Annotated Guide to 2011


Hey, remember 2011?

That was some year. The economy sucked, the one-percenters romped, the iPhone learned to listen. Or so the historians may someday tell us. When the book—OK, the ebook—on this year is ultimately written, it will likely be a tale of grim economic charts, dysfunctional political systems, and explanations for our various global miseries that will look crystal clear after a decade or two of hindsight.

But what did people actually talk about on some average, ho-hum 2011 kind of day? Specifically, what was on the minds of Washingtonians as the year of the debt ceiling crisis and the Greek economic crisis and the Charlie Sheen crisis marched grimly by? Even after just a few months, it takes some work to make the memories surface. For the record, you were probably talking about things like Circulator buses and Wale and Sulaimon Brown and the hapless Wizards and the upgrading of H Street NE and the way all these bars suddenly started serving brewed-in-D.C. beer. Don't count on tomorrow's historians, though, to tell you what all of that stuff means.

City Paper's Annotated Guide to 2011 is our last-ditch effort to capture it all for posterity. Did 2011 really mark the end of Washington's "Chocolate City" legacy? (No.) Was it the year when heretofore-beloved megamogul Ted Leonsis revealed his feet of clay? (Maybe.) And what was up with all of those overpriced Vietnamese sandwiches? (Attention culinary and economic historians: This was the year of the great bánh mì bubble.) Culled from a year's worth of City Paper stories and blog posts, here's 2011 as it really trended.

And actually, looking back, it's not so bad after all. Now when some smarty-pants history Ph.D. tells you someday that the only thing about 2011 that mattered was that Generalissimo Rick Perry was wrongly laughed at and realized he needed to raise a rebel army to take power, you'll remember the other stuff, too. You're welcome.

Photo Slideshow: A Year In Pictures

Objets de 2011


Adams Morgan Bogeyman Want to kill a new development? Claim it'll turn your 'hood into Adams-Morgan.
Afro-Blue Howard's year of a capella glory
Andrés, José How the man who brought tapas to D.C. made it to The Simpsons.
Arena Stage It became D.C.’s smartest theater—then hit a funding wall.
Armao, Jo-Ann The Post's local editorialist is all-powerful, 364 days a year.
Artisphere Arlington's Lincoln Center became the Grant's Tomb of Rossyln.


Bánh mì The Vietnamese hoagie is cheap and delicious, but only in Virginia.
Beets Meet D.C.'s unlikeliest cocktail ingredient of the year
Bethesda, Still Not an Arts Hub Sorry, Montgomery County
Biddle, Sekou The unluckiest local pol of 2011
Bike Lanes Why the great bike slowdown hit Washington
Bin Laden, Osama The terrorist's death helped cement D.C.'s new form of public celebration.
Black on Black It wasn't Kwame's pricey ride that doomed him. It was the hissy fit over the decor.
Bluebrain Experimental-pop band as app entrepreneurs
Bread The one place in 2011's food scene where locavorism didn't reign supreme
Brown, Marshall In the new D.C., crisis firings know no color.
Brown, Sulaimon He didn’t really matter.
Building Boom The condos keep coming!
Burglary, floral Why a Cleveland Park lilac thief mattered


Cell Phone-Free Dining The age of the fancy chef's restaurant rulebook
Charter Schools as Sports Powerhouses Are charters catching up to DCPS on the gridiron, too?
Circulators, Better Than Buses When it comes to busses, locals agree with tourists.
Couponing as Journalism The coupon content looks an awful lot like...reporting.


Dance Exchange Life after Lerman was good for her old company, if not for the dance scene.
DC Brau After 50 years, Washington makes beer again.
D.C. Republican Party So close to victory, and yet so far away
D.C. Statehood Just because shameless pols embraced it in 2011 doesn't mean it's a bad idea.
@dcfireems The day its Twitter died.
Dismemberment Plan, The Back, and bigger than ever.
DMV Awards What could have prevented the debacle? A dress code.


Earthquake! Where were you when the shaking stopped?
East of the River Dining Hype A year of fawning press, and iffy prospects, for trans-Anacostia eateries.
Eleventh Street Bridge Why all the agita over that trolley across the river?
Erasergate It’s really, really hard to miss Michelle Rhee.


Fillmore Silver Spring, The A huge new venue changed the music scene. But not in the ways people thought.


Get Off My Lawn! 2011 in town-gown hysteria
Gold Leaf Studios A venerable art space makes way for pricey apartments. Do you care?
Gowdy, Trey In 2011, D.C.'s Congressional overlord was notable for not making news.
Grey Market Unfortunately, you can't eat "edgy."


H Street NE What happened to the step between up-and-coming and too damn expensive?


Imagining Madoff A year late, a cancelled plan finally arrived at Theater J.
Income, High One of these days, someone’s going to make political hay out of Washington’s wealth.
Income, Low What boomtown? D.C. pols learned to ignore the poor at their peril.


Jefferson Memorial, dancing at as protest The most talked about protest of the first half of the year


Ketchup, artisanal It's creative, it's unique, and it's execrably bad.


Landmarking, weaponization of A new tool in D.C.'s NIMBY arsenal
Leonsis, Ted Is Washington turning on its good-guy megamogul?


Machen, Ron The U.S. attorney is the most powerful man in D.C. government
Marijuana, Slow Movement on Medicalization Of Stoned? No, D.C.'s slowpoke regulators are just paranoid.
Memorial Booboos A year of blunders for Washington's monuments
Metro, PR champion The much-maligned subway learns to tweet.
Moombahton The year in mid-tempo tropical bass-related news
Movie Theaters, Across the River What does a mayor have to do to get a new cinema built?
Muth, Albrecht The cultural significance of 2011's seamiest murder story


Occupy D.C. A protest shows a city how valuable its public space can be.
One City How Vince Gray's campaign slogan became a civic motto
Orange, Vincent The luckiest pol of 2011


Pop-Ups Endearingly ephemeral cultural spaces—or malicious symbols of economic peril?
Print-on-Demand Machines Why Politics & Prose’s new contraption is a drag.


Regular-season champions April hates the Caps.
Rex Grossman vs. John Beck 2011 featured history's lamest quarterback controversy.


Saint Tommy The real reason the councilmartyr got councilmartyred
Sellout Streak Here’s the truth: Redskins tickets are easy to get
Shake Shack A New York import stakes a claim.
Shariah Law A D.C. project's Islamic funding comes with conditions.
Single-Dish Restaurants What's for dinner? Exactly one thing.
Single-Sex Dorms Why did Antonin Scalia care about a D.C. college's dorm rules?
The Snyder Gambit The Redskin owner's legal maneuver could change D.C. jurisprudence.
Sockets Records D.C.'s most dynamic label
Sports Nepotism Bring your son to work day, for coaches
Street Art When tagging gets funding
Sweet Tea Pumpkin Pie Festival Dave Mann's odd, magical music fest


Talent Agents A new talent agency hasn't changed D.C. theater culture. Yet. Why a media startup fell short
Thompson, Jeffrey D.C.'s political money man
Timony, Mary Washington's biggest rock star
Tommymandering So why did people care about not being redistricted out of Ward 6?
Tourmobile Farewell, goofy blue busses.
TV Chefs Don't Have to Suck Graffiato: It's good!


Verizon Center, empty On a December without basketball
Verizon Center, full Never mind the economics. Crowds at hockey games just make the city feel right.
Vince Gray as Bizarro Adrian Fenty Maybe the new mayor isn't so different from the old one...


Wale Save the hometown cheerleading for Oddisee!
WallachZilla A moniker that changed a building
The Waterfront is Cool! D.C.’s waterfront has become a place you’d want to hang out.
Welcome, Walmart Just how liberal is D.C.?
Werth, Jayson All that booing in 2011 should have made him feel right at home.
Wugazi Mash-ups are awful. Except this one.


YIMBYs Organizing to get something in your back yard
You’re On The (Metro) Map A year in Metro-map politics