Monday, February 28, 2011

Don't forget! ANC1A11 special election tonight: Gavin Holland vs Dotti Love Wade

If you live in ANC1A11 (see the map above) you have an election tonight. Gavin Holland ran as a write-in in the general election and basically won -- the only person on the ballot got more votes but had dropped out before the election, but not early enough to take her name off the ballot.  

Holland is up against former school board member Dotti Love Wade. I endorsed Holland before. Here's a letter he wrote about why you should vote for him.

The polling place is the Social Room at Columbia Heights Village, 2900 14th Street from 6-8 pm.

Go vote! Do your civic duty.

UPDATE: Here's a picture of Dottie Love Wade's flyer, which says "RE-ELECT." Pretty disingenuous since she hasn't been an ANC commissioner since 2008.

CommonWealth is dead. Long live whatever it's going to be called.

As noted last week, owner Jamie Leeds is selling CommonWealth Gastropub on Irving to focus on Hank's Oyster Bar and as of this past Sunday, CommonWealth is closed. It's going to be replaced by something similar run by Terry Cullen, who's also opening Lou's City Bar down the street.

According to Pete's Apizza owner Michael Wilkinson over on PoP, the new spot is going to have a bigger bar area, hardwood floors, and more mainstream food. I support the bigger bar, but let's hope they keep favorites like the Scotch eggs, fried olives, and chips. It was a nice brunch spot to.

I wouldn't mind if they did more with soccer matches, but not to the extent of say, Lucky Bar. More Indian-English stuff would be nice too, plus a cut in beer prices if you're going for the moon. Any changes you'd like to see?

And I assume the place was doing fine financially as there always seemed to be a big crowd.

We'll see what happens! I'm trying to get in touch with Cullen, and if I do I'll definitely report it here.

Friday, February 25, 2011

More reason to get free pancakes at IHOP -- for charity!

A couple days ago I wrote about National Pancake Day, which entails getting a free short stack at IHOP on March 1st. And now there's even more reason to go: they're accepting donations to the Leukemia & Lymphona Society. So go get some free grub and donate some money in exchange!

Here's the full press release:
National Pancake Day Supports Local Charity
March 1 event brings local IHOP owners and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society together to make a difference
Alexandria, VA – The National Capital Area Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is proud to announce its continued partnership with the Washington, DC area IHOP restaurants and their celebration of National Pancake Day.
National Pancake Day will take place on March 1, 2011. As part of the celebration, all participating, local IHOP restaurants will give away a free short stack of pancakes in the hopes that patrons will make a donation to support the fight against blood cancers. Last year, National Pancake Day raised $76,000 for the National Capital Area Chapter of LLS and this year the hope is to raise even more - $100,000 to be exact
“We are thrilled to once again be partnering with our local area IHOP restaurants on such a great event as National Pancake Day,” says Donna McKelvey, the Executive Director of the National Capital Area Chapter. “Our participation as the local charity partner for National Pancake Day is a great way for our organization to reach thousands of restaurant patrons and not only bring about exposure to our services but also ask for their support in the fight against blood cancers. We are so grateful for the partnership with IHOP and their commitment to advancing our mission.”
In addition to receiving free hot cakes, paper Icons will also be on sale at select locations allowing patrons to continue their support of LLS through monetaryd onations. Suggested donations for each paper icon begins at $1.00. Icons will be on sale from now through National Pancake Day. Local LLS volunteers will be on site at the local IHOP restaurants to help on National Pancake Day to collect donations and distribute organization information.
To find an IHOP near you, visit

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Oscar viewing party on Sunday at the Heights

It's movie time. This Sunday starting at 5 the Heights is hosting an Oscar viewing party with lots of drink specials, popcorn at every table (with truffles if you'd like), and other fun movie-related stuff. Brightest Young Things has a list of all the drinks, which are movie-themed. They'll also have ballots at the tables and will be showing the pre-Oscar red carpet stuff too.

Sounds fun. Personally my money is on Piranha 3D to sweep every award.

Waiting for Superman screening on Tuesday at Gala

Waiting for "Superman", the documentary about public schools with a big focus on former DC Chancellor Michelle Rhee, will be showing at the GALA Hispanic Theatre (14th and Park) on Tuesday at 7pm. The press release is above. Here's DCist's take on the movie.

It's sponsored by the District Church.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Is the Columbia Heights firehouse the funniest in the city?

You may remember in September, when it came out that a firefighter at the Columbia Heights fire house at 14th and Monroe was in hot water (ha) for cooking naked in the firehouse. It was after a retirement party when a few firemen went to a bar or two in the neighborhood, and up to three came back and decided to take their clothes off and cook eggs. Seems logical.

That was in the news for awhile, the guy was suspended, and it was pretty funny stuff. Sounds like a pretty wild firehouse.

And then the other day I was walking somewhere and engine 54 drove by. It's your average fire truck, except this on had the words "high quality H2O" on the front of the truck, a reference to the Adam Sandler movie The Waterboy. Unfortunately I can't find a photo of it, but according to their site, it's officially called water supply engine 54. There's even a Foursquare location for the firehouse.

Plus the firehouse is called the House of Flame. Also funny. Kudos to these guys for having a sense of humor.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Restaurant review: La Cabana on 14th Street

The other day I was looking at the North Columbia Heights Civic Association's list of businesses and noticed a place I didn't remember: La Cabana Restaurante at 3614 14th Street NW, a Salvadoran and Mexican place run by the same folks who own Las Placitas on 8th Street SE. Their website looked new and says "grand opening" so I decided to get some friends and check it out. Turns out I don't think it's a grand opening and I don't think the place is new, maybe new management or something. Here's what we thought.

For one, the place was empty except for us and two guys drinking beer at a table. It was about 7:30 on Thursday, so I guess they aren't doing very well. The atmosphere is fine, nothing special. There was a bit of a language barrier with the waitress until my friend who speaks Spanish took over.

We ordered margaritas, and the first pitcher was great. For some reason the second pitcher seemed a lot stronger and wasn't so good. Food-wise, I had the tipico, which is a chicken tamale, pupusa, plantains and yuca, plus beans and rice. Pretty hearty, pretty tasty, and $10. My amigos' meals were similarly good -- nothing special, but solid and well done. I like El Rinconcito II better, but not a bad option or a good start for hitting the Red Derby.

Here's their Yelp page. 2.5 stars.

Friday, February 18, 2011

New York Times says 11th street in Columbia Heights is hip

The New York Times says we're hip. I just found this slide show on "Columbia Heights' hip strip" -- 11th Street, not 14th Street:
But while the blocks surrounding the Metro stop now feel something like a suburban mall, Washington’s hippest new strip has cropped up just a few blocks away: a cluster of independent businesses has revitalized a once-desolate stretch of 11th Street, where big box stores and chain restaurants give way to indie rock dance parties and guerrilla theater performances.

The slideshow contains Room 11, Wonderland, Meridian Pint and BloomBars (though oddly not Red Rocks or Columbia Heights Coffee.) Kind of cool that other people are taking notice of this strip. I sure like it.

They also had this little map. I suspect there will be a full article in the Sunday New York Times, since both things are dated 2/20/11.

Free pancakes at IHOP on March 1

Another of these random National thing days: March 1 is National Pancake Day, and the IHOP in DCUSA is giving away a free short stack that day.

I hope they bring back the dancing pancake.

Hat tip to DCist for the story.

Today is National Drink Wine Day! Go celebrate

Got a tip from a reader that today is National Drink Wine Day. No idea who declared this, but it's a holiday I support 100%, and our neighborhood is a good place to celebrate it!

Room 11 of course would be a good stop, with their focus on good wines that aren't expensive. You could also get some wine and a slice at Red Rocks, or buy some at D'Vines! Or you could be a rebel and drink beer at Meridian Pint or Wonderland instead.

Anyway, thought it was a funny holiday to mention. Enjoy.

(And according to that site, it's also National Battery Day. Oh boy.)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Photo of Irving Street's Lou's City Bar: opening this month, website up too

We're losing Commonwealth (to be replaced by something similar) but we're gaining Lou's. Lou's City Bar is the new spot next to Commonwealth and they'll be opening this month. Their website is now up and they also have a Facebook page and Twitter.

A reader snapped this photo looking in the window, and they noted "It actually kind of looks like the kitchens in the Highland Park building."

Most of the site is coming soon.

Commonwealth closing, opening with a new name

The internet is all abuzz that Commonwealth on Irving Street will be closing, then reopening under different ownership and a similar theme. Apparently owner Jamie Leeds is focusing on expanding Hank's Oyster Bar, and thus is selling.

It'll be closing at the end of the month and the new place, run by Terry Cullen's new Irving Street Restaurant Group, will plan to open in May. I don't know much about Cullen, apparently he works in real estate, according to a quick Google search.

Let's hope the new place maintains the same quality of food, which I've always enjoyed, and maybe sells its beers for a bit cheaper. They're fairly pricey.

Your thoughts? I know there were some varying opinions on the spot.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Panera coming to DCUSA in October

Thanks to some readers, I was notified that Panera, the bakery/sandwich chain, is coming to DCUSA in October. It was originally thought that they were going into the now-closed Adams Mill bar in Adams Morgan, but that turned out not to be the case.

Now I like Panera pretty well, I've been there a few times. I like IHOP, Target, Chipotle, and so on, but there needs to be a balance. I'm getting more and more concerned about all the chains coming into the neighborhood, while there are no local or regional businesses at all in DCUSA. I'm worried that there won't be much more room and that rents will rise as bigger chains move in. What's next, Cold Stone Creamery? Buffalo Wild Wings?

These chains are obviously attractive to landlords because they have the dough to pay higher rents, but I think there needs to be some effort from the city about this. I wrote about this Jim Graham and encourage you to do the same. If too many more places come in we might as well be living in Gaithersburg. Maybe I worry too much, but I don't want to see any of our local, home-grown, interesting places get pushed out by chains or higher rents.

Help a grad student with her thesis about Columbia Heights

A local grad student is writing about Columbia Heights, and she needs your help. She has an anonymous online survey here and is hoping to get a lot of responses from local residents. Please take a look. Here's her note from the South Columbia Heights listserve:

My name is Kara Hadge, and I'm a graduate student at Georgetown University in the Communication, Culture, & Technology program. For my master's thesis, I'm studying local online media in Columbia Heights and their impact on community life in the neighborhood. As part of my study, I'm conducting a survey to see what blogs, list-servs, social media, and other news sources Columbia Heights residents follow to stay informed about the neighborhood. You can find the survey (which is short -- only about 5 minutes!) at if you are interested in participating.

If you have any questions, you can contact me at All individual survey responses will be kept confidential, and no identifying information will published about any survey participants. Anyone under age 18 must have a parent's permission to participate.

Thank you for your help! I'll share my findings with you when the study is complete, and I hope they'll provide you with some useful information on finding and spreading news to the Columbia Heights community.


Kara Hadge

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Giant self check-out lanes open 24 hours & booze until midnight, starting today?

Got this note from a reader. I'm not around, but if someone goes, please let us know in the comments if it's accurate!
According to the self-checkout cashier the CH Giant is open 24 hours starting tonight.  That might make it the only 24 hour supermarket in the city.

Is also might be the only place one can buy beer/wine until midnight.
If true, both parts are great news!

The La Casa shelter and its mural are no more

As part of the plan for the second phase of the Highland Park building on Irving, the La Casa shelter demolished this weekend. As you may recall, the building had a nice mural on it talking about the history and people of the neighborhood. A new shelter will be built behind the new building. John Reinhardt snapped a bunch of good photos of the mural and the building being demolished, two of which are here.

Too bad we're losing a mural, but it sounds like the project will be good overall -- more places to live and retail spots, plus there's going to be another shelter built.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Seed swap this past Saturday the Civic Plaza

Thanks to me hitting the wrong button on Blogger, I didn't end up running this post when I planned to. But take a look, it sounds like a neat event -- anyone go? You can read more about Grown in the City, and John says to contact him at if you would like any seeds, he has a lot left over.

Winter is (mercifully, hopefully) coming to an end, which means gardening season is upon us. To get folks in the mood, John from Grown in the City is holding a seed swap this Saturday at the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza -- 14th/Park/Kenyon. Here's the press release:
Grown in the City 1st Annual Seed Swap
Where: Columbia Heights Plaza
When:  This Saturday, February 12, from Noon - 1 PM
Why:  Because you only need so many tomato seeds, or you want to try growing something new, or you've never gardened before and want to try it out!
Stop by Columbia Heights plaza between noon and 1 PM on Saturday for Grown in the City's first ever seed swap.  Come share your extra seeds and meet some fellow neighborhood gardeners.  Whether you're a seasoned gardener or you want to try it out without making a big financial investment, the seed swap is a good way to get the growing season started. 
In addition, I will be giving away free flower seed packets in the spirit of the UK's Plan Bee campaign.  Why?  Because the world's bees are dying off at a rapid rate, which will have disastrous impacts on our food system ($15 - $20 billion dollars worth of crops rely on bee polination).  Scientists are still unsure what is causing the hive collaposes, but planting more habitats for honeybees to gather pollen is something we can do to help, while also beautifying the neighborhood. 
I'll be hanging out by the grassy slope near FroZenYo, with a bag of seeds to swap/give away, so stop by and say "hi!"  - John

Gavin Holland running for ANC Commish again. Vote Feb. 28, 6-8 pm

Photo from TBD
You may recall Gavin Holland, the popular local DJ who ran for ANC commissioner as a write-in after his neighbor Kat Skiles dropped out of the race. Holland got this blog's endorsement. Holland actually got the most votes after Skiles, and was originally declared the winner. However, the Board of Elections reversed their decision, saying that because the top vote getter (Skiles) wasn't an eligible candidate, the seat was vacant.

That means a special election, and this time Holland has some opposition: former school board member Dotti Love Wade, who lost to Patrick Mara in the election. Here's Holland's full statement, via TBD, with details on who can vote and where you can vote -- only from 6-8 pm at the Columbia Heights Village, 2900 14th Street NW.
As some of you may know, I ran for Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in my 1A11 district as a write-in candidate in the Nov. 2nd, 2010 general elections, and was certified as the winner in that election. Here is a link to my copy of the originally published certified result for the 1A ANC elections.

However, after a review, the DC Board of Elections and Ethics went on to declare my 1A11 district "vacant" with no winner, and removed my name from the PDF of the Nov. 2nd certified elections results published on their website. Their reasoning is that I was outvoted by a candidate who had officially withdrawn, my wonderful next-door neighbor Kat Skiles, and that therefore I never should have been declared the winner. I am now running for 1A11 ANC again, this time in a special election to be held on Monday, February 28th from 6-8pm at 2900 14th St. NW.
I cannot say that I am happy with the DCBOEE's decision, and I found their method for revoking my win highly questionable -- I can't imagine that the decision in a mayoral election could be reversed in this city by merely editing a PDF document without an enormous public outcry. The document was not even re-certified (signed again) after it was edited - the signatures in the document which list "Gavin Holland" as the winner are completely identical to the ones in the currently published document which says "NO WINNER". But that is the DCBOEE's decision and I have to respect it.
I am no longer running for this position unopposed. My opponent is a career politician who embodies the "old way" of DC politics and has produced scant results in her time in office. I represent a new way of thinking and have the desire to actually work to make Columbia Heights even better. But there is no question that this is going to be a difficult race, and in order to win, I'm going to need every bit of support I can get.
In order to vote for me in this election, you must live between 11th St. and 14th St. NW, between Harvard St. and Irving St. NW, on the inward-facing side of the street if you live on the boundary, and be registered to vote at that current address. If you do not live in this area, I still need your help campaigning and directing people to the polls while the election is underway. I am also accepting donations to my campaign, which will help diffuse the cost of flyers, signs, and other campaign materials. There is a $25-per-person limit, and I greatly appreciate any contribution you can make.
So please, help me move Columbia Heights forward and come out to vote on Monday, February 28th from 6-8pm at Columbia Heights Village, 2900 14th St. NW, Washington, D.C. In the audience at last night's ANC meeting, my opponent was the lone person voicing her opposition to the expansion of the wildly successful Columbia Heights Farmers Market. A vote for Gavin Holland is a vote to stop wasting time fighting the things that make Columbia Heights great.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Bands in the Neighborhood: Mother

This latest installment of Bands in the Neighborhood is on Mother, a duo who play interesting and really good sort of electronic/ ambient/psychedlic indie rock. I mentioned them before with their QR-Code posters.

Their albums are available on their Bandcamp page, linked above. I spoke with Casey and Brad from the band.

If you have a band in the neighborhood, let me know. 

How did you all choose the band name?
CASEY: I needed a word to put into iTunes so this music would stay together. It was just me at that point, but Brad and I collaborated on some of the stuff, too. The name Mother was vaguely spiritual. The Mother of all things being Nature or God or insert-name-here. I don't care what something is named -- after a little while the content is
the key descriptor, not the word. That said, it would've been easier with a less common name. Choosing a band name is about as ridiculous a process as you can get.

BRAD: It's the worst, normally, and generally takes months of teeth gnashing and stark disagreement, ending in a compromise that no one's happy with. Deciding on Mother was the quickest and easiest band name process that I've ever been involved with, and I genuinely like the name.

How did the band form?
CASEY: I was playing keyboard in a band called The Hard Tomorrows, which was an amalgamation of several previously existing bands. Before and during my being in the HTs I was writing and recording songs and
soundscapes, as a kind of therapy, which ended up being four full-length records. I never asked myself why, because it was just happening on its own. But at a certain point I was like, "I really like this music. Maybe other people will too." I sent the music to some friends and Hard Tomorrows bandmates and they liked it and I asked them if I got a group of creative players to explore the songs, would they form a band with me. The HTs broke up, people joined and started new bands, and Mother was one of those. I knew Brad was down -- we had talked about it in passing and he had always liked the music. And knowing Brad's abilities as a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, it was obvious that we would team up.

BRAD: I was excited, because knowing the players, I expected it to a trippy psychedelic rock band, which is my favorite genre. We didn't quite hit that groove at first, but we eventually got there. Plus, I got to play guitar early on, which is something that I'd been wanting to do in a band for years. I'm mostly a bass player.

How many members live in Columbia Heights?
CASEY: All members, except some former members who live in Petworth and Mount Pleasant.

BRAD: The former members recently left. It's just Casey and I now. But it's good, because we're throwing ourselves into making our next record, and since we've no one else but ourselves to please, it's smoother sailing. Casey and I collaborate well.

Do you practice in CH? How about play any gigs in the neighborhood?
CASEY: We've been playing at my house at Columbia and 13th since Mother's inception. Long before the movie, 'Inception'. We've played lots of local gigs near Columbia Heights (Crab's Claw in MtP; Adams Morgan; U St.) but I don't think any in CoHi proper.

BRAD: We played Wonderland Ballroom once, didn't we?

CASEY: That's right. Forgot.

What are your band's influences?
BRAD: Mine range from Beatles to Radiohead to White Stripes to Interpol to MGMT to Beach House to Animal Collective and all of its mammalian subsidiaries. Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, electronica, Pink Floyd, especially Syd Barrett, Blur, My Bloody Valentine...

CASEY: Eno, The Cure, Mr. Bungle, Sonic Youth, Brian Jonestown Massacre, M83, Nick Drake, Genesis, King Crimson, Elliott Smith of course, Kevin Sheilds, REM, Donovan, Mars Volta, Don Caballero, Neil Young, Medications, Jonathan Fire Eater.

Do you have any records out? What's your next show?
BRAD: We have two records out. Our first is called “Electric Fancy” and our second release is “Oktopus Klap”. You can listen to and download both for free at We recently festooned parts of the city with posters featuring QR codes that can be scanned with smartphone apps that'll take you right to "Oktopus Klap". I believe your blog wrote about these posters? Anyway, pictures of them outside of Black Cat actually made their way onto a blog in France. I have no idea how that happened!

CASEY: We're waiting to finish our current record before we book more gigs.

Gone on any tours? Any crazy and terrible tour stories?
CASEY: We did a couple tours in Europe because a rich guy in France paid for us to go. We did dive bars and small clubs, which in Europe are full of sweaty drunken Europeans, which in general I like, but not in southern Germany. Everyone's nice until you start getting loud and distorted. We would churn out a wall of noise for a bit and they'd think they were at a Rammstein concert or some industrial shit. I got a black eye after a show in Stuttgart, from a huge woman and thought that was pretty bad. We played in Munich two days later and I actually
got my ass kicked. Brad was like, "Dude, this is where the Beatles started!" and I was like, "I just got my ass kicked you fucker!"

BRAD: Yeah, but the Beatles got their asses kicked in Germany, too, and you saw where that got em!

CASEY: Got Stu Sutcliffe a terminal brain embolism.

What’s your take on the local music scene in Columbia Heights and DC?
CASEY: It's small so bands work hard to get what another city would provide more easily, such as a small artsy town. I'm from a part of NY near Ithaca and the Finger Lakes where there are *only* small cities. These places are designed so you get to know other people. Being aware of everything is possible. Ithaca has a thriving music scene, but it's like a tenth of DC's size. I will say that being hooked into the net gives unbelievable access to any kid in a rural shit-town who makes a brilliant record in his basement. Anything that can disseminate art and ideas like that, we don't even know the potential yet. Not even close.

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

BRAD: Wonderball 11

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cool DC neighborhoods map poster

Saw something cool via Park View, D.C., it's this DC neighborhood map, with the neighborhood names substituting for boundaries. Pretty fun to browse. 

It's made by Ork Posters, who also do similar ones for other cities, and Columbia Heights is on there, although it's not the usual shape I think it is -- it appears Mt. Pleasant goes to 14th Street. Of course, we've had lots of debates about this before.

The U Street area is called "Shaw," but I guess that one is debatable. The map also includes Park View, Pleasant Plains, and the not very well recognized 16th Street Heights.

You can also get the poster in different colors. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

ANC1A website updated

Local Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1A, which covers from about Harvard to Spring, recently got an updated website, thanks to commissioner Kent Boese, who also runs the great Park View, D.C. blog.

There's a new links section, plus the most recent meeting minutes, and info in "the Library" on voluntary agreements with local alcohol establishments -- voluntary agreements being deals the businesses negotiate with the ANC about things like operating hours and trash removal.

Always nice to see when the ANC sites have more than just the usual stuff on them.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

2 Dogs, 1 cat found: 14th & Randolph, 13th & Meridian, 13th & Spring

A few animals were found in the past couple of days. Let's hope they get back to their owners.

If you are missing a medium-sized, fluffy, gray cat somewhere in the general vicinity of 13th and Spring NW, please call me at 202-255-3928.
A stray dog was found Sunday, February 6th,2011 within the 3800 block of 14th St NW. He appears to be a medium sized, shepherd/chow chow mix within the ages of 5 years and 7 years. He is being held at the DC Animal Control Shelter 202576-6664(which is being run by the Washington Humane Society.) His i.d. number is 12351262. Please call in if he is your or if you know how he belongs to.
Woof  #2:
I just found a brown chihuahua (possibly mix) with a pink collar wandering around on the 1300 block on Meridian Place. I have not called the Humane Society yet. If anyone knows this dog or are missing a dog, please call me at 202-285-7279.

Brothel busted at Georgia Avenue and Irving Street

 I've written about crime and brothels in the neighborhood before, usually people complaining about them but nothing happening to them. However, this nugget from the MPD 3D substation is a good one:
On February 5, 2011, members of the 3rd District Crime Suppression Unit executed a search warrant at 3105 Georgia Avenue, Northwest. As a result of the search warrant, fifteen people were arrested. Two individuals were arrested for Operating a Prostitution House and the remaining 13 were arrested for Solicitation/Prostitution.
I'm always surprised that there are brothels out there, but it's good they're getting shut down. Here's the place on Google Streetview. Looks like a random business of some kind.

View Larger Map

Monday, February 7, 2011

Coming to 826DC: An evening with James Franco?

Just got this email. No other details as yet. Crazy.

I guess he hasn't started teaching his class about editing himself.

Columbia Heights historic drinkabout coming soon -- walking tour with bar stops

Looking forward to this! Washington Walks is having another Historic Drinkabout, a walking tour with a historian that includes stops at local bars. I went last year with some friends and it was great, I learned a lot about the neighborhood's history, met some neighbors, and had a few drinks. Can't beat that.

Here's their press release:

It's back!  Even Snowmaggedon 2010 could not discourage us from reprising the fun and filling Drinkabout.  Columbia Heights is home to a growing number of cafes and bars (conveniently located along the walk route.)  We’ll stop to imbibe hot or cold libations inside a select few. 
Tivoli Theater site prior to restoration
The 14th Street corridor between Irving Street and Park Road was one of Washington’s most important shopping and entertainment destinations outside downtown.  That is until April 4, 1968, when riots following the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sparked extensive looting and burning of commercial property. 
Columbia Heights Metrorail station
For decades afterwards, boarded-up businesses and empty lots marred the formerly vibrant Columbia Heights.  Nearly 40 years later, change has swept the area once more: the opening of the Columbia Heights Metrorail station in 1999 spurred construction of apartment buildings,  rowhouses, and the massive shopping complex D.C. USA—not to mention the local-color eateries and pubs we’ll visit during the walk.
Guide for the afternoon is Brian Kraft, historian for the “Cultural Convergence: Columbia Heights Trail” developed by Cultural Tourism DC.  Brian also penned the Columbia Heights chapter in the much anticipated reissue of the book, "Washington at Home" published in 2010. 
GALA Hispanic Theater/National Center for Latino Performing Arts  building
Columbia Heights Historical Drinkabout
Saturday, 19 February 2011
2:00 – 5:00 p.m.
$20 per person
Cost of beverages and snacks purchased extra.
You can get reservations here.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Highland Park phase 2 construction to start within 60 days

The second phase of the Highland Park building, which I wrote about before, will be underway in 60 days according to the developer. The project has changed a bit when Donatelli, the developers of the original Highland Park, took over. It's replacing the La Casa homeless shelter, which will be built behind the new building.

The new building, with about 70 143 apartments per the newest plans, will match Highland Park's look and will be physically connected.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Get live traffic reports, snow reports from DDOT

This morning was a terrible commute for me and probably many other Columbia Heights residents, as 14th and 16th Street had big problems, I'm guessing related to the National Prayer Breakfast. I didn't know ahead of time, but I wish I had checked.

The other day, a DDOT (or d. if you want to be hip) spokesperson sent me a couple of links to their useful website,, which has a live traffic report page, plus a snow status page telling you what's going on with the various mass transit options in the city. Of course, there's also the DDOT Twitter: @DDOTDC

Check them out. Always nice to see local government being responsive like this.

You can plug in your electric car outside the Reeves Center

This is not quite Columbia Heights, but pretty interesting to me. I was surprised to see a sign for plug-in vehicle parking outside the Reeves Center at 14th and U. I guess you plug in your car and charge it up.

I found this blog post about it -- it was funded by a Department of Energy grant, and according to this website, it's one of two charging stations in the city, the other being at 425 Mass Ave NW.

Pretty interesting stuff. I haven't had a chance to see if it's actually getting used.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Where are the mailboxes in the neighborhood?

Photo by Laughing Squid
A reader posed a good question:
I work in CH and sometimes I just gotta mail an actual card through snail mail... I have lot of kid nieces and nephews and they like to get paper cards.  Where are the freaking mailboxes in CH?  I know there's one on the corner of Mt Pleasant and Irving but where are others?  Are there any on 14th St between the Giant all the way up to Dunkin Donuts?  I can't find any and it's a PITA.
Anyone? I know there's one at 13th and Girard, but otherwise I'm stumped. Post them in the comments and I'll add them to the web map:

View Columbia Heights Mailboxes in a larger map

Neighborhood listserve throwdown! Including Billy Madison

Ah, neighborhood listserves, the sometime home of useful news, when they aren't besieged with spam or anti-immigrant rants (see the South CH list for that.)

Recently, listserve mainstay and former ANC commish William Jordan got into it with Jeff Zeeman, head of the North Columbia Heights Community Association (NCHCA) on both the Columbia Heights listserve and the NCHCA listserve. In about 30 messages. Including videos.

Basically, Jordan was complaining about sidewalks not being plowed, saying the worst example was outside the dog park at 11th and Park, and that NCHCA was supposed to be stewards of that park plus the North Columbia Heights Green. He added "If NCHCA is going to lead us in community service and represent this community they need to step up beyond neighborhood and political showing offl."

Zeeman stridently disagreed, posting a long reply saying that was never the case, that NCHCA was never asked or offered the be the steward, saying both of those spaces were unused and a mess before, and now they were a lot better. Other folks jumped in, agreeing with Zeeman. Jordan then replied with "Clearly, there is a river in Egypt that now flows through North Columbia Heights called De Nile (denial).... " More back and forth, with Jordan offering no evidence, then over on the Columbia Heights listserve (this argument taking place on both the NCHCA list and the CH list), Zeeman then posted this gem from Billy Madison as a response to Jordan:

And Jordan replied with:

There was more some back and forth and finally some other people got sick of the argument and said they'd shovel the sidewalk themselves, and then went and did just that. Then it seemed to trail off and Zeeman banned Jordan from the NCHCA listserve placed Jordan on moderated status on the NCHCA listserve, which he runs, and apparently deleted a couple of his posts, which he claimed were false.

All seemed quiet, until somehow the topic got onto the farmers market, with some folks arguing that it was bad for the neighborhood because it doesn't bring any money to local businesses -- see this thread.

Good times.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Street Booze: Mystery booze at 16th and Irving

A friend snapped this shot the other day, and gave me an idea: guess what kind of booze it is, plus the flavor in the comments! There's no prize unfortunately, but I think it might be fun. If somebody's right I'll let them know.

Want to see more Street Booze? Check out the archive.

Greater Greater Washington calls Irving "unofficial dog latrine"

First saw this Greater Greater Washington post and I thought, "What, dogs pee on the sidewalk? Yes, and?" But then I read more and thought they had a valid point. 

Basically, there isn't much green space around the Highland Park building, so dog owners are taking their dogs to a couple small tree boxes for them to do their business. That's a lot of pee and poop in a small area, and some is getting on the sidewalk.

What's the solution? More dog parks? Where? Who builds them, the city or apartment buildings? 

One person says they take their pet to a grassy area outside the Columbia Heights Education Campus, and the rest of the commenters pillory them for that.