Tuesday, August 31, 2010

More on the 11th and Monroe lead problem

There wasn't much information about the lead contamination at the 11th and Monroe Park when I first heard about it, and now there's a bit more. WUSA and TBD both have articles: apparently there was some demolition at 3511 13th Street NW and clouds of dust, including lead, fell down into the park. It sounds pretty bad -- from the WUSA article: "It was like a snowstorm of dust," says Michael Northern. "The individual I was sitting down playing dominos with, he started turning white right before my eyes, that's how much dust there was."

The District's Department of the Environment said about 40 people have been tested but results aren't back yet. They're encouraging people with kids and the elderly to get tested. They have a testing truck on Monroe just west of 11th which will be there every day from 8 am to 8 pm, and there's also a testing center at the Columbia Heights Community Center at 1480 Girard St. NW.

Bus versus biker at 14th and Irving

Just got this note from a reader, who witnessed an unfortunate incident between a Metrobus driver and a bicyclist:
I was walking to the gym in Columbia Heights at 6:30 a.m. when I witnessed an out-of-service DC Metrobus honking at a cyclist in the bike lane heading northbound on 14th Street. When they got to the intersection with Irving and were stopped by a red light, the bus driver opened his door, stood on the step of the bus and started yelling at the cyclist.

Having been the target of aggressive Metrobus drivers while commuting my way around the city on bike, I decided to see if I could help. The cyclist was asking why the bus driver was honking at him when he didn't need to pull over to the curb (no passengers -- out of service) and could have easily moved to the other north bound lane. The bus driver responded by yelling at the guy. I interjected, "Hey man, can't you be respectful?"

He answered my question at once. "Fuck you" he said. My fault -- I hadn't realized we were dealing with one of DC Metro's ambassadors for public safety awareness.

The light changed and he charged off with his anger management issues back behind the wheel of a multi-ton bus the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority has deemed him fit to drive. I snapped the picture as he drove away.

Bus 6500, northbound, 14th street on 8.25.10 at 6:30 a.m. Jim Graham, do you care?
He said the biker was going to report it. I haven't noticed this kind of thing with a Metrobus, but I've seen drivers in the neighborhood honking at bikes.

Columbia Heights Day: Awesome

As you hopefully know, Columbia Heights Day was this past Saturday, and I had a great time. There were a bunch of events, tons of music, local businesses and groups, a petting zoo, and lots of people from inside and outside the neighborhood.

Since it went all day, there's way too much for me to mention, but what were some of your favorites? I was a big fan of the State Fair events, plus all the food trucks parked on Kenyon. Good stuff.

Attached are a few photos I snapped. More photos to come.
The camel

Chocolate City Beer folks were there
Some people playing spoons
Food trucks lined up on Kenyon

Friday, August 27, 2010

Bands in the Neighborhood: The Electric 11s

This latest installment of Bands in the Neighborhood features the Electric 11s, a new band who've played a few shows and will play at Columbia Heights Day tomorrow at 11 am, plus another show on Saturday at the Red and the Black. Here's what Jim from the band had to say:

How did you all come up with the band name?
We fought a good, long while over the band name. For the first show or two, we went by "The Sneaky Bastards". We were never thrilled with it, and even less so after Jonathan looked up the term on Urban Dictionary. So then we started throwing random stuff out there -- we went from The Bourbon Omars to White Knuckle Turbulence to Johnny and The Moondogs to The My Little Ponies (kidding). We finally settled on "The 11s" because of the Spinal Tap reference ("These amps go to 11"), and then added "Electric" to give the name a little boost.

How did the band form?
Brian (guitar/vocals) and I are old friends from grad school and play in an oft-hiatused DC-band band called Butros Butros. Brian and Jonathan used to play in an Atlanta band over ten years ago when they both lived there. Their claim to fame was opening for Quiet Riot.

The three of us started jamming late last year, but we needed a bass player. Good bass players are like high school chicks that are astonishingly rare combo of smokin' hot AND cool. We auditioned a bunch of folks and then finally found Rob through a friend of a friend. Then we found out that Rob is prone to impulsively purchase cool instruments, so we liked him even more.

How many members live in Columbia Heights? Whereabouts? (roughly)
I'm the lone Columbia Heights resident at 11th and Harvard, though I feel like I pay rent at Wonderland. Brian's down in Logan Circle, Rob's up in NW, and Jonathan is in Arlington.

Working on any records?
In April and May, we recorded our first EP, which you can listen to and download (free!) here. We're busy working up a new slate of originals, and we'll probably get back to the studio in the near future.

Gone on any tours? Any crazy or terrible tour stories?
In our brief existence, we've only had one out-of-town show, which was up at a great venue in Manhattan called Sullivan Hall. We're anticipating a return soon. As that gig makes up about 20% of our entire live-performance catalogue, that ain't too shabby I guess.

But even that one experience makes you realize why life on the road is so tough -- rock stars look like rock stars for a reason. You wake up on your buddy's hardwood floor after three and a half quality hours of sleep. You're hungover, you stink, and you're still wearing what you were the night before. But you don't have time to worry about any of it, because you've got to hop in the car and hit the road again. I was worn out after a weekend -- I have no idea how people do it for years on end.

What’s your take on the music scene in Columbia Heights and in DC?
The music scene in Columbia Heights is improving -- there aren't a ton of venues, but Wonderland and Bloom are decent music spots. As things open up along 11th, it will only get better.

DC, on the other hand, is a tale of two cities -- there's a well-established indie/punk and jazz scenes, and maybe even an up-and-coming bluegrass/Americana with groups like Junior League Band and These United States. The problem is that we're a straight up rock band -- think... I don't know... Guns N Roses meets early Wilco or something. And that scene is tough.

Even worse is the fact that we're probably DC's nerdiest band -- Brian's a respected journalist, Jonathan works at Treasury, Rob's a lawyer, and I work at a think tank (we had a good run where we where every practice began with a update and discussion of the Iran sanctions) -- and our friends and colleagues don't necessary rock out as much as we'd like them to. So breaking through can be tough.

One fixable problem, though, is playing out during the week -- one of these days, a booker somewhere is going to figure out that booking bands to start at 730 or 8 on a Wednesday brings in more business than an 11pm start. It's tough to get people out that late on a school night.

And if you had to rename your band for something Columbia Heights-related, what would it be?
I'd push for "Mr. You", no doubt about it. Mr. You (or is it "Yoo"?) owns Sonya's Market at the corner of 11th and Harvard, and I must see him between 7 - 10 times a week. I've lived in Columbia Heights since 2006, and I've probably given that guy $20k in beer, Doritos, and Washington Posts alone!

Columbia Heights Day (and Columbia Heights salad) on Fox 5

Spotted this on Fox 5's website, it's a little news story about Columbia Heights Day (this Saturday). There's also a segment on the Columbia Heights Community Marketplace, and a recipe for a Columbia Heights salad, which sounds pretty good.

Petworth Community Market today

The Petworth Community Market takes place today up between Georgia and 9th, Taylor and Upshur from 3-7 pm. The market is every Friday at the same time. Here's what's going to be there:
Atwater's Bakery
Bentley’s Antiques & Furniture
C&T Produce LLC - www.candtproduce.com
Contemporary Designs
Corehaus - www.corehausdc.com
Damola International Arts
Dangerously Delicious Pies - www.dangerouspies.com
Fresh Off the Roast - www.freshofftheroast.com
G. Flores Produce

Great Harvest Bread Company - www.alexandria-GreatHarvest.com
Green Baby Proofing - www.greenbabyproofing.com
Kilmer's Farm
Kwasi's Used Books
No Kings Collective www.nokingscollective.com
Norma's Produce
Pearl Fine Teas - www.pearlteas.com
Pleasant Pops - www.pleasantpops.com/

Springfield Farms - www.springfieldlamb.com (Returning Next Week)
Uncle Brotha's Hot Sauce - www.unclebrutha.com
Waterview Foods
World Without Waste - www.aworldwithoutwaste.com

Yard Sale Roundup: Many on Sunday!

There's a lot!
  • 1011 Fairmont, Sunday from 9am-1pm: three people's items, including Russian memorabilia, books, furniture, and more. Link
  • 1702 Summit, Apt 207, in Adams Morgan/MtP, Saturday from 9am-noon: lots of furniture and some free stuff. Link
  • 1776 Lanier in Adams Morgan, Sunday 9am-noon: furniture, clothes, baby stuff, etc. Link
  • 1721 U Street, Sunday from 11am-4pm: modern furniture, electronics, clothes, much more. Link
  • 1215 Park, Sunday from 10:30am-3pm: furniture, toys, clothes, decorations, etc. Link
  • 535 Park, Sunday starting at 9 am: lots of office stuff, kitchen stuff, electronics. Link
Got any others? Put them in the comments.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Lead contamination around 11th and Monroe Street Park

Uh oh. Just learned via Twitter that the city's Department of the Environment found lead pollution in the 11th and Monroe Street Park. They're setting up blood testing stations for people who have visited or live nearby. The dates are locations are above. Hope everybody is OK.

What's going on at Columbia Heights Day: bocce, contests, food trucks, much more

Columbia Heights Day is this Saturday at the Tubman School fields, 11th and Kenyon. There's a pre-party tonight at Wonderland, where they're selling the official t-shirts and cups, and below is a rundown of what's going on.

Aside from what I've written about before, there's also going to be bocce and a ton of DC State Fair events: tastiest tomato, a photography contest, pie contest, best jam, biggest vegetable, biggest veggie in a container, best pickle, funkiest-looking vegetable, and even a homebrew beer contest and party.

Some of the contests' deadlines have already passed, but others you can still enter, and all will have their winners announced at the fair. For the beer, you can sample it at the party this Friday.

Along with the State Fair events, here's everything else!
1. Live Music
11:00 am   Electric 11s (rock) @ Main Stage
12:15 pm  Czars of Leisure (rock) @ Main Stage
1:30 pm    The Chariots (reggae) @ Main Stage
2:45 pm    La Unica Irish Band @ Main Stage
4:15 pm    Armchairs (rock) @ Main Stage
5:45 pm     Flex Matthews (hip hop) @ Main Stage

2. Food
- "Taste of Columbia Heights" with free samples from local businesses
- Popular DC food trucks on Kenyon St.
- All-day specials at neighborhood restaurants and bars (this link has all the specials http://bit.ly/CHDAYMAP)

3. Cute Animals
- Dog Show with prizes for best trick and best dog at 10:30 am
- Petting Zoo

4. Silly Contests
- King & Queen of Columbia Heights Competition
- Sticky Fingers cupcake eating competition
-        Two stages of live music and dance performances
-        Petting Zoo & Kids Zone, featuring fun games and family entertainment
-        “Taste of Columbia Heights” food booths and popular DC food trucks
-        First-ever “DC State Fair” with prizes for best homemade pie or cupcake, homegrown tomato and more
-        Columbia Heights Community Marketplace farmers’ market
-        Cupcake eating contest, sponsored by Sticky Fingers Bakery
-        NEW! King & Queen of Columbia Heights competition
-        Morning yoga workshop from Quiet Mind Yoga, Dog Show and neighborhood bike tour
-        Appearances by city officials and political candidates
-        More than 80 local businesses and community groups
-        All-day specials at neighborhood restaurants and bars
-        Even more performances all day at BloomBars (3222 11th St. NW)
-        After Hours Party post-festival at neighborhood bars, sponsored by OnTap
Their website has the full schedule. 

Tons of political mailers

Don't know about you, but I've been getting tons of political mailers lately: above is a sampling from the other day, with Kwame Brown, Vincent Orange, Jim Graham and Adrian Fenty. It doesn't include others I've gotten from Bryan Weaver and even more today. I guess these races have some big money behind them.

Is everybody else getting tons of these? The primary is September 14.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It's DC Beer Week: What's going on in the neighborhood?

This week is DC Beer Week, celebrating tasty suds from around the US and world. Here's what's going on in our neighborhood:
  • Room 11 at 11th and Lamont is having rotating IPAs (India pale ales) this week to celebrate
  • Meridian Pint at 11th and Park is hosting a Schlafly beer dinner on Thursday, with Dan Kopman, the co-founder and brewmaster of St. Louis Brewing. "Special rare tastings of Schlafly beers paired with unique offerings from the Meridian Pints wonderful kitchen." Buy tickets here.
  • Commonwealth at 14th and Irving is offering Troeg's Brewery beers, 12 ounce bottles for $5 and 16 ounce drafts for $5

They sell "Booty Pop" at Bed Bath and Beyond

Ah, the wonders of Twitter. It helped me discover that Booty Pop, the thing that you stick in your pants to make your butt look bigger, is for sale at the Bed, Bath and Beyond in DCUSA. Thought that was pretty funny. In case you're unfamiliar, take a look, and make that booty pop.

This is vaguely not safe for work, if you can't look at women in jeans and weird panty things.

Car and moped fires near 16th and Spring

Photo from NBC4
Got a note today from a resident near 16th and Spring Road, who went outside at about 7:30 am to see the following scene
 Someone flagged down police just after 4 am to let them know of the fires. I saw for sure 2 cars with their engines fried. Thought it was just a front end collision and then I noticed how the debris on the ground looked burned. Looks like neither fire engulfed anything but the engines. The cars were also on opposite sides of the street with debris under them, so I don’t think the cops moved the cars. Kind of rules out Arson if that’s the case. I also saw 2 burned mopeds next to one of the cars. These mopeds are usually tied up against a tree in front of the Oaklawn (Google Street shot here). Someone said to me there were 3 mopeds burned, but I could only see 2 from where I was standing.
NBC4 and Channel 9 have news reports, saying there were three scooters burned and 4 cars. The weird thing about the NBC report is that the fire department responded to three scooters on fire and put them out. Then after they left, they were called back for cars. Strange. Hopefully the police or fire department figure out what happened.

Vote for your favorite neighborhood restaurants

Want some local spots to get more accolades? Vote for them on Citysearch's Best of Washington DC poll.

You don't have to only vote for those on the list, you can search and vote that way. Let's see if any local favorites get up there: best pho? Best tacos? Best vegan baked goods? Best place to drink beer from a tap at your table?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Enter your dog into the Columbia Heights Day dog show

Do you have a dog? Is it an awesome dog? Why not enter it into this Saturday's dog show at Columbia Heights Day?

The show starts at 10:30 am, so you'd better get there early. There's a best looking dog prize and also best trick, so practice that frisbee or whatever it is you do. Surfing would probably win, a la Spuds MacKenzie.

UPDATE: To enter, email at rose.donna@gmail.com or just bring your dog to the festival grounds at 10:30

"Hipster robot bike army" needed for a movie

Wanna be in a movie? There's a little movie called Droidster being filmed in the neighborhood about hipster robots that come out of basements, kidnap people, and turn them into robots. You know, based on a true story. They need your help, especially if you have a "hipster bike," i.e. a fixie, tall bike, etc. Here's the ad from Craigslist:
Do you have a tall bike or unicycle? Have you been secretly waiting for the opportunity to use it for a good cause with people who will truly appreciate it's style and grace? Well here's your chance! The DROIDSTER crew has been shooting a movie in Columbia Heights and this Saturday we will be shooting our big chase scene. But this isn't your typical boring sitting behind the wheel of a car chase scene, oh no. It's a bike chase scene. It's a hipster robot bike chase scene and we are looking for anyone with a unique ride to participate.

Some of the perks: you will be filmed in all your glory chasing down some preppy hill staffer on your kick ass bike. You will be credited in a movie that will have a legit premiere. There will be a killer rap party in a few weeks. It will be a whole lotta fun.

Hit me up if you got what it takes

Description of Movie:
DROIDSTER is a action/drama short set in Columbia Heights, DC. Robot hipsters are operating out of basements in the neighborhood, abducting unsuspecting preppies and turning their insides into oily mechanics. These aren't your father's evil robots, however -- they ride fixed gear bikes, wear skinny jeans, jeggings, christmas socks, and big sunglasses. They also suck at life.
I'm guessing the plot is tongue-in-cheek. Email  gigs-7tvbp-1916263437@craigslist.org for info. TBD had an article on the movie as well.

Mt. Pleasant library construction hopefully starting soon, opening Fall 2011

The Mt. Pleasant Library renovation at Mt. Pleasant and Kilbourne has been a contentious issue with some people, but it looks like they're finally getting it going. Here's a note from the library system:
The Mt. Pleasant Library renovation and expansion project moves forward. After more than two years of community involvement, design has been finalized and the building permit has been issued. We look forward to beginning construction very soon.

We have taken note of and responded to all questions and concerns regarding the Mt Pleasant Library project. We greatly appreciate the active involvement from residents of Mt. Pleasant and throughout Ward One; the design has been improved by the community engagement. The new library will be equipped with multiple spaces for library programs and community meetings, expanded areas for children, teens and adults, and space for to up to 80,000 books. We expect the library to re-open in fall 2011. We look forward to joining the community in celebrating the newly renovated Mt. Pleasant Library.
Photo by Mr. T in DC

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Tea Party thinks we're in danger

I normally try to stay somewhat clear of politics on this blog, but this was too funny and weird not to mention. I saw a list of tips for Tea Partiers visiting DC floating around Twitter this morning, and one of the tips stood out, emphasis mine.
If you are on the subway stay on the Red line between Union Station and Shady Grove, Maryland. If you are on the Blue or Orange line do not go past Eastern Market (Capitol Hill) toward the Potomac Avenue stop and beyond; stay in NW DC and points in Virginia. Do not use the Green line or the Yellow line. These rules are even more important at night. There is of course nothing wrong with many other areas; but you don't know where you are, so you should not explore them.
Well, at least we won't be seeing any Tea Partiers up in the neighborhood. There's a Tea Party rally on the 28th in DC.

Learn more about storm debris, sandbags, etc from DPW on Wednesday

With all the big storms lately, it's important to know more about how the city's debris clearance works, how to get sandbags, and the like:
Residents Invited to Join Live, Hour-Long Session to Discuss Trash Preparation/Collection, Debris Clearing, and Sandbags

Department of Public Works (DPW) Solid Waste Management Administration will respond to residents' questions regarding trash and debris collection and sandbag distribution during hurricane season on Wednesday, August 25, 2010, at 12:00 pm. DPW's emergency preparedness officer also will provide tips and information to help keep residents safe and prevent water damage to their property

WHAT: DPW Live, One-Hour Chat to discuss Trash/Debris Collection, Sandbag Distribution and Emergency Tips During Summer Storms

WHEN: Wednesday, August 25, 2010, 12:00-1:00 pm

WHERE: http://ddot.dc.gov/ddot/cwp/view,a,3,q,648287,ddotnav_gid,1586,ddotnav,%7C32397%7C.asp

This is the seventh in a series of monthly online chats with DPW Director William O. Howland, Jr. and other DPW officials. Future topics will address Household Hazardous Waste, leaf collection, snow, and other DPW operations.

Ward One council candidates on the Kojo Nnamdi show

If you haven't yet made up your mind in the Ward One council race, the three main candidates, incumbent Jim Graham and challengers Bryan Weaver and Jeff Smith were all on Kojo Nnamdi's Politics Hour radio show on WAMU. They posted some videos of the show to give you a better idea, which are also below.

The primaries (which basically are the election) are September 14.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Yard sale roundup: belated edition

Here's this weekend's yard sale roundup, and there's a fair amount around:
  • 2719 13th Street NW, Saturday 9am-noon: lots of electronics, clothes, posters, home items and a lot more. Link
  • 18th and Kilborne in MtP, Saturday 9am-it's gone: books, clothes, electronics and more. Link
  • 8th and Taylor in Petworth: Books, vintage clothes, bike, records, and a lot more. Link
  • 2800 Ontario Road NW in Adams Morgan, Sat. Noon-5 pm: bedroom set, fancy furniture, etc. Link
  • 3201 Adams Mill in MtP: lots of inexpensive stuff. Link

Making progress on the 14th and Girard Park

Originally uploaded by squidpants
Looks like those shades/shelters are going in at the 14th & Girard Street Park. Not sure the timeline as I haven't seem any plans, but judging on this I'd say it'll be done soon. They're doing another one on the other side.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Weekly History: the Cardozo High School rifle team, 1922

This week's Weekly History post is on an unusual team: the Cardozo (then called Central) High School girls rifle team, who were apparently pretty good -- see the trophy.

Pretty sure there aren't any rifle teams in the city anymore, and they're pretty rare in general in schools these days, maybe because people are worried about school safety. It's also funny to see the old timey clothes like the bloomers.

The photo is from the Library of Congress, via Shorpy.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cell phone service coming to Metro tunnels? Not til October 2012

I've had a few questions lately about cell phone service in Metro tunnels -- now that we (finally) have service at the Columbia Heights Metro, people are hoping for more. I went back to find the press release from WMATA, which says they plan to wire all stations with cell phone coverage by Fall 2010, and that by October 2012 all the tunnels should have service as well. However, there's another, later release that says all stations and tunnels will be wired by October 2012.

Nice to see, but too bad it'll be awhile.

Wonderland hosts another Barrelhouse literary event on the 19th

Get some culture! Head to Wonderland on the 19th for another in literary magazine Barrelhousemag's reading series.
We have another reading coming up at Wonderland next Thursday. Below are the details and our schedule through December. Let me know if you have any questions. Editors from Barrelhouse and Big Lucks are available for comment. Thanks again for your support. The event this week is pretty cool because Big Lucks is a new literary journal started by a couple grad students at American.

This Thursday, August 19th, at 7 pm Barrelhouse returns to Wonderland Ballroom for Barrelhouse Presents…Big Lucks: A Reading by Michelle Dove, Brandon Gretter, Nathan Leslie, and Derek Richards.

Bios, flyers, etc. can be found at: http://www.barrelhousemag.com/

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Want to be King or Queen of Columbia Heights?

I mentioned in the previous post that there's a King or Queen of Columbia Heights contest at Columbia Heights Day, and I just got more info on it. You can sign up! It sounds pretty awesome:
First-ever King & Queen of Columbia Heights Day

Are you Columbia Heights royalty? Or want to make up for that cheerleader skank winning Homecoming all those years ago? Enter the first-ever King & Queen of Columbia Heights competition to be held at Columbia Heights Day on Saturday, Aug. 28. More details are below.

The first 8 men and the first 8 women to tell us why they deserve the Columbia Heights Day crown will be part of the contest. Just e-mail us at CHMonarchy@gmail.comDeadline to sign-up is Wednesday, Aug. 25!

Queen of Columbia Heights competition
Saturday, Aug. 28 at 11:45 am
Tubman Field / Second Stage - 11th & Kenyon streets NW
King of Columbia Heights competition
Saturday, Aug. 28 at 1 pm
Tubman Field / Second Stage - 11th & Kenyon streets NW

About the King & Queen of Columbia Heights competition:
- Contestants must be age 21 or older.
 - Contestants will be judged by our illustrious panel on their knowledge of Columbia Heights trivia, DC spelling bee skills, special Talent & Fashion sense (come dressed to impress!), and overall likability.
- Winners receive neighborhood bragging rights, a crown, and other special prizes.

Columbia Heights Day is this Saturday the 28th! What's happening there?

As you hopefully know already, our annual neighborhood festival of Columbia Heights Day is this Saturday the 28th at the Harriet Tubman School field, 11th and Irving. So what's going to be there? A lot!

Starting at 10 am, there's a bike tour and a scavenger hunt at Tubman field, plus yoga at the same time (from NCH advertiser Quiet Mind Yoga!) There's also a dog show, tons of live music (Irish, reggae, rock, Latin, hip hop and more), a King and Queen of Columbia Heights contest, and the popular (and hilarious) cupcake eating contest.

There's also going to be a lot of booths with local organizations, businesses, politicians, craftspeople, and more. The DC State Fair will be there too with a pie baking contest and other fair-related events. I'm guessing local establishments will have deals too; they did that last year.

It should be a great time, and I hope lots of folks come out. The full schedule is on their site.

Check out the Columbia Heights Media Project

Found something pretty cool the other day: Columbia Heights Media Project, a website and project designed to show and describe the neighborhood.

The project's goal is to find what sorts of pictures and videos are already out there about the neighborhood, to encourage people to make more videos, and then to distribute them to the media. The site has a ton of content from Youtube and Vimeo, a lot about gentrification. In my personal opinion it could be a bit more balanced, but there's still a lot to go around.

I especially liked this photo essay.

Columbia Heights from News21 on Vimeo.

Chipotle is still always packed?!

Last night about 8:30 I was at the Civic Plaza and decided to get some Chipotle. To my surprise, there was a huge line from the register all the way back around to the furthest door. It was the kind of line they had when they first opened.

Now I like Chipotle, but I don't think it's worth standing in a huge line for, especially when there's other good and quick fast food nearby, like Julia's Empanadas, Pollo Campero (I got a chicken bowl instead of Chipotle), all the spots at 14th and Irving, and more. 

I don't get it. What am I missing? Was it free beer day or something? Or are people that die hard for el Chipotle?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Do you want to vote in this election? Do you have a party affiliation?

DC elections are kind of an odd bird. Since the vast majority of people in the city are Democrats, the Democratic primary serves as the general election. I just learned that tomorrow TODAY is the deadline for changing your party affiliation.

Why does this matter? The city has a closed primary system, which means that you can only vote in the primary for the party you chose when you registered. However, a lot of people signed up with no party, which means they won't be able to vote in the primary. For Ward One, for example, there are three Democrats and one Republican running, and mayoral candidates Adrian Fenty and Vince Gray are Democrats as well -- so if you want to vote, you had better check your affiliation, as you can't change it when you get to the polling place if you were already registered. However, if you are registering for the first time at the polling place, you can.

The city's Board of Elections has links on the left side for both checking and changing your registration status, so check it out. Thanks to both DCist and the Ward One listserve for the heads-up.

Friday, August 13, 2010

500,000 hits for New Columbia Heights! Thank you readers

Just noticed on my stats page that the blog topped 500,000 hits since I started it! Wow, and thank you to all who have read, contributed, and commented since I began.

The first post was in March 2008, when it was still called New (Columbia) Heights, a few months after I moved into the neighborhood. My goal was to fill what seemed like a gap, a neighborhood blog about what's going on, what's new, what's old, what's funny, and what's annoying about the neighborhood. I'd been in DC for about 8 years before that and was looking forward to seeing how Columbia Heights both changed and stayed the same. 

Since then there's been growth, people and stores coming and going, and some controversy. I've written over 1,200 posts about the complicated art of neighborhood naming, unicycles and giant bikes, booze bottles on the street, and famous visitors, not to mention more typical topics like food, development, transportation, crime and all the rest. The house in the first picture in my blog's banner (pictured here as it is today) went from abandoned to renovated to sold for big bucks since I started. I've met some cool people, learned a lot and thoroughly enjoyed it, even the parts where a lot of people disagreed with me, which themselves are informative.

Hopefully this site will continue to be a useful and fun place to come for neighborhood news, events, and more. And maybe one of these days I'll be able to write that Ellwood Thompson's has actually opened.

Thanks again to everybody, I couldn't have kept it going without everyone reading and commenting. Have a good Friday!

Yard Sale Roundup: A bunch

Lots of yard sales going on this weekend, check them out:

Capital Bikeshare now open for sign-ups

Capital Bikeshare, the bike sharing service with some locations in the neighborhood, is now accepting sign-ups. The annual memberships are currently discounted, $50 a year instead of $75, and the first 2,000 folks to sign up get a keychain and t-shirt. There's also monthly memberships for $25 and daily ones for $5.

Basically, you sign up and grab a bike at one of the stations, then ride it around and drop it off at another station. It's free for the first 30 minutes, then they charge you more as you keep the bike longer. In our area, there are bike stations at 14th and Harvard, 16th and Harvard, Park between 13th and 14th, Fairmont and Georgia, and more. The map is below.

There's more details here, and on their website. 

View Capital Bikeshare in a larger map

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Looking for musical artists for Columbia Heights Community Marketplace

Can you play and instrument or sing? Local arts space Bloombars is putting together the music for the market, and they're looking for musicians and singers to perform at the Columbia Heights Community Marketplace.

To apply or to recommend somebody, email gowri@bloombars.com with subject line "Columbia Heights Marketplace."

Weekly History: Car dealership at 14th and Irving

This week's Weekly History post is a photo from 1929, showing a car dealership located at the northeast corner of 14th and Irving, where the Metro entrance and the Victory Heights buildings are now. The dealer was I.C. Barber Motor Co., which sold Hudson and Essex cars, old brands that were eventually part of AMC, which was then bought by Chrysler.

There's also Gude Bros. florist, which still exists in the metro area, and Black and White Express, which appears to be a delivery company -- they have two trucks and there are two cars parked nearby. One of those cars is parked in one of the rowhouse's front yards -- something that would be frowned on today. The only building in the scene that's still there is 1361 Irving Street NW, which is behind the lamp post. You can see more detail if you click here for the big version.

Something else interesting in the photo are the phone numbers -- there's Columbia 633 on the truck and Frank 4100 on the building to the left that's for rent. Back in the day they'd use words to make it easier to remember phone numbers: Columbia 633 would be something like COL633, for example, or 265-633.

I posted a photo of the northwest corner of 14th and Irving from 1949 awhile ago as well -- you can see the old facade that was used in DCUSA. There was a car dealership in that photo too. Pretty popular corner for auto sales!

Lights getting fixed/turned on around 14th and Kenyon

Looks like we'll be getting some lights in our neighborhood. I wrote last week about all the turned off lights around 14th from Irving to Park, and DDOT said they were waiting for the contractors to come and turn them on. Yesterday I saw some electrical contractors out working on them, so maybe we'll have them soon.

I've also heard that they'll be taking out some of the forest of lights at those intersections, so there will be more of a unified look and feel to the area, and not a bunch of random ones strewn about like it is now.

And in honor of this, here's "More Lights" by local band Georgie James, from the 9:30 Club.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

City pools open late tonight!

Yes! The city has extended pool hours tonight until it's dark, so I'm guessing around 8:30-9pm. Banneker Pool is the closest one for our neighborhood, at Georgia and Euclid.

The pools are free if you can prove you're a city resident, like with a drivers license, voter registration, or a piece of mail.

DCist notes this is the 51st day this year with temperatures over 90 degrees. Nuts.

Construction on 14th & Girard Park

Park construction
Originally uploaded by squidpants
Spotted this the other day, the oft-under construction 14th & Girard Park is closed again. The sign outside says they're installing some things to provide shade, which doesn't sound too bad this summer. Let's hope it reopens soon.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Selling a house? Wanna be on TV?

Just spotted this on the Columbia Heights Yahoo Listserve: the HGTV network is looking for people selling their houses for their Real Estate Intervention show. The show helps people whose houses have been on the market for awhile, which is probably fairly common around here. They'll help "stage" your house, i.e. make it look nicer, for free, and it might be fun. Here's the description, with lots of exclamation points:
The show features people battling difficult odds trying to sell their home. As in previous seasons of our program, straight-talking Realtor Mike Aubrey will take home sellers inside their competition to help show them exactly where their home stands in the current market. The goal is to help you land a quick sale while educating the sellers and viewers of the difficulties of today's market—and showing them first-hand that the real estate market is not the same as it was in 2005! However, we are throwing in a twist for the new season of Real Estate Intervention—HGTV star Sabrina Soto will help stage the property to better your chances of a quick sale! At our cost!!!
The listserve thread has more on how to apply

Room 11's first anniversary party tonight

It's a week of bar anniversaries: Room 11, the neighborhood wine bar/cocktail spot/small eats place is celebrating their first anniversary tonight with some deals:
We're celebrating our first anniversary tonight! To help everyone get in a celebratory mood we'll be offering complimentary glasses of our delicious Spanish sparkling wine (with purchase while supplies last) and featuring drink specials on wine and cocktails all night (a punch is rumored). And we still have some of yesterday's hopalicious guest tap, Moylan's Hopsickle! So please come out and help us celebrate our first birthday! Most importantly we'd like to offer a big thank you to all of our loyal supporters and our wonderful neighbors.
 If you haven't been, Room 11 is a nice, cozy place with a big patio. The bartenders, especially Dan, are super knowledgeable about both wine and cocktails, and love to talk about their drinks. I'm a fan.

Room 11 is located at 11th and Lamont, 3234 11th Street NW.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Mapping out pedestrian accidents in the city

There's a cool piece on DCist today with a map showing July pedestrian traffic accidents around the city, and there's a fair amount in our area -- specifically on Irving Street around 14th and then around Georgia. This isn't every crash in the city, just the ones that DC Fire & EMS Twittered about, but still, gives you an idea.

Most of the accidents happened during the day, which makes me wonder why. Maybe that's when the crossing guards are gone? In any case, if this is a trend, then it's worrisome.

View D.C. Pedestrian/Cycling Accidents - July 2010 in a larger map

Celebrating six years of Wonderland

Yesterday was neighborhood institution Wonderland's sixth anniversary party. I wasn't able to make it unfortunately, but it reminded me to write about it. When it opened, the Wonderland Ballroom was maybe the only place to get a beer in the area: I have friends who lived here before then, and the closest spot for them was Chief Ike's Mambo Room on Columbia Road in Adams Morgan, kind of a hike.

Since then the place has grown and gotten crowded, but I think it still retains its charm and attitude. It's a place where you can go and either see somebody you know or see something funny and random: I remember a couple of years ago I was hanging out downstairs and a guy in an inflatable penis costume walked in for no good reason. Another story I think speaks to the laid-back attitude is that about five years ago, some guys in ski masks walked in and said they were robbing the place. The bartender and all the patrons thought they were joking and laughed. The guys insisted, "no, really, we're here to rob it" and everybody continued to laugh, and the bartender asked them what they wanted to drink. Eventually they did get some money, but most people just kept on drinking and hanging out, no big deal.

There's a lots of fun events at the place, like the Monday trivia (fun aside from a couple obnoxious teams), Tuesday live-band karaoke (formerly Tuesday Rock Band video game night), the See You Next Tuesday dance party, Pink Sock gay dance night, live music on the weekends, the annual Sundress Fest, and more. The owners, Matt and Rose, also do a lot with the local community, like hosting fundraisers and helping organize Columbia Heights Day. They own the Looking Glass Lounge too in Petworth.

In the past few years, Wonderland has gotten more crowded, and I've heard people complain about the crowd -- either it's too hipstery now, or it's too suburban. I suppose that depends on who's complaining, and to me, the variety of complaints shows that it's still a diverse crowd. Sure, it's packed on weekends, but if you just want to go somewhere nearby and get sweaty dancing, then it's perfect. During the week it's not too bad, and you can often get a spot on the patio. The bartenders and door staff get to know you once you've been in a few times, and it's a great place to start or end the night. The food, aside from the sausages, isn't great, but I've also heard they're working on improving it, and the beer list is substantial and changes frequently.

Friendly folks, good place to hang out, nearby: pretty much all I can ask for in a local bar. Thanks for six years, Wonderland.

Are people friendlier lately?

Something I've noticed is that this summer, people on the street in the neighborhood seem friendlier. More random people are saying hello to each other, having little chats in line or waiting for the bus, and so on. Maybe it's the hot weather letting people commiserate, maybe people are just happier, or to be optimistic, even that we're coming together more as a neighborhood.

Has anybody else noticed this? It's always nice to see diverse folks in the neighborhood chatting with each other.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Exploding manholes, streetlights out in the neighborhood?

I received a few Twitter messages last night about some crazy happenings -- a few people reported manholes exploding and spewing out steam around 14th and Clifton, and another reported that only a handful of the 30-something street lights were on at 14th and Kenyon. One example:
Whoa. Potholes blew out (with smoke coming out of them) and street lights went out along 14th Street north of Clifton in Columbia Heights.
Anyone else notice this? Maybe it was due to power outages, but I didn't hear of any in the neighborhood.

I've pinged DDOT about this, but let me know what happened to you!

UPDATE:  I spoke to DDOT via Twitter, who are saying that some of the street lights on 14th from Irving to  Park are not yet turned on, and they're waiting for the contractor so they don't know when they'll be on. 

For ones that are burned out, DDOT said it was Pepco's responsibility, while Pepco's website says it's the city's. So, unclear. I'd suggest calling the city's 311 number if you see an out streetlight. You may be making a lot of phone calls.

UPDATE 2: Here's clarification from DDOT: "If a streetlight is burned out, that is DDOT's responsibility... But if the power is out, that is most likely Pepco. The lights run on electricity." I have asked them how do you know if it's burned out or the power is out. For example, from Twitter user msludwick: "I can see 32 streetlights from 14th & Kenyon (not counting the new solar-powered ones in the Plaza). 6 of them are working." But is that due to a power outage, or are they burned out?

UPDATE 3: DDOT notes that manholes and power outages at the same time might be related, and that exploding manholes should be reported to 911. 

Neighborhood walking tour on Saturday on transit-oriented growth

Interested in city planning? Our neighborhood is a good place to see it. The Coalition for Smarter Growth is hosting a walking tour Saturday to discuss the developments in the area. "During our walk, we will look at, and critique, the new development and public realm improvements." 

It starts at 10 am at the southwest corner of 14th and Irving. There's a $10 suggested donation.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Columbia Heights Day hosts the DC State Fair

Just learned something -- apparently some folks are trying to organize a DC State Fair -- kind of like a state fair you might attend in the Midwest or South, and sort of like a county fair (but since District Fair doesn't have a nice ring to it, they went with state).

This year, the State Fair folks will have a tent at Columbia Heights Day with traditional state fair staples like pie contests, best tomato, and such. DCist had an interview with them, and they also have their own blog. There won't be a pie eating contest as far as I know, so no Stand By Me moments.

Another good reason to visit Columbia Heights Day, which is August 28 at Harriet Tubman School's field (11th and Irving).

Weekly History: Toot-an-Kum-in gas station at 14th and Belmont, 1925

Here's your weekly history photo post (formerly Wednesday History, but I keep forgetting to post it on Wednesdays). This 1925 shot is a old gas station at 14th and Belmont with the unusual name of Toot-An-Kum-In. Before you get the wrong idea, that's a play on Tutankhamun, aka King Tut. The Shorpy page notes the name is probably due to the popularity of Egypt after the after the discovery of King Tut's tomb in 1922. Unfortunately it doesn't really seem to be an example of Egyptian Revival architecture, which was popular in the 1800s and early 1900s. The 14th and Belmont area is now a couple of empty lots and some new condo/mixed use buildings.

Another interesting tidbit somebody at Shorpy found was this ad, which says the station is in Mount Pleasant rather than Columbia Heights. I remember hearing on the Walking Town DC tour (and I think the Heritage Trail signs also) that for a long time, 14th Street was considered the border of Mount Pleasant. And it's also 19 cents a gallon and brands include Amoco, American Strate (an old brand), and some others I can't read.

I wish all gas stations looked like this.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Neighborhood restaurants doing pretty well on food safety

How healthy and safe are our restaurants and grocery stores? Very healthy.

I just discovered via U Street Girl that the city now has a searchable health inspection website so I decided to take a look at local spots to see how they fared. For the most part, they all fared very well. About the worst things I saw this year were employees not wearing hairnets and no "employees must wash hands" signs in bathrooms: for example, the Giant needed a cleaner floor and Ruby Tuesday didn't have a thermometer in the fridge, not huge deals. Morgan's Seafood had a couple "critical" violations, but those didn't even sound that bad -- there was a leak under a hand sink and they had utensils for serving food in the food -- that's hardly too critical, and I'm not concerned about it.

All in all, sounds like we have a lot of safe places to eat in the area.

Bike racks coming to 11th and Park, 14th and Park soon

After my post about the lack of bike racks in the neighborhood, I emailed DDOT, who responded quickly: 
We're aware that Columbia Heights needs more racks and will be adding more soon.  Right now, we're just waiting on a new shipment.  They should arrive in late August.  At that time, we hope to put in-street racks in front of Meridian Pint and Red Rocks Pizza.
He added they'll also have some on Park Road across from Sticky Fingers.

Nice to see this, that DDOT is being proactive for some things we could definitely use.

Thrift store coming to Georgia and Columbia

Via the good folks at the Borderstan blog, the L&N Thrift store at about 14th and T will be moving to our neck of the woods at a space at Georgia and Columbia. Nice to see this, and that means one down on the list of what we're missing.

L&N has a lot of random stuff in their small store, including tons of clothes, plus movies, electronics, and some furniture. Hopefully the new location will be bigger and let them spread out a bit -- though as the Borderstan commenters note, they'll probably get less foot traffic there.

For those looking for vintage stuff, there's another nice antiques store with some cool vintage stuff at Georgia and Otis Place called Mom and Pop Antiques.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

DC rapper Wale giving out mixtapes today in the neighborhood

UPDATE: My mistake folks, I got Commonwealth at 18th and Florida confused with Palace Five at 14th and Florida. The event is then actually in Adams Morgan-ish. Sorry!

DC rapper Wale, who I've written about a few times before, will be at Commonwealth (the clothes, shoes, and skate shop at 14th 18th and Florida, not the restaurant at 14th and Irving) today at 7 pm giving out 300 copies of his new mixtape More About Nothing. These are the only hard copies of the album to be released.

I saw it on their Twitter via DCist and a few other spots. 

Below is the video for "Chillin'", featuring Lady Gaga, which was filmed in the neighborhood. However, Gaga doesn't appear to actually have been in the neighborhood.

Artists needed at the Columbia Heights Community Marketplace

Are you an artist, or know any? The Community Marketplace folks are looking for artists to apply to sell their wares at the market. Here's how to apply:
Please send your contact information, description of your work and the products you will have for sale (100 words max/ please note that your statement will be used during the evaluation  process) and five images of your work to: chcommunitymarketplace@gmail.com with "Artist application" in the subject line, or you may send the application to:

Columbia Heights Community Marketplace
c/o CHANGE, Inc.
1413 Park Road, NW
Washington, DC 20010
There's more details here on what can be sold, who can sell it, fees and so on. Sounds cool, and I hope to see more things coming to the market, which is open through October.

There's a Target and Best Buy boycott?

So says the City Paper. Apparently Target and Best Buy, both of which are based in Minnesota, gave about $250,000 total to a group running commercials for a Republican gubernatorial candidate who opposes same-sex marriage. A boycott began, the Human Rights Campaign, a gay and lesbian advocacy group, criticized the donations, and the City Paper commenters seem pretty angry too.

Target has responded by saying they are only trying to get candidates who support economic development. Both companies gave more money to Republicans than Democrats in the last election cycle, though as some have noted, both also received perfect scores from the HRC on the equality of their workplaces.

My opinion is while I appreciate the stand people are taking, if I boycotted every company that donated money to something I don't agree with, I wouldn't have a lot of places to shop. Most companies (even Wal-mart) donate a lot to both parties, and considering Republicans are generally more pro-business, it stands to reason that they'll get more business contributions. For what it's worth, Starbucks gives much more to Democrats than Republicans.

But my opinion aside, are you going to boycott?

Another table tap, more TVs coming to Meridian Pint

Looks like the offerings at Meridian Pint are expanding: according to their Facebook, the joint at 11th and Park is getting 3 or 4 more TVs for downstairs and another of the popular table taps, where you pour your own beer, in a few weeks.

I'm glad for both, as there was often a rush or crowd trying to get the table taps, and I was a little disappointed when I saw the 2 TVs they have downstairs, as when it was in planning it was mentioned as a place where you can watch sports. Of course, 2 TVs is not bad (as evidenced by the big crowd at the World Cup final) but the more the merrier.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Columbia Heights, Virginia?

Apparently our neighborhood is in Virginia.

Yesterday I typed in "Columbia Heights DC" into Google, and the first result I got was a link to Google Maps for Columbia Heights... Virginia. When you click the link, it goes to the middle of our neighborhood, but it still says Columbia Heights, VA. Weird.

Uh, hey Google... DC isn't in Virginia.