The District of Columbia is a vibrant and growing city and many of us feel lucky to live here. We are the Capital of the nation and the center of power in the world. We have the White House, the Capitol, the Smithsonian and the Mall. But what so many visitors to the District don’t know is that we are a city made up of many individual neighborhoods.
As the population of the city grows and people look for a sense of community, each year the neighborhoods in D.C. hold more and more festivals and block parties. Some of them grow to become must attend events. One of these is the 17th Street Festival in Dupont which on Saturday celebrated its thrid year. From noon to 6:00 pm 17th street from Riggs Place to P Street was closed and thousands of people enjoyed the great weather and wandered up and down the middle of the street enjoying the many booths on both sides of the street and the restaurants and shops behind them.
The Festival is produced by the Urban Neighborhood Alliance and Historic Dupont Circle Main Streets. This year the festival included and an art show; business specials; a large entertainment stage; a kids zone at Ross Elementary School; and a pet zone sponsored by City Dogs Rescue.
As a Dupont resident I appreciate all the work that volunteers put into planning and staging this event. Dupont has always been a great place to live and the 17th street business district is a vital part of it. We have some great restaurants and bars in the 17th street corridor that add life to our neighborhood. They include Jamie Leed’s Hank’s Oyster Bar; Floriana’s; those great old standby’s Annies, Trios and Dupont Italian Kitchen; and they are anchored on one end by JRs and the other end by Cobalt, 30 Degrees and Level One. Dupont has become a very diverse neighborhood and you could see that at the festival with young and old, gay and straight, and a lot of couples with young kids which you wouldn’t have seen in Dupont ten years ago.
Within just the few blocks on the 17th street business district there is FIT, a great personal training gym; Java House Coffee (which friends refer to as my living room); you can get your hair cut, go to a yoga class, buy real estate, do your banking, shop for groceries at Safeway, use the pharmacy at CVS or two independent pharmacies, or just wander through an art gallery.
Dupont is a great place to live and many of us already look forward to next year’s festival as it continues to grow.
Michael Kahn is an icon in the theatre and this year led the Shakespeare Theatre of Washington to receive a Tony award as best regional theatre. This past Sunday was Michael’s birthday and to celebrate a life-size statue of Michael was unveiled at the Harman theatre with much fanfare and fun.
Michael is world renowned as one of the best interpreters of Shakespeare’s work and has received accolades for his directing in the United States from Broadway to Dallas to Washington, D.C. and everywhere in between.
Last year was a milestone for Washington and for Michael. He received the prestigious Will Award at the theatre’s annual Gala celebrating his 25 years at the Shakespeare and his commitment to the District of Columbia.
Michael was Chair of the Drama department at Julliard for many years and now teaches master classes there. He has worked with, taught and directed many stars over the years including the likes of Annette Bening, Helen Mirren, Robin Williams, James Earl Jones and so many more. He is also credited with helping to revive downtown D.C. when he moved the Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC) to the Lansburgh when there was little else in the area. With his Board of Directors he then raised the funds to build the spectacular Harman Hall.
This new statue now and forever stands in the second floor atrium of the Harman as an incredible lasting tribute to the man who put the STC on the map. I must admit Michael is the first person I know to have a statue sculpted in his honor while he is still alive and working. And lest anyone forget his next directorial effort, The Government Inspector, will be opening next week.
The statue unveiling was a fun birthday party with many of Michael’s close friends and supporters of the theatre in attendance. Michael Klein, the Chairman of the STC Board, acted as Master of Ceremonies and the talented Nancy Anderson entertained.
Next time you are at the Harman for an evening of theater make sure you look for the statue of Michael. He kidded that since it is opposite the bar he should be getting free drinks from now on since all the bartenders will be able to recognize him. I kidded him that years from now people may think the statue is actually of William Shakespeare.
WOW! Listening to their Convention we know that many in today’s Republican Party live in a fantasy world where you can make things up, rewrite history, and believe you can fool people by not talking about what you really stand for. To borrow a phrase I am sure was on the lips of most of the people sitting in that lily white audience in Tampa, “Praise the Lord” this convention is over. It was difficult to listen to the plethora of blatant lies and misstatements made by the candidates and their surrogates.
I watched two nights of prime time and heard speeches by Ann Romney, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, Clint Eastwood and Mitt Romney. My overall response was sadness that so much of what they said was a collection of partial truths and the realization of how much wasn’t said because they knew how people would respond.
Ann Romney is a beautiful strong woman having survived her fight with cancer and living with MS. She spoke well but pandered to women whose lives and struggles she has never had to face. Hillary Rosen may have misspoken when she said Ann Romney never worked a day in her life because clearly being a mother of five children is hard work. But reality is that when Ann Romney recounted how hard it was when she and Mitt left their close knit family to move to Massachusetts she forgot to mention that the hardship included having a husband who supported his family from his trust funds while he went to Harvard. She didn’t have to work outside the home, worry about rent, grocery bills or healthcare for her children and he graduated with no college loans to pay off. A Romney Presidency can’t make that happen for every woman, no President can.
Then there was Chris Christie. He forgot to mention Mitt Romney until about 18 minutes into his speech. He came across as the self-centered bully that the people of New Jersey have come to know and are quickly tiring of. The nation would quickly feel the same if they had to listen to him more often.
Then Paul Ryan took the stage. His speech heightened the feeling that this was all taking place in fantasyland. If he can actually convince himself that what he said is true he really does live in his own world. Maybe he borrowed a set of Mitt’s magic underwear. He spoke of his being able to see a better future while he was waiting tables. Since he was brought up in a prosperous home, his dad being a successful lawyer, I guess it wasn’t hard for him to see that future. The problem is he wants to cut Pell grants and education funds for other young people who don’t come from homes like his and really do find it hard to envision their own better future. He intentionally didn’t say that the auto plant that closed in his District closed during the Bush Presidency. He forgot to mention his vote against Simpson/Bowles; his belief that there should be no exceptions to a total ban on abortion; his votes for TARP and the Bush wars being off budget which added billions to the deficit; his earmarks for high donor constituents; his letters requesting stimulus funds for his District; and his suggested budget cuts including the same $700 billion from Medicare that he accused the President of cutting.
Then Clint Eastwood took the stage with a rambling awkward disrespectful speech and didn’t even know that Romney is a lawyer. The worst thing that can happen to a candidate on the night of his greatest opportunity to shine is when the following morning around the water the cooler the chat is “wow did you see that Eastwood speech, and oh yeah Romney spoke too”.
And then Mitt Romney made his entrance reminiscent of a President entering a State of the Union speech but shaking hands with people with funny hats. Guess they represented the Congress. Romney intended to make an uplifting speech and had a number of good lines. But the totality left one pondering what he would actually do as President. He promised 12 million new jobs but didn’t say how he would accomplish that. He talked about his father’s struggles but didn’t seem to connect because by the time he was born his father had made it. He said dad worked in the auto industry but left out that he was President of the Company. Unfortunately he never learnt the best lessons his father taught him about including people and broadening the Party. Mitt Romney’s Republican Party which he either controls or is a puppet of is the most exclusive Party ever. Just a quick look around the audience in the hall would have made his dad sad. Maybe that is what Romney choked up about when talking about his dad.
Romney and the Republicans appear to want us to forget about what they stand for because they gave all that such short shrift. Just read their Party Platform for the beliefs and ideas that today’s Republican Party stands for. That is a much better picture of the Romney/Ryan Party than the fantasy of their convention.