Saturday, January 24, 2015

Still Life With Robin: SOTU / SODC

Public Doman Photo by Pete Souza (Exec. Office of the President)
by Peggy Robin

In today’s 24-hour-news cycle I know I’m well past the limit to get in a timely comment on President Obama’s State of the Union speech, delivered over 86 hours ago….but surely there’s more leeway for response to the next-day commentary.  I’m referring to Jon Stewart’s Daily Show recap of the speech on the following evening. Stewart picked up on something that wasn’t actually in the speech – the fact that it was taking place in a city devoted to representative government, but which itself has NO VOTING REPRESENTATION in Congress. His reference to this little irony was so quickly tossed off, it was easy to miss, but if you roll the Daily Show tape and pause at the 3:03-minute point, then wait for it….here it comes: (

Obama: I still believe that we are one people…..

Stewart [talking at the image of Obama delivering his speech]: Why would you still think that? It’s amazing. You live in Washington, DC! How do you still have that hope? You live in the city America invented for the sole purpose of sending its most petty, most partisan, most argumentative a--holes, a place evidently so terrible its House of Representatives, whose sole purpose is to have representation, will not allow it to be represented.

Bingo! Just wish someone on Jon Stewart’s staff could be hired as Obama’s speechwriter. Maybe then a nod to DC voting rights could have been injected into the speech itself, rather than in the reaction to the speech. But we in DC must be grateful for whatever little recognition we get.  Thank you, Jon!


Still Life With Robin is posted on the Cleveland ParkListserv and All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Get Out! The Events Column

Photo by Thomas S Mann

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 14,800+ members of the Cleveland Park Listserv should know about, email us at events @

Peggy Robin and Bill Adler
Publishers, Cleveland Park Listserv

Friday, January 23 at 4 PM, “Politics, Comedy, and the Dangers of Satire,” a panel discussion moderated by Professor Derek Goldman, Co-Director of The Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics, with: Shahid Nadeem, Executive Director, Ajoka Theatre and award-winning Pakistani journalist, playwright, screenwriter; Nikahang Kowsar, Iranian-Canadian cartoonist who fled Iran after he was imprisoned in 2000 in Tehran’s infamous Evin prison for a cartoon mocking a top religious authority; and Imam Yahya Hendi, Georgetown University Muslim Chaplain. Free. Location: Georgetown University’s Davis Performing Arts Center, Gonda Theatre, 37th and O St. NW. More info:

Friday, January 23 at 7:30 PM. Winter Arts Night. Celebrate music, the arts and community at St. Stephen and the Incarnation Church. A variety of community groups will be on the program, including After the Flood (bluegrass), James Laws (baritone), Speakeasy DC (storytellers), Michael Salmon (organ), Lean and Hungry Theater (St. Stephen’s resident theater group), Positive Force (punk), and the St. Stephen’s 10:30am service choir. Refreshments during a short intermission and after the show. Local visual artists will have pieces to display that will be available for purchase. Free admission, with a free-will donation at the door. The church is located at 1525 Newton Street NW in Columbia Heights.

Saturday, January 24 at 3 PM, “Louisa May Alcott and Walt Whitman in Civil War Washington: How Helping Wounded Soldiers Changed Them Forever.” Jean Freedman of Montgomery College's Women's and Gender Studies Program and nationally syndicated op-ed columnist Jamie Stiehm will offer insights into Alcott and Whitman and their time in the nation's capital. This event is free. For more information call 202.727.0233 or email  jerry.mccoy @ Location: The Peabody Room of Georgetown Library, 3260 R Street NW. More info:

Sunday, January 25 at 10:30 AM, Kids' Concert - A Playdate with Rocknoceros. The Ohr Kodesh Early Childhood Center invites you to join Coach Cotton, Williebob and Boogie Woogie Bennie for a morning of singing, dancing and fun! In addition to rocking out with Rocknoceros, there will be a raffle with some amazing prizes - for example, The Washington Nationals’ VIP Package, 4 suite tickets to "Disney on Ice: World's of Fantasy," and a one-week stay at a beach condo in Ocean City, MD, and many more. Proceeds benefit the Ohr Kodesh Early Childhood Center. Tickets for the show and raffle are available at Location: Ohr Kodesh Congregation, 8300 Meadowbrook Lane. Chevy Chase, MD.

Monday, January 26 at 7 PM, Australia Day Party. This holiday is also known as Foundation Day or First Landing, as it is celebrated on the anniversary of the day in 1788 that eleven convict ships arrived in Sydney harbour to establish the penal colony that would eventually become the nation of Australia. The Australian Embassy invites you to celebrate by dressing as they do in Australia,where it’s the height of summer. Come to the embassy in your skimpiest short-shorts, with a halter top -- or come topless. The best and least dressed person will win a prize. Too cold? Come dressed in a furry koala costume! Activities will include crocodile wrestling, beer swilling, and “Waltzing Matilda” singing, plus a combined event where you can do all three at once. There will also be a prize awarded for the worst imitation of an Ozzie accent -- plus a special gullibility prize for anyone who falls for this week’s fake event (although it really IS Australia Day -- see:

Tuesday, January 27 at 7:30 PM, Tenleytown History talk, “Rural Remnants of Washington County: an Architectural Survey of Washington’s Historic Farms and Estates.” The area outside the original city limits but within the boundaries of the District of Columbia was, during the 19th century, rural in character and dotted with small and large farmsteads, gentleman farms, and estates built as second homes by prominent city residents. The survey focuses on documenting the remnants of buildings associated with these properties. The presentation by architectural historian Kim Prothro Williams will explain the survey methodology and findings to date, including sites in old Tenleytown. Location: Friendship Terrace, 4201 Butterworth Place NW. Free but reservations required - RSVP to tenleytownhistoricalsociety @ More info:

Wednesday, January 28 at 7 PM, “King’s Cake and Karaoke Night” at the Alliance Francaise de Washington. Tickets: $5 for non-members; free for members. The Alliance Francaise is at 2142 Wyoming Avenue NW. More info and reservations at

Wednesday, January 28 at 8 PM, The Wonderland Circus. Performances include comedy by Yoki Danoff, Benjy Himmelfarb, and Waywood Turnipseed, Jr., and a burlesque dance by Bella La Blanc. Music by the band Spencer Joyce and the Record Machine. $5 suggested donation. At the Wonderland Ballroom, 1101 Kenyon Street NW. More info:

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Still Life With Robin: Circles of Parking Hell

by Peggy Robin

I saw a movie today at the Georgetown 14 Cinemas, parking in the underground garage. For some time I have been working up a list of the worst-designed parking garages in DC, and until today, for unknown reasons, the Georgetown 14 had escaped getting on the list. Just a few short hours ago I realized it has earned its spot. I will get to why in a minute, but first, let me cover the five qualities of bad design that can land a garage on the worst-designed list.

1. Impossible turns. These are turns that you cannot avoid as you follow the path to your parking spot or to the exit, which can’t be made by an average sized car without some back and forth maneuvering, or driving into the opposite lane. For example, at the new underground garage for the Cathedral Commons Giant, you can’t turn right from the closest parking aisle toward the exit ticket machine in a single maneuver. You either have to back up and reposition yourself closer to the ticket machine, or you have to stop so far from the ticket machine that you need to open the door and get out of your seat to put your ticket in the slot.

2. Narrow, winding ramps. The prime example of this is the garage underneath the Kalorama Street Harris-Teeter. The down ramp is bad, but the up-ramp is evil. After going up a narrow, sharply banked semi-circle, you come to a stop sign not quite at the top. You can’t see anything at all from the stop line, although cars coming from the left have no stop. You need to creep past the stop line to see what's coming around the bend. There’s a mirror hung on a pole and it’s meant to help out. The problem is I’m not sure who or how. Maybe it’s just there to remind you of a funhouse mirror, causing you to reflect that some garage designers seem to take the amusement park funhouse as their design template

3. Conflicts at crossings. Now we come back to the Georgetown 14. The garage itself is not so hard to drive around once you’re down there. It’s getting back up to street level that's the problem. After you’ve paid the ticket, you have an alpine climb ahead of you. And at the top of the climb, a crowded Georgetown sidewalk, full of pedestrians who have just seen a movie and are chatting, happily and obliviously as they cross the driveway opening. The driver, who may also be chatting about the movie with the passengers while approaching the pedestrian crossing, is coming from dark to light and is not positioned well the see the people. There’s another one of those funhouse mirrors, but again, it’s not clear who it’s supposed to help. Of course, the pedestrians have the right of way....which doesn't mean a lot if the driver can't see them.

4. Validation aggravation. The underground Giant at Van Ness suffers from this flaw. You can park for free for 90 minutes if you get your ticket validated at checkout. The cashiers seldom remind you of this fact. And even if you remember, the problem is that it’s not a little stamp on your parking stub – it’s a separate piece of paper, just a flimsy little slip -- all too easy to drop it somewhere between the checkout and the parking ticket booth. If you never picked it up, or you dropped it along the way, then you pay. And even if you remember your validation slip, you could still be stuck in line behind someone who forgot, and you will be waiting, waiting, waiting, while that person argues in vain about the fee. 

5. Car-scraper support poles. The winner in this category is the Tenley Whole Foods garage. The structure is honeycombed with massive, sharp-edged diamond-shaped pillars. They are placed at intervals so close to the driving lanes that they practically lunge out for your bumpers as you pass. They must take a heavy toll, by the look of all the paint scrapes that decorate them.

I trust all the intrepid drivers in DC can think of examples of parking garages that qualify as bad parking garages under the above criteria. But there’s one that to me stands out as far and away the worst of any I’ve encountered. Impossible turns – check! Car scaper poles -- it’s parking rash city there. Narrow, winding ramps – couldn’t be any narrower or windier. Validation aggravation – well, nobody in the building in question validates and so everyone is made to pay up to get out. And lots of drivers are shocked at the cost when they finally wind their way down to the poorly placed ticket booth.  Where is this ill-designed expanse of driving/parking hell? It’s behind the medical building at 3301 New Mexico Avenue. If you weren’t feeling bad before you went, you certainly will be by the time you drive out.


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

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Get Out! - The Events Column

Photo by Thomas S. Mann

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 14,000+ members of the Cleveland Park Listserv should know about, email us at (events @

Peggy Robin and Bill Adler
Publishers, Cleveland Park Listserv

Thursday, January 15 at 7 PM, “The Cosmography of the Spheres” concert by the Cathedra Choir, performing ”Dido and Aeneas” by baroque composer Henry Purcell. Free. At Washington National Cathedral, Massachusetts and Wisconsin Avenues. More info at

Friday, January 16 at 7 PM, Concert Preview of the 32 Beethoven Piano Sonatas Cycle, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Catholic University’s Benjamin T. Rome School of Music. This program will feature performances of the Piano Sonatas Op. 2 #1, Op. 7, Op. 27 #2 ("Moonlight") and Op. 31 #1. The featured performers are: Andrew Wu (student of Irena Orlov, Levine Honors student), Anna Nizhegorodtseva, Brian Billion and Ralitza Patcheva. Free. In the Jane Lang Recital Hall at the Levine School of Music, 2801 Upton Street NW. Full details at

Friday, January 16 at 7:30 PM, Violin Recital featuring Sean Yongjoo Lim, performing the Sonata in G minor 'Devil's Trill Sonata' by Giuseppe Tartini, Sonata No.1 by Ernest Bloch, Agitato (1st Movement), Contemplation from Five Songs, Op. 105, No.1 by Johannes Brahms, Sonata No.5 "Spring", Op.24 by Ludwig van Beethoven, Allegro (1st Movement) "March" from the Love of Three Oranges by Sergei Prokofiev (arranged by Jascha Heifetz). Attendance is free, but a free will offering will be taken to benefit CHIME, an organization that works to support music education in the D.C. Public Schools. At the First Congregational United Church of Christ, 10th and G Streets NW. For more information visit:  

Saturday, January 17 at 12:30 - 1:30 PM, Coffee lecture and tasting. Come learn about the importance of origin and geography to the flavor of coffee. Joel Finkelstein, owner and head roaster at Qualia Coffee, will be leading this talk. This program will be held in the large meeting room in the lower level at the Petworth Library, 4200 Kansas Avenue NW,

Sunday, January 18 at 2 PM, Story Time and Crafts in Honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. We will read a story, listen to music, and make Peace Mobiles and Peace Magnets in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parents also will have an opportunity to make Peace Badges to bestow upon their little do-gooders as a way of acknowledging acts of selflessness. For all ages. Free. At the Cleveland Park Library, 3310 Connecticut Avenue NW,

Sunday, January 18 at 7:30 PM, “Cathedral Sings!” - a community singalong of Vivaldi’s “Gloria” led by Music Director, J. Reilly Lewis, accompanied by Todd Fickley performing on the Great Organ. This sing-along is perfect for singers and singers at heart. Bring your own score of borrow one of ours. Tickets, $10 online at or by phone at 202-537-2228, or available at the door. At the Washington National Cathedral at Massachusetts and Wisconsin Avenues.

Monday, January 19 at 2 PM, “All God’s Children.” This annual event at the Washington Cathedral celebrates Dr. King’s legacy through performances of our city’s rich music and dance heritage. Featured groups for the 2–4 pm program include the African Heritage Dancers and Drummers, Melvin Deal, director; the Howard Gospel Choir of Howard University, Reginald A. Golden, musical director; spoken-word artist Tika Wallace; soloist Francese Brooks and dancer Mahkai Carroll; Bishop Walker boy’s choir; WPA Children of the Gospel Choir. Tierra Burke, Tony Donaldson, and Micha Green from the Duke Ellington School for the Performing Arts will be the emcees. The Washington National Cathedral is at Massachusetts and Wisconsin Avenues. Admission is a donation of either a non-perishable canned food item or a new children’s book. More info:

Tuesday, January 20 at 7 PM, Discussion of the importance of interfaith dialog, presented by Rabbi Dr. Abraham Skorka and Auxiliary Bishop Barry Knestout. Masorti Olami invites you to a community wide conversation “Commemorating 50th Anniversary “of Nostra Aetate and Chasing Peace.“ Rabbi Abrahan Skorka is  Rabbi of the Masorti Olami Community (Worldwide Conservative  Movement) Benei Tikva in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Pope Francis and Rabbi Skorka co-authored a book on interfaith dialogue, titled "On Heaven and Earth” that was published in Spanish in 2010 and in English in 2013. Complimentary Admission Registration Required  Donations Welcome. To register online go to: At Adas Israel Congregation, 2850 Quebec Street NW. For more information go to

Tuesday, January 20 at 7 PM, “A History of Dupont Circle.” Author talk by Stephen A. Hansen, longtime D.C. resident, architectural historian, historic preservation specialist, and author of "A History of Dupont Circle: Center of High Society in the Capital" (History Press, 2014). Free. At the West End Interim Library, 2522 Virginia Avenue NW.  More info:

Wednesday, January 21 from 10 - 11:50 AM, “”Ebola: International, National, and State Responses,” a talk by Margaret Farrell, who has worked as a volunteer attorney advising the Minister of Health in Liberia in the summers of 2009 and 2010. Most of her time was spent revising the country’s 1970’s public health laws, never suspecting that they would be needed so soon. This lecture will be about how Liberia, the U.S., and international community are dealing with the Ebola outbreak of 2014. At the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. This lecture will be at Temple Baptist Church, 3850 Nebraska Ave. NW, adjacent to the American University campus. All lectures in the series are free and open to the public. No reservations are needed. Information on this lecture and others at

Wednesday, January 21 at 12 noon, “Eat Well to Age Well,” a talk by licensed nutritionist Rose Clifford, hosted by the Chevy Chase and Georgetown chapters of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees organization. Free. In the second floor meeting room of the Tenley-Friendship Library, 4450 Wisconsin Avenue NW.

Thursday, January 22 from 7 - 9 PM: “The Ethics of Glitter Bombing” - a debate between an advocate of this increasingly popular form of protest and a spokesperson for victims of glitter bombings. The Washington Post recently covered the phenomenon of glitter bombing -- you can read the January 13 article here: -- but should the practice be outlawed? Is it cruel? Or just desserts? Come with an open mind and prepare to leave with tiny sparkles in your hair that you can never entirely remove. Free. At the Law School of the University of the District of Columbia -- or it could be...if this were a real debate, instead of the weekly fake event -- see glitter bombing is NOT something we made up!)

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Still Life With Robin: Snow What's New?

Photo by USCapitol (Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons
by Peggy Robin

Tuesday, January 6 was our first real snow day of the winter of 2014-2015 (2.4 inches at DCA). A few quick facts:

It was a late one. The average date of “first dusting” of one inch or more in the Washington metro area is December 20. According to the Capital Weather Gang: “The record for the earliest snow in our area is October 10, 1979…. in 1973 the first and only measurable snow in DC that season occurred February 23.” It really is true that a late first snowfall portends a winter with less of the white stuff than average – again, according to the weather mavens at the Capital Weather Gang (

Although we had a bit of melting yesterday, when the high reached a balmy 41 degrees F, the temperature today is not expected to go above 26. That’s -3.33333, for those of you who have learned to think in Celsius. And it feels a lot colder to those of us who haven’t.

If we’re lucky, it will warm up to 43 or so by tomorrow afternoon – which is exactly the historic average high for this time in January.

Knowing that some love snow, some hate it, and everyone at some time feels frustrated by it, I thought I would pass along examples of all three views:

And finally, whatever your own personal reaction to snow, you gotta love watching a one-year-old enjoying her very first snowfall:
(via the NBC Nightly News Facebook post):

Can’t get enough of snow? Then you may like the Capital Weather Gang’s assemblage of the best of the recent snow photos sent in by readers:


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

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Get Out! - The Events Column

Kogod Courtyard at Smithsonian
American Art Museum - photo by Tim Hursely

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 14,000+ members of the Cleveland Park Listserv should know about, email us at (events @

Peggy Robin and Bill Adler
Publishers, Cleveland Park Listserv

Thursday, January 8 at 5 PM, The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. The Palisades Library invites you to a Mad Hatter's Tea Party to celebrate the birthday of author Lewis Carroll and the 150th anniversary of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Make Wonderland crafts and enjoy "tea" and refreshments, followed by a screening and sing-a-along of Disney's animated movie based on the book. More info:

Thursday, January 8 at 7 pm, “The Sheltering Sky” by Paul Bowles is the featured book for discussion in the Cleveland Park Library series "Literature of the English-Speaking World." The library has multiple copies of the book available for you to borrow. There is no cost to join the discussion series but please call  Cleveland Park Library at 202 282-3072 to register so that you can receive study questions from the facilitator in advance. About the book: When Port and Kit Moresby travel to the Sahara to test their faltering marriage, they get more than they bargained for. This classic, published in 1949, made a name for Paul Bowles, an American composer and writer who spent most of his adult life based in Tangier. Like other books in the series, the theme of expats negotiating the distance between homeland and the greater world beyond is central. At the Cleveland Park Library, Connecticut Avenue and Macomb St,

Friday, January 9 at 10 AM, Casey Trees presents “Buds Story Time,” a tree-focused story time aimed toward an audience of toddlers and preschoolers (2 years to 4 years). The story time will feature three to four tree and environment focused books interspersed with songs and a craft project. Each family will leave with a list of seasonally appropriate scavenger hunt items to track down while exploring the Hill Center (921 Pennsylvania Avenue SE) on their own after the Buds program has concluded. Free tickets available at .

Saturday, January 10 from 11:30 AM - 3 PM, Smithsonian American Art Museum is putting on a Winter Family Festival in celebration of the exhibit “The Singing and the Silence: Birds in Contemporary Art.” Don’t fly south for the winter, flock to the museum! There will be feathery fun as the whole family enjoys crafting for the birds, including a printmaking workshop with Lily Press. Free. In the Kogod Courtyard of the Smithsonian American Art Museum at 8th and F Streets NW.

Saturday, January 10 at 11:30 AM, “DC School Lottery: How Does It Work? What Do I Need to Know?” meeting for parents. Bring your questions and get helpful answers from a professional from MySchoolDC. Find out the best way to get your children into the charter school of their choice, and learn about all your options for your child’s public school education in DC. Free. At the Georgetown Library, 3260 R St. NW. More info:

Sunday, January 11 at 5:15 PM, Cathedral Organ Recital with guest organist Janet Yieh from New York City, performing on the Cathedral’s 10,650–pipe great organ. Works include Te Deum, Benedictus, Op. 59, and Prelude and Fugue in A Minor. $10 suggested donation.The Washington Cathedral is at Massachusetts and Wisconsin Avenues NW. More info:

Monday, January 12 at 7 PM, Workshop: Eco Wrap Alternatives. When DC's law banning the sale and use of gift wrapping paper took effect on January 1, 2015, were you ready? (See the DC Gift Paper Preservation Act of 2014 for what the law covers.) Come to this free workshop on wrapping with reusable cloth - a practical and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional gift wrapping paper. We will teach you how to iron sharp creases on the wrapping cloth and sew seams that are tight and stitch-perfect. We will also be distributing FREE seam-ripper tools so that your children can zip through the unwrapping process at birthday parties and other present-giving events, just as the did in the ecologically wasteful days of paper gift wrap. At the Cleveland Park Library, Connecticut Avenue and Macomb Street NW. Free, but you must register at

Tuesday, January 13 from 12:30 - 1:30 PM, “Smart Growth: Reimagining Industrial Areas in Washington, DC.” Andrea Limauro and Tracy Gabriel of the DC Office of Planning discuss Ward 5 Works, a recently released plan calling for the transformation and reuse of the industrial areas in Northeast DC to diversify the district’s economy and grow emerging industries, as well as develop hubs for a creative economy, green jobs, and food production. Tickets are free - register at Limited walk-up registration may be available.

Tuesday, January 13 at 7 PM, Friendship Bracelet Party at the Mount Pleasant Library. Colorful string! Snacks! 90's music! Nostalgia! Make friends, or make things for your other friends. We’ll provide the materials and the instructions, you provide the knots. All ages welcome. The Mount Pleasant Library is at 3160 16th St. NW. More info:

Wednesday, January 14 at 7 PM, Author Talk: “History of Rock Creek Park” by former interpretive park ranger Scott Einberger. Rock Creek Park celebrates its 125th anniversary this year. Ranger Einberger traces the history of the park, from 4,500 years ago when Native Americans quarried stone in the Rock Creek Valley, through the era of early mills and mansions, the area’s links to the Civil War and the park’s establishment by Congress in the late 1800s. Free. At the Tenley-Friendship Library, Wisconsin Avenue at Albemarle Street. Book sale and signing to follow event. More info: