City Desk

The Needle: Maureen and Willie

Imagine: Ever wonder what would happen if you ran into New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd at a 9:30 Club concert? Willie Nelson found out+3

Yep, Still Racist: The New York Times has a test to determine if a team mascot is offensive. And yep, the Washington football team meets all the offensiveness criteria. -2

Read more The Needle: Maureen and Willie

How to Live Like a Genius in D.C.


Longtime D.C. resident and independent historian Pamela Long, 71, was formally anointed a genius last week. The MacArthur Foundation granted Long one of its annual "genius grants"—a prestigious award that comes with a $625,000 prize which recipients can spend however they want. Long ,whose research focuses on 15th and 16th century Europe and the history of science and technology, is writing a book on engineering in Rome in the late 16th century. She is currently in Rome doing research, but answered some questions about life in D.C. Wannabe geniuses, take notes. (You can learn more about her research here.)

City Desk: How do you plan on spending your fellowship money?

Pamela Long: Well, first of all I plan to live on it. Many people wake up every morning with intact salaries, but I am not one of them. I live on grants and occasional teaching and in the interstices go back to zero. So this will be quite novel for me. Second, hopefully I can find a way to stretch it out a bit. And finally, perhaps most important, it will allow me to follow my ideas more freely in the sense that I can go to the archives and libraries of Europe whenever I think  I need to work in one or more of them, not just when I have the means to do so. I am a historian of European cultural history and the history of science and technology and although Washington is a mecca of rare book libraries, I also need to work in European libraries. All historians need to go to their sources, wherever they are. And finally, I don't know where this will really take me, but it does give me a sense of greater freedom.

Where were you when you first found out you won a MacArthur Fellowship? What was your reaction?

I was in my apartment working at my desk when I got the phone call.  Since I actually never answer my phone, they had figured out how to make a phone appointment through email.  I was shocked. Stunned. Benumbed.

Read more How to Live Like a Genius in D.C.

Crafty Bastards Is This Saturday and Sunday

Crafty Bastards is Sept. 27 and Sept. 28

It's that time of year again: Crafty Bastards, Washington City Paper's indie arts and crafts fair, takes place this Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 27 and 28, at Union Market.

If you've been before, you know what to expect—handmade prints, clothing, toys, art, jewelry, furniture, stuff for your house, stuff for your bike; basically, Etsy, but in real life (and curated by our expert panel). More than 170 artisans will have booths set up, and we'll also have a beer garden and a big food truck area. And of course, most City Paper writes and editors will be there working, so you can come by and throw hand-screened T-shirts at us if you'd like.

Tickets cost $5 in advance, and you can buy 'em here. Doors are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., rain or shine, though the early weather indications look great.

Also, this year, City Paper publisher Amy Austin has a special offer for any journalists who attend the fair: We'll buy you a beer. Bring your press credential, business card, or an ID that matches a byline or credit you can show us online, and you'll get a ticket good for one round at the beer garden. (And yes, at my insistence, the offer's good for editors as well as reporters, producers, and photographers.)

Cyclist Killed in Shaw Hit and Run This Weekend

A cyclist was struck and killed by a light colored SUV on the intersection of 8th and S streets NW on Saturday around 2:30 a.m, according to the Metropolitan Police Department. The driver fled the scene and the victim, 53-year-old Tonya Reaves, was transported to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Police have not released the circumstances of the accident and say the crash is currently under investigation. The striking vehicle was last seen going southbound on 8th Street NW toward Rhode Island Avenue. There are no bike lanes on that area of 8th and S streets NW, and that particular intersection is a four-way stop in a largely residential section of the Shaw neighborhood.

This tragic accident comes as biking in D.C.—and in urban areas around the country—is at an all-time high. In 2013, census data shows that 4.5 percent of commuters in D.C. biked to work. The Metropolitan Police Department is currently in the middle of a month-long initiative to more heavily crack down on cyclists—and cars that are improperly driving alongside cyclists—that are breaking traffic laws.

In 2012, which is the latest full year that stats are available, 726 cyclists were killed in the country, according to the New York TimesThe Times published an op-ed this weekend explaining how the death of a cyclist can have a "chilling effect" on everyone who frequently commutes on bike. That piece talks about a law-abiding cyclist who was killed in downtown Seattle last month. Although unsettling for cyclists, the piece is worth a read in the wake of this latest accident.

"Getting on a bike in the city is an act of faith in a flawed urban contract, and in beating the odds," the author, Timothy Egan, writes.

We'll update this if we get any more details on the accident or victim. MPD is asking anyone with information to call the police at 202-727-9099 or submit a text tip anonymously to 50411.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery. 

Pigskins Shame Spiral: South Park

Pigskins Shame Spiral: SMH

The Pigskins Shame Spiral is an occasional feature tracking developments related to the name of D.C.'s beloved football team.

Who: Comedy Central's South Park. 

Change the name? Yes, in a South Park kind of way. In a one-minute spot teasing its 18th season, the show lampoons the whole team name controversy. During the spoof, Dan Snyder makes an appeal to Mr. Cartman to stop calling his company name the "Washington [Pigskins]." "Don't you see that when you call your organization the Washington [Pigskins] it's offensive to us.'s derogatory, Mr. Cartman," Snyder pleads. Mr. Cartman's response: "When I named my company Washington [Pigskins], it was out of deep appreciation for your team and your people."

And the icing on the cake? It aired in D.C. during Sunday's Pigskins/Eagles game.

Read more Pigskins Shame Spiral: South Park

District Line Daily: Not in the President’s Front Yard

A morning roundup of news, opinion, and links from Washington City Paper and around the District. Send tips and ideas to

Sign up: To get District Line Daily—or any of our other email newsletters—sent straight to your mailbox, click here.

A man jumped the White House fence and was able to enter through an unlocked door of the building Friday. Consequently, the Secret Service is weighing tighter security measures that could keep people farther away from the White House.


  • Maureen Dowd talks pot politics with Willie Nelson after his show at the 9:30 Club. [New York Times]
  • Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham questioned city officials and expressed skepticism over the findings of an internal review that said the city could not have prevented the disappearance of Relisha Rudd. [WAMU]
  • Mayor Vince Gray is heading to New York to talk about the District's efforts in reducing infant mortality rates. [News4]
  • Who should get your vote for mayor? DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson, according to the Post's education columnist. [Post]


Read more District Line Daily: Not in the President’s Front Yard

MPD Cracks Down on Sidewalk Riding, Rogue Cyclists This Month

The Metropolitan Police Department is in the middle of a month-long campaign to more actively curb scofflaw cyclists.

MPD spokeswoman Gwen Crump says the department increased its enforcement of cycling laws in September, focusing citywide on ensuring that both cyclists and cars are yielding to each other when necessary.

She said in the downtown business district, where riding on the sidewalk is banned, cyclists doing so will be ticketed.

Crump didn't say how many tickets have been issued thus far in September, but as WAMU reported, cyclists have taken to message boards and social media to say they've been nabbed for riding on the sidewalk—a $25 offense.

Read more MPD Cracks Down on Sidewalk Riding, Rogue Cyclists This Month

Pete’s Apizza Uses Washington Football Team Name Six Times in Email, Apologizes

Regulars at Pete's New Haven Style Apizza were served their pizza with a side of local football controversy Friday.

On Friday morning, the D.C. pizza chain emailed out a promotion, telling customers they would receive $1 off any 18 inch pizza for every touchdown the Washington football team scored. In all, Pete's used the team's name six times in its email advertising the "[Pigskins] Score. You Score." promotion.

Customers apparently weren't happy with the chain's use of the slur, and later that day Joel Mehr, one of the owners, sent a follow-up email apologizing.

We sincerely apologize for the use of Washington’s football team’s name in our most recent email. We are listening to all of your feedback, and it was not our goal to offend any of our loyal customers.

"We agree that the use of the name is wrong, offensive, and hurtful to all. In our future promotions and emails, we will make sure not to make the same mistake.

We thank you for your continued support of our business.

Good job Pete's. Good job Pete's customers.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

The Needle: Call Waiting

Generation Doom: This guy camped outside of the Clarendon Apple store for 36 hours to buy the new iPhone 6. 36! And in you case feel like you missed out, the Post has nicely chronicled the best local iPhone wait moments for your viewing pleasure. -2

Balls Out: There is a D.C. Testicle Festival this weekend. Eat up!+1

Read more The Needle: Call Waiting

Photo: From the Series: Lunch Hour


L Street NW, September 16 


Who’s Going to Pay for Extra Metro Service During the Nationals’ Playoff Games?

The first time the Washington Nationals made it to the Major League Baseball playoffs, in 2012, the team quickly turned into the Greedy Nats, refusing to foot the bill to keep the Metro open later if games ran past the subway system's usual midnight closing time during the week.

Because some playoff games start later than run-0f-the-mill regular season games, someone would have needed to put down about $30,000 to keep Metro running for each extra hour in case it was needed. Metro would then have returned some of that deposit depending on how many people rode during that hour. The Capitals, Wizards, and the Washington football team all pay for late Metro use when needed (like it will be next Thursday, when there's a home football game at FedEx Field). But the Nats—the team that landed its sweet publicly financed stadium after the city took out $535 million in bonds to pay for it—said it wasn't their problem and that someone else would have to pay. 

Eventually LivingSocial—then flush and full of tech-boom swaggerswooped in and said it would pay for any necessary after-hours service. That turned out to be a good PR move on the company's part; the bill ultimately amounted to $0.

But now that the Nationals are once again the NL East champions, who will pay for late-night October baseball Metro costs this year if needed?

Read more Who’s Going to Pay for Extra Metro Service During the Nationals’ Playoff Games?

Why Some D.C. Parking Spots Have Astroturf and Cafe Tables Today


There are about 20 fewer parking spots than usual in the District today. The District Department of Transportation is hosting its annual PARK(ing) Day, for which residents and businesses get to rethink how public spaces are used by transforming a parking spot into a pop-up park.

They'll only be up until 3 p.m. today, so grab your lunch and eat it at one of the following temporary parks:

  • Zipcar: 2221 I Street NW
  • Baked & Wired: 1050 Thomas Jefferson St. NW
  • Gensler: 2020 K Street NW
  • Urbanful: 1723 K Street NW
  • Georgetown BID: 1211 Potomac Street NW
  • Georgetown BID: 1034 33rd Street NW
  • Office of the State Superintendent of Education: 810 1st Street NE
  • goDCgo: 1201 G Street NW
  • DC Department of Parks and Recreation: 1250 U Street NW
  • Golden Triangle BID: 1730 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
  • DC Water: 1227 Wisconsin Avenue NW
  • ACE Hardware: 1055 5th Street NW
  • Alba Osteria: 425 I Street NW
  • NoMa Bid: 1st Street NE & Pierce Street NE
  • BicycleSPACE: 1019 7th Street NW
  • NoMa BID: 1100 1st Street NE
  • Council of the District Columbia: 1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW
  • Oculus: 1440 P Street NW
  • RTKL Associates and USGBC: M Street & New Hampshire Avenue NW

Photo via DDOT

Chatter: Smoked Salmon

cover-issue1815-lgWhat you said about what we said last week

Should you play chicken with a salmon? In the last week’s Gear Prudence, bicycling-etiquette columnist Brian McEntee suggested a very genteel approach for dealing with scofflaw riders traveling the wrong way down a bike lane: just exit the lane, and possibly give them a harsh look. Some readers, though, prefer more aggressive tactics: “I definitely hold my line with a determined (not angry) look,” wrote ultrarunnergirl. “The salmon can go into traffic or within inches of parked car doors. On the streets it usually happens, there are always cars driving alongside me.” IMGoph was even more draconian: “The salmoner should go into traffic. They can see if cars are coming toward them and better judge their safety level. If there *is* a car coming? Oh well. One less salmoner. ;)”

Bobby Booshay got more detailed: “Uh, if this is one of our one-road lanes, one bike-lane streets, like Q or R NW, this advice is ludicrous. So I’m going the correct way and you expect me to quickly turn my head—to make sure, you know, there’s no car speeding up to smush me—taking my eyes off the lazy yutz and then enter the roadway. Seems simple enough until when you are checking to see it’s safe, said yutz also veers into the road and you both collide or nearly so. No, no, no, no ,no. My approach is much more simpler and effective. Provided I have time, I slow my speed and yell loudly and clearly, ‘I AIN”T FUCKIN MOVING!’ The salmon’s look of horror at you assert your rights is one of life’s simple pleasures. Sure I usually get a ‘dick!’ or ‘fuck you!’ but I’m not risking injury because you’re too lazy to ride to the appropriate block. YOU veer into traffic; you’re the one creating the havoc; not to mention you can actually see the car traffic.”

LALA pushed back: “If you are going in the direction of traffic, you can proceed in the lane and the potential traffic behind you can slow down yet still continue in the same direction, just like if you were in a street with no bike lane. The salmon would force the oncoming traffic to stop. You can still call the salmon an asshole as you go by (this is very important) but it removes all confusion if you just take the first step and move in the street. This is just another reason why bike lanes shouldn’t exist in the first place and bikes should just occupy the whole lane.”

To reader scotterj2003, the column offered a solution in need of a problem: “I’ve personally never witnessed, or even heard of, a collision like the one described in the column. Even someone who is salmoning is going to take steps to minimize their risk of personal harm...they’re selfish, are they not? So they’ll move out of the way when the time comes.”

But is salmoning occasionally permissible? Reader Nathan identified 15th Street between W and Euclid streets NW as a possible exception: “I find the two bike lanes in the same direction completely unnecessary, so I just take the one on the west side as a south-bound lane.” It’s your life, Nathan!

Marrow Reading

One reader was appalled by last week’s Are You Gonna Eat That? column, for which Laura Hayes tasted the beef marrow with sea urchin, antler mustard, and ink toast at Gypsy Soul in Fairfax. “What is this garbage?” wrote Maru. “In Latin America we feed this crap to pigs.”

District Line Daily: Bowser and Catania Face-Off

A morning roundup of news, opinion, and links from Washington City Paper and around the District. Send tips and ideas to

Sign up: To get District Line Daily—or any of our other email newsletters—sent straight to your mailbox, click here.

Leading mayoral candidates Muriel Bowser and David Catania kicked off the debate season at American University last night with the expected mixture of petty bickering and legislative jabs.


  • A judge rejected D.C.'s request to extend the 90-day stay delaying when the order overturning the city's total ban on carrying a gun in public goes into effect until the city files an appeal of the ruling. [WAMU]
  • The $18 million Southeast Tennis and Learning Center will officially open its doors following a Nov. 7 gala featuring Venus and Serena Williams, who helped sponsor the renovations. [News4]
  • Virginia Republicans rejected a deal to expand Medicaid in the state. [Washington Post]
  • The first Nats playoffs games are expected to fall on Yom Kippur. Area Jews are struggling. [Washington Post]


Read more District Line Daily: Bowser and Catania Face-Off

D.C. Cabs Could See 10 Percent Drop in Ridership This Year, Says Cab Commission

Earlier this week, the Washington Post's Emily Badger wrote about how Uber and other ride-share companies are cutting into the taxicab industry's business in San Francisco. In March 2012—before UberX and Lyft launched in the city—each cab averaged around 1,400 trips per month. In July 2014, that number is around 500 trips per month. Oof.

So how would those numbers look in D.C.?

The D.C. Taxicab Commission is in the process of implementing a Taxicab Information System that would allow the commission to collect trip data for each vehicle. For now, early estimates show that the number of rides has dropped from 20 million in 2013 to a projected 18 million in 2014, a 10 percent dip.

The commission draws the data when it collects a 25 cent passenger surcharge from each cab ride in the city's fleet of approximately 5,700 active cabs. Each cab, according to DCTC spokesman Neville Waters, averages about nine to 10 rides per shift.

Read more D.C. Cabs Could See 10 Percent Drop in Ridership This Year, Says Cab Commission