Thursday, September 30, 2010

Express' Best of 2010 voting ends tonight

If you wanted to vote for your favorite spots, get moving: the Express newspaper's Best of 2010 voting ends tonight. There are a few Columbia Heights spots on there, and you can also vote for best neighborhood. So go vote!

Hub cap banditos on the loose?

Spotted this last night on Fairmont between 13th and 14th. I'm not sure what you can really do to protect against this, other than keeping an eye open or maybe some lights on, but at least the word is out.

I like the dramatic nature of the sign. "Thieves are around here...  STEALING HUB CAPS!!" Ahh!

Dentist, not liquor store, coming to 14th and Girard

Yesterday I wrote that there was a rumor about a liquor store coming to the Heights of Columbia building at 14th and Girard, the building with the Dunkin Donuts. I just received an email from the development team, who said the second open retail spot will actually be a dentist's office.

Maybe not the most exciting retail option, but it's good to have something useful in there.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

New retail coming to Heights of Columbia (14th and Girard)

And some non-fire related news: it looks like there's some new retail coming to the Heights of Columbia building at 14th and Girard, the one with the Dunkin Donuts. There's already an urgent care center coming, which I wrote about recently, but another spot appears to be under construction too.

It's not clear what's going in, but some neighbors have emailed me worried that it might be a liquor store. I'll keep updated once I learn more.

Big fire at apartment building on 16th Street this morning

Sad story this morning: at about 3:45 am there was a fire at the Sarbin Towers at  3132 16th Street NW, north of Irving. One man died after he tried to jump from a window, and 11 others are in the hospital. Apparently the fire started in a common area on the 5th floor and about 130 people were evacuated. Officials are saying those in the lowers floors will be allowed to go back today but others will be out longer, as the 5th floor received heavy damage.

Streets were closed around the area, causing traffic and buses to back up during morning rush hour, but they're reopened now, so the evening commute should be better.

Not sure exactly what caused it, but as always, don't forget to check your smoke detectors.

Authorities ask for help on car fires, and pictures of last week's Jeep burning

More news on car fires: the Post reports that DC authorities are asking for help from the public, requesting people to call the arson tip line at 202.67 ARSON (202-673-2776) or the toll-free Crime Solvers confidential hotline at 1-800-673-2777.

In addition, I received photos from readers of a Jeep burned last week in the 1500 block of Monroe. See below. This one has DC plates, which is contrary to what a fire investigator said before, that all the burned vehicles have MD or VA plates. Then again, there may be more than one person or groups burning cars. Crazy stuff. There are bigger versions of 4 photos on my Flickr site.

If you have any photos, heard about fires, or have anything else, you can email me at newcolumbiaheights(at)gmail(dot)com.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

DC Bocce chooses Looking Glass as league bar

If you needed another reason to sign up for the new DC Bocce league coming to Columbia Heights (play will be at 9th and Spring) now there's a spot nearby for post-game drinks: they're signed up the Looking Glass Lounge at Georgia and New Hampshire as the league bar.

I've played in DC Bocce leagues for awhile and they're fun, plus the bar deals are generally $10 pitchers of decent stuff, like Peroni or Blue Moon.

The games will be on the weekends at 1 and 2 pm and registration closes October 1.

The Looking Glass Lounge is at 3634 Georgia Ave NW

La Casa homeless shelter closing, replaced by apartments and homeless housing

The previous Highland Park West rendering
Some big news on Irving Street: our friends over at The 42 Bus have a story about La Casa homeless shelter located on Irving just east of 14th and the Highland Park building, which currently houses about 70 homeless men in the main building and trailers.

I've heard bits and pieces for awhile, but it looks like the shelter will be closing October 15th and will be torn down, after which the developers of Highland Park (the building with CommonWealth, Tynan, the upcoming sports bar, etc. in it) will build a new apartment building and an 82-bed community based residential facility.

The 42 Bus quotes the proposal: "Community Based Residential Facilities (CBRFs) are single room occupancy facilities for homeless residents in the District. These facilities combine living quarters with job training, housing placement, case management, and other needed services that promote self-sufficiency."

The new apartment building, which will be called Highland Park West, will face Irving, while the CBRF will be located behind it. It's not known if there will be retail. There was an earlier plan the developers had filed with the city (seen above) but the developers want to alter it to make it look more like Highland Park, increase the number of apartments from 69 to 143, and also take out a parking garage.

To me, this seems like a win-win: moving an unsightly building, adding some more apartments and retail, and still keeping housing for homeless, which is at a premium in the city. I wonder if the CBRF will affect the demand for the apartments?

Investigation underway on car fires in the neighborhood

Good to see this after yesterday's story about the multiple car fires in our neighborhood being classified as "mechanical": the AP reports that MPD and the fire department are investigating the fires, which police and fire officials are saying seem suspicious. Unfortunately the AP article is pretty brief.

It's nice to see this, but I'm worried that it required an email by the owner of the burned Mini Cooper to Chief Lanier to get this investigation underway. Ideally the police or FEMS would have noticed a pattern and started investigating on their own. But hey, as long as they investigate and figure out what's going on here, I'll be pleased.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Car fires in the neighborhood: not being properly investigated?

Car fires are unfortunately fairly common in the neighborhood, especially in the northern sections -- I've written about them numerous times before. Today I received an email from a reader whose new Mini Cooper, seen above, was found burned early yesterday morning. It's the first time I've actually heard from a person whose car has burned.

In short, the reader found that the fire department categorized the cause of many burned cars as "mechanical" rather than "arson," which the reader found disturbing. In this case, she'd had the car for 3 weeks and it had been parked for 6 hours before it burned.

It raises the question of whether these numerous car fires are being investigated properly: it seems fishy that so many cars in the neighborhood would just happen to burst into flames on their own. The reader also said a fire investigator told them that all the cars that have burned have had out-of-state plates.

Then again, maybe the fire investigators know best and there are just a lot of mechanical fires, but I'm not convinced.

Above are photos of the Mini and another neighbor's car found burned on Otis on Thursday, which was also deemed "mechanical." Here's the email:
On Sunday, September 26 my new 2010 Mini Cooper burst into flames at around 4:30 a.m.

I parked the car just down the block from my home at 9:30 pm on Saturday night. I parked it at 16th and Oak directly in front of 1523 Oak Street NW. When I passed by the car on Sunday around 1pm we found that the entire front of the car was destroyed (photo attached.) I spoke to the residents of 1523 and they told me that the noise and flames had woken them up around 4:30 a.m. at which point they called 911 and started throwing buckets of water on the car to try and stop the fire. The fire department and police came, put out the fire, and left.

Officer Richardson answered our call on Sunday afternoon, when my partner and I first discovered the damage to the car, and tried to help us track down a report number. At first, fire dispatch said there was no record of an incident at that time and location. Several phone calls later, she was able to talk to Investigator Ford at the Fire Investigation Unit who told her that a call was made at 4:47 am and Engine 11 (located at 14th and Newton) responded to the call and put out the fire. Investigator Ford said that he was at the scene at that time and called the fire mechanical, not arson. When pressed, he said that the fire on the 3600 block of 16th Street on August 25th which involved several vehicles was also mechanical.

I cannot accept that the cause of our car being incinerated was "mechanical". Our car is barely 3 weeks old and had been turned off and parked for roughly 6 hours prior to catching on fire. As I waited for an officer to respond to my call on Sunday afternoon, several community members mentioned cars being set on fire on neighboring streets, Otis, Kenyon, and Monroe in the past few weeks. One neighbor stopped and showed me a picture of his car which burned while parked on Otis Street this past Thursday and was also deemed "mechanical" (2nd attachment.) The damage to his car looked exactly like ours and also happened around 4 am. It is ridiculous that none of these incidents are being properly investigated.

The damage to our car is already done, but I am afraid that since the Fire Investigation Unit is not finding any of these fires suspicious, vehicles in the Columbia Heights area will continue to burn until one of them explodes and the fire spread to someone's home or a passerby is injured or worse.

Firefighters returned to our car this morning because someone called to say that gas was leaking down the street. When we spoke with them they said that all the cars that have been burned have Maryland or Virginia tags. We're DC residents but bought our car in Maryland so it had MD temp tags.
UPDATE: The reader also said she emailed MPD chief Cathy Lanier and Councilmember Jim Graham, and both responded and said they are following up on it.

Aliens over Columbia Heights! That, or Chinese lanterns

Some unusual things were in the sky last night. Friends and I were sitting out on a back porch at about 8 pm and noticed a bunch of orange lights in the sky to the west floating slowly southwest. They appeared from behind some trees then gradually got farther away and faded out. Over maybe 10 minutes we saw about 20, sometimes in groups and sometimes solo. They weren't going in a straight line, more sort of wiggling their way through the sky. The (blurry) photo above was snapped from the porch and you see 6 or 7 of the lights.

It was hard to tell how far away the lights were or how high they were -- some of us thought they were a few blocks away, while others thought they were higher and farther. A few other Columbia Heights folks on Twitter saw them also.

A friend called the city's call center asking about the lights and was told "Federal authorities are looking for a suspect." Weird. Maybe the person who answered the phone was confused.

Dave Stroup at DCist and a few others think they were Chinese sky lanterns, but I think they were [REDACTED BY CIA]. Chinese lanterns are possible, but I wonder why? There weren't any Chinese holidays last night according to a cursory Google search, though a DCist commenter says it might have been the Chinese mid-autumn festival which was the 22nd. Another DCist commenter thinks they were launched from around 14th and Irving.

Anyone else see them? Where were you?

Here are a few artist renderings of the aliens.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Hoarder evicted from 11th and Otis, stuff everywhere

This has been in the news a fair amount, but it's too wild not to write about. A couple friends tipped me off that a woman was evicted from her home at 11th and Otis and apparently she was a hoarder: when the US Marshals put all her stuff on the street, it stretched for four blocks.

She told NBC4 that she was kicked out for not paying her rent. The Post says her stuff weighs 30,000 pounds, and that a storage company volunteered to store it for her after hearing about the situation. She'd been there for 15 years.

A friend shot the video above last night. You can see the things strewn everywhere. Sad and strange story.

11th and Park dog park to be closed for renovation

If you walk your dog at the park at 11th and Park Road, you'll need to find another spot come September 27th. WMATA is closing the park until October 15 for construction -- not sure exactly what's going on there, hopefully some more grass? It's basically just dirt now.

No more Wonderland bathroom graffiti?

I was at Wonderland last night and noticed the walls were a fresh, clean red -- all the graffiti had been painted over. Craziness. There used to be tons of graffiti all over the bathrooms, and I've documented the random funny stuff for sometime. I guess they got tired of it. Until more people start to write, I suppose.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Work, a horse skeleton in 826DC's Museum of Unnatural History

Last month I wrote about 826DC, the nonprofit that tutors kids on reading and writing, which is opening on the Civic Plaza (14th/Park/Kenyon). It's a nationwide group started by author Dave Eggers, and each location has a quirky storefront of some kind -- in DC's case it's the Museum of Unnatural History. Last night a friend walked by and snapped these photos of what looks like a horse skeleton going up inside. Could also be some kind of other creature.

Tomorrow they're hosting a special sneak preview/fundraiser to see the progress on the exhibits, so I'm guessing this is part of the preparation.

The website also says their grand opening is a few weeks away. I'm looking forward to it, as this is a really cool addition to the neighborhood and the Civic Plaza. Much better than another bank or cell phone store.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Street Booze: King Cobra and Bud Ice on Fairmont

Sometimes you just want some variety: some King Cobra, king of the malt liquors, and the comparatively mellow Bud Ice. Ice beer is basically regular beer that's been frozen. The alcohol doesn't freeze, so when the ice crystals are removed, it makes for a higher alcohol beer.

I spotted these on Fairmont Street near Georgia Avenue. And yes, I picked them up.

Curious about more Street Booze? Check out the archive.

Ellwood Thompson's still "negotiating and working with" the landlord

Well, maybe Ellwood Thompson's isn't dead after all. I contacted the company and here's their spokesperson's response:
Our owner is still working with, and negotiating with the NY landlord. We very much want to be a part of Columbia Heights and DCUSA. The process is taking much longer than originally anticipated. Once negotiations are complete, we will let you know. And, we hope to have a "Neighborhood Meet & Greet" once everything is finalized.
I think the key part is "The process is taking much longer than originally anticipated."

For those unfamiliar, Ellwood Thompson's is an organic supermarket that's been planning to come to DCUSA for years.

I believe the "NY landlord" is Grid Properties, who also developed the Harlem USA project in New York City, among others.

Want to work at IHOP? Job fair Wednesday

If you ever wanted to work at the new IHOP coming to DCUSA at 14th and Irving, here's your chance. There's a job fair today (Wednesday) for 100 jobs, including "Cooks, Prep Cooks, Servers, Expeditors [sic], Dishwashers, Combos, Hostesses, Cashiers." It's at the Columbia Heights Community Center, 1480 Girard St NW, from 10 am to noon. They're also doing it again on Monday the 27th.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

DC Bocce League coming to the neighborhood

Photo from DC Bocce Flickr
Ever want to throw around some balls? You're in luck. DC Bocce is starting a league in Columbia Heights, to be played at 9th and Spring. I actually have played in DC Bocce leagues for a few years and they're really fun. Unlike a lot of the co-ed sports in the city, like kickball and such, nobody really gets too serious about it and really anybody can play it, you just have to toss a ball. And getting bar deals is always fun. Here's the press release from them:

DC Bocce is coming to Columbia Heights!
After years of playing on weeknights, DC Bocce has finally opened a new league on Saturdays to the satisfaction of bocce weekend warriors everywhere!  Starting in early October, DC Bocce will play Saturday afternoons on the field at the Raymond Education Campus (915 Spring Road, NW)---a quick walk from both the CoHi and Petworth Metro stops.  Games will be played at 1:00 and 2:00pm followed by a happy hour excursion to our neighborhood sponsor bar for beer and food specials.  Anyone can easily sign-up at and opt to create a new team, join a existing friend's team, or register as an individual.  We're also registering for Fall Indoor Bocce at Tom Tom in AdMo and registration is NOW OPEN for both.  We hope to see the people of Columbia Heights out this fall!
 Below are a bunch of photos from the action:

Another new Mexican spot! 14th and V

View Larger Map
Muy bien? After the news about the Mexican restaurant coming to 11th and Lamont, there's another: the AM/PM carryout at 14th and V is becoming a Mexican place called La Fonda. It sounds big, with 220 seats inside and 50 sidewalk cafe seats.

The liquor license application says live entertainment plus late night hours -- 7 am to 2 am during the week and 3 am on Friday and Saturday. Not sure if that means a traditional Mexican restaurant or more of a dance club like La Carolina at 14th and Spring.

FiOS on the way to the neighborhood?

We may be getting high-speed fiber optic Internet sooner rather than later: the other day my roommate noticed Verizon workers installing a new orange cable on the pole in the alley where all the TV and phone cords are now, and it looks a lot like a fiber optic cable. I've seen a number of Verizon vans around lately, an according to the Wash Biz Journal, FiOS will be available in some parts of the city next year, although it says Ward One will be after that. Verizon says Columbia Heights will be in the initial service area, which should be sometime in early 2011. That's only a few months away, theoretically.

Assuming this is happening, I'm looking forward to it. The Internet now is not the most speedy or reliable for us, we have to reset the router regularly.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Meridian Pint on PBS's Nightly Business Report

Columbia Heights restaurants are in the news! Last year Pete's Apizza made the news after being mentioned by President Obama, and now Meridian Pint owner John Andrade was on the PBS show Nightly Business Report to talk about financing for his business.

Capital Bikeshare launches today!

If you wanted to rent a bike, now's your chance. Capital Bikeshare, the bike sharing service with locations in the neighborhood and throughout the city (map here) is open as of today. In our neighborhood, there are stations outside the Giant, at 14th and Harvard and at 16th and Harvard.

Here's how it works -- you join, grab a bike, ride it, and return it to any other Capital Bikeshare station. You can join for a day, month or a year. Greater Greater Washington has more.

It sounds like a neat program. Smartbike DC, which launched last year, will eventually roll into this program.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Columbia Heights firefighters cook naked and party (allegedly)

Photo from NBC4
This is unusual. There have been a number of reports lately about a few firefighters from the 14th and Newton fire station getting in trouble for allegedly having a big retirement party at the firehouse which included lots of alcohol and up to 3 firefighters cooking naked (see photo above). I guess when firefighters party, they party. After the shenanigans, some fire and EMS employees went on to neighborhood bars.

Apparently the party was in late July and was attended by off-duty members of the fire department, which is good. Reportedly the nudity occurred in mixed company and there were high-ranking officials there, which is bad. The fire department is investigating the firehouse, which is nicknamed the House of Flame.

NBC 4 has a video:

View more news videos at:

Yard Sale Roundup: Busy weekend!

There's a lot going on this weekend in and around the neighborhood, yard sale wise:
  • 1201 Girard, Sat, 10am-3pm: an estate sale with "Various home items including window A/C's, ceiling fans (some new), office furniture, chairs and other home items." Link
  • 2608 University Place (near Euclid), Sat 10am-2pm and  Sun 9am-1pm Sunday: big moving sale with tons of stuff, stereos, DVDs, computer issues, and more. Link
  • 1901 Wyoming in Adams Morgan, Sat 9am-1pm: jewelry, clothes, and more. Link
  • 1761 Park Rd in MtP, Sat 9am-2pm: "Lots of great deals on nice, gently used clothes, household items (including kitchenware, DVDs, and great pots for plants), books, and smaller pieces of furniture."  Link
  • Farther afield, Naylor Court in Shaw is having a big one: Off O Street between 9th and 10th, lots of stuff. Link
As always, if you know of any others, leave them in the comments!

Cirque du Soleil contest: we have a winner!

Thanks to all who entered our Cirque du Soleil contest, there were a lot of great, funny, and touching entries and I wish I could give out more tickets. However, we have a winner, for Beth's story about her 90-year old mother with a brain injury. Congrats to Beth!

Cirque du Soleil's OVO show is going on now until October 24th at National Harbor, so hopefully you can get a chance to check it out. DCist took a look at their big top earlier this month. Looks pretty impressive.

Sports bar coming to Highland Park at 14th & Irving, Feb. 2011

Looks like we're getting more places to watch sports and drink beer. A resident of the Highland Park building at 14th and Irving says they just received a note that build out has just begun on a sports bar. They're aiming at opening in February 2011. Another tipster spoke to a construction worker in the space who said the place would be called something like News Grill, and that they had another location in the area, but I haven't been able to find any place around with that name.

Interestingly, last year there was news about a sports bar coming to the Highland Park building, which was reported in the Washington Business Journal but nothing came of it. I wonder if this is the same place?

In any case, it seems like the demand is there, given the popularity of Meridian Pint on game days.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Target's full grocery store still on track for Oct. 17

It looks like, unlike certain grocery stores, Target's fresh grocery section is on its way. A friend snapped this photo announcing the grocery section will open Oct. 17, which is what I heard a few months ago too.

The rest of the sign says "thank you for your patience as we remodel. We'll soon carry an abundance of fresh fruits, veggies and meats - and all the other groceries you need, from eggs to ice cream." The section is going in behind where the groceries are now.

Looking forward to this, as it's always good to have another option than Giant.

(And I'm checking to see if there's an update from Ellwood Thompson's.)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Weekly History: Cardozo High School pool, 1923

This week's Weekly History photo is a shot found by Flickr user ncindc of an indoor pool in 1923 at Cardozo High School, which was then called Central High School.

It's a pretty nice looking pool. Apparently it still exists, but is inoperable according to this facilities plan of the school. Too bad, it would be cool to have swimming in P.E. if I were a high schooler.

The photo is from the National Photo Company Collection.

More on Mexican place coming to 11th: looking at early next year

The City Paper's Young and Hungry blog has more on the new Mexican place coming to 3313 11th Street NW. They're looking to open early next year and will have breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and hopefully late night snacks too. That sounds pretty great, I could go for some Mexican breakfast and late night (post-bar?) eats.

Everything will be under $15 a plate and there will be a full bar with fancy tequila and margaritas, plus a craft beer list.

They're looking for about 40 seats inside and hope to build a roof deck with another 40 seats.

I don't know about you, but I'm hungry for Mexican food.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New Mexican restaurant coming to 11th Street

Looks like 11th Street is becoming a budding neighborhood bar and restaurant corridor. PoP reports that there's a new Mexican spot coming to 3313 11th Street NW, which is just north of Lamont and next to Arthur's convenience store. It's the short building with the garage door above.

The place will be owned by the folks who own Jackie's in Silver Spring, and they'll be working with people from the Quarry House Tavern also in SS, a spot I've heard a lot about. Supposedly it's a great neighborhood beer bar with great burgers. 

The building is very narrow, as you can see above, but it goes back pretty far: but the liquor license out front says there'll be 75 seats and a total occupancy on 99 inside. There's also planned to be a sidewalk cafe with 16 seats and a summer garden (I assume in the back) of 36 people. Maybe you'll be able to check out the new North Columbia Heights Green when you sit out there!

I'm pretty happy about this, as I do like Mexican food, and the two affiliated places in Silver Spring seem like neighborhood joints, not spots where tons of people will line up and make noise. Your thoughts?

I've been sitting on info on the place for awhile (it was embargoed) but my contact didn't get back to me unfortunately. When I hear more, I'll let you know.

Did you vote? How was your voter experience?

How did your voting go today? I voted at the Latin American Youth Center at 1419 Columbia Rd NW and went by at about 9:30 am. There was no line and I got my ballot quickly. There were a few people waiting to use the electronic station so I did paper instead, and I was in and out in about 5 minutes total, with my "I voted" sticker.

There were a smattering of campaigners out front, maybe a half dozen total representing Weaver, Gray, and Graham. I didn't see any Fenty folks.

How did it go for you? Any problems or see anything unusual?

Polls are open until 8 pm tonight as well.

Today is Election Day! Go vote!!

If you haven't already, today is the day to vote in your party's primary, which in most cases is the city's final election.

You can find your polling place here if you don't know it. Here's my endorsements as well, but whether you agree or not, just go vote!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Forgotten Streets: Keefer Place

Here's the latest in the Forgotten Street series about small streets in the neighborhood that people may have missed. The first was Pine Street, and this one is about Keefer Place.

Keefer is a leafy, one-block street that goes from Georgia to a small segment of 6th Street, between Lamont and Kenyon. It's nice and leafy, as you can see here, and has a lot of brightly colored rowhouses. It's a funny little section, both Lamont and Keefer turn and become 6th, sort of forming a little square, with Lamont then running out of the square, and it wasn't on the old map I posted a few days ago.

About the only thing I could find about the street online were some sale listings, with houses going in the $200,000 range -- not bad.

Very specific Fenty sign

Spotted this the other day on Irving between 13th and 14th. If you can't read it, there's a little scrawl on the top that says "Apartment 2 supports." Pretty funny. Just in case anybody on the street thought apartment 1 also liked the guy.

I can just imagine how this went. One person stuck it in the yard, and then the other residents complained. "I don't like him!" "Yeah, well I do, and the sign's staying."

The election is tomorrow, so I thought this was fitting.

Capital Bikeshare station going up at 14th and Harvard

Capital Bikeshare, the bike sharing service I've written about before, looks like it's close to opening. They just installed this bike share station at 14th and Harvard, which I believe is a new location. The last time I wrote about them, there wasn't a 14th and Harvard spot.

The service is supposed to be launched this Fall, not sure an exact date. However, considering this station got built pretty quickly, I would hope it's soon.

Friday, September 10, 2010

NCH election endorsements: voting is Sept. 14th!

The DC primary (and thus in most cases final) election is this coming Tuesday the 14th, and as a way to help undecided folks out there, I've decided to write up my endorsements for this year. Some of the choices were easy to make, and some were a lot tougher. These are my picks for the Democratic primary, but since the city is heavily Dem, in most cases the primary winners will be the general election winners.

But whether you like my recommendations or not, vote!!!

Mayor -- Adrian Fenty boils down to a couple main issues: schools, development, and being a jerk. He's done all he can to shoot himself in the foot this election cycle, after winning every precinct in the city last time around. By most measures the city is better off than it was four years ago, there's new development, a growing population (for the first time in many decades), the city government is more responsive, and on and on. The only problems are that he acts pretty arrogant and he pals around with some less than shining characters. But in the grand scheme of things, there have been no major scandals, and if he were a little friendlier and responsive he'd take this election by a landslide. Vince Gray seems like a good guy, but I'm worried he'll be too status quo and won't want to continue to push for school and government reform. Thus I'm backing Adrian Fenty, though to be honest I think Gray would be a decent mayor as well.

Council Chairman -- In another close one, I think Kwame Brown would do a better job than Vincent Orange, who seems to be around a lot but I've never really noticed him doing anything major. Not a good sign for a long time politician.

At-Large Council -- I really like Clark Ray, who's an energetic guy and ran the city's parks and rec department, but through no fault of Ray, I'm going with incumbent Phil Mendelson, an accomplished veteran politician. The reason is that the other candidate, Michael D. Brown is basically running on name recognition of another man: Michael A. Brown, a popular At-Large Councilmember. In fact, Michael D. Brown hasn't been appearing in debates or interviews and doesn't put his picture on most campaign material, most likely because he's hoping people don't figure out that he's not who they think he is. Don't let Michael D. Brown pull a Distinguished Gentleman on DC, vote Mendelson.

Ward 1 Council -- This is a tough one. Jim Graham has been in office for a long time and does a fantastic job on constituent services: if you email him, you'll get a response quickly. However, he's also a bit of a publicity hound and had some issues with his chief of staff a year ago. Challengers Bryan Weaver and Jeff Smith both seem like very good guys: Weaver is an energetic ANC commish and Smith ran a schools non-profit. Unfortunately I can only pick one, so I'm going with Jim Graham's experience. To be honest I wish all three could be on the council.

US Rep and Shadow Rep -- Eleanor Holmes Norton. She's a feisty lady. And while Mike Panetta hasn't been in the news too much lately, which is basically his main role in the shadow rep spot, he seems like a good guy and clearly believes in the cause.

ANC -- For the most part, I would recommend only voting for ANC commissioners you've heard of -- if you haven't heard of them, they probably aren't doing a very good job. That said, I always support Sedrick Muhammad, who's a very responsive guy and also runs the South Columbia Heights Neighborhood Association, and Kat Skiles, who's the first person I've seen actually have an ANC campaign. That kind of energy deserves votes!

If it was based just on Columbia Heights Yahoo Listerserve posts and negative comments on my blog, I would recommend voting for whoever is running against William Jordan, but as an ANC commish Jordan actually seems like a reasonable guy. And that's saying something on the ANC. And if he's running, I'd recommend voting against Lenwood Johnson, who always seems to forward every argument to entire listserves, middle-school style. Very mature.

Anyway, hope that helps. Here's the 2010 voter guide and a sample Ward 1 ballot. You can find your polling place and learn more at the Board of Elections site.

New urgent care center opening on 14th

Just spotted this at about 14th and Girard, next to the Dunkin Donuts: it's Medics USA, a primary and urgent care place. There's one in Dupont Circle, and while this sort of place might not be for everything (and Howard U hospital is pretty close)  I suppose it couldn't hurt to have more doctors nearby.

I'm of two minds about the place in general though, in that it's nice there's a tenant in an area with lots of empty storefronts, but the sign alone is pretty junky looking. You couldn't find a font other than Cooper Black?

New honorary street name for 13th between Fairmont and Girard

If you live on 13th Street between Girard and Fairmont, you have a new (honorary) street name. The city recently added an  street name to that block of 13th, calling it Rev. Dr. Edward Thomas Way. Thomas was the former pastor at  Greater First Baptist Church, which is on that block.

I'm guessing you can't send a letter addressed to Rev. Dr. Edward Thomas Way NW, but it's worth a shot.

Here's the text of the law proclaiming the street name.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Bizarre anti-Jim Graham robo-calls hit the neighborthood

You may have missed some strange political news lately: a number of Ward One residents received strange automatic-dialed calls from an unknown person or group which left anti-Jim Graham screeds. My friend who lives in northern Columbia Heights received two this weekend on his answering machine, one from a California number and one from DC. Neither said who paid for them, which is illegal under federal law. All of Graham's opponents condemned the calls and denied being involved.
I won't repeat either whole call, but both were a woman's voice and my buddy described them as frightening. The California one said Graham was "immoral" and "sick," while the other one alleged an affair. Pretty weird stuff. My friend's guess was that it was some kind of church group.

Did anybody else get these calls? DCist, the Post and TBD have more.

The election is Sept. 14, so who knows if we'll see more strange stuff.

Update: when is the Cardozo High School track open?

Photo by Chrisafer
There's been a lot of confusion lately about the Cardozo High School track at 14th and Belmont, which is open to the public... sometimes. Some folks went by during the day and in the evening recently and it was closed.

Thanks to Jim Graham, who passed me on to principal Gwendolyn Grant, I learned that it's open 6:30am-8am every day and also Monday through Wednesday from 6:30pm to 8:30pm. Thursday and Friday they have football games, so no running then.

New bike racks at CVS

Bike racks
Originally uploaded by squidpants
Always happy to see more bike racks in the neighborhood. These are outside the CVS at 14th and Irving. It's the worst when there aren't any or they're full and you have to lock your bike to a pole or sign or whatever other random item is around.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

IHOP at DCUSA looking at mid-November opening

Well, doh. The big press conference announced yesterday had us thinking that something new was coming to DCUSA, but it turns out Jim Graham just wanted to talk about IHOP, which has been in the news for some time already.

So not exactly earth-shattering news. They did announce a mid-November target for opening though. Looking forward to it. Thanks to Missy Frederick's twitter for the scoop.

People are holding parking spaces with cones again. Don't!

Photo from the blizzard
Uh oh. Back during the Snowpocalypse people were putting cones, chairs and other foreign objects in the road to hold their parking spot open, which is illegal. I hadn't noticed it much since, thankfully.

Today however, there's a message on the Columbia Heights Yahoo list saying that folks are doing it again, specifically near the 3400 block of 14th (around Monroe and Newton).

MPD has said that you can't save spaces, and any objects placed in the road can be moved. Of course, if you really need to save a space, say for moving or construction, you can get a permit from the city.

But if you're just doing it for convenience, don't.

Citysearch DC's best of ratings: some CH spots do well, but kind of bogus

Citysearch DC, a travel/entertainment site run by web giant Interactive Corp, has a yearly best-of list for the city, and a couple local spots made the honorable mentions (namely the Red Derby and Sticky Fingers).

The ratings are done by a poll of readers, and considering the site can't be that popular, I think there was some gaming the system going on: Coco Sala won pretty much every category. I find that hard to believe otherwise.

So while it might not be a representative sample, at least some local spots got noticed: the Red Derby may have had their own vote push, as they did well in a number of categories. The spot tied for 1st in best outdoor dining and made the top 5 list for best family restaurant, burger, brunch, open late, and American food, while Sticky Fingers made the top 5 for best vegetarian, vegan, and bakery. Congrats to them!

Street Booze: It's important to stay hydrated

Here's the latest edition of Street Booze, where I document the booze bottles tossed on the street and sidewalk.

I spotted this on Fairmont between 11th and 13th. I guess it's good they're drinking water while drinking beer outside.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

New DCUSA business to be announced tomorrow?

Just got a press release from the City Council that there will be an announcement tomorrow about "a major new development and the potential for 100 new jobs at DCUSA." It doesn't say what the new development is.

However, one of the people invited to the event is Tyoka Jackson, president of the family company that's bringing the IHOP to the center, which I wrote about last week. So maybe this is just something confirming IHOP (and getting some more press for Jim Graham?), or could it be yet another business coming? Ellwood Thompons's?

Here's the full press release:
Council Member Jim Graham will announce a major new development and potential for 100 new jobs at DCUSA.

DCUSA is one of the greatest retail success stories in the city. The retail businesses located within the facility employ nearly 1,000 people. The vast majority are District residents.

“During this recession and anemic recovery, Ward One businesses have continued to thrive, and hire our residents,” Council Member Graham said. “Our newest partner is much anticipated, and will add to this great success by taking us over 1,000 jobs created at this one location.”

When: 10 a.m. September 8, 2010,

Who: Council Member Jim Graham
Council Member Kwame Brown
Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (invited)
David Stein, DCUSA Operations Director
Bob Moore, President Columbia Heights Development Corporation
Tyoka Jackson, President The Jackson Investment Company, L.L.C.

Where: DCUSA 3100 14th Street, NW – Irving Street Side

Why do you love Columbia Heights? Photos from CH Day

One of the cooler booths in my opinion at Columbia Heights Day was the one run by Grace Meridian Hill Church. The church, which is just getting started, had a bunch of pieces of paper that said things like "I love Columbia Heights because" and "My favorite ______ in Columbia Heights is", then people would fill in the blanks and have their picture taken with their sign. About 130 people ended up doing them, and there's a wide range of signs, ranging from the sarcastic to the sweet. There were signs in Spanish as well. They also had a bunch of hats and masks to wear.

A bunch of the things people chose to write about relate to diversity, food, bars and shopping, which are all pretty good reasons to like the neighborhood. Here's the full photo set. Nice to see clever things like this at CH Day. Kind of wish it happened more often!

New park/garden opening on Sept 11: North Columbia Heights Green

View Larger Map

After a few years of talk, it looks like the park and garden in the middle of the block bounded by 11th, Park, Sherman and Lamont is becoming a reality. The park is on the map above, where the vehicles are parked. To be called the North Columbia Heights Green, the park will have a lot of features:
a 16-plot organic raised-bed community garden, a butterfly garden, a rain garden, a healing and herb garden, a berry patch, a greenhouse, native flowering and shade trees, a staging site for community reforestation and green job training, and a learning and gathering space.  Additional features will include an arbor, solar lighting, rain gathering, tool storage, compost bin, and parking.
Washington Parks & People, the DC Government, and a lot of volunteers put tons of work into the park, clearing tax liens, getting rid of trash and abandoned items and more. Sounds like a great addition to the neighborhood. Here's more on it. The grand opening will be Sept 11 at 11 am in the green.

Foursquare: Who's the mayor of Columbia Heights?

You may have seen it clogging your Twitter, but there's a fun game/social network/thing for smart phones called Foursquare. With it, you check-in to places (say a bar, restaurant, or even a park) using your phone, and it pings your friends who also have the app, and if you choose, pings your Twitter as well. You can leave tips for other people about the place, and if you check into a place more times than anybody else in a 2-month period, you become the mayor of that place. You can also win various badges, say if you check into a bunch of places with karaoke, you get a karaoke badge. It can be a neat way to let friends know you're out and doing stuff, or a way to coordinate for meeting up.

What's this mean for Columbia Heights folks? A number of businesses are using it, either to offer deals to people who check in, or to give specials to the mayor. I know Red Rocks, Tynan, Commonwealth, and the Heights have had deals: for example, Red Rocks and Commonwealth both give a free drink to the mayor. If you have the app and check in somewhere, if there are deals nearby, it'll tell you. So as well as fun, it might be a way to save some money or get some perks. Know of any other spots with Foursquare deals?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Yard Sale Roundup: Not much this weekend

Couldn't find too many sales this weekend. To wit:
  • 2801 Adams Mill, Sat 9am-noon: furniture, small electronics, more. Link
  • 1702 Summit Pl, Sat 10am-noon: furniture, mattress, back pack, free stuff too. Link
  • 2324 19th in the alley, Sat 8am-5pm,  glassware, linens, books, childrens clothing, and furniture. Link
As always, if you know of any, post them in the comments!

    Meet the Jacksons: owners of the IHOP

    Here's a nice article on the Jackson family, who own the soon-to-open (October) IHOP at DCUSA, plus one on Alabama Avenue SE. Clarence Jackson Jr. grew up in Southeast in the 1940s and 50s, and now owns the two IHOPs with his sons, Tyoka and Clarence III, one of whom is an MPD officer.

    They seem like good people, and I'm looking forward to it opening soon.

    Photo from The Skanner

    NCH Contest: Win tickets to see the Cirque du Soleil

    It's contest time! I recently received two tickets to the Cirque du Soleil show OVO, which is touring this Fall. The Cirque du Soleil puts on pretty spectacular shows, and you can win tickets to the September 30 performance at the National Harbor.

    To enter, just tell me why you should go! Best reason wins. You can either enter in the comments (make sure you post an email address) or email me at newcolumbiaheights(at)gmail(dot)com.

    The tickets are regularly $75 each, so free is a good deal!

    Here's more about the show from them:
    Cirque du Soleil is pleased to announce that it will return to Washington DC with its latest big top touring production, OVO, starting Thursday, September 9, 2010.  OVO will perform for a limited engagement under the trademark blue-and-yellow Grand Chapiteau (Big Top) at The Plateau at National Harbor.

    OVO is a headlong rush into a colorful ecosystem teeming with life, where insects work, eat, crawl, flutter, play, fight and look for love in a non-stop riot of energy and movement. The insects’ home is a world of biodiversity and beauty filled with noisy action and moments of quiet emotion.
    Get your tickets today at!
    Just say why you should go in the comments!

    Thursday, September 2, 2010

    Are you missing a kitten?

    Just saw this on the CH Listserve:
    There is a small dark gray cat that has been hanging out on the 1300 block of Irving Street for the past week or so. She(?) doesn't have a collar and is very hungry, but is quite friendly. Does anyone know if she has a home? If she does, please let me know. I don't want to take her home if she belongs to someone.
    Hopefully it gets to its rightful owner.

    Columbia Heights Community Marketplace meeting tonight

    The Columbia Heights Community Marketplace (Saturday, Civic Plaza, 9am-2pm) is holding a planning meeting today at 7 p.m. at CHANGE, Inc. (1413 Park Road, NW). The meeting is open to the public. Stop by and see what's new!

    And here's what's new at the Market:
    All kinds of great fruit and vegetables, including peaches, apples (honeycrisp...yum yum), watermelon, canteloupe, sweet corn, heirloom tomatoes, plums, garlic and basil. What is more, you'll find sausage, eggs, cheese, yogurt, bread and pastries, gelatti and sorbetti.

    Two community service organizations, KidPower and PETA, will be at the Marketplace to educate residents about what they do.

    Bloombars ( will lead up the entertainment from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

    Our provider of meats from sustainably raised livestock, Smith Family Farm, is having a bit of trouble with labor, which is why it's been absent from the Marketplace recently. If you or someone you know is interested in working for this great farm on Saturday mornings, please e-mail back and we'll pass on your information to Leigh. Thanks.

    Map: The lost streets and circles of Columbia Heights

    View Larger, Toggle-able Map

    Ran across a fascinating post on Greater Greater Washington about planned but never completed traffic circles. Our area had quite a few, including Meade Circle, named for the Civil War general, which was planned at the intersection of 16th, Columbia and Mt. Pleasant, and Grant Circle at 12th, Columbia, California Ave and New Jersey Ave. Of course, the last three streets were never built that far up into our neighborhood -- 12th ends at about Florida, New Jersey ends in Shaw, and California was reduced to a few blocks (and is no longer an avenue). There was also to be a McLellan Circle near Howard U. at 8th and College, which is now either Bryant or Barry.

    The map, which I overlaid on Google Maps above, shows  a lot of other interesting features, like different street names (Kennesaw for Irving, Yale for Fairmont, etc, which I've written about before) plus an entirely different street alignment.

    If you click "view larger toggle-able map" you can toggle back and forth between the old map and the new one. The map is from 1887, and is Axel Silversparre's Map of Washington, D.C., and environs : with marginal numbers and measuring tape attachment for instantly locating points of interest within a radius of twenty miles from the Capitol.

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010

    Dollar tacos on Tuedays at Wonderland

    Via Twitter, I learned recently that Wonderland has $1 tacos on Tuesday, and I also heard they're pretty good. Might be a good way to fortify yourself before live band karaoke.

    Their rival in this venture, of course, is Tonic, which has 50-cent tacos on Tuesday. Let the taco battle begin!

    Image from Album Tacos

    Columbia Heights Day cupcake eating contest photos

    So Columbia Heights Day was a lot of fun. I'm going to do a few posts about it, but first, here's a few photos of the cupcake eating contest by freelance photographer Robert Hernandez. Enjoy! You can click them to get the caption.

    Neighborhood cleanup this Saturday!

    Help the hood look better! The North Columbia Heights Civic Association is putting together a series of neighborhood cleanups, with the first happening this Saturday. There's also a discounted brunch at Meridian Pint for volunteers. Here's the details:
    When:                  Saturday, September 4th,  10:30am – 11:30am
    Where:                 Meet outside Columbia Heights Coffee (on 11th between Park and Monroe)
    What:                   Volunteer an hour of your morning to help keep the neighborhood clean and share community ideas with your neighbors at a Meridian Pint brunch afterwards
    Why:                     Help keep the neighborhood clean
    How:                     Cleaning supplies (bags and gloves) will be provided.  Just bring yourselves, your kids, and even your pets!

    *Meridian Pint has generously agreed to provide a special discounted brunch for all clean-up volunteers.

    Learn more about the NCHCA and learn how to support us in our efforts to make Columbia Heights a great place to live at