City Desk

Chatter: Au Revoir, Les Diplomates

compensatoryWhat you said about what we said last week

“Oh good, pretty soon the effin’ NIMBYs of DC are going to cause an international incident.” That sentiment, from Twitter user @grahamwjenkins, is certainly one way to interpret last week’s Housing Complex by Aaron Wiener, a look at the complaints of some D.C. residents that foreign embassies have become overconcentrated in neighborhoods like Kalorama. Both federal and local officials are considering regulations that would make it harder to new embassies to settle in residential neighborhoods, plans that appeal to readers like ndw_dc: “If the chanceries are taking on more and more functions (promoting tourism, trade, etc.) but essentially retain an office rather than residential function, why not simply expand to much of the empty office space available in D.C.?”

Part of officials’ hope is that nations building new embassies will be attracted to the portion of the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center being taken over by the U.S. State Department. Color reader Mike Kendellen skeptical: “In neighborhood presentations the State Department has cited treaty obligations and shortage of space as the primary reasons for the Walter Reed plan but I don’t understand why any embassy would want to be located so far from other embassies and the U.S. government infrastructure starting with the State Department.”

But are embassies really such bad neighbors? Commenter Adam didn’t buy it: “Some of the complaints made by NEMBYs are not to be believed. Florescent lights used inside? Dark windows at night? Goes to show that the rich/entitled of these neighborhoods will complain about ANYTHING, simply because they know they will be listened to.”

But the no-embassies-in-my-backyard set aren’t necessarily being listened to yet. In Kalorama, a listing recently went up for a $22 million home with 10 bedrooms, 14 bathrooms, and a capacious garden. According to its seller, the former Textile Museum is “perfect for an embassy, school, discerning individual.”

Guitar Nitpick

Not every kid who goes to rock camp will mature into a pro, but everyone who reads about it appears to be a critic. In an arts feature on the local Girls Rock! DC summer camp, Perry Stein allowed that some participants may not be “the next Patti Smith, but each girl dressed and played the part of her newly discovered image of a rock star, with the audience eating up every earnest word of it.” Cue this rant from reader anon: “Patti Smith?? You mean the poet turned rock star who never learned an instrument and received nominal voice training when she was being primed for rock stardom? Girls Rock is more about empowerment. Better examples would be Marnie Stern or Tara Key (or Mary Timony for that matter...or countless other technically skilled women who rock).”

Two Hours’ Traffic of Our Pub

Contributor Rachel Kurzius reviewed the Capital Fringe Festival production of R+J: Star-Cross’d Death Match for last week’s issue, and she wasn’t the only one who enjoyed this boozy, bar-bound adaptation of Romeo & Juliet. “The opening on Thursday was a stellar experience,” commented Mikey. “The crowd might make or break it, but the interesting staging and absent boundary between performers and audience made it worth every dime.”

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