"It Started Here." With great excitement, living history attraction Colonial Williamsburg spent more than a million dollars to put out its first-ever TV ad during the Super Bowl. The splurge may have backfired, as its use of footage of the World Trade Center towers falling on 9/11 to a Tom Brokaw voice-over angered and upset many in its target markets and puzzled plenty of others. Takes from Daily News, Esquire, Gothamist, USA Today, NY Post, Slate, HuffPo. [more inside]
The US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) was established in 1961 and has grown into one of the US government’s largest intelligence organizations. It employs 17,000 people, including thousands stationed overseas, and its 2013 fiscal year budget request was for $3.15 billion. Yet, the DIA is also one of the more secretive agencies in the U.S. intelligence community, regularly denying access to basic information about its structure, functions and activities. On November 20, the National Security Archive posted a new sourcebook of over 50 declassified documents that help to illuminate the DIA’s five-decades-long history. [more inside]
Tired of movie sequels? Good news, The Sequel Is Dead -- The Universe Is Where It's At [more inside]
This indignant map exposes the seamy underbelly of 1890s Washington, D.C., naming and locating “saloons” and “bawdy-houses” in the so-called Murder Bay neighborhood, located east of the White House. The Library of Congress, which holds the map, tells us that it’s a newspaper clipping from the 1890s, without a known author or publisher. (Slate.com)
In 1977 Dial Press of New York published Robert Mayer’s first novel, Superfolks. It was, amongst other things, a story of a middle-aged man coming to terms with his life, an enormous collection of 1970s pop-culture references, some now lost to the mists of time, and a satire on certain aspects of the comic superhero, but would probably be largely unheard of these days if it wasn’t for the fact that it is regularly mentioned for its supposed influence on a young Alan Moore and his work, particularly on Watchmen, Marvelman, and his Superman story, Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? Alan Moore and Superfolks: Part 1: The Case for the Prosecution, Part 2: The Case for the Defence, Part 3: The Strange Case of Grant Morrison and Alan Moore.
When did this ball go so wrong? As thousands of people get out their best clothes, spring for pricey tickets and head to DC for a fairy tale night of dancing at one of the 10 official Inaugural Balls, the Washington Post takes an amusing look at the decline of the once-glamorous event, which has now become a hideous, tacky ordeal complete with coat check riots, box wine (at the cash bar!) and phoned-in cameos by the exhausted First Couple. If you must go, here's some sage fashion advice. If you ignore wise counsel not to buy a fancy dress, make sure to register it to avoid the dreaded dress dupe.
Victorian Secrets of Washington, D.C.: haunting photos and thoughtful essays documenting one man's fight to draw attention to D.C.'s neglected architectural heritage: "This site won't be much of a beauty pagent because we 'll concentrate on buildings that are vacant, abandoned, deteriorated, distressed, or just plain at risk because they are standing in the path of development . . . if even one Victorian finds an angel because of our page, we'll consider it a thousand percent return on investment."
Ben's Chili Bowl, a Washington, DC institution if ever there was one, has put up a site. This eatery was opened in the 50's, when U St. NW in DC was the 'Black Broadway', survived the riots (and the ensuing economic disintegration) and is going strong today, still run by the family that opened it. Next time you're in DC, go in and order a few half-smokes just like Bill Cosby does - he and his wife had their first date there - and say hello to Mrs. Ali. If you already live in DC, rejoice in the new online ordering interface and have your chili cheeseburger waiting for you when you breeze through the door.