Fantasy is always high on the agenda at the annual convention of the Washington Science Fiction Association (WSFA). This year, however, reality intruded on the festivities at the Ramada Inn in New Carrollton, Md. In the wee hours of May 25, a pair of bondage aficionados apparently tied themselves to a few choice spotsincluding a fire sprinklerin their fourth-floor room. “It’s pretty graphic,” whispered a hotel maintenance man who would not give his name. “Use your imagination. Use it about the leather stuff, the whippers. Imagine a chain.” Actually, it was a rope, according to a firefighter who was called to the scene at about 5:30 a.m. after the sprinkler head broke, tripping the fire alarm and deluging several rooms. The flood seeped through multiple floors to the lobby, displacing guests for at least two hours. Although hotel manager Tom Harris did not return calls, the firefighter estimated the damage at $100,000. Insurance agents for WSFA and the Ramada are still wrangling over the particulars, according to conference chair Mike Nelson, who doubts the culprits were all registered conference attendees. “An outside groupparasites,” Nelson sighed. “We do all the work and then they come in and make the mess.” Alien invaders, no doubt.
WAMU commentator and D.C. talking head Mark Plotkin has been pillorying D.C. councilmembers and other city politicos for years. But no matter. Plotkin’s legendary nattering and advocacy of D.C.’s losing causeslike statehoodearned him his own holiday last month when the D.C. Council declared May 10 “Mark Plotkin Day.” Plotkin turned 50 in April, and 100 of his nearest and dearest held a birthday bash for him May 10. In honor of the event, Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans introduced a ceremonial resolution that was approved by the council last Tuesday. Plotkin says he’s a little embarrassed to be honored by the body he so routinely criticizes and notes that he heard that the resolution “met with some internal opposition” within Evans’ office. “If I were on the council, I’d vote against it,” says Plotkin. Evans, for his part, says getting seven votes in the council to pass the resolution was no easy task. “There are those on the council who aren’t as fond of Mark as I am,” says Evans.
One of the District’s most time-honored rites of spring is a big spat between Mount Pleasant residents and the neighborhood’s various liquor establishments. This year’s hot spot is Don Juan’s Bar and Restaurant at 1660 Lamont St. NWa vintage dive or local eyesore, depending on your perspective. Mount Pleasant homeowners, who have been complaining to city liquor authorities about drunks who mill about Don Juan’s, plan to challenge the establishment’s liquor license this summer. According to Mount Pleasant Neighborhood Alliance (MPNA) attorney Russell Smith, the challenge is meant to force the bar’s owners to supervise its patrons, “not to put somebody out of business.” However, Omar Zavala-Cruz, a Mount Pleasant advisory neighborhood commissioner, says MPNA’s actions amount to a campaign by wealthier residents to “terrorize” a bar that caters to lower-income Latinos. Zavala-Cruz and neighborhood activist Gregg Edwards claim that MPNA, along with three other community groups, aim to close bars like Don Juan’s in the name of gentrification. “You can’t have an interesting strip with ethnic restaurants if they can’t sell liquor,” says Edwards. “It’s de facto killing them off.”