The Wizards are pitiful. Looking at the basketball team’s record, it’s hard to argue. The Wizards recently completed a fifth forgettable season, and while it was their most successful campaign in this desolate stretch, they remained at least nine games adrift of a playoff spot. Over these five years, apologists have argued over and over about why things aren’t as bad as they seem. This time they may finally be right. So before calling in to a radio station (“Fire Ernie!”) or rushing to your favorite Wizards blog (“Cut bait on Wall!”), hear me out.
The team has implemented a plan, and general manager Ernie Grunfeld might know what he’s doing.
I am not a crackpot.
Grunfeld built a winner under the late Abe Pollin, only to see everything fall apart. Things got bad. Grunfeld brought in Nick Young and JaVale McGee, talented but immature rookies, and the team scuttled their way to a .274 winning percentage between 2008 and 2010. When Ted Leonsis became majority owner after that season, he decided to retain Grunfeld. The two charted a new plan: Get better by getting worse. To build around the franchise’s new cornerstone, John Wall, they had to shed some dead weight and replace it with the right kind of players. They lost (and lucked) their way into Bradley Beal through the draft, while in the meantime unloading Young and McGee, now talented but immature veterans. The Wizards filled out their potentially elite new backcourt with the kind of players who could help them grow. Martell Webster opened up the offense with his long-range shooting. The duo of Nene and Emeka Okafor provided veteran stability and the interior defense that the team had been lacking for . . . ever.
The plan became clear: Acquire young stars through the draft and surround them with the right complementary players. And if it weren’t for a preseason injury that cost Wall 2½ months, I wouldn’t be explaining away another lost season.
For the first time in years, the Wizards managed to win more often than they lost at Verizon Center. They did this by playing some of the league’s best defense from January onward, even earning some respect from opponents. After years of roster shakeups, next year’s team will look pretty similar to what we saw during last season’s high points. That continuity, plus the addition of a capable rookie (they have the third pick in this summer’s draft) and a useful free agent (fingers crossed), should allow Leonsis and Grunfeld to make good on their playoff goal.
Now if John Wall regresses, Nene breaks down physically, and the Wizards win 20-odd games, I promise I’ll stop trying to convince people to take this team seriously. For a year at least.
This article appears in the June 2013 issue of The Washingtonian.
The National Geographic Channel has announced that it will make a movie of the book Killing Kennedy, which traces the lives of John F. Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald until they fatally cross in Dallas, Texas. The casting that’s been announced so far is intriguing. Rob Lowe is set to play JFK, Ginnifer Goodwin will be First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, and Marina Oswald will be played by Michelle Trachtenberg. More roles are still to be filled, including presumably Lee Harvey Oswald.
Four weeks of filming is scheduled to begin June 10 in Richmond (because it looks so much like Washington, DC). It bears noting that the book on which the film is based was written by Fox News talk show host Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. The film’s producers are O’Reilly, Ridley Scott, David Zucker, and Mary Lisio. O’Reilly and Dugard co-authored a previous bestseller, Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assasination That Changed America Forever.
Casting continues for the film, and local actors who are interested can contact the Erica Arvold casting agency. According to the site, characters still to be cast include President Lyndon Johnson and his wife, Lady Bird, Bobby and Ethel Kennedy, Jack Ruby, Secret Service agent Clint Hill, and another couple dozen individuals who are part of the book and history. On its casting page, the Arvold agency says: “The period for this project is 1963, and we have taken great care to include photos of the real characters below, so please take time to scroll through and submit appropriately.” So, aspiring actors, take note: Here’s a chance to be in a Rob Lowe movie or, at the very least, a Kennedy film.
The film will air on the Nat Geo channel in November to coincide with the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination.
This is not your mother’s mini-golf, and it may not even match what you experienced growing up. The mini-golf exhibition at the National Building Museum, back for a second year, features sensational one-of-a-kind holes on two courses, green and blue, designed by some of the Washington area’s best known architects, landscape architects and contractors. The museum’s president, Chase Rynd, calls the designs “architectural marvels.” Hole three on the green course, for example, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, is holographic—once you stand upon it the buildings emerge from below your feet. Another, from Design Foundry, features a geodesic dome that changes color when the ball hits the mark, and is called the 19th Crater.
It doesn’t require a rainy day to make the indoor courses a smart destination for families or individuals of any age, though players do have to be at least four years old. If you come on Wednesday through Sunday, there’s the advantage of a “backyard barbecue” hosted by Hill Country on the lawn adjacent to the museum’s entrance.
Here’s what you need to know to plan a trip for mini-golf and barbecue:
- The National Building Museum is at Fourth and F streets, Northwest, a block over from the Verizon Center. The nearest metro stops are Judiciary Square on the Red Line and Gallery Place-Chinatown for Yellow and Green lines. There is on-street metered parking.
- Regular hours are Monday through Saturday 10 to 5 and Sunday 11 to 5. The courses will stay open until 9 on June 6 and 27, July 11 and 24, and August 8 and 22.
- The cost is $5 per person, with a discount for museum members.
- Hill Country’s “backyard barbecue” operates Wednesday through Saturday noon to 11 and Sunday noon to 9.
- The program runs through Labor Day.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton demonstrated her popularity by raking in the largest amount of gifts of any Cabinet member at $66,028. The most opulent was a $7,834 emerald-and-diamond necklace from the First Lady of Zambia.
A version of this article appears in the June 2013 issue of The Washingtonian.
The Kennedys and Georgetown are as big a part of Washington legend as Camelot itself. Whether it’s Martin’s Tavern, where JFK reportedly proposed to Jacqueline Bouvier in booth 3, or Holy Trinity Catholic Church, where JFK and Jackie and so many other Kennedys have worshiped, or 3307 N Street, Northwest, where the couple lived at the time he was elected President, the village is a hub of Kennedy lore.
A new and intriguing glimpse of the Kennedys in Georgetown emerged over the weekend. It’s a nine-minute black-and-white video clip of Jackie Kennedy doing an interview on the Home show hosted by Arlene Francis, recorded in 1957. It includes footage of Jackie and her dog charmingly making the rounds of the neighborhood—to the dry cleaner, the grocery store, and Rose Park.
There’s also a compelling moment with JFK himself, talking politics in an almost timeless patois. For context, it’s the moment in the future President’s ascent after being nominated for Vice President at the 1956 Democratic National Convention and actually announcing his candidacy for the presidency, the race he won in 1960. By then he and Jackie had moved to the N Street house.
The home in the clip is at 2808 P Street, Northwest, in a section of Georgetown known as the East Village. It is one of more than a half dozen homes where either Jack or Jackie lived in Georgetown between 1949 and 1964.
Any three-day weekend is a cause for celebration in our book—especially when it’s paired with sunny skies and balmy temps. No matter how you choose to spend the Memorial Day weekend—relaxing on the beach, grilling out in your backyard, discovering the city’s hidden gems—we’ve got plenty of useful information for you to take advantage of.
- Vodka-infused watermelon
- 20 recipes to celebrate spring and summer
- An easy gin drink for a crowd
- A bathing-suit-friendly veggie burger recipe
- 3 easy and delicious strawberry recipes
- Pools in DC, Maryland, and Virginia
- Great day trips
- Hidden gems
- What to do this weekend
- The mayors of Lewes, Ocean City, and Rehoboth Beach
pick their favorite things
- Area farmers markets
- 4 unusual fitness-friendly ways to celebrate
What’s your favorite brunch spot? Where do you go to people-watch? We want your nominations for the best of Washington! Take our survey for a chance to win tickets to our Best of Washington party on July 17.
Finance executive Russell Ramsey—the R in the local investment bank FBR—and wife Norma have put their Great Falls estate on the market for $8 million. The listing for the 12,000-square-foot house reads like something out of an MTV Cribs episode: indoor golf barn, clay tennis court, pool, outdoor kitchen, five-car garage, and two-bedroom, three-bath guesthouse with elevator.
The Ramseys bought the property in 1992 for $1.3 million and are building a new house in McLean along the Potomac River.
Well-known local interior designer Barry Dixon helped the couple decorate the house over the years, adding touches such as antique Waterford-crystal chandeliers and walls lined with Italian fabric. “Upholstering a room in Fortuny—there’s nothing more elegant than that,” Dixon says. “It needed no staging.”
This article appears in the June 2013 issue of The Washingtonian.