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Archive: July 2006

The Veejays Are Back (Martha Quinn!)

August 1, 1981--MTV signs on and the five veejays (oh how terribly cute) who present the music on TV become as regular a presence in the lives of young Americans as Captain Kangaroo and Big Bird were in earlier years. Takes you back: Check out these names--Mark Goodman, Nina Blackwood, Alan Hunter, J.J. Jackson, and the one so many guys fell in love with, Martha Quinn. Jackson died a couple of years ago, but the others are all working at Sirius satellite radio these days, as deejays on the service's 80s music channel, and on Tuesday, they will do a...

By Marc Fisher | July 31, 2006; 1:07 PM ET | Comments (0)

The Siege of Geraldo

Back in the crack-crazed 80s, when the District really was in a crime emergency, Fox TV wormed its way into the seamy fabric of urban life with its nightly crimecast called "City Under Siege." From a set designed to look like a police vehicle on a gritty D.C. street, Fox5 presented a nonstop cavalcade of crime each night at 11. Listen to the now middle-aged veterans of that era on the streets of D.C. talk about those years, and "City Under Siege" comes up again and again. It was like a nightly chronicle of thug life that glamorized the bad...

By Marc Fisher | July 31, 2006; 8:14 AM ET | Comments (0)

Toxic Parents and the Blues

Separate stories, both in today's editions: Toxic parents is my term for those parents who other parents love to blame for the wayward behaviors of their own kids. Turns out cliques among parents are every bit as strong and divisive as those among kids. More in today's piece in the Magazine, and I'll be online at noon Monday at washingtonpost.com/liveonline to discuss the story. And in Metro, today's column visits a barber shop in Northeast that has morphed into a sanctuary for blues musicians--but a sanctuary threatened by the District's real estate boom. And there's some nifty video from the...

By Marc Fisher | July 30, 2006; 7:43 PM ET | Comments (0)

Zipping Into the Weekend With a Tall Glass of the Milk of Human Kindness (What, A Happy Story on Raw Fisher?!)

It was a beautiful day in Fairfax and Ron Tiernan decided to get some mowing done. His lawnmower had been acting up of late and he'd had it looked at three times by a technician. But this day, the mowing gods were with him and the machine started right up. Job done, he moved on to the next task, taking his daughter's Honda Civic to the dealer in Manassas to see about a loud scraping noise that was unnerving her. Tiernan had an appointment, but the clerk at the dealer told him the repair couldn't be done right away; the...

By Marc Fisher | July 28, 2006; 7:32 AM ET | Comments (0)

The Sounds Lawyers Make: Drip, Drip, Drip

The former editor of the New York Times, out on the hustings hawking his memoirs, just out and said what most any reporter knows and what most any lawyer indignantly denies: Said Howell Raines, after being asked about leaks to the news media: "Almost all leakers are lawyers. That's the bottom line." Syllogistically speaking, that doesn't quite mean that almost all lawyers are leakers, though that is indeed often the case. But Raines makes an important point, and if it comes as a revelation to anyone, then the news reporters of the land are being just a tad too cute...

By Marc Fisher | July 27, 2006; 7:56 AM ET | Comments (0)

When The Thief Is Also Your Neighbor

On the HillEast listserv on Capitol Hill, there's a fascinating discussion taking place about how to handle that peculiar moment in contemporary life when you discover that the bad guy who is making your life miserable also happens to be the neighbor down the block. Here's the original story from the victim of a petty crime: Last weekend, my boyfriend's bike was stolen out of our front yard, in the middle of the afternoon. He had only left it there for about 10 minutes, and a group of boys walking by decided to take it (and his bookbag, which was...

By Marc Fisher | July 26, 2006; 8:02 AM ET | Comments (0)

Fenty, Cropp and the Road to the Finish Line

With seven weeks to go before the D.C. mayoral primary, the new Washington Post poll reflects an electorate that has focused its view on the two frontrunners and will now try to suss out whether to go with young, energetic and pragmatic or older, experienced and cautious. If you think of the District as an old house that needs a whole mess of repairs, the question is whether you want Adrian Fenty, the new handyman who has made a strong impression by speeding city services to frustrated citizens, but isn't exactly an expert on the bigger picture? Or do you...

By Marc Fisher | July 25, 2006; 7:33 AM ET | Comments (36)

The Town, Painted Red

The Lerner family today shells out the big pile, the $450 million it takes to join the billionaire's club known as Major League Baseball. Even if you do own a bunch of shopping malls, that's a sizable check. And given the number of baseball franchise owners who lose money on their wonderful toys, there's no guarantee that there'll ever be a financial return on this investment. Of course most owners don't get into it for the money. There's the power, and the influence, and the fame, and the glory--and the power. Though, if we are to believe the Lerners and...

By Marc Fisher | July 24, 2006; 12:08 PM ET | Comments (29)

Fringe: Freaks, Freebies, Fabulous Frustration

Washington's first-ever Capital Fringe Festival has the streets of the East End hopping all day and all evening. The District doesn't quite yet have the feel of spontaneous artistry and happening that marks the original Edinburgh Fringe, but that may yet come. For all the skeptics who thought a mid-July street festival with dozens of theatrical events in every artistic nook and cranny of downtown was an idea whose time might never come, wrong, wrong, wrong. We're big on Fringes in my house. The wife and I hit the Edinburgh Fringe on our honeymoon many moons ago. We took...

By Marc Fisher | July 24, 2006; 7:55 AM ET | Comments (3)

How Thomas Jefferson Inspired Greenbelt (Yes, That Greenbelt)

Long before Reston, long before Columbia, the Washington area had a planned community that also sought to find the perfect blend of city and country for middle- and working-class Americans. Greenbelt in Prince George's County was a project of Franklin Roosevelt's Depression-era Resettlement Administration. FDR aide Rex Tugwell envisioned a series of "green" communities that would allow low-income families to get out of crowded, unkempt cities and into government-supported social experiments that would foster strong values and close community ties. A new documentary airing Sunday on WETA-FM (90.9) looks at Greenbelt as an example of the Jeffersonian ideal of nature...

By Marc Fisher | July 21, 2006; 8:08 AM ET | Comments (0)

Silence the Radio, But We Still Love That Music

They silenced our jazz station and turned it into the songs of the men of Congress, C-SPAN Radio. They silenced the classical music on public radio and gave us the exact same news show we already got on another public station. They killed our oldies station and fed us a diet of 1970s rock tunes so repetitious, it makes us pine for the days of Top 40 radio. Wrapping up our tour of the Washington area's cultural map, courtesy of the cool new tool from Google called Google Trends, we find that residents of this area do more searches for...

By Marc Fisher | July 20, 2006; 12:30 PM ET | Comments (0)

Why the District Makes No Sense

The District of Columbia makes little sense as a going concern. It can't tax most of the people who work in the city. It has enormous responsibilities, including a large poor population with overwhelming needs and a federal government that demands all manner of special services, including ceremonial police escorts that rob neighborhoods of the basic police protection they so desperately need. The District's chief financial officer, Nat Gandhi, went to Congress this week to make his annual appeal for relief from the burdens that the feds have uniquely placed on this city. He put it to the city's overseers...

By Marc Fisher | July 20, 2006; 7:39 AM ET | Comments (0)

Are We What We Eat? DC's Passions

At the midpoint of this week's series on trying to detect meaning about the lives of Washington area residents, let's see what Google Trends has to say about what we eat. Turns out maybe we're not the bland backwater some might think we are. The more accurate stereotype is the one about how we're a bunch of effete foodies: Google's compendium of stats about which cities search for information about which topics tells us that the Washington area is hot for Thai food--the Reston area tops the nation in interest about Thai cuisine, with the District coming in 5th; the...

By Marc Fisher | July 19, 2006; 12:30 PM ET | Comments (0)

Maryland's Nutbar Comptroller

I've always loved William Donald Schaefer's routine. The whole unfiltered, stream of consciousness shtick is so postmodern, so deliciously anti-PC. I just wish he weren't an actual statewide officeholder seeking another term as Maryland's comptroller. How much more evidence do we need that Schaefer is losing whatever marbles he has left? He's an 84-year-old political legend who is no longer in clear control of his public utterances. Watch him win reelection this fall. This is the guy who a couple of years ago said that AIDS victims are "a danger" and "brought it on themselves." He's the guy who slammed...

By Marc Fisher | July 19, 2006; 7:44 AM ET | Comments (0)

Just How Liberal is the D.C. Area?

Time for another installment of our adventures in Google Trends, where you too can play amateur demographer and pop sociologist. Today: politics. Everybody knows the Washington area is a very blue patch of territory, with boththe District and its suburbs voting reliably Democratic. We're so predictable in our politics that hardly any national candidate ever bothers to buy TV spots in this market. Then explain me this: According to Google Trends, while Washington doesn't even show up among cities where the most searches are done about Air America, the liberal talk radio network, Washington is #4 in the nation among...

By Marc Fisher | July 18, 2006; 12:30 PM ET | Comments (0)

The Heat of Battle: On Stage, At the Door, On the Air

It's 102, according to the thermometer in my car, yet the heat isn't stopping some stalwart fighters from doing what they do best. --At Arena Stage Sunday night, the cast of "Three Mo' Divas" won cheers and shouts of joy as they led a journey through opera, jazz, blues, Broadway song, soul, pop and gospel in a staged concert so exhausting to the singers that Arena has two casts performing in rotation. The cast we saw on opening night featured the exquisite operatic voice of D.C. native Jamet Pittman, the gospel power of Gretha Boston, and the alluring grace and...

By Marc Fisher | July 18, 2006; 7:50 AM ET | Comments (0)

Is D.C. A Baseball Town?

With attendance at RFK Stadium down almost 20 percent from the inaugural season, there's plenty of grumbling in the air about whether Washington really is a baseball town. Last year, it seemed obvious that this was indeed the unfairly-deprived, baseball-starved region that boosters have claimed it was for three decades. Now, it's not so clear. But the new owners of the Nationals of course still believe, and they're relaunching RFK Stadium on Friday with all sorts of cosmetic and programmatic improvements, including cheaper seats, more varieties of food, and, in the coming days, a veritable festival of big name player...

By Marc Fisher | July 17, 2006; 12:30 PM ET | Comments (0)

Fenty: His Aide's Keeper?

In politics, the candidate is all. If he fouls up, his staff scrambles to protect him, but in the end, the candidate rises or falls based on the public's perception of him personally. In that world, staffers are disposable. They serve until they become the issue. Questionable behavior, or even the rumor of a problem, is often enough to send them packing. It may not be fair or even just, but it's a system designed to protect the boss at all costs. Turn now to the D.C. mayoral race and Adrian Fenty, the golden dynamo who has connected with District...

By Marc Fisher | July 17, 2006; 8:05 AM ET | Comments (0)

Maryland Senate: Ben Cardin, Looking Beyond Race

Here's today's column on the Maryland Senate campaign: Ben Cardin doesn't say a word about race. The congressman from Baltimore makes his pitch in the atrium of Leslie and Jonathan Nesbitt's lush home in Mitchellville, where a few dozen black professionals have taken time on a lazy, hot Saturday to hear the white guy who is the alternative to a historic face-off between two black candidates for U.S. Senate from Maryland, Democrat Kweisi Mfume and Republican Michael Steele. But race is what's on people's minds, and they say so: "I hope you don't mind some unsolicited advice," says Billy Terry,...

By Marc Fisher | July 16, 2006; 11:31 PM ET | Comments (0)

12,000-Year-Old News

If yesterday's paper is today's trash, this news has already hardened into some form of sedimentary rock that your seventh grader is studying in geology: In the Northwest Washington neighborhood of Palisades, best known for its annual Fourth of July parade and a restaurant owned by the writer and performer of the 1970s pop hit "Afternoon Delight," there's stuff under the ground that's really old, like maybe 12,000 years old. And now, to show off some of those items, a museum of ancient artifacts has opened. The Palisades Museum of Prehistory boasts a collection put together by Palisades resident Doug...

By Marc Fisher | July 14, 2006; 7:48 AM ET | Comments (7)

The Real (Secretive & Imperious) Linda Cropp

She puts on the polite front and the air of fairness when she heads out to collect endorsements from the powers that be, those big businesses and developers who fear the uncertainties that a reformer mayor might bring to Washington. But on her own turf, where the council chairman rules the roost, the real Linda Cropp emerges. Earlier this week, the Washington Times' Amy Doolittle was the only reporter to attempt to cover one of the secretive breakfast meetings of the D.C. Council that Cropp has conducted since she became chairman. These are the sessions where the real debates occur,...

By Marc Fisher | July 13, 2006; 7:22 AM ET | Comments (54)

Bodily Fluids, High Water, Dead Animals: Why Your Train Was Late

Most of the time, when there's a delay on a Metro train, the muffled voice on the PA system comes on to explain that there's a train stopped ahead and we have to wait. But a good number of delays go unexplained--until now. The Post's wizard of databases, Derek Willis, has set up a dandy tool that lets reporters check out every single delay on Metro trains and scan them by date, station and category. So what do we learn? Metro trains have suffered 3,269 delays since last July, and while the single largest cause of delays is Mechanical Problems,...

By Marc Fisher | July 12, 2006; 7:53 AM ET | Comments (22)

Lawn Signs and Groceries: Mayoral Metrics

For the past month, as I have driven through all eight wards of the District, I've kept a running tally of lawn signs in support of one or another of the five candidates for mayor. Here's the count: Adrian Fenty: 320 Linda Cropp: 95 Marie Johns: 26 Michael Brown: 10 Vincent Orange: 5 What does that mean? Does it tell us that the Fenty campaign puts more stock in lawn signs as a campaign tactic than do the other campaigns? Does it tell us that there's more grassroots support for Fenty than for the others at this date, two months...

By Marc Fisher | July 11, 2006; 7:27 AM ET | Comments (3)

Collin Finnerty Trial Judge: Blog Gossip Fan?

Is D.C. Superior Court Judge John Bayly a secret blog addict? As today's testimony drew to a close in the Collin Finnerty assault trial in D.C. Superior Court, Judge Bayly told the lawyers he had one last matter to take up with them before adjourning: A blog item had come to the judge's attention reporting that Finnerty, 19, had been sighted at a Glover Park party earlier this month--which would be a violation of the judge's order that the Duke University lacrosse player adhere to a 9 p.m. curfew and stay away from alcohol. The judge sternly spelled out the...

By Marc Fisher | July 10, 2006; 6:11 PM ET | Comments (12)

Meet Junior and Felix. One Will Be Your Senator.

Jim Webb is a tough guy. Wears combat boots every day. Marine. Secretary of the Navy. He's running for United States Senate in Virginia. His opponent's campaign has taken to calling him "Junior." (He is named for his father.) George Allen is pretty macho himself. Wears cowboy boots. Chews tobacco. Talks in football metaphors. He's a United States Senator from Virginia. His opponent's campaign has taken to calling him "Felix." (It is his middle name.) So here we are four months from Election Day in Virginia and the press releases from the two campaigns are boiling over with the kind...

By Marc Fisher | July 10, 2006; 8:46 AM ET | Comments (34)

Listener: Seeking Mass in Music Blogs

Here's today's Listener column: Music radio, at its best, does three things: plays your favorite tunes, introduces you to new sounds and draws you into a wider community, imagined or real. When radio fails at any of those tasks, listeners drift away. The new methods of delivering music, although still in their infancy, face the same challenges. The digital technologies have the favorites part of the formula down cold. Downloaded (legally or not) or streamed over the Web, Internet music sources get you to your most-loved songs faster than radio ever did. The digital world is theoretically the ultimate reservoir...

By Marc Fisher | July 9, 2006; 10:36 PM ET | Comments (3)

A Teacher's Big Pay Cut--And Why He's So Much Happier

When I last visited with Hubert Lowder, he was a new teacher at Barnard Elementary School in the District. This was Lowder's introduction to teaching and it took place under some trying conditions. Barnard is a public school where some children arrived each morning hungry and exhausted, where the teacher had to spend his own money to buy basic supplies for his students, and where the challenge of disruptive children nearly drove Lowder out the door in his first weeks on the job. But by late that fall, Lowder was finding his way. He was even bringing his mother's...

By Marc Fisher | July 6, 2006; 7:52 AM ET | Comments (22)

Where's Tony? Missing His Last 4th of July Parade

The Palisades parade is the political showcase of the summer, an annual rite in which the District's officeholders and political wannabes press the flesh, toss candies to the kiddies and present themselves to residents of what we in the news biz like to call voter-rich Ward 3. Yesterday's parade was no exception; it was an election year bonanza of sweaty, smiley, sweet-talking mayoral candidates. Here was Linda Cropp in a t-shirt that pronounced her victor already: "Linda Cropp Mayor," it said. Here was indefatigable Adrian Fenty, walking up the parade route and doubling back to do it all over again....

By Marc Fisher | July 5, 2006; 7:42 AM ET | Comments (10)

Scientific Proof: Baseball Edges Soccer

I'm deep into the ginger duck salad at an outdoor table at Green Papaya in Bethesda when the street erupts in roars of joy. Turns out a bunch of Germans are watching the soccer game across the street at the Irish Pub and their team is doing quite well. My friend and I weren't even aware there was a game on--the World Cup just hasn't made a dent in our lives. But the soccer evangelists are indeed making some progress on these shores, and the games are even beating out hockey and some other lesser sports in the TV ratings....

By Marc Fisher | July 4, 2006; 8:55 AM ET | Comments (16)

Big Train A Comin'

Here's today's column: Eleven miles down the road, they're spending $600 million, give or take a few bucks, to prove that Washington is a big league town. In Bethesda, Bruce Adams spends his summer evenings and a few dollars perfecting the ultimate small-town fantasy. Before Washington was restored to the major leagues, this region had turned into one of the most successful spots in the country for minor league baseball, where $7 buys you carousels and fireworks and a rich guy's view of the action on the field. But step down yet another level from those professional teams in Bowie,...

By Marc Fisher | July 4, 2006; 8:30 AM ET | Comments (4)

Sorry, You Can't Be a US Citizen Anymore

We've heard all the fretting about how nobody teaches civics anymore. And it's true--we've had to teach our kids most of the basics of American government and history on our own, because schools these days are more interested in teaching about those who were left out than about what it was they were left out of. But even those of you who grow misty-eyed recalling your fine junior high school civics class may get a bit of a reality check when you take this actual test that the immigration service uses to make certain that new citizens know their stuff....

By Marc Fisher | July 3, 2006; 7:25 AM ET | Comments (82)

Listener: The New Redskins Radio

Here's today's Listener column from the Sunday Arts section: At first glance, Bennett Zier's mission seems impossible. In a city where the only sports talk radio station languishes at the bottom of the ratings, Zier is charged with launching a second sports talker. To do the job, he's been given three Spanish-language stations that have some of the weakest signals in town. But Zier's start-up, known only by its corporate name, Red Zebra, will sign on in a couple of weeks with one huge advantage: its owner. Red Zebra is something new in the annals of American sports -- a...

By Marc Fisher | July 2, 2006; 10:22 AM ET | Comments (9)

Mfume: At History's Door

Here's today's column: The good news, as Kweisi Mfume sees it, is that if the new Washington Post poll results hold firm and he wins the Democratic nomination for a U.S. Senate seat this fall, he and Republican Michael Steele would face off in a historic Maryland election between two black men. And that, Mfume says, would be an immensely empowering and proud moment: "It will say to this nation and the world that where slavery legally existed less than 150 years ago, we have come to a point where both parties nominate very serious black men for a very...

By Marc Fisher | July 2, 2006; 12:19 AM ET | Comments (21)

 

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