Tom Sherwood's Notebook: 12/08/10

Is this season of holiday cheer getting to you? Is there just too much goodness?

Many fans of the show “Seinfeld” embrace the celebration of Festivus, a made-up holiday.

Comedian Jerry Stiller, who played the father of George Costanza on the show, recounted how celebrants gather together and -- rather than enjoy good holiday cheer -- rain insults on those who have offended them over the past year.

This classic episode first aired on Dec. 18, 1997. It’s a perverse look at the holiday season that never fails to delight. And thankfully, you can bring a little Festivus into your real life this Saturday -- with me.

The Notebook will be reading aloud all sorts of short, snippy grievances that are being posted throughout December on a corner kiosk at 18th Street and Columbia Road in Adams Morgan. (Warning: Some of them are obscene, and you’ll have to read those yourself.)

We’ll be reading the postings for about an hour beginning at 1 p.m. This is the third annual Festivus celebration sponsored by the Adams Morgan Partnership, a business improvement district that tries to bring a little nonalcoholic fun to the popular bar area.

Kristen Barden, executive director of the partnership (, explained that Festivus has taken off since its comedic beginnings. The New York Times even wrote seriously about it in 2004.


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The Adams Morgan version was the brainchild of Arianne Bennett, who runs the Amsterdam Falafelshop on 18th Street. While the Notebook will be the official “town crier” this Saturday, Allan Jirikowic, owner of the popular Chef Ike’s Mambo Room on Columbia Road, will host the readings on Dec. 18.

If you have a grievance, be sure to post it (make it legible, please) and maybe we’ll read it aloud. Some of the better ones may make it into next week’s column.

Let the grousing begin.

• The Envelope, Please

As we went to press (doesn’t that phrase sound so quaint?), we were hearing that Mayor-elect Vincent Gray was about to name the first officials who’ll be in his administration when it begins Jan. 2.

We had been led to believe that some announcements would come Monday. But Gray decided to visit Prince George’s County and attend the swearing-in of new county executive Rushern Baker.

Here’s hoping that Gray didn’t get photographed with departing county leader Jack Johnson. Johnson is only accused of wrongdoing for now, but Gray still doesn’t need that kind of picture.

• A Good Picture

The mayor-elect was certainly happy to have his picture taken in the White House with President Barack Obama. The one-on-one lunch between the two was held Dec. 1 in the president’s private dining room just off the Oval Office.

Gray talked about job programs and voting rights and other city issues. He said Obama indicated his willingness to pay more attention to the city. As we’ve written before, we hope the president makes good on that. It would be nice if he did more locally than attend athletic events and restaurants.

Gray was privately telling people that having lunch with the president was a highlight of his life. That’s good, and we hope Gray gets a framed, autographed picture for his wall.

For the rest of us in the city, it’s important to note that Gray also met for a while with Obama’s staff, specifically including David Agnew, the intergovernmental deputy director who deals with the nation’s mayors. Let’s hope that when Gray really needs the president for something, someone will pick up the phone and help.

After all, D.C. voters gave Obama 93 percent of their votes in 2008.

• Her Stamp on History

There isn’t yet a ceremonial postage stamp to honor the late Dorothy Height, but the civil rights icon who died this year is getting a similar lasting honor.

Congress has passed and President Obama is sure to sign legislation from D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton naming a historic post office after Height. It’ll be the monumental post office at 2 Massachusetts Ave. NE, right next to Union Station.

The post office served as the main postal facility for the District from 1914 until 1986 -- 72 years. A ceremonial plaque is to be created for the building, and a dedication will be held sometime next year. We’ll mark our calendars to be there whenever it is.

• And Finally

The D.C. Council was to take its first whack at budget cutting (and tax raising?) Tuesday. You can read all about it here. There’ll be another vote on budget-related matters Dec. 21, just in time for Christmas. Maybe the results of that decision will prompt some more Festivus complaints.

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