Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Neighborhood #3 - Power Out?

Looks like Pepco is reporting some power outages in the 20009 and 20011 zip codes and I've heard some reports from pals around town - anybody affected?

And here's the video of that reference:

Black Hebrew Israelites in the hood

Black Hebrew Israelites
Originally uploaded by squidpants
For the past few days, I've seen the Black Hebrew Israelites at the Columbia Heights Metro. The group, which has various names, is a religious group who believe they are descended from ancient Israelites. They use a loudspeaker to preach and sometimes say bad stuff about white people. I often see them at the Gallery Place Metro, and they caused a stink in Capitol Hill when neighbors tried (unsuccessfully) to get them to turn down the volume.

Here's the Wikipedia page about the group.

Anybody see them? I didn't catch much when I saw them.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Year's Eve in Columbia Heights

A reader sent in a good suggestion the other day: a rundown on New Year's Eve events in the neighborhood. So here you go:

--Wonderland has DJ Meistro from 10pm to midnight. UPDATE: a reader said she talked to the owner, and it's $25/couple or $15/person cover, and there's a High Life toast at midnight

--CommonWealth has two events - a "Tarts and Vicars" fancy dress party with no cover, costume prizes, and a champagne toast, and a three course New Year's roast from 5pm to 8 pm at $25 per person.

--Busboys & Poets has an open bar, DJ, "high-end reception foods" and will also have a shuttle to the other Busboys at 5th and K. Tickets are $49 in advance and $59 at the door.

--The Heights has a few prix-fixe packages, with reservations required.

--Tonic in Mt. Pleasant is having a "White Winter Party," where folks dress up in "elegant and sexy" white clothes. I'm not sure about a cover, but I presume there will be one. They're also having a big brunch on New Year's Day.

--De'vines has all sparkling wine 10% off on the 31st.

--Red Derby is having pink champagne at midnight.

--Red Rocks Pizza has their regular menu, and they're taking reservations for parties of 6 or more.

Where do you plan to go? Got any other suggestions?

Columbia Heights streetscape plan website

Just saw this via the Columbia Heights Yahoo group, the Columbia Heights Streetscape plan has a website, complete with maps, a pretty useful FAQ, and an updates page. For example:
December 12, 2008 Update
Residents of the 1600 Block of Park Road NW are now eligible for Zone 1 Residential Parking Permits. Click here for more information.

December 8, 2008 Update
DC Department of Transportation Begins Road Construction on Park Road NW. Click here for more information.

Photo from the website

Monday, December 29, 2008

Sankofa Bookstore and Cafe

The other day I was going to the Enterprise Rent-A-Car on Georgia Ave (which is pretty handy, by the way) and wanted some coffee. I saw a place on Georgia just south of Girard called Sankofa, and stopped in. It's a nice little spot. It's an African bookstore with a little cafe and it's about a year old according to the barista. The guy was friendly and gave me a tasty Americano for the same price as a regular coffee, and they also had day-old muffins for a buck. I picked up a chocolate one and it was very tasty. They also had sandwiches and stuff, plus other drinks, and rent films as well.

Anyway, pay them a visit. They're at 2714 Georgia Ave NW, between Fairmont and Girard. Here's their website and their Yelp page (which has the wrong address).

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Bored? Check out Columbia Heights on Facebook

Good ol' CH has a number of different Facebook groups and apps, so give them a look if you have some time to kill.

--The Neighborhoods application has Columbia Heights, but it's kind of boring

--Columbia Heights Day

--Some folks started a fake "white yuppie hipster" gang, the Whipsters

--There's a Columbia Heights DC group

Anybody else do Columbia Heights stuff on Facebook?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Funny truck ad

So I've seen this ad at various places around the neighborhood for some time. What I noticed about it is the drawing -- it looks like someone used Microsoft Paint or Word to draw the truck. I kind of like that.

This particular sign was on the Bank of America ATM on Georgia Ave, near the Looking Glass Lounge.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New restaurant coming to 14th and Meridian?

A reader sent me a tip yesterday -- they were talking to a construction foreman at a building being renovated just north of the Allegro Spaces, apartments on 14th Street between Newton Street and Meridian Place, and the foreman said there would be a restaurant in the building. I'll look into it, it's the first I've heard of it.

And if you too have a tip about anything, let me know! newcolumbiaheights(at)gmail(dot)com

Cops busting Columbia Heights criminals

There's been a number of crimes recently in the neighborhood, but the police have been arresting the perpetrators too, which is good to see. To wit:

--MPD arrested a man who killed a person and shot a 5-year old in a house on the 600 block of Kenyon Street NW.

--MPD also arrested a man for a stabbing death at 14th and Newton NW

--Police also arrested a woman for a stabbing on the Metro

Scary to see these things, but it's good their getting arrested.

Renting your place out for Inauguration?

Is anyone planning to rent their place out for Inauguration? Has anybody already rented theirs? We've been considering renting ours out, as have some friends, but we have yet to hear of anyone actually doing it. Let me know in the comments!

And I also saw this pretty funny ad for a place in the neighborhood, a "CHEAP ASS DRUNKEN HOSTEL" at 11th and Girard. $250 all you can drink! That sounds like a recipe for disaster for the people who live there. (Hat tip to Express Night Out for this one.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Charity event tonight at Wonderland

There's a volunteer appreciation/charity event tonight at Wonderland that sounds pretty cool, it's for Capitol Letters, a new non-profit that will teach kids creative writing and is doing an anthology at Cardozo High School. There will be cupcakes, a bad holiday sweater costume, and DJ Gavin Holland is spinning. Sounds cool, go pay them a visit and donate a few bucks!

It starts at 7:30, and here's the info from their blog:

Be watchful of your cars!

Just wanted to remind folks to watch out for their cars - this weekend my friend was visiting and her convertible's soft top was cut into. A few things were stolen, though it could have been worse, but it's still a pretty bad thing to happen. Some things to remember might be to move your car every few hours, even if you don't have to do, or park it within view of your house, if possible.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Photos of the new Nevin Kelly gallery

The folks at the Nevin Kelly art gallery, which recently moved from U Street to the Highland Park building, just put some photos up on their blog. I'm curious to see the place on their opening.

Pan Lourdes now open

Just got a tip from a reader that the Pan Lourdes bakery/coffee shop at 14th and Newton Streets NW is now open. The reader says "I had several things, and they're mostly a step up from the standard Latino bakeries in the area."

As I suspected in the previous post I wrote about it, the baked goods come from the Pan Lourdes bakery in Mt. Rainer, Maryland.

Let me know how it is!

(The photo is from September, they may have a nicer sign now.)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Royal Blue to open in "next couple of months"?

I just got a tip from a new City Paper blog, Housing Complex, which has a post on Royal Blue, the Mediterranean restaurant on the east side of 14th Street near Starbucks. The joint which has been in the works for awhile, but there's finally some news.

City Paper writer Ruth Samuelson spoke to the space's owner:
"I guess they had some issues with their build out. But I’ve been in there recently and talked to the construction guys and they’re very, very far along," he says . "I would be shocked if it wasn't ready in terms of the build-out to be opened in the next couple of months."
I like food, so I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Reggae/dub show tonight at Wonderland

Just got this from a buddy, the reggae band Lucky Dub is playing at Wonderland tonight at 9 pm. They're partially from Columbia Heights, so go support the locals!

Here's their Myspace.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Bus service meeting on Thursday

After complaining about the crummy 14th Street bus earlier, I just learned about a Metrobus service meeting for the general public. Councilman Jim Graham posted the message to some listserves:
Dear Friends:

The Washington Metropolitan Areas Transit Authority and the Department of Transportation want to enhance bus service throughout the District. To do so they are conducting a neighborhood circulation study.

The study includes a series of community meetings at which residents can give their input on neighborhood bus service. The second round of meetings is coming up.

A meeting will be held in Ward One on Thursday, December 11, at Trinity AME Zion Church at 3505 16th Street NW. There will be an open house at 6:30 p.m. and the meeting will being at 7 p.m.

The location is handicapped accessible, but if you have special needs or questions, please call 202-561-3700 or visit
Sounds awesome. I'll try to make it, and whether I do or not, please complain about the 14th Street bus stopping too often.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Nevin Kelly art gallery moves to the neighborhood

I just saw this on DCist, the Nevin Kelly gallery has moved from U Street to the Highland Park building at 1400 Irving St NW. The gallery folks told DCist that "they will be open by appointment only until the new year, when they'll host an open house to introduce everyone to their new digs, followed by regular business hours again."

The gallery doesn't have a storefront and are in one of the first floor units, and they hope to use the building's common areas and such as reception and exhibition space. Seems like kind of a weird set-up, but I have yet to see it, so who knows.

This is the first art gallery in the neighborhood (if you don't count BloomBars, which is more of an art space), and I hope we can see more.

Here's their website.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Toy drive at MPD stations

MPD is having a holiday toy drive until the 23rd, with drop off boxes at their stations around the city. The ones in our area are the Third District station at 1620 V St NW and the 3rd District substation at 750 Park Road NW.

Here's more info, and a press release:
The Metropolitan Police Department and the National Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) are partnering to bring underprivileged children toys this holiday season. Each district station will have a box at the station desk for the new, unwrapped, toys. The age range should be geared toward children 2-12 years of age. The toys will be collected until Dec 23.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

DoS playing Wonderland tonight

If you're interested in seeing some music tonight, former Band in the Neighborhood DoS are playing Wonderland, opening up for Swift Technique, a hip hop group from Philly. Stop by, sure to be a good time.

CH serial robber turns himself in

I realized I forgot to post this, the teenager who committed 20 robberies in Columbia Heights turned himself in on November 26th, according to the Post. He called the police and they picked him up at 13th and Irving, and MPD did more investigation and charged him as an adult.

The guy, who is 18, is named Michael Richardson, and apparently he's still in custody, so there's something positive.

Girard Street Park to close tomorrow for renovations

Looks like the city's Department of Parks and Rec is about to start work on the renovations to the Girard Street Park at at 14th and Girard. South Columbia Heights Neighborhood Association president Sedrick Muhammad posted a letter from the DPR director posted an email saying they'll be closing to the public tomorrow. DPR expects the park to be done in early summer.

I posted about the park before, DPR says "Amenities of the new Girard Street Park will include seat walls, landscaping, game tables, lighting, and an outdoor basketball court with new rubberized play surface. Additional new park features include a play fountain, new fencing, access to the basketball court for persons with disabilities, and two bathrooms."

Anybody see a stolen Honda?

Saw this on the Adams Morgan listserve, keep your eyes peeled!
Stolen Vehicle

My vehicle was stolen sometime last night (Monday) between 9 pm and 12 am. It was parked at Monroe NW close to 14th Street. Nothing particularly valuable was inside and we do not have comprehensive insurance. If you happen to see a 2000 Silver Honda, 2 door, license plate CT 6166 with DC plates around please call the police.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Drink and eat late at night during Inauguration Weekend

The Post reports on what may be the awesomest news ever, that bars and restaurants in DC will be open 24 hours for Inauguration Weekend from January 17th to 20th. Last call will be 5 am (it's usually around 2 am) and you can buy food all night at the bars. Sounds pretty great to me -- I will definitely take advantage of it at Wonderland, the Red Derby, etc.

Some folks might not like it (like those who live around Wonderland) but I'm guessing the bar owners will keep the crowds as quiet as they can. Of course, people already aren't allowed to go out onto the patio after midnight at Wonderland.


I saw this awhile at Fairmont and 11th. I liked how the colors matched up.

What's new in the neighborhood? Got any tips? Let me know in the comments or via email, newcolumbiaheights(at)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Taking the Bus: 14th Street

This second installment of Taking the Bus, my series on buses in the neighborhood, focuses on the 14th Street Buses, the 52, 53, and 54, which go from Takoma down 14th Street to downtown/L'Enfant. In short, I hate them.

I've taken this bus heading south during rush hour and not during rush hour, and it's always a pain. They don't come very regularly, and they make so many stops (often every block) that it's practically faster to walk. I've started taking them for work during rush hour, and it's terrible - it takes about half an hour to go from 14th and Euclid St NW, roughly, to 14th and F. That's less than 2 miles. I could roll down the hill faster.

The line also sometimes has a problem with bunching, where a bunch of buses show up at once - of course, when you aren't waiting for 10 minutes or more for it to show up, especially when it isn't rush hour. Hopefully, they'll take out some of the stops or add an express - stopping every block increases the time it takes exponentially, because aside for waiting for people to get on and off, you catch more red lights that way. It stinks.

The bus seems like a good idea, but you're better off walking to 16th or 11th and catching those buses, or taking the Metro. Here's the map and schedule of the 14th Street buses.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Kids and parents deal at Commonwealth

Just saw this on the Columbia Heights listserve. Not bad.
Commonwealth has announced a Stroller Special for Lunch. Kids under 6 eat a free special lunch between 11:30 am and 4 pm Monday through Friday, and the parents enjoy a free half pint! A family can't beat that deal!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Black Friday is going to be crazy at DCUSA

Looks like the city is pulling out all the stops for Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and the first Christmas shopping day of the year. They're expecting tons of people to shop at DCUSA, and Councilman Jim Graham emailed the Columbia Heights listserve with some of the preparations, including opening the Metro at 4 am and having street performers for the lines of people they expect.

In addition, Columbia Heights ANC commissioner Anne Theisen said there will be additional police around, portable toilets, and that they expect people to camp out on Thanksgiving night. Sounds crazy.

I'll be out of town, but if anyone is there to take pictures, please let me know!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Robbery suspect back on the street

Way to go! Apparently the robbery suspect from the email drive was freed again. Oops! DC Attorney General Peter Nickles (or is it Nickels?) tells the City Paper that it was the US Marshalls' fault this time. Awesome. A U.S. attorney's office spokesperson said they weren't going to charge the kid anyway, but that DC's attorney general's office could have pursued it, and he shouldn't have been released. Apparently the kid had just turned 18 and had been ruled mentally retarded previously.

Nickles also told Loose Lips that he wasn't as angry at the email flood he received: "'Some were generated where the same words were used,' he says, but 'many were personal, from persons who had been robbed, persons who had been mugged.'" Thanks, Pete.

The Post has a piece on it also.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Beer and wine at Target!

Finally. I've been writing about this since April, and after many "next months" they finally got it. I noticed it on Saturday, they have a good selection of wine and a fair amount of beer. The wine didn't seem too pricey, but the beer was - $9 for Corona, for example. Still, nice to see. Maybe they'll drop prices.

And I didn't see the famous Target Wine Cube, but maybe I just missed it.

Police go online for Columbia Heights robber

I first saw this on MPD's Third District Substation listserve, they've arrested the same teenage suspect three times for a string of 21 robberies, only to have him released and commit more robberies. Inspector Edward Delgado posted the message to the listserve, asking constituents to write DC Attorney General Peter Nickels and demand that the suspect not be released again. He hasn't, but the Post reports that Nickels wasn't happy about it and wasn't reading the emails.

Apparently the suspect had been coming up behind people, knocking them over, and taking whatever he could. According to Delgado, the suspect was a juvenile and was arrested the first time after committing 6 robberies. He was then "released from jail because he was found to be incompetent to stand trial." After that he committed 6 more and was placed in a halfway house, which he ran away from, and committed more.

Pretty interesting story, and I hope that this solves this particular problem.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Progress on the Haunted Mansion?

Haunted mansion
Originally uploaded by squidpants
Looks like they're finally doing some work on what I call the Haunted Mansion, the really crummy looking house on Girard Street between 13th and 14th. I've written about the place before, it's owned by Dorothy Brizill and Gary Imhoff, two well-known political activists. It looks like they put in new windows on the first floor as well as new columns.

The highest floors still have some broken windows and general creepiness, but it looks like they're trying, at least.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Columbia Heights hurting Mount Pleasant?

I saw this today in the Post and was surprised - there's an article about Mount Pleasant's struggling commercial strip. I read it and thought "what? It's struggling?" The gist of the article, by Paul Schwartzman, is that Mt. Pleasant Street is down recently, thanks in part to the bad economy, DCUSA and other development in Columbia Heights. But I don't really think it's down. In the 8 years or so I've been going there, it seems like there's about the same number of businesses. He talks about vacant storefronts, but when I was up there on Sunday getting some breakfast at Dos Gringo's, I didn't notice any.

As evidence, he cites the palm reader, laundromat, computer center and two food markets as leaving. To me, a palm reader and computer centers really aren't that viable as businesses. The palm reader is quirky, but it's not like I go around looking to get my palms read. Maybe I have a different viewpoint than people who would go to a palm reader, but that's hardly something I'd miss. And what's a computer center? I don't know. Plus I can think of two other laundromats on that street, and as he notes later in the article, another is opening in January.

As for the mom and pop groceries, a local homeowner has an interesting viewpoint:
Sean Flynn, 38, a neighborhood homeowner who teaches law at American University, said the strip has long been dominated by "two kinds of establishments -- laundromats and mom-and-pop groceries that sell to" Latinos.

"I love those things, but I don't need 10 of them," he said. "We've always wanted more diversity in the retail. So, frankly, when some businesses close, we're happy."
Flynn goes on to say that he'd like a "'really cool, vibey restaurant/bar' or a market that sells cheese, meats and wine." But you could argue that Mt. Pleasant already has the former in a few places, like Tonic, Marx Cafe, Radius, The Raven, etc. Another local wishes there were a McDonald's because "it provides a social structure. It's a way to bring people together." What?

Does that mean I support the gentrification of Mt. Pleasant? Of course not. I like its quirky variety, from coffee and breakfast spots like Dos Gringos to kooky dollar stores to dive bars (The Raven) and regular bar/restaurants (Tonic). There's El West, the Latino-focused western store, Asian food, Latin American food, pizza, hardware, and a great bakery (Heller's). I think it's doing well. Is it just me?

Photo by Mike McCaffrey, used under Creative Commons.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Cowboys in the neighborhood?

I snapped this photo on Saturday, two guys dressed like cowboys were trotting up 14th Street near Girard. I've seen police walk around, but these guys weren't in uniform - they even had cowboy hats. Sorry it's blurry, but it took me awhile to get my camera out. Weird.

Too much parking?

I found this Post letter to the editor the other day, it talks about the city's regulations for parking in new buildings - generally, there are too many spaces required. The writer uses DC USA and the Columbia Heights Giant as an example, with the project's garage frequently mostly empty. Kind of an interesting point, though maybe traffic will increase around Christmas and when Ellwood Thompson's comes in. The writer notes that some sports should be converted to bike parking, which is a good idea -- bike parking is often very full around DC USA.

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Panda Express

Panda Express
Originally uploaded by squidpants
As mentioned in the previous post, I went to the new Panda Express on Irving Street near 14th last night. The verdict: decent. It's basically fast food Chinese -- there's a buffet type thing and you choose various entrees and sides and they scoop it into your plate (or take-out box). I had the Thai cashew chicken and string bean tofu with chow mein, and my buddy had the Kung Pao chicken.

Most of it was ok - the Thai chicken wasn't very Thai or cashew tasting, and the string bean tofu was bland, while the chow mein was pretty good. My buddy said the Kung Pao was decent. I also had the spring rolls, which were kind of mushy.

In short, not the place to take a date, but decent if you want something quick after work.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Guardian Angel patrol tonight

Guardian Angels
Originally uploaded by squidpants
I was at Panda Express (review coming) and saw these two Guardian Angels. They were pretty friendly and told me they were doing a patrol tonight (Tuesday) at 14th and Otis, near where a shooting was the other day.

The Columbia Heights listserve has more, with the group patrolling the northern Columbia Heights/Petworth boundary area -- "14th Street , 16th Street , Center Street , Hertford Place , Meridian Place, Oak Street , Ogden Street, Otis Place , Parkwood Place , Perry Place , Spring Place, and Spring Road" from 7 to 9 pm according to the post.

Anybody see them on patrol?

Now you can use the Cardozo track

There's been a lot of back and forth on the South Columbia Heights listserve about the Cardozo High School track at Florida and 13th Street NW -- people complained about not being able to use it, etc. Thanks to newly elected ANC member Sedrick Muhammad (who is also South Columbia Heights Neighborhood Assoc. president), it's now open for use by the public. His email:
Starting this Wednesday morning the track at Cardozo H.S. will be available to use. The track will be open M-F, 6.30am-8.45am and 4pm to dusk.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bands in the Neighborhood: Caracara

By Robyn Mincher

Caracara is a multifaceted term. “Face face” (Spanish), “from from” (Japanese), a type of orange, and a bird of carrion - the term unites stutterers, fruit fans, and bird watchers alike. It’s also indie rock outfit Caracara, a band with an amalgam of many sounds (like its name).

Mt. Pleasanter Jeremy Borrego moved to the Columbia Heights area two years ago with indie rock ambitions, finally realized after pulling in bassist Isaac Weiser, drummer Rob Rifkin, and lead guitarist Izzy Miller. They’ve quickly established themselves in the neighborhood music scene, winning the hearts of rock fans (with shows at Dahlak and The Red and The Black), frat boys (first band to ever play at Adams Mill) and biker bad-asses (at a car show in Manassas). Jeremy Borrego talks with us.

How did you all come up with the band name?

The band name was actually my stage name from my last band, Man Eagle. In that band everyone had a bird name and since I'm Mexican I was the Caracara. We liked it though for this band because it is so ambiguous.

How did the band form?

I moved here after college and needed a musical project. I put up a Craigslist ad and responded to a bunch of ads myself. Eventually I found some sassy dudes with similar enough tastes to start making music…and now we have a demo.

Do you play any gigs in CH?

Our first show in Columbia Heights is at the Wonderland on November 26th with Basshound at 9pm. I'm stoked about that show too because I really like the singer/songwriter shows the Wonderland has on the weekends and also when they have blues/country bands playing in the beer garden

What are your band's influences?

A lot of older country-blues stuff like the Stones and Zeppelin, more modern Indie stuff like the Arcade Fire and early Modest Mouse with a fair amount of darker fare like the Mars Volta and the Kings of Leon.

What’s your take on the local music scene?

Mt. Pleasant has these really cool, underground shows at La Casa from time to time and I've seen some great acts there…like the Apes and Ra Ra Rasputin. There's so much good music floating around DC, I just wish there were more of a central stage for it all. Dahlak's is kind of trying to do that and there are a bunch of cool open mics around, but I wish more venues were open to local bands.

And if you had to rename your band for something in Columbia Heights, what would it be?

There's already a rapper named Sticky Fingers and the glory of the Wonderland Ballroom cannot be surpassed, so I'd have to go with the Red Derby. It's a great name, I love that bar's vibe, and sometimes you need a beer in a can!

Are you in a band in the neighborhood? Let us know. newcolumbiaheights(at)

Bank of America opening Nov. 14

I saw this yesterday on the door, the Bank of America branch at 14th and Irving Street NW (right on the corner) will be opening Nov. 14, as well as the ATMs. I wonder if they'll be removing some of the other nearby BoA ATMs? The one next to the CVS seems to be broken half the time anyway.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Petworth (the band) playing tonight

Former Band in the Neighborhood Petworth is playing tonight at a party at 752 Columbia Road NW. It's a vegan, straight-edge house, so that means no booze or bacon. And they're also doing a stuff exchange. Might be a good time.

Also happening tonight, DJ Haaps is playing at Wonderland, which has a full schedule of music this weekend - DJ Meistro will be there Saturday, and Michael Jantz on Sunday.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Election results in the area

The DC Board of Elections and Ethics has posted the results, it looks like Ward One voted with the winners in most cases. Neighborhood listserve character William Jordan won his ANC race, as did South Columbia Heights Neighborhood Association president Sedrick Muhammad. Dee Hunter, also a candidate for at-large city council, lost her his ANC race, while most others were a landslide.

You can also break down the results by precinct to get more detailed results.

Obama wins, pandemonium ensues

I was out on U Street when the celebration began - people everywhere, in the streets, on bus stops, hugging each other, giving high fives, etc. It was the biggest happy crowd I've ever seen. I've heard the area around the Columbia Heights Metro was crazy too, anybody have experiences from there?

And here's a video I made at U Street:

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

How's your polling place?

I voted at the Latin American Youth Center at 1419 Columbia Rd NW today at about 10:30 am. The line was pretty long, at least half way to 15th Street, but I got in quickly thanks to having a last name from U-Z. I passed probably a few hundred people on the sidewalk and snaking into the building. When I was done, the voting machines I saw totaled about 800 votes. There may have been others I didn't see though, plus the touch screen.

One weird thing was that a man tried to vote write-in on the touch screen machine, but couldn't figure it out. The voting staff told him he couldn't do write-in on the touch screen, and would have to start over with a paper ballot. However, on page 5 of the DC Voter Guide, it specifically says you can vote write-in on the touchscreen - it says "to vote for a candidate not listed, touch 'write-in' and a keyboard will appear." So that's odd.

Folks outside were selling coffee and donuts to benefit the center, and the line continued a long ways into the building. In total, I finished in about 30 minutes.

What were your experiences voting?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Water outages in and out of the neighborhood

Looks like there are some water outages around the neighborhood and elsewhere. WASA reports a water main break at 12th and O, and DCist has a map of locations, including 13th and Florida. Anyone else having problems? Where at?

NCH election endorsements

I try not to be political, but there are a lot of local elections up on Tuesday. Here's my picks.

At Large DC Council - you can vote for two, and I endorse Kwame Brown and Patrick Mara. Kwame has been a councilmember for a few years now and has a done a good job - he's responsive, accessible, and logical. Patrick Mara is a newcomer, but I prefer him over the other two frontrunners, Carol Schwartz (write-in) and Michael Brown. Schwartz has fought against the mayor's school reform, which is why she lost the Republican primary to Mara. And Michael Brown is endorsed by Marion Barry, which is reason enough for me not to support him.

Shadow Senator - The shadow positions serve to advocate for DC voting rights. Paul Strauss recently got arrested for a DUI, but I think he'll continue to do a good job. He's been shadow senator for 12 years and knows how to make a fuss.

Shadow Rep - Mike Panetta is also great at making a fuss and getting press coverage for DC voting rights. He's gotten a lot of coverage recetly for creating the DC Olympic Team and other events.

Ward 1 State Education Board - Dotti Love Wade is a capable and dedicated Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner and served as the ANC chair, so I'm supporting her.

ANC commission - this one is hard since there are so many. I recommend voting against the incumbent unless you know who they are. If you don't know who your commissioner is, then they're probably not doing a good job.

President - Barack Obama, not like it matters in DC. Obama supports a voting rep for DC, McCain does not. If you want to help Obama, do some phonebanking!

But whatever you do, go vote, and encourage your friends to do the same!

Here's the full voter guide from the city, and their website.

Image by farlane, used under Creative Commons

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween stuff in the neighborhood

Originally uploaded by squidpants
Aside from house parties, I haven't found out too much that's going on in our neighborhood for Halloween. There are a few things, however.

Wonderland is hosting a costume contest tonight with Funk DC. There are prizes and guest judges include city council at-large candidate Patrick Mara.

There are haunted houses at MPD's Third District station and substation tonight for kids age 3-14. The station is at 1620 V St NW and goes from 6 pm to 9 pm today, and the substation is at 750 Park Road NW, going from 6 pm to 8 pm.

Tonic (out of the neighborhood, but just barely) is having a Halloween party tonight also.

Got any others?


Apologies for the lack of posts, I was in Miami for a few days, then in Delaware. One was more fun than the other.

Stay tuned for Halloween stuff in the neighborhood, etc.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Belated Columbia Heights Day recap

One of the organizers reminded me the other day that I forgot to write about Columbia Heights Day - so here goes.

In all, I'd say it was a success and a good time. There were a few hundred people there when I came by about 2 pm, and there was a good amount of stuff - cupcake eating contest, petting zoo (with camel!), a bouncy castle for kids, and various booths for non-profits, politicians, and a few craft types. We hit everything in about half an hour, then went over to Wonderland to take advantage of the drink specials (it was also Oktoberfest at Wonderland, so my pals got German liederhosen bib things). I enjoyed it.

I do have some criticisms and suggestions though - for one, there wasn't much food. There was a Taqueria Distrito Federal booth in the back, but it was out of food when I was there. One of the organizers, Jeff Stein, told me they had another vendor pull out at the last minute, concerned they wouldn't make any money. Hopefully next time they'll stick it out, and I hope they add some more food booths - at least local eateries, though fair food like at Adams Morgan Day (turkey legs, funnel cakes etc) would be cool.

There also wasn't much in the arts and crafts department, though there was a funny t-shirt place called T-Shirt Insurgency, and a painter. I'd like to see more of that too - maybe they can advertise for vendors.

And I was looking forward to seeing a zebra at the petting zoo, which was advertised on the site, but Stein said they have to choose between camel and zebra. Apparently the zebra can't be petted and it only walks around for a little bit of time, so I think he made the right choice.

I didn't hear much music either, it was mostly one guy with a guitar or one guy doing something else - I'd like to see more local bands. There are a zillion who I'm sure would like to play.

In all, I think it was pretty cool. Anybody else go? What did you think?

Know of any brothels in the hood?

After yesterday's stories, I posted a message on the MPD third district listserve, and officer Edward Delgado responded, asking citizens to email him any addresses they know of that might be brothels. His email is

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Columbia Heights Petworth brothel robber gets his thumb chopped off

What!? I just got sent this from NBC4, apparently two men tried to rob an alleged brothel somewhere in Columbia Heights, and in the ensuing struggle, one of the victims chopped one of the robber's thumb off with a machete. Wow. The thumbless robber, named Bryan Perez, went to the hospital, the police brought the thumb, and there was a match. Busted.

That is probably the weirdest Columbia Heights crime story ever. I'm trying to figure out where the brothel was, but now you can have fun with your friends by sending them the article and saying "sorry your house got robbed."

UPDATE: Wait a minute, there was a shooting at a brothel last week too, on 14th Street near Quincy. Maybe it's the same place? Is there a rash of brothel crime in the neighborhood? Are there really that many brothels in the hood? What is this, Amsterdam?

UPDATE 2: The Examiner has the full story on the machete incident - the address is 3827 14th Street NW, which is in fact near Quincy - maybe it's the same place as the shooting. The article says there was an underground gambling establishment on the first floor and a brothel upstairs. What in the world.

And technically, the location is in Petworth. Dang news always trying to make Columbia Heights look bad.

UPDATE 3: The two events are actually the same thing - there was a shooting and the thumb chopping off happened at the same time. Geez.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Free bike light giveaways

Just saw this, the Washington Area Bicyclists Association, DDOT, and Alexandria are giving out free bike lights on this Thursday, Tuesday the 28th and Thursday the 30th at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church at 16th and Park (3211 Pine St NW). They're also giving them out at 18th and Columbia.

They're free until supplies run out, so go help yourself not get hit by a car!

UPDATE: It's from 4:30 to 6:30 pm

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sticky Fingers wins vegan award

Sticky Fingers Bakery won the "best vegan desserts" category of the recent VegDC Three Green Stars competition, decided by reader votes. Pretty cool for the locals. I like their coffee drinks, pretty solid. The desserts are a little too sweet for me - what I've had, at least. Anybody have any favorite things there?

Sticky Fingers is at 1370 Park Road NW.

Marxists in the hood

Originally uploaded by squidpants
I saw this sign the other day at 13th and Columbia (I think) - it's an ad for a candidate for at-large council. Unfortunately I can't see it since it's curved, but it says something about "racist gentrification" and lists as the website.

Turns out that's the Party for Socialist and Liberation, which Wikipedia says is a Marxist political party. Kind of interesting. Also interesting is that their vice presidential candidate, Eugene Puryear, is a student at Howard University (and is only 22 years old, which means he's ineligible.)

Kind of cool to see some different political advertising out there, though I don't agree with the sign.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Count Chocula at Target!

I saw this yesterday at Target, pretty awesome. I guess it's for Halloween. If you haven't had them they're similar to Lucky Charms, but better - corn cereal bits and marshmallows. Here's the Wikipedia page about them.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

What neighborhood is Columbia Heights like?

I saw this on DCist, it's a site called Homethinking that compares neighborhoods from one with neighborhood in another - for example, DC to NY, or LA to SF. It has a lot of cities, and it's generally fairly accurate - even with, say, Knoxville, Tennessee, though Philly is apparently messed up.

According to the site,
Neighborhoods scores are initially calculated using demographic data from the US Census and other public sources. Wide numbers of demographic factors, such as age, marital status, whether the household has kids or not and the frequency of arts and culture activities, among other variables, were compared. The scores are then refined over time by reviews from people just like you.
Could be, I'm not so sure about the DC vs Manhattan though - it says Columbia Heights is like the Financial District, which is preposterous, and Harlem and Yorkville, which seems a little more accurate. For DC vs SF, it says Columbia Heights is like the Mission, which is reasonable.

The cool thing is, you can edit the ratings, as I did for Columbia Heights vs Financial District.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A bit more on Ellwood Thomspon's

Ellwood Thompson's spokesperson Lesley Johnson sent me a couple videos about the store, and said it's going to be about 15,000 square feet.

Check it out:

Ellwood Thompsons // At A Glance from Ellwood Thompson's on Vimeo.

Voting precinct 39 is moving

Hopefully you're registered to vote and will be voting next month! If so, and your precinct is 39, the Mount Pleasant Public Library (it says on your registration card) then you'll be voting at a different location: Bell Multicultural High School at 3101 16th Street, N.W.

Stay tuned in a few weeks for New Columbia Heights' local election endorsements!

DoS playing Wonderland tomorrow

One of the Bands in the Neighborhood, DoS, plays Wonderland tomorrow with openers Aubriot, who are also from DC area.

DoS will be in Halloween costumes, which sounds pretty cool. Check them out. Aubriot goes on at 8:30.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

We now have RSS

An astute reader emailed me a little while ago asking about RSS, so I just set up a feed - you can add it on the "Subscribe" section just below the blog map. Let me know if you have any issues with it, I'm no expert.

New sushi place is open

I walked by Nori yesterday, the new sushi spot where Mayorga used to be, and they were putting up signs and such. One of the waiters said they were open, so I poked around a little. It looks nice inside and they sure did it fast. I didn't eat there, but look for a review soon.

They're at 3301 14th Street NW, and here's their Yelp page.

Friday, October 10, 2008

This Saturday is yard sale day

A lot of folks are posting yard sales on the neighborhood listserve today. To wit:

--2702 13th Street (13th and Fairmont) from 9 am to 2 pm - clothes, furniture, books, music, and other "cool and inexpensive things and do-dads." And there will be an Xbox, either for sale or as a raffle.

--1354 Randolph St NW (14th and Randolph, which is technically Petworth) from 9 to 2 - furniture, kitchen items, fish tank, etc

--741 Fairmont Street NW (near Georgia) from 10 to 12 - furniture, craft supplies, household goods, etc

Night in the 'hood

Just saw this photo on Flick by MV Jantzen. Pretty cool.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Taking the Bus: H2/H3/H4

I'm starting a new series called "Taking the Bus," where I'll look at bus lines that go through Columbia Heights and where you can take them.

The first installment is the H2, H3 and H4. These lines are handy for me because they cut across the city east to west, ending at the the Van Ness (H2) and Tenleytown Metros (H3, H4), meaning you don't have to ride the Metro down to Gallery Place to get on the Red Line to get there. The lines are handy for trips to Whole Foods, Tenleytown, Fort Reno, and stuff like that.

Both lines go down Columbia Road westbound and Harvard Street eastbound through the neighborhood, then go on Porter and Quebec. To the east, they go past the Washington Hospital Center and end up at the Brookland Metro near Catholic University. It's a pretty handy bus route - check it out at Metro's site.

The reputation of Columbia Heights

I've been thinking about the reputation of Columbia Heights lately. It was spurred by this: Washingtonian magazine, which is sort of a society/upscale magazine, is having a reader happy hour in CH at the Highland Park at 14th and Irving. In their blurb, it says "Not familiar with the Columbia Heights neighborhood? It's a vibrant neighborhood north of the U Street area, filled with new development—and not to mention some of our favorite spots!"

It kind of made me think, huh, how could you not be familiar with this neighborhood? There's a Target, Best Buy, good restaurants, etc etc. It's been in the news a lot. The neighborhood used to have a pretty bad reputation for crime and such - at least to outsiders. Do you think it still does? Maybe that's why folks don't know about the neighborhood?

A few times in the past week I've been asked by folks if it's true what they say about Columbia Heights. I'm usually confused by this - what, there's a Target? But they're referring to crime, thinking it's a dangerous neighborhood that you shouldn't go to. To me, that's crazy. I've only had one incident with crime here, and that was before I even lived here. Since then, nothing at all, other than the occasional weird guy in the alley, but that happens everywhere.

I feel like most of the crime would never really affect me - it seems to be drug-related or from various "crews" against each other. Of course, there's some random muggings and such, and obviously that's terrible if it's happened to you, but to me those seem fairly rare.

So what do you think? Is the danger overblown? Is a supposed dangerous reputation warranted?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Interviews about DCUSA

Found this on Youtube, it's a few interviews with folks at the DCUSA shopping center. I think it was done by a student. One guy says the foot traffic reminds him of Europe.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Art + Media House open house Wednesday

The Latin American Youth Center's Art + Media House, a cool nonprofit, is having an open house tomorrow. The group got together 40 kids this summer to design and paint the mural on Kenyon Street across from Wonderland as part of their "Dos Caras Del Cambio | Two Faces of Change" exhibit, which also features student art. The open house also serves as the closing reception for the exhibit.

Sounds pretty cool, pay them a visit! It's tomorrow from 6:30-8:30pm at the
LAYC Art + Media House, 3035 15th Street NW.

Here's a link to the flier.

Ellwood Thomspon's deal signed! Really!

I just got this press release straight for the horse's mouth, Ellwood CEO Ryan Youngman, who said the deal was signed about 10 minutes ago. So it's official! Included was this image of the store, which will be on Irving Street.
Ellwood Thompson’s Local Market Brings Organic Growth to Columbia Heights
Richmond, VA-based organic grocery signs lease agreement in Washington, DC

October 7, 2008 – Richmond, VA - Ellwood Thompson’s Local Market, Virginia’s largest independent natural grocery, is pleased to announce its expansion into Washington, DC. As the company prepares for its twentieth anniversary, it will open a new store to serve the Columbia Heights and Mount Pleasant neighborhoods. Ellwood Thompson’s new store will be located in the DC USA development at 14th and Irving Streets, NW adjacent to the Columbia Heights Metro station.

“We’ve been interested in the communities along the 14th Street corridor as the home for our second store for quite some time,” says Ryan Youngman of Ellwood Thompson’s. “We walked the community and talked to the people. The overwhelming support we received from residents confirmed this is the perfect place to expand. Our commitment to environmental sustainability and conservation along with organics and clean local food is a perfect fit for these neighborhoods.”

Youngman plans to keep the lines of communication open, working with residents, community leaders and other businesses in the area to ensure Ellwood Thompson’s understands the food and community needs of the neighborhoods. He and the company would like to thank Ward One Councilmember Jim Graham, the Columbia Heights Developmental Corporation and Grid Properties for making this opportunity possible.

The local, organic and natural market is slated to open in fall/winter of 2009 and will be nearly 15,000 square feet. In addition, this growth will bring 90-110 new jobs to the area, everything from managerial to general positions, with great benefits and a unique and meaningful working environment.

Like the Richmond store, each department of the Columbia Heights market will emphasize local products found within a 100-mile radius. Offerings will include naturopathic vitamins, supplements and personal care, local produce, bulk, meat and seafood, wine, cheeses and fresh baked goods. Prepared foods from Ellwood’s Kitchen will be led by award-winning chef and vegan cookbook author, Jannequin Bennett. It will cater to intentional eaters as well as provide a variety of natural, organic, and ethnically diverse dishes. Those who elect to eat vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and/or raw foods will find plenty of options in all departments. There will be inside and outside community seating with wireless internet available.

Ellwood Thompson’s will also offer incentives for conservation and recycling in the form of monetary envirocredits for walking, biking and mass transit and reusing shopping bags, water and food containers. Those who have to drive will have easy access to the underground parking deck from Park or Hiatt Streets.
Sounds fantastic. Key things - Irving Street, fall/winter 2009. Here's their website and blog.

Spokesperson Lesley Johnson just told me they'll be pursuing a license to sell beer and wine also.

Ellwood Thompson's false alarm

Just heard from Ellwood Thompson's CEO Ryan Youngman: "Nothing final as of yet. Things are progressing well, but we’re not yet done." Doh!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Jim Graham: Ellwood Thompson's deal signed!

Just saw in the City Paper's City Desk that Ellwood Thompson's has signed a deal! The source is a press release from Jim Graham. Great news, and stay tuned as I hunt for more details.

I've been on this for a long time.

Shooting at the Boys and Girls Club

I usually don't like to report on crime incidents, but this one is too much not to report - apparently there was some kind of shooting at the Boys and Girls Club at 14th and Chapin Street NW.

It was about 10 pm on Friday night, and the details are a little sketchy - one report says it was a drive-by, while another says somebody did the shooting then got into a silver Jeep and drove away. Two 14-year old boys were shot, and the shooter then shot at a security guard in the Faircliffs complex. There may have been multiple people doing the shooting. The boys were shot in the leg and buttocks but appear to be ok.

To me, it seems like these kids were targeted - but that's just my impression. Pretty crazy story nonetheless.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Columbia Heights Day full schedule is up!

The full lineup is now up for Columbia Heights Day, and Prince of Petworth says that Jim Graham will be in the cupcake eating contest. I am there.

Earlier I posted my picks for the fest (which by the way is tomorrow at the Harriet Tubman Elementary School fields).

We have a winner!

We have a winner in the inaugural NCH concert ticket giveaway for Glasvegas at the Rock and Roll Hotel!

Here's their answer to my question, which was "Why should you get the tickets?"
1) I've always wanted to go to Vegas. I hear they have foot long hot dogs and I love hot dogs.
2) Scotland is one of my mother lands [along with Ireland, United Kingdom, America, and a few others. What? aren't most Americans mutts?] seeing Glasvegas will give me a glimpse of it.
3)All my friends are going and I want to be considered cool so I should probably go too.
4)I've never been to rock and roll hotel and this would be as good as any of an excuse.
5) Due to the fact that I am broke because of poor economic times I have been sadly deprived of great music recently.
6)I've heard Glasvegas compared to Jesus and Mary Chains with a mix of 50's girl groups. This comparison was probably made because they are both from Scotland but that doesn't mean I like either band any less.
7) I have a shirt that says "Scotland is for Lovers" [So what if its an Belle and Sebastian shirt. It still says it!]
8) After trying to figure out something about Soft Complex, their site crashed my Internets.
9) Will there be bag pipes?
And lastly number
10) An Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman were standing looking at a prize cow in a field.
The Englishman says "Look at that fine English cow."
The Irishman disagreed, saying "No, it's an Irish cow."
The Scotsman thought for a moment and then clinched the argument. "No, it's a Scottish cow - it's got bagpipes underneath!"
Thank you to all who entered, and sorry if you didn't win. I'll have more contests soon, so stay tuned.

Don't forget: Columbia Heights day is tomorrow!

It's almost that time. There's a lot of cool stuff happening, here's some of my top picks:

(All events are at the Harriet Tubman Elementary School field unless noted.)

--Free yoga - 10 am
--Community bike ride and pet costume parade(!) - 10:30AM at Tivoli Square
--Mariachi Band - 12:45-1:00 pm
--Cupcake eating contest - 1:45-2:00 pm
--Local hip hop artist Flex Matthews - 2:00-2:45 pm
--Petting Zoo, including a zebra. A freaking zebra!
--Happy hour all day at Wonderland and Red Rocks
--And lots of cool sounding booths - Friends of the Congo, politicians, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, the Graylon Freeman T-shirt Insurgency, local businesses, etc

I'll post the most updated lineup soon.

Hari Krishha in the neighborhood?

A reader sent me this snapshot from a few days ago, pretty interesting. I'm guessing he's a Hari Krishna, not somebody you see around too often.

Pretty interesting - a little local flavor for you.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Awesome car

I've seen this car around before, usually parked on 14th Street around Belmont, but haven't taken a picture before. It's a Ford Taurus (I think) raised up on some big rims. Pretty rad.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Columbia Heights Day is coming up!

By Robyn Mincher

The second annual Columbia Heights Day is coming October 4th, and it's not your average street fair with fake handbag stalls and overpriced interpretations of Jackson Pollock. This quirky neighborhood has finally established itself as more UP than coming, and it's ready to celebrate. Free yoga, a pet costume parade, followed by a petting zoo...two stages featuring a capoeira performance, a mariachi group (consisting of employees of a local beloved Mexican joint), lots of bands and DJs...Moonbounce, drink/food specials at surrounding bars/restaurants AND a cupcake eating competition. Give me unlimited red velvet with cream cheese frosting and sign me up.

Have you entered the Glasvegas contest yet?

Enter here!

Photo by SteveB!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Don't forget: Columbia Heights Day is Saturday!

Moon bounce! Cupcake eating contest! Bands! Petting zoo! Food! People! Food and drink deals all over the neighborhood!

Here's the website and the schedule.

It'll be in the field behind Tubman Elementary School.

The story of the abandoned house at 3004 13th St NW

So I've been looking into 3004 13th Street NW for a long time. You may recognize the house from my blog's banner - it's an abandoned but potentially nice row house, and I wondered what was going on with it - the neighborhood is getting more expensive, so why would somebody be crazy enough to sit on a house like this?

I looked into it a bit about a year ago and discovered it was actually owned by the DC Government! I thought this was pretty dumb, why should the city have this house off the tax rolls, when they could sell it and make money, and then put it back on the tax rolls with some taxpayers living there! I contacted Jim Graham and Vincent Gray's offices and after a bit of sleuthing, they and the city's Office of Property Management told me that the house had been seized by eminent domain for some reason and was about to be sold to a neighbor, and they sent me some documents about that.

But a year later, it's still empty. It turns out the sale didn't go through, so I started looking into it again. My friend in Jim Graham's office put me in touch with Martine Combral from the city's Department of Housing and Community Development, who told me the house will be auctioned off in November. Pretty great news! Combral said that both developers and residents will be able to bid, and that they "will definitely make sure that there is a clear process that is well advertised."

So if you're interested in a fixer upper, stay tuned around November!

Photo of the house by me

Monday, September 29, 2008

Girard Park renovation plans

Councilmember Jim Graham just posted the details of the Girard Park redesign. He says construction will begin in December on the park, located at 14th and Girard, and the Department of Parks and Recreation estimates it will be open in summer 2009.

There will be tables, a raised rubber-sufaced basketball court, a plaza area with chairs and a fountain, as well as restrooms, which Graham says will be "regularly secured and cleaned by DPR and the Green Team."

As for security, "At night, the park will be secured by a fence. The fence features a retractable gating system that will close at night and present a wide open, inviting appearance during the day."

I also got this image from the Councilman's office. Kind of hard to read, but it gives you an idea. I would guess the zig-zags are the retractable gates.

Here's a full version of the plan. Looks pretty neat.

NCH Contest: Win tickets to see Glasvegas on Friday!

This is a little different, but I got the opportunity to give away 2 tickets for Scottish band Glasvegas at the Rock and Roll Hotel this Friday! The band has been getting a lot of press lately, being called "the best Scottish band since Franz Ferdinand" by Nylon, "the most important British breakthrough band of this year" by The Independent, and more.

Locals Soft Complex and DJ William Alberque are opening. The Rock and Roll Hotel is a cool venue in the H Street corridor, and if you haven't been, it's worth checking out.

So here's the contest! Send me an email with why you should get the tickets. I'll pick the best answer (funniest? saddest? we'll see) and that person wins. I'll post the winning entry here, with or without your name - your choice. Just email your entry to The deadline is Friday at noon, so get on it!

Photo by Flickr user charlottel, used under a Creative Commons license

Friday, September 26, 2008

That police car that was watching Family Guy

A commenter just posted about getting the car number for that car that was watching "Family Guy." If anybody wants to report it, it appears to be car 338. But who knows, maybe they were off duty or something.

Bands in the Neighborhood: Petworth

Despite the name, the band Petworth is partially based in Columbia Heights, partially in Mt. Pleasant, and partially in their namesake neighborhood. The three piece play early punk-inflected indie rock that goes from The Smiths ("Garofalo") to college rock ("Pez Dispenser Head") and everything in between. The second in the Bands in the Neighborhood series, I interviewed bassist and singer Pitt Stains about the band, which also consists of non-aliased Amos (guitar and vocals) and Shane (drums).

The band's name came after a long search of possible names that Pitt called "awful," including Sperm Wail, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, Zombie Lurch, Sex and the Country, Barium Smoothie, etc. They used both The Deciders and Hostage Soup pending a better name, and then one day it came to them after practice.

"I think Amos suggested it," said Stains. "Since Shane lives there, Amos' great grandparents lived there, and it's the setting of my disastrous failed romance, we were all like, 'Yesssss!' Plus it's a DC thing, and it just sounds cool."

Pitt himself lives in Columbia Heights, near Columbia and Georgia, "right around the corner from Everlasting Life, which is -- to the best of my knowledge -- the only place to get vegan ice cream smoothies in DC."

The story of the band's formation starts at a wedding.

"Somehow, Amos caught wind that there was a drummer in his midst. He spent the entire wedding weekend tracking down this mystery drummer until he finally met Shane. They played for a bit in this miserable little space behind a dry cleaner on Flower Avenue before Shane asked me if I'd like to join them. Shane and I had been talking about starting a band together since college -- in fact, he's the one who got me started playing bass guitar. We wrote and worked out songs in that mold-infested shack in Takoma Park for several months before landing a show at the Black Cat with The Jet Age and moving our gear to Wheaton for practices."

Pitt says they hope to someday use his basement for practices "in a way that doesn't end with my neighbors waving torches and pitchforks outside my door." They say they're looking for gigs in the neighborhood too. Wonderland folks, are you reading?

As noted, the band takes its influences from a lot of places. Amos cites The Smiths, Bad Brains, Throwing Muses, etc. Shane adds more including The Jam, The Who, and Mission of Burma, and Pitt says 80s West Coast punk and hardcore and DC stuff like Minor Threat and Dismemberment Plan. They play next on Halloween at the Red and the Black on H Street NE, along with The Jones, Curly, and the Rocket.

Petworth doesn't have any albums out yet, but the sound man at the Black Cat recorded their last show, and some of the songs are up on their Myspace. Pitt says they may put more up on their website.

And if they had to name their band for something in Columbia Heights? Amos suggests "That Gravelly Patch in Front of Pollo Campero" and Pitt Stains' idea is simpler: "Gentrification."

Catch Petworth at the Red and the Black on October 31.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Charity auction for Street Sense next Thursday

Just got this email, there will be an auction benefiting Street Sense, the newspaper written by homeless people, at the Josephine Butler Parks Center at 2437 15th Street NW. Tickets start at $25.

Sounds like a good event, here's the event's website.

And if you haven't been, the building is pretty impressive, it's an old mansion right off of Meridian Hill Park.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

On the Columbia Heights farmers market

So I've been promising for awhile to write about the Columbia Heights farmers market. I don't know much about it, and haven't heard back from William Jordan, who presented it at the ANC meeting a few weeks ago, but here's what I do know.

They hope to have it at the triangle at 14th and Park on Saturdays, Sundays, and one day during the week, and will have farmers, youth groups, and the usual other vendors. It will be run by EMG Marketing Group and Change Inc., a local non-profit, but I can't find websites for either. Mr. Jordan, who presented the market at the ANC meeting, said EMG also runs the Adams Morgan and Brookland farmers markets. He said he didn't expect construction or the to-be-built fountain to effect the market.

As for time period, it's up in the air, and Jordan was to come back to the ANC meeting in October, so as far as I can tell it could be awhile - it looks like most local farmers markets run until November or December, so they'd have to move quickly. I'm all in favor of a farmers market, especially since it means fewer trips to Giant, but having it three days a week seems like a lot, especially with the Mt. Pleasant, Adams Morgan, and 14th and U Farmers Markets nearby. But that said, I hope this happens and it's a success.

Columbia Heights getting pedestrian upgrades

Looks like the long-awaited Columbia Heights Public Realm plan is about to start up. The plan, which will have construction start within the next two months, will upgrade the triangle after at 14th and Park / Kenyon with wider sidewalks, a fountain, trees and such. The city will also be improving sidewalks on 14th, Park, and Irving.

Sounds good to me. I hope they fix the ridiculous crosswalk pattern at 14th and Kenyon, where sometimes it will be "Don't Walk" in all directions, but there are no cars coming at all. DDOT is also thinking of reducing the wait time for crosswalks, i.e. making the green lights shorter. WTOP has the full story.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Taste of Columbia Heights tomorrow

Just heard about this, the Taste of Columbia Heights fundraiser benefiting Columbia Heights Day is tomorrow.

Basically you go to local restaurants on Tuesday - The Heights, Tonic in Mount Pleasant, the Looking Glass Lounge, Red Rocks - and they will give a portion of the proceeds to the Columbia Heights Day folks, a registered nonprofit. CommonWealth has also made a Columbia Heights Day cocktail, with proceeds of that going to the group.

In addition, the restaurants will be accepting donations, and those people that donate enter into a raffle for gift certificates and shirts.

Don't forget Columbia Heights Day is October 4th! It'll be at the Tubman Elementary School field on 11th between Irving and Kenyon. Here's a map.

Coffee shop coming to 14th and Newton

Coffee shop
Originally uploaded by squidpants
Just noticed this sign at on 14th at Newton.

Sounds like a Latin style coffee and pastry place - the rest of the sign says "variety of bread and pastries from Latin America." There's also a Pan Lourdes in Mt. Rainier, MD, and it could be related to this place.

Not sure when it's going to be open - I'm checking with the owner of the Pan Lourdes website.

Rabbit found at 13th and Kenyon

This was an odd one from the Columbia Heights Yahoo group: somebody posted a found rabbit poster at 13th and Kenyon near Tubman Elementary.

Think it's your rabbit? Think it's somebody making a home version of Watership Down? Email me and I'll pass on your info.

UPDATE: A reader notes that this might not be a pet rabbit, as some rabbits, raccoons, and possums live in a garden between Park and Kenyon.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Harris Teeter vs Giant

I went to the Harris Teeter in Adams Morgan for the first time today, and I was pretty impressed. It's not technically in Columbia Heights, but it probably is the closest grocery store for some CHers (though not me, Giant is still closer).

Basically it's between Whole Foods and Giant on the grocery spectrum - very nice inside, friendly employees, some high end produce and stuff, but still has your normal grocery stuff. For example, they had crazy fruits I'd never heard of before (sapote, cherimoya, pepino melon) but didn't have pasta made with funky grains like quinoa.

They also have locally grown produce, which is cool, and the beer prices and selection were comparable to Giant. The lines were non-existent too, and while Giant is also slower on Saturday afternoons, there's still always a wait there.

In short, I was a fan, and I'm going to go back more often. Anybody else have an opinion on the store?

The Harris Teeter is at 1631 Kalorama Rd NW.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ellwood Thomspon's deal signed?!

A poster named Melissa over at the Columbia Heights News forum says Ellwood Thompson's organic supermarket has signed a deal for a spot at DCUSA!
I just found out from someone connected to DCUSA that Ellwoods has finally signed a lease for their space on Irving Road. No other details other than it could take at least 6-9 months to open. They are building an elevator in their space directly down to the parking garage among other buildout issues.
This would be amazing news! Just rumor so far, I'm following up with the store to see if that's the case.

Here's their website.

UPDATE (2:13 pm): Just got a response from CEO Ryan Youngman: "Getting close my friend....I’ll let you know asap when it pops...."

Rumors about Tivoli changes

Prince of Petworth published some rumors from an "insider" about the retail spots in the Tivoli: that Carvel/Cinnabon is being replaced with a news stand, the new Asian place going into the Mayorga coffee shop will be run by a combination of people from Cafe Asia (the downtown one) and Asian Bistro in Silver Spring. The source also says Rumbero's will be replaced by a "swank lounge."

My take: interesting. I have no problem with Rumbero's leaving, as I had a bad experience there and it seems like a lot of other people did too. And I guess a swank lounge would be ok.

I never went to Carvel/Cinnabon, but some folks seem to like it - and others said it was no good. And as for the Asian spot, apparently Cafe Asia will run the downstairs sushi bar, and the Asian Bistro folks will run the upstairs Asian food part. I like Cafe Asia, but Robyn wrote that the upstairs Korean food that's there now is quite good.

Carvel Cinnabon is at 3307 14th St NW.

(Thanks to commenter GforGood for pointing this out.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Carvel/Cinnabon evicted?

Uh oh. My buddy sent me this picture at about 5:30 pm on Wednesday, showing Carvel's eviction notice. I went by at about 6:15 and it was gone. All their equipment is still in there, so who knows.

Carvel/Cinnabon is located in the Tivoli building at 3307 14th St NW. They recently received the coffee making equipment from the closed Mayorga coffee shop next door, so who knows what's happening with that. And it might just be some sort of dispute between tenant and landlord that they'll work out. Stay tuned for more.

Vote for Columbia Heights vegetarian places

DC vegetarian website VegDC and Compassion Over Killing are having a contest for best vegetarian food in the city, and two Columbia Heights places are nominated - Sticky Fingers Bakery and Pete's Apizza. Sticky Fingers is nominated for dessert and one other award and Pete's is nominated for cheese pizza.

So go vote for the locals! Last year, Sticky Fingers did pretty well.

Sticky Fingers is at 1370 Park Rd NW and Pete's is at 1400 Irving St NW.