Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Anyone Remember the Madrillon?

According to my father, The Madrillon was the place to go in Washington in the 1940s. That's my dad, George Cokinos, with the wacky tie on the far left. They had bands there, too.

Bring your own memories or just your curiosity to the Historical Society this Saturday June 26 for a trip in the way back machine with Jeff Krulik:

Eat, Drink and Be Merry in 1950s-60s DC: 
A Panel Discussion
, Slide Show and Oral History Presentation
with the Photos of Emil Press  
2:30- 4:00
801 K Street, NW at Mount Vernon Square


Friday, April 16, 2010

Emancipated But Still Vote Free Here in DC

It's Emancipation Day here in the District of Columbia which is sometimes called " the capital of the free world." In reality our fair city is a bizarre little fiefdom where the denizens are still denied the right to vote basically because Republicans fear that one more Democratic voice will tip the world into the abyss. DC Vote is working to change that. Check it out.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Mayor For Life

Marion Barry. He got his comeuppance in DC yesterday when the council censured him for unethical conduct, but as a DC native, I feel a bit sorry for him today. He was just doing what he has always done.

I remember in 1994, when Barry was re-elected-post that little crack smoking incident- I was depressed that people would fall for this guy, again, but then I was driving around Ward Circle when I heard Mayor Barry on the radio saying that "White Ward Three" would just have to get over it. I had to laugh.

He was right, and over the years I realized this was a smart surprising man, an Eagle Scout with a Masters in chemistry, and a big problem with substance abuse. His penchant for cronyism stretches as far back as his years of public service. Even as a child I remember my father complaining about him, but Barry himself will be the first to tell you he has done nothing wrong from "the bitch set me up" to the latest girlfriend incident which got him censured."Those are all just distractions, efforts by the government and the media to distract me, to discombobulate me and separate me from the community," he said. In 1992 his campaign slogan was " He may not be perfect, but he's perfect for DC." How perfect, how DC is that?

His biggest problem is every now and then he gets caught.

Still the bottom line is Marion Barry spent most of his life as a public servant and a Black civil rights activist. He will always be a part of our landscape- a local legend captured in wax at Madame Tussaud's beating out the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Cal Ripken Jr in a popularity contest. The summer jobs program was a brilliant idea, and one that changed many lives for the better. He's also immortalized in a song by Jake Flack which I'd like to echo here: "Say what you will about him. I'll never judge that man except when I'm back in the alley next to my double wide 2 ply can. It's easy to form an opinion from the outside looking in, but Strosnider's, Hechinger's and Peoples Drug can't hold a candle to him. Marion Barry he's the man- he brought us the Supercan....and I just want to shake his hand and say thank you."

Thank you, Mayor for Life. We love you.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Snow Musing by Lynn Thorp

Nicole and Richard, December 2009

Big snows are (were?) rare enough around here that traditions and memories are firmly imprinted. My mom had traditions: always bake or make a big pot of something and instruct Dad to take an Irish Coffee to Elmo next door while he was shoveling. Without even realizing why, I stopped on the way home Friday for Irish Coffee makings. I didn't even remember the tradition until today when I offered one to my shoveling neighbor Cece.

When the news reports previous historic snow totals, they all prompt a memory:

1979 - Wearing what Dan called "weird chic" cloth Chinese shoes while walking home to 4884 MacArthur from an all-night party in Foxhall Village. Even the drugstore and Safeway didn't open for a day or two and people were skiing down the Boulevard.

1982 - Walking the several miles home from work at Georgetown University to find roommate Matthew Klena watching the news of the Air Florida crash and the Metro accident.

1996 - Being snowed in here, in Mt. Rainier, for over a week with young children. They got so sick of sledding that they just wanted to play on the plow hills at the corner. That was easy because these plow hills were right in front of the house and the kids didn't need to be so well suited up.

What will be this season's memories? Well, first the sheer number of events, including the "mess up holiday plans storm" of December 2009. Then the January 30 six inch interlude during which we held Bob's big birthday party and grilled in the backyard. For the "big one" which just passed, it will be neighbors Kathy and John coming every night to play board games with Richard and me. And neighbor Dave and I embarking upon a committed relationship with Battlestar Gallactica by watching the first disc. Also our local brewery/restaurant Franklins has a new brewer and tonight's "meet the brewer/try two new beers" will stick in my mind because many of us who made it there hadn't been anywhere in days and yet another big snow was beginning. Staff were outside to push people out of the parking lot.

It's easy to make fun of snow hysteria, but it can be rough when the power goes out or the infrastructure collapses in various ways. But it also is just unusual enough to put us in a festive mood and makes us mark those friends and family who get us through, and it imprints traditions that we barely know we have. Fare well Washington DC area friends... spring will arrive for us.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Commander Salamander Blues by Chip Py

Twenty five years ago Commander Salamander was really something to see. We used to drive all the way from Nags Head to buy clothing, sunglasses, buttons and all of the radical raging supplies a punk rock kid needed. I was really heartbroken when I heard that the store was closing. I went one more time to say goodbye, but when I walked through the doors, I had a better understanding of why it had met its demise. Except for a Cobain poster over the register, this store was no longer unique. It looked like any other store in any other shopping mall anywhere. Man, this was where Andy Warhol would shop when he came to DC! Someone totally mainstreamed their inventory and their presentation. No corrosion in their conformity. Somewhere down the line Commander had ceased to be cutting edge and unique and, like almost everything else in Georgetown (and retail in general) it became just another common denominator.