EastCoast Trek v2018 – Foodie Excursion


noun -informal -a person with a particular interest in food; a gourmet.

Any trip takes lots of preparation and planning.  An added bonus of going to different places is experiencing foods each region has to offer.    Here is a summary of some of the places visited during our 2018 trek.


Ethel’s is a quaint restaurant located in the Mount Washington Village of Baltimore.  Their speciality is creole cuisine and pricing is moderate.



Dempsey’s is located in the Camden Yards complex or home of the Baltimore Orioles.  Their speciality is bar-type food.  Pricing is moderate.

Busboy’s & Poet (K Street)

Busboy’s & Poet’s are well-known throughout the DMV (DC, Maryland & Virginia) area.  One of their newest locations is on 5th Street, NW & K in the District of Columbia.  They are known as a cultural enclave which combines bookstore with great food and inspiring art showing social consciousness.

Oohh’s & Aahh’s

Oohh’s & Aahh’s is located in the District of Columbia and part of the “U” street corridor directly across the street from the African-American Civil War monument.  Their specialty is soul food.  The venue is tight but there is limited seating upstairs, however be prepared to wait for seating.  The other option is take-out but be patient as the line can be long.  Pricing is affordable.

Lunch special – Fried Shrimp – Mac & Cheese and Greens


Sweet Home Café

Sweet Home Cafe is part of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture located in the national mall at the District of Columbia.  They give you a glimpse of African-American cuisine based on regions.  It is a remarkable presentation.  The food is fresh and there is a nice variety.  Pricing may appear on the high side but it is worth it based on the venue and convenience.


Ben’s Chili Bowl

Ben’s Chili Bowl is a DC institution located in the “U” corridor.  Food is tasty and affordable.

Half-Smoke special includes Half-Smoke, Fries & drinks (refills are provided)



Mortgage rates inch up…..but still are affordable

Mortgage rates inched up this week to land at 4.520%.  The one basis point rise in week over week reporting is not the biggest news.  The rate represents the benchmark thirty-year conventional mortgage.

(Photo by Mannie Garcia/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
(Photo by Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images)


Low rates do not mean a thing if you can’t find an affordable home!


Affordability index


For most homebuyers or even those wishing to take advantage of low rates, the trick is having the credit to quality and having the down payment (or sufficient equity).  Recently, another element has been added to the equation of securing a home; finding an affordable property.  For many the reality of an “average home price” results in sticker shock.  Some parts of the country have the price well over $500,000, and that is for first-timers!

The result of would be buyers remaining on the sidelines is a reduction of mortgage applications.  If the pace continues, expect lenders to trim staffing so their operations are “right-sized.”


Rates are cyclical and while many in the public policy arena tout a positive economic environment, for homebuyers that news triggers higher interest rates as well as higher home prices.


Here is a snapshot of this week’s rates:

August 30, 2018

30-Yr FRM 15-Yr FRM 5/1-Yr ARM
Average Rates 4.52 % 3.97 % 3.85 %
Fees & Points 0.5 0.5 0.3
Margin N/A N/A 2.77

Freddie Mac is an institutional investor and provider of mortgage funds to local lenders who work with consumers but sell the mortgages to them.  Each week they publish the mortgage market rate survey which is data obtained from a sample of their pool of lenders.

EastCoast Trek v2018 – Ben’s Chili Bowl Celebrates 60

[Washington, D.C.]      On Wednesday, August 22nd Ben’s Chili Bowl celebrated its 60th anniversary.  Starting by selling half-smokes, Ben’s has morphed into an institution.  Locals understand the lore and many who visit the District of Columbia always make room in their schedule to stop by the iconic restaurant, if nothing more than to pay respect.

On Friday we were treated to be in the company of Ben’s grand dame and family matriarch Mrs. Virginia Ali.  She was her usual radiant self and took time to chat with my dear friend Renie Hale (Laurel, MD) and myself.  As an added treat she invited me outside to showcase the new murals.  In between she expressed views of how Ben’s must continue to meet the needs of a changing community to insure it remains a mainstay on U and the broader DC business community.

Another unexpected surprise was meeting Ben’s historian, Dr. Bernie Demczuk.  We were presented with one of his great compilations.

(please accept our apologies for the soiled document)


Random photos featuring great murals

The last time I saw “The Queen of Soul” – Mrs. Aretha Franklin perform

Mrs. Aretha Franklin

March 25, 1942 – August 16, 2009

I’ve been fortunate to hear “The Queen of Soul” – Mrs. Aretha Franklin perform in person a couple of times.  The last time was the most memorable.

It was that majestic Tuesday morning on January 20, 2009 as millions were on hand for the inauguration of president Barack Obama.  As the “Queen” made her way to the podium you knew you were witnessing history.  Her rendition of My Country Tis of Thee was precious.  Her impeccable precision and the way she performed the song lifted your spirit.  The special hat she donned added to the regalness of the event.

As a matter of fact, many will remember the weather was brisk as the D.C. winter chill hovered around 15 degrees.  Days after the great event, Aretha mentioned the chill affected her voice and in her great fashion she re-recorded the song in a more professional setting.  It became a huge success and this tidbit added to the lore of why Aretha proudly wore the crown as the “Queen.”

ICYMI: Did 45 pull another three-card monte with members of the African-American clergy?

Donald Trump with Darryl Scott photo credit – TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

Following another meeting to engage the African-American community, last week on August 1st, the Trump administration hosted a “briefing” session which included approximately twenty ministers allegedly representing the community.  Those in attendance thought the discussion was about prison reform, recidivism and other social issues and programs to uplift the community?  As the case with many of these types of events, the discussion was one-sided.  Adding insult to injury it is being reported the administration selected two ministers who were told to make comments.  The primary role for others in attendance was to take part of the photo-op.


One minister who was selected to speak was the slack-jawed Pastor Darryl Scott who heads up the New Spirit Revival Center in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.  He proudly professes his support for Trump, yet his comments are a stark contradiction of Trump’s track-record in dealing with African-Americans.

As predicted Scott’s comments drew the ire of African-American ministers across the globe


“The Black ministers who met with Donald Trump denigrated the divine and ancestral legacy of the Black churches in America and they dishonored the ministries of Jesus Christ, the prophets, and those sent by God,”  Rev. Dr, William Lamar of Metropolitan African-American Episcopal church


The consensus from those who attended was disappointment as while Trump did get his coveted photo-op, the ministers did not walk away with any substance or policies or programs to deal with the issues that were purported to be discussed.


While several in attendance were happy to be in the White House with Trump, some must be reminded of the history and focus of the church, “These ministers are just a little worse than Black preachers who sit with Democrats and refuse to demand justice. We sit with emperors, not to take pictures, but to demand the God’s people be free. These preachers know the church, they know Black respectability, they know American civil religion, but they do not know the prophetic tradition of the Black church and they do not know the liberating gospel of Jesus Christ,” Rev. Lamar, Metropolitan AME


Even though this issue occurred a little over a week ago, it is being blown up on social media.  Two videos are listed below to help provide a better perspective on this issue.

From the perennial Alfred Street Baptist Church which is just minutes from the White House and located in Alexandria, VA – Senior Pastor, Rev. Dr. Howard John Wesley delivers his August 5th sermon.

CNN reporter Don Lemon interviews Pastor John Gray following his participation in the meeting

Here is the open letter to 45 from members of the clergy

Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story – An analysis

photo credit: Tasos Katopodis / Getty

Shawn Carter (affectionately known by the world as Jay-Z) and Cinemart have given reason to tear open the scab that was created from a painful wound of the Trayvon Martin verdict. Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story aired the first of its six part docuseries this past Monday, July 30th.  The tally is unofficial but at least 1.2 million viewers tuned it and were taken back five years when George Zimmerman was found not guilty in killing Trayvon Martin.

Whatever your feelings regarding the tragic incident which cut down the young life of Trayvon, the opening airing was riveting and offered some powerful scenes, some never shown before.

For me the February 2012 incident was personal.  Our son was in his final semester at Bethune-Cookman University which is located in Daytona Beach.  We were preparing to see him at graduation in May.   When news of the incident fanned outside of Sanford I called my son to ask if he had heard of the news?  Indeed he had and reminded me when we visited, Sanford was only thirty miles from Orlando was right off I-4.  His graduation was slated for May in 2012 so we agreed to visit the site and research the incident, including Martin’s movement to the 7-11 and back to the site were he was gunned down.

Some may dismiss the docuseries but from the first showing I would encourage people to tune in.  All along, from carefully following the incident including the subsequent trial, I concluded the prosecutor’s simply did a poor job in presenting the facts of the case.  Notwithstanding while the prosecution blew the case in holding Zimmerman guilty of the killing, Martin’s parents; Tracey Martin and Sybrina Fulton did win several civil legal settlements including the homeowner’s association who was guilty by having Zimmerman associate with them as their pseudo neighborhood watchman.

Next airing: Aug. 6, 10pm (est)



Whether it was the State who didn’t get their message or evidence across, or the Defense who put up road blocks that verified doubt, the bottom line is the 6 women Jurors found George Zimmerman not guilty.  Or, could it be they just couldn’t find sufficient evidence to find him guilty?

While the news is surprising, as in my mind I have no doubt George Zimmerman was guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin and should have been found guilty…..I was not a juror, so the struggle must go forward.  Your thoughts???????

cartoon courtesy of www.rippdemup.com
cartoon courtesy of http://www.rippdemup.com

For Zimmerman supporters, the news brings joy and their voice will recant this case never should have been tried.  For supporters of Trayvon Martin and his family, including me this is a travesty of justice.