The weather outside is frightful and Hans is missing

And no, there is no fire. No delightful. I am currently at school for my first day of courses. We did not get a 2-hour delay so I slid into class at 9am, literally slid, because the ice is RIDICULOUS outside. Ironcityspy wore his converse shoes like an idiot, so hopefully he planned his walk to work carefully. An injured co-SPY is of little use to ispythingsdc.

Perilous Route (by Heather Farrell/TBD)

Anyways, the ice and ice-snow have also motivated a public service announcement. Granted, I am not confident in the effectiveness of such SPY alerts. The SPY alert on discarded Christmas trees simply prompted DC to take all the trees and pile them into massive tree pyramids also on the side of the street, reminiscent of the massive snow piles after snowpocalypse, or perhaps more aptly, bodies after a holocaust. The sad, decaying remains of a holiday season.

The beginnings of a tree pile

Anyways, in the spirit of public service, I did want to announce that HANS IS MISSING!!! I know. It’s terrible. Who is Hans, you ask? Well he is the twin brother of FRANZ:

A nutcracker family is broken! Yes, nutcracker twin Hans at Trio Diner on 17th Street went missing on New Years Eve. I suspect it was the rat king. Or a bunch of drunk idiots that thought it would be awesome to bring a massive nutcracker to their party. Either way, Franz has written this heartfelt note:

Poor guy. It is tough enough that Christmas is over and he has been relegated to a superficial window decoration rather than an actual instrument to crack nuts. Now his Christmas friend is gone. Could you imagine going back to storage without a friend?

So, if you happen to come upon a life sized nutcracker, begging for change in the streets, at a soup kitchen, or held in virtual house arrest by his captor, contact Trio at or 202-232-6305. They miss Hans.

30 days of DC: #1 Your local library is the Library of effing Congress

Look. I know starting out with libraries may not seem like the coolest way to begin this 30 days of DC , but in the spirit of this series, we all need to EMBRACE our inherent DC nerdiness. We were voted the most literate city in America. We work in politics, literature, and issue-based advocacy. We love the written word. EMBRACE.

And honestly, can you think of a cooler library card to have than the Library of Congress??? True, you cannot check out books  and take them home (only Congress members can do that), BUT you can take out books within the Library and do your research in a reading room that looks like THIS:

The best reading room in the world

I mean, come on. You walk in working on some policy memo that has an 80% chance of never going anywhere, you walk out as President Palmer from 24.

You leaving the Library of Congress

Not to mention there are volumes and volumes of rare political books. Rare political books that contain SECRETS.

So, maybe while you are researching the Alien and Sedition Acts,  you run across a photocopy of an old letter that references a sunken ship in the Arctic that has never been mentioned before, and maybe you go to the Arctic and find said ship and the ship contains a riddle, and maybe that riddle is a piece of a fabled treasure map hidden in the Declaration of Independence, and maybe you steal the Declaration of Independence and begin a wild chase with you, other treasure hunters and the FBI, but you trick the others into following a false clue of a lantern that is supposed to represent Paul Revere, while you and your beautiful companion find the treasure, unprotected in Philadelphia?!?!?!?!?

The end of an average day at the Library of Congress

Maybe that would happen. One thing that’s certain, the Library of Congress is the only foreseeable starting point of such a quest. So go forth, get the coolest library card in the United States, and make your research so much more.

For a recap of what 30 days of DC is, click HERE. New post every Friday.

A moment of silence for the closing of a happy hour legend

Beloved reader(s), the Mayflower Hotel’s Town and Country bar is closing. This is the saddest of news. The Mayflower Hotel, nicknamed the “Grand Dame” of DC hotels, is a local legend. Truman stayed there during the White House renovations, FDR  wrote his inaugural address there, Lewinsky stayed there during the Clinton scandal, and, most recently, Spitzer was caught with a hooker there. It is the spirit and the scandal of Washington, and the Town and Country is nothing less.

The buck stops at the Mayflower

I have been to the Town and Country countless times and it is exactly what you picture a DC politico bar to be: dark wood, big comfy leather chairs and couches, low light, and huge glasses of wine. You can spend your time chatting with friends or simply people-watching for someone famous in a shadowy corner. They also give you a complementary bowls of nuts and fancy pretzels to snack on, which for a poor SPY with a low alcohol tolerance, is a necessity. It is an ideal post-work relaxation spot, attended by all ages.

The Town and Country

Town and Country’s bartender, Sam Lek, has also achieved local fame. According to USA Today, he was  profiled by Esquire in October, his cocktail recipes featured in the New York Times, was named a Washington Post bartender of the month, and runs a charity, Sam Relief, for his home country of Cambodia. He has worked at Town and Country for 35 years and in the wake of its closing, he has said the bar was his life.

Sam Lek courtesy of City's Best

Apparently, Sam will still work for the Mayflower but at a different place. The Town and Country will be replaced by Thomas Pink, a clothing retailer, and maybe something else. It is part of a huge Mayflower renovation plan. I don’t have any comment on the merits of this plan, but T&C, you will be missed.

The bar reportedly closes on January 15, 2011.

Why are people so disappointed when DC reality TV fails?

So, in the wake of Top Chef DC, DC Cupcakes and Real Housewives DC pulling in mediocre ratings, the blogosphere was ablaze with posts about how DC sucks at reality TV. The posts were written in the familiar self-deprecating tone, taken time and again by bloggers seemingly hell bent on portraying DC as the poor man’s NYC.

Sigh. Why don't we have crazy housewives?

Our hip eateries are hip, but not hip enough, our reality shows are good, but not good enough, our trends are timely but not timely enough. And now, our wealthy and stupid housewives are wealthy and stupid, but unfortunately, not wealthy and stupid enough. Sigh. We can only dream of reaching the collagen-filled levels of “dramz” of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

Don't you wonder what makes her tick?

So, instead of people in DC rejoicing in the fact that DC may be a bit too cerebral for “Real Housewives” (we were voted America’s most literate city), the blogosphere issued their proverbial sigh over DC’s seemingly perpetual runner-up status. And why not? I know I have lost sleep over why our cupcake show wasn’t the most popular iteration of cake-based programming on television. OH GOD WHYYYYY?!

courtesy of Zombie Cupcakes

Jesus. ENOUGH DC. Real housewives of DC failed because no self-respecting political wife would commit reputational suicide by going on that show.  We should be PROUD of this. DC’s reality TV is the effing presidency. It’s the Supreme Court, the Pentagon, and Congress. So why do we give a sh*t about a stupid reality TV franchise?

DC, Always the sidekick

It’s this self-deprecation that frames DC as a NYC bizarre stepsister. In reality, the cities are not comparable. We are not the hometown of the Haiti Relief Concert singers, but we are the city sending people to HAITI. Do I want great DC fashion? Yes. Do I want delicious restaurants? Of course. But do I want us copying whatever’s trendy with the gusto of a high school teen attempting to climb the social ladder? No. We shortchange ourselves by doing that.

So no more cupcakes, no more yogurt, no more Housewives, instead I have decided to do a series every Friday, called 30 days of DC, which highlights awesome things you can do ONLY in DC. They will not be long, because I dislike many words, but they will be things you can only do here.

STARTS 1/14/2011!

Tip of the Hat to Giffords’s Badass Arizona Heroes

The Giffords tragedy has hit our little capital town hard. Honestly, it has hit me hard. She was one of our own, a congresswoman fighting for the issues she believes in, shot by an effing paranoid crazy with a penchant for the gold standard and making myspace videos about how the government brainwashed people through grammar. He shot 5 people including a 9 year old child in the name of this goddamn nonsense. In the name of effing NOTHING. Jesus, humanity.

Loughner's disgusting, smiling mugshot

However, I did want to highlight one small, shining light in the midst of all this tragedy: the absolute AWESOMENESS of the Arizona Giffords supporters who subdued Loughner. Honestly, the level of badassness these people displayed in dealing with an absolutely out-of-his-mind, gun wielding CRAZY deserves its own post. It deserves a million posts.

First, Bill Badger. God, what a perfect name.

Bill Badger courtesy of WNEP

A 74-year old, retired army colonel who was waiting to meet Giffords when Loughner started shooting. After GETTING EFFING SHOT in the back of the neck, he noticed another Arizonian (also badass) pick up a folding chair, come up behind Loughner and smash it over the gunman’s head. Badger then, BLEEDING, grabbed Loughner’s arm, pinned it behind his back and, with another guy’s help, forced Loughner on the ground, holding him there.  A quote from Badger:

“Anytime he would even start to move, I would tighten my grip on his throat, and the other guy would put more pressure on his neck to hold him down,” Badger said. “And he’d holler, ‘Oh, oh, you’re hurting me! Oh, oh,’ – like that. And that guy said, ‘I don’t give a [expletive].” - CBS

Amazing. It’s like a goddamn movie. THEN if that wasn’t badass enough, Patricia Maisch, a 61-year old lady with flowers on her collared shirt, wrestled the magazine of bullets away from Loughner while he was on the ground, preventing him from reloading. She looks like this:

Patricia Maisch via Sydney Morning Herald

I mean, RIDICULOUS. A 61-year old woman at a grocery store stopped a gunman. If SPY was in that situation she would probably be on the ground, eyes closed, paralyzed in fear, like the smallest and weakest of gazelles on the Savannah.

SPY via Paul Souders at World Foto

A lion buffet. Finally, Joe Zamudio, another guy who helped bring Loughner down, was not waiting for Gifford but heard the bullets and RAN OVER. Literally running to danger to then help subdue the gunman.

Look. The level of bravery and determination by these ordinary people is amazing. Such displays seems to come out in the most tragic of situations. Arizona heroes, I salute you. You goddamn deserve it.

Merry Orthodox Christmas DC!

God I wish Orthodox Christmas had these

Hristos se rodi everyone! Spy and I are taking the day off to celebrate Orthodox Christmas, and will be back in full next week. Orthodox Christmas is a lot like regular Christmas, only instead of presents, great food and general merriment we are stuck with Church services presided over by black-hooded figures that look like Death Eaters. Have a great weekend!

Cheetah Cubs and the Cuteness Hierarchy

So a month ago, I was convinced that lion cubs were the cutest of cubs. Before that, I was sold on snow leopard cubs being the cutest of cubs. AND now, the Smithsonian Research Institute in Virginia has convinced me that cheetah cubs are the cutest of cubs. OBSERVE:

Come ON. He fits in that little bowl! Such a fierce little guy. You know what is not the cutest of animal young? Human babies. Sad, but true. Looking at that guy in his bowl got me thinking of his cuteness hierarchy and honestly, I don’t think human kids would make my top 50. Not sure if they would make my top 100. The competition:

I mean, those hedgehogs thought that brush was their mother. The only thing that humans beat hand’s down are bird babies (except for precocial birds, like ducks). And, well, the bar is pretty low.

Having read about 4 individual posts on the little guys, it seems that sadly, they will not be moved to the national zoo any time soon. So you must be content with the rapidly aging (but still amazing) Clouded Leopard cubs for the time being.

SPY and Barack knew better…

Yes. Today I woke up, refreshed after a weekend of cinnamon buns, Christmas Story, Sinatra Christmas CDs, and palm trees strung with Christmas lights to see THIS on the news:

Holy Jesus, East Coast. 60 mph winds, thunder snow, 125 car accidents, over 200 flights canceled in Chicago alone, Sunday night football canceled, Columbus Circle in NYC looking more like the Missouri Coteau than a cosmopolitan mecca. However, i guess you guys like this sort of thing. At least you say you do. Every Christmas the entire Eastern seaboard holds the proverbial “White Christmas” over the heads of us West-of-the-Rockies folk who spend Christmas at the beach, or in light jackets, or in general sunshine. Just like shoveling snow builds character, days of slowly descending into madness from family time, snowed-in cabin fever and hot toddies means “real” Christmas.

Wish my Christmas was that real

However, Barack and I aren’t fooled. Call it my presidential instincts, but Barack and I knew to get out of dodge. He to Hawaii and I to LA. And sure, we Westerners have no God or family values, but look what we DO have!

Feliz Navidad East Coast!!! I am currently in my running shorts, about to go for my fortnight-ly run so I can list it on facebook as one of my hobbies and not feel like a sham. And yes, in SHORTS. Barack is probably on the beach, playing paddleball, working on his “tan” (Thank you, Berlusconi).

And yes, LA did have mudslides right before my arrival. Pat Robertson probably blamed that on the overturning of DADT. However, JC gave us beautiful weather for Christmas morning. We even got an effing DOUBLE RAINBOW.

In all seriousness, I hope you all got back to DC safely. And this could be the most beautiful photo ever. And, congrats to the Redskins. It was a really good victory yesterday; in overtime no less. Beloved reader(s), hope you had a lovely holiday season.

A little dose of Christmas Cheer: Fish n’ chips in Old Town Alexandria

Nothing says Christmas in the UK like fish and chips. The brown paper bag, tartar sauce and wedge cut fries in a cozy, hole in the wall place. At least I think it says Christmas. I actually have no idea as I am (1) not British and (2) never  been to any of the UK outside of London.

Eamonn's fried goodness

However, our industrious Ironcityspy is a dual citizen of the Queen’s country and says so. His dad is British, he has family outside of Manchester, blah blah insert facts to make him sound legitimate blah, I really don’t care because it gives me an excuse to eat fried fish out of a bag. That, and Eamonn’s Dublin Chipper in old town Alexandria just feels like Christmas. I can’t explain why, it just does.

Eamonn's from Two DC

Maybe its the wonderful smell, the small wood tables (it only seats about 18), the comfort of hearty fried food on a cold day. The fish is WONDERFUL. You can get grouper, cod, ray, whiting, different sauces from tartar to Kitty O Shea to Chesapeake to curry. Vinegar is at every table. They sell British sodas, Cadbury snacks, Cadbury flake cones in the summer. It is actually one of my favorite little places in the city.

Old Town Christmas

And then when you combine the homey warmth of fish n’ chips with Old Town Alexandria’s classic-American-Mt.-Vernon Christmas decorations, everything feels like you want Christmas to feel. Every tree has white lights, there are chocolate shops and antique shops to walk around, Town Hall is decorated, there is a massive Christmas tree, and carolers at times. Not hip enough for you? Well, here is what hipsters do to Christmas:


DESPISE. I don’t know what I want to murder more, her voice or the stupid expression on his face when he is ringing that stick of bells. Here’s to Christmas done the old fashioned way. Lights, pastries and awkward family moments.

As Eamonn’s says: thanks be to cod.

SPY missed the lunar eclipse, bald eagles, life in general…but is now BACK!

Yes. Last night, the moon passed behind the earth so that the earth blocked the sun’s rays causing the earth to cast a shadow on the moon, and SPY missed it. I missed it just hanging out in my room with my balloon, comb, and mush like so:

Artist's depiction of SPY's bedroom during the lunar eclipse

It was the first lunar eclipse in 3 years. At least I think it was.  I have to admit I don’t really understand lunar eclipses and the Wikipedia page is far too long for me to read. My knowledge of space ended at about Mrs. Frizzle and the Magic School Bus. I then disowned space after Pluto lost its planet status. It was always my favorite of planets. Way better than Neptune, by far the lamest of planets. I guess being the Roman god of the sea wasn’t good enough. Anyways, awesome pictures of the eclipse here:

From TBD. More photos here!

SO, I missed it. I also missed my own birthday, the overturning of DADT, metro searching people’s bags, the debut of the lion cubs at zoo, the first installation of the HBO 24/7 coverage of the Winter Classic, the opening of Black Swan, the lighting of the National Christmas Tree and THIS….

Pictures and story at NBC here

Bald eagles land in someone’s front lawn in Sterling, VA!!! Immediately my mind raced with all the possibilities of why they were there. Massacring a pigeon, attacking one of those weird black squirrels, spying on CIA leaders,  sending a ominous yet stylish message to John McCain for his pathetic stance on DADT? Sigh. Of course not. Here is what the article said:

She said the eagles appeared to be locked together, and were flapping their wings trying to loosen themselves.  “They might have gotten their talons tangled,” Hobbs said

Jesus Christ. How is that even physically possible?? Sigh. America’s patriotic symbol of strength has been reduced to a rubik’s cube of eagle on a suburban front lawn. This is almost as humiliating as the US government shutting down whenever it snows. A commenter suggested that the eagles may have been having sex. Even worse. Apparently it took the eagles 15 minutes to extricate themselves from each other and then they flew off. Lesson learned. Gay community, never send an eagle to do a pigeon’s job. Say what you will about hideous rat birds, you would never see them in such a shameful position.

Reader(s) (if you are even still around), it feels great to be back. A million apologies for disappearing these past 2 weeks. I am filled with regret for abandoning you. Apparently law school is arduous and I, like the mediocre SPY that I am, did not plan ahead. Many posts to come. I am out of EXILE!!