Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 31, 2014

Posts in "AwesomeSauce"

May 22, 2014

Hank’s on the Hill Woos Whiskey Drinkers

Our local Hank’s (633 Pennsylvania Ave. SE) is celebrating being in the running for a RAMMY award by offering up a special Jameson-spiked cooler on Thursday night.

Mixtress Gina Chersevani, potential heir to the 2014 Cocktail Program of the Year crown, assures HOH she’ll be shaking up “It’s All About the Benjamin’s” — a frozen drink featuring the aforementioned Irish whiskey, spiced sweet vermouth and atomized lemon — for only $5 (regular price: $12) from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. this evening.

The promotion is part of a citywide cocktail jamboree orchestrated by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington in anticipation of the June 22 gala.

Additional participants include:

  • Black Jack (1612 14th St. NW): Hosting a RAMMYs-themed carnival from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. complete with drink tickets, fair games, fried foods and raffles.
  • Bourbon Steak (2800 Pennsylvania Ave. NW): This high roller is expected to dole out kifu, a blend of Hangar One vodka, Cointreau, ginger, lemon and basil, shaken (not stirred) and garnished with candied ginger.
  • The Gibson (2009 14th St. NW): This cocktail haven is going pre-Prohibition, rolling out classic concoctions for $8 a pop from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the upstairs bar.
  • Jack Rose Dining Saloon (2007 18th St. NW): The multi-level drinking den is spreading specialty cocktails all around. Terrace-goers can sip the Sao Paolo Sunset and Back Porch; Saloon patrons will be privy to The Art of Deception and Like Strawberry Shine; those who descend into Dram & Grain will be treated to Ode to Omaha and Skye High. Each drink will set guests back $10 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

May 21, 2014

Rocker Chad Smith Does D.C. Right

Red Hot Chili Peppers’ drummer Chad Smith has banged out a whole bunch of special appearances this week, from hanging with first lady Michelle Obama at the first White House talent show to cracking wise about the music biz in front of the Capitol.

Rocker Chad Smith Does D.C. Right

Smith has been rocking the Capitol this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The best part of the trip, though, had to be showing his eldest son, Cole, around the White House.

“My son for some reason, 9 years old, all things presidential he is just enamored with,” Smith told HOH. To wit, Smith noted that while visiting the Oval Office, Cole dropped some knowledge on the tour guide about the reason behind the circular design — something about not being able to sneak up on POTUS — that the administration aide claimed to be unfamiliar with.

“So Cole is now giving tours of the White House,” Smith quipped.

He said Cole got the shock of his young life when President Barack Obama unexpectedly popped by a FLOTUS-led event and took a shine to the nattily attired young man.

“He had on this seersucker suit, my son. Which he never wears a suit. It’s the only suit he has,” Smith shared.

When 44 got up close and personal, Smith said, Cole got all the love.

“Barack was like, ‘Nice to meet you, Chad. … Hey, nice suit. Where’d you get that suit? Ah, Seersucker. Summer’s coming,’” Smith noted. “So he was talking to my son about fashion.”

Or was he?

“And Cole’s like, ‘The president called me a sucker,’” Smith said, choking back laughter. Full story

May 20, 2014

Dave Camp Aide Extracts Reality Show From Dustbin of History

“Spymaster USA” alumnus James Brandell — aka chief of staff to retiring Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., to you civvies — is marking the 10-year anniversary of his brief flirtation with reality TV stardom by screening the pilot episode of the short-lived show Wednesday night at 201 Bar (201 Massachusetts Ave. NE).

Dave Camp Aide Extracts Reality Show From Dustbin of History

(CQ Roll Call Photo Illustration)

Brandell is resurrecting the British export (their version of the show survived for several seasons) in a bid to have a little fun while raising money for his latest Leukemia & Lymphoma Society campaign.

There is no charge to attend the two-hour extravaganza (think: drinks and chitchat from 6-7 p.m. and intense scrutiny of the unfolding melodrama from 7-8 p.m.), though Brandell would certainly welcome any contributions that arts aficionados would care to make.

“This is my kind of way of giving back,” the endurance sports vet told HOH of the low-key get-together.

Brandell originally made it his mission to stamp out cancer after his mother, the late Mary Ellen Brandell, was diagnosed with leukemia in 2008. He has since found another reason to keep up the good fight: his boss’ withering — but successful! — battle with lymphoma.

For those of you who missed the weekly nail-biter the first time around, the cult classic featured a handful of starry-eyed Capitol Hill denizens angling to enjoy just a taste of the spy game.

Given that no footage of the U.S.-based production remains in circulation — Brandell said a friend had the incredible foresight to burn a copy of the original The Learning Channel broadcast onto a DVD so many years ago — just imagine that this tense exchange from the U.K. programme was happening in a dilapidated cottage just south of Richmond, Va.:

In addition to Brandell, show-runners tapped Stephanie Whelpley, a Senate GOP aide who later worked her way up through the George W. Bush administration, as well as a certain then-tax reporter who may still be covering Congress today, to share in the pseudo-covert escapades. (For those who didn’t scour Tax Notes in the early part of the last decade, or follow other parts of this reporter’s un-IMDB-able show-biz career, keep digging.)

Do your part by drinking heavily (201 Bar is kicking back 10 percent of the booze tab to Brandell’s Team in Training efforts) while watching ex-Delta Force member cum “Spymaster USA” consultant Eric L. Haney put the would-be recruits through hell.

White House Surrogates Pregame at Big Bear Café

The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities members Sarah Jessica Parker, Frank Gehry, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews and Chuck Close all made a night of if it Monday in Bloomingdale, taking over Big Bear Café at 1700 First St. NW for a private party filled with what sounds like good cheer and some pretty fabulous food.

HOH alumna Neda Semnani was unable to contain her excitement about the roaming celebs — the group is in town to help scrounge up additional resources for artistic programs; some have been recruited to do a little arm-twisting Wednesday while crisscrossing the Capitol — blasting out the news of the SPJ-led invasion to the Twittersphere.

A Big Bear staffer told HOH that the group of 25 enjoyed a casual dinner culled from the restaurant’s current menu — with some embellishments (natch).

“We did send out some special bites to start that included Keswick Creamery quark from the Sunday farmers market on a raisin crostini with black olive truffle tapenade, chicken liver pate with cherried brandies on sourdough crostini, smoked bluefish rillettes, and house pickled ramps and asparagus — grown by our friends at Bounty Hill Farms,” our tipster said of the gourmet nibbles sprung upon the visiting celebs.

Per our source, ex-Tabard Inn Executive Chef Paul Pelt was on hand to help craft some of the tasty new additions, including a shrimp remoulade accompanied by fried pickled green tomato that debuted Monday night and will remain on the BBC menu moving forward. We hear Parker also indulged in a portion of Pelt’s signature gumbo.

Meanwhile, newly minted pastry chef Huw Griffiths (another Tabard Inn alumnus) provided guests with sweet send-offs of rhubarb apple crisp and chocolate dacquoise.

With all those talented folks assembled under one roof, there had to be some drama, right?

Not so, swore the insider.

“Staff didn’t hear one crazy thing all night, strangely — but definitely witnessed a genuine bond and appreciation for each other; their involvement in the program and a love of kids,” our spy suggested.

The restaurant was so pleased with the way everything turned out, in fact, that staff extended an open invitation to have any (or all) of the first-timers return whenever they’re back in town.

And their local pals appear to be welcome too.

“The Obamas and Bidens have yet to visit Big Bear,” Team BBC noted. “But we’re hopeful that last night’s party will put in a good word for us.”

May 19, 2014

King, Collins: Bipartisan Texting Buddies (Video)

Kids these days are always texting, and by kids we mean Maine’s senators.

At a joint event on May 16 at the home of Margaret Chase Smith in which independent Angus King announced his endorsement of his Republican Susan Collins’ re-election bid, King said the pair traded messages about the endorsement that morning.

“Susan texted me this morning and said, ‘Thanks for the endorsement,’ and I texted her back and said this was a very easy call, and it absolutely was” King said. “I think the people of Maine are fortunate to have a representative of her caliber.”

Full story

Chad Smith, Others Beat Drums for Arts Funding

The National Association of Music Merchants and select members of the President’s Committee for the Arts and the Humanities will storm the Hill this week to drum up additional resources for arts education programs.

The fly-in efforts include: an inaugural student “talent show” at the White House (Tuesday), the star-studded “Celebrating Music Education” reception at the Library of Congress (Tuesday night) and a camera-friendly press conference led by Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., just steps from the Capitol (Wednesday).

Meanwhile, Chad Smith — you know, he who pounds the skins for the Red Hot Chili Peppers — is expected to huddle, in private, with Speaker John A. Boehner early Wednesday.

No word on whether the legendary percussionist plans to school the Ohio Republican in the art of getting folks marching to the same beat, or if he’ll share his strategy for besting comedian Will Ferrell in the charity battle (there’s a golden cowbell up for grabs) the dueling doppelgangers are expected to wage Thursday on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”

Not a part of Boehner’s inner circle?

Smith is also expected to float around the NAMM Foundation’s shindig at the Jefferson Building. The other celebs expected to walk the red carpet Tuesday night (flashbulbs should begin popping around 7 p.m.) include: actress Alfre Woodard, multimedia artist Chuck Close, ballet vet Damian Woetzel, Tony Award-winning actor John Lloyd Young, painter Kerry James Marshall, singer-songwriter Clarence Greenwood, “House of Payne” star Doc Shaw and “Modern Family” star Jesse Tyler Ferguson.

May 13, 2014

Food Lovers Bombard Cory Booker’s Twitter Feed

Sen. Cory Booker was up and at ’em early Tuesday, greeting his social media flock with an invitation to toss a few local shops his way in order to some them much-deserved love during Small Business Week 2014.

 

 

The New Jersey Democrat quickly learned that food is what fuels 99.99 percent of ALL discussions online.

Sure, there was an architecture group named here. And a woman-owned outfit was heralded there.

 

 

But the majority of folks were determined to spread the word about personal dining gems, a must-hit list that included:

Bagel Buffet, Hackensack: A local bakery/café specializing in sandwiches and such that also donates baked goods to neighboring food pantries (“Sounds delicious,” Booker suggested).

Giorgio’s Pasticcerie, Hoboken: Family-owned bakery specializing in Italian and French pastries.

Blueplate, Mullica Hill: Neighborhood restaurant specializing in Modern American cuisine.

Benny’s, Fair Lawn: Old school luncheonette dealing in home fries, patty melts and their signature “Overstuffed Hot Pastrami Sandwich.”

Bischoff’s Ice Cream, Teaneck: An 80-year-old sweets shop that dabbles in the likes of pumpkin fudge, coffee-cookie crush ice cream (coffee cream with crumbled Oreos) and strawberry ice cream sodas. (“I’ll believe it when I taste it,” Booker asserted)

Judicke’s Bakery, Bayonne: Family-run bakery renowned for cranking out old favorites (baklava, mascarpone mousse cake) as well as trendy treats (“Frozen”-themed cupcakes).

White Manna, Hackensack, and Kosher Nosh, Glenn Rock: The former is a fast-food haven renowned for its onion-packed sliders while the latter is a traditional deli dishing smoked fish platters, triple-decker sandwiches and Jewish comfort foods (chopped liver, stuffed cabbage, chicken-in-a-pot).

DP’s Pub, Garfield: A dive bar with a thing for seafood. (“Their garlic sauce is legendary,” Booker shared)

SeaGrass Restaurant, Ocean Grove: Polished eatery with a penchant for seasonal cooking.

Mount Royal Bagel Company, Marlton: The house that wood-fired, “Montreal-style” bagels (“boiled in honey water before baking,” the website explains) built.

Biggie’s Clam Bar, Hoboken: A nearly 70-year-old raw bar that’s since spun off into other states (Tennessee).

Osteria Procacci, Kingston: Upscale pizza joint specializing in gourmet pies.

Magic Fountain Ice Cream and Grill, Elizabeth: Deep-fried everything plus frozen goodies.

Carlo’s Bakery, Hoboken: The spot that catapulted reality TV vet- Buddy Valastro to “Cake Boss” fame. (“A favorite of mine, too,” Booker revealed)

Southside Roast, Cranford: Local java source with a few nibbles (soups, sandwiches) to boot.

To wit, the only way out of the restaurant rumble for the food-fatigued solon was to retreat to the relative safety of the chamber:

 

 

Looks like Mr. Text Happy bit off more than he could chew this time.

May 7, 2014

Alan Simpson Dishes About Sex, Love and Marriage

Former Sen. Alan K. Simpson is truly milking this whole “I’m-retired-and-over-80-so-I-can-say-whatever-I-want-now” thing but good, letting it all hang out in an interview about affairs of the heart with WNYC reporter Anna Sale.

Alan Simpson Dishes About Sex, Love and Marriage

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

During her totally frank talk with the randy octogenarian, Sale discovers that the Wyoming Republican favors coarse language (“He peppers his sentence with cuss words,” she observes), reading “Othello” helped him recognize his own jealousy issues and that he still very much enjoys playing grab-ass with his wife of 60 years, Ann Simpson.

Moreover, the ex-lawmaker has no illusions about what it takes to keep a modern-day marriage from falling apart.

“It’s called sorting crap. But you have to take risks,” he counsels the divorce-scarred Sale.

Need to hear more?

The entirety of the almost NSFW-exchange — which was, curiously, set in motion by Sale’s lovelorn beau — should keep any helpless romantics out there completely riveted.

May 6, 2014

Officer Debonair, at Your Service | Overheard

“If anyone gives you any problems about being late for your meeting, just tell ‘em THE good-looking officer held you up. They’ll know who you’re talking about.”

– Capitol Police Officer offers female journalist delayed by the motorcade of Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. an easy out.

Becerra Aides Help Spread Mariachi Madness

Sure, it’s a mostly manufactured holiday. But Cinco de Mayo can still mean big business here in D.C. — particularly for the well-connected musicians in Mariachi Los Amigos.

Becerra Aides Help Spread Mariachi Madness

(Courtesy Team Becerra)

The band of rotating performers — an aide to House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra of California said the current troupe has been in place since late 2007; clips on their Facebook page suggest some iteration of the group has been enchanting fiesta-goers since at least 2001 — includes Daniel Herrera (violinist), who currently serves as deputy communications director for the House Democratic Caucus; Lorenzo Olvera (guitar), a former Becerra staffer; and Lorenzo’s brother Roberto Olvera (trumpet).

Monday was a big day for the boys; the band had been booked for four nearly back-to-back gigs, beginning with a dignitary-packed breakfast hosted by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. at the United States Naval Observatory. Full story

May 5, 2014

Congressional Democrats Host Pussy Riot

Senate Foreign Relation Committee member Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md., and House Judiciary Committee member Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., are giving members of Pussy Riot, the all female punk collective that famously ran afoul of Russian President Vladimir Putin, an open mic on Capitol Hill with which to rail against human rights abuse and political oppression.

Pussy Riot members Nadya Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina are scheduled to participate in a press conference Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. over on the Senate side of the Capitol.

The world-renowned protestors, who each spent nearly two years behind bars for publicly badmouthing Putin, have been speaking out about the sorry state of affairs within their home country since their release in late 2013.

The two were reportedly guests at Yahoo!’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner party over the weekend. Full story

Post-WHCD, No Rest for D.C. Party Hoppers

Anyone get up to anything interesting this weekend?

For those of you who did not brave the press-packed ballrooms and glitterati-studded after-parties that have come to define White House Correspondents’ Dinner weekend, This Town just finished indulging in epic amounts of booze, bad jokes and selfies.

The good news is there’s only 360-odd days until Hollywood next invades the nation’s capital — and immediately regrets it:

 

 

Assuming you and your liver remain on speaking terms, there are still plenty of opportunities to mix and mingle with local “celebrities” in the days ahead:

On Tuesday, the Asian Republican Coalition plans to introduce itself to sitting politicos via a splashy rollout at the Newseum (555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW). The program — which is expected to feature complimentary speeches by Sens. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, and Patrick J. Toomey, R-Pa., as well as House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. — kicks off promptly at 6:30 p.m. and flows right into cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Republican Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Dean Heller of Nevada should interrupt the festivities at some point to provide their two cents (four cents?) on Asians and the GOP.

Also on Tuesday, the ASCAP Foundation, the engagement arm of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, will give another round of musicians their due at the “We Write the Songs 2014” celebration.

Performers at this year’s event, scheduled to take place at the Library of Congress beginning at 7 p.m., include:

Freewheeling bandleader Jon Batiste

Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu is scheduled to introduce the N’awlins native. Full story

So, Nancy Pelosi’s Tattoo Parlor Trip Makes More Sense Now

About a week ago, the Hungry Lobbyist Twitter account posed a truly baffling question:

Now we know.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was shooting a 22-second cameo for a video that aired at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on May 3. The video went completely viral and is now closing in on 1 million views since it was posted online late that night.

Full story

May 3, 2014

Nancy Pelosi: A Good Sport

I learned Friday evening that one of the perils of making fun of people in public is that sometimes you encounter those individuals in real life. And sometimes they confess their epic photobomb was an “accident.”

A month or so ago, I saw a hilariously awkward photo of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in my Facebook feed. I had a bit of fun with it in this column space.

Nancy Pelosi: A Good Sport

The post took about fifteen minutes to write and surprisingly garnered a lot of traffic — more than my usual stories about campaign media buys and Medicare Advantage.

Pelosi gamely responded on Twitter within an hour: “Oops.” It impressed me that whomever handles her account played along with the nonsense, and that I did not catch any hell from her office.

But I wasn’t prepared for actually meeting Pelosi not long after the post. But there she was at the Google/Netflix party, having a good time with a remarkably small entourage.

Full story

May 1, 2014

Nobody Weird Like Us: Assembling a New Third Party

Call us crazy, but we believe a meme making the rounds on social media could serve as the cornerstone for a hybrid political party boasting the biggest tent possible.

A bold vision, to be sure.

But just imagine all the coalition building opportunities.

Left-wingers could easily fall in line behind the marriage equality plea. (LGBT crowd: check!)

Libertarians should be cool with personal pot use. (Stoner vote: check!)

And lifelong Republicans disenchanted with the status quo can stand their ground on firearms. (NRA members/Second Amendment fans: check!) Full story

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