Month: November 2019

Stop Reporting on the Impeachment Inquiry as if Nothing has Changed Since Watergate

The Mainstream Media (MSM) is largely taking it on the chin for their coverage of the first day of the Donald Trump impeachment inquiry. They earned the ridicule, from my perspective.  Here are two quick examples. First, NBC News and Reuters both complained about a lack of pizzazz in the hearings. They were rightly taken to the woodshed by thoughtful commentators and by late night comics (who, come to think of it, are now among our most reliable branch of thoughtful commentators.) That “If it doesn’t involve sex or drugs, it is dull” type of coverage isn’t just lazy, it is irresponsible journalism, and the MSM should be better than this. As is often the case, Alexandra Petri in the Washington Post had one of the best satirical responses to this nonsense in her, “Hey, I got your first draft of the Impeachment Hearings. Here’s what it needs!” My thought was, who died and left Eric Trump—with his “horribly boring” and “Snoozefest” tweet—to set the ground rules for how to cover the impeachment inquiry of his …

Beauty and Design

Former Charleston, South Carolina, mayor Joe Riley has spoken eloquently about beauty and civic design. In an Architect magazine article on the occasion of the mayor’s retirement after 40 years in office, author Wayne Curtis quoted Riley as saying,  “Often architecture is thought elitist, that you’ve got to be schooled or have a special interest. But not long after I was elected, I’d see visitors in town. They looked like they were retired blue-collar workers, and you’d see them admiring buildings.” Riley ends with one of his core beliefs. “Beauty has no economic litmus test. It’s a basic human need and instinct.” I’ve been thinking of Joe Riley’s belief in the ability of beauty and good civic design to uplift our communities* as I have walked through our downtown in recent weeks. There is a great deal of construction activity underway in Silver Spring, but I am hard-pressed to find too many examples of fine urban design. One challenge is that much of the future of downtown Silver Spring was turned over to a development …

Stop Talking and Listen

Old habits can be very hard to break. Case in point: my difficulty in breaking out of the mold of being a stereotypical male. I’m reminded of this far too often and in many different ways. However, one of the more consistent occurrences involves listening. Or, to be more accurate, not listening. The stereotype is that men are encouraged, and even trained, to be the center of attention. It is a stereotype, in this case, because it is usually true. Studies show that boys are called on more in school, that boys grow up to become men who talk more in meetings, and that we interrupt women more than we interrupt men. Most of the time I fall into this pattern of interruption because I’m not thinking. But a few times I do it knowingly and with the best of intentions. That was the case earlier this year when I found myself talking over a friend to “help her” explain something that I thought might be difficult to articulate. Not because she isn’t a smart, …

Saturday Music: Dolly Parton

Few people—much less entertainers and celebrities—can bring together blue and red Americans, straight and gay communities, grandmothers and granddaughters, rich and poor. Dolly Parton bridges those divides, and more. As Dolly celebrates her 50th anniversary on the Grand Ole Opry this year, NBC will be airing a two-hour celebration of the occasion on November 26th. With a new podcast called “Dolly Parton’s America” and a new Netflix series, Dolly is everywhere. At a time when the marginalization of women in country music is being called out more and more forcefully, it is important to realize that Dolly’s been in that fight for half a century. And often winning it, always very much on her own terms. Growing up near Nashville in the 1960s, I was first introduced to Dolly and her exceptional gifts through the Porter Wagoner TV show where she was featured as the “girl singer.” But she had higher aspirations, and over the course of 50 years has earned the affection so many bestow upon her. She is well known as an entertainer, …

R.I.P. Virginia Governor Gerald L. Baliles, Advocate for Preservation

Former Virginia Governor Gerald L. Baliles, who passed away on October 29th at age 79, has been appropriately recognized as a quiet but effective leader. His “boldly cautious” style was credited for gains in increasing the number of women and minorities in statewide leadership positions, as well as for increased support for transportation and the environment. But the Jerry Baliles I remember was also one of the most effective advocates for historic preservation at a time when development pressures in Virginia were pushing forward at the expense of its past. His leadership led to much needed changes at the state level that played an important role in all that has happened to save the best of Virginia’s past in the almost three decades since the end of his term as governor in 1990. During his campaign for governor, Jerry met with representatives of the state’s preservation community. He listened intently to the challenges we put before him and promised, if elected, to be a friend of historic preservation. He was true to his word, and …

Let’s Go 1-0 Today

Saturday’s rally to celebrate the Washington Nationals World Series Championship was—intended or not—a masters class in leadership and team building. The lessons were outlined by speaker after speaker from the stage, and they began with a facing of reality. Before he passed away in 2017, Max DePree was the retired CEO of the furniture and design pacesetter Herman Miller. Through the years I’ve come to appreciate his definition of leadership, and especially his thoughts on the responsibilities of leaders. DePree said that the first duty of a leader is to define reality. On May 24th, with almost a third of their season over, the Nationals record stood at 19-31. Twelve games under .500. Their chance of winning the World Series on that date was a miniscule 1.5%. From the outside, it appeared that the reality wasn’t good. But there were reasons—primarily but not exclusively a rash of injuries to key players—that led to the bad start, and the reality was that those injured players were beginning to return. It was also clear that some elements …

And Now We Dance!

Scenes from today’s Washington Nationals World Series Championship Parade through downtown DC. N-A-T-S Nats! Nats! Nats! Woo! We ended up watching the parade from some steps along 6th Street, N.W., where it intersects Constitution Avenue at the National Gallery of Art. The souvenir vendors were out in force, including with the Baby Shark pin. After every Nationals home run from about June 1st on, the team would gather around the batter who hit the dinger and they would have a dugout dance party. Invariably, announcer F.P. Santangelo would say, “And now we dance!” Today was a home run to beat all home runs…and we all danced! A great way to end the most exciting year, and the most amazing month, of baseball in Washington, D.C. Congratulations to the World Series Champion Washington Nationals! More to come… DJB