DC Primary Election – Live from Busboys and Poets

Tuesday, 1 April 2014, 19:46 | Category : Culture, Eclectique Citizen
Tags :

FINAL UPDATE with election result posted 10:28 AM, Wednesday, April 2 (see below)

7:46 PM
I’m getting settled in. Wanted to get in the Cullen back room and find a spot close to a plug. Considering that they are reporting record low turnout, my laptop battery might outlast election night. But this means it could be anybody’s race.

Busboys and Poets (5th & K, NW) is where the Andy Shallal campaign will hold their watch party.
People are starting to trickle in. A few are outside the door having dinner.

I’m trying to decide where people can send me any useful updates for this blog.

8:00 PM
Polls are closed.

We’re watching News Channel 8 for the results. And I can embed it.
Update 4/2/14: In consideration of my readers and the noise level of this live stream, I removed the embedded frame and replaced it with this jpeg that links to News Channel 8 – www.wjla.com/news/newschannel-8/

8:27 PM
I’ve posted a request for updates from my FB friends. They’re a lively bunch. The extended family of Andy Shallal and campaign workers are now in the room.

Let me return to the 3 items from my introductory post regarding this election. DC is a changed city. Anyone who’s been away for 3 or more years will tell you. The city has changed. But what does that mean for DC politics? Home rule has only been around since December 24, 1973. A Merry Christmas. Compared to counties and states, that’s not a long time for a citizenry to choose their elected officials.

The old guard includes The Washington Post. Can the newspaper sway voters to give their vote to their endorsement – Councilmember Muriel Bowser?

1100 newcomers into the city each month. Reports of record low turnout at the polls. I think the Washington Post may have called it in terms of impact, but the specifics are yet to be determined. Maybe the long-time residents stayed home. What were the numbers for early voting?

How politically progressive is DC? How do we measure that? How do we define it? That comes with the debrief post-election night as well.

Room’s starting to fill up. Here come the signs.

8:36 PM

Andy Shallal is here!

High fives! and kisses all around.

Andy Shallal with supporters at watch party.  photo by EEthelbert Miller

Andy Shallal with supporters at watch party. photo by EEthelbert Miller

9:04 PM
We’re looking at twitter feeds about close-out tapes from the paper ballots. https://twitter.com/mikedebonis

9:07 PM
Marjan Shallal is here! Here she is from this morning at one of the precincts.

Marjan Shallal

Marjan Shallal

9:15 PM

9:48 PM
Energy in the room is good. Room is full at Busboys and Poets. But no returns from the Board of Elections. It’s now 1 hour and 48 minutes (nearly 2 hours) since the polls closed. As I mentioned earlier, I’m looking at the results and what they reflect about political culture of DC (local) in the 21st century. Are we there yet? Meaning I can wait until morning for the outcomes and then process the rest.

Links to catch while in route:


Twitter: https://twitter.com/mikedebonis

The morning after/About last night

And the winner of the Democratic primary (for Mayor)….The Bowser Express!

Front page Election Day ad for Muriel Bowser on the Washington Post Express

Front page Election Day ad for Muriel Bowser on the Washington Post Express

The win is decisive despite problems with electronic voting machines at precincts which delayed election results. Early votes and paper ballots were counted first (I keep telling you people). Make a note of these voting machines for all elections to come. The delay prevented me from staying on site at Busboys for the long haul. Longer hauls awaited me the next morning.

I’m still reading the final numbers from the Board of Elections to find out if this election was an indicator of anything for the city other than the “We don’t trust Gray” mandate. Is a 22.5% voter turnout a mandate? Was there fear among the politially motivated of another federal takeover and appointment of another Control Board if there was an indictment?

But the answer about “Washington Post as decider” – definitely a political influencer and player.

Impact of newcomers – Leaning “No impact.” But need to see the numbers for registered voters (new registrations).

Progressive city? - Leaning “No.” Moderate. Or is “Pragmatic” the new “Liberal Conservative”? For this one I’m looking closely at Tommy Wells’ numbers to make some kind of determination. Andy Shallal came in 5th overall and was ahead of Councilmember Jack Evans in Ward 1 where Shallal lives and where Evans launched and pitched his campaign tent. Shallal pitched his campaign tent in Ward 8 where Evans came out ahead of Shallal. Looking at that scenario as well.

For results of all the DC primary races, visit DC Board of Elections And Ethics:

Live Blogging the DC Primaries from Busboys and Poets

dc_district_of_columbia_sunglasses_route_one_apparel_red_black_shades_1024x1024We don’t expect Wolf Blitzer and Star Wars holograms of Will-i-am to be on the big screen for this election “watch night” at Busboys and Poets. But then it’s April Fools Day. And it’s the DC local primary elections. There are three areas that I’ll be watching re the outcome of the mayoral primaries for the Democratic nominee.

1. The Washington Post newspaper as “decider”. The Post has endorsed Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser (what they have decided as the top “anti-Gray/anti-corruption” choice). Over the past few weeks they’ve framed this election starting with 7-8 candidates; to four and now two: Bowser and sitting Mayor Vincent Gray. Keep in mind, the newspaper endorsed then Mayor Adrian Fenty in 2010 (Bowser’s political mentor).

Today’s Express (a free newspaper published by the Washington Post distributed in boxes and handed to Metro riders during rush hour) has a 3/4 page campaign ad for Bowser on the front cover page under the mass head; full ad on the inside front page. Because there’s newspaper content on the same sheet (back page), it gives the first impression that Bower’s “Vote Today” message was part of newspaper content. Bowser is running on her record for pushing the city council’s ethics bill. BTW there are other mayoral candidates in the running: Council members Jack Evans and Vincent Orange, business owner Andy Shallal (disclosure, tonight’s blogging will be from the Shallal camp), former Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells, and former Clinton appointee Rita Jo Lewis, and business man/musician Carlos Allen.

Also keep in mind, DC voters don’t like when Feds determine who they should vote for. Keep the word “backlash” in your back pocket.

2. Do 1,100 new residents a month mean anything for DC local politics? The Washington Post has already cancelled their impact on DC elections. But could they be the April Fools surprise or a new silent majority? Add race to this topic. That’s DC politics.

3. How politically progressive is DC? Andy Shallal and Tommy Wells have both courted the progressive vote. But how big is that vote? How strong? How progressive? Were they able to convince “Independents” to register as “Democrats” in time to cast their votes today? Over the years the city council has supported some “progressive” policies including marriage equality. But other battles continue to rage in public education, housing, employment, poverty, business — just to name a few.

And let’s not forget. Probably for the first time, the outcome of today’s Democratic primary is not a done deal for the Mayor’s office. Councilmember-at-Large and Independent candidate David Cantania is just waiting to make his next move on the challenger.

Stay tuned.

This is not a paid ad, but there are some cool DC Flag Products on Route One Apparel which is where I got the image for the sunglasses. So in all fairness, here’s their link.

Eclectique Interview: Lolis Eric Elie, “Treme” the show, the cookbook, the food!

100512_Lolis_0018I became acquainted with Lolis Eric Elie when he was a writer for the New Orleans Times Picayunne and co-producer for the documentary “Fauberg Treme” that premiered on the PBS series “Independent Lens.” Lolis eventually became a writer and story editor for the HBO series “Treme” which, in the words of the series’ co-creator, David Simon, recently wrapped up “four-and-a-half years, and 36 hours of television later.”

Treme_COVI consider it no accident that Lolis wrote the Christmas episode for the show’s 2nd season. Culture is on full sensory display during the holidays. It was after the 2013 Christmas holidays that Lolis and I finally met face-to-face during his travels to promote his cookbook, Treme: Stories and Recipes from the Heart of New Orleans, a delicious tribute to the colorful characters of New Orleans and its cuisine.

Here’s an “eclectique interview” with Lolis Eric Ellie about post-Katrina New Orleans as featured in “Treme,” the series, the cookbook, and the glorious food.


E916: My first visit to New Orleans was 2010 for Mardi Gras (post Katrina). Being from a long line of Virginians, I had to have my greens (collards, kale) but didn’t know they would be so hard to find in New Orleans (NOLA). I told Mrs. [Leah] Chase (chef, Dukey Chase‘s) about my hunt for greens, and she set me straight about New Orleans food culture. About my greens, she said “That’s southern; this (NOLA) is something else.” Why is NOLA something else and not Southern?

LE: New Orleans is Southern, but it is also Caribbean. If you look at our food, much of what we eat is typical Southern food–grits, cornbread, biscuits–many of the Southern staples. But there are also a lot of New Orleans staples that have more to do with the food of Haiti or Cuba than the food of Mississippi or Alabama. Like Haiti and eastern Cuba, red beans are a staple. Much like menus in Puerto Rico there are lots of items in tomato sauces described as “Creole.” Because New Orleans is a port city, and because of our history as first a French then a Spanish colony, we’ve always had influences from south of us.

E916: How has the cuisine changed post-Katrina? Who/what are the new influences?

LE: New Orleans has become the site of a kind of domestic Peace Corps. Young people have flocked to the city because, particularly in the years right after the federal levee failures, there was the sense that the city was rebuilding and that there were opportunities to participate in something really exciting. So there’s a new vibrancy to the nightlife fueled in part by this influx of young hipsters.

Just as the federal government was dispensing our citizens all over the country and denying many of them the right to return to their place of previous residence, they were recruiting workers from as far away as Brazil with the dubious promise of high wages. Those wages quickly went down, but many of those people have stayed. So in New Orleans and its suburbs there are enclaves of people from Brazil and Honduras and Guatemala and Mexico. There are restaurants and trucks serving the food of these places. You also see more influence of these food traditions alongside the Creole and Southern and Vietnamese influences that had dominated our menus in the years before the flood.

E916: Was there a food CV for each of the characters in “Treme”?

LE: There wasn’t a food CV for each character per se. Each writer, in the course of writing their scripts, had to think about where and what this character would eat. That was my starting point in writing the book, the scripts. Then it was a matter of thinking through the various personalities. Often I think of a character as being similar to some real New Orleanian I knew and I’d graft part of that real food personality on the character I was writing about.

E916: If you had a choice as to which “Treme” character you would cook with, who would that be? Who would you go out with and share a meal?

LE: If I was going to cook with a “Treme” character, it’d be LaDonna. She knows the tradition and could teach me some of the dishes that my mother and grandmother raised me on.

Khandi Alexander as Ladonna in Treme. Photograph: HBO/Everett/Rex Features.

John Goodman, HBO.

If I was going to go out, I’d probably want to go with Creighton Bernette, John Goodman’s character. Though he only lasted one season, Creighton had profound and lasting influences as a voice of “Treme.” Talking to him about literature and culture would be fun.

Lolis Eric Elie discusses and signs copies of “Treme: Stories and Recipes from the Heart of New OrleansMonday March 24 at 6:30 PM at Eatonville Restaurant‘s Food & Folklore dinner series. Eatonville Restaurant is located at 2121 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009. Reservations required – call 202-332-ZORA (9672). Copies of the “Treme” cookbook will be available for sale and signing at the event.

The Road to Lupita

Sunday, 2 March 2014, 17:43 | Category : African, African American, Black, Culture, Movies, People, Women
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I want to take this opportunity to talk about beauty, black beauty, dark beauty. I received a letter from a girl and I’d like to share just a small part of it with you: “Dear Lupita,” it reads, “I think you’re really lucky to be this black but yet this successful in Hollywood overnight. I was just about to buy Dencia’s Whitenicious cream to lighten my skin when you appeared on the world map and saved me.”

My heart bled a little when I read those words, I could never have guessed that my first job out of school would be so powerful in and of itself and that it would propel me to be such an image of hope in the same way that the women of The Color Purple were to me.

Lupita Nyong’o
February 27, 2014
Essence Magazine’s
7th Annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon

Not a day, hour, minute or second goes by on my social media without a Lupita Nyong’o posting. Tonight all eyes will be looking out for her on the red carpet at the Academy Awards aka Oscars as she’s up for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Patsy in “12 Years a Slave.” If I invert two of the letters of the title (Slave to “Salve”), it brings me to the theme of this post. Lupita’s beauty, brains, culture, talent, and impeccable style have been a salve to so many Black women. For some reason I thought the trials of dark-skinned Black women would have come to an end in the 21st century, but I have been sadly wrong. As they say, these things adapt to their times. “Colorism” has been tossed around. Zora Neale Hurston’s generation would call it “color struck.” The road to Lupita is long and peppered with potholes.

We see Lupitas every day. We really do. But her beauty is only affirmed on this scale only a few moments in a lifetime. Where as white and light beauty is our social and aesthetic default and standard. But somehow it’s decided by something when a generation will have a “Lupita moment.” For the highly visual digital age, she has been the gift that keeps on giving especially to young women of a certain hue and (let me not forget that other standard) hair texture.

Lupita has been a feast for women who have been living in their social famine. I thought I’d pull together what I call a few “Lupita” moments starting with the days when “Black Is Beautiful” was supposed to be the “salve” of the decade. This time I would like to measure the impact of the “Lupita factor.” This time will it stick? Feel free to post your “Lupitas” to this blog post.


Cicely Tyson and Miles Davis

Cicely Tyson and Miles Davis (1968)


Naomi Sims (1973)

Naomi Sims

Judith Jamison Max Waldman

Judith Jamison
Max Waldman


Grace Jones

Grace Jones


Alek Wek

Alek Wek

Lauryn Hill

Lauryn Hill

2000 – 2009

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey

Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama

Why Harlem Is In Vogue

Monday, 17 February 2014, 11:19 | Category : Culture, Food
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Marcus Samuelsson in front of his Red Rooster Restaurant in Harlem (photo source:  Food Republic)

Marcus Samuelsson in front of his Red Rooster Restaurant in Harlem (photo source: Food Republic)

Everywhere I went in Harlem I felt welcome. I began to recognize a kind of hospitality that I hadn’t known before and that I hadn’t found in fine dining. In the Michelin restaurants in France where I trained early in my career, I was taught excellence in ingredients, presentation and manners. But I wasn’t taught the joy and magic I felt walking into the bars and soul food joints in Harlem.

Marcus Samuelsson, chef and owner of The Red Rooster

Read his op-ed, “Is Harlem ‘Good Now’”
New York Times, February 15, 2014