Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Post says the city smells like weed: especially Columbia Heights

The Post has an article about the city smelling like marijuana, and how most residents don't really care. I've definitely smelled it from time to time around our neighborhood, and it does seem like now I smell it more -- but I also wonder if some of that is bias that we're looking for it more now that marijuana is (kind of) legal in the city.

In a Post poll, 57% of people say they smell it at least once a month, 45% of say they don't mind while another 17% say it doesn't bother them too much.

If you recall, the law is that you can have up to 2 ounces of marijuana, you can grow it for personal use (up to 6 plants, no more of which 3 can be mature), and you can give it away (again, just 1 ounce.) You have to be 21 or older, you can't sell it, and you can't use it in public. That last part, however, is not enforced much by the police -- and that's fine with me.

I've definitely experienced more weed smells than before -- a couple of weeks ago, I was walking down Spring Road between 13th and 14th and smelled the strongest, funkiest, sticky-icky-ickiest weed smell I've ever smelled:

The Post quotes a few people who say they're less discreet now, and a lot of their examples take place in our fair neighborhood.

It doesn't really bother me, but then again, I voted for the law and actually volunteered at polling places for Initiative 63, a medical marijuana ballot initiative that passed in 2002 but was blocked by Republicans in Congress.

What do you think?  Ok with it, or not so much?

Monday, November 23, 2015

Comedian Hannibal Buress does surprise show at Wonderland on Sunday

Whoa! Comedian and actor Hannibal Buress did a surprise show at Wonderland last night, trying out some new material. He hosts Why? With Hannibal Buress on and is a recurring character on Broad City as Ilana's sort-of romantic interest, and made news last year as the guy who brought out Bill Cosby's sexual assaults into public knowledge.

DCist has the story -- Wonderland hosts a free local stand-up night on Sundays, and after 16 other comedians, Buress walked up unannounced. He did a 40 minute set on politics, kids, social media and more. They report that before his surprise set, he was sitting at the bar next to a lady who knew who he was but didn't say anything, instead tweeting about him sitting there. Pretty funny and weird.

He tweeted about the set just before it happened, but later deleted the tweet.

Pretty cool -- and to me, another reason why our neighborhood watering hole is awesome. (Also another reason why Buress is awesome.)

Here's Buress from a New York show in case the DCist tweet above doesn't work.

Photo by 92Y Tribeca

Friday, November 20, 2015

More info on the Hilltop, bar and restaurant coming to Sherman & Girard: looking at Spring opening

I've been looking forward to The Hilltop, the bar and restaurant coming to 2737 Sherman Ave NW: it's from two guys from the Saloon, the relaxed beer spot on U Street with a focus on beer and wine, but it's been a few years in the making.

Other blogs reported in 2013 that it would be open in a month, and since then we've heard about permit issues and delays, which are normal when it comes to restaurants. We also heard they would open in September, but no dice.

Some folks were worried it might not open, but I talked to co-owner Sam Jahanbeen about the spot, and he said they're aiming at Spring 2016 for opening. It sounds like they're on the home stretch, Jahanbeen said they have their liquor and zoning permits and are just working on their kitchen. They'll spend the winter developing and testing their food menu.

According to their liquor license, heir hours will be 10am-1am Sun-Wed, 10am-2am Thurs-Sat, which suggests to me they'll have brunch. The outdoor areas will be 10am-11pm every day.

Judging from their Facebook, the inside looks pretty far along.

They'll be beer and wine focused, with probably most being American and European, and they're working on their food menu, which will be casual and American-focused. There's 36 seats inside and 40+ outside.

Jahanbeen is the nephew of the owner of the Saloon and his co-owner Kaleabe Getaneh is a long-time waiter and manager there, and a super nice guy. With that kind of bar pedigree, this place sounds like a great addition.

If you haven't been, the Saloon on U Street is a relaxed German and Belgian-beer bar, a great place to have a conversation with friends. They also raise money and close down every year to build schools, which is pretty cool.

The before and after of the building is pretty nice too: it was a vacant building for a long time.

I'm looking forward to this spot, and hope they're on track to open then.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

TEDxYouth Columbia Heights is Saturday, Nov. 21

Inline image 1
You may have heard about TED talks, the events where speakers talk about their ideas and their projects, and TEDx, the independently-organized TED events around the world.

There's one in our area coming this Saturday, TEDxYouth@ColumbiaHeights, which is a youth-focused event targeting high school and college students, but anyone can attend.

This is the second TEDxYouth@ColumbiaHeights, the first was in 2012.

The speakers ar Mariam Adil, the founder of GRID, Gaming Revolution for International Development, which usess games for international development projects, Ana Alanis, a student at American University who is a youth activist, and Gabriel "Asheru" Benn, a hip hop artist and former DC teacher who also runs Guerilla Arts Ink, which trains local artists.

Here's more about the event. Sounds interesting! And there's more info on their website.
TEDxYouth@ColumbiaHeights was originally started in 2012. We are back in 2015 with a new team, new ideas and a passion for "ideas worth spreading." As an organization and an event, TEDxYouth@ColumbiaHeights seeks to connect youth in the DC community to new ideas, opportunities and each other, in order to build a space where students can grow as individuals in order to help them positively impact their communities.
TED is an organization that's focused on ideas worth spreading and TEDxYouth@ColumbiaHeights is a local, independently organized TED-like event that seeks to connect students to new ideas, opportunities, and each other, in order to build a space where students can grow as individuals to help them positively impact their communities.

This full day event (9:30 AM - 1:30 PM) targeting high school and college students from across the district will feature 11 speakers from a wide variety of fields to spark new ideas, conversations, and action through a series of talks and interactive activities relating to this year’s theme of “independence.” This year's speakers include a NASA program manager, an international hip-hop artist, a professional road tripper and more.

Tickets for the event are $10 and are available on our website.

Playback the Tape is back: found VHS footage festival at the Coupe tonight at 7 pm

Playback the Tape, the fun event where they screen old VHS tapes, commercials and all, is back in our neighborhood. Their next event is tonight at the Coupe, starting at 7 pm, where they'll be showing Peanuts, Miracle on 34th Street, and other old holiday videos, all from home-recorded VHS tapes, which means they're complete with 80s and 90s commercials.

The events are a blast, it's a fun blast of nostalgia. I went to one two Halloweens ago at the Mothership (RIP) where they showed a Garfield Halloween special, which included commercials for My Little Pony, GI Joe, Teddy Ruxpin and lots of other funny ephemera I'd forgotten about.

Here's more about today's event:
to filter or #nofilter... that is the question! stirring up wonderment and controversy in equal doses, the 1985 debut of a computer-colorized "miracle on 34th street" proved more a marketing fad than a technological revolution. but with hues and tones intended to evoke a previous era, did this revised version also forecast our future instagram-colored world? join us for a re-airing of its original computer-tinted television broadcast (starring the recently-deceased maureen o'hara), preceded by "this is america, charlie brown," a retelling of the first thanksgiving fable, with peanuts playing the part of pilgrims. we're revisiting the revisionists, holiday-style -- all 100% home-recorded vhs with vintage commercials intact!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

El Latino Bakery, which makes the delicious smell on 11th Street, is closed!

This is sad news for our sense of smell: it seems that El Latino Bakery at 3314 11th Street NW, has closed and moved to Maryland.

The place, just up the street from Room 11, generated all kinds of delicious sweet bread smells in the past, and would also sell things from the bakery if you asked nicely (and knew a little bit of Spanish.)

It's too bad, I always loved smelling that sweet, doughy aroma over the area. Sometimes the smell went as far as 13th and Park.

At least there are still other Latin bakeries in the area, especially up 14th Street. Which is your favorite?

And I wonder what will come of that building -- they had a pretty big space.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Want to host a block party? Here's how and where you can (and can't) host one

The other day, a reader emailed me asking about the procedures to host a block party, a party where the city shuts down the block and you have friends and neighbors take over the street for grilling, hanging out, games and the link. I wasn't sure the process, so I did some research and found out how and where you can host one.

The District's Department of Transpiration (DDOT) runs the permitting process for block parties, and they have more information about hosting a block party here, with the following requirements:
  • Applicant must be an adult resident (21 years or older) of the block being closed.
  • Area must not exceed two intersecting streets (i.e., must be limited to one block).
  • Street must be reopened no later than 10 pm
  • Applicant must obtain consent of 51% of households on the block.
  • Vending is prohibited. No sales, fees, or donations shall be solicited or accepted at the event.
  • No sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages allowed.
  • Accessibility for emergency equipment via an unobstructed 20-foot emergency access lane must be maintained at all times.
  • Posting of street closure/no parking signs must be completed no less than 72 hours prior to date of event.
There are some other requirements too: according to DDOT staff I spoke with, the street must be categorized as a "local" street, which is why I created the above map using data from the DCGIS office -- green is local, red is everything else. You'll see that eliminates most of Columbia Heights south of Park Road. You can mouse over the street to see the name, and click it to see its "functional class" or street type.

However, just because your street is categorized as a local street, it doesn't mean that the block party will automatically be approved -- the permit goes through various agencies like MPD, the fire department, and WMATA, and they can deny it if they find the street is too important, it will impede emergency vehicles, or other reasons. If it's on a Metrobus route, the party still may be approved if WMATA can redirect the buses safely and easily.

In addition, it can't be on an official emergency evacuation route, but those are never local streets, so that is kind of redundant.

To apply for the actual permit, you use DDOT's online permitting system called TOPS and choose "Parking/Occupancy permit." There seems to be no fee.

A few other considerations: this will take some time -- getting people on the block to agree, getting the permit back in time and so on. I would start working on it as soon as possible.

I hope this helps people have more parties! They are really a blast. And make sure you get a moon bounce, because they are awesome.

UPDATE: A commenter noted that 11th Street is colored red, but Columbia Heights Day is held there. I believe that's because Columbia Heights Day is not a block party but a "special event," which is a different permit. Block parties can only be one block and can't sell alcohol, whereas Columbia Heights Day does both.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Thanksgiving food drive this Saturday at the Petworth Community Market (and around the neighborhood until Nov. 20!)

Thanksgiving is coming up, and the folks behind the Petworth Community Market have organized a Thanksgiving food drive to support Mary's Center, a great local nonprofit that works on health care, education and social services.

They'll have food bins at the Market on Sunday and also other local businesses until Nov. 20: Annie’s Hardware, Greenline Real Estate, Willow Fashion, Lighthouse Yoga and the Mary's Center office at 3912 Georgia Ave NW.

The Petworth Market is every Saturday from 9am to 1pm at the triangular park where Georgia, Upshur and 9th Street intersect.

Here's more info:
In support of the Mary’s Center 2015 Food Drive, the Petworth Market will host a Thanksgiving food donation bin at the November 7th and November 14th markets. Please join us in supporting local families in need during the holiday season. You can also visit the local Mary’s Center location at 3912 George Avenue to drop off your donations. Accepted items include non-perishables such as canned vegetables/fruit, cranberry sauce, yams, stuffing mix, and pumpkin pie filling. We will also accept $25 grocery store gift cards for frozen turkeys. For a full description of what we’re looking for, click here
Until November 20, you can also find drop-off bins at our local partners during the week: 
Annie’s HardwareGreenline Real EstateWillow FashionLighthouse Yoga 
Mary’s Center, founded in 1988, is a Federally Qualified Health Center that provides health care, family literacy and social services to individuals whose needs too often go unmet by the public and private systems. Mary’s Center uses a holistic, multipronged approach to help each participant access individualized services that set them on the path toward good health, stable families, and economic independence. The Center offers high-quality, professional care in a safe and trusting environment to residents from the entire DC metropolitan region, including individuals from over 110 countries.