Sunday, March 31, 2013

I refuse to post these to the front page of Wikipedia any more. But I will post them here.
Did You Know ... that the script for the 1959 film Ben-Hur contained just three words ("the chariot race") to describe the film's most vivid action sequence -- and it took a year of planning, 78 horses trained for six months, 18 custom-built chariots, 200 miles of racing, and five weeks of filming (spread over three months) to put those three words on screen?

I refuse to post these to the front page of Wikipedia any more. But I will post them here.
Did You Know ... that the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery was originally the Hemicycle -- a ceremonial gate to the cemetery built in 1932 but never finished?
My word, but those Easter Bunnies breed like rabbits!

It cracks me up!!!

The Easter Bunny tied one on last night. He sure looks like shit today......

Saturday, March 30, 2013

A lot of people are up in arms about the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial.

As you may know, Congress authorized a memorial to the general and late president in 1999. A commission was formed, a site chosen, and after a competition in which only a limited number of established designers were invited to submit, the commission chose Modernist architect Frank Gehry for the memorial. Gehry's design consists of three hundred-foot high semi-transparent aluminum screens held up by thick tan columns designed to screen the memorial from the U.S. Capitol (up the street), the Lyndon B. Johnson Department of Education Building (behind it) and anyone down the street (toward the southwest). Imprinted on these screens will be trees. On the south (long) side of the memorial will be a low wall with inscriptions from various Eisenhower speeches. As you look to the south, to the right will be free-standing sculptures based on a famous photo of Eisenhower talking to troops during World War II. Behind the sculpture will be two gigantic rectangular blocks, one on top of the other, slightly askew, with more inscriptions from Eisenhower speeches. On the left, a similar set of blocks -- framing a sculpture of Eisenhower as President standing with a globe (also based on a famous photo).

Not a lot of people like it. Republicans in Congress loathe it. The most members of the Eisenhower family have publicly condemned it (even though extensive revisions were made). Several "city beautiful" groups have come out against it. Many members of the public find it boring and the screens overpowering. (No one likes the screens. Not anybody.)

In mid-March 2013, members of Congress called for the Gehry design to be rejected, and the competition opened to all comers. The Eisenhower Commission rejected this, and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) immediately went on record blasting away at that request. They are calling it censorship, fascism, interfering with artistic integrity, etc. etc. etc.

Well, let's all calm down a bit.

It's not like artistic competitions haven't gone wonky before, and the winner rejected. It's happened quite a bit here in D.C. The Washington Monument that you see today is actually an incomplete version of the monument that got approved. The Lincoln Memorial you see today was the winning design -- except that it was so controversial that the Lincoln Memorial Commission opened up the competition again, and looked at two other designs (one by John Russell Pope for the West Potomac Park site, and one by John Russell Pope for Meridian Hill Park).

The winning design for the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial was a huge temple-like structure with gigantic fountains. Oh, you don't know where that is? Because it never got built: Everyone hated it so much, the winning design was "censored" (according to the AIA) and the ugly, fascist thing never built. Teddy's cousin, Franklin, didn't fare much better. The original design consisted of five, hundred-foot-high rectangular blocks of granite towering in the air, each inscribed with a single gigantic image of Roosevelt and an inscription from one of his speeches in ten-foot-high letters. It got rejected. The second design consisted of hundred-foot-high triangles set at angles to one another (like blades in a turbine fan). In the middle of it all was a forty-foot-high granite cube. That got rejected, too. Finally, after 20 years, the FDR memorial that you see today got chosen -- and, thankfully, accepted.

And don't worry: the Jefferson Memorial originally looked like the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial (the same guy, John Russell Pope, designed both of them), When his winning design got rejected, he turned it into a huge U. When that winning design got rejected, he made it shorter lengthwise but just as stultifyingly tall. That winning design got rejected. He then proposed a massive domed square temple, with two Roman temples as outbuildings. That winning design got rejected. Finally, Franklin D. Roosevelt himself intervened. An amateur architect, Roosevelt designed the small memorial you see today. And that's what got built. (By then, Pope was dead. His wife sued the government so they couldn't use his designs anywhere else. Like anyone would want to...)

* * * * * * * *

So, William Tecumseh Sherman died on February 14, 1891. Within days, the Society of the Army of the Tennessee -- a veterans' group for those who served in the Army of the Tennessee (which Sherman commanded) -- began planning for a memorial to their late commander. On July 5, 1892, Congress enacted legislation establishing the Sherman Monument Commission. In 1895, the Sherman Memorial Commission issued a call for proposals. A committee of the National Sculpture Society agreed to judge the submissions.

When the competition closed on December 31, 1894, 23 sculptors had submitted proposals. These included:
  • Paul Wayland Bartlett: A plinth with a deeply cut bas-relief of Sherman, with statues of "War" and "Study" on the sides.
  • Henry Jackson Ellicott and William Bruce Gray -- an Ionic pedestal inscribed with the name "SHERMAN".
  • Adrian Jones -- An equestrian statue.
  • Fernando Mirando -- An elliptical Greek Revival temple.
  • I. Mullgarde -- A park with four columns in the corners.
  • Charles Henry Niehaus -- A pedestal with exedra.
  • Victor Olsa -- A pedestal with bas-relief panels.
  • William Ordway Partridge -- An equestrian statue.
  • J. Massey Rhind -- A monumental pyramid inscribed with the name "SHERMAN".
  • Carl Rohl-Smith -- An equestrian statue atop a tall pedestal, with figures of "War" and "Peace" on two sides. At the four corners, statues of the four types of military men who served in the Civil War (infantry, artillery, engineers, and sailors). Around the base, a mosaic naming all the battles Sherman was in.

All the proposed memorials were exhibited in Washington, D.C., to large crowds. The submission by Carl Rohl-Smith generated the most popular acclaim.

The National Sculpture Society (NSS) judging committee consisted of Daniel Chester French (who sculpted the statue of Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial), Augustus Saint-Gaudens (who sculpted a statue of Sherman in New York City, as well as the wildly popular funerary monument "Grief"), and John Quincy Adams Ward (General George Thomas Monument, George Washington Statue in front of NYC's Federal Hall, James A. Garfield Monument, pediment of the New York Stock Exchange Building). No slouches, these.

The committee narrowed the submissions down to a short list of four: Bartlett, Niehaus, Partridge, and Rhind. The submission by Carl Rohl-Smith did not make the short list. In fact, it was ranked almost dead last by the NSS committee.

In May 1895, the Society of the Army of the Tennessee overruled the NSS judging committee and chose the Carl Rohl-Smith design. The National Sculpture Society was outraged, and screamed censorship, bribery, malfeasance, and an attack on "true art" by the unwashed masses. Rohl-Smith was accused of using political influence to win the commission, an accusation he vehemently denied. After two months of protests, the National Sculpture Society ceased to contest the award.

What was all the hubub about, bub?

Well, let's take a look:

Here is the submission by Charles Henry Niehaus.....
Well, no, not really. An exedra is a stone bench, and descriptions of the monument indicate it was curved and had small statue groupings (we don't know what these were; women and children needing protecting, one assumes) on either end. On a pedestal in the middle was a statue of Sherman. Niehaus built one almost exactly like it for the William McKinley Memorial in Ohio in 1902. (Niehaus just re-used his Sherman design.)

Here is the submission by Henry Jackson Ellicott and William Bruce Gray.....
Well, sort of. Their pedestal was in the Ionic design, which is very straightforward. It was close to 30 or 40 feet high, and set in a spartan plaza. The idea was to convey how simple and honest Sherman was as a man. (Pedestal monuments were all the rage at the time.)

Here is the submission by J. Massey Rhind.....
Well, sort of. I can't find an actual drawing of his proposal. They do exist, I just can't find one. But art critics at the time described it as a typical granite pyramid that was very elongated. It was massive, something like 50 feet on a side.

Here is the submission by Paul Wayland Bartlett.....
Yup, this is his actual sketch for the monument.

Here is the submission by William Ordway Partridge.....
Well, kind of. I can't find an actual drawing, but press and art critic reports say his equestrian statue was pretty much just like Rohl-Smith's pedestal and statue.

It's not entirely clear which, if any, of these five designs the NSS judging committee preferred. It's clear that three of them just weren't worth it, and the Patridge and Bartlett designs are just stripped-down versions of what Rohl-Smith submitted.

So what did get built? See below....

See? It's not so bad when the unwashed masses reject snobby art's submission.

The Easter Bunny has fallen and he can't get up!

Oh, why oh why won't somebody help the hippity-hop??

I know it's blasphemous. But it made Jesus laugh a lot.

I refuse to post these to the front page of Wikipedia any more. But I will post them here.
Did You Know ... that the nearly $1 billion CityCenterDC was financed almost entirely in cash?

Friday, March 29, 2013

In August 2009, I looked back at the "Did You Know" DYK submissions I was able to make to Wikipedia. The site has a section on the front page that presents some of the encyclopedia's most recent articles, and lists an interesting factoid from that article. My look-back investigated how many people actually clicked on the front-page link, and went to the article in question.

In part, click-throughs are an indication of how sexy, shocking, puzzling, or awe-inspiring the hook is. Certain parts of the year (dog days of August, Christmas, etc.) are poor for generating interest in Wikipedia, and thus poor for getting attention to your DYK. DYKs at the top of the list (which have a picture) get more click-throughs than those at the bottom. (There are only eight DYKs per eight-hour period, but "ballot fatigue" is a pretty amazing thing.) But click-throughs also occur because people are interested in the article itself.

For any writer, ego is key. You want those ego-strokes from people saying, "My god, this is the best thing I've read since God talked to Moses!" (That's a line from a movie; name the film.) And since it's easy to collect page views on Wikipedia, you don't even need that. Just look at the "History" tab and see what the page stats say. Number of viewwers = numbers of people stroking my ego.

Up to April 2011, the most popular DYK I'd ever had was for the George Washington Masonic National Memorial, which got 13,800 page views after a radical upgrade in March 2011. I've exceeded that once now.

The things I've written about which people seem to like? Heated and pressurized dirt (22,121), abused child slaves (13,200), deadly plants (12,800), weird landscapes (12,705), hotels (8,768), a pit full of bones (8,331), a cross-dresser's building (8,173), Halloween candy (7,700), a flooded place on the river (7,639), Civil War-related stuff (7,621), building complexes (7,592), weird sex acts (7,421), burial memorials (7,253), and grasshoppers attacking cities (7,000).

Halloween-related posts tend to do well, as do articles about buildings, dams, towers, and that sort of thing. (Architectural fetishists of the world, unite.)

I mention all this because I just had my biggest DYK in more than a year (for Washington Harbour).

The list below shows all the DYKs I've made between August 15, 2009 and March 29, 2013. They're listed in chronological order (most recent at top). I basically stopped submitting my articles to DYK in August 2011, because DYK became so fucked up and rule-bound. But occasionally, someone else wants to submit my work, so I continue to get DYKs.

The list is behind here..........

So, this is the Kennedy Center as built:

And this is the Kennedy Center that was proposed:

Edward Durrell Stone's original design for the theater complex was a circular one -- something like a white marble Oreo cookie. The original plan was to have a large underground complex of rehearsal space, storage, offices, green rooms, classrooms, theater labs, and one and possible two avant-garde theaters. (At the time, theater-in-the-round; performances on thrust-stages; and traverse staging were uncommon and considered avant-garde.) There was also a parking garage. This massive space, two stories in depth with 50-foot ceilings (the parking garage was three stories deep), would be completely hidden from the public. The "Kennedy Center" above it was only about half the size of this vast underground complex, so that large park-space could occupy either side of the theater.

Even so, the Kennedy Center which Stone envisioned was nearly double the size of the one that was built.

Read more about what might have been................................

Nice eggs...

Bet he fucks like a bunny.

Basically, Jesus likes coming down on Good Friday, partying, getting naked for the crowd, and showing off his junk.


I made the "Did You Know...?" section on the front page of Wikipedia yesterday. Not by choice, because I don't submit my work to DYK any more. (The process merely tortures contributors, it no longer promotes good work.) But someone else thought it was good, and submitted it to DYK.
...that the postmodern architecture of the mixed-use development Washington Harbour been described as "pop art" and "cartoonish"?


Thursday, March 28, 2013

I have a question for you: Do you like how the Kennedy Center looks???

This is the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. It's pretty much an instantly recognizable building to most people in the United States.

The need for a massive public auditorium in Washington, D.C., had long been a dream of civic promoters since the 1930s. Although there were several organizations in town which had big auditoriums -- notably the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Hall -- the problem was these places were often not as big as what was wanted. Furthermore, such places were often run by racists or right-wing nuts, and the federal government and the city wanted a place that could be used by people of all races and all political stripes. The problem was that there was already something on the planning board, but it wasn't finished. This was the "George Washington Memorial Auditorium", which was run by a bunch of blue-bloods in town. George Washington had long said that, when he died, he did not want any monuments built to him. But if the public was dead-set on a memorial, he asked that it be either 1) a great university in Washington, or 2) a public auditorium. Well, "Columbian University" had existed since the 1830s, but it was going nowhere fast. It had finally found a permanent home in a set of small buildings in Foggy Bottom, and was in the process of changing its name....... to George Washington University. Yup.

The blue-bloods, though, were tired of Columbian University's dicking around. They were trying to raise funds for a gigantic Neoclassical auditorium, and Congress had given them permission to build this monstrosity on land on Pennsylvania Avenue NW near the capitol itself. Now, if you go to this site today, the National Gallery of Art's east and west buildings are there instead. Why? Because by 1935, the toffy-nosed twits had raised only enough money to lay a cornerstone and build foundations. When the federal government began building Federal Triangle, it told the wealthy of the city to fish or cut bait. By the time the government got to the end of Federal Triange in the mid-1930s, the city's rich still hadn't raised dime one. Those foundations were crumbling and full of weeds. The government took back the land, and built the National Archives and Apex Building on the northern part of this land. Mega-wealthy Andrew Mellon donated his vast art collection and about a bazillion dollars to the federal goverment to establish a National Gallery of Art. Work on the building began in 1937 (Mellon died while they excavated the foundations), and it was finished in 1947. The museum's growing collection demanded new space, and in 1968 I.M. Pei designed the Modernist East Building to add to the National Gallery of Art. It was completed in 1978.

Read more about the Kennedy Center here, what architects say, and more about my question

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


The Wikipedia edit-a-thon at the Washington Historical Society in Washington, D.C., got a big write-up in the Washington Post today. Yay!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Frank Gehry made some minor changes to his proposed Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial in May 2012.

The Eisenhower Memorial Commission has been roiled by controversy since the initial design was unveiled in 2011. The public hates it, a group has formed to get Congress to remove any legal authority to build it, and David Eisehower (who voted in favor of the design three times) has resigned from the Memorial Commission. The Eisenhower family has attacked the design as evocative of Soviet and Nazi architecture -- with the massive columns looking like missile silos -- and for failing to depict adquately the adult life Eisenhower.

The original design depicted Eisenhower as a barefoot boy leaning back on a curving wall at the rear (Maryland Avenue side) of the memorial. Text from his homecoming address (delivered in Abilene, Kansas) was on the wall behind this statue. On either side of this statue were two massive, 25-foot-high, 15-feet-deep stone blocks. The east block depicted a famous photograph of Eisenhower as President, leaning on a globe. The west block depicted Eisenhower as Supreme Allied Commander - Europe addressing the 101st Airborne troops just before D-Day. Behind all three sculptural items was a 10-foot-high wall. Behind the "Ike as President" sculpture, the wall contained a quote from his farewell address. Behind the "Ike as General" sculpture was a quote from his stirring Guildhall address, delivered in London less than a month after the defeat of Nazi Germany.

* * * * * *

Gehry's latest revision changes the central sculptural details, but does not abandon the giant metal screens so evocative of missile silos and fascist architecture.

Gone is the homecoming address and the sculpture of the boy.

The left block is not nearly as deep (although it is still some 25 to 30 feet high). Instead of a bas-relief sculpture, the eastern block will have an actual, larger-than-life, free-standing sculpture of Eisenhower leaning on the globe in front of it (on a slight two-foot-high dais). The block behind the sculpture is broken horizontally down the middle, and slightly misaligned to get rid of that bland, no-energy feel. The upper part of the block will now contain the quote from the farewell address. The western block will look the same, with free-standing sculptures of Eisenhower and the 101st Airbone troops. The wall in the rear will have only "DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER" as its inscription.

Gehry remains firm in his desire to screen his memorial from the bland, ugly Lyndon B. Johnson Department of Education building in back of it, and from the even uglier Wilbur J. Cohen Federal Building to the east (it originally housed the Social Security Administration, but now houses parts of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Voice of America). He has refused to alter the height, design, or look of his columns and tapestries.

I remain unconvinced.

The approved plan for the design of the city advocates destroying this park and allow Maryland Avenue SW to return to its regular, straight course. That's what should still happen. Yes, the ugliest buildings in D.C. should come down (that includes the FBI Building and the HUD Building, which are even uglier than these two, if possible). But, quite frankly, if a beautiful and stunning building went up, Gehry still would want to screen them from his memorial -- because, to Gehry, it's all about his memorial, which needs to be seen in isolation from the world around it. Having a big, beautiful building behind it or to the side would be distracting. Gehry can't have that!

This identifies the real problem with the memorial: The site is completely wrong. The only reason why this site was chosen was because it was "close" to the National Mall. And Republicans simply could not tolerate the fact that their "greatest" president as going to have a memorial somewhere off the National Mall. They have to have acres and acres of ground of the Eisenhower memorial; they couldn't have just one acre. They had to have a monumental design (placing Eisenhower on par with Lincoln!).

I have a really deep problem with Frank Gehry's design. Anyone who desires to isolate his memorial from its surroundings is a fool. A memorial has to be integrated with the things around it. "Screening" it is not the answer. And yet, that's exactly what Gehry wants to do. The city and the people of the United States will come to deeply regret Gehry's screens, if they move forward. (I find it amusing that the Eisenhower Memorial Commission keeps depicting the memorial in paint with the huge 100-foot-high columns as if they were just 30 feet high.)

But my views don't matter. What matters is the National Capital Planning Commission, who has to approve the design changes. Given that the NCPC has no problem with the screens, the worst part of the memorial is going to remain.

Monday, March 25, 2013

On April 9, 2012, the Washington Post -- not known for its architectural perspicacity -- issued an editorial advocating that the proposed Dwight D. Eisenhower National Memorial proceed.

The Post contradicts the position it took with the recent Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. In that case, the newspaper said that the MLK memorial was too important a national symbol for the arguably arrogant wording on the memorial ("I was a drum major for peace...") to stand. Even though the memorial committee had included the King family in the design process and given other memorial committee members like Maya Angelou plenty of time to review the wording, that wasn't enough. The Post correctly said that sometimes following the process isn't good enough; it's outcomes that matter.

The April 9 Post editorial about the Eisenhower memorial is completely off-base. The newspaper says "The process included everyone, even one Eisenhower. The National Capital Planning Commission has signed off on it. The Commission of Fine Arts has signed off on it. It's finished. Let it go forward."

Sadly, the Post seems to ignore the history of both bodies. The Post cites Frank Lloyd Wright's condemnation of the Lincoln Memorial -- without putting that into context. Wright would have condemned any Neoclassical monument. Quoting him is setting up a straw-man to knock down.

The facts are that the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) and the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) have both approved horrendous designs for memorials in the past.

The facts are that the NCPC and the CFA have both been forced, in the past, to alter approved designs so that the designs fit better with the existing Neoclassical design framework of the District of Columbia. (Like it or not, that's the design scheme for the city.)

The facts are that the NCPC and the CFA both rushed this design process forward because they dicked around for three decades first. Now, under political pressure to get the memorial built before "all of Ike's old soldiers croak" (that's really what both the NCPC and CFA have said), the NCPC and CFA have pushed forward a memorial that cannot be removed and cannot be easily altered.

The facts are that the NCPC's original plan for the city advocated re-opening Maryland Avenue SW, and for construction of several memorials and buildings on the Seaton Section Park. It also advocated covering over the existing railroad tracks, and rebuilding Maryland Avenue SW on top of them -- reconnecting the Southwest quadrant (including L'Enfant Plaza and The Portals) with the rest of the city. But inexplicably, the NCPC abandoned this plan in favor of the Eisenhower memorial...

There are good reasons to question the artistic integrity of Frank Gehry's 10-story high screens and columns. There are good reasons to reject monumental (e.g., fascist) architecture in favor of more human-scale memorials. There are good reasons to reject a rushed design process, good reasons to question why the NCPC abandoned its existing Southwest district plans (which were 10 years in the making).

The Washington Post doesn't seem to understand any of that.

On October 25, 1999, Congress approved the creation of a Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial. Everyone wants their memorial on the National Mall, but the National Mall is pretty much full of memorials (many of them petty and stupid). Since 1921, the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) has been given authority over the placing of buildings and memorials throughout the D.C. metropolitan region, and the agency jealously guards the remaining space on the Mall which it has left.

By law, the Eisenhower Memorial Commission was completely funded with private money, and must design, construct, and provide for the maintenance of any memorial with private funds even though the memorial will be owned by the people of the United States and administered by the National Park Service.

In 2005, the Eisenhower Memorial Commission said that its preferred site was on the south side of Independence Avenue SW, across from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. This is a large "square" of land on the south side of which is the U.S. Department of Education. The northern half of this square is currently a public garden. Although the memorial folks can ask for the land, they needed to get permission from the NCPC and the various government agencies who own and control the land. The NCPC gave its approval for the site on November 8, 2005.

The proposed site went against the NCPC's stated goal of restoring Maryland Avenue SW as a through-street. Maryland Avenue used to extend from the U.S. Capitol Building all the way to the Potomac River. When the railroads were built in the city in the 1830s and 1940s, the avenue was destroyed between 7th Street and 12th Street SW by a huge ditch in which the train tracks ran. Hancock Park (the largely-abandoned grassy area behind the Federal Aviation Administration building) was created to help "buffer" the tracks from the northeastern remainder of Maryland Avenue SW and the traffic on Independence Avenue SW. In the 1960s, when the federal building now occupied by the Department of Education was constructed, Maryland Avenue was basically chopped in three -- with two new entry and exit roads paralleling the avenue to the north (connecting with Independence Avenue SW). Maryland Avenue SW itself was rerouted due eastward for 100 feet, to dead-end at 4th Street.

The NCPC has long said it wants to get rid of this ludicrous traffic design. Indeed, just this year, it reiterated its goal of covering over the railroad tracks and restoring not only the roadway but the view along Maryland Avenue.

Somehow, destroying what remains of Maryland Avenue SW fits with this goal...??? (And if you think that dead-end chunk of Maryland Avenue SW between 6th and 7th Streets SW is going to!)

Well. Anyway.

On March 31, 2009, Frank Gehry was announced as the lead designer of the Eisenhower Memorial. Contrary to popular belief, most memorials are not the result of design competitions opened to the world's artists, sculptors, architects, and engineers. Rather, designers are hand-picked by the memorial commission, and asked to submit four to six different designs. If you think that you actually get four to six different designs from a single architect, you'd be fooling yourself.

Gehry turned in three designs, all of which resembled one another. On March 25, 2010 the Eisenhower Memorial Commission unanimously selected Gehry's own preferred design.

Reaction has been tepid, at best.

Washington Post art and civic design critic Roger Lewis tartly observed: "As we architects often say, it looks overdesigned."

Washington Post architecture critic Philip Kennicott said the series of monumental columns and vast, semi-transparent screens on which scenes from Ike's life are printed "reads as Soviet" -- hardly a fitting aesthetic for the president that fought the Cold War!

Others have argued that the huge screens actually block the view of the Capitol building (a huge no-no), and that from the Capitol all you are going to see is a screen blocking off a park filled with trees.  When the sun sets, no one from the Capitol side will be able to see anything because the screen will look like a big hazy yellow blob.

Of course, if you are in the Department of Education building, you won't see jack squat.  That's because everyone with north-facing windows is going to get a great big view of grey screen with some black blobs on it.

The National Civic Art Society recently launched a counter-competition aimed at creating a Neoclassical memorial.  The society advocates for a return to the "City Beautiful" movement of the early 1900s.  That movement advocated for monumental, "stately" buildings of white marble, no mixed-used, and little functionality other than as memorials.  (Federal Triangle is a prime example.)  "City Beautiful" art assumes that the unwashed masses need a lecture on the respect and permanency of government.  That's no solution, either.

All in all, this doesn't look promising.

The D.C. pandas love the snow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Red panda on the prowl.... in the snow!

Tame Impala!

It'S THE SNOWPOCALYPSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I think, without having gone outside with a ruler, that we have a quarter inch of snow. A little flurry is still going on. This is the most snow we've had all winter. Guess we should call this the "Easter blizzard that hit D.C."

Snowpocalypse 2013 005 - 2013-03-25

Sunday, March 24, 2013

"Ha ha ha! That bear just farted on his back!"

You know, The Regular Show is supposed to be this late-afternoon cartoon show on Cartoon Network aimed at 'tweens. In fact, it's this very adult, very scathing, very funny, very satirical show that a hell of a lot of adult humor in it. It's 100 times funnier than anything Seth McFarlane has done, ever. In his whole life. EVER.

Gosh, say someone has an old, broken-down U.S. Army medical hospital, and they want to get rid of 66.7 of its acres. What do do, what to do...

If you are the District of Columbia, you ask developers to construct 90 townhomes, 1,864 apartments or condominiums (guess which they will build), 767,000 square feet of office, 212,000 square feet of retail space, and 176,400 square feet of arts and entertainment space. And toss in a 12.5-acre "town center" (uh, that doesn't sound good) and 14 acres of park space.

Who's in the running to build this Disneyland, you ask? In no particular order, the mice helping Cinderella get to the ball are:

  • Douglas Development - What the heck doesn't Douglas Jemal own? He's got about 30 buildings in the city. He just purchased the Hecht's warehouse on New York Avenue NE and the Uline Arena is gonna be his in a moment... The recession hit him brutally, but he's roaring back.
  • Western Development Corp. - They built Washington Harbour and The Portals and Market Square, and Gallery Place, and Potomac Mills, and Georgetown Park, and... Herb Miller is a lot older now, but he wants more.
  • Hines Interests - They're building the $1 billion CityCenterDC downtown. They're a worldwide monster with more than 10 high-end buildings in downtown D.C. alone, and another 20 around the area.
  • Roadside Development - CityLine at Tenleytown, and CityMarket at O Street NW, and CityMarket on Glebe Road, and Stonebridge at Potomac Towne Center. New player with a few new toys.
  • Capstone Development - A former Marriott VP runs this minority-owned business which up to now has just built hotels. Most of them are small but plush resorts, but one of them is the luxurious, huge Washington Marriott Marquis (due for delivery in 2014) near the Convention Center. Another newcomer, wanting to expand, expand, expand.
  • Forest City Washington - Another big boy with a hundred projects around the nation. They built Ballston Common, they are just finishing up on Waterfront Station (gutting those I.M. Pei buildings and getting ready to build six more condo and apartment in-fill structures), and they just won the right to build the $1 billion "The Yards" condo/office/park behind Federal Center Southwest (you know, the one with the cool arching bridge).
St. Peter: Are you being served?
Frank Thornton: No.
St. Peter: Please enter...

Actor Frank Thornton has died at the age of 92.

Billow - DC Gay Pride Parade 2012

The Capital Pride Parade is moving!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In years past the parade began at P and 23rd Streets NW, traveled up P Street to and around Dupont Circle, on P Street again to 14th Street NW, and then south on 14th Street NW to Thomas Circle.

In 2013, there will be a MUCH MORE CONVOLUTED parade route!

In 2013, the parade will go around Dupont Circle to New Hampshire Avenue NW, travel northeast on New Hampshire Avenue to R Street NW, go a single block east on R Street, then south on 17th Street NW to P Street NW. It will turn east on P Street NW and travel to 14th Street NW. And then it will turn NORTH on 14th Street NW and stop at S Street NW.

The change was prompted by the move (more than two decades ago) of gay businesses away from Dupont Circle and P Street toward 17th Street, and the establishment (more than a decade ago) of gay businesses and mostly gay housing on 14th Street NW above P Street.

Parade organizers considered going as far north as U Street NW, but security concerns (violence by homophobes, gangs, and drug dealers who pepper that area), traffic concerns (blocking critical U Street and no place for floats to demobilize), and Metro issues (U Street-Cardozo is served by two subway lines that run far less frequently on weekends than any other lines) led the organizers to abandon that idea.

hot latino stud at L'Enfant 02

Are you a young white or Latino male who wants an 8-hour-a-day job working at a Dunkin Donuts?

If so, I have a lead for you. Washington, D.C., store. A good boss, great location near Metro, and a fancy new store.

The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.

- Ernest Hemingway
Lucked out with these two. There were no crowds to block this view.

Guard with wreath - Tomb of Unknown Soldier - Arlington National Cemetery - 2013-03-15

Guard 01 - Tomb of Unknown Soldier - Arlington National Cemetery - 2013-03-15

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The National Park Service has updated the date for peak Cherry Blossom bloom!!!!

Peak bloom will now begin April 3 and run through April 6. The cold weather slowed the blossoms' development.

Cherry blossoms 0001 - 2012-03-15
Is there going to be a new bridge across the Potomac River???

Well, not any time soon.

But the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has commissioned a study of a new bridge somewhere over the Potomac River, linking Ol' Virginny with Maryland. (Not, please note, D.C.)

The VDOT study is being supported financially by both Maryland and D.C., and has the political support of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. So far, its only purpose is to study the daily traffic crossing the Potomac River. Virginia is looking from U.S. Route 15 at Point of Rocks aaaaaaaaaallllllllllll the way down to U.S. Route 301 as it crosses the Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge near the Naval Surface Warfare Center.

The problem is capacity: There's nothing between the Harry Nice Bridge (some 20 as-the-crow-flies miles south of D.C.) and the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge that carries I-95/I-495 from Alexandria to Oxon Hill. There are five bridges carrying traffic into clogged D.C.: The 14th Street Bridge, the Arlington Memorial Bridge, the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge, Key Bridge, and Chain Bridge. North of Key Bridge, there ain't nothin' until you get to the American Legion Bridge, which carries I-495/I-95 over the Potomac River. Then there's nothing from American Legion Bridge alllll the way up to Point of Rocks. Just beyond Point of Rocks, there are two bridges: Berlin Turnpike/Petersville Road Bridge, and the Route 671 Bridge, both of them right near Harper's Ferry.

That's a whopping 45 miles of winding river between American Legion Bridge and Point of Rocks that has no crossing. And it's five miles between Chain Bridge and American Legion Bridge. Worse, American Legion Bridge and Chain Bridge have really no exits to anywhere. Both dump onto the jam-packed Clara Barton Parkway/Canal Road, which is the only fast (sic) way into D.C. from Montgomery County. Oh, you could take River Road from the Beltway, but that just dumps a person onto clogged Wisconsin Avenue NW. Oh, you could take Old Georgetown Pike or Rockville Pike -- which smash into each other in Bethesda, and then dump onto clogged Wisconsin Avenue NW. Oh, you could take Connecticut Avenue, and get dumped onto clogged Connecticut Avenue NW.

Hmmm... No good options anywhere.

This leaves rapidly growing Virginia cities like Tyson's Corner, Great Falls, Reston, Herndon, Sterling, Ashburn, and Leesburg stuck using the Dulles Toll Road (Route 267) or Harry Byrd Highway (Route 7) nowhere to go. They can't cross into Montgomery County unless they are desperate enough to cross American Legion Bridge.

On the other side of the District, you have rapidly growing cities like Fort Belvoir, Woodbridge, Dumfries, Quanitco, Stafford, Fredericksburg condemned to take I-95 north to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, or cross Harry Nice Bridge and struggle through the endless stoplights, traffic jams, two-lane highways, and side streets of La Plata, St. Charles, Waldorf, Brandywine, Clinton, Camp Springs, and Suitland to get into the city. Not to mention that studies show that King George County (down near Harry Nice Bridge) is exploding with development.

No good options anywhere.

There's no money to build a bridge, though. A Maryland General Assembly budget analysis shows that, in five years, the state won't have enough money to maintain its current roads and bridges -- much less build a new mega-bridge. Virginia's backlog of road projects is already in the $10 billion range, and they have no funds to build anything new. Putting yet another bridge across the Potomac into downtown D.C. is a non-starter, because it doesn't address the issue.

But these things take time. Just doing the studies can take five years, and it might be another five to seven years before local opposition to a bridge could be overcome. (Remember how furious people were when a new bridge was proposed at Potomac Yards, just north of Old Town Alexandria?) After that, there's a year of design, a year to get it approved by relevant federal and local authorities, two years of architectural work, a year of site preparation... We're at 15 years, and concrete footing one hasn't even been poured yet!

So we'll see.

Best bet? Watch for a new bridge at Ashburn, Leesburg, or south of Point of Rocks. Equal money, boys.