News of bin Laden’s Death Digs Up Old Memories

My son called me last night from Henderson, Nevada at 11:30. You know how it is with late night phone calls. You get that sinking feeling: Something’s wrong. Turned out something was right. “Did you hear the news?” he asked. My son isn’t the effusive, over-the-top type, but I could tell he was glad about the news of Osama bin Laden. You have to be an al Qaeda member not to be relieved that bin Laden was gone for good. I watched the president’s speech about the news as he connected the dots between 9/11 and its tragic outcome for so many people in New York and here in Washington. I flashed almost instantly back to that day, as I’m sure many did. Osama bin Laden did not live in a cave, as many had originally thought, but a comfortable, pricy compound outside of Islamabad in Pakistan. I went to sleep and it stayed with me. I woke up thinking about it. I thought it might be a good thing to take the same 42 Metro Bus I took less than ten years ago to the Farragut Square stop and relive the time, thinking maybe something would come of it. I stopped at Lafayette Square in front of the White House where the night before in a spontaneous eruption of joy and relief, Americans, most of them young, demonstrated vibrantly and defiantly and celebrated the death of a fiend whose deed has haunted and changed our daily life. Flags were waved. People shouted, “USA! USA! USA!” At a New York and Philadelphia baseball game, crowds cheered. At a rousing gathering of people at Ground Zero in New York, where the dust is still holy, in fire stations all over the city, in Boston and the heartland, people cheered. It was quieter at Lafayette Park by mid-morning the next day, but the buzz was still palpable with the sun shining off the press umbrellas and gear on the White House grounds, where a sniper loomed on top of the building. The boisterous throngs had left, but there were still tourists posing in front of the White House, the usual mis-an-scene on the street and the decades-old permanent anti-nuke and peace demonstrators. The media remained, many of them international television crews, roaming like restless pigeons going over crumbs, looking for archetypical Americans to interview. The middle-aged, mustached man with an American flag t-shirt corralled everyone. Anyone who might have looked like a heartland tourist was instantly buttonholed. A man was on the phone, calling someone in Florida, “We got the SOB,” he said. “Thank god. We got him.” He was an Oriole fan, a retired landscaper at Loyola, a man still haunted by what he had seen on television those ten years ago, planes going into buildings. “I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I thought it was a Rambo movie. You just don’t forget. Too many people. It was a shock. I never had a cell phone til' then.” His name was Strickland, and he embraced the moment as if it was a lifeline to the time before it happened. “I bet you money,” he said, “that right about now he’s in good company. You know, Hitler, Stalin, those guys. And I bet Mohammed wants to have a stern word with him too, about what he did to the reputation of Islam.” A man walked around carrying a sing that read, “End the wars,” a message not entirely engaged with by people who wanted to savor this moment, as a War on Terror victory, who couldn’t forget that Tuesday morning and the disaster that came out of the skies and all the years since. “The guy deserved to die,” a high schooler said. He was three years old when the airplanes hit the World Trade Centers. Geraldo Rivera arrived, resplendent as only he can be: the mustache, the suit, the sparkling teeth and the clichés. “There’s Geraldo, “somebody yelled. He got the crowd to wave at the White House. “What goes around comes around,” the Fox News star said. People cheered. There were girls in threes holding up newspaper headlines to be photographed. The guy in a flag t-shirt came by. His name was Joe Pisciotta, and he was a history teacher at TC Williams High School in Northern Virginia. He'd gone to the Pentagon only moments after the plane had crashed into the building. “I took some pictures,” he said. “You could see what was happening…the destruction, what the plane had done, all that furious destruction.” “Maybe all those families, all those people who lost someone, maybe they’ll get some closure,” he said. “We all need it, I guess. I’m glad he’s dead.” He did not say this with rancor and that reminded me that I was glad, too. Not dancing-in-the-street glad, but glad nonetheless. I remembered that day too, because I was right here, where he and I were talking. I was going to the Corcoran for an exhibition. I didn’t make it. There were hundreds of people on their cell phones, frantic. I asked the policemen, who were as calm as a rock in sunlight, what was going on. “Two planes hit the World Trade Center buildings. Another one hit the Pentagon a little while ago. One is supposed to be coming this way.” He nodded at the White House behind us. None of it quite registered. That a plane could actually crash into the White House didn’t occur to me. Like everyone else, it overwhelmed me. I had not seen the images on television yet. Then it registered. I saw Christian stockbrokers kneel in the street and pray for New York. I saw thousands begin the long trek home across the Virginia bridges, the circles leading to Bethesda and Chevy Chase and further on. I bought a throw-away camera at CVS. I went to the Mayflower Hotel to find a phone. People were huddled around a television set, and you heard about them trying to get to New York. With Peter Jennings announcing, I saw the second tower fall. I couldn’t think of anything at all. A woman said that we were all going home to a different world. I didn’t know what that meant, thinking back, but I knew it was the truth. Later in the week, people in the neighborhood came to a nearby plaza, lit candles, and sang “We Shall Overcome.” That was nearly ten years ago. The deaths, the shock and the wars are never far from my mind. Osama bin Laden’s death shows that. President Obama gave a speech touching on memory and unity: all of us are haunted the same way. In a year when bad news was a part of your breakfast cereal, the death of an evil man seems like bloody sunshine. I bask in it, uncomfortably, waiting for warmth and relief, as if something had ended at last.

Casablanca means White House

“I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!” Captain Renault said as he was pocketing a bribe in Rick’s casino in the movie Casablanca. Last week, the Wall Street Journal and this week, Congress have both reacted to recent budget news the same way: “We’re shocked, shocked that the federal budget deficit projections for 2012 have been revised upward from $1.1 trillion to $1.6 trillion.” Well…what did Congress think that a $500 billion tax cut was going to do? Have no impact on the deficit? Collect less, but expect the bank account to not go down? Wait. That was two months ago—a lifetime in politics. More than enough time to be erased from the public and government memory. Here’s the big picture: In the 2012 federal budget, taxes will bring in $2.1 trillion and spending will be $3.7 trillion, leaving a $1.6 trillion deficit. Compare that to 2000 when tax receipts were $2.1 trillion – unadjusted for inflation – and spending was $1.8 trillion. The budget debate drove the election and promises were made to cut $100 billion, or about 6 percent of the amount needed to balance the budget. When it became too difficult to find that much to cut, the hurdle was reduced to $35 billion, but the Tea Party got mad that it wasn’t enough. Now the promise is to find $60 billion in thus far unspecified cuts. But let’s give Congress credit anyway for finding that $60 billion. That’s about 4 percent of the annual deficit, leaving another 96 percent to cut to balance the budget. Let’s look under the hood and find some ideas. Defense, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are sacred. Few Senators and Representatives can vote to cut those items and be re-elected, so even now, as we debate this, that can is being kicked down the road again until next year. Just like the past 30, 50, 80 years. Let’s dig in and see what we can do. The Department of Education seems to be an easy target, always at the top of the list of federal departments to eliminate. Wipe it out. The states can do a better job taking care of education anyway. Students can get their loans from banks. If banks won’t make loans and young people can’t afford to go to college, they can get jobs, save, and then go to college later. That saves $70 billion. Good start. Everyone knows that HUD is a snake pit of problems. If we’ve learned anything in the past decade, we know that Wall Street has all kinds of secret ways to make the housing market function. That’s another $40 billion. Now we’re getting somewhere. We’ve cut that first $100 billion. Only $1.5 trillion to go. Maybe this piecemeal approach is too slow and painful. Like pulling off a Band-Aid slowly rather than jerking it off. Here’s a thought: With all this talk about smaller government, how about no government? Eliminate it all. No one likes the IRS and the Treasury Department. Or the EPA. Those environmentalists are so pesky. Transportation could be turned over to the private sector like parking lots. Just make all the highways toll roads. Pay for it when you use it. Send Congress and the President home. Shut the Courts. Turn out the lights. The states can figure it out because they are required to have balanced budgets. Drastic times require drastic action. So, if we eliminate the entire federal government as we know it, would that balance the budget? Not really. In fact, not even close. All federal government operations cost $400 billion, about 25% of the total deficit. That leaves another $1.2 trillion to cut. Hmmm. This is going to be really tough. Especially since we’re scared to touch defense, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. And heaven help us if we raise taxes. President Reagan taught us an important lesson: Cut taxes and the budget will balance itself. Except that he raised taxes in seven of the eight years he was President and the annual budget deficits doubled on his watch. President George H.W. Bush taught us that a vote to raise taxes is a vote for your opponent in the next election. Casablanca is the answer: We’re shocked, shocked! Maybe these problems don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. If we don’t figure this out, we’ll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of our lives. Good lines, huh? Even 70 years ago. Remember how Casablanca ended? Renault threatened to have Rick arrested. Rick threatened to shoot Renault. They decided that was MAD, or Mutually Assured Destruction. So they promptly changed their minds, and as they walked away together, Rick said, “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” Congress and President Obama need a date night at Washington’s Casablanca, White House. They could watch that movie together.

Media Watching: A Competitive Sport

As the cherry blossoms drop, All Things Media thought it might be worth taking a quick look back at the year in media so far. Only four months you might say, but what a four months. Media-watching is the latest competitive sport in town, with more subplots than a daytime soap. In the same time it took Sarah Palin to be Trumped, the Washington Media Scene has put on a fireworks display. TBD was MySpaced. SiriusXM emerged from its merger cocoon and is starting to beef up again on New York Ave. Bloomberg and Politico are rapidly becoming even more dominant players in the DC media scene and doing most of the hiring. The formally local AOL is now the Huffington Post Media...or is it the other way round. Our very own WTOP is declared the most profitable radio station in the country, throwing a monkey wrench into arguments all news radio is dead. The traditional 10,000lb gorrila of local media, The Washington Post, publishes an article implying its parent company is putting its journalistic independence at risk because its most profitable business – the Kaplan for-profit education division - relies on government loans. And then there are the sneekers: AOL’s Patch and (a cousin of the local paper by the same name) are both growing, online news organizations devoted to our local scene. All while local legacy media, such as this newspaper and the Current Newspapers, are becoming even more invigorated. Chinese news services plan to bring 100s of jobs to DC to improve their coverage of the US, and the recent performance of Al-Jazeera English in the Middle East turmoil may finally give it the kind of attention in the US it has been trying to develop for five years based on its DC regional hub. Reality TV has helped turn cupcakes into pastry Google. Voice of American just announced a new director. The New York Times built its own Berlin Wall. The FCC ended last year by issuing arguably one of its important decisions in years that will force open the internet to all, and Congress immediately denied funds to implement the new policy. And we are only just getting started. It may be unsettling, very unsettling, trying to make a living in this environment. But it is certainly fun to watch. Stay tuned.

The Power of One

It's been 10 days since the astounding ouster of President Mubarak. Many Egyptians who adopted Tahrir Square as their makeshift home embodied the dignity and resolve that epitomizes human potential. As they abandoned fear and committed their lives to democracy, freedom rang in the streets of Cairo. Their ripples of hope became a wave to wash Mubarak from banks of the Nile, a peaceful but forceful tsunami overflowing the shores of the Mediterranean and Arabian Seas. Every day, our screens are filled with images of thousands of youths whose courage evokes great spiritual leaders. They recall Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent movement for India’s freedom and Martin Luther King’s rallies for a united America. These heroes of humanity set remarkable examples, as may be true of the current demonstrators in the Middle East, whose goals may take years to fully achieve. Still, these movements have unprecedented speed and impact. Middle Eastern youths are re-branding their region from violent terrorism to peaceful activism. They have achieved the near forgotten prophecy of technology to lift up humanity. And they have created the incredible phenomenon of rolling revolutions as individuals become fully empowered. The vibrant energy of the Arab states recalls the campaign and inauguration that transformed D.C. two years ago. But these Middle Eastern movements, which represent the overthrow of systems rather than the unlikely outcome of one, may be a more powerful inspiration. They remind us that vast and growing inequality has tangible consequences. In America, the wealthy bask in greater luxury while the poor struggle for food and shelter and the middle class lose rights and income. Workers, galvanized by a plan to end to collective bargaining for most Wisconsin public employees, are taking to statehouses around the country in an unprecedented statement of solidarity. They remind Washingtonians that demands for fair representation can be taken from the back of our cars to the front of the Capitol. They remind us that more important than the clothes or houses we live in are the ideals we live by. That the hunger for opportunity, justice, and democracy is universal. And according time to struggle for these cherished ideals, despite daily demands, is to seize the chance to write history. They show us the power of one and the importance of living life by example. To many in the Middle East, the difference between democratic leadership creating broad economic opportunity and the status quo was the contrast between virtual slavery and exalted freedom. And they won it after one person rose up fearlessly, then another, then another, and many more. Individually, it is important to champion causes with the power to transform our communities, be it healthy and affordable food, safe and effective schools, greater equality or sustainable industries. By singly living out our values we can, together, create a brighter future for our country.

The Joint that Joynt Closed

I cannot quite work out whether boarded windows on arguably the most prestigious corner in the most powerful city in the world hint at promise to come or forlornness for the passing of what had been. And what had been was a focal point of Georgetown: Nathans. The bar and restaurant on the corner of Wisconsin and M Street seemed to have been there forever, and for many regulars and others anchored in Georgetown, it was a neighborhood staple. “Happiest day of my life when it finally closed,” said Carol Joynt, the last owner. I was not sure what to expect her to say of Nathans closing almost two years ago now, but a hand slapping “all clean” was certainly not it. Joynt is no longer the owner of Nathans. She is no longer the successful booker for CNN’s Larry King Live. She is no longer even a career journalist (although she does write a society column for a New York online mag). And if you take her at her word, she would walk away tomorrow from this neighborhood that she helped define and that, in no small way, has defined her. She points to the last page of her memoir she is promoting with every bit of her acquired media skills as professional booker and rolodex-builder. “Moving On,” she noted. Her next home could still be DC, she admits, but it could just as well be any other city where she takes a job. So this is what it is to watch an era pass—the era that Joynt and late husband Howard Joynt defined from the top rung of Georgetown society. It was an era that Carol defines as one of local culture, small unique shops and local restaurants. “It had its own flavor,” she said. And Nathans anchored the corner of the main drag. Howard first ran Nathans, then Carol. However, she said, “It began to end with the building of the mall [The Shops at Georgetown Park], and then all the chain stores.” “Georgetown unique” gave way to brand-name chic. Nathans gave way to perhaps the Apple store as the place to be in Georgetown. But you won’t see Carol fretting over the loss of her restaurant, “Owning Nathans was a nightmare I would not wish on anyone.” Joynt has a reputation for being tough, and she needed every ounce of it to get through everything that happened upon the early passing of her husband. Her memoir recounts twenty years of the bruising, painful slide from living the good life to beating back the IRS after her husband left her to pick up the pieces of his sins . But even in freefall, Joynt brought her own brand of media to D.C., creating the signature Q&A Café, first at Nathans, and now at the Ritz Carlton down the street, where Georgetowners can pay to eavesdrop as Joynt talks with many of the biggest names to sweep the media. From television news anchors to the inimitable Salahes, Joynt still has the pull to get A-listers to come to her, but that pull may still be the memory Nathans. It is clear as she sits at Leopold’s Restaurant, casting looks at a haughty waiter as only a restaurant owner can, that Nathans was hardly her last act. It was Nathans, not she, that stopped breathing. In that, her memoir is an allegory to the slow death of that era when the legacy bar’s and private clubs were the place to be. It was the old Georgetown. And Joynt is clearly caught between that past and the future, in one breath severing the importance of Georgetown to her identity, and in the next diving deep to conjure up that time, defined by the Control Board and D.C.’s halting steps to be an adult city. It was a time when, at Nathans, everyone knew your name. And everyone in Georgetown knew Carol Joynt.

Utraque Unum?

The Latin phrase (normally not in the form of a question) is Georgetown University's motto—"both are one”—first found in St. Paul's Letter to the Ephesians, regarding Gentiles and Jews together, on coins of the Spanish Empire, and later for the Jesuit school's unity of learning and faith. Today, this phrase cannot be uttered between the University and the historic neighborhood to describe Georgetown, as the University's new 10-year plan has moved neighbor groups to protest anew and loudly so. Ward 2 Councilman Jack Evans finds the plan a "disappointment," while University president John DeGioia believes the campus plan to be "modest." A recent Georgetown Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting did not echo such mild words. The University has argued: "Georgetown’s plan includes a handful of new projects that would enhance on-campus academic and recreational spaces, including pedestrian-friendly walkways, construction that would allow buses to turn around on campus and renovations to the Medical Center. The new plan also carries over some projects not completed from the 2000 plan, including an addition to Lauinger Library, the renovation of the New South building for student space, and construction of a new athletic training facility on campus. The 2010-2020 campus plan reflects more than two years of conversations with the university community and local residents, and includes deliberate efforts to respond to concerns about enrollment, off-campus student life, safety and congestion in surrounding neighborhoods. For example, in response to community concerns, Georgetown removed its proposal to develop on-campus student housing in the 1789 block of 36th Street and decided not to request an extension of the chimney height on the heating and cooling plant." Citizens groups still strongly disagreed. They see the addition of more graduate students and lack of any new on-campus housing as threatening to the historic district's quality of life. Indeed, the Citizens Association of Georgetown—which acknowledges the immense value of the University, founded in 1789 in a Maryland village established in 1751—has started a Save Our Neighborhood Fund: "CAG has carefully reviewed the G.U. plan and believes it violates D.C. zoning regulations and would negatively impact the quality of life in Georgetown's residential neighborhoods." CAG contends that the plan would increase graduate student enrollment by more than 2,100 students, thus "increasing the total student population from approximately 14,000 to more than 16,000 students, provide no additional undergraduate on-campus housing and add 1,000 parking spaces to accommodate anticipated additional traffic to campus and the hospital." Moreover, CAG continues: "We will testify before the Board of Zoning -- the ultimate decision-maker regarding the campus plan. We need your help to prepare for this hearing, and to educate our neighbors, our community leadership, the University's leadership and our city decision-makers about this issue." Georgetown student activists have been knocked out of their bubble by the neighborhood response to the plan. "It is definitely possible to understand [the neighbors'] concerns to some degree, but at times [they are] almost irrational," said one student at an ANC meeting. And in the non-news category, let us affirm that some students have been the university's worst ambassadors, causing late-night noise, rowdiness and vandalism. "[The students] cannot follow basic rules of living," ANC commissioner Tom Birch said at the same meeting. Students are left to ponder that some Georgetowners their parents' age don't really like them. The previous 10-year plan wrought enormous changes within the campus: the Southwest Quadrangle (the University's largest-ever construction), the Davis arts center and the new business school building, to name the biggest. The university is jammed against its west (Archbold-Glover Park) and south (The C&O Canal and the Potomac) with spillage, pushing north to Burleith and Foxhall and east into the west village of Georgetown. Such geography does not excuse University administrators' past poor decisions, such as the fumbling of Mount Vernon campus. Indeed, just as the University has a presence in Qatar, and its students volunteer in Appalachia and Anacostia, the nation's oldest Catholic institution of higher learning would do well to connect even more often and consistently to its neighbors just three blocks away. The Georgetown ANC will vote on the campus plan at its monthly meeting, Feb. 28. "We've gotten the comments from the community organizations and the university. So, it's time for us to take a position," said chairman Ron Lewis. Expect lawsuits to follow—just like last time. Again, Hoya paranoia spreads, and generational resentment grows. Not that anyone is really seeking a "Can't we all get along?" moment. There need be no call for an idealistic "Utraque Unum." Nevertheless, both of us are here, in this together, and we can say hello to each other. It is merely a separate peace that we can abide.

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.

Baseball Springs to Life With Nationals’ Optimism

On baseball's raw Opening Day, March 31, the Washington Nationals ran onto the field amid celebration, the roar of the crowd and unbending optimism. In his press conference during NatsFest, the day before opening, manager Jim Riggleman said that it was strange not to be managing against the Atlanta Braves' retired manager Bobby Cox. For him, Ryan Zimmerman has had "a great start." "And expectations for the team?" asked Lindsay Czarniak of NBC 4. The Nationals must "play good, fundamentally sound baseball," Riggleman said. "And give up less runs." As for the new Nat and former Phillie Jayson Werth, he added, "Jayson speaks up. It carries clout when you've won." The Nationals have yet to have a winning season, and attendance on this drizzly afternoon was the lowest ever for a Nationals' Opening Day. But fans were not thinking about that on this day. You know it's a good day when you walk out to the street looking for a cab and find neighbors—yourself included—jumping into a station wagon bound for Nationals Park. Our driver Ken Dreyfuss, who coaches the freshman crew at Georgetown University, recalled the days when DC school kids could submit notes from their parents to be excused from school because they were attending Opening Day. It was a given, and baseball retains that natural, neighborhood ease of inclusion and serendipity. A renewed DC Hall of Fame began the show: CBS sportscaster James Brown, Olympic gold medal gymnast Dominique Dawes, former Washington Redskins running back Brian Mitchell, former Anacostia High head football coach Willie Stewart, former Post columnist Michael Wilbon and former DeMatha High head basketball coach Morgan Wootten. (Dawes could not attend.) "The Star-Spangled Banner" was sung to a giant flag on the field. Then, a unique, slightly awkward set-up: the first pitches by five generals to five catchers. And then, Mayor Vincent Gray, cried out: "Play ball!" And he was booed. Loudly. Happy regulars were seen around the stadium: former Mayor Adrian Fenty with his children going to the Stars and Stripes suites, as PR legend Charlie Brotman walks by and says hello; councilman Jack Evans in a parka cabitzing with friends; neighborhood commissioner Bill Starrels leaning on the rail; publicist Victoria Michael looking pretty in pink. You see, baseball reserves its power to take it all in—win or lose—and make it all right, even if the Nats did lose, 2-0, to the Braves. A half smoke and a cold beer ain't so bad, either. [gallery ids="99219,103520,103516,103513" nav="thumbs"]

Moms Like Us

It is the quintessential question for many young women today, how to balance a career and have a family. And though child rearing years may be a few years off, it's still in the back of our minds: Will I have to sacrifice one for the other? Angie Goff provides an answer to that question: Yes. Yes, you can. Goff has a five-month-old, Adora, a long-distance marriage, an active social life and, on top of it all, a career in television as entertainment and traffic anchor at WUSA-TV in Washington, DC. Though she's doing it all, she admits that at times she has moments when she's not sure if she CAN do it all. When I spoke to Angie over the phone on a Saturday afternoon, she was standing inside the Lincoln Memorial with her husband and baby, taking in the sights while she took the time to connect with the community, essential to her job as a journalist. Later that evening, she would eat dinner with her parents, go home, throw on a ball gown and rush to the Washington Hilton for the White House Correspondents dinner. She spends two to three evenings a week out at events, either shooting or growing her audience. It’s half of what she would do pre-motherhood, but she says she's more of a homebody than a socialite. “When I go to a party, I'm in and I'm out. Sometimes I show up in my workout clothes,” says Goff, who is sometimes in her pajamas by 2 p.m. on a Friday afternoon. “ I'm kind of a homebody. I want to drink coke, watch American Idol and fall asleep. I work hard during the week at social events, but on the weekend it's off limits.” Born and bred up in Seoul, South Korea as a self-proclaimed military brat, she had lunch with Hillary Clinton in the eighth grade because her father was invited to a luncheon. She still has the picture they took together. She attributes her ability to move around and adapt to different places, an essential part of her early career, to her childhood experiences. “I learned to leave a place where I was comfortable and go somewhere where I was uncomfortable.” Goff grew up on an American military base and didn't move to Virginia until high school. “ I experienced the customs of Korea and had the ideas of service to country ingrained in me at a very early age.” Goff says the Fourth of July was always the biggest holiday on the base, something that has spilled into her career as a journalist, where she covers military issues and frequents Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Her career started as a child in Korea, when her father would turn on the only English channel each morning and night for the news. The local broadcasts were produced on the base, and in the fifth grade she befriended the daughter of the station’s anchor. After taking a tour, “I was totally captivated and I became obsessed,” Goff says. She auditioned for the Audio-Visual club at school and became part of the school broadcast each morning. She eventually persuaded her teacher to let her interview students on various topics. But she never seriously considered a career in journalism until she was rejected from the United States Military Academy at West Point. “ I thought I would be a general or some rocket scientist in the military. I was only able to follow my passion and my dream when that door closed.” Goff, who now lives 10 minutes away from her parents in Herndon, Va., says they are proud of her career thus far. After college, Goff worked for Mark Steines, now a friend and mentor, at Entertainment Tonight in Los Angeles. “He was the one that believed in me in the beginning,” Goff says. “The deal was that I'd go out there and he'd help me out and mentor me.” Within two years she had her first job as a reporter in Iowa. “We had lunch before I left,” she says, “and he said, ‘the thing that sucks is that you've already had a taste of the dessert.’ And he was right. The fact that I got to go out to LA, and meeting Harrison Ford and John Travolta, it was a gear shift and move to Nowhere, Iowa where I worked harder than I had in my entire life.” Goff now takes interns of her own, one of which just took a job with Mark Steines after Goff connected the two. Goff met her husband a few years later while working in Columbia, South Carolina at WIS-TV. “We got engaged six months prior to her moving to NOVA,” says her husband, Robert Ellis, a pediatric dentist with a growing practice. “And I must admit, at the beginning it was unusual that we lived in different states. But I can be up there for long weekends, and after doing it for a while, it's all I know. It's not ideal and we make it work.” They would see each other every two to three weeks, with plenty of phone calls and Skype sessions in between. But in March of last year, things took a sharp turn. Goff found out she was pregnant. “It made it complicated,” Ellis says. “I felt bad because I wanted to be there for everything. I wanted to make sure she was okay.” A big factor in Goff deciding to move to northern Virginia instead of DC was the proximity to her parents, which alleviated the trials of a pregnancy with a husband hundreds of miles away. And since their daughter, Adora Kate, was born last December, they all see each other every weekend. Though they don't have immediate plans to live in the same city, it is a long-term goal. “It's a question that remains unanswered, because we're in love with our careers and it makes us happy people. And it makes us happy people to be each other. We have down to a science. The formula is working.” At the beginning of her pregnancy, Channel 9 approached Goff with the idea of a blog following her pregnancy. After a discussion with her husband that took some negotiating, Goff was signed up for an experience that ended up equally beneficial to her. The blog, DC Moms Like Me, is a community forum for Metropolitan mothers to exchange their trials, triumphs, shared experiences and advice. “I had a new community to tap into,” she says of her new following. “I got support that I wouldn't have otherwise. And now we're grateful to have this video diary.” Goff now has a blog for baby Adora that follows everything from her clothing choices to attended events. In question of her privacy, Goff says: “I do put a lot out there, but there's definitely more that I keep in. Just like any other hardworking mom out there, there are challenges and problems.” Goff leaves her house every morning at 3 a.m., when the nanny arrives, and returns around noon. But sometimes that schedule doesn't always work out. The day of the royal wedding, for instance, she worked her normal morning shift, but had to anchor the mid-day show as well, and didn't get home until 3 p.m. “It's a tough balancing act,” says Andrea Roane, Goff’s Channel 9 co-anchor, who has two grown children of her own. “It’s hard when you have to look good, no matter what time you're on the air. And then there are things in the community that she has to do because it helps gain an audience for the show. But like a lot of moms, she brings Adora with her. That's what you have to do. You take your baby with you.” Alex Naini is a cosmetic dentist and close friend of Goff's, who she met while doing a segment on dentistry for Goff’s show. “I'm sure it's not easy,” Naini says of Goff’s seemingly frenetic lifestyle. “But she makes it work in a positive way. She's a mother and she's a good mother, she's a wife and she's a good wife, she's an anchor and she's a good anchor.” Though Naini, along with many others, calls Goff a role model, Goff doesn't see herself that way. “I don't see myself as a role model. I see myself as a hard worker and hopefully a good mother who wants to find the delicate balance that so many women are forced to find.” Nor does she consider herself a feminist: “I'm all about girl power and women succeeding in the work force, but I'm not burning my bra.” When asked if she ever gets tired, she answered immediately, “Having a child brought me to that point. I remember sitting down and breast feeding my baby and thinking of all the things I had to do. And I realized I was letting this moment pass me by.” She says Adora has made her realize she cannot do it all. “I had a lot of anxiety leading up to her birth, but it's amazing how she made it black and white. Suddenly, saying ‘No’ became so easy. I don't have to do it all. I don't have to be a super hero.” Visit Goff’s blog at, her WUSA website, OhMyGoff.TV, or watch her morning broadcast on WUSA, Channel 9.

Cherry Blossom Festival Events

As the dreary winter weather bids Washington its final adieu, the Cherry Blossom Festival lifts the spirits of residents and visitors who come to enjoy the official bloom of spring. The first day of the festival, March 26, features a number of events and celebrations around town. Go on a three-mile Cherry Chit-Chat Run around the mall, starting at the Washington Monument, 8 a.m. Family Day at the National Building Museum is a festival in itself for “kids of all ages.” A number of hands-on activities as well as live music will celebrate and explore Japanese arts and design. Taking sail at three times throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday, Cherry Blossom River Teas features a full service English ‘high tea’ aboard a classic yacht while cruising by the blossoms. Serving soups, tea sandwiches, scones and teas, the cruise sets off at Washington Maria. Hear the music of spring floating through the air at Eastern Market as the sounds of springtime jazz, world-beat, Americana, classical, and spoken word accompany Eastern Market’s foods, arts and crafts. From Eastern Market, jump on the metro and head over to the Smithsonian for the Blossoms Secrets Stroll taking place from 2 – 4 p.m. The walking tour recounts the story and sites of how the Japanese cherry trees came to Washington. The Opening Ceremony, officially kicking off the Festival, will take place at the Building Museum immediately following Family Day at 4 p.m. A number of performances, including Takehiro Ueyama’s TAKE dance company will start the 16-day citywide celebration. Monuments-by-Moonlight River Cruises close out the opening day celebrations from the Washington Marina at 7:30 – 9:15 p.m. and 9:30 – 11:15 p.m. But the Festival continues. Travel to Japan Saturday and Sunday at the Freer Gallery of Art and learn about the art’s importance in Japanese culture past and present. 1 p.m. The Blossom Kite Festival on the Washington Monument Grounds takes flight March 27, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Enjoy the cool spring air at night with a Lantern Walk guided by the light of festive lanterns as rangers guide an evening stroll around the Tidal Basin. The walks take place Saturday and Sunday from 8 – 10 p.m. at the Paddle Boat Station. Starting on the 26 and continuing through the end of the festival, a number of farms and gardens open their doors for visitors to encounter the beauty of nature in full bloom. River Farm and Green Spring Garden in Alexandria along with Meadowlark Gardens in Vienna all welcome Festival visitors with a free memento. An array of diverse talent takes the stage at Sylvan Theater throughout the Festival. Varied genres of music and dance, martial arts exhibitions and marching bands will be featured from 12 – 5 p.m. on weekdays, and 12 – 6 p.m. on the weekends. Macy’s Metro Center Cherry Blossom Show will host two weeks of in-store special events, including musical and dance performances, fashion presentations and cooking demonstrations. The Hillwood Museum Estate and Gardens hosts Paul MacLardy, co-author of “Kimono, Vanishing Tradition” and owner of Arise Bazaar, as he presents a brief overview of Japanese kimono traditions, history, textiles, and symbolism. Followed by a trunk show in Hillwood’s Museum Shop. April 2, 2 – 3:30 p.m. Silver Springs’s Big Cherry Block Party, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. in downtown Silver Spring features a number of art and craft booths, entertainment, food and karaoke. If you cant make it to Silver Spring, hang around the Potomac and Anacostia rivers for DISC Cherry Blossom Regatta. The sailboat races can be viewed from the water aboard the M/V Patriot II, which will be offering a Cherry Blossom Regatta cruise. Head down to Gangplank Marina at 2 and 4 p.m. everyday throughout the Festival for a relaxing cruise down the Potomac around Hains Point for a fantastic view of the trees. Then on April 2 jump on board for a dinner cruise where you can catch the fireworks. The Festival Fireworks Show will light up the sky on April 2 from Waterfront Park. Best viewing of the show can be found at Southwest Waterfront promenade or East Potomac Park. 8:30 – 9 p.m. The Parade, which runs down Constitution Ave from 7th to 17th Streets, closes out the festival April 9, 10 a.m. – noon. Catch a glimpse of lavish floats, giant helium balloons, marching bands and performers as they make their way down the route. With a number of other events going on throughout the festival (March 26 – April 10 in its entirety) it is hard to not catch the blossom bug. Visit for more information on all the festivities. [gallery ids="99622,105124" nav="thumbs"]