U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley speaking at the Iowa Republican Party’s 2015 Lincoln Dinner at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa. Photograph by Gage Skidmore via Flickr.

Iowa senator Chuck Grassley has become known for his viral, so-bad-they’re-good tweets. We asked him to give us a few social-media tips.

1. Write Your Own Messages

“I want Iowans to know that the tweet comes straight from me. It’s another way to let them know I’m on the job and working for them.”

2. Be Yourself

“Authenticity [matters]. When elected officials communicate with sincerity and respect, it’s a good thing.”

3. Master the Latest Tools

“I like to be on the forefront of technology that I can use to better serve Iowans. Whether by fax, satellite, Instagram, or Twitter, I’d use whatever platform works. In the digital age, tweets are an instant, unfiltered way to get my work and my message [out].”

4. Safety First!

“No tweeting and driving. If something is that important, I pull over to the side of the road to tweet. If you do that, first be sure to look both ways for deer.”

This article appears in the March 2019 issue of Washingtonian.

Continue Reading

Check out the flowers and activities during the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which runs from March 20 through April 14. Photograph courtesy of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

MONDAY, MARCH 18

BOOKS Homer’s epic poem The Iliad tells the tale of the Trojan War; those who don’t plan to read the work in its original Greek (or who just want a refresher on the story) can enjoy artist Gareth Hinds’s new graphic novel adaptation, which includes illustrations, maps, and footnotes that illustrate this classic in a new way. The book is best for ages 12 and up; Hinds will speak and read from his new adaptation at the Takoma Park Library. Free, 7:30 PM.

MUSIC Bluegrass quartet The Barefoot Movement will play at Rockville’s Institute of Musical Traditions (hosted at Saint Mark Presbyterian Church). The group was founded by a fiddle and mandolin player a decade ago; since, it has expanded to include a guitarist and upright bass player to enrich their melodies and vocal harmonies. $15 (in advance) or $20 (at the door), 7:30 PM.

TUESDAY, MARCH 19

DANCE Choreographer Akiko Kitamura’s work Cross Transit transforms Kim Hak‘s photographs of Cambodian culture into movement. A collaboration between Cambodian history and Japanese art, the work includes dance, film, and photography in a single show at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theatre. $29-$39, 7:30 PM.

FILM Suns Cinema is screening the documentary Burkinabè Bounty, which shows Burkina Faso’s struggle with food sovereignty as a landlocked country. The film illustrates the activists who are fighting corporate agriculture and working to take back control of their own land. $10, 8 PM.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 20

FESTIVAL The National Cherry Blossom Festival runs through April 14; peak bloom is expected to be April 3-6, but there are plenty of other events throughout the festival’s four-week run. This weekend, the festivities kick off with the Pink Tie Party, which celebrates DC’s culinary scene at the Ronald Reagan Building. Other events include the Blossom Kite Festival (3/30) at the National Mall, the Blossom Bash at the Anthem, headlined by Meghan Trainor (4/5), and Petalpalooza at the Wharf (4/6), which features musical acts and fireworks. The festival wraps up with a parade on April 13 led by Grand Marshal Anthony Anderson (of ABC’s black-ish) with floats and giant balloons Plus, don’t miss the Anacostia River Festival (4/14), celebrating the 100th anniversary of Anacostia Park with boating and hands-on art projects. If all these events require too much advanced planning, check out over 100 free dance and music performances at the Tidal Basin Welcome Area and ANA Stage. Through April 15. Pink Tie Party (3/22): $225, 7 PM. Blossom Kite Festival (3/30): Free, 10 AM. Petalpalooza (4/6): Free, 12 PM. Blossom Bash (4/5): $55-95, 7:30 PM. Parade (4/13): $20-$27, 10 AM. Anacostia River Festival (4/14): Free, 1 PM.

FILM The Smithsonian National Museum of American History is hosting a Quentin Tarantino retrospective that starts on Wednesday night with a screening of Reservoir Dogs. The celebration continues on Thursday with a pre-party before a Pulp Fiction screening, featuring a pop tart bar and music (fans are encouraged to come dressed as favorite Tarantino characters). The retrospective finishes this weekend with screenings of Jackie Brown, both Kill Bill films, Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained, and The Hateful Eight. Through March 24. Individual screenings: $12, Pulp Fiction party & film: $50 (3/21), all eight films: $64.

EXHIBIT ARTECHOUSE’s new interactive exhibit In Peak Bloom celebrates the Cherry Blossom Festival and highlights the fleeting lifespan of the flower with five different collaborative installations by women artists and women-led collectives. Through May 27. $16.

Catherine P. Lewis
Continue Reading
News

Vote now and have your voice heard. It’s all part of our Best of Washington reader survey.

Some of your votes for the best of Washington in 2018. What will 2019 look like? Illustration by Alex Fine.

In June, the magazine will publish its annual Best and Worst of Washington guide, chock full of picks for the area’s “bests” of just about everything—including burgers, yoga studios, politicians, and more.

Now’s your chance to weigh in and tell us what you think are some of the very best things in town. Plus, you could win a pair of tickets to the best party of the year, our Best of Washington bash, June 6 at the National Building Museum.

You can take our full Best of Reader survey here. The survey closes on April 1, 2019, at 11:59 p.m.

Or, take our short weekly poll below.

Continue Reading

Happy Monday! President Trump tweeted a lot over the weekend, airing a wide range of personal grievances including a hit on late night programs and Saturday Night LiveEveryone is always sure SNL was funnier in the past, but I can’t help but remember when Trump hosted it (recall this friendly monologue!) and parodied Drake‘s “Hotline Bling.” It’s been interesting to watch the devolution of the pair’s relationship since—and I’m curious how 2020 skits will feed the conscious uncoupling.

Trump wasn’t the only one making Twitter waves. On Sunday, the GOP’s official Twitter shared an old mugshot of presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke with the tone-deaf caption: “On this St. Paddy’s Day, a special message from noted Irishman Robert Francis O’Rourke.” The tweet agitated people on both the left and the right:

Speaking of caustic online activity, Melania Trump will host a group of representatives from various departments at the White House today to “build upon youth programs that align with the First Lady’s Be Best initiative”–her anti-bullying campaign. I’ll be there, and will send updates when I can on Twitter.

I’m your author, Brittany Shepherd. Email me at bshepherd@washingtonian.com and follow me on Twitter. Daniella Byck (dbyck@washingtonian.com) contributed to reporting today. Please subscribe to this newsletter.

Logan Circle’s “resistance retailer” the Outrage had a big weekend: on Friday, the group organized for hundreds to plank on the Supreme Court steps in honor of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s 86th birthday. The Washington Examiner reports Bryant Johnson, RBG’s personal trainer, attended the birthday plank session and told the crowd the justice was back to her training routine after her recent surgery.

The Outrage also applied for a liquor license that will allow the apparel shop and community space to serve wine and beer. Perhaps the tavern license means the activist space can quench my thirst for the Bird’s retired political drink specials. If you need me, I’ll be sipping a Hot Tub Crime Machine.

What’s on my mind: Bon Appetit wrote about standing-only restaurant Spoken English’s irreverent Instagram account that collages dumplings and roasted duck with pop culture characters like Daenerys Targaryen and Snoopy. How can I commission a snapshot of me posing with crispy chicken skins for my mom’s birthday?

What we have cooking at Washingtonian:

  • Move over Baby Shark: the hottest new children’s star is a…podcaster? It’s true! Meet Mindy Thomas.
  • Lacey Faeh was an influencer before there were influencers.
  • Is influencer culture even a thing in Washington-area universities?
  • Let them eat ice cream and cake at the Sugar Fox, aka, the reason my dentist has trust issues.
  • Our new neighborhood guides will help you answer the “six of my friends want to go to brunch in NoMa but three are vegan and the other three hate breakfast” dilemma.
  • Cherry Blossom season is upon us. Here are some vintage photos if you’re feeling a little Mad Men.

Our pick for things to do around town:

BOOKS Even if you haven’t quite gotten around to reading The Iliad in its original Greek (or who just want a refresher on the story), you’ll enjoy artist Gareth Hinds’s new graphic novel adaptation, which uses illustrations, maps, and footnotes to tell the story in a new way. The book is best for ages 12 and up; Hinds will speak and read from his new adaptation at the Takoma Park Library. Free, 7:30 PM.

Good reads:

Which presidential candidate should be the star of your next book club? Jake Bittle reports on which 2020 Democratic candidates’ memoirs are worth an Amazon order and which are better left to scan on Sparknotes. (The Baffler)

Larry Hogan speaks but doesn’t say whether he’s going to challenge Trump for the Republican nomination. Erin Cox and Robert Costa press the Maryland governor in a wide-ranging interview. (The Washington Post)

Big events from Washingtonian:

Do you really love the drip coffee from Swings? Adore the sweets at District Doughnut? Our annual readers poll is now live–take it and let us know your favorite things in Washington. You could win two tickets to our fabulous Best of Washington party in June.

Staff Writer

Brittany Shepherd covers the societal and cultural scene in political Washington. Before joining Washingtonian as a staff writer in 2018, Brittany was a White House Correspondent for Independent Journal Review. While she has lived in DC for a number of years now, she still yearns for the fresh Long Island bagels of home. Find her on Twitter, often prattling on about Frasier.

Continue Reading

There’s this moment that happens as a parent, sometime between when the seat belts click and the screaming starts. Your car leaves the driveway and you notice, hey, that’s Morning Edition’s David Greene, live from Culver City, California, and he’s talking about something you’re truly into, like a new theory about the universe’s origins, or maybe Wiffle Ball. You realize first that you still don’t know exactly where Culver City is, or why David Greene is there, and isn’t it like 4 in the morning for him? Then you realize that your kids haven’t asked you to change the station yet.

You do hope they’re alive back there, but you put off checking for proof of life until the Wiffle Ball story is over. That’s when it happens, the shrill sounds of the Backseat Youth Chorus rising in unison:

Dad! Can we listen to . . . ?

What they demand depends on their age, their interests, and whatever boundaries you’ve managed to erect. Perhaps you’ve convinced them your car plays only NPR. Maybe you’ve found common ground on a windows-down, hands-in-the-wind pop mix that always shuffles its way to Carly Rae Jepsen. Maybe, like me, you occasionally give up and toss your phone over your shoulder, a no-look dime right into your beloved offspring’s chest, because what’s a little ADHD when it means 20 minutes of peace as you dodge cyclists on your morning commute?

Maybe you talk to your kids?

Or maybe you’re one of the lucky ones—one of the millions whose children have fallen for Absolutely Mindy!, satellite radio’s morning-drive staple, or Wow in the World, one of the most popular kids’ podcasts in existence. Either way, do not be alarmed by that ethereal hum of bliss emanating from the snot-stained, snack-strewn seats behind you. Your kids are alive and well back there. This is your new morning. It’s brought to you by Mindy Thomas.


Absolutely Mindy! airs live every weekday from 7 to 10 am. One morning last summer, I traversed a hallway of darkened studios inside Sirius XM’s brick compound in Northeast DC and stopped at the one bursting with light. I didn’t see Thomas in there, but I knew it was hers from the colorful regiment of action figures atop her desk.

A face popped up from between Chip, the precocious teacup in Beauty and the Beast, and Spirit, the untamable Stallion of the Cimarron. Thomas smiled, a phone pressed to her ear. She’s 40, and she seems 40, and she seems cool with being 40. She keeps her hair blond, the color of her childhood, which I know because she once answered the phone by saying she had tinfoil on her head. She keeps her high, round cheeks mostly makeup-free. Her eyes are big and green and always look interested.

This morning, she was on the phone with Noah. Noah is 17 and autistic, part of a squad of kids for whom getting through to Mindy is a daily thing. They have to dial dozens of times, and for some, like Noah, it’s crucial that they succeed. Once, a dad e-mailed Thomas after her show ended. His son had failed to reach her, and now the boy was stuck. Was there any way Thomas could call? She called.

Thomas greeted her listeners—when she says “Good MOR-NING,” you believe it—and launched into a story about her eight-year-old daughter’s recent attempt to let her fingernails grow for 100 days, part of a pact with her friends. (Thomas said she cut them in her sleep after a few days.) Then Thomas wove the story of a man who had let his own nails grow for 66 years, until they were 31 curly feet long, before selling them to Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Thomas asked her listeners to call in and say what they’d do if they inherited those precious artifacts.

This was where I witnessed the powers of Mindy. Other hosts on her station, Kids Place Live, interact with callers mostly in prerecorded interviews. Thomas does it all live, a high-wire act that requires an abiding faith in the creativity of children. “She’s talking to them as co-creators in the moment,” says Paul Bachmann, another host on the station. “You saw that, right? That’s nuts.”

Thomas—in her Sirius XM studio—has superfans wo call in daily, pen postcards from family vacations, and mail all manner of care packages.

Thomas grew up in suburban Dayton, Ohio, where her parents encouraged her to roam free, in the street and in her imagination. When she and her friends announced cul-de-sac variety shows, her dad, an engineer, set up lawn chairs along with his cutting-edge camcorder. When they refused to leave Thomas’s tree house during a rainstorm—playing so hard they were “forced” to pee into an empty margarine container—her mom, a preschool teacher, just chuckled. (They were playing Golden Girls. Thomas was Rose, obviously.) When Thomas’s little brother, a ham-radio geek, got a tape recorder for Christmas, Thomas commandeered it and spent the long ride back from Grandma’s house capturing her own voice, trying to find the subtle differences between live Mindy and recorded Mindy.

They moved to Florida when she was eight. Eventually, she discovered acting, but she wasn’t inspired enough to stray far from home. She went to college nearby and got a job at State Farm, doing who cares.

What Thomas wanted to do was to play, preferably with eight-year-olds from Ohio. She called every TV and radio station in the area, asking for any job. When the host of Blue’s Clues was rumored to have died, Thomas dialed Universal Studios and asked how to apply to replace him. (Sadly, he was alive and well.) She finally landed a part-time promotions job at a radio station and weaseled her way onto the air. That’s when she heard about a new satellite-radio station for kids that was scheduled to launch in late 2001 and was looking for hosts. She wrote a seven-page memo proposing a show presented from the perspective of a child, airing live from the dresser drawers of her childhood bedroom.

“Kids can smell BS very quickly,” says Kenny Curtis, a longtime DC radio personality who was staffing up the new station. As he read Thomas’s memo, it was obvious she would connect with the audience, because it was obvious she could still connect with her inner eight-year-old: “I’ve been in children’s programming since 1989. She may be the only genuine natural I’ve ever truly seen.”

Thomas was 22. She got the job.

Now, 18 years later, what to do with those fingernails? A caller named Ava suggested building a reindeer, using the gangly nails as antlers. “Oh!” Thomas said, her eyes widening. She is a yes-and junkie, always taking the roots of a kid’s idea and helping grow it into something wilder. “You could be a reindeer for Halloween! And you could take those long, squiggly nails and attach them to your head. Maybe have them permanently installed.”

“Kids can smell BS very quickly. I’ve been in children’s programming since 1989. Mindy may be the only genuine natural I’ve ever truly seen.”

The next caller, Nola, couldn’t hear Thomas because the car radio was too loud. This happens often. Other times, Thomas can tell a kid is distracted because a parent is whispering ideas to him. “Don’t!” Thomas wants to scream. “Your kid’s got this! And you look like a fool because we can all hear you!”

The show went on like that all morning. During Schmovie, the kids used two-word prompts to create weird movie ideas, including a romantic comedy about a lonely narcoleptic body builder. During Carpool Breakdown, a caller told Thomas about the ginormous hair knot that nearly derailed her morning. “Just be patient with it,” Thomas told the girl, whose mom wanted to cut the locks. “I’m sure it’s fine just the way it is.”

Later, they played Portal Potty, one of Thomas’s favorites. In it, she uses sound effects to “flush” callers down a magical porta-john and into a fictional realm, then has them tell listeners what transpired during these imaginary travels. Today’s caller wasn’t the best, but Thomas coaxed from her a story about a journey into a deep-sea world of charming mermaids and talking sea life. It was like watching someone do improv with a broomstick, then watching the broomstick come to life.


Thomas lives in Fairfax, in a craftsman she shares with her husband, Ryan, a public-school administrator and bluegrass musician; their school-age kids, Rhett and Birdie; and a cat they call Moosey. She leaves the house most mornings around 5:30, stealing kisses from her sleeping brood. By the time she returns, sometime before noon, she spends a few hours doing what parents do, pulling frozen animal parts from the freezer and picking up small items of clothing that have ventured improbably far from their natural habitats. Time flies when you’re herding laundry.

What happens after that is purposefully unscripted, her attempt to emulate the free-wheeling, ’80s-style chaos of her old cul-de-sac. One day last summer, that meant picking up her kids from acting camp, taking them and their friends for ice cream, then walking home through a cemetery, hopping fences and checking gravestones for dead people with whom they shared birthdays or names. Thomas was particularly keen on the pool. It seems she had forgotten how to do a flip off the board. As a child, she used to love doing that. Now she couldn’t remember the last time she’d even dived. “Everything else I do, I feel super-connected to my fun childhood self,” she says. “But this I had lost.”

Once a week, Thomas records Wow in the World. The show launched in the spring of 2017, but its origins can be traced, through Twitter of course, to a chance encounter in 2014. She was well into Absolutely Mindy! by then, and over the years she’d had rough ideas for children’s books and variety shows. But she’d also had two kids and been promoted to station management. The demands of working parenthood tended to sink those vessels before they were even half built.

Then one spring night, she was checking her Twitter mentions and noticed a familiar handle: @GuyRaz.

Raz and Thomas. Photograph by Robb Hohmann.

Guy Raz—it’s one of those names that work better when they’re stuck together—is an NPR all-star, having led bureaus, covered wars, and hosted Weekend All Things Considered andTED Radio Hour. His family had bought their first car, which came with a trial subscription to Sirius XM. His children found Thomas’s show. Guy Raz found himself struck by how much rope she handed her listeners. “It was a way for kids to feel a sense of agency in the world,” he says.

So he tweeted: “Absolutely Mindy on @SiriusXM is Morning Edition for kids.”

TED Radio Hour obsessive, Thomas sat in bed, struggling to compose a response, before settling on blunt-force honesty.

“I am totally freaking out right now,” she wrote.

They kept tweeting. Soon, Guy Raz was coming on Absolutely Mindy! for a weekly segment she called Breakfast Blast Newscast. They became friends and discovered a Rose-and-Dorothy vibe that worked on the radio and in life. Thomas was fine being almost-40 but preferred to play as if she were 30 years younger; Guy Raz, as he said once on TED Radio Hour, had been “desperate to get out of my twenties.” It revealed itself in their parenting, too. On a kayaking trip, Thomas let her kids hang off the boat while Guy Raz made his keep their shoes on. “There could be flesh-eating microbes in there!” he said, but Thomas didn’t care, at least not until her son got that staph infection.

One day, in 2016, during a family hike at Great Falls, the two started talking about making a new show. It would focus on scientific discoveries—stories that could ignite kids’ imaginations without hijacking them the way screens do. “A cartoon of the mind,” Guy Raz says. “But embedded in that cartoon is a peer-reviewed academic journal’s scientific paper. It’s a little like hiding kale in a smoothie.”

There were already some popular children’s podcasts, but there weren’t many—audio companies were still grappling with how to sell advertising without turning off parents. Early in 2017, they recorded a handful of stories and shared them with colleagues at NPR, only to receive some disappointing feedback: Too much of the show featured Smart Dude Guy Raz explaining science to Silly Girl Mindy.

NPR colleagues initially saw a problem: It was Smart Dude Guy explaining science to Silly Girl Mindy.

The pair regrouped, building a pilot they thought made better use of Thomas’s voice, and NPR signed on. (Tinkercast, the duo’s podcast company, later brought on a third cofounder, a former Sprout TV executive named Meredith Halpern-Ranzer.) In May 2017, the first episode of Wow in the World hit iTunes, featuring Thomas and Guy Raz telling each other about the search for Planet 9 and the science behind gratitude.

But some listeners still bristled at the dynamic between them. They still hadn’t fully shed their personas from the radio. “We were thinking—because it worked on my other show—for me to be the proxy for the kid and to ask the questions that a kid might be wondering and for Guy to be the journalist,” she says. “But here it didn’t work that way. It just didn’t.”


When Thomas was little, her dad, an amateur pilot and aerospace buff who goes by Buzz, kept a fuselage in the garage. At night, he tinkered, disappearing into the shell of an old Piper Arrow. Her younger brother sometimes disappeared into the garage, too. But Thomas stayed upstairs with her hairbrush microphone, thinking: Why can’t we just have cars like normal people? It never occurred to her to join them in the garage, and like so many girls before her, she decided sometime in grade school that science and engineering weren’t for her. Back then, the only time she and Buzz talked science was when she got in trouble. She could always distract him by asking him to explain atoms.

Thomas thought about her dad as she and Guy Raz set out to fix Wow in the World. They decided to take turns conceiving and writing each episode, to make sure they were truly equals. But Thomas had no experience reading scientific journals or interviewing scientists, and she found herself feeling as if she were supposed to be playing in the bathroom while Guy Raz tinkered in the garage. “I’m not a science journalist!” she told him one afternoon, through tears. “I don’t know how to do this!”

In time, though, Thomas learned: Even experienced science journalists struggle to grasp this stuff. What makes them good is their ability to keep asking the scientists to explain it, no matter how many times it takes. So she kept asking, kept writing, kept pushing herself to find a voice she could be proud of—that of a smart, curious woman, yet one who hadn’t lost touch with the little girl who flipped into pools and peed into fake-butter tubs. She also pushed Guy Raz to let kids hear him to be silly and to be scared, which he was sometimes reluctant to do.

Our parents think we coddle the kids, or act juvenile ourselves, but we know better, Wow taps into this thumping vein of modern parenting culture.

“It can’t always be me,” she told me one day over lunch in her back yard. “Otherwise I’m your dumb—” She stopped herself, knowing that no noun deserved to live at the end of that sentence. “People don’t have a lot of opinions about how to be the right kind of man,” she said. “People have a lot of opinions about how to be the right kind of woman.”

Wow in the World found its voice, and quickly—it reached more than half a million downloads in the first four weeks. An early turning point came in the second episode, when Thomas introduced her fictional pet pigeon, Reggie, whom she could pilot like a purring Piper Arrow. Reggie gave the show a third dimension they didn’t know it needed. They kept experimenting from there, inviting listeners to join them on Reggie’s back, in Thomas’s gingerbread house, and in the time machine she keeps in her airplane hangar. Soon, the episodes had evolved into immersive explorations of a singular topic, everything from why shoelaces refuse to stay tied to the origins of the universe.

One listener heard a segment on mustard-flavored popsicles—Thomas’s typical zany fare—then made one such treat and sent it to her (left).

My family started listening not long after it launched. My wife and I, like a lot of modern parents, crave content and experiences we can share with our children. Our own parents sometimes think we’re coddling the kids, or being juvenile ourselves, but we know better, just like our kids will know better than we do. From episode one, Wow tapped straight into this thumping vein of modern parenting culture. The science was fresh and fact-checked. The jokes were perfectly timed, with some aimed at parents (an actual flea playing the bass) and some aimed at kids (Thomas loves a good fart joke).

It sounded beautiful, too. For the theme song, Thomas called on the Pop Ups, a Grammy-nominated “kindie” band she knew from Absolutely Mindy! For sound design, she called on another kindie-scene friend, Jed Anderson, who texturized the show with music, voices, and effects. Though many families, like mine, listen in the car, podcasts have also crept into bedtime routines, so Anderson likes to imagine kids listening with headphones in the dark, after their mandated bedtimes but before their swirling kid brains are ready to power down. Just as they always suspected, the most important element is their listeners’ imaginations.

“Everybody is seeing the Paw Patrol the same way,” Guy Raz says. “Everyone sees Reggie differently.” They know because they asked kids to send in photos of Reggie and received hundreds of intricate drawings, no two the same.


After lunch, Thomas walked downstairs to her basement guest room, where she and Guy Raz were scheduled to record the latest Wow in the World. Light poured through a window that framed some wildflowers growing outside, which matched the floral duvet on the bed, which matched the floral watercolor on the wall, which matched Thomas’s floral-print dress, which was even more floral than the dresses she wore the three other times we met.

Thomas took her seat at a small folding table topped with a laptop, mike, and sound mixer. Her phone rang. It was Guy Raz, calling from his home studio in California, where he’d recently moved. “Hey, GUY RA-AZ!” she said.

Before recording, they ran through some business. Wow in the World has now been downloaded more than 20 million times, according to industry metrics provided by Tinkercast—it’s frequently the number-one kids’ podcast on iTunes. Publishers are calling; TV execs are, too. Thomas and Guy Raz have already produced a second podcast, in partnership with Highlights magazine, and they’ve brought on a third writer to help script Wow in the World. On the day I visited, they were preparing for a slate of live theater shows. (The first one in DC is March 24 at the Lincoln Theatre.)

Thomas, who lives in Fairfax, is now doing live theater shows, too. Her first in DC is March 24.

Thomas pulled up the script. She’s come to enjoy the challenge of writing scripts—of understanding the science, translating it for kids, then transforming it for silly kids to whom science might not come as naturally. Occasionally, she calls her dad to talk it through; for one episode, about static electricity, she sent him part of the script to make sure she was properly defining atoms. But today’s episode was a little off of Buzz’s radar. It was about scientists’ quest to create melt-resistant ice cream. Thomas kicked things off.

MINDY (singing loudly): “Now watch me drip, drip, now watch me nae nae.”

GUY RAZ: “Mindy?”

MINDY: “Hey, GUY RA-AZ! Check out my sweet new ride.”

GUY RAZ: “Mindy, where did you get an ice-cream truck?”

MINDY: “Hang on a sec, Guy Raz. I’ll be right there.”

GUY RAZ (to himself): “Her truck is called A Midsummer Night’s Cream?”

MINDY (making a screeching sound): “You just got served. Soft-served.”

Occasionally, Guy Raz noticed some flabby writing and tightened it up on the fly. Occasionally, Thomas had to drag Guy Raz a little deeper into her world. Occasionally, if her voice sounded flat or disengaged, she had to drag herself there. It didn’t happen often, though. They laid down the 23-minute episode in less than half an hour.

“Now Watch Me Drip Drip,” the show’s 63rd episode, went up a few days later. That afternoon, I listened with my son as we drove home from summer camp. I could see him in the rearview, staring out the window as if watching Mindy steer her ice-cream truck through the Darién Gap and into South America, where she and Guy Raz would extract tiny fibers from banana waste product in order to make melt-resistant ice cream. He hardly blinked as Thomas walked Guy Raz, beat by beat, through the episode’s science, including the pseudo-stems of banana trees, the life cycle of perennial herbs, and the definition of cellulose nanofibrils, infusing it all with her playful Mindyisms—a “butt” joke here, a “bonkerballs” there.

We stopped the episode only once. I was listening closely, trying to find the subtle differences between live Mindy and recorded Mindy, when my son called out from the back seat with a question. I smiled, and he asked why I was smiling, so I pressed pause and we talked awhile.

This article appears in the March 2019 issue of Washingtonian.

Continue Reading
Shopping

Lacey Faeh started her DC lifestyle blog before there was a social media “influencer” culture.

Nine years ago, Lacey Faeh, was working in marketing for a non-profit when she noticed something while on a lunch break: Washingtonians were showing little attention to their work attire. The monotony in style prompted her to send an email to a friend, expressing her frustration.

“After many people asking me where my clothing was from, my friends requesting more lunch break emails, and constant requests for tips on styling, I knew it was time to put it down all in one place,” Faeh says. “With no real plans to make a single penny and no real influencers out there yet, I started to write about items I was coveting, documenting my personal style, sharing my travels and beauty tips.” 

Faeh started A Lacey Perspective, a blog that grew so popular, she stepped away from her marketing job to make the platform her full-time gig. Today, a decade after she moved to DC (she’s originally from Texas), the 32-year-old NoMa resident shares her style hacks with Washingtonian.

What I’m wearing in this photo

Skirt (ChicWish); bodysuit (Free People); sneakers (Adidas); Vintage Gucci Bag. Hat Attack Beret. Celine Sunnies.

Describe your sense of style

“Feminine with a twist.”

Fashion icon

Blake Lively

Big meeting outfit

Jeans, blazer, structured bag, power pump. “I typically reach for my Louboutins and a bright lip,” she says.

Commuting style strategy

“I’m a big fan of the shoe switch. I wear Tieks, which are foldable flats, and then switch into my heels.”

Favorite item of clothing

“This suede pink suit I found on ASOS.”

Least favorite fashion trend 

The “dad shoe” trend. “It’s not flattering on any one,” Faeh says. “I cannot wait for that trend to fade. I love the classic sneaker, athleisure look.”

Style advice

“If you feel good in it, if you feel confident in it, Hun, walk out the door and smile.”

Faux leather jacket (Express); sequin wide leg pants (Express); sunglasses (Quay Australia). Denim high-waisted jeans (BLANKNYC); beret (Hat Attack); cropped hoodie (Free People); sneakers (Adidas); coat (H&M). Jumpsuit, blazer, and pumps (White House Black Market); bag (Prada); sunglasses (Karen Walker). Denim high-waisted jeans (BLANKNYC); top (found on Amazon); pumps (Stuart Weitzman); vintage scarf.

Have a unique sense of style you’d like to share with other Washingtonians? Tag a picture of your favorite outfit on Instagram with #WhatImWearingDC, or email me with “What I’m Wearing” in the subject line. You might be featured next! To read past entries, click here.

Assistant Editor

Elliot joined Washingtonian in January 2018. An alum of Villanova University, he grew up in the Philadelphia area before moving to Syracuse to pursue a master’s in journalism. His work has also appeared in the Washington Post, TheAtlantic.com, and Syracuse.com. He lives in Eckington.

Continue Reading
Food

Sugar Fox opens March 16 with plenty of sweet treats

Sugar Fox will offer sheet cake slices and ice creams mixed with baked goods. Photo by Jessica Sidman.

Little Red Fox has gained a reputation for its housemade pies and other baked goods. But with a tiny 400-square-foot kitchen, the baking team constantly struggled to find space in the ovens or room for ingredients in the single walk-in fridge.

Now, with the debut of Sugar Fox, they have a lot more room to ease production and expand their offerings. The sweets shop, which is a couple doors down on Connecticut Avenue, comes from couple Jenna and Matt Carr (a former Washingtonian intern). It opens Saturday, March 16, with an array of ice creams, cakes, and other goodies. The new kitchen will also help supply Little Red Fox with items that weren’t previously made in-house, such as jams, quiches, and, eventually, breads (including ciabatta for sandwiches).

Head baker Lauren Parlato, who was pastry chef at Tosca before joining at Little Red Fox five years ago, will offer daily options such as cupcakes, mini sheet cakes, and sheet cake slices (in flavors like vanilla with strawberry buttercream or chocolate with brown-butter frosting). Beginning next week, custom cakes can be ordered online or in-store with 72 hours notice.

Some of the baked goods will make their way into Sugar Fox’s rotating lineup of ice creams, including peach pie and milk-and-brownies. (All the ice creams are made with dairy from Maryland’s South Mountain Creamery.) Beyond chocolate and vanilla staples, other flavors include mint chip packed with fresh mint leaves and lemon sorbet with candied hibiscus. Any of the ice creams can be transformed into a milkshake or malt. Vegans or dairy-free customers can try a blend of chocolate sorbet with oat milk.

The new spot also means that Little Red Fox’s kitchen will be freed up to expand its plated dinner menu as well as the hours that sandwiches are sold. Of course, if you want pies and pastries, you can still get those too.

Sugar Fox. 5027 Connecticut Ave., NW. Open Thursday through Sunday from noon through 9 PM. 

Jessica Sidman

Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.

Continue Reading
Food

Your guide to parties, brewery bashes, kegs-and-eggs, and more.

Four leaf clovers and beehives deck the walls of Publin, the second concept in Drink Company’s Cherry Blossom PUB. Photograph by Nick Karlin.

Publin
1843 7th St., NW
Shaw’s pop-up Irish pub adjoining the Cherry Blossom bar is a festive place to sip for St. Patrick’s Day and beyond (it runs through March 21). The space is surrounded by nearly two hundred oversized four-leaf clovers and spring flowers. Cocktails include a real-deal Irish coffee with fresh whipped cream and there’re plenty of whiskeys and beers for sipping.

Barrel
613 Pennsylvania Ave SW
Barrel’s Ruairi De Burca, a Cork native, wants to bring a taste of Ireland to the District this St Patrick’s Day. Starting Friday the general manager will host a celebration packed with food and drink specials such as $8 Irish drafts, lamb stew, and fish n’ chips.

Rí Rá
3125 M St NW
This atmospheric pub—with furnishings sourced from Ireland’s County Wicklow—celebrates with live music all weekend long. Catch evening shows on Friday and Saturday, and back-to-back performances on all day Sunday including sets from Britain’s DJ Q and District Dance Academy.

Guinness Open Gate & Barrel House
5001 Washington Blvd, Halethorpe, MD
It’s no surprise that the first Guinness brewery in the US in recent history is celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in style. In addition to a month-long Irish tap takeover and special menu in the brewery’s restaurant, 1817, there’re ticketed events on Saturday and Sunday (21+ only). The $15 pass includes your first beer and some swag as well as access to a new Guinness food truck, special holiday menus, live music, and more. 

The Dubliner on St. Patrick's Day in DC.Gavin Coleman and his father, Danny, in the Dubliner, a Capitol Hill institution for 45 years. Photograph courtesy of the Dubliner.

The Dubliner
4 F St NW
One of the oldest Irish pubs in the area goes all out for its 45th anniversary. On Saturday they’re hosting an all-day party with live music and dancing. On Sunday, festivities start at 9 AM with 45-cent Guinness beers for the first hour and two stages with bands. 

Old Town Pour House
212 Ellington Blvd, Gaithersburg, MD
From 8 to 11 AM on Saturday this Chicago-based bar is hosting a “kegs & eggs” St. Patrick’s Day kickoff party with an unlimited breakfast buffet including scrambled eggs, bacon, pancakes and potatoes. Pair with a green beer, bloody Mary or mimosa.

Fadó
808 7th St NW
Penn Quarter’s longtime Irish pub will host live music at 3 and 9 PM on Saturday, and from 2 to 6 PM and 8 PM to 1 AM on Sunday. Catch local bands like the Muddy Crows and Lloyd Dobler Effect in action alongside food and drink specials. 

Scotts
927 F St NW
Penn Quarter’s British eatery is taking St. Patrick’s Day quite literally: Anyone named Patrick (and anyone with a Patrick) can get an assortment of Irish ciders and beers for $1 between 4 and 6 PM on Sunday. Hungry? Then stay for their dinner special: Brined corned beef, roasted cabbage, Irish soda bread. and more ($36).

Photo courtesy of Old Town Pour House

Union Pub
201 Massachusetts Ave., NE
Capitol Hill’s Union Pub is ringing in St Patrick’s Day with a bang. On Sunday they’re offering $3 “Irish Slammers” with Irish whiskey and cream in a Donnybrook stout. They’re also offering buckets of beer for $16 a pop.

City Tap House
901 9th St NW and 1250 Connecticut Ave NW
Weekend menu items at these beer bars include fish n’ chips, an Irish breakfast platter, and bread pudding. Lucky diners with shamrock stickers under their beer glasses will receive a free drink voucher. Get their early on Sunday to score a free etched glass with your Guinness order.

Doyle Bar and the Pembroke
1500 New Hampshire Avenue NW
The bar at this Irish-owned Dupont Circle Hotel offers a whisky tasting “tour” across different regions of Ireland, while the restaurant will focus on Irish wines (yes, that’s a thing) and food. 

Shamrock Fest
RFK Stadium Festival Grounds
What better way to wrap up St. Patrick’s Day 2019 than the biggest celebration in the country? On March 23rd, Shamrock Fest returns to the District with tons of music, carnival rides, Guinness, Jameson, and even ponies! This year’s lineup of bands and DJs includes The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and James Kennedy from Vanderpump rules. Ticket prices range from $29.99 to $280.

Kaila Philo
Sam Spengler
Continue Reading

Photograph courtesy of Pixabay user TeroVesalainian.

At the center of the college admissions scandal that implicated coaches, parents, and exam administrators at schools like Georgetown University is 19-year-old student Olivia Jade Giannulli, an Internet influencer who used her platform to tell followers she doesn’t really care about school. Or, as we know now, she doesn’t really care about the school her mother, Full House star Lori Loughlin, allegedly got her into by breaking the law.

The University of Southern California student has 1.4 million followers on Instagram and almost 2 million subscribers on YouTube. She posts videos of her doing her hair and makeup and glamorous #sponsoredcontent thanks to partnerships with big-name brands like Amazon and Sephora (the makeup brand announced they were severing ties with the influencer on Thursday).

Given the attention Giannulli’s social media star status has garnered in the wake of the indictments, we set out to find Olivia Jade-style influencers at local colleges. Would we find thousands of likes on photos of students donning Ivanka Trump Collection cardigans in front of the Lincoln Memorial, a Gregory’s latte in hand? Would they, rather than show off their latest Caribbean vacation, post photographic evidence of tackling Capitol Hill intern work in sensible $400 flats? Is the next big Instagram name currently sitting in Psych 101 across town?

Not really. It turns out DC’s colleges don’t have anyone of Olivia Jade status on the ‘Gram, but there is a small batch of micro influencers with followings of 1,000 to 100,000. Sadly, none of them are related to anyone who was in Full House.

Pippa Leigh, @pippaofficiel

While Giannulli poses for brands like Amazon Prime, Smile Direct Club, and Sephora, Georgetown University student Pippa Leigh (@pippaofficiel) poses with a Melitta pour-over coffee maker. The economics student posts Instagrams and vlogs chronicling her sartorial choices and cappuccino art to her 2,492 followers. 

Sahara Mokhtari, @this_is_sahara

It’s not Hollywood, but aspiring pop star and University of Maryland pre-med student Sahara Mokhtari (@this_is_sahara) did host the premiere of local film Five Feet Apart, which, she, of course, posted about on Instagram. Due to her success in the music industry, Mokhtari has over 71,000 followers.

Sophia Umansky, @sophiakylieee

The most parallel social media presence to Olivia Jade is the daughter of Real Housewife of Beverly Hills star Kyle Richards. A student at GW, Sophia Umanksy (@sophiakylieeeas 117,000 followers. Although posts of her DC dorm room and a snap from the Kardashian’s Christmas party gather up to 10,000 likes, Umansky has yet to emerge as a spokesperson for sponsored content.

For now, it seems there is plenty of space in the District for novice Instagrammers looking to achieve influencer status. Our first tip for the next campus social media superstar? Make sure your parents haven’t bribed any coaches before signing that sponsorship contract.

Daniella Byck
Sam Spengler
Continue Reading

Capitol Hill is among the neighborhoods you can explore with our new Neighborhood Guide. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Starting today, readers have access to Washingtonian’s new comprehensive insider’s Neighborhood Guide, presented by Compass.

The magazine’s award-winning lifestyle content was transformed into an easy-to-navigate interactive page that provides a unique insight into neighborhoods across DC and its suburbs for residents and visitors alike.

Find the best local dining, attractions, and shops, all recommended by our editors. Users can also make their own discoveries via a filterable map specific to each region that displays the locations of restaurants, schools, crime and more all in one spot.

Each neighborhood profile contains population demographics, interesting facts—median property value, average commute time and rent prices, for example—and striking photography of community hot spots and notable residents.

Want to call one of the featured areas “home?” Washingtonian’s partner, Compass, powers a directory of real estate listings and featured agents named in the magazine’s annual Top Agents list within the guide to give readers a peek into the real estate market and new developments in each area.

The guide will be refreshed regularly as up-to-date recommendations are introduced, updates are needed, and new neighborhoods are added.

View the full Neighborhood Guide at washingtonian.com/location.

Continue Reading