Axios D.C.

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✍️ Thursday's here! Did you know it's National Poetry Month? Check out all these ways to celebrate locally, via NBC4.

🎂 Happy birthday to our Axios D.C. members Sharlene Amitay, Ben Chang, and Matthew Stanski!

Today's newsletter is 894 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: ✨ T. Swift album drop

Taylor Swift accepting Best Pop Vocal Album at February's Grammys, where she announced the upcoming release of her new album. Photo: Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images

Sorry not sorry to all the managers, because we'll be calling out sick tomorrow: Taylor Swift's new album, "The Tortured Poets Department," drops at midnight and there are a ton of parties happening around D.C.

Why it matters: Ummm … it's Taylor Swift, she of the smashed records, heightened NFL fandom, and Ticketmaster crash. Need we say more?

State of play: Swift releases her 11th studio album amid the typical seismic uproar that follows anything TayTay, while Swifties are pulling some Woodward and Bernstein-level sleuthing to decode the lineup of Easter eggs surrounding the album.

Want in on the fun? Here's where you can celebrate the album drop around D.C. throughout the weekend:

🎤 As You Are: The Barracks Row LGBTQ+ bar will kick off T. Swift karaoke at 7pm tonight, followed by a Swiftie dance party leading up to the album drop, after which the event will transition to a listening session.

👯 Royal Sands Social Club: Sip on Swift-inspired cocktails, make friendship bracelets, and watch "The Eras Tour" movie tonight at the Navy Yard bar while waiting for the new album.

  • Tickets are $35 beforehand and $40 at the door, with sales benefiting nonprofits and various women's scholarships.

✍️ Takoma Park Library: This family-friendly event on Saturday celebrates National Poetry Month by leaning into the craft behind Swift's lyrics — play trivia, make bracelets, and try your hand at writing Tay-inspired stanzas.

More parties

2. 🏠 Best time for home listings

2023 Washington, D.C. home sale premiums, by listing date
Data: Zillow. Chart: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

If this year looks anything like 2023, DMV homes listed in the second half of June could possibly make $12,700 more, per a new Zillow report.

Why it matters: More cash = more buying power in the D.C. region's tight market.

The big picture: May has long been the best month to list your house in the U.S. But in 2023, American sellers made the highest profits in the first two weeks of June, a Zillow study shows.

  • This shift is largely due to mortgage rates, which cooled slightly in June and brought some buyers off the sidelines.

The other side: Buyers, if you want to avoid peak pricing, consider shopping outside of the spring and summer months.

What's next: Interest rate cuts aren't expected any time soon — but should they drop, D.C. agents still don't foresee much relief for buyers in our competitive market.

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3. Biden's AI talent boost

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Biden administration is snapping up AI talent to boost the Commerce Department's AI Safety Institute.

Why it matters: The institute was created to help Commerce carry out its responsibilities under President Biden's landmark AI executive order.

Zoom in: It's the federal government's main vehicle for developing AI safety standards and testing powerful AI systems.

  • Paul Christiano — who previously ran a team at OpenAI — will be head of AI safety, designing and conducting tests of the most cutting-edge models that pose national security concerns.
  • Mara Quintero Campbell will be chief of staff and acting COO. She headed major projects around the CHIPS and Science Act and the COVID response.

Yes, but: Staff alone won't be enough to accomplish the Biden administration's AI goals.

  • NIST, where the AI Safety Institute is housed, is short on cash and asking Congress for $65 million to implement key components of the AI executive order.

More hires ... Get Axios Pro Tech Policy — smart, quick intel for your job.

4. Around the Beltway: 🏁 Virginia budget compromise

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

🥊 Gov. Glenn Youngkin and Democratic lawmakers struck a late compromise to continue negotiations over the Virginia budget, avoiding a state government shutdown. After a standoff, the Assembly effectively agreed to start fresh on the budget bill. (AP)

🏀 To match increased interest in women's basketball, the Washington Mystics are looking to play some of their games at Capital One Arena this season. They currently tip-off at a 4,200-seat arena in Southeast. (WTOP)

⛴️ There is a new effort to restart White's Ferry, which used to link Montgomery and Loudoun counties over state lines. A judge's ruling three years ago ended the crossing due to a shoreline land dispute. Now, the ferry's owner is donating the vessel to Montgomery County in hopes of reaching a solution. (NBC4)

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5. 📞 Congressional Cemetery calls

"The Landscape Listens." Photo courtesy of Kitty Linton Photography

Can you talk to the dead? A new public art installation at Congressional Cemetery, "The Landscape Listens," invites visitors to commune with natural and ethereal planes.

Why it matters: Congressional is an active 217-year-old cemetery in Southeast D.C., and public art is yet another way it connects with the community — a cemetery for the living and the dead.

The big picture: Local artist Tommy Bobo and curator Ashley Molese took inspiration from Japanese artist Itaru Sasaki, whose "wind phone" installation in northern Japan was designed to link this world and the next. It creates space for mourning, reflection, and remembrance.

Zoom in: At Congressional, Bobo installed dozens of mirrored sculptures designed to recall reflective pools, which react to wind and the environment.

  • According to the cemetery, they act as a vehicle "to carry remembrances across the wind, ferrying the words spoken into the wind phone to people beyond."
  • An analog phone nearby allows visitors to "call" loved ones.

If you go: Congressional Cemetery (1801 E St., SE) is open to the public on most days. The installation runs through June.

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Rows of large mirrors, shaped like skateboards, stand on small pillars in the grass of Congressional Cemetery, and trees reflect off the mirrors.
Photo courtesy of Kitty Linton Photography

☀️ Cuneyt is wishing for more breezy mild weather in D.C.

😈 Mimi is pleased she's finally trained her Instagram algorithm to only show her extremely unhinged French bulldog videos.

⛱ Anna is OOO.

Today's newsletter was edited by Alexa Mencia and copy edited by Patricia Guadalupe.