December 31, 2003

20 Second Museum Review - DEA Museum


It's a little blurry, much like the late 1970s.

I wouldn't have been surprised if the Drug Enforcement Agency Museum was nothing more than a propagandistic house of horrors.

Well, it isn't -- entirely. Tucked in a corner of the DEA headquarters' lobby in Pentagon City (right across Hayes St. from the mall), there isn't really all that much to see. For hardened Washingtonians used to guiding visitors through labyrinthine Smithsonian museums, this looks like little more than a gussied-up hallway.

But it does have some pretty cool stuff. There are bottles of cocaine sold as baby remedies from the turn of the century, heroin sold as a cure for cocaine addiction and all manner of opium-smoking equipment. Later down the hallway are symbols of Scarface-era narcocrime, including a Paddington Bear stuffed with coke and a diamond-plated gun that evidently didn't do its drug-lord owner much good.

Of course, it wouldn't be a government-sponsored exhibit about drugs without a clumsy attempt at justifying its most notable waste - the War on Marijunana. There is nothing on pot until about the 1930s, when the narrative picks up, seemingly out of nowhere, somewhere in the middle of a panel about jazz musicians on heroin. Included are the perfunctory Reefer Madness posters and pulp fiction novels about how the demon weed turns women into violent whores. No mention, of course, about how none of that is true, but whatever. Also notably absent is a serious mention of alcohol prohibition, which would only serve sully the image the museum tries to build -- drugs are bad and the DEA uses cool technology and techniques to stop them.

To be fair, the propaganda is there, but it isn't oppressive. The museum does a pretty good job sticking to the evolution of drugs in America and the evolution of techniques to stop people from doing them.

A final note: Check out this page from the museum guestbook. If our friend from Seattle serious?

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December 28, 2003

Factoid

Completely by accident, I found this: If you scroll down, you find the number for the Chicago Tribune's White House desk is listed under "Laundries-Self Service." It works in BigYellow too.

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December 26, 2003

Blog break

Tis' the day after Christmas, and all through the region
Everyone's shopping, even Norwegians
The sweaters were marked down, folded with care
with knowledge that soon shoppers would be there.

More rich, bloggy goodness tomorrow, now 50 percent off.

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December 23, 2003

A friendly reminder

Photoblogging in Fairfax

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December 22, 2003

The 12 days of DCSOB

On the 12th day of Christmas, I got from DCSOB:

12 crackheads twiching
11 teachers grafting
10 congressmen meddling
9 red-light cameras
8 dead zoo creatures
7 lobbyists bribing
6 streets a-closing
Five Metro lines
4 barflies smoking
3 half-smokes
2 sniper suspects
And a high school full of mercury.

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December 19, 2003

Smorgas-what?


We're pleased to announce that Smorgasblog has now officially launched, so to speak.

What is Smorgasblog, you ask?

Think of Smorgasblog as the Venn diagram of group blogs. We're a group of bloggers who have some (but not all) overlapping interests and like to write on different topics but in communities of those with the same interest. The end result is a grouping of specialty blogs, each with multiple perspectives. We now have two blogs, but more are in the works.

Posts to each of the blogs are aggregated on smorgasblog.com, so that you can quickly see what our bloggers are writing about.

We'll be launching new themed blogs over the next several weeks and months. If this sounds interesting to you and you would like to join us (or suggest/start a blog on smorgasblog.com), email us at smorgasblog@smorgasblog.com.

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Is this what the next few years will look like for me?

From DC RECESS:


Single Jews Unite! Choose from a number of events on December 24th and 25th, including the Gefilte Fish Gala, the Matzo Ball (December 24th starting at 8 p.m. at LuLu's on 22nd & M St., NW, DC. This hip dance party for young people (ages normally range from 25-35) touts itself as "the best party in town." Tickets are $20 and can be bought online, at the door or by calling 202-861-5858.), Strike Bethesda's Matzoh Bowl and Willie and Reed's big-tent Hanu'Mas party.


Oy vey iz meer.


UPDATE: The flyer:

Menorah-head? Doesn't that scare you on some level?

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Shout out

A hearty howdy to D.C. blogger N.M., who got into a nasty car accident last night.

It's a good thing she didn't crash in Southeast - it would have been quite a schlep to the hospital. Anyway, N.M. suffers only from a stiff neck and reportedly has enough painkillers to quell a mosh pit. She should be blogging about it by next week.

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December 18, 2003

I Want My Representation!

Did you know the population of Washington, D.C. is 572,059 people, as of 2000?

Did you know the population of Wyoming is 493, 877, as of 2000?

So please explain to me again why Washington, D.C. can't have representatives in the House and Senate?

Remember to Vote in the Primary, even if half the candidates bailed.


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December 17, 2003

Conventional Wisdom

I don't have a personal blog anymore, so I rarely get to mouth off on issues of the day, which takes some getting used to. That being said, I have two things I need to get off on my chest and it looks like this is the only place to do it:

1. The reconstruction of Iraq should not be an issue of spoils. I understand why some would see the issue of who gets contracting jobs in Iraq as an issue of spoils -- we took over the country, so our companies should get the benefits, right? Wrong. Contracting jobs shouldn't be cushy agreements handed down like favors; they should be seen as fullfilling objectives in the most cost-effective way possible. I'm dissapointed that those who argue French, German and Russian companies should be given an opportunity to bid do so on the grounds that it would be a magnanimous act of reconciliation. It's not. It's a matter of who can do the best job for the least cost. If it's anything else, the administration proves it went into Iraq to enrich its corporate friends.

2. Capturing Saddam doesn't hurt Democrats. Well, it does if the media insists it does without any rational basis, badgering every candidate and pundit to disprove it. No serious person thought we couldn't defeat the Iraqi military. Capturing Saddam may or may not help stop the resistance (which everybody will agree is a good thing), but doing so doesn't strike at the heart of the mainstream anti-war message, which is that our resources should not go to fighting someone who was not as central to the terrorist network as many others. It is now plain to see that Iraq had no plans to attack the U.S. or U.S. interests with WMD (or sticks and stones for that matter).

The "flypaper theory," invented by neocons after the fact to justify the resistance we faced in Iraq, doesn't hold up when we found out nearly all of the people attacking our troops are Iraqis. We didn't drain the swamp -- we created another.

Sure, Saddam was a brutal dictator, but if we went after every brutal dictator in the world, we'd have to reinstate the draft. Why Iraq and not Zimbabwe, where our soldiers at least know the language?

And since when did capturing Saddam become a central goal in the War on Terror? Now that he doesn't control the country, isn't his relevance limited exclusively to any control he might have to the people attacking our troops? The goalposts of success in the War on Terror keep shifting.

As for Dean and the Dems, the capture of Saddam is a tactical victory and should be a political non-starter except for the conventional wisdom's insistence that it means something.

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Primary Crullers

Hey Washingtinos: You can't vote for Joe Lieberman, John Edwards, John Kerry, Dick Gephardt or Wesley Clark.

And not just because I say so.

They've asked to be removed from the ballot of our primary. Do they think their fealty to the first-in-the-nation status of two rural states which shall remain nameless will get them a few extra votes and a shot at second place?

Posted by rj3 at 10:37 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 16, 2003

Enola. Gay?

So, what does everybody think about the Enola Gay controversy? Is it really a controversy if a few people hold up signs and chant? Should they have removed all mention of the nuclear bomb that made the plane worth saving and putting in a museum? Does this site have enough traffic to generate some comments? Do I have to end every sentence with a question mark?

Posted by rj3 at 11:06 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 15, 2003

DCSOB Holiday Gift Guide

On Friday, Express featured a holiday gift guide for for good children and adults in the DC metro area, divided by Metro station. While some of the gift ideas were good (a lipstick-sized digital camera for Tenleytown hoochie-mamas with nowhere to put a real camera), they could have used some more creativity. Therefore, we present the first annual DCSOB Holiday Gift Guide, sorted by Metro station.

ANACOSTIA: Now that you don’t have a hospital within miles, it’s time to start picking up the slack and taking on some responsibility for the health of your neighbors. What says “I’ve been abandoned by the health care establishment, but that won’t get me down” more than a Phillips HeartStart Home Defibrillator? (Call for price.)

COLLEGE PARK/U OF MD: Sure, the Terps aren’t the craziest partiers in the land, but they can kill a frat boy with the best of ‘em. So before your pledgemaster son has to hold up a mirror to a frosh's mouth to see if they’re breathing, give him a BT-5500 breathalyzer kit. (Yahoo! Shopping, $48.99)

CRYSTAL CITY: You never visit your college pal because he lives in the soul-crushing sameness of Crystal City. What you don’t know is that even he sometimes forgets whether he lives in Crystal Towers, Crystal Gardens or Crystal Plaza. Help him find his way home with the Pharos PK038 Pocket GPS Navigator Kit. (Amazon.com $146.46)

FOGGY BOTTOM/GWU: It’s hard being a State Department official these days – nobody listens to you. Help your diplomat friends stand out with a Von Dutch Trucker Hat, an item sure to arouse jealousy (and charges of being soft on terrorism) from Pentagon brass, formerly the only government officials to hold press conferences wearing hats. (Vondutch.com $42)

SUITLAND: For your favorite Andrews AFB park-and-rider, may we suggest devaluing his or her hard work and training with the Top Gun George W. Bush Flight Suit Doll? Half the proceeds go to Halliburton. (talkingpresidents.com $29.99)

U ST./CORDOZO/AFR. AMER. CIVIL WAR MEM: Your brother’s wife got the kids and the home in Rockville. So what? He’s still young, and the new apartment at The Ellington will really help re-integrate him into single life. Before heading out to Saint-Ex for a chalice of Belgian beer, why not help him read up on what went on in the neighborhood before the Invasion of the Yuppies with Jazz For Dummies. (Amazon.com $17.49)

WOODLEY PARK/ADAMS MORGAN/ZOO: All those exotic animals are dropping dead in your cousin’s back yard and all you’re going to do is complain about mismanagement by National Zoo officials? Why not make the best of a bad situation – or more specifically, make a meal out of a bad situation. Get her in the mood to grill some endangered meat with The Freshman on DVD. (Overstock.com. $10.69)

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December 14, 2003

Taxicab Meters are Coming

The Washington Post reports that D.C. is finally trying to get rid of the zone system for taxicabs and to replace it with a meter system. If it actually passes, this will be a major boom for the city -- or at least my wallet, so I can stop paying $7.90 for a mile and half cab ride to my office in the morning.

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December 13, 2003

K Street is dead

I'm neither surprised nor sad. The actual K Street will still stay open, however.

Posted by rj3 at 8:05 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Beat It

I live in an apartment building, and for the last three times I've gone down the hallway on my floor to and from the elevator, one of my neighbors is blasting "Beat It," loud enough to be heard through the metal door. It wouldn't be a big deal if it was different songs each time, but it's always "Beat It."

Just saying.

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December 12, 2003

Public Service Announcement

Courtesy DC RECESS:

FREE CABS. In this extended season of office parties, holiday get-togethers and family dinners, the Washington Regional Alcohol Program's annual SoberRide campaign is ... offering free taxis home every night through Jan. 2. Between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m., if you need a ride home, dial 1-800-200-TAXI, and you're good for up to a $50 fare.
Posted by amg at 11:53 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Blue and Orange line mess

Police activity near the tracks?

I think there will be a lot more to this once we find out the whole story. You don't grind half the Metro system to a halt during the morning rush because some purse-snatcher jumped a fence.

It's a good thing all the cool kids live on the Red Line.

UPDATE: So, it was a bomb threat near Stadium/Armory. Lovely.

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Dulles Rail? Not Anytime Soon.

Check out cs's post on the latest edition of the fight for Metrorail expansion to Dulles over on Live from the Third Rail.

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December 11, 2003

Who wants to marry a longshot?

Dennis Kucinich is desperate -- in more ways than one.

Next week on "Also-Ran Island," Paris Hilton eliminates Al Sharpton after finding she had more money in her purse than he has in his campaign fund. Sharpton swings back, announcing "I've found bigger pieces of meat caught in my mustache."

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December 10, 2003

Baltimore flashback

Don't expect anything great from me today, I just got the third season of Homicide in the mail, so the DC blogging is going to have to wait while I soak in the charm.

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December 9, 2003

You're in an exclusive club and you don't even know it

...If you have a 202 area code, that is. I got a new cell phone yesterday and it came with a 240 area code, which I thought was only for the yokels in Olney and Frederick. Apparently, they're using 240 for DC cell phones now, so we can now look forward to the sort of area code snobbery New Yorkers have known for years. 202, 703 and 301 are all well and good, but if you have a 240 or whatever new area code they're using in NoVa now, you're still a little wet behind the ears.

For those reasons and more, I just ported the number I've had since 2001, which isn't even in 202.

They said it would take a week.

Next time someone tells me competition always means better service, I'll wave my cell phone at them.

UPDATE: So I got a call from the T-Mobile people last night. Apparently, they're ready to port my old number, but they forgot my old number.

Posted by rj3 at 7:33 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

December 8, 2003

Film picks

If you like movies but think schlepping over to the Geoegetown googleplex to watch Honey could be construed as cruel and unusual punishment, there is hope.

Visions in Dupont Circle is showing Bus 174, a Brazilian documentary about a 2000 bus hijacking that briefly riveted the country. Although very dramatic, it’s different from the fictionalized hostage-situation movies you’re no doubt familiar with. Usually, the lines are set very early in the film, with the negotiator (either a hardass or a sympathetic softie) verbally sparring with the hostage-taker (either purely evil or misguided and confused). The media are like vultures, hovering noisily above waiting to pounce.

Bus 174 is different – the hostage-taker isn’t smart or old enough to know what he’s doing and the police are too badly trained to even sufficiently cordon off the idling bus from the media, which accounts for the excellent footage in the film.

More than anything, this film is about what happens at the intersection of society and chaos. A street kid with no hope and a violent past, he could be anywhere in the third world – but he’s not – he’s in Downtown Rio de Janeiro, a modern city that could be anywhere, reminding the moviegoer that the sort of desperation and chaos that leads to arm-chopping, village-burning civil war in Africa can come to so-called “civilized” places.

As for the ending, it’s perhaps the most riveting part. For a documentary, it has quite a few plot twists and a very strong narrative.

A date movie it’s not, but if Scary Movie 3 or The Matrix: Revolutions made you lose your faith in celluloid, this is your chance to get it back.

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December 7, 2003

Burning documents: not just for corporations

Nattily attired in a pencil-striped suit, a smiling, polite Japanese ushered the reporters off the grounds. . . .

"What were you burning in the back?" queried a reporter.

"Dear sir," he said, "those, of course, were my love letters. I hope you will not jump to the hasty conclusion that they were diplomatic documents."


-- Dec. 8, 1941 Washington Post

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December 6, 2003

First snow of the season


It ain't much, but it's something.

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December 5, 2003

DC RECESS

For those of you not yet in the know, DC RECESS is an e-mail newsletter chronicling "happenings" in the greater Washington, D.C. area. It's supposed to come out every Friday (although they've been slacking as of late); it's an excellent way to find some of the more interesting things to do on the weekend; plus they can't help but add pithy commentary. I spend my Friday waiting for it to pop up into my e-mail box, so I can figure out what my plans are for the next two days.

They don't have a website, but if you're interested in joining (it's free), e-mail them at DCrecess@hotmail.com -- and tell 'em DCSOB sent you.

Some of the more interesting parts from this week's DC RECESS:

  • Bill Murrayfest. If you do not agree that Bill Murray is the funniest human being/ coolest guy on Earth, then stop reading Recess. SNL writer Tom Schiller had it right in describing Murray as "an itinerant monk actor," and many of Murray's film roles have proven enduring and worthy of a retrospective. Which is why the American Film Institute is screening "Bill Murray: Found in Translation" and not "Chevy Chase: Extreme Foul Play." Included are movie-stealing supporting roles in Tootsie, Caddyshack and the Royal Tenenbaums; star turns in Meatballs, Stripes, and Ghostbusters; and examples of that monkishly serious comedy in Groundhog Day, Rushmore, and Lost in Translation. Forgive the man Mad Dog and Glory when the series opens Friday, Dec. 5, at the AFI's Silver Theater, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $8.50. (301) 495-6700. Dec. 5-11. Use this as a chance to check out the spectacular Silver Theater.
  • Weird Tunes and Power Chords. Thursday, Dec. 11 - Only in Norway could a black-metal album go Top 10. (And only in Norway could a black-metal album go Top 10 along with country-popper Alan Jackson's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2.) That is, as long as you still consider Dimmu Borgir black metal. Despite the requisite corpse paint, the Norwegian sextet's latest, Death Cult Armageddon, often sounds more like an American nü-metal disc battling the Raiders of the Lost Ark soundtrack. That's because Death Cult finds Dimmu Borgir (Norwegian for "We love Cradle of Filth") pairing its chugging Vin Diesel power chords with the 46-member Prague Philharmonic Orchestra for what the band's Web site calls that "authentic feeling." Now, if by "authentic" the band means "grandiose and baroque," then it's got authentic feeling in spades. Or maybe it just means "whatever it takes to stay in the Top 10." It's got that, too. Dimmu Borgir plays with Nevermore, Children of Bodom, and Hypocrisy at 8:30 p.m. at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $20. (202) 393-0930.
  • The Ragin Cajun Speaks. For those of you who hated “K Street” this is your chance to vent (We at Recess sort of enjoyed the awkwardness of the show, it was sort of like watching that Michael Jackson, Lisa Marie kiss, or even better the Liza Minelli, Christopher Guest hand-holding (before she kicked his ass). The political consultant James Carville shares his views and signs his new book on the current state of American Politics, “Had Enough? A Handbook for Fighting Back.” At St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 4900 Connecticut Avenue, 7 PM, Wed. Dec. 10.
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If you were stuck near Metro Center clap your hands

So, who was on that fun, fun, fun half-hour delay on the Red Line this morning? I was, and I read Express cover-to-cover three times. Yay.

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December 4, 2003

A City of History

archives.bmp For a town with such an emphasis on history, the city of Washington, D.C. seems to be neglecting its own history. The Washington Post reports today on the decrepit state of the D.C. archives. The archives rest in a deteriorating building that has no heat or air conditioning; its so bad that some members of its advisory board won't even visit it. It just goes to show where the focus is in D.C. -- on the national government, not on the local residents and local history.

Posted by amg at 10:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Washington Times: Your source for news the that... umm...was reported yesterday in that other Washington paper...


The Washington Times article referenced by the previous post includes the following paragraph:

Change the Climate Inc. has been using public service advertising space on the Metro since 2001, the Washington Post reported Wednesday, but it was the latest round of advertising, this fall that drew the ire of Rep. Ernest J. Istook Jr., R-Okla.
I hope it really chafes the Moonie Press' collective ass to have to cite yesterday's Washington Post article, especially when they were scooped on a story about Republicans angry at stupid things.

Particularly interesting about this story is that Metro had originally refused to run the ad, but caved in when they were threatened with an ACLU-supported lawsuit. Boston's decision not to run the same ads resulted in a lawsuit that continues today, three years after it began.

Istook has inserted an omnibus bill language that would cut the funds Metro received from the federal government by $92,500 (twice the amount the space was worth). Which Istook said would serve "as a warning to other transit agencies." This douche bag Istook is clearly playing into the hands of Change the Climate (CTC), by essentially demanding that the ads be removed. Were WMATA to do so CTC would undoubtedly bring an ACLU-supported lawsuit against the authority.

As Jim Graham, chairman of the Metro board, puts it, "The congressman would rather have us slug this out in court... The expense that's going to be involved is considerable. And this group would like nothing more than to sue. It's better publicity than advertising."

CTC's founder, Joseph White summarized the situation thusly:

"Yes, we wanted to stimulate debate, but we didn't think a nutcase congressman would try to eliminate free speech. If they don't like what we're doing, they ought to read the Constitution and get a life."

And yes this post was just an excuse to post the ad in question.

Posted by cs at 2:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Chronic transit problems

I don't know why congressmen are still in bitch-and-moan phase about the marijuana legalization ads in the Metro when most of them are already down.

To repeat: Advocating a change in the law does not mean you're supporting illegal activity. Now go back to Oklahoma or wherever it is you're from and don't bother us again.

Posted by rj3 at 12:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 3, 2003

Oh Captain, my Captain Obvious

Washington is unique among cities as unable to levy a commuter tax on people who come in across state lines to work in DC offices and use DC services and infrastructure in the process.

Mayor Williams tells the Governors of Maryland and Virginia he wants the tax.

The Governors, who don't rely on DC residents for votes, say no.


If the tax is in court anyway, why does he even bother asking?

Posted by rj3 at 1:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 2, 2003

Murder Month, Part II

An interesting piece appeared in the Op Ed section of the post last Saturday. Entitled "Eleven Days in the District," the piece begins thusly:

THE TALLY SPEAKS for itself:

Sunday, Nov. 16: Man, 22, found in the 1700 block of Park Road NW suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. Pronounced dead at the medical examiner's office.

Monday, Nov. 17: Man, 30, found in the 200 block of V Street NE with gunshot wounds. Pronounced dead at the hospital.

Thursday, Nov. 20: Man, 48, shot; found in the 2300 block of 14th Street NE. Pronounced dead at the medical examiner's office...

The editorial goes on to detail ten murders which occured within the eleven day span from 11/16 to 11/26. It goes on to state that the day-to-day reporting of these killings lessens the impact on the reader, but when grouped and presented one after another accounts of these murders show "lives being destroyed in the District at a pace that should disturb every member of the city's leadership."

The previous post suggested that if only eight people are murdered in DC in December we could reach a "recent" low for murders over a whole year. Now I'm not a betting man, but if I were, there's no way I'm putting my money on a peaceful holiday season.

Posted by cs at 5:09 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 1, 2003

Murder Month

Murder in Washington is down 7 percent from last year, totalling 225 to date. The recent low for the whole year was 2001, with 233 murders. DC can beat that in 2003 if fewer than eight murders take place in December. Who wants to take bets on this one?

Posted by rj3 at 7:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Our house, in the middle of R Street

So Bleeker and Bowery in New York is now Joey Ramone Place. Many street names are so old and esoteric that nobody knows where they come from. Why not liven things up by renaming some Washington Streets after more recent local heroes? Why not create local pride by christening Bad Brains Boulevard or Duke Ellington Way? I'm sure everyone would want a home on Sunny Day Real Estate Lane.

Posted by rj3 at 10:29 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack