Monday, May 16, 2022

Still Life with Robin: Hello Henry, Hello Charlotte!

by Peggy Robin

 by Peggy Robin

The Social Security Administration just released the most popular baby names of 2021. Then AxiosDC put out the graphic below, showing the top ten baby names in our area, with separate columns for DC, Mayland, and Virginia:

Axios DC 5-13-22

I’m passing along this chart, just in case you are expecting a baby, or are close to someone who is expecting, and you think it’s important for the child not to be one of a clutch of Henrys or Charlottes at school, summer camp, or on a sports team.

I’m saying this, of course, as someone who never experienced that particular problem personally, as my own name Peggy (yes, that’s what my parents put on my birth certificate) has never been in the top 100 in the ranking of female baby names, and right now sits at the practically insignificant ranking of #6,255 (!) However, Margaret – from which the diminutive Peggy is derived, was in the top ten of girls names from the turn of the century all the way through 1940. It stayed in the top 50 until 1965 and remained in the top 100 until the 1990s. These days it’s down to #357.

It was something of a trend in the 1950s and ‘60s to give a child what is really a nickname as the actual birth-certificate name. Growing up, I was never surprised to meet a girl formally named Sally, not Sarah, or Betsy, not Elizabeth, and I suppose it did not surprise them to learn that my full given name was NOT Margaret.

What would have been surprising to us, in the ‘50s and ‘60s, would have been to meet an Ava, other than that internationally famous and impossibly glamorous actress, Ava Gardner. And we would not even have known what to make of a girl named Maya. That was a name of an ancient people, like the Inca or the Aztec (as far as we knew).

Of course, I’ve adapted and changed with the times and now am not surprised by anything that anyone tells me they’ve named their child. Elon Musk named his son X Æ A-12 and his daughter Exa Dark. (I am not making this up, and if you want to waste a little time looking over a list of weird celebrity baby names, go here: .)

As for babies I know personally, through friends and family members who had a child in the past three years -- It’s not a large sample, I grant you -- but they're all pretty nice:

* Alice and Steve (in my extended family) named their baby Emma.

* Ben and Emma (in my extended family) named their baby Alice.

* Sarah and Eric (in my extended family) named their baby Elizabeth (Lizzie)

* Luke and Katie (in my extended family) named their baby Myles.

* Friends became grandparents of a boy named Eli.

* Friends became grandparents of a boy named Calvin.

….and here’s the kicker: The newest baby in my extended family – born September of 2021 to parents Nick and Kathleen  –  is named Margaret. But I've been told she will be known as Maggie (never Peggy!)


Still Life with Robin is posted on the Cleveland Park Listserv and All Life Is Local on Saturdays (most of the time, but this one’s been posted a bit late!)

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Get Out! Celebrate Europe Day at the EU OPEN HOUSE on Saturday from 10 AM - 4 PM

Image from EU Open House Day
by Peggy Robin

If you missed last Saturday’s Embassy Tours, you will have another chance to enjoy the tastes, sounds, and sights of many lands – in this case, all from member states of the European Union. On the first Saturday after Europe Day (May 9), the Embassy of the European Union is throwing open their doors to the public – no passports or reservations required! 

Here’s your invitation for this FREE event:

EU Open House is back! On Saturday, May 14, from 10 AM to 4 PM
The European Union and its Embassies open their doors to the public for a day of culture, food, music, and more.
No registration, tickets, or passport required!

This event falls every year on the first Saturday after Europe Day on May 9. This date marks the signing of the Schuman Declaration on May 9, 1950, which established the European Coal and Steel Community, a multinational entity that would eventually become the European Union as we know it today.

We celebrate Europe Day by opening our doors to the public so that Americans can catch a glimpse of the European cultures that make up the European Union. Normally you have to cross the Atlantic to visit the EU, but at Open House, you just have to cross the street!


This year’s participating countries and locations are available via our specially curated Google Map.

Heading to an Embassy that’s across town or uphill? This year, we’re partnering with Lyft to give Open House attendees a transportation boost. Enjoy $2 off any Lyft Scooter ride that begins or ends in front of one of the Embassy locations on the map. (Offer valid May 14 from 10 AM-4 PM; no limit per user; discount applied automatically, no code required).

Please note that masks will be required when inside the embassies during EU Open House.

Here is what you can expect from the EU embassies around Washington, with more details to come! 

Austria and Slovakia, Two Countries – One River:  Discover Austria and Slovakia, connected by the river Danube! Enjoy presentations and a taste of typical food and drinks inside and outside the two Embassies!
Belgium:  Belgium’s capital Brussels is the diplomatic hub of Europe. Take a comic book tour of Belgium, enjoy a freshly baked waffle, take a selfie, and win tickets for Stromae’s sold-out show in D.C.
Bulgaria:  We invite you to taste, smell, discover and experience Bulgaria. Get ready for live music and dancing, art exhibitions, delicious food and wine, and some family-friendly surprises.
Croatia:  Take a journey through this unique land of over 1,000 islands and enjoy Croatia’s musical traditions, nature, and opulent culture and history. Savor the wine from the sunny Dalmatian slopes. Check out your favorite Game of Thrones filming locations. Discover the fastest electric car in the world. Taste Croatian delicacies.
Cyprus:  Discover Cyprus! An island rich in history and culture, and full of wonderful experiences just waiting to be enjoyed. Head to the Cyprus Embassy to meet the “World Heritage of the island: history, myth, religion” and enjoy a taste of Cyprus!
Czech Republic:  Step into the 1930s with a live jazz band, lindy hop dancers, and history of two Czech actors, George Voskovec and Jan Werich. Enjoy great beer, food, a dog show, bounce house, and a folk fashion show.
Denmark:  Learn about a more sustainable future and visit Green Denmark. Take a bike ride through Copenhagen, see a giant recycled swan, tour the Ambassador’s Residence, enjoy Danish delicacies, and much more!
European Union:  Learn how the EU is fighting for a sustainable future and the preservation of global democracy by exploring art installations, designing #StandWithUkraine buttons, and interacting with diplomats!
Finland:  What is Finnish everyday happiness made of? Come find out! You get to enjoy nature photos and Moominvalley animations with your family and take a selfie with our Ambassador.
Germany and France:  Two countries, one venue, zero jet-lag! Discover the best of France and Germany in one place at this year’s EU Open House. Enjoy food, music, theatre, art, and more in a family-friendly environment.
Greece: Visit the Greek Embassy to explore a sculpture exhibition by internationally acclaimed Greek artist George Petrides.
Hungary:  Visit the Embassy of Hungary to discover the heart of Central Eastern Europe! Taste Hungarian food, listen to folk music bands, meet Vizslas and experience culture like never before.”
Ireland:   For the first time, the Embassy of Ireland invites you to the Ambassador's Residence. Learn about the historic home & Irish art, connect with local Irish sport & culture groups, and enjoy the craic!
Italy:  Join us from 10AM-12 to visit our 3CODESIGN exhibition, learn about Italian culture and language, and discover our Armed Forces. Don’t forget to taste some pizza, ice cream, and espresso!
Latvia:   Meet Latvian folk dancers and tour the Alice Pike Barney Studio House  – a historic building listed on the National Register of Historic Places that once hosted the likes of Teddy Roosevelt!
Lithuania:  Come by the Embassy of Lithuania and experience Lithuanian culture, cuisine, and more in one visit! Meet our team and learn about 100 years of Lithuanian-U.S. diplomatic relations in our historic building.
Luxembourg:  Join an interactive journey through Luxembourg’s past, present, and future with a fun trivia quiz. Explore the magnificent embassy building and learn about Luxembourg’s thriving space industry.
Netherlands:  Poffertjes. Stroopwafels. Heineken. These you may know. But we're so much more. Visit us to learn about the Dutch in a fun and creative way. Did we mention the DJ? Yeah, we have one of those too.
Poland: Superheroes are not only cartoon protagonists – they sure do exist! Our superheroes are scientists. We invite you to learn about a number of Polish superheroes and scientists who have changed the world.
Portugal:  Join us to learn more about Portugal while being delighted by food and wine. Listen to Portuguese songs, try our famous custard tarts, meet Portuguese artist Isabel Pavão, and enter to win a trip to Portugal!
Romania:  Come see one of the finest examples of Beaux-Arts architecture, while discovering Romania’s traditions and culture through dance, song, and costume!
Slovakia and Austria, Two Countries – One River:  Discover Slovakia and Austria, connected by the river Danube! Enjoy presentations and a taste of typical food and drinks inside and outside the two Embassies!
Slovenia:  Join us and taste fine Slovenian food and wines! Plan your next vacation to Slovenia while viewing cultural displays and products from top Slovenian companies.
Spain:  Plan your next trip, taste some delicious Spanish food, do experiments with Spanish scientists, or stroll through our newly planted gardens and fascinating exhibits, all during this year’s Open House!
Sweden and Estonia:  At House of Sweden, guests have the opportunity to learn about both Sweden and Estonia, try Swedish FIKA, visit the rooftop, a photobooth, the current exhibitions on display, as well as send a postcard, do a quiz walk or simply enjoy a coffee overlooking the Potomac River.

BONUS EVENT:  A key focus for the European Union has been supporting Ukraine. This Saturday, the Ukraine House at 2134 Kalorama Road NW will also be open for visitors to learn more about Ukrainian culture and the ramifications of the current war.

Go to for all the details. 


Bonus SECOND Event of the Week!

While the “Get Out!” column is usually limited to one event, we thought we’d add a reminder to the event announcement posted at Message   "Acton Children's Business Fair This Saturday in Cleveland Park!" It's back after the pandemic hiatus and will be held from 10 AM - 12:30 PM along the Connecticut Avenue shopping block (3400 Connecticut Ave.) This year the kids return with to the sales booths with their own creations, inventions, and products. It’s really amazing to see what these creative young entrepreneurs have come up with – and lots of fun, too!  Here’s the invite: 

Join us this Saturday, May 14, in Cleveland Park for the Acton Children's Business Fair of Washington, DC

Acton Children's Business Fair of Washington, DC
Saturday, May 14, 2022, 10am - 12:30pm
(Rain Date: Saturday, May 21)
3411 Connecticut Avenue NW in Cleveland Park

  • Outdoor craft market with 80 small businesses run by young entrepreneurs ages 6 to 14.
  • Shop original artwork and photography, homemade candles and body scrubs, jewelry, origami, and more!

Entry is free and open to the public. Please note that many of the children entrepreneurs will only be accepting only cash (so we suggest you bring cash as their products will be hard to resist!).


The “Get Out” Event of the Week (or TWO events of the week, on occasion) is posted on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Thursdays.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Get Out! The Flower Mart Is Back at the National Cathedral This Friday & Saturday

by Peggy Robin

It's been two long years since the last Flower Mart, an annual tradition at the National Cathedral since 1939. It went on during World War II but was AWOL for two years, 2020 and 2021, due to the worldwide pandemic.

How we've missed it!

It's free and open to all. 

Friday, May 6 From 10 AM Until 6 PM

Saturday, May 7 From 10 AM Until 5 PM

The theme this year is "A Haven of Peace." Be sure to view the International Floral Display inside the Cathedral, including the bouquet from Ukraine.



You can download and print a map of all the vendors and activities here: 

No Tower Climb this year (due to the part that goes up a long, narrow, enclosed stone staircase) and no indoor "Tea in the Tower." Maybe next year!

Hope for good weather!


The "Get Out!" Event of the Week is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Thursdays.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Still Life with Robin: One Paper or Two?


by Peggy Robin

Do you still get a physical newspaper delivered to your doorstep in the morning? Does it come wrapped in an orange or gray plastic sleeve? How about a second delivered newspaper? Does it also come wrapped in a plastic sleeve -- blue this time?

I answer "yes" to all four questions. The Washington Post is the one that comes wrapped in orange (thick Sunday paper) or gray (thin weekday version). The New York Times is always sheathed in blue. That is, until recently.

My paper carrier has started doing something environmentally and economically sound. On days when both papers are thin, the carrier has started stuffing them both into a single sleeve, the gray one with the Washington Post printed along the side.

The first time this happened, I went out on my front porch in the morning to pick up both papers but saw only one -- the gray-sleeved Washington Post. I brought it inside and went back outside to scout around for the Times. Maybe it rolled under the porch furniture on a bad toss by the guy in the delivery truck. That's happened before. No, not there. Maybe it's in the bushes? Nope. Could it have landed up on the porch roof?. (That happened only once, about 30 years ago.) 

After checking all the likely and somewhat unlikely possibilities, I went back inside and got online to report the non-delivery. This needs to be done right away, if you want the paper to come within the redelivery time window; otherwise you get no paper and a credit to your account. I filled out the online report for "missing paper," checked the "redeliver" box, and hit "submit" and then went to the kitchen to have my morning coffee and read the Post.

When I removed it from the sleeve -- hey whaddya know! -- there was the New York Times, nicely folded inside the Washington Post. Two newspapers in a single sleeve. Efficient!

Back at the computer, logged in to my New York Times account, home delivery page again, I looked for a "cancel previous request" line or a message box to explain what happened. Found nothing (or if it's there, I didn't see it). But still not wanting to cause a redelivery driver to waste time and paper on me, I called the customer service phone number and waited to speak to a live person.

It took little time to reach a friendly, helpful agent who said she would take care of the problem and cancel the re-delivery order. I felt relieved.

Then, at 9:30am on the dot, I heard a thump from outside on the porch and knew that the New York Times had just hit the deck. The truck was gone by the time I went outside to retrieve the duplicate paper. So much for the cancellation request!

Every little experience has its lessons, and in this case, I've come up with three: 
  1. Never call to complain about a missed paper before checking to see if it's inside the sleeve of the other paper.
  2. Don't count on a follow-up call to reverse an online order. It seems the online system at the NY Times  trumps human communication (or at least it did in this example -- but that's all I have to go on!)
  3. Expect the two-in-one experience to be repeated (it's now happened 4 times!)
Those are my take-aways from this little episode. And now for what I'd like to give back: Here's my tip for the DC distributor of both papers in this area: Want to keep your customers up on your new, plastic-sleeve-conserving ways? Just have a little sticker printed up that says, "NYT & WaPo" and slap it on the outside of the sleeve for all your two-paper customers on days when you're putting both papers inside one wrapper. A small stick-on notification would do the trick and it would be a lot faster and cheaper than delivering two papers in two separate sleeves. 

-Sent with my thanks for deliveries through snow, storm, sleet, street construction, and more!
Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Get Out! And Celebrate Indie Bookstore Day at the Greatest Independent Bookstore in the US!

 by Peggy Robin

Indie Bookstore Day is this Saturday! Yes, that's a real annual observance, with its own website and everything:  

Washington, DC is just the place to celebrate this special day! Why? If you have to ask, you must never have visited Politics & Prose, which has been called* "the liveliest, best-staffed, most invigoratingly intellectual bookstore in the US."  

Politics & Prose (Northwest DC) 

5015 Connecticut Avenue NW

Washington, D.C. 20008

MONDAY - SATURDAY: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

SUNDAY: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

(202) 364-1919 

Here's P&P's invitation to celebrate Indie Bookstore Day with them:

Stop by Politics & Prose for giveaways and exclusive Indie Bookstore Day items.

* Called by me, that is! And by way of disclosure....P&P is not even a Listserv Sponsor. Though we've had local authors who advertised their event on the CP Listserv, we've never received ad $$ from the store itself, It seems even without advertising, P&P events are always packed!


The "Get Out!" event of the week is usually published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and All Life Is Local on Thursdays but today it's a day late (so sue me!)

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Still Life with Robin: A Welcome Sight Over Connecticut Avenue

by Peggy Robin


Today’s “Still Life with Robin” column is short and sweet.


How lovely to see this wondrous flier over Connecticut Avenue – and how much more peaceful than the horrific scene yesterday: helicopters swirling overhead, the avenue jammed with emergency vehicles and armored cars. So much noise and trauma.


Hope all are healing now.


Thanks to Tom Hentoff for the photo.

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

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Get Out! And Go Shopping at Spring Pop-Up Shopping Market at Dupont Circle This Saturday


This week's highlighted event is the Spring Pop-Up Market happening this Saturday, hosted by Historic Dupont Circle Main Streets - and it looks like we may finally have some beautiful spring weather for this event! 

Peggy Robin

CP Listserv Moderator


Spring is here, and the tulips are blooming!

Dupont Circle is hosting its Spring shopping pop-up on Saturday, April 23rd from 12:00-5:00 p.m. Always new, always exciting – at the pop-up, you will find fresh and unique items from 100 painters, jewelers, drapers, candle makers, plant growers, and other artisans who will sell their crafts outside on P Street, NW, Connecticut Avenue, NW, Dupont Underground, and Scottish Rite Temple.

Dupont Circle is an exciting destination as seen by more than 5000 shoppers who came from throughout the region in December to take advantage of this unique shopping event. While in Dupont Circle, you can also visit our 40 retailers, art galleries, and 110 restaurants with outdoor café seating.  Don’t miss our Annual Spring Pop-Up!

“Dupont Circle shines in the spring with the trees budding, cherry blossoming popping, galleries open, and streateries packed with patrons,” said Sue Taylor, chair of the Promotion Committee.  “Pop-ups will be in front of retail stores so you can stroll in the Spring light and then take a coffee break at one of the shops or sit in Dupont Circle park with two acres of grass ringed by benches.”

Volunteers will be at the Dupont Circle Metro – North exit on Q Street – passing out maps and giving directions to pop-up shops and retailers.

The Spring pop-up is organized by Historic Dupont Circle Main Streets and sponsored by the Department of Small & Local Business Development. 

The event is free and open to the public. Rain or shine. To learn more, visit

The mission of Historic Dupont Main Streets is to promote, coordinate, and maintain improvements of the cultural, economic, and environmental qualities of Dupont Circle to make it an exemplary place to live, work, shop, and play. To learn more about HDCMS, visit

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Get Out! And Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Pandas in DC

This week when many of us are observing major religious holidays such as Passover, Easter, or Ramadan, as well as the official DC Government holiday of Emancipation Day, I did not want to let another important observance slip under the radar: It's the Pandaversary! link) Saturday, April 16 marks a half-century since the arrival of the first two pandas at the National Zoo. And so the Zoo is hosting a series of events in celebration.

Here's your official invitation:  

Image: Smithsonian National Zoo
The arrival of Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing on April 16, 1972 was the start of a decades-long giant panda conservation program. Celebrate 50 years of giant panda joy this weekend with the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute!


If you are going to be visiting the Zoo this weekend, click here for a schedule of events. Visitors will be able to view panda feedings, enjoy panda-inspired sweets themselves, listen to musical performances, watch dance demonstrations, and participate in making Chinese fans, and more.

We look forward to you joining in the Pandaversary party!


Bonus: A Washington family tradition and the Pandaversary continues Monday, April 18. Check out the Zoo’s full schedule of Easter Monday family-focused festivities.

And let me add my appreciation for all the pandas we've known and loved over the past 50 years:

Ling Ling & Hsing Hsing
Tai Shan
Mei Xiang and Tian Tian
Bao Bao
Bei Bei
Xiao Qi Ji

We love you all 🐼 ❤️ ! ! !
The Get Out! event of the week is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Thursdays.

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Still Life with Robin: How NOT to Crack Your Smartphone Screen


Image by Wikimedia Commons
by Peggy Robin

My not-very-old smartphone is no longer the beautiful, pristine thing it was when brand new. I've dropped it any number of times before, and its surrounding, rubbery case and screen protector had always done the job of keeping it safe. It took just one bad fall at an unfortunate angle to break the spell and leave a spiderweb of little fractures across the glass. It's not so terrible -- the cracks are mostly in a corner and they don't interfere with any functions, so I've decided to live with it. But I want you to learn from my experience. Here are my top ten rules to prevent the same or worse from happening to you:

1. Get a very protective case, one that has a flap covering the screen. If you always want instant access to the screen, get a case that is thick enough around the front edges to serve as a bumper in the event of a fall onto a hard surface.

2. Always wear clothing with pockets deep enough to fit the phone FULLY inside the pocket, so that you can bend over without the risk of your phone slipping out. This will be a challenge for women, who have a hard time finding pants made with anything more than little slit pockets -- if they have pockets at all. (BTW, if you have ever wondered why women's clothing is so often lacking in this convenient feature available in virtually any garment made for men, you might enjoy a little digression into the history of pockets in women's clothing:

3. NEVER walk up or downstairs while texting, playing games on your phone, or doing anything phone-related that calls upon you to look at it and use your hands to input any commands. Strict observance of this rule will not only help to protect your phone from a fall but more importantly, it will help to protect YOU from a fall. Your phone screen is a lot easier to fix than your tibia. (Yes, this could a good guess in Wordle, but wait till you are upstairs and sitting down to key it in.)

4. Never add your phone to the top of a pile of stuff you are carrying. Sure, it may look stable and safe atop the pile of magazines, some mail, plus a couple of dirty socks you just picked up off the floor -- but then, you are really not in a position to assess the situation objectively, are you? We all have a tendency to assess risk based on our own past experience. So if you've carried your phone atop a pill of stuff an uncounted number of times before and never dropped it, you think you never will. But good risk assessment takes into account outcomes for a large group of people under similar circumstances. And a certain percentage of them do drop their phones. Just factor that into your decision-making each time you find yourself wanting to hold onto your phone along with an armload of other random things.

5. If you routinely carry your phone in a purse or backpack, make sure it's secured at the top by a flap or some kind of closure. Bags of all kinds can get turned upside-down unexpectedly. Without a closing flap to keep your phone inside, you could easily pick up your upturned bag and leave, not even noticing that your phone has been left behind. 

6. The mug of hot coffee or tea or even a seemingly innocuous glass of water is the enemy of your phone. Maintain a wide separation at all times between the mug, the glass, or any liquid-filled vessel and your phone. I recommend a minimum of two feet between them at all times.

7. Do NOT take your phone into the bathroom. Period. Full Stop. No exceptions. If it's never been in a room with a toilet or sink, it can't fall in. (For those of you who believe, even if your phone does get immersed in water, it can be saved by drying out inside a bag of rice -- please note, this is an urban legend! Here's one of dozens of articles I found  when googling this subject that debunked the idea:

8. One of the most fraught times for your phone is when you are getting in or out of a car. Your phone should always be secured during these transitions. A fall on a asphalt or concrete can be tough on a phone -- that is, if you happen to notice that the phone has fallen. Even worse is when you don't notice, and you get into the driver's seat, start the car, and immediately back out of the space. Your phone, no matter how well encased, is not going to survive being run over by a 2-ton vehicle.

9. Always know where the table ends. Sometimes it's hard to tell, especially if there are papers on the table that may lead you to think the edge is somewhere other than where it really is. You also need to anticipate accidental brushing or knocking things over by someone else at the table - or even by yourself. To be on the safe side, it's best to leave a margin of at least six inches between the end of your phone and the table's edge. And (it should go without saying), don't leave it on your chair when you are getting up, even if just for a moment. One of these days you WILL sit on it.

And last of all:

10. Get phone insurance! According to, about 45 percent of cell phone owners have broken or damaged a phone. Here's an article rating different phone insurance plans: Even with precautions 1-9, you can't foresee every form of phone damage -- but you can definitely reduce the cost!
Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.  

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Get Out! And See DC in Maps - at the GWU Museum, Now Through August 27

This week's "Get Out!" Event of the Week is not just something you can see in the coming week -- fortunately for us, it's here for some months, so you can see it anytime between now and August 27, 2022. 
It's called "The Language of Maps" and through the series of maps on display you can travel through time and see the land we call the District of Columbia throughout the centuries.
Here's your invitation to the exhibit:

The Language of Maps

Through August 27, 2022

Before the digital age, generations of explorers, governments, scientists and travelers relied on printed maps for navigation, urban planning, military strategy and more. Drawing from the Albert H. Small Washingtoniana Collection, this exhibition brings together maps from the 17th to the 21st centuries, each with its own symbolic language and story.

About the Exhibition

What is a map? Equal parts art and science, maps are designed to communicate information and represent a place. They are also intrinsically biased, reflecting the choices and agendas of their makers. To fully decode a map, it is important to understand when it was made, who made it and why. 

This exhibition explores the visual language of maps through historical examples used by different groups in and around Washington, D.C.: explorers attempting to navigate and control new territory, governments seeking to collect data to inform policy, and military personnel building battle strategies.

The earliest map on display is a 1690 navigational chart detailing the coastline of the Chesapeake and Delaware bays. Other examples were used for urban planning, including an 1854 proposal for expanding the grounds of the Capitol building. A hand-drawn map made during the War of 1812 shows the positions of British and American troops before the pivotal Battle of Bladensburg, which left the City of Washington vulnerable to pillage and arson.   

The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum 
701 21st St. NW Washington, DC 20052  Phone: +1 202-994-5200 Email:

Museum Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Closed on university holidays

Foggy Bottom-GWU Metro (Blue, Orange and Silver lines)

A suggested donation of $8 supports the museum’s exhibitions, collections and educational programs. Admission is free for museum members, children and current GW students, faculty and staff.

Covid Safety Policies:

In accordance with GW regulations, all visitors over the age of 2 must wear masks and maintain social distance in the museum, regardless of vaccination status. Bring your own mask or pick one up at the front desk.
Vaccination: In accordance with GW regulations, all visitors must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Please come prepared to show your vaccine card (or a digital copy) at the front desk when you arrive. Full vaccination is defined as at least 14 days since receiving the final required dose of FDA or WHO authorized vaccines.


The "Get Out!" event of the week is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Thursdays.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Still Life with Robin: Our Oscar-Worthy Town - The Sequel

Movie Poster, 1950 release
by Peggy Robin

Last week's "Still Life with Robin" column listed more than a dozen movies set in DC -- many of them multiple-Oscar winners or at least multiple nominees --followed by another half-dozen that were snubbed at the Oscars but still managed to show off our highly cinematic city.

In that column I admitted it was an incomplete list -- and I wasn't wrong! Quite a few of you wrote in to tell me about this or that good one that should have been included.

So here's my make-up column with some of the very best movies set in DC that either were or shoulda been contenders.  This time around, I haven't looked up all the stats on which ones snagged a stauette -- or even a nomination -- or were shamefully overlooked -- just noted a few of the more prominent winners. If you want the full picture, there's always IMDB.

And now.....(deep announcer voice): Presenting TWELVE Award-Worthy Movies Set in or Near DC (this time in alphabetical order):

Absolute Power (1997). Clint Eastwood stars in this thriller of murder and political intrigue. A sexually rapacious and easily manipulated President is caught up in a conspiracy to cover up a murder. Some critics dismissed it at the time as unbelievable that such a figure of such evil, combined with such stupidity, could ever be elected to to the highest office.


Air Force One (1997). Harrison Ford is a macho man/war hero former pilot and now President. A quarter of a century ago, this was boffo stuff at the box office, mainly because Ford was so plausible as man-of-action President and decorated flier. Meanwhile, back In Real Life, actor Harrison Ford has had no less than six reported incidents due to pilot error, including two crashes.


Arlington Road ((1999). OK, Arlington Road's in Bethesda, not in DC -- but it still counts! The main character is a college professor who starts to suspect that his friendly new neighbors just might be terrorists. Question: Even in 1999, was the salary of a single-parent professor enough to afford a detached house in Bethesda?


Born Yesterday (1950). If you have time to see just one of these movies, make it this one. Bubbly and sparkling, but with some sharp political ribs showing through, Born Yesterday is a comedy about a would-be power couple, a corrupt scrap-metal dealer/tycoon and his naive but not-so-dumb blonde mistress, played by Billie Holliday in a Best Actress-winning performance, who move to Washington with the aim of becoming members of the power elite. When the tycoon hires a journalist to try to teach his rough-edged mistress the manners and airs of Washington high society, he is shocked to discover that she has learned far more than how to talk "couth": she's learned far too much about his corrupt business dealings -- and has learned she has the power to do something about it, too.


Enemy of the State (1998). Will Smith (does that name ring a bell?) plays a young Washington lawyer who gets entangled  in a conspiracy to murder a congressperson and ends up on the run as the main suspect. Of course, the handsome and resourceful leading man is no patsy, and does whatever he needs to do to avoid capture and eventually clear his name. Smith won two awards (neither of them Oscars) for the role: Favorite Actor in an Action/Adventure Film from Blockbuster Entertainment, and Outstanding Lead Actor in the NAACP's Images Awards for 1999.  


In the Line of Fire (1993). Clint Eastwood plays a secret service agent on the JFK detail on that fatal day in Dallas - and he's been wracked with guilt ever since -- and has to track down a new threat to the president's life. Eastwood sticks to his usual gruff, wooden, man-of-few-words persona; the real scene-stealer here is John Malkovich, madly chewing the scenery as the insidious assassin who taunts and torments the secret service agent about his past failure to save the president's life. 


Jackie (2016). Spend a bit under two hours with a depressed and sometimes suicidal (but always beautiful) Jackie Kennedy, as embodied by Natalie Portman, as she reminisces about her husband's murder, her stillbirths and miscarriages, and other times gone by. Does this sound like a good way to pass an evening? Well, that may be why I passed on it -- but it did win Best Costume Design at the BAFTAs (British equivalent of the Oscars). 

Die Hard 2 (1990). If you loved the original "Die Hard," (1988), you might enjoy this DC-adjacent sequel, set mainly at Dulles Airport (Northern VA), which has its hero, John McLain, single-handedly battling some bad guys who have taken over air traffic control and are keeping dozens of planes in the air. The gaping plot holes are not the only trouble with DH2 - it's also got a bunch of small but annoying production errors - most notably when McLain rushes to a pay phone (for those of you in Gen Z, it looks like this: that is emblazoned with the logo "Pacific Bell," a phone company you would not have found, back in those days, anyplace east of the Pacific time zone. 


Slam (1998) is a movie set in real locations around DC, from the poorest projects (fictionalized with the nickname "Dodge City") to the real DC jail and courthouse, and on to one of the ritziest parts of town - our own Cleveland Park. A poor boy but talented rapper is caught up in a cycle of drug violence but wants to break free. The film won a number of prestigious awards for independent filmmaking.


St. Elmo’s Fire (1985). The "brat pack" actors play recent Georgetown grads now making their way in the working world of Washington, DC. There's a lot about jobs, apartments, hookups, commitment and marriage -- all bound up in the usual '80s angst. Plus a lot of drinking at their favorite hangout, St. Elmo's bar -- and an awful lot of talk. If you like most of John Hughes's body of work (The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, et. al.) you'll probably like this one -- though it was not directed by Hughes but by Joel Schumacher.


Strangers on a Train (1951). Hitchcock's clever crime game makes DC mansions and streets seem gloomy and sinister -- still, not quite as menacing as the atmosphere at the small town amusement park where much of the non-DC part of the action takes place. While the movie is a dark and cynical take on life in and out of the nation's capital, the original novel by Patricia Highsmith is even darker and more sinister yet


Thank You for Smoking (2005). Can you make a funny movie about a morally bankrupt but sometimes charming lobbyist for Big Tobacco? Author (and former Cleveland Park resident) Christopher Buckley managed to pull it off in the book,, but whether the movie be the judge.

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