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Creating art that pops

Glenn Fry, gay news, Washington Blade

Visual artist Glenn Fry moved to D.C. nearly 15 years ago. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

When visual artist Glenn Fry moved to D.C. nearly 15 years ago, he bartended at some of the gay community’s most popular nightlife venues and nightclub events. Quickly pegged as a recent transplant due to his failure to observe the local habit of reflexively asking customers what they do for a living, Fry remembers those exchanges from his perspective.

“People didn’t know how to process my being an artist,” Fry recalls, “although they were intrigued.” “Danger, Will Robinson,” was the comic strip thought bubble he would imagine floating over their heads while he concocted beverages.

“Ever since I was a kid I loved cartoons, loved the Pop Art movement,” Fry explains. “I would have loved to have been a part of that whole Manhattan ‘new art’ scene during the days of Andy Warhol.” “Warhol, along with fellow New York City pop artist Roy Lichtenstein, brought silkscreening to the forefront as a respected and appreciated art form.”

Fry chuckles when re-telling an art patron compliment, “if Warhol and Lichenstein had a kid, it would be you.”

The iconographic, bold, colorful, thought-provoking, graphic-inspired silkscreen prints Fry composes blend the pop art cultural influence of his youth and the marketing designs that would follow college. Printing on heavy paper, wood, glass or canvas in often oversized formats, he creates both one-of-a-kind and limited-edition images. From inspiration to composition to production, Fry fashions all aspects of his craft.

After earning a Fine Arts degree from Edinboro University in Northwestern Pennsylvania, Fry moved to Cleveland to work as a graphic designer. Specializing in corporate advertising for 10 years, he grew increasingly impatient to focus on more creative endeavors.

Now 47 and a full-time artist-entrepreneur managing Glenn Fry Art as his business enterprise, Fry is glad he gravitated to D.C. “I may not have been able to continue as an artist had I not moved here,” pointing out that economic downturns have largely not affected Washington – or interest in art. “D.C. has been good to me, my art has been well-received and I’m appreciative of that.” Besides, he notes, “New York’s bohemian culture isn’t around anymore.”

The stark simplicity of his silkscreened compositions initially belies both the complexity of their thoughtful origination and multi-layered manual execution. “I’m often inspired by situations I’ve gone through or those friends have experienced,” Fry says in describing the genesis of a piece. “I want my art to be fun, uplifting, colorful, graphic and bold, with a contemporary twist.”

While Fry designs pieces at his apartment near Logan Circle, he produces his prints at a nearby studio, organized by local artist Gary Fisher. Ten years ago, Fisher invited Fry to join him and three other artists in renting the basement level in a small commercial building at 1327 14th St., N.W., near Rhode Island Avenue. “Gary was the one who prodded me and inspired me,” Fry says, recalling his professional transition while still bartending.

Fry launched his first exhibit at Gallery Plan B, a couple of blocks north on 14th Street. “They really helped me spring to life in my profession,” says Fry. Working full-time as an artist since 2008, Fry has since garnered high-profile commissions for permanent installations at two Federal Reserve Board buildings, IBM, National Geographic Channels, and the Washington Design Center.

As his art gained exposure and grew in popularity, requests for commissioned pieces by both local businesses and individuals would follow. “Trusting me to create something they’ll enjoy, knowing my style and investing in my work” gives Fry great satisfaction.

“I’m grateful every day that I’ve found my passion,” Fry says, “I’m doing the thing that makes me happy.”

Mark Lee is a long-time entrepreneur and community business advocate. Follow on Twitter: @MarkLeeDC. Reach him at OurBusinessMatters@gmail.com.

Glenn Fry, gay news, Washington Blade

Glenn Fry (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

07
Jan
2014

Joseph F. Vivalo, Jr. dies at 53

Joe Vivalo, obituary, gay news, Washington Blade

Joseph F. “Joe” Vivalo, Jr. in 1987.

Joseph F. “Joe” Vivalo, Jr., 53, a former resident of Washington and Arlington who was active in political and AIDS charity fundraising and events management, died in Key West, Fla., on Feb. 5.

His death was from suicide, according to Terry Michael, with whom Vivalo shared an apartment on Capitol Hill in 1986-87 and again in 1992-93. Vivalo, who was gay, worked as a waiter at Mr. Henry’s restaurant, Michael said, after moving to the District from Portland, Ore., in July 1986. Living in New York from 1988-92, he returned to Washington in November 1992, where he resided again on Capitol Hill and later in the Logan Circle area, before settling in Arlington. At the time of his death, Vivalo had been living and working at a guesthouse in Key West.

A native of Youngstown, Ohio, Vivalo was a director of the Pallotta TeamWorks AIDS Ride in Washington in the late 1990s and was director of the Whitman-Walker Health AIDS Walk in 2000, when he also produced a fundraising concert for Whitman-Walker at the Kennedy Center, featuring singer Patti LaBelle. He worked in several AIDS walks in Manhattan in the late 1980s.

Specializing in arts and entertainment fundraising, Vivalo was fundraising director for former U.S. Rep. and 1984 Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro, in her unsuccessful race for the U.S. Senate in New York in 1992. He had served in the Mondale-Ferraro presidential campaign in Portland, Ore., in 1984, as a young field worker. He worked on the Clinton-Gore Inaugural Committee in Washington in 1992. And he was on the facilities management staff of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. in 2012. For a time, he ran a bike restoration business in Arlington.

Born Dec. 30, 1960 in Youngstown, Vivalo was a son of the late Joseph Vivalo and Marie Ann “Dolly” Vivalo, who survives, along with siblings Debbie, Jeff, John, Katie, Jacqueline, Michael and Kimberly. He is also survived by friends in the Washington area, including Walter Quetsch of Capitol Hill, at whose Fire Island cottage Vivalo was a frequent guest during the past two decades, and Washington attorney Jim Prunty, whom Vivalo met during his years in Portland.

Vivalo attended Ohio University, where he earned a degree in political communication. He was an active swimmer in high school and college. He had a passion for dance music and was a friend of the late San Francisco disco icon Sylvester James, “who visited Joe at our apartment on Capitol Hill in late 1987,” Michael said, noting that “Sylvester’s ‘You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)’ and ‘You Are My Friend’ tracks became Joe’s signature songs.”

A memorial service for Vivalo was held in Youngstown Feb. 8.

12
Feb
2014

Mid-City in winter

Mid-City, Logan Circle, gay news, Washington Blade

The big Mid-City winners in this category were zip code 20005 (Logan Circle) and 20004 (Penn Quarter). (Photo by AgnosticPreachersKid; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The books are closed on January 2014 real estate stats and, in general, it was a better month for market activity than January 2013. So let’s take a look at the numbers:

 

Mid-City, gay news, Real Estate, Washington Blade

Mid-City statistics

First, comparing median sold prices, Mid-City properties saw growth in median sold prices for January 2014 over January 2013 — $576,101 over $511,841. These figures are higher for both Mid-City and D.C. overall in either year; additionally, Mid-City median sold prices have a greater increase year over year than D.C.—by 12.6 percent compared to 11.6 percent for D.C. The big Mid-City winners in this category were zip code 20005 (Logan Circle) and 20004 (Penn Quarter), with 63.3 percent and 53.9 percent increases respectively. However, because these two zip codes had so few solds in January (a total of eight), it might be more accurate to designate zip code 20010 (Columbia Heights, Mt. Pleasant) as the winner with 28 solds and a 35.3 percent increase. The big loser was zip code 20003 (Capitol Hill, Navy Yards) with a -2.8 percent decrease in median sold prices over January 2013.

For active listings, Mid-City had a greater percentage increase in the number of properties on the market—from 387 in January 2013 to 463 in January 2014—for an increase of 19.6 percent in available properties in comparison to only a 5.4 percent increase for DC overall. Again, the big Mid-City zip code winner was 20010 (Columbia Heights, Mt. Pleasant) with a 78.3 percent increase in active listings, while the big loser was again zip code 20003 (Capitol Hill, Navy Yards) with a decrease of -34.8 percent in the number of active listings.

Average days on the market is one indicator of the “speed of the market” and a general index of the seller’s market: the fewer the number of days on the market, the more the market is considered to be a seller’s market. Here, D.C. showed an -18.5 percent decrease in average days on the market, while Mid-City experienced a 35.3 percent increase. This means there were more properties on the market for a longer time in January 2014 over January 2013 in Mid-City, but fewer in D.C. overall. However, to put this all in perspective, there must be a six-month supply of homes on the market for it to be considered a “balanced” market between sellers and buyers. Dividing the average days on the market by 30 to obtain the number of months of supply of available homes, we can see that both D.C. overall and Mid-City have approximately a two-month supply of homes on the market—making it clear that we are still in a seller’s market.  (However, this figure is up from the fall season, when homes moved so quickly off the shelf that there was less than a one-month supply.)

Identifying winners and losers in this category depends on your point of view: if you are a seller, a lower number of days on the market is better because it means that there is less competition for your property; if you are a buyer, a greater number of days is better because it means you have more options from which to choose and sellers may be more willing to negotiate. So, for this category, winner/loser zip codes for sellers are 20002 (H Street, Atlas District, Trinidad) with a decrease of average days on the market of -66.1 percent over January 2013 and 20005 (Logan Circle) with an increase of average days on the market of 205.4 percent over January 2013. For buyers , the winner/loser zip codes are just the opposite: your buying options increased in zip code 20005, while they decreased in zip code 20002. Looks like the H Street district is heating up.

The final comparison is sold price/original list price. Here, what’s being compared is how big a percentage of the original list price sellers are getting. The higher the percentage, the more we are in a seller’s market. The D.C. market has been in the 90+ percentage range for the last five years—even through the modest real estate decline we experienced in the District. Bargains are few and far between in D.C., and this is something that newcomers trying to buy a home here frequently learn the hard way by losing a number of their first offers. In this category, there wasn’t much different between D.C. overall and Mid-City from January 2013 to January 2014: Both experienced a .7 percent increase in the ratio of sold price to original list price, with the Mid-City ratio of 98.5 percent being 1.4 percent higher than D.C.’s 97.1 percent. (This means that Mid-City homes sell for closer to asking price—surprise!) In this category, the big winners—at least from a seller’s perspective—were zip codes 20004 (Penn Quarter) and 20005 (Logan Circle), with 4.5 percent and 3.4 percent increases over January 2013. It’s worth pointing out that zip code 20005 had a sold price/original list price ratio of 101.3 percent. This means that Logan Circle properties are selling for more than their asking price—even in the dead of winter. How is that possible? It means that 20005 properties are receiving multiple contract offers.

And the big loser in this category?  Zip code 20007 (Georgetown/Burleith, Glover Park), with a -1.6 percent decrease in the sold price/list price ratio to 95.1 percent. However, at a median sold price of $885,674, that’s hardly “loser” status.

Happy Hunting!

Ted Smith is a licensed Realtor with Real Living | at Home specializing in Mid-City DC. Reach him at TedSmithSellsDC@rlathome.com and follow him on Facebook.com/MidCityDCLife, Youtube.com/TedSmithSellsDC or @TedSmithSellsDC. You can also join him at free monthly seminars for first-time homebuyers or monthly tours of open houses in a different neighborhood each week. Sign up at meetup.com/DCMidCity1stTimeHomeBuyers/.

12
Feb
2014

Hot housing trends in D.C.

Real estate, trends, gay news, Washington Blade

Some residents are opting to ‘go micro’ while others are finding their money goes far enough to afford an extra bedroom in their condo. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Spring is finally here but the biggest buzz isn’t about what’s outside but what’s going on inside. Real estate in the District is changing in a major way from size and design to renovations. Here’s a roundup of some of the latest trends a savvy buyer should know about when hunting for a new home in the District.

First, expansion has become a need than a want. Efficiencies were once the popular (and affordable) option when seeking out a new condo. However, more buyers are now springing for that two-bedroom unit. According to Valerie Blake of Prudential PenFed Realty, the market is more affordable than it’s been for a while. Residents are no longer forcing themselves to downsize and are choosing to spring for another bedroom. The extra space can be used for a guest room, office, nursery or combination of the three.

More space isn’t only desirable feature. Those looking for a new condo are no longer primarily interested in condo facilities such as how good the gym is or whether there’s a pool. Instead, Blake notices a trend of residents wanting their own private, larger outdoor space.

D.C. residents also seem to have had enough of picking up the hammer, those who work the local market say. Many buyers are now looking for completely finished properties that require no extra work.

Kevin McDuffie of Coldwell Banker in Dupont Circle says, “People just want to bring their clothes and toothbrush. They don’t want to do their own renovations. They want a finished product.”

Design is always evolving and kitchen design is no exception. Dark cabinets with light floors used to be the “in” trend. However, now the opposite is true. Dark floors with lighter cabinets is the new chic. Many new homes feature this modern design. In general, traditional looks are no longer being used and a sleeker, sophisticated feel is in demand.

A neighborhood that’s becoming a trend in its own right is the waterfront in Southwest. Chris Heller of Coldwell Banker says this spot is one of the best places to move these days. He says the River Park building (1301 Delaware Ave., S.W.) sat for years with empty townhouses and apartments. Now, many units are going under contract. Heller attributes the interest to the location.

“It feels like living in a suburb over here. There’s a new Safeway and restaurants. But the Metro is only two blocks away. It’s the best of both worlds.”

Bucking the trend of seeking more space are younger buyers, some of whom are seeking “micro units.” These units are even smaller than efficiencies. Many have been included in buildings on 14th Street and in the U Street corridor. Young professionals seek these micro units because they are easy to manage and clean. They are used solely for the purpose of sleeping. Nowadays, Heller says, entertaining isn’t done inside the home the way it used to in the past.

“People don’t hold dinner parties that often anymore if at all,” Heller says. “They entertain their guests in the city in restaurants and bars. There are so many places to go now that there’s isn’t a need for space to entertain anymore.”

These micro units are about 278 square feet and can run as low as $99,000.

Clean, modern and ready for move-in seems to be the consensus among those looking to purchase in the District. It’s something many of us can agree with — the less work the better.

 

Apartment updates

 

U Street Corridor

 

The Cardozo, a 28-unit condominium residential building, is planned for the corner of 11th and V streets. Units are planned to be small, ranging in size from 615-750 square feet. The six-story building will have underground garage parking.

JBG plans to build two buildings with five stories of residential units including ground floor retail and one level of underground parking. One building is planned to run from 8th to 9th Street and the other will be to the east.

Louis at 14th is planned for the west side of 14th street south of U Street. The nine-story building will house 267 units with 30,000 square feet of street level retail. Amenities include a movie theater, yoga room, rooftop pool and 24-hour concierge.

 

Logan Circle

 

Developer Brook Rose has proposed a rental complex on the 1400 block of Church Street. The building would include 29 micro-unit studios and six one-bedroom apartments for a total of 35 available units. Eight stories high, the complex would incorporate the existing row houses on the street.

The Fortis Companies plans to build a 33-unit apartment complex by converting the National Alliance of Postal and Federal Workers in Logan Circle. An additional two floors would be built for either condos or rentals. The units would range in size from 600-1,700 square feet.

Habte Sequar has built the Aston, a development consisting of 31 condominiums, 18 parking spaces and 3,000 in ground floor retail on 14th and R streets. This building is sold out.

The Irwin, a five-story residential building, has been planned for a vacant lot on 14th Street south of Rhode Island Avenue. Units are planned to be small ranging from 500-600 square feet. Condo amenities would include a large internal courtyard, fitness center, bicycle storage, 20 parking spaces and a common roof terrace.

 

14th Street Corridor

 

Douglas Development is building a seven-story residential building on the southeast corner of 14th and Florida Ave.; 30 units are planned for the building.

Community Three plans for a residential building with 18 condos with ground floor retail. The six-story building would have condos around 600-1,400 square feet including a penthouse on the top floor.

The Corcoran is a seven-story condo planned for a current Zipcar parking lot on 14th Street. The 40-unit condo building would include ground floor retail.

CAS Riegler has redeveloped the Lionel Train Store (1324 14th St., N.W.) into a five-unit condo building. Units are around 1,000 square feet. Pricing runs from $600,000-$850,000. The building is sold out.

04
Apr
2014

Bowser or Catania?

David Catania, Muriel Bowser, mayor, D.C. Council, gay news, Washington Blade

The race between David Catania and Muriel Bowser for mayor is dividing the LGBT community. (Washington Blade photo of Catania by Michael Key; Blade photo of Bowser by Damien Salas)

D.C.’s overwhelmingly Democratic-leaning LGBT community will likely be navigating unchartered waters this summer and fall as an LGBT-supportive Democrat, Council member Muriel Bowser, runs against a prominent openly gay Council colleague, independent David Catania, in a hotly contested race for mayor.

“I have no idea how it will come out,” said Rick Rosendall, president of the non-partisan Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance.

“Many people are talking about supporting Catania,” Rosendall said. “At the same time, some people are circling the wagons as Democrats.”

Rosendall is among many activists who see a potential dilemma for LGBT voters in a city in which virtually all elected officials and nearly all credible candidates for public office are supportive on LGBT rights. Many have longstanding records of support on issues that were once considered highly controversial, such as the city’s same-sex marriage law.

Bowser’s decisive victory over D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray in the city’s April 1 Democratic primary appears to have come with the support of large numbers of LGBT voters, even though the city’s most prominent LGBT leaders backed Gray.

A Washington Blade analysis of 18 voter precincts believed to have large concentrations of LGBT residents shows that Bowser won 14 of them, with Gray and mayoral candidate Tommy Wells, a Council member from Ward 6, each winning two of the “LGBT” precincts.

Several of the precincts won by Bowser are located in areas long known as “gay” neighborhoods, including Dupont Circle, Logan Circle, Adams Morgan and Shaw. Other precincts she won are in areas considered up and coming neighborhoods into which many LGBT people are moving, such as the 14th and U Street, N.W. corridor, Bloomingdale, and Ledroit Park.

Everett Hamilton, owner of a local public relations firm and longtime gay Democratic activist, is serving as a volunteer communications strategist for the Bowser campaign. He said he believes Bowser captured the majority of LGBT votes for the same reason that she won the overall citywide vote.

“At the end of the day, LGBT people, like all city residents, are going to vote for the person who can best run the city and who they believe is best for the city,” he said.

With a gay brother and a gay campaign manager, Hamilton said no one can dispute the fact that Bowser and her campaign have strong ties to the LGBT community, Hamilton said.

Other political observers, however, point out that Gray was ahead of Bowser and the other mayoral candidates until U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen took the extraordinary step of implicating Gray in an illegal scheme to raise more than $600,000 for Gray’s 2010 mayoral election campaign less than a month before the primary.

Gray has long denied having any knowledge in the scheme that led to the indictment of businessman Jeffrey Thompson, who pleaded guilty to orchestrating the scheme in exchange for being promised a more lenient jail sentence. It was Thompson who has told prosecutors Gray knew about the illegal activity and approved it.

The revelations by Machen resulted in an immediate rise in support for Bowser that many observers believe led to her victory at the polls.

Catania’s LGBT supporters, meanwhile, have said that Catania’s reputation as a reform politician with a strong legislative record on issues such as healthcare, education, and LGBT rights will have none of the negative baggage that Gray had as the general election campaign for mayor moves forward.

Longtime gay Democratic activist Paul Kuntzler, one of the founders of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, surprised many in the LGBT community last week when he announced his support for Catania over Bowser. Ben Young, Catania’s campaign manager, said “many more” prominent LGBT Democrats would soon announce their support for Catania.

Veteran gay Democratic activist Peter Rosenstein, a Blade columnist, has emerged as one of Catania’s leading critics, saying Catania’s status as a former Republican whose philosophy isn’t as progressive as people think will work against Catania in a city with an overwhelmingly Democratic electorate.

Angela Peoples, president of the Stein Club, the city’s largest LGBT political group, said the club’s bylaws prevent it from endorsing a non-Democratic candidate when a Democrat is running in a particular race.

Even if the club could endorse a non-Democrat, Peoples said she expects the club to back Bowser, although its members have yet to set a date to vote on an endorsement.

“As always, I will certainly yield to the will of the membership,” she said. “This election poses an interesting situation for many folks and for LGBT folks in the District as there is an LGBT candidate on the ballot,” Peoples said.

“However, I think what I’ve seen thus far coming out of the primary is Democrats are uniting around Councilwoman Bowser. And I think that’s great to see,” she told the Blade.

Peoples said the club would likely adopt a plan for an endorsement vote at its April meeting scheduled for next Monday night.

The city’s most prominent transgender activists, who were solidly behind Gray in the primary, also have yet to say whether they will back Bowser now that she defeated a mayor that many in the trans community considered a champion for their rights.

Although Bowser has voted for all transgender equality measures that have come before the Council, Catania has been the author of several of those measures, including a landmark bill removing longstanding obstacles to the ability of trans people to obtain a new birth certificate to reflect their transition to a new gender.

10
Apr
2014

D.C. zoning board’s curious battle over city transit policy

Shaw, zoning board, gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The District government knows it can’t have it both ways. City agency adjudicators at the D.C. Board of Zoning Adjustment, however, appear not to have gotten the memo.

Or perhaps there is more to their intransigence than is readily apparent.

One thing is certain: poor attendance delaying board decisions coupled with an astonishing lack of concern for the huge costs of decision-making deferral and a startling lack of appreciation for the expense factors in the business of building are indefensible in a city no longer willing to countenance pitiful government administration.

At issue are policies simultaneously encouraging car-less households and development in public-transit-intensive areas while fulfilling housing needs at affordable cost.

Caught in the crossfire is the local development team of Brook Rose and Gregg Busch. The duo, partners in both business and life, have encountered inexplicable opposition to their languishing proposal to provide housing in one of the most in-demand areas of a city enjoying strong and sustained population growth.

On Tuesday, after an already 10-month-long process, BZA board members again postponed a decision on an application by Rosebusch LLC for a zoning variance allowing renovation of three historic rowhouses with integrated construction of 37 micro-unit apartments spanning 1456-1460 Church Street, N.W., in the Logan Circle neighborhood.

The developers are seeking an exemption to provide four parking spaces instead of the 19 required in exchange for an appropriate and allowable offsetting mitigation measure. As proposed, the micro-unit tenants would not be allowed residential permits for on-street parking.

In other words, they wouldn’t own automobiles. The encouragement of which has specifically been adopted as city policy – alongside what many consider deliberate discouragements to possess one.

Never mind that it is acknowledged as impractical to provide so many parking spaces underneath the tiny infill lot. Even if feasible, the prohibitive expense would add a cost burden to each housing unit and subsequent rental pricing – for an amenity many, if not most, would neither need nor use.

It’s simply a deal breaker.

All this despite the project being backed by the Office of Planning, the Historic Preservation Review Board, the Department of Transportation and the neighborhood advisory commission. Not unusual in local regulatory situations, opposition is limited to a small number of Gladys Kravitz types in an adjacent condo building. Of note, the ringleader is the boyfriend of a BZA board member, with both men sharing a unit in the building. (The boyfriend has recused himself from voting on the matter.)

That’s where the story gets interesting, and may explain why some board members have expressed an unwillingness to grant the same parking relief recently approved for several projects, including one nearby.

The oft-unusual universal support of relevant agencies and entities recommending approval combined with prior BZA blessing of others with no compelling variable distinction and without credible or coherent board proffer in this instance, is troubling. It would seem that developers might be well advised to light votive candles hoping that a regulatory board with immense power not include someone with a personal connection in a public matter involving their project.

Ironically, the city intends to downwardly revise parking requirements for housing developments in transit-bountiful locations. Transparent is the dysfunction of a government incapable of consistently implementing public policies designed to benefit local residents and achieve larger goals. Likewise any inability to enforce the proposed conditions, expressed as a concern. Claiming lofty objectives requires the competency to manage the details.

The controversy doesn’t involve the modest apartment sizing – a market-driven trend proving popular with a variety of diverse demographics less interested in large housing spaces and more concerned with convenience and adversely affected by affordability.

More compact and less costly housing are desired by many single adults, younger residents and older “empty nesters” with modern lifestyles. They seek proximity to vibrant streetscapes brimming with socialization options – fundamentally altering the way some residents perceive and utilize their living spaces.

It’s only a mixed-message-sending D.C. government that appears confused about what it wants.

Mark Lee is a long-time entrepreneur and community business advocate. Follow on Twitter: @MarkLeeDC. Reach him at OurBusinessMatters@gmail.com.

18
Apr
2014

Evans performs same-sex wedding

Jack Evans, same-sex marriage, gay marriage, marriage equality, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. Council member and mayoral candidate Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) performed his first same-sex marriage on Dec. 14. (Photo courtesy of Jack Evans)

D.C. Council member and mayoral candidate Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) performed his first same-sex marriage on Dec. 14 when he joined Logan Circle residents John Lazar and J. Edward Jarvis at a ceremony at the couple’s home.

Evans performed the ceremony under authority given to him by the D.C. Marriage Officiant Act of 2013, which, among other things, empowers the mayor and all 13 City Council members to perform marriages in the District of Columbia.

“We are honored to have Jack officiate at our marriage, and it’s so appropriate since he has been politically supportive of our community for 22 years,” Lazar said in a statement.

Lazar told the Blade that he and Jarvis met and began a relationship in 1993 in New York City where the two lived at the time and have been a couple ever since. Lazar currently serves as senior vice president of the American Cancer Society’s Mid-Atlantic Region. Jarvis is an executive compensation consultant and principal at Mercer & Company, a D.C. area consulting firm.

“Ed and I are just thrilled to see this opportunity arise within our own lifetimes,” Lazar said. “Ten years ago we really didn’t think we would see marriage equality and we’re just delighted.”

18
Dec
2013

‘Maid to Clean’ the environment as well

Maid to Clean, gay news, Washington Blade

Maid to Clean business owner Cindi Bermudez is an avid cyclist. (Washington Blade photo by Damien Salas)

By ALWYN DIPPENAAR

Local residential and commercial cleaning service Maid to Clean has sought to be environmentally friendly since it began business in 1996. The small business is an award-winning green cleaning service that is located in Alexandria, Va., serving the Washington metropolitan area. Residents in Dupont Circle and Logan Circle often see a crew of three from the company on their modified three-wheel bicycles moving from one job to the other in bright green uniforms.

When not managing her business, lesbian owner Cindi Bermudez is also an avid cyclist. She recently discussed why she chose to nurture this special project and introduce three-wheel bicycles as a mode of transportation for some of her staff.

Washington Blade: What motivated Maid to Clean to use this unique form of transportation? Was it for marketing benefits or efficiency of moving between jobs?

Cindi Bermudez: I have ridden my bike to the office for years. And for years, the crew has been asking me, “Cindi, when are you going to get bikes for us?”

As I thought about maids on bikes, I came up with possible benefits: We could save money on vehicle operating costs, cut down on parking tickets, avoid traffic jams and generate a unique marketing buzz. Plus we could stay fit and have some fun!

Some decisions were spot on. The “advertising buzz” was great.

Others were a bit off. While we do save money on parking tickets and vehicle costs, more money is spent than expected on retrofitting the trikes and getting them repaired.

The right bicycle for our needs hasn’t been engineered yet, which is why we have only one cleaning team using the bikes at the moment. The trikes that we currently use were designed for indoor use, to help employees move around quickly in large warehouses. Ideally we’d like a different bike. Something that can stand up to our load requirements – maybe even a hybrid with an electric motor.

 

Blade: Did you get the reaction that you wanted from your staff when you announced making use of bicycles and what feedback have you received from the public?

Bermudez: The reaction to the trikes has been terrific from staff, clients and the public. The team was pretty excited about the trikes, especially members who have been with Maid to Clean for years. The routine definitely became more exiting.

Clients ask to pose with staff for pictures regularly. Even complete strangers seem interested. When the team is out riding, passers-by often wave, honk and take photos from their car windows. As much as the attention is fun for the staff it gives them a sense of pride.

By bringing trikes into our routine, I have a new way to reward loyal staff members. I can also boost our commitment to keeping the planet healthy. While we have always used eco-friendly products and equipment, we now also have a way to reduce our carbon footprint.

 

Blade: Do you think Washington is a bike-friendly city?

Bermudez: Having made significant strides in the last half-dozen years, D.C. now rates as a bike-friendly city in my estimation, particularly the D.C. and Arlington areas.

 

Bermudez raises awareness and promotes cycling both in her work and personal life whenever possible. She biked across the country on the “TransAmerica Bicycle Tour.” The tour covers 4,200 miles from Yorktown, Va., ending in Florence, Oregon. Bermudez has endured wind gusts of up to 35 miles per hour and was chased by a pack of wild dogs. “The ride has been a great opportunity to test my mettle. … this has been the trip of a lifetime.”

01
Aug
2013

Queery: Michael Hodges

Michael Hodges, Aveda, gay news, Washington Blade

Michael Hodges (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

For Michael Hodges, Logan Circle is a great place to work but not necessarily to live.

The entrepreneur opened Logan 14 Aveda Salon/Spa three years ago (1314 14th St., N.W.) and says business is booming — up 33 percent already this year, a trend he hopes will continue as 14th Street explodes (logan14salonspa.com).

“I couldn’t have picked a better site,” the 43-year-old Hitchen, England, native says of his business, a 6,000-square-foot salon with about 35 employees that offers hair, skin, massage, nails and more under one roof. “I knew 14th Street was gonna blow up, so we got in at a good time.”

He’s pleasantly astounded at how gay his clientele is as well. He guesses about half his clients are men and “most of them are gay.”

“It’s so different from doing hair in Bethesda,” he says. “There I might do one men’s haircut a day. Some days now I do 20 men’s haircuts.”

Hodges used to live in Logan but he and partner Eric Brauer moved to the Brookland/Woodridge area where he says things are “a little quieter.” They’ve been together five years and are planning a big wedding for October 2014.

In his free time, Hodges enjoys cooking and event planning. A self-proclaimed bear, he organizes the DILF party (moving to the first Saturday of each month at Number 9) and has a new party in the works starting Oct. 12 at Cobalt. The working title is Furrball D.C.

 

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?

I came out at 18. The hardest person to tell was my mother. I felt like I was breaking her heart. She passed away three years ago, and I am very happy she briefly got to know the man I would be spending the rest of my life with.

 

Who’s your LGBT hero?

I respect any youth who has the heart and conviction to come out early.

What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present? 

It will always be Tracks for me. I grew up in that place.

 

Describe your dream wedding. 

Anywhere, as long as it is to Eric Brauer.

 

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

I try to donate and help out with women’s cancer charities. Both my mother and my partner’s mother battled cancer. Fortunately my mother-in-law to be is doing great and I am gaining a new mom from our future nuptials.

 

What historical outcome would you change?

The car crash of Princess Diana. I think she was an amazing ambassador to children all around the world.

 

What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?

Watching the two royal weddings in England during my lifetime. I love all of the royal traditions.

 

On what do you insist?

No clutter on the kitchen island. I hate stuff lying around.

 

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

I can’t believe were going to see Ke$ha tonight!

 

If your life were a book, what would the title be?

“Stop the Ride, I Want to Get Off”

 

If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?

Make myself gay again. It is a fabulous life if you let it. Embrace yourself and everyone around you.

 

What do you believe in beyond the physical world? 

No comment

 

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

Be consistent!

 

What would you walk across hot coals for?

My partner or either of our two dogs. They’re my babies.

 

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

That all gay men are molesters and pedophiles.

 

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

“Beautiful Thing,” from England.

 

What’s the most overrated social custom?

Taking your shoes off going into someone’s house.

 

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

My mother’s china. When I look at it, I think of her.

 

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

That I could have come out at 14.

 

Why Washington?

I love how eclectic it is. I also love the architecture and monuments. Every time I’m in another city, I respect how beautiful Washington is.

14
Aug
2013

Has D.C.’s tolerance for booze bans expired?

Mova,gay news,gay politics DC

The city’s five-member ABC Board unanimously denied the request filed last December to prohibit all new licensing and changes to existing licenses. (Washington Blade file photo by Pete Exis)

It took nearly a year to quash it, but the threat of a liquor license moratorium halting future bar and restaurant openings in the multiple neighborhoods comprising D.C.’s vibrant MidCity area ended last week.

Although residents of Logan Circle, Shaw and the 14th and U streets area had finally won a long-anticipated victory against a small “citizens group” that had petitioned for a renewable five-year business ban, most assembled for the announcement by the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board appeared more relieved than celebratory. As people filed out of the room the mood was one of quiet annoyance that so much time had been spent on the matter by so many.

The city’s five-member ABC Board unanimously denied the request filed last December to prohibit all new licensing and changes to existing licenses. The proposed ban was flatly rejected in its entirety, despite agency authority to recommend D.C. Council approval of a modified ban limiting the types of businesses allowed, size of the affected zone, initial moratorium longevity or to make other revisions.

The Board stated in its official notice that the proposed moratorium “is not in the public interest.” The decision also indicated “the Board does not find that the neighborhood suffers from an overconcentration of licensed establishments or that additional establishments will adversely affect this area.” By every statutory measure, including whether additional licenses “will negatively impact the neighborhood’s peace, order and quiet” – the Board ruled in the negative.

The implication that the nearly 50 additional alcohol-licensed bars and restaurants recently opened or announced as planned for the area during review posed no issue was a clear signal that the Board is disinclined, in their words, to “bluntly impose” prohibition. A request by the petitioner group to halt all approvals during the decision-making period had previously been denied.

In rejecting the proposed moratorium, the Board appears to be signaling a growing impatience with this outdated approach to marketplace interference – and the now-known negative impacts and unintended consequences. The decision frequently references moratorium opposition by residents.

It remains to be seen whether the Board really means it or not.

Next up on the “blunt instrument” schedule is disposition of the 23-year “East Dupont” business ban affecting 17th Street and surrounding commercial blocks, followed by the 13-year Adams Morgan moratorium expiring next April. Terminating these moratoriums, two of five in the District including two in Dupont Circle, would be a first. No moratorium has ever been terminated.

The Dupont Circle neighborhood advisory group recently deadlocked in a tied 4-4 vote on a moratorium renewal resolution. An unusual provision in the group’s by-laws grants the chair’s vote “extra weight” in instances of a tie, overruling standard procedural defeat. Unfortunately, chairman Will Stephens – along with Kevin O’Connor, Kishan Putta and Anti-Alcohol Coalition founder and neighborhood advisory rep Abigail Nichols – voted in favor of renewal.

The ABC Board has previously cautioned that moratoriums were never intended to perpetually remain in effect. Consequently, the group’s resolution seeks to curry favor by suggesting adjustment to current restrictions. While two of the requested modifications are either inconsequential or rendered meaningless by separate zoning limitations, a third recommends eliminating the cap on restaurants.

Those voting in favor of extending the moratorium have said it offers a “transition” to later termination. This notion, however, was previously utilized to justify requesting extension with modification in 2010.

The agency was required to temporarily extend the 17th Street moratorium for 120 days following its Sept. 23 expiration, due to a failure by the Dupont advisory group to offer an opinion to the Board in a timely manner. When announced, sometime following an Oct. 24 public hearing, the Board’s determination will be presented to the D.C. Council for an “up-or-down” review. A Board moratorium decision has never been rejected.

It is time to terminate these now out-of-fashion failed experiments and begin to repair a legacy of marketplace misery.

Mark Lee is a long-time entrepreneur and community business advocate. Follow on Twitter: @MarkLeeDC. Reach him at OurBusinessMatters@gmail.com.

09
Oct
2013