Washington, DC Archives

July 21, 2004

Off To See The Wizard


Every July, I drive about a dozen students from Connecticut to D.C. as part of the John F. Kennedy Institute program. As we approach Washington, there is a sight that never fails to thrill me. The view of the above structure--a Mormon temple, actually--looming over the highway as we approach it in the early evening each summer is pretty striking, as it's lighted such that it glows an iridescent greenish hue. I'm not the first to think it's a pretty fair substitute for the Emerald City from The Wizard Of Oz. In fact, for years an overpass near the temple displayed a pretty clever spraypaint job: SURRENDER DOROTHY. As we reach the crest of a hill and the spires of the temple appear over the Beltway, the kids on the trip finally realize why I kept referring to "lions and tigers and bears" for the last couple of hours.

July 19, 2005

The Nation's Capital


As I have done the third week in July most years since 1988, I am enduring the combination of heat (90 degress plus!) and humidity unique to the swamp now known as Washington, DC. In my capacity as Director of the John F. Kennedy Institute in Government, I spent today shepherding a dozen students around Capitol Hill (we'll visit the White House and the Supreme Court, as well as other governmental and political sites of interest, later this week).

It's always somewhat exciting to experience life "inside the Beltway" for at least a few days every year. Politics absolutely dominates the culture of the city in a way it does nowhere else I've been. Only in this place do folks talk about the day's lead story in Roll Call with passion.

It was a treat to connect with some familiar faces now working in various capacities in Congress: current Choate student Jeff Berry, an intern in Rosa DeLauro's office; JFK Institute alum Hayden Brockett, now a full-time DeLauro staffer; and recent CRH grad Will Howerton, spending some time in John Kerry's office this summer over on the Senate side.

The evening hours in Georgetown are, in contrast to the days during this excursion, relatively leisurely in pace. This part of town offers a nice range of shops and restaurants as well as air-conditioned accommodations on the Georgetown University campus.

July 16, 2007

The Emerald City Could Be Greener


I peppered the drive down to DC with Wizard of Oz references in antipation of showing the K.I. kids the Mormon temple looming over the Washington beltway illuminated in an eerie green, as in past years. The temple appeared right on schedule, bathed in light, but it wasn't as green as it was in the past, which made it a tougher sell as "the Emerald City." In fact, it looked much whiter, as it would in daylight (see the photo above).

July 17, 2007

Song Of The Day #198

"Won't Get Fooled Again," by The Who, contains the greatest scream in rock history.

The Who - Who's Next - Won't Get Fooled Again

The Pulse Of The Capital


I spent most of the day squiring the ten Kennedy Institute students around Capitol Hill.

Security concerns have made navigating around the Capitol complex pretty frustrating. I remember the days when I could take a group from a House office building through the Capitol basement, onto the Senate Subway, and into the Senate office buildings without being stopped. No more. Without an official escort much of the time, we had to keep heading outside to move from one building to another. And of course, the temperatures in July in D.C. tend to be soaring--making every such trip a brutal hike.

That said, there is always an excitement about being in the midst of the wheels of government when Congress is in session. We are meeting lawmakers and staffers as part of our official schedule, of course, but there are also chance sightings of (and sometimes meetings with) political celebrities. Today we saw U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Senator (and presidential candidate and former First Lady) Hilary Clinton. More importantly, even in these cynical times, people in and around government often exhibit an admirable sense of idealism about their work; this feeling is somewhat infectious.

July 18, 2007

Song Of The Day #199

One of my favorite James Taylor songs: "Sarah Maria."

James Taylor - Gorilla - Sarah Maria

Monuments By Night


I took the kids around to the monuments tonight. Evening is the best time to do this: it's a lot cooler, there are fewer crowds, and the venues are lighted for dramatic effect. The Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial--one of my favorites--was a huge disappointment, in that most of its fountain/waterfall features were dry and the lighting was not fully implemented through the site. But the Jefferson Memorial (pictured above), the Lincoln Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial all looked great.

July 19, 2007

Song Of The Day #200

Squeeze performs "Tempted."

Squeeze - Squeeze: Greatest Hits - Tempted

Draft College Republicans


A priceless video piece on the chickenhawk phenomenon among College Republicans has been posted. Click here to view it.

Spoiler-Free Zone

Just over 24 hours until the release of the final Harry Potter tome. Apparently the Internet is buzzing with spoilers. Why anyone would go out of his way to find out the ending beforehand is a mystery to me. I am planning to scrupulously avoid TV and the Internet until I finish the book sometime after Amazon delivers it to me on Saturday morning.

July 20, 2007

Song Of The Day #201

Today is a travel day, so here is one of the greatest all-time driving tunes: "Jessica" by The Allman Brothers.

The Allman Brothers Band - The Road Goes On Forever (Remastered) - Jessica

October 30, 2007

Across The Pacific


My new desktop computer has been dispatched from China and apparently had a stopover in Alaska. Should be in Wallingford by the end of the week, when I get back from D.C.

October 31, 2007

Song Of The Day #304

Sort of an obvious choice for Halloween: "Monster Mash" by Bobby "Boris" Pickett.

Bobby "Boris" Pickett & The Crypt-Kickers - The Original Monster Mash - Monster Mash

From Shanghai To Wallingford


Wow. FedEx is pretty impressive. My new iMac left China on Tuesday morning and arrived on the Choate campus before lunch today. Too bad it will sit in the mailroom for two days before I can pick it up on Friday. (Meanwhile, the AirPort Extreme unit I ordered the same day as the desktop computer is taking over twice as long to get to Connecticut from Tennessee!)

A Day In The District


Spent much of the morning in the White House. It's been a few years since I have been inside the building. We did the East Wing/mansion tour and then spent time chatting with a handful of relatively senior staffers. Pretty interesting stuff for the wonkishly inclined. It's still somewhat heady to be in the actual White House for a few hours.

We had lunch at the State Department, followed by back-to-back Asia-related briefings wth some high-ranking Foreign Service officers, the first focused on the Five Party Talks about North Korea, and the second on the recent Burma crisis.

Our last stop of the afternoon was a visit to the city's premier lobbyist/law firm Patton Boggs. We talked to several senior partners there, including former U.S. Senator John Breaux of Louisiana.

Tonight we head to Georgetown for a chat over pizza with Newsweek editor-at-large Evan Thomas.

November 1, 2007

Song Of The Day #305

Sting's "Inside."

Sting - Sacred Love - Inside

June 23, 2008

My Pilgrimage


My first stop in the District was one of my favorite locations in the city: the Jefferson Memorial. Good stop to hit the men's room and change out of my grubby travel clothes to make myself presentable for my dinner, with a little inspiration thrown in for good measure.

R.I.P. George Carlin


Sad to hear about the loss of George Carlin. As a kid, I delighted in his "Seven Words" routine and his riffs on growing up Catholic. He was a master observer of the foibles of the English language and his irreverent voice will be missed.

June 24, 2008

A Capital Day


I slept in a bit this morning, then headed out to enjoy the city. The temperature was warm but comfortable, with minimal humidity. Under a cloudless blue sky, I walked across the P Street bridge from Georgetown to DuPont Circle and then took the Metro downtown.

This time of the summer, with school still in session in much of the country, there are far fewer student groups on hand as well as fewer families from the heartland, compared to the third week in July when I've made the Kennedy Institute trip over the years. There do seem to be more foreign tourists, no doubt benefiting from the weak dollar.

It certainly is nice to amble around the capital without a schedule to keep, nor students to keep in tow, nor security clearances to worry about!



I spent much of the afternoon exploring the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, a Washington site I had never visited before. Pretty moving stuff, though of course my trip to Dachau and Auschwitz in 1990 had a much greater impact.

A Mini-Reunion

I had a nice dinner in Georgetown at J. Paul's on M Street with a group of nine relatively recent Choate grads, all drawn from the classes of 2004 through 2007. It was an eclectic mix of people, but a pleasant night out.

June 25, 2008

Heading Into Dixie

Taking off from DC early this morning and heading west into Virginia on my way to "Shakespeare camp" in Charlottesville.

June 20, 2009

The Folger


While here in D.C. I have a little time to visit the Folger Shakespeare Library, just a short walk from Union Station. Of course, walking to Capitol Hill reminds me just how warm Washington gets this time of year!

June 21, 2009

Heading North

I drove back to Washington after the play, returned my rental car at Union Station, and just boarded the the 3:15 Amtrak regional to take me back to New Haven. I booked a seat in business class, which probably was a mistake, since the train has plenty of empty seats throughout and all I intend to do is sleep until we arrive in Connecticut. I could have saved myself about $35. Live and learn, I guess.

July 17, 2009

Like Captain Janeway, I Guess

Today was a first. My flight from Hartford to Washington-Dulles was captained by a female pilot. Not a big deal, really, but as she spoke over the PA system it dawned on me that in the dozens and dozens of flights I've taken all over the world, I couldn't recall ever having a woman fly the plane before.

40 Years Ago


The anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission is getting a lot of press coverage this week. One of my very earliest childhood memories is watching the moon landing at my grandparents' house in Philadelphia. The adults in my family clearly thought this was something of a big deal, as it left an impression on me.

July 20, 2009

Settling Into Georgetown

I am spending the week in Washington, DC with the J.F.K. Institute program. We survived the long drive down to the capital today, suffering though the usual congestion in the Bronx on I-95, though the trip was otherwise uneventful. (I did enjoy building up to the appearance of "the Emerald City"--the Mormon temple on the Beltway, as I do every year I take kids to DC.) Since I transferred a few shows to my laptop, I will unwind with a little entertainment before catching some shut-eye.

July 21, 2009

Plugging In


Since the Georgetown University dorms don't have wireless, I remember to pack an Ethernet cord for this trip. What I forgot, however--mostly because I live in a wireless world at Choate--was the USB-to-Ethernet adapter the MacBook Air needs to connect to the Internet. So I had to make a trip to Arlington, VA to pick one up at the Apple Store (for $29--highway robbery!). But now I'll have an extra one to leave in my bag.

Capitol Hill


Our group of thirteen students and three adults spent most of the day on Capitol Hill after a morning visit to a prominent lobbying firm. The new Capitol Visitors Center is impressive; nice to see the finished product after looking at that huge hole in the ground on the East Front for years. The highlight of the day was a 15-minute or so meeting with the Speaker of the House; Nancy Pelosi met with us on the Speaker's Balcony--arguably one of the best views in the District!

July 22, 2009

Great Night For A Ball Game!


I got to see the (relatively) new Nationals Park tonight as the local NL franchise hosted the Mets. It was a beautiful night for a game and I enjoyed the company of a quartet or recent Choate alums: an two '05s, an '06, and an '08--all cross country and Mem House vets.

The Old Boy Network

Today's appointments for the Kennedy Institute's D.C. session happened to involve a handful of former students: two veterans of the Kennedy Institute and a trio of Choate "winter school" grads all doing great things in either government service or related work in the private sector. (Two of them also taught with me in the K.I. summer program, too.) As a teacher, it's very rewarding to see those I once knew as eager 15-year-olds now positioned as seasoned veterans in prominent roles in the nation's capital. One of them is chief-of-staff for a Representative, another a staff director and counsel for a major House Homeland Security subcommittee, one more working on government relations for Google, and yet another developing a career as a lobbyist after a half-dozen years as a Senate aide.

July 23, 2009

Google's Ever-Changing Logo


Google occasionally alters its corporate logo on the main page of its search website in recognition of holidays, special events, and such. Today we get the logo rendered with DC Comics heroes in honor of Comic-Con's 40th anniversary. Nice touch!

Strawberry Swing


The video for Coldplay's "Strawberry Swing" is a wonderfully inventive piece of visual magic and very much worth a look.

Google Voice


I found out today I received my official invitation to activate Google Voice. So I now have a new number (which cost me nothing) that I can use to route calls to my iPhone, work phone, or home phone or just to collect VoiceMail messages (and even have them sent to me in transcribed text format as e-mails). And I can customize the response depending on who is calling me.

I now have to figure out my strategy for sharing this new number: who gets it and on what basis.

If you want to more about Google Voice, you read about it and can watch a short video and request an invitation.

The Old Fashioned Format


As I blogged last week, I was planning to wait for the new Gabriel Allon spy novel The Defector, by Daniel Silva, to drop in price in its Kindle format. But the Georgetown Barnes & Noble had the hardback for 20% off and signed by the author, so I went with the traditional edition.

October 25, 2009

Much Ado At The Folger


I saw my fourth production of Much Ado About Nothing this afternoon, this one at the Folger Shakespeare Library's Elizabethan Theatre. Previous stagings I've seen were set in Spain and in mid-20th century Italy. This one employed Caribbean themes set in a contemporary American city (presumably Washington, DC). A pretty engaging rendition of the play.

A Ben Jonson Play


Since I was in DC already, I visited the city's other Shakespearean theater, called the Shakespeare Theatre Company, to see the work of one of The Bard's contemporaries, Ben Johnson. The play was The Alchemist, a goofy comedy that was amusing enough.

April 3, 2010

The Fall Of A Poet


I saw Richard II on stage for the very first time today here in the nation's capital. Michael Hayden (who will step into the title role of Henry V tonight) assembled a most impressive performance as the king. The play started with a couple of scenes I was entirely unfamiliar with, and I was pretty confused before the action got to the Bolingbroke/Mowbray "trial" scene and the familiar elements of the text I had both studied and taught. It turns out this production incorporated material from an anonymous play (sometimes attributed to Shakespeare) about Thomas Woodstock; these scenes lengthened this particular version of Richard II, but certainly added a useful context to anyone in the audience unfamiliar with this era in British history. Overall, an impressive staging, with very good acting and first-rate production values.

The Warrior King


The second play in today's Shakespeare double bill was Henry V. I sat up in rear of the balcony for this one (a few of us were to the right of the stage and very close to the action this afternoon for Richard II). Like the earlier show, this production might have benefited from a bit of cutting to keep the overall length a bit more manageable, but it was similarly well executed. Michael Hayden's Henry was very different than his King Richard (and appropriately so) and the acting throughout the cast of about 30 was of a high caliber. I thought there were some missed opportunities for humor from the Welsh captain Fluellen (this character had the audience in stitches when I saw the play outdoors in Richmond, Virginia, last summer). But it's clear that The Shakespeare Theatre Company is indeed a top-flight acting troupe and knows it's business when it comes to producing the Bard's works.

The Folger Library


Our party of five young scholars and one teacher left Wallingford at 6:15 this morning, made good time driving south to DC, picked up another student at Union Station, and then checked out the Folger Shakespeare Library on Capitol Hill. Since we had plenty of time before our 2:00 curtain for Richard II, I wanted to show the kids some of the First Folios (the collection of 79 is the largest in the world) on display in the exhibition hall. We lucked out while there, as we got to watch the resident acting company rehearse the final scene of Hamlet for an upcoming production in the Elizabethan theater in the building.

April 13, 2010

Behind Schedule

Nothing I can do about this, but my flights to Richmond have been late all day, due mostly to the rain affecting the schedule in Dulles Airport. We didn't get off the ground in Hartford on time because of the delays in DC (actually we had to sit on the tarmac at the end of the runway for a while with the engines powered down). And my connection to Richmond will be late as well, so making the 7:30 curtain in Richmond is going to be tight.

July 17, 2010

Midnight Train To D.C.

After settling in the Mem House boys, I took a 12:45 a.m. Amtrak train from New Haven's Union Station and arrived in the nation's capital about 7:00 this morning. I got a fair amount of sleep along the way. I now have a rental car and will take my time driving over to the Shenandoah Valley. I'll probably find a place for a short nap along the way!

July 18, 2010

Washington By Night


Driving through the streets of D.C. in the wee hours is starkly different than the capital by daylight. There is little traffic (thankfully!) and the illuminated dome of the U.S. Capitol looms over the city in a magical way.

I am taking the 3:15 a.m. Amtrak back to New Haven this morning. Hopefully that journey will entail mostly sleep! I'll catch about 90 minutes shuteye in my own bed before driving to western Massachusetts for a third Shakespeare performance in two days.

About Washington, DC

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