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July 2, 2006


Dear Go Fourthers:

Dorothy and I had an interesting weekend: we spent Saturday at the opening of the Reynolds Center (, which is the new donor’s name over the doors of the National Portrait Gallery and the National Museum of American Art. Perhaps that is how we can save the Martin Luther King, Jr., Library — we can promise a major donor that his name will be paired with King’s, or maybe Tony Williams can be persuaded that if he saves it we’ll rename it the Williams-King Central Library. Afterwards, we went to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the Mall (, where we listened to a Ukrainian Canadian cowboy band, and then went to the hear the Latino Chicago band that played polkas, sung in Spanish. After years of celebrating the purity of obscure and isolated cultures, it appeared for awhile that the Folklife Festival was promoting the opposite message, which has been unfashionable for a generation — that we’re all in one big melting pot that results in a gloriously mixed amalgam.

On Sunday, Dorothy and I went chasing petition circulators for the slots initiative again. The professional, out-of-state petition circulators didn’t begin to appear in town until Wednesday or so, and there still aren’t many, although we expect a deluge of them this week. We went to a dozen prime locations, and located circulators in only three places — one at the O Street Giant, one at the Columbia Road Giant, and two at the Alabama Avenue Safeway. All four were professional petitioners from out of state, and not one of them was accompanied by a DC resident. By law, only DC residents can circulate initiative petitions, although the Board of Elections has ruled that people from out of state can “assist” the DC circulators. Of course, by the time the petitions are turned in, they’ll bear the names of DC residents as their official circulators, and it will be nearly impossible to prove the fraud. I’m asking again: if you are approached by professional, out-of-town petition circulators with the slots initiative petitions, and if they are working without a DC resident, or if their DC resident “witness” doesn’t stay close enough to see and hear what is going on between you and them, write an E-mail to the DC Board of Elections and Ethics with all the details of where and when it happened, and send a copy of your E-mail to us. We’ll need all the evidence we can gather.

I hope you’ve been following the Washington Post’s reporting and editorializing on how the city council is subverting and undermining the open meetings legislation proposed by Kathy Patterson and Vincent Orange. Orange hasn’t been able to get the legislation through his committee because two consecutive meetings have been boycotted by Councilmembers Mendelson, Schwartz, and Graham. While Mendelson and Schwartz seem proud to prefer making secret deals in closed rooms to doing the public’s business in public, Graham seems to have been shamed into supporting the legislation by the exposure of his helping to block it (see The first requirement for clean government is that it be open government, that politicians do their deliberations and deal-making in full view of the people whose business they are conducting. That's something our councilmembers should remember and celebrate this Fourth of July.

Gary Imhoff


Disaster Preparedness a Disaster in the District
David De Seve,

I am a DC resident who commutes outside the city daily and have done so for nearly ten years. My longest one-way commute to date has probably been no more than an hour. However, that record was broken by hours on Tuesday, June 27. That evening I left work around 5:20 p.m. and arrived at DC around 5:50 p.m. via the Roosevelt Bridge. I arrived from the south in order to pick someone up at the Kennedy Center. From there we were only to drive about three miles to my house off of Scott Circle. This normally takes ten to fifteen minutes. This night it took me nearly three hours. Most of us can walk that distance in about forty five minutes!

In that frustrating crawl across town I did not see one police officer nor one traffic cop at any of the dozens of intersections that I spent the evening inching through. Their lack of presence certainly contributed to the complete disregard for driving laws that ensued. For example, I would be the fourth car back from the light and would have to wait through six or seven cycles before I could cross, as crossing traffic disregarded their red lights cycle after cycle. Also, at one point I watched in disgust as it took an ambulance about twenty minutes to move one block. God help the passenger who took that ride. There was just no way it could get by. At 6:30 p.m., traffic only got worse as fed up drivers began parking in rush hour lanes, probably so that they could sit this one out over a stiff drink. The post mortem on this pseudo-disaster has it that traffic light outages across town (14th Street, 9th Street, etc.) caused congestion to spread to all exits from the city on the south side. In any case, if this is any indication of how our mayor and our police chief will manage a true disaster, we are in serious trouble. When the mayor declared a state of emergency, at the very least street parking should have been suspended and police should have been manning all intersections along routes out of the city.


Flooding and Park Closings
James Treworgy,

Tilden Street/Park Road is an important east-west crossing. I certainly do not expect miracles in terms of getting all the roads open again following the deluge. However, is it too much to ask that DPW or the Park Service put up a piece of plywood with the words “Park Crossing Closed” spray painted onto it, at Connecticut Avenue and Tilden on the west side, and Park Road and Klingle on the east side? I, like a dozen others at that moment, and probably thousands of other motorists over the last couple days, drove down Tilden Street to simply turn around and drive back. This further snarled the disaster that is Connecticut Avenue around those parts, as we tried to find a way across the park, as well as wasting our time and gasoline. This would have taken about ten minutes and ten bucks to deal with, yet apparently it never occurred to anyone that this might be useful information while you’re still on Connecticut Avenue.


Stealth Hardware Store
Ed T. Barron, edtb1@macdotcom

After way too long, a True Value hardware store has finally opened in Tenleytown inside the old Hechingers/Sears building on Wisconsin at Albemarle, NW. Don’t be surprised if you can’t find it easily. It’s buried underneath the Container Store in the parking garage. Nice location for those who drive there, and the store seems to have most of the essential things you need that don’t require a Home Depot or Lowe’s. Maybe they’ll even put up a sign outside so folks will know they are there.


Zoning Commission Give Cool Reception to Ballpark Garage-Condo Scheme
Ed Delaney,

From “The city’s chief financial officer, Natwar Gandhi, is analyzing whether he can certify the money available for the city’s parking plan.” Can you believe this? Just a few months after Gandhi — while Cropp read along with him the financing provisions of the stadium to show that there was enough money in the budget to cover the stadium costs — boldly claimed the project had more than enough money available via the approved legislation to cover any and all overruns, the CFO is busy concocting a way to approve spending millions on parking overruns above and beyond the supposedly hard cap on ballpark costs. The DC council claimed that the cap was rock-solid, and the only way to prove that is to disallow this runaway spending that was only supposed to be an issue at the RFK Stadium site (remember that late-inning deceit from the Brigade?) and unnecessary at the current site, lest every word about standing firm on a real spending cap be put to the lie.

“Herbert S. Miller, president of Western Development, which proposed the plan to mix aboveground parking among condominiums and shops, has said the California Public Employees’ Retirement System will finance the $300 million tab.” So once again, it’s only the District who’s putting its money where its mouth is on the financing side, while the developers again dodge making the direct payments towards the ballpark. Having escaped the call for developers to directly finance parts of the ballpark project from their own pockets in exchange for the future revenue that developers will yield from the project, this ever-resourceful friend of the Brigade put his efforts and resources into finding someone else to finance the noncompetitive purchase of what is likely the most profitable part of the city’s portion of the ballpark land, from whose development the city was entitled to receive all revenue (which was sold to the DC Council as the main way to pay back the city‘s hundreds of millions of dollars in ballpark investment). It’s time for the council to end Miller’s gravy train as it relates to the ballpark.

From “‘I’m a little concerned,’ commission member Greg Jeffries said. ‘How much time was put into this plan? It has to be five days or seven days. It just does not seem like it’s fully developed.’ Indeed, city officials finalized the concept just last Friday, after intense talks with Western. Members were not impressed, particularly with renderings of the garages that appeared to show that cars would be visible from inside the stadium. ‘Having exposed garages is not what we want to see,’ said member Michael Turnbull, Architect of the Capitol. ‘We have this fear that we’re going to build this temporary thing for 50 years that’s not going to look good.’ An architect for Western said facades and a special screen would be constructed to make the garages largely invisible from the outside. Members said they were worried the screen would still allow for unattractive views of cars inside the garages.” What’s the use to the city of having developers associated with this project who are endlessly resourceful, clever, and conscientious when it comes to their end of the project (the condos, retail, and its associated underground parking), but so woefully careless when it comes to the city’s end of the bargain that they’d offer a slapped-together joke of a parking "solution" that not only involves the sell-off of the prime piece of land from which the city is entitled to keep all revenue generated there but doesn’t achieve the hoped-for goal of improving the ballpark vistas by sinking all parking below-ground. Instead, this "solution" consists of scores of condos beyond the outfield fences along with the same looming parking garages with another cheap ballpark feature: a cut-rate screen that will be the joke of the major leagues as it is at the home of the Florida Marlins. Hey, maybe they can show movies on the screen from the inside so the cars parked there can feel like they’re at a drive-in! Unfortunately, the current "solution" offered by the schemers is even more comical.

“We believe the proposal is reasonable and doable,” said DCSEC’s Mark Tuohey, whose group has ultimate oversight of the stadium project. "But the back-up plan is essential because we must have the stadium and parking available when this opens in ‘08." Actually, you do NOT have to have the parking available by then if it means sticking the city with an unacceptable scenario for decades to come! This renewed saber-rattling from the DCSEC, the mayor’s office, and the Lerners that everything must be up and operational, or else, is being used to justify lax environmental study at the site, an abandonment of the promise to make the ballpark the first certified green stadium, and monstrous parking garages looming in the ballpark’s sightlines. Thanks to the midnight-hour knee-buckle by the DC council that got this boondoggle through without a single worthwhile concession from Major League Baseball, it is true that the city has opened itself up to financial penalties with each missed deadline. However, all of the penalties could be more than adequately covered by money already generated via MLB’s return to DC (in the $40 million range at last tally), so the notion that the city is once again out of options is not true. Let’s get real here: it’s going to take everything going absolutely perfectly for this slow-starting project to be online by opening day 2008. It is more important for the city to get things right from the start and sufficiently address each and every transportation, parking, and environmental concern in order to avoid this project’s becoming a white elephant and costing the city untold sums of money in the long run, even if the opening of all facets of the ballpark project experience a degree of delay. With no ballpark spending and with maximum stadium revenues guaranteed it, the Lerner group has no such concerns. Therefore, their desire to clutter the ballpark vistas with parking garages in the name of speed and cover up land that could be used to maximize revenue from the ballpark project cannot take precedence over the city’s obligation to maximize the ballpark project’s appeal and profitability. If the city is going to build this palace with no significant financial help from MLB, the Lerner group, or the developers, it must proceed in a way that is to the best interest of the city and not a handful of private concerns, especially when those concerns have consistently proffered ballpark design options to are to the detriment of the project’s overall appeal and profitability from the city’s side.

“Marion Barry said the plan goes against a council rule prohibiting money from the sale of ballpark land to be used for stadium construction.” Of course, legislation from the DC council also required the city to seek a new site if the costs of the infrastructure, parking, and land for the current site exceeded $165 million, which was addressed by the Brigade by unilaterally moving huge portions of those costs outside of the cap, only to have the DC council, including Barry, agree to such a plan in its midnight knee-buckle. It would be nice if the council could actually stick to its guns this time.

From “Turnbull said he was skeptical of plans to extend pedestrian ramps in the ballpark above the surrounding streets to allow for a view of the capitol and noted that no other building in the city offered such a feature. ‘If you’re going to do that, it needs to not just be stuck out over the street.’” This raises a whole other point: how pathetic has this design process gotten? For all the untold millions spent on design consultants by the DC government, how can one significant design problem after another keep occurring from the supposed ballpark experts at HOK? It doesn’t help that the city’s point man for so long on the process — the DCSEC’s Mark Tuohey — has no experience in this field, and the current crop of designers appear to still have serious “continuity issues,” as it were, this late into the process. None of this bodes well for the final product, which continues to get value-engineered to death. How a cut-rate greenhouse of a ballpark could be allowed to be so expensive and fully funded by a governmental entity to the unprecedented “blank check” degree that it has speaks ill of all involved.


Thanks, We Needed to Have This Explained
Jack McKay,

There’s a brochure from the Department of Public Works describing “SWEEP,” the Solid Waste Education and Enforcement Program, which includes this marvelous bit of information: “illegal dumping is against the law”! Well, I guess that clears things up.


Volunteers of the Year
Karen Ostlie,

Thanks to those of you that came to the American Red Cross annual volunteer recognition last Thursday evening. It was said to have been the best one so far. Our Volunteers of the Year award went to Samuel Jordan and Robert Poubelle. Eager to continue volunteering as a health and safety instructor, Robert Poubelle came to the DC office of the American Red Cross to have his instructor authorization extended in October of 2005 from the West Central Michigan Chapter. During this past year Robert has taken additional training to become certified as a sport safety training instructor and a CPR/AED for the professional rescuer instructor. During his time with the DC office, Robert has taught about eight health and safety classes training about seventy people in the DC community in life saving skills. Robert has exhibited exceptional professionalism in his teaching as well as volunteering for a number of special events. We wish we had more like him.

Samuel Jordan came to the American Red Cross two years ago in April of 2004. He had enrolled in the African American HIV education and prevention instructor course to enhance his facilitation skills and knowledge in HIV education to take back to his organization and staff at Health Care Now, where he is the Executive Director. Sam’s goal is to help educate as much of the community in HIV awareness as possible. He’s doing this through the American Red Cross HIV starter facts program, where he has taught about one hundred fifty people this past year, and through Health Care Now, where he’s taught hundreds of people HIV prevention and education skills. As part of Health Care Now, the Department of Education, and the American Red Cross, Sam holds HIV education sessions in the junior high and high schools of ward 4, 5, 7 & 8 in an effort to encourage safer behavior among our youth. He is about to open his second facility, Brook Land Manor in northeast DC, in an effort to continue his mission of educating the community in awareness of HIV.

This is the first year that we had so many active volunteers working with the DC office in health and safety. They have done a phenomenal job this year, and the Red Cross thanks them very much for making this a great year.


What Works Well
Dan Gamber,

Payment of traffic citations via the web works without a hitch. So does driver’s license renewal, as long as there is no reason to have to appear in person (e.g., a new photo). Trash and recycle collection usually work as advertised, though the crews could perhaps use more training on which is which. (In particular, trash guys will leave some boxes for the recycle guys, who won’t collect what they consider “dirty” stuff.)


Favors Before the Election Is Over
Patricia Bitondo,

I certainly am having second thoughts about two prominent candidates, Councilmembers Fenty and Gray. Councilmember Gray attempted to dole out a grant to his favored publisher and the election hasn’t even taken place. It seems that if you are in the newspaper business and write a favorable article about Gray, you stand a good chance of being rewarded. That’s what happened a few weeks ago. Denise Rolark is right when she maintains that there are some defunct publishers who could have used the grants before being forced to shut down. If Mr. Gray is willing to hand out favors before he is even elected, how many will be given if he is?

Councilmember Fenty seems to be going down the same road. He made sure that the recreation processing fee for his sons’ basketball was rescinded. He made no effort, however, to withdraw fees that other organizations paid to use the facilities. There were other organizations that had to scrape the bottom of the barrel to come up with the fees. I am concerned that Councilmember Fenty would take action for his sons’ group, but took no position on the groups in the rest of the city.

I believe that candidates must take responsibility for campaign actions as well. It is an indication of how his/her administration will be conducted. A few weeks ago, someone in my neighborhood had a Fenty party and his campaign people removed the opposition signs in the area and threw them in the street. Neighbors retrieved them and put them back up. A little while later they were removed a second time and taken away. This past Thursday, a repeat performance. This is very disappointing.


Don’t Listen to Fenty, Watch Him
Larry Seftor,

I was pretty impressed when Adrian Fenty came to my house to campaign. And I was even more impressed that he could present a campaign theme that meant something to me: accountability. So it is with great disappointment that I watch the way in which Mr. Fenty fails to hold himself or his staff accountable. As reported on WTOP (, Mr. Sinclair Skinner, who works in Fenty’s campaign, ignored a debt to the city of over $17,000. He never replied to a letter sent to his home on May 30 demanding payment, and only decided to pay this debt because the director of the District’s Office of Property Management contacted Mr. Fenty. In short, Mr. Skinner tried to avoid accountability for the debt, and Mr. Fenty is now avoiding accountability about his staff choices. If Mr. Fenty continues to employ Skinner, what does this portend for his staff selections if he is elected mayor? It may surprise you, Mr. Fenty, but many of the people in DC whom you would like to represent as mayor hold themselves accountable for their obligations without pleas to our employers and publicity in the media. I hoped that you could be trusted to bring accountability through your campaign, but you clearly do not. In a city where personal relationships often trumped poor job performance, I had hoped you would be a breath of fresh air, but you clearly are not. The bargain is simple: keep Skinner, lose my vote.


Defending Eric Marshall
Christopher Dyer, chris at

I was saddened to read a recent post in themail attacking Eric Marshall. I would like to think that as a city we’ve evolved to the point where the politics of the personal is abandoned and that candidates running for elected office focus more on presenting realistic solutions to the problems we are facing.

Eric Marshall is a good man and a rising star in the field of electoral politics. I had the pleasure of observing Eric and the American Cancer Society effectively partner with Smoke Free DC to convince the city council to pass legislation that will literally save the lives of thousands of DC residents. Eric brought a degree of professionalism and polish to the campaign and worked tirelessly with hundreds of volunteers to get this legislation passed. For those of you who don’t know, taking on big tobacco and the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington isn’t an easy task, and Eric helped energize and focus an effort that failed the first time it was attempted in 2003.

As for Kathy Patterson not being visible in Ward 3. I have heard that at least three of the candidates who are running to replace her have yard signs supporting her and I have not heard one candidate in Ward 3 come out and publicly support Vincent Gray. More importantly, Kathy has been spending time visiting every ward and trying to make this a city wide campaign and her positive vision for the future will hopefully resonate with voters and she will be elected chair of the council. I would love to see the themail continue to be used as a resource for proposing the positive visions of the future and not as a sounding board for candidates to launch negative and inaccurate attacks on the people working for other candidates.


Off Base Criticism
Ed T. Barron, edtb1@macdotcom

Jonathan Rees’ criticism of the way that Kathy Patterson’s campaign for chairperson of the city council is being run by Eric Marshall is way off base. Yes, it’s true that many voters in northwest DC do not realize that Kathy is no longer running for her current seat as a Ward 3 councilperson, It’s also true that only a few of those that I have talked with as I collected petition signatures for Kathy in AU/Spring Valley can even name more than one of those who would fill her spot in Ward 3.

Kathy’s campaign seems to be well run to me, and I’ve conducted a few of my own. It’s well laid out for the long run. Too many campaigns get started too early and waste a lot of time and money. The voters are smarter than Rees suggests. Kathy is clearly head and shoulders in capability and performance over her competitor, Vincent Gray.

Over the next few weeks, voters across the District will get all the information they need to make the right decision, for the right reasons, on who should be the city council chairman, as Eric Marshall continues to use a well organized volunteer staff and well managed campaign to get Kathy Patterson elected.


Patterson Is Running District-Wide
Bob Summersgill, bob at summersgill dot net

If Kathy Patterson were to focus her District-wide campaign on Ward 3, as Jonathan Rees argues in his latest ad hominem attack, her campaign manager, Eric Marshall, really would be incompetent. Instead of focusing on her home base, Kathy Patterson is running an aggressive and well organized campaign for council chairman, reaching out to people and areas where she is less well known. Her legislative accomplishments in the Judiciary and Education committees are well known to her Ward 3 constituents and by those of us who follow local politics, but less well known to most of the city more concerned about their family, work, and the weather.

Rees, who poses as dozens of people to harass and intimidate good people, see, should not be given platforms such as themail to spew his ill-informed attacks.

[As I’ve written before, I’ve received many messages from people attacking Jonathan Rees and demanding that he be banned from themail, mostly because he makes a practice of sending pseudonymous or anonymous E-mails attacking other people. However, except for Bob Summergill’s message above, all of these E-mails have been send to themail pseudonymously or anonymously, or with the request that they not be published, which tends to undercut the strength of their argument. — Gary Imhoff]


WASA and Palisades
Kathy Patterson, Councilmember Ward 3,

On the specific Water and Sewer Administration/DC Department of Transportation issue that Alma Gates wrote about in themail [June 28], my staff and I have been pressing the agencies on this issue for several years, with the result that funds were allocated to improve WASA capacity in the Palisades. According to WASA general manager Jerry Johnson in conversation with me last week, the work described in the E-mail below will begin early next year. In addition, I recommended to Councilmember Schwartz that she hold a public roundtable on WASA’s actions — what has and what has not been done to date. Finally, we have been working with the new Department of the Environment, urging them to be active and early participants in major construction, to address capacity concerns and environmental impacts at the front end.

This E-mail is from a member of the WASA staff: “WASA has taken the reports of flash flooding on Macomb very seriously. In November 2004, WASA met with residents to obtain more information. Residents indicated that there had been reports of flooding in the area for many years. In December 2004, WASA made a commitment to review the report of a resident’s engineer, take steps to investigate the capacity of the sewer, assess the need for a physical inspection of the interior of the pipes, identify recommendation for improvements if warranted. This information was shared with DDOT. These activities were completed in the spring of 2005.

“Apart from significant development in the area which I understand has been controversial in the community, our records indicate that street grading and drainage were an issue, and that the existing trunk sewer may not have had sufficient capacity. In January of 2006, WASA Chief Engineer John Dunn wrote to Ms. Caroline Quandt about the plan to design and construct a relief sewer parallel to the existing sewer and other miscellaneous improvements. DC WASA has a project in its Capital Improvement Program to design and construct a storm sewer to ensure that the storm sewer will meet WASA design standards (15-year storm). The budget for this project is $3.4 million. The design of the project is underway.” He adds: “in addition to the WASA storm sewer installation project, DDOT has agreed to design and construct road and alley grading improvements that will also help rectify the localized flooding situation. WASA is currently coordinating with DDOT on this project.”


Flood Insurance
James Treworgy,

I am very sympathetic to Ms. Quandt’s situation [themail, June 28], but I feel the question must be asked. Why didn’t she have any insurance? Clearly she has been aware of the potential threat to her home for some time now, as she has been trying to get reparations made to prevent exactly the disaster that occurred. I’m not trying to displace blame from the city agencies for their failings, but rather hoping to understand the whole story. Unless the necessary insurance (flood?) was simply not available to her from any underwriter, I can’t understand a homeowner would expose herself to this kind of risk, when the threat was apparently well known.


Flood Damage
Jonathan Lieber, address removed by request

Please, please, please tell me that Caroline Quandt was lacking insurance for her house because no insurance agency would give it to her due to the danger of the location, and not because she decided not to purchase insurance on a disaster “she could foresee.” Yes, the city is remiss in failing to adequately prepare the land for development, but isn’t Ms. Quandt at least partially responsible for failing to adequately prepare herself? A sad story indeed.


Flood Damage
Alma Gates,

Thank you for running the piece on the Quandt home. The was one small error in your posting — DOH is Department of Health/Environmental Health Administration [the correction has been made in the online version]. Caroline Quandt did have homeowner’s insurance, but did not have flood insurance, which is extremely expensive and — as we have seen in New Orleans — does not ensure that payment will be made to homeowners in case of damage.

The Palisades Citizens Association. has established the Caroline Quandt Recovery Fund, which can be contacted at PO Box 40603, Palisades Station, Washington, DC 20016.


Meters Versus Zones
Harold Goldstein,

So Ed is happy that the zone system gave him and his friends a $15 cab ride that lasted 35 minutes [themail, June 28]. Would Ed be happy earning that hourly rate after deducting expenses, the company take and the time involved to get to the next fare? I think not.



National Building Museum Event, July 8
Lauren Searl,

Saturday, July 8, 1:00-2:00 p.m. The film The Case Study House Program, 1945-1966: An Anecdotal History and Commentary, produced by The Museum of Contemporary Art in LA (1989, 58 minutes), documents the designs for thirty-six experimental modern prototypes for housing commissioned by the magazine Arts and Architecture in response to the housing shortage following World War II. Some of the most important architects of the Southern California region were involved in this project, including Richard Neutra and Charles and Ray Eames. Free. Registration not required. At the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line.


Esther Productions Free Screenwriting and Poetry Workshops for District Youth
Afrika Abney,

Youths aged eleven through fifteen who live in underserved communities in Wards 1, 2, and 8 are being treated to eight weeks of free courses in screenwriting and poetry from June 26-August 11, 10-11 a.m. The workshops are being held at the Emergence Community Arts Collective on Euclid Street, NW and Johenning Baptist Church Community Center on Ninth Street, SE. Registration is required, but plenty of space is still available. Award-winning writers Nigel Parkinson, Jr., and Bomani Armah lead the workshops. Each has received wide recognition for his artistic accomplishments, and both live in the District of Columbia.

In addition to learning how to write a screenplay using their own personal experiences, participants in the workshop will see at least one of their works produced for television. Participants in the poetry classes will have their writings published this fall in a chapbook and will be provided the opportunity to perform their works in several venues throughout the District. Several professional fiction writers and poets also will give community readings throughout the eight weeks as part of the program.

The workshops are sponsored by Esther Productions, Inc., a two-year-old nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC, that is dedicated to serving the social, cultural, and economic needs of underserved or at-risk communities. Esther Productions, Inc., offers a variety of programs including management-training seminars for individuals and emerging companies and The National Daughter-Daddy Reunion Tour. Its Summer Literary Series 2006 is funded through generous grants and contributions from the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission, the Greater Shaw Community Development Corporation, and Kojo Nnamdi of WAMU-FM radio. For more information or to register, call Esther Productions, Inc. at 232-0780.


Culture Cool DC, August
Laura Brower,

This August, more than thirty-five Washington cultural institutions will team up to offer a brimming menu of exhibits, performances, talks, and films as part of Cultural Tourism DC’s first annual Culture Cool. Taking place inside air-conditioned venues such as theaters, museums, and historic sites, the event neatly dispels the myth that nothing happens in Washington during its most trying summer month. For a complete list of all fifty-one programs, check the schedule at or call 661-7581. Admission prices vary by program, and most are either free or inexpensive.

In preparing for Culture Cool, Cultural Tourism DC asked its member institutions — more than 185 museums, theaters, cultural groups, and historic sites across the capital — to contribute programs that fulfilled one requirement: reflect what “cool” means to their organizations. The result is unexpected, with as many interpretations as there are participants. The showcase includes everything from intriguing exhibits and cutting-edge performances to handheld fans and gourmet ice cream provided by event sponsor Giffords Ice Cream and Candy Company. Though Metro most often sponsors programs such as Culture Cool, it is also a participant this time. WMATA Art in Transit Program Manager Michael McBride will lead a walking and riding tour, Art on Line: the Story Behind the Artwork at Metro Stations (August 5 and 19), revealing stories behind the Metrorail system’s works of art. Most participants have interpreted Culture Cool’s theme in original ways that reflect their institution’s authentic character. The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Museum hosts Obsolete, Odd, and Absolutely Ooky Stuff from the DAR Museum Vaults, an exhibit showcasing amusing treasures such as a glass dachshund drinking vessel, a pudding cap, and a snuffbox made from a ram’s head (exhibit open through September 2). The Washington DC Jewish Community Center (DCJCC) presents a screening of Awesome: I F***in Shot That, a film about fifty Beastie Boys fans who were given video cameras at a sold-out Beastie Boys show at Madison Square Garden -- a recipe for reinventing the concert film (August 14). And Ford’s Theater‘s Open House and Snow Day (August 26) celebrates the beginning of its new season by making it snow on Tenth Street. The sneak peek continues inside the historic playhouse with demonstrations, tours, and more. Several organizations contribute guided tours that offer surprising viewpoints on the nation’s capital. Washington Walks offers Moveable Feast: A Taste of DC (August 5 and 19), a three-hour nibble-and-nosh fest of DC that includes stops in air-conditioned venues. Boat lovers can beat the heat with DC’s Waterfront History by Sail (August 6 and 13), an evening sail on the National Maritime Heritage Foundation’s two-masted schooner, American Spirit. The National Cathedral offers A Cool Climb at the Cathedral weekdays in August. Adventurous spirits climb up cold stone stairwells and balconies, then pop onto a ledge for a breathtaking view of the city -- and a quick pat on a gargoyle’s nose.


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