Thursday, December 31, 2015

No frills NYE bars tonight: Looking Glass, Lyman's, DC Reynolds, Colony Club, Derby, Acre 121, more

If you're not looking to spend megabucks this New Year's Eve, or just want a regular bar experience, there are a bunch of options in our neighborhood, all without a cover.

The Red Derby, like they always do, is a normal bar with a free champagne toast at midnight. I've spent many a NYE there and it's good times.

Looking Glass has a DJ starting at 10 but no cover, plus $20 bottles of bubbly and a whiskey toast at midnight.

Lyman's is doing the same thing they do every Thursday: being a normal bar. They'll have champagne at midnight, that's it.

Colony Club will have a ton of food: 1,000 oysters and they're roasting a whole goat on a spit, with karaoke upstairs and live music downstairs, plus beer and cider specials. Oysters are $10 for a half dozen or $15 for a dozen. Sounds pretty awesome.

Acre 121 has $6 champagne cocktails and $5 holiday drafts, plus happy hour starting at 5 pm, and a DJ. They also have a New Year's Day brunch.

Lou's City Bar has the same deal as Acre 121, plus $10 for a brats and tots combo.

If you're looking for something bigger (and with a cover,) Wonderland has DJ Meistro and $10 cover or $15 per couple and Room 11 has tickets for dinner. Petworth Citizen is doing a ticketed Oscar Wilde-themed dinner with cocktails by Dan Searing and Chantal Tseng, local cocktail experts.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Three Kings Day celebration and procession (with live animals!) is Jan. 3

One of my favorite holiday traditions is coming soon: the Fiesta de los Tres Reyes Magos or Three Kings Day Celebration, which tells the story of the Three Magi (or Wise Men) and includes a procession on the street with actors dressed in period clothes, plus live animals like donkeys, goats and sheep.

The celebration also includes a performance at the GALA Theare with song, dance and storytelling about the Nativity and the events around it. It's an important celebration in Latin American and Latino cultures, and is pretty impressive and interesting.

Here's the full press release from GALA. The procession is at 1 pm on Sunday, January 3rd, and there are two performances at the theatre at 11:30am and 2pm. The tickets are free, but they ask you bring a small gift for a child.
Fiesta de los Tres Reyes Magos / Three Kings Day Celebration
Free for the entire family!
Washington, D.C. – For 39 years, GALA has celebrated the holidays with its traditional event for the community, Fiesta de los Tres Reyes Magos/The Three Kings Day Celebration. GALA will again tell the timeless story of the Magi with song, dance and storytelling at two performances on Sunday, January 3, 2016 at 11:30 am and 2:00 pm. These bilingual presentations for the entire family preserve one of the most popular celebrations of Latino cultures.

Fiesta de los Tres Reyes Magos takes place at GALA Theatre, 3333 14th Street, NW. Admission is free, but a small gift for a child is suggested. Tickets for the 11:30 am presentation will be distributed at GALA’s Box Office at 10 am on a first-come, first serve basis. Tickets for the 2:00 pm presentation will be distributed at the Box Office at 12 pm.

A procession/posada with the Three Kings and live animals –including donkeys, goats, and sheep– will begin at 1:00 pm at the corner of Park Road and 14th Street, NW.

The 2016 Fiesta de los Reyes Magos features Bienvenido Martínez as Balthasar and José Sueiro as Gaspar, Héctor Diaz as Melchior, and Neena Krutha as the Angel. The featured performers include Honduran singer María Isolina; Los Quetzalitos, a youth Mexican dance company directed by Laura Ortiz; and the popular dance group Alma Boliviana.

The event also will include the traditional Nativity and the giving of gifts by the Magi. Alejandro Negrón, who is the host of Hispanic Agenda on News Channel 8, is the Master of Ceremonies. Refreshments will be served following each performance.

Parking is available at discount in the Giant garage on Park Road, NW behind the theatre (validation at the theater). Additional parking is available at the Target garage also on Park Road, between 14th and 16th Streets. GALA Theatre is also one block from the Columbia Heights metro station on the Green and Yellow lines.
This program is made possible with generous support from the Inter-American Development Bank/Share the Magic Campaign, Target, National Community Church, Washington Hispanic, Mount Pleasant Business Association, John Fitzgerald, and the Leesburg Animal Park. 

Target sign now just reads GET: a funny subliminal message

A reader spotted this: the Target sign now just reads GET. Pretty funny since it's the height of the holiday shopping season.

I was there on Saturday and the lines weren't too bad, plus there are still a lot of holiday decorations if you need some last minute ones.

Friday, December 18, 2015

City to add rush hour bus lane to 16th Street, convert S1 to express bus to relieve congestion

This is a good news for those of us who use the bus: the city is recommending converting one lane of 16th Street to be bus-only during rush hour as well as converting the S1 bus to an express bus, like the S9, which makes much fewer stops and thus goes faster.

According to Greater Greater Washington, there will be a southbound bus lane from 7-10am and from 4:30-7:30pm it will be northbound. The lane goes from Spring Road to Lafayette Park.

According to ANC commissioner Zach Teutsch, buses carry more than half of the people on 16th Street, so this will help a lot.

Greater Greater Washington has more on the plans, which were part of the city's MoveDC campaign to improve transportation in the area. GGW also had links to DDOT's full presentation.

I hope they do something similar for 14th Street, those buses go so slow. Here's what it will look like for the southbound version, same thing on northbound.

Photo by Elvert Barnes

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

I made a joke Twitter account: Are the Columbia Heights Metro escalators working?

Some things in Columbia Heights have changed a lot, but other things never change: like the Metro escalators not working.

After yet another time walking heavy bags up the escalators-serving-as-stairs, I thought it would be funny to make a joke Twitter account that tweets if they're working or not: except it only tweets that they're not working. Since that is usually the case.

So follow @ColHtsEscalator now and every so often it will tweet if they're running (hint: they are not.) It's programmed to tweet once every 8 hours so you won't get spammed.

And special thanks to Victoria Pickering and T.D. Ford for letting me use their pictures of our sad, neglected escalators.

Comedian Mitch Hedberg has a joke about them, at 0:48:

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

This house on Parkwood Place is doing Christmas lights right

The other day I complained about a lack of holiday decorations around our neighborhood -- I've seen few lights, decorations, displays and such. But then I walked down 14th Street and spotted and heard something -- a house a few doors down on Parkwood that has a big light display, complete with electronic Christmas music. (Unfortunately it's hard to hear in the video because there was a garbage truck idling nearby, but it's pretty great.)

There's a snowman, Santa, candy canes, trees, a light-up manger, and all manner of things, all over the house, their yard, and their porch. Nicely done. And some neighbors are getting in the act too, with two houses on the other side of the street adding some decorations as well.

Nice to see this little group of neighbors making the holidays fun. Have you seen any other houses getting into the act with big holiday displays? And you can do it yourself! The basic white lights are pretty inexpensive at CVS, and Target has a big selection of lights, wreaths and decorations.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Help Engineers without Borders build in El Salvador by eating at Panera today!

Here's a great way to help out the nonprofit Engineers without Borders: just eat out at Panera this evening!

The nonprofit "provides engineering expertise to tackle problems for communities in developing countries" and this fundraiser is for projects in Santa Clara, El Salvador.

To help, head to the Columbia Heights Panera today between 4 and 8 pm today and show them this flyer when you buy -- you have to use the flyer! Panera will donate a portion of the proceeds to the project.

Here's more from them:
EWB only works in communities where they are invited to work and focuses on sustainability by monitoring the project after completion, and using local materials, local input, and capacity building. 
The money raised will support an assessment of the community's needs and will be critical for determining our next steps. The chapter has established a successful drinking water system in the community and is also working on a clean cook stove.

Italian restaurant with pizza coming to 14th and Spring: that area is blowing up

Looks like the 14th and Spring area is getting another restaurant: a reader saw some construction workers at the old Spring Garden takeout Chinese place at 3618 14th and asked what was going on: they said it was an Italian/pizza place and they hope to open soon.

Sounds good, I'm certainly in favor of more pizza. It's not a big space, so I'm not sure if it will be a sit-down or take out (I hope sit down) but we'll see.

I also can't find any permits online for the place, which is odd.

There seems to be a little restaurant area forming at 14th and Spring, to go along with the Red Derby, Lyman's, Taqueria Habanero and the Airedale, plus the yet-to-open Washington Heights, an American and French place coming next to the Derby and Little Coco, the Italian spot from the El Chucho folks up at 14th and Randolph. Sadly I don't know much about Washington Heights and Little Coco has missed their goal of opening this Fall.

As for the others, Lyman's and the Derby are great neighborhood bars and the Airedale and Habanero are fantastic -- the Airedale is really good German, Belgian, French and British pub food (plus rye whiskey soft-serve) and Habanero is delicious traditional Mexican food.

There are also a number of smaller new condo buildings right around that intersection, plus, sadly, another new 7-Eleven.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Where's all the holiday decorations in our neighborhood?

The holiday season is upon us, but it seems like Columbia Heights is not in the spirit this year. I haven't seen many houses or businesses with decorations up, which is a shame.

To me, whether it's Christmas, Hannukah (happy Hannukah, by the way,) Kwanzaa, Festivus or just generic winter stuff, it makes the neighborhood more fun, brighter and more friendly. Kids love them and a lot of big kids love them too.

And it doesn't have to be expensive either: CVS, Annie's Ace Hardware and Target all have inexpensive lights and garlands and such. 

Maybe it's the warm weather? The bad news in the media? I hope we aren't just grinches. Let's put up some decorations!

If you've spotted any good ones, let me know. I snapped the above picture at Le Caprice Bakery at 14th and Newton.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

10th Annual Upshur Street Arts and Crafts Fair and Petworth Library book sale are this Saturday!

This sounds like a great place for holiday gifts (or gifts for yourself) and a lot of fun. The 10th Annual Upshur Street Art and Craft Fair is this coming Saturday, December 12th, from 11am-4pm on the 800 block of Upshur Street NW.

There will be lots of crafts, artists, food, plus music and more, as well as kids' activities indoors. There's also the Petworth Public Library's book sale the same day, continuing the cool gift theme.

Here's more from the organizers, the Petworth Business Association (PBA):
The Upshur Street Art & Craft Fair began 11 years ago as an indoor craft market inside Domku, then the only sit-down restaurant in the area. Domku owner, Kera Carpenter, saw the event as a way to introduce the community to the few new businesses on Upshur St. but also as a way to bring the community together to support local producers. In it’s first year, the fair hosted 15 vendors, mostly from the immediate Petworth neighborhood, transforming the small restaurant into a bustling European-style market hall. Today, the event draws vendors from all over the DMV and has outgrown the confines of Domku.  
“It’s really gratifying to see the little project I started in 2005 turn into such an important part of the neighborhood’s cultural tradition,” said Carpenter.  “It’s great for all of us small businesses on the block, and it’s nice to be able to support other small businesses around the city at the same time.” 
As new businesses have opened, the fair has truly become a neighborhood event. The organizing committee includes the owners of Willow, Petworth Citizen, Crossfit Petworth and Nathan Hill Design, among others. As is the tradition, the Petworth Public Libary will host its annual book sale the same day.  
Give locally this year! 
DETAILSUpshur Street Art & Craft Fair800 Block of Upshur St NWPetworthDate: Saturday, December 12Time: 11:00am-4:00pm

Monday, December 7, 2015

Blind Dog Coffee closing, replaced by Union Kitchen Presents pop-up incubator: first is Timber Pizza Co.

Coffee fans in southern Columbia Heights will need a new option: the Post reports that Blind Dog Cafe at 944 Florida Ave NW is closing, to be replaced by Union Kitchen Presents, a pop-up restaurant incubator -- kind of like EatsPlace on Georgia Avenue, where different chefs and restauranteurs will test out their ideas.

The first pop-up will be for Timber Pizza Co., the pizza restaurant and former food truck opening at 809 Upshur Street NW in Petworth which we've written about before. It sounds like a good opportunity to give them a shot before they open their brick and mortar location sometime in 2016. Timber has also had other events in our area, like pop-ups at Colony Club on Georgia.

Union Kitchen has a few locations around the city -- this is the first outside of Northeast.

Darnell's, the bar that is in the same building as Blind Dog, will presumably stay open.

UPDATE: The pop-up will still sell Blind Dog's coffee and baked goods.

Photo from Timber Pizza Co.'s Instgram

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Columbia Heights tree lighting ceremony this Saturday at the Civic Plaza

It's beginning to look at lot like Christmas, and the annual Columbia Heights Tree Lighting Extravaganza is this Saturday at 6 pm at the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza (the triangle at 14th/Park/Kenyon.)

 The event is always a lot of fun, and there will be free cocoa, snacks, and caroling, plus Santa and more. There will also be specials and fun at local restaurants.

 It might be a good event to check out after the Georgia Avenue Winter Fest which is earlier that day! A whole day of holiday cheer.

 The event was organized by the Columbia Heights Initiative, the folks behind Columbia Heights Day. Here's more from the Tree Lighting Facebook page.
This December on Saturday the 5th we will be decking the halls, and by halls we mean the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza for 5th Annual Columbia Heights Tree Lighting Extravaganza. Come to the plaza to enjoy complimentary cocoa, yummy Christmas treats, and carols. And perhaps even a visit from Santa! After the tree lighting, local restaurants and businesses will host additional festivities full of food, drinks and lots of holiday cheer! 
Iluminación del árbol navideño de Columbia Heights Este sábado 5 de diciembre estaremos adornando los pasillos, y cuando decimos pasillos nos referimos a la plaza cívica de Columbia Heights para nuestra quinta celebración anual de los festivos navideños! Ven a la plaza a disfrutar de chocolate caliente gratis, dulces navideños, y villancicos. De pronto nos visita de Santa! Después de la iluminación del árbol, los restaurantes locales y negocios del vecindario tendrán sus propias festividades llenas de comida, bebidas, y mucho espíritu navideño!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Old Cove, the Dunes space now Studio Crowley Hall architects

There's been some work in the old Cove and The Dunes space at 1402 Meridian Place NW for the last few weeks, but I could never figure out what it was. And now I know: I spotted a sign on the door for Studio Crowley Hall, an architecture firm.

The things near windows of the space, which was formerly The Dunes art space and then Cove, a coworking space, definitely look like an office: desks, coffee mugs and so on. It's good the space is being utilized, though I think something like the Dunes would have been more fun. I never managed to go, but I heard it was a cool spot -- lots of music, DJ nights and art openings were hosted here. Cove moved to the Tivoli Building on 14th Street.

Studio Crowley Hall is on the top floor, where the Dunes and Cove also where rest of the building was formerly restaurants: first Social, then the Getaway, both with a basement bar/lounge area and a restaurant area on the main floor. Social was pretty weird, it seemed like they couldn't figure out what they were going for, while I liked the Getaway, which was a Steve McQueen/car/motorcycle themed place. They had good food. Sadly both closed, and the rest of the building has been vacant since.

Meet your Neighbors: Coach Popsie of DC SCORES

We're starting a new series on the the blog today, called Meet your Neighbors, in which writer Alex Rego talks to interesting residents.

In the first installment, she spoke with Mark "Popsie" Lewis, who coaches with DC SCORES, the great local nonprofit that offers soccer and poetry programs for almost 2,000 kids in DC. (I wrote more about them yesterday!)

Coach Popsie's team from Lincoln Middle School at 16th and Irving was on the verge of winning the DC SCORES soccer title and are also preparing for the organization's annual Poetry Slam, which is this Wednesday, December 2 from 5-8 at Lincoln. It's free and open to the public, RSVP here!

Interview and photos by Alex Rego

Meet Popsie.

Soccer coach by day.

Bouncer by night.

I was introduced to him as an “institution” within DC SCORES. Which made me wonder, how exactly does one go from mere man to institution?

Popsie has been coaching for DC SCORES since 2009; he started with the students at downtown's Thomson Elementary, or as he lovingly calls them his “babies,” and has since branched out, coaching at Lincoln Middle School at 16th and Irving as well.

“I had done the DC SCORES summer camp that summer, and met a group of young men that were at Lincoln at the time. They took a liking to me and my coaching methods and so when they lost their coach in the spring season they actually showed up at my house! I wasn’t home, but at the time my best friend was the director of DC SCORES, so they asked him if I could come be their new coach. And the rest is history! I’ve been at Lincoln for five years and Thomson for six.”

The longevity of Popsie’s career with DC SCORES is only one part of his fame -- it’s Lincoln’s record that sets him apart.

“Within the five years I’ve been with Lincoln this is my fourth championship game -- we have won three of those games and if we win today it will be a three-peat for the last three years.”

Popsie doesn’t like to take the credit for the team's success. He attributes a lot of it to the passion and the prevalence of players from our neighborhood.

“So the good thing about Lincoln, and the Columbia Heights area in general, is it’s a soccer neighborhood, a soccer environment. I always tell people, you know, I only do so much. I have a good turnout of kids every year -- whereas most schools struggle to find players, I have 30-40 kids each year that want to be on the team.”

He spoke of Lincoln’s growing rivalry with the nearby Raymond Education Campus at 10th and Spring and Chavez Prep at Sherman and Kenyon.

“Obviously, everybody wants to win, but even moreso when you get to Chavez Prep or Raymond, our neighboring schools who we tend to consider our rivals, the competition gets fierce.”

And the competition doesn’t stop on the field: it carries over to the DC SCORES end of the season Poetry Slam. Popsie sees the impact of the poetry classes and competitions on his players.

“We get kids that are fairly shy coming in, and the poetry side is where we allow kids to express themselves and be who they are. A lot of times, kids, because of peer pressure or bullying, are not really open to share their thoughts. And the poetry class really helps that. I see the development of certain kids... Taking part in the poetry, finding that voice to express themselves without someone trying to put them down. So I think the poetry side is much bigger than the actual soccer in DC SCORES.”

Popsie has also implemented his own standards for academic excellence. He believes academics are key to not only being what he called “responsible young men” but also for continuing athletics in high school, and later on in life. Each week, every player must get approval from all of their teachers to play and to practice.

“So I really try to stress that aspect of it. And just being responsible young men, owning up to mistakes when you make them, and being good human beings.”

When I had the opportunity to speak with two of his sixth grade team members, Mamadou and William, I could already see his influence. They were jumping over each other to talk and share stories, like typical teenage boys. But what struck me was that they were not bragging about themselves, they were praising each other.

“...This one time, I gave him an assist, it was up in the air, and he kicked it. It was an astonishing half shot, it hit the goal post and went in! Thats one of the best things I saw him do,” said Mamadou of William.

William then chimed in: “For tonight, if we lose, I don’t really care. I just like to play for fun. And I like to play with my friends, like Mamadou, because we always try hard, and we always have fun.”

And what does Popsie learn from the boys?

“Oh man, a little bit of everything. Patience, definitely... And they allow me to let my guard down a little bit and just have fun sometimes. At the end of the day, just like I’m trying to make them better people, they have made me ten times better a person than I was when I first started coaching with DC SCORES.”

As for the title game, a rematch of last year, Lincoln and Raymond tied 1-1 in regulation, with Raymond taking the title in a shoot-out.

To see more fierce competition join DC SCORES at its 18th Annual Poetry Slam! on Wednesday, December 2, 5-8 PM at Columbia Heights Education Campus (16th and Irving) and Thursday, December 3, 5-8 PM  and H.D. Woodson Senior High School in Northeast. The events are free and open to the public, and a lot of fun.

To RSVP and for more details please visit the DC SCORES site.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Today is Giving Tuesday -- and DC SCORES could use your help with their youth sports and literature programs

Giving Tuesday is here, a day encouraging people to give to charities and nonprofits, and one of my favorite local organizations is DC SCORES: they have soccer and poetry programs for students in the area, based at schools, and they're really successful. Students do both, and often find they love poetry and writing as much as playing soccer with friends.

Since 1994 they've worked with over 8,000 local kids at 50 sites about the city, with 1,800 participating this year alone!

Their goal is to raise $20,000 -- and a $5,000 prize for most raised -- equipping over 700 kids with the essentials to play soccer, write poetry and experience TLC.

You can donate here! And here are a few suggestion donations:
$51: Teamwork gives a full soccer uniform for a boy and a girl; ask a friend to do the same!
$121: Leadership provides writing supplies for a school’s entire team of 32 poet-athletes.
$28: Commitment equips a kid for success with a soccer uniform, poetry journal and pencil.
Here's more about DC SCORES:
DC SCORES has a team-based approach for providing youth with the arts, athletics, and academics that will engage and enrich their lives. DC SCORES builds teams through after-school programs for 1,800 low-income DC youth at 50 sites by instilling self- expression, physical fitness, and a sense of community. DC SCORES accomplishes this in an innovative model combining poetry and spoken word, soccer, and service-learning year-round. We have worked with over 8,000 students since our founding in 1994 and we aim to serve EVERY child in the District deserving of a team who does not have one.
Their Facebook has more info on today, too.

And if you have any other favorite local charities, let us know in the comments!

DC Gurly Show burlesque at The Pinch, Dec. 3

This sounds like fun: DC Gurly Show, a local burlesque troupe, is hosting a holiday show, A Tit Bit Nipply, at the Pinch on Thursday, Dec. 3. I've seen a few burlesque shows and they are generally fun, hilarious and titillating. Check it out!
DC Gurly Show presents A TIT BIT NIPPLY!

It’s cold outside! Warm up with some the DC Gurly Show and some HOT burlesque!

Thursday, December 3 @ 9:00 PM
(doors open at 8:30)

The Pinch
(3548 14th Street NW)

Tickets are $12-$15, available at door and in advance for limited seating at Website:

I’m enclosing the poster if you would like to use it.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Georgia Avenue Winter Fest this Saturday: music, food, arts & crafts, fire truck, Christmas tree sales, a lot more!

This sounds really awesome: Georgia Ave Community Development Task Force and the Georgia Ave and Lamont Public Safety Task Force have organized a big festival, the 1st annual Georgia Avenue Winter Fest, which is coming up this Saturday.

The event has a lot going on: live music, performances, arts & crafts, food, a fire truck(!), Christmas tree sales, local nonprofits and organizations, and a ton more.

It's 11am-4pm in the old Murry's Grocery space at 3400 Georgia Avenue NW -- the space has been empty for some time and it was rehabbed by owners and developers Zuckerman Gravely for the event. That's pretty cool -- some good temporary reuse of an abandoned building.

It sounds like a really fun event for kids and adults, families and folks shopping for the holidays.

Here's the full press release with all the details. I'm pretty excited.

Neighbors Unite to Celebrate Georgia Ave at Winter Fest 
A DC community is harnessing community assets to repurpose a currently vacant building and create a safe, fun, space for neighbors to connect, engage and celebrate their neighborhood. The Georgia Ave Community Development Task Force and the Georgia Ave and Lamont Public Safety Task Force will host the 1st Annual Georgia Ave Winter Fest: a neighborhood-wide demonstration of the positive aspects of the Georgia Ave corridor, such as the strong community spirit and activism and the exciting and engaged local businesses in the community. 
The 1st Georgia Ave Winter Fest takes place from 11:00am to 4:00pm on December 5th at 3400 Georgia Avenue NW. The event is free and all are welcome. Attendees can: 
- See performers ranging from salsa dancing to boxing demos, from school choirs and cheerleading to an Opera singer formerly of Park Morton public housing and the DC-based Eminence Band;

- Purchase Christmas trees from Annie’s Ace Hardware with 20% of proceeds going towards the neighborhood;

- Engage in arts and craft activities for children;

- Learn more about city services ranging from youth programming to addiction

- Sample and purchase foods from local restaurants like long-time Georgia Ave
Morgan’s Seafood, EatsPlace restaurant incubator, 11th Street favorite Kangaroo
Boxing Club, and newcomers Heat Da Spot and Colony Club;

- Peruse local artist wares for the holidays;

- View local student’s artwork made specifically or the event;

- Visit DC firefighters and see a fire truck up close and personal;

- Discover additional ways to get involved in the community.

The event has been made possible by massive community support and is being executed completely by volunteer effort and with donated funds. Audra Grant, a volunteer, neighbor, and President of the nearby Luray-Warder Neighborhood Association, says, “This is an opportunity for the community surrounding lower Georgia Avenue to come together and celebrate what lies ahead for the area. We’re excited!” 
The Winter Fest is taking place in the former home of the Murry’s Grocery Store chain which has been under development for over a year and is part of an overabundance of vacant properties along Georgia Avenue. The repurposing of this property for a community celebration is in large part due to support from the owner/developer Zuckerman Gravely. Neighbors hope to set a precedent for community stewardship for other developers with vacant properties in Washington, DC. Says Grant, “It’s an interesting experiment in finding ways to use existing spaces for placemaking activities.”  
The event is a culmination of intense community response to an increase in crime and violence in Washington, DC. It is part of a grassroots effort by neighbors to improve the safety in the area, which includes, among other activities, creating placemaking activities for the area, and repurposing currently vacant property for the neighborhood’s benefit. Laura Recchie, volunteer, and President of Root + Branch, one of the event’s sponsors says, “Seeing the neighborhood unite around this celebration is inspiring. Our neighbors are rallying to emphasize and support the things that make our community amazing.” 
You can learn more about the event at
And here's more about the organizers"
The Georgia Ave and Lamont St Public Safety Task Force is a grassroots neighbor-led response to the rising crime on the 3200 and 3300 block of Georgia Avenue in 2015. They are working with the local police, ANC, City Council and the Mayor’s office to help coordinate neighbors, businesses and city services to help improve the public safety in the area. By collaborating with local neighborhood community groups, developers, business owners, city leadership and fellow neighbors, they have increased camera surveillance and law enforcement presence, conducted regular neighborhood clean ups, addressed nuisance and long term vacant properties, and brought in mobile health units to the area. They are also working diligently to create placemaking activities and experiences to give neighbors ways to connect and engage, such as the 1st Annual Georgia Ave Winter Fest.

The Georgia Avenue Community Development Task Force is a grassroots organization that was formed to ensure equitable development and opportunities exist for current residents along Lower Georgia Avenue. We all want to see Georgia Avenue thrive. But we want to see housing and retail come online that is affordable and desirable to the people that live here.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

POTUS, Sasha, Malia visit Upshur Street Books

Whoa! A buddy reports he spotted President Obama and his daughters at Upshur Street Books earlier this afternoon. Presumably Barack, Sasha and Malia were shopping for Christmas gifts on Small Business Saturday, which is today.

Pretty awesome for our area, the burgeoning Upshur Street strip, and the owners of Upshur Street Books, the folks behind Room 11, Crane and Turtle, Petworth Citizen and the coming soon Slim's Diner.

UPDATE: Upshur Street Books added this photo to their Facebook page:

Photo of the motorcade by Jeff Gero

Friday, November 27, 2015

Twisted Horn cocktail bar on Upshur set to open in December

Looks like Upshur Street is getting a bit more busy: Twisted Horn, the cocktail bar from the folks behind Hank's Oyster Bar (and formerly Commonwealth on Irving Street) is aiming for an opening in December, according to Petworth News.

Previously we heard the spot will have about 40 seats inside and another 40 outside, and will have classic and new cocktails, rotating beer and wine, and small bites for food -- sounds kind of like the idea behind Room 11, but larger.

Petworth News has the press release, which includes bits on the drinks and food:
The opening beverage list features unique drinks such as Scarlet Billows: Blackwell Rum, Camparno Anitca, Fresh Blood Orange Juice; Ghostwood Development: Jensen Old Tom Gin, Sapins Liqueur, Port, Salmiakki Dala Scandinavian Fernet, Whole Egg, Black Pepper Nutmeg; and Black Hat: Maker’s Mark Bourbon, Grapefruit Juice, Housemade Cinnamon & Clove Demerara Syrup, Angostura Bitters.
Guests are invited to snack on small bites to accompany their carefully crafted beverages. Jamie Leeds has designed a menu consisting of bar favorites and colorful tastes, such as Assorted Pickles, from their neighbors Gordy’s Pickle Jar; Crostini, choice of Pimento Cheese, French Onion, Spicy Carrot, Chopped Chicken Liver; Onigiri Japanese Rice Balls, choice of Pickled Vegetable, Tuna Tartar, Smoked Salmon, Ume Plum Paste; and a curated selection of Cheese & Charcuterie.
If you recall, Hank's owner Jamie Leeds opened Commonwealth, a British gastropub, a few years ago in the space that is now Acre 121. It was tasty and apparently successful, but Leeds closed it to focus on Hank's. Too bad too, I really enjoyed Commonwealth, although the Scotch eggs at Small Fry are just as good.

Presumably a cocktail bar would be easier to run than a full restaurant, so I don't think Leeds would close this the same as with Commonwealth.

Twisted Horn will be at 819 Upshur Street NW. Right now they will only be open Thursday-Saturday: Thursday 5pm-1am and Friday and Saturday 5pm-2am.

They have a website and mostly dormant Instagram and Twitter account too.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Post says the city smells like weed: especially Columbia Heights

The Post has an article about the city smelling like marijuana, and how most residents don't really care. I've definitely smelled it from time to time around our neighborhood, and it does seem like now I smell it more -- but I also wonder if some of that is bias that we're looking for it more now that marijuana is (kind of) legal in the city.

In a Post poll, 57% of people say they smell it at least once a month, 45% of say they don't mind while another 17% say it doesn't bother them too much.

If you recall, the law is that you can have up to 2 ounces of marijuana, you can grow it for personal use (up to 6 plants, no more of which 3 can be mature), and you can give it away (again, just 1 ounce.) You have to be 21 or older, you can't sell it, and you can't use it in public. That last part, however, is not enforced much by the police -- and that's fine with me.

I've definitely experienced more weed smells than before -- a couple of weeks ago, I was walking down Spring Road between 13th and 14th and smelled the strongest, funkiest, sticky-icky-ickiest weed smell I've ever smelled:

The Post quotes a few people who say they're less discreet now, and a lot of their examples take place in our fair neighborhood.

It doesn't really bother me, but then again, I voted for the law and actually volunteered at polling places for Initiative 63, a medical marijuana ballot initiative that passed in 2002 but was blocked by Republicans in Congress.

What do you think?  Ok with it, or not so much?

Monday, November 23, 2015

Comedian Hannibal Buress does surprise show at Wonderland on Sunday

Whoa! Comedian and actor Hannibal Buress did a surprise show at Wonderland last night, trying out some new material. He hosts Why? With Hannibal Buress on and is a recurring character on Broad City as Ilana's sort-of romantic interest, and made news last year as the guy who brought out Bill Cosby's sexual assaults into public knowledge.

DCist has the story -- Wonderland hosts a free local stand-up night on Sundays, and after 16 other comedians, Buress walked up unannounced. He did a 40 minute set on politics, kids, social media and more. They report that before his surprise set, he was sitting at the bar next to a lady who knew who he was but didn't say anything, instead tweeting about him sitting there. Pretty funny and weird.

He tweeted about the set just before it happened, but later deleted the tweet.

Pretty cool -- and to me, another reason why our neighborhood watering hole is awesome. (Also another reason why Buress is awesome.)

Here's Buress from a New York show in case the DCist tweet above doesn't work.

Photo by 92Y Tribeca

Friday, November 20, 2015

More info on the Hilltop, bar and restaurant coming to Sherman & Girard: looking at Spring opening

I've been looking forward to The Hilltop, the bar and restaurant coming to 2737 Sherman Ave NW: it's from two guys from the Saloon, the relaxed beer spot on U Street with a focus on beer and wine, but it's been a few years in the making.

Other blogs reported in 2013 that it would be open in a month, and since then we've heard about permit issues and delays, which are normal when it comes to restaurants. We also heard they would open in September, but no dice.

Some folks were worried it might not open, but I talked to co-owner Sam Jahanbeen about the spot, and he said they're aiming at Spring 2016 for opening. It sounds like they're on the home stretch, Jahanbeen said they have their liquor and zoning permits and are just working on their kitchen. They'll spend the winter developing and testing their food menu.

According to their liquor license, heir hours will be 10am-1am Sun-Wed, 10am-2am Thurs-Sat, which suggests to me they'll have brunch. The outdoor areas will be 10am-11pm every day.

Judging from their Facebook, the inside looks pretty far along.

They'll be beer and wine focused, with probably most being American and European, and they're working on their food menu, which will be casual and American-focused. There's 36 seats inside and 40+ outside.

Jahanbeen is the nephew of the owner of the Saloon and his co-owner Kaleabe Getaneh is a long-time waiter and manager there, and a super nice guy. With that kind of bar pedigree, this place sounds like a great addition.

If you haven't been, the Saloon on U Street is a relaxed German and Belgian-beer bar, a great place to have a conversation with friends. They also raise money and close down every year to build schools, which is pretty cool.

The before and after of the building is pretty nice too: it was a vacant building for a long time.

I'm looking forward to this spot, and hope they're on track to open then.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

TEDxYouth Columbia Heights is Saturday, Nov. 21

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You may have heard about TED talks, the events where speakers talk about their ideas and their projects, and TEDx, the independently-organized TED events around the world.

There's one in our area coming this Saturday, TEDxYouth@ColumbiaHeights, which is a youth-focused event targeting high school and college students, but anyone can attend.

This is the second TEDxYouth@ColumbiaHeights, the first was in 2012.

The speakers ar Mariam Adil, the founder of GRID, Gaming Revolution for International Development, which usess games for international development projects, Ana Alanis, a student at American University who is a youth activist, and Gabriel "Asheru" Benn, a hip hop artist and former DC teacher who also runs Guerilla Arts Ink, which trains local artists.

Here's more about the event. Sounds interesting! And there's more info on their website.
TEDxYouth@ColumbiaHeights was originally started in 2012. We are back in 2015 with a new team, new ideas and a passion for "ideas worth spreading." As an organization and an event, TEDxYouth@ColumbiaHeights seeks to connect youth in the DC community to new ideas, opportunities and each other, in order to build a space where students can grow as individuals in order to help them positively impact their communities.
TED is an organization that's focused on ideas worth spreading and TEDxYouth@ColumbiaHeights is a local, independently organized TED-like event that seeks to connect students to new ideas, opportunities, and each other, in order to build a space where students can grow as individuals to help them positively impact their communities.

This full day event (9:30 AM - 1:30 PM) targeting high school and college students from across the district will feature 11 speakers from a wide variety of fields to spark new ideas, conversations, and action through a series of talks and interactive activities relating to this year’s theme of “independence.” This year's speakers include a NASA program manager, an international hip-hop artist, a professional road tripper and more.

Tickets for the event are $10 and are available on our website.

Playback the Tape is back: found VHS footage festival at the Coupe tonight at 7 pm

Playback the Tape, the fun event where they screen old VHS tapes, commercials and all, is back in our neighborhood. Their next event is tonight at the Coupe, starting at 7 pm, where they'll be showing Peanuts, Miracle on 34th Street, and other old holiday videos, all from home-recorded VHS tapes, which means they're complete with 80s and 90s commercials.

The events are a blast, it's a fun blast of nostalgia. I went to one two Halloweens ago at the Mothership (RIP) where they showed a Garfield Halloween special, which included commercials for My Little Pony, GI Joe, Teddy Ruxpin and lots of other funny ephemera I'd forgotten about.

Here's more about today's event:
to filter or #nofilter... that is the question! stirring up wonderment and controversy in equal doses, the 1985 debut of a computer-colorized "miracle on 34th street" proved more a marketing fad than a technological revolution. but with hues and tones intended to evoke a previous era, did this revised version also forecast our future instagram-colored world? join us for a re-airing of its original computer-tinted television broadcast (starring the recently-deceased maureen o'hara), preceded by "this is america, charlie brown," a retelling of the first thanksgiving fable, with peanuts playing the part of pilgrims. we're revisiting the revisionists, holiday-style -- all 100% home-recorded vhs with vintage commercials intact!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

El Latino Bakery, which makes the delicious smell on 11th Street, is closed!

This is sad news for our sense of smell: it seems that El Latino Bakery at 3314 11th Street NW, has closed and moved to Maryland.

The place, just up the street from Room 11, generated all kinds of delicious sweet bread smells in the past, and would also sell things from the bakery if you asked nicely (and knew a little bit of Spanish.)

It's too bad, I always loved smelling that sweet, doughy aroma over the area. Sometimes the smell went as far as 13th and Park.

At least there are still other Latin bakeries in the area, especially up 14th Street. Which is your favorite?

And I wonder what will come of that building -- they had a pretty big space.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Want to host a block party? Here's how and where you can (and can't) host one

The other day, a reader emailed me asking about the procedures to host a block party, a party where the city shuts down the block and you have friends and neighbors take over the street for grilling, hanging out, games and the link. I wasn't sure the process, so I did some research and found out how and where you can host one.

The District's Department of Transpiration (DDOT) runs the permitting process for block parties, and they have more information about hosting a block party here, with the following requirements:
  • Applicant must be an adult resident (21 years or older) of the block being closed.
  • Area must not exceed two intersecting streets (i.e., must be limited to one block).
  • Street must be reopened no later than 10 pm
  • Applicant must obtain consent of 51% of households on the block.
  • Vending is prohibited. No sales, fees, or donations shall be solicited or accepted at the event.
  • No sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages allowed.
  • Accessibility for emergency equipment via an unobstructed 20-foot emergency access lane must be maintained at all times.
  • Posting of street closure/no parking signs must be completed no less than 72 hours prior to date of event.
There are some other requirements too: according to DDOT staff I spoke with, the street must be categorized as a "local" street, which is why I created the above map using data from the DCGIS office -- green is local, red is everything else. You'll see that eliminates most of Columbia Heights south of Park Road. You can mouse over the street to see the name, and click it to see its "functional class" or street type.

However, just because your street is categorized as a local street, it doesn't mean that the block party will automatically be approved -- the permit goes through various agencies like MPD, the fire department, and WMATA, and they can deny it if they find the street is too important, it will impede emergency vehicles, or other reasons. If it's on a Metrobus route, the party still may be approved if WMATA can redirect the buses safely and easily.

In addition, it can't be on an official emergency evacuation route, but those are never local streets, so that is kind of redundant.

To apply for the actual permit, you use DDOT's online permitting system called TOPS and choose "Parking/Occupancy permit." There seems to be no fee.

A few other considerations: this will take some time -- getting people on the block to agree, getting the permit back in time and so on. I would start working on it as soon as possible.

I hope this helps people have more parties! They are really a blast. And make sure you get a moon bounce, because they are awesome.

UPDATE: A commenter noted that 11th Street is colored red, but Columbia Heights Day is held there. I believe that's because Columbia Heights Day is not a block party but a "special event," which is a different permit. Block parties can only be one block and can't sell alcohol, whereas Columbia Heights Day does both.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Thanksgiving food drive this Saturday at the Petworth Community Market (and around the neighborhood until Nov. 20!)

Thanksgiving is coming up, and the folks behind the Petworth Community Market have organized a Thanksgiving food drive to support Mary's Center, a great local nonprofit that works on health care, education and social services.

They'll have food bins at the Market on Sunday and also other local businesses until Nov. 20: Annie’s Hardware, Greenline Real Estate, Willow Fashion, Lighthouse Yoga and the Mary's Center office at 3912 Georgia Ave NW.

The Petworth Market is every Saturday from 9am to 1pm at the triangular park where Georgia, Upshur and 9th Street intersect.

Here's more info:
In support of the Mary’s Center 2015 Food Drive, the Petworth Market will host a Thanksgiving food donation bin at the November 7th and November 14th markets. Please join us in supporting local families in need during the holiday season. You can also visit the local Mary’s Center location at 3912 George Avenue to drop off your donations. Accepted items include non-perishables such as canned vegetables/fruit, cranberry sauce, yams, stuffing mix, and pumpkin pie filling. We will also accept $25 grocery store gift cards for frozen turkeys. For a full description of what we’re looking for, click here
Until November 20, you can also find drop-off bins at our local partners during the week: 
Annie’s HardwareGreenline Real EstateWillow FashionLighthouse Yoga 
Mary’s Center, founded in 1988, is a Federally Qualified Health Center that provides health care, family literacy and social services to individuals whose needs too often go unmet by the public and private systems. Mary’s Center uses a holistic, multipronged approach to help each participant access individualized services that set them on the path toward good health, stable families, and economic independence. The Center offers high-quality, professional care in a safe and trusting environment to residents from the entire DC metropolitan region, including individuals from over 110 countries.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

New phone app for exploring Rock Creek Park: learn about trails, picnic areas, historical sites & more

Rock Creek Park is a great resource right in our backyard: there are trails for running, biking or hiking, places to work out, picnic areas, fields for games or just hanging out, historical sites like forts and old buildings, and a lot more. 

I wrote about the hiking trails before (as well as an album about the park), but I just heard about a cool new way to explore the park: the Rock Creek Conservancy app.

The Conservancy is a nonprofit that helps maintain the park and holds events like cleanups, and the app lets users find and learn more about tons of features of the park: trails and markers, streams, horse stables, boathouses (I didn't even know there was one!) Civil War forts and more.

Here's more from the Conservancy, plus a survey about the app.
Help us out! Download the app from the App Store and please take this survey and provide your feedback. 
The survey takes less than two minutes and your input will allow for further fine-tuning, making sure the app is functioning perfectly. 
Use the app to stay up-to-date with events in the parks, learn about how to help protect the parks, and even “find yourself” in the Park by using the maps feature. Specifically, the app will help users: 
• Identify and describe numerous facets of the park including trails and markers, miles of tributaries, horse stables, boathouses, fields, recreational sites, and historic Civil War fortifications;
• Sign-up to attend an event with up-to-date event listings and registrations;
• Know their exact whereabouts through geo-location and mapping and never get lost with Google enabled walking and driving directions;
• Share adventures with friends through Facebook and Twitter integration.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Weekday Lunch: Lyman's Tavern is now open at 11 am, kitchen at noon

As part of my continuing Weekday Lunch series, where I check out local restaurants and food options for lunch during the week, I headed to Lyman's Tavern at 3720 14th Street NW, just south of Quincy.

They used to open at 2 for lunch but have since changed that to opening the bar at 11 and the kitchen at noon, which is great.

I stopped in a bit ago and got a fantastic pressed Cuban sandwich with ham, pulled pork, pickles, peppers and spicy sauce. It's probably one of my favorite sandwiches in the neighborhood so far. I've also had really good pulled pork BBQ sliders with spicy red cabbage there. All sandwiches come with chips and if I recall was about $9 or $10 with tax.

They serve meatball subs on Monday some days too and they have tasty pupusas too. Also on the menu, which I haven't had yet, are tacos and more.

I like the lunch vibe too, it's pretty quiet and relaxed, and on nice days you can sit at the outdoor bar area. And it's always fun to be able to play pinball with lunch. Definitely a good lunch option.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Neighborhood cleanup this Sunday at 14th and Otis

Come out, meet your neighbors and help clean up the neighborhood this Sunday. Slate Properties and the DC Department of Public Works have organized a cleanup starting at 10am at 14th and Otis and they'll provide the supplies. Sounds like a neat way to help out and give back. 

Here's a bit more info from Alex Khachaturian from Slate:
Dear Neighbors,
Please join me in a local neighborhood litter clean-up day on Sunday, November 15, at 10:00 starting at the corner of Otis Pl. & 14th St. NW, brought to you with the support of Slate Properties and the DC Department of Public Works Helping Hand Neighborhood Clean-up Program. 
Here’s how it works: 
- Sign up to help via email alex@slatepropertiesdc.comor phone (646) 295.5179 
- Come by at the designated time to help clean up our neighborhood! I will provide materials (gloves, shovels, trash bags) and arrange for pick up. It’s that simple!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Monthly cider tasting event at Colony Club next Friday, Nov. 13

If you like cider, or want to learn more about it, Colony Club is hosting monthly tastings, and the next one is Nov. 12. Colony Club is the coffee shop and bar at 3118 Georgia Avenue, and is a really cool spot (in fact, I am blogging from there right now.)

The event is in collaboration with Anxo, a new cider bar and Basque "pintxos" restaurant (that's skewers) coming to 711 Kennedy Street NW, and Millstone Cidery which is based in Maryland. (Unrelated, some articles say 711 Kennedy is in Brightwood Park, but I've never heard of that neighborhood before. I would consider that Petworth -- thoughts?)

The event will have 30 ciders plus a lecture about cider and snacks from Anxo. Sounds pretty cool.

Weekday Lunch: Taqueria Habanero is great

Here's the latest installment of Weekday Lunch, my series about good places to eat lunch in the neighborhood during the week, maybe if you work from home or are just around.

This time I stopped by Taqueria Habanero, the great spot at 3710 14th Street NW, down the street from the Red Derby.They make traditional Mexican food from the city of Puebla, and critics and regular folks alike love it (plus me), but I hadn't been for lunch.

They don't have any special deals that I could see, but I got the red enchiladas, which comes with rice and beans, and an agua fresca (house made fruit juice), and it was all great and filling, running me about $14 plus tax and tip. The tortillas are homemade and great, and all the ingredients are all fresh, flavorful and bright. It was topped with cheese and herbs, and the aqua fresca was an orange and watermelon mix.

There was a decent crowd too, some families, some work from home types, but plenty of room.

I suppose that's a little high for lunch, but it's really tasty! I highly recommend it, especially if you haven't been before. They also have their liquor license now, so you can get margaritas and cerveza.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Update from DC SCORES: Poetry Slam coming soon, you can help too!

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a partnership that this blog and others have formed with DC SCORES, a great local nonprofit that provides after school programs for kids with poetry and soccer.

Their season (both poetry and soccer) is underway, and their culminating event, the Poetry Slam, is in less than a month, Dec. 2 and Dec. 3.

The event highlights kids from around the city, who perform their own original poems -- it's a celebration of their hard work and newly found skills, and also a great way for the community to cheer them on.

If you're interested, there are two events you can check out, 5-8 pm on either Wednesday, Dec 2 at the Columbia Heights Education Campus at 3101 16th Street NW and Thursday, Dec. 3 at HD Woodson High, 540 55th Street NE.

Both days are free and open to the public and you can arrive anytime during the event.

Here's a couple of great videos about DC SCORES alumni, Ingrid and Xavier. Xavier was on MSNBC to talk about the program and Ingrid lives in Columbia Heights.

The kids at Powell Elementary wrote a blog post about their experiences with some poems, and the kids from Brightwood Elementary had a training session with the US Women's National Soccer team.

There are many ways to get involved with DC SCORES. Sign up to volunteer at a neighborhood school; donate to the program (always helpful!); host a small fundraiser for the the organization; and more! Learn how at

Here's more about the Poetry Slam and DC SCORES in general.
The DC SCORES Poetry Slam! funnels the energy and creativity of youth into self-expression as a means of improving their literacy rates and raising their self-esteem. The students, ages 8-15, represent seven of the Districts eight wards.
On consecutive nights,1,500 District of Columbia public and public charter elementary and middle school students will take the stage during the 18th annual citywide DC SCORES Poetry Slam! com- petition to vie for the Golden Mic trophy. The Slam showcases original works of poetry written and performed by students from DC SCORES’ after-school program. The Poetry Slam!, the largest youth slam in the District, is a FREE, two-night event and is open to the public.About DC SCORES 
DC SCORES has a team-based approach for providing youth with the arts, athletics, and academics that will engage and enrich their lives. DC SCORES builds teams through after-school programs for 1,500 low-income DC youth at 44 schools by instilling self- expression, physical fitness, and a sense of community. DC SCORES accomplishes this in an innovative model combining poetry and spoken word, soccer, and service-learning year-round. We have worked with over 8,000 students since our founding in 1994 and we aim to serve EVERY child in the District deserving of a team who does not have one.
DC SCORES is an affiliate and flagship of America SCORES, the nations largest inner-city soccer and literacy program with programs in 14 cities. For more information, please visit