Friday, July 20, 2018

Outdoor documentary movies on gentrification screening tonight at Sankofa Books, 2714 Georgia


This is neat: there's an outdoor movie series tonight at the parking lot next to Sankofa Books at Georgia and Fairmont, where District Bridges and Howard University are showing two documentaries about gentrification: Brick by Brick from the 1970s and What Happened 2 Chocolate City, currently finishing production. There's also a panel discussion before the films. Read on for more!
Bring you chairs, blankets, picnic dinner and inquiring minds to a neighborhood summer movie night on Georgia Avenue that will take place on the Howard University parking lot beside  Sankofa Video, Books and Cafe in the Pleasant Plains community.  
In partnership with Howard University, District Bridges is hosting a panel discussion with two local documentary filmmakers, whose films examine issues of gentrification in Washington, DC. Filmed in the 1970s, Brick by Brick is by Writer, Director, Producer and Howard alumna, Shirikiana Aina of Sankofa Video, Books and CafĂ©. The second film, What Happened 2 Chocolate City focuses on current dynamics and is in its final stages of production (donations to get it over the finish line are happily accepted online). Free popcorn will be provided by our partners and volunteers of Encounter Church. 
This is District Bridges'  4th Community Outdoor Movie Night this summer and we welcome volunteer assistance, so please reply to Jennifer Kuiper, Neighborhood Director, Lower Georgia Avenue Main Streets at: jennifer@districtbridges.org  or (202) 450-4409 if you are able to help with the set-up and/or clean-up!  See details below. 
6:30pm Set-up
7:30pm Gates open to the public
8:00pm Panel Discussion
8:45pm Movies start
10:30pm Clean-Up 
We are fortunate to have several popular restaurant options nearby, including right next door at Sankofa Cafe and within a block at Salt & Pepper Grill (Indian/Pakistani Cuisine), Dulcinea (Mexican Food), Sweetpea's (Classic Soul Food) and Howard China Take-Out.
LOCATION: Howard University parking lot beside Sankofa (2616 Georgia Ave NW)
DATE: Friday, July 20

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The History of Cannabis Museum now open on Georgia Ave.


A few months ago, we heard about The History of Cannabis Museum coming to Georgia Avenue near DC Reynolds -- it was a museum about doobies, plus (my guess) a shop of some kind. (Get it THC Museum?) We didn't hear much since, but now it's opened in a new spot at 2822 Georgia Avenue NW, near Girard Street.

Their website doesn't say much, but does mention that there are tours for $10, and their social media talks about various products they have. A video about the spot (below) shows exhibits about the usage of cannabis through time, from the Egyptians to George Washington (presumably that he grew hemp) through the scary movies about weed in the 30s and through the modern day.

Has anyone been? How is it? It looks like Flavor Flav paid them a visit at some point. If it's like other weed shops in DC, to comply with the city's marijuana laws you can't actually buy weed directly -- places will have people buy something else random and then give you free doobies. The city has also raided a few pop-up shops lately.

The museum is run by Grow Club DC in Adams Morgan, which focuses on tools and techniques for growing weed yourself.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Postcard writing at the Midlands on Wednesday: help write to voters in swing districts

A couple weeks ago I wrote about an event at Midlands, 3333 Georgia Avenue NW, where you could write postcards to encourage Democrats to vote in a tight special Congressional election in Ohio. The organizers are planning to do them every two weeks going forward, and they've scheduled their second one to be held this Wednesday, July 18 from 6-9:30p. And from 6 to 7 pm it's buy one-get one free with some of the beers on draft!

I went last time and it was fun and pretty straightforward -- you get a list of addresses (which is public record) and a script and you write them up. 

In case you need a reminder, Congressional elections are important for the country of course, but also to DC, as Congress controls DC's budget and has the power to block things that local voters have supported -- in the past they've blocked medical marijuana, reproductive rights, and a lot more.

Here's more information. Bring your friends!
Dear Neighbor, 
We hope you can join us for our second ‘Vote Them Out’ postcard writing event at the Midlands on Wednesday, July 18 from 6-9:30pm.  In light of recent events, it is more urgent than ever that we work together to support Democratic candidates in the upcoming Midterm Elections.  This event is  organized by a small, concerned group of neighborhood friends. We know folks are looking for ways to get involved, and this is a great, low-commitment way of doing so. Did I mention there is BOGO free beer until 7pm? 
If you could please join the Facebook group here we would greatly appreciate it: https://www.facebook.com/groups/645304705822426/.  If you could also please RSVP on the events page so we can get a headcount for the Midlands that would be very helpful. Please feel free to add your friends into the group.   
We are working with an organization called "Postcard for Voters" to get the address.  Each night we will usually be supporting a different candidate, writing to known democratic supporters in their district, and asking them to remember to vote.  
We hope to see you at the next event!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Boil water advisory in effect, maybe for a day or two: smaller area than before, check the new map


It's been an interesting day or two -- a brief water outage, followed by nothing, and then this morning the word came out that you should boil water you use to drink, cook, brush teeth, use in baby formula, give to your pets and more. Even for making coffee, a coffee maker won't get it hot enough.

DC Water does say it's precautionary, it's possible contaminants got into the water supply, but there's no evidence that happened -- to be on the safe side you should boil.

The original area for the boil advisory was nearly half the city, but DC Water just released a new interactive map with a smaller area. It's useful to be able to zoom in and see if you're in the area. It still includes most of our area, but at least it's smaller than before.

It's unclear when the issue will be resolved, but the Washington Post says it's expected to last a day or two.

Follow DC Water on Twitter to get the latest -- they're actually updating it now, unlike last night.

The full advisory is below. Note that the map above is the most up to date.

DC Water Issues Precautionary Boil Water Advisory

July 13, 2018

The District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water) advises customers to boil their water for cooking and drinking until further notice if they live within the area that is bounded by the following:
* The north is bounded by Western Avenue to Massachusetts Avenue to Nebraska Avenue to Military Rd to Missouri to New Hampshire Avenue.
* To the east by Eastern Avenue
* To the South by New York Ave to K St to Whitehurst Freeway, and
* To the west by Canal Road to the Clara Barton Pkwy.
Map of Affected Area:
https://www.dcwater.com/sites/default/files/2nd%20High%20Boil%20Water%20Area_V2.pdf
They should also boil their water if they experienced low water pressure or had no water after 8:30 p.m. on July 12. If customers do not have water service, they are advised to boil water when service is restored. If customers did not experience low water pressure and do not live in the affected area, customers do not need to boil their water.
On Thursday, July 12, at approximately 8:30 p.m., an open valve at Bryant Street Pumping Station resulted in a loss of pressure in portions of our distribution system for about an hour. A loss of pressure in the pipe system makes it possible for contaminants to enter the water. Due to this loss of pressure, as a precaution, affected customers are advised to boil their water until further notice. To minimize risk, customers should follow the instructions outlined below.
Customers should:
* If water is discolored, run the tap until clear, prior to boiling.
* Bring water to a rolling boil for 3 minutes.
* Allow water to cool before using.
* Store cooled water in a clean container with a cover.
Customers should use cooled, boiled water or bottled water for:
* Drinking
* Brushing teeth
* Preparing and cooking food
* Making ice
* Preparing infant formula
* Giving water to pets
 The valve problem was corrected and pressure has been restored. Our teams will continue to test samples of the water and we will lift the advisory when we determine the water is safe. Customers will be notified immediately when the advisory is lifted. If you are concerned about your health or the health of your family, please consult your health care provider. Please share this information with everyone who drinks this water, especially those who may not receive this notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools, and businesses).
For more information, visit www.dcwater.com, or read the FAQs at https://dcwater.com/boilwaterFAQ. You may also contact DC Water Customer Service at 202.354.3600 or the 24-Hour Command Center at 202.612.3400.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

What’s the best delivery pizza to our area? Let us know


Now that Pete’s Apizza at 14th and Irving has closed (to be replaced by Wawa), a few people were asking what’s the best pizza that delivers to our area. Do you have any favorites?

I’m a fan of Italian Kitchen on U (great sandwiches too), Duccini’s and Pizza d’Oro. If you’re looking for fancier pizza, Pizzeria Vetri on 14th delivers via some of the delivery apps such as Uber Eats or Caviar, but it’s not cheap.

But that's just my opinion, what do you think? 

Monday, July 9, 2018

"He dipped out during Butt Drugs": former Trump lawyer Ty Cobb spotted at punk rock show at Slash Run


This isn't something you hear every day: former Trump lawyer Ty Cobb was spotted at Slash Run, the bar and restaurant on Upshur Street NW, where he watched part of a punk show featuring local band Copstabber.

First posted on Facebook, the Washington Post picked the story up too. Local photographer Chris Suspect posted a few photos of Cobb rocking out with this caption:
Last night Ty Cobb, former Trump lawyer who handled the Mueller investigation before resigning in May, attends a punk rock show at Slash Run in DC. The band playing was COPSTABBER. Cobb played air guitar and rocked out especially hard to the song "I Love Cocaine." Only in DC. LOL
The Post reports that Cobb and other people dressed much more formally than the rest of the crowd walked in mid-show and hung out for a bit. Suspect told the Post that people identified Cobb to him and he searched the web to be sure.

In later Facebook comments, concertgoers report that Cobb and crew stayed for a few songs, high fived a few other concertgoers and then made their way into the night.

Copstabber singer Dave Poole had this to say on Suspect's Facebook post:
I threw beer on him, called him “ whiskers”, got a high five from him...I just thought he was an old wildman but it turns out he is a RICH old wildman!
And further reported:
he dipped out during “Butt Drugs”, hi fives me and stepped up on the stage and walked across the stage mid song and left.
Pretty awesome. I love our neighborhood.

Screenshot from Suspect's Facebook page

Market with tobacco and vape shop coming to former Cooper Hardware store at 3459 14th Street


Good news if you are a smoker or vaper: a reader sent this photo of 3459 14th Street NW, a vacant storefront that formerly was home to Cooper Hardware. Cooper has been closed for some time and the building was considered vacant and blighted by the city.

The reader noted that the windows are covered over but the lights were on and there seemed to be work going on inside. The business licenses for the building say grocery, tobacco and "patent medicine" (as in over the counter) so I am guessing it's a convenience store that will also sell tobacco and vape products.

I'm not really a smoker or vaper but lots of people are, so it makes sense there would be a place to buy related things. I would assume this means the non-marijuana variety of smokeables. As the tipster said it's not the fanciest use of the building but it's also always nice to have an empty building get filled with something productive.

Here's the building before. Looks like they reused the Cooper sign.

from Google Streetview

Friday, July 6, 2018

City opens Petworth Meditation Garden in triangle park at Kansas, 13th and Quincy

Photo by DCDPR
As readers of this blog know, the city has a lot of small triangular parks where diagonal streets meet the grid. Often these are pretty underused, maybe an occasional picnic or place to take your dog. The city just opened a new idea, a “meditation garden” in the triangle bordered by Kansas, 13th and Quincy. I first wrote about it a few months ago when proposed, and the results look pretty nice. Some people were opposed at that time, saying they hadn't heard from the city in a while. The Post has an article about it, as did NBC4 and other local outlets, but no mention of any complaints since then.

There are permeable walking paths good for people with disabilities, a water fountain, bike racks, benches and more. The idea came out of community meetings where neighbors talked about wanting more usable than just a grassy triangle. Nice to see, and there’s been a lot of press about it too.

Have you tried it out yet?

Here’s the city’s press release with all the details:

Washington, DC – Mayor Muriel Bowser today celebrated the opening of the Petworth Meditation Garden. The meditation garden is a modernization of a triangle park at Kansas Avenue and Quincy Street, NW in Ward 4.
“The Petworth Meditation Garden is an example how we can transform a small space into a tremendous community amenity,” said Mayor Bowser. “We thank the community for working with us to create such a unique and innovative space.”
The new Petworth Meditation Garden includes:
  • permeable and accessible paths through the park;
  • a water faucet for plantings;
  • a drinking fountain for people and pets;
  • bike racks;
  • seating benches along the paths and central space; and
  • a vegetated buffer on the western edge along 13th Street, NW.
The new garden’s permeable paved paths make it ADA accessible while allowing reduced storm water runoff when it rains.
“We are excited about the new life that has been given to this lawn,” explained DPR Director Keith A. Anderson. “This will be something residents will gravitate to and we are excited about turning some of our other small parks into mediation gardens.”
The Petworth Meditation Garden is the result of a community driven process to create a usable and desirable space for the community. The Mayor was joined at the ribbon-cutting by Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd, DGS Director Greer Gillis, DPR Director Keith Anderson, and Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Bennett Hilley. 

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Grumpy jerk gets city to shut down annual family fireworks display on 13th Street; going since 1984


It's my belief that Columbia Heights is the best place around to watch the 4th of July fireworks -- we're high enough that we can see the big show on the Mall (especially if you're on a roof) and if you look in any direction you'll see tons of DIY displays -- some an occasional bottle rocket, others more impressive (and expensive) displays with almost pro quality incendiaries.

But the fire department had other thoughts -- yesterday the police and fire department showed up at the 3500 block of 13th Street NW to stop the annual display put on by the James family. They've been doing it since 1984. The large crowd present to watch started booing and chanting to let the family patriarch, Mack James, go. He was eventually released and not charged, but the fire department seized all the fireworks, which aren't legal in the city.

DCist had a nice article about the James family on Tuesday, who have been doing a big show every 4th of July since the 80s on the 3500 block of 13th Street NW. They originally did it for their family after they got back from the Mall show, but every year more and more friends would come to watch, and eventually lots of neighbors too.

The shutdown was apparently caused by a man name Dave Statter, a former WUSA reporter who now runs his own site that I refuse to link to. Statter started tweeting at various city and police officials asking them to shut it down, complaining about it and clutching his proverbial pearls. And apparently they heeded his tweets. (DCist, for their part, apologized, but I think they don't have anything to apologize for. It was a nice article and the James family was happy to talk.)

To me, this is extremely lame. Instead of reading the DCist article about the family doing their awesome show for more than thirty years and thinking "wow, how cool!" he thought "I should tweet at every local official I can think of and get this shut down."

This city is chock full of people doing their own fireworks during the 4th of July -- it's part of the charm of the holiday, especially around Columbia Heights. And this display has been going on since 1984, and draws a big crowd of neighbors every year. People love it. I would argue it's part of our city's culture.

In my opinion, the fire department and police had to know about it and chose to do nothing about it until this keyboard commando vigilante nerd starting making a fuss. They probably have more important things to do otherwise.

Luckily there were enough other fireworks displays around our area. No thanks to Dave Statter.

Photo by Jonathan Coffey

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

You still have to tip: Initiative 77 passed, but it's not law and $15/hr doesn't kick in for a long time

Initiative 77 on the minimum wage for tipped workers passed, which as readers may know I was opposed to. However, there seems to be some misunderstanding about how it works: the City Paper has an article talking about an increase in the number of people not tipping since it passed. It seems to be a mix of people who never tipped anyway, some who are using it as an excuse to not tip, and some who just don't understand it. In any case, it seems to be hurting take home pay.

The short version is this: it's not enacted into law yet due to Congress's oversight of all DC laws, and it's not certain it will become law since most DC Councilmembers oppose it. And even if it were a law today, the minimum wage will increase in eight increments until 2026. So people are not suddenly taking home $15 an hour. The tipped minimum wage is currently $3.89 an hour, which went up from $3.33 on Sunday -- an increase due to another law, not 77. So you still need to tip, please.

In one anecdote, a party of eight at a fancy restaurant said "congratulations on the raise" to their server and tipped $50 on an $1300 bill. It's hard to tell if they were sincere and just didn't get it or what. Other servers and bartenders talk about customers asking how tipping works now, which is sort of an awkward conversation -- it's not really good to tell someone how much to tip you.

Still others talk about a more mundane but still bad pattern of an increase in people not tipping on smaller bills. One bartender in the City Paper article says two people directly told him they won't be tipping due to Initiative 77 and another say that multiple people told him think they banned tipping by voting for 77. It's not big money like the $1300 bill above, but small amounts add up and sometimes people need every little bit to get by.

As a bartender at Jack's American Grill says:
"When you don't tip at all or you're waiting on this $15 an hour [change], you're slashing people's income by 75 percent or more."
Part of the reason may be how the law was written, which was somewhat confusing: 2/3 of the text on the ballot were already law, but it made it sound like by voting for it, you are getting a minimum wage increase plus increased wages for tipped workers. The City Paper talked about this too before the election. It's also part of the reason why the campaign against Initiative 77 used "Save Our Tips" as their slogan.

So if you're confused, or know someone who is, please set them straight. Tip like normal.