Friday, March 29, 2013

Live Metrorail data now on Google Maps: delays, track work etc.

Just got an email from Google, who announced that they have launched live Metrorail data on Google Maps, both on the website and the phone app. 

What this means is that you can use Google Maps to plan your trip, and the get live data from Metro's Control Center, so they also include current service information like unplanned delays, track work and single-tracking. 

You can also use it for planning alternate routes, although the live information is just for Metrorail, not the bus.

It sounds like a good alternative for getting around the city. Here's more on their blog about it.



Thursday, March 28, 2013

Manchester City soccer team, UAE to open new soccer field in Adams Morgan

Cool news -- Manchester City Football Club, the English Premier League-winning soccer team and the United Arab Emirates government (who sponsor the team via one of their airlines, Etihad) are fixing up the soccer field at Marie Reed School in Adams Morgan, and also starting a soccer program for kids -- more on that program here.

While it's is a little out of the neighborhood, it's so awesome that I wanted to write about it (plus the field could be used by Columbia Heights folks too.)

They're having a groundbreaking ceremony on April 2, and they hope to complete it in the Fall. There won't be any Manchester City players there, but some team officials will be present. Plus it's not every day the UAE ambassador is running around the area.

Here's their press release. Pretty cool!

April 2: UAE EMBASSY, EPL CHAMPIONS MANCHESTER CITY FOOTBALL CLUB WILL BREAK GROUND ON NEW PLAYING FIELD AND TRAINING PROGRAM
FOR ADAMS MORGAN COMMUNITY

Marie Reed Elementary School to be Site of Modern, Year-Round Soccer Field

WHAT
Groundbreaking event for kids and of Marie Reed Elementary School and the Adams Morgan community who will receive a brand new, all-season state-of-the-art soccer field.

Children and Adams Morgan community members will celebrate the ground breaking of the new UAE- Manchester City Field in the heart of the Adams Morgan along with senior diplomats from the UAE and the US, and local senior DC government officials.
The field will be a gift to the community by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Embassy in Washington, and English Premier League Champions Manchester City Football Club’s City Soccer in the Community program. 

WHO
·         His Excellency Yousef Al Otaiba, UAE Ambassador to the US
·         The Honorable Michael Corbin, US Ambassador to the UAE
·         Philip Barton, Deputy Head of Mission, British Embassy in Washington, DC
·         Principal Eugene Pinkard, Marie Reed Elementary
·         Anthony deGuzman, Chief Operating Officer, District of Columbia Public Schools
·         Jesus Aguirre, Director, DC Department of Parks and Recreation
·         James Hogan, CEO, Etihad Airways
·         Gary Hopkins, Manchester City Football Club, City Soccer in the Community
·         Washington, DC area kids and parents

Event photo opportunities will include students and guests, as well as students playing soccer while clad in Manchester City Club jerseys.

WHERE
Marie H. Reed Community Learning Center
18th Street, NW & Wyoming Avenue, NW
Washington, DC
**Activities Field**

WHEN
April 2, 2013 (rain or shine)
3:30 PM event starts

Good Friday procession this Friday: Jesus with cross, Virgin Mary, songs, and more

IMG_1403

The annual Semana Santa (Holy Week) Good Friday procession is upon us, where parishioners and staff of the Sacred Heart Church at 16th and Park walk around the neighborhood in costume in commemoration of Good Friday. The event, which often draws up to 2000 people, is this Friday from 8:30 pm to 10:30 pm. There will be some rolling street closures, on Park Road, Mt. Pleasant, Irving, and 16th as the procession passes.

The event itself is quite a spectacle, I recommend you go check it out. Here's more information on the procession and on the day itself from Liz Mora of Sacred Heart:
The Good Friday procession tradition came from Spain... 
On Good Friday, Christians remember the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. We do not have traditional Mass on that day. But we do gather to read the Passion of Christ, his last hours before his death, pray for the world and venerate the cross. At Sacred Heart our Cristo Joven (Youth of Christ) act out the drama of the Passion of Christ. After the drama, our Hispanic community will carry large statues of Christ Crucified and Mary, the Sorrowful Mother through the neighborhood, accompanied by dirge like music. It is much like a huge funeral procession. Sacred Heart's procession includes songs and prayers in Spanish, English, Vietnamese and Haitian. If you go to our Facebook page, you will see pictures of previous processions. We usually have between 1,000 to 2,000 participants each year. You should come this year! 
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Shrine-of-the-Sacred-Heart/129199828496?ref=hl
https://www.facebook.com/sagradocorazondc?ref=hl
Here's a previous post I wrote about the procession too. It's pretty cool.

Photo by Wayan Vota

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

It's official: additional 16th Street bus route starting soon

16th Street commuters, help is on the way. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about WMATA's idea to start starting a new 16th Street bus line from somewhere in southern Columbia Heights to downtown. They've now decided to do that, running what will be called the S2-Short from 16th and Harvard to 16th and H NW.

The bus isn't an express, it will stop at every stop, but still, additional capacity can't hurt. It will run from 7:30 am to 9:15 am and should come about once every 20 minutes.

It's supposed to start this week, anybody see it yet?

Preliminary Georgia Ave. survey results up: lots of newcomers, no chain restaurants please

The Lower Georgia Avenue Community Survey, which the Georgia Avenue Community Development Task Force undertook earlier in the year, has some preliminary results up -- almost 500 responses. Of course, this sort of survey isn't scientific, as people choose whether to take it or not, but interesting nonetheless. The results are posted here (and also below.)

In short, my main takeaways are: there are lots of young people and newcomers, they want more entertainment options, more independent restaurants and grocery stores, no chain restaurants at all, more bike lanes, and more after-school programs for kids and adult education. The whole survey was pretty interesting, however, and dealt with demographics, shopping, and a lot more.

Interestingly (and maybe obviously) most of the respondents have been in the neighborhood less than 5 years, with the largest group, fully a third, having only been in the area 2 years or less. In addition, most respondents are young, between 19 and 35, which probably means a lot of Howard and other college students responded, and surprisingly the respondents were almost 60% female. (Then again, you could argue that older folks who have been in the area longer would be less likely to do the survey.) About 46% were African American, 39% white, and only about 5% Hispanic.

People's opinions were interesting (and hopefully useful) as well. The survey was structured to ask people what was important to them and whether or not those things were present on lower Georgia Avenue. For entertainment options, which consisted of art galleries, bars and pubs, movie theaters and small performance venues, all were considered important, but only bars and pubs were considered available.

For food, the most surprising result was that fully 40% of people said national chain restaurants were not at all important to them, while grocery stores, independent restaurants and natural food stores were extremely important to most people. Let's hope that means more folks consider opening those kinds of businesses. A Yes! Organic Market or something like that would be great for lower Georgia Avenue, for example.

On housing, all kinds (artist, affordable, senior and market-rate) were important, but artist housing almost non-existent and senior housing lacking too. I agree there! It seems that almost every kind of public service can be improved, especially youth programs, adult education and parks/green spaces.

For retail shopping, the most important were considered to be book stores, gyms/day spas and pharmacies, and only a few of the many categories were considered available. Again, I hope that leads more people to open businesses on the street.

The last question was more general, about the streetscape. The first thing that stood out was that the largest response was that bike lanes aren't present. And amusingly, 7% of people said streetcars were abundant. I wonder where those folks are?

Those are my main take-aways, what are yours?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

People, clean up your dog's poop!!!


I don't understand what's wrong with people sometimes: the other day I saw this little flotilla of dog turds on a sidewalk on 14th Street. It wasn't even really close to a tree box. I know dogs do their business where they choose, but at least give it a shot.

And no matter where Spuds chooses to poop, it's super easy to carry a plastic bag with you, pick up the result, and toss it into a garbage can. The cans are usually not more than a block away in any direction. Thankfully I didn't step in this archipelago of poo, but they were certainly step-in-able. 

Fire tears through vacant hotel at 14th and Quincy


Fire hit the old C & K Hotel on the 3700 block of 14th Street NW, across from the Red Derby on Sunday. The building, which is actually three connected rowhouses, was sold to a developer about a year ago and has been vacant for some time.


DCist reports the plans were to demolish it and build a 20-unit residential building with ground floor retail, which sounds ideal for that location. It sounds especially good considering the building's history: neighbors say it used to be a brothel and site of drug dealing, and before that was one of the city's few transient hotels.

The owner has been trying to demolish it for some time, but wasn't able to due to some issues with Washington Gas, though they actually filed plans last week. Let's hope the fire doesn't delay those plans too much.

Councilmember Muriel Bowser posted on the Spring-Perry listserve that they're working with DCRA to make sure the building is secured and will update with the owner's cleanup and development plans.

Two firefighters were sent to the hospital with smoke-related injuries.

ANC 1A01 commisioner Lisa Kralovic sent me these pictures of the building after the fire, which started in the back.



Monday, March 25, 2013

Paddlestar Galactica: ping pong tourney to benefit 826DC

826DC, the great tutoring organization that has its headquarters on the Civic Plaza, is hosting a pretty hilarious fundraiser: Paddlestar Galactica, a ping pong tournament and pledge drive. Folks raise money and the top 16 money-raisers get to compete in the paddle battle. There's more info below -- aside from just the tourney, there are practices at Comet Ping Pong and people can buy "cheats" as additional fundraising: things like making your opponent use their shoe as their paddle. A pretty funny way to raise a bit more for the organization.

826DC, if you aren't familiar, is an offshoot of author Dave Eggers 826 organization, which tutors kids in writing, reading and other subjects. They also operate funny storefronts with each city's branch, and in DC that's the Museum of Unnatural History, which sells a lot of books, funny trinkets, shirts and such. Worth a visit if you haven't been.



 
Do you enjoy contests of patience, sweat, and swagger?
 
If so, join us on our voyage of Paddlestar Galatica: A Ping-Pong Tournament Benefiting 826DC. We need fearless heroes, fabulous fundraisers and Heisman-like athletes.
 
Why you ask? To support of 826DC’s free youth writing and tutoring programs for students ages 6 through 18, of course.
 
How It Works 
Although the main event will be on Saturday, May 4, 2013, for the entire month of April we’ll be celebrating Paddlestar Galatica. Starting on Monday, April 1 our star athletes will gather financial support from family, friends, co-workers and ping-pong aficionados all to benefit the free programming of 826DC. On May 4, 2013, the top 16 participants compete. Not only do you secure your spot in the tournament with the more money you raise, you also get to “use” that money to “buy” cheats on the day of the tournament.
 
Contenders may pick their own goal:
Kick-off Event: Monday, April 1 at Comet Ping Pong (5037 Connecticut Ave NW) at 6 p.m. Participants will receive materials to aid them in their fundraising goals and generate their own individual fundraising pages. We have reserved the back room and you’ll be able to practice/show-off your Ping-Pong skills. You’ll also take your official photo for the 826DC website.
 
Weekly Practice: Each Monday in the month of April, we’ll host weekly practice at 6p.m. at Comet Ping Pong (5037 Connecticut Ave NW). Practice is not mandatory, but strongly encouraged! Participants and supporters can practice their Ping-Pong skills, flex their fundraising muscle, and enjoy pizza and adult beverage specials. Each week the top fundraiser of that particular week will receive a fabulous prize. These are open practices and everyone is invited to attend.
 
The Main Event: Saturday, May 4 at The Dunes (1402 Meridian Pl NW) at 2 p.m. The top 16 top fundraising participants will compete for a first place trophy and prestige in a bracket-style competition. Prizes will also be awarded for “Best Uniform” and “Bling Pong” (for the individual who raised the most money overall). 
 
Cheats you say? All the money raised goes to 826DC, but also to your “bank”. On the day of the tournament, participants can “buy” cheats from their “bank” to use during the tournament. A complete list of cheats can be viewed HERE.
 
How Do I Join? Complete the form below to register as a participant. The registration fee is $10, to be collected at the kick-off event. Participants will also be able to create their own personal fundraising pages at the kick-off event.
 
 
More information: http://826dc.org/?p=4692
Questions? pingpong@826dc.org

Friday, March 22, 2013

Open house with music, vintage clothes shopping on Saturday


It's not every day I write about an open house, but this is a pretty clever idea: Columbia Heights Condos is hosting what they're calling a (re)Open House on Lamont Street with music, vintage clothes for sale, and wine and cheese. Here's more info and the flyer is above (click it for the large version.)

This Saturday, shop vintage threads, enjoy complimentary wine, cheese, good music at the just listed 756 Lamont St NW for (re)OPEN HOUSE. Hosted by Columbia Heights Condos in a brand new three story fully renovated rowhome, the open house is a block and a half from the neighborhood bars and restaurants of 11th Street. Featuring music from DJ Philip Goyette and awesome vintage shops Notoriously Vintage (https://twitter.com/lori…http://www.etsy.com/shop…) and I Found That Vintage (http://www.etsy.com/shop….) (re)OPEN HOUSE will be held on Saturday March 23rd from 4-7pm - or - visit our traditional open house on Sunday March 24th from 2-4:30pm.

Book art exhibit at the Mexican Cultural Institute tonight!

If you'd like to check out some art tonight in the really nice Mexican Cultural Institute building at 2829 16th St NW (and have a free drink or two) read on! The Institute, part of the Mexican Embassy to the US, is hosting an opening of Codex Mexico, an exhibit about the book as art. It's free but requires an RSVP. Here are the details:

On Friday, March 22nd, The Embassy of Mexico's Cultural Institute will welcome theCodex Mexico: The Book as Art exhibition to Washington, DC, in partnership with The Codex Foundation and Stanford University Libraries. The exhibition showcases both Mexico's enormous heritage in the arts of printing, and the Mexicans currently working to renew and enrich such an important legacy. Come explore Codex Mexico, a unique, exciting exposition of artisanal books and printed art at the Mexican Cultural Institute for our opening event starting at 6:30pm on Friday, March 22nd!

These exceptional books reveal a world of rich potential for these new generations of printers, graphic artists, and writers, one inextricably tied to their unique cultural past. Harnessing a printing tradition that thrived even in Pre-Colombian times, twenty-two Mexican artists push the boundaries of bookmaking convention, providing distinctive housing for some of Mexico's most celebrated poets and writers.

Artisanal books from Californian and Australian printing presses appear alongside Mexican works, inviting contemplation of parallels and divergences between the cultures, artists, and printers of the exhibition. Inheritors of vastly different traditions, these artists' singular visions reflect a seemingly endless array of possibilities in the art of printmaking.
2829 16th St NW
Washington, DC 20009
March 22nd, 6:30pm
Free Admission, RSVP required:

rsvp@instituteofmexicodc.org

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Crappy Bacon Funeral Home building maybe making progress (or else!)


Bacon Funeral Home, the business at 14th and Meridian Place, has had an unbuilt, crappy looking cinder block shell for as long as anybody can remember. Neighbors have long complained about it, as it's an eyesore and potentially could be a place where squatters could go or crime could happen, and finally we have some progress.

Jim Graham posted the below on the neighborhood listserves, but in short, the city is taxing Bacon at the higher, blighted property rate, the Bacon folks say the windows and doors are secured, and they have 30 days to fix their roof. They claim they will fix it and are working on financing, but if they don't, the city will fix it for them and put a lien on their property to get paid back. They had a deadline before but it got extended for a couple reasons (mainly that the city's board that hears these matters didn't meet earlier.)

Their plan, from what I've heard, is to finish this crappy looking building, then demolish the one next door and use it as a parking lot. The ANC would have to approve this plan, and I would guess that is doubtful. Anyway, here's what Graham had to say:
Dear Neighbors,

I wanted to share with you an update on the empty building at the Bacon Funeral Home at 3449 14th St., NW.

As you may know, for years I have been involved and worked to have this dreadful cinder block shell finished and put to productive use. District agencies have responded. The Office of Tax and Revenue placed the highest real estate tax possible on the property, the blighted rate. This has also come before DCRA’s Board for the Condemnation of Insanitary Buildings, which took up the matter on November 14 and ordered that the building be secured, windows and doors boarded up and a missing portion of the roof replaced.

On Wednesday, March 13 the condition of the structure was again taken up by the Board. I was holding a hearing but a member of my staff attended. Documentation was presented showing the windows and doors have been secured, but a significant portion of the roof is still open to the elements and has not been enclosed.

The Board again took action and approved a motion to wait for thirty days to allow the owner to take concrete steps to enclose the roof. After thirty days the request will be forwarded to the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, Enforcement Branch to do this work. In other words, if the owner does not put a roof on the building, the city will hire a contractor to complete the entire roof and charge the owner by placing a lien on the property.

There was a welcome announcement. Counsel representing Mr. Bacon informed the Board that financing to resume construction on the property is moving forward and presented a letter of commitment from a bank and closing is expected by the end of the month. I am certain this is welcome news to all.

Securing the building is necessary but not enough. I have received multiple complaints over the years that this building is an eyesore to the community of benefit to no one. I commend the owners for their efforts to finally get this building finished and look forward to the day I can share that news.

Bests, Councilmember Jim Graham

U Street alcohol moratorium? Residents are opposed

2013 03 20 - 1774-1776 - DC - Moratorium Forum

Recently, something called the Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance, a group I've never heard of before, proposed a liquor license moratorium for U Street. What that means is there could be no more new liquor licenses for businesses within a 1,800 foot radius from 1211 U Street NW, meaning it would stretch from 15th to Georgia and R to Clifton.

DCist has the full story, but basically, lots of people are opposed to this plan. There was a public meeting last night where almost 50 people (one Twitter user said 41) spoke out against the plan, while only 7 spoke out for it. The meeting is pictured above.

Despite that opposition, the city's Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration will give the plan a hearing on May 22. Local ANCs will also vote for or against it in April.

Personally, I think the moratorium is a terrible idea. It's my belief that a similar moratorium is why Adams Morgan is completely bananas on weekend nights: since there are no new liquor licenses, business owners have to pay a lot to buy existing ones and landlords with them can charge high rents, which means the businesses have to sell as much booze as possible to pay for them, meaning more drunks in a small place. I'd argue that without the moratorium there may be more bars and restaurants, but also less places where the only plan is to get super drunk. (Then again, I may be wrong, and I still like Adams Morgan.)

I'm also a bit suspicious of this group. I've never heard of them before, and their website seems pretty new, and their first meeting was on May 2012. I wonder if they're a one-issue group, kind of like an alleged neighborhood association in Foggy Bottom, which was basically founded to make George Washington University give more stuff to the community, and supposedly only had a couple of members, so it wasn't really a representative group. (I wrote about them years ago when I went to GW and worked for the school paper, but they may have changed since then.)

Certainly there are problems to having a lot of bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, but I don't think a moratorium is the right plan. What do you think?

Photo by thisisbossi

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Where can you watch the NCAA tournament in the neighborhood?

It's college basketball time! My favorite sports time of year is the NCAA tournament, aka March Madness, and one of my favorite things is going to some place that has a lot of TVs and checking out all the simultaneous games, which start on Thursday (I don't really count the play-in games  as the start of the tourney.)

This year there are a few local (and local-ish teams) like Georgetown, James Madison, VCU, Liberty (though they already lost) and a lot of schools with big local fanbases, even if they aren't nearby (I'm thinking Michigan, Mich. State, Wisconsin, Duke and such.)

And we're also lucky in that there are a few good options in the area, plus some others not too far away. Here are my choices for good bars to see the games -- let's hear yours in the comments.

Lou's City Bar in the Highland Park building (1400 Irving St NW) comes to mind first, being a true sports bar. They have a ton of TVs, have deals during tournament games, and also have a couple of tables with built-in beer taps.

Speaking of beer taps, Meridian Pint at 11th and Park also has a lot of TVs, especially downstairs. They have good food, too.

Blue Banana at 3623 Georgia Ave NW is another true sports bar, with lots of TVs and bar grub (tots, chicken wings, etc.)

Zeba Bar at 3423 14th Street NW has TVs, good happy hour deals, and a chill atmosphere.

The Looking Glass Lounge at 3634 Georgia Ave NW only has 1 TV, but a fun, relaxed atmosphere if you don't want a ton of sports craziness. DC Reynolds next door may be a bit louder, but they have more TVs and the fantastic buy one-get one free happy hour too.

Tonic in Mt. Pleasant has TVs as well and is fairly big, while Red Rocks and The Heights have a couple of TVs.

Outside the area, I'd suggest the Ventnor Sports Bar and Black Squirrel in Adams Morgan and RFD in Chinatown, which is huge (and loud) with a lot of TVs. Another off the radar pick is the Old Dominion Brewhouse adjoining the Convention Center, they have a lot of TVs and good beer, plus beer towers! Can't beat that.

So there are a lot of my options, what are yours? And personally, I've got Miami, Kansas, Louisville and Wisconsin in the Final Four.

Morning rush hour traffic on 14th is absolutely terrible all the time

14th and Irving Bokeh I'm getting totally fed up with 14th Street traffic. Usually I take the bus to work downtown, and it often takes 35+ plus minute on a good day. If my calculations are correct, that's about 4 miles an hour.

And lately, there has been gridlock along 14th, often from about Irving or Columbia to about Spring, which is insane -- that's almost 3/4 of a mile! That usually means other streets, like 13th and 11th, get backed up too.

Today, however, it was the worst. Traffic was backed up to at least Quincy Street, if not farther (I couldn't see that far,) so I decided to try a cab. The cab inched its way to 13th, which was gridlocked, then 11th, also packed, then Sherman, also packed, so we tried going to Georgia. All the side streets were mobbed too with people who had the same idea.

After getting stuck on Park I said screw it, just drop me off and I'll walk to the Metro. The guy apologized and gave me a deal (which was nice of him, it certainly wasn't his fault,) and I abandoned the cab and took the Metro. That means it took about an hour to get downtown from Columbia Heights.

It's ridiculous. I emailed Jim Graham a few times, who looped in DDOT, but the only response I got from that was DDOT's Aaron Rhones, who said "Thanks CM Graham. As you are aware, DDOT has made several signal modifications/adjustments to the Columbia Heights corridor post Streetscape Construction, with each adjustment being sensitive to the intended goal of Pedestrian Safety. I have looped in our Signal team to provide you with an update of the most recent adjustments."

That's nice, but not helpful. It's driving me crazy, and certainly makes our neighborhood less convenient (not to mention wasting tons of time.) I feel like it has to be something structural in the traffic lights or signals or something -- there has to be some way to fix it.

In the meantime, I'm taking the Metro and fixing my bike. It's ridiculous.

Photo by Mr. T in DC

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Karaoke night starting this Thursday at Coffy Cafe


Coffy Cafe, the nice little crepe, tea and coffee spot at 3310 14th Street NW, is starting a new event: karaoke, every third Thursday of the month. That means this Thursday the 21st is the first night. Here's the website for the host, looks like they have a good variety of jams.

Personally I can only do songs that don't require a lot of singing ability, like "Bad to the Bone" by George Thorogood (you basically just have to talk and yell at the right time) or old school hip-hop.

See the flyer above for more info, sounds like fun. What's your go-to karaoke jam?

Daft Punk posters in the neighborhood!


I'm a big fan of Daft Punk, the French electronic group, so I was surprised to see this poster a few places around the neighborhood (this was on 14th at about Parkwood.) Kind of interesting, so I looked around, and there are rumors that they're coming out with a new album this year, perhaps in May. I guess they know there are a lot of young people in the neighborhood, folks who might like Daft Punk.

The band also had this sort of mysterious commercial on SNL a couple weeks ago, too. I like it.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Georgia Avenue Business Alliance meeting tonight: grants, Great Streets, etc.

If you'd like to talk about businesses on Georgia Avenue, get yourself to this meeting, the Georgia Avenue Business Alliance:
Greetings Georgia Avenue Stakeholders,
The next meeting of the Georgia Avenue Business Alliance is this Monday March 18, 2013 at 2632 Georgia Avenue, NW, WDC (Between Euclid and Fairmont).  We will meet from 8am - 10am and 6:30pm - 8:30pm. Refreshments will be served. 
We will discuss:  GABA's legal structure, Great Streets funding update, Creating an Online presence for your business, Energy Grants and GABA's 2013 calendar...  We will also hear from the DC Sustainable Energy Utility. 
We are looking forward to discussing how we will make the Georgia Avenue community a DESTINATION. 
Take Charge!!!
Team GABA

Friday, March 15, 2013

St. Patrick's Day SoberRide, free rides home, on Sunday

The great SoberRide program, where you can call a free taxi to take you home if you've had too many to drink, is up and running for this St. Patrick's Day, from 4pm on Sunday to 4am on Monday. Here's more info (and click the flyer for a bigger version)!
If you plan on making a big night of it this St. Patrick's Day, don’t rely on luck to get home safely. Together with the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) SoberRide initiative, AT&;T is proud to provide free taxirides (up to $30) to anyone 21 and over in the greater Washington, DC area who may have had one too many Irish Car Bombs or pints of Guinness home.

AT&T customers can call #WRAP to get a safe, free ride home, while others can dial 800-200-8294 (TAXI). The program will be in effect beginning at 4:00 p.m. Sunday (3/17) and continue until 4:00 a.m. Monday morning (3/18).

WRAP's SoberRide provides greater Washington, DC residents a safe way home on high-risk holidays, including the December/January holiday season, St. Patrick’s Day, Independence Day and Halloween. Last St. Patrick’s Day, a total of 606 Washington-area residents took advantage of the program, preventing a would-be drunk driver from hitting the road every 71 seconds.
(And fun fact, the names Irish car bombs and black & tans are bad form in Ireland.)

Rock n Roll Marathon this weekend: street closings in the neighborhood

More runners on Harvard

The Rock n Roll Marathon (and half-marathon) is happening this weekend and it passes through our neighborhood. The event, where bands play along the race course, is pretty fun to see.

Last time around a friend was in it, so I watched a bit and was amazed by the huge mass of people running down Harvard Street -- pretty impressive. About the closest I've ever come is a 1/26 marathon at a very slow pace. I wrote about it too, definitely worth checking out.

But anyway, there are going to be a number of road closures in our area. The full list is here, but here are the ones that will most affect us, and when: Columbia Rd NW from Adams Mill to Harvard from 7-11 AM and Harvard St NW from Columbia to 5th from 7-11:30 AM (plus some around Howard.)

They also made this handy map of the closings:


View 2013 Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon & CareFirst Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Half Marathon in a larger map


Thursday, March 14, 2013

St. Patrick's Day deals at the Red Derby: cheap shots, Guinness

The Red Derby, one of my favorite neighborhood spots up at 14th and Spring, is having some deals for St. Patrick's Day.

This Sunday, they're having $2 shots of Irish whiskey and $4 Guinness all night -- can't beat that. And knowing them, they'll probably have some fitting movies on the big screen.

New Latin American bakery open at 14th and Newton:


There's a new Latin bakery in the neighborhood: Mi Casita Bakery, which replaces the Carolina Market at 14th and Newton. If you recall, Carolina was an extremely weird and shady corner store, with nearly empty shelves and a generally strange vibe.

The place got the worst score ever in my Beer Run series, where I rate local corner stores, a 0/15 -- technically an incomplete since they barely had anything.

speculated in 2009 that it was a front for something (and interestingly, check out the comments on that post where somebody mentions that DC Fish Carryout was bizarre and doesn't actually serve any food: turns out, they were onto something.)

But thankfully, Carolina Market is gone, replaced by a welcoming and quite tasty Latin American bakery. I stopped in the other night and the change was amazing, there were nice floors, attractive wood shelves and lots of baked goods in stock. I picked up a big, sugar covered donut and a pastry stuffed with vanilla custard. The total was about $2 and both were delicious. The lady said they also serve tortas, or Mexican sandwiches, and hope to start selling tacos in a couple of weeks.

I'll definitely stop by again. What a great turnaround for this corner.

Street Booze Pickles on Park Road


It's been a while since I've posted any Street Booze pictures, where I take snapshots of booze bottles scattered around the neighborhood (and usually throw them away, if there isn't any broken glass.) It's occasionally amusing and interesting to see the variety -- you can see the whole archive here, which ranges from super fancy, top shelf stuff to Mad Dog 20/20.

But today we have a special specimen: street pickles. Not sure how to explain this one, though I'd like to think somebody was hanging on Park Road between 11th and 13th, just enjoying some tasty dills, when the jar slipped out of his hand.

Be careful, people, when you're eating pickles on the street.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Nominate local students for a scholarship from Kohl's

I just received word of a cool scholarship contest from the department store Kohl's called Kohl's Cares, where they give anything from a $50 gift card to $10,000 to young volunteers from age 6-18. If you know anybody, nominations are due by March 15, so get cracking! Here's the announcement:



KOHL’S CARES® SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM ACCEPTING NOMINATIONS FEBRUARY 1 – MARCH 15
FOR OUTSTANDING YOUNG VOLUNTEERS

Kohl’s is honoring more than 2,300 youth, ages six to 18, who have made a positive impact on their communities with more than $425,000 in scholarships and prizes; top winners receive $10,000 each

MENOMONEE FALLS, Wis., February 1, 2013 – The Kohl’s Department Stores (NYSE: KSS) Kohl’s Cares® Scholarship Program will award more than $425,000 in scholarships and prizes this year. Ranging from $50 Kohl’s gift cards to $10,000 scholarships, more than 2,300 young volunteers who have made a positive impact on their communities will be selected. Nominations for kids ages six to 18 will be accepted February 1 – March 15 at kohlskids.com.
To nominate volunteers ages six to 18 for a Kohl’s Cares scholarship, visit kohlskids.com. Nominations are accepted February 1 through March 15, and nominators must be 21 years or older. Two nominees from each of the more than 1,100 Kohl’s stores nationwide will win a $50 Kohl’s gift card, and more than 200 will win regional scholarships worth $1,000 toward post-secondary education. Ten national winners will be awarded a total of $10,000 in scholarships for post-secondary education, and Kohl’s will donate $1,000 to a nonprofit organization on each national winner’s behalf. 
Since the Kohl’s Cares Scholarship Program began in 2001, Kohl’s has recognized more than 17,000 kids with more than $3.4 million in scholarships and prizes. In 2013, Kohl’s celebrates its 13th year of rewarding young volunteers. Below are just a couple of examples of the outstanding youth recognized during last years’ program.

In 2012, Kohl’s honored national winner Brianna Moore, 15, from DetroitMichigan who collected, decorated and delivered food baskets that fed more than 400 families in her community, along with collecting and providing hats and gloves for approximately 320 local school children to keep them warm during the harsh Detroit winter. Regional winner, Mackenzie Bearup, 18, was recognized for founding Sheltering Books, Inc., an organization that has collected and donated more than 100,000 books to children in homeless shelters in 35 states and underprivileged school children in the Dominican Republic and Jamaica.
The Kohl’s Caresâ Scholarship Program is part of Kohl’s Caresâ, Kohl’s philanthropic program focused on improving the lives of children. Kohl’s Caresâ benefits children’s health and education initiatives nationwide through its merchandise program, featuring special books and plush toys where 100 percent of net profit benefits children’s initiatives; fundraising gift cards for schools and youth serving organizations and the Associates in Action associate volunteer program. For more information or a list of past Kohl’s Cares Scholarship Program winners, visit kohlskids.com.

About Kohl’s Department Stores
Based in Menomonee Falls, Wis., Kohl’s (NYSE: KSS) is a family-focused, value-oriented specialty department store offering moderately priced, exclusive and national brand apparel, shoes, accessories, beauty and home products in an exciting shopping environment. With a commitment to environmental leadership, Kohl’s operates 1,146 stores in 49 states. In support of the communities it serves, Kohl’s has raised more than $208 million for children’s initiatives nationwide through its Kohl’s Cares® cause merchandise program, which operates under Kohl's Cares, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kohl's Department Stores, Inc. For a list of store locations and information, or for the added convenience of shopping online, visit www.Kohls.com, or join the discussion on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/kohls or Twitter http://twitter.com/Kohls

Checking out Room 11's new lunch offerings



The other day I was working from home and decided to give Room 11's lunch a try. They started it a few months ago when their long-awaited expansion opened, and they serve lunch Monday-Saturday from 11:30am-5pm. They also serve breakfast and coffee the same days, from 8am to 11:30am, plus brunch on Sundays starting at the same time.

Lunch is only served in their expansion space, which has a few tables and bench seats, and it's less formal than dinner, you order at the bar. Their menu is fairly small and rotates regularly, and on this day they had three sandwiches, a salad, beef tartar and a couple of small bites, namely tater chaats (Indian snacks) and chicken pot pie croquettes. They usually have soup but today they were out.

I figured the chicken pot pie croquettes wouldn't be enough, so I ordered those and the lacinato kale salad, which includes persimmon, apple, bacon, and pecans. However, I didn't realize the prices, with the croquettes at $8 and the salad at $11, it was a pretty pricey lunch. I think one of those and a soup would have been more reasonable.

That said, both were pretty tasty, and I was a particular fan of the salad. I've never had persimmon in a salad before, and it was a lot sweeter than I thought. The corned beef tongue reuben with pickled mustard greens, swiss, apple-fennel sauerkraut and Russian dressing on rye also sounded good, have to check that out next time. You can click the whole menu below.

While I paid more than I expected, that was partially my fault, and it was certainly a nice spot for lunch -- relaxed and quiet. They also serve pastries and coffee, including the munchies bar, which is a rice krispie treat with pretzel sticks and potato chips, which during dinner is $4.20 -- get it?

I'll have to go back and check out breakfast next! It sounds pretty tasty, including a build your own biscuit sandwich, french toast, and eggs with bacon, grits and toast.

St. Baldkrick's Day fundraiser for kids with cancer at The Pinch, Mar. 19

The Pinch, the fun dive with good food at 14th and Parkwood, is hosting a St. Baldrick's Day event: the charity that shaves heads and raises funds to fight childhood cancer. Here's more on the organization, and on the event this next Tuesday the 19th, posted by a neighbor on the Spring/Perry message board:
Come join us and be a hero for kids with cancer! I'll be guest bartending at a wonderful new bar called The Pinch! The Pinch is one of Columbia Heights' newest bars opened by three experienced restaurateurs from Capitol Hill. Tuesday March 19th, I will be hosting a fundraiser and head shaving for St Baldrick's. 
The St. Baldrick's Foundation is a volunteer-driven charity that funds more in childhood cancer research grants than any organization except the U.S. government.

Come get shaved! Come volunteer! Bonus: Come sing karaoke! Come watch your friends shave their heads! 


Bonus: Help decide whether Danny (one of the owners) Jewfro goes or stays!

Shave, Volunteer, Donate, Sing, Support, Drink! 
https://www.facebook.com/events/548720678501379/

If you can't make it Tuesday check out http://www.stbaldricks.org/events/thepinchdc  to help support!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

New bocce courts, bocce league at the Highland Park building

If you're interested in bocce, here's another local way to play. The Highland Park apartment building at 14th and Irving just finished building two bocce courts in their courtyard for their residents, and there's a new league starting up on Thursdays who will play there. The courts look awesome.

The league is part of DC Bocce's Premier Divisions and registration ends on March 15. (Full disclosure, I've played in the Premier League for awhile at Vinoteca and it's a lot of fun.)

The league will also have specials at Lou's City Bar, which is practically adjoining the courts, before and after games. DC Bocce has also has other Outdoor Leagues too around the metro area.

Now the only question is why isn't bocce an Olympic sport? It's basically more accessible curling.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Hip-hop chess tournament in April -- awesome for kids!

This sounds like a great event for kids -- Words, Beats and Life Inc., a great local non-profit, is organizing a hip-hop chess tourney, their 8th annual Bum Rush the Boards. The Post reported on one of their previous tourneys, which included hip-hop music and breakdancers.

There's more info below, and click here to register! The tourney is for kids in K-12th grade and players can be beginners to experts.



Water system cleaning starting March 18, you may notice a funky smell

Starting this March 18, DC Water is going to change how they're cleaning the city's tap water. You may notice a change in smell and taste, which you can filter or run for a couple of minutes. Here's more info from DC Water below, and here's the link to frequently asked questions about the switch.
3/11/13 -- Spring Cleaning the Water Distribution System

From March 18 through April 29, 2013, the disinfectant in drinking water will temporarily switch from chloramine to chlorine.

The annual switch in water disinfection is part of a routine program to clean and maintain water distribution systems in the District of Columbia, Arlington County and Falls Church. During the temporary switch to chlorine, local water authorities will also conduct system-wide flushing to enhance water quality. This program is standard practice for many U.S. water systems that use chloramine during the majority of the year.

The Washington Aqueduct is the organization responsible for treating – and disinfecting – drinking water for the District of Columbia, Arlington County, and Falls Church, Virginia. Local water authorities are responsible for monitoring drinking water to ensure chlorine levels continue to meet safe target levels.

Individuals and business owners who take special precautions to remove chloramine from tap water, such as dialysis centers, medical facilities and aquatic pet owners, should continue to take the same precautions during the temporary switch to chlorine. Most methods for removing chloramine from tap water are effective in removing chlorine. Individuals with special health concerns should consult a health care provider on the use of tap water.

During this time, individuals may notice a slight change in the taste and smell of their drinking water. Local water authorities recommend running the cold water tap for approximately two minutes and refrigerating cold tap water for a few hours to reduce taste and odor. Water filters are also effective in reducing chlorine taste and odor. For more information, please contact the appropriate water authority below.

DC Water: 202-612-3440 (Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.) or 202-612-3400 (24-hour) / www.dcwater.com

Arlington County: 703-228-6570 (Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.) or 703-228-6555 (24-hour)

Falls Church City: 703-248-5071 (Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.) or 703-248-5044 (24-hour)

Washington Aqueduct: 202-764-2753 (Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.)

You can view this News Release at http://www.dcwater.com/news/listings/press_release584.cfm

Friday, March 8, 2013

DC Fish Carryout crack den closed, to become Mexican restaurant


There may be a new Mexican place coming to 14th and Otis. You may remember DC Fish Carryout, the spot at 3475 14th Street NW -- the owner and two other men were convicted of dealing crack out of the restaurant.

The city's alcohol board has scheduled a hearing to revoke their liquor license (and there's a petition calling for such), but that might not be necessary: the other day I walked by and the door was open and there was a lot of work going on, it looked like the inside was being renovated. 

I spoke to one of the workers and he said it was going to be a Mexican restaurant, but he didn't know more than that. Northwest Columbia Heights Community Association President Cecilia Jones says the place has changed hands since the crack arrests, so that's a good thing.

I'm a big fan of Mexican food, and that's certainly better than a place that deals crack, but that's also the third Mexican place I can think of in the area -- Taqueria Distrito Federal, El Chucho, and Mama Chuy (all of which you should visit!) I hope they succeed, but that's a lot competition -- and that's not even counting the Salvadoran-Tex-Mex places around or fast casual places like Lime Fresh and Chipotle.

I'm also not sure if the place who it's catered to: maybe Latin American folks like La Cabana or Carolina, the dance club/restaurant at 14th and Spring.

As for DC Fish Carryout, the owner, Suk In Hyun, is out of jail on recognizance and the other two men, Timothy Hill and Craig McKoy, plead guilty and are in prison.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Wash. Post reports on snow day essential vs non-essential workers in Columbia Heights

There's a kind of amusing article in the Post's style section about yesterday's "snow" day, on the non-essential workers who spent part of their day at places like the Coupe and Kangaroo Boxing Club in the neighborhood.

I went to the Coupe for lunch with some buddies and noticed the photographer from the article's photo spending about 10 minutes taking a picture of that guy pouring coffee. We figured it was some kind of ad or something.

It's kind of a funny idea, essential vs non-essential. Most folks in the article say it's silly if not offensive, though mostly they don't seem to be government workers, so it's a moot point anyway.

What did you do on your snow day? Did you have the day off? Most places were open, so that was nice. And the coffee at the Coupe was delicious.

Is your vanity license plate banned by the DC DMV?

This is only tangentially related to Columbia Heights, but I am having an awesome time with it. The city recently released their list of banned vanity license plates, fully 26,000, ranging from the obvious COJONES and SEXPERT to more puzzling ones like WYTBRED and NATSFAN. Not sure why those last two would be banned.

It's a hilarious list to read though -- some of them are so ridiculous and some you wonder why anybody would want them at all. Who would pay money to drive around with BUTTHED, HOGNUTZ or PENUS on their car? I guess they're pretty funny because they're so absurd, but I dunno.

Yahoo did something awesome with the list, though: they made a little app where you can type in a vanity plate and see if it's banned. Enjoy! (The first ones I tried, naturally, were BUTT and FART. Both banned, though BOOGER is ok!)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

El Chucho's roof deck to be enclosed and heated, new all-night Monday happy hour!

This is some awesome news. El Chucho's Cocina Superior, the tasty Mexican spot at 3313 11th Street NW, is going to enclose their roof deck, and have also launched a new all-night happy hour menu for Mondays.

Eater DC reports it'll have a roof, will be heated and have fans for circulation, and the front area will be open but can be closed if the weather demands it. They plan for it to still feel like an open space (see the photo from their Facebook.)

The roof was a nice spot during the warm months, so I'm glad it's going to be usable during the cold and rainy ones too.

In addition to roof, which should be open shortly, they're launching a new happy hour menu for Mondays that sounds like some awesome deals: $3 Tecate tallboys, $4 margaritas, and cheap food: chips & salsa for $, the awesome elote (corn) for $2.50, 2 tacos for $3, and more on their Facebook page.

If you haven't been, do yourself a favor and get there. The corn, made with cream, cheese, herds and spices, is amazing.

Help DC Vote free DC's budget by drinking beer at Meridian Pint on Tuesday!

Now this is a campaign I can get behind. DC Vote, the group working to give DC a vote in Congress and the other rights and privileges we don't currently have, are holding a happy hour at Meridian Pint on Tuesday, the first of their Budget Freedom Happy Hours series.

Right now, along with no vote in Congress despite 600,000 residents, the city doesn't have the ability to spend local taxes collected here without Congress's approval. That means they can pick and choose what DC can spend its own money on, and often this means they stop the city from doing what the population wants.

For example, in the past, Congress has stopped the city from spending money on abortions for low income residents, needle exchange programs to lower disease rates, and implementing a medical marijuana law which passed in 1998, plus lots of other things.

DC Vote has worked to get a referendum on the city's next  ballot (which happens on April 23) to allow the city to spend its own money without Congress's meddling. Make sure you vote for it!

The event is Tuesday, March 5 at Meridian Pint (3400 11th Street NW) from 5 to 8 pm. DC Brau is supporting the effort, as 100% of every DC Brau Public Pale Ale beer you drink goes to DC Vote.

There's a flyer at right, click it for more info, and some more info from DC Vote below. Awesome to see local businesses get involved with this fight.

DC Brau Donating 100% of Sales at Meridian Pint Event to the Fight for DC Budget Freedom 
DC Vote and the DC Budget Freedom Committee will hold the first of four Budget Freedom Happy Hours at Meridian Pint in Columbia Heights, Tuesday, March 5 from 5-8 pm (details below). District-based DC Brau has once again shown its commitment to full democracy in DC by donating all sales of The Public Pale Ale to the campaign.  
On April 23rd, DC Voters will have the opportunity to take the fight for budget freedom into their own hands by supporting DC Charter Amendment Referendum 8. If approved by DC voters, the amendment would untangle DC’s local budget from the Congressional budget process. This would allow the District government to enact a local budget on its own schedule. DC will have control over its own locally-raised tax dollars just like every other local jurisdiction in the country.  
The Budget Freedom Happy Hours, which will be held over the next several weeks, will highlight the broad community support for the referendum. DC Vote is also pleased to announce that DC United Head Coach Ben Olsen will host a Happy Hour at CAUSE on April 11.  
"The support we have received from DC businesses for our effort has been outstanding," said DC Vote Communication Director, James Jones. "It is encouraging to see that so many leaders in our community recognize that this is a critical opportunity for DC voters to take our fight for budget freedom into our own hands."