Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. Today, we get all political in Washington, D.C. The Federal City has a lot going on, even without the governmental stuff. So, let’s start filibustering and see how long we can last:
Motto: “Justice for All” – I think this is still a work in progress…
Food: A Half Smoke is a hotdog that’s half pork, half beef and covered with herbs, onions and chili sauce. The meal is quite popular in the D.C. region and is sold at many hotdog carts. The Half Smoke sausage was first created by Briggs & Company and sold as early as 1930 by Raymond Briggs. Today, it is the official dog of the Washington Nationals baseball team.
Drink: With all the politicians and lobbyists in D.C., there are/were a number of famous drinking establishments for beverage consumption. This included the infamous Rum Row, which was unfortunately couldn’t survive prohibition. One place that still exists is the Round Robin Bar (dubbed the Oval Office of Bars), where the Mint Julep was introduced to the area by Kentucky Senator Henry Clay.
Site to See: The National Mall is home to a number of attractions, including the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Reflecting Pool and a host of War Memorials (World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, etc.). Mrs. Sip and I walked this extensive area on a hot July day, ducking into nearby Smithsonian Institution museums for occasional air conditioning breaks.
Street: Pennsylvania Avenue, connecting the White House to the U.S. Capitol Building, is known as ‘America’s Main Street’. The route has been used for a parade after each U.S. President has taken the oath of office, as well as the funeral processions of Presidents who died while in office. Protestors have also marched along the street for causes ranging from women’s suffrage to anti-war.
TV Show: While a number of political dramas are set in D.C., I’ll go with classic comedy Get Smart. Starring Don Adams as Maxwell Smart (aka Agent 86), a bumbling spy, the series ran for five seasons and 138 episodes. Along with his partner, Agent 99, Smart fumbles his way through missions, somehow always finding a way to thwart the plans of evil organization KAOS.
Movie: So many movies have scenes filmed in D.C. When discussing films that are largely set there (and the surrounding area), some top contenders for this category include Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Wedding Crashers, Minority Report, The Exorcist, All the President’s Men, and A Few Good Men. My favourite among these, is Wedding Crashers, for obvious reasons.
Book/Author: With so much political intrigue, D.C. is rife with material for books. All the President’s Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, details the Watergate scandal, through the two men who investigated it. The ordeal resulted in the resignation of President Richard Nixon. The book was later adapted into a 1976 film, starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman as the journalists.
Fictional Character: Murphy Brown is a journalist for the news program FYI. She is a hard-nosed TV personality and even tougher behind the scenes, as she goes through a series of secretaries. When a storyline which saw Brown become a single mother was criticized by Vice President Dan Quayle, the character became a feminist icon and reflection of how many real-life women live.
Fictional City: With not much to choose from, I will salute The Flintstones here, as many locales (Bostone, Houstone, Rockapulco, etc.) were given some sort of clever prehistoric spin by the show’s writers. D.C received similar treatment with Washingstone B.C. Eh, it’s a living!
Actor/Actress: Samuel L. Jackson is one of Hollywood’s most recognizable stars, thanks to roles in films such as Pulp Fiction, the Star Wars prequel trilogy and Snakes on a Plane. Jackson has also appeared in numerous Marvel projects, as S.H.I.E.L.D. leader Nick Fury. Thanks to all these credits, Jackson is the highest-grossing actor of all-time, with his movies earning $27 billion worldwide.
Song: Is there a song that better exemplifies D.C. than Hail to the Chief. The song is the President’s entrance theme, similar to a professional wrestler making their way to the ring. It is also often played in TVs and movies to set up scenes occurring in the Federal City. The tune was composed by James Sanderson (ironically an English musician) and published in 1812.
Band/Musician: The ‘Prince of Soul’ Marvin Gaye was born in D.C. The Motown legend was known for hits such as I Heard It Through the Grapevine, Let’s Get It On and Sexual Healing. Sadly, Gaye was killed by his own father in 1984, shot with a gun Gaye had gifted him the previous Christmas. Gaye was posthumously bestowed a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, along with inductions into a number of Hall of Fames.
People: TV personality Bill Nye hails from The District. He is best known for his popular kids educational program Bill Nye the Science Guy (required viewing in my high school science classes) and the Netflix series Bill Nye Saves the World. His earlier show won 19 Emmy Awards (from 23 nominations), including the 1998 Outstanding Performer in a Children’s Series trophy for Nye.
Animal: A number of presidential pets, living in the White House, have gained notoriety over the years. This includes Checkers the Dog (Richard Nixon), Socks the Cat (Bill Clinton), Bo and Sunny the Dogs (Barack Obama), as well as some more interesting animal choices, such as both John Quincy Adams and Benjamin Harrison keeping alligators and Thomas Jefferson having two grizzly bear cubs.
Invention: Samuel Morse developed Morse Code, to be used for telegraph communications, in D.C. The series of dots and dashes allowed for quick communication between long distances, first used around 1844. Morse’s original telegraph machine, along with its patent application, are on display at the National Museum of American History in D.C.
Crime: The assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, occurred at Ford’s Theatre in D.C. The event shocked the nation, as Lincoln was the first President to be assassinated. His assassin, John Wilkes Booth, became the subject of a large manhunt and was killed in a standoff with authorities. Ford’s Theatre, as well as Petersen House (where Lincoln died) are National Historic Sites.
Law: It is illegal to give a false weather report. Isn’t that what meteorologists do on a daily basis, given their low accuracy rate!?
Sports Team: D.C. has one team in each of the Big 4 sports leagues – Capitals (NHL), Nationals (MLB), Wizards (NBA), Football Team (NFL) – although the Football Team (formerly the Redskins) play in neighbouring Maryland. The state is also known for being the first place a football huddle and baseball’s seventh-inning stretch occurred.
Athlete: Tennis legend Pete Sampras was born in D.C. Over his career, Sampras won 14 Grand Slam tournaments and was ranked No. 1 in the world for 286 total weeks. Nicknamed ‘Pistol Pete’, for his powerful serve, Sampras was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2007. In my opinion, though, his greatest achievement is being married to actress Bridgette Wilson.
Famous Home: The White House has been the home for the U.S. President and family since 1800. It was originally known as the President’s Palace, Presidential Mansion or President’s House. The White House is the most visited home in the country, featuring 132 rooms, along with a tennis court, swimming pool, movie theatre, bowling lanes, and basketball court, among other amenities.
Urban Legend: On display at the National Museum of Natural History, is the infamous Hope Diamond. The gem has so much notoriety because of the curse that is said to be attached to it, bringing misfortune to those who own or wear it. Tragic ends have included losing a fortune, as well as being imprisoned, murdered or executed and taking one’s own life.
Museum: In the capital, you can’t go very far with running into a Smithsonian Museum. The Smithsonian Institution, referred to as “the nation’s attic” has 19 museums, 21 libraries, nine research facilities and a zoo in the D.C. area alone. Best of all, entry to all locations is free. Some D.C. highlights include the National Museum of Natural History, National Air and Space Museum and National Museum of American History.
Firsts: As the first female CEO of a Fortune 500 company, Kay Graham deserves some attention. She was the publisher of The Washington Post newspaper from 1963 to 1991, overseeing such memorable stories as the Watergate Scandal. Graham’s autobiography, titled Personal History, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1998. She was portrayed by Meryl Streep in the 2017 movie The Post.
Company: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, more commonly known as NASA, is headquartered in D.C. NASA has been responsible for the Apollo moon landing missions, as well as being in partnership with the space agencies of other countries, resulting in the International Space Station. It should also be noted, that kids haven Toys R Us was founded in D.C. in 1948.
Events: During the War of 1812, the Burning of Washington (1814) occurred at the hands of the British. This included the White House going up in flames, along with the Capitol Building and other U.S. government facilities. Four days after the attack, a massive thunderstorm – known as ‘The Storm that Saved Washington’ – snuffed out the fires.
Miscellaneous: While a theory exists that nobody is actually from D.C., other famous folks born there include former Vice President Al Gore, TV personality and DNA test proprietor Maury Povich, first Director of the FBI J. Edgar Hoover, music legend Duke Ellington, award-winning actress Goldie Hawn, basketball star Kevin Durant, and jack-of-all-trades Ben Stein.
- 2 oz Bourbon
- Top with Club Soda
- Splash of Lime Juice
- Garnish with a Lime Wedge
The Rickey is D.C.’s official drink. It was created in 1883 at Rum Row bar Shoomakers, when lobbyist Col. Joe Rickey ordered his daily dose of bourbon on ice and the bartender added some sparkling water to it. The Joe Rickey morphed into the popular Gin Rickey (subbing gin for bourbon) over time, but I will salute the original.