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Louise Lague - The Expat Almanac on Amazon

Huzzah! The Expat Almanac is now available on actual paper from Amazon! The diary of our illuminating and eye-opening and sometimes terrifying Senior Year Abroad has gotten some great reviews and a few raspberries. Thanks to all of you who've given us five stars, and to my big brother Dick, who ably defended us against our naysayers. His battle of comments (in the reviews section) makes pretty good reading all by itself!

Tender's Game - For five decades, there's been one constant in Capitol Hill bars: Rudi Appl. By Joe Englert

The first shift piled into Mr. Henry’s Restaurant on Capitol Hill. As usual, the morning crew expected to encounter the perpetual sins of the late-night brigade: unmarried ketchups, ashtrays bursting with Marlboros, tables and chairs sticky with splashes of Coke and 7Up. But they encountered an unusually bizarre scene one morning in 1969. Manager Alvin Ross heard a strange gargling sound, as if someone held a squirting can of whipped cream to an amplifier. He noticed every single beer tap slapped forward to the open position. Not a drop of beer poured from the taps; last gasps of CO2 hissed from the exhausted draft system. And then Ross spotted the culprit: hand-me-down bartender Rudi Appl, sprawled out on the bar, snoring loudly after a night of wrecking the establishment’s liquor percentages. Drunk, reckless, and so likeable you couldn’t fire the guy. Damn it—Rudi made it into work, at least, and he wouldn’t stop coming in for…for…well, forever.

Like brick sidewalks and scoundrel politicians, Rudi (everyone who knows him calls him by his first name) has always been a fixture in the District. Starting in 1966, he took his post behind a bar full of gin, vodka, and whiskeys, and since then, Rudi, now 79, has been standing tall, counseling, laughing, directing, empathizing, upselling, and entertaining in his home away from home—Mr. Henry’s Capitol Hill.

Back when he started, the Hill wasn’t chock-a-block with two-income power families, cable TV–driven gourmet burger places, or $2 million show houses snapped off the real estate market within hours. Denizens were known as “Hillbillies,” famous for their blue-collar ways, hard-drinking habits, and love of a good, old-fashioned throwdown. Almost every night, the cops had to call on Billy’s, a roadhouse right across Pennsylvania from Mr. Henry’s, to break up melees. You almost got used to the sound of breaking glass.

The more genteel clientele of Henry’s included wild-eyed newspaper men from the Washington Star, located down the block, who used to drink daily three-martini lunches and dinners there when it was known as Ted’s Grill, on the corner of 6th Street SE.

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Queen Mary Mary McGrory and the lost art of the Washington prima donna. By John Norris

On a quiet summer evening in 1964, Mary McGrory’s phone rang. The caller identified himself as a Secret Service agent and said that President Johnson wanted to stop by her apartment in 15 minutes. “Oh, really,” McGrory replied drolly, sure that the caller was a fellow reporter pulling her leg, but the man on the line insisted he was serious.
She went out into the hallway of her apartment building, a drab modern brick affair a few miles up Connecticut Avenue from the White House, and found several Secret Service agents standing near the elevator. Realizing that the leader of the free world was, indeed, on his way, she ran back inside and frantically tidied up. Several minutes later, the president appeared at her door.
At age 45, Mary McGrory was already one of the most influential political columnists in the country, a veteran of three presidential campaigns whose four-times-a-week musings in the Evening Star were an absolute must-read for everyone from political pros to the most casual observers. A Bostonian ever proud of her Irish roots, McGrory had adored President John F. Kennedy, and she had been a constant behind-the-scenes presence during the Camelot years. So she was no stranger to power, but the impromptu nature of Johnson’s visit was unnerving.
McGrory invited him in and offered the president a drink. They engaged in some friendly small talk until Johnson, tumbler of scotch in his large hand, finally put his cards on the table. “Mary, I am crazy about you,” he confessed. He wanted to sleep with her.

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