Sunday, August 31, 2008

Two Things Challenge: Church / Lady

This is the church, this is the steeple;
Open the doors and see all the people.
Close the doors and hear them pray.
Open the doors and they all run away!

This week's Two Things Challenge was Church / Lady. One of the things I enjoy about living in Washington is, people go to church in this town. And they get dressed up to do. Sunday finery is really fine around here. My goal was to get some pictures of ladies in their Sabbath threads, but I was either out too early or too late. Summer church service times elude me, so I'm sans sisters in Sunday frocks and sashes. Nevertheless, I went down to 15th and Church Streets NW and took some pictures at St. Luke's Episcopal Church and then over to the American Red Cross Museum. These are the results.

The 8:00 service was underway when I arrived at St. Luke's and they had the doors thrown open to enjoy the cool morning air. The homily was in full swing as I discretely made efforts to photograph one of the oldest Episcopal churches in the city. Founded in 1873, it served as the predominant Episcopal parish for colored people in the District of Columbia. The church is located on the edge of the DuPont Circle and Logan Circle neighborhoods and remains a predominantly black church with a rich history and vibrant community.

Sister Jane D'Angelo on the grounds of the Red Cross Museum

For lady, I had to be a little more creative. There are very few monuments or memorials to women in the District, but I knew about one or two on the grounds of the American Red Cross Museum on 17th and D Streets NW. This picture is a statue of Sister Jane D'Angelo and commemorates her life and the lives of 300 nurses who died during World War I. I thought it was a fitting representation of a lady.

Church ladies listening to the homily

Finally, this last photo takes us back to St. Luke's and combines both words. I shot these two ladies through the open door of the church.

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 08/08

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Lazy Summer Days

Simpler, quieter time

It's Labor Day Weekend in the U.S.--the last long weekend of the summer. The next holiday for most of us won't come until Thanksgiving in November. In a few weeks, the light is going to start changing and we're going to softly rollover into fall. As I get older, the seasons seem to go by faster and time feels compressed. I often wish for the days when life moved slower and hours were longer. Now, it seems like we're in a hurry to get everywhere and pack everything into less time. Just makes me tired thinking about it. Today's photo is of an alley in my neighborhood that made me think of simpler, quieter times.

Hope your weekend is relaxing.

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential

Friday, August 29, 2008

Prototype + 400 + Buddy

Model of a statue honoring General George C. Meade

Yesterday's entry featured the Smithsonian American Art Museum and mentioned that its collections include renderings, prototypes, and models by various American artists. One of those prototypes is this model of a statue honoring U.S. Civil War general George C. Meade of Pennsylvania. The statue was commissioned by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a gift to the city of Washington. It was designed by Philadelphian sculptor Charles Grafly. The prototype for the statue can be seen at the SAAM and the actual statue itself can be found in the plaza of the U.S. District Courthouse on Constitution Avenue across from the National Gallery of Art's East Building.

Actual statue of General George C. Meade by sculptor Charles Grafly

If you're wondering what that 400 is in the title, today is my 400th post! That just boggles my mind. Once again, my thanks to everyone who visits this humble blog. My goal was and remains to bring you America's capital city in picture and word. I hope you're enjoying the journey as much as I am!

My younger brother, refusing to have his picture taken!

And finally, Buddy is my brother Phillip, who is celebrating a birthday today. He doesn't like having his picture taken, so this is all I've got! (Actually, that's not true. Keep scrolling down.) Phillip is one of the finest people I know; he has a wry wit and a keen sense of playfulness. He's a sensitive soul who believes in honesty and integrity in all that he does and lives it out in his life. He's a good man.

Somehow I managed to snap this picture. Handsome guy, right?

Happy birthday, Buddy!

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential

Thursday, August 28, 2008


This hallway led into offices of the U.S. Patent Office.
Today, those office spaces are galleries filled with the works of American artists.

Yesterday's entry featured the Renwick Gallery of Art, a part of the Smithsonian's American Art Museum. Today's entry features pictures from the SAAM itself. Last week, I posted a picture of the SAAM's exterior. It occupies what was once the U.S. Patent Office Building and is on the same block, connected by a shared atrium, as the National Portrait Gallery.

Just a taste of some of the pieces on display in the museum.
Click on the other links throughout this entry to see the range of art the SAAM offers in its collection.

The focus of SAAM is to house art and crafts by American artists. The collection includes everything from landscape paintings sculpture to woven baskets and glasswork, light displays and furniture to artists' prototypes and renderings for larger pieces, from classical to contemporary. The range and variety is as vast and diverse as our own country!

Tiffany skylight in the main hall of the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Again, if you're in Washington and you want to see great American art, visit the American Art Museum. And while you're there, cross through the atrium and visit the National Portrait Gallery. Both are treasures beyond compare!

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


I forgot to write down the name of this piece or its artist,
but I thought it was rather stunning in size.

The Renwick Gallery of Art at 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW is part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum collection. Built in 1859, it housed the collection of William Wilson Corcoran, a banker and philanthropist. Designed by architect James Renwick, who also designed the Smithsonian Castle on the National Mall and St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City, it is built in the French Second Empire style and features a soaring salon and intricate Victorian fixtures. When it opened in 1861, it was the city's first art museum. Shortly after its opening, though, it was occupied by the Quartermaster General of the U.S. Army as a storage place for records and uniforms during the Civil War.

L: Bureau of Bureaucracy : Kim Schmahmann
R: Shaker Television : Edward Zucca

In 1869, the building returned to Corcoran's care and he threw lavish parties and fundraisers. Extensive renovations were completed in 1873 and the building reopened as an art museum. By 1897, Corcoran's collection had outgrown the space and a new museum was built at 17th Street and New York Avenue NW--virtually kaddy-corner from the original space.

Ghost Clock : Wendell Castle : Tromp l'oeil in wood

The U.S. Court of Claims took over the space and eventually was going to tear it down, but First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy stepped in and led the effort to save not only this building, but to preserve the adjacent square known as Lafayette Park. In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson turned the building over to the Smithsonian Institution and it became a museum for "the arts, crafts, and design." The building was renamed the Renwick Gallery to honor its architect and it reopened to the public as a museum in 1972.

The Grand Salon in the Renwick Gallery of Art

If you're in Washington and you venture far enough to see the White House--which every tourist does--stop in and visit this gallery, as well as the Corcoran Gallery. Both provide a nice respite from the hubbub of the Mall and the White House and they contain marvelous pieces of art from all over the country and around the world. Of particular note, the Renwick houses three large, beautiful paintings in the Grand Salon by the 19th century landscape artist Thomas Moran.

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

For Those in Peril on the Sea

The Navy and Merchant Marine Memorial on the banks of the Potomac River

This beautiful memorial, located in Lady Bird Johnson Park off of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, is dedicated to the men of the Navy and Merchant Marine who perished at sea during World War I. Called the Navy-Marine Memorial, it features seven seagulls--symbolizing the seven seas--in flight over cresting waves.

The monument was designed by Harvey Corbett in 1922 and sculpted by Ernesto del Piatta. It was dedicated in 1934. Originally, the "Waves and Gulls", as it is nicknamed, rested on a concrete slab. The slab was replaced with granite in 1940. An inscription on the memorial reads, "To the strong souls and ready valor of those men of the United States who, in the Navy, Merchant Marine, and other paths of activity upon the waters of the world, have given life or still offer it in the performance of heroic deeds this monument is dedicated by a grateful people."

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential

Monday, August 25, 2008

In Session

Takoma Education Center : Piney Branch Road and Aspen Street NW

School starts today in the District of Columbia and the State of Maryland. Universities and colleges, high schools and middle schools, and elementary and pre-K all go back to shiny classrooms. It's time for new pencils and crayons, books and paper, glue and tape, clothes, shoes, and backpacks--all the stuff that makes returning to the halls of education exciting for about five minutes!

L: Calvin Coolidge High School at 5th and Tuckerman Streets NW
R: Paul Junior High Charter School at 8th and Oglethorpe Streets NW

These are pictures of four of the schools in my neighborhood. I wanted to take snaps of kids and parents arriving, but given how weirded out people get by strangers with cameras around kids and sans children of their own, I decided to skip that.

Brightwood Elementary School : 13th and Nicholson Streets NW

To everyone returning to school, have fun! To those of you driving on the roads of Maryland and the District, please drive carefully. And to the kids in the Commonwealth of Virginia, enjoy your last week off!

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 08/08

Two Things Challenge: Hard / Soft

The Hard Rock Cafe next door to Ford's Theater

This week's Two Things Challenge is Hard / Soft. Coming up with something for hard wasn't too difficult. Any number of the marble and granite buildings in this city would have worked, but I wanted to do something out of the ordinary. So, I went downtown the other evening, after taking pictures at the airport, and snapped this photo of the Hard Rock Cafe. This chain is located next door to Ford's Theater, where President Lincoln was shot on April 14, 1865. Here's a sad anecdote: I've actually had guests with teenagers who get upset if their parents don't take them to the cafe, but they couldn't care less about seeing Ford's Theater.

Soft, fluffy clouds

Soft was a little tougher. I was getting desperate and was going to post a picture of the cat, but I did that a few weeks ago. Instead, I decided to go with clouds. They're fluffy and soft, right? And there you have it!

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 08/08

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sticking the Landing

Sticking the Landing : Washington National Airport

August has been uncharacteristically pleasant this year--moderate temperatures most days, low humidity, blue skies. It's almost weird. But I'm not complaining. Normally at this time of the year, we're all melting into the pavement with temperatures in the 90s and humidity at 90% or more. Hazy, hot, and humid is usually the standard descriptor, but not this year!

Landing in blue

In recognition of the great weather, I went out for a few hours yesterday evening and again tonight. I decided to head over to Gravelly Point north of Washington National Airport and try my hand at timed exposures of planes landing. These are a couple of the 35 landings I captured.

Summer sunset : Gravelly Point : Arlington, Virginia

The evening also featured a beautiful sunset. Note that beautiful blue sky and pink-tinged clouds. Normally, sunsets in August are sort of a yellowish color because of the humidity. I think I like this better!

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 08/08

Friday, August 22, 2008


Solitary diner

I promise I don't have a culinary theme going on here, but yesterday evening I was out taking pictures near Union Station in preparation for September's City Daily Photo Monthly Theme. I decided to pop into the station itself to snap a few pictures and, when I looked down into the food court, this guy totally jumped out at me and seemed to yell, "Photograph me!" The best part was, he'd chosen a table right under the lights and there was no one else around him.

Happy Friday everyone!

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 08/08

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Walking on sunshine, yeah, yeah... Or, in this case, sitting in the sunshine. :
On the steps of the Smithsonian American Art Museum : Penn Quarter

This group of guys caught my eye as I was walking past the Smithsonian American Art Museum around lunchtime the other day. They seemed to be enjoying (if that's the right word for their culinary choice) McDonald's for their midday repast. Can you guess what their job is?

In other news, it seems that Mirage over at Vienna Daily Photo, has deigned to bestow upon me her Photography Buddy Award. Needless to say, I am flattered. Thank you, Mirage! The feeling is mutual. For those who don't know, I lived in Austria for nearly 20 months back in the late 1980s/early 1990s and spent nine months living in Vienna. I absolutely loved it! It's a beautiful city and a lovely country. Herzlichen Dank, Mirage.

Now here's a question: Am I suppose to pass it on? I really enjoy doing D.C. Confidential. The added bonus is all of the great people I've met in cities near and far. My thanks to those of you who visit this little blog and motivate me to continue bringing you my country's capital city in picture and word. And thank you to everyone who shares their corner of the world with the rest of us. You open our eyes and help us understand one another in ways our politicians and leaders are failing to do.

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 08/08

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Take My Hand...

Take my hand : Penn Quarter

I saw this couple the other day while I was downtown and I just had to snap their picture as they were crossing the street.

Love knows no bounds, eh?

And now I've got Dido's Take My Hand running through my head. Sublime.

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 08/08

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial honors more than 18,200
officers killed in the line of duty in the United States since 1792.
In the background is the National Building Museum.

Dedicated in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Judiciary Square honors the men and women of city, county, state, and federal law enforcement who have died in the line of duty serving and protecting the citizens of their communities. This tree-lined plaza with its simple fountain is the site of twin curving walls etched with the names of more than 18,200 officers who have fallen since 1792.

Some of the more than 18,200 names on the NLEOM walls

The most common causes of law enforcement deaths? Auto accidents and shootings. In the last ten years, 492 officers have died in vehicular accidents and 582 officers have been shot to death. The deadliest single day for law enforcement? September 11, 2001, when 72 peace officers were killed while responding to terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

Sculptures of lions guard the memorial walls

Here are some interesting facts about law enforcement in the United States:
  • In 1631, the City of Boston established the first law enforcement system in the 13 colonies. Night watchmen were part-time and unpaid. In 1712, the city hired its first full-time, paid officers. In 1863, pistols are issued to officers.
  • In 1789, the first federal force--the U.S. Marshalls--is created and George Washington appoints 13 men as the first marshalls.
  • On May 17, 1792, Isaac Smith, a deputy sheriff in New York City, is killed in the line of duty. His is the first recorded law enforcement death.
  • In 1835, the force that will eventually become the Texas Rangers is formed making it the oldest statewide law enforcement agency.
  • On April 14, 1865, the day President Abraham Lincoln is assassinated, he approves the formation of U.S. Secret Service.
  • To see more important dates in law enforcement history, go here.
Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 08/08

Monday, August 18, 2008

Educating the Whole Person

Healy Hall--the iconic building on the campus of Georgetown University.
A statue of founder Father John Carroll sits in the plaza.

Founded in 1789, Georgetown University is the oldest private university in Washington, D.C., and the oldest Roman Catholic and Jesuit university in America. The school's origins really date back to 1634 with the establishment of the Province of Maryland by Jesuit settlers from Great Britain. After the American Revolution, Father John Carroll was appointed by Pope Pius VI to lead the Catholic Church in America. He then set about establishing a university, which officially opened for instruction on Dumbarton's Quadrangle on November 22, 1791.

Georgetown is an internationally renowned school that is still run and influenced by the Jesuits. The school has four undergraduate and four graduate programs with strong emphasis in law, business, medicine, and international relations. The school has its main campus at 37th and O Streets NW, its law campus on New Jersey Avenue NW near Union Station, and an all-girls school--Georgetown Visitation--near the main campus. Healy Hall, the main, iconic building on campus is named for university president Patrick Francis Healy and is a designated National Historic Landmark.

The back of Healy Hall: (L) Blending new architecture in with the old.
(R) Detail of a rain spout (gargoyle?) on Healy Hall.
(Click on images to enlarge.)

Among Georgetown's alumni are King Abdullah of Jordan; former U.S. President Bill Clinton, E.U. President José Manuel Barroso; Felipe de Borbon, Crown Prince of Spain; and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, President of the Philippines; as well as presidents of Panama, Ecuador, El Salvador, and Bosnia. Twenty U.S. state and commonwealth governors have graduated from Georgetown, including Luis Muñoz Marín the first democratically elected Governor of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Numerous Cabinet members, U.S. ambassadors, judges, members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, business leaders, and military officers are graduates of Georgetown. The world of arts, media, and entertainment is also peppered with Georgetown grads. To see a full list, visit this Wikipedia link.

Cemetery on the grounds of the university:
the final resting place of the school's Jesuit community.

Georgetown is a powerhouse in several sports, including basketball, rowing, sailing, rugby, lacrosse, and track and field. The Hoyas lead the Big East Conference with seven championships and more than 20 appearances in the NCAA Tournament. Here's one final, notable fact: Georgetown graduates participate as volunteers in Peace Corps more than any other private university in the U.S.

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 08/08

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Two Things Challenge: Window / Shop

Window: Jagermeister-in-the-Sun
(Wisconsin Avenue and N Streets NW)

This week's Two Things Challenge was Window / Shop and it was quite a lot of fun! I took photos in Penn Quarter, on 14th Street, in Columbia Heights, and in Georgetown. (PSA Alert:* Note to the wise: If you want to see Georgetown without fighting all the insane crowds and pub crawlers, go early in the morning before traffic gets too heavy and all the businesses open. It's a great way to see the oldest part of Washington without all the headache. /PSA)

Shop: The Vitamin Shoppe in Columbia Heights
(14th Street and Park Road NW)

I got some good pictures of windows, shops, and window shoppers! And again, a PSA: for some of the best window shopping in Washington, Georgetown tops them all! There are some unique stores on 14th Street with great window displays--like Pulp, Go, Mama! Go!, and Home Rule. There's certainly plenty of big box shopping in Columbia Heights--like Target, Giant, Staples, The Children's Store, and so forth. Penn Quarter has expansive windows for stores like Urban Outfitters, Aveda, Bed, Bath & Beyond, and similar national brands. But the best and most unique window shopping is in Georgetown where the shops aren't brand name and they've been around for decades.

Window shopper at City Sports in the Penn Quarter
(7th and H Streets NW)

To see a couple more pictures of the unique wares I found in windows in Georgetown, visit Standing Room Only.

* PSA = Public Service Announcement

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 08/08

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Chattin' and chillin' at The Awakening while it was still at
Hains Point, East Potomac Park, Washington D.C.

I mentioned yesterday that I recently entered a local photo competition for amateur and professional photographers. It's been fun to visit the exhibit with family members and friends and to have people contact me for copies of my photos.

For those who are interested, National Geographic and Smithsonian magazine are both holding photography contests that are open to amateur and professional photographers from all over the globe.*

The National Geographic International Photography Contest 2008 has three categories you can enter: People, Places, and Nature.

The Smithsonian magazine's 6th Annual Photo Contest has five categories you can enter: Americana, The Natural World, People, Altered Images, and Travel.

Given the breadth of places we all live, the things we each see, and the talents we all possess, I daresay any of us could enter at least one of these two competitions with an award-worthy photo!

So, what are you waiting for? Sign up today!

About today's picture: This is one of the first photos I took with my then-new Canon A630 last year at Hains Point in East Potomac Park. At the time, The Awakening was the park's prominent feature and had been for more than 25 years. Then the artist, J. Seward Johnson, sold his work to developer Milt Petersen for $750,000, who recently moved it to a very sterile and uninspiring spot at the uber-development Prince Georges National Harbor Complex. Sad, really, because The Awakening was a wonderful and whimsical site to see. Now, it's just a poorly exhibited possession for an egomaniac.

* Be sure to read the rules carefully. I know the National Gee contest has some restrictions and participation is prohibited in a few countries.

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential


The Great Hall in the National Building Museum as seen from the mezzanine.
These Corinthian columns--among the tallest in the world--were inspired by
Santa Maria degli Angeli, a church built by Michaelangelo in the 16th Century in Rome.

Sorry for the lateness of today's entry. My dad came over at 5:30 this morning and we worked until nearly 3:00, then it was off to meet my mom to see my pictures in a photo competition I entered last month. Earlier this week, I was downtown getting a haircut and decided to take advantage of being within walking distance of the National Building Museum.

Built between 1882 and 1887, this structure was originally built to house the U.S. Pension Bureau. U.S. Army Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Meigs, who suggested the Custis-Lee Estate in Arlington as the location for a national military cemetery and who oversaw construction of the wings and dome of the U.S. Capitol, among other engineering projects, drew up the plans for this building, which he called his "finest achievement." It would also be the last building Miegs would build.

L: The National Building Museum from the west side.
R: One of four sculptures on the corner of the property of the NBM.
(Click images to enlarge.)

Unlike most of the buildings in Washington, which follow a Greco-Roman design, Meigs chose Italian Renaissance design and mirrored elements from 16th century buildings designed and built by Michaelangelo. The exterior perimeter is made up office and exhibit space, while the interior features a soaring great hall divided into three sections and separated by some of the tallest Corinthian columns in the world.

L: A bas relief frieze in ornamental terra cotta and painted plaster encircles the building.
R: Models of Eero Saarinen's St. Louis Arch and Dulles International Airport are part of an
exhibit about this future-looking architect. (Click images to enlarge.)

By the 1960s, the building was falling into disrepair and the government almost tore it down. Thanks to people with an appreciation for the building and some foresight, it was list on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1980, Congress passed an act mandating the creation of a museum dedicated to the art and science of building. Thus was born the National Building Museum. Today, it hosts a number of special exhibits, including a current exhibit featuring the work of architect Eero Saarinen. Saarinen designed the St. Louis Arch and Dulles International Airport, among other buildings, structures, and furnishings. The Great Hall is often used for inaugural parties and other events in Washington. Recently, it was the site of Hillary Clinton's campaign suspension speech at the end of the Democratic caucuses and primaries.

Another view of the Great Hall from the ground floor.

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 08/08

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Smart Start

D.C. newest step toward becoming a green city:
a self-service public bike program!

In an effort to become a greener city, Washington, D.C., is launching a program that will hopefully allow it to join the ranks of Paris, Lyon, Montreal, Cheltenham,* Seville, Barcelona, and Amsterdam as a bike-friendly and green city. Yesterday, the city--in partnership with Clear Channel Communications--officially kicked off Smart Bike DC. Billed as America's first self-service public bike program, it allows subscribers to buy a membership for $39.99/year. Users can take a bike for three hours at a time from a variety of locations in and around the downtown area. Eventually, it is hoped, the program will expand citywide and will encourage people to get out of their cars and get on a bike.

Grab a Smart Bike at the corner of 7th and F Streets NW!
It's quick, easy, reliable, and environmentally cool!

There are currently nine locations throughout downtown and most are within walking distant of a Metro station. Here's to Smart Bike! May it be successful and fun and may it radically change the commuting habits not only of Washingtonians, but also of those who commute to our city from the suburbs of Maryland and Virginia.

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 08/08

* Thanks to Marley at Cheltenham Daily Photo who reminded me his city has been participating in a similar program for a while. Check it out here.