Monday, August 31, 2009

Seen a stolen silver Toyota Camry hyrbid?

Saw this on the Columbia Heights listseve - a new resident just had their Silver 2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid stolen from 14th and Monroe. It has DC tags, an Obama sticker on the back rear window and a bike rack on the back. That stinks!

If you've seen it, email the victim's friend.

a commenter pointed out that it was towed. Lucky for them, but too bad they had to go through all the worry and trouble to find out.

Meeting tonight on the Howard Town Center development

Tonight the Pleasant Plains Civic Association and Howard University are hosting a neighborhood meeting about Howard Town Center, a new development coming to Georgia Ave just north of U Street.

The project will have 300+ residential units and 90,000 square feet of retail, according to the release from the PPCA. Here's some more from DC Metrocentric and the Washington Business Journal. To me it looks like some kind of weird 1970s modernism, like L'Enfant Plaza.

The meeting is at the Emergence Community Arts Collective at 733 Euclid Street NW, which is across from Banneker High School, from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM. I don't think I can make it, but let me know what happens if you go!

Photo from DC Metrocentric via Goetz Group Architects

Cookies at Dunkin Donuts

Cookies at Dunkin Donuts
Originally uploaded by squidpants
Saw this awhile ago at the Dunkin Donuts on 14th near Fairmont. Pretty funny. I love chocclate chuñk and otmealraisn!

Car fire at 11th and Park

Got this from a reader: there was a car fire at 11th and Park about 3:15 am on Sunday. The reader said it sounded like fireworks and the police and fire departments showed up quickly and put it out. The reader also said there was a car fire at Columbia and Georgia back in June, and I've heard of other ones on Otis Place.

Kind of weird that they seem to happen so often. I wonder if it's gang-related or something, and one of my friends said they thought it might be to get the insurance.

Friday, August 28, 2009

You don't have to live in Columbia Heights to go to CH Day

I saw a couple things on Twitter of people saying Columbia Heights Day is only for CH residents, and people would be checking IDs. I assume they were joking, but just in case, the event is open to everybody and there will be no ID checking! So be there!

Social opening on Saturday!

Here's some good news for foodies, new restaurant Social is opening at 14th and Meridian. They were delayed a little, but Saturday will be their first day. However, Saturday is also Columbia Heights Day and they're serving $4 Starr Hill beers, so it might be mobbed -- hitting it during the week may be a better bet.

As you may recall, "We take the beverage approach to dining," serving lots of shareable items like tuna sashimi dish and Baby Lamb Lollipops topped with cilantro pecan pesto. Sounds like an interesting spot. Their website also has their menu.

Bizarre rant on the Ward 1 listserve

Ah, listserves. A rant popped up on the Ward One list about the Clintons. It starts "clinton is the last satan, possessed, in the world in the last days" and goes downhill from there. It makes no sense and says some pretty offensive stuff. Take a look if you want to see something bizarre, but avoid it if you don't want to be offended.

At least the first response is pretty funny: "Public listserv's are AWESOME!!!!"

Don't forget! Columbia Heights Day tomorrow

The big day is almost upon us, and the organizers have a few notes. For one, they say it's rain or shine, so bring an umbrella. It starts at 10 am and here's the full schedule. They also had this note:
FYI - Registration has been moved to CommonWealth between 6-7pm. The celebrity photo scavenger hunt should be a blast! Who knew Columbia Heights was so star-studded? Drop by the Wonderland between 9:30-10pm to win prizes. Drink specials run all night long at participating bars.
Plus my Columbia Heights Day t-shirt contest is still going on! To win, email why you like Columbia Heights to

More cell phone coverage coming to Columbia Heights Metro

This is pretty cool -- looks like more service providers will get cell phone coverage in some Metro stations, including Columbia Heights, Gallery Place, and elsewhere. The carriers are AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Service at these stations is supposed to be up by and running this October 16th, and the remaining stations by October 2012.

Here's Metro's full press release.

"Fenty Field" at Tubman School causes a stink

Aside from maybe not being able to use it, the field at Tubman School is causing some problems too -- Republicans are angry that the field says "Mayor Adrian M. Fenty" in big letters on it, as well as the DC flag and the words "District of Columbia." I got a press release a few days ago from the DC Republican Committee (yeah, it exists) that reads
"The Administration has essentially created a Fenty Field. What should have been a celebratory occasion in showing off a new sports field, ended up being more of a PR campaign by the Mayor," stated Robert J. Kabel, Chairman of the DC Republican Committee.

"When did renovating a sports field for DC kids take a back seat to the Mayor's full throttle style of self promotion? If the new field is really for the kids, the Mayor should remove his name from the field immediately," concluded Kabel.
The Post covered yesterday's ribbon-cutting and mentions the objection, and there's already been other articles on the controversy.

I sort of see the GOP's point, but at the same time, most public officials put their names on buildings and such whether they're public or not. Plus I think the flag logo on the field looks pretty cool. I'll try to get a photo soon.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Still time to enter the Columbia Heights Day shirt contest!

It's easy, just send a reason you like Columbia Heights to, and the one I like best gets a free Columbia Heights Day shirt. Usually you have to pay for them!

Washington Post's Tom Sietsema on Room 11

The Post's food critic Tom Sietsema has a review of new wine bar Room 11. It seems a little nitpicky to me, as he complains about an "unevenly dressed salad" and says
The food we see leaving the tiny kitchen looks familiar -- too familiar. Surely my friends and I aren't the only diners suffering from cheese plate and charcuterie fatigue these days.
I think that's the idea, as it's more of a wine bar than a place to eat food. In fact, Sietsema doesn't even mention the wine. However, he is right when he mentions that it's crowded and the servers and bartenders are sometimes overburdened, and the review ends on a positive note.

What do you think of the review and Room 11?

Room 11 is at 3234 11th Street NW

Abandoned House Watch: 1337 Girard St NW

Here's the latest in the Abandoned House Watch series: 1337 Girard St NW. According to the city's real property database, it's owned by "Ultra Vision Developers" which apparently has an expired license for something -- not sure what, exactly.

The house appears on the city's vacant property list, which is good, because it means the owners are being taxed at 10 times the usual rate, so hopefully they'll do something with it. Here's more from DCRA on vacant properties, and I asked the DCRA via Twitter about it. They said that if it's not being maintained, to call 202-442-9557 to report the house. This one has some broken windows and such.

The house was also sold at a tax sale (meaning there was unpaid taxes on it) in 2003. I would assume that Ultra Vision bought either then or after that.

Know of any other abandoned buildings in the neighborhood? Leave them in the comments or email them to me.

Columbia Heights Day this Saturday! Schedule now up

The third annual Columbia Heights Day is right around the corner -- this Saturday starting at 10 am with a free yoga class from Quiet Mind Yoga (see sidebar here). There will be lots of bands, craft booths, a petting zoo, food and more; here's the full agenda.

There's also lots of food and drink deals at surrounding businesses, which are listed on that page too. Plus there's a bunch of after-fest bar and restaurant deals and prizes called Columbia Heights Day After Dark -- but you have to register at The Heights ahead of time to get those deals.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Shooting at 16th and Spring; 14th and Park closed

According to DCist, there was a shooting this afternoon at 16th and Spring, and the victim them walked to 14th and Park. He's at the hospital and police have cordoned off the area around 14th and Park, so watch out on your commute.

Columbia Heights Heritage Trail meeting tonight

Short notice because I just got it: there's a meeting tonight on the launch of the Columbia Heights Heritage Trail, which is planned for October 24. Tonight's meeting is at 7 pm at the Urban League at 14th and Harvard.

Organizer Sarah Fairbrother of Culutural Tourism DC says the signs for the trail will start going up 2 to 3 weeks before the launch. The press release says
Cultural Tourism DC initiated the District of Columbia Neighborhood Heritage Trails program with two goals in mind: helping visitors find their way around Washington’s historic neighborhoods and promoting community pride. Each trail was conceived with the active involvement of neighborhood organizations and residents.
They also included the map that I posted above -- click it for a full version.

NCH Contest: Win a Columbia Heights Day shirt!

In honor of Columbia Heights Day (this Saturday from 10 am on), I'm hosting a contest -- send me a reason why you like Columbia Heights to newcolumbiaheights(at)gmail(dot)com.

That's it! The one I like best gets an official Columbia Heights Day shirt!

Fill out the Columbia Heights business survey

Just got this from the Development Corporation of Columbia Heights, a non-profit development organization which is conducting a survey to see how satisified locals are with existing businesses and if there are any businesses people wish were here.

It's pretty short, so click here and fill it out. DCCH has helped with DCUSA and other local developments.

Mo' pho in the neighborhood

Just saw on Ready Set DC, who heard it from the Prince of Petworth that a new pho place is opening up, supposedly at 14th and Parkwood, which is a few blocks north of the Tivoli (and current neighborhood fave Pho 14).

The new joint will be called Pho Viet and is supposed to open in about a month. I wonder if the neighborhood can support two pho joints? What's interesting is it seems like when one new ethnic place opens, another opens soon after -- for example, Adams Morgan had Amsterdam Falafel followed by Old City Falafel, and the two shwarma places. That being said, I like food, so I'll definitely give them a shot.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Is the Tubman School field open to anybody?

Answer: unclear. I've gotten two different answers, that you can use it when it's not school hours and it's not dark, or that you can't use it unless you have a use-agreement with the school system. Obviously I'd like to be able to use it, it's a nice, new field and presumably won't get messed up like the real grass that used to be there.

Here's the full breakdown: I posted on the CH listerve about the fields and got a response from Donny Gonzalez of the schools' Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization:

All school fields are open to public use, as it should be. There will be restrictions during school hours. The new fencing should help prevent unauthorized use. That was a major problem before.

Principal Hughes or the DCPS realty office should be contacted to reserve the field. Contact the Mayor's Call Center at 311 to be transferred.
I responded "Thank you for the quick response. What do you mean by public/unauthorized? Could I go out there and throw a football around with a buddy? Before you had the climb the fence to do that." (because the fences were always locked.) Gonzalez replied:
Basically if you want to throw a ball around on any given day then you could walk right in after school is out until dark when the field is locked - given the field hasn't been reserved for a scheduled/authorized game or event.

If an organization wants to use the field for a game or an event then they have to get authorization through the Office of DCPS Realty and Principal Hughes. This way, the city can ensure proper use, custodial services, security, and prevent double booking. It's a good way to protect this investment.

Anyone climbing the fence when the field is locked would clearly be trespassing.
Ok, fair enough. However, I also got an email response from Jason Crawford from the DCPS Chancellor's office after I emailed Councilman Graham:

It’s understandable that everyone wants to use the new turf fields, and we would like nothing more than to have open access for the community, but in order to properly maintain the fields for our students and ensure their longevity, only those with a use-agreement will be allowed access.

Thank you for your understanding.
So to me, that means nobody can use it. That stinks. I've asked Graham for a clarification.

"No tresspassing"

"No tresspassing"
Originally uploaded by squidpants
Saw this sign on Euclid just west of Georgia Ave -- not sure if you can read it thanks to my cameraphone, but it's painted on a wood door and reads "No tresspassing-- I will prose cute you!" (sic)

Pretty classy. The house is at the top of a set of stone steps which are covered in plastic. Strange.

Here's another view

Monday, August 24, 2009

More Pizza Pool: Pete's and Red Rocks

Local pizza joints Pete's Apizza and Red Rocks are both in the second round of Washingtonian's Pizza Pool. Vote for them!

Pete's vs Cafe Pizzaiolo is up now, and Red Rocks will be up later.

Rumor: Ellwood Thompson's "looking good"

Got an email from a reader who says they spoke the listing agent for the space next to Panda Express last Monday -- "she indicated Ellwood Thompson is looking good to come to DC USA. She wouldn't quite commit but it sounded positive."

Let's hope! As I've noted, the Ellwood folks always say they're still looking forward to DC, and the Prince of Petworth had a similar rumor.

Columbia Heights history: the David White House

Browsing Wikipedia the other day, I stumbled upon the David White House, which is a National Historic Landmark at 1459 Girard. Kind of interesting, never knew about this.

White was a famous geologist and former chief geologist of the US Geological Survey who lived in the house for 15 years, from 1910 to 1925. The Park Service site says he was a "leading expert on the origin and evolution of oil distribution basic to the petroleum industry."

The house was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976. Here's more on White and on the house from the Park Service.

Photo by AgnosticPreachersKid

Friday, August 21, 2009

Yard sale time this weekend!

There's a few yard sales in the neighborhood this weekend, check them out:

--3111 11th Street NW, Sat. from 9 am to 3 pm, featuring furniture, clothes, books, music, etc

--2702 13th Street NW, Sat. from 10 am to 2 pm, featuring lots of "inexpensive cool stuff," clothes, posters, books, etc

--1303/1305 Euclid St NW, Sun. from 8 am to 5 pm, featuring furniture, rugs, clothing, handbags, etc

Sneaky parking?

Got an email awhile ago from a reader who lives on 11th and has noticed a frustrating parking scheme by some neighbors -- they take up two spaces in the street, then when their second car comes, they move up so it can park. It seems like it's happened many times, so I don't think it's that the people are bad parallel parkers.

Ever experience this? Think it's mean and sneaky, or a clever way to get two spots? It doesn't sound illegal to me.

Dance Institute of Washington open house on Saturday

The Dance Institute of Washington at 14th and Kenyon is hosting an open house for the neighborhood on Saturday, with lots of free, 30-minute lessons:
Classes will be offered for dancers of all ages in a variety of disciplines (ballet, tap, modern, hip hop, jazz and pre-dance). Guests will also enjoy performances by the stunning Washington Reflections Dance Company and DIW Pre-Professional performers.
The first classes start at 12:15. The full schedule is on their website under "Events." The Institute opened their new building in 2006. The press release added
At the Dance Institute of Washington, we aim to teach much more than the basics of ballet and jazz; there are wonderful life lessons that can be learned through the art of dance," noted Fabian Barnes, Founder and Artistic Director at the Dance Institute of Washington.
They're at 3400 14th St. NW.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Volunteer at Columbia Heights Day

Want to help our neighborhood festival? They're looking for volunteers for various activities and booths. Volunteers get a free shirt plus raffle tickets and many times are available.

For more info, Email allisonbasker(at) or visit

You can also attend a volunteer meeting at Wonderland: Sunday 8/23 @ 5pm or Thursday 8/27 @ 6:30pm. In addition, folks can register at the festival's Volunteer Check-in Booth on the day of, which is August 29th.

Wonderland now has wraps

Tired of sausage? Wonderland now has a revamped menu with some new wraps added -- I had the fiesta wrap, which had spicy stuff, chicken, lettuce, corn, etc. It was pretty decent and was about 7 bucks if I recall correctly.

The menu isn't up on the website yet, but if you want some healthier fare, check it out.

Wonderland is at 1101 Kenyon St NW

Do you live in Pleasant Plains?

Just saw this on the South Columbia Heights listserve: There's a neighborhood group for Pleasant Plains -- but what is Pleasant Plains?

According to their website, the neighborhood goes from Florida Ave on the south to Spring Rd on the north, and 16th on the west to Georgia on the east. However, on the South Columbia Heights listserve posting, they say it's from Florida to Park Rd and 14th east to 4th and Warder Street. Either definition includes basically all of what is usually considered south Columbia Heights. But on Wikipedia page, it says its western boundary is Sherman Ave, meaning 16th to Sherman is not included. That makes more sense to me.

I emailed Pleasant Plains Civic Association head Sylvia Robinson about the differences and how her group fits in with Columbia Heights and the South Columbia Heights Civic Association, and here's what she said:
I don't think there is overlap in the efforts in the Pleasant Plains network and the South Columbia Heights Community Assocation. Pleasant Plains is an old established neighborhood and we are making an effort to strengthen the resources of the neighborhood by giving a voice to its residents, businesses, youth, arts organizations, etc. and establishing communications to these groups about issues affecting neighborhood changes. It is also important to educate people about the neighborhood history and culture, which is different from Columbia Heights (visit for more info on the upcoming Heritage Trail). I am aware that the city has blurred the lines between the two neighborhoods over time and extended Columbia Heights to Georgia Avenue but I believe this has been because the residents of Pleasant Plains did not have a strong enough voice in this process.
Regarding the boundary issues, she CCed Darren Jones, who had this to say:
There is lots of overlap in the boundaries of the civic associations. Pleasant Plains was established in 1921 and has met faithfully since then. The boundaries during its founding were 4th and Warder Streets on the east; 16th Street on the west; Spring Road on the north; and Florida Avenue on the east.
He noted the South Columbia Heights Civic Association was founded in 2006.

Now I've heard of Pleasant Plains before, but it's not used very much; to me it's kind of like Lanier Heights or Reed-Cooke: the neighborhood name exists but most people just call it by some more well-known name (Adams Morgan in those cases). The only place I've seen it written in the area is this sign above at Georgia and Irving. IntangibleArts, the photographer, said the sign popped up one day in 2007.

I told Sylvia and Darren that I think most people see the area between 16th and Georgia as Columbia Heights, and Sylvia responded:
There may be a lot of people who do [think that]- understandably since realtors could sell quicker if they said their properties were in Columbia Heights, but they are in fact living in Pleasant Plains. A quick look at the deeds on their property will verify this.
However, the city's tax assessment data seems to show the whole area as Columbia Heights.

You could make the argument that the eastern part of the neighborhood does need its own name, as east of Georgia it's sort far to be called Columbia Heights -- like Park View on the north and Pleasant Plains on the south. However, I wouldn't include anything from Georgia to 16th as that neighborhood, since that's pretty well-established as Columbia Heights. The Wikipedia definition, which I'm pretty sure is taken from the city, seems pretty good. Your thoughts?

UPDATE: Forgot to include an article on Pleasant Plains that Robinson sent me.

UPDATE: Here's a map showing the boundaries of Pleasant Plains from the three places above:
Red = Pleasant Plains website
Blue = post by Pleasant Plains presz on South Columbia Heights listserve
Green = Wikipedia.

View Columbia Heights vs Pleasant Plains in a larger map

Sign photo by IntangibleArts

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Beer Run: Chuck's Market (aka Yong Ha Ma)

Today's Beer Run is to Chuck's Market, which apparently is also known as Yong Ha Ma. It's at the corner of Sherman and Euclid and the sign is really faded and peeling, as you can see. The place is sort of large inside but very gloomy and dark. There was almost no beer selection -- a couple of Bud six packs, a couple of Guinness bottle six packs and maybe one or two more.

The cooler didn't look like it was turned on, but I felt it and it was. The Bud was $5.99 and the Guinness was $8.99. That's about it. They did have a decent selection of various Asian food I couldn't recognize in the back, but since this is about beer, that doesn't count. Basically, you're better off going anywhere else for beer.

Here's the ratings:

Selection: 1 of 5 - almost nothing at all
Price: 2 of 5 - kind of high; and for almost no selection, that stinks
Ambiance: 2 of 5 - dreary and empty

That gives it a 5/15, which is the second worst score so far, behind only the bizarre Carolina Market.

Chuck's is at 2601 Sherman Ave NW.

Odd bus driver conversation on the Circulator

So the other day I was riding the Circulator from Adams Morgan to Columbia Heights. On Irving at about 16th Street the driver announced "next stop, 14th and Columbia." I thought that was odd, since going east the bus stops at 14th and Irving. I asked the driver, nicely, if the bus stops at 14th & Irving and 14th & Columbia. She replied "next stop, 14th and Columbia" again. I said "this is Irving Street. Do you stop at the Metro?", again with no tone or anything, and she didn't reply. Maybe she was just confused, but it was kind of weird. I dunno, random.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Apartment search help?

Just got this email from an out-of-town reader:
What's the best way to find a decent, safe apartment in your area that won't cost an arm and a leg? I'm getting ready to move to D.C. and like what I read about your neighborhood. Can you point me in the right direction?
I suggested Craigslist and the Washington Post apartment guide, any other suggestions? Places to avoid? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hip hop block party on Saturday

Hip hop! Just got a press release about DC Has Hip Hop: a Block Party, presented by Flex Mathews, a local artist who was named the City Paper's best local rapper and gets a lot of love at DCist.

Inspired by the MuralsDC project, the event taking place on Saturday August 22nd from 3 to 8 pm alongside Aniekan Udofia’s mural in the alley at 1435 Meridian Pl NW. Local charity group Words, Beats and Life is sponsoring also, and there's a lot more too:
Live from the alley, DJ RBI will be holding it down on the ones & twos, as some of DC’s young local hip-hop talent take the mic and take over the dance floor. The block party includes a live b-boy/b-girl cipher and graffiti exhibition featuring students from the DC Urban Arts Academy, an emcee open mic, a mindpower freestyle cipher hosted by Jabari Exum, and a special art installation by mural artist Aniekan Udofia.

Uptowner Cafe: good stuff

Uptowner Cafe
Originally uploaded by squidpants
I checked out the Uptowner Cafe in the Tivoli building this weekend where the Cinnabon/Carvel used to be, and I'm a fan. They have lots of sandwiches which they grill panini-style, coffee and espresso drinks, breakfast (egg sandwiches, bagels, etc) and a pretty wide range of chips and European candy, like Haribo gummi bears and Kinder chocolate (no Kinder eggs though, unfortunately).

I got the Club 14, which is a turkey club sandwich on a baguette and they grilled it. A turkey club is usually a turkey club, but this one was really good - a big heap of hand carved turkey and other good ingredients. They made the sandwich quickly and prices are pretty reasonable too, about $6.50 for my sandwich and with a drink and cookie it was about $10. My friend says the breakfast sandwiches are good and inexpensive too. I'll be back!

The Uptowner is at 3307 14th St NW. Here's their Yelp page. My friend tells me they blew up the first Yelp review to a super huge size and put it on their wall, which is pretty funny. Here's the interior:

Crazy tall bike outside Banneker Pool

I went to Banneker Pool at Georgia and Euclid on Saturday, and leaving I saw this crazy bike, it had a second bike frame welded on top of the first, with the pedals at the height the seat usually would be. I asked the guy who had it about it, he said it didn't go faster or anything and then after a bit of a crowd gathered, he got on and rode off. You can hear some of the kids who were watching. Pretty crazy.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Drop off your athletic shoes for charity Saturday and Sunday

Just got this from the 2BloxDC folks -- there's a charity drive at the fields at 11th and Kenyon (aka the new astroturf field behind Tubman Elementary) where they're accepting used athletic shoes. I have a couple old paid laying around, sounds good to me.

They'll be "used to help build new playgrounds" which I guess means the rubber will be used on the playgrounds. I'm down with that! I hear the good ones will be given to children in Africa, and the rest used for rubber. So, double good.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Columbia Hype: Deals at CommonWealth

Here's this week's Columbia Hype, from the good folks at 2BloxDC

Don't let the words "Frog in a Puff" or "Scotch Eggs" scare you. CommonWealth not only has some of the best food in the neighborhood, they also have a lively pub. Tuesdays are movie nights starting at 10pm, with such modern day classics as Snatch. On Friday and Saturdays, their patio stays open until 1am and the pub until 3am with $2 canned beer specials. Then finish up the weekend every other Sunday with our favorite trivia host, Dalton! Check out these and other wacky weekly events at 2bloxDC.

CommonWealth is at 1400 Irving St NW

Local pizza joints doing well in Washingtonian's Pizza Pool

Looks like CH is being well represented in the Pizza Pool, with RedRocks and Pete's both beating their suburban challengers. Moroni & Brother's up in Petworth won also. Here's the full bracket, NCAA-style.

What do you think, is Columbia Heights the best neighborhood for pizza?

Real World cast: not in the neighborhood yet

I was checking out Washingtonian's Real World map, where they track places the Real World cast has been seen, and it looks like they haven't made it to our fair neighborhood yet.

The closest they've gotten has been U Street and Grill from Ipanema in Adams Morgan. I'm pretty surprised they haven't been to more Adams Morgan bars. In fact, they've barely left Dupont.

So where do you think they'll go first in Columbia Heights? Target? CommonWealth? Wonderland? Some other spot? Leave your guess in the comments. The first person to guess correctly may get a mystery prize! Or maybe they'll just get mentioned on the blog.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Firearms training on 11th Street

Want to learn to shoot, cuff people, or do CPR? Then get yourself to 11th between Lamont and Park! My buddy sent me this photo of the building that used to be the Black Minority League, where a business called Lucas Security Services is offering some different kinds of training.

Not sure if the firearms training is on site (I would assume not, but who knows with the changing DC gun laws). What do you think, good thing or bad?

Bands in the Neighborhood: Secret Pop Band

It's that time again, the New Columbia Heights Bands in the Neighborhood series. This installment is the Secret Pop Band, a trio featuring a couple of neighborhood residents (16th & Euclid and 14th & Euclid) who both take the CH Metro to work every day. Here's what vocalist and guitarist J. Forte had to say.

How did you all come up with the band name? How did the band form?
A few years ago I put out a solo record called Secret Pop. Ody, Greg and myself were all playing in another fine band, Lejeune, and I drafted the guys to help me play shows to promote the record. For the early shows we were billed as “J. Forté and the Secret Pop Band,” but we’ve since dropped my name – no ego trips here! We’ve been playing together as a trio and working on songs ever since, and recently released our first record as a group.

Do you practice in CH? How about play any gigs in the neighborhood?
We hold what we term as “apartment rock” practices at my place on Euclid in CH. Apartment rock is low-key and low volume – minimal drums, little amps. These get-togethers are great for working on new material and when we need to freshen up a bit for a gig. When we want to make a lot of noise we unfortunately have to make the long trek out to the ‘burbs. Ody used to have full-volume band practices over at 1226 Fairmont – until the police started giving him trouble. We’ve all played at Wonderland with other groups, but Secret Pop Band hasn’t played CH as of yet. Wonderland is definitely a fun place to rock.

What are your band's influences?
Our band influences are pretty varied. I typically think of 60’s and 70’s power pop as having the biggest impact on our sound – bands such as Cheap Trick, the Byrds, the Beach Boys. I also grew up listening to Duran Duran and metal – so I think that seeps into the music in some subtle ways. Greg is a huge Kiss fan, so Peter Criss drum fills pop up here and there. There are also some indie influences – Guided by Voices and Sonic Youth come to mind. We like to think that we take inspiration from the last 40 years of music without necessarily sounding exactly like any one era or band.

Do you have any records out?
In May we released our debut album, Pardon the Solar Interruption. We recorded and mixed the CD with our good friend (+ great engineer) Dave Copeland. It was a pretty DIY affair and I recorded most of the guitars, keyboards and vocals in my apartment – sorry neighbors! We’ve got a number of tunes posted on MySpace.

What's your next show?
We just finished up a string of DC shows, but keep an eye on our Web site for action this fall.

Gone on any tours? Any crazy and terrible tour stories?
Ody and Greg just became dads, so we’ve been keeping it pretty close to home as of late. We did play a gig all the way up in Silver Spring recently, and after the show had the unpleasant surprise of finding Ody’s car mashed by a garbage truck. That’s what we get for leaving the District! When we do play out of town we just get up to the typical rock band high jinks – beer, smoothies, late night chilidogs.

What’s your take on the local music scene, Columbia Heights and DC?
I’ve always felt that the music scene in DC is very healthy. We’re lucky in that there are several places where bands can play original music. There’s a lot of cool music history in DC (Columbia Heights’ legendary Wilson Center for example), so it’s great to be a part of that.

I’ve been in DC for ten years, and in the neighborhood for about five, and it’s a great area. I know the new retail and development in Columbia Heights is a contentious issue, but I’m a big fan. Target and Best Buy are keeping tax dollars in the city, Pete’s Apizza serves an excellent slice, and Commonwealth pour a fine pint (and let us watch tennis).

And if you had to rename your band for something in Columbia Heights, what would it be?
It’s funny, the street where Greg and I both live, Euclid, has a little bit of cache in rock-n-roll. There was a hard rock band in the early 70’s called “Euclid,” and Ody reminded me that there is a Samples tune called “14th and Euclid” – so that’s a Columbia Heights-related band name we could get behind.

Secret Pop Band is J. Forté - Vocals, Guitars, Greg Gendron - Drums, Ody Leonard - Bass

Their Website
Their MySpace


"Sunday's Hard Rock Falls"
"Week Old Beer"
"Your New England Winter"

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Chipotle coming along slowly

Originally uploaded by squidpants
Looks like the Chipotle coming to 14th Street between Kenyon and Irving has a ways to go -- this is a peak inside, not much going on. There's been no timetable I've seen, just the banner saying "coming soon."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

More pizza pool! RedRocks vs Monterey's

Another Columbia Heights pizza joint is in Washingtonian's Pizza Pool, this time it's RedRocks Pizzeria at 11th and Park vs some place called Monterey's in Alexandria. Vote here! Voting closes at 3 pm on Wednesday.

Earlier, Pete's New Haven Apizza knocked off suburban staple Ledo's. Could it be an all-Columbia Heights final?

Pancakes at Sticky Fingers on the weekend

Like breakfast and can't wait for IHOP? Sticky Fingers Bakery is now serving pancakes on Saturday and Sunday. Let me know how they are if you go!

Sticky Fingers is at 1370 Park Rd NW, across from the Giant.

Free pedicab rides from Wonderland to Looking Glass

Pedicab at Wonderland
Originally uploaded by squidpants
Looks like the folks at Wonderland are offering free pedicab rides to the Looking Glass Lounge, the other bar they own in Petworth. I saw this on Saturday night and I think it's only on Friday and Saturday nights. It's a pretty good idea if Wonderland is packed, and Looking Glass is a cool bar.

Not sure if they offer the rides back however, I'll check.

A commenter says they do in fact offer the rides to and from both bars. Nice!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Pizza fight! Vote for Pete's vs Ledo

Washingtonian magazine is having a pretty funny game at their site called the Pizza Pool, where you vote on matchups between pizza joints in an NCAA-style bracket to crown the best in the area. Today's matchup is Pete's Apizza (1400 Irving St NW) vs Ledo, which is all over the area.

Ledo is winning, which is crazy because I think it tastes awful. Anyway, cast your votes! You can vote til noon on Tuesday.

Banneker Pool open to 9 pm through Wednesday

Due to the heat, the Department of Parks and Recreation has extended the hours of the Banneker Pool (plus other pools) to 9 pm for today until Wednesday. I'll be there!

The Banneker Pool is at 2500 Georgia Ave NW. It's free to DC residents.

Room 11 opens today at 5 pm

Don't forget, Room 11, the new wine bar at 11th and Lamont, opens today at 5 pm. My buddy was joking about setting up a tent and camping out, but you might want to get there early if you're interested.

Here's my write-up of their preview last week.

ANC email listserve smackdown!

I noticed this the other day, pretty funny: some Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners are arguing on the Columbia Heights listserve about commissioner Lenwood Johnson paying all the commissioners' cell phone bills without approval, which apparently meant it was paid twice (according to commissioner Cliff Valenti).

It looks like the original complaint went out to just ANC 1A commissioners, then Johnson sent his response to the whole CH Listserve:
I'm glad you have finally admitted that you [Cliff] and Lakeshia [Thomas, another commissioner] both have been grossly derelict and incompetent (or idiotic) in your duties. We should also talk to the U.S. attorney and the city auditor for guidance on these very serious matters.

Then there were a couple of responses that didn't go to the CH Listserve that are much calmer from commissioner William Jordan and Valenti saying we should deal with this in house and such. Then Johnson responded angrily again on the CH List:
The commission has done nothing in the way of administrative housekeeping: mail is not picked up on a regular basis, the phone bill went unpaid until service was disconnected, the rent went unpaid for 6 months--and I'm not sure it's been paid to date, and the ANC website was shut down because the maintenance fees were not paid.

Cliff (and the whole ANC), "shut up and drive!"
Then another person, apparently not a commissioner, responded with "I wish you would adress this in house instead of broadcasting to the entire Columbia Height group." And I haven't heard anything since then.

Seems pretty funny and dumb to me -- a seemingly minor debate about a phone bill gets heated and then gets broadcast everywhere apparently to get support for one or the other side. I'm guessing these commissioners don't get along too well anyway, and this is part of that. Plus this doesn't really show ANC 1A (which covers northern Columbia Heights - see map) in a very good light anyway.

For those unfamiliar, the ANC is an elected, unpaid neighborhood council that advises the city council on neighborhood issues. They don't have much real power other than to give their opinions to the city council, but they force places with liquor licenses to abide by certain rules, like how late to stay open and such. Here's more on Wikipedia and the ANC 1A site.

Great rats at Lafayette Federal Credit Union!

Saw this in the window of the Lafayette FCU on Kenyon Street last night:

I love great rats! on Twitpic

I wonder if somebody changed it on purpose, since "FREEE" has three Es.

Civic Plaza almost done

CH Civic Plaza
Originally uploaded by squidpants
I went by the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza on Sunday (the open triangle at 14th, Park and Kenyon) and it looks like it's coming along pretty well. The whole area is paved, the fountain parts are in, and there are holes for where trees are going.

It looks like that radial pattern a lot of plans showed isn't actually coming in, which is odd. That, or they're going to add another layer of pavement, but that doesn't seem like it will happen. Maybe it was just an illustration to show how the area fits together, or something.

According to plans, the plaza is supposed to be finished this summer. Hopefully they won't finish it and then tear it up, like the 14th and Girard Street Park!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Wonderland's 5th anniversary party is Sunday

Wonderland, the venerable neighborhood bar, has been open 5 years! Help celebrate the bar and their place in the neighborhood on Sunday with lots of deals: happy hour prices from open until the last drink is served, $4 footlongs, $4 rail drinks, live music, and free "Champagne of Beer" sometime after sunset.

Sounds pretty cool, I'll definitely be stopping by.

Friday, August 7, 2009

New Columbia Heights on Twitter

I've finally gotten with the modern era and set up a Twitter account for the blog -- it's newcolumbiahts. Add it for all the neighborhood news and blog goodness!

MJ sidewalk tribute

Tribute to MJ
Originally uploaded by squidpants
Saw this scratched into the new sidewalk on Girard next to the 14th and Girard Street Park. Kind of random.

Yard sales this weekend

Got some stuff to sell? Do you like browsing? You've got some options this weekend:

DC nonprofit Jubilee Housing is hosting a community yard sale. It's in the parking lot of the Festival Center, 1640 Columbia Rd NW from 9 am to 4 pm. If you're interesting in selling, contact Quiana Bridgett at(202)299-1240 extension 14. You have to provide your own table.

In addition, there's one at 1023 Columbia Rd NW on Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 2 pm. The ad says "Furniture, Clothes, Computer Equipment, and More"

Know of any others? Leave them in the comments.

And if you're having one in the future, send me an email! newcolumbiaheights(at)gmail(dot)com

Room 11 wine bar preview

Last night Room 11, the new wine bar at 11th and Lamont which opens Monday, had a preview for media and friends. I went over with a friend to take a look, and I'm not a big wine guy, but I'm impressed.

As the owners have said many times in ANC meetings and such, the place is small, about 15 seats inside and maybe 8 tables outside. It's nicely decorated and comfortable.

But the most important part -- the wine. They served about 5 different kinds at the preview, all of which are on the menu: an Argentine red, an Australian chardonnay, a French sauvignon, and a sparkling white. All were very nice and all look to be inexpensive -- a glance at the menu had a whole page of wines, most in the $6-$10 range per glass. They also will have some beer, including two on tap. I asked bartender Dan Searing about how they choose wines, and he said they hope to be a "neighborhood wine bar" and thus chose wines for value: maybe something unusual or something classic.

They had food too, including tasty panini samples, cheeses, olives, and delicious goat cheesecake balls. On the menu, the paninis were all $10 or less, and the rest of the food was that much or cheaper.

The cook, whose name I didn't catch, said he wanted "simple, inexpensive, appealing" food you could eat with one implement, and he thinks of it more as a cafe. He said they may expand to salads and things and they hoped to start serving coffee, scones and the like in the mornings, as there aren't many places that have breakfast around 11th, other than Columbia Heights Coffee (which is usually pretty crowded).

Searing also mentioned they've been thinking about having a happy hour, maybe something like $1 off glasses of wine and some kind of food deals, and had also considered a late-night happy hour. He noted a lot of people in the service industry get off late, and he also sees people with suits and briefcases walking home late at night.

I didn't get a chance to talk much to Paul Ruppert, who also owns Warehouse, but the whole staff has a lot of experience at bars and restaurants. Searing used to be bartender at Temperance Hall (now looking glass) and the other folks have been around too.

I also heard some harrowing stories about delays in permits, like waiting 15 days for the DC government person who gives certificates of occupancy to show up, and months for the man who approves the plumbing. Pretty tough, as they noted they're a small business and it's hard to afford those kinds of things -- especially since they missed a lot of the spring and summer.

I'm curious to see how crowded it gets, as it's a small place with a unique idea, but I'm looking forward to it! There are more photos on My Flickr page, including interior shots and the paninis.

Sponsored Post from Simply Soles: Celebrating We Have a SideWalk, SideWalk Sale

After many loud, dusty and grueling months of street construction, we are THRILLED to announce that we have a sidewalk again. It’s wide and lovely. It’s even pretty (in comparison to its predecessor). Most importantly though, it’s there.

To celebrate, we are having a SideWalk Sale (inside the store). Come and sip Saturday afternoon champagne and enjoy substantial savings on Spring/Summer styles and an Insider preview of the Fall 2009 collection. We don’t take credit (or blame) for the construction itself, but we’re toasting D-Dot to finished their job and moving on to another block (hopefully far, far away).

Summer Sale Sensations:

MaryKate by lillybee

Fabulous Fall Footwear:

Billy Boot by Frye

Simply Soles Hours of Operation:

Mon - Fri: 10-5
Sat: 12-5

Store Location:

1438 Park Rd NW
(between 14th and 15th, 2 blocks from the Columbia Heights Metro and Target complex)

Giant charging incorrect prices?

Got an interesting email from a reader last night:

I stopped in Giant tonight for Romaine for Cesar salad. It was the only thing I needed and when I was checked out, the system price was set to $2.99, instead of $2.50 - (Giant brand 22 oz, not the Organic). I talked to Scott Wigle, Manager of the produce section. He wasn't particularily impressed with my indignation that I was purchasing the second to the last bag of romaine and consequently, if no one else had mentioned the 20% price increase, that Giant had taken a lot of extra money from people who could use it themselves.

The clerk to beckoned Mr. Wigle up to customer service said "this happens all the time".
Has anybody else experienced this? Of course, they might also be charging less for some items, or they could be making a lot of money off the wrong prices. Pretty weird!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Georgia Ave post office to close?

Looks like the USPS wants to close the Georgia Avenue post office at 3321 Georgia Ave NW.

Here's what Jim Graham had to say:

This morning I received a media call indicating that USPS was considering closing Georgia Ave P.O. at Georgia and Morton. It has been named "Columbia Heights" since USPS closed the former location--on the 1400 block of Irving-- in the 1990s and relocated it.

We need a new post office back at 14th and Irving, and we also need to keep the post office on Georgia at Morton. The large number of elderly, alone, along the 14th St and Ga Ave corridors justify these actions! In addition, with its new residential and retail, 14th and Irving is vastly changed since a decade ago.

Please express your views on this to our Congresswoman, Eleanor Holmes Norton, by going to her website and sending an email. Click this link or copy and paste it into your internet browser's address bar:
In replies, one person said the service there was terrible (and I've heard that elsewhere too), while another person said it was fine.

I rarely use the post office, so I have no opinion, but 14th and Irving seems like a strange place, unless it's a small one (maybe in one of DCUSA's smaller interior spaces.) Your thoughts?

Meridian Hill Park fields open

I walked by Meridian Hill Park (aka Malcolm X Park) last week and noticed the playing fields in the middle, which had been under construction for a long time, are now open. There were teams playing soccer there both last week and this week, right in front of a sign that says "no team sports." Doh.

This photo is from April 2009, before the fences were taken down.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Columbia Heights Day shirts for sale

Just got a few emails saying that the Columbia Heights Day t-shirts are now for sale, for $10. They're also having a raffle for "a complete Guitar Hero System with a Wii, a 32" inch flatscreen HDTV, and Dell Latitude Laptops."

Sounds pretty sweet. You can see where to buy shirts and tickets at their website.

Columbia Heights day is Aug 29.

Is the Cardozo track open to the public?

Answer: sort of.

I received a question from a reader the other day about the Cardozo High School track, so I emailed ANC commissioner and South Columbia Heights Community Association president Sedrick Muhammad. Here's the question, and his response:

Reader: "Does anyone know if it's still supposed to be open to public - everytime I pass by the gates are locked. My partner met one of the secretaries At the school who he happened to meet at the bank about using it and she got offended and said it's only for student use."

Commissioner Muhammad responded "The track is open to the public on school days," which will resume August 24, and is not open when school is not in session. "In addition, 3 blocks away there is another track at Banneker Recreation Center that's made of the same material and it's open 7 days a week."

Cool BloomBars performance video

This is pretty neat, it's musician Terrence Cunningham at BloomBars for their weekly Seed the Sound event:

Terrence Cunningham Feat. Zack Cutler & Gary Prince from causeman on Vimeo.

Seed the Sound is every Sunday starting at 7:30. BloomBars is at 3222 11th Street NW, next to Wonderland.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Post article on Columbia Heights Target and "hipsters"

So I've gotten a bunch of emails about this today: The Post has an article about the Columbia Heights Target with the headline "Columbia Heights Hipsters Stumble Into Target Territory." It's written by Monica Hesse, and here's the first line:
For the hipsters, post-hipsters or quasi-hipsters who moved into Columbia Heights several years ago for the grit and the cheap rent and the proximity to the Wonderland Ballroom (the hipster, post-hipster or quasi-hipster bar that sponsors local music and nights like "Sundress Fest"), life can be divided into two discrete phases: Before Target. After Target.
Now there's a valid point about the Target, but what is all this hipster stuff? What are "hipsters, post-hipsters or quasi-hipsters"? Is she saying that everybody in Columbia Heights is one of those amorphous terms? I would argue that most of the newcomers to the neighborhood (me included) are yuppies in the tightest sense of the word - young, urban professionals.

There's a lot of other things I disagree with about this article. Another line is "But this complex [DCUSA] is not why the quasi-hipsters of Columbia Heights had moved to the neighborhood. They were seeking bragging rights, and bodegas spilling over from Mount Pleasant. They were seeking urban."

Now to some extent this is true for me. I wanted to be in an urban neighborhood because I like the city. But I moved here because rent was decent and there was a lot of new and convenient things going in, like DCUSA and restaurants, and it was close to the Metro, U Street, and Adams Morgan. I could care less about "bragging rights, and bodegas." Plus there's no source for that assertion in the article, no expert to say "this is why people move to CH."

Hesse also talks about how people used to get a Zipcar and go to Jefferson Davis Highway to go to Target, Best Buy, etc. This is true. But she asserts that
Along the way, you talked about how glad you were that you didn't live down there, and how ironic it was for you to be going there at all, as you normally just bartered on Freecycle, and how your dad still tried to be cool by pronouncing it in French, Tar-zhay. You got to the Target, and you bought a microsuede storage bench, a duvet and a doormat, and on the way home you stopped at Outback Steakhouse (which was totally hilarious), and in polite company you never spoke of these suburban adventures again.
Maybe I'm crazy, but I went there because I needed stuff. I didn't live there because I don't like the suburbs and driving everywhere. I bought the stuff and then came home. And sometimes I went to IHOP because IHOP is awesome and there aren't any in DC (yet).

But there are some interesting points in the article, like the discussion on the 2nd page of the article that Target may be accelerating the move to adulthood -- buying a wreath for your door and matching sheets, for example. That one actually has some quotes to back it up, and it's an interesting point. Unfortunately, there's a lot more in the article about the hipster thing, that apparently if you live in Columbia Heights you're some kind of countercultural ironic hipster.

The odd thing is, that's impossible to be refute, because no one really agrees on what a hipster is. Maybe it's like obscenity: "I know it when i see it." But the thing is, the phrase is used so much, especially in DC, that it's meaningless. People describe U Street as a hipster area, or Marvin or Wonderland as a hipster bar. What? What is a hipster? You like indie rock? You dress stylishly? You wear vintage clothes? You go to hip bars, or dive bars, or vegan bars? I know people who do some of those things yet work in Congress or in law firms. I don't think anybody would consider them a "hipster." Maybe it was a real term 10 or 20 years ago, but a lot of the things that supposed hipsters do or did is mainstream now, like fashion. For example, DCist and The Onion's AV Club specifically ban the word because it's meaningless.

In my brief interaction with Hesse, she was perfectly nice. She called me a few weeks ago about the article and asked if I ever felt ashamed (I think that was her word) to go to Target, or if I ever went multiple times a day and felt lame about it. I didn't. She asked if I knew anybody who did, and I asked around a bit and didn't find anybody (though admittedly I didn't try too hard). But the hipster thing wasn't mentioned -- I wonder if it's some kind of go-to term for articles?

Anyway, that's my thoughts. Yours? Sommer at DCist had something to say too, and we make similar points from the looks of it.

Latino Art event at Gala Hispanic Theatre on Friday

Just got a press release about an event happening on Friday at the Gala Hispanic Theatre at 14th and Kenyon:
Latino Art in the City, featuring musicians, dancers, and visual artists, will serve as fundraiser for the DC Center’s arts and cultural programs. Performers will include Zarzuela Di Si, Maru Montero Dance Company, and Scott Beard, noted pianist and professor of music at Shepherd University.
According to the release, "The DC Center’s mission is to celebrate, strengthen, and support community among the GLBT residents and organizations of Metropolitan Washington, DC." Here's more on their blog and the DC Center's website.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Columbia Heights a "great green place"

Pretty neat video from the National Building Museum, it's DC Office of Planning head Harriet Tregoning talking about planning in Columbia Heights. Check it out.

Great Green Places: Columbia Heights from National Building Museum on Vimeo.

Here's more on the video.

Room 11 wine bar opening August 10

Just got an email from Paul Ruppert of Room 11, the wine bar at 11th and Lamont -- they're opening August 10.

In addition, they're having a media preview thing in a few days, so I'll be able to tell you what it's like and hopefully take some pictures. Stay tuned!

Mayor's Conservation Corps doing work

This is good to see -- a few times in the past week I've noticed the kids from the Mayor's Conservation Corps out and doing work like picking up trash and such. A couple weeks ago, they went around putting fliers all over the place, with many of them ending up on the ground or on car windshields. Then people complained and they went back out to pick up the fliers. But now they're out and doing useful stuff, so I'm glad.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

14th and Girard Park now open

Well, looks like the park did finally open -- went by there on Saturday and I saw people using it and some kids playing the fountain. Glad to see, and it looks pretty nice.