Goobye, and thanks!

Hey all. Hope you’ve enjoyed our time here. We’ve had fun pointing out the cool and the silly. So much fun that we’re moving on to bigger and better (?) things. Our new endeavor goes lives on Monday, May 3rd, so be prepared.

Thank you for reading, and we’ll see you out there.

. . . or the Starbucks or the Starbucks. Summertime has (prematurely?) hit Arlington, and the brown flip flops are out in force. Bro-tasticness, axe body spray and the whiff of vodka-and-cranberry are in the air. If you need an iced-coffee , you’ve got to head Clarendon’s unofficial sponsor.

Well no more! Finally, something has broken the stranglehold Seattle’s global monster on our beloved(?) neighborhood. That is Northside Social, at the corner of Fairfax and Wilson, kitty-corner to the Silver Diner.

Before you even get in the door, you’ll walk past a half-dozen metal tables and chairs, although the new concrete patio has room for probably twice as many. The sunshine is nice, although the traffic on Wilson makes it feel more urban than placid. Still, very enjoyable.

Inside is another story. The décor is all natural woods, subtle cream walls, and tons of natural lighting. When I’m in a Starbucks, a Cosi, or a Caribou, it strikes me as some hyper-modern, glass and steel dystopia. But Northside has the atmosphere of a (busy) corner store, a old building lovingly used, and gently restored. The mismatched chairs are very comfortable, adding to the ramshackle yet inviting feel of the place. There are four main seating areas; outside in the sun and traffic, inside in the main room, a smaller, sunnier upstairs, and a small intimate back room.

The main room has several tables, a couch or two, and a long bar in front of the off-street windows. The clatter and chatter of employees behind the coffee bar mixes with the aroma of the brews to really dominate the room. This is less a place to do work and more a place to people watch, to mingle, and talk.

The upstairs is more traditional coffee-shop atmosphere. It’s much more tranquil and much more personal than the main room. There are plenty of tables, and I noticed more of what I thought of ‘coffee shop folks’. I noticed a professor from neighboring GMU Law, a law student, several folks with their laptops, and one or two people relaxing with a newspaper. There was very little conversation, and a lot more caffeinated work.

The back room is my favorite. It’s very small, without any tables. There are a couch and easy chairs, and my favorite feature, a double sided mini-bar of dark wood, with matching stools in a corner dominated by tall windows. Northside takes up residence on the spot of old neighborhood favorites Murky or Common Grounds, praised by such former Arlington denizens (Arlingtenizens?) as tip-top journalist Peter Suderman (who, it turns out, may or may not be a hipster). It’s yet to be seen if Northside can establish such a place in the heart of the neighborhood, but based on our experience, it stands a good shot.

It might seem silly to talk about the actual coffee last, but I’m afraid Starbucks’ success proves that coffee quality hardly makes or breaks a coffee shop. I’ve covered my taste in coffee before, so take this with a grain of salt. (Note: do not actually salt your coffee.) Northside uses Counter Culture Direct Trade coffee.

Direct Trade is an attempt to establish “a new standard for supply chain transparency”, according to the in-store brochure. This “high-quality, sustainably produced” coffee marketed with a “clear set of quality-driven principles” is an alternative to the fair trade mark that been around for awhile now.

Counter Culture touts ironically popular values like ecological responsibility, transparency, and consideration for working conditions. There’s also a big deal made about “Personal & Direct Communication” with growers. Overall, the coffee rated pretty high with our tasters, although they couldn’t explain how communication affected the roast. So if less interested in a cup of joe’s metaphysical patina and more with it’s taste and caffeine content, no worries. Northside has you covered on both counts, without being overly pretentious. There’s also a small alcohol service, with wines ranging from affordable to extravagant.

We didn’t try any of the homemade baked goods, by executive chef Liam LaCivita, but they looked and smelled fantastic. Between the awesome décor, the good service, coffee, wine, and cakes, you can trust we’ll be regulars.

Not that I have anything against DC-ites’ considerably torrid love affair with bicycling around town, but sometimes, it just goes to far. Great exercise? I get that. Cheap transportation? Totally on my radar. Spandex in public? Show me where to sign. The wave of the future in transportation? Not putting my eggs in that basket. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood seems to think so though. In a recent article, LaHood stated, “this is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.” Well don’t I feel like an idiot for just getting a Virginia driver’s license? That’s $48 that could have gone towards quite the pair of Heelys. He also mentioned that “walking and biking should not be an afterthought in roadway design.” Right.

We Americans have been driving automobiles for a good 100 years at this point, and I’m fairly certain we didn’t get on this “motorized transportation” binge because the Transportation Secretary announced the end of favoring horse-drawn carriages at the expense of the shiny new motor-buggies. I think it just kind of happened. So cyclists, keep on doing your thing, but don’t force it on the rest of us. I’d rather ride one of these bikes anyways.

Quick, name your favorite presidents. Top five. Did this fat fuck crack the list? God I hope not.

There are tons of reasons to dislike Teddy. His racism and xenophobia, imperialism, for centralizing federal government, campaigns that were more religious revival than public policy, or being the Ross Perot of his day. Sure he gave us teddy bears, but that’s a measly compromise. Everything about Old Ted is a freaking let down. Dude was a sickly child who wildly overcompensated, fooling everyone with his manly man posturing. The easiest game in the world is “one of these things is not like the other”.

Oh sure, there are those who would say “Teddy was tough! He got shot and finished his speech! Lincoln just up and died.” Well Snarky McAssholepants, you are a cock. First, Teddy barely got shot. The bullet went through a steel eyeglass case, and a 50 page speech. He was basically wearing a flak jacket. Second, how insecure do you have to be to shake off getting shot? “Can’t … show … weakness … must … be … adored!” There’s nothing wrong with saying “Hey, y’all, just got shot. Gonna go to the doctors now, get the finest leeches available. Kthxbai.” It was the 1920’s, it’s not like people were going to go check out HBO and internet porn and forget about him.

Did I Ever Mention I'm A Tough Guy?!

Oh, and also, he’s a goddamn loser. He’s never won a race at Nationals Park. 0 – 164. But everyone loves the underdog, and Teddy routinely raises everyone’s hopes, only to fall short in the end. In that way, he’s the perfect mascot for the Nat’s; a bumbling, Mr. Magoo capering around the stadium, the perfect pairing for a franchise who’s one bright spot will start the season in the minors.

Despite being another festering pustule marring the Nat’s prepubescent image, Teddy has his share of fans. God knows why. Some people are just idiot chubby chasers, I guess. Local blog Let Teddy Win! is campaigning hard for the big galoot. April 21st is the night they’ve scheduled for this travesty, this abomination, this cats-and-dogs-sleeping-together nonsense to go down at the ballpark. I hate stuff like this. Teddy can’t win on his own, so people are going to hand him a meaningless pity win. There’s nothing wrong with losing, per se. It’s obviously not as good as winning, but if you keep working hard, keep believing and striving, losing can have a quiet kind of nobility.

Michael had worked so hard for this record, and now he could taste ... WTF?

This also makes a mockery of everything the Presidential Races stands for. The glory, the drama, the tradition. The totally-not-at-all-ripped-off-from-Milwaukee’s-Sausage-Race-thingy-ness.

Handing out wins is ignoble, and ignominious. One can’t give success or pride, one must take them. Tony Montana never said “first somebody gives you da drugs, den somebody gives you da money, den somebody gives you da wimmin.” A man takes what he wants. Teddy needs to learn these lessons, or else he’ll just be another spoiled brat. So join me in hoping this ridiculous popularity contest never successfully infects the hallowed institution of presidential races.

The Oscars have come and gone and Avatar, although winning art direction, best visual effects and cinematography did not win best picture. That honor went to Hurt Locker. But many would agree Avatar was most popular movie of the year. And what do you get when you pair the most popular movie of the year with the most popular television show about a low-rent beach in the arm pit of America? A solid consolation prize.

We love hockey, and DC loves it’s Capitals. The team has absolutely run away with a weak Southeast division, and lead the entire Eastern Conference. Heading towards the Stanley Cup playoffs they look pretty damn unstoppable.

At the trading deadline, the Caps made some big moves to shore up their depth, adding four players for the price of one (and some draft picks).

One of those players is Country Mouse Scott Walker. Coming from such bright-lights-big-city locals like Raleigh and Nashville, Walker is definitely a Country Mouse adjusting to his new life in the big city. So far, the adjustment is going well.In his first game, Walker scored two goals.

Off the ice, Walker is making some more difficult adjustments. From the Washington Post sports-blog:

“So I was excited to use it, little bit nervous at first obviously,” he told Vya. “But man, people were so helpful. I just kind of looked lost — that was pretty easy to do — and people just helped me and taught me how to go over and figure out how to pay for a ticket and how to get on. I’m sure I overpaid a bit, because I was just so scared that I was gonna get trapped in there, so I just made sure I put enough money that I could get in and out. And man, I had a great time, and I’m so excited to use it more now. Now I’m not so scared to just jump on it and head one or two stops or all the way, wherever.”

Walker’s talking, of course, about Metro. Something everyone gets fired up about, just not usually in a good way. Metro has it’s fair share of problems; trains are too short, run too far between at off-peak hours, are too crowded, and oh yeah, have a pretty horrendous safety record. But Walker is pretty jazzed. Like a kid in some kind of a store.

“I wasn’t sure to take my kids on there and my wife yet because I didn’t want to get lost,” he explained, “but now they’re thrilled and they’re excited to come back and give it a go and get downtown and go see the sights….”

Well that’s adorable. And Walker’s pretty savvy for a first-timer. The whole “not-having-enough-money-to-get-out” worry is legit. Stupid Metro and it’s pay when you exit policy. He’s already planning on getting a SmarTrip card and good for him. There’s nothing worse than standing in a crowd behind some tourist who can’t figure out which end of the goddamn pandas go into the goddamn machine, or having to fight their way back out of SmarTrip only lane. That’s a great post-college walk of shame.

So remember, the next time you see a huge man with no front teeth on the metro, he might not be crazy or homeless. He might be the Caps newest Country Mouse, learning big city ways.

“I’ll put my teeth in,” he suggested. “Got to disguise it.”

Now don’t go getting your gears all in a jamble; Daylight Savings Day isn’t until March 14th at 2:00am EST, so you can relax. For those of you who are planning on complaining about losing one little hour of sleep for one little night, you can stop. Think about all the other ways you probably lose an extra hour of sleep on any other day of the week. Like doing this. Or this. Or hopefully this. Yep, linked to myself on that last one. After biting the bullet for one night, we get an extra hour of daylight for THE NEXT 8 MONTHS. Try something called “delayed gratification” on for size.

A few days later, March 20th, is the official first day of spring, but here in DC spring always comes a few weeks earlier. One week we have a foot of snow, the next gaggles of people are out and about running, jogging, biking, flugtagging. Ehhh might have made that last one up. What I’m trying to say is DC’s an active town. And the activity has begun, whether or not spring has springed.

So in the spirit of the spring season that’s upon us, I’ve put together a complication of seasony-titled jams for summer, fall, and winter. Spring doesn’t have a song yet, so readers, you have 9 days to pick one! Only rule? It has to have the word “spring” or a variation of it in the title. Start commenting with your suggestions and we’ll declare a winner on the day of the equinox.