Thursday, April 24, 2014

Music about our area: "Washington DC Hospital Center Blues" from 1964

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post for Curbed on songs about places in DC. I've mentioned some here before like "Rock Creek Park" by Donald Brown and the Blackbyrds and the album Rock Creek Park by Oddisee.

However, one commenter mentioned a 1964 blues song called "Washington DC Hospital Center Blues" by bluesman Skip James, and I really like it. It may be a bit of a stretch to consider the Hospital Center, which opened in 1958, in Columbia Heights, but it's pretty close. Enjoy!

James, who was born in 1902 in Mississippi, had a successful career until the Great Depression, when he gave up performing the blues. Then James, with a number of other "rediscovered" blues musicians, performed to great acclaim at the 1964 Newport Folk Festival. This song comes from his album Greatest of the Delta Blues Singers, which All Music Guide says was recorded right after. A pretty interesting story.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Too bad: art space The Dunes closing April 30

The curse of 1402 Meridian continues: the City Paper reports The Dunes, the art space and performance venue above the former Getaway restaurant, is closing April 30th. They report that the landlord has other plans for the space and didn't renew their lease. Owner Ra Jah Kelly told the CP "we hope to continue our work in another location should the opportunity present itself."

I never went to The Dunes, but a number of my friends had for concerts, art events, and more, and all really liked the space.

If you recall, this is the third place in that building, on 14th and Meridian Place, to close. The downstairs two floors used to be Social, a restaurant and bar with a somewhat strange vibe. That place closed after about a year amidst unclear circumstances, there was apparently some disagreements between owners, which included security guards threatening reporters.

The space was later taken over by The Getaway, a 60s car chase-themed bar. It opened in June 2011 with much better reviews and better crowds than Social. I ate and drank there a few times and always liked it. The downstairs is a cozy bar which the upstairs is a really big, open, airy spot, which contributes to a bit of a funny vibe. It's sort of too big to be a normal dining room, and even with better decorations than Social, it was still just a little off. They did have a nice patio, though. The Getaway also closed, in December 2013 after about 2 and a half years in business. I haven't heard the reason why it actually closed.

I'm not sure what the landlord plans to do with either space, but I hope it succeeds -- and considering three places have now closed there, I hope the landlord isn't the problem.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Drunk guy on Metro sings "Get Low" (to the window, to the wall) hilariously

So this is a few months old, and the poster says he didn't actually record it, he found it somewhere, and I'm not sure where exactly it is. But it's too good not to post.

Glad that guy was having a good time. Hope he didn't have too much of a hangover later, or get into other trouble. (Alcohol is bad, kids.)

(H/T Alan Zilberman at DCist)

Give feedback to DDOT about the Circulator today

Just got this from the (very useful) Georgia Avenue Community Development Task Force email list. Sounds like a good opportunity if you have feedback or suggestions.
The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is holding six Pop-Up Meetings to solicit feedback from current and future riders on the DC Circulator bus system. 

The meeting for this area is
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
3:30 pm - 6:30 pm
Frank D Reeves Municipal Center
2000 14th Street NW

For those unable to attend a Pop-Up Meeting or who wish to submit comments at a later date please forward comments to Circe Torruellas at or call 202-671-2847. You may also submit comments by clicking on the contact us link located on the DC Circulator website at

Monday, April 21, 2014

Lost Siamese cat: have you seen Morpho?

Just spotted this on the neighborhood listserve: have you seen Morpho the Siamese?
Siamese, brown, black and grey. She is very sweet. Named "Morpho." If you see her, please call me at 202.714.1162.

"A bit unusual": "Nude dude" runs down Taylor Street, cops in pursuit

Well, that's a story you don't hear every day. Neighbors reported that a naked man (or "nude dude") was spotted running down Taylor Street in southern Petworth with the cops in hot pursuit.

Let's hope the scourge of naked police chases doesn't migrate farther south into our area.

Below is the message posted to the Petworth listserve. I was at a friend's house near 14th and Taylor and heard lots of police cars and at one point their megaphone, but wasn't sure what was going on.

I haven't been able to find any more info, it's not on the police listerves as far as I can tell. I'm not envious of the police who would have had to apprehend the guy.
Nude dude with cops in pursuit on Taylor?
Curious if anyone know what was going on this evening - just before 9 PM? I was walking home and noticed the sirens and lights before I noticed the guy - on 14th and Taylor headed east. Just curious since that seems a bit unusual.

New Caribbean market, Buxton Glory, open at 4013 Georgia

The other day I was walking in southern Petworth and spotted a new place: Buxton Glory International Market at Georgia and Shepherd.

The market has a Guyanan flag on the sign and the lady working said they've been there about 6 months.

It wasn't a big place, but they had a lot of various ethnic and international food: Caribbean food like coconut flour and lots of spices and sauces, chow mein noodles, drinks and cookies from all over the place, plus some usual convenience store items.

Definitely worth stopping by if you're in the area or looking for something new.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Help Celebrate Petworth: shop on Upshur on Saturday to benefit a Petworth community festival

A group of neighborhood folks and businesses are working to start a community festival in Petworth: they're calling it Celebrate Petworth, and they need your help to make it happen. They're holding a few fundraisers, including this Saturday, where businesses on Upshur Street (Petworth Citizen, Fia's Fabulous Finds, Bentley's Vintage, and Willow) will donate 10% of all sales to the fest. Sounds awesome! I'll be there.

They also have a CrowdRise site, like a Kickstarter page to raise money. Read below for more info.

  • A group of community organizers have come together to plan and execute a small neighborhood festival celebration in the heart of Petworth. The Celebrate Petworth Festival will highlight the creativity, diversity, culture, people, and quality of life of Petworth: the core components of what make Petworth a vibrant and wonderful place to live and do business. Celebrate Petworth will be anchored around 4 main themes: Art, Music, Food and Healthy Living, and Kids/Family and will be held Saturday, May 10th from Noon to 6 PM.
  • CrowdRise Campaign: Organizers estimate it will cost approximately $12,000 to cover DCRA and DDOT permitting fees, required security and insurance, staging and equipment, and to support the musicians and performers. We are asking the community to help us raise $5,000 while we attempt to secure the majority through corporate sponsorships.
    We envision this inaugural festival being the first of many to come. Your support will help make this kickoff a success and secure it as an annual celebration of our community.
  • Weekend Fundraiser: Take advantage of the weekend's spring weather and swing by the Upshur Street for some shopping and dining to benefit the inaugural Celebrate Petworth. Shop or dine at Petworth Citizen, Fia's Fabulous Finds, Bentley's Vintage, and/or Willow this Saturday, April 19th between 10 AM and 2 PMand 10 percent of sales will go to funding this neighborhood-organized event! See you on Saturday and on May 10th!
  • Event Sponsors - Green Line Real Estate, Creativecouch Designs, Car2Go, Petworth Citizen, Fido and Kitty's World, Various Petworth Neighbors

Affordable housing coming to huge, abandoned Hebrew Home on Spring Road

Old Jewish Home on Spring Rd
 If you've ever walked down Spring Road NW between 13th and 10th, you've seen the old Washington Hebrew Home. I wrote about the home before, it opened in 1925 as a home for elderly Jewish people, expanded in 1935, then was sold to the city in 1968. The city used it as housing for homeless and poor people, then stopped using it around 2008. It's been abandoned ever since.

But now, something is happening. Park View DC reports that the plan is for the DC Housing Authority to renovate the building as 70 to 80 units of affordable housing, affordable defined as 60% of the area medium income, which would mean less than about $68,000 a year.

The plan is still early, and there will be community meetings and hearings about, but they're hoping to start this year and be finished by 2016 or 2017.

Sounds like a good plan to me -- more affordable housing for folks, and reusing a nice old building that is unfortunately abandoned.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Uptown Comedy: comedy shows every Thursday at Zeba Bar on 14th Street

If you enjoy jokes, get yourself to Zeba Bar at 3423 14th Street NW every Thursday for Uptown Comedy, a weekly showcase of local comics. The events are from 9-11 pm and there's one today featuring a bunch of local comedians. There are drink specials and also spots for walk-in comics, if you get there early enough.

Always good to see a variety of events in the hood, and this one sounds like fun. 

That time Clint Eastwood chased John Malkovich down Park Rd NW

I was watching the movie In the Line of Fire the other day, a pretty good thriller with Clint Eastwood and Dylan McDermott as Secret Service agents after John Malkovich, a crazy guy who wants to kill the President. Released in 1993, it takes place mostly in DC, with Eastwood living somewhere Adams Morgan-ish and hanging out at Georgetown bars.

But there's also a Columbia Heights connection: in one scene where they've traced a Malkovich phone call, they scramble to catch him. The supposed location, the St. Francis Hotel on Florida Avenue in Northeast, is actually that building with the round tower at Park Road and Holmead Place. Malkovich escapes on foot and the car with the good guys does a U-turn, and you can clearly see the red doors of the fire station on the other side of the street, next to El Rinconcito II. Where the Giant is now is a grassy lot, seen only briefly.

Then the funny part happens: Malkovich runs into an alley and up a fire escape, and when he gets to the top of the building he's next to the Capitol. I guess it makes for a more exciting version of DC than suddenly looking over Holmead Place.

It's always cool to see Columbia Heights in the movies and on TV, and in this case, interesting to see what has changed in the 21+ years since 1993 or so -- a lot of the buildings look the same, aside from there being no Giant at all, which later became a real engine for the neighborhood.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Today is DC Emancipation Day: tour Lincoln's Cottage, dine at Petworth Citizen (plus parade and hip-hop show downtown)

Today is DC Emancipation Day, when Pres. Lincoln signed a bill freeing the slaves in DC. It's a local holiday which unfortunately few people celebrate, but which I think should be a bigger event. Today, as well as a parade downtown on Pennsylvania Avenue (starting at 11) and a hip-hop concert with Talib Kweli, Arrested Development, DJ Kool, Doug E. Fresh, MC Lyte, Raheem Devaugn and more, starting at 4 pm at Freedom Plaza, followed by a panel discussion with some of the performers at the Lincoln Theatre. You can get all the details here.

However, there are some local events too: tours of Lincoln's Cottage in the Old Soliders' Home, just east of our area, and dining out at Petworth Citizen, which will donate a portion of their sales to the cottage.

D.C. Emancipation Day at President Lincoln’s Cottage and Petworth Citizen
Commemorate the 152nd anniversary of emancipation in the District on April 16th by dining out at Petworth Citizen, in support of President Lincoln’s Cottage, “the Cradle of the Emancipation Proclamation.”

Washington, D.C. – On April 16, 2014, 152 years after President Lincoln signed a bill ending slavery in the District of Columbia, President Lincoln’s Cottage and Petworth Citizen are partnering to honor Lincoln’s legacy here in Washington, D.C. From 4 pm until 1 am on Wednesday April 16, 2014, diners can visit Petworth Citizen, located at 829 Upshur Street NW Washington D.C. 20011, in honor of D.C. Emancipation Day. The restaurant will donate a portion of sales on that day to President Lincoln’s Cottage, “the Cradle of the Emancipation Proclamation.” “Lincoln lived and worked just up the road from the site of our restaurant, and we are thrilled to join with President Lincoln’s Cottage in celebrating this important holiday,” says Paul Ruppert, owner of Petworth Citizen.

President Lincoln’s Cottage, the Lincoln family’s seasonal home in Washington, D.C., is where Lincoln developed the Emancipation Proclamation during the summer of 1862. Earlier that year, over 3,000 enslaved people in D.C. were freed when Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act on April 16, 1862. Today, April 16th is a city holiday known as D.C. Emancipation Day. Visitors who tour President Lincoln’s Cottage on April 16, 2014 will receive a free souvenir scroll of the D.C. Compensated Emancipation Act. “Shortly after signing the Compensated Emancipation Act, President Lincoln moved to the Cottage, where he developed his transformative emancipation policy for the nation,” says Erin Carlson Mast, Executive Director of President Lincoln’s Cottage. “We are delighted to celebrate the 152nd anniversary of emancipation in D.C. with our generous community partner, Petworth Citizen, and we welcome visitors to tour the Cottage on D.C. Emancipation Day to learn more about Lincoln’s path to the Emancipation Proclamation.” Tours of President Lincoln’s Cottage are offered on the hour between 10:00 am and 3:00 pm, and advanced reservations are recommended:

President Lincoln’s Cottage, “the Cradle of the Emancipation Proclamation,” is located on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, D.C. While living here for more than a quarter of his presidency, Abraham Lincoln bonded with soldiers and veterans, made crucial decisions about the Civil War, and, most notably, developed the Emancipation Proclamation his first summer in residence. His daily commute put him in regular contact with wounded soldiers and self-emancipated men, women, and children. Today, the site offers an intimate, never-before-seen view of Abraham Lincoln’s presidency and private life, and new perspectives on the influential ideas Lincoln developed while living here.

The entrance is President Lincoln’s Cottage is at the intersection of Upshur St NW and Rock Creek Church Rd NW (approximate GPS address: 140 Rock Creek Church Rd NW). The Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center is open 9:30am-4:30pm Monday-Saturday and 10:30am-4:30pm Sunday. Tours of President Lincoln’s Cottage are given daily on the hour, and all tours begin in the Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center. For more information on President Lincoln’s Cottage, visit: or call 202-829-0436.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately-funded non-profit organization, works to save America’s historic places. President Lincoln’s Cottage is a site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. For more information, visit:

Petworth Citizen, located at 829 Upshur Street NW Washington DC 20011, is a neighborhood bar with great bar food and a literary focus. On April 16, 2014, Petworth Citizen will be open from 4:00 pm until 1:00 am. Dinner is served until 11:00 pm; a late night happy hour menu featuring small plates and drinks is available between 11:00 pm and 1:00 am.


Grace Church hosting neighborhood Easter party this Saturday

 Here's a nice event from Grace Meridian Hill Church. Sounds fun, and check out the flyers in English and Spanish.
One of Columbia Heights' neighborhood churches is having it's 5th annual Neighborhood Easter Party at Girard St. Park (15th and Girard, NW) this coming Saturday. It has become a fun neighborhood tradition over the last few years, bringing out 300+ neighbors for face painting, giant bubbles and activities, tons of food, painting, and of course an Easter Egg hunt.

When: Saturday April 19th 11am-1pm
Where: Girard St. Park (15th and Euclid)
Who: kids, adults, neighbors- all are welcome

What: face painting, mural making, food, sports and games, dance, Egg Hunt, photo booth, and more