The Wealthy Have Permission to Drink Singles

First, full disclosure. I am a former employee of Whole Foods and I frequently shop and buy beer at the P Street/Logan Circle Whole Foods. Had to get that out of the way.

I know I said I'd ignore anything that the Washington City Paper publishes, but this was just too rich. I don't know how familiar you are with the Logan Circle Whole Foods, but it's located in the middle of a neighborhood that has gentrified rapidly. Many of the businesses there predate this change.

Well the Logan Circle ANC thinks that those businesses, namely liquor stores, can just go on and fuck themselves.

Whole Foods has long been selling singles of beer. Fancy beer, but beer nevertheless. Singles are actually illegal in parts of the city. Ward 4, Mount Pleasant, and Adams Morgan come to mind. Logan Circle is apparently one of those parts.

And the ANC cut Whole Foods a break. They can continue to sell singles. They have permission. But the liquor store on the very same block is still prohibited from selling single servings of beer. Guess what color of people Whole Foods tends to appeal to and contrast it to an old liquor store in a black neighborhood. Hmmm.

I mean, I get it. This is fancy beer and the singles laws are primarily designed to prevent people from buying 40s. Since they don't make organic Steel Reserve High Gravity yet (and I long for that day), Whole Foods isn't in the business of selling malt liquor.

But getting it doesn't mean it's right. You have one rule being applied differently to two different businesses. Unacceptable. If you want to allow Whole Foods to sell singles of beer, then change the law and apply it equally to both businesses. Maybe prevent stores from selling singles with an abv above 7% (although this would crush Indian Pale Ale single sales) or only outlaw singles between 24 and 40 ounces. But don't give one a break just because it has "fancier" customers.

The "us and them" dichotomy in this city is falling apart. When the rich and poor mix, it's good to know who this city is really looking out for.



Nothing interrupts the hangover from a week of gluttony like a reminder of what kind of city we actually live in.

The "one in twenty DC residents have HIV" statistic has been bandied about ever since I moved here in 2001. It's such a devastating thing to hear and there's such a great temptation to dismiss that as unlikely. I mean, that's over 100,000 27,000 people!* And, yeah, it looks like that could be the truth.

Jesus Christ.

The District's AIDS rate is the worst of any city in the country, nearly twice the rate in New York and more than four times the incidence in Detroit, and it has been climbing faster than that of many jurisdictions.


But the data made public today expose an alarming dimension of pediatric HIV. Each of the three dozen District children to test positive in the past five years was infected during birth.

"This is a line that should be zero"

I added that last excerpt because it shows how far behind we are in dealing with this epidemic. People aren't getting tested and they're harming their children as a result.

Although the spread of HIV and AIDS in Washington is mostly limited to the city's black community, the number of new HIV and AIDS cases for other ethnic groups over the past few years is still in the hundreds. And if there's anyone out there still deluded enough to think of HIV as a "gay disease," please note that heterosexual sexual contact is spreading the disease at a greater rate than homosexual sexual contact. So, no one is safe.

When's the last time you got tested?

*Ugh, I am an idiot. I got so riled up over the "1 in 20" thing that I went with 20% and this obviously very, very wrong. Stupid mental fart. Sorry.


A Sad Farewell

So, back in the day there were these Guitar Hero contests at Wonderland. These contests - and let me remind you I am still defending champion - preceded a little event called Evil Disco. Evil Disco was a dance party that features some of the best rock 'n' roll around. It was a place where you could belt your best Bruce Dickinson scream minutes after a drunken sing along of Motley Crue's "Home Sweet Home."

Eventually the party moved to the Black Cat. That meant no more Guitar Hero which meant my attendance became more sporadic.

This event, hosted by the incomparable DJ Hey Sailor, is soon to be no more. Tonight is the final Evil Disco before Hey Sailor moves to Los Angeles. I can't convey what a loss this is for the city. The best way to describe it is to go for yourself tonight at the Black Cat. There's a five dollar cover. I promise you it's worth it and you will not be disappointed.

Unfortunately, I will be unable to attend. I'm spending the weekend here. I just wanted to use this bully pulpit here to urge you all to go and to wish Hey Sailor the utmost success on the West Coast.

Even a city you hate, you find some things you love. Losing one of those things hurts. Bad.

By the way, when is a bar going to start having Guitar Hero III contests? I think the time has come.



So, the biggest corruption scandal in city history was even worse than what was originally announced. The 16 million dollars that was stolen has since doubled. $31,700,000.00 has been stolen in a scam that stretches back to Saint Natwar Gandhi's tenure as Deputy Chief Financial Officer for Tax and Revenue.

To get an idea of the scale of this scam, think of this: Of all the real estate tax refunds issued by the city in the past three years, over half of them were phony. Why did it take a bank teller in Bowie to notice something so obvious?

Chief Financial Officer Gandhi asked for the resignation of the people who signed or failed to notice the phony refund checks when news of the scandal broke. It turns out that this operation has been going since at least 1999. Guess who was signing the checks back then.

I'm a little torn on what to think here. Gandhi, by all accounts, has been a great asset to this city. His careful control of the District's budget has greatly improved the city's finances and bond rating. Losing his services would be a pretty substantial risk.

Or would it? The last week has proven that Gandhi isn't nearly as competent as we previously thought. And, frankly, I want some more heads to roll. When you're signing more than one fraudulent check for every legitimate refund check, the problem is unbelievably severe.

Gandhi set the correct precedent when he demanded the resignations of his check-signing inferiors at the Office of Tax and Revenue. Gandhi should follow through on that standard by resigning himself. There is no excuse for such massive incompetence. $31,700,000 isn't peanuts. It's time for him to go.


This is How Far Off the Rails She Is

Ok, the great Laura Sessions Stepp blow out tomorrow is at capacity. I did not get in. Well, I didn't try since I had dinner plans. But, hopefully, someone who visits this site got a pass. I mean, there were only, like, 30 people at her last appearance at the Arlington Library and 60 people at her book singing at Politics and Prose. Both times I ran into a reader. So, one of you got in, right? Please?

At the very least I plan on DVRing the shit out of this.

I'm really posting to bring more attention to a comment I received from EJ Takes Life:

Did you happen to catch who was co-sponsoring this "discussion?" The Cardinal Newman Society (Catholic college society sponsoring "a program to re-establish chastity as the cornerstone of Catholic campus culture") and the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute, a charming organization whose homepage is currently extolling the virtues of Phyllis Schlafly, "the first to defeat the radical feminists."

How exactly does LSS, who is supposed to be a journalist with at least some modicum of impartiality, justify headlining an event that blatantly trumpets a religiously and socially conservative agenda? Especially because she is identified in promotional materials first as "Washington Post reporter" and not as the author of retro modesty lit.

The Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute's website is appropriately fantastic. Is that Ann Coulter on the homepage? Good Lord, it is. This is the kind of organization that comes out with columns titled "Want Protection from Breast Cancer? Have Some Babies." If I had seen that without any context I would have assumed it was an Onion headline.

Terri, my lady friend who accompanied me on my last LSS party crash, also wanted me to highlight this from the description of the discussion tomorrow night:

Many college campuses across the country report rising numbers of sexual assaults, date rapes, and sexually-transmitted infections. And there is reason to believe the "hook up" culture - the prevalence of sexual activity with "no strings attached" - is affecting students' mental health. Are students today well-educated about healthy relationships?

That's right, college ladies. Since you keep getting rapes and assaulted, maybe you should try to educate yourself about healthy relationships.

I know sound like a skipping record every time I start talking about Laura Sessions Stepp, but I just can't help myself. This woman, with her dangerously old timey ideals and her complete lack of journalistic integrity, always claims to be a feminist. Again, please click on the Clare Booth Lucy website. What kind of feminist would support them?



I hate Friday evening posts. No one ever reads them. But this is important.


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Here's the dilly:

Many college campuses across the country report rising numbers of sexual assaults, date rapes, and sexually-transmitted infections. And there is reason to believe the "hook up" culture -- the prevalence of sexual activity with "no strings attached" -- is affecting students’ mental health.

Are students today well-educated about healthy relationships? Are college administrators taking the right approach to reducing health risks? On November 13, five experts will come together to discuss the state of affairs on campus -- and some modest proposals.

Laura Sessions Stepp is a Washington Post writer and author of Unhooked (2007). Dr. Miriam Grossman is a campus psychiatrist at UCLA and author of Unprotected (2006). Wendy Shalit is author of A Return to Modesty (1999) and Girls Gone Mild (2007). Cassandra DeBenedetto is a recent graduate of Princeton University and founder of Princeton's Anscombe Society. Dawn Eden is director of the Cardinal Newman Society's Love and Responsibility Program and author of The Thrill of the Chaste (2007).

Oh man. This looks amazing. And they're serving wine and cheese. Of course, I, with considerable help, confronted Stepp only two weeks ago. Surely she remembers my handsome mug. So, people, I need your help.

REGISTRATION: You must register to attend this event.
E-mail: send your name and affiliation to mrybak@eppc.org.
Fax: your name and affiliation to (202) 408-0632, with attention to Mary Rose Rybak.

What should I choose as my affiliation?

What should you choose as your affilation?

Seriously, this shit is B-A-N-A-N-A-S. Five pro-chastity women gathering around and offering "modest proposals" on how women should stop being such sluts. (Oh please God let LSS suggest baking cookies.) And they're going to be airing this drivel on C-SPAN. So, let's crash this motherfucker and give the nice people over at C-SPAN a show.


No, I Haven't Ignored This

I've spent the last few days writing about my two pet causes: Laura Sessions Stepp and the Nationals stadium fiasco. But those two obvious targets haven't been the only source of embarrassment for the city in the past few days. I of course am referring to one of the greatest corruption scandals in city history.

When I started paying attention to local matters, one of the first things I noticed was that there was only one really untouchable figure in local politics. That would be Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi. Gandhi is credited with greatly improving the health of DC's economy and keeping the local budget under control since taking the position in 2000.

Well, it hasn't been a good week for him.

First The Washington Post wrote an editorial chiding him for his handling of the city's $79,000,000 loan to Specialty Hospitals of America to keep open Greater Southeast Community Hospital. This editorial was faintly damning. The real bad news dropped yesterday.

That's right, folks. The biggest corruption scandal in DC history!

Two mid-level D.C. government employees used phony paperwork to collect more than $16 million from illegal tax refunds, avoiding detection for at least three years while issuing more than 40 checks cashed by friends and family members in on the scam, prosecutors said yesterday.

By day, Harriette Walters and Diane Gustus worked at the District's Office of Tax and Revenue. In their free time, prosecutors said, they worked with others to raid the city's treasury to stock up on luxury items including fancy cars, homes, furs, precious jewelry, designer handbags and clothing. Walters alone spent more than $1.4 million at Neiman Marcus, according to charging papers.

Gandhi oversees the Office of Tax and Revenue. His inferiors were doing, and this is being charitable, a pretty poor job. No one at the office realized what was going on. In fact, the whole thing was spotted by a bank teller who refused to cash a crooked $410,000 check. That check, along with many others, was signed by office director Sherryl Hobbs Newman. Newman, along with other DC bureaucrats, are being forced to resign for failing to catch what should have been obvious.

Honestly, when one of your employees making $81,000 annually and driving around in a $160,000 Bentley asks you to sign a $350,000 check, that should have raised a few dozen red flags.

It took ten years of mostly excellent service, but it looks like the luster of DC's greatest bureaucrat is beginning to fade. We can't fire him without DC Council and Congressional approval (not that I'm suggesting we should go that course), but he's starting to give them some pretty potent ammunition.

This Investment is Paying Off!

The DC Council is pissed. Why? Well, as you may have heard, the Council, in its infinite wisdom, decided to give away $611,000,000.00 to build that fancy passable new baseball stadium by the Navy Yard. It's the most expensive baseball stadium ever cashing in at over $90,000,000.00 more than second place Safeco Field in Seattle. And don't give me that malarkey about how expensive New Yankee Stadium and Citi Field are going to be. Yeah, they will dwarf the new DC stadium's price tag. But half the funding of those billion dollar stadiums are being paid by the Yankees and Mets respectively. Not to mention New York City actually charges both teams rent. This DC monstrosity is being paid with, and only with, public money.

So, the DC Council fell over itself trying to get a baseball team. This despite the fact that Northern Virginia was more than willing to pony up for the team. I understand the need to develop along the Anacostia River, but past stadiums have had mixed records of vitalizing city neighborhoods. Sure, we can point to the Verizon Center as a success story, but those success stories are the exception rather than the rule. The city was taking a huge risk.

The risk was especially huge since the National were going to be a regional team. I've always argued that living in Bethesda or Alexandria was really no different than living by Dupont Circle. It's all the DC Metro Area. And those Bethesda and Alexandria residents are going to end up rooting for the Nationals.

So, I guess the Council should be pissed when the Nationals host their annual black-tie dinner in PG County and host their "FanFest" in Bethesda. After all, how much money did Maryland shell out for the team? And their hotels and businesses get to reap the benefits? It's a dick move by the team.


"We gave them a $611 million free stadium. I think that entitles us to have their gala at our businesses," council member Carol Schwartz (R-At Large) said.

The problem isn't what DC is entitled to. The problem is that we paid that much money for a team that was, rightfully, going to exploit the Maryland and Virginia markets. The whole point of having a team in Washington is the access to wealthy suburbanites in one of the fastest growing regions in America.

Emily Durso, president of the Hotel Association of Washington, D.C., said she learned about a month ago of the team's plans and called Nationals executives. "I said, 'Please tell me this isn't true.' "

"They're moving all of the events to the suburbs," she said. "The Bethesda one was, like, uh-oh, is this a trend? I've told them we understand that they are a regional team, but the hotels here pay for the stadium."

Yes they do. Sucks to be you. Further proof that the legislation giving away $611,000,000.00 was the worst kind of bullshit. We were operating under the assumption that whoever bought the team would give a shit about the city. They don't. They give a shit about the area. And when you're living in an area as restrictively small as DC, then there is no reason to fund these teams. The R*d*k*ns play in PG County and no one acts like they aren't Washington's team. We could have done the same for the Nationals. I hope Linda Cropp, Jack Evans, and Anthony Williams are all enjoying their crow.


She is Like Michael Myers. She Will Not Die.

Thanks to an excellent catch by a vigilant reader, this Wall Street Journal article was brought to my attention. It's by some dude named Jeff Zaslow. He is completely unfamiliar to me. But, the article is about how the kids aren't alright. And, if you were writing a column from that retarded point of view, who would you ask for advice?

Oh God. Why won't she go away.

Yes, we have a Laura Sessions Stepp sighting! Huzzah!

So, this Zaslow column is about his daughter getting invited to homecoming by a boy. They dress up, buy flowers, do all the stupid high school shit, and then never go to the actual dance. They just hang out on their own. This is the end of civilization to Zaslow. Why, back in his day, dating meant something! You had to ask a girl on Wednesday for a Saturday date! There was none of this text messaging tomfoolery.

Honestly, reading this, you expect Zaslow to be upset that the children no longer wear onions on their belt (as was the style of his time).

And in case you're too lazy to click on the WSJ link and you think I'm being over-the-top:

Obviously, boys no longer have to call girls on Wednesday for a Saturday date. Now, college boys seeking weekend hookups send girls "U busy?" text messages at 2 or 3 a.m., and girls routinely rouse themselves and go, according to Ms. Stepp's research. Many girls spend the next day clutching their cellphones, waiting in vain for the boy to call.

These girls need to get a different hobby.

I am pissed that Zaslow didn't put the word "research" in scare quotes. Following, like, seven ludicrously wealthy women (and one token poor high school student being statutorily raped by a Metro bus driver) is not research. Those are anecdotes. Anecdotes from the coddled and immature. Anecdotes from daughters whose mothers don't let their children hang out with black kids (and this is presented as good parenting!) and who buy their daughters trips to the Bahamas when they've had a rough semester because that frat boy didn't call back.

Honestly, why is Laura Sessions Stepp considered an expert on the subject of teenage sexuality? A piece she edited won a Pulitzer. Fine. But that was a piece on textiles for Christ's sake. Since then she's been cruising on that stupid award and writing about something that she doesn't have any fucking experience in. Well, other than following around her small self-selected sample of desperate young adults who need men to justify their existence.

God damn it. If I had the time I would find eight happy well-adjusted high school and college students and follow them around for a few months. Then I would be outraged when I didn't get my book deal.

The column has some other gems. The conclusion is fantastic.

As the father of three daughters, I wish that more parents of sons would talk to their boys about being respectful, and about the thrill that can come from holding hands. Those of us with daughters need to tell them that empowerment is less about sexual freedom and more about recognizing their true feelings.

The "thrill that can come from holding hands"? Jesus Christ.

It is too bad that my daughter and her friends didn't demand that the boys take them to homecoming. Yes, they risked being dumped for easier girls. But maybe the boys would have gotten the message and, as promised, graciously escorted their dates to the dance.

I'm pretty far separated from days as a 16-year-old high school student. Well, I do remember not getting any. So if I had to choose between holding hands and the "easier girls," then, no, I wouldn't have gotten that message.

Another thing I remember about homecoming dances was that I never attended one. Not because I was trying to get into some girl's pants in a dark basement, but because, in the words of the reader who e-mailed me this article, homecoming is "a bullshit WASPy ritual of jocks, popularity, and getting laid in the car afterward, that requires a lot of money be spent on tickets, clothes, and dinner."

This is the tradition that "concerned parents" like Zaslow and LSS want to save? Hey, I get it that Zaslow's daughter was pissed that she was invited to homecoming and never went to the dance. That's a legitimate beef. But to equate that with the Great Hooking-Up Epidemic is beyond a stretch. Using LSS as intellectual backup is where the fabric starts to rip.

Of course, if Zaslow's daughter had too much to drink and got "gray raped" in this boy's basement, perhaps he wouldn't be so quick to call up Stepp for advice.

Let this be a warning to writers! If you use Laura Sessions Stepp as a way to advance some theory or observation you have, then your theory or observation is hopelessly wrong. And my readers will find you.


Higher Learning

I was a stupider person back when I was a freshman in college. Who wasn't? It's not far-fetched to assume that we've all made stupid decisions that we now regret back when we were 17 or 18.

But nothing quite as stupid as what Sarah Marshak did.

Marshak is a freshman at George Washington. She is Jewish. Her Facebook networks are "GWU '11" and "Israel." I mention that because the "Israel" network implies that she strongly identifies with her Jewish heritage. So, surely she should know how powerful and ugly hate crimes are. And her acceptance into George Washington implies that she isn't an idiot.

So why she decided to get herself involved in a hate crime hoax is absolutely beyond me.

Marshak claims that someone legitimately started drawing swastikas on her whiteboard. She was unhappy with how GW was handling it so she started drawing her own swastikas to get the investigation to hurry along. If true, that is jaw-droppingly stupid. Hey, Sarah, was that worth the possibility of expulsion?

Marshak said Tara W. Pereira, director of SJS, informed her she would likely be expelled. Marshak said she did not want to leave GW but probably will.

Good! Marshak has made it harder for real victims of hate crimes to come forward. Every swastika and noose will now be met with an unfair dose of skepticism. Much like the Durham woman who made those false rape allegations against the Duke lacrosse team, Marshak has made it that much harder for people being terrorized to come forward. Was that really worth it, Sarah? You fucking dunce.

Another student was caught Saturday night in relation to the drawing of swastikas, the word "niggers" and the text "white power" in New Hall.

What exactly is going on over at George Washington? When did George Washington become Columbus University? If you're wandering around Foggy Bottom and you see someone who looks like Michael Rapaport, RUN!!


Most Expensive Cabs in the Country? Fuck.

Well, all my bellyaching over the DC Taxi Commission's zone system yielded great results. The big bad zone system is finally dead! Meters for all! Huzzah!

Of course, it was kind of assumed that when we made the switch that the meter pricing wouldn't be so god damned expensive.

DC is going to have the most expensive taxis in the country. Fucking awesome. A four dollar drop rate, five dollars in rush hour!, is too much. That's in addition to the costs of waiting around in traffic and being charged $1.50 a mile.

As expected, meters will be cheaper on short rides and more expensive on longer trips. No surprise there. But, according to the Post, the shorter trips are only a little less expensive while long trips can get pricey in a hurry. Is that worth the transparency and reliability that meters provide? Maybe. Here's my solution:

A good way to make some of the money back is to ask your cabbie if they went on strike on Halloween. If they answer in the affirmative, I feel pretty comfortable not tipping them. Throwing a hissy fit and refusing to pick up people on one of the busiest drinking nights of the year was incredibly irresponsible. I'm a former union man and I respect a good strike, but this does not apply. This has "bad strike" written all over it.

Meters are going to be more expensive. Cabbies weren't striking for more money. They weren't striking for more autonomy since the prices were already set by the DC taxi Commission. They were striking to maintain the ability to rip commuters off. And for that I offer them a big hearty "fuck you." The three dollars I could have tipped them will buy me a delicious Schlitz at DC9 or a Yuengling at Red Derby. The owners of these fine establishments (srsly, Red Derby is fantastic) deserve the money more than someone willing to put public safety at risk just to keep a hopelessly corrupt system.

So, yeah, the meters are going to suck hard. It's worth it to me.