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We always look forward to this week. Our readers send us scrambling in search of answers to the vagaries and mysteries of the District, the kinds of queries whose explanations can’t simply be searched on the web. Sure, we always get a few duds, like the guy who asks more than once if he can be the guest editor of the Answers Issue or the person who wonders why men are increasingly wearing brown shoes with blue pants. All we can say to those is “no”—and, well, Europe’s fashion sensibilities have a far reach. But if you want to know where you can find vegan croissants, how Starplex got its name, or why so many people wrongly describe parts of D.C. as Anacostia, tuck right on in. One question even manages to characterize our president as a bama. —Liz Garrigan
Please tell me that the National Archives, or someone, collected some of the awesome signs left behind after the Women’s March. Please tell me they didn’t just all get trashed. History will be happier if they were saved!
Have no fear! The National Museum of American History sent staff members out to the streets to gather signs from the Jan. 21 march as well as materials related to the presidential inauguration the day before, though it’s unclear if and when they’ll be on view to the public. “This is part of the museum’s long tradition of documenting how Americans participate in the political process and how citizens exercise their First Amendment rights of assembly and free speech,” a press release says. Items related to the civil rights, women’s suffrage, and labor organization movements, as well as pieces from the March for Life and Jon Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity,” have been added to the museum’s collection over time, and some can be seen in its The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden exhibition. —Caroline Jones
Where can I meet thirty-something hetero men in D.C.? Seems like the area is full of twenty-somethings.
When the D.C. streetcar first opened, sparks flew. As in sparks from the overhead wires caught fire, setting the streetcar ablaze. Well, DDOT figured out that snafu, and now ridership is really starting to heat up. So much so that the D.C. streetcar may soon be known by another name: desire.
If you’re a single thirty-something woman in search of a slightly older, hot, straight man, forget Adams Morgan or Shaw. You need to ride the rails of H Street NE. Start at The Pug, where regular dudes watch the NBA, NFL, and MLB in the friendly confines of a dimly lit bar that charges $3 for a domestic beer. Or go a stop further to Maketto, where intentionally hip men sip siphoned coffees while wearing seasonally inappropriate wool knit hats. If beards aren’t your thing, head across the street to the Queen Vic, where you’ll spot a man with a thick English or Irish accent. Come armed with a pickup line, then start by ordering a proper pint, then fake some friendly banter with the bartender, maybe about Arsenal football fandom. Once you’ve met your match, it’s time to rock and roll, quite literally on the dance floor of Rock & Roll Hotel. —Tim Ebner
Why did “Anacostia” become misused to mean all of D.C. east of the Anacostia River?
Let’s start with the question of when. According to Alcione Amos, a curator at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum, residents rebranded what had been the first white settlement to the east of the river (originally known as “the Eastern Branch of the Potomac River”) from “Uniontown” to “Anacostia” toward the end of the 19th century. The name “Anacostia” itself comes from the Nacotchtank Native Americans who lived in the area. Because Uniontown was conflated with the one in Pennsylvania, Amos says, an east-of-the-river post office started using the Anacostia moniker. By the late 1890s, the name appeared in newspapers, referring in many cases to all the land east of the river. “So it began very early,” Amos notes. “It’s not a new thing.”
“We think it had to do with convenience, because there were a lot of small neighborhoods out here in the 19th century,” Amos explains. The use of “Anacostia River,” by 1892, reinforced this.
A lot, it turns out, is in a name. Today, many D.C. residents—especially recent ones—make the same semantic slippage as their historical peers. Racial and socioeconomic difference certainly play a part in this name game. “For decades the Anacostia River was the dividing line between the desirable and undesirable parts of the city—for white folks and some black folks too,” says Parisa Norouzi, head of advocacy group Empower D.C. “Everything to the east was considered scary, and it was unimaginable to tread there. So why bother knowing the difference between Hillcrest and Congress Heights? It’s all the same to them.” Norouzi predicts that as gentrification proceeds eastward, developers “will soon market condos using long-lost names like Uniontown.”
Some already see significant change. Calling the semantic lapse an “oversimplification of such a long-storied section of the city,” Amanda Stephenson, who directs the Anacostia Business Improvement District, is bullish on the nabe’s future: “Rightfully so, in recent years Anacostia has become more attractive due to its massive opportunity for new development along the river.” —Andrew Giambrone
What is the updated land situation regarding RFK and the Pigskins returning to D.C., and will the election of that orange-ass bama have any impact on the team name being a deterrent since name-calling is his thang?
The 190-acre RFK campus remains under the control of EventsDC, the city’s official convention and sports authority, pursuant to a 75-year lease that dates to 1961. According to Erik A. Moses, senior vice president and managing director of sports and entertainment, there are no current plans to renegotiate or alter that lease, and the usual events will continue to take place for the foreseeable future. “The old girl will remain active for a few more years,” Moses says. But there is a redevelopment process that can be found at rfkcampusfuture.com. The Pigskins are apprised of this process, which could drag on for years, but there are no formal negotiations for the team to return to D.C. It remains unclear if Donald Trump knows an NFL team once played at RFK, much less that the team’s name is a patently racist slur that overtook standards of decency years ago. —Jeffrey Anderson
Where can I get some vegan croissants?
There’s only one option in D.C. for croissants free of animal products—Fare Well. With vegan and vegetarian lifestyles gaining in popularity, and other vegan items like cookies and cakes relatively easy to find, why don’t more bakeries offer vegan croissants? “It’s a pain in the ass,” says Doron Petersan, owner and chef of Fare Well. Butter has a higher melting point than vegetable-based substitutes, so vegan croissant dough can quickly turn too soft, making it difficult to form the flaky layers. It took Petersan years of experimenting to get her dough to behave properly, but she now offers plain croissants, pain au chocolat, and a rotating variety of stuffed savory croissants. —Stephanie Rudig
How is it possible that restaurants continuously sell out of their most popular items? At some point, don’t you pick up on the sales trend and start making more? Or is this a marketing trick, deliberate scarcity, to create buzz? I get that demand varies and that overproduction is to be avoided, but if day after day you are selling out of a signature items well before closing time…you’re an idiot.
Every restaurant’s a different story, but we asked husband and wife culinary duo Tiffany MacIsaac and Kyle Bailey to weigh in. “We’re not trying to run out of the most popular items,” Bailey says. “Some days those items sell heavily, and it’s silly to stock only that one item.” Bailey is currently the chef at Sixth Engine where he purchases whole animals from a farm in Virginia. “There’s only so much loin to be sold.”
At Buttercream Bakeshop, which MacIsaac owns, they sometimes run out of Breakfast Bombs, Cinnascones, and Queen Bees (kouign-amann). She says they’ll prepare what should be enough to last to the afternoon, but sometimes there are surprises. “The first person that came said, ‘I want 15 Bombs and 15 Cinnascones.’ We tried to race to make more, but they take two hours to make,” she says. “For bakeries, it’s hard. You take the sale now because you don’t know what’s going to happen later.” She also says reducing waste and serving product at its peak are priorities. —Laura Hayes
What’s the deal with the building on the southwest corner of 14th and I Streets NW? It looks like a virus taking over a host.
The office building at 1400 I Street NW, where City Paper’s offices once resided, is certainly distinctive-looking. Atop three sky-high columns, a beige stack of floors juts out over the rest of the structure, which steps back in undulating tiers faced in brick. The Pacman-like design was driven by necessity, says its architect, Arthur Cotton Moore, the veteran D.C. designer known for the Washington Harbour and the renovation of the Library of Congress’ Jefferson Building.
The building stands next to, and hovers over, the McPherson Square Metro stop. When the project was conceived in the early 1980s, steering clear of Metro infrastructure was a critical concern, Moore says. It is on WMATA-owned land. “[The building] could only come down, according to Metro, on a few points. Otherwise we would be affecting the tunnels or the station itself.” Hence the columns, which don’t actually support the weight of the 12-story building, since the structure is hung from trusses at the top.
Moore’s design solved structural and site problems while maximizing prime upper-floor office space. As for the wavy floors below: “I made the building undulate somewhat, so it could be seen as free of the main columns that come down,” Moore says. “That is probably the source of what it makes it a little unusual.”
The building, Moore adds, was a “pioneer” in that part of downtown. Now home to other offices, banks, a Hilton Garden Inn, and a Five Guys, the immediate area was then a red-light district. Businesses included Benny’s Home of the Porno Stars and This Is It, the sex club where Marion Barry was alleged to have used cocaine in 1981 in his first public scandal. Back then, “anything beyond Connecticut Avenue was considered kind of risky” for new offices, says Moore (who originally had an ownership stake in the building). “There was a question whether you could even get financing for these things.” —Amanda Kolson Hurley
Local papers running local stories used to include the home address of each person listed in the story, as late as the 1970s (“John Doe, 37, of 1234 Main Street NW, was injured in a car crash yesterday…”). Why did they ever do this, and when/why did they stop?
The newspaper business was like the Wild West until the 1950s, and small-town papers were bound by even more informal standards particular to their location and readership. Andrew Seaman, ethics committee chairman for the Society of Professional Journalists, says the most likely answer is that readers used to want more information about people in the news and didn’t mind addresses being made public. But over time, they decided they didn’t like that level of disclosure.
Editorial standards also evolved, Seaman says, and the industry started coalescing around questions of what is acceptable and what is not. It took a while for impartiality to be expected from 20th century media and for privacy to become so heavily guarded. The SPJ Code of Ethics states: “Realize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than public figures and others who seek power, influence, or attention. Weigh the consequences of publishing or broadcasting personal information.”
In other words, just because someone appears in a story, and their address is available and legal to publish, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s ethical or acceptable to do so. An extreme example is when, in the wake of the Sandy Hook mass shooting, a paper outside of New York City published addresses of registered gun owners in the vicinity. That led state officials to start limiting how much such information was available to the public. In a practical sense, Seaman says, space also could have become an issue, as newspapers demanded shorter stories with cleaner copy. “It seems it became this archaic practice that might have caused too many headaches, and people just threw up their hands and got rid of it.” —Jeffrey Anderson
What happened to the staple that used to be in City Paper for the past few years? Do you like making things harder on your readers? Or do you just love multiplying litter?
Check your environmental cynicism at the door, man. As I sit here now recovering from a too-late night at a depressing underground karaoke bar in Adams Morgan, where I now wish my wallet had been stapled shut, the latest copy of your favorite muckraking local tabloid is neatly bound in premium Swingline product—or at least its cheapest likeness. Not only does the current issue have staples, but so do most of those dating back weeks and months that are forming a teetering stack in my office.
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But to be fair, we do infrequently let it all hang out. There are times throughout the year when we have unusually small paper sizes or when we publish center spreads that are meant to be pulled out and used as guides for events or festivals. In those cases, we purposely avoid staples because they would serve neither the readers nor the advertisers. We don’t want to litter, so we try to keep those occasions to a minimum.
Having said that, in the interest of environmental stewardship, please follow these instructions if you are reading this via the dead tree version: When you are finished with your issue copy, grind it in your food processor mixed with a little bit of warm water, place the paper paste in flowery ice cube molds with your favorite annual spring seed mix, then distribute the seed disks to friends and colleagues. Alternatively, shove it up this questioner’s ass. —Liz Garrigan
There’s a sign on I-295 guiding people to the Starplex (Stadium Armory Complex). Who came up with the name and how widely was it used? When did it stop?
The D.C. Armory Board, which operated the armory and RFK Stadium from 1948 to 1994, rebranded the Stadium Armory Complex as the “Starplex” in 1977. By 1991, when the board began publishing a Starplex News newsletter—mailed to every home in the District to promote Mayor Sharon Pratt Dixon’s effort to get a new football stadium on the site—the name was falling out of favor. Judging by mentions of the term “Starplex” in Post stories and newspaper advertisements, the name was commonplace throughout the 1980s before fizzling in the mid-1990s. “Starplex” never got the one thing that would’ve guaranteed it a permanent place in the local lexicon: Metro’s endorsement. In 1979, Metro spurned the Armory Board’s request to rename the Stadium-Armory station as the Starplex station. One member of Metro’s board of directors said the name sounded “plastic,” even going so far as to insist “that train operators be strictly forbidden from announcing that name to passengers,” according to a Post story from the time. If only our transit authority leadership still had that kind of mettle in 2011, when the contrived neighborhood name NoMa won a place on the Metro map. —Zach Rausnitz
Help me settle a long debate I’ve had with one of my best friends. Is there a bar in D.C. that serves wine coolers? I’m not talking artisanally made stuff. I’m thinking Bartles & Jaymes Blue Hawaiian.
Calls placed to over 30 of the District’s divey-est and most sorority-heavy bars turned up none that serves any type of wine cooler. Bartles & Jaymes doesn’t distribute to any bars or restaurants in the District, though more than 30 D.C. liquor stores carry their products. The closest establishment to which Bartles & Jaymes distributes is the Fort Myer Bowling Center, which serves 10 different wine coolers, but that’s off-limits unless you’re a current or retired service member or are accompanied by someone who is. The Westin Annapolis will fill orders for Bartles & Jaymes for special events, and when I called they did have some left over from a wedding that they were serving at the bar. Those are pretty much the only options unless you’re willing to travel three hours or more to any other Virginia or Maryland establishments that carry wine coolers—and at that point you might want to take a hard look at your life choices. —Stephanie Rudig
Can you define what neighborhoods Upper Northwest consists of? Growing up, I understood it to be neighborhoods west of Rock Creek, but I’ve increasingly heard people refer to Shepherd Park, Brightwood, etc. as Upper Northwest as well.
According to two infallible sources, your childhood information still holds. “Upper Northwest is north of Georgetown and west of the park,” meaning Rock Creek Park, says Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh. Darrow Montgomery, a D.C. native and City Paper photographer for 30 years, says the same.
But you’re not crazy. A Craigslist scan reveals that while most apartments for rent in Upper Northwest are in the area Cheh and Montgomery define, a substantial number are not. In addition, people have posited, on various chat boards and comment sections, that race and class distinctions make the dividing line. Gentrification is creeping eastward.
If certain parties, such as realtors and homeowners, are claiming the name Upper Northwest for places like Brightwood and Shepherd Park in an effort to make the area sound fancy or changed, they’re in bad company. Colonists changed the names of places they were inhabiting, and some academics argue that gentrification is colonization-lite. Naming and renaming neighborhoods is a typical component of gentrification in cities far and wide.
But there’s a third factor to consider in the specific case of Upper Northwest. The term, in lowercase form, describes an actual geography—the upper portion of D.C.’s Northwest quadrant—which Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd uses. Brightwood and Shepherd Park, which are in his district, are within those technical bounds. The Brightwood Community Association uses the name in lowercase: “The Brightwood community is located in upper northwest Washington, D.C.” But the Shepherd Park Citizens Association is more specific: “We are located in the northern ‘point’ of DC.” —Alexa Mills
How do I quickly explain D.C. statehood (paragraph or less) to people who are unfamiliar?
The District of Columbia, which has more residents than Wyoming and Vermont, gets zero votes in Congress. But citizens in D.C. have all the responsibilities as those who live in states: We pay the same taxes and serve in the same wars. We don’t benefit from any special treatment. No other democracy denies representation to residents of its capital city. This predicament is just a glitch in the Constitution, a document whose defects have been corrected before—Democrats and Republicans together changed the Constitution in the early 1960s to give D.C. residents three votes in the Electoral College. Making D.C. a state would finally end centuries of taxation without representation in Congress. The only holdups are partisanship and inertia. —Zach Rausnitz
What’s with the teensy weensy facade at 1347 S St. NW, just behind Garden District? The entire facade is as wide as one standard door, with one brick on either side.
The address 1347 S Street turns up nothing in city property or tax records. The building has two makeshift placards listing who occupies the space—Brian Petro Art and Hartwell Design. Sadly, Brian Petro passed away in December 2016, though a sign imploring visitors to call or text him to view his artwork remains, along with some mementos and notes from friends. Hartwell Design, which does kitchen and bathroom design, proved difficult to nail down.
Calling their offices put me through to a remote call service, which refused to answer any questions or provide direct contact info, insisting I make an appointment. When my meeting time rolled around, it turned out to have been booked in Central Standard Time and at the wrong address. After some more calls to the call center, I arrived back at 1347 S Street, where nobody answered the door. After waiting about half an hour, I received a call from Hartwell’s owner, William Pendleton, who is only in D.C. on weekends and based in Florida the rest of the time. Oh, and he had no clue this appointment was happening, leading me to temporarily believe that the building houses a tear in the space-time continuum.
Luckily, he was able to clear some things up—1347 S Street is actually a side entrance to the McEnearney Associates building located around the corner. The building’s facade is so tiny because it opens into a narrow hallway, leading to the stairs of the shared basement studio space. —Stephanie Rudig
What is the most popular beverage in the District?
Liberal tears. —Darrow Montgomery
Is there any “community theater” in D.C.? Or just the big (and thus expensive) theaters?
D.C. has one of the largest theater communities in the nation, so the options in terms of type of show and the budget on which it’s produced are plentiful. On any given night, patrons can find tickets at a variety of price points, from $15 seats for a Taffety Punk Theatre Company production at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop to $100-plus tickets to shows at Arena Stage and the Kennedy Center.
As for the all-volunteer, Waiting for Guffman-esque brand of community theater that brings together amateur performers, directors, and technicians, D.C. is home to just one. The St. Mark’s Players have operated out of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Capitol Hill since 1982. They produce three shows a year with a crew of 50 to 100 theater enthusiasts who participate out of sheer love for the work. Unlike most professional or semi-professional theater companies in D.C., which compete for Helen Hayes Awards, the St. Mark’s Players compete for Washington Area Theater Community Honors, facing off against other groups based in the suburbs.
“Many of the community theaters in the further reaches of the WATCH group (say out in Rappahannock or Loudoun or St. Mary’s counties) really do have a small community of people who take part over and over again in their community productions,” SMP treasurer Roger Munter explains. “In the city, the lines between what is community theater and what is the semi-professional world of theater get a little more blurred.” Their shows might not be gussied-up by Tony winners, but if you’re looking for enthusiasm, St. Mark’s is the place to go. —Caroline Jones
An avid Caps fan for the last 10 years, I always loved the Ameritel Corporation’s commercials, featuring a set of triplets somehow related to the company saying, “We know quality copies!” What happened to them?
The cute little kids who recited the phone number for “your hometown place for copiers” aren’t so little anymore. Lauren, Courtney, and Maranda Kaufman will soon turn 21 and attend three different colleges, according to their dad, David, Ameritel Corporation’s president. They’ve simply outgrown their pitchwoman stage. Despite the kids moving on, Ameritel continues to air ads during Capitals broadcasts and sponsors dasher boards inside the rink at Verizon Center. Ameritel customers still ask about the triplets, David says, a sign that the ads really stuck with people. And while there are no plans for a commercial starring twenty-something triplets, those looking for a dose of nostalgia can check out old ads on Ameritel’s YouTube channel. —Caroline Jones
I know that Washington City Paper’s print edition has always technically published on Fridays. But for years, it’s been distributed on Thursdays. Now it actually hits the streets on Fridays. The Current newspapers are doing the same (Thursday instead of Wednesday). What gives? A day late in a world of instant online publication makes a big difference.
Have you ever thought you could deliver your boss a requested report by Thursday afternoon but you promised it for Friday instead? Just to ensure that you were accounting for unforeseen circumstances like your daily drinking and consistently bad judgment? And to avoid potentially missing a deadline? That’s kind of what we’ve been doing at City Paper for the last 36 years.
In the parlance of the industry, we “close the book” late Wednesday afternoon and send pages to the printer that evening—after clearing away the detritus of post-deadline beer-drinking. Most of the time, our papers are printed by early Thursday morning and are ready to be distributed that day. Many, though not all, readers are able to find their copies on Thursday. But we live in the nation’s capital, where traffic, protests, presidential motorcades, daytime shooting sprees, crane-climbing Greenpeace protesters, and myriad other circumstances can delay getting those papers in the boxes. So we’ve always used a Friday publish date. We’re truth tellers. We don’t want to lie to you. —Liz Garrigan
Where can I find a copy of all the development that the city has approved, but in map form?
Unfortunately for amateur urban planners reading this, there isn’t a comprehensive map for all the construction happening in D.C., which runs the gamut from big multibillion-dollar, mixed-use projects like the Wharf along the Southwest Waterfront to renovations or conversions in historic neighborhoods. The District, however, tracks publicly backed developments with both a “Ward Investment Map” and a “Project Pipeline Database.” (The Washington Business Journal has a useful “Crane Watch” map.) Meanwhile, the Washington D.C. Economic Partnership has a search tool on its website that links to Google Maps for individual developments. And the D.C. Preservation Network runs a map of subsidized projects in the city that offer affordable housing. —Andrew Giambrone
Why does D.C. not have a policy stipulating no net loss of community gardens?
“No net loss” policies generally apply to resources that are shrinking, like wetlands and affordable housing. But community gardens are increasing in the District. “We build multiple community gardens and farms every year,” says Joshua Singer, community garden specialist at D.C.’s Department of Parks and Recreation. “DPR alone is up to 34 community gardens and five urban farms with a few more projects coming this summer. That’s almost double what we had three years ago.”
Admittedly, waitlists for community garden plots can be quite long. If you’re committed to having your own plot—where you can plant exactly what you choose, come and go as you please, and walk from your home—well, options could be limited, depending on where you live.
But if you’re focused on the central goals of digging in dirt and taking home fresh produce, options are much broader. The DC Urban Gardeners Network lists a total of 69 community gardens and 23 urban farms on its website dugnetwork.org. The network publishes a biweekly newsletter full of “events, classes, announcements, job openings, grants, and more.”
In addition, Kid Power Inc. is looking for volunteers to tend gardens at several D.C. public schools this summer. After completing a simple registration process, you can garden at the schools on weekdays, including evenings. You’ll be helping maintain plots that kids use to learn about gardening. Since produce abounds, you’ll be able to take your share of the bounty home.
Finally, if you’re over 50 or have a disability and you’ve got a backyard, the city’s Age-Friendly DC office would love to connect you with local gardeners who could help cultivate your yard. If you have the space and want to share it, call (202) 727-7937 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, and the office will work to connect you with gardeners. —Alexa Mills
What’s the story behind the death of Fred Gau, memorialized by a plaque at the bottom of the Woodley Park Metro. It seems he was a student and killed during the excavation?
It is indeed a sad story for Mr. Gau, who was the first fatality in the construction of the Metro. (One person was killed during pre-production after accidentally drilling into a buried power line). In the winter of 1972, Gau was a 27-year-old University of Illinois graduate student working on a $350,000 contract with two other grad students to “place instruments in the walls of the tunnel to test rock and detect movement,” according to a 1972 Washington Post article. A six-ton block of rock fell from the roof of the tunnel and crushed a platform where Gau and his two colleagues were working. They were injured, but Gau was killed as a result of head trauma.
When the Post interviewed two other Metro workers about Gau’s death, one confirmed his decision “to go back to being a farmer in Colorado,” while the other shrugged and said “it happens.” —Matt Cohen
Who invented the term DMV to refer to the greater D.C. area of D.C., Maryland, and Virginia?
There’s a lot of debate as to exactly who coined the term DMV, but what we do know is that it (most likely) originated from D.C.’s hip-hop community in the early 2000s, when the term started showing up on gig flyers around town. According to a 2009 City Paper article by then- arts editor Sarah Godfrey, the people most associated with coining it were DJ Rob AKA Mista DMV, 20Bello, and DJ Eurok. (Others have credited Wale, but his management tells CP that though he helped spread the term when his success broke, he takes no credit.)
Rapper 20Bello, who says he began using the term around 2003, claims to have heard it from from go-go musician Kibwe Galloway, according to a 2015 Washingtonian article. But DJ Rob and his crew, the Target Squad, were the ones that started using DMV to refer to the greater Washington area, going so far as to hype the term on radio stations WKYS and WPGC in the early 2000s.
But there’s another wrinkle with regard to this question. Artist, blogger, and art curmudgeon Lenny Campello also claims ownership of the term. Campello says by email that he started using the term to refer to the area in 2003 (an old blog post on his website, DC Art News, confirms this). “I remember driving home and hearing some news talk on the radio about North Korea and China, blah blah, the usual nuclear weapons talk,” Campello recalls. “I switched the radio station, and Run DMC was playing somewhere else. … I recall then thinking DMZ (for Korea) and DMC (for the group) on the radio. … When I got home I was whistling the tune (Walk this way with Steven Tyler), and when I sat down to do a blog post, it all came out: DMZ (Korea), DMC (the group), DMV (District, Maryland, Virginia).” —Matt Cohen