All eyes on Washington DC this week.

I was down there January 9th for about seven hours to see the Johnnies get creamed by Georgetown. My pal Brent and his family live just a couple blocks from the Capitol. I had planned to spend two full days down there but a cold, snowy blast in NYC on the 7th wrecked almost a whole day’s worth of flights.

I ended up getting a seat to Reagan National out of Cleveland on the day of the hoops game but it cut the visit way short.

Brent’s family is fleeing town for the inauguration (and would have no matter who won). They’re making their place available to an out-of-town friend coming for the women’s march.

DC has always struck me as a larger than life place. It’s heavy to consider all that’s happened there and what’s to come. The physical reminders of national power and history are everywhere. The Washington Monument stares at you on landing at National. When I exited the Capitol South Metro station on the Hill, I thought about the state of the union – such as it is.

The Amtrak train ticket purchased way in advance got me back to NYC after the game. 49 bucks. It’s a three and a half hour ride.

-The solidly dependable clock radio positioned next to my bed for more than 40 years finally went kaput this past week. A few nights ago, I was jolted awake by a loud hum that wouldn’t go away unless I unplugged the radio. It must have blown a tube. When I shook the heavy but compact device, something inside clattered as if unattached or loose. My folks gave me the radio when I was a kid. I listened to it all the time. At bedtime, I set the timer to 59 minutes and let the voice on the airwaves put me to sleep. The same unit would wake me the next morning with a piercing, high-pitched sound you couldn’t ignore despite its familiarity. The radio followed me to college and all the stops that came after. It put me to sleep and woke me up consistently for all but the first decade of my life. It was made by General Electric. It’s finally dead. I’ve been looking for a replacement pretty obsessively since the moment I conceded the unit’s death. There’s not much out there that’s quite like it. As much as technology has advanced since the mid 1970’s, I don’t have confidence I’ll find a suitable, long-lasting replacement for this cherished bedside item.

-My tirelessly progressive and effective city councilman Danny Dromm is currently on the receiving end of a disgraceful smear campaign by the powerful union that represents correction officers in NYC. As a proud union member myself, I’m embarrassed by the conduct of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association as it attempts to unseat Dromm because he advocates the eventual and orderly shutdown of Rikers Island. While job security is a noble and common goal for organized labor, the COBA has gone way below the belt with mailers to Dromm’s constituents saying the councilman “wants to bring criminals to our neighborhood.” The ridiculous assertion is motivated purely to maintain jobs at a facility that is horribly overcrowded, outdated and inhumane. Led by the current mayor – and motivated by a stirring long-form piece of journalism from Jen Gonnerman – Dromm has joined a chorus of progressives who oppose mass incarceration of mostly poor, minority men who get caged for long periods awaiting trial for offenses that fail to meet basic thresholds of badness or felonious-type conduct. It’s a long ways off but Dromm has engaged in thoughtful reflection on how to fix the Rikers mess. The rank and file at Rikers know better than anybody that it’s a failing institution. If they’re aware their union dues are being channeled into propaganda aimed at defaming a good man, their brotherhood is more like the gangs inside Rikers than a labor organization aimed at advancing the welfare of workers.

-The violent but legal blind-side hit on Aaron Rodgers by blitzing Cowboys safety Jeff Heath with 20 seconds remaining in Sunday’s divisional playoff thriller would render most humans a heap of senseless nothing on the floor. Somehow, Rodgers sprung up and immediately called timeout. Two plays later, he threw against his body’s momentum, a 40-yard laser to Jared Cook which set up the long game-winning kick by Mason Crosby. Few quarterbacks would have held onto the football after getting sledge-hammered where spinal cord meets the brain like Rodgers did. Mike Francesa said Monday that 98 of 100 quarterbacks would have coughed it up on that play. I agree. It was an amazing display of toughness, recovery and raw talent in a huge spot. I’d also agree with Francesa that the time has come to eliminate the last-second freeze-the-kicker timeout. “It ruins the moment,” says Mike. Nobody watching on TV knew Crosby’s first of two successful attempts to end the game was a non-play until after it went through the uprights. Waiting until the last possible moment has become an off-frame move between coach and game official. Francesa proposes a rule change that would require freeze-the-kicker timeouts to be called with no less than 10 seconds to go on the play clock.

Happy New Year.

I was on the job as the clock hit midnight. My co-worker Paul and I exchanged happys and healthy while watching Mariah’s predictable slip and fall in Times Square on the TV screen in our office.

When I reached home, I sipped on a Softly Spoken Magic Spells from Singlecut and listened to the primary Chicago PD radio frequency via an app on my phone. Just after midnight Central time, the primary dispatcher told mobile units of a report that a man had been shot in the head on the far south side. The information was conveyed in a clinical tone.

On the second day of 2017, I went to see the three brand new subway stops on Second Avenue.

While there’s been much pooh-poohing and negativity about the MTA’s celebration of what they’re calling “historic new service,” I am absolutely thrilled to see such a long and difficult job come to fruition.

The cynics make cost vs. benefit arguments and cite the limited reach of the new tracks. At $4 billion plus, it’s a lot of public dough but the government has successfully overseen creation of a massive new people-moving tunnel under 2nd Avenue in Manhattan. It was a mind-blowing proposition as this project sat on the drawing board forever before finally getting legs a decade ago. A myriad of current-day pressures from justifiably-high labor costs to codes to acquisition of property at ground level make any deep transit dig a huge undertaking. This project must be applauded. It must be celebrated. And of course, it must create momentum for the next phase which would take the tunnel up to 125th Street and cost another $6 billion.

As it is now, the trio of new stops at 72nd, 86th and 96th Streets on an extended version of the Q give new access to tens of thousands of riders who up until now trekked over to Lex for a ride on the overcrowded 4, 5 and 6 trains. The MTA is projecting the new stretch of subway will serve more than 200-thousand people a day.

The knee-jerk reaction from skeptics on the new stations is that it’s a boost to affluent Upper East Siders – and yeah – that’s kinda true. But there are a lot of regular, struggling people who live in the upper 90’s east of 2nd Ave. and this is good for them if they’re going downtown or to Brooklyn.

Since I’m a F train guy coming from Queens, I’ll benefit from the easy transfer to the Q in either direction at 63rd and Lex. While 63rd and Lex isn’t a new station, the connection to the Q is new via a new platform. The uptown Q picks up at 63rd down a full flight of stairs below where the downtown-bound F drops off. I don’t go to the Upper East Side much but there’s a lot of medical stuff east of 2nd Ave in the 60’a and 70’s. There’s great pizza and bagels over there too.

The bottom line is that we’re witnessing the completion of significant new infrastructure that upgrades routines and benefits large numbers of people. You don’t just snap your fingers and get this stuff done in densely populated places like here. A year ago, we got the new 7 train stop at 34th and 11th Avenue. The work being done at LaGuardia to replace the Central Terminal Building is progressing at what appears to be a rapid pace. They’re working 24-7 at the airport with the massive main parking garage completely taken down now.

The adjoining neighborhood of Elmhurst, Queens just opened up its newly-renovated $30 million dollar library.

And DeBlasio’s trolley project connecting Red Hook to Astoria is on track.

All this and the infrastructure president hasn’t even taken over yet. If he stays true to word, maybe he’ll partially offset the vast damage he’ll do to the environment, social policy and the spirit of inclusiveness by at least channeling dollars to making and building much-needed projects that help regular people live and work here.

I think it’ll be a tough year upcoming in that regard. You’re gonna have to look for silver linings as chaos swirls.

Music will continue to thrive. It must – to soothe what we face.

2016 ‘s best included new records from my longtime favorites Woods and Kevin Morby. The Orlando nightclub tragedy inspired the year’s best tune from Kevin, a stand-alone number entitled “Beautiful Strangers.”

The Epoch dissolved with a flurry of thoughtful public announcements from individual members including Henry Crawford’s missive which revealed a brave apology connected to his alcoholism. My two favorite records of the year were pure Epoch creations as both Bellows and Told Slant put out amazing full-lengths.

Rob Kolodny made a rock video for the third track on the Bellows record that brought that art form back to where it was at its peak. I may be personally responsible for about a thousand of the “play” hits on the video’s You Tube counter. It’s a wonderful stroll through New York City with Oliver as the tour guide.

And here’s hoping Felix Walworth continues to write songs and put out music. What an amazing record from him as Told Slant’s “Going By” filled my ears all year long. Who’s writing better songs right now?

“You’re my best friend – and I need you – do you know that?,” says Felix on Tall Cans.

Jonathan Rado’s influence is pretty obvious on the debut record from the Lemon Twigs, one of the year’s best. The D’Addario brothers from Hicksville, Long Island are Beatles fans and backed their release with confident performances on live television programs and an ambitious Euro tour. I’ll see them at Bowery Ballroom next month.

There were also great releases in 2016 from Ella Williams as Squirrel Flower with Marco Giovino on drums, The Men, LVL Up and Fucko. The Crutchfield sisters put out the year’s best reissue as fans got a slew of wonderful PS Eliot songs in pristine sound via Don Giovanni.

Francesa has a year left on his radio show.

Other Half is gonna have to decide if it wants to keep making great beer out of a shoe box.

The Johnnies hoops team will win some big ones and lose some easy ones.

France will elect a president who is as big a doofus as ours.

Happy and healthy.