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Adams Morgan at crossroads over area’s future

Once-premier neighborhood’s liquor moratorium should be terminated

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Adams Morgan, gay news, Washington Blade

Adams Morgan (Photo by Aude via Wikimedia Commons)

The once-premier D.C. neighborhood of Adams Morgan has fallen on hard times.

Even the area’s annual September street festival, a signature event that has drawn more than 100,000 attendees in recent years, was a flop. It may be discontinued.

It’s why MidCity residents who earlier this year successfully defeated a proposed liquor license moratorium for 14th and U streets, and including the Logan Circle and Shaw neighborhoods, voiced anxiety about “becoming the next Adams Morgan.”

As had long been anticipated, the neighborhood advisory group in Adams Morgan voted 6-0 on Nov. 6 to ask the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to again renew, for an additional five years, a soon-to-expire liquor license moratorium in the Northwest neighborhood north of Dupont Circle. One advisory commissioner abstained and another was absent.

The Adams Morgan Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC-1B) postponed a separate vote until Dec. 4 on whether to request that the ABC Board revise the moratorium to allow new restaurants. However, ANC-1B chair Billy Simpson has proposed a convoluted litany of restrictions that would likely dissuade potential business interests from opening.

The ANC is undoubtedly hoping that requesting a modest “tweaking” of the moratorium will curry favor with the ABC Board and result in an extension of the ban. This cynically acknowledged approach worked for Dupont Circle ANC-2B when the Board on Wednesday renewed the 23-year-old “East Dupont” ban on 17th Street for three more years while allowing new restaurant applications – despite a prior warning that moratoriums were never intended for such long periods.

The 13-year-old Adams Morgan moratorium on alcohol-licensed businesses was first imposed in 2001, renewed twice, and is set to expire on April 14. The already complex details of the existing ban, including a cap on licenses lower than currently exist, would be additionally complicated by Simpson’s proposed conditions. He hopes to limit the types of restaurants that would be permitted to open, restricting operating hours and service enhancements.

Simpson wants to burden a “failed experiment” with additional stipulations. More limits, like those he has pitched, don’t reflect the trends in popular venues eagerly embraced by residents in newly booming destination neighborhoods.

Simpson’s proposal limits operating hours by forcing any new restaurants to close two hours earlier than allowed by law. He would also prohibit entertainment components, and disallow marketing of special events by promoters – all essential business model features common throughout the city for restaurants. No live music, DJs, dancing or cover charges would be tolerated. In fact, his proposal specifically limits music to “acoustic or instrumental” only.

Apparently Simpson had a bad experience with wailing divas or picked up an aversion to songs with lyrics somewhere along the way to becoming chair of the advisory group.

He’s out of sync with the successful new ventures that are rushing to open in more dynamic sections of the city – the areas that are leaving Adams Morgan behind and cementing perceptions of its commercial and retail irrelevance.

What Simpson and the rest of his cohorts don’t comprehend is that these types of overwrought restrictions have created the situation the neighborhood now confronts. Pandering to a vocal minority of obstinate objectors may make meetings run smoothly, but it won’t solve any actual issues as a contributing, well-managed and vibrant commercial district.

Instead, they’d get what they have – prohibition of new marketplace entrants, lack of competition, stale business models, inferior product offerings, churn-and-burn operators – and everything else that results when you encase an entire area in concrete for what will be nearly two decades if an extension is granted.

It’s no coincidence that areas arbitrarily restricting marketplace development have suffered. These areas are now struggling to attract businesses of all types. Sidewalks have become less populated as even neighborhood residents shift their attention to more vibrant zones when seeking shopping, dining and entertainment options.

Languishing under booze bans, these neighborhoods are no longer the envy of anyone.

Mark Lee is a long-time entrepreneur and community business advocate. Follow on Twitter: @MarkLeeDC. Reach him at [email protected].

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Rick Rosendall

    November 21, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    Mark is right. If the Gladys Kravitz types who populate the referenced ANCs refuse to see that (or care), at least the ABC Board should.

  2. Logan Res

    November 22, 2013 at 10:25 am

    Increasing the supply of tavern licenses will ease the crowding that occurs in the few that are allowed to be open per neighborhood. The few become too crowded which results in noise, complaints, etc. and then the ANC uses that as an example of why they should further reduce the amount of tavern licenses. Easy fix: open more bars and lounges. The demand for these is not going to diminish in DC.

  3. 1800Kalorama Resident

    November 22, 2013 at 11:39 am

    The proof is on the street today relative to the failure of the Moritorium – little destination retail then or now. With increasing density coming to the neighborhood, we should let the market respond versus squashing the opportunity to raise the rents and increase the quality of businesses.

  4. Dave Edmondson

    November 22, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    But … but … I moved from the suburbs to an in-town neighborhood specifically to experience the joys of suburban life. You have to respect that.

    On an unrelated topic, I will now bemoan the fact that DC can't match other cities' night life. I'll bet it's the result of market failure.

  5. Erica Cook

    November 27, 2013 at 12:17 am

    So, exactly who would profit from these properties lowering dramaticly in value over the long run?

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Opinions

The future of lesbian bars

Resolve to support our queer spaces in 2022

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lockdown zone, gay news, Washington Blade

This New Year, I hope you wish for more lesbian bars across the country. The story of lesbian bars in the U.S. has been slightly tragic of late: as of January 2021, there were only 15 clubs or bars dedicated to queer women across the country. 

That’s right—only 15. Across all 50 states. 

In Washington, D.C., my hometown, A League of Her Own stands out as the only lesbian bar in the city, dedicated to queer women. Located in Adams Morgan, A League of Her Own, also known as ALOHO, is a small mecca for queer ladies to pass through, socialize, and flirt. ALOHO is a chic gathering point for all queer folk, with posters of softball players dotting the walls and gender neutral signs lying about. 

Several years ago, another lesbian bar called Phase 1 existed in Southeast, where queer women could slam eight balls in pool games and engage in raunchy yet ever-so-hot jello wrestling competitions. 

Unfortunately, Phase 1 shut its doors in 2016. 

So what explains the closure of so many lesbian bars, while bars for gay men continue to flourish? Perhaps many queer women view gay bars as a space for their own as well, whereas gay men view lesbian bars as less of a place for them to socialize. 

Either way, we need to give support to lesbian bars now more than ever. Tokens of support can take many forms. 

For one, make sure to socialize in spaces dedicated to queer ladies. There are three lesbian bars in New York City: Cubbyhole (281 W. 12th St.), Gingers in Brooklyn (363 5th Ave.), and Henrietta Hudson (438 Hudson St.). Next time you visit the Big Apple, make sure to give these three spots some love. Maybe drag your experimenting bi friend to these locations. Or your pansexual roommate. 

Back in D.C., you can buy unisex shirts in A League of Her Own’s merchandise store, available online. 

Proceeds will go toward funding the bar, and making sure it stays afloat, especially during this COVID economy. 

Most of all, I hope you encourage your queer lady friends to keep on frequenting queer lady destinations. After all, there is only one thing that will keep lesbian bars afloat—and that is attendance. 

I, for one, will be frequenting many lesbian destinations this new year.  

Isaac Amend is a Yale graduate and participated in National Geographic’s ‘Gender Revolution’ documentary. He also is a member of the LGBT Democrats of Virginia, and contributes regularly to the Blade. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @isaacamend.

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Breaking barriers as an out trans ‘Jeopardy’ champion

Amy Schneider’s run inspires us all

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Amy Schneider (Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Television)

“When was the last time anybody said ‘wow!’” a friend asked me.

I couldn’t remember the last time anyone I know (including me) had any “Wow!” moments. Until I heard about trans woman and software engineering manager Amy Schneider’s 29-game winning streak on “Jeopardy.”

You wouldn’t think anything could dispel our COVID exhaustion and political divisiveness. Yet, news about a champion on “Jeopardy,” a quiz show that has been on TV since 1964, has broken through our gloom.

In our culture, there are few things that everyone loves. But, “Jeopardy” is beloved by many, from theater geeks to 80-year-old sports nuts. A progressive friend was over the moon when his brother was a “Jeopardy” contestant. A buddy, a hetero (non-Trump) Republican, is a “Jeopardy” fanatic and a gay librarian pal is a “Jeopardy” freak.

Many of us daydream about being on “Jeopardy.” But we know that we wouldn’t have a chance on this legendary quiz show with its deceptively simple format: You give the answer to the (often incredibly hard) clues in the form of a question. You have to have a strategic military commander’s and a world-class athlete’s coordination: so you can press the buzzer to answer the clue.

The game’s categories run the gamut from opera to mountain ranges. Most of us, mere mortals, would be lucky to know even one category in the first round of the game. Let alone in the “Double Jeopardy” round or the “Final Jeopardy” clue. I might jump on clues about Katharine Hepburn movies or M&Ms. But that would be it for me.

It’s exciting to watch a “Jeopardy” contestant become a long-running champion. You marvel at the player’s intelligence, endurance, and nerve. It’s thrilling when the contestant on a winning-streak is part of your community.

Many of us LGBTQ “Jeopardy” fans are thrilled by Schneider’s record-setting winning streak. As I write this, Schneider has won more than $1 million in 29 games of “Jeopardy.” She is the fifth millionaire in “Jeopardy” history, and only the fourth player to reach this milestone in the regular season. She has won more than any other female “Jeopardy” contestant.

Schneider, like so many of us, doesn’t want to be defined by her gender identity or sexuality. Schneider’s life is multi-faceted; she has many interests. Schneider lives with her girlfriend Genevieve. They have a cat named Meep.

Yet, Schneider doesn’t want to hide that she’s trans. On “Jeopardy,” Schneider brilliantly dealt with this dilemma. She didn’t make a big deal about being out. She just wore the trans Pride flag pin.

“It was something that I wanted to get out there and to show my pride in while not making it the focus of what I was doing there,” Schneider told the New York Times. “Because I was just there to answer trivia questions and win money.”

As a cisgender lesbian, I can’t speak to how Schneider’s record-setting “Jeopardy” streak feels to transgender people.

But, as a trans ally, I’m cheering for Schneider. Kudos for her bravery! At a time when many states are passing anti-trans laws, it takes guts to be out on TV and the Internet.

Few things are as mainstream as “Jeopardy.” I bet that many “Jeopardy” viewers who are frightened at the idea of trans people, will become more comfortable with transgender people after watching Schneider on the popular quiz show. Because folks on TV come into our living and bedrooms and we feel as if we know them after watching them for a while.

“Amy looks like everybody else,” my neighbor said when I told her Schneider was trans. “She doesn’t act odd. She’s not strange.”

Transgender people encounter violence and discrimination in everything from housing to health care to employment.

I know Schneider’s “Jeopardy” triumph won’t end transphobia. But her winning streak will go a long way toward jumpstarting a change in hearts and minds.

Kathi Wolfe, a writer and a poet, is a regular contributor to the Blade.

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SCARY: Tucker Carlson now the conscience of GOP

Cruz bows down, kisses ring of Fox host

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Tucker Carlson (Screen capture via Fox on YouTube)

The Republican Party has sunk to a new low, hard to do, when a sleazebag like Tucker Carlson is now their conscience. Seeing Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) groveling before him is laughable, disgusting, and frightening all at the same time. 

As reported in Rolling Stone, Cruz said, “We are approaching a solemn anniversary this week. It is an anniversary of a violent terrorist attack on the Capitol where we saw the men and women of law enforcement demonstrate incredible courage, incredible bravery, risk their lives to defend the men and women who serve in this Capitol.” Then “Cruz was lambasted by Tucker Carlson that night, prompting him to hop on Carlson’s show Thursday and beg for forgiveness. “The way I phrased things yesterday, it was sloppy and it was frankly dumb,” Cruz said before Carlson cut him off and said he didn’t believe him. Cruz took it up a notch, stammering through an absurd bit about how he wasn’t talking about the “patriots across the country supporting President Trump,” only those who assaulted police officers, and that he’s always described anyone who assaults a cop as a terrorist.

Carlson has made a career of being a pompous commentator. Interestingly he worked at CNN, PBS, and MSNBC, before finally landing at Fox in 2009. According to his Wikipedia page he went to Trinity College where he earned a bachelor’s degree and Carlson’s Trinity yearbook describes him as a member of the “Dan White Society,” an apparent reference to the American political assassin who murdered San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. After college, Carlson tried to join the CIA, but his application was denied, after which he decided to pursue a career in journalism with the encouragement of his father, who advised him that “they’ll take anybody.” Reading this clearly raised my opinion of the CIA and based on what we see in some media today I agree with Carlson’s father on his view of journalism. 

When you have a moment of silence in the House of Representatives to honor those who lost their lives on Jan. 6 and only two Republicans show up, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and her father Dick Cheney, the former vice president, one understands the influence Carlson has on the GOP. The rest were afraid of being criticized on-air by him or lambasted by Trump. 

Dick Cheney remarked on the GOP, “It’s not a leadership that resembles any of the folks I knew when I was here for 10 years.” He spoke to ABC News saying, “I’m deeply disappointed we don’t have better leadership in the Republican Party to restore the Constitution.” 

There is a leadership void in the Republican Party today. Their so-called leaders are afraid to say what they think if it differs in any way from Trumpism or Carlson’s view of the world, which requires total fealty to Trump. He found a home on Fox where he can lie with impunity and have millions believe his lies. 

President Biden said, in what many think was the best speech of his presidency so far, these people are “holding a dagger to the neck of democracy.” He went on to say, “For the first time in our history, a president not just lost an election, he tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob breached the Capitol.” 

Tucker Carlson and his ilk have never bothered to answer a question the president threw at them, which is how they can accept all their down ballot victories, governors, and members of Congress, which occurred on the same ballots, cast by the same people, on the same day, as those for president. Of course, Carlson has no need to make sense, tell the truth, or speak rationally because of his platform on Fox, which doesn’t require that.

My question is whether Carlson is as dumb as he makes himself sound or is he brilliant and this is all a big act? Either way the acolytes that follow Trump don’t seem to care and are bowing down to Carlson’s big audience. It’s as if he can tell any Republican senator or congressperson, or Republican candidate for those jobs, to just ‘bend over and take it’ and they do. All we can do is mourn for the GOP of Lincoln and Eisenhower. Non-Trumpers will have to work hard and speak out if they ever want to resurrect a GOP that can be respected.

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

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