Irish Dance at the Captol (photo gallery)

May 3, 2012

In conjunction with The 24th Annual Nation’s Capital Feis & “All-American Championships” and The O’Neill-James School of Irish Dancing.

Newseum Commemorates 9/11 With New Display

To mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Newseum is expanding its popular FBI exhibit with a new section focusing on the FBI’s role in fighting terrorism before and after Sept. 11, 2001. The new section will open to the public on Friday, Sept. 2.
Sixty new artifacts, including engine parts and landing gears from the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center, plus articles from the case of shoe bomber Richard Reid, whose shoes, clothing and matches are on display. (photos by Jeff Malet) [gallery ids="100282,107242,107273,107269,107265,107247,107261,107252,107257" nav="thumbs"]

National Book Festival (photos by Jeff Malet)

The people who worry about the future of books and reading—myself and thousands upon thousands of other book lovers —may have less to worry about than they think.

Every year for the last 11 years, the National Book Festival, founded by then First Lady Laura Bush, has assuaged some of the fears that books and its attendant contents—stories, novels, poems, children’s tales, fables, histories, biographies, essays, short stories—are rapidly dying. From modest beginnings, the festival can now boast over 100,000 attendees —a huge number of them young people down to the just-beginning-to-read age—a statistic that probably caused the sponsoring Library of Congress to expand the festival to two days.

In less than ideal conditions—it rained sporadically and the ground on the National Mall was muddy in many spots—thousands again turned out, many parents with little children in tow, to hear authors read, take questions and sign books, to visit billowing white tents, to play games, to pose with a Penguin and other characters, to take quizzes, to grab tote bags and posters, and to give hope to the future of reading and books.

Among the many things the festival accomplishes every year is to shine a light on the great diversity of writing (and illustrating) talent that exists, authors who write great, big, and small, and lasting volumes of books. Over 100 authors, writers of all sorts and illustrators were on hand for the festival.

The lineup at this year’s festival looked like a representation of a golden age of writing, not a decline in the reading and penning of words and books. There was Toni Morrison who is as close to a world supernova literary star as you can get at such a gathering, making her first appearance at the festival, a treat for everyone who got a chance to hear her on Saturday morning. She won the 1993 Nobel Prize for literature, and she’s a unique and much-honored novelist and chronicler of the African American experience with such books as the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Beloved,” “Song of Beloved” and most recently “A Mercy.”

On Sunday, there was David McCullough, the venerable historian and biographer of presidents like John Adams, Harry Truman and Theodore Roosevelt, whose most recent book “The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris,” told the stories of American intellectuals and artists and their experience in Paris. For some, McCullough’s biography of the irascible, American-spirit to the core Truman may be one of the finest single-volume biographies of an American president ever written. Edmund Morris—who may have written the best three-volume biography of an American president with his chronicling of the life of Theodore Roosevelt – was also on hand.

In between, at a variety of tents and pavilions you could find mystery writers, children’s books writers and illustrators, poets, novelists, essayists, writers on politics and the contemporary experience, journalists who write books and collections. Washington Post-ies were prominent, among them op-ed writer Eugene Robinson and reviewers and essayists Jonathan Yardley and Michael Dirda. The red-haired, be-freckled and beautiful actress Julianne Moore was on hand to talk about her three books featuring “Freckleface Strawberry,” not coincidentally inspired by her own sea of becoming freckles.

There was Gregory Maguire, the man who gave us a book called “Wicked”—a dark other-side story about the witches of Oz—and thus can be held responsible and receive the accolades for the roaring theater musical machine that is “Wicked.” Sara Peretsky, the Chicagoan who invented the tender-tough (mostly tough) female private eye V.I. Warshawski was on hand again.

On both days, you could wander among the many pavilions and hear and see the sounds of the future of books, literature and reading. Often, the sounds were squealing noises, but still, a reaction is a reaction. Wells Fargo, a co-sponsor, had a booth complete with story-telling about old stagecoach days. There was a book nook, a digital vehicle and pavilion, telling about the history and holdings of the Library of Congress, there were bigger than life (and alive) furry characters (including the Penguin of Penguin books), with whom little kids posed. There were also drawing activities (it seemed often that there must have been thousands of crayons created for this festival).

What was exciting was the the variety and diversity among the pavilions. You walked into the mystery tent and there was novelist Russell Banks (who sometimes writes novels that fit this the genre) reading from one of his books, his beard bobbing in the light, the audience enthralled in a moment of story-telling. There were lots of stories told, including in a pavilion devoted to nothing else but story-telling. There was the yearly Pavilion of States, where the literary history and the current offerings were on display as huge crowds made their way through each state.

Claudia Emerson held forth on her poetry, and earnest men and women walked up to a microphone to ask her about how she revises and for a few minutes, you were treated to a talk about process, how poets can be made and un-made and changed. There were at least 200 people in the tent, many of them makers of poems, and all of them people who read or listened to poems.

There appeared not to be too much talk about the presence of new delivery systems that are not books, but contain the contents of books.

There was, in the end words upon words, and books with the words in them. [gallery ids="100303,107732,107737,107742,107747,107752,107757,107762,107767,107772,107777,107782,107787,107792,107797,107802,107807,107727,107722,107828,107662,107824,107820,107667,107816,107672,107677,107682,107687,107692,107697,107702,107707,107712,107717,107812" nav="thumbs"]

555 Feet Up – Daredevil Engineers Inspect Washington Monument

Dave Megerle, a member of engineering firm Wiss, Janney, Elstner, Associates “Difficult Access Team,” attaches ropes to the top of the Washington Monument, in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011. Four people will rappel down the sides to survey the extent of damage sustained to the monument from the August 23 earthquake which shook much of the East Coast. According to the Park Service, the heaviest damage appears to be concentrated at the very top of the monument, in what is called the pyramidion. Large cracks of up to 1-1/4 inch wide developed through stone and mortar joints. The Washington Monument, built between 1848 and 1884, is 555 feet, 5-1/8 inches tall. Its walls, 15-feet thick at the base and 18-inches at the top, are composed primarily of white marble blocks. (All photos by Jeff Malet) [gallery ids="100304,107841,107832,107845,107827,107849,107822,107853,107817,107837" nav="thumbs"]

Dance Extravaganza at the Turkish Festival (photo gallery)

Washingtonians gathered for the annual Turkish Festival on Pennsyvania Avenue to enjoy delicious Turkish food and traditional Turkish coffee, to browse and shop at the Turkish Bazaar, and to watch mesmerizing stage performances featuring the Ankara Folk Dance and Music Ensemble (FOMGET) on Sunday October 2, 2011. (Photos by Jeff Malet) Click on photo icons below for our slideshow of the event.
View additional photos by clicking here. [gallery ids="100307,107902,107907,107912,107917,107922,107927,107932,107937,107942,107947,107952,107897,107892,107887,107852,107973,107969,107857,107965,107961,107862,107867,107872,107877,107882,107957" nav="thumbs"]

Legendary Astronauts Awarded Congressional Gold Medals (photos)

Space legends John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins were awarded Congressional Gold Medals, the nation’s highest civilian honor, on Wednesday, Nov, 16, 2011. The ceremony was held in the US Capitol Rotunda. Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon. Aldrin, pilot of the lunar module, was the second to step foot on the moon. Collins piloted Apollo 11’s command module. Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth.
Click on the icons below to view photos of the event. (All photos by Jeff Malet)

[gallery ids="100387,111282,111287,111292,111297,111302,111307,111312,111317,111322,111277,111272,111247,111343,111339,111252,111335,111331,111257,111262,111267,111327" nav="thumbs"]

Christmas Tree Arrives at the Capitol (photos)

Christmas arrived early to the US Capitol West Lawn. The 63 foot Sierra white fir from California’s Stanislaus National Forest arrived in DC on Monday morning on November 28, following a 20-day tour across the country. The tree will eventually be decorated with more than 10,000 LED lights and some 2,000 handmade ornaments from the State of California. The lighting ceremony for the 47th Capitol Christmas tree will take place at 5 p.m. Dec. 6, led by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). A Capitol Christmas Tree has been an American tradition since 1964. The Capitol Tree will be lit up until 11 p.m. every night through Jan. 1. In addition to the Capitol Christmas Tree, over 100 companion trees from the same forest will be placed at other Washington DC buildings, such as the Supreme Court, for the holiday season. A 19-foot fir will be set up in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian after being blessed by the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians in a Dec. 5 ceremony.

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St. Patrick’s Day Parade in DC (photos)

Constitution Ave. was a sea of green as Washington DC kicked off its annual St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations with a parade on Sunday March 11. Traditionally, the District hosts the parade on the Sunday preceding the actual St. Patrick’s Day which won’t arrive til March 17. The parade featured floats, Irish dancers, bands and military units. The grand marshall of this year’s parade was popular restaurateur Cathal Armstrong (Restaurant Eve, Virtue Feed and Grain). View our photos of the event by clicking on the photo icons below. [gallery ids="119788,119690,119682,119675,119665,119657,119649,119641,119632,119698,119706,119778,119769,119760,119752,119744,119733,119724,119714,119621,119611,119601,119494,119485,119797,119477,119803,119468,119809,119817,119504,119513,119591,119581,119572,119562,119553,119543,119533,119524,100530" nav="thumbs"]

Shakespeare’s Birthday Open House at the Folger (photos)

Shakespeare’s Birthday Open House at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. took place on Sunday April 22, 2012. Young and old alike were on hand to enjoy jugglers & jesters, music, song & dance, and stage combat workshops. It was also the one day of the year when the Folger reading rooms would be open to all. The highlight of the day was a cake-cutting ceremony in honor of Shakespeare’s birthday presided over by Queen Elizabeth I.

View our photos of the event by clicking on the icons below. [gallery ids="100752,122355,122346,122338,122331,122323,122314,122305,122297,122289,122373,122280,122380,122270,122387,122261,122393,122364" nav="thumbs"]

Rain Does Not Dampen Spirits on Earth Day

Rain poured down on the Earth Day Celebration on Sunday April 22 on the Washington Mall, but that did not dampen the spirits of those who attended. View our pictures from the weekend which featured a sculpture of the Earth made from recycled products by renowned sculpture Tom Tsuchiya, a rally from the group iMatter, and a concert headlined by rock group Cheap Trick.

Atlas Recycled is a 7-foot-tall sculpture by Tom Tsuchiya depicting the mythical Greek titan Atlas bearing the earth on his shoulders doubles as a recycling receptacle for aluminum cans and plastic bottles. In addition to being a recycling aid, Altas itself was made primarily from reused materials. Pieces of 14 used atlases and road maps cover the entire surface of the sculpture. Most of the rigid foam, polymer and steel that form the structure were reused from the creation of some of the artist’s previous sculptures.

iMatter, which marched on the Mall in the rain on Sunday, is a campaign of Kids vs Global Warming, committed to creating opportunities for the voices of youth to be heard on the climate crisis issue. Five 16-17 year old plaintiffs have sued the US government for jeopardizing their future by failing to address climate change. The government has a legal responsibility to protect the atmosphere as a public trust, for all generations. Youth from the iMatter network across the country have taken legal action to demand that the courts recognize the atmosphere as a commons that needs to be protected.

View our photos by clicking on the photo icons below. [gallery ids="100753,122480,122488,122496,122504,122512,122520,122528,122537,122544,122552,122560,122568,122574,122472,122464,122456,122610,122381,122603,122391,122597,122398,122592,122408,122416,122424,122432,122440,122448,122582" nav="thumbs"]