by Borderstan.com April 26, 2012 at 10:00 am 0

By Michelle Lancaster. Follow her and let her know your news on Twitter @MichLancaster. Email her at michellel[AT]borderstan.com.

"Borderstan""U Street NW"

The ill Metro bus driver was working the 52 and 54 lines last Friday morning on 14th Street NW. (Cody Telep, file photo)

Just when you thought your biggest worry was the bus actually showing up, here’s some scary news. Metro issued a viral meningitis warning for the 14th Street bus line.

Huffington Post broke the story on Monday that a driver working the 14th Street to L’Enfant Plaza morning shift was diagnosed with viral meningitis. Apparently it was the 52 and 54 lines.

(And if you don’t understand my reference to Professor Plum, read up!)

The operator is clearly not working any longer and is recovering; the bus was removed from service to be sanitized. Other buses in the Northern Division were also sanitized.

Viral meningitis is not typically fatal and most adults with a good immune system recover within a week or so. But if you rode the 52 or 54 on Friday morning and feel ill, see the doctor!

Like Borderstan’s News stories? Get an RSS Feed for the News Section, or an RSS Feed for all Borderstan stories.

by Borderstan.com April 26, 2012 at 8:00 am 1,291 0

"Borderstan""Charlie Gaynor""Photographer"

Captured,  Charlie Gaynor at his studio. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Alden Leonard. Contact him at alden[AT]borderstan.com and follow him @aldenleonard on Twitter.

Charlie Gaynor is something of a “superlocal.” Not only has he been a Borderstan resident longer than most, but through his work and his art, Gaynor has become a superlative purveyor of our turf. In addition to his 9-to-5 as a realtor with City Houses, LLC, Gaynor spends his time documenting Borderstan through his unusual, iconic photography.

Gaynor discovered his interest in photography in school in his home state of Kansas, and after a brief stint as an Army photographer in Vietnam, he found himself snapping the streets of DC. He ultimately entered real estate, but his passion for photography persisted. Today he shows his work at multiple area galleries, as well as in Florida.

More than anything, Gaynor’s photography reflects the locale he knows and loves. “How can you not be inspired by the rich diversity of Borderstan’s architecture and people?” he asks.

Gaynor has focused on Borderstan since long before it was trendy. He bought his Swann Street home in 1977, just nine years after the infamous riots that scarred the area. “I saw great potential in this beautiful tree-lined street with its brick sidewalks, iron street lamps and Victorian facades. I knew it would come back someday, and obviously I was right!”

Through his photography, Gaynor continues to see the neighborhood in a way others often miss. He focuses on “found objects” — things that go unnoticed by many, but under the scrutiny of an artist’s eye can become iconic — and how they interact with their surroundings. Gaynor then manipulates the camera to juxtapose and layer these dissimilar subjects.

“I see things that make a design in a rectangular or square format and then capture that,” he explains. At just the right angle, close-up shots of peeling paint or a wrought-iron shadow sit side-by side against Borderstan’s ubiquitous row houses and brick alleyways.

The effect is so striking, Gaynor says, that he is frequently asked if he digitally doctors his images (he does not). “Once I was asked if I use clip art!” he remarks. “I was not offended in the least. If a viewer thinks I have somehow manipulated the image… fantastic!” In an effort to give his images as much visual presence as possible, Gaynor mounts his work on unusual surfaces like brushed aluminum, white metal and plexiglass.

Beyond photography, Gaynor fancies himself a gardener, wine taster, and foodie, but more than anything he is a tried-and-true advocate of Borderstan. Gaynor loves the open air movies on V St and the Saturday market at 14th and U.  He praises his local haunts Bistro LeBonne and DC Noodles, and bemoans the loss of his old favorites, Noi Chudnoff and her store, go mama go! (now the site of Current Boutique).

But change is what Borderstan is about, and Gaynor knows this. Take one of his favorite subjects, the alley behind Marvin at 14th and U Streets NW, which is prominent for its vibrant street art. When the city recently painted the alley beige, covering up years of living history, Gaynor was unfazed.

“No problem,” he said. “The alley is just getting a new look. The graffiti will find its way back. These areas are constantly changing, and I’m here to record it.”

Check out Gaynor’s photography at www.charliegaynor.com, where you can get in touch with him and arrange to see his work in person at his Borderstan studio. Gaynor is also a member of the Mid City Artists, which has Open Studios coming up on May 19 and 20.

Like Borderstan’s Arts & Entertainment stories? Get an RSS Feed for the A&E Section, or an RSS Feed for all Borderstan stories.

by Borderstan.com April 26, 2012 at 6:27 am 1,164 0

By Michelle Lancaster. Follow her and let her know your news on Twitter @MichLancaster. Email her at michellel[AT]borderstan.com.

Look, I don’t care if you don’t like hockey or know anything about it. But a seven-game series (that means the teams were tied at 3 games a piece, and all series are best of 7 games), all decided by one goal, with four going to overtime? It’s about time you become a Capitals hockey fan — last night the Caps beat the Boston Bruins (who won the Stanley Cup last year) in the seventh game of the first round. Moreover, the Caps won the series with their third line goalie.

"Borderstan""Capitals"

The Caps, who play at the Verizon Center, advanced Wednesday night in the playoffs in Boston. (Scott Leibowitz, file photo)

SB Nation brings you the game winning goal (in overtime, again) and here’s the story in the The Washington Post. At the very least, you need to skim an article so you can keep up at the water cooler today.

There’s not much reason for joy in DC sports, so grab a seat on the bandwagon and Rock the Red! The Caps are headed to the Eastern Conference semifinals of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Like Borderstan’s News stories? Get an RSS Feed for the News Section, or an RSS Feed for all Borderstan stories.

 

by Borderstan.com April 26, 2012 at 6:00 am 0

"Borderstan""9th Street NW"

“Down 9th NW” is by s.paykin from the Borderstan flickr pool.

Photos of the Day are pulled from the Borderstan Reader Photos pool on Flickr.

Today’s photo, “Down 9th NW” was taken by s.paykin on January 9. The Washington Convention is at the left in the photo.

If you don’t already have a Flickr account, you will need to sign up for one, and then join the Borderstan Reader Photos group. Already a Flickr member? Join the group! You can submit up to five photos per day in the Borderstan reader pool. We are looking for photos from D.C.’s Dupont, Logan and U Street neighborhoods.

Like Borderstan’s Arts & Entertainment stories? Get an RSS Feed for the A&E Section, or an RSS Feed for all Borderstan stories.

by Borderstan.com April 25, 2012 at 3:30 pm 1,321 0

17th, Street, NW,

Time for spring cleanup of the tree boxes on 17th Street NW. Pictured: Sarah from OLD CITY green doing fall maintenance work last October. (Borderstan file photo)

The Urban Neighborhood Alliance and Ross Elementary School PTA are hosting a neighborhood spring cleanup and rummage sale on Saturday, April 28 from 9 am to 2 pm. The rummage sale will be at Ross Elementary School, 1730 R Street NW. You can also bring items for recycling — ones that are more difficult to recycle, such as electronics, paint cans, batteries and light bulbs.

In addition, it will be clean-up day on 17th Street NW, with volunteers picking up trash and cleaning and tending the tree boxes between New Hampshire Avenue and P Street NW. Stonewall Sports and OLD CITY green have donated the mulch for the tree boxes along 17th. After the cleanup, volunteers are invited to Local 16’s outdoor patio for complimentary drinks and pizza (New Hampshire Avenue side of Local 16, which is at 1602 U Street NW).

Book a Table and Sell Your Stuff

There are only 50 tables to rent out with 2 chairs at each table. Tables are given on a first come, first served basis. Reservations for tables will only be given to Ward 2 residents (professional vendors are not allowed to book tables).

To book at table: Please send the following information to Sarah at sb.gilmore[AT]mac.com: (1) Your Name, (2) Home Address (must be a Ward 2 resident) and (3) Phone Number. You will receive a response confirming that a table is available and providing instructions for paying via PayPal.  Reservation is not complete until payment has been received!

Recycling and Waste Disposal

  • Get rid of old paint cans, batteries, light bulbs, and other waste!
  • Recycle old electronics (laptops to printer cartridges) and help the Ross PTA raise money.
  • Dump your bulk trash items without having to arrange a pickup!
  • Shred all those papers piled up on your desk at our shredding station!

Neighborhood Cleanup and Beautification

  • Help your neighbors pick up trash in flower boxes and along the sidewalk.
  • Water and fertilize the flower boxes along 17th Street.

For more information about recycling and the the 17th Street cleanup, contact Jesse at neighborhoodcleanupDC[AT]gmail.com.

Like Borderstan’s News stories? Get an RSS Feed for the News Section, or an RSS Feed for all Borderstan stories.

by Borderstan.com April 25, 2012 at 2:00 pm 1,404 0

Cinco, de, Mayo, DC,

Next week we will have a roundup of Cinco de Mayo hotspots in the neighborhood. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Matty Rhoades. Email him at matty[AT]borderstan.com.

We knew Cinco de Mayo was becoming a serious DC celebration when we got an early notice from a local eatery regarding their plans for the 5th of May (Commissary and sister restaurant The Heights have planned special menus, are even taking reservations, and Commissary has lined up Latin guitarist Ricardo Marlow, from 5 to 7:30 pm.)

BTW, not worry, we’ll have a wrap up for you next week on what local venues are planning for 2012 Cinco de Mayo. But before you start planning your festivities (fortunately the holiday falls on a Saturday this year), and contemplating shots of tequila, let’s take a minute to clear up some common misconceptions about Cinco de Mayo.

No, It’s Not Mexico’s Independence Day

First, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day.  In 1861, the French invaded Mexico to force repayment of debts. The 5th of May, 1862, commemorates the Mexican army’s unexpected victoryover French forces at the Battle of Puebla. However, even with the Mexican victory at the Battle of Puebla, the French were able to gain control of the country. French Emperor Napoleon III installed Maximilian I (an Austrian) as emperor of Mexico, which lasted until 1867 when the French Army was finally driven from the country.

See? We told you that Cinco de Mayo is something much different than what you probably assumed.

Grito de Dolores (“Cry of Dolores”) on September 16 is recognized in Mexico as Independence Day — on that day in 1810 the war for independence from Spain began. The day is also known as  El Grito de la Independencia (“Cry of Independence”) or El Dieciseis de septiembre.

Mexican-Americans and Cinco de Mayo

So, what do Mexican-Americans think of Cinco de Mayo? Is it as important as the U.S. festivities might lead one to believe?

Borderstan Food Editor Alejandra Owens grew up in Arizona and her mother is Mexican-American. “While I’m hesitant to speak for a whole culture, I think you’d be hard pressed to find any Mexican-Americans that take the holiday seriously,” said Owens.

When asked if Americans understood Cinco de Mayo, Owens replied: “I think Americans are clueless about the holiday. Most would probably say it’s ‘Mexican Independence Day,’ but it’s not. It’s like St. Patrick’s Day — people just view it as a fun excuse to party. And maybe don some racially insensitive hats.” She added, “In Arizona, we were more likely to celebrate Rodeo Week.”

Local real estate agent Fernando Garcia was born in Texas and lived for a few years in Mexico with his family before moving back to Texas. “In our family, The Day of The Dead [Día de los Muertos] was celebrated and recognized more than Cinco de Mayo. We did celebrate El Dieciseis de Septiembre every year with fireworks and parties — not Cinco de Mayo,” said Garcia.

So, has Cinco de Mayo become “gringoized,” so to speak? “Very. This is very ‘Corporate America.’ Anything to make a buck and commercialize a holiday for profits,” said Garcia.

Danny Hernandez lives grew up in Texas and now lives in D.C. “When talking to my grandmother about Cinco de Mayo celebrations in Mexico, she said entire towns have events similar to a county fair. There are games, food, carnival attractions, dancing, a rodeo, a parade, and they elect a queen. It’s an all day celebration, but not something she found when she moved to the states, hence I didn’t grow up celebrating it in Texas,” said Hernandez.

How does Hernandez view the American version of the 5th of May? “When I moved to D.C. two years ago I was surprised at how many bars and restaraunts had Cinco de Mayo specials and events, despite the very small Mexican population here. My first Cinco de Mayo in the city, I texted the few Mexicans I knew, to ask how they would be celebrating. None of them had plans, even though many of my non-Mexican friends were going out,” said Hernandez.

Whatever your views about Cinco de Mayo — and how well you understand it — it’s a great day to have fun and remember that it signifies something important in Mexican history.

Related Posts

Like reading Borderstan’s Food & Drink stories? Get an RSS Feed for the F&E Section, or an RSS Feed for all Borderstan stories.

by Borderstan.com April 25, 2012 at 12:00 pm 2,012 0

"Borderstan""Masa 14", restaurants, Logan, Circle, DC, Kim, Vu

Masa 14 offered a preview of its new rooftop deck and menu on Tuesday evening. (Kim Vu)

From Kim Vu. He also has his own food blog, DC Wrapped Dates. Follow him at@dcwrappeddates or email him at kim[AT]borderstan.com. 

Ignoring the last few days, our unseasonably warm winter has brought on a quickly temperate spring time. All this has pushed forward the grandest of D.C. days: the first day of patios and rooftops. With even an inkling of 70-degree weather, Standard’s benches begin overflowing, Marvin’s porch starts bumping, and Public starts rolling again. What’s a recovering snowbird to do?

"Borderstan""Masa 14"

Rooftop details at Masa 14. (Kim Vu)

Luckily, Masa 14 has come to the rescue with a brand new rooftop deck and bar just for the occasion. While the restaurant itself has occupied its 14th Street location for what seems like an eternity, its upstairs setup debuts today (a fact that surprised me, having seen their apparent stairs to nowhere for almost two years now). Still, it seems to have taken a page out of the playbook of its sister restaurant and neighbor El Centro D.F.: rooftops and good food means a good time.

Unlike El Centro and its other contemporaries, Masa’s rooftop does it better by taking advantage of its geography and understanding a central truth of rooftops: the more sun the better. Its outdoor section of wooden-bench two-tops forms a U around the central staircase, which itself is decked in a set of flower beds and bar rails. The decor is intentionally and successfully minimalist, with straight lines of sleek wooden finishing.

But perhaps most importantly, the rooftop completely opens up the street-side half, which means the setting sun will almost always be theater at every happy hour. This floods the space not only with blessed warmth, but a picturesque backdrop, and sets Masa apart from practically anywhere else. After all, who goes to a rooftop to be underneath a hutch? If the game is called on account of rain, then the rooftop’s inside portion, a mirror image of the bar downstairs, offers ten seats to wait out the weather.

"Borderstan""Masa 14"

Masa 14 rooftop opens Wednesday. (Kim Vu)

What’s more, Masa’s rooftop menu impresses, curating its offerings into a limited list of successful dishes from the Latin-Asian fusion menu downstairs. A bay scallop ceviche of jicama, pineapple, red onion, and yuzu-sriracha vinaigrette offers a refreshing bite perfect for the impending heat, while two house-made hot dogs (The Rising Sun — teriyaki beef and wasabi, and El Tigre — spicy chorizo with sriracha) bring a savory counterpoint. Moreover, the cocktails provide a wonderful splash of flavor and punch to the space, especially the French and Strawberry-Basil caipirinhas.

Upon leaving, my companion turned to me to say, “We should savor this. This might be the last time we see this rooftop this empty.” Given all that it has to offer, I tend to agree.

Disclosure: Kim Vu attended the Tuesday-night preview of the Masa 14 rooftop deck and was comped on food and drink as part of the event.

Like reading Borderstan’s Food & Drink stories? Get an RSS Feed for the F&E Section, or an RSS Feed for all Borderstan stories.

by Borderstan.com April 25, 2012 at 10:00 am 1,780 3 Comments

From Luis Gomez. Catch his photos on Picplz and at One Photograph A Day. Follow him on Twitter @LuisGomezPhotos.

Yes, there are great restaurants in the Borderstan area. Lots of them walking distance from home: Italian, French, Thai, Chinese, Spanish tapas. But sometimes I just feel like going in, sitting down, saying hello to the bartender and getting a hamburger or a tuna melt without having to wait or make reservations or spend more than $20.

"Borderstan""P Street NW" "Stoney's"

Stoney’s is at 1433 P Street NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

That’s why I am glad Stoney’s is on the 1400 block of P Street NW (it feels like a miniature Main Street of a town to me).

It is not a fancy place, but it has a great atmosphere with an ample bar, a good selection of beers and a couple of large TV screens downstairs, plus an upstairs as well. Note: They moved to Logan Circle several years ago after originally opening on L Street in 1968.

Whenever I go there I love that the food is always exactly what I was expecting — and how I remember it from the last time I had it. The food is simple, call it bar or diner food: burgers, salads, sandwiches and a pizza menu. They also have some specialties that they say is their claim to fame: a grilled cheese sandwich, a brisket sandwich, grilled salmon and their Mac-N-Cheese.

I have had many of their burgers, always enjoying the flavor and the meat. The Reuben and Pastrami Delight are among my favorites when not having a burger or a tuna melt.

And, as a true purveyor of comfort food, Stoney’s also has meatloaf and mashed potatoes on the menu, as well as chili and a pasta dish that’s good for “the day after” a night on the town.

Stoney’s has become a part of the neighborhood, a local pub and a place that you know is reliable when you feel the need for some comfort food at an affordable price. Plus, I always look for someone I know when I enter — it’s that kind of place.

Stoney’s: The Details

  • Where Am I Going? 1433 P Street NW.
  • When Am I Going? Monday through Thursday, 11 am to 2 am; Friday and Saturday, 11 am to 3 am; and Sunday, 11 am to 2 am.
  • Delivery? No, but they do have carry-out service.
  • Paycheck Pain? $8.95  for a grilled ham and cheese with fries. (They list their price range as $10 to $30)
  • Say What? It can be loud for dinner but usually much quieter for lunch. They also serve breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays.
  • What You’ll Be Eating: Great comfort food.

Like reading Borderstan’s Politics & Government stories? Get an RSS Feed for the P&G Section, or an RSS Feed for all Borderstan stories.

by Borderstan.com April 25, 2012 at 8:00 am 1,541 0

Mary Burgan, Borderstan Movie Fan

From Mary Burgan. Email her at mary[AT]borderstan.com.

First there were the Harry Potter movies. Then the Twilight series. Now, The Hunger Games. And to my mind the greatest of these is The Hunger Games. I was instructed by my granddaughter to read the book and then see the movie. She thought the book was better, but I prefer the movie so far. There is more to come, for the film is based upon only the first volume of a trilogy.

A great strength of the movie is that it captures the intensity of its protagonist, Katniss Everdeen — a self-sufficient hunter and unerring archer who protects her widowed family by shooting game for them to eat and to barter for other necessities.

The family lives in a world that has grown hungry because of a government that keeps the populations of its 12 North American districts under control — by want, surveillance, and the demand for sacrifice of a young girl and a young boy in an annual contest of hunter and hunted, until the last one stands alone. The Hunger Games thus paints a resolutely dark image of a future in which the welfare of the State is kept in equilibrium through the sacrifice of  24 of its children in an annual televised contest among them.

The action of The Hunger Games is mainly quiet — silent runs through trees and underbrush, long periods of watching and waiting, hard breathing. The film may try too hard to enliven that action with camera movement, but the minimal hide-and-seek of the film is gripping enough on its own. It’s the outlandish action in the Capitol that may wear the viewer down. Everything there is loud and artificial. Its inhabitants are garishly made up, over-fed, and hypnotically involved in watching the bloodiest incidents of the Games.

The contrasts between the quiet desperation of the members of the districts and the hysteria of the privileged citizens of the Capitol (in the fictional nation of Panem) are rich. And that richness is another virtue of the film where the performances of several “adult” figures played by actors such as Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz and Donald  Sutherland flesh out portraits of the state’s enablers.

But the film’s essential human drama comes from close-ups of Jennifer Lawrence, the young actress who plays the role of Everdeen to subdued perfection. Her unadorned face registers few emotions — resolve, determination, and an occasional smile. But her alertness suggests that she will be a sharp-witted survivor, saving as many of the combatants as she can along the way.

One of the subjects of Everdeen’s protection turns out to be Peeta Mellark, the boy contestant from her village. Mellark is never as aggressive as Everdeen, nor as resourceful. But, he harbors a long-hidden love for her and that joins the two together, despite the girl’s reluctance to join in a romance plot. Their salvation, however, turns on Katniss’s discovery that they can save each other by offering to die together. Their partnership grows from this act, and it will become more important and complicated as the series develops.

It is notable that of all the Young Adult block-busters, The Hunger Games is the only one to feature an active and self-reliant heroine, attractive to girls and boys alike. Unlike the swooning Bella Swan of the Twilight series, Everdeen is not motivated by love, and she has no suitor as fabulously handsome as Bella’s heroically restrained vampire lover. And although Hermione Granger shows some independence in the Potter series, Harry overshadows her.

The Hunger Games features a dark vision of the future, with release imagined only through the exercise of such human resources as wit, will and generosity. Those other young-adult stories with their magic wands, shape-changing villains, and fabulous settings can barely compete with the severe allegory of The Hunger Games. Young adults like the challenge of such a tale, it seems.

Like Borderstan’s Arts & Entertainment stories? Get an RSS Feed for the A&E Section, or an RSS Feed for all Borderstan stories.

by Borderstan.com April 25, 2012 at 6:00 am 0

"Borderstan""Deadwood"

“Deadwood” is by anokarina from the Borderstan flickr pool.

Photos of the Day are pulled from the Borderstan Reader Photos pool on Flickr.

Today’s photo, “Deadwood” was taken by anokarina on April 12 in Dupont Circle.

If you don’t already have a Flickr account, you will need to sign up for one, and then join the Borderstan Reader Photos group. Already a Flickr member? Join the group! You can submit up to five photos per day in the Borderstan reader pool. We are looking for photos from DC’s Dupont, Logan and U Street neighborhoods.

Like Borderstan’s Arts & Entertainment stories? Get an RSS Feed for the A&E Section, or an RSS Feed for all Borderstan stories.

by Borderstan.com April 24, 2012 at 3:30 pm 1,133 0

DC, Vermont, Avenue, Gardens, Luis, Gomez, Photos

Click to see more photos from the 2011 Vermont Avenue Garden Work Party. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Residents who live near Vermont Avenue NW will turn out Saturday for the ninth year in a row to beautify the meridian that runs from S Street  to the Florida Avenue Triangle (see photos from last year).

From 9 am to noon, the volunteers dig, plant, prune, mulch, rake and do general maintenance work on the strip that runs one-quarter mile from S Street through the U Street corridor.

Volunteers should meet at African American Civil War Memorial at U Street and Vermont Avenue NW. Training, tools and other supported will be provided for volunteers. Email Willis at jeffreyhw[AT]yahoo.com to volunteer.

Major Sponsors of the event are Mark Meyerdirk at Urban Brokers Realty, Gerard & Trish DiRuggiero at Urban Land Realty, Andy Duffy at Duffy’s Irish Pub (including lunch for volunteers after the work is done!).

Other sponsors are Nellie’s Sports Bar (breakfast for volunteers), the 9:30 Club, Ft. Myers Construction, American Ice Company Pub, CVS, DC FEMS and King Gas.

Related Posts

Like Borderstan’s News stories? Get an RSS Feed for the News Section, or an RSS Feed for all Borderstan stories.

by Borderstan.com April 24, 2012 at 2:00 pm 0

Whitman, Walker, Health, AIDS, Walk, 2009, Luis, Gomez, Photos

Sign up for the 2012 AIDS Walk Thursday at Nellie’s. (Luis Gomez Photos, 2009 AIDS Walk)

From Alden Leonard. Contact him at alden[AT]borderstan.com and follow him @aldenleonard on Twitter.

Whitman-Walker Health (WWH) is gearing up for AIDS Walk 2012, which is set to take place on October 27. Join them this Thursday, April 26, at Nellie’s Sports Bar on U Street for their kickoff party starting at 6 pm.

Enjoy a beer (or soda) and some fries on the house if you register for the walk. The registration fee is also waived — but that night only.

If you can’t make it to Nellie’s for the kickoff, you can also register register online starting April 27.

WWH is a community health center that specializes in health care for the LGBT communities and those living with HIV/AIDS. They are based in the neighborhood and 14th and R Streets NW.

Related Posts

Like Borderstan’s News stories? Get an RSS Feed for the News Section, or an RSS Feed for all Borderstan stories.

by Borderstan.com April 24, 2012 at 12:00 pm 1,409 2 Comments

"Borderstan""Pregressive Dinner"

The 2012 Progressive Dinner: Originality and a Drag Race-style flair for do-it-yourself  is where winner takes all. (CHRIS BURCH photography)

From Alejandra Owens. You can find her at her food blog, One Bite At A Time. Alejandra also writes for City Eats DC, a Food Network site, where you can book dinner reservations. Follow her on Twitter at @frijolita and email her at alejandra[AT]borderstan.com

It’s the most outrageous, awe-inspiring dinner party you’ll never be invited to — and you probably won’t be able to buy a ticket either. I had never even heard of the DC Progressive Dinner before, so when my friend Russell emailed to ask if I’d be a food judge for the 2012 annual dinner, my initial response was, “Sure, but, what is this thing again?”

This year’s dinner benefitted the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYAL). The non-profit organization works in the D.C.-metro area and its mission is to “promote and support self-confident, healthy, productive lives for LGBTQ youth ages 13-21 as they journey from adolescence into adulthood.”

Where to Start?

How shall I describe the event? Let’s start with the format, perhaps? Three teams: appetizer, entrée and dessert. Fifty people per team, mostly gay men. Each team is judged on three categories: food, theme/decor and performance.

This year’s Progressive Dinner was held at three different venues (none of them private homes, too small), including an unused warehouse and even Town Danceboutique. The teams competed in each of the three categories at each venue. There really aren’t any “invites” or perhaps just a few — it’s just the teams and a smattering of people who are judging (like me).

At first I thought, “Okay, this sounds pretty basic.” I figured I’d bop around with my fellow judges from row house to fabulous row house where I’d nibble on some fancy snacks, sip a cocktail or two and enjoy a little dinner theatre.

“Progressive Dinner started about eight years ago with a group of 30 guys who were looking to do something different. It has evolved a lot from that simple dinner to include fundraising and more,” Bradley Schurman, founding member of DC Progressive Dinner, told me.

Evolved a lot would be an understatement. I never expected to see a svelte “Hermaphrodite” (appetizer team’s theme was The Olympiad) disrobe to reveal a clam shell and pearl bikini (not to mention he was sporting 5-inch gold glitter heels). Or watch a tall, lanky Asian Tinkerbell (pictured above, dessert team’s theme was “Neverland”) immerse her face in a pile of fairy dust while wearing an itty-bitty tulle skirt! Nor did I expect to eat the best homemade madeleine I’ve ever tasted and be plied with luscious wine drinks, home-brewed beer and wicked potent shots.

Committees and Months of Planning

As anyone who’s ever tried to host a dinner party for more than four people knows, cooking for a crowd is no small feat. Cooking for a band of 150 raucous, costumed gay men who have been performing complicated dance routines in hooker heels all night is a challenge of a whole other level. More than four months of planning these teams of 50 means breaking the planning and work into subcommittees wherein menus are planned, costumes are designed and built, and spaces large enough to handle the crowd and embody the chosen theme are procured.

Abandoned warehouses and nightclubs are transformed, home kitchens turn into well-oiled catering machines turning out tomato bisque by the gallons, roasting thousands of cubes of root vegetables. There are no rewards for teams who outsource their work — originality and a Drag Race-style flair for do-it-yourself  is where winner takes all.

What started seven years ago as a small, traditional, progressive dinner amongst friends has evolved into a fanciful event where participant and attendee alike can escape into a whole new world. Then the 2008 recession hit and it was a game changer.

“For the most part, we were all well-employed and felt that giving back to our community was the one component that was really lacking,” said Schurman. “In light of the very public teen suicides in the past years, our decision to fund SMYAL, the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League makes the event even more rewarding.”

No Room to Grow

Every judge who was new to the event asked the same question, “Why not open the event to a larger audience?!”

In a town drowning in over-priced events that don’t quite deliver, DC Progressive Dinner is a rare gem. “At 150 people we are already bursting at the seams. We do most of the fundraising at the front end, so we can enjoy the evening in the end. There has been talk about opening it up to a larger audience, but I’m afraid that could destroy something that is really special to us,” said Schurman.

Until then, you’ll have to find a friend who’s already participating and see if you can join the team. See, you’re all in or you’re all out. According to Schurman, “The best part of progressive dinner is that it is a lot of work that always pays off.”

The stakes are quite high, and though everyone is definitely in it for the fun, friendship and charitable cause — they make no bones about wanting the glory too.

As one member of a losing team said to me at the end of the night, “Mm. Mm. Wrong. Like when Jennifer Hudson lost American Idol.”

Like reading Borderstan’s Food & Drink stories? Get an RSS Feed for the F&E Section, or an RSS Feed for all Borderstan stories.

by Borderstan.com April 24, 2012 at 10:00 am 1,025 0

"Borderstan"

Baylor Quarterback Robert Griffin III “RG3” is everywhere. We even found this magazine photo of him in Logan Circle. (Original photo by Chris Covatta, photographed from Athlon Sports by Luis Gomez)

From Scott Leibowitz. Find Scott on Twitter @Lebodome. Email him at scott[AT]borderstan.com.

Washington, D.C., is in a very unique class of cities. It is one of 12 cities that have all four four major sports leagues. We even have soccer, although the MLS is not on the same financial level as the NBA, NHL, NFL and MLB. Something that is often discussed in these cities is what is the most popular sport, or better what kind of sports town are you.

For a city such as Chicago, the limelight is very-well shared as every team has won a championship in the recent past and have winning traditions (Cubs excluded, of course). When it comes to Washington, this town has been –and I feel always will be — a football town. No other type of sports team in town gets even near the same kind of love and dedication of fans (D.C. residents drive to Maryland just to watch them) as the Redskins.

Sadly though, the Redskins have been a bit lost for the last, let’s say 15 to 20 years, and just can’t seem to get all the wheels going in the right direction. Last season they went 7-9, but were able to beat the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants, showing that maybe they can compete.

Well Borderstanis, times are about to change. D.C. we will get a brand new celebrity who will blow away the Cap’s Alex Ovechkin in popularity and expectations. On Thursday night, during the NFL Draft, the Washington Redskins using the No.2 pick (they gave up a lot of valuable assets to be picking that high) will select last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, Baylor University Quarterback Robert Griffin III.

As noted by the immensely higher paychecks they receive than their contemporaries, the quarterback position is the MOST important on the field and teams with average ones very rarely win championships. The Redskins are making it clear to the city; we are in it to win.

Prepare for a New D.C. Celebrity

Let’s prepare for a new city celebrity. I guarantee this will be the kind of guy who, wherever he goes or whatever he does, it will make news — similar to Ovechkin’s beginning in D.C. when he was drinking all over town. Here are some things to expect and watch for.

Run & Gun: Think Michael Vick and Cam Newton. RG3 (yes, this is his nickname, learn it) makes his living on a strong arm but also his ability to run all over and throw while moving (this is not done by everyone). There will be exciting plays, trick plays, long runs and, hopefully, a good touchdown dance.

He is Still New: The last few years have spoiled football fans with rookie quarterbacks leading their teams to the playoffs (Andy Dalton, ’10 and Joe Flacco ’08) but this usually does not happen. There will be growing pains, awful interceptions, and probably some gruesome hits when he decides running will be better than passing. The ‘Skins will have nice weapons around him, and the schedule isn’t too brutal. But remember everyone, he is still new.

If They Start Winning: He will be more popular than President Obama is in D.C. I said it. Winning quarterbacks always poll better than leaders of the free world, especially in D.C.

He isn’t very tall, but his face will start appearing everywhere. This could be the start of something great for the Redskins. Or, he is a huge bust, a college talent that can’t translate to the NFL, and I will have wasted a whole column on him. Either way, if you see him (which our writers have already done last week in Logan Circle), say hi and protect him from incoming linebackers; D.C. needs him.

What’s Grinding My Gears

NBA playoffs start next week. Can’t say I care that much, this whole season was tough to enjoy. Will watch the conference finals and championship though.

Links! Links! Ice Cold Links

  • Stephen Strasburg of the Nats throws really hard. Just ask this umpire’s sensitive area. Warning: males may struggle watching this.
  • The scale of the universe. Created by two 14-year-old kids from California. Amazing work.
  • Mother’s Day is May 13. Here is a great way to get your mom a card and help a great cause at the same time.

Like reading Borderstan’s Lifestyle stories? Get an RSS Feed for the Lifestyle Section, or an RSS Feed for all Borderstan stories.

by Borderstan.com April 24, 2012 at 8:00 am 0

There has been a rash of package thefts in the area, hitting several building in the North Dupont-U Street area. According to a reader who contacted Borderstan, the following buildings have been recently targeted by who they believe is the same man, based on video camera recordings: the Balfour (2000 16th Street NW), Haddon (1926-1930 New Hampshire Avenue NW), The Albermarle (1830 17th Street NW) and the Brittany (2001 16th Street NW).

Borderstan ran a story in December about package thefts — Christmas-holiday season is prime time for package thefts. However, the current thief making the rounds is targeting buildings with secure entrances — and is gaining entrance by posing as a contractor or representative from Pepco.

This first round of package thefts occurred during the Christmas season, but the thief is back, according to the reader who contacted Borderstan: “At the Balfour where I live, the guy has taken dozens of parcels worth thousands of dollars.”

The thefts have been reported to the DC Police along with video footage of the purported thief. A spokesperson for the DC Police said that anyone with information about the package thief, should contact the DC Police Command Information Center at 202-727-9099.

The reader told Borderstan, “He hangs by a building entrance waiting for someone to let him in, often claiming to be a contractor or even with Pepco. Far too many people just let him in, and he grabs the packages and leaves. If people see him, they should call 911.”

Related Posts

Like reading Borderstan’s Crime stories? Get an RSS Feed for the Crime Section, or an RSS Feed for all Borderstan stories.

×

Subscribe to our mailing list