Saturday, February 22, 2020

Still Life with Robin: Comments Unleashed!

Photo by Sardaka via Creative Commons
(not a dog mentioned in any of these comments)
by Peggy Robin

How long has it been since unleashed dogs were discussed on the Cleveland Park Listserv? (See answer below*.) If you think the answer is “too long!” then get yourself over to the Popville blog, where there’s a real rager going on over that very question. 

The original post that set off the Popville outpouring was titled “Off leash dog, rude owners — what options do we have?”[] and it came out on Thursday, Feb. 20. By Friday morning there were 150 (!) comments. By Saturday morning – as I’m typing this – the number is 161. That’s the measure of a hot topic for you. Working on the assumption that not many of you will have the time to go through all the comments, I have put together this highlights reel of the conversation:

Off-leash dogs around leashed dogs is such a big problem that many don't seem aware of. Some sort of power dynamic comes into play. I've had to yank dogs, such as a large boxer, off our beagle. The owners of the boxer were like, "he's usually so friendly!" I had the dog by the back of the neck at the time, and used some choice words that won't get past the filter as I thrust it back at them.

The suggestion that follows – to yell at the offending  owner of the unleashed dog – was the one that attracted the most feedback -- most of it positive. I have excerpted just the “yell at them” advice from a lengthier message:

As soon as you see the off-leash dog, start yelling at the top of your lungs "ALL DOGS ON LEASH AT ALL TIMES". Keep repeating it until the owner puts the dog on leash. You will get attention, but it works.

Kick them, the owners I mean.

Yup. I get rude. That's because my (leashed) fear reactive dog was bitten by off leash dogs on two separate occasions, both times were in public areas where leash laws apply, and both times the owners were *shocked* because their dogs "are usually so friendly." So I don't care anymore about confronting people who walk their dogs off leash. I will yell at you to leash your dog. I will yell that my dog is aggressive and will bite if approached (even though she has never bitten a dog.) I don't care how "friendly" your dog is, I don't care that your dog is a rescue or a pure bred golden retriever therapy dog - you are not above the law. It's really not that hard to leash your dog.

My dog is pretty well-behaved when off-leash at a park or other fenced-in area, but all it would take is one squirrel for all that to go out the window.

My dogs are reactive and I've worked very hard with them on their reactivity and they have both improved tremendously. But I am regularly boggled by people who are oblivious to the fact that I'm doing everything I can to avoid contact with them and their dog and to keep my dogs calm and well behaved.  

I presume this next poster is trying to be funny….but the trouble with online conversation is that it’s hard to show tone of voice. And you can never underestimate how unhinged some posters are.

Let your dog live! Let him taste the blood of his foes!

I've never understood this and never will. If you've tried to talk to the owners calmly and they're reacting this way, I think they've left you no choice but to call the police. Not only is this situation a danger to your dog, it's a danger to the off-leash dogs too! No matter how well you think you know your dog, they're still an animal and you can never be 100% certain how they'll react if something frightens or upsets them. They could run into the street and be killed in an instant! Unless you live on a farm in the middle of nowhere there is simply no excuse for not having your dog on a leash.

I once saw a woman let her dog crap on the sidewalk in front of my residence and kept going. I yelled to her "excuse me there is a law in DC requiring you pick that up and even if there wasn't there are plenty of reasons why you should" She replied: "F you!" and walked away. So I picked up the crap myself in a bag and followed her home 4 blocks and as she went up her walk I dumped the bag out in front of her door and said "since it doesn't bother you to have this shit in front of my residence, guess you won't mind it in front of yours either!" She was speechless and I walked away.

….And then there was this comment, which came after a long exchange about people who will rationalize breaking rules or laws, and how laws should be strictly enforced:

I think the people on this thread are being completely irrational and make me want to go do it out of spite.

….And how quickly this poster generalizes from the no-leash dog walkers to “DC is full of jerks.” (Kinda makes you wonder what mythical jerkless land this poster hails from..): 

DC is full of self-entitled jerks, and it seems to be getting worse. I blame the fact that there is effectively no enforcement of any civil laws, at all. No traffic enforcement, no building code enforcement, no public-pot-smoking enforcement, just to name a few violations with large externalities. People seem to have adopted the "you can't tell me what to do since I can get away with just about anything" approach to life here.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, from a resident living in a seat of government, the suggestion to call in the law – and make it pay:

The city could make a killing by just sticking a police officer in Logan Circle or in Cap Hill to write unleashed dog tickets for two hours. Plus, it would likely get news coverage and make Bowser look good to the anti-gentrification crowd.

Sort of boggles my mind that the city hasn't done this yet.

And then, perhaps even more fittingly for our times, someone pointing out that the law can sometimes be swept aside...with the right political pressure: 

I agree, but also can predict that every single dog owner that got a ticket would be calling/emailing/lining up outside their councilmember's office to complain about how UNFAIR it was that they were ticketed. DC - especially the Logan neighborhood - is full of loud, self-entitled jerks who think laws and social norms don't and shouldn't apply to them.

* Answer: May 2018 – and that’s quite a long time without this topic on the listserv, which in past years has usually come up multiple times a year. While there was was nothing in 2019, look at the record for 2017: There were unleashed dog incident reports, followed by often-lengthy discussions of the problem, posted in February and again in May, and then a really long-running thread starting at the end of September and continuing on for several days through the beginning of October, and then popping up again at the end of October 2017 - six times!
Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.        

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Get Out! The Events Column, February 21 - 27, 2020

Mardi Gras Photo by Capitol Cider House
We wanted to share some events and activities that list members might be interested in. Have a great weekend -- and week beyond, too. If you know of an event that the 14,600+ members of the Cleveland Park Listserv should know about, email us at events @ fastmail dot net.

Peggy Robin and Bill Adler
Publishers, Cleveland Park Listserv     

Friday, February 21 at 12 noon, Lunch and Conversation: Kids in Birmingham 1963 - Shape Your Legacy. Birmingham, Alabama earned its place in history when the events of 1963 brought civil rights to the forefront. Fifty years after those events changed the course of US history, people began actively telling their stories to spark actions for social justice. “Kids in Birmingham 1963” offers you the chance to consider how their storytelling experience could help you shape your own personal narrative. Join this session and let them lead you through a few simple steps. Practice telling one of your stories in a way that brings it alive. The founder of this group lives in Tenleytown and looks forward to hearing your stories. Register here: Free. At the Tenley-Friendship Library, 4450 Wisconsin Avenue NW. More info: 

Friday February 21 at 12:30 PM, Lunch Bites Lecture: A Map of the Province of New York, with Part of Pensilvania, and New England. Join Society of the Cincinnati’s Library Assistant Kieran O’Keefe for a discussion of a hand-colored map of New York published in 1775 and of mapmaking in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world. The map was based on a survey conducted by John Montresor, a British military engineer and cartographer. The map primarily details New York but also shows parts of the surrounding colonies of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and what would later become Vermont. Designed for military use, Montresor placed specific emphasis on lakes, rivers, streams, and roads, all of which were vital during wartime. The presentation will last approximately 30 minutes with time afterwards for up-close viewing of the map. Free. At the Society of the Cincinnati, Anderson House, 2118 Massachusetts Avenue NW. For more info about this and other Anderson House events go to:     

Saturday, February 22 from 9:30 AM - 12 PM Staying in the Neighborhood: From House to Apartment. Have you been thinking about downsizing from your house to an apartment but want to remain in the Cleveland Park/Woodley Park neighborhood? If so, we have a program that may help you make that decision and figure out what you need to do to make the change. Session I on Saturday: Done It! The Why, Where and How from people who’ve done it Do It! Declutter and Downsize with Cull & Tend. (Snow date: Feb. 23 from 1-3 PM).  Session II will be held on Saturday, March 21 from 9:30 AM - 12 PM: Do It! Finding an Apartment. Hear from realtors from RLAH and Keller Williams and get tips for preparing your home for sale. Do It! Financial Nuts and Bolts with Heritage Investors Management Corporation. At the Cleveland Park Library, 3310 Connecticut Avenue NW.  This program is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Please visit the below links to register: Session I:; Session II: 

Saturday, February 22 at 1 PM, "Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and Their Astonishing Odyssey Home." Dr. Richard Bell, Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland, discusses the gripping and true story about five boys who in 1825 were kidnapped in the North and smuggled into slavery in the Deep South—and their daring attempt to escape and bring their captors to justice. More info: Free. At the Georgetown Library, 3260 R Street NW 

Saturday February 22 from 4 - 7 PM, Mardi Gras at DC Wharf. We're bringing New Orleans to DC! Come celebrate Mardi Gras with a free, community-wide extravaganza featuring a lively parade down Wharf Street, a dance party with live music on District Pier, and a special fireworks finale. Mardi Gras parade starts at 4 PM, led by the all-women's drum corps Batalá, and featuring stilt walkers, Eastern High School's Blue and White Marching Machine, and the Mardi Gras king and queen. The parade begins at Blair Alley (near Shake Shack), proceeds down Wharf Street towards Recreation Pier, curves around 7th Street Park, and continues along Maine Avenue before ending at District Square. Following the parade, head to District Pier where you can dance and sing along to live Cajun-Zydeco music from the Crawdaddies. When the sun sets, look to the sky for our big Mardi Gras fireworks finale! Throughout the day, we'll have fun activities for all ages, including DC Lottery's amazing prize wheel, balloon animals, and crafts for kids. This event is FREE and open to all ages. Arrive early to get a good viewing spot for the parade. At District Pier. Directions and more on scheduled events at:     

Sunday, February 23 from 12:30 - 2:30 PM, Family Gras. Join us for our 2nd annual Family Gras - a family-friendly Mardi Gras celebration at Capitol Cider House. Kids will enjoy complimentary face painting, balloon animals, festive crafts, beads (gently) thrown from a cider house float. Adults will enjoy our stellar weekday happy hour: $4 pours of house cider, $5 craft beer, $6 local wine, $7 cocktails. As an added bonus, we're flying in king cake from Gambino's - a legendary New Orleans bakery. Tickets ($10) required for ALL AGES. It's highly recommended to purchase tickets ahead of time - go to: Tickets sell fast and the event is expected to sell out before doors open. Full food and drink menus will be available. Laissez les bon temps rouler! Capitol Cider House is at 3930 Georgia Avenue NW.

Sunday, February 23 at 6 PM, Profs and Pints Presents: “Monumental Controversies,” with Fred Bohrer, professor of art and archaeology at Hood College, art historian, and author of the website Monumental Anxiety: An Anti-Guide to the Monuments of Washington, DC. Even more than most cities, Washington, DC is filled with monuments and commemorative spaces, which generally serve mainly as a sort of backdrop of urban life. In the past few years, though, many public monuments in Washington and elsewhere have faced new scrutiny, criticism and even direct attack. Chief among such controversies is the current battle over Confederate monuments, which can be found in every corner of the nation. In fact, Washington itself has a public, outdoor monument to a confederate general and KKK sympathizer—Albert Pike—disguising him as a poet and philosopher. But many other controversies also play out around monuments. Washington has several that bring up—sometimes mainly through their attempts at avoiding—questions of sexual orientation, disability, ideology, social class, and much more. What is at stake in the new battle over monuments? How and why do monuments today have the power to inspire such vehement passions among both defenders and detractors? This talk is for anyone who has wondered about the prominent place of monuments in cities and towns, the nature of historical memory, and how things such as race, gender, sexuality, and cultural identity are inscribed in America’s public landscape. Advance tickets: $12. Door admission: $15, discount of $2 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later. At the Bier Baron Tavern, 1523 22nd St NW. Buy tickets online: 

Monday, February 24 at 12 noon, Gallery Talk: “George Washington and His World.” Assistant Curator Amber “Jackie” Streker leads a unique tour through the exhibition George Washington and His World. Discover hidden details about the objects and get an insider’s perspective about curating the exhibition—all from the curator herself. Featuring a variety of artifacts, including letters from George Washington and rare prints and maps, George Washington and His World delves into Washington's life through three locations dear to his heart—Mount Vernon, Alexandria, and early Washington, DC. Free. At The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum, 701 21 Street, NW, 

Monday, February. 24 at 6:30 PM, Mosaic on the Move - Reconstruction. The West End Library is excited to host Mosaic Theater for a free staged reading of the play "Reconstruction" by Tom Mintor. Join Mosaic actors and staff for a free reading and discussion of this important play. In the wake of her mother's death, an African American television exec, Ioni Mitchell navigates feelings of isolation.. and loss of family - until memories of her mother take to directing Ioni's focus to a portrait, that has always hung above her bed. In identifying the artist of the portrait, Ioni discovers choices made in an America of the 1870s, whose consequences and deeper secrets haunt an unexpected ancestor, in contemporary France. The play, moving in time between the present and 1875 - America and France - bears witness to a startling family history of caste and color ... which reveals crucial hard truths attached to the reality of freedom ... and freedom of choice. Free. At the West End Library, 2301 L St. NW,

Tuesday, February 25 at 6:30 PM, Politics, Poetry and the Harlem Renaissance. In honor of Black History Month, visit West End Library for a discussion of the interplay of political struggle and artistic expression during the Harlem Renaissance. In spite of the tendency of Harlem Renaissance poets to eschew propaganda and elevate art over politics, the racial situation was so difficult in the interwar period that art and politics frequently became entangled. Among the events that stimulated an artistic response were the Chicago Race Riot of 1919 and the Scottsboro Incident of July 1931. The first was perhaps the worst outbreak of racial violence that spread through the United States during the so-called Red Summer of 1919. The Chicago Riot, as well as most other race riots of this period, was characterized by armed white mobs invading black neighborhoods and inflicting violence on blacks and their property. The Scottsboro Incident began in 1931 in Alabama when nine black teenagers were arrested and accused of sexually assaulting two white women. The trials, appeals and retrials lasted through the 1930s and illustrated the difficulty of African Americans receiving justice in the courts of the segregated South. Links to resources and readings that may aid in your understanding of these events are available here: This program is free and open to all. At the West End Library, 2301 L St. NW.

Tuesday, February 25 starting at 7 AM, National Pancake Day at all IHOPs, including DC’s IHOP at 3100 14th St NW. For National Pancake Day, enjoy a free short stack of buttermilk pancakes at IHOP. One free short stack of buttermilk pancakes per guest! Dine-in only. And a chance to win pancakes for life and other fabulous prizes! Your donations benefit: Children’s Miracle Network; Shriners Hospitals for Children; Leukemia Lymphoma Society. More information on IHOP/National Pancake Day here: 

Tuesday February 25 at 12 noon: Fat Tuesday Goes Low-Fat - and So Much More! On Mardi Gras (“Fat Tuesday” in English), it’s traditional to bake a “King Cake,” a high-fat, high-sugar treat named for the male heir to the throne. How retro - and how unhealthy! Time for a do-over, to update tradition in a way that does not exclude anyone and will serve everyone’s dietary needs. At this free workshop, we will teach you how to prepare a non-monarchial, non-binary-gender “Infant-of-the-People Cake,” using only gluten- and allergen-free ingredients, totally plant-based and healthfully low in sugar and fat. Of course, this will be a child-safe cake, minus the swallowing hazard of the plastic baby insert. Nor will we substitute a potentially tooth-breaking bean. Our gender-neutral baby will sit proudly atop the cake for all to see (not hiding inside as if in a confectionery closet!). Sign up for the workshop here: Can’t attend? You can still learn to bake the cake - see recipe at this link: (This is definitely the Weekly Fake Event -- but the recipe is quite real! And it’s probably pretty good, too! If you bake it, please take a pic and email it to events @ fastmail dot net)

Wednesday, February 26 at 7 PM, Book Hill Talks: A Conversation with Carolyn Forché. Carolyn Forché, Director of the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice, University Professor of English and Advisory Board Member of the Gender + Justice Initiative at Georgetown University, is the author of 2019 National Book award finalist, What You Have Heard Is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance. She will be on hand to discuss her careers in writing and activism. Free. At Georgetown Neighborhood Library, 3260 R St. NW,

Wednesday, February 26 at 7 PM, Urban Renewal, Gentrification and the Origins of 'East of the River' - A Discussion with Derek Musgrove. Join us for a discussion with local historian G. Derek Musgrove, author of Chocolate City: A History of Race and Democracy in the Nation's Capital. The talk will explore the role that forms of displacement, namely urban renewal and gentrification, west of the river played in creating the late 20th century idea of a poor black community 'East of the River.' The talk is part of our partnership with the Smithsonian Institution Anacostia Community Museum's exhibit "A Right to the City" exploring the history of neighborhood change in Washington, DC. Free. At Anacostia Library, 1800 Good Hope Road SE, 

Thursday February 27 from 2 - 4 PM, International Polar Bear Day Party. Come celebrate International Polar Bear Day at the Capitol View Neighborhood Library to learn about polar bears, their environment, and engage in fun activities for the whole family. We'll have stories about polar bears, do a polar bear craft and watch a film. There will also be a chance to design a polar bear's sweater and do a polar bear word search. Free. Capitol View Neighborhood Library is at 5001 Central Ave SE,

Thursday, February 27 at 6 PM, Black History Month Family Feud. Enjoy a lively Black History Month Family Feud style game - complete with game buzzers, sound effects and all! Teams with patrons of all ages battle it out as they collectively use their knowledge of people, places, and events in Black History to see who will emerge as the winning team. Free, no registration necessary - come on out and join the fun! At the Woodridge Library, 1801 Hamlin Street NE,

Thursday, February 27 at 6:30 PM, Lecture: Captives of Liberty: Prisoners of War and the Politics of Vengeance in the American Revolution. T. Cole Jones, assistant professor of history at Purdue University, discusses and signs copies of his book examining the ways the revolutionary generation dealt with the more than 17,000 enemy soldiers captured during the war. The number of enemy prisoners in American custody often exceeded that of American soldiers in the Continental Army. These prisoners proved increasingly burdensome for the new nation as the war progressed, and a series of thorny political issues compounded these logistical difficulties. From the meeting rooms of the Continental Congress to the prison camps of Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, Dr. Jones will explore the factors that transformed the fight for independence into a war for vengeance. The talk will last approximately 45 minutes, followed by a book signing and refreshments. Registration is required for this free event:  At Society of the Cincinnati, Anderson House, 2118 Massachusetts Avenue NW. For more info about this and other Anderson House events go to:       

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Still Life with Robin: AOC and the BEC

Image by Wikiwand

by Peggy Robin

The dominating thread on local DC Twitter chat for the past week has been all about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s comment that you can’t get a good bacon egg & cheese sandwich in DC. Of course, offended DC natives and BEC lovers are pushing their favorite breakfast sandwiches to defend DC’s honor. Everyone needs to calm down, and recognize that it’s every congressperson’s prerogative to moan and groan about that fill-in-the-blank thing that they just can’t find DC – at least not up to the standards of their own home district. It starts the minute they get elected and suddenly realize they’re on the hook for a second home, and there’s just no way it’s ever going to feel as homey to them as their actual home back in good ol’ wherever.

AOC (as she now is universally known in the media, because it takes so much less time to type than her actual name with its 23 characters, including the hyphen) has taken up residence in Navy Yard – and that’s really the root of the problem. She’s found herself an apartment in a new, luxury building in a heavy gentrified neighborhood, predominantly populated with young transplants without deep roots in the neighborhood. Still, that does not translate to a place where you can’t find a decent BEC.

I decided to do a little statistical analysis, using the admittedly not-so-scientific method of counting up what’s listed on Yelp DC: Navy Yard, in the way of breakfast places and sandwich shops. The answer is 17. That’s the number you get when you add up all the establishments listed under any of the  following labels: “bagel shop; bakery; coffee shop; deli; sandwich shop.” I can’t say for sure that all 17 of these places will have a BEC on their menu – but I’m willing to bet you $3.50 (that’s the price of a bacon egg & cheese sandwich at the Subway in Navy Yard) that the version they make is pretty much indistinguishable from the version AOC has available to her in the 14th Congressional District of New York (Bronx/Queens/Brooklyn).

While I was in counting mode, I went ahead and totted up the number of eating places Yelp showed on the Navy Yard neighborhood map, and came up with this total: 82. And here’s how they break down by category:

Afghan 1
American (trad. or modern) 4
Asian fusion 3
Bagel shop/pastry shop/bakery 3
Brewpub/Beer Garden/Wine bar 4
Buffet 1
Burgers & fries/Shake Shack, etc 4
Chicken 1
Chinese/fast food Chinese 2
Coffee shop 5
Deli 3
Food truck 4
Indian 1
Italian 2
Korean 1
Mediterranean 2
Mexican & fast-food Mexican (Chipotle) 3
Modern European 1
Nats Ball Park restaurants 9
Pizza 5
Ramen noodle shop 2
Salad bar 3
Salvadorean 1
Sandwich shop (includes Potbelly, Subway) 6
Seafood 3
Southern/BBQ 2
Tapas 1
Taqueria 3
Thai 1
Vietnamese 1

There are twelve different countries represented here, and four different regions. Looks to me like AOC can get just about any type of food she wants within a few blocks of her apartment – and walk to work, too. But, as I stated at the outset, an elected representative charged with voicing her constituents’ views in the Nation’s Capital has every right to complain! Double the right for being a New Yorker (who are born with the belief that NYC is number one in everything in the world)!
Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland ParkListserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Get Out! The Events Column, February 14 - 20, 2020

It's Presidents Day on Monday,
and This Is President Grover Cleveland,
Who Gave His Name to Cleveland Park
We wanted to share some events and activities that list members might be interested in. Have a great weekend -- and week beyond, too. If you know of an event that the 14,600+ members of the Cleveland Park Listserv should know about, email us at events @ fastmail dot net.    

Peggy Robin and Bill Adler
Publishers, Cleveland Park Listserv

Friday, February 14 at 12 noon, Lecture: Growing Food in Urban Spaces, presented by Meredith Sheperd, Love & Carrots. Growing a productive vegetable garden isn’t only for folks with unlimited space and time. Explore your site and learn tips on how to create a tailored garden that will bring you joy for seasons to come! In the  Conservatory Classroom of the United States Botanic Garden 100 Maryland Ave SW. Free, but registration required:    

Saturday, February 15 from 11:30 - 1 PM, Walking Tour: Women Activists of Cedar Hill. Learn the history of women activists of Cedar Hill working alongside Frederick Douglass in reform movements across generations & geography. Meet the poets, actresses, musicians, principals, lawyers, seamstresses, journalists and women reformists, including the Honorable Miss Gladys Parham, who have inhabited the sacred space of Cedar Hill from the years of Frederick Douglass to the decades of preservation activism which secured the home and grounds as a flagship of the National Park Service. Learn about women from the Eastern Shore to Paris to around the corner who have made contributions to the residual history of Cedar Hill and the neighborhood of Old Anacostia. Questions and photography are encouraged throughout the walking tour! The tour is led by John Muller, author of Frederick Douglass in Washington, DC: The Lion of Anacostia (2012) and Mark Twain in Washington, DC: The Adventures of a Capital Correspondent (2013) has been a local reporter in Old Anacostia and adjacent communities for the past decade for a variety of print and online publications. Meet at the visitor’s center of the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, 1411 W Street SE. Tour will cover the grounds of Cedar Hill for the first half and cover the neighborhood of Historic Anacostia for the second half. Wear walking shoes, total travel is 1.5 miles. Parts of the tour are not accessible for people with mobility issues. Tour is not ADA accessible. Family friendly. Children under 8, free. Students anywhere. Tickets $5 – $10 at 

Saturday, February 15 from 11:30 AM - 3 PM, Presidential Family Fun Day. Celebrate the kick-off of Presidents’ Day weekend with a presidential party loaded with crafts, music, dancing, games and special tours of “America’s Presidents.” Celebrate the presidents with the Portrait Gallery, President Lincoln’s Cottage, the DC Public Library, the Washington Nationals’ Racing Presidents, artists, and experts from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing! Free. In the Kogod Courtyard of Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM), 8th and F Streets NW. More info:      

Saturday February 15 from 12 - 2 PM, I Love DC Family Activity. Join us for a fun, crafty lesson on DC Statehood. Create fun outreach postcards, exhibit your DC pride at the selfie station and learn about DC Statehood. Kids and adults of all ages are encouraged to come to the Woodridge Public Library, 1801 Hamlin Street NE, for this free, public event, which is sponsored by the DC League of Women Voters &  Brookland Huddle for the Future. More information at:    

Saturday, February 15 at 2 PM, The Beloved Community: MLK and Activism in Washington, DC. The nation’s capital has always been associated with civic activism, particularly during the tumultuous years of the civil rights movement. No single person stood out as much as a beacon of civil engagement and activism during that time than Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. King’s concept of the “beloved community.” This would be a principle for all people to follow who were concerned about making positive changes regarding injustice, economic and social inequality. Derek Gray, Archivist, DC Public Library, will give a presentation on King’s activism in Washington, DC, including his social organizing efforts and speeches. This program is being presented in conjunction with the museum’s exhibition, A Right To The City, and in partnership with DC Public Library. Registration is requested - This talk will be held at Anacostia Community Museum located at 1901 Fort Place SE. More information:   

Sunday, February 16 at 1:30 PM, Black History Quiz - Family Fun for Everyone. Enjoy Black History Month with your family. Test your knowledge of famous African Americans for prizes!  We will play "Famous African Americans J-I-N-G-O” - a Bingo-style game; it's fun for all ages.  Then enjoy stories and a song highlighting some of the followers of the north star. All ages are welcome. Free. At Lamond-Riggs Library, 5401 South Dakota Ave. NE,

Sunday February 16 at 4 PM, Concert: Violinist Leah Tagami Meredith will perform works by Bach, Brahms and Beethoven, accompanied on piano by her husband, Bulgarian pianist Petar Andonov. On the program are Bach’s D Minor Partita & Chaconne, Brahms’ Sonata I in G Major and Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata. Leah is currently first violinist in the Oslo Philharmonic and performs regularly with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra.  A reception will follow the concert to meet the artists.Free and open to the public - no RSVP is needed. At the Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church, One Chevy Chase Circle.  

Monday, February 17, on the hour from 11 AM - 3 PM, Tours of Woodrow Wilson House. For Presidents Day only, Woodrow Wilson House is giving FREE tours of the S Street mansion that was the final home of our 28th president. Woodrow Wilson House is at 2340 S Street NW. More info:    

Monday, February 17 at 8 PM, Obscure Presidents Trivia Night. It’s the same every Presidents Day -- you could almost believe there were no other presidents besides Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and maybe one or both Roosevelts. Can you even name one thing about Rutherford B. Hayes? Have you even heard of Chester A. Arthur? Or is it Arthur A. Chester? Are you sure? What about President Harrison? Did you know there were TWO of them? This President’s Day we will focus on the ones who get no glory. The one-termers. The never-been-on-the-money Presidents. This is an interactive event! Before you come, choose one obscure president and bone up on some trivia about him, and arrive prepared to compete in our game. Or play along at home online at: This event will be held at the Gerald R. Ford House in suburban VA. Register at the link above and we will email you a free ticket. For those who have chosen Gerald Ford as a lesser-known president (never elected nationally and served just 30 months), here’s a free sample of the sort of questions you may want to study up on:    

Tuesday, February 18 at 7 PM, Tuesday Talks: Traveling the World Without Flying. World travelers Joe and Embry Howell have visited some 50 countries during their 54 year marriage. In 2015, Embry got the idea of traveling around the world without flying. This turned into a four-month adventure traveling by train across Europe, central Asia and China, and crossing two oceans by ship. Joe and Embry Howell, will share planning tips, surprises and insights learned along the way. Please join us for this talk, part of the Tuesday Talk series presented in partnership with the Cleveland Park Business Association and the Cleveland and Woodley Park Village. This event is open to the public and admission is free, but please register at to let us know you are coming. Seating will be first come, first served and doors will open at 6:30 PM. At the Cleveland Park Library, 3310 Connecticut Ave. NW. More info:   
Wednesday, February 19 at 7 PM, “Suppressed: The Fight to Vote,” Film Screening & Discussion. 2018 was a contentious year featuring a high stakes mid-term election with several marquee races making news globally. Filmmaker Robert Greenwald examines that year's voter suppression efforts through the eyes of the Georgia voters affected by changes in state election policies. Post screening discussion led by Noah Wills, President, Students for DC Statehood. Free. At Georgetown Library, 3260 R St. NW,  

Thursday, February 20 at 10 AM, End of Life Conversations: Put My Body to Good Use. What will happen to your body after you die? Perhaps donation is an option for you -- your family will save money and others will benefit. Learn how your body can be donated to science and avoid excessive after life funeral costs. When the time arrives, decisions need to be made quickly. Ronald Rivenburgh, retired Navy Chief Mortician and licensed Funeral Director will let us know how to make sure that your wishes are followed and the steps that need to be taken. Dixcy Bosley, RN will share information about organ donation. Find out more and register here - Free. At Tenley-Friendship Library, 4450 Wisconsin Ave. NW, 

Thursday, February 20 at 4:30 PM, Songs of Freedom. Hear some of the songs that inspired the Civil Rights Movement sung by Ms. Valerie Harris-Gregory. Ms. Gregory is a lyric soprano, who has been singing in the Washington metro area for many years. For ages 5 and up. For additional information, please contact Yvonne Harris at 202-645-4532. Free. At Parklands-Turner Library, 1547 Alabama Avenue SE,      

Thursday, February 20 at 5 PM, Rayceen Pendarvis Is Living Black History. Please join us for an evening of performances, interviews, artwork and more, starring emcee, columnist, community advocate and lifelong Washingtonian Rayceen Pendarvis. Together with LGBTQ+ individuals and allies, Rayceen will guide the audience through a program celebrating the accomplishments of people of African descent. The program will include fantastic performers and historians who will entertain, inform, educate and inspire. All are welcome and admission is FREE. Starting at 5 PM,  join us for our artwork showcase and special exhibitors, including Black Broadway on U. The main program will begin at 6:30 PM. At the Cleveland Park Library, 3310 Connecticut Ave. NW,      

Thursday, February 20 from 7 - 9 PM, Exploring Jewish Paris, an Illustrated Lecture by Gary Kraut, presented by Alliance Française de Washington, DC (AFDC). Gary Lee Kraut, a historian traveler, will present 25 sites, individuals and neighborhoods that reveal various aspects of the history of France and its relation with Jews. The lecture covers medieval Jewry, medieval expulsions, the liberating laws of the French Revolution, major synagogues, the appeal of France to European Jews throughout the 19th and into the 20th centuries, the Dreyfus Affair, Jewish artists of the 1920s, anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, Sephardic immigration of the 1950s and 60s, major French Jewish figures over the past 200 years, and contemporary Jewish life as the traveler may encounter it. Gary Kraut is an award-winning Paris-based travel writer, the editor of the web magazine France Revisited,, and a lecturer on both sides of the Atlantic. This event will be in English. Light refreshments after the Q&A session. Tickets at AFDC Member / Culture Pass: $10 + Processing Fees; General Admission: $15 + Processing Fees. The member discount is applicable for one ticket per member. Guests must pay the non-member price. The Alliance Française de Washington DC is at 2142 Wyoming Avenue NW       

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Still Life with Robin: Square the Box!

Photo by Mark Zimmermann via Creative Commons

by Peggy Robin

A few days ago, WJLA local news aired a segment on the boundary stones of DC – well worth two minutes and 51 seconds of your time:

I’m happy to pass along an informative and well-told story of local lore – but in this case it happens to pair well with another piece of local news about DC’s size and shape. DCist had a report on the Republican member of the Virginia state legislature who would like to give away two big chunks of Northern Virginia, now solidly Democratic, to DC, in hopes of making the state less blue and more red, politically speaking. The story is here: (or go to if the long link is broken in this email.)

What’s been proposed by Virginia Delegate Dave LaRock is actually a give-back, rather than a give-away, because the two counties in question, Arlington and Alexandria, were originally part of DC – and there are boundary stones along the southern border to prove it. These two counties form the lower portion of the diamond – or square turned on its point – that was the neatly symmetrical shape of the District of Columbia from 1791, when the 10 square mile plot of land was first surveyed, until 1846, when the land across the Potomac was ceded back to Virginia. It was a move designed to preserve the rights of slave traders, as the federal district moved to ban slave trading within its jurisdiction.

The land was given away in a bid to keep an oppressive system going, but if it could be given back, it would help in the bid to give voting rights to people too long deprived – namely the citizens of the District who lack a vote in the House and Senate.

Of course, the citizens of Arlington and Alexandria would never agree to lose their Congressional representation as part of a land deal. So the idea would work only if paired with statehood and consequently full voting representation for DC in Congress. With the addition of Arlington and Alexandria, DC would gain a total of 395,530 in population (235,000 from Alexandria and 160,530 from Arlington) which, when added to DC’s current population of 711,571, would bring DC's population up to over a million (1,107, 101). That would push our population ranking among the states from third from the bottom, just ahead of Vermont and Wyoming, to 43rd among 50, just behind Maine with 1,338,404 and ahead of Montana with 1,062,305.

It would be so much harder to deny us statehood then.

Could this come about with the consent of the people involved? Not in today’s political climate, that's for sure. But it’s certainly something to think about for the future. Just imagine how much good would be accomplished in this move: from undoing the shameful, pro-slavery scheme put into effect back in 1846 to giving full political rights to District citizens who have been deprived since 1791. And let’s not forget the aesthetically pleasing result of squaring the box, or completing the diamond. Give DC back the symmetry of the perfect square it was always meant to have. And let's put all those south border boundary stones back within the District, where they belong!

To see the boundary stones on an interactive Google map, go to:

Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Get Out! The Events Column, Friday, February 7 - Friday, February 14, 2020

SAAM 's African American Artists Collection
We wanted to share some events and activities that list members might be interested in. Have a great weekend -- and week beyond, too. If you know of an event that the 14,600+ members of the Cleveland Park Listserv should know about, email us at events @ fastmail dot net.

Peggy Robin and Bill Adler
Publishers, Cleveland Park Listserv 

Friday February 7 from 6 - 9 PM, Exhibition Opening and Talk: Learning from Sweden. Following a multi-year academic engagement with Gothenburg, Sweden, urban research and design proposals developed by master students and faculty of the Yale School of Architecture will be on display at House of Sweden from February 1-23. The material on display ranges from detailed analysis and description of Gothenburg’s distinctive urban form and architectural typologies, to proposals which address some of the most urgent issues reshaping contemporary cities: climate change, food production, mobility, public health, neo-industrial growth and social equity. The talk, “What can we learn from Gothenburg and Sweden?” by Professor Alan Plattus, Yale University, will be followed by a Q&A session moderated by Carl Mossfeldt, initiator of the project, and informal networking reception. Free. At the  House of Sweden, 2900 K Street NW. Register:   

Friday February 7 from 6 - 9 PM, First Friday Dupont Art Walk. As part of this First Friday Dupont Art Walk, Hillyer presents three new exhibitions featuring Amarist, Suzy Kopf, and "RISE 2020: The artists will be present to talk about their work with visitors at the reception hosted by IA&A at Hillyer, 9 Hillyer Ct NW. See for more information.

Saturday, February 8 at 10 AM, Children’s show by Rocknoceros. Dance and sing as Coach Cotton, Williebob and Boogie Woogie Bennie play their award-winning music for the whole family. Rocknoceros is an American children’s band formed in Fairfax, Virginia, in 2005. The band consists of three members, all childhood friends. Free. At the House of the Temple Atrium, 1733 16th St. NW. Free Parking in the back of the building. More information:

Saturday, February 8 at 6 PM, Panel Discussion – A Closer Look at African American Artists in SAAM’s Collection. The Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) is home to one of the largest collections of work made by African American artists in the world. Join artist and scholar Allan deSouza, art adviser Schwanda Rountree, and DC-based art collectors Mel and Juanita Hardy for a panel discussion highlighting important works by African American artists from our collection. Tickets: Free; Registration required at At the Smithsonian American Art Museum, McEvoy Auditorium, 8th and F Street NW.

Sunday, February 9 at 2 PM, Author Talk: Democracy’s Capital: Black Political Power in Washington, DC 1960s-1970s. Join Dr. Lauren Pearlman, Assistant Professor of History at the University of Florida at Gainesville, for a discussion of her new book, Democracy’s Capital: Black Political Power in Washington, DC 1960s-1970s, which narrates the struggle for self-participation in the nation’s capital. Pearlman captures the transition from black protest to black political power under the Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon administrations and against the backdrop of local battles over the War on Poverty and the War on Crime. A book signing will follow. Reservations are requested, but not required: Free. At the Woodridge Library, 1801 Hamlin Street NE,

Monday, February 10, sessions at 5:30 PM, 7 PM and 8:30 PM, Seeing Deeper: Space Light & Sound: An Immersive Lighting Experience. You’ve seen the colorful Cathedral on Instagram, and now see it for yourself! Marvel at a vast, open space unlike anything in Washington. Sit on the floor or wander around, immersed in an organic and unique lighting experience. Gary Hardnett provides live music while Atmosphere Lighting’s moving lights illuminate the gothic architecture. Session 1: 5:30 – 6:15pm (doors open at 5:15pm); Session 2: 7 – 7:45pm (doors open at 6:45pm); Session 3: 8:30 – 9:15pm (doors open at 8:15pm). Tickets: $10 at In the Nave of Washington National Cathedral, 3101 Wisconsin Avenue NW.

Monday, February 10 at 6 PM, Walking the Camino de Santiago. The Camino de Santiago is one of the most well traveled walking paths in the world. The famous European path, also known as "The Way of Saint James" welcomes over 200,000 travelers per year. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to walk the Camino de Santiago? If so, please join us for this informational talk. Speaker Lelia Mooney will share her experience after walking 500 km along the Camino during 2018, including logistical and preparation tips. Q&A will follow the presentation. Free. At the Cleveland Park Library, 3310 Connecticut Ave. NW,

Tuesday, February 11 at 4 PM, Valentines for the Hospital. Spread love in the community! Children 5-12 are invited to come help make valentines for kids who will be in the hospital during Valentine's Day. All supplies will be provided. Free. At the Shepherd Park (Juanita E. Thornton) Library, 7420 Georgia Ave. NW,

Tuesday, February 11 from 7 - 9 PM, Concert: Trio Artio, presented by Austrian Cultural Forum of Washington. An eclectic mix of chamber music performed by the Austrian classical music ensemble Trio Artio, a young and dynamic classical music ensemble founded in Vienna in 2017 by the Austrian violinist Judith Fliedl, the Austrian pianist Johanna Estermann and the German cellist Christine Roider. Program: Ludwig van Beethoven: Trio for piano, violin and violoncello in E flat major, op. 1/1; Kurt Estermann (*1960): Fragments for violin, violoncello and piano; Camille Saint-Saëns: Trio for piano, violin and violoncello nr. 2 in e minor, op. 92. At the Embassy of Austria, 3524 International Drive. Parking on International Court is available after 6:30 pm (for the duration of the event) or on 36th Street; access to the Embassy through the park behind the building. Free - registration required at A registration is not a guarantee of a seat as these are assigned on a first-come first-served basis. Doors close at event start-time.

Wednesday, February 12 from 2 - 4 PM, Lecture/Discussion with Derek Musgrove: Black Power in DC. G. Derek Musgrove, co-author of Chocolate City: A history of Race and Democracy in the Nation’s Capital, will join us to discuss his new project, the Washington DC Black Power Map. G. Derek Musgrove, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He is the author of Rumor, Repression, and Racial Politics (U. of Georgia, 2012), co-author, with Chris Myers Asch, of Chocolate City, A History of Race and Democracy in the Nation’s Capital (UNC, 2017), and several scholarly articles on Washington, DC and contemporary African American political history.  His work has appeared in The Washington Post, National Public Radio and The Root. Free. At the Cleveland Park Library, Lower Level Meeting Room, 3310 Connecticut Avenue NW. Free - please register at

Thursday, February 13 at 4 PM, Kids’ Valentines Party. Celebrate the holiday of love at the Georgetown Neighborhood Library. Enjoy a story, craft a valentine for someone you care about, enjoy refreshments and at the end we’ll play a movie. Free. Georgetown Library is at 3260 R St. NW,

Thursday, February 13, 5:30 - 7 PM, Luce Unplugged Community Showcase: Des Demonas.
Enjoy music from DC’s best local artists while surrounded by beautiful artworks in SAAM’s one-of-a-kind programming space, the Luce Foundation Center. In this installment, join iconic DC punk band Des Demonas on a wild ride full of fuzzy guitars, insistent bass, euphonious drums, and a swirling electronic organ. Libations and snacks are available for purchase at the on-site bar. A staff-led discussion about an artwork chosen by the performers starts at 5:30 PM, with the music beginning at 6 PM, Free. At Smithsonian American Art Museum, Luce Foundation Center (third floor), 8th and G Streets NW. More info: 

Thursday, February 13 at 7 PM, How to Talk So That Your Devices Will Listen. You have a GPS that gives you directions. You have Siri or Alexa and can get answers to questions or get them to turn on your TV or lower your thermostat. You have a doorbell security system that lets you talk to anyone at your front door, no matter where you are. But by now you may have discovered it’s not so easy to talk back to your devices when they disagree with you. And they may even do things behind your back. Your voice-controlled TV remote might change the channel on you in the middle of a show. Or your shopping app might order something you never meant to buy. Haven’t we all been talked into driving a route that made no sense, but the GPS made us do it? Now there’s a workshop to teach you how not to stand up to your talking devices, so they will not take advantage of you. In this one-hour session, we’ll teach you what to say and more importantly what NOT to say when arguing with any sort of electronic assistant. As Humpty-Dumpty said to Alice, “The question is, which is to be the master, that’s all.” Register here: - typing on our foolproof online form - no voicemail sign-up to go wrong! 

Friday, February 14 from 6 - 8 PM, Date Lab: Night at the Museum. Join us as The Washington Post Magazine’s popular Date Lab column comes to life this Valentine’s Day at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM). Get a behind-the-scenes look at how Date Lab writers make matches and coordinate dates plus what makes a date go well or… horribly wrong. Plus, there will be a live Dating Game show – you’ll help pair up two upcoming Date Lab dates as they vet dates live on stage. The event is free with registration - go to now, before it’s sold out. Arrive at 6:00 PM. to participate in a fun and social scavenger hunt around the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Luce Foundation Center. At SAAM, 8th and G Street NW.     

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Still Life with Robin: Nix on the Bat!

S.M. Bishop via Creative Commons

by Peggy Robin

Oh, how I hate to take on the Girl Scouts, an organization I greatly admire and have supported for years -- mainly through copious purchases of Samoas and Thin Mints. But I just can’t get behind their latest move. They have approached the DC Council with a proposal to name as DC’s official State Mammal the little brown bat. (Read the news here:

It’s an endangered species – I get that – and the designation would give it a higher profile in public consciousness, helping in the fight to save it from extinction. But the designation of State Mammal serves other purposes – mainly projecting an attractive image of the state as a tourist draw – and so the state mammal designation is typically given to an animal that visitors would be happy to view in its native habitat. It's often something magnificent, or at least cute, and usually having some positive associations with the region. That means you don’t choose something people worry could be rabid. And you don’t pick an animal that in pop culture calls to mind a zillion scary vampire movies. And especially not if it's something that people would hate to have fly into their hair when they’re out for a moonlit stroll.

Let’s look at what other states have done by way of comparison:

Take Tennessee: Its state mammal is the Tennessee Walking Horse. 

Wyoming has the American Bison.

Twelve states have chosen the white-tailed deer: Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma Ohio, South Carolina and Wisconsin. I should note that all but four of these states have more than one designated state mammal. Wisconsin, for example, has three, with the badger and the dairy cow – both icons of the state – in addition to the boring, ubiquitous, white-tailed deer.

Having more than one official state mammal is a common strategy for states that want to appeal to multiple constituencies. Alaska, for example, has three: the bowhead whale, the Alaskan malamute, and the moose – all animals that remind you of the state in some distinctive way.

Now we come to those states that have already chosen the bat as a state mammal. There are four of them – Texas, Oklahoma, Virginia, and Hawaii – but all four have other, much cuter state mammals as alternatives. Two of them -- Texas and Oklahoma -- have the same species of bat, the Mexican free-tailed bat, but Texas also has the nine-banded armadillo, and Oklahoma has TWO other state mammals, the majestic buffalo (bison) and the cute raccoon. 

Virginia has chosen the big-eared bat – and it’s got to be one of the nastiest looking creatures I’ve ever seen. Take a look: But Virginia also has the sleek American foxhound as its high-class version -- something you'd be proud to have in a portrait hanging over the fireplace mantle in your grand suburban McMansion. in what used to be horse country.

Hawaii’s got the best excuse for picking the ugly hoary bat as one of its two state mammals: It’s the only mammal native to Hawaii that lives on land. There were NO walking land animals in Hawaii prior to human settlement. And the ones that humans brought with them – notably cats rats, and pigs (which later became feral pigs) – have been, ecologically speaking, walking disasters. Hawaii’s other designated state mammal is a marine mammal, the monk seal.

Seeing so many states with multiple state mammals, I suppose we could accommodate the bat, if it will please the Girl Scouts and help with conservation efforts – but let’s be sure to designate something else at the same time. Something a lot of people have seen here in DC. Deer? Well, as we know, there are far too many states already with that choice…and anyway, gardeners here hate their voracious guts. How about the red fox? It’s smart and good looking – but what about its reputation for being sneaky? Will there be too many jokes about who’s guarding the henhouse? And it’s no joke that you need to guard your small pets from roving, aggressive foxes. So perhaps not the best choice.

I propose something friendlier. Here’s my idea: The most beloved mammal in DC lives right here in our neighborhood, a resident of the National Zoo: our pandas. They've been with us ever since the first ones, Ling Ling and Hsing-Hsing, came over in 1972. Who says we can’t select an immigrant? As Lin-Manuel Miranda reminds us in stirring song, “Immigrants Get the Job Done!” Pandas have become iconic animals for our city that longs to be a state. Why not make it official?

So, how about it, DC Council? Two state mammals: The Little Brown Bat; and the Giant Black and White Panda

You can see the list of state mammals* here:

(* Note: There are some errors and omissions on the website above. For example, it shows the big-eared bat as Virginia’s ONLY state mammal – but when you go to the website listing all of Virginia’s state symbols,, you see that there’s another mammal, the American Foxhound.)

Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays. 

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Get Out! The Events Column, January 31 - February 6, 2020

Shenandoah National Park - public domain
We wanted to share some events and activities that list members might be interested in. Have a great weekend -- and week beyond, too. If you know of an event that the 14,500+ members of the Cleveland Park Listserv should know about, email us at events @ fastmail dot net.  

Peggy Robin and Bill Adler
Publishers, Cleveland Park Listserv

Friday January 31 from 6 - 8 PM, Pree & Carly Harvey, presented by the Luce Unplugged Community Showcase Series. Enjoy DC’s best local artists paired with local beers, while surrounded by beautiful artworks in the Luce Foundation Center. Free tastings (21+) provided by Anxo Cider. Additional libations and snacks are available for purchase from an on-site bar. 6 PM: Carly Harvey; 7 PM: Pree. Free. Concert suitable for all ages. On the 3rd Floor - Luce Foundation Center at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 8th and F Street NW. More info:     

Saturday, February 1 from 10 AM - 5 PM, Hillwood Crêpe Day: Celebrate La Chandeleur! La Chandeleur, also known as Crêpe Day, marks the halfway point between winter and spring. In France, families celebrate by eating crêpes, which are round and golden like the springtime sun.  We invite families to celebrate this holiday in festive French fashion amidst Hillwood's magnificent setting and exquisite French treasures. Snack on a tasty treat of sweet crêpes. Hear classic French tales inspired by scenes from La Fontaine fables that are pictured on tapestries covering chairs from France displayed in the mansion. Explore Hillwood's French treasures through docent-led, family-friendly gallery talks and a printed treasure hunt. Decorate a plate with fanciful designs and flourishes inspired by Hillwood's French Sèvres porcelain.Tickets: $18; $15 Senior; $12 Member; $10 Student; $5 Child (ages 3-18); free for children under 3, available online at or at the door. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens is located at 4155 Linnean Avenue NW.    

Saturday, February 1 from 11:30 AM - 3 PM, Lunar New Year at SAAM. Celebrate the Lunar New Year with the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Chinese Embassy. Help ring in the Year of the Rat with a variety of performances and activities. Enjoy Chinese ribbon dancing, acrobatic yo-yo performances, a lion dance, and an interactive magic show. Artists from the city of Shenzhen demonstrate ink finger-printing, wood printing, and how to make hands-on shadow puppets and dough figurines. Check out calligraphy demonstrations by the Confucius Institute at George Washington University, and Chinese paper cuts and good luck envelopes with the Confucius Institute at George Mason University. Go on an art scavenger hunt, create your own New Year craft, and enjoy delicious treats available for purchase at the Courtyard Café. Let’s “awaken the lion” and celebrate the New Year! Free. In the Kogod Courtyard of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 8th and F Streets, NW. Event Link:      

Sunday, February 2, 8:30 AM, Groundhog Day in Dupont Circle. Dupont Festival is hosting its annual Groundhog Day celebration in Dupont Circle Park. Potomac Phil, the National Groundhog, will make an appearance and offer weather and political predictions. Phil will let us know whether to expect six more weeks of winter or an early spring. Live accordion music, polka dancers, puppet show, VIP celebrities and more. Potomac Phil will emerge at approximately 8:30 am (or whenever he damn well pleases). For more info visit the Facebook page:        

Sunday, February 2 at 10 AM, Groundhog vs. Woodchuck: A Debate. On this Groundhog Day - or should that be Woodchuck Day? - it’s the perfect time to consider the taxonomic merits and demerits of different terms for the same weather-prognosticating, hibernating rodent. In addition to Team Groundhog and Team Woodchuck, we will also have a third team of debaters made up of advocates of even lesser-known appellations, including “Whistle-Pig,” “Land Beaver” and “Giant Ground Squirrrel.”(Yes, these are all real and you can learn more about them here: At the end of the evening you can vote on which team of debaters won the day. Those who favor the term woodchuck will also be asked to calculate how much wood a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood, while those who favor groundhog will figure how much ground a groundhog could hog if a groundhog could hog ground. If you can’t attend, you can still vote in our online poll at:        

Sunday, February 2 at 2 PM, "American Trauma: How the NRA Sparked a Medical Revolution" - film screening and discussion. Understand gun violence issues from an ER doctor's perspective: “I see more gunshot wounds as a trauma surgeon here in the United States per week than I did when I was serving in Afghanistan,” says Dr. Mallory Williams, chief of the Division of Trauma and Critical Care at Howard University Hospital. Q&A and discussion will follow, with speakers: Dr. David Reines (Inova Hospital), Dr. Joseph Sakran (Johns Hopkins Hospital) and Dr. Mallory Williams (Howard University Hospital). This film is part of the 2020 GVP film series sponsored by the DC Area Interfaith Gun Violence Prevention Network. Series dates and locations at: Free. At St. Columba’s Church, 4201 Albemarle St NW    

Monday, February 3 at 1 PM, Documentary Matinee: Long Time Coming: A 1955 Baseball Story. The Georgetown Neighborhood Library will have a screening of Long Time Coming: A 1955 Baseball Story. In 1955, when racial segregation defined the South, two groups of twelve-year-old boys stepped onto a baseball field in a non-violent act of cultural defiance that would change the course of history. Free. The Georgetown Library is at 3260 R St. NW,       

Tuesday, February 4 from 9:30 - 11 AM, A Conversation with Janet Yellen and David Malpass. Global growth has slowed despite low interest rates and bond yields. Meanwhile, debt is reaching record levels in major markets. The domestic and international economic outlooks remain uncertain. On February 4, join the Bipartisan Policy Center and Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal for a wide-ranging conversation with former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and World Bank Group President David Malpass on the economic prospects for the United States and the world. Advance registration is required for this event. Register by Friday, January 31 at: Free. At the Jack Morton Auditorium, George Washington University Media and Public Affairs Building, 805 21st Street NW. More info:    

Wednesday, February 5 from 6:30 - 8 PM, Talk: Notre-Dame and National Cathedral at a Crossroads. Learn what preservation architects and engineers are doing to safeguard our cultural heritage following the devastating fire at Notre-Dame de Paris and severe earthquake damage at Washington National Cathedral. Hear what stewardship of these iconic buildings means in light of new fire suppression technologies, preservation best-practices, and contemporary design approaches. Panel: Tom Mayes, chief legal officer and general counsel, National Trust for Historic Preservation; Kevin Murphy, Andrew W. Mellon Chair in the Humanities, professor and chair of the History of Art, Vanderbilt University; William Richards (moderator), writer and architectural historian; Benjamin Roehrig, political counsellor, Embassy of France, Washington, DC; James Shepherd, AIA, principal and director, Historic Preservation at SmithGroup, Washington, DC. Tickets: Free, Member National Building Museum; $10 Student with ID; $20 Non-member - go to: This program takes place at the Washington National Cathedral, 3101 Wisconsin Avenue NW 

Thursday, February 6 at 12 PM, Chamber Music at Noon. DC Public Library presents a chamber music series (formerly titled the Brown Bag Chamber Recital), free and open to the public. Performers include internationally known, local musicians Ralitza Patcheva and Vasily Popov, as well as  featured guest performers throughout the year. This concert series will take place at the West End Neighborhood Library located at 2301 L St. NW. More info on this concert and the series:   

Thursday, February 6 at 6:30 PM, Harry Potter Book Night. Attention all muggles, wizards and witches. February 6 is Harry Potter Book Night at Chevy Chase Library. Be ready for a night of wizarding fun with trivia, games and more to celebrate the magical world of Harry Potter.  Wizarding dress is not required, but it is encouraged. Free. At Chevy Chase Library, 5625 Connecticut Ave. NW,      

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Still Life with Robin: Bye-bye to BK's ET Boys, Jaws, Dinos, et al.

Photo by Peggy Robin
by Peggy Robin

I can’t post on the topic I’m about to take on without admitting that yes, my tastes do occasionally take me to our local Burger King. There are times I like a Whopper and fries. And now that they’re offering the plant-based Impossible Burger, I can even grab a fast-food lunch without feeling quite so guilty about my carbon footprint (carbon hoofprint?) See, they’ve kept up with the times!

But in one way it seems that time has stood still for our old BK on Connecticut Avenue (just next door to the car wash). The décor inside – featuring models and artworks from movies like E.T., Jaws, Jurassic Park – is all such a great throwback -- no, tribute! -- to the ‘70s and ‘80s. Waiting in the line inside, you look up to see the three kids from E.T. flying over your head on their BMX bikes. And then crashing out from a wall there’s the gaping, jagged-toothed threat of Jaws. Look to the opposite wall to see yet another familiar Spielbergian menace in the form of a grinning, green T-Rex head. Then wander down to the lower level dining area to find yourself a table amid classic rock-n-roll guitars in acrylic display cases, surrounded by glowing neon tubes. Framed posters and cut-outs of other movie classics complete the visual nostalgia feast to go with the quick comfort food.
Photo by Peggy Robin

But then there are the other, far less thrilling reminders of the age of the place: the peeling paint, the dented trim, the creaking systems.

It’s long past time for a renovation, and now we’ve learned that the place is getting a total makeover, inside and out. As reported by Martin Austermuhl on DCist/WAMU, everything will go. The good and the bad. The fun movie memorabilia is headed for the storage locker.

Now, if this were in Cleveland Park, instead of Van Ness, you would be thinking, “Surely someone has filed with the Historic Preservation Review Board by now to landmark the interior!” Ironically,, the only lawsuit associated with the site was the one filed in 1980 to try to prevent it from opening in the first place. According to Martin Austermuhl’s report, there was “a lawsuit that made it all the way to the D.C. Court of Appeals — ultimately failed to stop the Burger King.”

Photo by Peggy Robin
The BK opened in 1980, and most likely acquired its movie-themed décor in 1997. If you want to see it all before it’s gone, you had better visit soon. The DCist story did not give a date for the removal, but sometimes when there are big changes afoot, things are done suddenly, before anyone has time to think of a way to stop it. So go now….or be content to view the photos at: -- plus a few I took myself.

Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.