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The local radio star’s morning show has built an audience by establishing genuine friendships with listeners. By Andrew Beaujon
Photograph by Dakota Fine.

It’s an unexceptional May night whose possibilities seem more or less drained—the kind of night when even a Nationals game against the woeful Marlins looks like a high point—when Jordana Parra stops outside CBS Radio’s box at the ballpark. Parra has just recognized Tommy McFly’s voice.

After a quick back-and-forth, Parra is invited into the box to meet McFly, who cohosts the weekday morning show on CBS’s local affiliate, WIAD, with Jen Richer and Kelly Collis. Richer snaps a few photos, which later turn up on Facebook, and records a phone greeting for Parra’s son.

Are hugs exchanged? You’d better believe hugs are exchanged. This is a moment to celebrate: The Tommy Show has added a new member to “the Fresh Family.” (WIAD is marketed as 94.7 Fresh FM.) “It felt like I’ve known them forever,” Parra says.

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Posted at 12:30 PM/ET, 08/25/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Undated photo via Library of Congress.

The Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum on the corner of South Fairfax and King Street in Alexandria first started dispensing housemade remedies in 1796 and continued to serve the community for over 140 years. Famed clients included Martha Washington, James Monroe, and Robert E. Lee. When the apothecary finally closed in 1933, the doors were simply locked, leaving behind a treasure trove of herbs, detailed records, natural remedies and organic compounds. Amazingly, much of it has preserved, giving historians a fascinating glance into one of the most important occupations in early American history: the neighborhood pharmacist.

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Posted at 09:55 AM/ET, 08/25/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Photograph by Hong Le.

"Mayor for life" Marion Barry is proving to be just as popular in death. Barry, who passed away in November, lies on a hillside in Congressional Cemetery in a grave that draws a constant stream of mourners, despite the fact that it still lacks a headstone. The four-term mayor, five-time DC Council member, civil-rights leader, and convicted felon is commemorated by a small laminated card attached to a rusted metal stake.

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Posted at 01:19 PM/ET, 08/24/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Looking for a furry friend? One of these cuties—all available at Washington-area rescues—might be your match.

Nicki Minaj came into the shelter as a stray. She is an approximately one-year-old Coonhound-mix; medium-size and medium-energy. Nicki Minaj is an easy-going, happy and affectionate girl. She is currently living with a foster family that has another dog and they get along very well. On occasion, Nicki will attend daycare with her foster brother where she takes cues very well from the other dogs. She is also friendly towards children. Nicki's favorite activities are snuggling, cuddling, giving hugs, and sniffing. She is equally content wandering around the park or lazing around the house. Nicki is also house-trained in her foster home but like most rescues may need a refresher when going to her forever home. She is very eager to please and will be easy to train. To find out more about Nicki, please visit the Rural Dog Rescue website.

Lil Kim is a Chihuahua-mix who is about five years old. She loves to cuddle and meet new people. Lil Kim is a snuggler and a lap dog who will fall asleep in your arms if you let her. She is still getting used to her crate and walking on a leash but is improving every day. She has enough energy for some good play time and two walks a day. But if she isn't playing or looking for affection, she's snoozing. She is defensive around other dogs (especially bigger ones) so she most likely needs to go to a home where she can be the only dog. She also loves being around people more than anything, so her ideal family would be one that is home often. She is pretty good with small children, but untested with cats. If you're looking for a very loving and playful dog, Lil Kim could be the one for you. To find out more about her, please visit the Rural Dog Rescue website.

Bonzo is an affectionate, two-year-old Plott hound, who's fully grown at about 50 pounds. He is a sweet and happy dog who loves people and other dogs. He sits on command, is house trained, and he absolutely loves walks. He is well socialized, smart, and eager to please. Bonzo is highly trainable and will need a small amount of work to learn to contain his enthusiasm while on the leash and not to jump when excited. Bonzo will do best with a family willing to giving him attention and plenty of exercise. He is extremely loyal and will make it worth your while to invest a small amount of time into him. Meet him through K-9 Lifesavers.
This is Titan, a wonderful ambassador of the Shar Pei breed. Some historians believe the breed may go as far back as 206 BCE when they worked alongside farmers in China. Today they’re still wonderful as both working dogs and family dogs, and known to be loyal, playful, super smart, and devoted. Titan is no different, although he can be a little shy at first. He’s a little over a year old and about 38 pounds. He’s already housebroken and learning all the basic commands. He loves tennis balls, walks great on a leash, and he’s learning that people are awesome, but he’s happiest when he’s quietly hanging out with his own people. He'd like to be the only animal in the house so he can have plenty of quiet time and attention to himself. Shar Peis make excellent companions. Meet Titan through K-9 Lifesavers and let him convince you.

Pippa is a friendly, wiggly, one-year-old girl who loves attention. She is always ready for action and eager to engage with people. She enjoys playing fetch and tug, and will curl up in your lap with her favorite chew toy of the moment. Pippa also loves taking long walks but would prefer to skip the dog parks. She is learning a lot (including how to sit and give a paw) from the staff and volunteers at the Washington Animal Rescue League and she yearns for a cat-free home where her family will continue her training and of course give her lots of love and tasty treats. Stop by WARL and meet Pippa soon.

Sweet Caroline, an American bulldog-mix, arrived at the Washington Animal Rescue League from an overcrowded partner shelter along with her puppy, who was recently adopted. At just a year old, she’s a friendly, goofy girl, who loves people and gets along with other dogs, although her exuberant play style may not endear her to all other canines (and may be too much for small children). A nurturing mother, Sweet Caroline is now looking for a loving adult home where she can be pampered and enjoy years of good times with her human companion. Stop by the Washington Animal Rescue League to meet her soon.

Posted at 03:17 PM/ET, 08/21/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()

The European Federation of Journalists sent a letter to Politico CEO Jim VandeHei Thursday, expressing a number of concerns:

  • About reports it "is hiring journalists to cover Europe who are actually based in the 'right-to-work' state of Virginia."
  • What the union characterizes as VandeHei's "refusal to acknowledge the union drive occuring in your own newsroom."
  • And finally, "news reports suggesting that Mike Elk, Labor reporter at POLITICO and union organizer, has been fired." (Presumably, the union means news reports like this one. And this one. And this one...)

Politico Europe launched this past April with an office in Brussels. Reached by email, Elk said he was "just enjoying vacation" and directed me to labor lawyer Bruce Jett for clarity on his employment status. I've requested comment from him, and from Politico, and will update with anything I hear back.

Here's the letter:

European Federation of Journalists Letter to Politico by Andrew Beaujon

Posted at 12:06 PM/ET, 08/20/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Mei Xiang may give birth in next week or so. By Andrew Beaujon
Photograph courtesy Smithsonian's National Zoo.

Veterinarians detected what appears to be a fetus during an ultrasound examination of giant panda Mei Xiang at Smithsonian's National Zoo Wednesday.

The ultrasound image.

Mei Xiang could deliver "early next week, or possibly in early September," the zoo says in a press release, adding: "There is a substantial possibility that Mei Xiang could resorb or miscarry a fetus."

Panda fetuses are very small and difficult to detect via ultrasound. This fetus is about 4 centimeters long, the zoo says. Zoo director Dennis Kelly says he is "cautiously optimistic" about the pregnancy.

The zoo announced earlier this month that Mei Xiang may be pregnant. Mei Xiang gave birth to Tai Shan, a.k.a. Butterstick, in 2005, to a cub that died in 2012, and to Bao Bao in 2013. She has also had several pseudopregnancies.

Posted at 03:20 PM/ET, 08/19/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Photograph by Filip Bjorkman/Shutterstock

The national conversation about the Confederate battle flag focused, in part, on states whose flags evoke its stars and bars or, in the case of Mississippi, incorporate it outright. But closer to home, a subtle symbol of Confederate affinity hides in plain sight on the Maryland state flag.

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Posted at 11:25 AM/ET, 08/19/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
National Park Seminary in the 1930s. Photograph via Library of Congress.

Only a few miles from the DC border, there’s a place that looks like a Mother Goose rhyme collided with the Gilded Age. There’s a Dutch windmill, a Japanese pagoda, and a Swiss chalet. There’s a four-story opulent grand ballroom with vaulted ceilings and oak buttresses. And in the middle of a wooded glen, there’s a vine-covered English castle with a drawbridge.

The National Park Seminary at Forest Glen has undergone many identity changes over its 120 years, and its scattered architecture style reflects that. Today, it is a fascinating place to visit and an even more peculiar place to live.

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Posted at 10:58 AM/ET, 08/18/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Fifth street used to be the center of the Washington legal world. What happened? By Britt Peterson
Future judge John Sirica got his start in an office on Fifth Street. Photo by Dennis Brack/Newscom.

Fifth Street Lawyer /fĭfth-strēt loy-er/ [archaic] An attorney who frequents Judiciary Square and whom, in times of trouble, you call before your spouse.

At one end of Washington’s legal food chain is K Street, home to swells known as lawyer-lobbyists. At the other is a breed known, when we refer to them at all, as Fifth Streeters: the last-ditch criminal-defense attorneys lurking around Moultrie Courthouse at Fifth and C streets, Northwest, waiting to get picked for your trial. Urban Dictionary defines Fifth Street lawyers as “the bottom-feeders in an industry already consisting of scum-suckers.”

But for those who recall the Prohibition era’s vice, outsize characters, and scandalous, high-profile cases, the term has quite different connotations. Fifth Street used to be home to some of the best trial lawyers in DC’s history.

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Posted at 07:00 AM/ET, 08/18/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Photograph by GongTo /

Jeff Bezos runs Amazon, which a New York Times article this weekend described as a fairly horrifying place to work:

At Amazon, workers are encouraged to tear apart one another's ideas in meetings, toil long and late (emails arrive past midnight, followed by text messages asking why they were not answered), and held to standards that the company boasts are "unreasonably high." The internal phone directory instructs colleagues on how to send secret feedback to one another's bosses. Employees say it is frequently used to sabotage others. (The tool offers sample texts, including this: "I felt concerned about his inflexibility and openly complaining about minor tasks.")

Jeff Bezos also owns the Washington Post. But Post spokesperson Kris Coratti says Amazon's hard-driving culture, which the Times article lays at Bezos' feet--"You can work long, hard or smart, but at you can't choose two out of three," reporters Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld quote him as saying in 1997--hasn't implanted itself at his newspaper.

"Jeff's involvement has made it possible for The Post to focus on growth and innovation, and to experiment in new and exciting ways," Coratti writes. "The culture here is built on camaraderie, enthusiasm and empowerment, which has resulted in new products like ARC and 'Rainbow,'"--a digital platform it's developed and plans to sell to other outlets and a digital innovations team, respectively--"as well as our enormous growth in audience, among other things."

Indeed, while the Times article describes many people at Amazon weeping at their desks, the Post's new desks look like they could inspire only joy.

Posted at 01:40 PM/ET, 08/17/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()