Weekend Roundup, October 22

June 18, 2013


-Arena Stage Grand Opening Celebration 10/23/10

Arena Stage is officially opening the Mead Center for American Theater on Saturday. To celebrate its return, a full day of free presentations, discussions, and performances has been scheduled. Take in the slam poetry of Universes on the Outdoor Stage. Then sneak a preview of Arena Stage’s inaugural program, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma”, at the Fichandler Stage. If music’s more your style, catch a concert performance from Tony Award nominee Brad Oscar in the Kreeger Theater. Events will be running from 11:30 am to 5:45 pm throughout Arena Stage. Visit www.arenastage.org for a complete schedule.

Capitals Street Festival 10/23/10

Capital One Bank is hosting a free Capitals Street Festival this Saturday. Activities include slap shot and accuracy challenges, a “call-the-play” studio for would-be commentators, and a mascot meet-and-greet with Slapshot. These events will be held outside of the Verizon Center on F Street, from 3 to 7 pm, prior to the start of the Caps-Thrashers game. Also, expect to see some of DC’s more famous sports personalities. All Caps fans are welcome!

Spooky Movie Film Festival & Halloween on Screen 10/14/10-10/30/10

Tonight, the Spooky Movie Film Festival kicks off at the AFI Silver Theatre. At 9:45 pm, there will be a screening of “Tucker & Dale vs. Evil”. While the rest of the film festival will take place at the Cinema Arts Theatre in Fairfax (www.thespookymovie.com), AFI promises more cinematic chills with its own Halloween on Screen series that continues Saturday (www.afi.com). At 9:45 pm that night, George Romero’s rarely screened, preferred cut of Dawn of the Dead will roll, followed by Suspiria at midnight. Tickets will be $10 both nights.

Arabian Sights Film Festival 10/21/10-10/31/10

If horror flicks aren’t your thing, perhaps films featuring the Arab world are more your taste. The 15th Annual Arabian Sights Film Festival is on day two of its launch tonight and will run until October 31. This evening’s feature is “Shawkat Amin Korki”, an 81-minute motion picture telling the story of an unused soccer stadium that is home to hundreds of Kurdish, Arab, Turkish, and Assyrian refugees. The movie earned the Grand Prize at both the Gulf and Tapei International Film Festivals and the International Film Critics Award in 2009. There will be an after party following the screening, catered by Zenobia Café. Tickets are $15 per person, and the film starts at 6:30 pm. Festival passes are also available.

Bartleby’s Books: An Institution Gone Too Soon

May 3, 2012

Given the tumult of activity up and down M Street, it’s always nice to take a detour down one of Georgetown’s side streets and duck into a quaint shop for a brief respite. For many Georgetowners, Bartleby’s Books, with its picturesque rows of antiquarian literature, has been the spot. Home to collectible prints, maps, and the occasional first edition copy of Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone with the Wind” (valued at $850), Bartleby’s is a rich, substantive haven for the literary community and history buffs alike. Regrettably, when the store’s lease runs out at the end of July 2011, it will cease to be a part of the community.

Bartleby’s has been in business for 27 years and weathered the last 17 in Georgetown. Four years ago, it made room for Juicy Couture at M St. and Thomas Jefferson St., relocating to its current address on 29th by the Four Seasons. Now the landmark must move again, this time to accommodate a restaurant owned by Eric Eden and Marlene Hu Aldaba, co-owners of Hu’s Wear. Worse news still — the transition is to the Internet.

Bartleby’s owners John Thomson and Karen Griffin watched their business change dramatically with the dawn of the Internet. According to Thomson, those looking for particular books now scour sites like Amazon and eBay while “used book stores are more for browsing.” For this reason, the two are not looking to relocate, instead opting to run the store online from home. It’s no secret that the Internet has been detrimental to the used books profession.

The conditions of antique books are meticulously evaluated at Bartleby’s, but online there is no way to gauge the accuracy of an appraisal. “Many people on eBay can’t tell an original document from a photocopy,” chided Thomson.

Additionally, the owners of online used book sites often lack expertise in the subject areas of the very books they sell. Thomson and Griffin specialize in the history of U.S. presidents and the D.C. area, particularly Georgetown. Now their wealth of knowledge on the materials they possess will be reduced to paragraph descriptions on a website.

No longer will Georgetown students be able to sift through the collections of used paperbacks left outside Bartleby’s on a sunny day. The pleasant surprise of coming across an unexpected novel will be forfeit. Then again, the demise of the independent bookstore has been a long time coming in Georgetown.

Thomson believes a combination of factors are responsible for the decline of stores such as Bartleby’s, including an excess of restaurants catering to tourists and the rise of department stores that take up entire buildings. He and Griffin can list off all the antique bookstores in Georgetown that went before them. They recognize themselves as the last of a type. The Lantern will be the sole rare bookstore of note in Georgetown, when they close shop.

Some members of the community have petitioned to preserve the local treasure. “They’ve been very supportive,” said Griffin. Nevertheless, she and Thomson seem at peace with the fact that their landlord has opted for an arrangement that will bring in more money; the Hu’s Wear restaurant obtained one of seven new liquor licenses in Georgetown.

“The greatest loss is for younger people, who might never see what the depth of this material can be,” reflected Thomas. However, the loss extends far past the students and youths around town.

Up and down M St., where restaurants are a dime a dozen, losing Bartleby’s will leave a gaping hole in our tradition and culture. Such a void can’t be filled by another cookie-cutter restaurant with ethnic flair. In the 17 years they have served the Georgetown community, Thomson and Griffin have acted as archivists of Georgetown’s rich history. Nowhere else in the District will you find a similar volume of works chronicling Georgetown’s past. Yet, in the name of higher revenue, Bartleby’s is being exiled to the realm of book fairs and the Internet — its contents pressed further towards obscurity.

Small businesses like Bartleby’s don’t merely add character to Georgetown; they are responsible for creating the charming, personal atmosphere it became known for. Now, one-by-one they are vanishing. In their place appear businesses less concerned with maintaining Georgetown’s intimate essence as they are with drawing in the rabble of visitors to the area.

When we force out two of our own, Georgetown will only be the worse for it.

The Washington International Horse Show

October 24, 2011

At this moment, equestrians worldwide eagerly await a letter bestowing the honor of competing in D.C.’s 52nd Annual Washington International Horse Show (WIHS). For many riders, the summons will not come. Yet, between October 26th and 31st, 500 elite-level riders will enter the ring at the Verizon Center, vying for prize and prominence.

The last indoor championship horse show to be held in a major metropolitan area each year, WIHS has been months in the making. Only recently has the deluge of numbers from qualifiers across the country ceased. Now it’s up to show officials to invite only the best riders based upon points and money won in previous competition over the last 12 months.

As WIHS CEO Eric Straus puts it, “Many people want to come and compete at Washington, but you’ve got to earn your way in legitimately.” This requires a tremendous commitment from the most skilled of riders.
“Most of our competitors will have competed at a minimum of 20 shows [in the last year] to try and get qualified,” says Straus. “In most cases it’s going to be closer to 30.”

That’s a remarkable amount of effort considering the horse show lasts six days, but WIHS is one of the last shows of its kind. Indoor metropolitan championships have been on the wane for years now, largely due to their failed business models — reliant upon wealthy patrons for funding. Additionally,
shows such as Madison Square Garden’s National Horse Show are municipal in name only, with the actual event occurring in Syracuse, NY.

The fact that WIHS still manages to have a $7 million impact on the District each year, according to a report by Dr. Stephen Fuller of George Mason University, is a testament to Washington’s enduring equestrian tradition. Straus raves, “It’s vibrant. It’s alive. D.C., Maryland, and Virginia have a huge equine competition population.”

While the surrounding region serves as the backbone for the pool from which riders are pulled, WIHS attracts star riders from across the globe. Last year’s competition included amateurs and professionals from five nations, some of whom were Pan American, World Cup, and Olympic champions.

Jockeys and their Horses

It’s often easy to forget that there are two athletes in the ring at any given time. But like any sports star, a horse’s abilities must be developed through rigorous training. While light work can start as early as age two, international rules stipulate that a horse cannot be entered in open international
competition until the age of six. This is done to protect the bones in a horse’s knees, which, much like an infant’s developing bone structures, are not fully fused until it has matured. However, with proper stable management and care, horses have been known to compete well into their 20’s.

Rodrigo Pessoa, a talented Brazilian show jumper and Olympic gold medalist, was in attendance at last year’s competition. Additionally, show jumper and Olympic gold medalist McLain Ward was a contender. Hailing from Brewster, NY, Ward and his horse Sapphire are known to steal the show. Just two weeks ago, they topped the richest prize money class in the United States, the $1 Million Grand Prix. Their partnership, says a pensive Straus, reveals how beautiful the bond between horse and rider can be.

The Main Events

Interested parties, keen on witnessing this spectacle firsthand, need not worry about lacking horse show experience. WIHS is bound to have something for everyone. Some basic information for the amateur observer is that WIHS features two types of jumping horses. Hunters emulate foxhunting
with their visually appealing routines and are judged subjectively on performance, style, manners, and way of going. Jumpers, on the other hand, are judged objectively based upon whether or not they jump clean (no faults), and time serves as the deciding factor, according to class specifications.

WIHS also features a class unique to the show, known as puissance, which means “strength” in French. Time is not a factor in this high jump class, where riders start with six fences in the ring. With each clear round, jumps are eliminated until two remain. One of these, the wall or vertical, goes as high as seven feet. WIHS holds the North American indoor record for rounding the wall, set in 1987, with an astonishing jump of nearly seven feet six inches. Feel and timing are critical, as neither horse nor rider can see over the wall. Puissance is a perilous class to compete in, but an exhilarating class to watch.

Barn Night

Aside from the actual competition, WIHS has various side events scheduled to take place throughout the week. Thursday night is Barn Night, which has become something of an institution in Washington.

The evening is designed to draw crowds from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, as well as the District. Groups will compete in contests, including Best Costume, Best Banner, and Largest Group by state. Divided into several parts, the evening will feature a parade of group representatives, the Gamblers’ Choice Class, a speed class for jumpers, and autograph signings and photo opportunities to bring things to a close.

Kid’s Day

Saturday is Kids’ Day, which will run from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Expect pony rides and plenty of games in addition to photo opportunities with the new WIHS mascot, Major, and characters from the newly revived television series, My Little Pony. That evening, WIHS will host the Caisson Platoon Therapeutic Riding Program.

The Charity

On top of being a world-class horse show, WIHS functions as a charity that has raised $2 million for its partners in its 52-year existence. This year, WIHS has partnered with the Tragedy Assistance
Program for Survivors (TAPS), Operation Silver Spurs, and ThanksUSA, while highlighting the Caisson Platoon. The platoon operates out of Fort Myer and performs honor burials at Arlington Cemetery. Moreover, their horses are used in equine-assisted therapy at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda. The work the platoon does with the nation’s wounded warriors and amputees is under-publicized, according to Straus, and their exhibition is intended to promote their cause.

In 1961, Jackie Kennedy commissioned Tiffany’s to create the President’s Cup, the only equestrian cup with the President of the United States’ seal. As the old guard, charged with protecting the President, the Caisson Platoon exhibition precedes the presentation of the President’s Cup.

A military ticket program and the introduction of a new trophy, the Armed Forces Cup, are among WIHS’s other charitable endeavors. WIHS has stated that, for every clear round over six-foot-three, a donation will be made to the three military charities.


For those still feeling left out, there will be plenty of vendors hawking their wares on site. Saratoga Sadderly & Outback Survival Gear specializes in Australian oilskin coats and Pikeur. Stablecloth will be supplying custom riding apparel, and Vogel Custom Boots offers made-to-measure boots and shoes. Vandermoore Jewelry is among the higher-end vendors available, and for those with a sweet tooth check out Lady Ann Candies. These are just a sample of the medley of vendors that are sure to be present throughout the week.

The WIHS is sure to be a success, in large part due to the individuals helming it and their dedication to the District. Said WIHS Director of Community Relations, Diana Hosford, “What I bring to the show is different than what [WIHS horse experts] bring to the show, but we’re basically trying to create something that the equestrian world will love and that the local community will embrace.”

WIHS President Juliet Reid, who is responsible for assembling the team that includes Straus and Hosford, has lived in Georgetown with her family for 10 years. “I assumed the role of President last year because my daughter rides,” said Reid, “Washington is our home, and while we travel to shows all over the country, Washington is very special.”

Lifelong equestrians like Straus do not shy away from promoting their sport in and around Washington. Having grown up in Texas, Straus recalls traveling to Middleburg and the Plains to purchase horses. While he no longer rides, he still officiates and urges: “If you’re a young person or an adult who wants to start, you need to find a barn that specializes in beginners. Because everyone needs a good foundation. There is a multitude of barns in the Maryland and Virginia area that provides that.”

If you’re still not convinced that the Washington area is an equestrian mecca, visit the Verizon Center during the Washington International Horse Show. As Reid put it, “Something magical happens for six days in downtown D.C. at the end of October — Streets become stables, and the country comes to the city.” [gallery ids="99199,103409,103430,103414,103426,103419,103423" nav="thumbs"]

Georgetown Vet Aims to Heal War Wounds

August 10, 2011

There’s an understated resilience in Lex’s eyes. Caught in his soft gaze, the recognition hits that he’s experienced far more in his lifetime than any human would wish to. The Iraqi War veteran has witnessed the terrors of combat. He has weathered that storm. For a nine-year-old German Shepherd, that’s saying something.

A commemorative Purple Heart recipient, Lex was a Marine Corps bomb-sniffing canine stationed in Fallujah, a city in the Iraqi province of Al Anbar. More than once, the job he and his handler performed out on the front lines saved lives. On March 21, 2007, Lex survived the rocket-propelled grenade blast that claimed the life of his handler, Corporal Dustin J. Lee. Battered but not broken, Lex’s recovery has been an arduous process. Fortunately, he has not undertaken it alone.

Through the efforts of Walter Jones, the Republican U.S. Representative from North Carolina, Cpl. Lee’s parents, Jerome and Rachel, were able to adopt Lex. This was an unprecedented occurrence in the Marine Corps’ history. Nine months following the passing of his handler, and in the midst of his second tour in Iraq, Lex faced early retirement. However, upon arriving in Quitman, Mississippi, it became clear that Lex still struggled to walk.

Despite receiving treatment at Mississippi State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Lex’s condition persisted. Still, fortune continued to smile on the veteran. As a result of correspondence between Connie Harriman-Whitfield, Senior Advisor to the Humane Society of the United States, and her husband, Kentucky Congressman Ed Whitfield, Lex’s situation came to light. The Whitfields, being clients of Georgetown Veterinary Hospital’s Dr. Lee W. Morgan, had heard of a cutting-edge stem cell treatment he offered that could be applied in Lex’s case.

The only issue was cost.

According to Dr. Morgan, “They raised some money and I lowered my price. I cut it to what it cost me to do it, and they raised money through private donations.”

In the end, Harriman-Whitfield convinced the Humane Society to contribute $2,000 towards the Vet-Stem procedure’s final cost of $4,400. Lex was flown up, and the three-stage treatment began on November 16, 2010.

Dr. Morgan has practiced in Georgetown for nine years and is the only veterinarian in the area to offer the radical Vet-Stem procedure. The first phase of the treatment consists of fat collection. Once procured, the fat is sent to a lab, where the adult stem cells it contains can be isolated. After the stem cells have been purified in phase two, they are returned to Morgan. In the final phase, Morgan transplants the stem cells into the affected tissue, which in Lex’s case was his hip, knee, and spinal cord.

Given the extent of Lex’s war wounds, his x-rays are a jarring sight. When asked how many pieces of shrapnel remain embedded in Lex’s body, Dr. Morgan replied, “I don’t know, 50 maybe. This was hard, showing this to the parents, because this was the shrapnel that killed their son.”

The piece causing the most problems is lodged in Lex’s spine and appears surgically inoperable. But if all goes as planned, once injected, the stem cells should be attracted to the damaged tissue and hopefully differentiate into the articular cartilage Lex has lost.

For his part, the war hero seems to be taking it all in stride. Aside from the wobble in his gait and a drain on his back, meant to prevent fluid buildup where the fat was extracted, Lex appeared no worse for wear. He’d been sleeping well in Dr. Morgan’s care, undoubtedly due to the vet’s commitment to alleviating Lex’s chronic pain. Moreover, Lex’s kind, gentle demeanor has gone unaffected. He sauntered over to say hello and gratefully accepted a belly rub, before his inquisitive nature took over and directed him towards the waiting room. “You can tell that the owners really love this dog,” says Morgan.

Cases like Lex’s are what drove Dr. Morgan to learn how to perform the Vet-Stem procedure, and he is impressed with its success. In one instance, a dog, Lucky, had completely lost use of his hind legs. Following treatment, he regained their full function. Fox News went so far as to film footage of Lucky playing in the beach surf. This transformation is a testament to what the treatment is capable of accomplishing.

“This will be my ninth [surgery] that I’ve done since last year,” says Morgan, “and I’ve gotten complete success in seven of them and partial success in one. It usually takes four to six weeks to see whether it’s going to take.”

Thus, following Thursday’s surgery, the Lee family will play the waiting game. The 48-hour procedure is reported to lead to continued cartilage development for up to 24 months. 80% of dogs that undergo the treatment experience slight to significant improvement.

Emotions are high because all who have heard of or met Lex empathize with the Lee’s story. Dr. Morgan is acutely aware of what is at stake.

When asked what drove him to help Lex, Dr. Morgan was heartfelt in his response: “You can see what the family’s been through. What would you do? I consider it a real honor to be allowed to do this. This is the biggest case of my life and one of the most emotional ones. And I’ve been practicing for 14 years.”

Lex is scheduled to head back to Mississippi on Friday, November 19. He will stay with Dr. Morgan until he is ready to return home. This will enable the veterinarian to ensure that there are no postoperative problems. Only time will tell if Lex’s cartilage will repair itself, but those involved are optimistic. The Vet-Stem therapy could go a long way to restoring Lex’s health while preserving Corporal Dustin J. Lee’s memory—a result befitting these American heroes.

B&B Highlights: Maryland and Virginia

July 26, 2011

A distinct briskness has crept into the air of late, and with a subtle turning of the leaves, fall casually makes itself known. For some, this is a signal to retreat indoors, to find a refuge from untimely nightfall and the evening chill. For others, now is the perfect time to revel in the seasonal metamorphosis. Fall represents a change of pace and a chance to experience Mother Nature’s milder mood.

Fortunately, a myriad of bed and breakfasts within reasonable driving distance of the District serve as perfect destinations for an autumnal excursion. Maryland and Virginia are home to some of the country’s most historic inns and the most beautiful backdrops from which to admire the fall foliage. Given that this year’s seasonal transformation promises to be fleeting, these locations offer a golden opportunity to take in what autumn has to offer.

Annapolis, Central Maryland

A mere 28 miles east of D.C., Annapolis offers a picturesque portrait of fall, and the colonial charm of its historic district is the number one reason to visit. The William Paca House and Garden provide a glimpse of 18th-century elegance. Additionally, the Hammond-Harwood House will hold its annual Children’s Pumpkin Walk on October 29. Tickets are available for a candlelight tour of Annapolis’ premier private residences on November 5 and 6, and while the weather is still warm enough, 74-foot schooners can be privately chartered. Around Church Circle, shopping and fine dining opportunities abound.

Church Circle is also home to Annapolis’ oldest tavern, Reynolds Tavern. Erected in 1737, the restored building is a stunning example of Georgian-style architecture. Reynolds Tavern features three luxurious suites, al fresco dining, English afternoon tea, and the Sly Fox Pub in its cellar. In the pub, formed of the original kitchen and foundation of the tavern, you can take your pick from 20-ounce beers and specialty drinks at Happy Hour. Reynolds holds its place at the top of many wonderful, quaint bed and breakfasts from which to enjoy fall in Annapolis.

Middleburg Northern Virginia

Middleburg is burrowed in the heart of horse, antique, and wine country. Local stables like Quanbeck Lane will take interested parties pleasure riding out on trails that wind their way through the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. For the history buff, the Manassas National Battlefield and Bull Run Parks are close by, and antique-lovers will enjoy perusing shops in Middleburg, Leesburg, Purcellville, and Waterford. And of course, some of Virginia’s best wineries can be found in Middleburg, including Boxwood Winery, Chrysalis Vineyards, and Swedenburg Estate Vinyard.

Briar Patch Bed & Breakfast Inn serves as the ideal base of operations for an autumn exploration
of Middleburg. Constructed in 1805, the historic farm rests on an expanse of 47 acres. The inn itself has eight bedrooms available in the main house and a private cottage out back. Visitors will find horses grazing in Briar Patch’s fields and a porch overlooking the majestic Bull Run Mountain. Culinary options are also bountiful in Middleburg—you can take a weekend cooking class or head out to one of the area’s fabulous restaurants.

Front Royal, Shenendoah Valley

From strolling and shopping along downtown Main Street to hiking the Appalachian Trail, Front Royal offers an array of activities to appreciate the fall. The awe-inspiring Skyline Caverns are a scenic drive away, and you’ll find history everywhere, from the Belle Grove Plantation to the Confederate Museum. Much like Middleburg, wineries and antique shops abound.

Dorastus Cone built his home in 1869 and called it Lackawanna, which means “meeting of the waters” in the language of the Delaware Indians. Aptly named, the Italian-style residence lies between the north and south forks of the Shenandoah River. Today, Lackawanna is a stately, spacious bed and breakfast, with waterfront views and three rooms to choose from. Guests have access to local fishing and canoeing sites, as well as a plethora of hiking and cycling paths to explore. Several nearby golf courses allow visitors to appreciate the coming of fall while getting in a round or two. For the full, fall outdoor experience, bed and breakfasts in the valley can’t be beat.

Charlottesville, Central Virginia

Charlottesville remains a hotspot for those who frequent bed and breakfasts, no matter what the season. When it comes to getting a taste of the 18th century, few places can immerse visitors more than Prospect Hill Plantation Inn & Restaurant. The 1732 manor house remains intact, as do its seven original dependencies and slave quarters. Inn offerings include thirteen fireplace rooms, two candlelit dining rooms, 50 acres of sprawling fields and woodlands, and quick access to historic sites like Monticello, which is just down the road. Most importantly, the bed and breakfast features a 5-acre arboretum that holds the rarest magnolia in the United States. Prospect Hill affords guests a one-of-a-kind front row seat to the changing of the season, and it does so in style.

For those who prefer downtown Charlottesville, The Dinsmore House Bed & Breakfast is conveniently situated on “The Corner”. The Dinsmore has the distinction of being built by Thomas Jefferson’s master builder in 1817. Furthermore, the bed and breakfast has seven bedrooms with private bath and offers homemade breakfasts and afternoon social hours. Being centrally located on the University of Virginia campus, many restaurants and shops are within easy walking distance. Only a short drive from Skyline Drive, The Dinsmore still grants visitors the liberty to throw themselves headlong into fall.

Williamsburg, Tidewater

Few cities take advantage of fall like Williamsburg. By day, horse-drawn carriages saunter up and down Duke of Gloucester Street, showing off spectacular views of fall in Colonial Williamsburg. At night, lantern-lit ghost tours draw screams from nervous participants, and witch trial reenactments are held in the Capital Building. Aside from these curiosities, Williamsburg Marketplace provides a complete shopping experience, and taverns serving authentic colonial cuisine line the streets. Christiana Campbell’s and King’s Arms Tavern are tourists’ favorites, but more traditional restaurants of choice include the Fat Canary and The Trellis.

While there are a number of bed and breakfasts in the area, the 1904 A Williamsburg White House Inn is the oldest. Offering an Autumn Getaway package, the White House features decadent suites, lush lawns, and a serene garden. Conveniently located within walking distance of Williamsburg’s highlight attractions, the Inn is a romantic setting in which to welcome autumn.

Washington residents have a variety of options when it comes to fall travel. From the colonial environment of Williamsburg to the bucolic feel of Middleburg, each place has a character all its own. Bed and breakfasts have a way of bottling their locale’s essence. All it takes is finding the one that piques your interests and heading out on the tree-lined road to get there. A visit to any of these remarkable destinations will make this autumn unforgettable. [gallery ids="99252,104254,104265,104261,104259" nav="thumbs"]

Autumn in the Eastern shore

With November upon us, many living in the District will participate in the annual fall exodus. On the weekends, Washington residents retreat to their preferred autumnal sanctuaries. Resorts and B&Bs throughout Maryland and Virginia play host to those reveling in the year’s most mild and fleeting
weather. Such traditional draws are a staple of the autumn spell.

When formulating your plans, it’s a good idea to explore less conventional avenues and find retreats not bogged down by throngs of tourists. The Eastern Shore is less than a two-hour drive from DC and promises some of the season’s best autumn activities. Spending the weekend on the Eastern Shore is an unconventional yet unparalleled experience, sure to liven your month.

Talbot County, Maryland is a hidden gem. The splendorous setting is rich with history and offers
some of the best biking, fishing, and kayaking to be found. What’s more, Talbot County presents visitors with several distinctive towns to choose from, each with a personality all its own. Guests to the area may choose to intimately explore one or town-hop for a taste of the entire area.


Easton is celebrating its 300-year anniversary this year, which only adds to the vibrant atmosphere
found there. Nestled away in the outskirts of town are family-owned farms, such as Chapel’s Country Creamery. Dairy cows graze its sprawling fields, attesting to Easton’s pastoral grandeur. The farm itself sells its all-natural produce on site. Additionally, many of the Shore’s best chefs use local creamers and farmers as their purveyors, strengthening Easton’s communal bonds.

One such chef is Jordan Lloyd, whose Bartlett Pear Inn recently received the second highest
Zagat rating in all categories for the East Coast. Lloyd owns the inn with his wife Alice, his fourth grade sweetheart reunited by fate 10 years later. The two embarked on a journey that led from Mason’s, another local favorite, to Michel Richard’s Citronelle here in DC, New York, Atlanta, Miami, and back again. Along the way, Lloyd apprenticed with four-star chefs at five-diamond and five-star enterprises, including DC’s Four Seasons Hotel. The end result is his upscale American bistro, where classic French techniques meet contemporary plate design, in an impressive 220-year-old establishment.

From November 12 to 14, Easton will host its 40th Annual Waterfowl Festival. Sportsmen and art connoisseurs alike should find something that intrigues them. Wildlife paintings, photos, sculptures, and carvings, including collectible decoys, will be available at multiple venues about town. Moreover, the World Championship Calling Contests and fly-fishing and stunt dog demonstrations are sure to draw a crowd. Easton’s colonial streets will close, and historic buildings will be decorated in celebration of its small-town heritage and support of wildlife conservation.

Also in Easton is the iconic Inn at 202 Dover. Restored by Shelby and Ron Mitchell, the 1874 mansion is an incredible sight. With its spacious rooms and Jacuzzis, you’d be hard pressed to find a more inviting inn in which to spend a few nights. Then again, the Tidewater Inn traces its roots back to 1712. Within walking distance of historic downtown Easton’s many boutiques, galleries and restaurants, the charming hideaway is sure to inspire romance. You won’t go wrong either way.


Located southwest of Easton on the Tred Avon River, Oxford was founded in 1683 and is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Few towns have endured the marked phases of change that Oxford has. The landscape, once dominated by tobacco plantations and home to famous figures of the Revolution, later gave rise to oyster harvesting and packing industries. Despite the increase in tourism to the area, Oxford retained its small-town feel.

Those looking to dine in town would do right to give Pope’s Tavern, or else the Robert Morris Inn, a try. Both restaurants provide impeccable service and dining ambiance while affording incredible
views of the water. Robert Morris Inn deserves special note, as it recently reopened under new co-owner and executive chef Mark Salter. Salter was the former chef of the Inn at Perry Cabin, and his signature dishes go well with the wide array of vintages the inn has stocked. Dine in Salter’s Tap Room & Tavern or one of two 1710 dining rooms, a few feet from Oxford’s ferry dock.

St. Michaels

St. Michaels rests along the “Bay Hundred” stretch that runs to Tilghman Island. In its heyday,
St. Michaels was a major shipbuilding center that produced such models as the Baltimore Clipper, which served as privateers during the Revolutionary War and War of 1812. Thus, it should come as no surprise that the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is one of its premier attractions.

Founded in 1965, the Maritime Museum occupies 35 buildings across 18 waterfront acres and features 10 exhibits that explore the geological, social, and economic history of the Chesapeake Bay. The museum also houses the largest collection of indigenous Chesapeake Bay watercraft in existence. Although the museum currently allows visitors to tong for oysters, on November 6 it will host OysterFest & Members Day from 10 am to 4 pm.

OysterFest celebrates the Bay oyster with live music, food and family activities. Skipjack and buy-boat rides will be available. Furthermore, oyster aquaculture, restoration, and cooking demonstrations will be ongoing. The oyster stew competition may very well be the highlight of the festival, which is included with museum admission.

If oysters aren’t your thing, Ava’s Pizzeria & Wine Bar and The Crab Claw Restaurant are two popular local eateries. Ava’s wood-fired pizza is complemented by its diverse selection of beer and wine. The Crab Claw has served steamed Maryland blue crabs since 1965. Also worth a look is Bistro St. Michael’s, which rounds out St. Michael’s wide range of restaurants.

Not far off is the Inn at Perry Cabin. An elite escape, the inn’s waterfront property offers a gorgeous panorama of the Shore at its finest. Though the inn has lost some of its exclusivity with an expansion to 78 rooms, the lavish accommodations and amenities make this less noticeable. In addition, the inn’s convenient location makes it the perfect place to stay if you plan on seeing the sights around “The Town that Fooled the British.”

In the interval between those dog days of summer and the sluggish winter months, autumn is the ideal occasion for a weekend getaway—one that will both relax and reenergize. If you haven’t made plans yet, do not fret. The Eastern Shore is an often overlooked and underutilized travel alternative. Add to this its breathtaking vistas and insulated townships, and the Shore might just be among the most well-guarded vacation secret in the country. [gallery ids="99421,99422,99423,99424,99425,99426,99427" nav="thumbs"]

Christmas In Middleburg

Middleburg has long been considered the heart of horse and wine country, with plenty of antiquing to be had. The area has quietly become one of the premier travel destinations on the East Coast. Come December, more and more travelers fancy Christmas in a country village, and nowhere will you find a Christmas experience quite like Middleburg’s.

From the minute you enter Middleburg, the sense of community becomes evident. On Saturday, December 4, residents will flock to Middleburg Elementary School for breakfast with Santa and a silent auction. By 11 a.m., locals are ready for the Middleburg Hunt, where horseback riders and their hounds parade through the streets.

Once the Hunt is finished, the Middleburg Christmas Parade commences. Spectators line Washington Street (Route 50) to watch as floats, bands, and troops pass. Plenty of animals take part in the festivities. Antique fire trucks are always a staple of the parade, and make sure to stay for Santa, who closes the procession as he rides in on an ornate horse-drawn coach.

Throughout the day, visitors are encouraged to go on hayrides, enjoy choir performances, and take in the Craft and Garden Club’s Christmas Flower & Greens Shows. Middleburg offers a variety of local shops and restaurants to explore. At 2 p.m., local musicians can be found performing live Christmas music at the Middleburg United Methodist Church.

“Christmas in Middleburg is a wonderful tradition,” said Parade Co-Chairman and Middleburg Eccentric Founder and Editor Dee Dee Hubbard. “This year’s event will be especially exciting because the parade will immediately follow the kick off of the day, with the tradition of the horses and hounds parading down the main street. This will give families more time to enjoy the many activities taking place in Middleburg.”

Middleburg is a mere 45 minutes from Washington D.C., close to the Dulles International Airport. To get there take I-66 West to Route 50 West (toward Winchester) via Exit 57B. From there, Middleburg is a 25-minute drive.

Those interested in learning more about Middleburg’s holiday offerings should contact the Pink Box Visitor Center at 540-687-8888 or the Loudoun Convention & Visitors Association at 1-800-752-6118.

Christmas In Middleburg Events List

Friday, December 3

5:30 pm—Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Pink Box, music, refreshments

Saturday, December 4

8 am—Breakfast with Santa at Middleburg Elementary

9 am—Chrstimas Craft Show at Middleburg Community Center

10 am—Middleburg Garden Club Greens Sale & Bazaar at Emmanuel Episcopal Church

11 am—Hunt Parade, Christmas Parade with Santa immediately following

12:30 pm—Santa will visit with children on the porch across from Post Office

12:30 pm – 3:30 pm—Hayrides starting at the Pink Box immediately following the parade

11 am – 2 pm—Soup & ham & biscuit luncheon at Middleburg United Methodist Church

2 pm—Concert at Middleburg United Methodist Church, Trinity Choir, AGGE & Hill School

5:45 pm—Christmas Concert featuring the Piedmont Symphony Orchestra performing Mozart’s Requiem at Emmanuel [gallery ids="99567,104809" nav="thumbs"]

Stewart and Colbert Restore Sanity and/or Fear on the National Mall


-A warm-up performance by The Roots and John Legend, a collective seismic jump led by Discovery Channel’s “Mythbusters”, and a poetry reading by Law & Order’s Sam Waterston; these were just a few of the spectacles rally-goers were treated to at John Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear”. The comedian-turned-pundit and the media satirist took the National Mall by storm last Saturday, in an event that seemed to counterpoint Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally from two months prior.

“We have over 10 million people!” quipped Stewart following the National Anthem—a clear jab at Beck, who claimed some 500,000 people had attended his rally, even after AirPhotosLive.com released an estimate of 87,000. The same company now approximates 215,000 concerned citizens showed up to restore sanity. That’s one in the win column for Stewart and Colbert.

Rally participants came bearing an assortment of signs, most of which poked fun at the divisive, partisan nature of politics of late. “I want my country back! Or a pony…One of the two”; “The Death Star was an outside job, and so was 9/11”; “I fought Nazis, and they don’t look like Obama.” Others were aimed directly at the Tea Party, such as “Teatards”; “O’Donnell turned me into a newt!”; “The Mad Hatter called. He wants his Tea Party back.”

With the audience setting the rally’s jocular tone, Stewart and Colbert set to work drawing laughter. As with any show, the duo’s sketches were hit and miss, and sound was an issue in the far reaches of the audience.
The artist formerly known as Cat Stevens, introduced by Stewart as Yusuf Islam, began to sing “Peace Train” before being interrupted by Ozzy Osbourne. At Colbert’s behest, the self-proclaimed Prince of Darkness started performing “Crazy Train.” A musical deul ensued, culminating with the O’Jays performing their conciliatory hit “Love Train,” much to the crowd’s amusement.

Following the musical routine, Stewart began presenting Medals of Reasonableness to those individuals who exemplified rational thought. Not to be outdone, Colbert countered with his Stephen Colbert Fear Awards, one of which went to ABC, CBS, AP, NYT, and NPR for disallowing employees not covering the rally from attending. A 7-year-old girl accepted the award on their behalf, on the grounds that she exhibited “more courage.”
Regrettably, the final musical act, consisting of Kid Rock, Sheryl Crow, and T.I. (audio only), was rather anticlimactic. This was followed by a less than stellar exit by Colbert, who once again interrupted Stewart as he began his “keynote speech.” Though Colbert’s video montage highlighting the fear-mongering tactics of the media was hysterical, melting like the Wicked Witch of the West after Peter Pan (John Oliver) convinced the audience to cheer for Stewart, was odd even for them.

Fortunately, the rally took a turn for the serious immediately after, with Stewart delivering a heartfelt address. In it, he expressed optimism for the future: “We live now in hard times, but these are not end times.”
Still, Stewart condemned the fractured media environment. He knocked, “The country’s 24-hour political pundit perpetual panic conflictinator did not cause our problems, but its existence makes solving them that much harder.” He continued, “If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.”

Though he did not name names, Stewart’s distaste for media figures like Beck was evident. While his message was not explicitly tilted, this has not stopped the mainstream media from speculating as to his political agenda.

In a post-rally press conference, Stewart and Colbert stressed that the purpose of the rally, first and foremost, was to entertain. Said Stewart, “We’re proud of the show we did. You can’t control people’s reaction to it.”
Downplaying the rally’s political undertones, Colbert commented on the audience, “They were there to have fun. They were there to play a game along with us.” Nevertheless, the debate over the rally’s political influence will surely continue, particularly as it pertains to the events surrounding Election Day.

National Portrait Gallery Commissioner Resigns


-National Portrait Gallery Commissioner James T. Bartlett resigned Thursday, December 9, in protest of the museum’s censorship of a 30-minute video, “A Fire in My Belly,” by David Wajnarowicz. The piece was initially a part of the gallery’s “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture” exhibit, but was removed when conservative groups began protesting a brief segment of the film, in which ants are seen crawling over an image of Jesus.
Since the video was taken out of the exhibit, Transformer Gallery installed a four-minute clip from it in their storefront and arranged for a silent march to the National Portrait Gallery December 2.
Complicating matters further, local artists Matt Blasenstein and Michael Dax Iacovone were detained at the National Portrait Gallery this weekend, after screening the video on an iPad in front of the exhibit entrance. Currently, the two are attempting to procure a permit that will enable them to play the video through February, in a temporary structure directly outside the gallery.
The National Portrait Gallery’s commission functions as a board of directors, making Bartlett’s resignation the most consequential protest of the gallery’s decision to date.

Jewish Literary Festival Approaching

The 12th Annual Hyman S. & Freda Bernstein Jewish Literary Festival will run from October 17 to the 27 throughout DC, and as always it promises to highlight the year’s finest Jewish literature and authors. Many of these emerging and established writers earned accolades from The Washington Post and The New York Times. Their selected works span an assortment of genres, including history, humor, politics, and children’s fiction.

The festival opens at the Washington DCJCC, on October 17 at 7:30pm, with a staging of “Strangers in a Strange Land,” directed by Derek Goldman. The performance highlights this year’s overarching theme: the Jewish Diaspora.

Another event sure to attract a diverse audience will be the film screening of “Sayed Kashua: Forever Scared,” on October 18 at 7:30pm. In it Kashua, an award-winning author and screenwriter, reflects upon the everyday challenge of being both Arab and Jewish.

Closing night, October 27 at 7:30pm, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein will discuss the problems of living rationally when religious impulses fill the world around us with Ron Charles, Senior Editor of The Washington Post’s “Book World”. Critics agree, Goldstein’s recent novel “36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction” is quite a read.

Plenty of other authors will be featured daily, over the course of the festival. For information on obtaining a festival pass, ticket prices, locations, and times visit www.washingtondcjcc.org/litfest or call (202)777-3251. Join the Washington DCJCC in perpetuating Jewish identity while bolstering DC’s bond with its Jewish community.