Capitol Comics: Archie and the Gang in Washington, DC

Despite the fact that Riverdale, much like Springfield, exists in every state in the U.S. and in no state at all, Archie Andrews and his chums still manage to visit places that do exist, including the Nation’s Capital, Washington, DC.

In one untitled story in Archie’s Double Digest 138 (January, 2003), Riverdale High takes the gang to Washington, DC, by bus. Given that the story appears in a digest, it’s almost certainly from an earlier time period, possibly, judging from the art, from the 1960s.

And of course, they visit the Capitol Building:

Archie and the Capitol Building

Not an altogether poor rendition of the west front of the Capitol, but one wishes there were that many trees still standing on the Capitol grounds after the Capitol Visitors Center construction . . .

Where else did Archie get up to his antics in DC?

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Taylor Gourmet Takes on Roast Pork

It’s one thing to re-create an authentic Philly hoagie south of the Schuylkill River, as the crew at DC’s Taylor Gourmet have done. Use the right bread (Sarcone’s seeded Italian), with premium ingredients, and combine with an assiduous touch and an generous eye, and you have a hoagie, not a sub. A hoagie from Taylor Gourmet could be served with pride anywhere in Philadelphia.

But there is science, and there is art, and with the recent introduction of the Philadelphia roast pork sandwich to their menu, Taylor Gourmet takes on quite a task.

The roast pork sandwich can’t just be created from good ingredients, any more than a painting is a mere agglomeration of high quality oil paints.

The pork has to be cooked just so, to hold the right amount of moisture yet still provide enough bite; the provolone needs to be ripped into pieces to coat the inside of the roll, with no extraneous cheese flopping over the edge; and the rabe (only rabe) needs to be tender, tearable by the teeth, and bitter without bringing too much “veg” to the experience.

The true masters of this sandwich have an kitchen infrastructure in place dedicated to the creation of this salty, bitter, perfectly balanced foodstuff. DiNic’s, Tony Luke’s, John’s—this trinity creates hundreds (thousands?) of roast pork sandwiches a day between them, and have for decades. The counter staff has an intuitive feel for the sandwich (and generally expects you to order and get the hell out of the way, because the line behind you is out the door).

So how did the DC rookies do?

Roast Pork in DC

Pretty damn well, actually.

The execution was flawless—good proportional balance between the pork and the rabe, with the provolone neatly sundered and the rabe layered just so. The bread held the moisture, and the roast pork was nicely flavored and tender. And the rabe…

Um, can we talk about the bread again? No? OK.

The rabe was, sadly, lacking, like the Flyers’ goaltending in any year except those when Parent or Hextall were in goal. The rabe had too much stalk and too many florets. It needed just a bit more cooking time to get it slightly more tender. I look for just a bit of snap in my rabe, but in this sandwich, I wound up pulling whole rabe stalks out of the sandwich when biting in. Though nicely seasoned and bitter, the rabe let down the sandwich as a whole.

Nonetheless, I’ll be going back for more. The Pattison Avenue, as Taylor Gourmet dubs this sandwich, would not be booed out of any of the stadiums lining its namesake street in Philadelphia. And if one measures the worth of a roast pork sandwich on a scale based on the distance from Reading Terminal Market (home of DiNic’s), this one is off the charts. It’s a true roast pork sandwich.

A Fan’s Dilemma: Union or United?

In every major American sport, I root for the team from Philadelphia. Flyers? Orange and Black courses through my veins. Phillies? I wore a Phillies cap to elementary school in the midwest when everyone else was wearing a Royals cap (that should date me somewhat). Sixers and Eagles? Love me some Mo Cheeks and Doc and Jaws.

But soccer? Other than the defunct NASL Atoms and Fury, I had no specific allegiance, because there was no team from Philadelphia.

That changed this year. Philadelphia Union begins play this season as the latest Major League Soccer expansion team, and given Movement Point‘s focus on the Philadelphian, it should be easy for me to root for this team, to be a fan of Union. Not so simple, though.

But they sound so similar. Do I have to choose?

When MLS started up in the 1990s with a franchise in DC, where I’ve lived for some two decades, I followed DC United in the absence of a Philadelphia entrant in the league. I was happy when United won, I kept track of the scores and the players, went to a few games over the years, and even tailgated with the Screaming Eagles and sat in their nest occasionally.

And yet, I’m considering abandoning them.

Am I a faithless fan of DC United, or just a fickle follower? How do I reconcile my support for United over the years with a new, arguably more valid, contender for my cheers in Union?

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Sign Me Up: Washington Metro’s Sign Shop

The soul, if you will, of a subway system is in its signage. From the clean lines of the London Underground and its Johnston typeface through the mish-mash of typefaces and styles in New York City’s transit system, signs do more than direct passengers. Subway signs tell a story about the aspirations and history of the system.

Be Smart: Ride Metro by wheelo541 on, via a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial license

Today’s Washington Post story by James Hohmann, (“Metro’s Sign Shop Points Riders in the Right Way“, Tuesday, August 25, 2009) details the efforts of the people responsible for keeping the Washington Metro‘s signs updated and functional:

The sign shop provides a glimpse into the aging system that Metro is struggling to maintain 33 years after it opened. The transit system has about 127,000 signs, which need to be repaired or replaced when they become outdated, vandalized or broken. Or when someone asks for them.

“Every time a new initiative comes down the pike, that number is growing,” said sign shop project manager Paul Kram. “We don’t make policy. We make signs.”

Metro’s signs are just as memorable as the station architecture; while perhaps not as grandiose as the vaulting arches of Metro Center, the signage is distinct and legible, even when the station names grow to unwieldy lengths to satisfy various community constituencies (U St/African-American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo might be an accurate description of the stop, but it’s about six words too long for a station name).

Of note is the trend towards electronic signs, with their limited capacity for stylish typefaces. One hopes that technology will improve sufficiently that we aren’t forced to suffer design limited by the lowest-common denominator of the LCD…

(Image courtesy of wheelo541 via a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial license.)

Rainmaker Redux

The Washington, DC, area finally got rain yesterday after a very dry July. You’re welcome.

Downpour in the Lights on by Cathalain Carter via a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial license.

For you see, I, along with two brave compadres, went to the baseball game between the Nationals and the Cardinals last night, triggering the deluge, just like we ushered in the serious rain this past May by going to a game. And this game, a 4-1 rain-shortened win for the Cards, was the make-up date for that game.

Sitting in the right field upper deck, under the overhang, we watched the rain stream down in sheets, steaming as it hit the large banks of floodlights (notice all the water imagery here?). Frankly, the rain provided a more enjoyable experience than the baseball, but we can’t really complain, as we went to the park twice on $10 tickets.

So, for the price of a ticket and some cash for concessions, I’m available for all your rainmaking needs.

(Image courtesy of Cathalain Carter via a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial license.)