Cafe 227

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Memorial Day Weekend Redux: The Links

Here are some links I received over the weekend while I was (surprisingly) not at work:

  • Ever wondered what a three-armed baby boy looks like? Look no further. (Where do you find this stuff, Doza?)

  • Three curmudgeons put to rest a popular childhood conundrum, and in the process waste hours of mental effort in a pursuit that fails to benefit mankind in the least.

  • Here's the reason I wasted the first two hours of work this morning - one of the all-time great arcade games, now available on the modern-day internet! I hope your productivity suffers as much as mine has.

  • Cleveland Browns runningback Reuben Droughns was arrested last week for throwing his wife out of a door (which is not as bad as throwing her out of a window). What kills me about this incident is that "[h]e eventually let her back in, but then left the house with his wife's wedding ring, her credit cards and cash..." I have little doubt in my mind that this played out exactly like the music video from Oran "Juice" Jones' 1986 breakout hit, "The Rain," which is unquestionably worth watching. If you don't have time to watch the video in its entirety, skip to the especially poignant monologue, which begins at the 2:20 mark. (Sample grab: "I stuck you up for every piece of jewelry I ever bought you. Yeeah!")
  • In case you were ever curious, this eloquent post from the Express perfectly echoes my opinion of Lauriol Plaza. (I feel very strongly about this - I actually came to the realization this weekend that I often form immutable opinions about people solely based on whether or not they like Lauriol Plaza.)
  • Finally, I was at the National Gallery of Art this weekend, and it occurred to me that French artist Claude Hoin (pictured here in his self-portrait) bears an uncanny resemblance to Christopher Hitchens - which gives me an excuse to link to this brilliant story about 'ole Hitch from The Onion.

Peter King's Subliminal Messages

Just read Peter King's weekly "Monday Morning Quarterback" column (albeit a day late due to the Memorial Day holiday). He had some particularly curious quotes this week. To wit:

  • On Tampa Bay linebacker Derrick Brooks' works of charity: "He started taking adolescents on college tours and to places like Washington, D.C., and Africa, just to show them the world..." [Emphasis added.]
What the hell are you trying to say, Peter? That D.C. is destitute and impoverished? That there are a lot of "Africans" in D.C.? I mean, the way Peter casually lumps these two vastly different places together in the same turn of phrase implies some sort of perceived commonality between Africa and Washington, D.C. that could only be based on skin color, does it not? Thinly-veiled bigotry, if you ask me. Maybe I'm just reading too much into this. And maybe I'm also reading too much into the next quote that caught my eye:

  • On Sara Armour, Mary Beth King's high school friend who recently made her debut as a stand-up comedian: "Sara, Mary Beth's best friend from high school and now a close personal friend of Sydney Simpson's at Boston University (just kidding, O.J.), killed in a seven-minute segment highlighted by her story of a stalker in a Boston bathroom when she was, uh, indisposed."

Look more closely:

  • "...O.J. killed..."

So there you have it. Ladies and gentleman, I present to you Peter King, closet racist.

(Ok, so maybe I'm going out on a limb here. Maybe I'm just bitter that the Pittsburgh Steelers weren't mentioned in Peter's discussion of AFC Super Bowl contenders this season, DESPITE the fact that they won it last year and haven't suffered any major personnel losses in the offseason...)

Friday, May 26, 2006

Maybe I should move back to the burgh...

The Wall Street Journal had a feature in yesterday's Personal Finance" section called Rust Belt Homes. Because the WSJ guards their content more closely than our government guards its nuclear secrets, I can't link to it. But I can plagiarize it. Below are some homes that you can buy in certain rust belt cities for $300,000 to $400,000:

Saint Louis:

Description: 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths built in 1906

"The kitchen in this rehabbed home has granite countertops and the master suite has recessed lighting. There is a second-floor laundry room and custom closets. It is walking distance to a shopping district."


Description: 4 bedrooms, 3.5 baths

"This all-brick colonial with lake view has multiple fireplaces, a screened porch off the dining room and 3,100 square feet. The third floor has a guest suite with walk-in closet. There is a 3-car garage."

[Ed. Note: Of course, the significant downside is you have to live in Cleveland...]


Description: 6 bedrooms, 3 baths built in 1907

"This 2.5-story brick Victorian on the central north side has multiple fireplaces, including ones in the family, living and dining rooms. There is a private garden, full basement and detached garage." [Ed. Note: Also, it's close to Heinz Field, where you can watch the Pittsburgh Steelers - the 2005/2006 Super Bowl Champions, btw - play eight times a year.]

And of course, for comparison purposes ...

Washington, DC:

(Sincerest apologies to the City Paper. I know this is normally their territory...)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Pink Hat Patrol?

I belong to D.C. Metro's Third District Public Safety listserv. This morning, I received a message from the listserv in my inbox. It began like this:

"More and more over the listserv and from our friends and neighbors we are hearing about escalating increases in violence, in gun violence, in violence both against and by youth, in robberies and break-ins, and assaults against innocent victims, sometimes for no apparent reason... Crime is on the rise in the 3rd district and we seem at a loss as to what to do. True, we feel that more police presence is needed, but is that the magical silver bullet?"

Very apropos of my recent experience, to say the least. I was hooked. I read on:

"...We feel that community involvement in this myriad complexity of increased incidents of violence within our community is also part of the solution... A concept the young ladies have developed and are putting into existence is called "The Pink Hat Patrol." These young ladies along with other youth will patrol several hot spots in The District of Columbia along with MPD, community, and community organizations, pass out literature in an effort to assist families and young people that are 'hanging out' on the streets. The ultimate goal of this effort is to assist in deterring crime..."

My first reaction was to bemoan the numerous errors in syntax (e.g., "people that are 'hanging out'" really should be "people who are 'hanging out'"), but I got over this quickly upon realizing that a poster on a community listserv probably doesn't have a copy editor at his or her disposal.

My second reaction was to question the potential effectiveness of the proposed "Pink Hat Patrol" in its self-proclaimed goal of "deterring crime."

Now, I know nothing about fighting or deterring crime, nor am I familiar with the specific activities that the Pink Hat Patrol will undertake. Ultimately, I applaud and support any effort that any person or community group takes to deter crime, especially in the neighborhood in which I live. At the very least, this group's efforts can't make the problem any worse than it already is (well, unless the women of the Pink Hat Patrol ultimately become targets of crimes themselves, a feat of tragic irony I hope not to witness...)

No, my primary beef with the Pink Hat Patrol is its name. The name "Pink Hat Patrol" is in and of itself a structural impediment to deterring anything but respect. The odds are stacked aganist these women as it is - why make the playing field more uneven with such a lame name?

Fortunately, I have a quick fix that will only require replacing a few letters - change the name to the "Big Gat Patrol." I bet the group would be even more effective if they were, in fact, provided with big gats. Are you listening to me, MPD? Feel free to run with it...

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

New Jack City

So last night, I was sitting in my bedroom doing some work. Both of my windows, which face T Street near the intersection of 13th, were wide open. I'm able to hear everything on the street. It's usually a wonderful cacophony of car alarms, go-go music, and Ethiopoan. Last night, it was silent.

At least it was until about 11:30pm, when I heard a loud, throaty scream. No, not a scream - a yelp? An audible grimmace? It's hard to explain - it's the same sound I imagine Carson Palmer made when Kimo von Oelhoffen mangled his knee beyond repair...

And then silence again. Something wasn't right. My curiosity got the best of me - I poked my head out of the window and saw - right in front of my house! - a short, stocky guy about my age (maybe younger) getting JACKED by three noticeably larger men. One of them was kneeling on his chest with his hands over the guy's mouth, while the other men two dug through his pockets.

My mind raced. "Why isn't anyone doing anything?" I thought. "Wait a minute, why aren't I doing anything?" I grabbed the phone to call 911. No wait, they wouldn't get to my house in time (we've tested their response time before - it takes them approximately 60 minutes to get from the police station at 16th and V to our house at 13th and T. Traffic on U Street's a bitch...) I picked up a large metal pole (don't ask). See, I had just watched the season finale of "24," and I had visions of going all Jack Bauer on their asses. But I didn't have any shoes on. How am I going to single-handedly take on three muggers who are possibly armed without the right pair of athletic shoes? So, I started digging through my closet for the proper footwear...

By this point, the three muggers were done with their victim - they had gotten what they wanted and had run away. The victim slowly got to his feet, visibly upset and addled. He kind of walked in circles for a few seconds, not sure what exactly to do. Then, with a look of sheer desperation, he sprinted eastward down the middle of T street (he clearly wasn't fucking with dark sidewalks anymore).

The whole incident left me extremely unnerved. I mean, I realize that people get mugged in the neighborhood. It's actually happened to one of my best friends. But right in front of my house? While I watched the whole thing?

And what was perhaps most unsettling was that I finally had incontrovertible proof that I am, in fact, a huge pussy. I suppose I've always had my suspicions.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Hot Georgia

Hello all!

I told some people that I would keep a record of my experience in Georgia for anyone who cared (that number may be less than zero). But, I will do it anyway. I arrived here yesterday from Greensboro, NC at about 4 p.m. I drove 6 hours without any AC, by the way, so my trip got off to a rocking start. I live in a motel-like room but I share a bathroom with one guy in my class. Today was orientation and I had to dress up nice and listen to a whole bunch of stuff about pay, leave, what not to do, blah blah blah. It's fairly warm down here (88 degrees) but tolerable. 5 months of this is a lot but I have to push on through. I want to thank those who came out last Thursday to see me away. It meant a lot to myself and Autumn. By the way, for those who don't know, our wedding date is July 14th, 2007. Aziz, call me back bama. I won't bore everyone with mundane details everyday, but once a week I'll keep everyone informed of the goings on in Georgia. Enjoy DC or wherever you may be!

A Good Day

October 14, 1992, was a Good Day for Francisco Cabrera and Braves fans everywhere. If you'd like to have a local writer's reflections on that day, you can find a blogger's reprint of that excellent article here. Or if you'd like to relive the moment, you can watch the video here. Either way, it is fun to be able to pinpoint the exact moment when a baseball franchise flatlines.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

A Bad Day?

How about a bad decade or so? Damn you, Kevin McClatchy...

Hot Sauce Emporium and other various stuff...

After being on the road for most of last week (one of the trips was to a client site in southern Virginia, where I saw a goat standing on top of a parked car in someone's driveway), I'm back in the office today. That's right, today is Sunday. Hopefully I'll be home before the Sopranos starts. But for the sake of procrastination, here are some links I amassed over the weekend:

  • First and foremost, I don't know why it took me so long to discover this place: the Hot Sauce Emporium (previously profiled by the Hot Sauce Blog). I was in Eastern market Saturday afternoon when I walked by it on 7th Street SE - next to Ben & Jerry's and Montmarte restaurant. I casually strolled in to the small storefront, where I was welcomed with shelves and shelves of varied hot sauces from around the world. I was in heaven. Naturally, I question the economic viability of a store in extremely sought-after real estate that sells nothing but hot sauce. Which is why it is our duty to make this place successful. I urge all of you - visit this place as soon as you can and buy as much hot sauce as you can afford. You can never have too much.

  • Now on to sadder news - it appears the storied Rolling Rock brewery in Latrobe, PA is shutting down for good. Anheuser-Busch, which recently acquired the "Rolling Rock" brand, plans to shift production to its plant in New Jersey. This is too bad - the only reason I drank Rolling Rock at all was because it was brewed in Latrobe. Hometown pride, I guess. I mean, let's be honest - Rolling Rock tastes like whiz-infused Monongahela water. Nevertheless, this was a huge loss for an already moribund region - I predict that Latrobe will turn into a ghost town within a matter of months. I, for one, am never going to drink Rolling Rock again, and I urge you to do the same. (Incidentally, if you've ever wondered what the "33" on the back of the bottle means, here's an accurate explanation.)

  • I've got 3 new time wasters to share. The first one - an interpretive history of dance - is brilliant. (Apparently, it's the most viewed clip ever on YouTube - I'm clearly a bit slow on the uptake.) However, the omission of Footloose is an unforgivable oversight.
  • Second - gay, blind...whatever. Climbing Mount Everest is still an accomplishment.

  • The third link is a bit harder to explain. I'll defer to the Washington Post: "From the Japanese scientist who brought you the 'Bowlingual,' a device you strap to your dog that claims to translate his barks into English, comes this site, which ties in to the 'Da Vinci Code' craze... Using 'forensic' techniques, this guy analyzed the facial structures of Leonardo da Vinci and the Mona Lisa and extrapolated what they would have sounded like. When I first heard of this, I said, to myself, 'Please don't let it look like the Conan O'Brien shtick where he has moving lips in still photos of people like President Bush and has them saying outlandish things. Please don't let it look like that.' Of course, it looks like that."

  • Finally, I have 2 e-mail accounts: a Gmail account, which I use almost exclusively, and a Hotmail account, which I give out to potential spammers and people I don't like. As you probably know, Hotmail, which is rapidly losing market share to Gmail and other providers because of its vastly inferior technology, has embarked upon a series of "upgrades" to better compete. Well, when I logged into my Hotmail account yesterday, I got the following screen. I find it poignant that Microsoft has to resort to "Whoops!" to explain why they're getting pumelled in the web-based applications market. I'm tempted to click on the "Tell us what you think" link to let them know how crappy Hotmail is, but I have to get back to work...

Monday, May 15, 2006

This is just wrong...

I'll just repeat the first sentence of this article and reserve comment: "Four police officers shot and killed a teenager who charged them while holding a 9-inch pair of scissors early Sunday morning, Anne Arundel County police said."

Ok, maybe I won't reserve comment. A pair of scissors? WTF? When confronted by a teenager with scissors, don't police officers have more options at their disposal than, say, "doing nothing" and "shooting the teenager to death"? How about using a taser? Or a billy-club? Cops still carry billy-clubs, don't they?

That's a hell of a way to kick off National Police Week.


This recent post from my fellow DC blogger and dear friend Faye is brilliant. I encourage both of you who read my blog to check it out...

Friday, May 12, 2006

If You're Reading This...

then chances are good that you can read.

Which means that you might have read other things, like novels, or newspapers, like the New York Times.

Well, Ms. Smarty-Pants, your powers have not gone unnoticed by the NYT! The Times has seen fit to ask people more well-read than you who attend MANY more cocktail parties in mock turtlenecks than you could ever HOPE to, and who KNEW that James Frey was lying WAY before Oprah did.

The Times has compiled its list of the BEST American Novel of the Past 25 Years. The winner is, not surprisingly, Beloved, by Toni Morrison.

If you, like me, are surprised by the rest of the list, I invite you to post your vote as a comment. My vote is for Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Klay.

And in Pittsburgh News...

Why can I never find any positive news coming out of Pittsburgh? Or, for that matter, any real news? Gone are the days when you could read about, say, a brilliant researcher at the University of Pittsburgh developing a vaccine for polio. It seems that every other news story about Pittsburgh nowadays would lead an objective observer to believe that my city of birth is filled with freak-shows and social miscreants. To wit:

  • Here's an article - on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, no less - about the country's only college student majoring in bagpipes. What school does he attend? Why, Carnegie Mellon, of course. The Journal poignantly notes: "...playing the instrument can make people feel like outcasts, even at Carnegie Mellon University." To demonstrate the versatility of the bagpipe, Nick Hudson (our protagonist) plays "Thunderstruck" by AC/DC. (I imagine he followed up with several of his favorite songs by Donnie Iris and the Cruisers.)

  • In other college news, this 18-year old girl just got her MBA from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. But let's face it - IUP is no CMU.

  • And here's breaking news from Pittsburgh: 14 ducks were found dead this morning in the Highland Park reservoir. According to the reservoir's executive director Greg Tutsock, "there could be any number of reasons" for the ducks' deaths. Such as mass suicide. Or, more likely, the toxic-ass water in the reservoir.

  • Finally, in what perhaps could be considered positive news, Bam Morris is contemplating a comeback to the NFL. You may remember Bam from such felonies as being caught with four fucking pounds of weed in his truck. According to the other newspaper in Pittsburgh, Bam says: "If the Steelers would want to sign me, they wouldn't have to even buy me a plane ticket to get there. I'd drive." One hopes he would have the presence of mind to leave his weed at home this time.

Look, I don't mean to hate on the 'Burgh. It's not like we don't have our own problems here in DC...

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

More Cool Stuff

This video shows what appears to be an air traffic controller's radar depiction of a bunch of FedEx planes navigating around a thunderstorm to land in Memphis. It has been accelerated and set to music for your viewing pleasure, and even then the air traffic controller's job seems stressful.

Coolest Thing Ever

This is pretty cool, but not as cool as this:

DCist just introduced a text-message-based information service called "lastcall." It's kind of like Google text, but much more practical and with a local flavor. Here's how it works...

The system listens for incoming text messages at the mobile number 202-299-7949. You'll send all information requests there, and you'll get replies from the same number. What kind of information does it provide?

First, it can provide Metro times. For instance, to get the scheduled times of the next trains at a particular Metro station, send a message that begins with the word 'metro' and is followed by the station name you have in mind. For example, is you send the following text message:

metro gallery place

You will receive via text message the next train times in each direction from that station. You can also optionally specify a time, which will be interpreted as the nearest matching time in the future. For example:

metro courthouse 10:00p

Will give you times beginning at 10pm.

The service can also provide information on availability at local restaurants that are connected via the OpenTable system. For instance, if you were to send the following text message:

ot dupont 3 700p

The system will reply with all the restaurants in DuPont Circle that can accomodate a party of 3 at 7pm.

The system can also provide movie times, concert listings, and weather reports. Just click here for the full explanation on functionality.

Needless to say, I think this is pretty fucking cool. (So cool that I felt compelled to drop the f-bomb in the previous sentence as an technically unnecessary yet very effective modifier.) Maybe I was premature in calling the internet a "net negative" for society...

So could someone (i.e., Doza) tell me exactly how something like this works?

Sunday, May 07, 2006

West Side

Yeah, not much posting activity last week. Sorry about that. I was in LA for work last week. Actually, I was only there for a day, but I needed a few days to recover after flying out Wednesday morning at 6am, sitting through 8 hours of due diligence meeting with 6 lawyers in a conference room that could only be described as a "fun vacuum," getting drunk, and then getting on a red-eye flight home that night.

A few observations about LA, though:

  • I wasn't actually in LA. I was in Long Beach, I think. Of course, I kept calling it "Long Island" until someone in our party corrected me.
  • I hadn't been to LA/Long Beach before, but it was EXACTLY how I pictured it. That is, the neighborhoods we drove through (we got a bit lost) look exactly as they're depicted in every single Ice Cube music video/movie I've watched. I felt like I knew the place. I even saw the lights of the Goodyear Blimp. (I was disappointed that it wasn't advertising the sexual prowess of Ice Cube.)
  • On average, people in LA are better looking than people on the east coast. I don't know what I was expecting, but it's a fact. Whoever says otherwise either (1) is lying, (2) hasn't been to LA, or (3) prefers to mate with objectively unattractive people.
  • People in LA talk about Wolfgang Puck as if he's God's gift to cuisine. And although I've never personally met him, I'm sure he's a nice man and all. But you know what? I've eaten at many of his contrived chain nouveau-fusion-whatever restaurants, and they're not that good. And those who know me know that I don't have the most dsicerning palate in the world. (Basically, I'll eat anything.) I'm not a food critic or anything, but I'd be willing to bet we have better restaurants here in DC, and I'd bet my car that there are much better restaurants in New York. (And that last comment also gives me an excuse to link to this photo gallery of tricked-out Ford Festivas.)

Hopefully I'll have more time this week to seek and pass along useless yet entertaining tidbits of information, such as this article about Tony Blair's son trying to light a table at Madam's Organ on fire. Good show, chap.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


This web site is hilarious. Gotta loved the Jay-Z MIDI streaming in the background. Thanks to Doza for another priceless find.

(And speaking of Ninjas...)


Yeah, I know... I was supposed to post some pics. The thing is, we didn't get many pics owing to (in no particular order): (1) the open bar, (2) my tendency to act completely unaffected around celebrities as a result of my transcendent coolness, which precludes picture-taking, and (3) the bevy of gawkers and reporters around "real" celebrities (i.e., George Clooney). We did get a few photos - Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney, Madeline Albright - which I will post in due course. In the meantime, you can check out real bloggers' accounts of the "prom."

Some of my more notable sightings - Clooney, Michael Strahan, Phil Simms (taller than I expected), Terrence Howard, Luda, David Gregory (much taller than I expected), Valerie Plame (I recognized her immediately, which I found ironic with her being a secret agent and all), Chris Matthews, John Bolton (looks like a walrus), Ron Silver (I don't know why he's a celebrity, but he is), and, of course, George Stephanopoulos (I held the door for him and he didn't even thank me, the jerk).

I would also give an account of the super-exclusive Bloomberg afterparty, but I wasn't cool enough to be invited. However, my date apparently was, so maybe she could chime in with some details...