Friday, October 31, 2014

New fitness studio, From the Core, opens on Georgia Ave; discounts this weekend

 If you're looking to get fit, there's a new fitness and Pilates center open at 3111 Georgia Avenue NW, near Irving: From the Core Studios. They offer various classes and disciplines and there are deals this weekend, starting today. Here's their press release:

New Fitness Studio Opens in Washington’s Columbia 
Heights/Park View/Petworth Neighborhood
WASHINGTON – October 30, 2014 – After months of renovations to create a space perfect for fitness, From the Core Studios, a fitness and Pilates studio located at 3111 Georgia Avenue NW, is now open for classes and will host its grand opening the weekend of October 31 through November 2. The two-level studio is the first of its kind in the neighborhood, offering a wide variety of classes suited for all levels of fitness.

The first level includes five brand-new Peak Pilates reformers and towers, perfect for a challenging workout that lengthens and tones muscles, providing a full-body workout while improving balance and flexibility. The second level will be home to wide variety of classes, such as Pilates mat, Pilates chair, strength and conditioning, TRX, kettlebell, kickboxing and boxing, interval and circuit training, barre, Zumba, African dance, and boot camp classes. It also features a one-of-a-kind aerial silk system for stretching, flexibility and core conditioning classes.

To celebrate its grand opening, From the Core Studios will offer free classes Halloween weekend from October 31 through November 2. Visit to sign up for all classes. Additionally, if you purchase a class package before November 2, you will receive 20 percent off. Just send an email to to get the discounted rate.

The studio also features two showers and changing areas, along with a juice bar that will offer fresh fruit and vegetable smoothies/juices that can be ordered in advance and prepared for clients either pre- or post-workout.

About From the Core Studios

From the Core Studios was founded in 2014 by Dee Ross, a fitness professional with 15 years teaching multiple formats, including Spinning, Pilates mat, Pilates reformer, Pilates chair, Masala Bhangra, kickboxing, Zumba, strength and conditioning, aqua aerobics, hatha yoga, and senior fitness classes. Dee is also a personal trainer who has managed several gyms in the DC area in addition to working as a fitness specialist for the United States Army. She entered the fitness industry after learning of her pre-diabetic and pre-hypertension conditions. Being nearly 300 pounds, she began to exercise and learn about fitness and health. After losing her first hundred pounds and receiving a clean bill of health for her former health conditions, Dee turned fitness into a successful career. Classes at From the Core Studios have a strong emphasis on building core strength, creating a solid foundation to maximize performance in classes and life. To learn more about From the Core Studios, visit

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloween extravaganza on Friday: costume parades for kids & dogs, food & drink specials, more!


Halloween is here! It's my favorite, and the neighborhood is getting into the spirit (despite an unfortunate lack of decorations.) The North Columbia Heights Civic Association is organizing their 4th annual Halloween Extravaganza, and it sounds awesome. Here's the info! 

The North Columbia Heights Civic Association (NCHCA) and the friends of the Trolley Turnaround Park are teaming up to give you the Fourth Annual Columbia Heights HalloweenExtravaganza*! Be sure to drop by 11th Street, between Monroe and Kenyon, from 5-7 P.M. on Friday, October 31st for all the great events including: costume parades for kids and dogs, contests, holiday decorations, Halloween food and drink specials, and giveaways from local businesses. All events are free - bring your kids, dogs, and friends!

Schedule of Events:

5:00-5:30pm: Kids Costume Contest (giveaways), 11th and Monroe Trolley Turnaround Park

5:50pm: Dog Costume Parade and Contest, Columbia Heights Dog Park

5:30-6:30pm: Trick or Treating at 11th St Businesses- giveaways and contests - both sides of 11th between Monroe & Kenyon

6:30-7pm: Halloween-themed Mask Making/Face Painting at Bloombars

Participating Businesses:

The Coupe: handing out candy to trick or treaters; having a "pin the spider on the web" event for kids with a small cup of hot chocolate as a prize. Happy hour extended to 10pm for people with a kid, which includes: $5 Saison draft beers, house white/red wine & sangria. Also, $.50 sriacha glazed wings, corn hush puppies & deviled eggs.

Maple: handing out candy to trick or treaters, having Halloween cocktail specials.

Red Rocks: handing out goodies to trick or treaters; Halloween-themed drink specials.

KBC: handing out candy to trick or treaters, having a pumpkin beer on special.

El Chucho: handing out candy to trick or treaters, having some sort of food/drink special.

Meridian Pint: kid happy hour with warm cider, caramel apples, and crafts from 5pm-7pm. Handing out homemade goodies to kid trick or treaters.

Room 11: handing out candy to trick or treaters.

The Paisley Fig: handing out candy to trick or treaters.

Arthurs: handing out candy to trick or treaters.

Claws & Paws: handing out candy to trick or treaters; putting on the dog costume contest in the Columbia Heights Dog Park.

Bloombars: handing out candy to trick or treaters, having either a mask making/face painting station, and also an enchanted forest.

Wonderland: handing out candy and toys to kids, having a special Jack O' Lantern drink for $3, $2 off draft beers and $1 off rail drinks, and hosting an adult costume contest at 10pm.

Check our website for updates on the events -

Nice Ethiopian coffee selection at Columbia Heights Food Market

Ethiopian coffee

If you're a coffee fan, get yourself to the Columbia Heights Food Market at 14th and Oak NW -- they have a display with lots of Ethiopian and other coffee, much of which it looks like it just came direct from the country. They also have Mayorga, a local roaster, and others.

The market, if you haven't been, is a pretty cool spot -- it has a nice selection of international food and produce; I got some tasty avocados there the other day. The folks are friendly too. Give it a look.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Taqueria Habanera, new taqueria at 14th and Spring, is tasty

A couple weeks ago I wrote that there's a new taqueria coming to 14th and Spring, just down the block from the Red Derby, called Taqueria Habanera. The other day I stopped in and it was pretty delicious.

It's a friendly, family-run spot with about 8 tables for dine-in, plus a counter where you order so you can do to-go. I chose that option and got a shrimp taco, which was on special that day, al pastor (shawarma-style pork with onions and cilantro) and a chicken with spices. That, with a Mexican mango drink called Boing (I bought it for the name) ran me about $11. They also have fish tacos, barbacoa (beef), tortas (Mexican sandwiches) and full dinner plates that come with rice and beans.

Back at my place, I dug in and thoroughly enjoyed them. The shrimp taco came with a tasty sauce that I couldn't place, but went well, and the pastor was made very well. The chicken was also quite good and had a lot of things on it.

The tacos were a bit different than the also tasty 3 Salsas down 14th Street: 3 Salsas are simple (in a good way) while the Habanero ones were a bit heartier.

I was a big fan and will definitely come back to try the rest. Yelpers give the place 5 stars and really like the chicken milaensa torta (breaded chicken cutlet.)

Taqueria Habanero is at 3710 14th Street NW.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Early voting is open in Columbia Heights, elsewhere around town; also you can same-day register

The elections are nigh, and the city is working to make it as easy as possible to vote. One of those ways is by allowing early voting, and another is by allowing same-day registration at your polling place or early voting center.

Everyday until Saturday, Nov. 1 from 8:30am-7pm, except Sundays, registered voters can cast their ballots at nine early voting centers throughout the city, including one in Columbia Heights. That way you can avoid any line and get it done early.

If you aren't registered in DC or need to change your address, you can also register as you vote, either at an early voting center or on election day at your regular polling place. You must also provide valid proof of residence: a current government photo ID, government check or payment or other government document with your current name and address.

Here's how you can find where your polling place is.

Here are the voting centers, and more from the city on early voting. You can vote at any of them, no matter your ward.

  • Ward 1: Columbia Heights Community Center
    1480 Girard St, NW
  • Ward 2: One Judiciary Square
    441 4th St, NW
  • Old City Council Chambers (1st floor, right side of building)
  • Ward 3: Chevy Chase Community Center
    5601 Connecticut Ave NW
    Multi-Purpose Room
  • Ward 4: Takoma Park Recreation Center
    300 Van Buren St, NW
    Multi-Purpose Room
  • Ward 5: Turkey Thicket Recreation Center
    1100 Michigan Ave, NE
  • Ward 6: King Greenleaf Recreation Center
    201 N St, SW
  • Ward 6: Sherwood Recreation Center
    640 10th St, NE
  • Ward 7: Dorothy I Height-Benning Library
    3935 Benning Rd, NE
    Meeting Room
  • Ward 8: Malcolm X Elementary School
    1351 Alabama Ave SE
    Multi-Purpose Room

The mayoral election is Nov. 4: Vote for David Catania

As you probably know, DC's mayoral election is this coming Tuesday, November 4th. It's an interesting one, since it's the first competitive general election in a long time -- usually the race is decided in the Democratic primary and the general election pits a heavily favored Democrat versus a virtually unknown Republican or Statehood-Green candidate.

This time, however, Democrat and Ward 4 councilmember Muriel Bowser faces independent at-large councilmember David Catania, as well as former councilmember Carol Schwartz running as a Republican an independent. However, it's mainly down to Bowser versus Catania. And I believe you should vote for Catania.

There are two main reasons I'm endorsing him: he's a smart, hard-working and honest guy, and Muriel Bowser has not impressed me in the council or in her campaign.

Even in articles and arguments that support Bowser, seemingly everyone agrees that Catania is hard working, extremely knowledgable about local laws and policies, and gets things done. Colbert I. King in the Post, for example, said "They don’t come any smarter, more dedicated or gutsier than Catania. And no one works harder."

I don't support Muriel Bowser. For the past two years, I've lived in northern Columbia Heights on the Ward 4 boundary, which is Bowser's ward. I have never seen her around, and whenever I attempted to get in touch with her about issues I needed help with or to let her know my feelings on things the Council was voting on, I never heard back. The alley behind my house continually had a lot of problems: there were prostitutes and johns doing their thing (including in our yard at one point), people were frequently fighting and yelling, drunk people were passing out, and we found human feces and lots of used condoms back there. My roommates and I called the police numerous times, and they would always respond quickly and patrol the area, but when I asked for help from Bowser about putting up additional street lights or if there was anything else she could do to improve the situation, I never received a reply. I also tried getting in touch with other people on her staff about it, again to no avail.

I also emailed her about 14th Street gridlock issues, the DC United stadium, and Uber, all things the Council was considering, also all without a response. That didn't stop her from signing me up for her campaign emails, however, just to add insult to injury. The only time I did hear back was a few years ago when I asked about what was going to happen to the vacant Washington Hebrew Home on Spring Road (recently in the news), she responded once saying she wasn't sure, and I didn't hear back after that.

That's a distinct contrast to Jim Graham, who when I lived in Ward 1 would always reply quickly to issues or questions I had about traffic light problems, crime, abandoned buildings, and the like, and connect me with the appropriate people to address them. If I wrote him about other topics (DC United's stadium or medical marijuana, for example) he would always reply. Bowser writes on her website about improvements in development and crime in Ward 4, but she never responded to me when I had problems or questions on those very issues. To me, that's one of the main jobs of a councilmember, to help their constituents and to listen to their concerns. On that, Muriel Bowser has completely failed.

In addition, also unlike Graham, I have never seen her around the area. I'm told she is a nice lady -- I wouldn't know. Graham appeared at many events, local meetings, and so on, and was happy to talk to his constituents. I never saw Bowser and have never spoken to her. Being present and available for your constituents is important to me. Bowser has failed at that as well.

I also think Bowser hasn't done much on the Council, and won't do much if she's elected. She made news earlier in the campaign by refusing to debate Catania or Schwartz until very recently, which to me continues a theme: do nothing. Bowser is the chair of the council's housing committee, which hasn't done a lot to address the housing crises in the city. They've only passed one bill written by her, which was a symbolic resolution asking Metro to consider affordable housing, and the DC Tenant's Advocacy Committee called her tenure a "finger in the eye" for affordable housing advocates.

When asked about her lack of progress on education legislation, she seemed to undermine her previous campaign promise:
Bowser said she has not written more education legislation because she doesn’t view her role as managing the schools, even though her 2012 campaign declared that she “staked her first campaign on the promise to reform DC Public Schools.”
So, which is it? Run on reforming schools, or not managing schools?

Even her supporters have a tough time saying nice things about her. Jack Evans, who ran against Bowser in the Democratic primary but later endorsed her, sent out a blank mailer during the campaign: the idea was that it listed all of her accomplishments. A supporter quoted in a Post article about her short record, who even donated to her campaign, said she "hasn't left a lot of footprints."

The Post has a choice column on this. It calls Bowser's council record "medicore" and "undistinguished." It added "Bowser seldom goes in depth to discuss particulars of what she would do as mayor. She relies on broad objectives and well-rehearsed talking points. She likes to say she would address key issues by bringing together people to study them." Then it illustrated an example from a recent debate at Anacostia Senior High School:
Bowser talked generally about the need to reduce inequalities in investment and concluded: “The biggest thing that I think that remains is making sure our middle schools are ready, that we’re telling parents that we’re going to have great buildings, great leadership, great curriculum.” 
Catania first talked about two bills that he pushed through the council to curb social promotion and increase spending on at-risk students. He ended by listing three nearby schools that had recently lost their principals — Simon Elementary, Kramer Middle and Ballou High — and said he would make it “a focus” to improve stability among principals
To me, it's clear that Catania knows the issues back and forth. He has a very long and detailed platform with specific, tangible actions that can be taken, while Bowser either doesn't know the issues or doesn't want to risk upsetting anybody by taking a stand on them -- and either way, that's a big problem.

Bowser might be a nice lady, but she's also part of the establishment of DC politics. I'm getting tired of a constant string of politicians getting in trouble: Kwame Brown's Lincoln Navigator and bank fraud, Vince Gray's shadow campaign, Jim Graham's chief of staff taking bribes, Harry Thomas Jr. diverting city money for kids to buy a car and fancy vacations, Michael Brown's unpaid taxes, and so on. I believe Catania will steer clear of any ethical issues, while Bowser has been mentioned recently in relation to a few.

Bowser, while not accused of issues as serious as those of other councilmembers, has made news about the Park Southern, a large apartment complex with many serious, unaddressed problems: mold, water leaks, living and dead rodents, broken utilities and more. The operators were also over $600,000 behind on payments to the city for a loan, an audit found that security deposit money disappeared and they didn't pay the city all of the rent money they collected. The complex's operators are supporters of Bowser, organizing voters for her and donating $20,000 to her campaign. Then during the fracas about the building, Bowser blocked requests by Mayor Gray to hold hearings on the issue, tried to let the organizers sell the building before the city seized it, and then questioned the city's ability to seize it. Bowser, for her part, denied blocking attempts to investigate the issue and refused to return the $20,000 donated by the operators. The Post put it this way in a fact check on the issue:
“I don’t see any reason to return contributions when the people who are have — these are accusations that have been made against them, and none of them have been founded,” Bowser said.

Moments earlier, Bowser used a different logic when explaining why she did not hold a council oversight hearing but called for an independent investigation:

“I think there have been enough allegations of misusing funds, allegations that money wasn’t properly spent, so yes, I think the IG who has investigators and auditors, is the exact right place to go.
There's also been concerns recently about an unregistered group made up of ex-offender activists and a former city official who were supporting Bowser and opposed to Catania. The group appeared with Bowser supporters like Marion Barry and made signs and shirts with anti-Catania messages, but did not put disclose who paid for them, which is required by law. It turns out that an investigation a few years ago requested by Catania found that the group's organizers had mismanaged city funds, including diverting money for an AIDS program to fund one organizer's strip club. He was fined $1 million. Catania supporters called it another shadow campaign.

Despite being in the Council for many years, Catania is not part of the establishment: he's an independent and former Republican -- he left the GOP in 2004 over opposition to George W. Bush's policies, including indifference to cities and opposition to gay marriage, and Catania supported John Kerry that year. I like that. At this point, after so much scandal, I think DC needs someone who isn't part of the regular group of politicians who does the same old thing.

The only knock against Catania I've seen is that his personality can be abrasive. Councilmembers don't like him. Being able to work with the Council is important for the mayor, but then again, at one point half the council was under investigation. Outgoing councilmember Jim Graham, who supports Bowser, said this comparing Catania and Bowser: "One gets things done with a few broken bones, and the other doesn’t get things done."

I'd much rather have someone who may be abrasive but works hard, knows the issues and gets things done for this city than somebody who is nice but does nothing, or just continues the status quo. I don't even see how that's a contest. I endorse David Catania, and I hope you vote for him.

Photo from the Catania for Mayor Facebook page

Monday, October 27, 2014

Rapper Drake visits Columbia Heights Z-Burger on Saturday night

Well, this isn't something you hear every day. Via DCist comes the news that Drake, probably the most famous rapper around today, was spotted at the Z-Burger at 14th and Park on Saturday night, the day after his birthday.

Twitter was aflutter (atwitter?) about it and one person appears to have snapped a picture of said rapper (and former Degrassi actor) with a friend sitting in one of the booths. I hope he enjoyed it. The kiwi shakes are pretty great.

Drake had celebrated his birthday in our city and apparently dropped a lot of cash (literally dropped on the ground) at a strip club.

This isn't the first rapper to be spotted in the area -- a few years ago I saw British rapper Lady Sovereign at 14th and Columbia, Questlove of the Roots was spotted (and took a picture of our neighborhood's skateboarding dog), and Malice from Clipse and DC rapper Wale were also in the area for events or videos. There have been many other famous folks in the area, too -- Chris Rock on Georgia Avenue, the First Family a zillion times, Joe Biden at Pete's ApizzaCate Blanchett at Target, Jessica Alba and Keri Russell, and lots of others. Check them all out here.

Help stop street harassment with Collective Action for Safe Spaces, free rides home for women & LGBT folks on Halloween

Street harassment is unfortunately an issue in our neighborhood, as it is around the world. A few times I've witnessed it and many people I know have experienced it first hand. A few weeks ago I saw a man catcalling a woman and wasn't sure what the best way to intervene was, so I reached out to Collective Action for Safe Spaces, a DC area nonprofit that focuses on the issue, to learn more. They answered some questions about street harassment, and also announced their yearly event called Right Rides, which offers free, safe rides home for women and LGBT people on Halloween.

Read on for more about street harassment, what you can do to stop it, and the Right Rides program.

Tell us about Collective Action for Safe Spaces.
Founded in 2009 as HollaBack DC!, Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS) works to empower people in the DC metropolitan area to build a community free from public sexual harassment and assault, or street harassment. We do this through workshops, innovative direct services, policy advocacy and community outreach. Some of our proudest moments have been helping push the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to address sexual harassment and assault on metro and helping pass critical legislation to protect survivors of sexual assault in DC.

At CASS, we believe everyone should be able to get to move in public spaces without fear of being harassed or assaulted because of their gender or sexuality -- but sadly, that’s not the reality for the 65% of women and 25% of men who experience the “gender safety gap”. CASS works to close this gap by using diverse strategies that help meet DC residents’ immediate safety needs and also empower them to change the culture that allows this violence to continue.

What do you recommend someone do if they're a victim of street harassment?
Getting harassed when you’re trying to go to grocery store, get home, meet friends, or simply trying to enjoy a nice walk can really put a damper on your day.  Sometimes, it can be really scary, especially if there aren’t a lot of people around, or the harasser is being really aggressive. CASS believes that there is no wrong way to respond.  People should say or do what feels safe and right in that moment. This can be as simple as saying, “You’re harassing me; stop it,” in a calm but firm voice.  I’ve heard some great responses over the years, including “Hi, my name is _______. That made me feel disrespected, but I bet your ma taught you better.” Sometimes if you see someone who is coming towards you on the sidewalk, make eye contact and say hello. By being the first to speak, you’re establishing your agency and self control with a would-be harasser.  More often than not, they’ll say hello back and leave it at that. If the person chooses to harass you anyway, you can follow up with a simple all-purpose statement, like “Stop harassing people. I don’t like it, no one likes it. Show some respect.”

You can also get creative. You can ask a Socratic question: “That’s so interesting--can you explain why you think you can hiss at me when I walk by?” Once, when a guy started grunting at me, I let the chewed-up bite of sandwich I had in my mouth just fall out onto the sidewalk, and he was so caught off-guard (and probably disgusted) that he turned and walked away.

Regardless of how you choose to respond, safety comes first. If you don’t feel comfortable or safe responding -- or just don’t want to -- you don’t have to say a thing.  

How about if someone witnesses it?
One way to stand up to street harassment is to actively intervene. This approach is referred to as bystander intervention in the sexual violence prevention field, and there’s a lot of evidence that it’s an effective approach. An easy way to remember your options is to keep the “3 Ds” in mind: Direct. Distract. Delegate.
  • Direct means that you are directly interacting with the people involved in the situation and addressing that you are concerned: “Hey, it doesn’t look like she/he wants to talk to you,” “Is everything okay?”
  • Distract focuses on creating a diversion. You can diffuse a situation by diverting the attention of the people involved, and giving the person being harassed a chance to leave: “Do you have the time?” “Do you know where Euclid St. is from here?” “Is there a metro station nearby?” It doesn’t matter what the question is, it breaks up the harassment and also lets the harasser know that you’re watching the situation.  
  • Delegate is a useful approach if you feel unsafe or uncomfortable intervening on your own. You could grab a friend to come with you, alert the bar bouncer or a store employee, or if the situation seems to be escalating, call law enforcement.

How can men (or anyone) help prevent this from happening?
Everyone can play a role in preventing street harassment. If you witness someone getting harassed on the street, step in (if you feel safe doing so!) and say something.  Even if it’s a friend of yours who is street harassing others, let them know what they’re doing is wrong. On a broader level, community building plays a critical role in holding harassers accountable. Be active in your neighborhood, get to know your neighbors, watch out for each other.  

I once saw something about construction companies firing workers who harass women, is this common?
Companies respond in a variety of ways to complaints of street harassment by their employees -- and unfortunately, some companies don’t respond at all. CASS believes it’s important for businesses and companies to be held accountable and to get ahead of the problem by establishing clear anti-harassment policies. Businesses should also provide anti-harassment training to their employees, which -- thanks to CASS’s advocacy -- is currently the case with WMATA. We’re continuing to push for similar anti-harassment efforts by Uber and the DC Taxicab Commission (DCTC), which play a huge role in safety from sexual harassment and assault.  Back to construction companies, we recognize that there are many stereotypes around street harassment, especially around the profile of who harasses. I’ve been harassed by men in hard hats and men in three-piece suits. So while we’re fighting street harassment, we also want to challenge folks to examine their own assumptions and stereotypes.

How common is street harassment?  Is harassment more common in some areas rather than others?
Street harassment is very common.  According to a recent national study by our sister organization, Stop Street Harassment, 65% of women and 25% of men have experienced some form of street harassment. And we believe that’s a conservative estimate; other surveys have found that close to 100% of women have experienced some form of street harassment, including leering, groping, catcalling and sexual assault. Harassment happens everywhere. I think there’s a perception that this happens more frequently in urban areas; however, I grew up in a small midwestern town and I remember being street harassed for the first time at age 11. That said, people of color, people from low-income communities, young people, and LGBTQ people are disproportionately affected by street harassment. It starts early, especially for those who identify as LGBTQ.
Do you have any upcoming events?
Why, yes, we do!  We’re excited to announce the launch of RightRides DC, a free, late-night safe rides program for women and LGBTQ folks. Our first night of service is Halloween, October 31, where we’ll provide free rides home between the hours of 12am-3am. We’re celebrating the RightRides DC launch on Wednesday, October 29th from 5:30-8pm at Right Proper Brewing Company in Shaw.  You can find more details on the Facebook event page here, and you can register here (it’s free!).  

Even if individuals can’t make it to the launch event, they can save the RightRides DC number in their phone and tell their friends to call or text 202-556-4232 for a free, safe ride home from 12am-3am, October 31st. With enough support, we will be able to sustain the program with the goal of operating every Friday and Saturday night.

How can someone get involved with your organization?
CASS’s work is made possible by volunteers, and we’ve got several opportunities right now: volunteering for our RightRides DC program, and joining our Fundraising Advisory Committee.  You can fill out a volunteer application here. You can also donate at any time. When it comes to community safety, we’re all in this together!

Filipino restaurant coming to 11th from Room 11 folks to be called Bad Saint, opening this winter

The Room 11 family is growing as a new Filipino restaurant is coming to 11th Street.

A few months ago I wrote about the restaurant coming to the old El Rinconcito Deportivo space next to Room 11, shown above. El Rincocito Deportivo was a Latin American restaurant that was open very late on the weekend -- a good spot to get some cheap burritos or tacos after a night out. It closed about a year ago, and we learned that its replacement would be owned by Nick Pimentel of Room 11 and Genevieve Villamora. It sounded promising, but there wasn't much more to report.

But now we have more details about its replacement: it's going to be called Bad Saint; the chef will be Tom Cunanan, who has run his own Filipino catering company and has cooked at local spots like Vidalia, DC Coast, Zentan and more; and they're aiming for a winter opening.

As for the name, Pimentel tells PopVille
Our name is a hat tip to the fishing village of Saint Malo, Louisiana. In the late-18th century, Filipino sailors deserted Spanish galleon ships plying the trade between Manila and Acapulco. They settled in Saint Malo, establishing the first permanent settlement of Filipinos in what is now the United States.
Here's their Facebook page. I don't have many more details so far, but Filipino food sounds pretty tasty: main dishes include adobo, which is meat cooked in garlic, vinegar, soy sauce and oil, kare-kare, a stew with peanuts, and lumpia, a type of spring roll. There's also Filipino sausages and some Spanish influence. Cunanan's catering company only has one Yelp review, but it sounds tasty.

I'm looking forward to it, and will be looking for more info. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Someone on 11th Street is serious about No Parking signs

No parking, seriously

I spotted this on 11th Street during Columbia Heights Day: it's an interesting collection of No Parking and other signs affixed to a light pole. There's a smattering of signs that look like official city signs, then some others that don't, and one says it's reserved for #1-107" whatever that means.

I wonder what the story is behind it? There's a handicapped symbol and what looks like a handicapped permit on it, so maybe the person who lives there is disabled and needs parking close to their house. If that's the case, I hope it works.

There's also some hand painted signs and I first saw it during Columbia Heights Day, where there were lots of artists and craftspeople, so it could also be some kind of folk art. I was surprised that it hadn't been removed, since it seems to be building on an existing city-placed sign, but it was affixed by sturdy metal fasteners.

Another interesting thing about 11th Street.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Where's all the Halloween decorations in the neighborhood?

Halloween on 13th

Columbia Heights, where's your Halloween spirit? The holiday is only about a week away, but I've seen bery few houses with any decorations up -- even simple stuff like a pumpkin or a spider web.

This is too bad. To me, Halloween is one of the most fun holidays, both for kids and for adults -- you get to dress up, get (or give) candy, and constantly be amused by the variety of costumes. (There are also often awesome parties for us grown-ups as well.)

Walking up to Annie's Ace Hardware this weekend, I spotted this great example near 13th and Kansas, and there are a smattering elsewhere, but there are also whole blocks without a thing on them.

It's not like the decorations aren't available -- Target and CVS both have inexpensive and easy to set up stuff like cobwebs you drape over bushes or fences, foam tombstones, plastic skeletons and the like, and Annie's even had leaf bags that look like Jack-o'-Lanterns. Plus everybody sells pumpkins in all ranges of sizes. I've tried to put up a bit on my place to try to get the neighbors to do it too -- no luck so far.

So let's get on it, folks. I think decorating is fun on its own, but at least do it to amuse some local kids.

It's almost like people don't know it's Halloween.

Do They Know It's Hallowe'en - N.A.P.H.I - The North American Halloween Prevention Initiative from D.A.D.D.Y on Vimeo.

New York Times praises Crane & Turtle, Petworth Citizen, others: "future of DC dining"

Brand new place on Upshur Street, the Petworth Citizen. It's loud. I think that's a good sign for a place that just opened a day or two ago.

It's always nice to hear something good about our area. The New York Times, in a recent article on the DC restaurant scene, singles out Petworth Citizen and Crane and Turtle for praise. The article starts like this:
WASHINGTON — On a scrubby block in a working-class neighborhood east of Rock Creek Park, plopped down among cheap hair salons, a dry cleaner and a sad-looking liquor store, the future of dining in Washington, D.C., has arrived.

On one side of the street is Petworth Citizen & Reading Room, a warm little haunt with schoolhouse-style light fixtures and Art Deco wallpaper, where old-fashioneds, complete with a ground sugar cube, are mixed for $4 at happy hour

On the other is Crane & Turtle, a sewing-box-size Asian-influenced spot where an adventurous bouillabaisse with pan-roasted cobia and a delicate maitake-mushroom tempura dish are cooked by a former sous-chef from the soon-to-close CityZen, one of the city’s most upscale restaurants.
The article's argument is that DC restaurants are getting good and are moving into residential neighborhoods, but that's not exactly accurate: Upshur Street, where those two spots are located, has long been a commercial strip, albeit small. And that's not much different from New York, where restaurants pop up on side streets. A much better example of this would be the new restaurants on 12th Street NE in Brookland like Brookland's Finest, but even that is still a commercial strip.

The article continues with the rest of the New York Times dining bingo -- expense account steakhouses and the like, and mentions places like Rose's Luxury and Little Serow that are definitely not in residential areas -- Barracks Row and the 17th Street strip, respectively. Kapnos, Mike Isabella's Greek spot at 14th and V (again, not residential) is also mentioned in the accompanying photo gallery.

In fact, I was going to make a joke that the article sounds like it belongs on the @NYTOnIt Twitter, but they beat me to it:

That said, it's nice to get a shout out for our area (and the restauranteurs behind Crane & Turtle, Petworth Citizen and Room 11) and of course, the Times did call 11th Street the "Hip Strip" back in 2011 when they wrote about Room 11, Wonderland and BloomBars. I do like Petworth Citizen, and Crane &Turtle sounds awesome, though I haven't had a chance to visit yet.

Photo by Michael K. Wilkinson

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Meet the Board of Education Candidates: Scott Simpson

Elections are coming up November 4th in DC, and one of the races being contested is the Ward 1 representative of the DC State Board of Education. In order to shine some light on a race that doesn't get a lot of press, but is very important to local parents, I'm interviewing the four candidates for the board: David Do, Lillian Perdomo, Laura Wilson Phelan, E. Gail Anderson Holness and Scott Simpson.
So far we've heard from Laura Wilson Phelan and Lillian Perdomo, and David Do -- today is Scott Simpson. E. Gail Anderson Holness didn't respond, so you won't be seeing her answers. My questions are in bold, his answers after.

Why are you running? 

I’m running because it is way past time for a pragmatic civil rights advocate to have a leadership role in setting our city’s educational agenda. Our schools are making progress for some students, but we continue to leave our low-income students, immigrant students, and student with disabilities behind.  

I’m a professional civil rights advocate at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. I fight for educational equity issues at the state and national level that D.C. is lagging behind on, including fair funding and resources for low-income students, special education reform, access to science and math programs for girls, and more equal distribution of qualified teachers. 

Today, these disparities define our education system, and I can be a fresh voice for pragmatic change.

How would you explain the role of the State Board of Education?

The State Board is the only elected leadership our city has to guide and oversee education in our city. When the office is used appropriately, it can be the conscience for our city’s education system. It has oversight and approval responsibilities over our city’s plan to narrow achievement gaps and our policies to reduce truancy, certify teachers, engage parents, set graduation requirements, and much more.  It also houses the Office of the Ombudsman for Public Education and the Chief Student Advocate, which are imperative offices that work directly with schools to ensure they are adequately serving students.  

Are there any major changes you'd propose for the Board itself?

We don’t need sweeping reforms to the State Board; we need tactical, pragmatic, and bold leadership to help it find its voice and assert its role as the elected conscience of our city’s education system. The State Board is a very young office that’s only been in existence for a few years. Electing a policy advocate like me can help the State Board grow into its potential as a leader and equal partner in improving our education system.  

Tell us your thoughts on the redistricting process, both the most recent and how it should be done in the future.

If it were up to me, we would have channeled all of the rancor over school quality into a useful discussion on how to better educate students instead of how we draw the lines. But the administration’s process for reviewing the boundaries exhibited extraordinarily high levels of community engagement, and the results show for Ward One.  

There are a lot of very good things in the boundary review proposal for Ward One.  The boundaries for Bancroft and Oyster-Adams now include more of our students. There will be two newly built middle schools, including a dual language middle school, that Ward One students will attend. And we preserve our feeder patterns into prestigious Deal Middle School and Wilson High School.

We should honor the input of parents that led to this plan by accepting the results and moving on to a discussion of improving educational opportunities at every school.

What's the biggest problem DC schools face?

We continue to exclude our most vulnerable students from the progress in our schools. Our system is still largely defined by its disparities in resources, treatment, and access to opportunities.  Students with disabilities, immigrants, low-income students, and students of color all lag behind in achievement, graduation rates, health, and just about every indicator of progress.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. D.C. can be a leader in addressing the disparities that exist here and across the country. We have the political consensus, the resources, and the talent; what we need is the will and leadership to get us there. That’s what I bring to the table.

How did you get interested in running for the board, and do you have children in DC public schools?

The State Board is the place where a civil rights policy advocate can make a real difference in our city.  Being a parent is certainly not a prerequisite for caring about equality or our schools and, as we’ve seen time and again from education leaders who do not have kids of their own, I know I’m the best candidate to help us move our city forward. I’m the only candidate who has the energy and dedication, the passion, the relationships, and the skills to push for an inclusive education agenda that works for all students.

Where can people go for more information about your campaign?

People can learn about me and my positions on my website at People can also call and email me directly at (202) 735-1984 and

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Neighborhood cleanup this Saturday: sign up and meet your neighbors!

I really like neighborhood cleanups -- you get out, get some exercise, make the neighborhood look nicer and meet your neighbors. And there's an opportunity this Saturday for one, organized by Slate Properties real estate agent Alex Khachaturian and the DC Department of Public Works Helping Hand Neighborhood Clean-up Program.

See all the details above -- RSVP to Alex: alex(at)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Little Coco's Italian restaurant from El Chucho folks coming to former Rib Pit Lounge at 14th and Randolph

This is awesome. A few months ago, I wrote that the Rib Pit and Rib Pit Lounge at 14th and Randolph were for sale. And now we know the tenant coming to the Lounge space: Little Coco's, an Italian restaurant from Jackie Greenbaum and Gordon Banks, who are behind El Chucho, Bar Charley on 18th Street and Jackie's/Sidecar in Silver Spring.

Talking to the Post, the duo described it as an Italian version of El Chucho, which sounds great to me. It's a small space, about 70 seats total split between inside and outside, and will feature pizza, antipasti and other Italian dishes. Pizzas may include olive-oil poached tuna and artichokes, snails and garlic, and butternut squash with pear and taleggio, a type of Italian cheese. Sounds amazing.

And like El Chucho and their other spots, there will be a good selection of drinks: frozen negronis, shaved ice in warmer months, affordable wine and Italian beer. They're looking at a Spring opening.

I asked Jackie for some more info, and here's what she had to say: 
Yep, will be awesome pizza to start. Entrees and homemade pastas to follow after we get on our feet (another tiny space like Chucho:) the floorplan is very similar to Chucho too with most of the seating on the second floor (part indoor, part outdoor). ETA for opening is spring 
We're really excited about it. Our chef's been working on dough recipes like a madman, coming along really nicely!

Columbia Heights Day recap: good times, great turnout

Big crowd I realized I forgot to write about Columbia Heights Day, which was Sunday, October 11. Despite the rain, there was a really good turnout, even up until the end.

I went by around 4 pm and explored 11th Street, where there were lots of vendors -- local businesses like Room 11 and Paisley Fig, Red Rocks, Meridian Pint; craftspeople and artisans; food vendors from outside the neighborhood and tons of folks running for office. Among others, I saw booths for mayoral candidates David Catania and Muriel Bowser, Board of Education candidates David Do, Laura Wilson Phelan and Scott Simpson, and at-large council candidate Eugene Puryear.

There was also a bouncy castle for kids, a tricycle race for adults officiated by Wonderland co-owner Rose Donna, and a stage at 11th and Kenyon. By the time I arrived, the petting zoo at the Tubman School field had packed up, but there were still lots of people out, which was awesome to see.

Then after it started to wind up, I spent some time on the Wonderland patio while they showed ET on the big screen in the Tubman School field.

In all, a lot of fun. What did you think? Here's a few pictures I snapped.

Meet the Board of Education candidates: David Do

Elections are coming up November 4th in DC, and one of the races being contested is the Ward 1 representative of the DC State Board of Education. In order to shine some light on a race that doesn't get a lot of press, but is very important to local parents, I'm interviewing the four candidates for the board: David Do, Lillian Perdomo, Laura Wilson Phelan, E. Gail Anderson Holness and Scott Simpson. 
So far we've heard from Laura Wilson Phelan and Lillian Perdomo, and today is David Do. My questions are in bold, his answers after.

NCH: Why are you running? 

DD: I decided to run for the Ward 1 Member of the State Board of Education because it was an opportunity to bring my background and life experience to Ward 1 students who are struggling to succeed in our schools. My parents were refugees of the Vietnam War and came to the U.S. with nothing. My family lived in poverty. Today, many of our kids in Ward 1 are still living in poverty. I want to bring that perspective to the board and make sure that every child has access to a good quality education. 

I am also running because of the encouragement and support of our community and neighborhood parents. The encouragement came because of my tireless work and tremendous accomplishments at Bruce Monroe at Park View Elementary, the Park View Recreation Center, and our community as a whole. I will bring the same record of accomplishment and energy to the Board of Education.

Finally, tests like the DC CAS said I was basic or below proficient, the SAT said I should have never went to college, and my first semester of college grades put me on the verge of academic probation. But, I never let the possibility of failure hold me back. What changed in my academic career was a mentor. My introductory economics professor helped me develop my interest in economics. Once I discovered my talent and interest in economics, I exceled tremendously and graduated from college with honors and received the University’s Legacy Award. Tests should never be the end all and be all of education. Tests can help with accessing where our children are and be used a good diagnostic tool to help teachers identify problem areas. On the other hand, high-stakes testing has led to less collaboration and incentivized cheating in our schools. We need reform that everyone can respect.

Finally, I have the experience and results to make sure that we have a strong advocate on the school board. Here are some of the things that I have accomplished:
  • Fought for safety improvements for our school-aged children including a signaled crosswalk for E.L. Haynes Public Charter School on Georgia Avenue.
  • Volunteered at Bruce Monroe @ Park View Elementary for three years and seeing it improve dramatically. In recent months we have seen an influx of new parents and the school has received a lot of praise.
  • Mentored two high-school seniors including a young lady from Ward 1 who will be graduating from Penn State University this spring. I made sure that they had the resources to succeed by providing a variety of workshops to get them prepared for college and employment.
  • Tutored a first-grader who was below reading level at a DC public school and raised him to the appropriate reading level.
  • I currently serve as a teaching assistant at the University of Maryland, College Park. I have taught undergraduate students a course titled, “Planning for an Elderly Community.”
  • Served as Director of Academic Affairs at the University of California, Merced, where I was an advocate for our students. I got the Fellowship and Undergraduate Research Symposium (FURS) Act funded. This program allowed students to present their research across the country. I also funded tutoring services, stress relief events, and dinner programs for students.
I have been an education advocate and would be a strong voice for Ward 1 on the Board of Education.

NCH: How would you explain the role of the State Board of Education?

DD: The Board of Education has a variety of roles in setting state standards for education. How I describe the role of the school board to parents and community members is that it sets the vision for our school system. It works on high school graduation requirements, federal education standards through the Elementary Secondary Education Act, No Child Left Behind, and Race to the Top, the implementation of education standards like the Common Core State Standards, the types of primary and supplemental education models to use, teacher accreditation and credentialing, parent involvement standards, and many other important functions. The Board provides an overarching vision for our school system. The implementation of this vision will require a strong advocate; I have been an advocate with proven results. I will be the advocate Ward 1 needs on the school board. 

There are also a variety of committees that members are responsible for. I want to be a part of the Parental and Home Engagement Committee on the State Board of Education. It is a committee that I personally feel will best suit my background and experience. There is a lot of research to support the benefits of family engagement in our schools. That is why I will work within my role on the Board of Education to consider all point of views in establishing an effective and implementable plan for parental and home engagement for our schools.

NCH: Are there any major changes you'd propose for the Board itself?

DD: I want to bring my experience working for our local neighborhood school Bruce Monroe @ Park View Elementary to the board. We have seen tremendous improvements when different groups work together to create a collaborative and community approach to improving education. A top-down approach where collaboration was not part of the equation has not worked in the last seven years of corporate education reform. We need to take a different tack to education reform. I will advocate for a more supportive and respectful process that includes all stakeholders.

Moreover, I will also work to bring more democratic control to the Board of Education. I would strongly advocate for the Board to have oversight of the Office of the State Superintendent for Education (OSSE). This oversight will bring much needed transparency to OSSE’s operations and give Ward 1 a stronger voice in advocating for education policy.

NCH: Tell us your thoughts on the redistricting process, both the most recent and how it should be done in the future.

DD: The school boundaries have been implemented by Mayor Gray, they will start the next school year. There are both positives and negatives about the plan. The chief positive for our feeder patterns is that there is predictability in where we send our children. Previously, an elementary school would feed into multiple middle and high schools providing unpredictability for parents. The patterns are now predictable. For example, my neighborhood school Bruce Monroe @ Park View Elementary will feed into the proposed new MacFarland Middle School, and then into the new Roosevelt High School. This gives parents the opportunity to know where their children will be attending middle and high school. It will also allow parents to work together to improve the middle and high schools. Previously, the elementary school may have fed into multiple middle and high schools providing very little predictability. Another benefit is that feeder patterns for Bancroft will stay intact. This is the predictability that parents and I have been advocating for. Also, for the first time Oyster-Adams Education Campus will incorporate some neighborhoods of Adams Morgan that should have been party of the school’s boundary for a very long time. This critical issue has been important to neighborhood residents and it is exciting for parents and community members to receive what they have been working towards for many years.

Unfortunately, there have been concerns especially about non-bilingual schools feeding into the Columbia Heights Education Campus where as many as 80% of courses are taught in both English and Spanish. There are concerns that schools like H.D. Cooke which is an IB school will not have prepared our students sufficiently for a bilingual education. 

Overall, the boundary plan is a step in the right direction. But there needs to be more efforts in improving overall school quality including middle and high school. We must also make sure that our minority and impoverished students have the right conditions to succeed but at the same time give all of our students the resources to develop and expand their education, skills, and special talents.

NCH: What's the biggest problem DC schools face?

DD: The biggest problem that we face is the number of our children who are homeless or living below the poverty line. When our children are thinking about where they will sleep and eat they are not thinking about education. When our children are not getting the appropriate medical care they are falling behind. In Ward 1, every one of our traditional elementary schools are Title I schools. This means that in each of our schools we have over 35% of our kids living in poverty. This number is likely to be much higher.

As someone who grew up in poverty I understand that wrap-around medical services, good prenatal care for every woman, nutrition programs, and early intervention programs are all key in improving the overall educational success of our children. 

We have failed to see that poverty aversely affects our most vulnerable students. We must provide a strong social safety for our students and make sure they have the medical services to succeed academically. Non-profits like Mary's Center that work with our public schools are invaluable. Mary's Center provides mobile medical facilities that offers hearing, eye, and dental services for every child. Often times families with less resources are unable to provide this medical care for their children. Mary's Center offers these services free of charge and allows them to address issues earlier so that all children are on the same level playing field when they are learning.  I will work to strengthen these partnerships on the school board. 

DCPS also has a good early intervention program, there have been several parents that I have talked to who have taken advantage of the program. Physicians are trained to recognize cognitive and development issues early on so that the child receives the necessary help from DCPS to catch up with their peers. There have been issues with children transitioning from early intervention to pre-school, this will be something I will look at when elected to the board of education. I am a big proponent of starting from the beginning. If we can fix a problem earlier then we will have fixed chronic issues that may follow a student throughout their education. We must allow our public schools to work with partners to provide the medical and early intervention services so that all of our children can succeed.

We cannot stop there. We also need to make sure that our schools have a rich, balanced, and full curriculum so that all students are challenged academically. I will advocate for reading and math, but also a healthy curriculum that includes world languages, the arts, music, geography, civics, and physical education. This will keep our children interested in our school system and attract families that value these additional programs.  

NCH: How did you get interested in running for the board, and do you have children in DC public schools?

DD: I got interested in running for the board of education because like many of our kids in Ward 1, I lived in poverty. I was an English Language Learner and a daily recipient of free and reduced meals. Many of our kids are still facing poverty today. I was also encouraged to run the campaign by parents who saw my hard work in improving our neighborhood schools, mentoring our children, and fighting for our community. They believe that I would be the right advocate for the school board. 

Despite not having kids in the school system I have volunteered at Bruce Monroe @ Park View Elementary for over three years. I have also mentored children and been an active part of the public education system. I did everything that was necessary to fulfill my duties as a community member and make sure that our neighborhood school was a great learning environment for all children. I have worked in our school system and want to continue working for our schools on the board of education.

NCH: Where can people go for more information about your campaign?

DD: I am running a campaign on accessibility and communication. Anyone can reach me directly by phone at 202-709-9278

You can also email me at Please also visit my website at