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Seriously, is anyone ever this happy about Metro? By Benjamin Freed

Just how excited should you be for the opening of the Silver Line on Saturday? According to Metro’s latest ad for the new train route, residents of newly serviced areas will be tossing out their car keys, doing backflips out their front doors, and dancing to the nearest turnstile.

The commercial, set to Australian indie-poppers Architecture in Helsinki’s “Escapee,” features 30 actors and 15 Metro employees dancing their way to the Wiehle-Reston East station at the far end of the Silver Line in Fairfax County. The opening of a new Metro line is so jubilant, even the guy who gets stranded on the platform at the end keeps jamming as the train pulls out.

The ad will start airing on television on Saturday afternoon when the Silver Line goes into service. Will people be dancing their way onto the first trains? Probably not; Metro’s rules ask customers to refrain from running and horsing around on station platforms. Besides, it might be far more excitement than this dude and his cat could handle.

Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.

Posted at 02:04 PM/ET, 07/24/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Happenings, announcements, and rumors to know about.
Photograph by Ben Rose/WireImage.

“All of my life I have wanted to lead people to an empathy space,” says Oprah Winfrey about The Life You Want Weekend. On September 19 and 20, that space is the Verizon Center as she hosts her traveling motivational show. Oprah presents her own story as well as talks by Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert and controversial Evangelical pastor Rob Bell, among others.

Locally Sourced

Pour out a small-batch kombucha for Tonic in DC’s Mount Pleasant. The restaurant/bar, a reliable spot for a beer and nachos, and its related cocktail lounge, Last Exit, have been sold to neighborhood resident Will Warren, who plans to open Goodall’s Bistro in its place. Warren says his organic menu will cater to vegan, Paleo, and gluten-free diets.

Tempted Twice

If you can’t seem to leave DC’s Union Market without a cool serving dish and a few bottles of artisanal bitters from urban-boho Salt & Sundry, you’re now in double jeopardy. Owner Amanda McClements will launch her second location, at 14th and S streets, Northwest, in late summer. The 850-square-foot shop will open in the 1401 S Street complex, already home to Redeem, Lou Lou, Doi Moi, and Ted’s Bulletin.

Last Look

The museum known since 1869 as the Corcoranwill be turned over to the National Gallery of Art and George Washington University this fall. You’ve got until October 1 to see the museum in its familiar form. The Corcoran’s final exhibits, featuring metal sculptor Albert Paley and visual artist Mark Tribe, open this summer.

High End

Georgetown’s über-luxe canal-facing condo building, 1055 High, will be finished in late fall, according to the developer, EastBanc. The building—named for Wisconsin Avenue’s pre-1895 name—fuses historical architecture with the latest amenities, including a 45-foot pool and a glass-enclosed fitness center on the roof. The three- and four-bedroom units of up to 4,300 square feet (just seven in all) start at $3 million.

Timely Texts

If you’ve already finished Hillary Clinton’s Hard Choices and are looking for other candidates (political or literary), you need only wait till August 19, when New York governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, releases All Things Possible and Wisconsin GOP congressman Paul Ryan lets loose with The Way Forward. Both books are the best indications we’ve had that their authors may run for President.

Big Ten Terps

Do the Midwest’s football powerhouses fear the turtle? Find out October 4, when the University of Maryland Terrapins host their first Big Ten Conference home game, against Ohio State, after joining the oldest Division 1 league last fall. Terps fans can get used to football being serious business and not just a diversion until basketball season.

Photograph of food by Luis Albuquerque/Getty Images. Photograph of Salt & Sundry by Scott Suchman. Photograph of Corcoran by Philip Beaurline/Courtesy of Corcoran Gallery of Art. Photograph of 1055 High courtesy of EastBanc. Photograph of Football Player by CSM/LANDOV.

This article appears in the July 2014 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 02:00 PM/ET, 07/24/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The project will cost an estimated $200 million over the next two years. By Benjamin Freed
DC officials joined Donald Trump and his family in breaking ground at the Old Post Office. Photograph by Benjamin Freed.

In case DC needed reminding that Donald Trump and his family are remodeling one of the city’s most iconic buildings into a posh hotel, the real-estate clan had bells ring over Pennsylvania Avenue when they performed a ceremonial groundbreaking at the Old Post Office. A group of bells stationed in the building’s soaring tower clanged away as the Trumps and city officials stuck gold-colored novelty shovels into a dirt-filled box to mark the start of the Old Post Office’s conversion from dilapidated landmark into luxe destination.

“We will produce one of the great hotels anywhere in the world in the most exciting location—between Congress and the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue,” said Trump, in his typical understated style. “I promise you this will be a truly great—not only hotel, but economic development project.”

The General Services Administration, which manages federal property, awarded the Old Post Office to the Trump Organization last fall. The Trumps plan to spend $200 million over the next two years to convert the 1899 Romanesque Revival pavilion and tower—at 315 feet, DC’s third-tallest structure—into one of their glitzy hotels.

Before picking up their shovels, though, the superlative-happy Trumps and other speakers at the ceremony enjoyed some mutual appreciation. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton said the hotel project will turn “some ugly duckling” into DC’s “first truly luxury hotel.” (Presumably, her remarks were not within earshot of the District’s two Ritz-Carltons, Four Seasons, or the Willard, which is just up the street from the Old Post Office.)

Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, did most of the speaking for her family, returning the praise back on city officials, especially Mayor Vince Gray. “Mayor Gray, you are amazing,” she said.

Pomp aside, Gray said one of the biggest potential benefits of the Trump project is its role in a broader revival of Pennsylvania Avenue as a retail and entertainment destination. The National Capital Planning Commission, the federal agency that oversees the District’s layout, recently launched a program to study the future of the famous corridor, which, while heavy on government buildings and other landmarks, is light on stores and restaurants.

In an interview with Washingtonian, Ivanka Trump said construction will begin within the next week, with a big acceleration by Labor Day.

“You’ll really start to see it in the next month and half,” she said. District officials expect the hotel conversion to create about 700 construction jobs and 300 permanent jobs, with $100 million in additional tax revenue for city coffers over the first ten years. Trump also said her family’s company has already started tinkering with a few parts of the building as its last tenants have left.

“Some of the restoration work we’ve done is amazing,” she said.

The hotel, when finished, will contain 270 rooms that the Trumps say will be bigger than any other hotel in town, averaging more than 600 square feet. The hotel will also include ballrooms, restaurants, meeting spaces, and a spa, all of which the Trumps describe as “extraordinary,” “opulent,” and “super-luxury.”

And there will be more bells. “The next time we’ll hear these bells ringing is when we’re all inside the cortile celebrating the opening,” Ivanka Trump said.

Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.

Posted at 03:33 PM/ET, 07/23/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Davis is wanted in connection with an incident that took place June 2 in Adams Morgan. By Benjamin Freed
Fred Davis at training camp in August 2011. Photograph by Flickr user Keith Allison.

Former Washington tight end Fred Davis is wanted by Metropolitan Police Department on a domestic violence charge, a police spokesman confirms to Washingtonian. Davis, 28, is accused of simple assault in an incident that occurred during the early hours of June 2 on 18th Street, Northwest, in Adams Morgan.

The assault allegation marks another episode in Davis’s turblent, six-year career in Washington. Davis, who suited up in burgundy and gold from 2008 to 2013, was suspended indefinitely by the NFL in February for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. A day later, he was arrested by Fairfax County Police for drunk driving, although a judge dismissed the charge for lack of evidence.

Davis also has a history of domestic assault. A DC Superior Court judge ruled last September that there was a “preponderance of evidence” that Davis assaulted a woman at a DC nightclub in 2011. Davis was ordered to pay his accuser nearly $20,000 after a civil trial.

DC police are asking for the public’s assistance in locating Davis, who lives in Leesburg, offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information that leads to Davis’s arrest and conviction. At six-foot-three and about 250 pounds, he should be hard to miss.

Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.

Posted at 12:59 PM/ET, 07/23/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
He married Pari Williamson in 2010. By Luke Mullins, Carol Ross Joynt

Pari and Quinn Bradlee. Photograph courtesy of New York Social Diary.

The son of Washington’s most prominent media couple is getting divorced from the yoga instructor he married four years ago.

Quinn Bradlee, the son of legendary Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee and hostess and writer Sally Quinn, married Pari Williamson at the National Cathedral in 2010. According to Politics Daily, the couple met in 2009 through one of Pari’s yoga students, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd.

From the start, the couple was thrust into the spotlight. Sally Quinn triggered an uproar when she used her Post column to deflect rumors that she had deliberately rescheduled Quinn and Pari’s wedding to conflict with the wedding of Ben Bradlee’s granddaughter by an earlier marriage. (After the item ran, the Post stripped Quinn of her column in print editions, according to the Washington City Paper.)

At age 14, Quinn was diagnosed with velo-cardio-facial syndrome, a rare condition that triggers a range of neurological and physical anomalies. In 2009, he published a memoir titled A Different Life: Growing Up Learning Disabled and Other Adventures, and he was an associate producer of the 2010 HBO documentary I Can’t Do This But I Can Do That: A Film for Families about Learning Differences.

Although the legal paperwork has not been filed, Sally Quinn confirmed the divorce to Washingtonian, but she refused to answer questions regarding the circumstances of the split. “Quinn and Pari remain very close friends,” Sally says. “We love Pari very much and we still consider her a member of our family.”

In a voicemail message, Pari declined to comment.

Find Luke Mullins on Twitter at @lmullinsdc, and find Carol Ross Joynt at @caroljoynt.

Posted at 08:00 AM/ET, 07/23/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Representative Andy Harris is about to find out what it’s actually like to be DC’s local legislature. By Benjamin Freed
Harris. Photograph via Facebook.

A few weeks ago, Representative Andy Harris—the Maryland Republican who’s trying to strike down the District’s newly enacted marijuana decriminalization law—told WAMU that for people who live “in the federal enclave, then Congress is your local legislature.”

But now a group of DC activists, miffed by Harris’s outright dismissal of the DC Council, intend to make him pay for that remark by taking their municipal complaints to his Capitol Hill office. DC Vote, a group that lobbies for statehood, is asking its members to visit Harris in the Longworth House Office Building with their concerns about potholes, rats, building permits, parking tickets, and other things that DC residents ask their legislators on the council to deal with on a daily basis.

“Since Harris clearly takes our well-being to heart, let’s bring our community concerns to him,” the group says in a press release. “Be creative! Feel free to bring props, but keep in mind that firearms, explosives, and other dangerous materials are prohibited.”

District activists have been trying to mess with Harris since about a month ago when he introduced his amendment that prohibits the District from spending any money on enforcing the decriminalization law—but the 57-year-old anesthesiologist has yet to flinch. His remark about Congress being DC’s local legislature came about a week into a boycott of the Eastern Shore, which sits in his district. So far, Maryland’s coastal communities don’t appear to be feeling any sudden economic hardships, while Harris has taken several opportunities to remind his critics about his medical degree.

DC Vote is asking supporters to gather outside Harris’s office (1533 Longworth) at 11 AM Thursday. His aides did not respond to phone calls seeking comment.

Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.

Posted at 05:16 PM/ET, 07/22/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Obama says he supports statehood, a claim his actions haven’t always backed up. By Benjamin Freed
Photograph by Flickr user Ted Eytan.

President Obama pleased many District residents today by publicly stating his support for statehood for the nation’s capital.

“I’m in DC, so I’m for it,” Obama, an Illinois resident who’s worked in Washington for the past decade, said Monday during an event at the Walker-Jones Education Campus in Northwest. “Folks in DC pay taxes like everybody else. They contribute to the overall well-being of the country like everybody else. There has been a long movement to get DC statehood, and I’ve been for it for quite some time.”

That’s an encouraging statement, but Obama’s record as President isn’t exactly one that shows longtime support for the District’s goal of self-determination. Obama has been rather squishy on the topic over the years, famously trading away DC in 2011 to get a budget deal with House Speaker John Boehner, who insisted on banning the city from funding abortions for low-income women. The president’s concession—“John, I will give you DC abortion.”—is a sore memory for many District residents.

Obama has made many statements since then in support of DC’s goals of budget autonomy and voting seats in Congress, including last week when he threatened to veto a House-passed appropriations bill that contains an amendment aimed at canceling the city’s newly enacted marijuana decriminalization law. The White House also slapped District-issued “Taxation Without Representation” license plates on the presidential limousines last year. But some statehood activists still feel Obama has fallen short.

“Those are both parts of statehood but not the whole thing,” says Josh Burch, who runs a group called Neighbors United for DC Statehood. “Statehood is the only thing that protects us from our enemies and our friends. Barack Obama is our friend, but he’s willing to sell us out.”

In fairness to the President, Burch says there are plenty of members of Congress who voice support for DC statehood but still vote for measures that limit the city’s autonomy, such as Democratic Representatives Jared Polis and Timothy Walz, who cosponsored a statehood bill but also voted last week for an amendment that seeks to overturn local gun laws.

“This problem is not unique to Barack Obama,” Burch says. “It’s something our entire national leadership is willing to be a party to.” Still, Burch says he’s happy to hear the President’s newly vocal support statehood, even if his record is lacking.

One possible reason Obama’s affinity for DC is growing: He might stick around town for a few years after his second term ends so his younger daughter, Sasha, can finish up high school here, as he told ABC News last fall.

“It’ll personalize him to the city,” Burch says. “We’re not just a city with good sandwich joints. Talk is sweet, action is better, and thus far his actions haven’t been that supportive of us.”

Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed

Posted at 04:35 PM/ET, 07/21/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The decision comes after recent bar crawls ended in fights and public nudity. By Benjamin Freed, Maddy Berner
Photograph via Shutterstock.

Bar crawls are something of a civic tradition in Arlington, with events drawing hundreds or thousands of young drinkers looking to get besotted as they skip from tavern to tavern. But a few recent crawls that ended in chaos prompted the Arlington County Board to clamp down on the festivities.

At its meeting Saturday, the five-member board voted to make bar crawl organizers responsible for any additional police costs that their events incur. Several bar crawls have led to fights, public disorderliness, and arrests. A St. Patrick’s Day event that drew about 5,000 revelers ended with 17 brawls, ten people caught urinating in public, and 25 people arrested.

The board gave Arlington County Police an additional $42,000 for bar crawl-related costs after the St. Patrick’s Day chaos, but the hits kept coming. During a Clarendon bar crawl last month, a young man disrobed, jumped into a car to escape police, and, after hitting several parked vehicles, was tasered and restrained by officers. Soon afterward, the Arlington board began to look into regulating county nightlife.

In voting Saturday, board members updated Arlington’s policy on “special events,” which would include the bar crawls that can attract as many as 500 mostly young drinkers, clogging sidewalks and straining the county police department’s ability to monitor them. Besides requiring organizers to cover any county-provided services (such as police and trash pickup), the new law requires them to obtain special-event permits, which would allow the county to regulate how many similar events occur in the area each year and provide enough crowd-control and cleanup help.

Even with the crackdown, the board still acknowledged the role bar crawls play in Arlington, which is home to more than 75,000 people between 20 and 34 years old, one of the highest concentration of so-called “millennials” in the country.

“They are the creative class, and they’re having a good time,” Jay Fisette, the board’s chairman, said before the vote. “These are people that help drive our economy.”

Arlington County spokeswoman Mary Curtius tells Washingtonian the county has been working closely with Arlington businesses, and that they have been receptive to the possible changes. These businesses realize that a safe environment is better for them, too, she says.

Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.

Posted at 12:00 PM/ET, 07/21/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The offer from Dan Snyder’s recently launched charity was dismissed as “bribe money.” By Benjamin Freed

Photograph by Carol Ross Joynt.

A Native American tribe in Arizona met earlier this week with representatives from a foundation run by the Washington NFL team, which came in with an open-ended offer to finance a skate park for the tribe’s youths. But the Fort Yuma Quechan community turned down the blank check, not because it doesn’t need the money, but because tribal members would rather not get help from Dan Snyder.

According to the Arizona Republic, Quechan leaders met Wednesday with the Original Americans Foundation, a charity Snyder launched in March with two purposes: to provide economic assistance to distressed Native American communities, and to distract the general public from the fact that his team’s name is widely considered to be a racial slur against indigenous peoples. A statement released by the Quechan tribe appears to be aware of the latter.

“We will not align ourselves with an organization to ­simply become a statistic in their fight for name acceptance in ­Native communities,” the statement reads. “We know bribe money when we see it.”

Kenrick Escalanti, a Quechan businessman whose company is trying to build the $250,000 skate park, says in a press release that the meeting with the Original Americans Foundation turned sketchy when the charity’s director, Gary Edwards, referred to himself as a “redskin” in a roomful of tribal leaders. Edwards also reportedly presented a rendering showing a skate park decked out in burgundy and gold, but told Quechan officials they could publicly omit the Washington team’s involvement.

The team says the Original Americans Foundation has contributed to 145 projects across 40 tribes.

The skate park is also meant to serve as a memorial to Native American youths who commit suicide, which the federal Indian Health Service estimates affects Native youths three-and-a-half times as often as the population at-large.

Posted at 04:53 PM/ET, 07/18/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
A press secretary was allegedly carrying a nine-millimeter pistol when he came into work today, police say. By Benjamin Freed
Photograph via Shutterstock.

Capitol Police arrested a House staffer Friday morning for carrying a nine-millimeter handgun and magazine into a congressional office building.

Ryan Shucard, the press secretary for Pennsylvania Republican Tom Marino, was arrested at about 9:15 AM when the Smith & Wesson pistol turned up as he attempted to pass through security on his way to work at the Cannon House Office Building, according to a police statement. People entering buildings on the Capitol campus, including badge-carrying employees, are required to pass through airport-style metal detectors.

Shucard is charged with carrying a pistol without a license, which is a felony, and is being held at the Capitol Police’s headquarters. Under DC’s gun laws, which are some of the strictest in the nation, carrying a gun outside one’s home or place of business is punishable by up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

Marino’s chief of staff, Bill Tighe, says Shucard, who lives in Virginia, was placed on an unpaid leave of absence. But Tighe adds that Capitol Police have informed Marino's office that Shucard might have brought the gun to work by mistake.

"They have said to us they have no reason to believe it's anything but an accident," Tighe tells Washingtonian.

Shucard’s arrest bears some similarities to a 2007 incident in which Phillip Thompson, an aide to then-Senator Jim Webb, was arrested after carrying a gun to work. Prosecutors dropped their charges against Thompson after Webb told them Thompson “inadvertently” brought the gun into the Capitol.

Posted at 12:20 PM/ET, 07/18/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()