Friday, August 30, 2013

Awesome! Outdoor movie night at Lamont Park starting Sept 6: Raiders of the Lost Ark

Who doesn't like outdoor movies? Mt. Pleasant Main Street is starting up a run of outdoor movie nights at Lamont Park, the triangle between Mt. Pleasant Street, 17th and Lamont.

They're starting Friday, September 6 at 7:15 with Raiders of the Lost Ark, then Sept. 20 with Bend It Like Beckham and finally Oct. 4 with Best in Show.

Sounds like a fun night, and would be good to hit one of the local restaurants before or bars after!

Hopefully no giant boulders will roll down Mt. Pleasant Street and only the bad guys' faces will melt.

Here's the full details on their Facebook page.



Bruce Monroe Community Garden -- nice spot, and you can help!

Bruce Monroe Community Garden


During the Bruce Monroe Community Day a few weeks ago, I got a chance to check out the Bruce Monroe Community Garden -- truly a community garden, as some of the beds are shared plots for anybody to pick from (within reason) while the rest are individual plots.

The shared plots were the coolest to me, there were lots of herbs like basil, and you can just grab a handful if need be, or be a bit more helpful and work to plant and maintain the plot.

I snagged some basil leaves from one of the community plots. There were also more interesting varieties like chocolate basil, which really smelled like chocolate, and other funky flavors I forgot. I also saw the biggest sunflower I've ever seen, a good 15 feet tall:

Bruce Monroe Community Garden

The individual plots start at $30 a year, and there is a waiting list, but you can get yourself on there by emailing brucemonroegarden@gmail.com or calling 202-642-DIRT (pretty funny phone number.) I like their logo too.

They also maintain compost bins, which you can use for the garden, and they have a small landfill to recycle trash.

And aside from just gardening, there's a lot of other ways to join in or help -- check it out:

Bruce Monroe Community Garden

Thursday, August 29, 2013

DDOT discussing changes to the 11th Street bike lane today: go to the meeting!

Plenty of well marked bike lanes in DC If you ride bikes on 11th Street, this should be of interest: DDOT is having a meeting today at 7pm to talk about potential changes to the bike lane. I use this bike lane a fair amount when taking Capital Bikeshare south, so I hope the changes don't impact it.

There may be improvements too, as the bike lane currently stops at Florida and doesn't pick back up until Vermont Ave. Would be nice for it to go the whole way.

If you're interested, the meeting is at 7 pm at the Thurgood Marshall Center, 1816 12th Street NW.

Here's more info from WABA.

Photo by Rex Hammock

Checking out Harrar Coffee & Roastery on Georgia Ave: a nice place

Inside of Harrar
The other day I stopped into Harrar Coffee & Roastery at Georgia and Harvard, a new-ish coffee shop, and I really liked it.

It's a small space with a little front patio and a few seats inside, but it's nicely appointed and clean with a lot of decorations and Ethiopian crafts and art, including some coffee sets from the country -- you just get a nice, warm feeling there. The staff is friendly as well.

I got an iced coffee which hit the spot, and while they don't have sandwiches or bigger fare, they do have lots of pastries and such to snack on. The coffee is, I believe, mostly from Ethiopia (Harar is a coffee region there.)

The spot gets good reviews on Yelp too, and is open until 7 or 8 pm everyday, which is great. If I lived closer, I'd definitely go there a lot.

They're at 2904 Georgia Ave NW, open Mon-Fri 6am-8pm, Sat 7am-8pm, and Sun 7am-7pm. They have a Facebook page too.

Have you been?

Harrar Coffee Roaster

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Spelling + Alcohol = Slurring Bee at the Pinch this Thursday

by Robyn Mincher

Spelling’s tough. Especially with free Jello shots. Show up, sign up, drink up, spell up or screw up and flex your intellectual muscles while verbally trampling through words such as GLADIOLUS, ALBUMEN or ESQUAMULOSE (ok, those are winning National Spelling Bee words—ours will be a bit easier).

20 contestants will battle it out to see who can out-spell and out-slur their way to become the first-ever Slurring Bee champion—making spelling the new spectator sport.

Drink specials will be included and encouraged to keep up with those onstage.

Hosted by Bill Metzger, with difficult words read with no difficulty by Robyn Mincher.

Sign up takes place between 7-8 p.m. For more details, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/191762781002417/

Volunteer tutors needed for Tubman Elementary and other local schools -- help out!

What's a great way to help kids succeed in life? Education! And to accomplish that, For Love of Children, a local organization, is looking for volunteer tutors for local kids. Here's more from their listing, and click here for more info and to sign up!
Nearly 75% of DC students perform at or below basic levels in reading and math. YOU can change that!
FLOC is currently recruiting volunteer tutors for the 2013-2014 school year. Our one-on-one tutoring program helps students achieve grade-level competency in reading and math. In just 22 hours of tutoring, students improve an average of 1 year in reading and math skills while gaining confidence in their abilities.
We need your help! Each new volunteer allows us to impact the life of one more child. Training and ongoing professional support from staff are provided, so no experience is necessary! However, we are looking for a few particular qualities from our tutors:
  • Patience
  • Creativity and flexibility
  • Fluency in the English language. (Volunteers who are not native speakers of American English may be asked to tutor only in our math curriculum.)
  • A sense of humor!
  • Able and willing to commit 2.5 hours once a weekfor the full school year.
Programs are offered on weekday afternoons, weekday evenings, and Saturdays, and at sites in Adams Morgan, Congress Heights, Eastern Market/Barracks Row, Columbia Heights, and Dupont Circle.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

El Atardecer Latin American restaurant now open at 14th and Otis


El Atardecer, the new Latin American restaurant at 3475 14th Street NW, the old DC Fish Carryout space, is now open. They had their grand opening on the 23rd, complete with bouncy castle for the kiddies.

There were some complaints early on (in the comments here, especially) about overflowing trash in the cans nearby from their renovations, but in passing by a few times since I haven't noticed that.

And to me, the bouncy castle furthers the owners' statement that this is going to be a family restaurant -- at the ANC meeting a few weeks ago, a couple neighbors angrily disputed that, with one guy (the "angry guy" from my previous post) yelling about people drinking alcohol until 2 am, when in all likelihood their late night hours would be reduced by the ANC, like has been done for other local places -- Mad Momo's, for example. Someone, or maybe the same person, wrote me with health code violations at La Morenita, a restaurant the same folks run on Georgia Avenue. I think we should give them the benefit of the doubt first.

They other day they had a sign up that said cash only, but the sign is down now, so they might have credit cards working.

A friend snapped a few photos of the place (including the bottom one of some folks coming to the rescue when the kids got a little out of control.)

And in case you were wondering, El Atardecer means late afternoon or dusk (from a verb meaning to get dark.) 


Small housing coming to vacant building at Holmead and Otis

Always nice to see empty buildings getting filled -- a reader asked about the corner of Holmead Place NW and Otis Place NW, and and Park View DC tipped me off that a small, two-unit residential renovation will be coming to the location.

The building had been a convenience store some time ago, and more recently it was, I believe, a small church that had some really great music and singing on Sundays (unless I have my corners mixed up.)

Each of the two will be about 2,100 sq ft with three bedrooms each and a private roof deck too. The renovation looks really nice too, compare it to the existing property (below), which needs some paint and other TLC.

Nice to see this!


Architect's rendering from Park View DC

Monday, August 26, 2013

Help the Emergence Community Art Collective repair and improve their building

The Emergence Community Arts Collective is a local community organization that does a ton of different useful things: arts and crafts workshops and performances, after-school programs, support groups, social events, education programs and training, serving as a community meeting space, and a lot more, needs your help. They're holding a few parties and fundraisers to help repair and improve their space on Euclid Street NW.

One of the fundraisers features Bomani Armah, who did the hip-hop song "Read A Book," a funny song from a few years ago that parodies Lil' Jon and is basically a commentary on hip hop. (I linked to the clean version, but the dirty one is funnier.)

Check out the events below, and help them out! They're looking for volunteers and also contributions (which are tax deductible.)
After ten years in operation, the Emergence Community Arts Collective (ECAC) at 733 Euclid St. NW is launching a 2013/2014 Building Campaign to raise funds for building repair and improvement. The kickoff events will be on Labor Day Weekend with a:

Benefit Party: Saturday August 31st at 8:00pm @ ECAC featuring Bomani Armah, poet,hip-hop artist & producer best known for his hit "Read a Book" and the CooLots, the original all female Rock & Soul band hailing from the Washington, DC. The entry fee is just $10.

Luci Murphy Birthday Bash & ECAC Pledge Party: Sunday September 1st from 3pm - 11pm @ ECAC Celebrate the best of ECAC with great entertainment. Our lineup will feature Luci Murphy a D.C. native who has been singing songs of liberation and freedom for over 50 years, Christylez Bacon, Grammy Nominated Progressive Hip-Hop artist, DC Dynasty Cheer Allstars and the African-Brazilian martial art of Capoeira Angola. Entry fee? A completed pledge card, indicating the amount you will commit to the 2013/2014 Building Campaign. Food tickets will be $5.

Invite your friends on Facebook: http://on.fb.me/160CDpc

Volunteers are needed on Saturday August 31st from 10-5 to spruce up the inside and outside of ECAC and for the launch events. RSVP with Sylvia at sylvia@ecacollective.org. For each hour worked, you get a coupon, for credit towards the Benefit Party or future ECAC sponsored events.

All contributions are tax deductible and benefit the ECAC Building Campaign. Donations can be made at any time with cash or check mailed to 733 Euclid St. NW, Washington DC or via credit card/Paypal at www.ecacollective.org .

For more information about the campaign visit http://syl146.wix.com/ecacollective or call (202) 462-2285

Spotted: one way to ride the bus for free -- just hold onto the back


My buddy sent me this -- a guy is riding the bus by jumping onto the back bumper and hanging on. Pretty crazy.

A person on Reddit makes a good point too, most of the time they don't mind if you don't have money, they'll just wave you on (unless, as pointed out, it's always the same person doing it.)

Has anyone seen this before? It's pretty bizarre. Obviously I don't recommend it, but it's too crazy not to note.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Ugh, more messed up street sign fonts


A while ago I wrote about street signs with typefaces that were messed up and ugly -- the letters were the wrong size, not the right case, and just generally bad looking.

The city has been replacing their signs with a new typeface, Clearview, which is part of US highway regulations, is supposed to be easier to read, and when done correctly, looks nice.

However, it seems the contractors installing the signs haven't been following the guidelines for doing them -- sometimes they're all uppercase, which isn't supposed to happen, and other times the lowercase letters are too small, and sometimes they don't seem to be Clearview at all.

I spotted the above example at Georgia and Morton -- the M is huge and looks bold, while the other letters are tiny.

I've basically given up on fighting this and contacting the city about it, as I've seen dozens of these signs around, and there are bigger problems out there. It's just annoying to see the city spectacularly messing something up that is literally on every block.

Here's what the signs are supposed to look like, and some other egregious and inconsistent examples from elsewhere that I've spotted. 

Crappy font

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Bands in the Neighborhood: Megaphone Barons

This latest installment of Bands in the Neighborhood, our series on local musical acts, is on Megaphone Barons, a local rock band. They answered a few questions and also provided a quick bio. Check them out this Saturday at DC9!

And are you a band or musician in the neighborhood interested in being featured in our Bands in the Neighborhood series? Let me know!

Tell us a bit about yourselves.
Megaphone Barons is C. Lew (vocals, guitar), Tim (drums) and Hannah (synths, backing vocals). They're celebrating the release of their second album with an album release party at DC9 this Saturday, August 24th.

You can snag a free promo copy of their new album, here.us.now., at www.megaphonebarons.com. If you feel like embedding our official music video for a new song, here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtpQiV5U4iI  Also, attached is a band photo (left to right: Tim (drums), C. Lew (vocals/guitar), Hannah (synths/backing vocals). Let us know if you have any further questions.

How did the band form?
C. Lew: Our first rehearsal ever was in an attic above a Chinese travel agency in Shaw.  Most people that we were in a previous band with had moved away so we were up there in late fall of 2009 working on some song ideas that I wanted to record. In the beginning we only had drums, violin and acoustic guitar. Only one song--Soggy Ground-- that we played that night made its way to our first album, Menagerie.

How'd you get your name?
C. Lew: We made it up. Somewhere in the ether is a long band email chain with a lot of rambling, poetic pairings. One day I'm gonna print it out and perform it at slam poetry night at Busboys and Poets.

Whereabouts do your Columbia Heights bandmembers live? 
Tim: I live on Sherman Ave near Meridian Pint.

Hannah: I moved to NE last year, but the first couple years I was in DC I lived at the very bottom of CH at 13th and Clifton, and the very top of CH at 14th and Perry Place. Twas the very best of times.

Do you practice in CH? How about play any gigs in the neighborhood?
C. Lew: Our previous band practiced in a basement on Holmead Street behind the Giant. It had low ceilings from the viewpoint of tall men. Nowadays, Tim lives in a rowhouse so narrow that my guitar can touch both walls so we mostly practice in Adams Morgan at a space run by the guys from the band More Humans. Our next show in Columbia Heights will be the Columbia Heights Day Festival on October 5th. We're super pumped about that.

What are your band's influences?
C.Lew: I think we're more influenced by the world than by any one band or genre in particular. We've all spent several years outside of the country during our 20s and have allowed that to influence our sound. Our first EP has mariachi, folk, and punk. This new EP is more psychadelic pop, chill wave and electronic. We like to call our current style California-grit.

Gone on any tours? Any crazy and terrible tour stories?
C. Lew: We've played a bunch of shows over the last few years. We're coming out of the studio after taking off some time to write and record this latest EP. In  July we played  a DIY show for the DC Bike Party that got shut down by the cops. We apparently incited a riot that blocked a road. I offered to play a song as the bikers rode away but that plan was nixed by  a cop that yelled in my face. From a photo that was taken some have speculated that I was about to get tased.

What’s your take on the local music scene in Columbia Heights and DC?
C. Lew: The music community is definitely growing. The Paperhaus, Listen Local First and the facebook group DC DIY Shows are three concrete examples of how things are building. Also, a lot of new venues have opened since we've moved to town. Eventhough I still cry at night about Red Palace's closure. Overall, we've got a net gain.

And if you had to rename your band for something in Columbia Heights, what would it be?
C. Lew: Saturday night in Wonderland.

Hannah: The Red Derby. Obviously. It's already the perfect band name!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

New nail salon coming next to incoming TGI Friday's

Nail time. Just spotted a permit in the door just down from the location of the new TGI Friday's at 14th and Monroe. The spot looks fairly far along in construction with lots of sinks and such.

I guess people have to get their nails done, but there's also two other nail salons, one next to the other, about two blocks up at 14th and Oak.

Your thoughts? Are there too many nail salons around? 

Also here's a funny jam with Kanye West about getting your nails done:

Kid Sister f. Kanye West "Pro Nails" from Mr Goldbar on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Columbia Heights Food Market: nice new grocery store on 14th, will serve carryout Ethiopian food soon

Columbia Heights Food Market The other day a reader mentioned that there's a new store called the Columbia Heights Food Market at the corner of 14th and Oak Street NW, in the Hubbard Place apartment building.

I checked it out yesterday and was impressed -- it's bigger than a convenience store, and reminded me more of Yes! Organic Market than anything else.

It's been open about three weeks according to the lady at the counter, and they had a nice variety of groceries, including some fruits and veggies, plus Ethiopian, Latin American and even some European food items. They also had a ton of drinks in a big cooler, including fancy green tea and such, and bulk grains. They don't plan on serving beer or wine, the lady said.

The store is actually pretty big, clean and fairly modern, and had a lot of the things I'd be looking for. It's not Giant, but definitely a good middle ground (and plus no crazy lines like Giant.) Check them out.

And something else awesome: the lady said they'd start serving carryout Ethiopian food soon, which sounds great. They had a little counter area in the back. After the tasty Tegeste closed, there hasn't been an Ethiopian place in the area -- there's Kokeb on Georgia and Dynasty at about 14th and W, but those are fairly far away. I could sure go for some carryout Ethiopian food.

Here's a not great shot of part of the interior -- it's maybe 5 times bigger than this, and takes up the whole corner space. (I forget what used to be there.)

Columbia Heights Food Market

Monday, August 19, 2013

Eat at Chipotle on Tuesday and help the Mt. Pleasant Library

Here's a good (and easy) fundraiser for the newly renovated Mt. Pleasant Public Library -- eat at Chipotle.

More specifically, if you eat at the Chipotle at 3113 14th Street NW this Tuesday from 5-8 pm, and bring in the attached flyer, the store will donate 50% of the proceeds to the library! Can't beat that.

The library is at 3160 16th Street NW, and here's their website.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Help out Pat Walsh, a popular and nice former Columbia Heights resident who was attacked recently

By Jacqui Burger

Following a random violent attack in front of his house on June 22nd that left DC resident and all-around nice guy Pat Walsh with kicked-in teeth and stitches in his chin, friends are rallying by putting on benefit events this weekend to help with the burden of his significant medical bills.

Walsh is known as a fixture in the DC music scene for putting on and attending (at an exhausting rate of up to three shows in one night) band, dj, and comedy performances. He is also legendary for his kindness and generosity to the many people who are friends with him, as well as for his modesty. This became evident when even some of his closest friends were not aware of the attack that has forced Walsh to wear temporary false teeth until he can be fitted with permanent teeth.

In an effort to do something nice for the guy who invites them over for made from scratch brunches, who makes them birthday cakes, and supports independent bands, there will be three fundraising events, two of which are taking place in Columbia Heights, this weekend.

On Friday the 16th at 7pm at Wonderland Ballroom, is the taping of the talk show You, Me, Them, Everybody, hosted by Brandon Wetherbee. Guests include comedians Jenn Tisdale, Adam Friedland, Ben Freed, Tim Kish, Andrew Bucket, and rock trio Southern Problems. Here's the Facebook event, and they'll be taking donations for Walsh.

On Sunday at Noon there will be a potluck brunch at The Dunes (above The Getaway) in honor of all the delicious homemade brunches he’s held in his group house.

Sunday night at 9pm is a dance party at U Street Music Hall, featuring Protect-U,
Nouveau Riche (Gavin Holland/Steve Starks/Nacey), Outputmessage, and Micah Vellian.

Each event requests a donation of at least $5, with all proceeds going to Walsh’s medical bills, which are significant. It’s a great opportunity to do something fun around town this weekend while helping someone who makes our city a little nicer place to live. There's also a Paypal page for him. Check it out, and help out a nice guy!

Photo from his Facebook page

Mt. Pleasant guided walking tour this Saturday, U Street next Saturday

If you'd like to learn about Mt. Pleasant or U Street and enjoy the nice weather, it sounds like these are great options.

Washington Walks, a really cool local group that leads walks around town (they lead the enjoyable Columbia Heights Drinkabout from time to time, where you visit historical places and enjoy some beers at local bars) is doing a MtP walk this Saturday and a U Street walk next Saturday. Here's more from them.

AUGUST 17, 2013
Mount  Pleasant
MEET IN FRONT OF THE CHARTER SCHOOL AT 3047 15TH STREET, NW 
Highlights “Village in a City" Mount Pleasant Heritage Trail
Founded after the Civil War, Mount Pleasant began its identity as a village of influential business people and land owners.  As Washington expanded northeast and northwest of its original boundaries, the quiet village evolved into a fashionable streetcar suburb.  By the 1970s it had become a haven for immigrants and today represents the heart of D.C.’s Latino community.  It is here you can shop in a genuine bodega, dine on Salvadoran specialties or explore the neighborhood farmers’ market on Saturday mornings (where the walk will conclude). You’ll pass Mount Pleasant’s trademark row houses and apartment buildings, its restored public library, and the community’s artistically restored police and fire call boxes.  Also make sure to note the path President Teddy Roosevelt took to skinny-dip in Rock Creek Park.
  • All walks begin at 11:00 a.m. and last two hours unless noted.
  •  All walks take place rain or shine.
  • Cost $15 per person unless noted (age three and younger free)
AUGUST 24, 2013
U Street
MEET OUTSIDE U STREET/CARDOZO METRO STATION’s 13th Street exit
Explore the neighborhood that was shared by African American intellectuals, business leaders, and families of all economic levels.  The businesses they owned and the houses they lived in are featured on this walk.  U Street was dubbed “Black Broadway” for the numerous movie theaters, nightclubs and ballrooms frequented by jazz musicians like Cab Calloway, Pearl Bailey, Jelly Roll Morton, and Duke Ellington himself.  You’ll see a theater and club where these performances took place.  The first full service YMCA for African Americans; one of the few hotels that welcomed a black clientele; and the first memorial to African American soldiers who fought in the U.S. Civil War are on the walk route, as are homes occupied by the Ellington family as Duke grew up.  You'll stand on the corner where riots started that extinguished the heyday of the area--but only temporarily.

Sounds fun! The tour leader for the MtP one, Amy, also led one of the Drinkabouts I was on, and it was a good time.

Block party this Saturday on Meridian Place NW

The neighbors of the 1300 block of Meridian Place are putting on a neighborhood block party this Saturday, and everybody is invited!

Sounds fun: there's going to be grilling, music, a moon bounce for kids, arts and crafts, and general camaraderie. It's from 3-8 pm.

They also made an awesome poster, and here's the Facebook invite.

Neighborhood bars and restaurants are sponsoring the event, and it will only be on Meridian Place, not 14th. They've been doing the party for years now, and the Facebook invite has a lot of older photos of the area, which is pretty neat.

Sounds like a great event, hope to see folks out there. They even made a video!



New delivery place with funny name, Meat in a Box (Plus Did Someone Say Pizza???), is delicious

The other day I got a menu in my mailbox for a new delivery place with a funny name: Meat in a Box (Plus Did Someone Say Pizza???) -- yes, that's the name, and there are three questions marks. And it was awesome.

I figured it was such a weird name, I had to give it a shot. The meat in the box they refer to is Middle Eastern fare like beef, chicken, shish kebab, veggie or salmon skewers, plus things like hummus, falafel and the like.

The menu is here, though the online version is missing the pizza for some reason. The paper one I got has pizza and other similar grub, hence the second part of the name, Plus Did Someone Say Pizza???, but I didn't give that a try yet.

You can order just the skewers or skewers over rice, which I opted for. That also comes with a small salad, yogurt sauce, and pita bread. I choose the combo skewers, half chicken and half beef, and I have to say, it was delicious. The rice was really tasty and well seasoned (I could have eaten just that and been happy) and the skewers were also quite good. Aside from the tasty yogurt sauce, there was also a spicy green sauce and a dark one, though I realized I had already eaten everything before I tried the dark-colored one. So I guess that's a good sign.

The whole meal about about $11, including tax, though I had to get an extra $.50 yogurt sauce to make the $10 minimum for ordering. I didn't see drinks on their site or menu, but I assume they have some.

They're based in Adams Morgan at 2005 18th Street NW, which used to be a jumbo slice place. Their phone number is 202-986-4646 and they're also on delivery apps for the phone. (Their website only has the Arlington location, so beware.)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Piola, new pizza place at 14th and W, offers all-you-can-eat pizza brunch with bottomless drinks on Aug 17

Do you like brunch and pizza? You're in luck. Piola, the recently opened pizza chain at 2208 14th Street NW, is going after the brunch crowd -- on August 17th from 11am-3pm you can get all-you-eat-pizza for $15.95 (or $7.95 for kids), and bottomless sangria and sparkling drinks (mimosas, bellinis, etc) for $15. If you can eat a lot of pizza and drink a lot of booze, that's a good deal.

The chain, which has locations around the world, started in Treviso, Italy. They offer wood-fired pizzas, pasta, antipasti and the like, plus beer, wine and cocktails (you can see the full menu here, which is quite large.) 

The pizzas range from traditional Italian varieties like margherita to more interesting ones, like Greek pizza, Brazilian ones with creamy catupiry cheese, and a lot more. They're all 12" individual pizzas and range from about $10 to $15 (so in that case you'd be getting many pizzas for the price of one during this brunch.)

The spot has 3.5 stars on Yelp, and reviews seem to range from folks who really enjoyed it to one person who got sick. Yikes! Mostly though, the reviews are positive.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Activists sue the city over undercover cop infiltrating anti-sweatshop protests at DCUSA

This is a strange story -- activists have sued the city over undercover police infiltrating their protests, including in Columbia Heights.

The group, United Students Against Sweatshops, protests outside stores that haven't signed onto a convention about working conditions in Bangladesh, such as Children's Place in DCUSA, and deliver letters to the store talking about the issue. (The convention was written after the Rana Plaza factory collapse earlier this year.)

USAS sued the city over an undercover police officer who they say has infiltrated their group. City law states that undercover officers can't infiltrate advocacy groups without approval from top police officials, and it must be as a last resort and with a proven threat of violence.

A few times the protests were broken up by the police, and organizers began to get suspicious. Then a friend of Lacy MacAuley, who was involved with the protests, suggested she check out a now-deleted Twitter account, @snufftastic, which had a lot of funny tweets and some about being an undercover police officer. MacAuley looked and realized that @snufftastic was a frequent attendee at protests around the city who she knew as "Missy," pictured above at a DCUSA protest and from her Twitter.

MPD Chief Cathy Lanier said she believes the city has obeyed the law.

There's a very detailed (and pretty fascinating) story about the whole saga on a site called In These Times, including more on how the protesters connected Missy with the police using other forms of social media. (Note to undercover officers: perhaps you shouldn't tweet, post on Facebook and have a Tumblr about your undercover operations.)

It's a strange situation, though. What's the harm in allowing groups to protest if they're peaceful and in public space? They aren't advocating any kind of violence against these businesses. I've also seen groups protesting outside DCUSA because some of the stores sell the Soda Stream machine, which the groups claim is made in Israeli settlements in the West Bank that they're opposed to. Are groups like that infiltrated on by undercover cops? What about the other spontaneous protests we see in the area from time to time, like the Trayvon Martin ones? Or even other groups that don't even protest? The drum circle? Maybe that's going too far, and I'm not somebody who is against the police at all, but it rubs me the wrong way.

Obviously the police need to be able to operate and gather information on potential crimes -- but to me a protest about sweatshops doesn't seem like the highest priority. Maybe they're worried these will escalate into the kind of violence that happened in the World Bank and IMF protests in the past, where protesters attacked banks.

Interestingly, the law the group sued under was passed in 2004 after mass arrests at the 2000 and 2002 anti-World Bank and IMF protests, where scores of people, including bystanders and reporters, were arrested en masse. I was at GW for the 2000 protests, when campus was shut down and thousands of people marched all over, followed by police officers in riot gear, and even a police armored personnel carrier. There were rumors of violence by anarchists in downtown DC, but they mostly seemed to be untrue. Some violent protests and mass arrests did happen in Adams Morgan in 2005 too, with lawsuits about police arresting bystanders there.

Those were a weird few years in DC. I guess MPD is trying to make sure that, or even something bigger like the Battle in Seattle, doesn't happen again? Otherwise, I don't get it.

Photo from Gawker, via In These Days

City launches new visitor parking pass system for Columbia Heights, other parts of Ward 1

If you've ever had a visitor in town with a car, you may have noticed that parking for them can be tough: odds are they'll get ticketed. Formerly you could get short-term parking passes for visitors, but you had to to go the police station to do it, and even then it was tricky.

The city is trying to remedy that with a new system, which applies to any area with residential parking permits, plus ANCs 1A, 1B, and 1C, which cover our area -- Columbia Heights, Park View, Pleasant Plains, and Adams Morgan, among other areas (basically that's all of Ward 1 except Mt. Pleasant. Full map here.)

The idea is that local residents can apply for a pass which is good for a year, and a visitor can use it for as long as they want anywhere in the immediate area.

This sounds great if you have guests in town often, but DCist reports that a lot of people are opposed. Lots of folks see possibilities for abuse, namely selling these passes to people who aren't visitors. Critics like Greater Greater Washington fear that could worsen parking in these areas, and if the system fails, they worry the blowback will make it overly restrictive to any kind of visitor, with a parking pass or not.

I don't have a car, so maybe I'm naive to think that this doesn't seem like a big deal. A full year and no limit on how long a visitor can park somewhere does seem too long (who visits for more than a couple of weeks?) but it does seem like it'll result in much less hassle for those folks with visitors.

What do you think? Nice benefit, or too much possibility for abuse?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Everlasting Life vegan restaurant launches food truck, may change name soon

Everlasting Life Cafe, the popular vegan soul food restaurant at 2928 Georgia Ave NW, is launching their own food truck. The truck, called Woodland's Vegan Bistro, is already driving around the city, according to the Post.

You can find their whereabouts via their Twitter, @woodlandsVB, and they'll be selling a rotating mix of items like the popular fried faux chicken and mac and fake cheese, kale salad and the like, plus cupcakes and smoothies.

If you aren't familiar, Everlasting Life is a pretty tasty place, even for those folks who aren't vegans. It's got 4.5 stars out of 5 from almost 200 Yelp reviews, if that tells you anything (namely, that it's good.) Twitter folks seem to be big fans of the truck as well.

The name reflects the owners, whose last name is Woodlands, and they say they'll be changing the name of the restaurant to something similar soon. The place used to be affiliated with another Everlasting Life Cafe in Maryland, but they're not longer related.

The truck currently operates in DC and are working on Virginia permits, according to their Twitter.

Here's Everlasting Life's website, too.

Monday, August 12, 2013

TGI Friday's coming to Columbia Heights -- no, seriously


In Columbia Heights, it's always Friday: TGI Friday's is coming to our neighborhood, according to the City Paper. The chain casual dining restaurant and bar is opening a location at 3334-3336 14th Street NW, at Monroe. That's also right across the street from Ruby Tuesday.

Their liquor license application says they'll have 290 seats, plus a patio and occasional DJs.

It's a bit disappointing that another big chain restaurant is coming rather than something else, but at the same time at least that empty storefront is getting filled. Plus that Ruby Tuesday is popular, and I bet the place will do well. It'll be the second TGI Friday's in DC, after the one at 20th and Penn in Foggy Bottom. That place has the slowest service I've ever experienced, so let's hope this one isn't the same.

I would assume there will still be the requisite discussions between the ANC and TGI Friday's about hours and stuff, so maybe the size or the patio will be regulated. It doesn't look like a ton of space there. Speedy Liquors used to be in the storefront just down from the corner, but I think the corner space has been empty for some time and I can't remember what used to be there.

Here's TGI Friday's website with their menu and such. Apparently the wacky suspenders and flair thing has been toned down/optional. I went to one on a trip to Honduras awhile ago and they had beer towers, which was kind of cool. Not sure if they would at this location or not.

UPDATE: A reader sent in this pic of the corner. At least the facade looks nicer without those green awnings.


The Pinch bar and restaurant at 14th and Parkwood opens patio seating


There's another option for eating and drinking outside in the neighborhood. The Pinch, the laid-back bar and restaurant at 3548 14th Street NW (at Parkwood) has just opened some patio seating, according to their Twitter.

The patio fronts on 14th Street and it looks like about 4 tables with maybe 20 seats at maximum, so it's not large. Still, a nice spot. Their Twitter account says it'll be open for brunch, and as you can see, they have some umbrellas too.

I've always liked the Pinch, it's a fun, laid-back spot with surprisingly fancy and tasty food with a lot of duck: a pulled duck breast sandwich, a burger with duck, bacon and cheddar, and a lot more. My buddy is a big fan of that burger. Brunch has normal brunchy fare plus things like a crabcake omelet, DLT (duck bacon, lettuce and tomato), plus $15 for bottomless mimosas, bloody marys and screwdrivers. Can't beat that.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Drunk comedy show at Wonderland on Saturday: sounds amazing

This sounds pretty hilarious -- some comedians are performing at Wonderland sober, then they'll "proceed to get rapidly intoxicated" and perform again. Simple but genius.

It's on Saturday, starting at 7 pm and admission is free. You have to love Wonderland.

Here's more from the event's Facebook page:
Blorp presents: The Drunk Show. The Drunk Show is a comedic and alcoholic experiment. Here is the format: 
a) 5 comedians/musicians will perform completely sober. 
b) After their respective performances, the performers will proceed to get rapidly intoxicated. 
c) Each performer will then give another performance while intoxicated. 
It will be super fun.  
The performers are: 
Tyler RichardsonChelsea ShorteMichael J. FoodyRomane LettuceGabe Canan-Zucker 
Hosted by: 
Matty Litwack and David Tveite


Woman changing her baby in the Columbia Heights Plaza's fountain: bad?

ColumbiaHeightsFountain-5277 I got this email from reader Brian C. yesterday about the fountain at the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza at 14th and Park. Interesting.
This afternoon, at about 11:00, I walked by the fountain in the Columbia Heights Plaza and witnessed a mother changing the diapers of her baby. It looked as though she was helping herself to the water in her hygienic quest at the risk to everyone else. There is no way I would let my children frolic in those fountains until we collectively stop this crap (no pun…). Let’s all get the word out that this fountain is not some mountain stream in some pristine undeveloped area. It’s a municipal fountain that recirculates the water for God’s sake. Even if this woman didn't aid in the contamination of this fountain, the perception alone was, ehem, unsavory.
What do you think? If it does in fact recycle the water, then that's pretty gross and unhealthy. But then again, if you need to change your baby, you need to change your baby. Right? (I don't know, I don't have a baby.)

Photo by leftrightclick

Bruce Monroe Park Community Day on Saturday: food, art, entertainment, swap meet, more

There's a fun-sounding event this Saturday at Bruce Monroe Park on Georgia Ave & Irving St NW, with food, art, facepainting for kids, and a lot more. There's also going to be a "Freecycle Fete" which sounds pretty cool, you can bring some items and give them to somebody or swap it for something else! Here's a bit more on that part of the event, and see below for the full rundown of the event.


The 2013 Bruce Monroe Community Day at the Bruce Monroe Park is this Saturday August 10th from 2-7pm!
Join the Georgia Avenue Community Development Task Force, the DC Prevention Center for Ward 1 and 2, and the Georgia Avenue Business Alliance for fun and fellowship, as we highlight the progress we’ve made and continue to push for improvements.  The BruceMonroe Park is on Georgia Avenue between Columbia Rd. and Irving.  There'll be:
Food - thanks to the businesses on Georgia Avenue
Artwork and facepainting
Entertainment
Garden tours
Exercise activities
Capoeira

We'll also have a Freecycle Fete where you can bring your unwanted but useful items and swap them for something more to your liking (in partnership with DC Home Buzz)

Can you volunteer to help set up and breakdown?  We can use more hands.

Thanks and I hope to see you there!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Petco, coming to DCUSA soon, is hiring!

Woof! Petco, the big pet food and accessory retailer, is opening soon in DCUSA, and they're hiring! The place will be on the Irving Street side of the building, below where DSW opened. 

And they're hiring! Councilmember Jim Graham posted this on local listserves. 

As mentioned before, I hope this doesn't affect local businesses like Claws and Paws at 11th and Lamont (aka Mr. Larry's.)

Dear Columbia Heights Community Partners - DC USA is preparing for the upcoming arrival of Petco on the first floor of the new Irving Street addition (near Hiatt Place) where DSW Shoe Warehouse has already opened on the second floor. 
Petco has all levels of new employment opportunities for people who enjoy working with pets.They are currently looking for employees for the following positions: 
Store ManagersPetco Sales AssociatesCashiersGrooming AssistantsAquatics SpecialistsDog TrainersStock AssociatesStylists 
Please direct candidates to complete profiles and employment applications for the new positions for the new DC USA Washington, DC store in ZIP CODE 20010 athttp://www.petco.com/ and scroll down the home page to the bottom of the page and look for the CAREERS SECTION.
If you have questions, feel free to give me a call on 202-232-4047. 
Sincerely,Dave SteinDirector of Building OperationsDC USA3100 14th Street, NW Suite 303BWashington, DC 20010202-232-4047

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Lyft, a do-it-yourself cab service, now underway in DC

Getting a @lyft with @dogkiwi and @hollymac. #lyfteratti There's another shared service in the city: Lyft, where people can sign up to be cab drivers when they want. The cars get pink mustaches to attach to the front, and other day I spotted one in our neighborhood.

It's kind of an interesting idea, sort of like Uber but person to person -- you download the app, say you need a ride, and folks who have signed up and have a car can accept your offer and take you where you need to go.

You (as the rider) then rate them on the app and give them a donation in lieu of payment (which is, as I understand it, a way to avoid all the rules of actually paying.) But if you don't donate very much, presumably you won't be able to get rides in the future.

ElevationDC reports that drivers must pass an interview and a background check, have a car with all the necessary inspections, and that the service has a very big insurance policy on its drivers. The Lyft website has more, including that the drivers must not have more than 2 moving violations and no DUIs, violent crimes, sex offenses, thefts, property damage or felonies on their record.

They're recruiting drivers and looking for folks to be fares too. Drivers can make up to $35 an hour and work when they want. It's an interesting model (though it's maybe not that new, as DC has long had "slugs," or people who get rides to work with strangers in order to let the drivers use the HOV lanes, albeit mostly without payment.)

I don't know if the drivers will actually know how to get where you want to go, but then again, that also happens with DC cab drivers. (Once I had to explain what RFK Stadium was and give a cabbie directions there -- mindblowing.)

There's another similar service operating in the city called Sidecar, and I've heard of others for sharing tools and the like. (This Economist article has a lot more about the so-called "sharing economy.")

So what do you think, have you or would you take a Lyft ride or a Sidecar? Or sign up as as driver? It seems like a good way to make money for folks who freelance or don't have a steady job.

Photo by lizasperling 

Building permit issued for Lyman's, new bar coming to 14th and Quincy

Lyman's, the new bar coming next to the Red Derby, is under construction! Nice to see some progress on the spot, which will be run by some folks from the Raven in Mt. Pleasant and Cafe St. Ex on 14th Street.

I like both of those places a lot, so to me it's a good sign. However, I haven't noticed much progress in awhile, so it's great to see this.

The permit, dated 8/6/2013, is a little hard to read but says it's for interior renovations (and some other things I can't read,) and that the proposed use is a tavern. I had actually been worried since there was still a "for lease" sign up and no visible progress inside, but it sounds like my worries are unfounded.

The last we'd heard was that they were looking at a July opening date, but obviously that has passed. That's not unusual however, permits and the like are often very time-consuming in the city (DC politicians, if you ran on making permits faster for businesses, you'd probably get a lot of votes and donations.)

In the past, the owners have described the place as a relaxed neighborhood bar with 70 seats and a heated roof deck with a retractable roof for another 20 folks. They'd have occasional live music and DJs, but mostly soul, doo-wop and classic country music, plus pinball and snacks like popcorn and little pizzas.

Sounds great to me.

A friend spotted the photo on one of the owners' Facebook pages, so I hope to have more info soon.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What do you call the area north of Spring Road around 14th Street?


This is something I was wondering the other day sitting on the roof of the Red Derby -- what's the area north of Spring Road around 14th Street called?

It depends on how you define Columbia Heights (and we've talked a lot about that, see our previous debates) but many people consider Columbia Heights's northern boundary to be Spring Road (which is the ward boundary, and so thus a good border) or a little farther up, like Quincy Street. But then what's above that?

Is it southern (or southwestern) Petworth? That usually seems to be farther north and east, though. Wikipedia would have that area as Petworth. To me it's a different character than Petworth -- and if you look at the history of that map (scroll down), it's changed a number of times and doesn't seem to be based on any official things (it says Census, but that's the basemap, and the Census as far as I know doesn't define neighborhoods.) To add to the confusion, many people say the Georgia Ave-Petworth Metro isn't in Petworth, or just at its very southern tip.

There's a neighborhood called 16th Street Heights, but the borders for that are pretty unclear too. Google seems to place it farther north, around Hamilton Street NW. I've even heard of a 14th Street Heights, but I've never heard anybody say that. And what, is 14th Street Heights one or two blocks wide, then it's 16th Street Heights? That seems strange.

Farther west there's Crestwood, which seems to be between about 16th and Rock Creek, with Piney Branch as the southern boundary and Colorado Avenue on the north. Does it goes that far east and south to cover the Red Derby and up to Upshur?

At 14th and Taylor there's the Twin Oaks Community Garden, and just down the street there's a big apartment complex called Twin Oaks -- maybe we should start calling it that? It has kind of a nice ring.

Some people even coined the GaP for around the Georgia Ave-Petworth Metro, but I think that's really dumb.

The maps sites are no help either -- Google, Bing and OpenStreetMap are unclear there.

What do you think it's called? I suppose you could even coin something silly like NoDerb (North of the Derby.)

Mark your calendars! Columbia Heights Day is October 5th!

Our neighborhood festival is coming up! Make sure to note it on your calendar. In past year it's been a blast, there's been music, food, arts, things for kids, and a lot more.

This year there's another petting zoo, food trucks, the cupcake eating contest (which is always fun, check out the one with Pat Mara and Bryan Weaver) plus lots of local businesses and a yoga workshop.

Here's the press release from them!

Inline image 1
CALENDAR LISTING
7th ANNUAL COLUMBIA HEIGHTS DAY
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 5 
Community celebration features live music and arts performances, family activities, local artisans, food trucks and more
WHAT:        7th Annual Columbia Heights Day
WHEN:        Saturday, October 5, 2013
10:00 am to 6:00 pm
WHERE:     Harriet Tubman Elementary Field
(Entrance on Kenyon St. NW between 11th and 13th streets)
Just 3 blocks from the Columbia Heights Metro (Green and Yellow lines)
COST:         FREE
WHO:         Schedule of events include:
  • Live music and arts performances
  • Petting Zoo & Kids Zone, with fun games and family entertainment
  • Morning yoga workshop
  • Your favorite DC food trucks
  • Cupcake eating contest
  • Dozens of local businesses and community groups

Website:
            www.ColumbiaHeightsDay.org

Twitter:             www.twitter.com/ColHeightsDay
Facebook:             http://www.facebook.com/ColumbiaHeightsDay
Email:                        info@columbiaheightsday.org

Columbia Heights Day is presented by the Columbia Heights Day Initiative, a local, independent, grassroots 501(c)(3) organization. Columbia Heights Day is dedicated to celebrating community, diversity and service.

For more information, visit www.ColumbiaHeightsDay.org.