Washington: Dupont Circle

This is the second in a series of posts on the various neighborhoods and regions of Washington, D.C.  While Foggy Bottom and Dupont Circle are the first two posts, I intend to focus on parts of the city that are less explored, such as the H Street N.E. corridor and the Eastern Market area of Capitol Hill.  A fuller look at what I intend with the project can be found in a previous post.


Overview

Dupont Circle is without a doubt one of the longtime iconic neighborhoods of Washington, D.C.  With its well kept row houses, embassies, fine dining, and eponymous roundabout, it has long been one of the most charming and posh areas of the city.  Even when D.C. was at its worst in the 1980’s and 1990’s, Dupont Circle and the Connecticut Avenue corridor more generally remained a relative oasis of tranquility.  Part of the original city plan drawn up by Pierre L’Enfant, the surrounding area remained undeveloped until the second half of the 19th century.  In 1870, Boss Shepherd, Governor of the District of Columbia, began the process of converting the area into the modern, high-end neighborhood we know today.

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Dupont Circle Fountain

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Washington: Foggy Bottom

This is the first in a series of posts on the various neighborhoods and regions of Washington, D.C.  While Foggy Bottom and Dupont Circle are two of the early posts planned, I intend to focus on areas of the city that are less explored, such as the H Street N.E. corridor and the Eastern Market area of Capitol Hill.  A fuller look at what I intend with the project can be found in a previous post.


Overview

Perhaps the best known region of D.C. beyond the National Mall, Foggy Bottom often invokes images of secretive diplomats among those who have not spent much time in the District. Or maybe it brings to mind that it’s only a few blocks from the White House and the Lincoln Memorial.  Either way, the area was originally right on the banks of the Potomac River (more on that below), and became known as Foggy Bottom because of the fog that rolled off the water.  “Foggy Bottom” is also a metonymy for the United States Department of State (ergo the diplomats), which moved its headquarters to the area in 1947.  Even today, some news outlets will still refer to the State Department as “Foggy Bottom.”  But these facts are fairly well known.

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Washington: The District’s Best

This year, the New York Times named Washington, D.C., as one of its 52 places to go in 2016, something that just reaffirms what many of us who live here already know.  As I wrote in a recent post, I will be moving out of the District at the end of May after spending most of the last six years here.  While I am very excited about traveling through Italy in July and then starting at Cambridge in the fall, I am also sad about having to leave this incredible city and the wonderful friends I have met here.  While many people think Washington is either too snobby, too boring, or both, I have come to have a deep appreciation for the city.

After spending some time roaming D.C. recently, I found that there were many little things across the District that were relatively unknown, even to those of us who have been here for some time.  The New York Times article highlights the new improvements to the city, including the National Museum of African-American History and Culture and the CityCenterDC complex.  But there are many other developments across town that are worth nothing as well–including many that are neither on the National Mall nor cost a pretty penny to enjoy.  I also have many favorite places, restaurants, bars, and experiences in Washington that I want to share.

I have decided, therefore, to create a series of posts on different neighborhoods in the city to discuss these things.  There are 131 officially designated neighborhoods grouped into 39 neighborhood clusters, which would be rather impractical to cover in individually.  I will use the term “neighborhood” loosely, then, and will include large swaths of the city in each post that may not necessarily comport to the official boundaries of each but that, when you live in D.C., make sense together.

The first post will be on my old stomping grounds of Foggy Bottom, while the second will be on the Dupont Circle area.  I spent much time in both neighborhoods during law school and got to know them well.  The third post will be on Capitol Hill, with a focus on the Eastern Market area where I live now.  Later posts will highlight the region that includes Judiciary Square, the West End, Chinatown, and parts of Downtown; the H Street N.E. corridor; and the National MallAdams Morgan, the U Street N.W. corridor, Woodley Park,  Georgetown, and Columbia Heights may also make appearances if time allows.  So make sure to tune in!  And follow me on Instagram (linked to the blog) for frequent pictures of my walks around the city.

Isabel: After 39 Episodes, Still a Great Historical Series

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Michelle Jenner as the title character in Isabel

Back in 2013 I wrote my first substantive blog post about Television Española‘s (“TVE” for short) fantastic first season of Isabel, a series on the life and reign of Queen Isabel I of Castilla and León.  Having premiered in September 2012, the show had just concluded its first 13 episode season.  At the time, I said that it was the best historical show I had ever seen, easily beating out The Borgias, Rome, and even The Tudors.  This was in large part because of the show’s attention to historical detail.  Rather than cut out many of the leading nobles who schemed for power, as other such series do, Isabel kept them all in, masterfully navigating the very large cast of characters (including some who have the same or similar names).  It also did not cut corners when it came to filming on location across Spain, giving the show an incredibly authentic feel. In short, Isabel is not dumbed down.

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Puebla: From Colonial City to Bustling Metropolis

It has a nearly 500 year old cathedral. Its historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A minor battle, fought on May 5, 1862, took place there (hint: this is why we celebrate Cinco de Mayo). There is a town close by with a major pyramid. It’s only two hours from the Gulf of Mexico and five from the Pacific. There are four volcanoes surrounding the city and a spectacular world class museum. It’s clean, beautiful, and a mere two hours by very comfortable buses from Mexico City, recently described by the New York Times as the top city to visit in 2016.

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A New Year, a New Adventure: A Return to Blogging

It has (incredibly) been two years since my last post.  Much has happened during that time, both good and bad.  Suffice it to say that I was recently at a major crossroads in my life, and have decided, as my family always has, to take the less trodden path.  As that process unfolded, however, I returned to this blog.  I greatly enjoying writing for it, and so, like a ship returning to a safe harbor, I have come back here. Continue reading

Georgia: A Parade of Crazy

This is the second in what will be a series of articles about the U.S. Senate races in 2014.  Kentucky and Mississippi are scheduled after Georgia.

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The last Democrat to hold a U.S. Senate seat in Georgia was Max Cleland.  A captain in the Army and decorated veteran of the Vietnam War who lost both of his legs and an arm in service to his country, he was one of the few remaining members of the Democratic old guard in Georgia.  Conservative on some issues yet in line with the mainstream party platform on abortion and the environment, he was part of a dying breed of Southern Democrat (I may soon post about the history of Democrats in the South more generally).  In 1996 he won his first and only term by a mere 30,000 votes, in part thanks to a third party candidate on the ballot.  He succeeded veteran Democratic Senator Sam Nunn, a 25 year member of the Senate and a staple of Georgian society and politics.

When Mr. Cleland was up for reelection in 2002, he faced a tough fight.  Not only was Georgia slipping away from Democrats generally, he had a wily opponent in Saxby Chambliss.  Mr. Chambliss was a longtime member of the House and strongly supported by the Republican leadership in the Senate.  Continue reading

The Senate Series: Why You Should Read

Hello everyone,

While I realize that most of you would prefer to read about why I don’t like the way the big law firm and law school world operates rather than politics, there is only so much I can write about those topics.  While there are some other posts coming related to those juicier areas, there is only so much material to work with.  I also just like writing about elections, which is why I have begun this series of posts on the 2014 Senate races.  Ergo the Senate Series.

The purpose of those posts is not to be a forecaster.  We have a series of excellent institutions doing that already, and I will rely heavily on them and on polls for my posts.  Nate Silver’s 538 Blog, Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball, and the Rothenberg Political Report are all great and I encourage you to read them if you want a deeper look at things.

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Massachussets: A Return To Political Normalcy

Senator-Elect Ed Markey (D-MA)

Senator Ed Markey (D-MA)

This is the first in what will be a series of articles about the U.S. Senate races in 2014.  After Massachusetts, Georgia, Kentucky, and Mississippi are scheduled.

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Back in 2013 I wrote a couple of articles on the 2013 special Senate election in Massachusetts, the first such election since former Senator Scott Brown‘s surprise victory in 2010.  The 2013 special was required due to former Senator John Kerry‘s retirement from the Senate to become secretary of state.  It pitted longtime Representative Ed Markey (D) against Gabriel Gomez (R), a businessman, Navy SEAL, and relative political newcomer.  Democrats fretted desperately about the election, doing everything in their power to avoid a repeat of the 2010 disaster, but in the end had little to worry about.  Mr. Markey went on to win the election by 10 points, a great margin for non-incumbent Democrats seeking statewide office in Massachusetts.  Mr. Markey has to run for a full term in 2014.

The breakdown of the election has been well documented elsewhere, including by me, so I will not re-analyze it.  At the time, there was some concern that Mr. Markey’s 2014 reelection bid could be complicated, especially if Mr. Brown (who, while popular went on to lose in  the 2012 general to now-Senator Elizabeth Warren by 7.5 points) entered the race.  That is not going to happen, as Mr. Brown has announced he will be running for Senate in New Hampshire against Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen, leaving Mr. Markey with only token opposition. Continue reading

The Mixiote: An Indigenous Culinary Delight

A Mixiote and Red Rice

A Mixiote and Red Rice

I began my second quarter century on this rock on March 30, and on Saturday the 29th we had a party at my house here in Puebla to celebrate (besides my birthday we were also belatedly celebrating both my brother’s graduation from college back in summer 2012 and my January graduation from law school).   We had family, longtime friends, and people we’ve become close to more recently attend, and it was a blast.  We also prepared one of my favorite dishes of any cuisine ever: the mixiote.

Mixiote (pronounced meesh-EEOH-teh) is a word in Nahuatl (NAH-ooah-tl), the language of the Mexica people more commonly known by their Spanish name: the Aztecs.  As a side note, the word “Mexico” comes from the word “Mexica”, which explains the country’s name.  In any case, variations on Nahuatl are still spoken by 1.45 million people in Mexico according to a 2005 report of the Instituto Nacional de Estadistica y Geografia (“INEGI”), the Mexican government’s statistics bureau.  Many words in English are originally Nahuatl, including avocado (aguacate in Spanish, ahuacatl in Nahuatl), chili peppers (chile in Spanish, chilli in Nahuatl), chocolate (chocolate in Spanish, chocolatl in Nahuatl), coyote (coyote in Spanish, coyotl in Nahuatl), and many more.  Culturally, most Mexicans use words derived from Nahuatl every day, often without even knowing that is where they come from.  Ethnically, almost all Mexicans are mestizos—of mixed European and indigenous bloodlines—with many of us from the Valley of Mexico having Mexica ancestry.  Personally I’m unsure if I have Mexica blood, but my family has Zapotec and other indigenous groups in our ethnic mix.

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