Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Ph.D.

I study people, technology, and the worlds they make

In Washington

I’m staying at a hotel on Dupont Circle called Jury’s, which is in a 1950s building that looks like it had an earlier life as a dormitory or something– its layout is so curious there’s no way it could have been designed as a hotel. However, it’s a perfectly nice place, and you can’t beat the location.

Across the street is a bookstore and cafe called Kramerbooks and Afterwards, which is where I went today for brunch with my friend Michael. It’s relatively small and crowded, but its that sort of densely-packed that’s more like Manhattan than a storage crate– pleasant in a weird way rather than just economical. Afterwards we walked around the neighborhood, then drove to Georgetown and did the same thing. Basically, it was like a Songlines featuring small bookstores, cafes and CD stores. What else can you expect from a couple historians of science. Fortunately, Michael grew up around here, so he’s an excellent native guide, and our tastes are pretty similiar.

I’m hoping to make it to Bacchus for dinner, assuming its still open. Bacchus is a Lebanese restaurant (at least I think its Lebanese– it’s some kind of Levantine, anyway), a couple blocks from Dupont Circle, and is a place I discovered completely by accident about ten years ago. I was wandering around the area around dinnertime– I think I had just finished up a day at the National Archives, in the Office of International Trade Fairs papers– and chanced upon it. It was a fabulous dinner, and a lovely little place. Now, whenever I’m in town, I go. However, I was by there earlier today, and the awning is still up, but there were ominous-looking padlocks on the gate. We’ll see later this evening.

I’d forgotten how charming Washington can be. K Sreet is nothing to write home about, but the monumental architecture can be spectacular, and there are some beautiful neighborhoods with old row houses of a style you see (with some variation) between Richmond and Philadelphia. Indeed, walking around Georgetown this afternoon I was struck by how much Richmond’s Fan district resembles it, at a fraction of the cost. Of course, Richmond’s not a capital– or at least it hasn’t been so for 140 years.


  1. Funny – my girlfriend and I were literally in exactly the same place on Sunday! We spent the day wandering Adams Morgan and Dupont Circle, trying to figure out where we might want to live when we move down to DC in a few months…

  2. What a small world. Though I suppose that stopping for the same beverage in the same place in Dupont Circle isn’t quite as random as some things.

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