Friday, August 30, 2013

The nice thing about making pot roast is not just that your house smells incredible from the cooking carrots and onions, but that you have leftover carrots to snack on. That's critical. Because after opening a bottle of red wine to deglaze the pan, I need something to keep me from getting drunk on the rest of the bottle...

Thursday, August 29, 2013


Listen to the little baby panda sqawk!!!!!!!!! That cub has some loud lungs!

Panda cubs cannot regulate their internal body heat, and are blind when born. They shout loudly until their mother picks them up again (which she does with her mouth). Mother pandas then cradle their cubs on their tummies for warmth.

The cub will sleep most of the time, and suckle often. The mother licks the cub to stimulate urination and defecation, and to clean the cub. After a week, black patches will appear on the skin around the eyes, ears, shoulders, and legs. This is where the black hair will grow (at about six weeks).

The cubs can't support themselves or crawl until about a month after birth. About this time, the cub will be better able to regulate its body temperature, and the mom will leave it on the floor for several minutes. The cub's eyes will open somewhere between 30 and 45 days, and be fully open a week or two later.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A series of secret tapes released today, August 28, shed new light on Richard Nixon's efforts to cover up the Watergate scandal. Just hours after he forced chief of staff H.R. Haldeman and chief domestic policy aide John D. Ehrlichman to resign, fired counsel John Dean, and gave his first speech on the episode, Nixon stayed up late making and taking a series of phone calls that planted the seeds for further cover-up. The tapes show Nixon urging Acting Attorney General Elliot Richardson not to appoint a special prosecutor and suggesting to Charles Colson that he avoid questions by falsely asserting national security. (Attorney General Richard Kleindienst voluntarily stepped down that same day.)

The tapes also show Rev. Billy Graham praising Nixon and calling the scandal a "Communist plot" to destroy him, future president George H.W. Bush castigating the press who revealed the scandal to undermine American democracy as "arrogant bastards".

These tapes are the final ones from the Nixon administration to be made public.

Wednesday is not only the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

It is also the anniversary that 14-year-old Emmitt Till was beaten, shot through the head and thrown in a river with a cotton gin’s fan tied to his neck. All because he might -- MIGHT -- have made slightly sexually suggestive overtures to a white woman and POSSIBLY might have whistled at her.

Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff wrote in the Pulitzer Prize-winning history, "The Race Beat", that "merely covering Negro leaders and their activities...constituted groundbreaking reporting in those years."

John Herbers was a native of Tenneesse, living in Jackson, Mississippi, and working for UPI. He covered the Till murder trial. The all-white jury took less than an hour to acquit the two murderers -- who later gleefully told their story of kidnapping, torture, and murder to "Life" magazine.

Herbers was one of the few reporters to remain calm and professional during the trial. But after....

"I hunched over the steering wheel and cried. I wanted to cry Mississippi out of my very core."

One cannot help but notice that this segment of the Silver Line is the one built by the Airports Authority. The next segment (which actually goes to the airport) will be built by WMATA.

Becasue there's trouble in paradise:

WHOOPS! Silver Line train hits a railing during testing.

WHOOPS! Fairfax County is coming up $29 million short of the $90 million it will take to pay for the Route 28/Innovation Station.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I love the way old newspapers engage in boosterism. Like this one from the tiny town of Poplar, Montana. Just 800 people live there, but it is, nonetheless, "The Oil City!"

And it's read in over 97 percent of Poplar homes! So you know it's good.

Hands up! How many of you would read a book if it contained the following sentences?

1) "This place was called No Man's Land for a reason: it belonged to no one."

2) "I was drawn toward him as if a flower to the sun."

Be honest.
A genius, from a time when cinematographers decided what the shots were.

Gilbert Taylor filmed Alfred Hitchcock's "Frenzy" in claustrophobic close-ups. He told Stanley Kubrick to put in battle gear, grab a hand-held, and start filming the battle scenes in "Dr. Strangelove" as if they both were combat photographers. He borrowed a silk stocking from his wife to create the eerily soft look of "The Omen". And he came up with the idea of filming "Star Wars" in bright, clean, hard light with hard shadows.

As for that supposed genius, George Lucas... "[Lucas] avoided all meetings and contact with me from Day 1, so I read the extra-long script many times and made my own decisions as to how I would shoot the picture," Taylor once said.

It is that brilliantly white, crisp, un-Hollywood Eye style that makes "Star Wars" such a standout, visually. (One can't help but notice that Lucas rejected it in all his later films, which is why they look like Hollywood junk.)

Monday, August 26, 2013

I like The Progressive magazine. But their advertising strategy leaves much to be desired!

I mean... Wal-Mart? Really??

Let this restore your faith in humanity: Yesterday, I was walking all afternoon along East Potomac Park. I came across this older couple and two little boys. Grampa looked like a biker with a huge pot belly, "Duck Dynasty" beard, and long ratty jeans. Gramma looked like ...well, trailer trash, complete with Atlantic City visor and a big, dirty bandage on one elbow. Both were white.

The boys were their grandchildren. Ryan was Caucasian, about six years old, and a little shy. His brother, whose name I did not overhear, is biracial and a year older. They are half-brothers.

The boys were being taught how to fish, and were having the time of their life. Every time a hook came back empty, they were astonished and had to tell their grampa that "the fish took the food" without the courtesy of being hooked. Every time a duck or gull flew by, they got excited and pointed. They said "hello" to everyone who walked past. Ryan offered some of his dry bread crumbs (which they used to feed the ducks) to a bulldog named Cash who shied away at first but then gently licked crumbs from his hand. The first time his brother cast his line without help, he jumped up and down for joy. They loved their grandparents, and it was clear their grandparents loved them.

These two brothers -- so different, and so alike -- loved being with each other. Every few minutes, they would rush into one another's arms, and hug hard and joyously. If one giggled, the other would too. They put their arms around one another's shoulders constantly, and smiled at each other all the time.

These brothers were leaning against the iron railing, overlooking the Washington Channel. They were a little contemplative, just watching the sailboats go by and the cormorants wing overhead and the water. I was a long way off, using my zoom lens. But still, the older brother saw me -- and smiled.

He waved just after I took this photograph, and I stopped taking pictures to wave back. He smiled even more, and that 10,000-megawatt smile was one for the ages.

faith in humanity

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Today is the 404th anniversary of the invention of the telescope.

Thanks, Galileo!!

Friday, August 23, 2013

WE HAVE A BABY PANDA IN D.C.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Giant panda Mei Xiang gave birth to a cub at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo 5:32 p.m. The panda team heard the cub vocalize and glimpsed the cub for the first time briefly immediately after the birth. Mei Xiang picked the cub up immediately and began cradling and caring for it.

Tom Daley, you are everything I want in a man, and more. Marry me.

Mayor Gray is going to veto D.C.'s living wage bill. How do we know this? Because permits were just filed to raze the Skyland Shopping Center (two blocks from my house). They wouldn't be going ahead with the project if Gray had not assured Wal-Mart (the new tenant there) that the living wage bill was dead.

Fuck you, Vincent Gray. You got elected to the city council only because the D.C. labor council worked its butt off to evict your do-nothing predecessor. And now you betray everything that your supporters believe it.
There is a huge scandal going on in the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department, and nobody is really aware of it.

This is Part Five, and the last one..............

Budgetary, maintenance, and personnel problems under Ellerbe

Ellerbe hiring scandal

The city's new mayor, Vincent C. Gray, appointed Kenneth B. Ellerbe, a childhood friend of the mayor's, as the city's new Fire Chief in December 2010. His salary was $187,302 a year.

In March 2012, however, the Washington Times reported that Ellerbe was never fully vetted before being hired by Gray. The newspaper said that the Gray administration never asked for Ellerbe's personnel file from Sarasota, where he spent nearly six months as chief before returning to Washington, D.C. The personnel file revealed that several female firefighters in Sarasota had accused Ellerbe of sexual harassment. Ellerbe allegedly told Sarasota Battalion Chief Joe Robinson that staring at women's breasts was "part of my heritage" and that none of the women in the department were good looking. Robinson also claimed that Ellerbe warned staff not to "cross" him and that he was vindictive. Ellerbe denied harassing anyone, denied making the statements, and claimed they were made by union members upset with changes he made in the department. Ellerbe claimed Sarasota County found the allegations false, although the Washington Times reported there was no such finding in his personnel file. Sarasota County administrator Dave Bullock said Ellerbe was counseled regarding the county's sexual harassment policy after the incident, but that is routine after any allegation (legitimate or not). Gray defended the lack of vetting and the decision to not conduct a national search for a new fire chief, arguing that it was more important to get permanent leadership into the department. City Council member Phil Mendelson, whose public safety committee held hearings on Ellerbe's nomination, said the committee did not see nor did it ask for Ellerbe's Sarasota personnel file. Both Local 36, IAFF, and the D.C. Federation of Citizens Associations expressed their displeasure that a national search was not conducted, and expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of complete vetting.

More fooling around with people's lives, behind the cut here...

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Here's something for your consideration. Peter Capaldi will be the oldest Doctor Who ever. But the "trend" toward younger Doctors is actually pretty fake. The average age of an actor who takes the role of Doctor Who is about 42 years old, and the "standard deviation" for the age range is 37 to 46 years of age. Although David Tennant and Matt Smith both were on the young side of that middle-ground, having an older Doctor is long overdue. There hasn't been one since Sylvester McCoy left the show in 1989!

There is a huge scandal going on in the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department, and nobody is really aware of it.

This is Part Four..............

Stability and budget issues under Rubin

Fire Captain Brian K. Lee was named Acting Fire Chief in December 2006. The new Mayor of D.C., Adrian Fenty, announced on February 2, 2007, that all reforms in the DCFEMS department would be suspended until he appointed a permanent fire chief. Fenty also inaugurated four new ambulances ordered during Thompson's tenure, bringing the city's total to 37. The four were staffed with firefighters, not EMTs or paramedics. The department debuted a new Electronic Patient Care Reporting System the same day, which it said would improve patient care tracking.

Mayor Fenty named Dennis L. Rubin the new Acting Fire Chief in March 2007. A former fire chief for Atlanta, Georgia, Rubin was confirmed as the permanent fire chief on May 1. Rubin's tenure as Fire Chief was a calm one, even though the local firefighter's union contract expired and no new contract was agreed to.

Beginning in September 2008, DCFEMS began testing a new communications system developed by the United States Department of Homeland Security that linked radio, cell phones, GPS, wireless devices, and the DCFEMS dispatch system together. Known as the Radio Over Wireless Broadband (ROW-B) system, the system was designed to overcome long-standing problems where DCFEMS, police, Metro, and other agencies could not communicate with one another because they used different systems, different frequencies, and different kinds of technology. The ROW-B system was not designed to be a permanent solution to the city's problems, but a pilot project.

Conclusion of the grooming policy controversy

The department's long-simmering grooming policy controversy was resolved in September 2007. District court judge James Robertson made his temporary injunction against the policy permanent after finding that the department did not prove that long beards or hair impaired the use of saftey equipment. The department, he ruled, admitted that no firefighter ever had a perfect seal (bearded or not) and that no safety issues had arisen in the past three decades.

The judgement of the district court was upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in March 2009 in a unanimous ruling. However, Judge Stephen Williams admonished the city government's attorneys, noting that they had conducted such sub-par legal work that the appellate court had no choice but to uphold the district court ruling. Williams acknowledged that had the scientific literature clearly upheld the city's regulation, but that this issue had not been raised in a timely manner.

Overtime and budgetary scandals

Rubin faced a major budgetary scandal in 2009 and 2010. In fiscal year 2009 (which ended June 30, 2009), DCFEMS spent $11 million on overtime, although it had budgeted just $5 million. Chief Rubin blamed extensive firefighter and EMS vacancies, which forced the overtime expenditures. Hiring freezes imposed by the city worsened the situation, and led to even more overtime. Rubin warned the D.C. City Countil in November 2009 that fiscal 2010 overtime expenditures would be about $8 million, although the overtime budget had remained steady at $5 million. Rubin claimed that shutting down the fire training academy and the building inspection division, closing several fire stations, and reducing staffing on fire trucks was the only way to rein in these costs, although city council members dispute his claims.

In January 2010, the Washington Examiner reported that the agency failed to budget for seniority pay for fiscal 2010, and was also $2 million over budget in fringe benefits.] Revised overtime figures now showed that the department would spend not $8 million but closer to $15.4 million for the fiscal year. The department said it could end the overtime expenditures by filling its 130 vacancies, but the council had imposed a city-wide hiring freeze to handle its own budget problems. Although 28 individuals were due to graduate from the fire training academy, more than 28 positions would be lost attrition.

Ellerbe retirement scandal

Another major personnel controversy erupted in December 2009 when the Washington Times reported that Deputy Chief Kenneth B. Ellerbe left the department to take a job in Sarasota County, Florida, but had secured a deal to receive a full pension. The deal was apparently approved by Fire Captain Brian Lee, and Fire Chief Rubin did not learn about it until it was reported in the media. Ellerbe left DCFEMS in July 2009, although he would not be eligible to receive full pension benefits until April 10, 2010. Under the terms of the deal, Ellerbe was placed on leave without pay, which kept him technically employed by the District of Columbia. Ellerbe agreed to resign from DCFEMS the day after his 50th birthday. The agreement would permit Ellerbe to collect 80 percent of his final pay for five years (an amount equal to about $600,000). He would then qualify for his full pension benefit (100 percent of his final salary) when turned 55. The agreement stated that the purpose of allowing Ellerbe to go to Florida was to give him the opportunity to "acquire experience as a fire chief in a municipal fire department and thereby be better able to provide the experience of leadership in an executive manager's role."

The Ellerbe pension deal led to public outrage, and a City Council investigation. Phil Mendelson, chair of the council's public safety and judiciary committee, called the deal "a special agreement was worked out for somebody high up to cheat the rule regarding retirement".

After two months of controversy, Rubin ended the agreement. Rubin informed Ellerbe in late January 2010 that the pension agreement was now void. Ellerbe was forced to return to active duty in D.C. or resign. According to the Washington Times, Ellerbe resigned from DCFEMS and remained in Sarasota, although the Washington Post reported a few months later that Ellerbe resigned his Sarasota post and returned to D.C.

While living in Sarasota, Ellerbe illegally attempted to claim a tax exemption for his home in Washington, D.C.

Other leadership and personnel controversies

In May 2007, a federal jury rejected a claim of reverse discrimination brought by 23 white officers. The officers claimed they were denied promotion in favor of African American officers who were less-qualified or had less experience. They also claimed that then-Chief Ronnie Few disproportionately chose to interview black officers for promotion. While the lawsuit was pending, all promotions in DCFEMS were placed on hold.

But the troubled EMS division continued to have problems. In March 2009, Rafael Sa'adah was named assistant chief of the division, even though he personally and EMS as a whole were being sued by the family of Johnquan Wright, who died of gunshots wounds while being treated by paramedics. Wright's family argued that Sa'adah told responders to stop treating the victim in the mistaken belief that he had a gunshot wound to the head and was moribund, although the D.C. Inspector General's office found no evidence that Wright acted inappropriately. D.C. City Council member Phil Mendelson and local citizens groups also questioned Sa'adah's appointment, arguing that no good-faith national search for an assistant chief had been made despite promises from Chief Rubin.

Thirty African American firefighters sued the department in October 2010 alleging racial discrimination. The suit named about 10 white male firefighters who were accused or convicted of crimes -- including assault (sometimes with knives), emailing images of their genitals to female colleagues, illegal possesion of a handgun, public nudity in the firehouse, and stalking -- but had not been disciplined. But black firefighters accused or convicted of similar crimes were punished. The lawsuit also alleged that the department purposefully allowed the 2006 promotions list (which had many black candidates on it) to expire so that a 2010 list (which had few black candidates) could be acted on instead. The suit asked for class action status for the department's 1,000 black firefighters.

Rubin resignation

After Fenty lost renomination as mayor, Rubin resigned effective January 2, 2011. He made his announcement on October 22, 2010.

I was chatting with a family member this summer. I learned some things. I learned that my brother J. honestly believes my parents had a solid, loving, quiet marriage. He asserts, very angrily, that they never fought. I had to tell my family member that J. is dead wrong. He wouldn't know, for one thing, because beginning in the sixth grade he began spending every single night away from home. The moment he got out of school, he went to some other kid's house. Half the time he'd eat at their house, and then spend another three or four hours there until nine or ten at night. Then he'd come home, and go to bed. When he did eat at our house, he'd rush home, eat, and then leave again for another friend's house. It was very, very rare for him to have friends over at our house. When he did, it was usually a Saturday in late afternoon, and they'd watch music videos for two or three hours and then leave. On weekends, my brother J. would invariably stay out on Fridays until 1 A.M. or so, then come home to crash. He'd sleep until noon, and then leave again. Half the time, he spent Saturday nights at a friend's house, and half the time he'd come home at 1 A.M. or 2 A.M. and crash and then leave. Essentially, J. was never around to see my parents have the knock-down, drag-out, violent, screaming fights that they did. J. never understood that, by the time he was 14 or so, my mother wanted to divorce my father. She never did it, because she was horrified at facing the public shame of having her marriage disintegrate. She also felt that it was important to "stay together for the children" -- although I suspect she'd use that excuse for the rest of her life. My mother had a good friend (let's call her "Naomi"). Every Thursday, she and Naomi went out to lunch together. Every time, Naomi brought my mother a yellow or red rose -- because my mother craved flowers, and my father never bought her any. My mother often went to Naomi's home (just a few blocks from ours) to cry and moan about whatever selfish, horrible thing my father had done. Naomi counseled my mother to leave him, but she refused. The shame, the children... My brother J. simply refuses to acknowledge this. (Side-note: When my father remarried, Naomi talked to the woman he was going to marry. She told the woman what a horror show my dad was, and said to not marry him. The woman ignored her. J. thinks this is a humorous story told by two old biddies who don't like each other. He doesn't want to see it as a serious caution by Naomi.) I learned, too, that my brother J. had to have his stomach pumped when he was a teenager. That I did not know. Now, it was common knowledge that J. began drinking when he was in junior high. Parents of his friends often let their kids have a beer or two during a summer cookout, or while watching a football game on TV on the weekend. J. would guzzle, and then sneak more beers, and get shit-faced. He had no control, and got a lot of attention from people when he was so drunk he had trouble walking. My parents blithely ignored all this, because he was never around. They never saw it, so even though other parents cautioned them about his drinking -- well, "we never saw it, so it never happened". (In fact, my parents believed I was a drug user. Me. Mr. Clean. That's because I was homosexual, moody, depressed, isolated. I also happened to read constantly. They believed I was stoned on something constantly, and routinely tore apart my bedroom to try to find my "stash". About the only "stash" I had was a bunch of Playgirl magazines hidden among some records in the closet -- ha ha, literally in the closet. They remained adamant for years that I was drugged up and hiding it from them.) In high school, J.'s drinking worsened significantly. He obtained several fake I.D.s, and was able to obtain beer frequently. It was not uncommon for him to show up at a football or basketball game on a Friday night shitfaced. He got caught by school personnel when he was a junior and suspended for two weeks. My parents had a huge argument with him in the kitchen, but he was so drunk and incoherent that after 10 minutes they just let him go to bed. In the summer of my senior year, J. got so drunk one night at a friend's house that he got alcohol poisoning. He drove home (!), and stumbled inside. My parents, realizing he was almost unconscious, freaked out. The son of a close friend had died in his sleep of alcohol poisoning a few years earlier, and they were terrified that J. would die, too. They rushed him to the hospital, had his stomach pumped, and then kept him there three days. They told me that he'd gone with a friend to a ranch up near Choteau... The following week, they packed me off to North Dakota ("don't you want to see grandma? well, you're going anyway") for five days while they held an intervention with my brother. It did no good, of course. I'd never known the reason for suddenly getting packed off to North Dakota. But I learned it this summer. My family member said J. had gotten clean in the military. I scoffed at that. J. was aboard a submarine, I said. He wasn't clean and sober; he just had zero access to alcohol. He used the military as a crutch to solve problems, but the root of the problem never got dealt with. My brother had zilcho ability to deal in an adult way with his emotions, and the slightest bit of frustration led to screaming, cursing, and physical violence. J. continues to deal with his emotions and any frustration in the same way. I told my family member that when my mother died, J. got so drunk for three days that he could not stand and had trouble seeing. His friends -- many of them heavy drinkers -- were so worried that they almost hospitalized him. What saved him was the funeral, where he had to show up sober. So sober he was, for a day. He drank heavily again for the two more days he spent in Montana, and then went back to his submarine. Problem solved by enforced lack of access. My family member was horrified to hear that. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that my brother has had to have his stomach pumped due to alcohol abuse. He's done so much else that is insane, freakish, and self-destructive. But I am, still, nonetheless, surprised.
There is a huge scandal going on in the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department, and nobody is really aware of it.

This is Part Two..............

Fire and EMS merger under Thompson

Adrian H. Thompson, a D.C. career firefighter, was named Fire Chief in July 2002. A stickler for regulations and discipline as well as firefighter, Thompson quickly restored morale. Initially hired at the same salary as Few, his pay rose by 18.8 percent to $158,000 a year in 2003.

Thompson discovered that recordkeeping under Few was so poor that the true extent of the paramedic and EMT vacancy issue could not be determined, although an internal DCFEMS study showed the agency had only 174 of the 335 emergency medical workers it needed to operate its 36 ambulances. The situation was worsening because improvements to fire safety throughout the years meant that the city had fewer than 100 fire alarms in a month but 8,000 to 9,000 calls for medical assistance. A three-month study by the D.C. Office of the Inspector General, released in October 2002, found that the department had no accurate way of measuring how long it took for an ambulance to reach the scene once a call for aid was received. But the time it took for ambulance crews to leave the stationhouse once they received an alert was double the national average (two minutes rather than one). In two-thirds of the days covered by the study, up to a fifth of all ambulances were out of service due to staffing shortages. All 14 of the ambulances were fully staff on just four days. The inspector general blamed part of the problem on employees who "are lazy or do not care", while the paramedic and EMT union attributed to the slow "turn-out time" to over-worked and under-staffed employees.

A number of equipment upgrades occurred during Thompson's tenures. The department began using a GPS locator on vehicles to enable dispatchers to identify which available vehicle was closest to an emergency (which the department hoped would speed up response times). Six new fire engines and six new ambulances (ordered in the waning days of Chief Few's tenure) arrived in January 2003, with another 14 fire engines, 16 ambulances, three ladder trucks, and seven command vehicles.

Leadership controversies

In August, D.C. emergency medical services officials breached confidential patient records by taking them home, a blatant violation of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. EMS Medical Director Dr. Fernando Daniels III was terminated, and city investigators said that many or most of the EMS division's 35 managers could be fired. Daniels' successor, Dr. Clifford H. Turen, resigned on March 1, 2005, after it was learned that he had not yet received a license to practice medicine in the District of Columbia and his speciality was not in emergency medicine.

Leadership problems occurred in the firefighting division as well. By July 2005, both assistant chief positions and five of the 12 deputy chief positions were vacant and being filled by acting officers. City personnel rules limited an individual to just 120 days in an acting position, and placement in an acting capacity could not be used in lieu of training or evaluation. In February 2004, Assistant Chief Pete Miller — who oversaw support personnel for the building inspection division, facilities maintenance, firefighter training division, health and safety, and vehicular maintenance — retired. Thompson appointed Deputy Chief Kenneth B. Ellerbe to the position, and Ellerbe was still there more than 17 months (510 days) later.

Ongoing grooming controversy

The ongoing grooming controversy erupted again in June 2005. District court judge James Robertson reaffirmed his "temporary" injunction against the department's short hair and short beard grooming policy. However, Robertson allowed the city to submit evidence at trial (to be held at a future date) to prove that longer hair and beards were a critical safety hazard. Rosenbaum controversy

Major problems with the DCFEMS department emerged on January 6, 2006. Retired New York Times reporter David Rosenbaum was assaulted in his home during a robbery. EMS personnel misdiagnosed Rosenbaum's severe wounds as drunkenness, and downgraded the incident to low-priority. Rosenbaum subsequently did not receive timely treatment, and died of his injuries. An after-action report severely criticized the DCFEMS department for its actions.

Thompson quickly implemented a number of changes to improve service. Five emergency medical services personnel were disciplined (which included terminating one and allowing another to retire). A new credentials and certifications tracking system was put in place to ensure that EMS administrators were properly certified to hold their jobs. New procedures were implemented to ensure EMS personnel understood the scope of their jobs and basic patient care protocols, and to better evaluate firefighters, paramedics, and EMTs. He also assigned an EMS supervisor to the dispatch center, and gave the supervisor the authority to reassign EMS crews to short-staffed parts of the city as needed. Ambulance crews were given more authority to determine which hospital a patient should be driven to, and procedural improvements were made to improve communication between dispatchers and EMS crews on the scene. New equipment was also added to emergency medical vehicles to allow GPS tracking of them. This allowed dispatchers to identify which EMS vehicle was closest to a call, and reduced response times further. Nonetheless, Thompson felt the Rosenbaum case "was an aberration" which did not require major changes to DCFEMS procedures or staffing.

In October 2006, the Washington Times reported that the investigation into the Rosenbaum incident was fatally bungled when evidence pointing to gross negligence in the case was not promptly reported to the D.C. Inspector General's office. One element of this evidence was a report which provided first-hand evidence that Rosenbaum's condition was much more severe than reported by EMS personnel earlier in the inspector general's investigation. Investigators said they believed the evidence showed that DCFEMS medical director Dr. Amit Wadhwa "may not have been fully responsive" to investigators and "may have made misleading statements during an official investigation". Wadhaw resigned in August 2006. A departmental spokesman said Assistant Chief of Operations Douglas Smith simply overlooked the evidence, and failed to pass it on. Chief Thompson said he independently reviewed all the key documents in the case, and realized the reports' importance. But the D.C. Inspector General's office said it was forced to send a letter to Thompson demanding the reports. City Council member Phil Mendelson alleged the department withheld the reports from him after he requested them in January 2006. Although the evidence had now been found, the mayor's office declined to pursue any further investigation of negligence in the Rosenbaum case.

Merger of firefighting and EMS divisions

With staffing problems in the EMS division continuing, response times still slow, tension between EMS and firefighting personnel still strong, and stung by criticism in the Rosenbaum case, Thompson implemented a plan in 2006 that began merging the EMS and firefighting divisions into a single unit. Some firefighters were cross-trained in limited emergency medical care, improved emergency services staffing by assigning EMS-trained firefighters to ambulances and by pairing a paramedic with an EMS-trained firefighter during periods when fewer calls came in. (The previous model staffed an ambulance with two paramedics at all times.) Since fire companies were often the first to respond to a medical emergency, he also placed a single parademic at 18 of the fire companies. Response times for EMS services fell by three minutes.

While campaigning for mayor in 2006, Adrian Fenty pledged to undo the merger of fire and emergency medical services. Fenty reneged on his promise, and the merger remained intact throughout his tenure as mayor of the District of Columbia (2007 to 2011).

Thompson resignation

After winning the D.C. Democratic primary in August 2006, Adrian Fenty pledged to fire Fire Chief Adrian Thompson. "The fire department needs a new chief; there's no question about it," Fenty said. "The whole system is broken, from fire to EMS."

Thompson resigned as fire chief in December 2006. Despite Fenty's criticism, the Washington Post described Thompson's tenure a success. The Washington Times described his chieftancy as one of "steady leadership", and concluded he "restored stability" to the agency.

In 2010, Thompson declared the merger of the EMS and firefighting departments a failure. He blamed racial issues in part, noting that firefighters are primarily white and EMS personnel mostly African American and that white firefighters have little respect for the mostly black and poor people they provide emergency care to. Kenneth Lyons, president of the paramedics' union, agreed but also emphasized that management failures and budgetary problems played a role. Fire Chief Dennis L. Rubin dismissed Thompson's conclusions.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

There is a huge scandal going on in the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department, and nobody is really aware of it.

Washington, D.C., was founded in 1789, but it really wasn't until about 1793 that buildings and streets began to appear. At first, buildings were hundreds of feet away from one another, even where they were on the same street. In the early days of the city, volunteer fire departments provided the firefighting needs of the city. There were no city-provided hospitals or emergency medical services (EMS). You got taken home, and you called a doctor. End of story. These volunteer fire departments, however, often competed with one another for fame and donations. You might get four or five of them showing up to a fire at a rich man's home, while five or six homes of the poor burned. When they showed up, they'd fight -- with fists and rocks -- to see who got to put up a ladder, who got to pump water, who got to man the hoses. It was like watching the Three Stooges fight a fire.

Finally, in 1864 Congress passed a law authorizing a paid fire department. (That's after the U.S. Capitol building almost burned down in 1858, but I digress...) The law was finally implemented on September 23, 1871. Originally a combination of paid and volunteer firefighters, by 1900 the DCFD was a full-time, all-paid force with 14 engines, four ladder trucks, and two foam chemical trucks.

The DCFD was incredibly racist. I mean it: It was racially segregated until the 1960s, and no blacks were permitted to join. When blacks were finally accepted in the department, there was deep racial tension. The DCFD is a "generational" department, in which sons follow fathers follow grandfathers follow great-grandfathers into the firefighting service. To many racist whites, blacks were animals and that's it. To other whites, the arrival of blacks meant that sons would be denied a place in the department's ranks. Some white firefighters honestly believed that racism had denied blacks the culture, work ethos, education, and intelligence to be a firefighter, and that it would be decades before blacks gained what would be needed to be a firefighter. It was ugly. African American firefighters were racially harassed and taunted (and there were incidents of violence that included beatings, stabbings, and sexual molestation), denied promotions, subject to racial taunts and insults, denied training, and more. Blacks had to buy their own equipment for years, since whites would not use facemasks or oxygen tanks or coats "worn by a darkie". Much of this was beginning to change by the 1980s, as racial discrimination lawsuits against the department were rampant -- and changing things. But white flight from the city after the 1968 Martin Luther King, Jr. riots also caused a number of white firefighters to leave the department. Suddenly, the department was majority-black, and things began changing even faster.

The first emergency room in D.C. didn't open until 1880, when the Central Dispensary Hospital opened one. The first ambulance in city came in 1888, when Alexander Graham Bell donated one to Garfield Memorial Hospital. Ambulances proved wildly popular with the public, and by 1892 the Metropolitan Police Department had several. By 1910, nearly all hospitals in the city had an emergency room, although most of these were only open part-time. Central Dispensary Hospital (downtown near the White House) and Eastern Dispensary Hospital (near the Capitol) were the primary emergency care providers, and were open most of the time. By 1924, the City Health Department was running an ambulance service as well.

In 1925, the D.C. Fire Department added its first ambulance. The DCFD had formed a "rescue squad" to assist firefighters injured in blazes, which was pretty common back then. Over time, hopsitals began callong on the DCFD ambulance for assistance when their own ambulance services were too busy. Ambulance service quickly caught on with the public, and volunteer ambulance services were organized in several parts of the city in the 1930s.

World War II brought a host of changes. Men left to join the military, leaving the ambulance services incredibly short-staffed. Yet, D.C.'s population tripled in the early part of the war, and the need for a centralized ambulance dispatch service became acute. In 1943, the city organized an Ambulance Control Board in the DCFD. Tied to the fire alarm dispatch center, most of the hospital ambulances were incorporated into the new city-run system. All ambulances are outfitted with radios (some had gotten them as early as 1940), and in 1957 the public ambulance service is formally transferred to the District of Columbia Fire Department.

* * * * * * * *

By 2000, the D.C. fire and emergency medical services (EMS) departments had 33 engine companies, 16 truck companies, three rescue squad trucks, and two fire boats. At least five vehicles a day were tied up serving the President of the United States. The department had a $140 million a year budget and 1,900 employees -- which included about 1,400 firefighters, paramedics, and emergency medical technicians (EMTs). It was a strictly "non-civilian" department. That meant that everyone was trained to be a firefighter. Some firefighters got trained to be paramedics -- able to provide the best emergency care possible, and detailed specifically to ambulance duty. The majority of EMS personnel, however, were trained as emergency medical technicians (EMTs). EMTs could provide basic but not high-quality care, although they too were assigned solely to the EMS division and not asked to fight fires any more.

But the department was troubled. Training levels were low, and customer service poor. The city's fleet was aging and in constant repair. So few fire engines were available for duty that several fire stations were closed because they had no equipment to fight fires. Despite the delivery of a few trucks and engines in 2000, the department still needed $7 million to replace old vehicles.

Two scandals were also hurting the department. The city was forced to pay $1.75 million to settle a lawsuit by the family of a transgender individual after firefighters ridiculed the person rather than treating her after after a 1995 automobile accident. The individual's death led to allegations by D.C. large LGBT population of widespread homophobia within the department. D.C. fire department radio equipment did not work on the same frequencies as the Washington Metro, and for years fire firefighters' radios had also not worked in the Metro tunnel system. The public also learned that the fire department was encouraging wealthy, mostly white, citizens in upper Northwest to call the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad for emergency medical services instead of serving the area with its own ambulances (which took much longer to respond). Members of the D.C. City Council criticized the pact for giving wealthy residents more service than poorer ones.

Turbulence under Few

On July 10, 2000, Ronnie Few took over at Fire Chief in charge of the D.C. Fire Department. Few replaced Chief Don Edwards, who was fired after it was found that he lived in Maryland in contravention of a D.C. law which required cabinet-level city officials to live in the District of Columbia. Few was hired over Acting Fire Chief Thomas N. Tippett, a highly popular career firefighter and former firefighter's union official. Few was the fourth fire chief or acting fire chief in 18 months.

The department had serious problems: The dispatching system could not identify the exact location of structures like the United States Capitol or the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, dispatchers sent crews to the wrong locations or in the wrong direction, fire crews didn't know how to use life-saving emergency equiipment such as defibrillators, injuries to civilians during fires were on the increase, department vehicles were increasing having vehicular accidents while responding to calls, and ambulances took twice as long to respond to calls (11 minutes and 21 seconds) than the national average. The fire training academy was in serious disrepair, trainees were found extensively cheating on tests, there were equipment and employee shortages, and equipment was old and in disrepair. Three firefighters died in 1999 in two months, creating a deep morale problem. (Prior to the incidents, just a single firefighter had died in 11 years.) He had little experience overseeing the provision of emergency medical care, although 80 percent of calls in D.C. were of that nature. Few was also only the second fire chief hired from outside the department, and had extremely poor relations with the firefighter's union.

The grooming policy controversy

Few sparked a long-simmering legal problem for the department in March 2001 when he began implementing a never-enforced 1977 policy requiring all DCFEMS personnel to have short hair and short-trimmed beards. Three firefighters were suspended and a number of others threatened with suspension for refusing to adhere to the policy. Chief Few claimed firefighters were unable to wear their helmets or poperly seal their safety masks due to over-long hair. However, on June 21, 2001, James Robertson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia imposed a temporary injunction against the department, preventing it from applying the short-hair policy to those individuals (such as Rastafarians or Muslims) who wore long hair or beards for religious purposes. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 clearly gave employers the right to enforce grooming policies over religious objection -- but only if the employer could prove a safety issue was involved. DCFD had not provided that proof in court. Still, Judge Robertson's ruling only delayed a final dispostion regarding the policy, however, and appeals were made.

A May 2001 performance report showed that the D.C. fire department was deteriorating rapidly under Few's leadership. Halfway through the budget year, Few met only one of four major goals (filling 120 firefighter vacancies). The number of injuries to firefighters and civilian injuries and deaths had far outstripped the year's objectives, and building inspections were far below the expected level. Ambulances were supposed to reach patients 90 percent of the time within eight minutes. Few changed this to 70 percent without explanation, and still the department could not reach the goal. The department also manipulated data (for example, incorporating paramedic-equipped fire companies) in an attempt to improve the response times.

The haz-mat training controversy

A month after a train derailment and fire in a tunnel near Baltimore and just two weeks prior to the September 11 attacks, the Washington Times revealed that internal DCFEMS documents showed the department "woefully unprepared" to handle a hazardous materials (or "haz-mat") spill or a chemical or biological attack. Firefighters and emergency medical personnal were not trained to recognize hazards or contain them, and had not conducted training in the worst sort of haz-mat incident in more than two years. Few pledged in October 2001 to create additional haz-mat response capability by staffing additional haz-mat vehicles with lesser-trained staff as an interim measure. He also said the department would train the appropriate personnel. In December 2001, the Marasco Newton Group, an independent auditor, reported that the department's haz-mat unit "needs improvement" or "needs significant improvement" in 10 critical areas analyzed, and that outside agencies had deep concern about the unit. The report concluded the unit was poorly staffed, poorly trained, and not competent. At a congressional hearing on the report, held in April 2002, Few asserted the report did not reflect the changes made since December, and that even more changes would be made in the next fiscal year.

Equipment failures

In August 2001, the Washington Times reported that the D.C. fire department's new $5.3 million radio system was so weak that "dead zones" existed in almost 50 locations, including such critical areas as the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police Department, the Harry S Truman Building (headquaters of the United States Department of State), the J. Edgar Hoover Building (headquarters of the FBI), the MCI Center (the city's main basketball and hockey arena), and Union Station. Firefighters' personal radios often could not communicate with headquarters or one another. Eight months' of complaints by firefighters led to no improvement. By January 2002, the problem still had not been corrected. Few said the city had to wait until $46.2 million in federal anti-terrorism funds were disbursed before the system could be fixed.

That same month, the public also learned that the DCFEMS' new computerized dispatch system was also failing. The system sent ambulances and fire trucks to the wrong location or to locations outside their assigned zone, failed to dispatch the nearest vehicle, or sent trucks to fires in the wrong order. Occasionally, the system attempted to dispatch a vehicle alreaedy assigned to an emergency while ignoring available vehicles. Front-line staff complained they received little training prior to the system's activation in June 2001, and little improvement had occurred in the intervening two months.

A new report in January 2002 revealed that Few had ordered no new firefighting or emergency services vehicles in the past 18 months, and that the city's fleet was quickly approaching decrepitude. A third of all pumper trucks were out of service due to ill-repair and age, and the city was patching up 15-year-old vehicles (which were due to have been scrapped four years ago) to fight fires. Not a single pumper could be held in reserve to fight major fires due to the lack of vehicles. In one case, the city pressed a fire academy trainer into service because it ran out of pumpers. (Reserve pumpers had fallen to 11 in 2002 from 13 in July 2000, five fewer than required.) The department was also short three of the eight ladder trucks required for reserves. Few blamed city officials for not releasing the $1.8 million to buy six new pumpers, even though he spent $32,000 to purchase a new command vehicle and an undisclosed sum to buy himself and other commanders 14 new cars. The report also showed that fire truck drivers were inadequately trained and poorly supervised, and were having too many accidents. Because of the lack of reserve vehicles, drivers also continued to operate vehicles even though they should have turned them in for repair. This worsened the repair issues when the vehicle failed. Although Few ordered the six pumpers by June 2002, there were still too few trucks in reserve.

Hiring and promotion scandals

In November 2001, the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance and the D.C. government's inspector general began Few for failing to disclose his relationship with a consultant the department had hired. Carl Holmes was hired by Few and Assistant Chief Gary Garland on a part-time basis at $1,800 a day. Few had worked for Holmes, and Few did not reveal his friendship with him as required by law. The following month, investigators discovered two more no-bid contracts awarded to Holmes.

In March 2002, Mayor Anthony A. Williams announced an investigation into two assistant chiefs and a deputy chief who may have been improperly hired by Few. Williams said Assistant Chief Marcus Anderson, Assistant Chief Gary Garland, and Deputy Chief Bruce Cowan falsied their résumés by claiming high-level jobs they did not hold and listing certification and educational credentials they never earned. Although Few had significantly raised department morale in August 2000 by reversing a number of transfers (viewed as punitive by the rank and file) ordered by former interim Fire Chief Kenneth B. Ellerbe, But the hiring of Anderson, Garland, and Cowan deeply undercut morale again. "The people [Few] promoted were not the kind of guys that got things done," one battalion chief said. "I think the odds of an insider getting things done ... are probably better."

These personnel scandals deepened in April when the D.C. City Council revealed it failed to identify inaccuracies on Few's résumé, submitted in 2000. The résumé incorrectly listed a college degree Few did not earn, and an honor ("1998 Fire Chief of the Year" by the International Association of Fire Fighters) he did not receive. Members of the District of Columbia Financial Control Board, which hired Few, said they might have vetoed his employment had they known about the inaccuracies. Few was also accused of misleading Congress by implying that he was a certified paramedic when he was not. Few blamed the mayor's office for submitting an incorrect résumé. A few days later, an internal departmental report found that Anderson, Cowan, and Garland failed to meet basic performance goals, and departmental performance had actually declined under them. Under Anderson, ambulances met their arrival-time goals only 41.6 percent of the time, down from 50.2 percent of the time a year earlier. (The national standard is 90 percent, and the city's goal was 80 percent.) The average time for an ambulance to arrive after a patient's call was 15.5 minutes. Under Garland, the emergency fleet continued to deteriorate as well. Not a single new fire engine had been ordered since October 2000, and the average age of engines in reserve was 15 years (nearly 50 percent higher than the 11-year lifespan of the vehicles). Although Garland's goal was to buy four engines in 2001 and six in 2002, only a single small "brush truck". Cowan, who supervised the city's building inspection program, was on track to inspect 3,243, buildings, far short of the goal of 5,980 inspections.

On April 26, 2002, disciplinary action was taken against Anderson, Cowan, and Garland. Five days later, the Washington Times revealed that Few was under investigation for previous actions at his old workplaces in East Point, Georgia, and Augusta, Georgia, for repeatedly violating hiring and promotions policies. In addition, Few violated D.C. law in authorizing eight merit-based promotions that had not been earned. Furthermore, the D.C. fire department held its first merit-based promotion testing in 22 months in April 2002.

Few's resignation

DCFEMS had a budget of about $120 million in spring 2002, $74 million of which went to firefighting and $22 million to emergency medical services. The remaining $24 million went to administration, administrative support, communications, and training. The agency had 1,350 firefighters, 390 paramedics and EMTs, and 200 communications and support personnel.

By the end of May 2002, the D.C. fire and emergency medical services department was in deep turmoil once again. The Washington Times called is a "crisis in management that has left the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department with crumbling stations, aging vehicles, faulty radios, inadequate training and flagging morale among its 1,900-plus members." There was tension between firefighters (who had better pay and benefits) and emergency medical services personnel; turnover among low-paid paramedics left fire companies understaffed; low pay made it difficult to recruit new paramedics; the "dead zones" in the new radio system were still not fixed after two years; the city installed four radio antenna towers instead of the 19 towers required; some firefighters were using vehicles that were due to be scrapped four years ago; there were so few reserve vehicles that on some days there was no reserve; fire stations had leaking plumbing and roofts, and outdated and ill-repaired electrical wiring; firefighter vacancy rates had not improved in two years, creating $2 million in overtime costs. The entire communications system failed for 10 and a half hours after three of the system's four towers suffered rain and lightning damage during a storm. Unqualified cadets were being allowed to graduate from an affirmative action firefighter training academy. As many as two-thirds of the cadets in the program lacked emotional maturity, had discipline problems (one actually shot another), failed to show up for class, or failed required portions of the course. Training for veteran firefighters was so inadequate that the best-trained firefighters in D.C. were ones who got training by working part-time for all-volunteer fire departments near the District of Columbia.

Few resigned effective July 31, 2002. The Washington Times said Few left behind "an agency whose equipment, facilities and morale had been left in shambles".

(more to come.....................)

This is what it was supposed to be like at the Smithsonian's now-under-construction National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). Along the north side of the building would be a wetland overflowing with lilies, marsh plants, floating flowers, and cattails. It would provide a refuge for birds and other animals, and be stocked with fish. A slow-moving "creek" would parallel Constitution Avenue NW, with water plants moving along with it. A bridge at an angle would permit visitors to figuratively "cross over Jordan" and access the museum via this restful, cool, natural gateway.

Here's how Philip Freelon, the architect described it:
At 50m (49'-2") deep, the setback is similar to other buildings on the north side of the Mall. The underside of the porch roof is tilted upward allowing reflection of the moving water below. This covered area creates a microclimate where breezes combine with the cooling waters to generate a place of refuge from the hot summer sun. There is also an outdoor patio on the porch rooftop that is accessed from a mezzanine level within the building.
The NMAAHC's own Web site (as of August 20, 2013) called this marshland "critical" to the visitor experience:
The landscape is an integral part of this design, establishing the site as a critical component of the visitor experience while providing perimeter security and sustainable water management. From ground plane to rooftop, the series of landscaped spaces embody both a metaphorical and physical narrative, with the presence of water as a constant and dynamic companion throughout the journey.

A marsh garden at the north entry marks the location of Tiber Creek—part of the canal system which once ran along what is now Constitution Avenue. A grand reflecting pool at the south entry brings the new museum into the view of the Mall—its slowly moving waters inviting all to approach.
But now the Smithsonian is radically changing this landscaping and will abandon the entire marsh concept.

The Smithsonian cites cost considerations. One wonders, however, if security isn't the real reason...

In fact, it could have been much worse. The Smithsonian initially proposed a low hedge. A fucking hedge!!!!! It brought this design to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts in April 2013, which rejected it. The Commission expressed "great concern about the possible loss of the symbolic meaning that had been skillfully woven into the design of both the landscape and the building".

In late July, the Smithsonian replaced the hedge with a low dull black granite wall and slab of flat lawn. The Commission of Fine Arts approved that redesign, because -- I guess -- it was just as much full of "symbolic meaning that had been skillfully woven into the design of both the landscape and the building".

What bullshitters you are, Commission of Fine Arts!

The Smithsonian will now bring it before the National Capital Planning Commission. The NCPC's executive director has already recommended that the commission approve the change. That'll be that. No more water feature. No more symbolism. Dullsville.

You suck, Smithsonian! You suck!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Apartment is one of my favorite films. Released in 1960, it was co-written by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. "Izzy" Diamond, and directed by Wilder. It starred Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, and Fred MacMurray. Lemmon plays C.C. Baxter, a low-level accountant at a huge New York City insurance company. As he explains, one day a guy needed a place to change out of his work clothes and into a tuxedo for a big company event. Since Baxter had a dingy apartment close by, Baxter offered to let him use it as a means of ingratiating himself with upper management. One thing led to another, and as the film opens Baxter is allowing four mid-level managers (Ray Walston, David Lewis, Willard Waterman, and David White) to use the apartment as a trysting spot with their mistresses.

It's not long before Mr. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray), head of human resources, realizes what's going on. Sheldrake also has a mistress: The pretty redheaded elevator girl, Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine). He gets into the scam as well, and soon Baxter is promoted to Administrative Assistant. The problem is that Baxter also is interested in Miss Kubelik.

The film begins in September, as Miss Kubelik tries to break up with Mr. Sheldrake. Sheldrake says he'll leave his wife, and she relents. But by Christmas Eve, he still hasn't left his wife. When he is particularly callous toward Miss Kubelik on Christmas Eve and leaves her alone, Fran decides to commit suicide in the apartment with some sleeping pills she's found. Baxter comes home to find her almost dead in his bedroom. With the help of his next-door-neighbor, Dr. Dreyfuss (Jack Kruschen), Miss Kubelik is saved. Baxter cares for her over the next several days, worried she might try to commit suicide again. I won't give away the final hour of the film.

The Apartment was nominated for a whopping 10 Oscars -- at a time when winning an Oscar meant something! This was the year of Elmer Gantry, Psycho, Inherit the Wind, BUtterfield 8, Hiroshima, Mon Amour, and Spartacus. The competition was quite fierce. It won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Art Direction (Black and White), and Best Editing. Jack Lemmon lost the Best Actor award to Burt Lancaster in Elmer Gantry, although today most people believe Lemmon should have won. Shirley MacLaine lost to Elizabeth Taylor in BUtterfield 8. Jack Kruschen lost to Peter Ustinov in Spartacus.

While doing some research on my Ben-Hur Wikipedia article, I stumbled across a New York Times nugget about locations used in The Apartment. I verified them all.

So here's some trivia about The Apartment you may not ever have known!

The brownstone

Although it looks like a set, the exterior of C.C. Baxter's apartment was a real brownstone apartment building located at 51 W. 69th Street in New York City. Shooting occurred there from midnight to 4 AM for a week.

The bar

After he learns that Miss Kubelik is Mr. Sheldrake's mistress, C.C. Baxter goes to a bar to drown his sorrows on New Year's Eve. He has a humorous encounter with a ditzy blond (a wonderful Edie Adams) who is pining for her jockey-sized boyfriend (who has been imprisoned in Cuba for trying to dope a horse). Again, you'd think that the two bar scenes here would have been a set. Nope! They were shot in the Emerald Bar (now the Emerald Inn) at 205 Columbus Avenue. In this screen shot, you can clearly see the bar's address in reverse in over the front door.

The park benches

C.C. Baxtar is just the girl who can't say no -- and so, early in the film, he allows one of the mid-level managers to bring a buxom blond over at 1 A.M. Baxter, of course, must vacate the apartment while they do the dirty deed. In his pajamas and an overcoat, he goes and sits in the park on some benches for five hours. It's clearly a location shot. Where were these benches? Central Park West between W. 67th and W. 69th Streets.

The Rickshaw Cafe

The fictional Rickshaw Cafe plays a critical role in the film. That's where Mr. Sheldrake takes Miss Kubelik for drinks and dinner (always the same thing: sweet-and-sour chicken, followed by egg roll). The interior of the restaurant was a set. But the exterior was not. But it wasn't a restaurant! Rather, it was a barber shop located at 52 New Street in Manhattan.

The Music Man

C.C. Baxter invites Miss Kubelik to see the play The Music Man. She blows him off, and instead goes to the Rickshaw Cafe with Mr. Sheldrake. She tries to break up with Sheldrake, but instead Sheldrake lies and tells her that he's leaving his wife. Poor C.C. Baxter is left standing outside the theater all alone. The Music Man is a real Broadway musical, and in 1959 and 1960 it was really playing on Broadway -- and a huge hit, to boot. In fact, it played at the Majestic Theatre -- and these scenes were shot right in front of the theater (albeit at 12:30 AM, after the last performance of the night and after all the crowds and cast had long gone home).

C.C. Baxter's office

The office building with the Modernist facade where C.C. Baxter works and which is called the "Consolidated Life of New York Insurance Company" building is really 2 Broadway.  It is a 32-story office tower built by Uris Brothers and completed in 1959.  The building fills the entire lot, with three setbacks as it rises.  The original facade featured aluminum metal rectangles with rectangular fanlights above and below that covered blue-green tinted windows.  This facade, which you saw in the movie, is now gone.  The ground floor bank (which C.C. Baxter and Miss Kubelik also pass by several times) is also gone, replaced by an Ann Taylor Loft, Chipotle's, and Starbucks. By the way, 2 Broadway was also featured in the 1965 movie Mirage with Gregory Peck and Diane Baker.

The Classical Revival building to the right is the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House at One Bowling Green.
Molly: You might as well know the worst. I warn you, she sees pixies.

Godfrey: Pixies?

Molly: You know, the little men?

Godfrey: Oh, those. I know how to take care of those.
[Godfrey assembles a pick-me-up of gin, a raw egg, tomato juice, other things]
Godfrey: Have you any Worcestershire?

Molly [handing it to him]: What are you gonna do with that?
[Godfrey pours a huge amount of Worcestershire sauce into the drink]
Godfrey: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you!

Molly [appalled]: What do you want to do? Scorch her windpipe?

Godfrey: There's nothing like a counterirritant...

Cockyboys gay porn star Jett Black is really a ballet dancer by the name of Jeppe Hansen. He's Danish, 22 years old, and was just fired from the Winnipeg Ballet for doing adult films.

Boo, Winnipeg!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

I went to the circus way back in February, and saw this dog act. Now they have their own Wikipedia page! And my photos are the ones used to illustrate it. Yay!

I wanted to get up really early Friday morning to take photos. Instead, I woke up at 12:30 AM feeling incredibly nauseous. It didn't stop until 5 AM. There went my photo day.

I felt bad all day long, slightly ill if I ingested anything, and starving if I did't. I slept for two hours yesterday afternoon, and that didn't help. And I still felt wobbly and wonky at night.

The one I set aside to do art and photos and all that... and it gets taken away from me. And my Saturday isn't any better. Now I have a whole week of cloudy skies and rain to look forward to. Great...................

Thursday, August 15, 2013

American University will begin razing the Constitution Hall classroom building and the Congressional and Federal residence halls on the Tenley Campus (located six blocks from AU at Tenley Circle). They're coming down because the Washington College of Law (AU's law school) has already outgrown its campus at 4800 Massachusetts Avenue NW.

WCL nearly lost its accreditation in the early 1990s because it was jammed into the too-cramped Myers Hall (now part of the Kogod Building). AU drew up plans in 1990 tear down a WWII, asbestos-filled building near Nebraska Hall. This won an Architectural Digest award for the best academic building in America. Local citizens opposed this so much (they feared the noise and agony of construction) that this award-winning design was scrapped. Joy.

In 1998, WCL into the former Spring Valley Shopping Center, now known as the Myers Law Center. The asbestos-filled bulding? Locals relented shortly after WCL's move, and the Katzen Art Center built on the site. (WCL deans just about tore their hair out.)

But in 15 years, WCL has seen its admissions grow from 1,000 students to nearly 1,700 -- including a new doctoral program in law (one of just a handful in the country). WCL now accounts for a whopping 14 percent of AU's total enrollment, and more than a third of its entire graduate student enrollment.

The Tenley Campus was originally Immaculata Girls School and Convent. The school closed in the early 1980s, and the nuns sold the campus to AU so they could obtain an endowment that would see them through their old age. (Their Bon Secours convent still is home to the nuns, and is across the street from the Tenley Campus.) It's long been home to AU's "Washington Semester" program -- where college students transfer to AU for a semester to have a special experience. It's not clear how it will survive now...

The existing 1921 chapel will be gutted and turned into the "Chapel Teaching Courtroom". The 1903 Baroque Revival-style Capital Hall will be gutted and renovated, and its southwest courtyard enclosed in a glass atrium which will connect with the new Yuma Street building. The facade of Capital Hall will remain untouched, although it will be conserved, repaired, and refurbished. Capital Hall will become various college offices (LLM program, SJD program, law journal, pro bono public law assistance center, etc.).

AU says the 1839 Dublane House will see minimal interior revnoation. This structure suffered extensive fire damage in 1995, and its historic character largely lost. This will become the WCL administration building.

Over the next year, AU intends to build two buildings with limestone veneers and large glass-and-aluminum curtain walls:
  • A 4-story Nebraska Avenue/Warren Street "wing" attached to Capital Hall. This will house classrooms, courtrooms, and the Pence Law Library. From the north and campus interior, it will look like three stories (as the ground slopes steeply to the couth).
  • A 4-story Yuma Street "wing" attached to Capital Hall. This will house faculty offices and classrooms.
  • An underground parking garage for 400 cars. A surface parking lot for 400 cars will be rebuilt on top of it.
WCL will expand to 310,000 sq. ft. from about 205,000 sq. ft., and will have the capacity to enroll 2,000 students (up by 300 from today). AU believes this will be WCL's permanent home, and stop the constant moving. (AU is committed to keeping WCL integrated with the rest of the university and geographically close at hand, unlike many colleges -- which have lost control of their law schools, which now act like independent entities.)

In comparison, Georgetown Law School has about 2,300 students, Yale Law School 629, Stanford Law School 571, University of Chicago Law School 589, George Washington University Law School 2,000, University of Maryland School of Law 830, and University of Virginia School of Law 1,100.