Leadership comments

Former D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams, in the Post.

If you had another term, what would your priority be?

It has got to be diversifying the economy. Really working with the region, diversifying the economy and making sure that we’re creating jobs for the hard-to-employ. We’re making headway in education. Now we’ve got to figure ways to intervene with adults with the jobs that they need. That’s the Olympics. Homelessness is an aspect of that. We know we have to begin earlier with kids, and we are, but we can’t just write off the adults.

You don’t seem to love being recognized in public.

What, I’m not warm and fuzzy when people recognize me? No, I’m not. I’m not mean, but I’m not like, “Hey, let’s sit down and spend 15 minutes chatting.” I try to be, in my own way, friendly. But the thing is, when I was mayor I had a rap for being standoffish and aloof. Now I’m standoffish and aloof, but I’m not running for anything. [Laughs.]

Donald Sutherland, in the Wall Street Journal:

The opening of the final “Hunger Games” film is highly anticipated: The first three films have grossed more than $2.3 billion world-wide. Mr. Sutherland and his wife, who had come with him to New York, watched a screening of the movie the night before our interview. He says they both got goosebumps. In it, his character, President Snow, faces a growing rebellion led by Katniss Everdeen (played by Jennifer Lawrence).

Though the two are adversaries, he says, deep down, Snow really understands Katniss. “He absolutely loves her,” he says. The way they push each other reminds him of more positive relationships. “There are really good people who really love you, who see the flaws in you, who see the potential in you and [who] do things to try to generate that, to make it grow,” he says. Who serves that role for him? He answers with a smile, “She’s sleeping in the next room.”

So many good, tiny food pieces today

1. A series of briefs about the best pies at the best pies places in the area. A little devotional to each one, like slow food. The apple, chocolate and Oreo cream sound amazing to me.

2. Grilled coffee cake exists. “The crunchy, creamy breakfast is baked with a hint of cinnamon, then sliced and tossed on the griddle: two slabs per order, with a smear of house-made cream cheese on one….”

3. “Gelato and cake doughnut shake.”

4. Sean Brock takes Anthony Bourdain to The Waffle House.

5. Would love to be an onlooker for this user research. Wrigley and Mars are apparently thinking about how to update candy displays at groceries and drug stores.

Homer Price and the doughnuts

A friend made some good doughnuts from scratch Sunday. They made me think of Robert McCloskey’s children’s story about Homer Price and his doughnut machine that refused to stop. Two things I didn’t realize:

1. In the story, we never actually hear about the doughnut machine stopping. Between that fact and rich woman’s bracelet falling in the dough, you could take the story for a terrifying Shirley Jackson-like parable of the Pandora’s Box of mechanization in the modern world. Just saying. Here’s the full text.

2. Did you know there’s a 1963 movie of the story? Linked clip:

THE DOUGHNUTS excerpt, 1963, Weston Woods

Anne's Pick of the Week: THE DOUGHNUTS excerpt (from the Chicago Public Library Collection), 1963, Weston Woods, 16mm., Color, SoundIn honor of National Doughnut Day, here is an excerpt from THE DOUGHNUTS, a short children's film based on a chapter from "Homer Price" by Robert McCloskey. Homer is left to attend to his Uncle Ulysses' bakery, while Ulysses is off gambling with the sheriff. Watch Homer and some weird, unexplained door-to-door salesman try to deal with a malfunctioning doughnut machine! Dramatic stuff!!

Posted by Chicago Film Archives on Friday, June 3, 2011

What my neighborhood was like a century ago

Amazingly different.

In one direction was a giant brewery and beer garden.

Before Prohibition came along in 1917 and forced an entire generation of Washington restaurants and saloons to close, a favorite pastime for many Washingtonians was to while away a summer evening in one of the city’s many beer gardens, where cool brews would take the edge off the interminable heat and humidity. One of the best-known spots was the Alhambra Summer Garden at 4th and E Streets NE, run by the Washington Brewing Company, whose extensive works filled the rest of the block.

The block is still immediately recognizable from its old picture in that post. There’s a middle school on the spot now. Construction workers are wrapping up turning old blacktop into a new field. Wonder if they came across any of the subterranean vaults the beer article mentions.

In the other, according to an interview transcribed by the Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project, was a hilly spot to play (PDF). It’s difficult to see how steep it was, with all the homes there now. But you can still get a sense.

INTERVIEWER: One thing that you had mentioned to me when we were talking, and I don’t think is in your letter, is the block near Sixth and D and E Streets NE and going up there to play.

RAMSEY: “Up on Active”?

INTERVIEWER: “Active.” That’s what I wanted.

RAMSEY: “Up on Active.” The entire block, almost the entire block, from D to E and Sixth to Seventh [Northeast], was unoccupied by structures. There may have been one on the D Street side. I think that block was cut off by Maryland Avenue a little bit. We used to have sandlot baseball games up there. It was big enough to have two or three at a time. On the Sixth and E Street corner, the rise was a right steep declivity and frequently people had cut steps in it. We’d go chasing up there. The children from all parts of that area would go there from down F Street and the other sides and go up there to play. Sometimes, we’d play ball or play catch. If you wanted to get off the street … from carriages or something.

The great people of D.C.

The new People Issue of the D.C. City Paper is great. If you don’t love Washington, this is the collection of people who will change your mind.

The mission of the People Issue is very simple: find interesting folks, ask them questions, print their answers. That’s it. We tried to pick a cross section of men and women who challenge us, inspire us, entertain us, and lead us. You’ll find a ballerina and a councilmember; a punk rocker and ball players; a chef using flavors from the other side of the world and advocates trying to improve our quality of life. Ultimately, we hope you agree with us: More than anything, the people are the best part of D.C.

Hard to pick a favorite part, but their interview with my favorite D.C. muralist, Aniekan Udofia, may top it for me. (My favorite of Udofia’s work? The aquatic center at Eastern Market.)

Back when people didn’t know anything about squirrels

Woke up early this morning — thanks, time change! — and spent a little time reading through a few of the Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project interviews with longtime residents. Learned a great deal about a neighborhood I thought I knew pretty well already.

I’ll likely blog the big lessons at some point, but in the meantime, I’ll post this tidbit from a 1999 interview with a man named Frank Taylor. His father ran a Hill drug store and often saw customers seeking treatment after making contact with a then-new animal.

There were also bites from squirrels. Many people were unaccustomed to seeing squirrels and thought they were tame. They would feed them and then they would make the mistake of trying to pet them. Many times the squirrel would bite them. If a squirrel bit you, it would make a deep cut — many times it went right through the fingernail. So you’d put something on that for them.