apologize for the confusion — but you are still very welcome to come and use the Library!



December 24 Bash
Michael Karlan,

On Friday, December 24, 1999, the D.C. Society of Young Professionals and Event Concepts host two parties. One party is at Cities, 2424 18th St., N.W., in Adams Morgan, and the other party is at Lewie's, 6845 Reed St., in Bethesda. Each party features a deejay and dancing, as well as drink specials. The parties begin at 9 p.m. Pay one low price of $12.00, and enjoy admission to both parties. Enjoy reduced admission of $10 if you RSVP by 4 p.m. on December 24. To RSVP, for more information, or to be added to our E-mail list to hear of future events, E-mail, visit, or call 202-686-6085. A portion of the proceeds to benefit Mitzvah Makers and House of Hope.



Jerry A. McCoy,

The Friends of the Silver Spring Library's 3rd annual “Vintage Silver Spring 2000” calendar is now available at the Silver Spring Library, 8901 Colesville Road (301.565.7689). Edited by FSSL board member and Silver Spring Historical Society president Jerry A. McCoy, the calendar features 13 never-before-published photographs of Silver Spring dating from 1915 to 1996. Each month features an Internet address linking to additional information on the subject pictured. Historic Silver Spring dates are also featured. The Calendars are available in limited supply at $7.00 each.



Traffic Lawyer
Barbara Bode,

Hi Phil Greene! After an extensive search, I found the best: Horace L Bradshaw! He was a DC Traffic Court judge, maybe chief, at one time. He knows his stuff and knows the laws. It's not just a matter of having the right connections. He is well respected and — best of all — not expensive. His office is upstairs next to the Artifactory, 641 Indiana Avenue, NW, 20004-2906, tel: 202-737-8774. Please use my name (pronounced boh-dee); I'm a major fan.


Dave Nuttycombe,

From's LOOSE LIPS column, appearing this Friday:
THE 1st ANNUAL LOOSIES: A scandal over undisclosed consulting contracts. A hubbub over uprooting the city's public university from its Connecticut Avenue mooring. A lively year-end debate over which funds to raid in providing bonuses for union workers. The great political issues of 1999 in the District of Columbia provide a clear answer to the burning question that kicked the year off: How much fun would D.C. politics be without the likes of Harry Thomas, Hilda Mason, Frank Smith, and Suspect-for-Life Marion S. Barry Jr.?
Read the entire Loose Lips column here:

From's CITY LIGHTS page, here are a few early warnings for upcoming events:
Tuesday, Dec. 28: Rosslyn Mountain Boys reunion, with Ruthie and the Wranglers, at 8:30 p.m. at the State Theater, 220 N. Washington St., Falls Church. $12.
Wednesday, Dec. 29: George Washington's Memorial Service Reenactment, 5 p.m. at the Old Presbyterian Meeting House, 321 S. Fairfax St., Alexandria. Free.
More details and more critics' picks are available online at


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