City Desk

The Needle: D.C.’s Politically Unengaged

 

The Invisible Voters: All the absentee and provisional votes from the April 1 primary have been counted, and it's official: It had the lowest turnout of any mayoral primary since the beginning of home rule in 1974. -7

Best Buds: Robert Griffin III casually poses for a photo with Jeff Thompson, recently known by his shadow campaign sobriquet, Uncle Earl. +6

Read more The Needle: D.C.’s Politically Unengaged

DeSean Jackson Celebrates New Contract with $20K Bottle of Champagne

deseansigning

Pigskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson celebrated his new three-year, $24 million contract Wednesday night at The Huxley with the Washington football team by popping a $20,000 bottle of Moet champagne with teammate DeAngelo Hall.

And it looks like that's not all the fun Jackson had this week. As Loose Lips reported, Jackson posed for a picture with Robert Griffin III and none other than D.C.'s favorite uncle, Jeff Thompson, last night.

Looks like Jackson is making himself at home in D.C.

Photo courtesy of the Huxley

District Line Daily: D.C. Family Feud

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

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The D.C. Council sued the mayor for the first time in a decade Thursday, challenging the mayor's decision to disregard a voter-approved ballot measure that would grant the city more budget autonomy from Congress. But D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan and the Government Accountability Office having issued legal opinions on the measure, saying it has no legal effect and only an act of Congress can change the District's budget process.

LEADING THE MORNING NEWS:

  • D.C.'s current zoning codes were already outdated in 1973. [Greater Greater Washington]
  • Police say the two  men they found near an exit close to Interstate 295 and Pennsylvania Avenue likely died of hypothermia. [Post]
  • Mayor Vince Gray wants criminal penalties added back into the food truck laws. [Washington Business Journal]
  • The long winter could make for an extra intense allergy season. [News4]
  • Mayor Vince Gray launched his rapid rehousing outreach program Thursday, but questions still remain about the program's effectiveness. [Housing Complex]

Read more District Line Daily: D.C. Family Feud

The Needle: House of ZZZZZZ

Reality Bites: A House of Cards veteran is reportedly developing a reality show based on D.C. "up-and-comers," including Hill staffers between the ages of 19 and 29.  -3

Dirty TalkThe blog Stop Requested takes Young & Hungry's latest column about having sex in D.C. bathrooms one step further, imagining what how conversations in said bathrooms could go. A sampling: "Hill Country (Karaoke Edition): “Shhhh, not so loud! I want to hear Wagon Wheel!” +2

Read more The Needle: House of ZZZZZZ

The FBI’s Video Had Chinatown Pose as Shanghai Because That Was Cheaper

Earlier this week, City Desk took a jab at a new FBI video that tries to pass off D.C.'s Chinatown as Shanghai. In a few of the shots, the movie didn't even seem to try to disguise that it was Chinatown: The Friendship Archway, the distinct diagonal crosswalk on 7th and H streets NW, and the AT&T logo at that intersection were all in clear view.

The video, Game of Pawns, which was shot in 2012 and publicly released Monday, is intended as a warning to American students studying abroad about the dangers of getting caught up in foreign espionage activities. It dramatizes the true story of Glenn Duffie Shriver, an American student studying in China who was sentenced to federal prison in the U.S. in 2011 for attempting to provide national defense information to Chinese officials.

But City Desk spoke today to the project's art director, Eric Hunsaker, who thinks some of the criticism the FBI's work has gotten is a bit harsh and not entirely accurate. Yes, he concedes, the Friendship Arch is a dead giveaway for Chinatown, but there were a number of scenes that were a lot more subtly shot in the D.C. area—and may have even passed for Shanghai, or at least didn't immediately take the viewer to the Verizon Center.

For instance, the university that Shriver is studying at in China is actually the grounds of the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center off Georgia Avenue NW. The club in Shanghai where Shriver parties with a friend? That's Lima Lounge on 14th and K streets NW. And the hotel where Shriver meets another character, Amanda? That's the Hilton in McLean.

Hunsaker says they considered sending the main character and cinematographer Johnny Saint-Ours to Shanghai to film a few scenes, but that got too expensive. (According to his IMDB profile, Saint Hours also works on HBO's Skin to the Max, a documentary series that looks at "hot and erotic world of real sex clubs.")

"Like most decisions this one came down to dollar and cents," Hunsaker says. "[The film's production company Rocket Media] does a remarkably good job, they are creative and resourceful, but at the end of the day they are in business." Read more The FBI’s Video Had Chinatown Pose as Shanghai Because That Was Cheaper

Get Ready for the Inaugural Cannabis Awards Tonight

Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells will take home a Vanguard award tonight—surely a worthy consolation prize for a man who just lost the mayoral race and is out a D.C Council seat.

The award will be presented at the inaugural DMV Cannabis Awards Event, which celebrates people who have worked to reform marijuana laws in the region. The actual award is a plaque, and there is no cash prize.

The event is intended to bring together leaders in the marijuana reform movement from D.C., Maryland, and Virginia and it was organized by the DC Cannabis Campaign, Virginia NORML, and Maryland NORML—groups that lobby to reform marijuana laws. Together, the groups formed the new DMV Cannabis Coalition.

"We wanted to do 4/20 event, but we didn't want to do it on Easter, so we're doing it on 4/17," says Adam Eidinger, the chair of the D.C. Cannabis Campaign, the group pushing to legalize marijuana in D.C. through a November ballot initiative.

Read more Get Ready for the Inaugural Cannabis Awards Tonight

District Line Daily: The Last Picture

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

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The financially strapped Filmfest D.C.'s 28th and likely last year kicks off tonight with a line-up of more than 80 films over the next 10 days, including the opening-night selection of The Grand Seduction and the closing-night film The Bachelor Weekend. Read our guide of what to see and what to skip.

LEADING THE MORNING NEWS:

  • D.C. is apparently "full of freaks" who like to have a lot of sex in a lot of restaurant bathrooms. Jessica Sidman investigates. [Young & Hungry]
  • Is the expensive and sparsely attended Emancipation Day festivities worth all the taxpayer money, or is it an event that mostly honors its proprietor, At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange? [Loose Lips]
  • Can and should the D.C. government put hundreds of more families in rapid rehousing? [Housing Complex]
  • The D.C. Council will sue Mayor Vince Gray and CFO Jeffrey Dewitt to determine whether they are violating a voter-approved budget-autonomy law that would allow the D.C. government to spend billions of dollars without much congressional oversight. [Post]

Read more District Line Daily: The Last Picture

The Needle: Balls Out

Ball Gall: A Ballston cafe's logo, which is plastered on its front window, looks just like a penis. But despite ridicule from Yelp reviewers and passers-by, the restaurant is sticking by it and won't take it down. +3

Caffeine High: Today in completely arbitrary national rankings, a D.C. coffee shop was named as one of the top 50 coffee shops in the country by the Daily Meal. Congrats, Peregrine Espresso! +2

Read more The Needle: Balls Out

How One D.C. Man Became the Face of Jury Duty

andrewferguson

Andrew Ferguson just starred in his first movie. There was a director, professional makeup, and free lunch on set, but the script focused on the rather un-Hollywood subject of jury duty—a seemingly dull topic that galvanizes Ferguson more than it does just about anyone in this country.

Ferguson, 42, a D.C. native and University of District of Columbia law professor, stars in the D.C. Superior Court's newest orientation video for jurors, "We the People: A Call to Duty."  The 22-minute video, which made its debut Feb. 24, is shown twice a day in the juror's lounge on a half dozen or so screens to each summoned District juror. The video features dramatic music, clips from old American movies, and jurors played by actors. Ferguson starts off the video by talking to the jurors who, like most jurors, are serving begrudgingly. He responds to their complaints by extolling the virtues of jury duty—a process that he calls "foundational to the American legal system." The rest of the video explains to the jurors the process of serving on a jury and what their days on a jury will be like.

In real life, Ferguson is even more passionate about jury duty. He jokes that he's become the face of jury duty, but with little competition for that quasi-laudatory title, he sort of is.

Prior to his academic career, Ferguson worked as a public defender in D.C. It was there, he says, that he realized the importance of jury duty. He saw that the 12 people deciding the fate of the person on trial all took their responsibilities seriously. They sat across the table from each, talking and deliberating with each other. It is the only place, Ferguson says, that the wealthy lobbyist from K Street and the low-wage worker from east of the river work together as equals.

"The D.C. jury room is one of the most democratic places in all of D.C.," Ferguson, who has never served on a jury, says. "The moment can be transformational."

In 2013, he wrote a book about jury duty—Why Jury Duty Mattersthat explains the constitutional meaning and importance of jury duty and employs anecdotes from his time as a D.C. lawyer. It's the first book ever written for jurors on jury duty service, according to Ferguson's UDC bio.

"There are 10,000 books on cats, but none on jury duty," he says. "As a society, we don't do a good job of explaining why jury duty is important."

Read more How One D.C. Man Became the Face of Jury Duty

Photo: Emancipation Day

Emancipation Day

Freedom Plaza, April 16

 

Washington Monument Starts Taking Tour Reservations Today

Now that the scaffolding that made the Washington Monument the best unintentional art installation in D.C. are gone, the 555-foot structure is getting ready to open back up for business.

Starting today, the National Park Service is accepting reservations to go inside the monument. It's currently shuttered for repairs due to the 2011 earthquake and is scheduled to reopen for tours on May 13, 2014.

In order to get tickets, people can order them here (tickets are technically free but there is a $1.50 service charge per ticket), or they can get same-day tickets on a first-come, first-served basis every morning starting at 8:30 a.m. at the Washington Monument Lounge. These tickets usually go fast.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery.

District Line Daily: The Parade Marches On

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

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

Mayor Vince Gray's office threatened to derail the Emancipation Day parade when the event's chief booster, At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange, went $116,000 over budget for the sparsely attended event. But on Tuesday, the mayor's office agreed to swallow the costs for today's parade. In exchange, the D.C. Council said it would hand over control of the event to the mayor's office next year.

LEADING THE MORNING NEWS:

  • Three more D.C. firefighters will be charged in connection with the death of Medric Mills. They'll each face an individual trial board hearing next month. [News4]
  • District officials are considering creating carpool and toll lanes on part of the 14th Street bridge and other parts of city highways next year. [Post]
  • The District's DMV will start issuing licenses to undocumented residents next month. [WAMU]
  • Gay Democrats will have to decide in November's mayoral election whether they want to vote for their party or vote to elect the city's first gay mayor, independent David Catania. [Post]

Read more District Line Daily: The Parade Marches On

The Needle: Save the PBRs

Chopped House: Mythology Modern Chop House/Lore Lounge is opening on H Street NE next year and wants to start a wave of more upscale eateries and bars in the area. First, there are already upscale places there. And second, that sounds like a terrible idea—everyone loves tater tots and PBR. -4

Puff College: And the commencement speaker for Howard University this year...Sean Combs, also known as P. Diddy, Puff Daddy, and Diddy. There's some potential for a quote-worthy speech here. +3

Read more The Needle: Save the PBRs

T-Rex Successfully Arrives in D.C., Droves of Visitors Pack Natural History Museum

A bronze replica of the T-rex

A bronze replica of the T-rex

The 66-million year old bones of a Tyrannosaurus rex from Montana, called the Nation's T. Rex,  were successfully transported to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History today in 16 crates. The crates were moved into the 1,830-square-foot Rex Room and, for the next few months, workers will document, photograph, and assess the conditions of the bones.

Visitors can still go to the exhibit, which opened today, as staffers work on it. Museum spokesman Ryan Lavery says the museum didn't track how many people visited the Rex Room today, but there was a big outreach to get visitors inside and people were walking through "in droves." The Museum of Natural History sees about 8 million visitors each year.

The Nation's T. Rex was discovered in Montana in 1988 and is on loan from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for 50 years. It's one of the largest and most complete T. rex specimens ever discovered, with 80–85 percent of the skeleton recovered, according to a Smithsonian press release.

It will eventually be the centerpiece of the museum’s new 31,000-square-foot dinosaur and fossil hall, which was established in part by a $35 million donation from David H. Koch and is slated to open in 2019. The current dinosaur hall closes April 27.

Photo via Smithsonian.

 

Stupid Ranking: The Best Place for D.C. Millennials to Live Is Clarendon

clarendonballroom

A new ranking finds that D.C. is the third best city in the country for millennials. And the best neighborhood within D.C. for these 20- and 30-somethings: Clarendon in, well, Arlington.

The list from Niche.com takes into account demographic data like median income, median rent, percentage of the population between 25 and 34 years old, and crime rates. It also includes the results from surveys that Niche.com has conducted in the past, including best place to shop and best nightlife.

The District ranked third on the list behind New York and Austin. So how did Clarendon, an area that is not even in D.C., become such a hot destination for millennials?

For starters, it's representative college, according to Niche.com, is Georgetown University. (That's a plus.) The median income in the Clarendon/Courthouse area is $108,132, compared to the $52,762 national average. Fifty-three percent of residents there are between the ages of 25 and 34 and 48 percent have a master's degree or higher. The median rent is $1,788, according to Niche.com. In the entire D.C. area the median rent is $1353, and in Columbia Heights, for instance, the median is $1,433.

Lest we forget, back in September, there was a rental listing for a glorified frat house in Clarendon that proudly touted its drinking-game-friendly yard. More recently, the Clarendon Metro stop was named the Best Metro Stop for Drunken Disasters at 2.am. by Washington City Paper.

Read more Stupid Ranking: The Best Place for D.C. Millennials to Live Is Clarendon

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