Posts Tagged ‘DC’

2020 Smithsonian Folklife Festival: Off the Mall, On the Web

June 24, 2020

2020 Smithsonian Folklife Festival: Off the Mall, On the Web

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is back in Washington DC, from June 24th to July 4th, but you won’t find it on the National Mall. It’s gone vitual, like everything else during this pandemic. Here’s the schedule. You can’t go to the food concessions this year, but they’ve promised a gift shop.



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DC Gets Few Needed Medical Supplies from Federal Stockpile

April 2, 2020

DC Gets Few Needed Medical Supplies from Federal Stockpile

The District of Columbia recieved few of the medical supplies requested from the federal government’s Strategic National Stockpile:

“The District got none of the hospital ventilators, safety goggles and hand sanitizer it asked for and received less than one percent of a requested 663,760 gloves and 1,132,478 respirator masks that officials requested.”

“D.C. City Administrator Rashad M. Young told D.C. Council members and the mayor’s office during a telephone call that he did a ‘readout’ Tuesday ‘of what we asked for and what we got, and it was pretty much nothing from them.’”

— “Federal government gave D.C. a fraction of what it sought to fight coronavirus,” Antonio Olivo, Jenna Portnoy and Fenit Nirappil, Washington Post


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Top image mashed by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

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Congress Screws DC in the Conronavirus Relief Package

March 30, 2020

Congress Screws DC in the Conronavirus Relief Package

Despite the best efforts of a holdout Tea Party loon, Congress finally passed a $2 Trillion stimulus package last week, the first step in shoring up the U.S. in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of this federal response, each state government will receive at least $1.25 billion. The District of Columbia will receive $500,000.

Since DC is regarded as a state when it comes to federal grants, highway funding, education dollars and food assistance, many here feel that someone in the Administration or GOP leadership actively and intentionally shafted the District when the bill was crafted in the Senate.

The District’s population — 702,455 people — is greater than that of two states, Wyoming and Vermont. Unlike U.S. territories, DC residents pay federal taxes, the most in federal taxes per capita than any other state. The coronavirus relief bill originated in the GOP-controlled Senate, and DC has no senators, so here we are. There’s a reason DC license plates read “Taxation Without Representation.”


DC Emancipation Day, 1862: It Was Slaveowners Who Got Reparations.

April 16, 2019

DC Emancipation Day, 1862: It Was Slaveowners Who Got Reparations.

On April 16, 1862, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln signed an act freeing the 3000 enslaved people in the District of Columbia. This was nine months before he signed the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves in the Confederate states, many of whom actually remained in bondage until the the war’s end in 1865, and 20 months before ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, which definitively outlawed slavery everywhere in the United States.

Understandably, April 16th is a holiday in the District of Columbia, District Emancipation Day, celebrated with speeches, concerts, fireworks and parades. There’s a bit of rain on that parade, though, if you take a closer look at history. That 1862 act was called the Compensated Emancipation Act, and it authorized payments to DC slaveowners rather than liberation of enslaved people on moral grounds. It even sought to promote emigration of former slaves outside the borders of the United States.

In any case, black Washingtonians had their freedom. That’s definitely worth celebrating.


“When Slaveowners Got Reparations,” Tera W. Hunter, New York Times


“Georgetown students vote in favor of reparations for enslaved people,” Susan Svrluga, Washington Post


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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

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Conflict of Interest on Pennsylvania Avenue

August 29, 2016

Conflict of Interest on Pennsylvania Avenue

Presidential candidate Donald Trump already has a home on Pennsylvania Avenue, a few blocks from the White House. It’s a $200 million hotel project he’s developing in the Old Post Office Building, a historic property owned by the federal government and leased to the Trump Organization for 60 years.

As Steve Perlstein observed, it’s “curious” the government “… would choose to pass over established, deep-pocketed hoteliers such as Marriott, Hyatt and Hilton in order to choose a lead developer who has spent so much time in U.S. Bankruptcy Court that he qualifies for elite frequent-flier status.” Part of the appeal might have been due to Trump’s financial bait-and-switch. Trump’s bid included funding from his Californian investor pal Tom Barrack, the guy who had sold him the Plaza (Trump sold it for a huge loss). After Trump got the Old Post Office contract, Barrack pulled out and Trump off-shored the financing, borrowing $170 million from Germany’s Deutsche Bank instead. The collateral? The federal lease on the tax-payer-owned property.

Remember, the historic Old Post Office Building’s landlord is the General Services Administration (GSA), a federal agency.

“You’d be kidding yourself if you don’t think the president of the United States has influence over this. And [Trump’s] taken no affirmative steps to separate himself from this conflict of interest. I don’t know how this is not a bigger issue. It’s crazy.”
— Jessica Tillipman, George Washington University Law School


Bohemian Caverns, 1928 — 2016

March 28, 2016

Legendary jazz club Bohemian Caverns has expired, the victim of a suffocating live entertainment climate. Founded in 1926 in the basement of a corner drugstore on U Street, Washington’s “Black Broadway,” it became DC’s hip jazz spot in the 1960s, a place where the “in crowd” could see and hear Bill Evans, Miles Davis, Shirley Horn, John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Bobby Timmons, Nina Simone, and Charles Mingus.

The Ramsey Lewis Trio recorded a live album in the Caverns in 1964, returning the next year to interpret Billy Page’s “In Crowd,” a pop hit for Dobie Gray. The RLT’s live version became a hit single as well.


“Last of the Bohemian,” Michael J. West, Washington City Paper


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Cherry Blossoms Dawdle in DC

March 18, 2016

Cherry Blossoms Dawdle in DC

The National Park Service oracle says the Tidal Basin cherry blossoms will not reach peak bloom today after all due to recent cold snaps. Look for beautiful blooms on March 23-24.



Image (“Cherry Blossom Viewing at the Tidal Basin, after Hiroshige”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

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Snowzilla In DC

January 23, 2016

Snowzilla in DC

Area schools closed Thursday and Friday, and the mayor declared a state of emergency, but the best reaction to this week’s Snowzilla blizzard came from National Zoo resident Tian Tian:


Pope in the USA: Punk’d by a Tea Party Saint, Hugged Gay Guys

October 3, 2015

Pope in the USA: Punk'd by a Tea Party Saint, Hugged Gay Guys

When Everybody’s favorite pontiff, Pope Francis, visited Washington DC in September he had a secret meeting with intolerant, oath-breaking Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis and her current husband. It was a secret to His Holiness, anyway, who had no earthly idea who Mrs. Davis is. She was apparently one of many people he greeted during his Vatican Embassy stay.

Pope Francis didn’t set up the meeting; it was arranged by papal nucio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the Vatican’s envoy to the US, who was sent to the States by former Pope Benedict XVI to keep him from meddling in Vatican City politics. Archbishop Viganò turns 75 in a few months and is expected to be “retired” by the current pontiff.

While in DC Pope Francis met with a same-sex couple, Washington caterer Yayo Grassi and his long-time partner Iwan Bagus. His Holiness had personally invited Mr. Grassi, his former student at Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepción in Argentina, to a private audience, and there were hugs all around.

Lawyers for Kim Davis from the Falwell-affiliated Liberty Counsel claimed that the Pope’s off-the-cuff comments on conscientious objectors referred to their client, but the Vatican denied this, and many have observed that the county clerk is not a CO since she forced her beliefs on her deputies rather than letting them act on their own. Papal spokesmen have emphasized that the Papal greeting was not a show of support for the delinquent Rowan County clerk.


Pope Francis Visits DC, September 22 to 24, 2015

September 18, 2015

Pope Francis Visits DC, September 22 to 24, 2015

Everybody’s favorite pontiff, Pope Francis, will visit Washington DC for three days. Unofficial schedule:

Tuesday, September 22, 2015
4:00 PM: Pope Francis arrives via Alitalia at Joint Base Andrews from Havana, smokes big cigar on the drive from Maryland to the Apostolic Nunciature on Massachusetts Avenue NW.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015
9:15 AM: White House Welcoming Ceremony; Pontiff shoots hoops one-on-one with President Obama before posing for pics on the Truman Balcony

11:00 AM: Popemobile Parade along the Ellipse and National Mall; brief stop to buy Astronaut Ice Cream at Air & Space Museum gift shop (mirabile dictu!)

11:30 AM: Midday Prayer with U.S. bishops at historically ugly Saint Matthew’s Cathedral in DC; side trip to the Indiana Jones exhibit at nearby National Geographic Museum. His Holiness will address the bishops in Spanish, and many expect him to “no dejar titere con cabeza” (kick butt).

4:15 PM: Greets Native American demonstrators before celebrating Junipero Serra Canonization Mass — in Spanish — at the East Portico of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception at Catholic University (leave your selfie stick at home).

Thursday, September 24, 2015
9:20 AM: Speech to Joint Session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol (in English); crowds gather to watch it on Jumbotron screens on the National Mall (and listen to Spotify’s Pope Playlist while they’re waiting)

11:00 AM:  Brief appearance on West Front of Capitol (possible photo op with former altar boys Biden and Boehner?)

11:15 AM: Visit to St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in DC and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, site of the Homeless Jesus sculpture (artist: Timothy P. Schmalz). His Holiness will meet with — and feed — the charities’ clients.

4:00 PM: Departure from Joint Base Andrews for New York City and a decent slice of pizza.